Friday, August 31, 2012

The Writer’s guide to cycling

My favorite baby. I ride like the wind.
I’ve gained back some of the weight I worked so hard to lose before I went to RWA. I also gained it back after giving out so much great advice I usually follow, but decided to fall off the wagon. Now I’m back on the diet wagon and back on my bike.
Cycling is a great form of exercise without putting any stress on the body. And it really burns the calories. When I ride for a 1 ½ I’ll burn up to 1,000 calories. I own two bikes a road bike and mountain bike. I’ve been cycling for a long time. It’s my favorite form of exercise.
Right now I’m nursing a sprained ankle from running sprints on my treadmill. My doctor told me no running for at least 12 weeks and to find something else to do. I had my bikes and I’ve been making up for my over indulgent detour by riding my bikes like a manic all over my small rural community. I’m fortunate to live here, because traffic isn’t too bad. After the kids are in school, that’s when I ride. The Mommies have either gone home or to the gym. Sometimes she’s running with friends in my bike lane which is really annoying. If you’re a runner don’t run in the bike lane, it’s dangerous for you and the cyclist. You can get hit by a stray car or cyclist and the cyclist gets forced into traffic. Bad for both, besides it’s illegal. Yes, illegal. Bike lanes are for cyclist. Sidewalks and treadmills are for runners.
Jalapeno fields in my rural community.
There are a lot of different forms of cycling these days. There is spinning in the gyms. A great form of burning calories without killing yourself, although it might feel like it after your done. There is something that is appearing in big cities like New York, San Francisco and L.A, called Soul Cycling, probably one of the toughest workouts on the planet right now. As you cycle in near darkness the instructor will give out a little advice on karma and soul searching. Hence, the name. If you decide to do this, be ready to sweat like a pig in a hot crowded dark room. See if you can’t get a free hour before buying into it. You want to like what you’re doing.
Here's some advice on buying an bike and cycling:
The Diablo range covered in the marine layer
  • If you’re considering cycling and haven’t in a while, borrow a bike. See if you like dodging, dogs, cats, joggers, squirrels and the occasional PMS influenced female driver who hates you for the colors you’re wearing or just because she’s in a hating mood that day.  
  • If you decide you want to ride like the wind, don’t go for the Lance Armstrong bike, get something cheaper and ride that baby into the ground. Once you do that and can see you’re riding regularly, then get one like Lance’s. Starting out, honestly you won’t be riding like the wind or Lance. If you haven’t ridden or done aerobic exercise heavily in a while, it’s going to be work. Don’t let those pedals fool you.
  • Make sure the bike fits you. Sit on it at the story or shop. Adjust the seat so your leg is extended, and the knee only slightly bent. You should be able to push off on the pedal comfortably on the ball of your foot. Look at the cyclist in all the fancy equipment and cycling shoes, and the position the foot is in. There is a reason for that, comfort and speed.
  • Wear a helmet. Always! Even a short fall can result in serious brain injury.
  • Bright colors so you can be seen if you’re going on city streets.
  • I wear bike gloves because my rings dig into my hands on the handle bars. It helps with blisters.
  • Serious cyclists have all kinds of equipment and brightly colored shirts and padded pants. If you’re just starting out, wait to get all that, just wear a bright shirt and get a pad for your seat. All that cool looking stuff that makes you look like the real deal can be very costly. Remember to wear sunscreen, cyclist can buy stock in those companies we go through so much of it. It is our best friend besides the bike pump.  
  • Research your vehicle code. You can’t run red lights or stop signs. The vehicle code applies to cyclist too.
  • Don’t wear ear buds and listen to your music! You’ve got to be constantly aware of your surroundings, because you’re on city streets or on paths shared with joggers, the mommy exercise group and with people whose dogs hate you. You have to rely on your hearing to know what is coming up behind you, unless you’re blessed with eyes in the back of your head. I know your kids swear you do, but really you don’t. No blasting music in your head while riding!!! And that also goes for runners, for the same reason and you can't hear me coming.
  • Get a little tool kit for the bike. You just never know. Shit happens. If you fall in love with cycling and find you have a lot of flats, get Teflon lining for your tires. Tire shops will put them in, because it’s a pain. The initial cost is expensive but over the long run it saves on tires and time.  
  • Always be polite to the walkers, runners and dog walkers on shared paths. Call out, "coming from behind." Or "On your left" or whatever it might be. Than thank them for getting out of the way so you don't have to stop. Just be friendly. It helps with the image. 
  • Lastly, just be safe. Be careful, and have fun. 
Since I've returned to the bike and have started to count calories, I've lost 2lbs in a one week. I was surprised. I love getting outside and riding, feeling the wind on my face and the occasional bug in my teeth. Fortunately, I live in California and can ride all year around. I just bundle up and go when there is ice on the creeks, as long as there is no ice on the path or streets I'm good. Besides you get to see some awesome scenery. The pictures are from the country roads I ride.

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