Why Ride a Bicycle?

Why should you ride a bicycle? It’s a simple question with a not-so-simple answer.

I think the first and foremost reason is that riding a bike is enjoyable. Whether you ride for entertainment or exercise or to commute, the experience should be fun. If you’re not enjoying it, stop riding. Give it a chance and if it’s not for you, it’s not for you. Simple as that.

Riding a bike can be a very refreshing activity. It feels great to get outside and get the wind in your face. To me, trail riding is a fantastic place to clear my head. I get out on the trail and forget about everything going on in my life and just concentrate on the next obstacle ahead of me. I always feel rejuvenated after a good mountain bike ride. Road riding kind of has the opposite effect for me personally. A good road ride gives me a chance to get some good thinking done. Bottom line…riding a bicycle is therapeutic.

Riding a bike is also, probably more obviously, beneficial to your health. It is a great low impact exercise. The amount of stress put on your joints is very minimal. For those with bad knees, cycling gives the opportunity to get a great workout without putting much stress on the knees and ankles yet still strengthening them. I have been through three ankle surgeries and a large portion of my therapy was to ride a bicycle. You can get a cardiovascular and strength workout without having to worry about putting the pounding stress on your joints. I definitely could not have handled much of that during my therapy so cycling was a great alternative workout. Another benefit for me was that the pedaling provided a large range of motion so my ankle was being stretched every stroke. All of these combined helped me recover quickly. Today I spend much of my workout time on my bicycle. Now I’m trying to avoid future joint problems that other activities may bring on.

Riding is not just good for you. By riding your bike you’re doing your part in helping the environment. Here I’m talking about using your bicycle as a mode of transportation. Anytime you don’t use your car you’re helping. Riding your bike is a very effective way to get around. A bicycle is actually one of the most efficient modes of transportation when looking at input versus output. Commuting to work during rush hour can be easily avoided by riding a bicycle. You can laugh at all the people inching along as you fly by on your human-powered vehicle. And hey…you even got a little workout on the way. I think this reason may have the most effect, at least right now. With fuel being as expensive as it is, think of the money you’ll save by commuting on your bicycle. I’m not saying to ride everywhere you go. Of course there are going to be times when it just isn’t practical, but I guarantee you will notice the difference in your pocket if you honestly make the effort to ride when you can.

These reasons can really all be tied together. Speaking from a completely commuting standpoint, you will avoid rush hour traffic while saving money and getting exercise and doing your part to help the environment. You may even have a little fun. It’s a win-win-win-win-win situation. There really isn’t a downside. All this by riding your bicycle to work.

These are a few reasons to ride that hit a chord with me personally and I hope it will provide you some insight into why people ride bicycles and maybe even inspire you to get out and ride and come up with your own reasons.

As always…Ride On.

Setting Up Your Bicycle For Winter Riding

For my winter riding I’m using my 2008 Specialized HardRock XC Disc. It is a mountain bike but I bought it to ride on paved trails during the winter. It doesn’t take long to figure out that you need more than just a bicycle to ride during the winter.

One of my first purchases had to do with the sun going down earlier and earlier. So I purchased bicycle lights. At the very least you need a light in the front and back so other people (and especially cars) can see you. That means you don’t have to spend a lot of money. However the more money you spend the better “you” will see. The cheaper lights don’t put out a lot of light, they are only meant so other people can see you. When you get into the higher end bicycle lights they are designed to help “you” see.

As for the rear of your bicycle, you don’t have to spend a lot of money. The rear lights are only to help other people see you. So you can buy your rear light on the cheap.

Get rid of the Clipless Pedals. Cycling shoes are not warm. You can buy covers but if you don’t have to ware a special shoe you have many more options when the weather gets cold. From tennis shoes to boots, they are much warmer than bicycling shoes. Plus (this is my personal opinion) not having your feet locked into the pedals gives you a better chance of recovery if you hit a slick spot on the Trail.

Fenders are not always required during winter riding but usually a few days after a snow fall the weather gets warmer and the snow melts. And when that happens you will want fenders on your bike. Even if the temperature isn’t warm enough to melt the snow, if you ride on the streets the chemicals used will melt the snow and you will want fenders so you don’t get as wet as you would without them.

I have also installed Studded Snow Tires. At the very least you should get tires with more aggressive tread. But I would recommend getting Studded Snow Tires. These tires really help during the winter. They also have a more aggressive tread pattern. But I recommend not buy tires with hardened stead studs. They will wear out very quickly. Spend the extra money and get carbide studded tires. If you are thinking about getting Studded Snow Tires then you are probably a serious biker and you should spend the extra money and get the carbide studded tires.

Riding your bike in the winter can be hard on it. Therefore it will require extra care. Wipe down your bike after every ride. Lubricate it often. And at the end of the winter riding season take it to your bike shop and have them do a thorough tuneup on the bike so you can use it for a long time to come.

Top Tips for Keeping Your Bicycle in Self Storage

With winter quickly approaching, it’s nearly time to store the bike away once again. If you want to free up some valuable space in your house or garage and are planning to keep your bicycle in a self storage unit during the colder months, here are some great tips to ensure that come spring, your bike is still in tip top condition.

Hang your bike or store it upside down

It might sound like a pointless exercise, but one of the kindest things you can do to your bike while it’s in self storage is to ensure that the tyres are inflated. Believe it or not, if you leave your bike upright with flat tyres, it’s equally as damaging as physically riding your bicycle with a flat tyre and you’re likely to be left with distorted rims and ruined tyres.

As well as ensuring your tyres are pumped up, you can remove the pressure from them by hanging your bike up while it is being stored. If this isn’t possible then storing it upside down will also do the trick.

Keep rust away

Keeping rust away is hard work and sometimes we even unknowingly do more harm than good. If you decide to give your bike a good wash before putting it into self storage for example, make sure you dry it thoroughly because any excess water will cause rusting if you’re storing it away for a long period of time.

It’s also important to think about the temperature you will be storing your bike in – especially during the winter months. A dramatic change in temperature will result in condensation building up along the tubing which in time, will result in rusting. If you have a steel-frame bike in particular, don’t store it in an unheated space because you could come back to a lot of damage.

Fix any damages

Before putting your bicycle away for the winter months, inspect it for any damages and address them appropriately. It can be tempting to brush off any issues as you won’t be using it for a couple months, but neglecting these things can pose unnecessary hassles and problems which you will just have to deal with when you take your bike out of storage.

Protect it from dust

Anything that is stored for a long period of time without being touched is going to gather dust. To prevent it from settling on your beloved bike however, a simple dust sheet will do the job and it also has the added bonus of proving an extra layer of warmth.

Riding A Bicycle To Work Supports Weight Loss And Dress For Comfort With Cycling Specific Clothes

Riding a bicycle to work or using it for other commuting errands is a great way to support a healthy weight loss program, lower stress and save money on auto expenses. Triple-A now puts the cost of operating a vehicle at over $8000 a year so every day you ride your bike to work you could be saving $20 or more!

I love riding bikes and often recommend using a bicycle as part of wellness and weight loss coaching for my clients.

Once you have your bike set up (that article is available here as well) it’s time to set yourself up. Always ride with a helmet. Helmets can cost between $40 and $250. All have to pass the same safety standard and offer the same level of protection. The difference in price is the weight and ventilation. Higher quality materials found on the more expensive helmets allow the manufacturer to use less material so the vents are larger, making the helmet more comfortable in warmer weather.

Glasses are recommended to protect from foreign objects as well as keeping your eyes from drying. Glasses designed for cycling tend to wrap around your face for more protection and many come with interchangeable lenses for different light conditions.

There is nothing wrong with riding to work only on very nice days. If you want to be a serious commuter you will dress for the bike and change at work. Own a pair of quality cycling shorts or cycling pants. These have a pad that increases comfort and wicks perspiration and come in styles that are both close-fitting and lose fitting. Most cycling-specific clothes are made from materials designed to wick perspiration away from the body. A cycling “jersey” is handy because it has pockets in the back for small items but other styles are also available.

One challenge to commuting on your bicycle may be weather that is very cool one way on your commute but more temperate the other way. Layer for cold weather. A common mistake made by novice cyclists is over dressing. Layering makes it possible to peel some clothes off and adjust as you warm up or the conditions change. Own a set of Gore-Tex outer clothing. Gore-Tex protects from wind and cold and even precipitation while still breathing and allowing perspiration and body heat to escape. Cycling has some very specialized garment options that make your riding more comfortable. Two favorite accessories of mine are arm warmers and a vest.

Arm warmers are basically tubes, like open-ended socks, that slide over your arms from wrist to shoulder. They are made from fabrics that trap heat while wicking perspiration and are perfect for time when you start a ride and it’s cool but warms up. You can peel the arm warmers off and stuff them in your bag similar item called either knee warmers or leg warmers are available for your legs.

Another specialty item is a vest. Cycling vests stop the wind in front but are well vented in the back. When you ride in cooler weather your front gets hammered by wind chill but your back side, from head to toe, is not affected. Traditional jackets or vests will cause over heating and profuse sweating whereas the specialty cycling items will allow your body to regulate its temperature. When you warm up the vest will roll up the size of a baseball and tuck into your jersey or bag.

Gloves are a nice accessory and you’ll appreciate them if you ever fall. We all put our hands out in the event of a fall and gloves will protect your hands from injury.

For most people they will be riding in the early morning and late afternoon and exposure to the sun is not a major concern. You should always use a quality sunscreen while riding a bike and even if you will be riding in lower light conditions using a quality skin product will help protect your skin from the effects of exposure.

Another specialty item that can increase the comfort and pleasure of cycling is a cycling specific shoe. There are many “pedal systems” to choose from but there is nothing wrong with the pedals that come on your bike. Cycling specific shoes have stiffer soles so that when you pedal it spreads the pressure evenly over the ball of your foot. A good cross-training shoe may also work but then generally have thicker, wider soles. The cycling shoes also allow for the use of “cleats” which you may or may not use.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with your clothing. With some practice you’ll know what to wear for the conditions.