Category Archives: safe biking

The Zen guide to bicycle commuting – Infographic

Regular readers know that I ride my bicycle regularly here in Chicago. You also know that I am 78 years old and have been retired for nearly two decades. So, why this on commiting? Well, it is about biking which I love. Also, I know that some of you are avid bike riders and thought there may be something worthwhile that you might learn here.

I actually tried bike commuting back when I had a job. It didn’t work out well. I lived about two miles from the office, but I found that riding for that short amount of time proved totally frustrating. I would just get warmed up and start really enjoying the ride and I would be at work. It was kind of like that old potato chip ad – “They’re so good you can’t eat just one.” That’s how I felt. I didn’t want to stop riding and start working. At any rate, I take my hat off to you guys and gals that do have the discipline to ride to work every day. It’s a great way to get your heart pumping. 

 

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Tony

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For my readers interested in bike riding …

I just ran across this infographic and thought it might be of interest to cyclists, but wait, maybe folks who don’t ride might enjoy it, too.

What do you think?

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Tony

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Beware of stealth injuries …

You never heard of a stealth injury? Read on.

I had a bad fall riding my bike Sunday morning. It was raining here in Chicago and I was rolling over wet pavement. I have done this thousands of times and understand that you need to slow down in these conditions. I did slow down, too, just not enough. As a result I went flying off the bike on a really slow turn as the tires lost traction on the wet street.  Picking myself up painfully from the asphalt, I saw Mark Twain’s famous quote on biking ticker tape before my eyes – “Get a bicycle. You will not regret it – if you live.”

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A wonderful fun ride over dry pavement on another day.

My brief flight ended with me landing squarely on my hands and knees. Thankfully, my biking gloves protected my hands from dirt and glass on the street surface. My knees didn’t fare nearly as well. Both knees were filthy and a bit bloody.

I got myself home and cleaned off the street grit from my knees. I also washed them with antibacterial soap to prevent any infection. So I looked like a little kid with two skinned knees. My girlfriend helped me get them both bandaged up to protect the open wounds.

Alternatively, my hands looked just fine. I got the street dirt and grease washed off and nothing showed. I had lunch and walked the dog. I found myself kind of dreading riding again because I found myself fearing another fall. Not wanting to ‘chicken out’, I decided to ride one of my other bikes, so I could take the dog along.

And that’s when I discovered my stealth injuries. It proved nearly impossible to hold on to the handlebars because it hurt my hands so much to put any pressure on them. Keep in mind that when riding a bike, you lean forward and probably 10 to 30 percent of your body weight is carried by – your hands. Although I only weigh in the mid 150s, it was really painful to hold on to the handlebars. I found myself adjusting my hands to reduce the pressure on the injuries in my palms. After about five minutes of this, I came to the conclusion that I was sowing the seeds of another fall. It is not smart to try to balance and steer in less than the most efficient manner. I turned the bike around and went home. This morning, my hands were still very tender and I didn’t take the bike out at all.

I thought it ironic that my banged up knees looked bad, but had no influence on my ability to ride at all. On the other hand, my hands which looked perfectly fine, made it impossible to ride safely without excruciating pain. Truly stealth injuries.

Tony

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How About a High Energy De-Caf Coffee Drink?- Mr. Lazy Cook

A couple of things to lay out before we start here. First, I don’t drink coffee with caffeine as I try to keep drugs of any kind out of my system. Second, I am a regular bicycle rider and always on the lookout for new sources of energy.
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The other morning I had a new situation. I had a date for early afternoon to attend a play. In addition, we had reservations for brunch at noon. From this schedule, I was not going to have a lot of time to get in a bike ride. So, I thought I would rise at first light and take out the bike for a ride ahead of walking the dog and my social schedule for the day.

Normally, I start the day with what I call my rocket fuel. It is a smoothie that contains all my vitamins. You can read about it in A super breakfast smoothie.

On the morning in question, my reservation about my smoothie was that it takes 15 minutes to make and another 15 minutes to drink. I didn’t want to spend 30 minutes doing that. I wanted to be riding my bike. On the other hand I was concerned that having just awakened from a night’s sleep, my energy reserves were low. I sure didn’t want to black out. I hadn’t eaten in over nine hours.

So, what to do instead to give me a quick shot of energy. I like my coffee in the morning, but since it is decaf, I don’t expect a boost from it. Here is the beginning of a light bulb going off in my head. As recently as April, I got turned on to coconut oil as a wonderful source of nutrition. Check out Why should I try coconut oil? for more details. Since that time I have been using coconut oil in every way I could think of to cook in, shave with, etc. Coconut oil has a lot of healthy fat in it which provides energy. I decided to add a tablespoon of coconut oil to my coffee. Continue reading

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My lost weekend …

I am just finishing up the remains of a lost weekend. You may not remember the book and/or movie of that name about an alcoholic. I do. I was a little kid when the movie came out in the 1940’s and had the bad luck to be brought to see it with my mother. It was way beyond my pay grade at the time and I remember having nightmares about a bat flying through a hole in a wall and bleeding. Anyway, my current lost weekend has nothing to do with alcohol.

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Friday started out normal, I got up early and rode my bike, then breakfasted with my girlfriend and took the dog for her walk. I had to bring her in for her semiannual physical checkup as she is a 12-year-old senior canine.

After the vet visit I brought her home, fixed lunch and then walked the pooch again. It was now nearly 1:00 PM, time for another bike ride. My back was sore, though, so I thought I would lie on the floor with my feet up on a chair for five minutes or so to relieve my back pain. I learned this position in a yoga class years ago and it works very well. I assumed the position and relaxed. The next thing I knew, I was waking up and it was 1:25 PM. I had slept almost a half hour in the middle of the day!

Upon rising I also became aware that I was still very tired and certainly did not have the energy to take the bike out. So, I took off my cycling outfit and went to bed to rest. I fell asleep again and didn’t wake up till 4:30 PM. Wow. Two things struck me immediately, I still felt tired and I had to get up to walk the pooch again.

With great difficulty, I roused my non-responsive body and put some clothes on. I live in a high rise building and found myself leaning on the elevator wall to support myself on the ride downstairs.

Mercifully, the dog didn’t want to do much walking and we returned home in short order.

Continue reading

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Your ticket to ride …

I am thrilled to report that today marks the 17th anniversary of my retirement. On October 2 of 2000, I bade the financial world adieu and started my life as a guy who didn’t have to get up for work every day.

I got my first job at the age of 10 sweeping the floor of a dry cleaner and continued to work till I reached 60. Although my degree is in Finance, I went into the publishing world writing and editing. I liked markets, but always knew I would write. I wrote and practiced journalism for most of my career, spending 20 years working for Reuters covering markets and then teaching journalism at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University for several years. Because I had written about markets for 30 years, my boss at a major philanthropy asked me if I would like to manage some money. So, I managed $900 million in bond investments for the final five years of my working life.

No mas. I thought I would celebrate with this biking post. When I was working I used to tell my friends at the office that when I retired I was going to ride my bike on the Chicago lakefront every day. They thought that was funny. I was never more serious.

You all know how I ride my bike nearly every day year ’round here in Chicago. I do it because I love it. Period. Everything else is gravy.

I am always excited to run across items like the ones below. They point to some of the fun I get cycling. If you aren’t doing it, or haven’t done it for a while, think about giving it a spin. You might find that flying across the pavement feels really nice. As you can see from the infographic below, there are some notable physical benefits, too. 

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Tony

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Bike commuting may extend your life – Study

Mark Twain famously said, “Get a bicycle. You will not regret it. If you live.”

Few people realize that he was talking about riding the penny farthing bicycle which had a huge front wheel and took some skill to master. If you want a fun read on his adventure, you can experience Mark Twain in the original – Taming the bicycle.

But I digressed. New research by the University of Glasgow and published in the BMJ, has found that cycling to work is associated with a 45% lower risk of developing cancer and a 46% lower risk of heart disease, compared to a non-active commute.

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Overall the study found that commuters who cycled were associated with a 41% lower risk of premature death.

Walking to work was associated with 27% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a 36% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, but not cancer or premature death overall.

This study analyzed data from 264,337 participants from UK Biobank who were asked questions about their usual mode of commuting to work and then followed up for 5 years. The new cases of cancer, heart attacks and deaths in that 5-year period were assessed and related to their mode of commuting.

The researchers believe that their findings suggest that policies designed to make it easier for people to commute by bike may present major opportunities for public health improvement.

Dr Jason Gill, from the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, said: “Cycling all or part of the way to work was associated with substantially lower risk of adverse health outcomes. Those who cycled the full length of their commute had an over 40% lower risk of heart disease, cancer and overall mortality over the 5 years of follow-up.

“If these associations are causal, these findings suggest that policies designed to make it easier for people to commute by bike, such as cycle lanes, city bike hire, subsidized cycle purchase schemes and increasing provision for cycles on public transport may present major opportunities for public health improvement.”

The greater benefits seen with cycling compared with walking may be because cycle commuters covered longer distances in their commutes than the walkers, the intensity of cycling is higher than walking and the cycle commuters had higher levels of fitness

Dr Carlos Celis-Morales, said: “Walking to work was associated with lower risk of heart disease, but unlike cycling was not associated with a significantly lower risk of cancer or overall death. This may be because walkers commuted shorter distances than cyclists – typically 6 miles per week, compared with 30 miles per week – and walking is generally a lower intensity of exercise than cycling.”

For the record, I consider walking to be the Cinderella of the exercise world – totally unappreciated. Check out my Page – Why you should walk more for additional details.

Tony

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The Joys and Benefits of Bike Riding – May is National Bicycle Month

There will be lots of celebrations of the bicycle in the coming four weeks because May is National Bicycle Month. As regular readers know, I ride around 7000 miles a year, an average of over 20 miles per day. So cycling is a labor of love for me.

I have tried to explain to myself first as well as others who asked, why I love to ride my bike. Until recently, the best I could come up with is that I feel like I am flying. Not soaring high, just flying along several feet above the bike path.

Riding on Northerly Island in Chicago

Riding on Northerly Island in Chicago

I know that when I ride, I am at once totally in the moment of propelling the bike forward and at the same time I experience a very enjoyable feeling of expansion – an almost out of body sensation.

This has been wonderfully explained by former University of Chicago professor, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book Flow. Continue reading

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Harvard on resuming bike riding

This seems particularly timely as I wrote about my own cycling – Riding a bike on Chicago’s Lakefront on Chicago’s Lakefront yesterday.

The Harvard Health Publications has a nice positive blog post on starting cycling again presumably as a senior.

Heidi Godman, Executive Editor of the Harvard Health Letter, states that she loved riding as a kid, but now only rides occasionally.

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“It’s fun, it’s socially oriented, and it gets you outside and exercising,” says Dr. Clare Safran-Norton, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Plus, cycling is an aerobic activity, it’s easy on the joints, and it helps build muscle and bone. Continue reading

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The joy of cycling …

Just thought I would share some of these with you.

Maybe they will inspire you to get out there and pedal some. It couldn’t hurt.

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Yes, I went for a ride after I posted this.

Tony

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One of the Secrets of Safe Cycling

I fell while riding my bike last week and got hurt, so I thought it might be worthwhile to write about the accident, how/why it happened, and, most importantly, what you can do to prevent having it happen to you.

As I have said previously, my pleasure in riding my bicycle is, literally, the act of riding itself. I don’t ride to sightsee. I don’t ride to get any place. I may do those things incidentally, but they aren’t the reason I ride my bike every day I can in a four season city like Chicago.

For me riding a bicycle is a combination of swimming and flying through the air. My legs doing the pedaling feel like I am swimming while my body rushing through the air is distinctly flying. So, I usually feel like I am swimming at a high speed through the air.

Wet sidewalk from rain or runoff

I rode hundreds of miles last year in a huge parking lot that has a circumference of about a half mile. When it was empty I simply rode around it over and over … and loved every minute of it.
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