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Better than air conditioning: Tips for biking through the heat wave

See original post here.

For many, the heat is a deterrent for getting on a bike. It doesn’t have to be.

You can bike happily through even the hottest days of the year if you think of bicycling not as an athletic endeavor, but as a leisurely way to get around that includes free, green air conditioning.

I’m in the Pacific Northwest, where our climate is increasingly rainy. But don’t resent me — I’ve weathered some heat waves in my time, and biked through most of them. Here’s what I’ve learned about surviving — and thriving — the hottest days of summer by bike.

First things first

Turn off that air conditioning.

Or at least turn up the thermostat. Here’s why: If you’re always going back and forth between extremes of hot and cold, the heat will feel like an oppressive blast each time you step outside. But if you give your body a chance to actually acclimate — it takes a couple of weeks — you’ll be much more comfortable, outdoors and in.

What to wear

There are two schools of thought on how much of your body to cover. Many people prefer to strip down to as little as possible — (though you probably should avoid taking it too far).

Many who live in hot climates year-round say it’s best to cover as much of your body as possible with lightweight fabric to protect you from the sun.

I’ve written about adjusting your everyday wardrobe for daily summer bike riding elsewhere. The essential rule, though, is that lightweight natural fibers are more comfortable, while lightweight polyester prints won’t show sweat. If you need to look professional at the end of your ride, a spit bath and change of clothes is the ticket.

A cycling cap, the identifying marker of bike messengers, racers, and their imitators, can be a life saver. It’ll keep the sun off your head, keep the sweat off your face, and shade your eyes. Another essential accessory is the bandana or scarf tied around your wrist to mop the sweat from your brow at stop lights.

Oh, and use sunblock. Lots of it. This ain’t your grandmother’s ozone layer.

Water

Before you set off for a long ride in the heat, drink a lot of water. Like a quart. You’ll sweat it all out as you ride. Drink slowly, and stop if it gets uncomfortable — yes, it is possible to drink too much water.

While you ride, and when you get off your bike, keep on drinking. But stick to room temperature tap water. Cold water and ice shock your system and are harder for your body to absorb.

Eating salty foods helps with water absorption. Alcohol, caffeine, soda, and juice, on the other hand, require a lot of water and energy for your body to process, so if you drink this stuff you’ll need to drink even more water along with them.

Another use for water is pouring it on yourself. You can get a similar effect more efficiently by soaking a bandana with cold water and tying it around your head under your helmet. Cooling down your head will help cool your entire body.

Timing

Timing is everything.

Leave yourself plenty of time. Heading out 15 minutes early can make the difference between a sweltering hustle that leaves you drenched and drained on the other end and a pleasant ride that generates an almost cooling breeze. The latter puts you in a far better mood than a similar trip by car and gives you a few minutes at the end to wash your face and catch your breath.

The coolest hours of the day fall around 4 a.m. to 7 a.m., while the evening commute tends to be the hottest time of the day. Plan accordingly. It’s a good idea to have a backup plan, like bus fare or a friend or cab you can call if you get partway home and start feeling rough — you don’t want to mess with heat stroke.

The hotter it is, the more aggressively and impatiently people tend to drive. This is another excellent argument for bicycling, but when you do, be extra careful out there at the hottest times of day.

Outfitting your bike for the heat

Now is a good time to make sure your bike is well tuned up so you aren’t working any harder than you have to. Top off your tire pressure every few days (if you don’t have a floor pump, drop by a bike shop and use theirs). Make sure your chain is greased and your gears well adjusted so you can use all of them.

A heat wave is also a good incentive to take that load off your back. Equip your bike with a rear rack and panniers (you can make your own out of buckets for next to nothing) or a front basket to carry your bag in. You’ll sweat less and swear less.

•••

Hot weather biking isn’t for everyone. But if you put some thought into how you dress, take it slow, and always have water and snacks on hand, you can do it — and you’ll probably even love it.

How are you dealing with biking through the heat wave?

 

Elly Blue is a writer and bicycle activist based in Portland, Ore. She blogs at Taking the Lane and wrote a book about Bikenomics that came out in 2013. You can also find her on Twitter.
 

Bike to School Day Recap

William Land Elementary had 25 bicyclists (students and parents) for National Bike to School Day! Many of the new bicyclists were replacing a walking trip with a bike trip, but for a school that currently does not have a bike culture, it was a huge step in introducing a new idea and building momentum for next year.

The William Land Elementary bike rack has never been so full!

 [Information and photo (above) from Sonya Hendren, parent at William Land Elementary; incentives were provided by SACOG’s May Is Bike Month program]

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Kingswood had a ton of fun at Ride Your Bike to School Day! Each rider was entered in a drawing for “I love my bike” t-shirts and bags.

They also received prizes such as slap bracelets, key chains, bike reflectors, bookmarks and bike lights. Walkers all received bookmarks about bike safety. To top off the fun the whole school will be completing Bike to School crosswords and word searches today with the hope that next year we will double our riders.

Bicyclists signed our poster and completed a graph to see which grade level had the most riders.

It was a great day!

[Information and photos from Nichole Harshbarger, teacher at Kingswood K-8 School; incentives were provided by SACOG’s May Is Bike Month program]

Vision Zero - Sacramento Toward Safer Streets

A growing number of cities in the U.S. and in Europe – including Sacramento – have embraced Vision Zero, an approach to planning safety improvements that sets the goal of preventing severe injuries and deaths caused by traffic collisions. It takes a systems approach that recognizes that public agencies, transportation providers and road users are equally responsible for safety, and that road must be designed to protect against human error.

Last summer the Sacramento City Council voted to direct the Public Works Department staff to develop a Vision Zero plan for Sacramento. This fall, the Public Works staff invited SABA and other stakeholders, including representatives from other City of Sacramento departments, to be part of a task force to help develop Sacramento’s Vision Zero action plan.

During late winter and early spring 2017, the task force will review citywide collision data, including details about the factors contributing to collisions that caused severe injuries and deaths. Based on the data, the task force will develop a draft action plan with possible interventions related to engineering (e.g., street and intersection design), education and enforcement. Later next year the City of Sacramento will review the possible interventions with neighborhood and community groups as the last step in developing a final action plan.

By involving residents and neighborhood groups from the start, the City benefits from the knowledge of people who use these streets every day and also generates a higher degree of community buy-in. Infrastructure projects developed with substantial guidance from residents improves the City of Sacramento’s competitiveness for state and federal funding that give priority to projects with strong community support.

Meanwhile, SABA has been tracking fatal bike collisions in our region. Since May 2015, 13 people on bikes have died in traffic collisions within Sacramento County, including 4 within Sacramento city limits. Twelve of the collisions occurred on main arterial streets with long distances between intersections controlled by traffic signals or stop signs, and speed limits at or over 35 MPH, both conditions that enable drivers to speed. (In collisions where the vehicle is traveling 40 MPH, nine out of ten bicyclists die.)

Based on what we’ve learned about these collisions, vehicle speed, road designs that don’t adequately accommodate bike traffic, and close proximity between vehicles and bikes are likely factors in why those collisions occurred.

Your Spring Cycling Checklist Is Here!

Where to start? This spring cycling checklist will help get you in gear:

Lube it or leave it: Review your ABCs before getting out on the road. A for air. Pump those tires to the recommended PSI imprinted on the sidewalls of your tires. B is for brakes. Give them a squeeze and to make sure they engage with the rims for stopping power. C is for chain. Clean it and apply some lube. Lift your bike and give it a gentle bounce. Anything that moves or rattles needs to be tightened. When you turn the pedals, listen for noises. Here’s what your bike may be telling you. My personal vote is to get your bike checked out by a mechanic at your local bike shop at the start of a new season.

Inspect your accessories: Safety is job one, so make sure that whatever equipment helps keep you seen and heard on the road is in good condition and working order. Missing front or back lights? Buy replacements. Load fresh batteries or juice up rechargeables. Does your bell still emit the solid ding that signals your approach? If it’s tired, buy a new one. Can you locate your bike lock key? Does your U-lock need lubrication to unstick it? If you ride with clipless pedals, check your cleats for wear and make sure no screws are loose or missing. Adjust your helmet straps; if you’ve been wearing a thick winter cap underneath during the winter your lid may be wobbly.

Lay out your cycling clothes out on the floor: Pull them out of the closet, the drawer, the storage bin. Unearth the bits and pieces – the stray cycling sock, the single glove stuck by its Velcro tab to some random piece of clothing, the cycling cap that got mixed in with your hats and scarves. It’s hard to see what’s missing if you don’t know what you’ve got. Likewise, you’ll discover what’s worn out and either needs fixing or the Marie Kondo heave-ho. Wash, mend and store winter cycling clothes and accessories, so you’ll be good to go next fall.

Check your bags: Tip out the contents of your saddle pack, your panniers, your messenger bag. Dispose of any random crap: energy bar wrappers, inner tube caps, spare change, receipts. Then give the interior and exterior a wipe. Even if you’re a relative neatnik, spring cleaning just feels good. Also check straps, zippers and rack hooks to make sure you can properly secure your cargo and essentials on your ride.

Stock up: Inspect your inventory of consumables. Buying in quantity saves you money over purchasing one tube, one energy gel, one CO2 cartridge at a time. And, consider the tools you rely on. Is your tire lever set intact? Do you need a fresh tire patch kit? A new container of chain lube? Fresh water bottles?

Treat yourself: Everybody likes to shop for something new for spring. It may be as big as a shiny new bike or as small as a handlebar tape in a cool color. Maybe an upgrade, like a city-chic helmet. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but fresh feels right – and motivating.

Feed your passion: If you love riding bikes, then step outside the same old, same old. Maybe you’re ready to try pace line riding or racing. Or, you’ve always wondered exactly how a folding bike or an e-bike works. Or you’ve been wanting to get your partner to ride to work with you. Or weekend gravel grinding or mountain biking outside the city are calling to you. Who knows how far your passion might ripple, so don’t be afraid to broaden your horizons. In recent years, I’ve tried cyclocross (not for me, I’m too klutzy) and fat biking at the beach (yes please!).

Help change the world: Tap into your impulse toward action and connect with like-minded others. If you believe in the power of bicycles to improve the quality of life in cities, if you want more protected bike lanes, if you enjoy eating your lunch on a sunny public plaza, then make your voice heard.

The key is to get rolling now, let your imagination and spirit of adventure lead you toward new paths and enjoy riding as much as possible. See you on the road!

Great Scott! Bike and Walk Event!

This Sunday, May 7, is the 7th Annual Great Scott! Bike and Walk Event!, a free, self-supported walk/ride for all abilities. Join your fellow bike riders on more than 30 miles of country roads centered around Scott Road where ONLY cyclists and pedestrians are permitted for five hours. Locate the May is Bike Month(MIBM) tent near the north end of Scott Road for virtual badges, MIBM swag, and scavenger hunt photo opportunities.

8 - 10 a.m. Fast Ride
10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Leisure Family Ride

 

Q. What is the Great Scott! Bike and Walk Event?

A. More than 30 miles of beautiful country roads, centered around Scott Road, where only cyclists and pedestrians are permitted for 7 hours.

 

Q. What's the entry fee?

A. The ride is FREE and made possible by Sacramento County, El Dorado County, City of Rancho Cordova, City of Folsom and our 50 Corridor Chambers of Commerce.

 

Q. What's the date and hours?

A. The date is always the 1st Sunday in May - this year that's May 7! Fast riders can access the course from 8 -10 a.m. From 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., the speed limit slows for family-friendly rides.

 

Q. Where does the ride start?

A. You can enter the ride course from one of four points: White Rock Road and Luyung Drive (Rancho Cordova), Placerville Road (Folsom), White Rock Road near Latrobe Road (El Dorado Hills) and Stonehouse Road (Rancho Marietta).

 

Q. Will there be food?

A. Yes! Food trucks will be stationed near the Rancho Cordova and Folsom entrances from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Picnic Baskets will be available for pre-order for Deer Creeks Hill picnickers.

 

Q. How long is the ride?

A. While we have more than 30 miles of open roads, each rider can determine their own ride length - from just a couple of miles to traversing the entire course!

 

Q. What else can I find at Great Scott?

A. Plenty! Mini-massages, live music, give-aways, and contests. Check back for a complete schedule of events!

Roll Model - Jim "Journey Man" Kirstein

MIBM: What inspires you to choose cycling as your main mode of transportation?

Jim Kirstein: I find that cycling is good for my body, my mind and the environment. I also meet the nicest people on a bicycle, like my wife. It is also very hard on my car to just drive it a few miles at a time. So, to keep my lungs happy and reduce automobile maintenance cost, I ride my bike on all trips of under 25 miles one way.

MIBM: What allows you to continue commuting by bike?

Jim Kirstein: the most important reason is when I would ride my bicycle to work I arrived with lots of energy to carry out the work I planned for the day during the way in. The ride home allows all the stress that occurred during the day to get out of my body so I am ready to enjoy the evening. Thus, I have very few physical or emotional problems that cause any reduction in the commuting or life in general. With the many bicycle routes in the greater Sacramento area, it is a real pleasure to try new and different bike routes. Now that I am retired I still go out and ride the old commute route because it keeps me young. It also gives an opportunity to keep my friendships up. Life is fun when you always have a smile on your face.

MIBM: What year did you start bike commuting?

Jim Kirstein: 1976. I rode my bike to grade school and high school. In college I lived on campus so I walked. I did not own a car so I rode my bike to go places. For my first job after college and Vietnam, I commuted by bicycle about a mile. I had a car by then but still rode my bike to work. For my second job, it was a 10-mile commute so I only bicycle commuted occasionally. My next job started in 1976 and the commute was only four miles. I was married by then thus I rode the bicycle so she could have the car. If you want to go back to the start, it would be 1953 when I stopped catching the school bus and started riding my bike to school.

MIBM: Describe your bike and accessories:

Jim Kirstein: it is a road bike built by Steve Rex who has a local bicycle building company.

Registration is Open!

Cue the bike bells, May is Bike Month registration is now open! 

It’s time to dust off your bikes, pump up your tires and join your neighbors and co-workers during the Sacramento region’s annual May is Bike Month campaign. This is the 13th year that partners will come together to promote bicycling for all types of trips. Bicycling offers many benefits to personal and community health, improves traffic congestion, saves money on gas, and helps reduce air pollution.

Challenge your friends and colleagues to a contest on Facebook or by email - or challenge yourself to replace all your car trips with bike trips! In the Sacramento region 23% of residents have a three mile or shorter commute, the weather is beautiful and the terrain is largely flat. 
 
Visit Mayisbikemonth.com to participate, find Pedal Pools or view additional resources and information. Every time you ride your bike for any reason make sure to log trips and miles on the website to earn virtual badges and a chance to win prizes. Throughout the month, there will be weekly prize drawings, challenges, awards, safety clinics and organized rides.

Have Fun! Ride Safe! Happy Pedaling!

Introducing People to Bike Riding (Without Ruining Their Day)

by Kristin Butcher with PeopleForBikes
See Original Print Here.


If you’re reading this, chances are you already love biking. You have fond memories of weaving through trees, finding serenity in the blur of asphalt passing beneath your wheels, and enjoying a soundtrack made up entirely of your own heartbeat and the hum of rotating tires. And there’s probably someone out there who you wish felt just like you do about riding bikes.

Go ahead and make a convert out of them. But before you do, read this quick and dirty list of do's and don’ts for sharing the bicycling love:

DON’T dress for the Tour de France. No matter how happy you are to toodle along on your bike, new riders will always be certain that they are holding up your ride. Ditching the team kit in lieu of shorts and tennis shoes goes a long way in making new riders feel comfortable.

DON’T show off. Your ability to hop over a log one-handed while singing Yankee Doodle Dandy is an impressive trick, but save it for another ride. This is especially true if you’re on a first date and have aspirations for a second.

DON’T use the word “easy.” While it’s natural to try to alleviate a new rider’s apprehension by assuring them: “Don’t worry, it’s easy,” you’re inadvertently causing problems. If the rider succeeds, you’ve devalued the accomplishment. If they don’t, you’ve created a sense of failure. Instead, relate the obstacle at hand to other obstacles the rider has encountered.

DON’T tell them about all the bike stuff they “need” to get. Sure it’s fun to vicariously shop for bike stuff via the newbie, but before you know it, you’ve told them about the newest bike suspension and how they need to get a hydration pack, $80 bike shorts, and socks with martini glasses on the cuff. Remember, most new riders will have just as much fun on a 15-year-old bike and wearing boring old crew socks.

DON’T let your helpfulness get in the way of being helpful. Yes, you’re experienced. Yes, you have insight. But too much advice can take away the thrill of discovery, at best, or, at worst, overwhelm new riders. Instead, focus on one skill each ride and let everything else slide.

DO make the ride about the journey, not the destination. A 10-mile ride can seem like climbing Everest to someone who hasn’t been on a bike since childhood. Pack a lunch, choose fun places to stop along the way, and make sure the ride has early bailout options.

DO check their bike for safety and fit. Even the most excited novices lose steam if their first ride is on a bike with dragging brakes and an upward-tilting saddle. Before setting out, inspect brakes, tire inflation, rider position and helmet fit.

DO introduce new riders to their peers. No matter how excited you are to introduce someone to cycling, there is a special bond among people who are just getting started together. Many local cycling organizations offer no-drop beginner rides where new riders can enjoy learning new skills together.

DO listen. If the new rider says they’re nervous, take them on an easier route. If they seem frustrated, suggest a break and offer some food. If they say they’re uncomfortable, find out why (Pro tip: If they just got their first pair of bike shorts, there’s a decent chance they’ve got underwear under those bad boys.)

DO tell new riders about skills camps. Whether it’s mountain bike skills, road racing, or basic commuting safety, there are clinics available with professional instructors who are trained in breaking down skills into bite-sized pieces creating not just better riders, but more confident riders.

Basic Bicycle Maintenance Part I - Cleaning Your Bike

If you are a regular rider (three or more rides a week) you should clean your bike once a week.

Start by propping your bike up on your patio or backyard and get the bike wet with your garden hose. Do not use your fire hose attachment or pressure washer.  You don’t want to force water into your bearings and pivots.

Next, get a bucket of warm water mixed with some type of degreaser.  There are some very effective bike-specific cleaners out there, but products such as Simple Green and household dish soap work just fine.  Always read the instructions on how much concentration you should use.

Using the water/degreaser solution and a stiff bristled brush or a large sponge, start scrubbing the bike from the top down.    Make sure to clean all of the nooks and crannies.  Don’t forget the underside of the bike, specifically around the bottom bracket (where the pedals are).  When cleaning a chain, using the stiff brush works fine.  Chain cleaning tools work well, but can wear out quickly.

Hose it off once again.  Wipe the excess water off with a clean, dry towel.  Let the bike sit in the sun in the open air for a couple of hours to completely dry.


Read our second installment on bicycle maintenance:  Chains, Brakes & More.
 

Basic Bicycle Maintenance Part II - Chains, Brakes & More

After you have cleaned your bike follow these steps to properly lube your chain, cables, brakes and drive train.

Lubing the Chain

1. Go to a bike shop for recommendations on what type of lube to use, specifying what type of riding you do and how frequently. Do NOT use 3-in-1 oil, WD-40, or other all-purpose household lubes.  (Note:  WD-40 now makes a line of bike specific cleaners and lubes, which would work well). 

2. Position the tip of the bottle at the top of the rear cog, where the chain meets it.

3. As you back pedal, apply a drop of lube on each roller of the chain.  If you have a coaster brake or fixed gear bike, just go from link to link and apply the lube.  It is important to lube the rollers, not the outer plates. 

4. Wipe off the excess lube with a dry towel.

Cables, Brakes, and Drive Train

1. Use the same lube you got for your chain or choose something that works better for these specific components.  Using something with good “capillary action” will help it penetrate a bit deeper.

2. Take the applicator and place a drop at all of the derailleurs and brakes.  For full suspension mountain bikes, be careful not to lubricate any bushings that would be on the suspension linkage. Ask your local bike shop to show you how to maintain suspension parts. 

3. Take the lube and place a drop at any point that a brake or shift cable enters a housing or fulcrum. Then shift the bike and pull the brakes to work the lube into the housing. 

4. Take a clean rag and wipe off the excess lube.

Finishing
After cleaning and lubing your bike, you can apply a bike frame protectant.  Some products have a silicon or Teflon base that helps keep water and grime from sticking to it, or UV protection to keep your whites whiter.

Now that your bike has that showroom quality, take it out for a spin!

Finding the Right Bike (Part I) - Does it Fit?

If you are in the market for a new bike and wondering how to tell if it fits correctly here are some tips:

Stand over the bike.  If the bike has a standard top tube, with your feet flat on the ground in normal street shoes standing right in front of the saddle, you should have one to two inches of clearance from the top of your inseam to the top of the bike tube.  This is known as the “standover height.” If you don’t have at least one to two inches of standover, you should probably look for something else.  If the standover height is more than three to four inches (unless it’s a step-through/women’s frame) then the bike is probably too small for you.

Ask questions.  Bike shops want you to get on the right bike for you and if you are feeling uncertain, vocalize it. Practice the number one rule of purchasing a bike: try as many bikes as you can. Take an informed friend along.  They can sometimes offer good, third-party input.  But don’t let them dictate what you should or shouldn’t get. 

Know that bikes come in different sizes.  You’ll hear terms like “46 cm” or “16 inch” or “large”. The numbered sizes are typically referring to the length of the seat tube.  Road bikes and similar styles are usually measured in metric, or centimeters.  Mountain bikes and other more upright bikes tend to be measured in standard, or inches.  Sometimes, these numbered measurements are generalized and given a “medium” or “large” moniker.  Be aware that a large by one manufacturer is not the same size as another manufacturer’s.  This gives you more reason to practice that number one rule of finding the right bike: try as many bikes as you can. 

For more information about all the different types of bikes available check out ebicycles.com.

Check out Part II of Finding the Right Bike to learn about test riding.

Finding the Right Bike (Part II) - How Does it Ride?

After you have tried our tips for finding a bike that fits, you should take the bike for a spin.

Wear comfortable shoes and clothing.  Steel toe boots and high heels are not optimal, but if you’re comfortable riding in them, go for it. The clothing you wear will depend on the type of riding you plan to do.

Adjust the saddle height.  For most riders, the saddle should be at the height where at the lowest part of the pedal stroke, your knee is slightly bent. 

Hop on and ride.  Ride in an area where you feel comfortable.  If you are new to being on a bike, you probably don’t want to be on a multi-lane thoroughfare.  If you are comfortable riding in traffic, take it out and see how it handles. 

Look for the following while riding:
• How does your positioning feel?  Do you feel too hunched over or upright?
• How does the size feel?  Does the bike might feel too cramped or stretched out. 
• How does it handle?  Do you feel safe and comfortable riding it?
• How do the brakes feel?  Do they engage quickly?  Do they seem “squishy” or soft?  If they are hand brakes, are the levers in a comfortable position?  If it’s a coaster (back pedaling) brake, do you feel that you can use it when needed?
• If it’s a shifting bike, can you shift cleanly without hesitation or consistent noise? (Note: some internal geared hubs generate noises that are a normal part of their operation.)  Are the shifters in a comfortable position?

If you are buying from a bike shop, it’s possible that some or all of your fit issues could be addressed by making minor adjustments. If you are buying a used bike from a private party and something doesn’t quite fit or isn’t working right, request that the seller take it to a shop.  Most shops will check a bike free of charge and may give you an estimate on what the bike may need or the value of the bike.

Don’t feel pressured to purchase that day.  Try out multiple bikes, take notes, and take a day to think about it. A bike is an investment just like a car.  If you don’t get the one you really like, you’re not going to use it.  And that’s the point isn’t it? 

Find more information at http://www.bikeleague.org/ridesmartvideos.

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