Category Archives: Riding Tips

Fun winter activities to stay healthy during this ongoing pandemic

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking

For many of us, being active outdoors enjoying fun winter activities (biking, hiking, etc.) with the Coronavirus’s uncertainty has been challenging. The last two years (2020-2021) have been like no other in recent memory. Despite the lifestyle changes caused by this virus, there’s still plenty of fun to be had. In fact, seeking out healthy activities may be even more important now as winter approaches. Doing something you enjoy can distract you from problems and help you cope with all the new life challenges.

Page through our latest Bike/Hike Guide with many maps of Minnesota destinations offering fun winter activities. Then, layer up your dress attire for the temperature swings ahead and head out. You will soon discover that outdoor pursuits pose a lower risk of getting sick than indoor activities do if you haven’t already.

Its a perfect time of the year to jump on a fatty and hit the trail. This pic was taken last year at the Get Phat with Pat event in the Minnesota River Bottoms, in Bloomington, MN.

It’s a perfect time of the year to jump on a fatty and hit a Minnesota trail.

 

Why choose outdoor activities?

According to a recent article from the Mayo Clinic. The COVID-19 virus is primarily spread from person to person through respiratory droplets. Released into the air when a person is talking, coughing, or sneezing. In contact with others indoors, you’re more likely to inhale these droplets from an infected person.

This Bike Pic  Tuesday as the temps continue to drop, we caught this biker dude, with plenty of layers and a mask having fun in the Bold North, near Bloomington, MN.

With plenty of layers and a mask, this biker dude is having fun in the Bold North.

When outside, the fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. You’re less likely to breathe in enough of the virus’s respiratory droplets to become infected. Being outside enjoying Minnesota’s fun outdoor activities offers other benefits, too. As you may have discovered this summer, being outside also offers an emotional boost that will help you feel less tense, stressed, angry, or depressed.

This Bike Pic Thursday, we caught this biker chick out having fun along the Minnesota River bottoms near Bloomington, MN.

This biker chick’s winter activities include having fun along the Minnesota River bottoms near Bloomington, MN.

Move more with low-risk Minnesota winter activities.

In general, any activity that allows you to keep a social distance of at least 6 feet (2 meters) from others is lower-risk. Here in Minnesota, a winter wonderland pursuits, consider moving with these low-risk outdoor activities to stay healthy and safe. Again, use the current Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide, with all the maps, to find a place to enjoy the following hobbies.

  • Fat Biking
  • Nature walks
  • Snowshoeing
  • Downhill and/or cross country skiing
  • Ice skating
  • Ice fishing and hunting
  • Fitness classes, held outside to allow extra distancing
  • And exploring the snow-covered trails on an ATV.

Similar to your summer experiences, try to avoid crowded walkways and narrow paths. Choose routes that make it easy to keep your distance. Wear a mask when you can’t maintain at least 6 feet (2 meters) from people you don’t live with.

It’s Friday and HaveFunBiking George will soon melt away as the spring thaw approached,

Winter activities can also include stopping to make a snowman when fat biking?

As fall turns to winter, your well-being also includes doing things that make life worth living. With the right information, you can make thoughtful choices about ways to bring a sense of normalcy and joy to your life during this pandemic. Maybe with some fun Minnesota winter activities!

Remember that just getting together for a chat at a safe distance can offer a valuable opportunity to be with people you care about — and boost your mood at the same time.

Using visibility for safety and fun in fall’s limited light

by John Brown

With school now in session and fall in full swing, we should all consider using visibility gear now available as a key component, so we are better seen while riding our bikes. The two main forms of visibility we need to focus on are passive and active visibility. Things like reflectors and bright colors are forms of passive visibility. In contrast, lights and blinkers are great examples of active visibility. Read on to see where each one is helpful and most efficient.

Using visibility passively

Most autumn rides start in the light and only devolve into darkness as the ride stretches on. In these cases, most riders rely on passive visibility to get them home. Provided that your ride is under street lamps or some form of light, that passive visibility will get you home safely. The most common form of passive visibility is a lowly reflector. The CPSC requires these plastic devices to be installed on all bicycles sold in the united states. You will find reflectors in two colors, white (front and wheels) and Red (rear). Additionally, many apparel companies install reflective materials on their products. Like the reflector on your bike, these reflective materials will take any light thrown at you and return it to the source of the light. Where passive reflectivity falls short is when there is no light source to activate the visibility.

This jacket offers excellent visibility through color and reflective materials.

Sealing makes some cool winter gloves that are both visible and insulated

Using visibility Activly

When the area is devoid of a light source, you need to create that light to keep yourself safe as a rider. For cyclists, Lights and blinkers are the most common devices for light. The light and the blinker differ because blinkers are designed to be seen while lights allow a rider to both see and be seen.

Great lights are usually rechargeable and use an LED bulb. These lights are a necessity for riders who spend a lot of time off-road or on unlit paths. While most mount onto the bars or helmet, a few companies integrate lights into the bike or your helmet.

MagicShine Bike Helmet and remote (inset)

MagicShine Bike Helmet and remote (inset)

Blinkers are usually battery operated and use an LED to flash intermittently. These blinkers can easily be mounted to your bicycle. In some cases, blinkers are incorporated into helmets, gloves, shoes, saddles, and handlebars.

The Omni Bike Helmet, with photo receptor covered and lights on.

The Omni Bike Helmet, with a photoreceptor, is covered and lights on.

What to use this Fall

Mount a pair of blinkers to the bike (one front and one back). When you get stuck in low light and high traffic, switch on the blinkers. If your route is going to be unlit for any portion, a front light makes things safer. Overall, think ahead before your next ride and pack to ensure you can see in the dark while others can see you.

Cycling is one of the healthiest forms of exercise and when you plan properly it can be a great activity year round! Here are some top tips for staying safe when cycling at times when Mother Nature seems to throw a wrench in your plans

Cycling tips on driving your bike in inclement weather

by Personal Injury Help

Don’t let inclement weather stop you from biking. Cycling is one of the healthiest forms of exercise and when planned properly it can be a great activity year-round! With spring around the corner, here are some tips for staying safe. Especially at times when Mother Nature seems to throw a wrench in your plans on that next bike adventure.

Inclement weather and the rain

Lighten up

Stay visible by using both headlights and taillight and wearing clothes motorists can see.

Stay visible by using both headlights and taillight and wearing clothes motorists can see.

Visibility is the key along with staying dry. It is a lot harder for both motorists and pedestrians to see you when it’s raining out. You can wear a reflective and fluorescent vest to stand out and attach reflectors to both your bicycle and helmet (which you should always wear!). Flashing lights on the front of your bicycle and on your saddle are also very eye-catching in the rain.

Avoid non-porous surfaces

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Driving your bike on brick, metal and wood surfaces when wet all become very slippery. Try to avoid traveling over these surfaces when raining. If you must ride on these smooth exteriors, do so without turning your handlebars to prevent skidding and slow down.

Dress for the temperature

In inclement weather and rain, when cycling, wear a light wicking layer under your rain gear and have a dry layer tucked away if you become wet.

In inclement weather, when cycling, wear a light wicking layer under your rain gear and have a dry layer tucked away if you become wet.

It is tempting to bundle up with multiple layers when you’re cycling in the rain with the hopes of preventing the water from soaking all the way through your clothing to you. Unfortunately, what will probably happen, all your layers will become wet from sweat and you’ll be stuck wearing multiple layers of soggy clothing. When it’s raining out dress according to the temperature outside, not the volume of rain. If you don’t have any waterproof clothing, a very thin poncho or large trash bag, with holes for arms and head to slip through can do wonders.

Inclement weather and the snow

Bikes with low tire pressure offer more stability on slippery roads. Adding studs to the bikes tires adds more control.

Bikes with low tire pressure offer more stability on slippery roads. Adding studs to the tires of the bike adds more control.

Slow down—it’ll take you twice as long to stop in the snow than in clear conditions. When approaching stop signs or intersections, give yourself plenty of room to stop and avoid skidding.

Use fenders—when you put fenders on your bicycle, you not only stop snow from splashing up all over yourself and your bicycle, but you also keep your cycling neighbors day as well. A win-win!

Use an old mountain bike—fat tire bicycles are great, but they often cost more than $3,000. If you have an old mountain bike gathering dust in your garage, it’s often a great and cost-effective option if you want to get outside in the snow. You can also buy winter bike tires, with studs, if you’re so inclined.

Wet weather and the heat

In hot weather stay hydrated by taking a few sips of water every few miles.

In hot weather stay hydrated by taking a few sips of water every couple miles.

Get acclimated, especially if you are used to going 15-mile and the temperature suddenly jumps up into the 90s. Add higher humidity, to the equation and it’s not safe to expect to take the same route in the same timeframe. It can take weeks to get used to cycling at high temperatures, so try taking in easy for a while so you can get used to the heat.

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Stay hydrated—a 150-pound cyclist will need to drink at least one 16-ounce bottle of water per hour. Plus a glass of water about 45 minutes before leaving. If you’re heavier or if you’re riding a challenging route, you could need up to four bottles per hour.

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Stay loose—you’ll want to wear clothing that’s loose and keeps you cool when you’re sweating. Avoid dark colors, but more importantly, avoid something that’s heavy and form-fitting.

This article was created by Personal Injury Help (www.personalinjury-law.com), an organization dedicated to providing the public with information about personal injury and safety information. Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice, and it is intended for informational use only. Be sure to review your local cycling ordinances to ensure you ride safely and legally!

Preparing your bike for storage, a check list to protect your gear

by Bill Anderson

Having enjoyed another summer of riding with many great memories along the way, it’s now time to think about preparing your bike for storage, for the winter. Unless you are planning on running your two-wheel steed through the winter for commuting or using it inside on a trainer, it’s time to get it ready for next year.  That way, early next spring when the temperatures rise, you are not cleaning and lubing your bike when you should be riding – Or even worse, waiting two-to-three weeks out for your bike shop to tune it up.Bike- main-1a

Cyclists enjoying a beautiful day riding with a flower garden in the background

Preparing Your Bike for Storage

When putting your bike away for the winter, there are several things you will want to do to store it properly. By following the helpful tips listed below or taking it to your favorite bike shop you will help to avoid future problems disuse and ensures that it will be ready to ride next spring when the weather breaks.

These tips apply whether you’re putting your bike in your basement, garage, or in storage unit. If you don’t have a good place to store at home and don’t want to rent an entire storage unit many bike shops now offer, with a tune-up, storage of your bike for the winter. Just don’t let your bike sit outside.

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Bikes left outside over the winter

You would think this wouldn’t need to be mentioned, but visit any college campus in the upper Midwest in February and you’ll see dozens of beautiful high-end bikes out suffering in the cold and snow. Maybe the students, who own these bikes, were never tutored that money doesn’t grow on trees?

In any case, follow these pointers so you are ready to go when the weather warms up next spring:

1. Wipe-Down the Frame and Inspect It

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Inspecting the frame is important

While I’m not really a fan of wet washing a bike with a water hose, because of the problems water causes when it gets down into your components and with rusting of certain metal parts, you will want to ensure that it is thoroughly clean before you put it away.

The best way to do this is to first take a stiff, soft-bristled, brush to your bike knocking away any chunks of dried-on mud that may be on your frame or wheels. Followed by taking a damp rag to your bike, wiping it down generally all over to get off any remaining dust or dirt, then focusing an attack to remove the grease and grime that may have accumulated around your drive train or other areas where lubrication can attract dirt.

2. Inspect Your Frame

bike-main-9

Look for cracks, signs of fatigue

Here’s a bonus hint. Wiping down your bike offers you a chance to thoroughly inspect the frame for overall soundness and structural integrity while you are cleaning. Look for any signs of cracks or metal fatigue, particularly near weld spots and on the bottom bracket, which supports a lot of your weight and can be subject to great stresses, depending on the type of riding you do.

3. Cleaning Your Drivetrain

bike-main-5

Wiping the chain is important

Now is an ideal time to clean and lube the cassette, chain and crank to get rid of all the crud that may have accumulated over the riding season. Plus a fresh coat of lubricant will help protect against rust. If you have several thousand miles on the chain or there is a lot of wear, it is a good time to replace it so you are ready to go next spring.

4. Lubricate the Cables

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Apply oil near cable housing and work in

To avoid problems that may pop up in the spring, with rusting or poor performance in the cables, take a few minutes to lubricate the cables that control your brakes and shifting. Here apply a few drops of light lubricant on a rag and rub it on the exposed cable – lightly work through the cable housing. This will help keep your shifting mechanism in shape while eliminating any stress to your cables.

5. Inspect Tires, Wheels, and Brake Pads

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Tires should be free of cracks

While you’re wiping down your tires, check your wheels for loose or broken spokes by spinning the wheels and looking that they still spin true. Make sure your wheels spin straight, with no wobbling from side to side and no rubbing against the brake pads. If your wheels don’t spin straight, it’s probably time to take your bike in.

At the same time, inspect your brake pads for proper alignment and to make sure you’re not encountering excessive wear in the pads.

6. Then Inflate the Tires

Before you put your bike away, be sure to fully inflate your tires, especially if you are going to store your bike resting on its wheels, as opposed to having it suspended from a ceiling. If your tires are flat, the weight of the bike sits there pressing down through the rims on one spot on the rubber. Over several months, that can cause deterioration of your tire as the rubber can end up distorted and/or the tire can develop a weak spot in the sidewall

7. Wipe-Down the Tires, Saddle, and Handgrips

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A conditioner will keep it soft

Now that you have cleaned and lubed your bike, wipe down all the remaining components for any wear or misalignment. This is optional, as it mainly affects the appearance of the bike. Something like Armor-all works well for your tires, rubber handgrips, and seat – if it is one with a cover made from leather, vinyl, or another smooth synthetic surface. Products like this are both a beautifier and protectant and will give a nice clean and shiny appearance as well as keep the material soft. This only takes a couple of minutes and will be something that you’ll be glad that you did in the spring, as your bike will look really sharp, right off the shelf.

8. Remove any Batteries

To avoid corrosion from anything leaking out onto your bike while in storage remove any accessories with batteries, like front and rear lights, etc. If the battery is hard to remove, like in the case of some electric-assist bikes, be sure it is fully charged before it goes into storage.

9. Clean Out Your Panniers and Trunk Bags

If you choose to leave your bike bags on, in storage, clean and wipe them out.  Make sure there are no food items left inside as you may find a family of rodents, nesting there next spring.

 10. Empty Water Bottles and Camelbaks

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Clean and dry the insides of your bottles if you plan to store them on the bike

Take all of your water bottles off of your bike or at least make sure they are drained. It is best to dump out whatever is left in them since the last time your rode and run them through the dishwasher to get them nice and clean. When finished, be sure to leave the lids off to allow them to dry completely inside.

If you have a Camelback or backpack canteen water carrier, flush the bladder with a very mild solution of vinegar and water, and then follow that up with several rinses of plain hot water, then leave the lid off to dry.

Now, as you sit in front of the window watching the snow fly, recalling all the memorable rides you had this year, you can rest assured that when the first opportunity to ride next year comes along you are ready.

Tips on cleaning and storing your summer bike gloves for next year

As winter soon approaches it’s time to store away your summer gear. Especially your bike gloves which shouldn’t be ignored when putting them away. Besides their intended use, gloves are often used for wiping the sweat away and worse as a tissue. That makes them disgusting bacteria collectors if not cleaned regularly and before storing. So what is the best way to clean them, as a good pair of gloves can be a bit expensive and may not be machine washable?

A gentle washing with a little bacterial soap and /or white vinegar may clean and sanitize them.

Gentle washing with a little bacterial soap and/or white vinegar may clean and sanitize them

Preparing bike gloves for storage

Thankfully, like shorts, jerseys, and other articles for bicycling, most bike gloves are made from materials that can be machine washed. By using a little care and hanging them up to air dry, many gloves can easily be machine cleaned. So, before packing away your summer bike gloves follow these steps for healthy and extended use – whether they are cloth and leather.

Supplies you may already have on hand for cleaning your cycling gloves:

  • Antibacterial hand soap
  • Detergent
  • Leather conditioner
  • White vinegar

Cloth Gloves (handwashing)

Step 1 – Close the Velcro or other glove fasteners.

Step 2 – Wash the bicycle gloves using cool water and mild liquid soap in a sink. If the gloves are dirty/smelly, add 1/8 cup white vinegar to your wash water.

Step 3 – Rinse the gloves well and inspect them for soap suds. Rinse again if necessary.

Step 4 – Lay the gloves flat or hang them up to dry. If you can hang them out in the sun, that is even better. The sun is a “natural sanitizer” and can also disinfect your clothes. Plus, if you dry your gloves under the sun they will smell cleaner and fresher.

Cloth Gloves (machine wash)

Step 1 – Close the Velcro, snap, or button that is on your gloves.

Step 2 – Put the gloves in your washing machine, set them on cold water, and add laundry detergent. Do not use bleach. You may wash other items with the gloves. If your gloves are particularly smelly, add 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the fabric softener slot of your washing machine.

Step 3 – Rinse the bike gloves by hand after the wash if any soap suds remain.

Step 4 – Then lay the gloves flat or hang them to dry. Again, if you can hang them out in the sun, that is even better. The sun’s ultraviolet rays will help kill bacteria on your workout clothes, but only if your clothes dry completely in the sun.

Leather Gloves (handwash only)

Step 1 – Put on the bicycle gloves. Then, run some cool water over your hands and then apply a very mild soap, such as castile soap or leather soap, into the dirtiest parts of the glove.

Step 2 – Rinse the gloves well, spending two to three times as long on the rinsing as you did on washing to make sure all the soap is gone. Do not wring moisture in the gloves. Squeeze gently to remove water.

Step 3 – Remove the gloves from your hand and place them between layers of a bath towel. Then press to remove excess water.

Step 4 – Put the gloves back on and flex your fingers a few times to mold the gloves back into shape. Then, remove and lay the gloves flat to dry without pressing them again.

Step 5 – If desired, massage your cycling gloves with a pea-sized amount of leather conditioner when almost dry – use less conditioner if only part of the glove is leather.

Other Helpful Tips

  • In between washing your gloves in the steps above, if they become smelly and damp while on the go, keep a small bottle of white vinegar close by. While wearing the gloves, lightly rub some vinegar into them and let them dry as you ride.
  • Both leather and cloth gloves may be stiff once dry, but they will soften up with a little use.
  • Wash leather gloves as infrequently as possible. If you are a dedicated long-distance rider, they may not last more than one season regardless of how often you clean them.

by Sommer Adams, a HavefunBiking contributor

How an e-bike can help the post-rehab process after hip or knee surgery

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking

Recovering from hip or knee surgery can actually be fun when adding an electric-assist bike to the post-rehab process. After my second hip replacement and talking to others with hip or knee procedures, an e-bike can make the rehab process easier. Helping to achieve full-joint motion and an active lifestyle after surgery. Especially with the improvements in electric bike technologies in the last few years.

The Tern HSD p-9 E-bike I used for my rehab

This time around, I used an e-bike from Tern Bicycles that helped me keep a comfortable cadence regardless of the terrain. A huge help in low-impact exercise to aid both the hip and knee rehabilitation process.

Incorporating an e-bike into your post-rehab process

Using an e-bike in the post-rehab process can be a great exercise. Ask your doctor or physical therapist (PT) if it is right for your specific condition. Then, once you have full movement on a stationary bike, add some light resistance with an e-bike outdoors. Usually, within four to six weeks, this will help improve the strength around the joint(s) you had replaced. Your therapist can help you determine the right amount of resistance settings when it’s time to convert to an e-bike. Just remember, if you start feeling a sharp pain, inform your therapist and decrease the resistance or stop.

Going from a stationary bike to an e-bike in the post-rehab process

Using the Tern e-bike in my post-rehab schedule.

During my hip rehabilitation, I had the opportunity to talk to several physical therapists at Twin Cities Orthopedics. They all recommended using a stationary bicycle for two to three weeks to help reduce the swelling. Especially after a total knee replacement, some procedures may take a bit longer before starting to ride outdoors.

After two to six weeks of using a stationary bike and a regular walking regimen, you should be cleared to start riding your bike outside.

Advancing to the e-bike outdoors

Once your physician clears you to start riding, take it slow and stop if you feel any sharp pain. Most e-bikes allow you to control the amount of electric assistance you use to gain a steady pedal rhythm or cadence. Start with the highest level of assistance in a low gear and gently spin. This will ensure that you don’t stress your rehabilitated joint. As you progress, you can gradually decrease the level of assistance for a more robust workout.

The advantages of using e-bikes as compared to other sports

As you can see in this video, riding an e-bike after knee replacement surgery provides the perfect balance in making a complete recovery. This is because a bicycle can strengthen your muscles and increase your mobility without putting too much strain on your joints when exercising. With the pedal-assist of electric power, the e-bike requires less physical intensity and allows you to retain a normal cadence level to heal faster.

Finding the perfect gear for cadence

Selecting the right e-bike, there are many to choose

Finding the perfect e-bicycle that allows you to pedal comfortably after surgery can be a challenge. We all have a natural cadence pace, and the body performs best as the bicycle’s crank spins with steady yet comfortable resistance. The goal with an e-bike is to allow you to shift gears and motor speed to allow you to pedal at a steady and comfortable pace even as the topography changes.

Plus, stopping, starting, or accelerating with an e-bike maximizes your chances of a full recovery and a rapid return to normal activity.

Electric bike technologies will improve the post-rehab process.

As I mention above, e-bikes are continuously changing for the better. After replacing my right hip in 2014, there were very few e-bikes available on the market. At the time, they either came with a front or rear hub motor. Like the Curry I-zip I used on back then.

Look for an e-bike with reputable parts and a 3 to 5-year warranty.

Now, with mid-drive motors mounted directly into the crank, you have a balanced power movement from the pedals to the drivetrain. Making the Tern HSD E-bike with a class 1 Bosch motor system perfect for my recent left hip post-rehab process. Thanks to Perennial Cycles, in Minneapolis, for their assistance.

Some added e-bike buying tips for the post-rehab process.

After talking to others who have used an e-bike post-rehab process, here are a few more suggestions when looking for an e-bike that fits your needs and budget:

  1. Look for a pedal-assist motor – Class 1 system – stay away from throttle bikes
  2. Avoid rear bub motors – the off-balance weight and throttle will kill your progress
  3. Make sure the e-bike has a dropper seat post (especially for knees), as adjustments will need to be made through the rehab process
  4. Also recommended, riser or adjustable handlebars, so you sit upright instead of leaning forward
  5. Use a non-slip pedal – a Chester pedal with pins works great and still allows you to quickly dismount to move your foot to the ground and stabilize your balance.

    Enjoy the post-rehab process with an e-bike.

 

Making yourself heard with a bicycle bell, vs voice command

By Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking

Working on the gift section in the winter edition of the MN Bike/Hik Guide, coming out in early December, we tested a new bicycle bell from SpurCycle. The Compact Bell is perfect for the mountain bike or a flat bar commuter. The bell also offers the same high-frequency ping as their original bell, just smaller with fewer moving parts. However, with more people walking and biking, is it better to use a bicycle bell or your voice command to bring attention as you approach?

The SpurCycle Compact Bicycle Bell

In a recent test of the SpurCycle Compact Bell, I found the ring lasts longer than most bells. I found the high-frequency ping with a rich aftermath tone helps those, as you approach, of your on-coming presents.

The perfect brass bell housing holds a ring longer, starting with a very hard “ping.”

This compact bell is plenty loud for off-road riding and suburban commuting but won’t win against car horns and heavy street traffic in a metropolitan area. This bell’s true advantage is how long the ring lasts (or “sustains”), ending at the same frequency.

From its package, test out the high-quality ping this bicycle bell makes.

It’s great for commuters or mountain bikers because you can start the ring 10-15 seconds before passing a biker or pedestrian. Letting let them know where you’re approaching from and how far away you are. With the SpurCycle Bell, there’s no need to ring your bell 20-times like the inexpensive department store models. The initial ring offers enough of a shrill to get the attention of even the most hardcore earbud rockers if you do choose to hit it repeatedly.

If your bike has a larger diameter handlebar (22.2 to 31.8 mm), consider the SpurCycle Original.

Mastering the use of your voice or the use of a bicycle bell

In a recent article published by CyclingSavvy, on should you use a bicycle bell or your voice? For many, it’s a cultural issue. In this in-depth article, John Brooking discusses how you can use a bell or your voice to alert people and what to check for after sending an audible signal. He also touches on the other sounds bicycles make and how these extend your pre-ride safety check. Mastering the use of your voice or bell when riding is a call-and-response. Musicians use this so the audience can sing along; you can use it, so your passage is predictable and safe.

Personally, I prefer the bell to voice commands. Especially if you are in an urban area with heavy pedestrian foot traffic. Spending time in Amsterdam on a bicycle made me a true believer that the bell’s sound was mightier than the voice.

With these tips, wood ticks won’t haunt your next outdoor adventure

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

Unless you enter the annual Cuyuna Woodtick Races, these bloodthirsty wood ticks are annoying and could be hazardous to your health. If you are biking or hiking on trails through the woods or in tall grass, beware as you have fun! These little critters, especially if they are deer ticks, can be nasty. Like the wood tick, the deer tick also lurks in any natural wilderness setting. However, they are small as a freckle, have tiny black legs, and maybe loaded with disease-causing pathogens or Lyme Disease.

Two wood ticks and a deer tick pose with Roosevelt dime for reference. photo by David Bosshart

Two wood ticks on the left pose with a deer tick next to a Roosevelt dime for reference. photo by David Bosshart

There is a remote possibility that you could get a deer or wood tick in a city park or on a paved bicycle trail, but the probability is very low. Especially on trails with the grass mowed along the edges.  Generally, these blood-sucking critters are only a problem if you are off biking or walking through tall grass and brush. Ticks tend to crawl up on vegetation, tall grass, and wood and wait to grab onto a passing animal or human.

Once attached to people or pets, deer ticks can be hard to find. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), their numbers are on the rise and are carrying harmful pathogens. Thanks to the CDC’s website, there are several things everyone should know about ticks to stay disease-free.

Wood Tick Bite Prevention

Before You Go Outdoors

  • Know where to expect ticks. Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas or even on animals. Spending time outside walking your dog, biking, camping, or hiking could bring you in close contact with ticks. Many people get ticks in their own yard or neighborhood, in rain gardens, and in natural areas
  • Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing, and camping gear and remain protective through several cleanings
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanoate. EPA’s helpful search tool can help you find the product that best suits your needs. Always follow product instructions
  • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old
  • Do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old
  • Avoid contact with ticks, especially in wooded or brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter
  • Ride and walk in the center of the off-road trail.

After You Come Indoors

Diagram from the Center for Disease Control

Diagram from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

  • Check your clothing and gear for ticks. They may be carried into the house or your car on clothing or gear. Any ticks that are found should be removed. At home, tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, they may need additional drying time. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks
  • Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, hydration saddle packs
  • Shower soon after being outdoors. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and may effectively reduce the risk of other tickborne diseases. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks, and it is a good opportunity to do a tick check
  • Check your body for ticks after being outdoors. Conduct a full-body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, including your own backyard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. If you are comfortable, another set of eyes to check is a good idea. Check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:
  • Under the arms
  • In and around the ears
  • Inside belly button
  • Back of the knees
  • In and around the hair
  • Between the legs
  • Around the waist

Now that you are more aware and knowledgeable about being bit by these vampire-sucking parasites plan your #NextBikeAdventure and have some fun!

The summer is prime time for fun in the sun. Take a look at how to plan for an enjoyable, safe, and prepared bike trip this summer.

A guide to planning a safe and fun bike trip this summer

By John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Now that summer is in its prime, for fun in the sun, let’s plan a fun bike trip. While hundreds of people flock to the lakes and local pools for refreshment, many, like myself, will find refreshing the soul on two wheels the best way to go. Please take a look below at how I plan for an enjoyable bike trip through the summer.

A Short Bike Trip

Just because you are limited on time doesn’t mean you need to miss out on riding your bike. You can have fun right around your neighborhood! I have found that a great way to plan a short ride is first to determine a destination point. That destination can be an ice cream parlor, a road you have driven down but never seen up close, or maybe a nearby water park? Once you pick your destination, try to link in some sections of a bike path, rail trail, or some quiet back streets or road, even though they may not be the most direct route to your destination. After you pick a destination and a route, the rest of the planned excursion tends to materialize easily.

What To Bring Along

For a short trip, pack water and the tools to fix a flat. These rides usually only last an hour or so but can do a lot to help your peace of mind.

Bike Trip

Ice cream is always a great mid-ride snack, whether it’s a long or short bike trip.

A Long Bike Trip

It takes a bit more planning on a longer bike trip, though it follows the same order as above. Pick your destination with several attractions or points of interest close to one another. Then, add some bike-friendly routes, and the rest of the planned bike trip will materialize. On longer trips, it is also important to make sure your bike Is working well. Lube the chain, adjust the brakes, check your fit, or drop it off at your local shop for service at least two weeks before you plan to depart.

For longer trips, I like to employ guide books (Like our Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide) to find the best places to ride. Once you determine the location, reach out to local businesses like bike shops, hotels, business associations, or tourism boards to find more details about the area. As I mentioned before, a bike guide is a great place to start planning and reach out to the local tourism bureau. Bike paths and trails have become a popular attraction for most towns. The visitor center there is e more than happy to talk about their bike-friendly amenities and usually has the most up-to-date information. Also, consider using software programs like Ride with GPS, Map My Ride, and Strava for more route ideas.

Packing For A Longer Trip

Packing for a long trip is more involved than what a short trip normally requires. If you are driving a long distance or flying to get to the ride, you don’t want poor weather to keep you off your bike – so pack for the worst! For example, I once did a 24-hour long mountain bike race in West Virginia in July, and while the race started under sunny skies at 95 degrees, it was snowing on the top of the mountain that night. Please take a look at our comprehensive bike trip list for all the items you may be forgetting.

Bike safety

A great bike trip is a safe bike trip. There is no more important part of bike safety than a helmet that fits. While crashes are uncommon, they do happen, and a helmet is the best way to protect yourself from serious damage. Other than the helmet, practice riding safely with hand signals, situational awareness, and limited distractions to keep you out of trouble. If you are on a family trip, it’s also important to talk to your kids about bike riding safety.

Bring The Bike Lock

If your ride involves time stopping, maybe at a restaurant or ice cream parlor, be sure to lock your bike securely. Follow these three rules when locking your bike. One, Lock it to something secure. If the bike rack or a signpost you plan to lock your bike to isn’t secure, you are making a would-be bike thief’s job easier. Two, Lock the frame and at least one wheel of your bike. Locking just a rear-wheel or front wheel makes it easy for someone to walk away with the rest of your bike. Three, Lock your bike in a well-trafficked area. Bike thieves will be less likely to try and take your bike with witnesses around.

It’s All About The Fun

The most important part about making a bike trip memorable; it is all about fun. We all have days that start late, roads that get closed, out of the blue rain falls, and generally stuff that happens. Remember that the bike trip is all about the ride, not necessarily the destination so enjoy your time in the saddle.

Bike Trip

Always keep it fun!

 

Kid’s mountain bikes: tips and tricks to get them on the trail

by John Brown,

I love riding my Mountain bike and want to share that passion with my boys. I am dedicating weekends to kids’ mountain bikes to teach them to love the sport too. The sense of freedom and excitement it gives me has been amazing to experience through their eyes. Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

Kid’s mountain bikes

Dozens of companies produce kid’s mountain bikes. They often have suspension, brakes, and gears similar to adult versions. The kid’s bikes usually have either 20″ or 24″ wheels to determine the overall bike size. Be sure to find the right size at your local bike shop.

Teach to shift kid’s mountain bikes

One big difference between riding around the neighborhood and on trails is the need to shift quickly and frequently. Most kid’s mountain bikes have between six and 21 gears, with the higher gears being used on the pavement and the lower gears for off-road conditions. Teaching your kid(s) how and when to shift will become more comfortable while riding over varying trail conditions. I find it is easy to teach this on the sidewalks in front of my home. Have your child ride down the sidewalk in one gear, then shift to an easier gear and ride on the grass back. By shifting between gears and conditions, kids can get a great feel for how the gears work.

Teach braking on kid’s mountain bikes

Stopping on kid’s mountain bikes is about balancing two things; stopping power and control. Most brakes can easily produce enough stopping power to skid the wheels, but you lose control when the wheels skid. I found an easy way to teach this balance: find a short but steep hill with a clear run-out at the bottom. Stand at the bottom of the hill as a safety precaution and have your kid head down. The first time down, tell them to squeeze the brakes (front and rear) as hard as they can.  On the second trip, squeeze a little less and feel the difference. Have them apply the front brakes more or more rear brake on each successive trip. After a little while, they will have a good feel for the way the brakes work.

Standing position

When kids learn to ride a bike, they do so sitting down. While sitting is fine for smooth roads, it can become uncomfortable when riding over rocky trails. Try to teach your kid to stand while riding, using your legs to absorb bumps. You want to encourage them to have some bend in their knees and elbows and keep their weight back over the seat. This position lets them absorb all the rough terrain they might encounter.

L-r: Matt Johnson and his sons Jack 10, and Cole, 9, mountain bike in Salem Park in Inver Grove Heights on Sunday, June 12, 2011. (Pioneer Press: Scott Takushi)

Board trick

A fun trick to teach some skills involves nothing other than a board. A 1×6 piece of wood that’s about six feet long works best. All you need to do is set it on the ground and have the kids ride over it. Riding perpendicular helps them work on absorbing impact in the standing position while riding along its length, which helps teach control. A great part about the Board trick is that it gives a visual indication of where to ride without penalty if they can’t stay on.

Up and Over

Once they get comfortable with the standing position, you will want to teach them how to get over objects. To start, find an object on the trail that might be challenging for your kid to ride over. Please take a minute to show them where to ride to get over it. Have them back up, get a moving start, and take a run at the object. By standing over that object, you can be a safety net if it doesn’t go too well. Reach out, straighten them out, and congratulate their try. If your trails don’t have a good place to practice this, you can build an obstacle with a pair of two by fours and some lengths of PVC (see picture below).

Short and sweet

Please do your best to keep it fun. Pack treats, snacks and drinks and take a lot of breaks. If a section of trail was super fun, turn around and do it again. Keep the pace slow and have fun. If you meet a puppy, stop and pet it. Do anything you can to keep it fun, and a big part of that is keeping it short. Rides over an hour can start to wear out new riders and take some of the joy out of it. And regardless of the duration, be sure to encourage the things they did well.

Bribery

Kids are like politicians in that they aren’t above bribes. I always take my son for a treat after the ride (our current favorite is a smoothy from Wendy’s). This Pavlovian exercise can do wonders to reinforce the fun experience of a mountain bike ride, and encouraging the fun is the most important part.