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 (biking, hiking, etc.) with the Coronavirus’s uncertainty has been challenging. This year (2020) has 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 maybe 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 chicks winter activities include having fun along the Minnesota River bottoms near Bloomington, MN.

Move more with low-risk Minnesota 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.

Making yourself heard, with a bicycle bell or by 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 less 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.

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. While 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. These plastic devices are required by the CPSC to be installed on all bicycles sold in the united states. You will find reflectors come 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 back 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.

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

Using active visibility

When the area is devoid of a light source, as a rider, you need to create that light to keep yourself safe. For cyclists, Lights and blinkers are the most common devices for light. Where the light and the blinker differ is that 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. For riders who spend a lot of time off-road or on unlit paths, these lights are a necessity. While most mount onto the bars or helmet, there are a few companies that 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 photoreceptor, covered and lights on.

What to use this Fall

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

If you like the idea of taking your road bike or a slight version of it off the pavement and onto a designated park area, cycle-cross may be for you. The actual name is cyclocross and is a form of bicycle racing and parallels with mountain bike racing, cross-country cycling and criterium racing.

An intro into cycle-cross may extend your summer of biking fun

If you like the idea of taking your road bike, or a slight version of it, off the pavement and onto a designated park area, cycle-cross may be for you. Also called CX, cyclo-X, or just ‘cross the actual name is cyclocross and is a form of bicycle racing known worldwide. Cyclo-cross has parallels with mountain bike racing, cross-country cycling, and criterium racing. The CX course is normally set up temporarily in a city park.

The cycle-cross course is marked with yellow tape.

The cycle-cross course is marked with yellow tape.

Marked by plastic tape that goes up, over, and around rolling, grassy and forested terrain. If you want to try cyclocross most states welcome amateurs to come out and try. If nothing else it’s a fun spectator sport the whole family will enjoy.

The right cycle-cross bike for you

With lower gears a cyclocross bike frame is fitted so the rider sit more upright.

With lower gears, a cyclocross bike frame is fitted to the rider so they sit more upright.

Cyclocross bicycles are similar to road racing bicycles. They are lightweight, with somewhat narrow tires and drop handlebars. However, if you are just starting out, a mountain bike or road bike with a few modifications will do. Stop by your local bike shop and they can assist you in preparation so you can try this exciting sport.

Looking closer at the CX bike there are greater tire clearances, lower gearing, stronger frames, disc brakes, and a more upright riding position than standard bikes. They also share characteristics with mountain bicycles in that they use knobby tread tires for traction. The main reason for being lightweight, ‘cross riders need to occasionally carry their bicycle over barriers.

The ideal terrain for a CX course

The ideal course, offers many twists and turn, some short uphill and downhill juants along with a few well placed barriers.

The ideal course offers many twists and turn, some short uphill and downhill jaunts along with a few well-placed barriers.

A cycle-cross race consists of many laps on a short (2.5–3.5  km or 1.5–2 miles) course. The race route is usually on the grass and can incorporate pavement, wooded trails. Obstacles along the way can include steps, steep hills, and other barriers requiring the rider to bunny hop or quickly dismount, carry the bike while navigating the obstruction and remount. As a result, cyclocross is also known as the “steeplechase of cycling.” The sight of racers struggling up a muddy slope with bicycles on their shoulders is the classic image of the sport. Normally there are only a few un-rideable sections of the racecourse. For a spectator, they make a great place to stand on the sidelines and cheer.

Cycle-cross racing tactics

Compared with other forms of racing, cyclocross tactics are fairly straightforward and the emphasis is on the rider’s aerobic endurance and bike-handling ability. Although cyclocross courses are less technical than mountain biking, obstacles can require a specific technical ability of a rider.

Here in the forefront a amateur rider tests out the muddy cycle-cross course with a fat bike.

Here in the forefront, an amateur rider tests out the muddy cycle-cross course with a fat bike.

For example, rider experience and technique come into play on course sections that are extremely muddy, wet, or even snow. Normally too extreme to be ridden on a standard road bike tire, the challenge in cyclocross lies in maintaining traction in loose or slippery terrain at fast speeds. The power of the rider is generally higher over the duration of the race to overcome greater amounts of rolling resistance from loose dirt or grass.

Overcoming the cycle-cross barriers

Although getting off and on a bike sounds simple, doing so in the middle of a quick-paced race is difficult. Often, when sections become extremely technical racer will carry the bike and jog for an extended time to save energy. Being able to fluidly dismount, pick up and carry the bike, then put it back down requires practice and skill. In competition, CX riders may do this many times throughout the race.

Here a rider dismounts, jumps over the barrier, then hops back on to resume her position in the race.

Here a rider dismounts and jumps over the barrier, then hops back on to resume her position in the race.

Now with the leaves changing colors and cool crisp days of fall are upon us here are some links to the race schedule that welcome new riders – in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and other states in the U.S. Visit your local bike shop for more information and extend your summer fun with cyclocross.

Remember if it rains you just play harder!

Here in this bike pic, digging through our summer archives, we captured this biker dude pedaling along the East River Road or Mississippi River Trail on the Saint Paul Bicycle Classic course this fall.

Staying cool while biking in the hot, humid weather

The return of summer is especially welcoming to most of us here in the upper Midwest. But with the warmer temps staying cool takes a little thought in reacquainting ourselves to a hydration routine.

100_0548Now with the temperature fluctuating up into the high nineties this coming week and the humidity levels on the rise, it’s important to know how to keep your body cool while staying active in the heat.

Staying cool while biking or playing in hot weather

If your favorite summer sport is cycling, knowing how to keep cool is crucial. According to a study done by Galloway and Maughan, the perfect temperature for running and cycling is 10º C (52 º F). So, unless you live in far northern regions of Canada you are probably biking in temperatures that are frequently above 30º C (92 º F) during the summer months. So, to enjoy your outdoor summer activities safely, when the weather is hot, requires taking a few precautions. Exercising in the heat raises your internal body temperature, putting additional stress on your heart and lungs, which can affect your performance and your health.

How Your Body Stays Cool

When your body temperature goes above normal 37º C (or 98.6º F) two processes, vasodilation (or widening of the blood vessels) and sweating kicks in to remove heat from the body. In vasodilation, veins and capillaries expand, and the heart pumps harder to send blood to the outer layers of the skin where it can be cooled. When the outside air is warmer than your body temperature you start to sweat. The evaporation of the sweat from your body helps cool it. But on hot, humid days, evaporation is reduced and this cooling process is slowed down.

So What You Can Do to Keep Cool While Cycling On a Hot Day

100_3408Wear clothing that will allow for quick evaporation is the best choice. Fabric that wicks the sweat away from your skin, allowing it to quickly evaporate, like the material cycling jerseys are made of is best. Any light material, other than cotton, with a zipper at the front is a good way to go. A damp hand towel or a purchased neck wrap will also help to keep you cooler by dropping the temperature of the blood vessels going through your neck.

Make sure you hydrate well and use electrolyte fluids.

100_3259Drinking water frequently and in the right amounts will help replace the fluid you lose during your ride. Because everybody perspires a little differently to find out how much fluid you need to replace during a ride: (1) weigh yourself before and after a ride (without clothes)—one pound of weight loss equals 500 ml (16 ounces) of fluid. (2) then, factor in the amount you drank during that ride and (3) on your next ride drink approximately 1.5 times this amount during your rides by making frequent stops (7 to 15 mile apart depending on the length of your ride) preferably under the cover of shade.

The more the better

If you have two water bottle cages, use them both by mixing one water bottle with a sports drink that has electrolytes and the other with water. Electrolytes are chemicals that form ions in body fluids. They help make sure specific bodily functions run at optimal levels. Too few electrolytes will cause the body to cramp up. There are many brands and flavors of electrolyte supplements available in premixed liquid, powder or tablet form that is easy to add to a water bottle or a water-bladder backpack to help stay hydrated and healthy. A natural source of electrolyte for after your ride, or if you stop at a grocery store along the way that sells it by the slice, is watermelon.

When the temperature soars like it is predicted this week, try to stay out of the mid-day sun. Plan your ride during the cooler times of the day—in the early morning or early evening.

Danger Signs to Watch For

If you overdo it and experience any of these symptoms:  weakness, headache, dizziness,  muscle cramps, nausea/ vomiting or rapid heartbeat while riding in the heat, stop and find some shade to lay down in, and replenish your fluids. You should feel better within 60-minutes. These are the warning signs to look out for to avoid heatstroke when you exercise in the heat. If any of these symptoms persist longer, call for medical help.

Finding where the irrigation spray is hitting the road is the ultimate why to cool down!

Finding where the irrigation spray is hitting the road is the ultimate way to cool down!

We hope you take the tips above and incorporate them into your next ride for staying cool when the heat index climbs. Remember, there are less than three months until the end of summer. Fall officially begins on September 22.

Have Fun and Enjoy!

 

I recently spent some time in Philadelphia. While there I enjoyed a few rides, but the most enjoyable one was Trek of Philadelphia’s Doughnut Ride.

Planning a casual doughnut ride for you and your friends

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking

Recently I spent some time in the cradle of liberty, Philadelphia. While there I enjoyed a few rides, but the most enjoyable one was Trek of Philadelphia’s Doughnut Ride. I was reminded of the joys of simple rides and good company, rather than difficult efforts and a competitive pace. Now with 30 days of Biking a few weeks away here is a fun idea you may want to consider with friends, as warmer weather moves our way.

The Doughnut Ride

We left the shop at 7:30 a.m. with a group of eight. Our bikes were a mishmash of road bikes, commuter rigs, single-speed, and an e-bike. When we departed the shop and headed toward the center city, it was immediately clear the pace would be conversational. Our cruise headed out on the river drive bike path, through Fairmount Park, and toward the center city. Rather than stay on the path, we crossed the falls bridge and onto West River Drive. On the weekends, Philadelphia closes West River Drive so we had our run of the entire roadway. After a bit of riding and a lot of talking, we found ourselves at the end of West River Drive and at the base of the Art Museum.

At the Art Museum, our ride began to slip through the surrounding neighborhoods until we reached our hallowed destination – Federal Doughnuts.

After stuffing our face with warm doughnuts we hopped back on our bikes. Full of sugar and fat, we made our way back to the bike shop along the same route. Ultimately, the ride took a little under two hours, including the time eating. Everyone had fun, the conversation was great, and we all got the chance to meet new people.

Why this ride works

The ride was great because the pace and route are clearly stated in advance. Therefore, everyone knew what to expect and where to go. The route itself was carefully chosen to promote great conversation and a casual pace. By including traffic-free paths and streets and a casual destination, every rider could enjoy the trip stress-free. Additionally, the pace is controlled by the ride’s start time. As an example, a competitive minded rider has a list of fast-paced rides leaving on Saturday morning, so there would be no need to come to the Doughnut Ride to try and get a killer workout with so many other options. From start to finish, this ride is a winner.

How to plan your own ride

If you already lead rides for a local club or shop, then setting up a casual ride should be easy for you. If this is your first attempt at leading an organized ride than there are a few things to keep in mind. First off, you want people to be at your ride! To make sure you have attendees, start talking about and advertising (if you’re working with a local club or shop) a minimum of two weeks in advance. Also, make sure all your information explains the pace as well as the payoff (in this case doughnuts) for your ride to build interest. Finally, make sure your route is friendly to a group of riders. As an example, I’ve been on a few rides that required riders to be single file almost the entire time due to narrow roadways. in contrast, the Doughnut ride promoted conversation with wide paths and clear roads.

According to Paul T., Perennial Cycle in Minneapolis does a great job with these types of rides and has a lot of them. Watch for the upcoming events there this season.

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!

No bicycle discomfort is as debilitating as back pain. Luckily, back pain is usually caused by a few, simple to fix issues.

Searching for the cause of back pain and finding the solution for biking

by John Brown

Over the past quarter-century, I have helped all manner of riders get going on their bikes. I’ve been lucky to see the life-changing power of a bicycle. Sadly, I have also seen riders walk away from the sport forever due to simple discomforts. No discomfort is as debilitating as back pain. Luckily, back pain is usually caused by a few, easy to fix issues. These issues manifest themselves in lower back pain and upper back pain. See below for the causes and fixes.

Lower back

The sky-high seat rider can result in back pain

The #1 cause for lower back pain is saddle height. Not only is this problem common and painful, but also easily fixed. Many riders, while trying to get a more efficient pedal stroke, will raise their saddle too high. If your saddle is too high, you will tilt your hips at the bottom of each pedal stroke, trying to reach the pedals. That tilting forces the very small muscles in your back to do the job that the very large muscles in your leg should be doing. To find a proper saddle height, check out our bike setup article, or visit your local shop for a bike fit.

The shocking truth

Another frequent cause of lower back discomfort is road shock. While riding, it is common for the small imperfections in the road to send vibrations through the bicycle and into your body. After some time, this constant vibration can fatigue the muscles in your back. There are a few quick fixes for this problem. The first and easiest solution is tire pressure. Rather than maxing out your tire’s pressure, lower the tire pressure in 5 psi increments until you find a pressure that works for you. Another quick way to squelch road vibration is by adding a suspension seat post. A suspension seat posts absorb the shock before it gets to you.

How is your reach?

Finally, the last common cause of lower back discomfort is your reach. If the distance from your seat to bars is too great, you begin relying on small muscles in your lower back to support the weight of your upper body, instead of your core and arms. Look into having your bike properly fit at a local shop or follow our simple fit guide.

Upper back

Shrugging off your responsibilities

The leading cause of upper back pain is riding position. More specifically, the shrugging of one’s shoulders. In my experience, many riders don’t know they are lifting their shoulders when they ride. It is just a tense habit they formed somewhere along the way. Paying attention to where your shoulders are typically helps you relax them, alleviating pain. Additionally, try moving your hands to different positions on the bars. That change in grip does wonders to rest different muscle groups. In some cases, a proper bike fit is needed to remedy shrugged shoulders, so if the problem persists, visit your local shop for a fitting.

Don’t become a pack mule

Be careful how much weight you carry on your shoulders. Riding with a backpack is a great way to carry the things you need, but be careful not to overdo it. If you use a pack to commute, try leaving heavier items like shoes at work. If you absolutely need to carry a lot of weight, install a rack with panniers and move that weight onto your bike frame and off your body.

Keep on going

Like I stated before, I have seen riders get off their bikes forever due to discomfort. It’s always sad to see, especially because I know that their pains can most likely be eliminated with some simple adjustments. Be vigilant about eliminating discomforts. After all, small pains today can manifest into serious problems later. Find a bike fitting professional you feel comfortable with and talk about your issues. Your back will thank you.

Fun biking, skiing or walking on water with these ice safety tips

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

For many, not familiar with the bold north, biking or walking on water is a fun winter tradition when incorporating a few ice safety tips into the experience. Here in the upper Midwest, Mother Nature’s annual temperature swing allows many to safely move or frolic on frozen water, by December. Then, typically for three to four months, riding a bike across a body of frozen water is a regular occurrence. This year, with below-normal temp’s early, ice is already forming and the fun may begin sooner and extend the season.

Biking across a lake opening up new places to explore and view the shoreline from a different angle.

Biking across a lake opens up new places to ride and view the shoreline from a different angle.

Along with the proper clothing for a comfortable ride in the winter, here are some ice safety tips you need to know to ensure a safe time pedaling across a lake or stream frozen over.

Ice safety tips – First and foremost know the thickness of the ice

There’s no way around it. While many visual cues can help you determine if it is safe to roll out or step onto the ice, the most reliable way to find out is to measure the thickness.

There are a few tools you can use to measure the ice. An ice chisel can be stabbed into the ice until it penetrates all the way through. A cordless drill with a wood bit also works well to auger a hole to measure the thickness.

What is a safe thickness?

Any ice thickness less than four inches, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources states on ice thickness, should be avoided at all costs. At four inches the ice can support activities like bicycling, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, and walking. At five to seven inches the ice can sustain the weight of a snowmobile or an ATV, while eight to twelve inches is needed to support the weight of a small car. And while these guidelines are generic, ice conditions vary, and the above is for newly formed ice. Make sure to read more on thickness before going out there.

Measuring in one place is not enough. Take measurements in several different areas (approximately 150 feet apart) to ensure that the entire area is safe. Ice thickness can vary, even over a relatively small area—especially over moving water.

Asses the area visually

A visual assessment can help supplement your measurement, and can also help if you’re relying on someone else’s measurements.

Visually keep an eye out hazards that may be developing in the ice.

Visually keep an eye out hazards that may be developing in the ice, especially through connecting lake channels.

Watch for signs of danger like cracks, seams, pressure ridges, dark areas (where the ice is thinner) and slushy areas—even slight slush signals that the icing isn’t freezing at the bottom anymore, which means it’s getting progressively weaker.

The color of the ice

Check out the color of the ice. Clear, blue or green ice that is thicker than four inches should be ok enough to bike on. White ice typically has air or snow trapped inside, weakening it. Dark ice might be an indication that the ice is quite thin—probably not thick enough for biking or hiking.

The Fresher, the better

New ice is typically stronger than older ice. As time passes, the bond between ice crystals decays even in freezing temperatures. When the spring thaw begins, the ice weakens considerably. It can be tempting to head out for one last ride across the ice, but it is safest to say no. Even if ice fits the measurement criteria, it can still be hazardous.

No ice can ever be considered “safe ice”

Along with knowledge of the thickness of the ice and a visual assessment here are four more suggestions to help minimize the risk when biking on the ice:

  • Carry ice picks and a rope
  • Have a cell phone or personal locator beacon along
  • Don’t go out alone; let someone know about trip plans and expected return time
  • Before heading out, inquire about conditions and known hazards with local experts.

Know the proper rescue techniques

Anyone doing anything on the ice outdoors should know the ice rescue technique. Even kids should be familiar with the protocol, so be sure to educate them ahead of time. If someone in your party falls through the ice, the first thing to do is call 911. Anyone still on the ice should slowly lie down, distributing their weight over a larger area.

Reach the person in the water using a long-reaching assist—a large stick, a rope or a ladder if available. The person in the water should be instructed to kick and slowly ease their way out of the water. Once they make it to the surface, they should crawl or roll away from the broken ice area.

Anyone on the ice, including the victim and rescuer, should avoid standing up until they are far away from the broken ice. As soon as possible, get the victim into dry clothing and treat them for hypothermia.

Now have some fun!

Enjoy the ice safety tips for a safer true north experience!