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Thursday, September 13, 2018

A Great Way to Get In Shape...& Have Fun Doing It

At 50 years old, I've decided to change my exercise routine. I actually am ramping it up and have decided to go with cycling as a different way to do more cardio and work those large leg muscles of mine. 

If you work those large muscles, you will lose weight faster!

Though I am used to riding a bike now and then for fun, I've decided to make it more of an everyday routine. And I love it!

We are fortunate to have a nice bike trail close to our home and I kick myself for not using it more.

I don't break any speed or distance records, but for the hour I spend on it and the hills/inclines I tackle, I get a really good workout in.

If you haven't tried cycling I highly encourage you to try it. 
Cycling is much easier on the joints than running and you get to see much more of the beautiful nature along a trail!
It really is a lot of fun!

Don't worry if you aren't the fastest and can only go a short distance because your thighs feel like they are going to explode!
I have cyclists pass me on their fancy road bikes all the time. Wait until you see a team of professionals with their sponsored uniforms pass you! I've felt the wake of their jet stream! 

Don't worry about all that. Just start. 
I promise you - you will get stronger and will be able to go further in a really short time. 

It's amazing at how much the body likes it!

Oh sure, your legs will feel like jelly when you get off the first few times, but if you start off slow and go just a moderate distance, the body will quickly build up strength and you will amaze yourself at what you can do.

That hill that made you breathe like the sound of a freight train will be such an exciting accomplishment in no time! You will be so thrilled you did it and will be looking at the next challenge to go after.

Talk about a rush of joy!

You don't need fancy equipment either. Just a bike that fits you, a helmet, some glasses (because the bugs hurt if they hit you in the eye!) some comfortable clothes and a water bottle. You can find inexpensive water bottle holders for bikes at local stores.

Don't try and do too much or go too far the first week. Go as far as feels comfortable and then turn around and head back.
If you feel it was easy then add to it in small increments the following days.'s OK to stop and rest! If you are new to cycling, it will be hard the first week or so and taking time to rest a few times along the way is just fine and it’s a great time to rehydrate.

Here are a few more tips I have:

  • Make sure your bike fits you well. If you aren't sure if your handlebars and seat are the right height, stop in to your local cycle shop for some advice. They know how to set you up on your current bike to make sure your ride is comfortable. You don't want your knees and back to be hurting because your form is wrong.
  • A cycle shop can also make sure your helmet is a good fit. You want to protect your noggin and it is money well spent to make sure that "skid lid" fits you right.
  • It's recommended to invest in bike shorts for comfort, but if money is tight right now, just wear clothes that fit you, that let your skin breathe and are comfortable. If you find yourself really getting into cycling later, you can always go back to the bike shop and add the accessories you want. 
  • I recommend taking a water bottle with some hydration drink mix in it to help replace the lost electrolytes you lose while sweating. I have a favorite mix I use I will share at the end of this article. At the very least, bring plenty of water.
  • You may also want to take a rag to wipe sweat off during the hot weather. I just tie mine to my handlebar.
  • Find a time that works for you and stick to it. It takes time to build a routine and make things a habit, so promise to give yourself 30 days to settle into a routine.
  • Don't eat a heavy meal before setting out. I try and do my ride before breakfast. I may eat just a few bites of something just so my stomach isn't growling at me. Then when I return I have my protein drink. (see below for what I use)
  • Decide what kind of an exerciser you are. Do you like to be with others? Then join a cycling club or drag, I mean invite, a friend along.
    Though I occasionally love to have some company, this is my personal challenge and I do best when riding solo. I find it easier to stick to my plan and advance when and how I need to and not have to modify it because a buddy isn't at the same level.
    No judgement either way - your buddy may be able to ride faster than you, just that everyone advances at their own pace.
    You may even come to enjoy the alone time, especially if your life is hectic.
  • Be nice. If you are sharing a trail with walkers, announce in a loud enough voice what side you are passing on. For example, I will yell out several yards before reaching them, "Passing on your left!" This allows them time to gather up their dog's leash or pull in their toddler giving you enough space to pass safely. I will also slow down if I see a mom with little ones or a person with a dog who may lunge at a bike. Just in case. Hopefully they will be nice, too in giving you room to pass.
    Just don't fly by someone. I know it startles me when a cyclist blows by me and I didn't hear them coming. Plus, so many people wear earbuds nowadays. Make sure they hear you, slow down and give plenty of room.
  • Speaking of ear buds, I suggest only wearing one of the buds in your ear if you do wear them. I wear just my right one and tuck the other one down in my shirt. I don't always listen to music or webinars, but when I do, I think this is the safest method. You will be able to hear other cyclists who may be passing you and due to safety reasons, any cars or even if some creepy person is coming up behind you while you are stopped and taking a breather.
    Regardless of whether you are walking, jogging or cycling, not being able to hear your surroundings is very dangerous.
  • Practice good road sense and follow all traffic laws. If you ride on the road, then you must follow the same traffic laws as cars do - stopping for stop signs and traffic lights, flowing the same direction as cars and using hand signals to indicate direction changes, etc.
    Stay close to the edge and don't ride on dangerous roads that have a lot of blind curves and hills. It's terrifying to come around a curve with another car in the opposite lane and a cyclist in my lane leaving me nowhere to go.
    I always worry for that splint instant I may be forced to choose - to take out the cyclist or the young family in the other car coming head on if there isn't enough room or if slamming on the brakes doesn’t stop me in time.
    I've had some really close calls in a car with those type of cyclists and it's made me very angry.
    While I believe in sharing the road, I also believe a cyclist should not put themselves and others in harms way. Choose your roads carefully and use good sense with common courtesy.
  • Also, as a horse enthusiast and who has trained horses, be very cautious when approaching horses on a bike. Horses spook easily at cyclists and if you rush up behind one or pass by too closely, you are liable to get kicked to the moon!
    Always slow your approach, ask the rider(s) if it's OK to pass and give them time to get their horse settled if it's getting antsy. It's a polite thing to do and it's the safe thing to do for all involved.

I hope you will be getting out on the trail soon with your bike. There’s no time like the present to get started!

Share with us your cycling adventures and tips either below in the comments or on our Facebook page: 

I look forward to reading them! 

Oh, I promised to share with you the hydration drink I use and protein shakes I drink. Here they are:

Happy Trails!


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