December 5, 2015

Bike Riding - a Skill You Never Forget?

Our new neighborhood, in fact most of the area, is bike-friendly. Dedicated lanes, signs urging motorists to share the road, and an extensive network of paths along miles of canals make bike-riding easy and inviting. With the temperatures in the perfect range for outside exercise, a new bike for both Betty and me have been added to our satisfying journey

After lots of on-line research and discussion, We decided on two bikes on the lower end of the price scale - about $150 each. Several folks suggested we shop at a dedicated bike shop and plan on spending at least $300-$400 for a quality piece of equipment. But, our choice was really a practical one. Betty's knees may not allow her to cycle very often or for long distances. My knees and ankles aren't the best either. By spending closer to $400 for the bikes and helmets, if it doesn't work out we won't feel too disappointed. And, the bikes will find a new home someday with two of our grandkids.





Mine is a Schwinn, a brand name that I remember from my youth,  though the company today is a shadow of its former self and no longer headquartered in Chicago. Called a mountain bike, the 7 speed model pictured above seems closer to a hybrid or comfort bike. The tires are appropriate for concrete and dirt but not overly nubby or fat to create a rough ride. I bought some extra padding for the seat; the one that came with the bike seems small and hard.




Betty settled on a cruiser-style. This has one speed and braking is applied by pushing the back pedal down. With a 24" wheel she can touch the ground and feels much more stable than on a standard size adult bike. 

After something close to thirty years since we had last ridden, both of us had some anxiety. Is the cliche about "a skill you never forget" really true? Luckily, helmets are now standard equipment. Skinned knees or hands, maybe even a sprained or broken ankle are possible. But, unless an inattentive driver hits you, the odds of serious injury are quite small, odds we are willing to take.

Actually, the saying seems appropriate. After a few seconds of getting my balance figured out, it was just like ....riding a bike. My body will have to get used to the physical work again. After a few rides around our block and then a quick mile to and from a neighborhood park I could feel it in my thighs. Even with a padded seat there was some...chafing, that I don't remember from my youth. Perhaps blue jeans aren't the best for bike riding, though spandex or lyrca are not going to happen. I have been told about bike short liners that sound like a good investment. Riding does provides a workout different from simply walking on the treadmill or doing the circuit at the gym.

After a week or so Betty and I have upped our riding to 2+ miles without any problems. That puts us at a path that extends for 5 miles along one of the canals in the area. Paved and smooth, it is a perfect place to stretch our legs.

Just one request: if you are in the Chandler/Gilbert,AZ area and see me and Betty, give us a wide berth. We are still getting my biking skills back.



18 comments:

  1. Wow, reading about your biking brought back so many great memories from childhood. I absolutely loved riding bike. Where we live now, biking is risky, but hub and I have actually talked about retiring in a place where there are bike paths. My brother and his wife have built up their endurance, gradually, and now can bike nearly 20 miles. I can't imagine riding that far, but they really enjoy it. Happy for you and Betty.

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    1. We know a couple who bikes 30-40 miles without breaking a sweat...amazing. Our new area is much safer for bikers. It is flatter, the street are wider, and the bike paths are everywhere, so I'm sure we will be doing a lot of exploring. I grew up on a bike as a youngster and remember my Huffy bike quite well.

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  2. I am frequently in Chandler to visit my daughter I will smile and wave and step off the path for you!!! Happy riding. Cindy

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    1. Thanks, Cindy. I will look for a friendly wave and assume it is you!

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  3. RIDING MY BIKE was one of the things I truly missed when we lived in the woods.The roads were way too steep and irregular. (and it was too cold!!) My first attempt, I flew off the bike on a downhill run and got stuck in a ditch.Luckily no broken bones! Here in the desert. it's so much easier! We enjoy taking our bikes to the Riparian Park by the library in Gilbert, and riding through the park,then out to the neighborhood behind the park which is an older place with interesting terrain,animals in the backyards,etc.(Had to buy a bike rack for the car.) I have an old Schwinn cruiser like Betty's..I bought it in 1988 from a Bike shop,used, in Tempe..college students often stay one semester, and when they move on they ditch their "stuff!" One speed, foot brakes!! You know what they say about the "simple pleasures!" Happy Holidays to you and Betty.Ken is back to work a few days a week,I'm busy catching up with all my social activities, my church, training at Botanical garden, and getting our lives into PLAN B of "retirement. P.S. I am too chicken to ride in the street here.I ride on sidewalks,canals,parks, mostly.

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    1. The Riparian Preserve at the Gilbert Water Ranch is a fabulous spot for just about any outdoor activity. We took Bailey there a few days ago just to smell the smells and dream of catching a duck!

      Betty is having to relearn the idea of braking by pushing down on the pedal. She used to ride a multi-speed bike but wanted something simpler for today. We will have to go shopping for a car bike rack, too. Some of the best places to ride are too far from our home without driving there first.

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  4. Tried riding a bike a few years ago. First time in about 40 years. It seems I really did forget how! But I think I might be able to manage one like Betty's. More like what I had in my youth.

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    1. She tried a regular adult bike (26" wheels) but that was too tall. A 20" kids/young adult bike fit her perfectly. It took a time or two to get her balance back, but she seems comfortable.

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  5. LIke Betty, I would want to be able to put one foot on the ground. Besides I love the look of those cruiser bikes. That said, two legs of completely different strengths, I probably need to stick to walking in the water!

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    1. There are some great looking new bikes. I am pleased they are making a solid comeback for folks of all ages for exercise and running simple errands.

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  6. Talking about biking.My wife and I started cycling seriously when we were in our mid fifties.I did my first tour of 1600 miles in 2005.We kept on biking over the years and in 2013 we did a fundraiser and cycled from L.A.to NYC.It took us nine weeks and we covered a distance of 3750 miles .The heat was almost unbearable when we were close to Phoenix,I believe it was close to 120 F.This year we sat on the bike for more than 3000 miles.So we hope to see you and Betty some time in the future when we do another Sea to Sea fund raiser.What I am really saying is thre is hope for you two in taking up cycling.

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    1. Come through Phoenix any time other than summer! Today was low 70's and in a week low 60s'...perfect biking weather.

      You are traveling almost the same number of miles on a bike that we do in our RV. Those are very impressive accomplishments.

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  7. Thanks for continuing to share portions of your journey. I’ve been trying to keep up on the blogs and enjoying the ones I get to. Retired (mostly) a year ago and love the freedom of ‘building my own day and week”. Some work and lots of play/volunteer time, often the same thing I’m lucky to say.

    About bikes and knees: if the seat is set too low, it’s actually harder on the knees. The simplest way to tell if the seat is at the right height for your knees is to sit on the seat in your normal position and put your heel on the pedal at its lowest point. If your knee is essentially straight, you’re at the right seat height. If your knee is bent, the seat should go higher. Correcting a too low seat could be done in small steps as you and your wife become more stable (on the bikes, that is!). Biking can actually help knees if you build up slowly and have the seat set correctly.

    Hope that helps and happy 2-wheeling.

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    1. Good tip. I will check out my leg position tomorrow (and look at Betty's).

      Now that it is cool enough I am finally getting around to installing some ham radio antennas in the attic and we are back to going to area parks several times a week with our dog. Life has a nice pace right now.

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  8. We have bikes in Tucson and in Seattle. Exactly the same models except the Tucson ones were purchased in 2004 and we bought new ones in Seattle last spring. A great way to get around and get some exercise!

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    1. Your place in Tucson just yells out: "ride a bike here!" It is probably quite good for Art's heart, too.

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  9. In the photo, Betty's helmet is not adjusted correctly. It should be worn so it covers the forehead and the straps should hold it snugly under the chin. Worn the way it is in the picture, it will not protect her head in case of an accident. The bike shop should be able to help you adjust it correctly. More info: http://www.bhsi.org/fit.htm

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    1. You are correct. In the photo she just quickly put it on for the photo. When we are biking she is careful to have it positioned properly, but thanks for the important reminder for all bike riders.

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