Tuesday, March 1, 2011

let's go biking

my bike

About this time of the year, I hear from women looking to do some bike rides. Invariably it goes like this. "Hi, I am new to biking and just dug out my old mountain bike from the basement and was wondering if you bike on roads with hills? I am really interested in biking."

If you were really interested you would never have wasted the money on the mountain bike and instead saved your dough for a decent road bike. Biking in Chester County requires a road bike. You must be able to shift gears and I highly recommend a bike with the triple crank. This gives you what I call the "granny gear". A gear low enough to make climbing hills very doable even for the beginner.

Biking is one of the best activities for women especially as you age into retirement. Not only is it easy on the knees but you can do it while sitting on a seat. You do not have to go fast and you can still get a good workout.

Now if all you want to do is bike on a bike trail or the boardwalk at the beach, your mountain bike will do fine. But not in Chester County. While I consider it the most scenic biking area, it does require a good bike to make the riding fun.

Before you head out the door to bike in Chester County, get prepared. Get a good bike bag and equip it with 2 tubes and an inflation system such as CO2. Make sure you can use your system and know how to change a tire. Carry ROAD ID, cell phone and 2 bottles of liquid preferably some type of Gatorade.

Most women head out the door thinking, I will just take some water and get a good workout and lose 10 lbs. I won't eat on the ride so that I burn even more calories.

Good luck with that. First of all, you will do fine on one ride of about 25 miles or less. But when you head out again in a few days doing the same thing, most likely you will hit the proverbial wall. If you want to bike regularly and do it well, hydrate well and carry 2 times what you think you need to eat.

Bananas, cookies, fig bar, Rice Krispy Squares....anything with sugar is good. Avoid stuff like nuts and fruit, as the nuts takes hrs to get into your system and fruit does not have enough calories. Some bike rides I am out for over 4 hours. Thinking you can starve yourself during a ride of this duration is wishful thinking.

Starve yourself on your own time, not when out with a group of cyclists. Your fellow riders will thank you for not bonking on the ride. I have bonked, so I know it can happen.

Below is picture of my bike bag and followed by a picture of the stuff I can fit into my bike bag.

CO2 inflator and spare cartridge, bike tools, tire lever, two tubes I keep in plastic and some extra screws and washers for my bike shoes. I have had these screws come loose and fall off. I also carry an insurance card and my ROAD ID has emergency contacts.

Carry money and make sure your cell phone is charged. If riding with a friend or husband, you both need the identical equipment. Do not rely on someone to carry your stuff. I have passed stranded females whose significant others have left them behind. The stranded person has no cell phone or tire changing equipment. SO PREPARE.

See you on the road. Me and my bike.

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