Bike Safety 101: Riding the Roads

This morning I had planned on getting up at 4:30am as usual for my bike ride but because I went to bed at 11pm last night, I was still too groggy so I decided to sleep another hour.  I don’t have any place to be so why not right?  Darrin, thinking that I’m awake comes into my room at 4:45am to make me read an article in the newspaper about bicycle safety.

When I got up at 5:30 I read the article and thanked him for thinking of me.  Fortunately I already know everything that was in the article so I was already covered.  Luckily I don’t have to spend too much time on the road with cars to have to worry, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be reminded of the rules of the road every now and again.

I noticed that the article was written by the Chicago Tribune so I went online to find it and here it is.  Bike safety 101: Riding the roads – Chicago Tribune

That article has some good points but there are some things that they didn’t mention so I am here to add something to the list.

When you are riding with a helmet, and make sure you are, also buy a helmet mounted rear view mirror so you can see the cars and cyclists behind you.  This helps me see the cars behind me on the road and it also helps me see when there are a bunch of cyclists speeding towards me.  The article says that assume that there are drivers who are either drunk, texting or just not paying attention.  You can’t be looking behind you constantly so it’s a good thing to have that mirror.  And not handlebar mirrors because in some cases you can’t really look down, that would be too distracting.

Unfortunately, as with cars there are blind spots, even with helmet mounted mirrors.  This morning as I was coming home, I left the bike trail and got back on the street with traffic and there is a stretch of road that curves.  Well, in my mirror I can see behind me but there is a blind spot.  Unless I turn my head to look completely, I won’t see the cars that are driving directly behind me in the right lane, only the cars in the other lanes.

I had stopped because of all the traffic.  I usually go out into the left hand turning lane in the center of the road to get back into the neighborhoods and it’s usually safe in that spot but this morning after all the cars passed by I started to ride again and as I was picking up speed I noticed out of my peripheral vision a black SUV that swerved to stop before it hit me.  That was my fault because I shouldn’t just look in the mirror, especially when I stop like that.  I need to turn my head around so I can see to make sure there aren’t any cars still coming.  I was still looking in the mirror so that’s why it was puzzling that I didn’t see it.

As I was getting in the turning lane I looked over at him and waved saying “SORRY!” and he waved back at me as if to say “it’s ok”.  If I had gotten hit, it would’ve been my fault because I wasn’t paying attention to my blind spots.

So that is another tip to think about when you are riding in curved roads with cars.  Check your blind spots before going into the turning lane otherwise you might get killed.

The funny thing is, I was thinking about that article when that happened so my mind was elsewhere.  I was thinking about bicycle road safety when I was unsafe.  Oh sweet irony.

I learned a huge lesson today about safety.  I also learned that if I can’t leave the house as early as 5am then perhaps I need to just stay home because it’s much easier to get into that turning lane early in the morning when there are no cars on the road.  I would much rather be safe with no cars than get hit by a car because of a stupid blind spot.

Gnats Gnot Gnice!

Several times per week I wake up at 4:30am and leave the house at 5am to go bike riding for exercise.  I took this picture at sunrise this morning because I wanted to show off how cool the moon looked with the sun shining on it.  Unfortunately my cell phone takes crappy pictures.  I took 3 and this one was the best one.

But that’s not the reason for this post.  I love riding almost 23 miles every time I ride but the one thing that I do not like are the gnats.

Sometimes I will run into these little buggers.  They are so gross lol.  I can’t see them until they are coming towards my face and sometimes I can’t see them at all and I have no time to duck my head to the side to avoid them.  Occasionally I’ll get a straggler that’s flying solo that just flies into my mouth as I’m singing, and you know if you are on the bike trail by yourself with headphones on it’s pretty difficult to not sing.  Imagine singing an Alanis Morissette song “It’s like RAAAAYYYYAAAAYYYYAAAAIIIIN” where you practically have to unhinge your jaw to sing that one part.  A ton of gnats gets in then.

One thing these disgusting little things do is when they do run into my face, arm hair or chest, they latch on and go for the ride.  When I get to a point where I usually stop to take a break they let go and swarm me.  So one thing I like to do is stop maybe 20 feet or so from the place I like to take a break at so they will let go then take off so they can’t follow me.  Although some do catch up with me but not all of them.

During my breaks I like to take off my helmet and skull cap so I can dry my head and replace it with a dry one.  My breaks aren’t spent slacking off, they are spent getting dry to continue going the way I came, back home.  If I don’t do that then the skull cap I’m wearing will start dripping in my face.  23 miles is a long way to go with a soaking wet skull cap.  Usually as I’m opening my energy bar and taking a bite is when the gnats finally catch up to me then it’s dodging gnats all the way home lol.

It’s a very strange existence.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a gnat, flying in eyeballs, noses and mouths, latching onto clothing and sitting there while I’m being taken away from my gnat family.  No, I don’t think I want to live in that world.

I don’t even want to think of any diseases they carry *shivers at the thought*

Ok my skin is crawling, I can’t think about this anymore lol.

Straight Talk

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Straight Talk for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

When I got my first cell phone 9 years ago, I was afraid of getting a phone with a contract because they were just so darned expensive.  I went with a prepaid phone with maybe only 250 minutes per month for $25.  That was perfect for me because I don’t really use it that much.  I only use it when I’m traveling or on the bike trail.  That old phone is long dead and I’ve been looking for a new one.

Straight talk has phones with everything you need such as the “All You Need Plan” with 1000 minutes, 1000 texts and 30mb of data for only $30/mo.  They also have unlimited plans for only $45 a month with calls, pictures, text, web and messaging..  That is a huge savings if you are currently paying $75 to $100 per month.  I love that I would feel richer with those savings.  What would you buy with the money you are saving?  I think I would be buying more groceries, then again I might buy some music or books, who knows.

Straight Talk has an international option for only $5 more so you can call a friend in Mexico, Germany, England or anywhere you need to call.  I see people buying these phone cards from the store on the corner for Mexico and I just think they are wasting their money.  They can just get one of these prepaid cell phones and call their family for only an additional $5 with their international plan.

Scott Canterbury talks about Straight Talk in this YouTube video hook, line and sinker.  He talks about how much money he is saving each month and as a family he’d be saving much more.  Watch and see.  It’s just such a good plan to go with, I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t want to.  They even have refurbished cell phones for as low as $10 with a camera, mp3 player, web and blue tooth.  They even have smart phones with touch screen, apps, maps etc.   There are no activation fees, contracts or credit checks.  You can’t beat that in a cell phone.  So watch the videos (links) and save some money for crying out loud.

Visit Sponsor's Site

New river park area aims to attract visitors, wildlife

New river park area aims to attract visitors, wildlife – Source Bakersfield.com

A train whistle sounded in the distance as Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall cut a thick blue ribbon Wednesday, signifying that the Uplands of Kern River Parkway is open to the public.

“Imagine it on a 60-degree day instead of a 110-degree day,” Hall joked to a small crowd of mostly city and county officials who stood under a canopy overlooking the Kern River.

While the Uplands park — which was funded with a $1.4 million state grant from Proposition 50, $314,000 from city Park Improvement fees and $275,000 from the city’s agricultural water fund — seemed more desolate than lush, officials were optimistic the park will come into its own….”

Some time in the beginning of June I started riding my bike to the Bakersfield bike trail.  I didn’t make it too far before heading home.  Around mid-June I took it to the next level and continued along the bike trail all the way to Manor and noticed these new seating areas.  Only one of them is different from the others, it has a telescope, none of the others have that.  They were all closed but they opened on June 22nd.

They are really nice aren’t they?  It’s too bad I can never use it.  Why you ask? Take a look at this:

No bicycles, skateboards, roller blades, in-line scooters or horses.  So, if I’m riding on the bike trail, I can’t pull over for a rest.  Or does that mean that I can’t “ride” the bike in there?  Do they have any rest stop police to make sure I don’t get to sit in there?  Uh no.  They don’t have anything saying so.

I’m not quite sure what this sign means.  Am I allowed to walk my bike along the wooden path in the dirt then prop it up on its bike stand then go sit down and rest?  Probably not because it’s apparently not intended as a rest stop but more as a bird watching area.

It says in that article from the city of Bakersfield that they want to encourage more animals to come:

“The whole purpose is that once the trees mature, it’ll draw some animals and birds to that area,” said Hoover, “birds and animals that people can watch and just observe.” She said kit foxes, beavers, egrets and blue herons, among other native species, will likely return to the area.

Is that really such a good idea to have more animals along the bike trail?  As it is there are a ton of squirrels in the parks over by Yokuts and Beach Park that run across the bike trail and get squished by bicycles.  There are tons of jack rabbits and lizards that get squished along the bike path just where these new parks are too.  I squished one lizard already (and I felt terrible, just terrible about it) and I’ve seen people who were in a group of like 10 bicycles that have squished a jack rabbit.

When you are riding your bike on the bike trail at such fast speeds, you can’t slow down or stop for an animal.  If one person starts to slow down or comes to a complete stop because of a rabbit or a fox or a beaver, the whole lot of the riders will crash and some could end up injured and in the hospital.

I don’t encourage more animals along the bike trail because that just encourages more accidents and dead animals.  If they are going to put in a fence to protect the animals then that is one thing but I don’t see that happening.  And they can’t stop people from riding their bikes on the “bike trail” because that’s what it was intended for.

What I wish they would have spent the money on is bathrooms.  There aren’t any bathrooms along the bike trail, couldn’t they have spent some of that money on porta-potties?  Or maybe perhaps building mens and women’s restrooms with those fancy new seating areas?

If you start out at Beach Park then you have a bathroom to go to.  If you ride your bike all the way down to China Grade Loop you will notice that there is not 1 bathroom.  I’m not saying I have to go to the bathroom too often but I mean seriously, I’m drinking 2 liters of water over 18 miles that I ride every day.  I haven’t had to go pee but there have been times that I had to go number 2 and it would’ve been nice if I had a bathroom to go to.  I try to go before I leave the house but it doesn’t always happen at 5:30am.

The new seating areas are nice and all but I just see them as a huge waste of money.  Also, I haven’t seen 1 person sitting in one of them.  I saw an old couple who I see walking every morning walk into one but I’m sure it was to look around and see what they have.  I can see this as being a fun thing if it weren’t so close to the bike trail.

Stepping Up My Bike Rides

bike trail water.jpg

I’ve been riding 15 miles every time I ride on the bike trail.  As soon as I get to my halfway point which is at Manor St., my legs are ready to give and I have to stop and rest.  Instead of going further I usually just head back home.  I think 15 miles is a good ride.  But I think it’s time to step things up and go the distance so I kept going today and rode for a total of 18 miles.

This picture above is what I see on the Bakersfield Bike trail on the other side of the bridge from Beach Park.  I thought it was too beautiful to not take a picture.

Herbie.jpg

And here’s Herbie hehe.  I saw this just as I was coming into Beach Park this morning.  I have seen this car driving throughout Bakersfield since at least 2000 when we moved here.  Every time I see it I want to take a picture and I never have a camera with me and it just so happens that now I have a cell phone that can take pictures lol.

I’ve already weighed myself and I have lost a couple lb’s so I think adding miles to my bike ride is going to help me lose more weight.  It doesn’t have to come off faster, just as long as it comes off, that’s all that matters.

My legs are jello right now and my back is in pain so that’s all I have for now.

Back On The Road To Being Healthy

I made a commitment to start riding my bicycle again regularly as soon as I got my new wheel for my bike last month and I didn’t start riding as regular as I had liked because I was too out of shape from not riding for a few years.  I went out with a friend a total of 3 times in the last month and it just isn’t enough so I have made that commitment again but as a solo act.

When I was riding with the friend I was riding with, I didn’t feel like I was getting anything out of the experience.  First of all, she was riding so slow, which I can’t blame her because she is more out of shape than I am, but it was too slow for me.  I wasn’t even breaking a sweat.  I came home with a dry t-shirt every time.  If I don’t come home with a soaked shirt then I know I didn’t try.

Summer is coming and this week is supposed to be in the mid 90’s which means bike riding is not going to be very pleasant during the day.  If I wake up at 5:30am and leave at 6am then I can get out on the bike trail and hopefully be back by 8 or 8:30am before the city starts to heat up too much.

Last night I set the alarm on my cell phone for 5:30am and I got up just as I wanted to and got ready to go and yes, I did go.  My bicycle computer isn’t registering so I can’t say how many miles I rode or how long or calories burned or anything.  All I can say is I rode my ass off and my thighs are in pain to prove it.

When I came home and took off my camelbak then took off my t-shirt I knew I did a good job because the back of my shirt was completely soaked.  I feel like I was beyond productive and I’m very satisfied with the solo ride.  I don’t think I will be riding with anyone anymore unless they can keep up with me and go my route instead of wanting to take shortcuts.

My new schedule will be 5 days a week from 6am to 8-8:30am.  I can’t make any promises on how much weight I may or may not lose but I can promise that I will do my best.

Cycling Again

Last month I bought a new back wheel for my bicycle so that I could start getting exercise again.  The same exact day, Chips deceased cousins girlfriend bought a vintage 10-speed road bike because I told her I was getting my new wheel and that if she had a bike we could go bike riding together.  We rode exactly 2 times together last month.  I didn’t ride on my own though.

This month we rode once, yesterday and I told her that if this is going to work we are going to have to do this more often, like every day at least.  Since we are both out of shape then perhaps every other day until our leg muscles are more used to it.

I spent a long time figuring out the perfect route for bike riding and unfortunately she doesn’t like my route because it’s the same thing every time and she likes to take short cuts, which defeats the purpose of the ride.  My route has no heavy traffic to cross, all neighborhoods and when we are on the busy roads they have bike lanes.  I pride myself on my organization skills whether anyone likes it or not, typically nobody likes it but me.

My cell phone hasn’t worked in years and I really need to keep a cell phone with me at all times when I’m out on the bike trail so I bought a refurbished Samsung T401G from Net10 which is the same exact phone Darrin has, only I paid $25 for mine since it was refurbished and it comes with a $25 phone card.  Basically I got the phone for free hehe.  But it’s a very nice phone compared to what I would have gotten had I gotten the cheaper phone if I had gone to Sears to buy it today.

Even though we are going to ride every other day, I am going to ride every day if I can (as soon as my new phone arrives) because I have more weight to lose than she does and I am determined to lose it.

I will be suggesting an alternate route for her which is her car.  We were crossing such heavy traffic yesterday and it really freaked me out so if she wants to do this she can drive her bike there and I can meet her on the trail.  I think that is a good plan.  I get more exercise and she gets the amount of exercise she is satisfied with, it’s a win win for everyone involved.

My New Bike Wheel

Some time last year the back wheel on my bicycle bit the dust.  I don’t know what happened but the axle unscrewed to one side which made the nuts and ball bearings fall out.  I really screwed up that wheel and haven’t been able to afford a new one.

I’ve made it my ultimate priority this month to buy a new wheel because I am just getting too heavy not being able to exercise.  Since I have a bad back I need a low impact cardio exercise and it’s the perfect exercise machine.

Chips cousins life partner just so happened to buy a vintage 10 speed road bicycle today so now we can get out on the bike trail together.  She hasn’t been on a bicycle in 30 years so she is pretty out of shape.  It’s been a year for me and I know I’m out of shape but not as much as her so we’re going to take it real slow for her sake.

I’m really happy and very excited that I can start riding the bike to the store again because walking to the store and carrying groceries was wreaking havoc on my back and my hands/wrists because of my carpal tunnel syndrome and degenerative disc disease.  I hate the aging process lol.

I didn’t get a picture but I’m sure you know what a bicycle wheel looks like lol.

A New Hope For My Bike

I was at the grocery store yesterday and I ran into a guy who I gave my old bike seat to when I bought my ergo bike seat.  We were talking about bikes and he asked if I was riding and I told him about the saga of my back wheel drama and he told me that he has an old mountain bike that he was using for parts with a back wheel that I can have (HAVE!).

The bike store was going to charge me $40 for the wheel and $10 to install it and most likely there will be taxes and chances are it’s going to be $55 or so which I can’t afford.  I haven’t had a bike in 6 months or so to even ride to the store, I’ve been walking everywhere so this will be great.

He told me he has to dig it out because it’s in the garage and I’m sure it’s deep in there so I’m not expecting it any time soon but it does give me some hope that some day I might return to the bike trail.

I know it’s a “don’t keep your hopes up” type of thing and I’m not but at the same time it gives me a glimmer of hope at least.  I won’t be holding my breath or counting down the days and I don’t expect much since he’s giving it to me for free, I really don’t even know if it will fit either so there’s that.  He said it was for a mountain bike and mine is a mountain bike so I told him it has to be a 26 inch wheel and he said he would check or bring it on by the house to compare.

Also there is a good chance that the gears might not be the same gears.  If it doesn’t have the same, what’s it called?  A cassette?  If it’s not the same then perhaps I might have trouble, or I can bring it to the bike store and say here, let me pay you that $10 to remove this from this and put it on that.

I really hope that it does happen because I really need to get my fat arse back out there and make it smaller.  And actually my bike has a weight limit of 250lbs which I am over so I’ll probably have to veg out for a week to lose 10lbs at least so I can start riding it.  God forbid I break the bike with my fat arse lol.

Wish me luck!

An Idiot Abroad on Science Channel

I totally forgot this new show An Idiot Abroad was supposed to be on today. It’s on during one of my shows but being on basic cable it repeats. I thought about it tonight and luckily it was on demand so I could watch it instantly.

If you haven’t seen The Ricky Gervais show on HBO then you probably don’t really understand why they are making fun of him on this show. I have only really seen a few episodes, last night I watched 2 episodes on HBO On Demand to catch up a little on the 2nd season so I can prepare myself for what I’m going to see in An Idiot Abroad.

All I have to say is that Karl Pilkington is HILARIOUS! Some of the things he says is so out there that you just can’t help but to laugh out loud, literally out loud. So loud that your neighbors are like, what the hell is he laughing about over there?

Other times during tonight’s episode I was thinking, if he’s an idiot for saying some of the things he said then I must be an idiot too because I would’ve said the same thing. I mean for instance, he was in the bathroom in China and there were no toilets, actually there was 1 toilet but I’m sure it was for older people who can’t squat. The other stalls were just holes in the ground, or ground level toilets. There were walls separating them but no doors.

I agree with him on the doors part, but mostly I agree with the squatting thing. I am so glad we don’t have those kind of toilets here in the states. Also, no toilet paper… what’s up with that? Can you imagine going to the bathroom and not cleaning it up then going back to work with a stench? Uh no, I don’t think so.

We do have stalls here in Bakersfield in the parks that don’t have doors.  When I was riding my bike to the bike trail for exercise, sometimes I would have to go really bad and trust me, that’s the only way I will ever use a park bathroom, if I just can’t wait to get home.  I’d go in there and there are no doors.  Sure the walls are really high but that doesn’t help me.  I need a door for privacy.  What if someone walks in and passes me?  So I use the one on the far end so nobody can pass me then I have my bike kind of sitting in there so I can hang onto the front wheel if someone tries to steal it.  So imagine me sitting on the toilet while holding my front wheel with no door on the stall.

I don’t think that Karl is an idiot, I mean to the degree they are calling him one. I think that he says some pretty smart things and I applaud him for being able to go out of his comfort zone against his will and just deal with it and do what he was told because there is no way I would’ve been able to do that.

The food alone is a reason I wouldn’t be able to do that. I have so many food issues, I’d end up starving. Or I’d end up getting fatter off all the potato chips. I’d have to pack loads of energy bars just to keep me from starving when I refuse to eat the frogs or the bugs.

Well this is a show I will be adding to my TV page I so I don’t forget to watch it every week.  It’s on Saturday nights at 10 e/p on the Science channel.

Update 2011-02-02: I spelled his name wrong, it’s Karl, not Carl.  Who’s the idiot now?  It looks like I am.