One of the upsides of the COVID-19 pandemic is a boom in outdoor recreation. Activities such as hiking, cycling, boating, fishing, camping, picnicking, and winter activities (skiing, snow shoeing, snowboarding, tobogganing) have seen increased interest. Participation in outdoor recreation usually hovers around 50% of the population, but last year it increased to 69%. As stay-at-home restrictions have relaxed, many people discovered that outdoor pursuits are an appealing response to living with COVID-19. The desire to focus on health and wellness and make the best of these trying times has resulted in more people getting outside to play.
If you are a year round cyclist biking in the harsh conditions of winter you will find these have taken a toll on your bike’s performance. Even if you do not bike when there is snow, ice and salt on the ground, you might someday get caught in the rain or dust and road debris will build up on your bike. Even though bike frames will resist water and grit, dirt can creep into the components and get trapped in the moving parts. A little soap, water, and lubricant applied on a regular basis will boost your bike’s efficiency. But there are some things you should do to get it done and done faster and others you should not.
If you use your bike to commute or for transportation, you will probably need to carry more gear than when you are taking a recreational ride on the weekend. You will need a way to carry the items you will use when you arrive at your destination, such as a change of clothes, a laptop, work papers, locks, bike tools in case of a flat tire, and your lunch. If you run errands on your bike you will need a way to comfortably carry your purchases. Hanging plastic bags from your handlebars is unstable and risky! The most popular bike bags if you bike for transportation are a backpack, messenger bag, panniers, trunk bag, or a handlebar bag or basket.
During the new bike shortage in 2020 it was a banner year to a buy or sell a used bike. Why not give some life to an old bike? With a steel or aluminum frame and the ability to replace components that are bent, rusted, worn, or dried out (in the case of rubber), you can take almost any bike and make it usable again. If you are on a budget and just getting into cycling and do not know how enthusiastic you will be for riding over time, it is a good way to get rolling without making a large investment, saving some cash for the accessories you will need. But buying a pre-owned bike is not without pitfalls so here are some tips for making the right selection.
The bike touring company Ciclismo Classico, which is based in Arlington, MA but considers the world its home, had to cancel all its European tours this year. But trying to salvage a bike touring season, they sponsored bike tours late summer following all the latest COVID-19 protocols, not to their signature destinations in Italy and Ireland, but in the Finger Lakes of New York and also Southern New Hampshire. This allowed adventure seekers to drive to the start and bike routes consisting of loops, out and back, so that they would be near their car at the end of the trip. These “close to home” tours were able to satisfy participants yearning for new experiences, outdoor activity, and camaraderie.
A bicycle is a vehicle and it has moving parts. Just like any mechanical device, it requires regular maintenance to keep it operating so that you will have a smooth and safe ride and extends its life. If a bike is not well maintained, you will have to work harder when you ride and a mechanical failure could result in a crash and injury. Here are some basic lessons on what you should do to keep your bike in good operating order and when it should be done.
Ebikes have exploded in popularity but as with anything new, it will take a while for them to be understood and accepted. If you ride an ebike, you may have been subjected to insults, harassment, and negativity. Motorists may have shouted that you do not belong on the road and other cyclists may have told you ebikes are “cheating.” Why do they hate ebikes? Here are some reasons people resist this new form of transportation and recreation:
During this year of disruptions most of us have spent more time than usual avoiding other people and forgoing our favorite activities. It might be comforting this holiday season to reach out to our business associates, friends and family with a holiday card. In this age of social media, texting, and email, a physical holiday card with a newsletter or hand written message might be welcome. If you have been the recipient of bad holiday newsletters in the past you might think a newsletter is the last thing you want to do, but a newsletter or hand written message tucked into a beautiful card would probably be most welcome this year. Even if the newsletter is obviously sent to others, people will feel more connected to you just for received your special news. Just the act of mailing a holiday card signals that you took the time to think of them and create a bond during the holidays. The addition of a message makes it personal.
If you want to extend your biking season into the colder months, what gear should you have? What is the best type of bicycle to ride in the cold? How do you talk yourself into rolling out when the weather is not sunny, warm and dry? These topics and more were covered at the Nov. 10 virtual Zoom Chicago Cycling Club meeting. Panel members that shared their insights were Charlie Sax, Dave Barish, and Melanie Shaw.
If you are interested in purchasing an ebike and researching the options, you probably discovered there are two types of motors on modern ebikes: the hub and the mid drive. Besides your budget, where the motor is located is the biggest decision you will have to make. While both options will provide you with assistance when you pedal, there are big differences in the technology and it is helpful to understand what these are before you commit.
Sharon Kaminecki and others comment on adventures in bicycling and other stories