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Baby it's cold outside!

Baby it’s cold outside!

I had a conversation with myself recently:

It’s cold outside.

Well it’s winter.  What’d you expect?

But I wanna go for a bike ride!

So go for a bike ride!

But it’s so coooooooold!

Suck it up! You’ve got a hat!

…And that conversation went on in my head for about a half an hour when I finally gave in and decided that I’d bundle up and try it out.  My hubby aired up the tires to the Dream Machine while I put on 2 Under Armor Cold Gear shirts, a pair of medium weight tights, a pair of fleece pants and a pair of wind pants (Yeah, I wore 3 pairs of pants.  If I had some fancy cold weather tights, I would have done that.  But I don’t, so I layered.)   I also donned a neoprene face mask, a fleece ear wrap, my helmet, 2 pairs of gloves, and my new neoprene toe covers. Oh, and my coat.

I’ll admit: it was a lot of work.

A picture I took of an eagle a few days before this ride but in the same area.

A picture I took of an eagle a few days before this ride but in the same area.

But then I rolled my bike out passed my snow covered lawn onto the slightly-icy street, hopped on, took off towards the river, and was immediately glad I’d talked myself into going!  Afterall, the day was sunny, and most of the ice was confined to the edges of the streets or occasional bad corners, so it wasn’t that bad outside. Once I reached the river road, it was smooth sailing and I cruised along.

I decided to ride a route most Quincy cyclists would be familiar with- the Knaphide Loop- and it was a great choice for the day.   I spotted no fewer than 5 bald eagles, probably a half dozen red tail hawks and even a triplet of kestrels all out hunting.  One of the red tails had a fish so big in tow that he couldn’t seem to make it higher than a couple of feet off the ground and occasionally had to land in the field and rest.  I followed him a while.  He really didn’t like me so close, but then again, he wasn’t going to leave his prize either, so he tolerated me for a while.

The 34 degree weather didn’t bother me much.  In fact, when I was heading North, I was almost overheating. I especially enjoyed my double pair of gloves.  I’ve been putting a pair of rubberized football receiver gloves over a cheap pair of cotton gloves and they’re just the right combination of wind-proof and warm while still being nice and thin.

Here's a picture of the complete get-up. Stylish, I know.

Here’s a picture of the complete get-up. Stylish, I know.

By the time I turned back to the South, a pretty decent breeze had picked up (an aside: can I ever go riding on the bottom road without a South wind!?!??!) and for the first time I felt a little chilled.  To combat the cold, I just pedaled harder, and before I knew it I was back in town.  I even stopped at River Skate, Quincy’s new outdoor ice rink, to say hello to my friend Chris before heading back up the bluff hill towards home.

It was a great solo ride and I was happy to get outside and enjoy the day.

What I learned is that it’s sometimes more work to talk yourself into going out the door on a cold day, but just like any other day, you’re going to be happy you found a reason to say YES to your Adventure Foot.

2012-milesThis little bike ride happened to be on December 30th and was my last bike ride of 2012.  It made my total miles this year 2504.  That’s well over double my 1230 miles registered in 2011 when I started this whole cycling thing.  As a matter of fact, that’s like leaving my house, biking to San Francisco then taking the coast up to Portland.  My 2013 plan? I guess I’ll just keep on riding.

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Quincy Ride of Silence- Photo by Brandon Glasgow

The first ever Quincy Ride of Silence was held Wednesday night at Madison Park in Quincy.  The event was just one of 300 similar rides held today nationwide as part of National Bike Safety Month.  Around 40 riders enjoyed perfect weather and a four mile ride across Quincy to promote awareness of cyclists on public roads.

The Ride of Silence near 8th and State Street. Photo by Brandon Glasgow

For this ride, we all wore white jerseys or shirts.  The white jersey riders symbolized the “Ghost Bike” of people who have been killed while riding their bicycles.  There have been several fatalities on tri-state area roads in the past few years, and it was touching to take a moment to remember those riders.  Some of the larger national rides spray painted actual bikes white and placed them at intersections where fatalities have occurred.  I think the Ghost Bike can serve as a very good reminder about just what’s at stake when we’re talking about bike safety.

Since I organized the ride, I thought it would be a good idea to say a few words before we left the park.  I thanked everyone for coming and explained the purpose of the ride was to promote safety for motorists and cyclists.

After the introduction, I asked the crowd if anyone there had been hit by a car.  At least a half a dozen people stuck a hand in the air.  6 out of 40.  That’s an incredible number.  Some later explained to me that they had some incredibly serious injuries ranging from broken bones, major lacerations and concussions.   So how can we be safer on roads?  It’s, of course, the responsibility of both cyclists and drivers to watch for each other, to be conscientious and to follow the rules of the road.

Here are 5 things you need to know to help everyone enjoy cycling this summer!

  1. Cyclists: Bike Safety Starts with the right gear!  Wear your helmet every time you ride and make sure your kids do too.  Wear bright colored clothes and use blinking headlights and tail lights- especially near dawn or dusk.  Mirrors are also very important to see traffic behind you.  There are helmet or handle bar mounted mirrors which are inexpensive and can help you avoid collisions from behind when changing lanes. Also, don’t forget to check that your bike is in good working order, that your tires are properly inflated and that you have tire changing or patching kits in your seat pouch.
  2. Cars: Stay 3 Feet from Bikes!  3 feet is the law around bicycles and is plenty of room to avoid a potentially fatal collision.  Bikes: Stay to the right wherever possible and use the lane responsibly.  Cyclists do have the right to the whole lane, but often there is plenty of room at the side.  Don’t be a jerk just because it’s legal- try to get out of the way of faster moving traffic.  That being said, sometimes it’s safer to be fully in the lane.  Just be aware of your surroundings and make a safe and courteous decision.
  3.  Slow down!  Cyclists should reduce speed in residential areas to avoid cars backing out of driveways, drivers opening car doors when they’re parked on the street, and any debris you might find in the road.  Cars should slow down around cyclists and be patient until they are sure it’s safe to pass a rider.  Some riders and I were already in a very close call this year when an SUV tried to get around us before he had checked for oncoming traffic.  Well, there was an oncoming car, and if that driver had not reacted quickly and driven off road into the grass, there would have been a major head-on collision.  I promise, as inconvenient as slowing down for a few seconds can be, hitting a cyclist or another car would be much, much worse.
  4. Avoid distractions!  Don’t text and drive!  Do pay attention to the road!  Spring and summer are prime time for walkers, runners, cyclists, and kids on and near the road.  It only takes one moment for something to go wrong, and that text message is simply not worth it.
  5. Do unto others…  If that cyclist was your son or daughter- would you drive your car so close or so fast?  If the driver of that car was your husband or wife, would you purposely slow them down?  It’s pretty simple.  Treat each other the way you’d want to be treated.

For more information about the Ride of Silence, please check out my blog from last week or the national Ride of Silence website.   Also, please take a look at this great website which details the most common car/bike accident types.  It has great illustrations and can teach you a lot about what to watch out for next time you’re on the road!  Also check this link to an aritcle I wrote last year after a collision claimed the life of a Ft. Madison, Iowa man.

Special thanks to KHQA TV Channel 7 for coming out to cover the Ride of Silence and for having me back on their morning show.  Also, thanks to Rodney Hart for writing a story about it in the Quincy Herald Whig.  And thanks to photographer Brandon Glasgow for taking some amazing photos.  And a HUGE thanks to all the riders who came to the first ever Quincy Ride of Silence!

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On Wednesday, May 16th, cities throughout the country will be participating in the “Ride of Silence” as part of National Bicycle Safety Month.  The ride  aims to raise awareness of bicycle and motorist safety on public roadways. The ride is also a chance to show respect for those who have been killed or injured on their bicycles.

For the first time, riders from Quincy will be participating in this event.  All cyclists are invited to join the Ride of Silence on Wednesday, May 16th at 6 pm.  The short ride will leave from 24th and Maine at Madison Park, will ride to loop Washington Park and will return on State Street to 24th and Maine.  There are no fees and you do not need to sign up for the event, however you MUST wear a helmet to participate.  All riders are asked to wear as much white as possible.  White riders symbolize the “Ghost Bike,” in honor of those lost or injured on public roadways.

Kids are welcome to participate but must be accompanied by an adult and must be able to keep up with the group.  (Note: I am personally organizing this ride- so all participants ride at their own risk. )

There have been several cyclist deaths in the Tri-States in the last year, and raising awareness of cycling safety is something I know we all care about.  Read my blog about cycling safety by clicking here.

Both KHQA and the Quincy Herald Whig have agreed to cover the event, so the more participation we can get, the more we can increase awareness of cycling safety on local roads.

Many cities are participating in the ride,and you can read about the Chicago ride here: https://www.facebook.com/RideofSilenceChicago

*Anyone who wants to stick around after the Ride of Silence is welcome to join me for a medium paced 15 or so mile ride!

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