Biking to Your Liking?

By Sherry Steinman

Biking always has been to my liking.  An excellent no-impact workout for the body, biking on a touring bike — not a stationary, indoor assembly — also promises untold adventure while you shape up your lower body and strengthen your cardio-vascular system.

The Basics

Your bike does not have to be fancy to do the job. Any model that is the right size for you and is in good working order will do.  A comfortable seat is a plus.  Even if you feel you have additional ‘rear padding’ of your own, think about getting a gel seat for a more comfortable ride. They’re available as wrap-overs, as well as replacement seats.

Don’t like those forward-bent racing bars? (Neither do I!) Have upright touring bars put on your bike, or adjust your current bars downward a bit.  You might feel more balanced.  And as for gears, at least a three-speed model would be nice, or a ten-speed if you’re serious.

Where to go is up to you.  In Licking County, we have wonderful bike trails which offer variety and safety.  So, if you do not live in a neighborhood that has paved roads or walks, treat yourself to a decent bike rack for your vehicle to carry your bike to the desired destination.

Warning:  I bought a cheap bike rack at first, and rode all the way to the trails with one eye glued to the rear view mirror, watching the bikes wobbling precariously.  Never wanting to do that again, I invested in a sturdy bike rack.  It was money well-spent.

Freedom

If you are like me, part of what’s great about riding a bike is the returning wonderful feeling of freedom which was yours when you rode as a youngster.  I didn’t care that I was getting exercise … an aerobic workout … or saving gas while running light errands.  No, just turning the corner past Mom and Dad’s view it was – wow! – freedom.

Out of their sight I could at least contemplate doing something a little clandestine.  Back then I occasionally hit the Dairy Queen while on my bike.  It was no secret for long, as I continued to grow larger even though, as Mom mused, “Sherry rides her bike all the time.  I don’t know why she’s not trimming down.”

Hot fudge sundaes are not known to be trimming.

But, let’s return to biking while enjoying our adult years. If it’s been a while since you’ve ridden a bike, be sure you gradually increase the length of time or number of miles you ride your bike.

After one six-mile ride a few years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m in pretty good shape.” So, the next day, my son and I hit the bike trail and decided to go all the way to Johnstown from the Newark-Cherry Valley Road start-up (14.2 miles each way).  We were absolutely dragging when we got to Johnstown and it was a long way back.  Fortunately, that trail has a slight downward slope on the return trip.

More Tips for Trips

Another thing to remember is to take a water bottle with you, and use it. Your body’s metabolism is designed to work in a water-based environment, not a dry one. Similarly, take along a light, nutritious snack.  A small zip-lock bag filled with dried fruit and some nuts will do.  Aptly named, ‘trail mix’, it’s a good bet.

In any event, do not stop at the Dairy Queen!

Do wear a helmet, because your no-impact bike ride could easily become impact-interrupted.  Case in point: In the 1960’s, when we didn’t wear any protective gear to go biking, I returned one day from a fine ‘freedom’ ride through my neighborhood — the highlight of which was passing by the home of a boy I was interested in at the time.  As I returned home, walking my bike into our driveway, I announced to my Mom that I had broken something.  My forearm looked like a bridge.

Heading to the hospital in our old Buick Riviera, with a Life Magazine wrapped around my broken arm for support, I told my Mom that the last thing I remembered was that I waved to Dave and then fell. (Dave laughed and went into the house).

Protective gear followed some time after that … probably developed by another concerned parent.  So, if you plan on doing a lot of waving on your bike rides, better strap on a few pads! The main thing is to get out there – and enjoy a little adventure of your own along the way.

Keeping Cool

By Sherry Steinman

Break out the blender and clean out the cooler! It’s summertime. There are many things we can do to keep cool and avoid heat-related stress when temperatures and humidity are high.  We’ve probably all known people who have overdone the yard work, or overextended their walk on a hot day, and passed out or gotten sick.  People experience heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded. As library employees, it’s a good idea to watch for certain signs that patrons may be exhibiting upon entering the library. Here are some ideas to keep one’s personal thermostat adjusted.

Cool and Cooler

Get in the habit of keeping a small cooler handy in the car, filled with ice and bottled water or packages of real fruit juice — water is best. Have it in the car with you when you head out to run errands, or spend any time at all on the road. It’s a fact that we (especially women) usually do a lot more running around than we originally planned once we get out and about to do errands!  Grocery shopping, a trip to the mall, dropping off books at the Library — and pretty soon you’ve gotten out of the car and into the heat six times in an hour!  How’s your body thermostat supposed to keep you comfortable with all that going on?  Plan your trips and pace yourself.

Bonus: By keeping the small cooler in the car you’ll save yourself money by not having to pull into a drive-thru for a cold drink.

If you get in the habit of keeping that little cooler handy, refill it with some fresh ice or an ice pack each day. Again, try to stay with the water and maybe some juice, not pop. The carbonation, sugars, and chemicals in soda pop don’t do your body any good in the heat. And, golfers beware! That golf cart cooler should hold something other than beer.  Regardless of the activity level, hot weather calls for increased water intake.

Young and Older

Both young children and older adults are more likely to suffer heat exhaustion, so if you’re a grandparent in charge of young children on a hot day, remember to pace yourself while you keep an eye on them. Offer frequent breaks if they’re playing outside. Break out that handy cooler, and offer fruit or a light snack along with the drinks. Bringing the kids inside for break-time is a good idea, too.  Kids love to press blender buttons, so supervise them as they spin chipped ice and fruit into a smoothie. They’ll love it!

More ideas for keeping cool, regardless of age, include wearing layers of light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, and a brimmed hat or sun visor. Again, keep this stuff in the car so you have it when you’re on the run.

Safe and Safer

So you can be of help to someone who may be experiencing heat exhaustion, here are several symptoms to watch for.  This includes library patrons who may come in the door on a hot day and not realize they are at risk:

  • Very pale or grayish skin color
  • Heavy sweating
  • General weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fainting

Move the person to a cool or shaded area, and provide cool water. Remove a layer of clothing if possible and — very important — loosen any constricting clothing like a tight elastic waistband or belt. Heat stroke is potentially life-threatening, and is characterized by a body temperature of 103 or above. Symptoms include red, hot, dry skin, no sweating, rapid pulse, headache, dizziness, general confusion, and nausea or unconsciousness. People experiencing heat stroke need immediate medical attention including cooling them off by any means possible. Getting back to those foolhardy golfers you know, start packing that cooler for them! Take out the beer and put in the water and juice.

Perhaps their body temperatures will be lower than their golf scores next time around!