Physical Funness for the Motion Starved

Fit more fun into your fitness while exploring the outdoors.


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The coolest thing to hit two wheels

Stop!

If you know me, you know that I’m an absolute snob when it comes to bicycle handling skills and simple road etiquette. Having been somewhat of a damn good cyclist in a former life, I’ve seen the good and the bad side of folks on bikes. In fact, my nickname used to be The Bike Nazi. Why? Because I have zero patience or respect for folks exhibiting poor, or unsafe bike handling skills or simple etiquette.

While bicycle handling and etiquette are each very large issues, one of the most concerning is the lack of respect for the common stop sign. Declining to stop when required is not only a safety issue but an unfortunate missed opportunity to practice ones handling skills (trackstand, getting in and out of pedals…) and the building of fast twitch muscle fibers (they help you sprint & move quickly).

Rather than going any further, I suggest that you read the article below. I’ve lifted it from Katie Kelly at MillValleyPatch.com. Katie has captured my personal thoughts re: the stop sign issue perfectly. We ask that you read it and spread the word.

Stop! Braking news!
How the coolest thing to hit two wheels is likely already at your fingertips.

It’s a growing cycling fashion statement, a training tool, and an indicator of riding prowess. No, it’s not the latest GPS device or power meter. It’s stopping for red lights and stop signs.

It’s all the rage, and all the cool kids are doing it, from national championship winning bike racers to downhillers to commuters. What may have started as a countywide crackdown against red light runners is evolving into a habit that quickly differentiates between Marin locals and those passing through, the experienced and those trying to show off. The difference? The experienced, skilled crowd stops for stop signs.

And it’s not just cops sending the message.

“I confess, I used to do it,” says Sean Fekete, of San Rafael, of yesterday’s trend of rolling through stop signs. “I’m cruising along, don’t want to stop and then start again.”

Today, whether riding after work on a fixed gear or blazing down a mountain on his downhill bike, stopping for stop signs has become part of Fekete’s regular riding style.

Why the change?

“I was riding a lot with a bike racer, and she was stopping at all the signs, so I just did it because she was,” says Fekete. “Later, I was working with a local coach, and his rule was that if you ran stop signs or red lights, he wouldn’t work with you.”

Fekete is just one of a growing number of Marin locals who feel intense annoyance at those who don’t stop.

“It’s lazy and disrespectful,” he says. “If you want to ride without having to stop, enter a race. Why give pedestrians and motorists even more reason to hate us?”

“I see people blowing stops signs so often now,” says multi-masters track national champion Pete Billington, also of San Rafael. “It is really frustrating when the same people complain about cars not respecting bicyclists.”

What sign running cyclists don’t realize is that not only do they stand out to the crowd as either inexperienced or dangerous, they’re missing out on a valuable muscle defining training tool.

“Stopping at stop signs really is a good opportunity to develop strong core muscles and even sprinting technique,” says Billington. “The tendency to swing the bike from side to side during a sprint is just wasted energy and practicing hip drive and forward acceleration is critical to developing top speed.”

Throw that at the next newbie who screams “On your left!” at the next stop sign.

How to Stop for Stop Signs

We asked Officer Paul Stromoski of the Ross Police Department what exactly cops are looking for when it comes to stopping for stop signs. You may find yourself surprised at how easy it is.

1. You don’t have to put a foot down. Come to a complete stop, yes, but it’s okay to stop for a split second, and then continue on. “Nowhere in the California Vehicle Code does it say cyclists have to put a foot down,” says Stromoski. But if you’re unable to maintain a track stand (balancing your bike at a complete stop), then obviously, you should, especially in a situation as described in Tip #2.

2. Give motorists and pedestrians who were at the intersection before you the right of way. This is Driver’s Ed 101, and yes, it applies to cyclists. Yield the right of way to those who rightfully have it and you may suddenly find your self within an intersection of allies. Who wouldn’t want that?

3. Cops want to see you physically turning your head to look in all directions. “You might think a peripheral look from the corner of an eye is enough,” says Officer Stromoski. “But we’re looking to see your helmet actually moving. It’s the only way we know you’re really looking.”

These are three tips that can spare you from expensive traffic fines or from drawing attention to yourself as an absolute novice. They could even save your life. And who knows? They may even help you get to the podium.

P.s. Thanks Mo, for bringing this article to my attention.
P.s.s. Thanks Katie, for sharing your words.


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Get outa the road!

I am George... go around me

This is George, George gets tired sometimes and when he does, he stops in his tracks and lays down. It’s pretty funny, but that’s because George is a dog with an impressive attitude.

It’s a little different for the rest of us, we’re expected to be a bit more mindful and to stay out of the way of things that might run us over or need to get past us. I bring this up because living in the middle of a tourist, and outdoor-life mecca I often risk my life (become annoyed) trying to get from one place to another either on my bike, running or walking.

We’ve all experienced it, folks walking or riding along in front of us only to stop dead in their tracks when they simply feel the urge. Never mind that you were right behind them.  My grandmother once fell down an escalator because some dork stepped off the moving contraption at the top but then just stood there. Granny had no place to go but down. After that Granny never got on an escalator again.

My favorite maneuver is the dude that blows past you on his bike or on foot only to slow down once ahead because he just used all his energy to pass. Now you’re forced to get around him. Even better are the hordes of people (not always tourists!) perched on bikes that like to stop in packs blocking the road or even in an intersection. WTF is that?  Get out of the road dummies! Oh… and getting a flat tire on your bike is no excuse to block the path. Find a safe place and move out-of-the-way of anything and everyone that may be headed toward you!

Consider this a friendly reminder. Be smart, be responsible and respect thy fellow public. Okay?


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Lanterne Rouge

Kelley's Red Lantern

It’s not whether you win or lose it’s how you play the game, right? Well, we don’t always feel that way but it’s true. When I was racing bikes I heard one of my teammates husbands say to her as we were leaving for a race, “don’t come home if you don’t win.” He’s now her ex husband, I believe.

In bike racing an award is given to the last rider to finish the race, it’s called The Lanterne Rouge. The idea behind the Lanterne Rouge is to celebrate finishing the race rather than giving up. Riders often compete to come in last rather than just near the back as the rider that comes in last is remembered, while those who finish a few places ahead are forgotten.

The term Lanterne Rouge translates to Red Lantern and is derived from the red lantern that was placed on the caboose of a railway train.  The engineer would look at the light from the engine to make sure that no cars had come uncoupled.

In life, as in athletics hanging on is not easy when things get ugly. It’s much easier to give up, but where’s the challenge and sense of pride in that? Finishing what you’ve started and giving it your best effort is a major achievement and worthy of praise.

In my life I have taken first place, I have taken The Red Lantern and I have given up. I’m very proud of my wins and my last place finish, but I hugely regret the times I gave up, and the things I have not been brave enough to attempt.

Lets remember to celebrate the effort, as well as the outcome. As one of the Race With The Bus participants said to me as he was walking away, “we’re all winners.”

Happy Humpday!


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Petite Chunkage

Happy Friday Everyone! This week seems to have flown by. I hope it’s treated you well.

Today, I’d like to send you away for the weekend with a few small chunks, things that have flown my way this week.

A client of mine didn’t understand why she’s felt incredibly hungry this week — Folks, when you work out your body gets hungry! Food is fuel. Your body needs fuel to operate, just like your car. The more you work it, the more it needs. Just watch what you eat. No cheese puffs. If you want it to work, and keep working, you need to feed it.

Nap time — I hate naps. Naps are for kids and usually make me cranky. This week however, I took a nap on three different occasions. I’m still cranky but at least I can stand up and focus my eyes. If your body wants to sleep, let it. When you’re tired is when you are most likely to injure yourself during exercise, or in my case walking down the street. Listen to your body. Do what it says.

If you’re gonna ride a bike, learn to fix a flat and take flat repair gear with you on every ride — If I see one more person standing by the side of the road with their bike turned upside down waiting for someone to come pick them up, I am going to scream. Be smart, be self-sufficient.

Yep, it’s been raining — They’re calling this month Junuary. It’s funny but then it’s not. Remember: Those cold and rainy training days are the days that later pay off and help you reach your goals. Endure!

See you next week. I’m making Cowgirl Cookies this weekend. Will let you know how they turn out.

Be smart…


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I predict a long hot season…

Hey there... what's U're sign?

It’s May. Did you know that May is named after the Greek goddess Maia? Maia was identified with the Roman goddess of fertility. Makes sense, spring, growth, rebirth, everyone is sniffing around looking for love this time of year. It must be the savage beast in us.

I wasn’t going to bring this up, but it keeps coming up so I feel compelled. My friend Jacks and I joke about it, when spring is in the air the phone starts ringing.  Old lovers seem to creep out from under the woodwork. It happens every year like clockwork. Suitors that you parted ways with years and years prior seem to suddenly feel the need to check in, to see if you’ve come to your senses I guess. It’s nuts, sometimes it’s amusing and some times annoying. Every single spring we ask ourselves “WTF?”

While this spring is no different, I still don’t have a clear answer for this phenomena other than, by definition spring means healing, hope and growth, and as time continues to move on, there will always be another spring and another chance. I guess it’s just the nature of the beast.

Anyway, lots going on in May, many opportunities for fun, fitness and romance. Start taking your vitamins and stay hydrated. I predict a long hot season…

P.s. May is both Skin Cancer Awareness and Bike to Work Month. Bottom line, wear your sunscreen and ride your bike.


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Your bike helmet is not a yarmulke!

Mr. Bunny, your helmet's too small!

Last night when I was driving through town, I spied a woman with two extremely young children caged on the back of her bicycle.  I say, “caged” because they were snuggly secured in two homemade box like contraptions that completely covered the tikes from the shoulders down. All you could see where little 3 or 4 year old heads and their erect little shoes sticking from the boxes. The boxes looked like those things magicians use to make it appear as though they cut people in half.  While I was remotely impressed with the architecture of the Kid Cages, I was quite shocked to see that both children were wearing their helmets on the backs of their heads as though they were yarmulke.

For some reason proper bike helmet fit escapes many people. I especially love the dummies that ride around with the chin strap unlatched. While I notice all kinds of foolish people, I found it incredibly odd that this women would go so far as to build special boxes for her offspring yet she failed to master the most obvious safety utensil. Proper helmet fit.

With that, allow me share a tidbit of advise on the proper way to don a bike helmet.

Buy a helmet that fits your head — The same goes for your child, buy one that fits now, don’t buy one for them to “grow into!”

All helmets sold in the US have been CPSC approved so theoretically they ‘re safe — The expensive ones are usually just lighter, more aerodynamic or have better ventilation. Buy what you can afford as long as it fits!

A helmet should — Sit snuggly and level on your head, 1 or 2 finger widths above the eyebrow. Never tilted back like a bonnet or yarmulke!

A helmet should not — Rock or move from side to side, at all.

The chin strap – Should be buckled and allow for only one or two fingers of space between your skin and the strap.

Color – Bright colors are better to see you with. You might think black looks cool but it’s hot and dark and it won’t make you ride any faster so best to pick another color.

Lastly – If you crack your bike helmet, even a little bit, it’s trashed. Whether it be from your kid tossing it across the room, or the action of you detaching from your bike, the rule is; if it’s cracked, it’s done. The helmet goes in the trash and you go shopping.  I know they’re expensive but so is brain surgery.

End of story.

Happy Easter! See you Monday, until then do what I say.


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It’s time to roll!

May is a damn good month! In California, it’s official bike to Work Month and my favorite; The Tour of California professional bike race visits our beautiful state during May (There’s also Mothers Day and my moms birthday, I’d be screwed if I forgot that.). What more could a month aspire to be? May is full of fitness, inspiration, green living and motherly love.  Happy, happy May to us all!

Lets talk about Bike to Work stuff; It’s pretty cool how these things happen, one day somebody, and it doesn’t matter who, decided that May would be Bike to Work Month.  It’s a fantastic idea. The hope is to get folks out of their cars and on the road to living healthier lives through bicycling. Pretty keen! Here in San Francisco there’s even a designated Bike to Work Day on May 12th. The paramount and bestest day of Bike to Work month. On Bike to Work Day there are “energizer stations” set up all over the city that hand out free goodies and lend support to bike commuters. It’s really nice and very festive! I’ve even been known to go way out of my way in route to work just to stock up on the goodies and chitchat with folks along the way. Why would you pass that up?

Yea, I know, riding your bike to work all clean and dressed to impress can be a bit daunting but why not use Bike to Work Day as an excuse to give it a try. God forbid you may actually have some fun.

Since I’m buggin’ you to ride your bikes to work it’s only fair that I offer a few words of wisdom.

First — Before you go jumping on your bike have a look at it to be sure it’s in proper working order. If you ride all the time than I trust that you keep your bike in good repair. If you don’t than I’ll get on you another time. For now, dust the poor thing off, pump up the tires to the pressure on the sidewall and if you dare clean and lube you chain. Better yet, call NOW and make an appointment at your favorite bike shop.  Don’t wait until the last-minute bike shops get busy this time of year and changing a flat in your work cloths seriously sucks. Give your bike some love, right now!

Second — What to wear? For this I have enlisted Mo, you know Mo if you’ve been following my posts. Not only has Mo been seen riding her bike up and down the cost of Chile recently but she’s an avid bicycle commuter. Here are Mo’s words of wisdom concerning proper peddling attire.

“No one wants to look like a slob when they get to the Financial District and they don’t have to.  Many work clothes and the bike go great together. For example, a tight skirt with some stretch doesn’t show anything private.

When I am going to and from work or to school I actually look nice, wear makeup, etc. on the bike, in part to make a point, and in part to not look like a dirt bag cyclist when I’m going to my classes or whatever.

My clothing choice recommendation – a medium black skirt with stretch, gives enough to let you swing your leg over, but doesn’t creep up or blow up with wind.  Also, high heels are more comfortable on the bike as most of your weight is on your butt and not on your feet!

You can spend money to buy specially made bike clothes but probably is not necessary.” You can roll with what you got.

All I’m asking is that you think about it. Start with cleaning up your bike, you never know when the urge to ride might hit.  Then, take a second to have a look at your cycle friendly wear, to work or otherwise.  Just in case…

See you on the road…

P.s. For more info on Bike to Work Day check out The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

P.s.s. Mo will be “The Captain” of the Energizer Station at The Ferry Building on Bike to Work morning. Stop by and say “Hi” if you’re in the hood!

P.s.s.s I read that 7 out of 10 San Franciscans have bikes. By my calculations everyone under the age of about 65 has a bike. Get on it!


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Small bits

I made it!

Focus. They say all you have to do is “focus” and you’ll get what you want.

I am gonna let you in on a few tips that help me focus when I am trying to ride my bike, run, stand in Tree Pose or even write.

When you’re distracted you loose your focus. That’s obvious, in order to do what you need to do, you need to give “it” your full attention. Period.

Say you want to, climb Mt. Tam on your bike. To keep from panicking and loosing your focus, break the journey into small chunks. Same rule goes for running a marathon, 5k, or whatever. Break your mission into small, easy to digest bits.

It’s actually pretty easy, just focus on getting yourself to the first hill, or make your digestible bits mileage markers. Take it 5 miles at a time and think only about those five miles. Same goes for riding your bike, take it a few miles at a time. Climbing Mt. Tam with a pal? Concentrate on getting to Mill Valley, up to 4 Corners, Pantoll Station, and so on. You get the picture.

Another thing that helps me through tough workouts or events is not to look too far up the road. If you’re planning to run from The Marina Green across the GGB, whatever you do, don’t look across the bay at the bridge, you’ll surly panic and loose your focus. Remember, small bits!  When you’re done, you can look back at where you’ve been, pat yourself on the back and say, “Holey shit! I made it!”

On to the next…

Couple o’ things I want to mention

  • Sunday Streets begins this weekend – Get out and play in the street! Route goes along the Embarcadero.
  • Every Monday they offer $2 pints and specials on bar food at the Park Chalet. The food’s not fantastic but it’s a great place to hang post ride or run along the beach.

Get my meaning?


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Look where you’re going!

Rule #1 — Your bike goes where you look. Look at the ditch and you go in the ditch. Notice that the camera in this video, which is mounted to the riders helmet is always pointed just up the road, always focused on the best line of travel. Never does he look over at the many hazards, not at the dog and not at the tape when he gets close to it. He safely navigated this insane ride by looking only where he wanted the bike to go. And that ladies and gents, is what they call a man with superior bike handling skills.

Take note. Think about this the next time you’re out on a bike.

P.s. Watch this video in full screen or up on the wall if you have the capabilities. It’s cra-zy!

P.s.s This insanity  happens on the streets of Valparaiso, Chile. The Valparaiso Cerro Abajo Race is a legendary urban bike race.