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COLUMN: Grandmaster Crandall takes a hop on his bicycle (with VIDEO)

Clifford Crandall Jr.
Sentinel columnist
Posted 8/28/22

You may have ridden a bicycle when you were a kid or even in your 20s, which is great, but be prepared if it has been a while. ... VIDEO in media gallery.

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COLUMN: Grandmaster Crandall takes a hop on his bicycle (with VIDEO)

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Hi, today’s suggestion is biking.

You may have ridden a bicycle when you were a kid or even in your 20s, which is great, but be prepared if it has been a while. You may find it a bit challenging for the first 10 to 15 minutes.

Assuming you will just hop on and go — oh yes and stop when you want — without a parking lot practice run may be risky.

There are two things to check for your success if it is a rental or a borrowed bicycle.

First, are the handlebars in line with the front wheel? If not, steering will be a challenge.

Second, is the seat the right height for you? Your leg should almost go straight on the down stroke of the peddles. Not fully straight, just close. The seat height makes a huge difference in your success and comfort. This allows the up stroke not to impact a knee replacement or any old knee injury.

Do a little parking lot practice to make sure you are stable before you get into traffic or on bicycle paths.

The mental part is different. Although you may not realize it, your reaction time for stopping and balancing has changed over time. At first, you will wobble a bit. Do not be embarrassed or give up, this will pass quickly in the parking lot practice.

Most rental bicycles are step-through bicycles. This is a bicycle without the high metal bar from just below the seat straight to the base of the handlebar attachment.

Step-through bikes are more forgiving in many ways, but most of all you can put the brakes on, slide forward off the seat and put both feet on the ground easily.

I have ridden many places, but the week my wife and I were at Hilton Head Island in South Carolina was one of the best. They have received the Gold Metal Bicycle Friendly Community Award, one of only two given on the East Coast.

With over 60 miles of beautifully built bicycle trails, you can ride to places, enjoy the sights, and get your exercise in. Many places have tandem bicycles for two riders available, and both riders impact the speed and stopping of the bicycle, although the front handlebars control the direction.

There are kiddy carts available for attaching to an adult bicycle to bring small children, pets, or additional supplies for your outing. An adult bicycle with a seat, handlebars, and pedals attached for a child to ride right behind them is called an alley cat. They are designed so that although the child pedals, it is not linked to the control aspects of the bicycle. You, as the adult rider, control the speed, stopping and direction, but the child gets the bicycling experience and fun.

If you plan to ride your bike on the regular streets of your town or city, I recommend that you wear head protection. Helmets are not that expensive, and one pothole can put you down on the ground. That one fall will make the helmet worth the time and money.

Remember, you’re not in a race. The bigger and fatter the tires, the more forgiving on rough terrain and gravel or sand. Racing bicycles and cross-country competition bicycles are totally different designs and even though a friend may be willing to lend you theirs, it may not be the enjoyable experience you looked for.

Also, no taking pictures or texting while riding. It’s an activity to enjoy, relax and share with those you are riding with or talking to later. You can do this, perhaps not well at first, but you can do this.

Keep in mind – “Optimism is the one quality more associated with success and happiness than any other.” — Brian Tracy

Clifford Crandall Jr., 75, is founder and grandmaster of the American Martial Arts Institute, 8382 Seneca Turnpike in New Hartford. He has produced a monthly column and video series, “Still Alive and Kicking,” promoting life-enhancing activities for seniors.

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