Category Archives: Active Living

Jun 20, 2017

Rusty, Dusty Riders

Happy Bike Month, Colorado! We know, you’re wheelie, wheelie excited about celebrating (even if you’re not half amused by tire-d attempts at being punny). After all, we’re in Boulder County, a cycling mecca. Not only is our superb location at the foot of the Rocky Mountains a magnet for pros, we have amazing access to bike paths, mountain passes, bike sharing, teams, tours, singletrack, dirt jumps, cyclocross…you name it.

Here in sunny, active Colorado, the lure of the bike is undeniably magnetic, right? Of course, depending on your perspective, it can also be a bit daunting. Even for the most experienced cyclists, there can come a time when roads feel a little less welcome. In fact, some days the very fact that our community is such a draw for athletes is the very thing that causes reluctance. If you’re not geared up in slick spandex for an intense time trial, do you still fit in?

The answer, of course, if a hearty YES. Here in our bike-friendly #HealthyLongmont, opportunities abound for getting out and riding for fitness, fun, and pure transport. Between our 158+ miles of greenway paths and bike lanes, our new Bike Share program, group rides and the celebrated, casual, family-friendly G’Knight Ride from Bicycle Longmont, and more, there’s indeed many a something for everyone. If you’re feeling a little out of practice, perhaps a little rusty, Rusty, Dusty Riders may well be one of those somethings for you.

Art in Public Places Administrator and Traffic Safety Coordinator for City of Longmont, veteran cyclist and accomplished endurance athlete Lauren Greenfield has been actively assisting others in becoming more confident, capable cyclists since she took off on her own two wheels. Offering numerous bike maintenance and safety classes through the City and privately, she noticed a standout trend. The most heavily requested classes were those that drew primarily mature women. “I saw a lot of enthusiasm for riding coupled with hesitation,” Greenfield says. “People were held back by uncertainty–where to go, how to get from the house to the bike path, what to do in case of a flat. They were all levels, interested more in the camaraderie and the route than competition.”

In response to the demand, Greenfield began leading the Rusty, Dusty Riders group last summer, continuing through the winter but modifying sessions to be strictly classroom-based when it was too cold. The sessions offer a blend of information, instruction, and camaraderie on the bike. Topics vary, but the format stays the same. The first hour is education, with a flexible focus based on participant needs and interests. Everything from road safety, route planning, what to wear, buying a bike, finding “cute” accoutrements for the bike, and maintenance is discussed. Following are bike and helmet safety checks, possible skills and drills practice, and casual group riding on the paths and quiet roads.

“I moved to Longmont two years ago from Illinois,” says participant Sue, attending the group for the second time. “I used to ride a lot when I was younger and am just getting back into cycling. This group has been a great opportunity to meet people and find out where to ride.” At the first group, Sue sought advice on where to purchase a bike locally. Upon arriving at her second session, bike in the back of her car, she was on the lookout for a bike rack that would suit her needs.

“I love riding, and encouraging others,” says Katie, who assists Greenfield in leading rides. Katie, an experienced cyclist and newly retired, moved to Longmont from Fort Collins four years ago. She joined in on group rides Greenfield was leading, Girls and Gears, and became involved with Bicycle Longmont. “I can’t stand the elitist culture that exists in sport,” she says. “For cycling, the impression that can be falsely given that you have to look a certain part, be a racer, to be entitled to share in the enjoyment. It’s for everyone. I’m in my 60s now, still riding, and I plan to keep on riding and loving it for as long as I can. This group is the kind of thing that can make that happen for anyone who wants it. Our aim is to get out, relax, enjoy.”

Interested, but not feeling too keen to claim “rusty” as a personal descriptor? Don’t be fooled by the name. There is no age requirement. “Self-imposed seniors is who we’re comprised of,” Greenfield says good-naturedly. Do trust that the humorous title is indicative of the laid-back feel of the group.

“I love riding, and encouraging others,” says Katie, who assists in leading rides. Katie, an experienced cyclist and newly retired, moved to Longmont from Fort Collins four years ago. She joined in on group rides Greenfield was leading, Girls and Gears, and became involved with Bicycle Longmont. “I can’t stand elitist culture in sport,” she says. “For cycling, it’s easy to feel you have to look a certain part, be a racer, to be entitled to share in the enjoyment. It’s for everyone. I’m in my 60s now, still riding, and I plan to keep on riding and loving it for as long as I can. This group is the kind of thing that can make that happen for anyone who wants it. Our aim is to get out, relax, enjoy.”

Greenfield posts sessions on Meetup, and plans to offer them the second and fourth Wednesday of each month schedule permitting. Location may vary, most likely alternating between the Longmont Senior Center and Izaak Walton Clubhouse to begin. While specifics may evolve, one thing for certain is Greenfield’s commitment. “I love it,” she says. “I just love sharing a role in connecting others, helping build excitement and confidence about getting people out there enjoying their bikes, feeling prepared with the information they need.”

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.kennett.co.nz/uploads/rusty-bike-600×400.jpg”>Co.nz</a>

May 9, 2016

Ride On: Upcoming Bicycle Rodeo Builds Safety and Handling Skills for Kids

Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live. –Mark Twain

Remember the joy, the freedom, when a trusted adult let go of your saddle and you sailed ahead boldly on your bike without training wheels for the first time? Or maybe you’re young enough that a strider or other balance-oriented bike let you bypass the training wheels in the first place. Either way, the connection between a rider and a two-wheeled steed is a special one.

A bicycle embodies so much of childhood: simple, carefree days, independent exploration, the invincible feelings of lightness and speed. What’s maybe even better, while we all grow older, there’s no inevitability we must outgrow our bikes. Trades and upgrades happen, but our bikes are there. They’re there for us when we want to climb mountains, when we slog through our morning and evening commutes (more enjoyable when we’re commuting with pedal power), when we want to go fast, and when we just want to amble, enjoy the scenery and think. They’re lifetime friends.

All of us who have known bikes have lasting memories with them. What’s easy to forget sometimes, though, is that safely operating bikes involves real responsibility. Every child benefits from being introduced and trained in developing skills, technical maintenance, traffic rules and courtesies and other safety precautions. And, here in our #HealthyLongmont, every child has the chance to learn and share with families while having tons of fun at Bicycle Rodeo events!

Mark your calendars for May 14! A big Bicycle Rodeo hosted at the Boulder County Fairgrounds by Boulder County Transportation with support from SVVSD and Bicycle Longmont will be a fantastic opportunity for kids ages 6 and up. There will be bike safety checks, helmet fittings, a bike skills course, and an interactive discussion on caring for bikes and biking for children. There will also be a host of activities that will help increase kids’ bike handling skills, including stopping and starting, being prepared for obstacles and debris on the road, and making quick turns, etc.

Getting excited just thinking about it? Us too. Good thing Bike to School Day makes for perfect practice focusing as a family on the art of safe and super cycling. Bike to School Day is a national campaign that first took place May 9, 2012, in coordination with the League of American Bicyclists’ National Bike Month, and schools all throughout SVVSD look forward to getting on board…or rather, on bikes, to celebrate. This year, make biking to school together an opportunity to observe and think ahead to skills that could use a little extra focus. Then, wheel on down to the Fairgrounds on the 14th to make that focus extra FUN!

What: Bicycle Rodeo
Time: 11 am – 1 pm
Date: May 14
Place: Boulder County Fairgrounds Barn A
Cost: Free

Photo credit: Boulder County Transportation Department

Apr 12, 2016

Work it: Staying Active at the Office Really Works to Build Strength and Combat Sitting Disease

“Exercise”. We all know how important it is…and, when we find the kind we love, how good it feels. But the reality is, in today’s workaday world, there are times it can be hard to fit in, no matter how committed we are. Not only that, studies are increasingly revealing how long hours sitting at a desk can actually cancel out the benefits of even rigorous, daily exercise. “Sitting Disease”, a term coined by the scientific community to refer to the ill-effects of a sedentary lifestyle, is becoming a more commonly used phrase to describe prolonged sitting, whether at home, at the office, or on-the-go. Whether or not it’s officially diagnosed, it’s real, and it’s killing us. Good news, we can rise up against Sitting Disease, and all the associated ill effects, including back pain, poor posture, obesity, cardiovascular disease, Diabetes, and even cancer…simply by regularly, well, rising up. Making a conscious effort to get up and move regularly throughout the day will indeed go a long way to maintaining health, research suggests. What’s more, teaming up with others throughout the work day can yield positive results for both individuals and team, boosting morale and freshening up productivity. The word “exercise” comes from the Latin exercere, meaning to keep busy or at work. Ironically, however, keeping busy at work today typically means the opposite of what we’d associate with exercise. Adding in a little “deskercise” doesn’t have to be overly complicated to be effective, however, nor need it take a great deal of time to make a significant impact. For an inspiring example, check in with the City of Longmont Planning and Development Services Team, whose New Year’s plank challenge is going strong, and making each participant stronger. The plank is an excellent exercise for building core strength and improve posture. Depending on the type/modifications, you can engage back, shoulders, arms, glute, and hamstrings muscles. All you need are a few minutes (or even 30 seconds, starting out). And, you don’t need any equipment whatsoever. “Beginning the first day back at work after the new year, a group of us started with three 30-second plank sessions for a total of 1 ½ minutes,” Senior Planner Erin Fosdick says. “Not, we’ve worked up to almost four minutes!” A core group meets in the hall or individual offices at about 8:30 each morning, Fosdick says, welcoming all who are interested. As times have increased, individuals report feeling definitively stronger. Further, the feel-good results and camaraderie have built forward momentum. Planks have begun to be incorporated in other City meetings, sparking other team challenges. Not sure planks are the right fit for you? Not to worry! Experiment, and you’ll find what is. In the meantime, remember to just keep moving through the day. Extend your legs in your chair. Take the stairs. Walk to co-workers rather than email, or with them over a meeting. Get up and get some water. It’s worth it, and those seconds you take eyes off the computer will produce better work and more importantly, protect better health. Every step counts.

Feb 25, 2016

SVVSD: Striding into Spring

Spring is on its way! Symbolic of renewal, spring is a fitting time for new projects, for tackling goals with renewed energy and creativity. Quiet, budding nature inspires contemplation, too, especially centered around health and well-being. And of course, spring gifts us with a refreshing lift in spirits, setting the mood for celebration. We like the way Robin Williams summed this turning of the seasons up, saying spring is nature’s way of saying, “let’s party”!

At SVVSD, there’s always much to celebrate, not least regarding integrated opportunities for physical activity. Physical activity lowers risk of obesity, improves overall physical health, supports psychological well-being, mood and more. In other words, getting students moving means supporting healthy students who are empowered to make healthy choices and more available for learning. SVVSD students demonstrate these positive outcomes and more on a daily basis, and we felt their hard work deserves another update. So, we managed to catch up with a few recent breathtaking strides, thanks to SVVSD Physical Activity Grant Coordinator Paige Jennings:

Going the Distance with 100 Mile Club
Inspired by special education teacher Kara Lubin, who inspired and motivated her students with her dream of becoming a gold medalist in 1992, the 100 Mile Club began with a simple goal: students who ran 100 miles in a year would earn a gold medal. Today, the thriving, popular club enjoys participation from all 31 elementary and K-8 schools. Currently, 4, 715 students, 339 parents, and 132 staff members are registered! Students are offered consistent and special opportunities for students to log miles, running or walking, incentives along the way, and special medal celebrations at the year’s end. Alongside fitness gains and great camaraderie, schools are thrilled to see students develop in focus, school readiness, self-esteem, and so much more. Here’s a small sampling overheard from the fields:

  • “A boy with “Anger Issues” (his words) told me that he was so glad he was doing this because all of the walking would help him fight the weight gain that his meds cause. We also discussed how moving helps the brain with anger.”
  • “Our first week of 100 Mile Club was great!  We had between 40 – 60 kids each day and put in 242 miles as a group.  BUT the best part was seeing how much the kids loved it and how we are already building a sense of community.   A 5th grade boy (who is a really good runner) was walking the last young runners in on their last lap and giving them encouragement along the way.”
  • “We are at 1409 miles altogether! Our kids are loving this, and it is really having a positive impact on learning time in the classroom!”

Schools Get Moving in Community Support

The 100 Mile Club extends well beyond school grounds. Club participants and their families represent in shining numbers at local races like the Longmont Turkey Trot, which saw over 163 registered participants in 2014 and 218 in 2015. Club goals have further inspired special opportunities to log miles in the form of out-of-school events. Hygiene’s “Jingle Bell Run”, Rocky Mountain Elementary’s “Pumpkin Run”, Burlington’s “Hot Chocolate Run”, Mead Elementary’s “Mead for Speed” and various events hosted by Flagstaff Academy and by Red Hawk Elementary over Thanksgiving and Winter breaks enthusiastically invite the community into the spirit of things.

Alongside building physical fitness and academic strides, SVVSD students exercise compassion. Hygiene Elementary’s “Star Light Walk”, held Friday, November 13th, was a very special evening for the Hygiene community, and a huge success. Hot cocoa and glow necklaces were sold in support of a Hygiene Kindergartner battling Leukemia. Lights were hung to guide the walkers, who exceeded their fundraising goals. Another enormously successful benefit, Black Rock’s “Let’s Help Abi 2K Benefit Walk”, drew more than 700 registrations, 103 of which were 100 Mile Club participants.

Leading the Way

We know our #HealthyLongmont is at the forefront of progress. It’s nice to see the word is spreading, as more and more, others look to Longmont as an example of how to do things right. On December 11th, Sue Brittenham of the Colorado Health Foundation and SVVSD Physical Activity Grant Coordinator Paige Jennings hosted a statewide visit from teachers, administrators, and coordinators to showcase the amazing things happening with physical activity here in St. Vrain. Visitors observed the 100-Mile Club in action at Alpine Elementary; Mead Elementary’s all-school movement rotations; individual movement breaks in several Central Elementary classrooms; and Flagstaff Academy’s daily middle school walking break. Additionally, they were able to observe some of the fantastic recess equipment purchased by the district over the past two years: over $81,000 worth, plus over $407,000 worth of classroom supplies to support integration of movement in the classroom.

As even the most casual observer can see, this is a district that invests in healthy, happy learners! It’s no wonder SVVSD’s December visitors left motivated and inspired. We feel the same. Keep the momentum going, SVVSD!

Photo credit: Flagstaff Academy (Students enjoy a regular movement break in Ms. Applehans’ Kindergarten classroom)

Feb 3, 2016

Put Your Heart Into It: Healthy Tips for Preventing Heart Disease

Shhhh…listen. Hear that steady rhythm, your beating heart? Your heart has got your back…and muscles, organs, and bones, all day and all night, all the time. Are you thankful? Goes without saying, of course you are. Do you take the time to show it all the TLC you can? Maybe.

Despite best intentions, everyone is susceptible to becoming overstretched and over-stressed. After taking care of our families, our homes, our workplace responsibilities, and more…we often neglect to take care of ourselves. Or, sometimes our best efforts to do best by our bodies result in other stresses and fatigue. There are always tradeoffs. Luckily, most powerful measures we can take to better our health are those that we can incorporate sustainably into a healthy lifestyle. This February, embrace American Heart Month by taking time to talk a little tenderness with your loyal beating heart, and check in with yourself. Are there any small changes you can make to even better protect heart health? Here, four key ingredients for heart (and whole body) health:

Get physical. It’s no secret that being physically active is a key ingredient to improved and maintained cardiovascular–and overall–health. The American Heart Association suggests aiming for 30 minutes a day five times a week or more of moderate exercise. When time constraints make fitness goals daunting, remember that anything that makes your body move and burn calories constitutes activity. Find simple ways to increase movement throughout the day when you can. Take walk breaks and stretch breaks, and take the stairs. Park further from work, or better yet, commute actively to work whenever possible. Find what you like to do, and get it on a schedule you can commit to. Something is better than nothing, so even when you’ve only got a few spare minutes to inject a few jumping jacks into your day, just do it. Keep track of your progress, by hand or with recording tools such as a fitbit…you may surprise yourself with just how much you do fit in a day, and find your motivation starts to soar.

Eat well for heart health.  Good nutrition is a powerful weapon against heart disease, and in fact all diseases. That said, continually barraged with media on diet trends and nutritional advice, deciding what “good” means can be overwhelming. Certain guiding principles hold strong regardless of the fads. Not least, filling your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables. Try keeping pre-washed and sliced fruits and vegetables in handy, accessible containers at eye level in the fridge. These will serve as great, grounding reminders and energizing, delicious quick snacks. Aim to eat a variety of fish, especially those that contain omega-3 fatty acids such as wild salmon, 2-3 times a week. Build main meals around vegetables, whether planning meatless meals or taking on a less meat, more flavor approach. In adopting a mind-set that prioritizes plant-powered nutrition, you’ll find you’re automatically incorporating heart-healthy fiber-rich foods and a variety of nutrients, and limiting unhealthy fats. For great meal planning ideas, check out LiveWell Colorado’s Pinterest pages!

Sleep. Exercise and diet go a long way, but to really make health a priority, sleep is an essential, too. According to a 2011 study by the American Heart Association, poor sleep quality is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, a potential cause of heart disease. Although what constitutes an optimal night’s sleep exactly may be hard to pinpoint, and may vary, most studies concur that six to eight hours of sleep each day is ideal. Too much or too little can mean problems. People who are sleep deprived tend to have slower metabolisms and more difficulty losing weight. They feel sluggish, edgy, and unmotivated. On the flip side, getting consistent, solid  sleep affects stress hormones, breathing, immunity, and mental state. That means, more alertness, improved concentration, less depression and anxiety, greater motivation. If you’re having trouble falling asleep at night, exercise regularly, are avoiding stimulants like caffeine and TV right before bed, try establishing or revitalizing a restful evening routine. Turn off electronic devices and enjoy a hot shower, soothing cup of herbal tea, and a good book.

Relax. No one is impervious to stress. In the workplace, in the home, in life in general. We carry stress when it comes to meeting deadlines, taking care of finances, finding the time, caring for others. A little stress is a good thing, too. It can be a motivator, like on the starting line of a 5K. But we all know, a little goes a long way, and stress can easily build up and be cause for breakdown. Stress can markedly increase risk of heart problems, including high blood pressure and heart attacks. So, what to do to stave off this ever lurking killer? Studies show relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and focused imagery can lower depression, increase memory, reduce stroke risk, improve judgment and more. Find what works for you. Yoga, meditation, and tai chi are some of many activities that highlight focused relaxation with numerous health benefits. Treat yourself to a massage, listen to soothing music. Whatever it is that gives you peace of mind…your heart will love it, too.

Sep 18, 2015

Put Your Best Foot Forward: Walk Beside the Surgeon General

Sunset over Longs1

Walka walka walka…no, we’re not talking about the Muppets’ return to TV (though that is pretty exciting). Recently, the Surgeon General issued a call to action to address major health issues like diabetes and cardiovascular disease by walking to good health. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities emphasizes both the innumerable health benefits to walking, and the importance of safe, accessible places for all community members to get out and enjoy fresh air and exercise.

Walking is a simple and simply wonderful way to improve and maintain health. Studies show a mere 30 minutes a day can boost muscular power and endurance, strengthen bones, and increase overall fitness. Major bonus, it’s free!

In the call to action, the Surgeon General calls upon city managers, law enforcement and community and public health leaders to prioritize maintaining public spaces, including working with residents to promote community and responsibility, and to support safe routes. (No one should be caught between a walk and a hard place, after all!)

Lucky for us, Longmont abounds in great walking opportunities. Here are some of our faves. Get out and walk your way, and send us your top places to explore! Share on our Facebook page or other social media, and include the hastag #HealthyLongmont!

What better way to discover the beauty and resources of Longmont than the St. Vrain Greenway? Miles of concrete bike paths, gravel walking paths, and nature trails welcome all with convenient access and routes linking parks, schools, and commercial areas across the city. The trail system suffered extensive damage during the flood of September 2013, but repair has been steady and significant. Keep up to date on the City’s flood information website.

The 3.5 mile mostly trail loop around beautiful McIntosh Lake is a clear favorite among all who work, live and play in our area. Currently being developed as a master-planned District Park, the lake area features two playgrounds and access for non-motorized boating.

Rabbit Mountain is located between Lyons and Longmont, and showcases over 2,733 acres with five miles of beautiful trails over sweeping grasslands and through ridge top pines.

With magnificent views of Longs Peak and the Front Range, all kinds of wildlife, a handicap-accessible fishing pier, 2.6 miles of park trails plus restrooms and picnic shelters, it’s no wonder Golden Ponds District Park is beloved in Longmont.

Lagerman Reservoir offers some of the best warm-water fishing around, plus boating, birdwatching, picnicking and gentle, scenic walking on the just over 1-mile loop circling the water.

September 19th closed out another fabulous season for Longmont’s popular ArtWalk, but it will be back, and you don’t want to miss it! ArtWalk began in 1996 as a monthly gallery hop sponsored by local arts organizations, and has grown to include live musicians, children’s art activities, live performances and more in its mission to festively integrate life and art in downtown Longmont.

Jun 15, 2015

Why Not Ride Your Bike? Get Ready for Bike to Work Day (No Excuses!)

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Reason #1 not to ride your bike: It’s too far to ride
If you live too far from work, consider driving part of the way and riding the rest. Or you can ride the bus part way. Bike racks have been installed on many full sized city buses. Taking your bike along for the ride saves fuel and money.

Reason #2 not to ride your bike: It takes too long
You’d be surprised! Because of traffic in areas, cycling generally takes less time than driving for trips of three miles or less, and about the same time for three to five mile trips. For longer trips, consider that you’re saving time by combining your daily exercise with your commute. Also, don’t forget your savings of time and money when you eliminate visits to the gas pump.

Reason #3 not to ride your bike: I’d have to get up much earlier if I rode my bicycle
If your commute is less than 10 miles round trip, the difference in commute time will be insignificant. But even if your commute is longer, 30 minutes of extra sleep won’t be nearly as invigorating as an early morning ride. You’ll arrive at work alert and refreshed. And you won’t have to rush off to an evening workout to unwind. You’ll have already accomplished that!

Reason #4 not to ride your bike: I’m out of shape
If you leave yourself plenty of time and go at an easy pace, you’ll find cycling no more difficult than walking. As you ride more, you’ll ease your way into better shape, building fitness that will be a regular part of your schedule. If you have health problems, consult your family doctor for suggestions on getting started.

Reason #5 not to ride your bike: I can’t afford a special commuting bicycle
You don’t need one. Your old beater bike gathering dust in the garage will suffice if properly adjusted and maintained, and it’s less attractive to thieves. If you have a recreational bicycle you can outfit it with a lightweight rack and bag or use a fanny pack to carry necessary commute items. With the fixed cost of operating an automobile at around $.30/mile, the money you would save commuting by bicycle on an average 10 mile round trip would buy you a $400 bicycle in six months time.

Reason #6 not to ride your bike: I have to dress nice for work
Some bicycle commuters simply ride in their business attire. Most ride in casual or cycling clothes and change when they arrive. You can carry your change of clothes in a pack (rolled up so they don’t get wrinkled).
 

Reason #7 not to ride your bike: I can’t shower at work
Depending on the weather, you may not need a shower if you ride at a leisurely pace. If you do, take a washcloth, soap, towel and deodorant and clean up at the restroom sink. 

Reason #8 not to ride your bike: What if it’s rainy or cold?
Start as a fair weather bicycle commuter (this should be fairly easy, we are in Colorado) – when the forecast is bad, don’t bike. Some people may conquer the elements and commute every day, but it doesn’t mean you have to. If you only ride when the weather report is favorable, it will still make a dramatic improvement. The more you enjoy bicycle commuting, the more you’ll look forward to your daily ride. 

Reason #9 not to ride your bike: It’s not safe to ride in traffic
You can share the road successfully with cars by riding lawfully and assertively. The fear of riding in traffic is often much greater than the actual danger. Minimize risk by riding properly – visibly, predictably and following all traffic laws. To help prevent injury always wear a helmet. You can also reduce the risk of riding in traffic by using less congested secondary roads. You may travel a few extra miles, but you’ll be able to enjoy the ride, a worthwhile trade-off.

Reason # 10 not to ride your bike: I’d have to ride in the dark
Wear light colored reflective clothing, use a good lighting system and choose a route that avoids major darkness. There are a variety of bike-mounted lights that can help you see and be seen.
 

Source: “The Top Ten Excuses for not Commuting By Bike.” MassBike Pioneer Valley. www.massbikepv.org

Jun 11, 2015

Ride On: Colorado Bike Month!

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We love you, Boulder County, in oh so many ways. We love our mountain views. We love our trail networks, and the commitment to improving, rebuilding, and protecting them. We love the sustainable focus, the recreation opportunities, and the way so often the most cherished set of wheels is the one with spokes. June is upon us, and some (lots of) days, it’s all about the bike.
There are countless reasons to take up cycling, from the health and fitness benefits to the reduced carbon footprint to the lightened gas budget. But who are we kidding? You already know that. The state of Colorado is renowned, across the nation and indeed the globe, for premier cycling opportunities. From mountain passes to safe, family-friendly cycle path networks; elite teams and numerous tours, support for the sport is evident at every turn. Celebrate and share your enthusiasm throughout the month, officially designated Bike Month in Colorado.
It doesn’t take long to get a feel for Longmont’s bike-friendly culture, with its 158 miles of greenway paths and bike lanes aiding healthy and enjoyable access to destinations, including the town’s three bike shops. June offers numerous spirited events and occasions to get out on two wheels. This year’s Bike to Work Day, for instance, to be held on Wednesday, June 24th, is always a popular draw. The event, features tasty breakfast stations, T-shirts, and prizes, and is open to everyone. Best of all, the commutes can count on being abuzz with camaraderie. In fact, participation has steadily risen since 1995. Find Breakfast and Bike Home stations throughout Colorado at biketoworkday.us.
While June may be a month of cycling celebration, we all know we it doesn’t take much excuse for us to get out and enjoy the local scenery the way we can on a bike. Lucky for us, we’ve got plenty of local resources and opportunities to keep us maintaining our wheels and spokes throughout the year. Here’s a sampling of a few things we have to look forward to in the weeks and months ahead!
Longmont Bike Nights. Colorado’s oldest, largest weekly family-friendly cruiser ride is back for its 11th year! Meeting under the flags at the east end of Roosevelt Park at 6:30 pm, Bike Nights are a friendly, leisurely way to connect with others while touring Longmont’s best tree lined neighborhoods and greenways, about 6 miles or so for each hour-long ride. This year’s Bike Night season also features “Pre-Bike Nights” at various establishments, giving cyclists a chance to hang out and chat before the ride. “If you’re old enough to ride and young enough to stay on–you’re probably just right for Bike Night!” says Bicycle Longmont President Ryan Kragerud.
G’Knight Ride. You won’t want to miss the 5th annual G’Knight Ride, scheduled for June 13th. Presented by Bicycle Longmont, this incredibly fun event is a rousing celebration of cycling, and cyclists of all ages and abilities. The festival includes various routes, food trucks, activities for kids, and great schwag from super sponsors.
StART Rides. Feel invigorated and culturally inspired–take part in Art in Public Places bike tours! Bike tours are generally 90-120 minutes in duration and utilize multi-use trails as well as roads to view public art. Each bike tour is is different: you’ll view different artwork, the routes vary, and multiple tour guides/leaders offer unique perspectives! Bike tours ride at a comfortable and conversational pace, 6 to 15 miles.
Free group rides and training from Girls and Gears/Pink Pedals. “I do pretty much anything related to bicycles except sell them and do maintenance on them,” says Lauren Greenfield said, long-time cyclist and founder of Pink Pedals, a women’s cycling group. “I get people more comfortable on their bikes and better prepared to ride.” Pink Pedals offers bicycle education, maintenance skills, route design, private lessons, community, and anything you could ask for when it comes to bikes. This includes regular FREE 90-minute instructive rides for women in and around Longmont. Check the Pink Pedals website for ride schedules for beginners on up!
Tour de Taps. Pink Pedals has teamed up with the local chapter of Barley’s Angels, a national network of women who love beer, to combine a love of biking with social camaraderie and appreciation for our local breweries. Check our LiveWell Longmont calendar and the Pink Pedals website regularly for news on upcoming bike tours inclusive of well-timed stops for tastings at local breweries like Shoes and Brews, Left Hand Brewery, Cyclehops, and Longmont’s Tasty Weasel.
The City of Longmont has many bike trails and bike-friendly routes.  Whether you’re cycling for fitness, stress reduction, cool gadgets and toys, or simply the pure freedom of fresh air on two wheels, you have plenty of options. Be safe, have fun, and get out there!
May 20, 2015

Just Tri-It: Longmont Try-A-Try Offers a Taste for the Sport

Swim. Bike. Run. Repeat. That seems to be  a common mantra for many in active Boulder county. From humble beginnings, the sport of triathlon, a multisport event of varying distances consisting of three different disciplines (swimming, biking running) has really evolved.

Triathlon’s foundation is most commonly traced back to the 70s in Southern California, when a group of friends, including swimmers, cyclists, and runners, decided to turn training into informal races. The first triathlon, the Mission Bay Triathlon, was held on September 25, 1974, hosting forty-six athletes.

Today, the sport of triathlon is booming, as exemplified by its induction on to the Olympic stage in Sydney, 2000. In Longmont 2012, Hyde Park drew roaring enthusiasm from avid fans of the sport and curious spectators, as  the venue for the high profile event.

You may be a seasoned multisport veteran, or tentatively warming up to the idea of tri-ing the sport out for yourself. Either way, you’ll find a warm welcome in Longmont. Coming up in June, the popular, low-key, longest continuous running  Longmont Triathlon [link to http://longmontcolorado.gov/departments/departments-n-z/recreation-services/special-events-recreation/longmont-triathlon] is coming back for its 35th year on Sunday, May 31st! Want to get your feet wet without necessarily diving into the deep end? Longmont Try-a-Tri  offers a fun sampling of the sport a day earlier, immediately following the special Longmont Kids-Only Triathlon : swim 200 yd, bike 4 miles, then finish up with a 2K run! Or, try volunteering, and you’ll quickly get a sense of the range and camaraderie that accompanies these unique events.

If you need a little extra encouragement, or some guidance getting started, consider these tips from Longmont Coach Craig Howie, ultra-runner and former pro triathlete:

  1. Start with a sprint triathlon. The short distances (typically a 500-800 yard swim followed by a 12-15 mile bike, and finishing with a 3-4 mile run). This will allow you to experience the fine details of the sport, such as transitions and pacing, without the added pressure of longer events.
  2. Choose a race with a pool swim for your first. One of the most intimidating aspects of triathlon is swimming in open water. Triathlons with pool swims will help you ease into the experience of triathlon without the usual jostling and splashing. Pool swims also allow you to place yourself in a lane with athletes of similar experience and abilities.
  3. Set up your training to build familiarity with doing multiple sports sequentially. Start slowly by being able to do each of the distances in your event individually on different days. Then, cut the distances in half and try putting two of the sports together in a back-to-back “brick” workout. For instance, you might swim 250 yards, then ride your bike for 8 miles.
  4. Make transitions a game. Talk to anyone who has just finished a first triathlon, and they’ll be sure to mention the awkwardness of transitioning between sports. You can prepare yourself for the details (such as remembering to take your bike helmet off before running, or getting shoes on with wet feet) by setting up your own little transition area, practicing each transition without actually doing each sport. Find a place where you can set up your bike, leaned up against something, or in a rack, like it will be race day. Lay out a towel by your bike with everything you will need, both from swim to bike, and from bike to run. Put on all of your swimming gear as you’ll wear it in a race, and run through both transitions. Make it a game by practicing several times, trying to better your time each round of practice.

Of course, you don’t need a race to enjoy multisport! Craig and Jen Howie are masters of juggling training, coaching, and demanding schedules of a busy family. Getting creative, they find ways to squeeze in fun routines that also serve as multisport workouts everyone can enjoy. Curious? Tri this:

Ride your bikes to a pool as a family and play for a while in the water. Challenge your son or daughter to a few short and fun races in the pool. After the swim, hop back on your bikes and head to your favorite park. Let your children play as usual, but challenge them to a couple foot races. Once you have all had your fill of the park, jump on your bikes one more time and ride home. The whole family just put in a nice block of triathlon training and the kids probably didn’t even realize it.

Apr 6, 2015

Get Out and Garden: It’s Good for You!

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April showers bring…great gardens! Now is a perfect time to pull out the gardening gloves, dust off the wheel barrow and tools, and get down and dirty with nature. Why? It depends on what you’re looking for exactly, but one one thing is guaranteed, you’ll find something you need. Stress relief, meditative calm, exercise, connection with the earth, fantastic flora and delicious, nutritious vegetables. You’ll be rewarded for your efforts tenfold.
“There are so many reasons to garden,” says Carol O’Meara, CSU Extension Agent specializing in Horticulture Entomology. “It’s physical activity, and it’s weight bearing. It incorporates stretching, too. When it comes to the vegetable yields, the variety you can grow in a garden well exceeds what can be purchased at the grocery store. The flavors you can experience are really awesome. People regularly experience epiphanies with their home-grown vegetables; it’s like eating a completely new food. The freshness and quality you can get from your own garden, literally right there at your fingertips, is astounding. You don’t get more local than your own backyard.”
An impressive body of continually growing research upholds the benefits of gardening. Studies highlight it as a powerful means to combat stress, reverse depression and boost cognitive function, all in turn providing a valuable boost to our immune systems. What’s more, it gets your blood and body moving.
When it comes to starting out in gardening, don’t be daunted. You don’t need a green thumb, or even a lot of space. You can garden in the back yard, or containers. No matter what, you’ll be giving yourself the gift of fresh air and sunshine, a chance to work with your hands and either turn off your thoughts or be alone with them. Make it a peaceful solitary experience, or a shared one. Spread the work among the whole family; notice the scents, the sounds, the activity of insects and birds. Observe the way the dirt crumbles, the grass bends. Whatever vibrant yields come next, the fresh beginnings make for a great start.
Here, Carol shares suggestions for getting started growing:
Early April (direct sow, outdoors): peas, spinach, lettuces, beets
Mid-to late April: parsnips, carrots, cabbages, broccoli, potatoes (*potatoes can be a little more challenging)
Don’t be discouraged if the weather doesn’t cooperate. Don’t work soil when wet; adjust for weather as needed and wait for it to dry out a little.
Always go with short season varieties. We only have 150 growing days here.
Check out resources like the Colorado Master Gardener website  andCO Gardening a Challenge for Newcomers  from CSU Extension.