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Nordic Ski & Snowshoe Essentials
by Lauren Baker

This winter I’ve been having a grand time nordic skiing and snowshoeing at local Sno Parks. Both are terrific sports but venturing out into the cold means taking on some inherent risk. Weather can fluctuate suddenly in the mountains.

You may think you’re hale and hardy enough to handle extreme conditions, but what if you’re detained by equipment failure, an injured member in your party, or a navigation error (aka: you’re lost)?
If you’re at a Sno Park, the danger is lessened by proximity and the fact that you’re likely to run into other, helpful people. Should you venture into back country, your risk increases as you travel farther and into more challenging terrain.
Regardless of where you go, bring a pack and stock it carefully. Here’s a list of things to consider bringing with you before heading out. A safe trip is a successful trip. And, as my friend Shannon reminded me, a well-stocked pack could save a life.
I’ve broken this list into Sno Park Essentials and Back Country Add On’s. Customize it as suits your needs.

Sno Park Essentials

1.  Common Sense – No one ever includes this on a list because it is so obvious. However, survival studies shows that this is your greatest ally in the event of danger. If conditions are beyond your expectations, be prepared to change your plan. It’s ok to back out, return, or reschedule if it’s too icy, snowing too hard, or you’re finding the terrain too challenging. Buddy – Even if you are very experienced, having a buddy with you adds to the fun and can help you get out of a jam, in an emergency.
2.  Charged Cell Phone – Should you need help, this is your lifeline. Cold drains cell phone batteries quickly, so keep your phone in a warm place. Carry a spare battery if you’re using your phone as a GPS.
3. Backpack – A daypack can hold everything you need for a comfortable outing. Once it’s on, you’ll forget it’s there. Leave it packed so you’re ready to go at a moment’s notice.
4.  ID & Insurance – Carry your i.d. and insurance card (including helicopter insurance, if you have it) in your pack. If you don’t want to carry originals, include a copy. In the case of an emergency, it will save a ton of headaches.
5.  Map – Sno Park maps are available online and are often (but not always) at the trailhead. Carry in a ziplock bag to keep your map dry. You can also download many maps onto your phone.
6.  Insulation – Bring enough layers to keep you warm and dry, then put an extra layer in your pack. A neck gaiter keeps cold from seeping down into your core and can be used to protect your face from wind. Arm warmers are an easy way to add warmth without bulk, as well. If your hands get cold, bring glove liners or an extra pair of gloves.
7.  Hydration – Insulated water bottle or flask. Remember to drink.
8.  Nutrition – Nuts, bars, or whatever you like to carry, to keep your energy and core temperature up.
9.  Sun Protection – Sunscreen, lip balm, sun glasses.
10. Repair Kit – A multi-purpose tool and duct tape.
11. Emergency Shelter/Layer – A reflective space blanket or tube tent can provide an extra layer should you get stuck and/or need emergency shelter. So lightweight, you won’t know they are there – unless you need them.
12. First Aid – You can go as far as you like with this. My essentials include Ibuprofen, Coflex tape (a multi-purpose self-adhesive wrap that can bind a sprain or a wound), and gauze.
13. Ski Wax – Hopefully you waxed your ski’s before you left but if you or your friend failed to do so, sticky ski’s can bog down a day’s outing.
Whistle – Attach a whistle to every pack you own and save yourself a lot of shouting should you need to attract attention.

Back Country Add Ons

1.  Light – You don’t plan to get stuck overnight but if you do, a headlamp is lightweight, easy to pack, and may prove essential. Have fully charged batteries or bring extra.
2.  Fire – Bring a lighter and a bit of fire starter.
3.  Extra Food & Water – If you’re out longer, you will want it.
4.  Medications – If you have medications that are essential to your well-being, pack in a small quantity.
5.  Extra Insulation – Lightweight sit pads can serve as extra insulation between you and the ground. Rolled up, can serve as a splint. A light down coat stuffs into a sack and can be a lifesaver.
6.  Compass – Learn how to use a compass and read a map before heading out into back country.
7.  Flagging – Should you need to leave the trail, flagging will help others find you.
8.  Hot Packs – Lightweight and easy to carry, can provide hours of warmth for hands or feet.

Here’s my disclaimer, in case your lawyer is listening: the above information is intended as a guideline and makes no guarantee, implied or otherwise, to protect you from harm should the stars align and bad things happen.
That being said, pack well and have a great time!

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A Bike Riding Checklist
by Lauren Baker, Bella Public Relations

Whether you hit the road or the trail, it’s important to bring some essentials with you beyond an extra tube or patch kit, water, and a snack.

Here are some ideas of things to add to your bike bag or pack. If other Bella’s have items to suggest, please let us know.

  • Identification: If you don’t want to bring the original, leave a photocopy of your driver’s license in your kit
  • Insurance: In the unlikely event of a medical emergency, make it easy to get coverage by keeping a copy of your insurance (medical and dental) with you
  • Emergency Contacts: While unlikely, should we need to make contact with your spouse or family, having a list of phone numbers can be easier than accessing them through your phone, if it is password protected
  • A Phone: Especially if you ride on your own, your phone may be the most powerful tool in your pack should you or another rider need help
  • Medications & Instructions: If you have life-threatening allergies or other medical conditions, carry everything you need with you, along with instructions for their use.
  • An Extra Layer: Central Oregon’s weather is so changeable, keep an extra layer in your pack at all times. Should you have to stop to fix a flat or help a fellow cyclist in chilly weather, your body temperature may plummet
  • A Whistle: While you’ll probably never need one, a whistle is lightweight, easy to pack, and could help you signal for help in an emergency
  • First Aid: A small package of bandages and a small roll of self-adhesive bandage (such as CoFlex) are really useful for patching up run-in’s with manzanita and/or lava rock

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Riding in Groups
by Lauren Baker, Bella Public Relations

 

The Bend Bella’s are all about encouraging riders to having fun and improve their riding. Whether you’re a road rider or a mountain biker, deciding which rides are most appropriate for you will help you to have more fun and meet other riders who ride at a similar pace, distance, and ability.

  • It’s important to note that your level of ability can fluctuate from day to day, month to month, or season to season, depending on life circumstances. Illness, injury, weather, and time constraints can all take away from your chance to ride and stay as fit as you might like. After an injury or a scary fall, your riding may drop temporarily as you rebuild your confidence.
  • Showing up for a ride and being reluctant or unable to ride at the posted ride pace can be discouraging, both to you and other riders. Regardless of what ride you end up with, do your best to be a good sport and fit in.
  • If you pick a ride that goes faster or has tougher terrain than you’re comfortable with, you may feel discouraged and pushed to ride beyond your comfort level. Bella ride leaders are committed to not dropping any rider … but they also have a responsibility to the entire group, so it’s important to try to stay together.
  • If you choose a ride that moves more slowly than you like, you may feel frustrated if you came looking for more of a workout than a social experience.
  • If you’re a faster rider who ends up waiting for the rest of the group to catch up, you can ask your ride leader if you can ‘opt out’ of the ride and be responsible for finding your own way home. However, this can discourage more moderate riders if you do this on a regular basis, so it’s not a good practice. If you’re a fast rider having trouble finding rides of your ability level, think about leading rides that meet your needs.
  • If you’re new to riding, unsure of your fitness or skill level, or moving from one sport to another (from road to mountain or vice versa), your safest option is to start with a Beginner or Advanced Beginner ride. If you don’t feel challenged and find yourself riding in the middle to front-half of the group consistently, you may be ready to move up to longer, faster rides with more challenging terrain.
  • Every time you move up a level, you may find yourself moving further back in the pack as you adapt. That’s o.k. and a natural part of learning new skills.

When riding with a group, there are some important rules of etiquette to follow, to keep everyone safe and happy.

  • Never pass a rider on the right.
  • Use your voice to warn riders behind you of upcoming obstacles or changing conditions (on the road, glass and other debris can be a danger; on the trail, a heads up about a downed tree or rider, rocky section, or approaching cyclist can be helpful.)
  • Try to ride at a consistent speed if there are riders behind you. If you’re slowing down or stopping, let them know to avoid a collision.
  • Don’t ride too close to the rider in front of you. Allow a little extra space in case the rider in front needs to swerve or slow down to avoid or tackle an obstacle.
  • If you’re falling behind, do your best and catch your breath as needed. However, don’t delay things further by stopping to take pictures, have a snack, answer phone calls, etc.
  • Give faster riders the opportunity to pass you. With road rides, this isn’t as big of an issue, but on a mountain bike trail it’s nice to ask “Do you want me to pull over?” if someone is on your tail and might want to go faster than you are able to ride.
  • Come prepared with a spare tube or fix-it kit in case of a flat. Have the tools and know-how to to make a repair if needed.

More than anything, Bella rides are about having fun, learning, and being supportive. Put a good attitude in your pack or tool kit. I’ve met some wonderful riders this season and it’s really enhanced my riding. I hope you’ve all had similar experiences. Looking forward to riding with you and enjoying other great Bella activities!

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A False Sense of Security
by Lauren Baker, Bella Public Relations

     You just got your bike back from the shop, following a tune-up. You think you’re ready to hop on and go, feeling secure in your bike mechanic’s abilities. Is this a good practice? Not always.
Bike mechanics are only human, so it’s well worth testing your bike before you hit the road or trail. I make sure my brakes work before each and every ride. Stopping is important.
It’s also a good idea to check your air pressure before each ride. Air pressure that’s too low or too high can cause a blow-out. Ideal air pressure will vary with your tires and your personal preference. Becoming familiar with what’s ideal for you is a great idea.
I also like to do a quick check of my derailleur before heading out on a significant ride. A once-around-the-block ride lets me put my bike through its paces, making sure it shifts smoothly and consistently.
If I’m going to find a problem with my bike, I like to do so when I’m close to home — rather than miles down the road or trail. If a part feels loose or something doesn’t sound right, get it checked out — even if your bike is fresh from the shop. Mechanical problems can cause safety issues and/or leave you stranded.

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Trail Etiquette for MTN Bikers

Descending Riders Stop For Others

  • We all love the downhill, but skidding out of control is not cool. Expect some uphill riders and be ready to move to one side of the trail, stopping until your line is clear.

Tread On Trail

  • Thanks for yielding to other riders – but remember that riding off into the bushes widens and damages trails. Instead, put a foot down and feel good knowing that tread on the trail keeps singletrack narrow and fun.

Look, Listen, Smile

  • As trail users, we rely on one another. Have fun, and keep your eyes and ears open. Smile and say hello! You are in one of the best mountain bike areas in the nation.

TrailLove-3_666

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Bike Riding:  Group Safety
(adapted from www.bikeleague.org)

Be Predictable

  • In a group, your actions affect those around you, not just yourself
  • Riders expect you to continue straight and at a constant speed
  • Signal your intention to turn or slow down before you do so

Use Signals

  • Use hand signals to indicate turns and point out hazards to others
  • Left or right arm straight out to indicate left or right turn
  • Left arm out and down with palm to the rear to indicate stopping

Give Warnings

  • Ride leaders should call out turns and stops in addition to signaling
  • Announce turns before the intersections to give riders a chance to position themselves
  • Try to avoid sudden stops or turns except for emergencies

Change Positions Correctly

  • Slower moving traffic stays to the right; faster traffic to the left
  • Pass slower moving vehicles on the left; announce your intention to do so
  • Announce passes on the right clearly as this is not a usual maneuver

Announce Hazards

  • Most cyclists in a group do not have a full view of the road.
  • Announce / point out glass, gravel & potholes and other hazards

Watch for Traffic from the Rear

  • The last rider should frequently check for overtaking cars
  • Announce “car back” clearly and loudly
  • It is also helpful to announce “car up” on narrow / winding roads.

Watch Out at Intersections

  • Leaders should announce slowing or stopping at intersections if necessary
  • Cyclists should not follow others through intersections without scanning
  • Each cyclist is responsible for checking cross traffic; if you must stop, signal
  • Never regroup at an intersection – either before or after – depending upon safety.

Leave Room for Cars / Share the Road

  • On narrow, winding roads avoid a long string of riders, which drivers can’t pass (Drivers can pass 2- 4 riders easily, not a large group)
  • Good relations with motorists is the responsibility of every cyclist (a ‘Thank you’ waive for courtesy is great PR!)

Stop Off the Road

  • When stopping for mechanicals or regrouping, always move off the road
  • Only if conditions permit should you move back onto the road as a group

Ride to the Right – always!

  • It is illegal to ride more than two abreast (practice being close and comfortable)
  • Never approach the center line — even on quiet, country roads. (An oncoming vehicle will perceive riders in the middle of the road as dangerous or arrogant.)

Communication, Vigilance, Teamwork and Mutual Respect are crucial for safe cycling.

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A Daily, Weekly, Monthly and Yearly Bike Maintenance Checklist
By Dr. Edmund R. Burke, Ph. D. • Active.com

Most people who buy and ride bicycles want to keep them in good shape, but first they need to know where to begin.

The following list of necessary maintenance items and recommended frequency of maintenance is designed to give a recreational or club cyclist or a commuter an outline for a schedule.

Those who often ride in rain and mud, or who put on very high weekly mileage, will need to perform routine maintenance more often to keep their bikes in optimal condition. Conversely, those who ride relatively little can use a somewhat more relaxed schedule.

Before Every Ride:

  • Check tire air pressure
  • Check brakes and cables
  • Be sure your crank set is tight
  • Be sure quick release hubs are tight

After Every Ride:

  • Inspect tires for glass, gravel shards, and cuts on tread and sidewall
  • Check wheels for true
  • Clean the bike’s mechanical parts as necessary.
    • Once a week or every 200 miles: Lubricate chain with dry lube; or
    • every other week or 400 miles with wet chain lube.

Once a Month:

  • Completely clean the bike, including the drivetrain if necessary
  • Inspect chain and freewheel. Measure the chain for wear, check for tight links and replace the chain if necessary
  • Inspect and lubricate brake levers, derailleurs and all cables
  • Inspect pedals and lubricate SPD style cleats. Inspect tires for wear; rotate or replace if needed
  • Inspect and check for looseness in the:
    • Stem binder bolt
    • Handlebar binder bolt
    • Seat post binder bolt (or quick release)
    • Seat fixing bolt
    • Crank bolts
    • Chain ring bolts
    • Derailleur mounting bolts
    • Bottle cage bolts
    • Rack mounting bolts
    • Brake and derailleur cable anchors
    • Brake and shifter lever mounting bolts
    • Brake mounting bolts

Every Three Months:

  • Inspect frame and fork for paint cracks or bulges that may indicate frame or part damage; pay particular attention to all frame joints.
  • Visually inspect for bent components: seat rails, seat post, stem, handlebars, chain rings, crank arms, brake calipers and brake levers.

Every Six Months:

  • Inspect and readjust bearings in headset, hubs, pedals and bottom bracket (if possible; some sealed cartridge bearings cannot be adjusted, only replaced).

Annually:

  • Disassemble and overhaul; replace all bearings (if possible); and remove and if necessary replace all brake and shift cables. This should be performed at 6,000 miles if you ride more than that per year. If you often ride in the rain or mountain bikers who get dirty should overhaul their bicycles more often.