Category Archive: Lifestyle

Cruisin’ in the USA

 
I remember it like it was yesterday. I had never experienced such a sense of pure, ecstatic joy up until my 12th year of life when I received what would be a life changing gift: my first bike. As my hands shook, I did my best to delicately remove the red ribbon my mother had attached to the handlebars. I could barely see what I was doing through the tears welling up in my eyes. Having asked for nothing else for three whole Christmases, birthdays and heck, even national holidays (Labor Day sales always had the best selection), this light pink Schwinn Talula cruiser before me was the stuff of dreams.

Complete with a basket and bell, I could not wait to take it out and ride it into the sunset. Or, how it turns out, ride it around the block a couple of times before I had to change for church. Your first bike is a rite of passage. The possibilities and freedom that it allotted you as a young adolescent to explore the neighborhood and meet new friends; the independence it bestowed as you rode it to school. These are still the same sensations and attributes that cycling continues to provide even as adults.

Pedalin’ Prowess

In recent times, there has been a steady boom in the integration of cycling back into our daily lives. The boom is largely responsible for the new onslaught of bike sharing programs, commuting options and the reemergence certain sports, such as triathlon, to keep cycling in the mainstream. It is the flexibility and accessibility of these features, coupled with its environmentally friendly consumption and health benefits to its users that it continues to claim and revolutionize our cities today. In just Chicago alone, there are “200-plus miles of bike lanes and 13,000 bike racks…(With a plan to have) a total of 645 miles of lanes by 2020.” Below we look at some of the newcomers to the bike scene, the benefits to cycling and the importance of sharing the road.

Goin’ Green and Fightin’ Fit

The health benefits to cycling are numerous. The calorie burning from just an hour of riding a bike can be anywhere from 500 – 650 calories. It is great cross training for new swimmers as the intensity and range helps build your lounges and air intake. Riding a bike works on multiple muscle groups from your quadriceps to your calf muscles; helping to keep you on point, in one swift pedal, with leg day. The beauty of biking comes from your environment. We often get lost in our heads when running or lifting weights but biking keeps you present and keeps you energized as it allows you to take on challenges as they come: hills, crowded pathways, the open road. As we mentioned earlier, it helps with cross training from other sports such as swimming and running as it eases up the exertion placed on your arms and feet.

In cities like Miami, where public transportation is more of a hassle than a benefit, new bike lanes in the downtown area and public parks have allowed for a cleaner, more affordable option to get around. According to the National Household Travel Survey, “Americans older than 25 accounted for most of the increase in cycling…” Millennials seem to be the driving force behind the sustainability and fitness efforts behind the recent surge.”We are more aware of the pollution crisis and the affect our negligence will have on future generations. We are living through stronger storms and more volatile weather all due to global warming. If there is anything to be done, it needs to start now.” states Chelsea Walsh of Biscayne Bay. In an effort to combat our ever increasing air pollutants, many jobs have offered stipends or perks to those employees who commute to work. In addition, these new lanes and special parks are being built in once abandoned and derelict areas of the city that will be transformed with beautification projects that include gardens and compost areas.

Learning to Share the Road

While there has been a reemergence in the pastime, there are still dangers to contend with when out on the road. When bike sharing first emerged, there was a major outcry against programs such as Divvy and Citi bikes as many stated that it would flood the already brimming crowds of bustling cities.. Having to be aware of tourist pedestrian traffic while in your vehicle is one thing, but adding speed and inertia has led to countless accidents and hospitalizations. Whether the error lies on the cyclist or the vehicle varies in each situation but for the most part the fault is two-fold. Ride sharing benefits the city as an extension of tourism but riders are novices to the layout and without proper protection. They are more focused on finding where they’re going than to their immediate surroundings. At the same time, there are more experienced bikers who neglect the rules of the road and will swirl past traffic and stop lights to beat traffic.

Many vehicle drivers forget to share the road and will make lane changes or turns without being cognizant of our bikers. I know I’ve been the recipient of foul and imaginative slew of words when cutting off a fellow cyclist. Bike lane improvements have been proposed in many cities to add items such as buffers, plants and cement partitions to further protect both entities on the road. The latest study, published as a research letter Sept. 1 in JAMA, documents “a rise in cycling-related injuries and hospitalizations among adults from 1998 to 2013. Adjusted for age, reported injuries rose 28 percent, and resulting hospitalizations increased 120 percent. There was also an increase, to 56 percent from 40 percent, of accidents that occurred on streets.”

Safety First

Education plays a vital role if we want to make any progress in fully and efficiently integrating cycling into our daily lives. While the idea of buying a car without seat belts is bizarre, slow progress has been made in properly educating newcomers to keeping safe. Yasamin Sabeti, a local Chicago resident brings up a good point: “One of the things that scares me the most is seeing so many cyclists without helmets. It is the only protection you have between outside negligence and your brain. Not sure why this is still an option and not a requirement.” There are many gadgets out there today to keep you protected and safe; ranging from lights to side mirrors to reflective clothing. The industry is growing with the popularity rise, with many local bike stores seeing a surge in both attendance and sales.

The surge of sports such as triathlon and cycling have also helped to educate the populace by bringing the importance of safety to the forefront. Many events are certified by upper governing bodies such as USA Triathlon, who adhere to strict guidelines when competing in one of their events. Kids will see their favorite celebrities in protective gear and will follow suit. Many schools are hoping to implement videos and programs into their curriculum in an effort to bring light to the severity of negligence in the same manner that drunk driving videos have done to first time drivers.

In essence, there is much innovation coming forth from the cycling world and it is interesting to see how cities and their populace continue to integrate and grow with the surge. Whether you’re an active commuter or a novice unwrapping their first bike with shaking hands, there is no denying the many strides that have been made for our favorite pastime.

See below for links to amazing biking programs in a city near you!

Miami, FL

Chicago, IL

New York City, NY

Denver, CO

San Diego, CA

 

Works Cited
Brody, Jane. “Cycling 1o1 Needn’t Be Collision Course.” 21 Sept. 2015 https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/09/21/cycling-101-neednt-be-collision-course/

Running Out of Time

“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect but actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey- stuff.”

For some of us, the end of August marks the beginning of packed lunches, after-school practice and class projects. With summer break hours coming to an end, the resurgence of the weekly calendar is more important than ever. Whether you are with or without kids, the annual school schedule affects us all. Even for the best of us, time management is daily work. From sun up to sun down, we do our best to pack our schedules with our daily activities, both personal and professional, in the hopes of staying on track and keeping a good balance. Yet, often times, we see ourselves running out of juice and wondering where the day went; wishing we had either more hours or more energy or quote frankly, both! Do you feel yourself losing grip of your schedule? Could it be that we are overcommitting our time?

Overcommitment & Self Care

When we find ourselves drowning in our workload, the first thing to be affected is often self-care. We push reading time for laundry time, gym time for making dinner time and so forth since items that pertain to personal enjoyment are always the first to go. We feel like we’re accommodating priorities without realizing that we are a priority. Eventually, pushing time to make up for these important tasks leads to less sleep at night, a bad mood the following morning and the beginning turns of a harmful cycle. Furthermore, as Veronica Arreola states for Experience Life, ” I was working hard to keep up,” she says. “But I wore myself out, got sick, and fell behind because of missed time from work. Too many of us pack our calendars full. We commit to more than we can handle, assuming that we’ll squeeze it all in somehow. Often, we ignore the consequences.”

Techno Woes

While the problem of over scheduling is not new to this generation, it is extrapolated by the technology we accolade with being “time saving” and “making life easier.” In our pockets and purses we hold a device that streams pure information within inches of your face, 24 hours a day, 7 days week. While in the past we could close our computers and leave the office, today we have email and calendar notifications that follows us out of the office and keeps us connected at all times. Not to mention the plethora of work environments which span countries and time zones alike where disconnecting is not a possibility. In addition, the constant connectivity makes it impossible to set boundaries and limits.

Time to Task Up

Like any problem we experience, the first step is admitting that one exists in the first place. The next step is to breaking down your day to spot where the over scheduling is occurring and working to do your best to break this addiction. According to the Experience Life article,  the three steps to doing so are acknowledging your limits, observing your patterns and clarifying the values that are your life worth living in the first place.

Set up a routine. Routines will help to give your daily schedule a base foundation to build on. These are items (walk the dog, pack lunches, go to the gym) that you know how long it will take to complete and which you know need to be completed every day. Doing this on a weekly basis will give you a better understanding on the amount of “free time” you truly have.

Build buffer zones. Avoid “cramming” things into your schedule for the sake of getting things done. This is the equivalent of making a to-do list of 40 items off the bat. You are setting yourself up for failure and at the same time adding anxiety to overall process. Pick 5 items at a time, on level of priority, that need to be completed and give yourself 15-30 minutes between them to refresh your mind. This allows yourself not only to wipe the slate clean for the following task but also allows you buffer room for unexpected emergencies.

Know when you work best. Especially in this day and age, we no longer find ourselves locked into a traditional 9-5 job. Let’s face it. This is not your grandparent’s world anymore. Some of us are single parents, some of us have two jobs, others have a day job and school at night. We must learn to focus on our time and energy and mold it to the most efficient caliber. Take a moment to step and back and analyze your routine. Figure out your personal schedule and when you work best. What time of the day you have the most energy and center your most pressing, time and mentally consuming tasks around that time.

Understand your limits. This is a tough one. We are the generation that avoids two trips to unload the groceries. We are driven to overcome barriers and obstacles. We are invincible, yes, but sometimes we need to head back down to the ground and face the reality of understanding our limits. Peer pressure plays a huge role in our decisions; the inability to say no to your boss or your best friend. We need to understand our limits. Introduce new tasks to your routine by doubling the estimated time you think it will take to complete. Repeat the task 2-3 times until you can determine the average time of completion and whether it fits into your routine. Most importantly, learn to say no. (Yes, Mom, I hear you loud and clear.) But she was right. The world will continue if you say no to an event or turn down an extra project you don’t have realistic time or energy to complete.

Whether you are a student, a professional  or an athlete, we can all use some extra help when it comes to time management. Use this week to take notes on your daily routines and strategize your best move forward. Create a foundation and levy tasks to the best of your ability. Take note on what works for you, what doesn’t, what needs to be approved. We are creatures of routine. It will get easier. You just have to start.

A.T.

Experience Life Team. Experience Life. “Back on Schedule.”https://experiencelife.com/article/back-on-schedule-2/”
Photo Credit: Doctor Who Series 8, Title Sequence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvX2-LHwYA4

Live Like a Local Triathlete: Things to Do in Chicago

The time of year is once again upon us where triathletes from all over the world flock to Chicago, IL to compete in the one of the sport’s most iconic races — the Transamerica Chicago Triathlon. If you’re heading to the Windy City for a late summer racecation, we’ve got some go-to hotspots that will have you feeling like a local.

Food and Drink

The must-stop coffee shop.

Intelligentsia, styled like an Italian espresso bar, is known for its strong coffee and fair trade business practices. Stop by for an aromatic espresso to reenergize yourself while exploring the city. If you’re interested in the behind-the-scenes action, their West Fulton Street location offers public tours that include a live demonstration of the roasting process.

Quick, reliably healthy eats.

Yolk is the perfect breakfast spot to post up before a day of sight-seeing or after a final early morning training session. We recommend their Santa Fe Frittata for a healthy option with a kick of flavor. If you’re craving lunch, the kale salad tossed in a blueberry pomegranate dressing hits the spot.  

Best post-race celebration spot.

The Scout Waterhouse + Kitchen features a unique, global-inspired menu and full bar with nice patio seating and a spacious dining room for your whole entourage. They’re known for their signature foot-long grilled cheese offered in five different flavors — ‘nuff said. If signature Chicago-style deep dish pizza is calling your name, Lou Malnati’s is the best the city has to offer. Wrap up your perfect Chicago trip with some classic blues tunes at Buddy Guy’s Legends, where icons like B.B. King, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan have graced the stage.

Fitness Finds

Sneak in a workout.

Maggie Daley Park is the ideal if you’re traveling with kids, offering one of the city’s newest playgrounds and a 19,000-square foot rock climbing wall that’s sure to entertain and exhaust the whole family. Additionally, the paths and trails provide the perfect setting for a scenic run.

Your local tri shop.

Live Grit is your ultimate one-stop shop for all your triathlon needs and the best resource for any last-minute race day necessities. Their knowledgeable staff has seen its fair share of finishes at Chicago Tri and will be able to make the perfect recommendation so you have a successful swim, bike and run.

The Transamerica Chicago Triathlon has hosted triathletes on the shores of Lake Michigan for more than 30 years, and is one of the largest triathlons in the world. The action-packed race takes you through one of America’s signature metropolises and provides epic scenery along the city’s iconic Lake Shore Drive.

Many thanks to National Account Manager, Partnership Marketing and former Chi Town resident Colin Cybulski for helping us put this list together!