Book Review: HEFT ON WHEELS by Mike Magnuson

Courage is a word you could use to describe bicycling, especially the urban kind I do wherein one risks one’s life while several-ton killing machines blow by at high speeds mere inches away. Or bike racing, BMX riding with the ramps and jumps and tricks, or screaming down a mountain on a bike: all take some degree of courage. But writing? It doesn’t take any courage at all to sit down at a laptop and start hammering away, right? Well, that’s easy to say if you haven’t tried to write a book. And when it comes to memoir, laying your soul bare to people you never have, and never will meet, takes a big chunk of gumption.

I should know, because I’ve been writing this blog for over five years, albeit with far less courage since I use a nom de plume / velo. I have also written a book — a memoir. I have yet to find the courage to even show it to others to read. (I’m getting close to sharing with beta readers, once I figure out the details, having finally just found two awesome volunteers.) But in Heft on Wheels: A Field Guide to Doing a 180, his 2005 memoir (I know, I’m very late to the party), author, creative writing professor, magazine article writer, and cyclist Mike Magnuson has courage in spades. (Heft is a follow-up to his previous memoir, Lummox.) As quoted in a speech he gave, I’d even go so far as to say he has “sixteen suitcases full of courage.”

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46 > 45: President Biden Bicycles and Has a Peloton; That’s Good for U.S.

January 20, 2021 was historic for several reasons. The biggest was was that only two weeks ago democracy itself was under attack. Throngs of right-wingers, egged on by the now-ex-resident of the White House, Tinyhands Orangehead, stormed the US Capitol and five people died. So having the traditional peaceful transfer of administrations was a big deal this time. Now that our long national nightmare is over (well, at least one of them), we can hopefully get back to politics as boring. But also, the highest ranking woman ever ascended to become Vice President. Kamala Harris happens to be Black and of South Asian descent, and representation matters. Whether or not one agrees with their policies, relevant to this blog’s main theme is that we can hope that 46th President Joe Biden will be good for American bicyclists… not to mention, the planet.

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How Counting Calories With MyFitnessPal Can Help You Lose Weight

Hey, America: You’re fat! Two-thirds of us are overweight, obese, or as I prefer to call it, I’m undertall. (The condition applies to people of girth in many other countries of Earth, too.) Weight loss is a mult-billion dollar business, and one of those companies offering some help is MyFitnessPal. According to a 2019 study, those who track what they eat really do lose more weight. I used it diligently once a while ago in concert with a diet and dropped a lot of pounds. But after a while I got tired of measuring everything and never going out, so I stopped. With stress and easy access to processed foods, over time, I gained it back. Even after biking 6,666.66 miles and walking 611 miles last year and continuing to choose only grains that are whole (basically no flours since January 1, 2018), I’ve had no significant weight loss. But it’s a new year, so now I’m trying it again.

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The Top 3 Ways Bicycling Can Hurt Your Skin and What to Do About It

Riding a bicycle is of course a whole body activity, and one part that is often overlooked but key to keeping healthy is the epidermis. There are lots of things that can hurt the wrapping of your meat sack. There are things that can take you off the bicycle, from chafing to road rash, sunburn and even skin cancer, So it’s important to prevent what damage you can to your flesh blanket. OK, I’m out of words for skin, so let’s get into it. Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor so refer to one for more information. And I don’t get paid for mentioning these brands, though I wouldn’t mind it.

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On New Years Day of 2020, I Make Resolutions to… Hey, Is That Chocolate?

It’s the year 2020, a catchy number, and the start of a new decade. It’s a natural time to turn over a new leaf and start up some new habits. Lose weight, get organized, write that novel. But if you’re like most humans, after a few weeks most New Years resolutions have gone the way of holiday wrapping paper. A bold proclamation is now just a broken Hanukahmass toy sitting sadly in the corner. So why bother? Well, for some folks, they work. And as readers of A Dude Abikes know, I’ve had a fair bit of success with some changes. So here’s what I’m doing — and not doing — in 2020.

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A Walk a Day for Almost Two Years

My daily walking habit began on January 1, 2018, and I haven’t looked back since. I may have missed one day but I often do more than the allotted 30 minutes. I make sure I hit 1.5 miles, and some days it’s 2.0 or more miles, or even two walks. I don’t write about it much because it’s not that remarkable, but to me it’s a good habit for life that I wish I’d established many years ago. It’s not easy when you’re busy, sick, tired, injured, it’s cold, windy and wet outside. Somehow, I have found the discipline. And what the rewards are subtle, they are worth considering starting your own walking practice if you don’t have one.

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What If It All Came to An End Tomorrow? Buddha’s Five Remembrances

Being away from home and my bike for a day has put me in a contemplative mood.  Mysterious recent health challenges have made bicycling harder than it should be.  It’s already hard enough, in 100 degrees, being a fathlete, trying to not get dead by distracted drivers, not having a light bike with 27 gears anymore.  For 19 months I’ve had the luxury to do daily walking, writing in my book or this blog, and doing yoga every day (the latter for much longer).  And on most of the days of my life for the last 14+ years, but especially since 2015, I have ridden my bike.  Over 20,000 miles since 2005, by my count. What if it all came to an end tomorrow?

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Minor Mishaps, Major Moments and Medical Mysteries

From the things that make you go mmmmmm department: 

Mishap #1: Trash Cans, Trash Talk

Riding down a sidewalk of a busy four-lane road without bike lanes, I swerve to avoid recycling bins, miscalculate, and Sophie the Fairdale’s very wide handlebars catch them.  I go down like a Christian thrown into the gladiator ring trying to save the lion with talk of Jesus.  (Translation:  Quickly.)  But unlike those unlucky folks, I bounced right back up, apparently unharmed.

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Random Thoughts from the Life of a Car-Free Bicyclist in Austin, Texas

Sometimes there’s no one unifying theme to a blog post, but even then, there is still a framework. Today, it’s that many factors affect my cycling, and also that there’s more to life than cycling. (Impossible, I can hear some of you saying!) Here are a few of those thoughts. As to whether they’re Deep Thoughts, you’d have to ask Jack Handy, which is an old Saturday Night Live skit. Basically he had short quotes that were inane, so I’m not claiming any wisdom. I am just sharing my experience in hopes it educates, inspires or at least amuses you as one of my millions of followers (any day now). Read on, it’ll be good, you’ll see. After all, I’m not The Dude, I’m just A Dude. And A Dude would never steer you wrong. That would be very un-Dude-like.

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Summer Is Coming: Surviving Cycling in Sunny Central Texas

If I had seen a second of that program about dragons and stuff on the Home Box Office channel, I could continue the allusion. But I haven’t so I can’t. But I can however tell you that the hotter-than-hell-fire breathing dragon that is summer in Central Texas is starting her terrifying approach. Temps are already topping out at the low 90’s in Austin, Texas. People, get ready, a lack of rain is comin’. I share my tips on how to deal. Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor in real life or TV. I’m just telling you how I deal with the heat. If you have or may have a medical condition that makes being outside dangerous, ask a real doctor, not a dude. This goes for everything on my blog. If my experience helps, great. But always use common sense, take responsibility, and you do you.

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