Sunnyside Bicycles: Fun = Fitness

Jan 30, 2016 | 2016 Articles, Community

by Vanessa McCracken

Vanessa is one of the owners of Sunnyside Bicycles in Fresno and Reedley. From time to time she will be doing a column for us with bicycle tips and the latest news from Sunnyside Bicycles. There is also a coupon at the end of this post for Sunnyside Bicycles, exclusive to KRL. You can learn more about Sunnyside Bicycles in an article right here in KRL.sunnyside logo

The coolest thing about our job is that we basically sell fun. Regardless of why you are buying and riding a bike, you are undoubtedly going to grin and feel like a kid every time you hop on it. It’s the same sun-on-your-face, not-a-care-in-the-world feeling you had when you were nine years old, tearing it up around the neighborhood with your friends. And we get to help you discover that magical feeling all over again. Pretty rad, right?

Another awesome perk of our job? By selling fun, we are also helping you get and stay healthy. Riding a bike is beneficial on so many levels! It’s obviously good for your legs and your lungs, but it’s also good for your heart, your mind, your stress level, and your overall well-being. And the magical thing about bikes is that you’re having so much fun riding that you don’t even realize it’s happening! When it comes to bikes, fun equals fitness and we love getting to watch bikes transform peoples’ lives over and over again!


Ernie and his wife Susan picking up his Christmas present, a new bike for all those miles he’s putting in!

“I was just having fun on my bike!” This is how Ernie Luna explains how he went from 200 pounds in June of 2015 to 183 pounds by November.

A diabetic, Ernie’s A1C readings also dropped from 7.5 to 5.8 during that same period. His health improved so dramatically that his doctor asked what he was doing, and all he was doing was having fun on his bike! In June, Ernie’s brother convinced him to come out and ride with him, Ernie’s nephew, and Ernie’s cousins. It was so much fun that they continued to meet up for bike rides. All the while, Ernie’s health was steadily improving along with his fitness, without any other changes to his diet or routine. Less than seven months after that first bike ride, he joined us for his longest ride yet, a 48-mile ride out to Pine Flat Dam! The best part is he is still “just having fun” on his bike; his steadily improving health and fitness are the icing on the cake!


Ernie (second from right, bottom row) on our ride up to Pine Flat Dam, his longest ride to date!

Hopping on the bike not only helps you get healthier, it helps you see yourself in a new light and enables you redefine what you thought you were capable of. One of the best examples of this is our friend Tami Moore, who lost 110 pounds through a combination of bariatric surgery, diet, and exercise. It’s been six years since her initial surgery, and Tami is pushing herself to new limits all the time.


Tami in 2010, before losing 110 pounds.

In just the last few years, she has gone from getting her first bike to being named the Triathlon Club of Central California’s Most Improved Triathlete of 2015, and is currently training for her first Ironman 70.3 this summer. “Riding my bike gave me the chance to disconnect from the craziness of my daily life and put the things that are important to me into perspective,” says Tami. Tami’s journey has been inspiring to watch and we love cheering her on as she achieves each new milestone!


Tami crossing the finish line of the California Classic

Similar to Tami’s story, John Hazelton has lost 100 pounds through a combination of faith, diet, and riding his bike. He, too, seems to always be setting and achieving new goals on the bike every time we talk to him! Last year, John completed the grueling Climb to Kaiser; at 155 miles and 15,000 feet of climbing, CTK is rated one of the hardest bike rides in the country by Bicycling Magazine. It is a tremendous accomplishment! But it’s not just about how fast and how far John can go; he also loves to ride with his family, and has ridden with his young daughter on our monthly Breakfast Rides. What a great example he sets with his commitment to his faith, health, and fitness!


John on a training ride up in the Sierras.

For many of our customers, riding a bike is what they do because they can no longer run. Tom Guevara started riding a bike after he had bilateral hip replacements and was told he couldn’t run anymore. In the years since he started riding a bike, he has completed the Race Across America (yes, he rode his bike across America) and has completed numerous centuries and double centuries as well. His wife, Elisabeth, is an avid cyclist herself, and together they have traveled the world, riding and exploring new places by bike. Although we’re sure he was bummed to give up running at the time, we’re pretty sure he’s happy with the trade off now!


Tom and Elisabeth on a sunrise bike ride through Yosemite Valley.

And bikes don’t just give physical benefits, of course. For many, riding a bicycle is therapeutic, and depression is kept at bay with every pedal stroke. For Cynthia (I’ve changed her name to respect her privacy), riding a bike helped her cope with the grief she felt after losing her mom, dad, and nephew within a few months of each other. Depression started to take over, making it difficult for Cynthia to leave her bedroom some days. “I hid more and more. I only went out for work, and to ride. Riding was my therapy and I put a LOT of miles on during the next one to two years.” I met Cynthia around this time, and I was shocked to hear how debilitating her depression was. She is so full of joy and hope now that I would have never guessed she struggled with it at all in the past. Her story shows just how powerful the benefits of riding a bike can be!


Jane before the start of our monthly Breakfast Ride!

Nobody illustrates the connection between fun and fitness better than our friend, Jane Kuhn. A couple years ago, Jane started riding and had so much fun that she started using her bike as transportation. Jane rides her bike to get everywhere: to appointments, to run errands, to friends’ houses, and she does so all year long, in all kinds of weather. Her blood pressure is back in the normal range and she’s the healthiest she’s been in years. “Biking helps me stay in the present moment and enjoy the beauty and nature around me, appreciating and being grateful for living,” Jane explains. “I feel alive, empowered and fully engaged and connected to life when I’m riding my bike. It’s the closest way I can get to a feeling of flying—truly soaring and lifting my spirit. It’s all good on a bike.” We couldn’t say it better ourselves!

Our mission at Sunnyside Bicycles is to educate, empower, and inspire as many people as possible to ride bikes as often as possible, because we see over and over again how a simple bike ride transforms lives. If you’d like to ride but aren’t sure where or how to start, stop by either of our stores and we’ll happily help you out!

Sunnyside Bicycles Fresno is located at 6105 E. Kings Canyon Road (off of Fowler, between GB3 and Baked Sunnyside), and Sunnyside Bicycles Reedley is located at 1760 11th St (between I and G, just off the bike trail). Also, join us for our monthly Breakfast Ride on February 21, and follow us on our Facebook and Instagram pages for other fun rides and events! We’d love to ride with you! And learn more on our website.


Vanessa McCracken co-owns Sunnyside Bicycles with her husband, John McCracken. She is a graduate of Barnett’s Bicycle Institute and is a BBI-certified bicycle repair technician, as well as a League of American Bicyclists-certiifed League Cycling Instructor. She loves bikes!

1 Comment

  1. John & Vanessa,
    Thank you for encouraging and supporting us as individuals in becoming a healthier, happier people!


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