Attitude of Gratitude

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What a great 25 mile ride! I didn’t stop for much. No commute, just a nearly perfect 25 mile jaunt around. About 3 miles into my loop this tree stopped me. A tree right had fallen across the path. I went around. Thanksgiving Day, weather permitting I like to go for a pre-feasting ride because it’s often quiet and there’s sights and smells and sounds to take in. I never plan it, I go and see where the mood takes me.

I am thankful for the time to reflect on life. In my mind, I roll in and out of memories of this holiday in the past and how happy it makes me to recall my grandparents, parents and cousins. It’s not what is was. Every year seems more and more removed from those ol’ days and that’s okay. I’m still thankful for the memories and they make me who I am. I’m thankful for another day. Another mile.

The fact of the matter is that there are always trees and brush and obstacles in our path. We have to be thankful for the obstacles too because they help us think and problem solve and consider options. You can’t have one without the other.

Thanks for being out there. Thanks for reading and riding and living life.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Bike Goddess

Racing A Roadie

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Roadie Dude

I wish I was a primo athlete who cared about racing with others, but the fact of the matter is that even if I cared (which I sort of do) I am not that type of cyclist. I learned that fact early. Last week on my regular commute to school I was in my zone listening to a book and a roadie came up on my left and started to pass me. Now keep in mind that I ride 11.2 miles to work and about 12 miles back home in the afternoon with a rambunctious day of working with middle school students in between so I’m pretty much tuckered out by dinner time. Being a teacher means you are active. Maybe some have some time to sit, but I rarely do. Teaching is a workout!

Back to the roadie who dared to pass me. He was in full roadie regalia and I saw him off to my left as I was scanning the streets and taking in the sparkling sunshine. He said, “I decided I probably shouldn’t be pacing off you. So I’ll just pass.” Suit yourself, I thought.

I turned my audiobook off and decided to engage. I launched into conversation, keeping pace with him side by side. He’s likely in his mid to late 40s and he used to race. I’ve never met a roadie who didn’t claim that they used to race. I usually say that I prefer touring to racing, but again there’s very rarely a follow up question about what sort of touring I have done. He says, “I’ve always thought of eBikes as cheating but I can see and hear that you’re working.” Good thing my glasses are tinted because I was rolling my eyes! I was carrying the conversation, so yeah, I was talking and keeping his pace of 19-22 mph in first level of assist on my Specialized Como Turbo eBike. I’m pretty sure I could have kept pace with the electric juice anyway, but I might not have stayed with him for 5 miles. Maybe. But maybe he couldn’t have either.

I was having a blast. But consider this if you will. I am not an athlete. I don’t claim to be athletic or even sporty. I am lucky to keep my weight in check and ride a bike. I have bike commuted for over 20 years. I am average height and weight and I work at eating my salads and not overdoing it on anything. I think even if hired a trainer and worked on speed and climbing and time trials I’d still only manage to be a roadie who could crank it out at 12-15 mph. I don’t have speedy legs. I don’t care about being fast. I do care about getting on my bike everyday and riding my rides and my routes and being in my bike-ish element. End of story. Also, I ride an eBike for commuting, errands and whatever else I want to do but that doesn’t mean I ONLY ride eBikes. I love all my bikes and I ride non-ebikes as much if not more than eBikes. Also it’s assist, not a freakin’ motorcycle or a mo-ped or a scooter. Good grief, people are weird about eBikes and honestly I think it’s bizarre and narrow-minded. Is a carbon fiber frame cheating? Is electric shifting somehow cheating? What about people who drive less than 5 miles? Should we shame them? I mean why didn’t they walk the mile to the store instead of drive? I digress!

He’s a fair-weather cyclist who likes to put in some miles before he goes to work and even though he raced when he was younger it’s hard to get in the miles now. He has had a few different brands of bikes and one of his favorite bikes was a Specialized he had in the 90s. He asked some questions about types of eBikes and he said he was interested in trying it out because clearly you could as I demonstrated get a good workout with one. Plus it could replace a car. I was pleased to hear him say something supportive.

As we got to the part of the conversation that was more, “Well, it was nice talking with you…” I told him to ride like he would normally and I’d pace him. Now whether he was showing off or not, I don’t know, but I paced him at 24.4 for about a mile and then he decided to make a left turn and we waved good-bye.

We like our categories, containers and levels don’t we? I wish we weren’t like that. Bikes are bikes and you should take care of them so they can take care of you. Bikes are transportation and exercise and touring and racing and cargo movers and carts and anything else you need them to be. If you see a person with a certain type of bike you assume things about them. I’ve see more than my fair share of roadies who didn’t look like roadies and I know I don’t look like much of a biker but let’s not let that get in the way of us riding our bikes. Just ride your bike!

Whatever your ride, enjoy it and don’t let anyone give you a flat tire of attitude about how, where, how far or what you ride. Just be you. Get out there and ride your bike and throw a wave along the way because that’s always encouraging.

Take care out there! How do you feel about other riders or bike or interacting with riders you meet on the way?

Thanks for reading.

Bike Goddess

Are We There Yet?

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Remember when…

The classic line uttered by so many of us. We were kids and wanted to get there so we didn’t have to share the backseat or snacks or play stupid car games. As an only child I had none of those issues. I loved having reign over the backseat and sprawling out with my books, workbooks and assorted distractions. But I do recall watching the signs along the way to signal we were getting close to being there.

Truth told, last summer was a different story completely. We were really alone. A few weeks ago I was out there riding my bike and a group of riders heading to one of the local Pedalpalooza rides asked me to join in. Now these are amazing rides with themes like Goth Bike Ride and Dead Baby Prom and Disco Ride plus so many more. I want to ride them all. But there’s something that tugs at me and says, “Nope, not for you. Not yet.” I waved them on and thought, I can’t. Thanks, but I’m not there yet. You might be there, but I am not there. Yet.

Where? You know. There. There is the place where you can be on a bike ride with others and not be consumed with doubt about their health or Covid-19 variants. There is trusting them to tell the truth about being vaccinated. There is not feeling compelled to ask for their vaccination card. There is when you can laugh freely at a joke without wondering about the germs scattered and if you just back up a bit to be safe.

I’m not there. I’m a small group person and the small group is part of a bubble that I do know and trust without question.

Lighthouses are socially distanced. Photo from a recent trip to the Puget Sound.

I know others who aren’t either so I take solace in the fact that I’m not alone in being cautious about being with others. Plus at this point I’m totally enjoying getting lost in my own thoughts or getting lost on a new route. My alone-time will continue.

There is the place and time before it all caved in. Before we all went into our respective caves and stayed apart. Many people have endured more than I can comprehend. If the mask and a vaccine is the least I can do to help others, then sign me up. I was talking with a man who lost his job because of the pandemic. My glass in half full. I’m grateful I have my job. I’m thankful my family and friend are well. I’m grateful for the couple of trips I was able to take this summer. It’s all good in my book.

In Chicago people were masked on the street and inside businesses. However, in the Puget Sound area when I went into a little beach shack on Boston Harbor I saw only two others who were masked and the majority were not. That Includes the cashiers. I couldn’t take it. I was extremely uncomfortable at the sight. I had to get out of there. It’s an anxiety that I’m not familiar with until now. I wanted to exclaim, “You might be there, but I am not there yet, so stop staring. I am a card carrying recipient of the vaccine and I am going to continue to wear a $%&! mask. Deal with it.”

The reality is that I may not be there for quite awhile. I miss the community of riders chatting it up and swapping stories, but not enough to risk my health and the health of others.

Are we there yet? The classic question is part of being a kid and learning how to annoy your parents with such skill that you ask the question often enough that you ultimately get the response, “NO! And stop asking!”

Riding with a friend.

Whether you are there or not is not the point of this blog post. It’s merely to suggest that we respect each other enough to say, “I’m there for you when you feel like riding together again.”

That’s sweet.

Random sunset on the Puget Sound at Boston Harbor.

Thanks for reading my blog. You have no idea how motivating it is when someone clicks that STAR and LIKES a post. It makes me what to vault through the air like Simone Biles. Thanks for being here and there and supporting this little blog. You have yourself a great day and get out there and ride your bike.

Ride on!
Bike Goddess

BrompTuesday

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Have Brompton, can go anywhere!

How many miles does it take for you to know you have the right bike? I was thinking about that today when I took the adorable Brompton out for a ride. I always figured she’d be *just* the travel bike, but that’s silly because she’s such a wonder of engineering and she rides like a goat eats grass. She’s efficient and sturdy and she can go places other bikes can’t. I have hit the mark where my Brompton, (I call her Katniss) has 200 miles and I’m thrilled I have this marvel of a bike.

It took less than 200 miles to discover her talents. Today she seemed to be calling to me to take her on a trail not too far from my home. It’s wooded and rife with nooks and crannies that are fun to explore. It follows a creek and there are a few bridges to cross and it’s enchanting because there are grasslands and glens and city neighborhoods all around you.

Grasslands and glens abound on the Burnt Bridge Trail.

With its low center of gravity I feel nimble and quick on my Brompton, like Michael Flatley Lord of the Dance on wheels. I didn’t think I’d go on the trail today. I was riding around and then I went down a hill and knew I was close to the trail so I meandered about like I was looking for my glasses in the dark and found an entrance I’ve never used before. A little more and a bit more still and then I was on the trail and I kept going. The bike felt amazing. The ride felt solid and commanding. Note that I ditched both the saddle it came with and the Brooks Cambium for a Specialized saddle and all is well in the nether regions. I say this because saddles always need a few more miles of testing than bike frames require. Sometimes you have to try a few to find the right fit for your tushie. Here’s a link to the one I really like right now. The picture makes it look rather wide yet notice it on my bike. I love this one and have put this saddle on three bikes.

This is the right saddle for some BUT, not for me. I’ve had it for years but still my bum doesn’t love it.

Recently I had the rear rack added plus bigger wheels on the rack for when I take her into a store. At 200 miles I feel like my Bromptie is ready for anything. I do have a few bikes in my life because I love bikes and cycling. I don’t want to limit the Brompton to travel only so I was riding and wondering about commuting to work with my Brompton. People do it. I don’t know about that yet because I haven’t tried it. I hear people travel the world with their Bromptons and while I can’t do that quite yet I can say that she’s capable of any trips, even if it’s to the store or work.

New rack and wheels on the rack.

I’m happy to have a Brompton in the fleet and I’d tell anyone who’s thinking of getting one to do so. They are spectacular machines that deliver a great ride.

Katniss Everbike with a view.

Thanks for reading and following my blog. My bikes and I appreciate it. Have you ever tried a foldy bike? What did you think of it? If you have any questions please post them in the comments. I’d love to hear from you. I’m new but I’m loving the Brompton ways.

The 411 on The 606

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Welcome, indeed!

If you’re looking for urban perfection then follow the trail to the 606. It’s an oasis for cyclists, runners, walkers, dogs, cats, birds, you get the gist. When I got my introduction, I thought, “Is this heaven?” The response, “It’s Chicago!”

My affinity for Chi-town, the Windy City, Second City, started at birth. My mother’s side of the family hails from Chicago. When we would visit nearly every other weekend I loved the tuk, tuk, tuk of the L, and I adored how when I stayed with my grandparents, we’d walk everywhere. Mostly to get bubble-gum ice cream outside the Sears Robuck. My Yiayia (Greek for grandmother) would hold my hand and we walk slow and steady so I could drink in the sights and sounds.

This post isn’t about the Memory Trail though, it’s about the 606, a.k.a. The Bloomingdale Trail. If you use Trail Link I’ve linked the map. At 2.7 miles you might think, “Meh, what’s the big deal?” Yes, it’s short in length but long in personality, character, art, landscape and history. It’s elevated too. Read that bit again. It’s elevated. Like heaven.

The eyes have it all and this ingenius art installation called Bird Watching by #JennyKendler from 2018 is stupendous. There are 100 photographs of birds’ eyes watching and each bird is named on a placard labeling the installation. I spent about 20 minutes studying it all and watching families interact with it. Pure joy!

I’m glowing!

As I was riding I couldn’t help but think that this trail is one of my new happy places. I’ve uncovered a secret. My cousin’s hubby told me about it and while he’s not a cyclist, he is a train guy. He’s an expert on all things rail and when he first told me about it I started to research it on Trail Link and then I wondered how I would ride to the trail. This is often a challenge when you hear about a possible trail and you’re lost when it comes to navigating easily to the trail.

Cool mural on the way to the trail.

It’s easy enough to get to if you’re staying/visiting/living in the Lakeview East area. I had some directions from him which I checked with the Maps App and Google Maps and it worked out pretty well. There were a few busy stretches but I don’t recall a street that didn’t have a bike lane. There’s a small portion on Cortland that could use some paving but all in all I arrived in under 20 minutes and then spent a few hours exploring the the 606.

14 feet wide with plenty of room to stop or pass.

It’s on Chicago’s northwest side and it’s built on an old rail line, hence the elevated bit. It sits about 20 feet above four of the city’s neighborhoods: Humbolt Park, Wicker Park, Logan Square and Bucktown. You get a distinct feeling that you are one with the world as you traverse effortlessly atop the city as if you are a rare bird trying to decide where to build a nest.

You can easily use ramps to get down into the neighborhood for a closer look at murals you can see from the 606.

On your left a mural and on your right an art installment then oh is that another mural and wait a statue and on and on for nearly 3 miles. The perfectly paved trail is 14 feet wide so there’s plenty of room for everyone. It wasn’t crowded and I had plenty of room even whilst people were walking with double strollers, big dogs, little dogs and inline skaters.

A feast for all the senses.

I regretted every picture I didn’t take, so I tried to take many pictures, but it’s hard to capture it all. There was a point when I was riding and these exquisite blossoms were waving at me and I felt like I was being caressed even visually massaged by the color orange. My senses were like fireworks on the 4th of July.

Orange you glad you’re learning about the 606?
I neglected to bring my handlebar mount but I did manage to get a little video of the trail. The flowers.

Chicago has an impressive trail system. According to Trail Link there are more than 200 miles of on-street protected, buffered and shared bike lanes. The 19-mile Lakefront Trail is possibly the most well known, and the 606 is worth exploring. Chicago is a great place for cyclists. Why is it called the 606? That’s the first three numbers of the zip code and the areas it goes through. The 606 is just one more reason to love Chicago. The 606 is worth riding again and again and in different seasons. Oh, there’s an idea! Yes, dear reader, I will return to the 606 and next time I write about it I’ll include more video.

Katniss Everbike (mentioned in the previous post) did a great job. #mybrompton

Can a trail be inspiring? Can a trail infuse you with enthusiasm? I think so. The 606 is inspiring. Well done, Chicago!

How about you? What trails have stayed in your memory. Share a trail you love. Thanks for reading. Get out there and ride your bike!

Bike Goddess

It’s A Bromptime!

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They look like clown bikes if you ask me. Honestly they do. How can they possibly even BE bikes that you could actually ride for more than a few miles! Bromptons are like a praying mantis with wheels or a pterodactyl that mated with a pennyfarthing. Yet, they are the most elegant, feisty and dynamic wee bike machines I’ve ever had the privilege of riding. They’re truly a marvel.

It started as a conversation with my husband who has a Brompton he bought a few years back. I thought I’d see if he’d let me borrow his for a trip to Chicago. Poor Bromptosaurus (as we named it) was just folded up in the garage and I thought I could coax him into letting me borrow his for the trip. But my plan backfired when he decided he’d like to get back into riding it.

We went to the bike shop to check on a used carrying case for the Bromptosauras and ended up buying a bike for me. Yeah, it all happened so fast and color played a big part in the whole story. We tinkered with the case and getting his bike inside properly and there was this used red one that I took for a test ride and one thing led to another and suddenly I was taking a test ride on an orange beauty that reminded me of Katniss Everdeen from Hunger Games because the orange flame lacquer was shining bright and it felt like I was on a chariot with flames coming off the rear wheels. I have a very healthy imagination. Find me and #KatnissEverbike adventures on Instagram. Next thing I know, Clever Cycles has my credit card and I’m considering accessories and of course bike bags.

Katniss has a straight handlebar and all she needed was a dynamo light system and then Brompto and Katniss could be canoodling Brompties and the whole household could be happy.

New Bike Day with Katniss Everbike: June 6, 2021

Size matters when it comes to traveling with a bike. On a Brompton, it’s three folds and a pedal and with origami engineering it feels compact and creative. Such an engineering genius. Since new bike day Katniss and I have been to Chicago by train and then back home via plane and then I got a “special bag” from Ikea called Dimpa that’s a solid investment at $5 for traveling with your Brompton via car so we went on a short road trip with our bikes in the boot.

My S6L in flame lacquer.
The Dimpa bag from Ikea is $4.99 and an easy way to pack up a Brompton for a road trip.

I’m enjoying a new lease on life with a bike that acts like a Yorkshire Terrier. It’s small, compact and ready to go, go, go. All bikes come with energy, and the Brompton seems to have an unbridled energy that begs you to get into places you might not go with a regular bike. You can take your bike inside a store or restaurant with you. With 6 gears you’d think you were on a short leash, but quite frankly I feel free and ready to ride off into any sunset, anywhere.

This is the kickstand fold. The sculpture is called The Kiss.

Now I know what you’re thinking. You can rent a whole lot of a bikes for what it costs to buy a Brompton. Yes, but… I have and I’m sort of done with that drama. Also, I’ve done that for more than a decade. This gives me more freedom to get out into the world and explore and travel.

I happened to meet a bike mechanic at the Specialized Store on Halstad in Chicago who used to work at Brompton. He said he loved Bromptons and he especially loved the people who rode them. “They’re cool people,” he added. I might have beamed a bit when he said that. I sure feel cool when I’m riding. They have a BMX sort of vibe. People do look at you a bit but and sometimes they ask questions about how Brompties ride. When you’re fluent in bike all that matters is that you’re enjoying the ride and experiencing the place where you’re riding. That’s all part of the adventure.

Bromptosaurus and Katniss in Chicago.

Do you travel with your bike? Tell me about it in the comments.

Until next time, get out there and ride your bike.

Stay safe,

Bike Goddess

Chicago near Buckingham Fountain

The Heat Is On

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Not only a classic hit from the 80s, (Thanks Glenn Frey) but a reality right now living in the Northwest. Temperatures have been usually high. Before last Saturday three digit temps were a record from 1965. Our heatwave of 115 degrees is a shock to most natives. Even though I enjoy the sun I must admit that it has been intense and scary.

At least it only FEELS like 111 degrees.

Even seeing the big number 115º made me think of the hottest temps I’ve experienced in my life. The highest temperature I recall experiencing was 118º in Athens, Greece in mid-August. Not unusual for Greece. I know that on the coast-to-coast bike trip I experienced days of temps in the high 90s and mid-100s, but I remember 118º because I had to convert it from Celsius… (47.8C). When you do math like that in the real world, you remember it.

How do you ride in high heat? I’m not an expert, but I’d say you have to work around it. One thing I do is I start early. That’s my first big tip. I’ve set out early on my daily rides during this heatwave. On Sunday I went out at 5:30 AM and it was already in the high 70s and inching up a few degrees every few minutes. Monday I woke up a little later and set out by 8AM and today was a wonderful respite from blazing heat with temps in the mid 60s. I even broke out with a case of goosebumps for a few minutes going downhill. I wanted to take a picture because I didn’t think I’d ever feel chilly again. During the summer even if it isn’t a heatwave, I tend to head out early.

Two bridges ride

Always have water. Even better if you throw in more ice cubes and let it melt during your ride. Friday I wanted to go a different route but I changed my mind at the last minute because the heat was coming on fast. Not being one to admit I should turn around and head home I figured the best thing would be to go forward toward the other bridge and cross to make my way home. It would be 15-18 miles round trip and I had water so I did it. Sunscreen is a must! The heat is a formidable opponent. I had slathered on the sunscreen and I wore one of my favorite summer garments, my Terry Soleil top. I’m not making any money to tell you this, but these tops are the bomb! They are super lightweight, moisture wicking and UPF 50+. Plus even with long sleeves they are weirdly cool and I love them!

Another tip: Ride in the shade if you can. My route did not have much shade. I was out there and exposed to the rays of the day and without some of the aforementioned tips it could have been bad. I think the heat has reminded me that it’s important to pick routes closer to parks and keep my foliage friends nearby and ride in areas where you aren’t out there like cookie dough in the oven of life.

Desperately seeking shade.

I’m bad about packing food, so another tip is you should pack a protein bar or some snack you like because you never know when you might need it. Since I’m so accustomed to commuting I don’t always remember to check my snack stash. Sometimes you can pick up something while you’re out but that may not be convenient so better to leave with something in your snack hole.

No, I’m not in Phoenix, it only feels like it.

“Shoot some over here!” It’s usually what I yell at someone watering their lawn if I happen to be going by their yard and the planets align and they spray me. I love those moments but people are becoming so much better about watering their lawns that it’s hard to find sprinklers running when I most need it. Take two water bottles and spray yourself with one. While we’re on the topic of water, another top tip for riding when the heat is on is to carry a bandana or just soak a shirt and wear it.

I’m a slow rider. Works great in the summer months to ride slowly especially in the heat. You wouldn’t want to sweat any more than absolutely necessary.

Thanks for reading. Try any of the ones I mentioned? How do you cope with riding in the heat? Any tips you want to share that you completely endorse for riding when the heat is on?

Feel free to comment.

Until next time… stay cool and get out there and ride.

Bike Goddess

Where’s My Oscar?

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I’ve always wanted one and I think this year I really earned it. The whole line goes like this: “Where my Oscar for acting like everything is fine?” A friend of mine posted it and I’ve been thinking about it today. Nailed it!

The drama of the last few months of school is something I will spare you, dear reader. Suffice it to say that I survived and now I look forward to some fallow time to find myself and my life. I want to reclaim my time. I have some advice for you. If you know a teacher or anyone in education, please just say, “Thank you.” Maybe they deserve it, maybe they don’t, but I’ll tell you something, if I was a tire and this year was my tread, I’d be shredded. 

This is from a kids bike. They know how to shred!

I’m a seasoned, veteran educator which is a diplomatic way of saying I’ve roamed the land with the dinosaurs. I love it, however, even I haven’t seen a year like this. I’m not okay. None of us are. Not really. We will pretend. We will continue to act like it’s fine. We will continue to do what we do. Friday was the last day of school and I’m slowly regaining consciousness.

The first Monday of break is always a real day. It’s not the Monday of Sunday night plans and preparations, it’s just a day full of unstructured time. Potential just waiting to unfold. The only thing I know for sure is that my first Monday will include a bike ride. Some riding and some writing will get me on the road the finding my way through.

Get out there and ride your bike!

Thanks for reading.
Bike Goddess

Out of True

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Image.jpeg

I’m a year older tomorrow. I don’t feel older. That’s good. I do feel wiser. Since my last birthday which involved a masked party in my mom’s garage (which was great), the pandemic has been the top story. This whole year has been about surviving the pandemic and getting the vaccine and pivoting in ways that let me know I should practice yoga. At work, remote and in person have given way to roomers and Zoomers. Every day has been an adjustment to an ever changing landscape of challenges. Like the spokes on a wheel help the wheel hold its shape. Each day of my 58th year has been a spoke helping to move me forward and get me through.

Spokes are pretty amazing when you consider what they do for a bike wheel. They take all the stress we put into our bikes. As I understand it, the spoke pulls the rim toward the hub. Spokes have to put up with all sorts of stress. Consider those potholes you hit because you’re watching traffic. Consider the time you lob yourself over a curb to avoid a squirrel or what about just trying to go a little faster and on the road only to end up on gravel or worse. The tension makes them stronger.

That’s all well and good for a wheel but what about life? It has been a very tense year. School is extremely stressful and even if you are doing your very best you feel like an utter failure everyday. Everyone does and you can’t even complain without hearing someone best your story with one of their own. “Yeah, you’re right,” I want to say, “You are working harder.” We have these signs on campus that extol positive messages. I’m all for that and yet I overthink them. One is “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Okay, so what should I do instead? I feel both driven and lethargic. I tell myself to focus on the students and think about them first and foremost and in the same moment I feel ignored by coworkers. An island. Alone. We are isolated and every meeting and most interactions fall short of community and connection. 

My balance.

A maladjusted spoke makes the wheel out of true and wobbly. I love the way that sounds: out of true. Whoa! Conversely if it is balanced than it is trued. It is aligned and working in the community of spokes. Truing in bikes is making those tiny adjustments and getting the spokes aligned so they can handle the stress and tension of the ride ahead. It takes work to true a wheel. Typically there are 24-36 spokes on traditional bikes. Truing a wheel can mean hours to weeks of time to get it into balance. We are making similar adjustments.

That’s just it. We all have to make tiny adjustments to be true and aligned and balanced to withstand the stresses of whatever is around the corner.

William Shakespeare said it best, “To thine own self be true.” He probably was not talking about bikes but he and I share the 23rd as our birthday and I think staying true and honest to yourself is as much about balance and alignment as a spoke is to a trued wheel. 

Here’s to fair weather and trued spokes and another day to ride. Stay safe!

Bike Goddess

Thanks for reading. How do you find alignment and balance in times of stress and worry?

Thank you for visiting me on WordPress. I appreciate it. Feel free to add your Likes and Comments. If you really want to make my day, you could Follow the blog through WordPress. Re-blog and Share as long as you give credit and a Have a great day! 

Bike Gallery: A Tribute

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My Kona after a tune up at the Bike Gallery on Sandy.

“How do I love thee, let me count the ways.” Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s 43rd Sonnet is easily recognizable as one of the greatest love poems of the English language. People often quote the first line not just for their beloved but for stuff and things too. Possibly even bikes. What do you mean you don’t write sonnets to your bikes? 

I do love bikes. The beauty of design and geometry of each and every machine is a marvel. The ending of the poem is where she hopes God will grant her the ability to love even after she has passed. I don’t know about bikes and the afterlife, but I do know that in this life I love bikes. That means that I also love bike shops. 

One of my all time favorite bike shops closed recently. All six of them closed and then morphed into Trek stores. The first 1974 iteration was owned by a local man by the name of Jay Graves. Then in 2012 the 2.0 version opened with some changes but generally the stores still felt local. But a few weeks ago the 6 stores were sold to Trek.  

Things got real.

When I saw the official announcement on Facebook with the name change then it sunk in. 

I can have all the mixed feelings I want but it happened regardless.  Bless me Father, I have a confession. It has been over a year since I’ve visited either the Broadway or Downtown Portland shops. Pandemic year and then add another year where I was crowned a Specialized Ambassador and I wasn’t popping in as much because of the Specialized connection. Don’t get me wrong though. I love bikes. I do have some favorite brands, and Trek is one for sure.

My 2006 Trek Portland after getting dolled up.

The Bike Gallery was the start of something beautiful in my biking life. It wasn’t just about the bikes though. It was the people. My biking life started at the Bike Gallery. The fine people at The Bike Gallery never missed a chance to say hello or chat with me. I always felt welcome. Such a phenomenal bunch over the years. I can’t even name them all but there was an ethos, a mindset that set them apart and set the bar by which I measure every bike store. Is it customer service or it is who they are? It’s a “You can do anything” sort of attitude that filled every conversation, every purchase  and every goal. Simply said, they believed in their customers. Well, that’s a broad statement. They believed in me. There wasn’t a single sales person or mechanic that every made me feel like I couldn’t win a race or ride to the ends of the earth. They looked you in the eye and said, let’s figure out what you need. The customer experience was a conversation. 

The Bike Gallery sales were momentous events.

When I couldn’t fall asleep the other night I stated counting Bike Gallery bikes instead of sheep. I was musing about how much I enjoyed Bike Gallery and wondering how many bikes I had bought there over time: I came up with 9. 

Trek 520 touring

Trek Portland 2006

Gary Fisher Tasajara MTN 

Kona roundabout 2012

Trek Lime (gift for my mom)

Electra Townie orange 

Trek road bike, (For a friend who had his bike stolen)

Trek mountain bike (for husband)

Trek stache 5 (Fatty)

That doesn’t take into consideration a few friends who bought bikes from them as well. I even have a few that did a fitting with a fit expert. 

Bike Gallery always had an incredible selection of bikes on display for you to admire. I always felt my eyes grow big with desire and plans.  As a woman it’s always hard to find people (men) in a bike shop that take you seriously. I’ve always had this challenge. One man from another store even asked me if I was there to buy a gift for the “ol’ man” and I left. Note to bike any/all shops: never do that! 

One of the bike mechanics, Pete, did this mount for my light (way back when) and it even had the Kona cap. Seriously, this was a work of art!

Bike Gallery always had great gear for women too. I never felt like gear for me was an afterthought like most bikes shops. “Let’s order a few bike tops for the ladies.” Of which most would be extra small. Instead I felt like buyers knew what I wanted. I was a priority. Women’s gear was not at the back of the shop or even behind the men’s gear, it was alongside and there was equal parts, right down to shoes and socks. It was impressive. They carried SheBeest, SheilaMoon and Sugoi products that no one else ever carried. Nearly every visit meant I’d buy a bike, something for a bike or gear for me.  I rarely left empty handed. I have a few pieces that I are as timeless as pearls. They are key articles of clothing that continue even after years of use to perform superbly! Investment pieces. One of my favorites it a racing style sweater with Bike Gallery, Portland, OR on it. That’s the warmest layering piece I own and my go to when temps dip. I did notice a change in gear in 2012 when it was first sold. More Bontrager and less about accommodating more types of riders. I’m not a racer and bike shops need to think about the everyday rider. 

Always smiles at The Bike Gallery. That’s me with Niko.

I always felt comfortable and not in the least intimidated by their experience or athleticism. Just good people selling good bikes and excited to share their passion of the ride and commitment to the community.

Spa time for Kona G, my mixte.

Their $180 winter overhauls was the best deal in town and so thorough you’d think you were getting a brand new bike. My bikes always came back feeling like they’d spent a week in a spa. Perfectly lubed and cleaned and ready for the next adventure.

I wish I’d said thank you more. 

I wish I’d bowed down and kissed their cleated shoes.

I wish bought them a round of beers. 

I wish I’d bought 9 more bikes. 

I wish I hadn’t taken them for granted.

I never ever thought they’d be gone one day. 

Nostalgia is like an upset stomach. Take an antacid, go to bed an hour earlier and it will pass. This has lingered. I feel sad that a Trek superstore bought them up, or they got sold or whatever the circumstances. Here are the details of the change.

Every bike event I ever attended always had a Bike Gallery tent and the mechanics helping people get back on the road. In the Seattle-to-Portland ride when some jerk put a mess of tacks in the road causing a massive pile up of flats, they were fixing tires like something out of Nascar, and getting people back on the road. Every Reach the Beach, Bridge Pedal, every event you knew to pop over and say hi and ask for some air or you could count on them to tighten, loosen or just be there.

Someone at the Sandy store did these great chalk drawings. This was one of his.

As the saying goes, don’t be sad it’s over; be glad it happened. I am glad I have such fond memories and while I am not a poet gifted with the skills to write a sonnet, ode or even a haiku, I can take a moment to thank the good people of Bike Gallery for a great ride. 

Thanks for reading.

Bike Goddess

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Have a great day! 

Friday the 13th, 2020

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Today’s sunny day was lucky!

I’ve always been superstitious. That said, Friday the 13th has always been a lucky day for me. I never go into a Friday the 13th thinking something bad is going to happen. 

I could never have imagined what happened on this day last year. 2020. It was the last Friday when life could be called normal. It’s the sort of life altering day that seems prophetic by the light of 2021. When I look at pictures of me and my students in the studio doing the news LIVE, or being together with our unmasked faces, I wonder if we had any clue what was ahead. Of course not. There was a massive run on books in the library and shelves were left in disarray when students learned that we would be starting Spring Break weeks ahead of schedule. It was a great wonderful mess that made me feel happy to have something they wanted. Books! But it was also paralyzing. There was an upcoming musical and the cast was  commiserating in the library and clinging to each other but also looking to the adults for answers. We didn’t have many if any answers. 

Chromebooks and books checked out in droves.

Then the doors were shuttered and we went home and our world of screens and Zoom meetings became our new universe. Schedules were completely overhauled and even though I’d had solid video editing experience at the juncture even I had to learn other tools. So many other tools. 

Remembering that a year ago it seemed like there was no one else out. A biker’s dream!

We had 5 days to shift, pivot, swivel, think, mourn and wonder what was next. The anxiety could be seen in everyone’s eyes through the little Zoom screens. We all looked like the sun was too bright in our eyes or our brows were furrowed enough to create a unibrow of distress and uncertainty. Then we had “spring break” week to rest, but no one did. I worked. I was trying to think about what my job would look like and how I could help provide assistance to teachers remotely. I could continue to offer classes and record instruction and share the videos with teachers. There was a massive push for eBooks and audiobooks, so I used the remaining money in my budget to purchase those resources. It wasn’t much but it was something. I created a Google Classroom for students who wanted to join to have virtual contact with other kids in my school. I would post tasks, ideas, suggestions, videos, lessons every weekday during their breaks. It never stopped either. Even now, evenings, weekends, everyday is consumed by school.

With my commute less than 20 feet, my biking life changed drastically. Instead of going to and from school I would wait until the end of the day and ride to all the Little Free Libraries and stock them up with books from my home. I’d even move stock around if I noticed that one was brimming with books while another was nearly empty. I rode not to or from but around. I rekindled my love of the ride. Just to get out there and ride with no destination or task in mind.

Did you have a period of time when you sampled masks? I did. I tried one or 10 others to see which one(s) fogged my glasses the least. The weather was decent which made getting out easy and predictable. 

Here I am a year later. I’m grateful that I’m healthy and one shot away from fully vaccinated. I’m employed and able to continue working in a job I love. I’m also grateful there’s a vaccine and that little by little the students are returning to school and life is starting to expand beyond my house and my school. I have a fashionable assortment of masks and all in all life is good. It is hard, but it is working out. It always was good, but a pandemic helps reveal all that is good.

My wanderings to every Little Free Library within 20 miles of my house.

Saturday the 13th of March 2021, I rode my bike on a gorgeous sun shiny day. The daffodils are popping up like sunshine at your feet and I see the rhododendrons are also starting to flower and I can’t help but think of the lyrics from Sheryl Crow, Soak Up The Sun, “…It’s not having what you want. It’s wanting what you’ve got.”

Today was a good day. I hope your’s was too. 

Take care out there.

Be safe.

-Bike Goddess


Thank you for stopping by to read my blog. I appreciate it. Feel free to add your Likes and Comments. If you really want to make my day, you could Follow the blog through WordPress. If you already do, thank you! Re-blog and Share as long as you give credit. Have a great day! 

Snowlandia

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This Trek Stache 5 is the best snow bunny.

Winter has fallen. Snow is not unheard of in my corner of the world, but it doesn’t often stick for an hour let alone a day. Flurries were expected yesterday but the weather has a mind of its own. It has been snowing all day and now it’s as if confectionary sugar has been scattered everywhere. I have learned not to get too attached to the snow. Instead I seize the moments however sleeting and take a quick ride or at least a few pictures and marvel at its beauty. The bright blanket of white that both confuses and awes young and old alike. 

Snow has a quiet quality until it mixes with freezing rain. As it begins to transform into icy pinheads you can hear it in the trees and its audible droplets turn the powder into sheets of ice as soon as they hit the ground. The freezing chorus whips into song as the wind blows. I don’t fancy riding on it when it’s icy. I prefer the powder. Admittedly wearing a mask and riding in the snow means I can’t see a flake in front of my face. Very few people out in it because we just don’t know how to drive in this weather since we seldom have to do it.

It could be gone by the morning. It’s a welcome change from the usual weather du jour. The forecast says more is on the way and it won’t be turning to rain until Monday.  I like the possibility that it will linger a bit longer. Like a guest you didn’t even know you missed. I’ll give credit to the pandemic for making me more aware of the subtleties in changes. Everything small feels miraculous and worthy of note.

Brisk ride at midday. Perfect powdery combination for a ride.
Me in the mirrored eye leaving after my first dose of the vaccine.

In other news, I got my first dose of the vaccine today. That is notable since this day was all about getting to the site to get the shot. I was considering biking to the clinic or taking the bus, but my guy drove me. In Portland there were vaccinations scheduled to be administered at the Convention Center and in Vancouver at the Clark County Fairgrounds. Both were closed due to the snow. I wasn’t nervous about getting my vaccine but when the nurse told me that the other sites were closed I felt waves a gratitude that it worked out for me. This whole thing has been like gambling. In 29 days it will be March 13th when life in the pandemic started. My school building closed and the whole pandemic-quarantine-bubble existence kicked off.

View of the park across the street. Great light dance on the snow.

Who knows what’s around the next corner? Let’s not even guess. The snow is beautiful. I had a brisk ride in the powder and I got my first dose of the vaccine that didn’t even exist until recently.

I’d say that’s a good day.

I hope you had a good day too.

Get out there and ride or take a walk.

Stay safe. Stay kind.

Thanks for reading!
Bike Goddess

I Woke Up, so YAY!

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That’s where the bar is these days. I’m exhausted. I feel like the sludge at the bottom of a puddle. Pretending that you’re okay is a full-time act of fiction. Notwithstanding the Biden-Harris uptick in energy and hope for the future, the last 10 months have been a slog of despair where I’ve said more often than not, sure, eat the Oreo cookie or donut, you may not even survive the year. We’re all tired. Have you noticed how we compare of levels of exhaustion in addition to our burdens. You can’t mask that sort of fatigue. Pun intended. It’s a challenge to find the energy to stoke the embers and feel the fire in your belly that you can do whatever; get up, go to the mailbox, go to work, think about writing, write. Fill in the blank with whatever it is for you.

Between expectations, intentions and plans there are storage bins full of doubt. Despair rings like tinnitus in my ears all day and all night and you might find five minutes in which you aren’t completely freaked out by whatever the next step is. 

That’s what leads me to my January mantra, I woke up. Yay!

I got dressed and even accessorized a bit. That means that I put on some earrings. Woohoo!

I made coffee. Thank the gods of Olympus!

I ate breakfast! Now we’re talking! 

The steps to success are just that, steps. The activity rings on my watch don’t count effort, so the data is in steps.

Everything is a of a celebration. It should be because life right now is hard as chromium. Maybe you’re trying to be postive for the negative people around you. Again, work on a scale of lifting 50 pound dumbells overhead. Maybe you float on the bubbles of hope or what I like to call do-able tasks. Maybe you wrote songs for your new album. I am not Taylor Swift. But I can feel ebullient about completing a blog post or reading one of yours. 

Someone asked me if I do yoga or meditation or anything to align my chakras and get out of my head.

Cue the crickets.

I replied with two words. “I bike.” If there’s one place where pressure can only be found in my tires, it’s on my bike. That’s my zen, my calm, my meditation and medication. It’s where the sun meets the sky (if it’s not raining that day) and I can be free to roam, wander and just ride like I’m making a masterpiece Strava GPS picture. On my bike is where I engage with the world. Have you noticed how waving has returned. People wave and children yell HELLLLLLOOOOO and we interact at 12-15mph more than we have in a long time. Some drivers actually wave too instead of trying out other hand gestures.

Seeing and interating with the world from behind my handlebars I’m filled with joy that I woke up.

I rode. 

Me on a bike riding the island of Santorini.

Whatever is in between my rides, the bits and pieces of the day, got done because I had my ride. I have been trying to close my eyes during the day and be in the moment breathing in and out and it is helpful. The funny thing is I usually visualize myself on a bike riding a bike on a Greek island feeling the heat of the summer beat down on me. I woke up. Yay!

Thanks for reading my blog.

Get out there and ride.

Bike Goddess

2020 Happy New Gear

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Click on the products mentioned to go through the post: Thousand Helmet • Mia MelonDarkCycleSafety Pizza Showers PassSparrow Bottle Cage • BikeLaneUprising Endura glovesBrooks Bag

Not too much shiny and bright about 2020, however, there are some great products I discovered. This is a post I’ve always wanted to do. I don’t have any codes or special discounts. I can only say that I don’t like parting with my money so if I like gear enough to recommend it, that’s gold. It takes me more than a season to decide IF the product in question merits the investment. Dear reader, this post includes my unvarnished, honest opinions about products I strongly recommend. Some are newish and some have proven their value over time. Read on for details and links..

Products with Punch

Let’s start at the top. I am a helmet wearer. I always have been. Many helmets have been on my head. This year I found one that is sparkle and delight. The Thousand Helmet is elegant and I have never, ever owned a helmet that garnered more compliments. People always call it a hat as in, “I love your hat!” as I breeze by. The algorithms must have aligned because one day in a search for “chic bike helmet” it popped up. I couldn’t stop looking at all the colors in the Heritage collection. When the page opens in your browser, you’ll be asked to take a quiz about your perfect helmet. I love a good quiz, but you can also close the quiz and just browse around. If I’m ever on the cover of Vogue I’ll request one of these with my kit. If you pay attention to bike details on TV shows you can appreciate that in Emily is Paris one of these helmets is featured. Super cool!! And they are just that. It’s a helmet where form meets function and you’re proud to have it on your noggin. There’s a spot where you can put a U-lock through a pop-lock. The site says, “Access the hidden channel behind the logo mark, and pop your U-Lock or chain lock through. Backed by our Anti-Theft Guarantee.” But here’s the thing, I like wearing my helmet, so I never really got in the habit of locking it up with my bike. It’s a great feature and maybe as the days get warmer and I can sit outside and enjoy a

Sizing is the only trick with buying a helmet online. I bought a medium following their measurements and I wish I had bought a large. The adjustment wheel makes it very easy to size down a bit but if you wear a beanie on colder days you’ll appreciate a few milimeters of head space. If between, always order up. I have heard that they have a great exchange policy, but email to get more information. I chose to try the other helmet called The Chapter with a magnetic light on the back. I love it as well. Since I got the white one I figured it would be better for riding in the winter or with a beanie, so I bought the large for extra space.

People notice me which means the helmet helps them see me on the road. Read more about the company and their goals. Helmets only last forever if you never use them. The helmet I’m wearing in the lower left is an older one that had many dings and dents. I moved it along in its cycle of life.

Next up, the bod. If I could make a coat, this would be it. For years I wore the traditional rain jacket. Then a few years ago I decided I wanted something bigger, bulkier, warmer. I am Mediterranean and I do not like being cold. Mia Melon coats are the best coats I have ever owned. I wish one of the two I own would wear out (after three years) so I could get another one. They are beautiful on and off the bike, but most importantly, they are warm and waterproof. They have lots of styles and you should shop what works best for you. I wear the STELLA MODERN RAIN JACKET – MICRO FLEECE INTERIOR the most. The other one is similar to the Anna, but mine is an older style which I no longer see on the site. There are often sales and there is a store in Vancouver B.C., however, they have great customer service and if you’re not sure what’s best or how it will fit, then give them a call.

If you want the traditional biker rain jacket, I’m also a big fan of Showers Pass, jackets, and rainpants. I’ve had mine for years and they are a great investment.

Best t-shirts ever! They are massively creative with all sorts of animails, and in my opinion, you can’t have enough bike related t-shirts. I live in bike t-shirts. When you wear these you feel fierce and playful. Dark Cycle Clothing is located in Tampa, Florida and I signed up for their monthly t-shirt release. I had some challenges with sizing, but they were so helpful I decided to maintain my subscription for another year. I still think they need a Yorkie.

Pizza is the most important food group. Right? I like pizza all the time so when I saw this on Instagram I took a bite. Safety Pizza! How do you improve on safety and being seen? You get a Safety Pizza because it has PIZZA in the name and why not? I love this slice of safety and singular function. Reflectivity. You can organize the “toppings” however you choose. Super fun!! 

Put a bird on it. A phrase made famous by Portlandia, but design-wise, Portland Design Works captured the essence for cyclists. Great products of all kinds for all types of riders. How can you find fault with a company that sells sticker sheets, donut bar tape or bird inspired water bottle cages? You can’t! Gear like this makes me smile each and every time I use it. I have one of their bottle cages on all my bikes.

Fits like a glove, then buy it! If a glove keeps your hands warn and cozy, buy two pairs! There is no such thing as the perfect bag or the perfect winter glove. Our extremities prefer gentle conditions and I am here to say that I’ve spent money on pricey gloves and still felt my fingers freeze. After years of research, I can say one thing for sure. It’s personal preference. Gloves that claim to be wind breakers and laugh at cold temps, often leave me cold. Endura is possibly my favorite mid range glove for most winter cycling. They outperform my Gortex and they are my go-to glove. I lost one hi-viz glove a year ago and I’m still bummed about it. I bought a black pair to replace but for some reason I still have the single high-viz. Many bike shops carry the brand and if your favorite bike shop has an online store check it out. 

Still with me? Good for you! Thanks. Let’s start wrapping it up. Two more. I love Chicago. Because I have family in Chicago, I consider it a second home. When I visit I always Divvy and I visit bike shops and I entertain thoughts of living there. Chicago is about 8 years younger than Portland or the Northwest when it comes to biking, but this organization, Bike Lane Uprising, is trying to delineate the bike lanes and bike lane usgae by keeping people safe. You can support them by sposoring lights for others and while you’re at it, buy yourself a set. A sweatshirt is good too. These lights, are amazing! For $10 you can sponsor a set that might save someone’s life. Being lit is extrememly important on a bike, walking or running, so make an investment. You can’t have enough lights and this set is a blinding good deal! 

Lastly, the bag. I am obsessed with panniers. I know. What a shock! This year I got closer to the perfect bag, for me. The Brooks Suffolk rear pannier is “made from high-quality polyester with a waterproof polyurethane coating to protect your gear while you ride.” That’s what they say and they are spot on. It’s hard not to say, “Brooks Suffolk,” without a British accent! Jolly good bag! This pannier I bought on impulse. Give me a break. I hadn’t been out shopping for anything in three months, so I was ready! They aren’t cheap, $130 for a single bag. I was at the eBike Store and I’m drawn to bike bags like like a magnet so I started looking it over and I was impressed by how the pockets were all on the outside and I like that for access the garage door opener, my phone, water bottle and work related fobs and keys. Boom, sold! They deliver. I like them so much, that a few months later I bought another. Not too big, or small, just right. Waterproof and simple to use. Similar to an Ortlieb in how the bag attaches, and I won’t shine you on. I have used them like a fangirl since day one. They still look brand new and yet neutral enough to go with any bike, or rack.

Gear is important to making your ride comfortable, safe and likely to happen again. With mass production of so many things, it’s hard to know what really works for discerning riders in certain climates or any climate. One thing about the pandemic is that I’ve looked to the gear I already own instead of looking for something else. If you have gear that you don’t use or didn’t make the cut for you, try donating it. In my area, I’m lucky because Bike Clark County takes donations and I know the gear that doesn’t work for me may help someone else.

The gear mentioned in the post are equipment I’ve own and use regularly. That’s the real test. 2021 is the year to get in gear. I hope this helps.

If I haven’t said it, thank you for reading and being part of my blog. I appreciate your LIKES and comments. Thanks for taking a moment. Happy New Gear, I mean Year.

Get out there and ride. #2021

Be safe, be seen.

Bike Goddess

Special-Evangelize

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Parked only long enough for a glam shot. But this is a newly remodeled park near my house. I love this path that was added making it better for all wheels, including strollers. Brilliant update! @cityofvancouver

I was getting ready to head out on a ride. As I stood in the driveway making sure I had all the necessities: mask, ID, wallet, phone, gloves, water, a spry guy in his mid seventies walked by and exclaimed, “What is THAT?” 

Looking for agreement in the subject and predicate is often futile. “Are you asking about my bike?” Speaking from a tennis court distance we started to chat about ebikes. He thinks he took one that looked like mine for a test ride. I turned my bike to the side so he could get a better look. I felt a little like a peacock about to pose my beautful bike and all her glory. “Yeah, yep, that was it I think.” He said he was thinking of a “well, what do you say, a girls’ bike” to which I suggested, step through and he agreed. You know, guys, just chill about this. Women don’t think less of you for wanting low entry.

He admitted he really wanted a new bike and he was at a point in his life where he still thinks he’s in his 20s but his body doesn’t agree. I told him I’d has some experience with ebikes and I really think he should go to a bike shop. I stashed some business cards from The eBike Store in my bag for just this type of encounter. I walked toward him and handed him a card as if I was about to press a doorbell and run. I also decided to share some advice.

Try out three different bikes. Even a few models within the same brand. The more you try the more you get a feel for what you like and what you want.

Take a month and try out at least three. Talk to owners of the bikes and ask how they use their ebike and why they chose the one they did. He liked Specialized and noted that was my ride and he was also curious about Treks. I said both were great choices but you owe it to yourself to take multiple test rides to get a feel for what you want. I shared that I was a Specialized Ambassador so I had a very strong feeling about that brand. But I have own other brands and I have two Treks in the herd and I love them too. I don’t have any experience with the Trek eBikes so he should find a store and take a few out.

He thanked me and went on his way. It’s Sunday and I did a little bike evangelism. You gotta love your ride if you’re going to ride. So if you are looking at riding in the new year, then my advice is to reach out with a phone call to a bike dealer and be specific if you want an ebike. Which brands do they carry and why. Also do a little research before you go in. I watch videos most often from ElectricBikeReview. Know the tech specs enough to compare bikes. Ask about test riding during a pandemic. Find out about scheduling some time with someone to ask questions and take a test ride. Take a helmet if you don’t want to borrow one of theirs and go for a spin. 

I spend 2 hours a day commuting. I need a bike that will keep up and be ready for whatever I need. I chose a Specialized Como 5, Turbo. I may not use all its features, but it has them in case I need them.

2019-Turbo Como 5.0 650b – Low-Entry and it has 7005 miles as of 12/26/20

I love talking about bikes. I especially enjoy it when potential bikers ask about why I have this bike or that feature. I can give them chapter and verse. What about you? What advice do you give about buying a bike?

Next post I hope to get out soon will spotlight some gear I found very helpful in 2020.

Get out there and ride. Preferably with some lights on your body or bike. Be seen!

Stay healthy,

Bike Goddess

Roll Model

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Sunset ride. @specializedbikes

Fall is by far my favorite time of the year. Seasons in general are a great concept because right about the time you start getting weary of a routine the searson changes and so does your routine. A slightly heavier coat leads to another layer and then some boots, wool socks and insulated gloves and the season change is in full swing.Before you known it you’re wishing you had a heated saddle because you will never be warm again. Winter.

People are seasonal too. Some people you may see everyday and others only through social media and yet you’re sort of attending the same party. We never really know what impression we lieave unless we’re told. Love it, leave it or try to deal with it, social media keeps people connected.

All that to say that I heard from a friend I made in 2009. He and I were on a Fulbright cultural exchange in Potsdam, Germany. I quickly became known as the biker of the group. By biker, I mean cyclist. I had no problem actively pursuing opportunities to rent bikes and roam around the city. Potsdam is wonderfully bike friendly. Actually, Germany in general is bike friendly. I’d bumble my way through whatever German I could muster to say, Bitte mieten sie ein fahrrad, Please I’d like to rent a bike.” One bike shop took mercy on my daily visits and agreed to rent me a bike for a week at a time. Bike love is a universal language and I recall that they were helpful and accomodating.

The bike bag wall at the Radhaus in Potsdam. Epic shop with people who speak the universal language of bikes.

With a basket and a lock I would peddle about for as long as time permittied between classes. Scenery swirled around me as I claimed a city for my own behind the bars of a bike. I may have named rental Greatah, because it was great, ah! I felt like a local and took pride in the fact that from behind the bars of my rental I felt like the city and I knew one another.

Wander time is built into the day when you’re learning a city. I rolled my way into an area known as the Neuer Garten. Brisk summer morning air was chilly and I was woefully underdressed. My light rain jacket and t-shirt left my teeth chattering but I didn’t care. The sights were spectacular and it felt like I was the only one on the path. My lungs expanding with the country air and my eyes wide with the lush lawns and lavish scenery.

Idyllic.

I helped a few others in the group with bike rentals and the last week or so of the trip the bike rental fees were waived since I brought customers to the bike shop.

Bikes at every turn. This was near the U-Bahn station close to the hotel.
Not a bike shop, but bike parking near one of the classes at the University of Potsdam.
Look more bikes.
A classic Gazelle in its natural habitat.

It is how I roll. I do what I do, ride my bike, and if my zeal, my enthusiasm, my bike love somehow spills on to others, that’s a bonus. I heard from that traveler from 2009. Howard recently retired and sadly had his bike stolen from right off his porch.

In Germany in 2009, my friends Inga on the left and Howard on the right.

He sent me this great message: “Been thinking about you lately, Connie. My road bike was stolen off my front porch about three weeks ago. I’d been thinking about buying an e-bike, so I decided to splurge and get an e-road bike. It’s a Specialized Turbo Creo Evo, and I love it. I’m actually back on the bike, and getting back in shape. You have been my role model for bike commuting for a decade now, so I wanted to let you know that I’m getting back in the saddle.” -Howard

I appreciate that he shared his news with me and I’m thrilled that he’s back in the saddle. I’m happy to be a role model and even more delighted when someone else learns first hand the love of the ride.

Are you a bike roll/role model for someone? Have you ever helped someone with a bike purchase?

Thanks for reading.

Stay well,

Bike Goddess

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes … and Nose and Everything

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Why is fog more interesting than smoke? Scientifically speaking (and I’m not a scientist) I guess fog has condensation. It is essentially air saturated with water but smoke is a sign of combustion. Hence the addage, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” I live in the middle of all these fires out West. I am not in danger at the moment and the closest fire has gone from about 2 miles at the beginning of last week to 90 miles as of this writing. The smoke in the air is daunting and debilitating. My eyes burn and the last two days when I wake up my nostrils tingle.

The air quality index is at 445 on a scale that tops out at 500. This morning is was at 526. That means that it is hazardous. Kaiser Permanente sent out an email saying that all physical activity should be limited. It is another chapter in the apocolyptic story of 2020 but we’re crossing a line now because I can’t bike. I can’t Zwift, I can’t meander, spin or roll. There are advisories against any activity either Inside or out.The most I can do is sit in the garage (with the mask pictures below) and tell my bikes that someday we will ride again.

I wanted to write about some virtual events I took part in over the summer, but I don’t feel like it right now. All I can do is check the EPA AirQuality app and see if the number goes down. All I can do is look out the window of my house and see if it looks a tiny bit clearer. All I can do is wait and see.

Last Friday my school district advised staff to work from home since the ventilation systems couldn’t keep up with the smoke in the air. Not a snow day but a smoke day. The smoke is so thick and pervasive that your lungs ache and your nostrils flair in an attempt to keep the toxins out of your body.

Thanks to my husband and numerous home projects I have a great mask if I need to be outside.

When the fortune teller in the movies looks at the crystal ball for answers there’s smoke swirling around before the answers are revealed. From the murky smoke answers are revealed. I’m in a house and I have food and coffee, books and distractions. Wifi and water. I’m grateful and hoping for rain. The forecast says rain on Tuesday (not the umbrella on my sweatshirt) and through the rest of the week. That’s what I’m clinging to. The hope for rain.

Be well, readers.

Go ride some miles for me.

Thanks for reading.

Bike Goddess

Bike Throwback

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My love affair with bikes goes back a ways. If I was sitting on the proverbial coach getting therapy and I was asked to recall my earliest memory it would look something like this. Streamers off the bar ends and ready to go. Looks like this might be a Sears brand tricycle. I’m in the living room of my grandparents’ apartment in Chicago. I do remember riding up and down that hallway and turning around in the dining room or the apartment entrance. My eyes are shining and my smile radiates pure joy. I especially like how I’m holding the handlebars. Pinky up. Pretty much sums up how I feel whenever I’m riding a bike.

Earlier this year I was crowned a Specialized Ambassador. I was nominated by the eBike Store in my area and I didn’t think I’d “get it” because I’m not an athlete, racer type person with ripped muscles or that lanky look bike racers own. My only claim to fame is that I do it. I ride.

Over my lifetime I have had various phases in my riding but let’s be clear I have never been fast and I’ve never been competitive. I’m not a racer. In a small group I might try to beat everyone up a hill but I’m a cautious rider. The litte girl in the picture loves the ride. Tour might be a better explaination of my type of riding. I secretly wish I was a racer but it ain’t happening. I answer that secret desire with Zwift.

As a brand ambassador I talk about the brand and the bike. I have experience with a Specialized bike so I can help people who might want someone’s opinion or feedback about a bike. I wanted an eBike because my commute to and from work was taking too much time and I needed a bike up to the task and the Northwest weather of rain and more rain. I took three bikes for test rides. First a Gazelle and then a Specialized Como 4 followed by a Specialized Como 5. I own another ebike; Faraday Cortland, which I will save for another blog post.

The Como 5 Turbo won me over with its range and style. If I had to do it all over again, a year later, I’d still buy this bike. I’m not saying that because I’m a brand ambassador, I’m saying that because I ride. Since the pandemic it has been less about back and forth to work and more about riding routes in-between the commute. The Brose motor is whisper quiet and just like the Specialized tag, “It’s you only faster,” it really is. I get a great workout and I get to work on time. There are three levels of assist, low, middle and high. I tend to stay in low. That level of assist lets me ride at 17-20 mph versus 12-15 without assist. The Como 5 Turbo also has range which means I can get to and from work without worrying about running out of e-juice. That’s 25 miles.

I mentioned that I had another ebike, a Faraday Cortland. It’s the prettiest bike I own. I named her Lulu, but I think of her as the Princess of the fleet of bikes I own. She has a belt drive and if there’s one think I wish more ebikes had it would be a belt drive. Sadly the company went bankrupt. There were more than a few things about the company that should been a factor in my purchase. New. Kickstarter new. I wanted to support an American company and the burgeoning ebike market. When I bought it in 2015 there weren’t even Gazelles in the USA yet. Specialized is a company that has been around for awhile and isn’t going anywhere, so getting an ebike from an established company is also something to consider. I might want to rethink straightening my hair in high school but I don’t rethink bike purchases. I seem to imprint on a bike or vice versa and it’s over.

Ready for another #bikethrowback? When I turned 25 my boyfriend (now husband) got me a Specialized Rockhopper. Back in the day, this bike was the coolest “mountain bike” ever. I still have this yellow Rockhopper. Probably you have one from your past too. Sentimental and staying put.

Still smiling and biking after all these years. Here’s to more miles, routes and bikes.

I think I see a gloved pinky finger propped up in this picture too.

Love your ride and ride your ride. What’s your #bikethrowback

Bike Goddess

#bikethrowback #iamspecialized @iamspecialized #bikethrowback 
#iamspecialized @ebikestore @iamspecialized 


It’s About the Bag(s)

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Read on to see how I turned a $12 tote turned imto a pannier.

There’s always stuff. When you’re on a bike you need to carry stuff. My stuff and your stuff may not be the same sort of stuff but I can guarantee that we both have stuff and it needs to be shleped from point A to B and beyone. Sometimes it amounts to more than a peck and gets closer to a couple bushels especially if you commute to work. Consider that you might need to pack rain gear and by that I mean rain pants. Even if they are packable rainpants they will be about the size of a roll of toilet paper. Wallet related accoutrement and maybe some incidental items like shoes or a jacket are included and then you could have tech stuff like an iPad or a laptop. Don’t get me started on the bike related supplies such as a flat repair kit with a tube and a pump. By the time you add that you might as well just drive.

The Wall of Bags… Still the search continues. No bag is perfect.

Kidding. Commuting is not something to enter into the night before. You should definitely plan for it and prepare your bags with what you really need to make it a go. But that’s a topic for another blog post. I want to talk about the perfert bag. First off, it does not exist. I have been on a quest since the start of my biking life and while there are certainly some that come close there’s almost always something that sours me on one bag and gets me fired up for yet another bag to add to the research project. Our needs change and as a result what we might be hauling with us for a ride to the store is different than the day to day commute.

Pockets, pockets, and more pockets are an essential ingredient to the right bag. However it can’t be just any ol’ pocket. Too small and you’re forever struggling to get the key or wallet or pen out of the pocket. A pocket that’s too big is equally useless because you lose the same stuff and maybe it’s too small for the bigger items.

U-Locks are like the elephant in the bag. No one wants to talk about how much room that take up or how heay they are because they are necessary mitigation to bike theft. I’m not a fan of the U-lock on the bike. It’s like a roof rack on a Porsche. The bike it a beautiful machine and throwing that lock holder is not for me. But that means I need a bag that can accomodate the heft of a U-lock.

I’ve been bothered by this whole perfect bag issue for awhile. I realize that the aethsetic of the bike is important to me. The cuteness of a bike reflect on me and the bike. I want the bag to accessorize the bike. However it also needs to hold all the stuff.

A year ago I found this adorable bag with a sweet bike print and I wished for it to be a pannier. Wishing does not make it so. It’s not a pannier but I thought maybe I could covert it to a bike bag if I could find the right hardware. A few weeks ago I was motivated to try.

The bag has an exterior pocket sleeve for stuff you need quick access to like the garage door opener, phone, keys and snack. Interior pocket is also a sleeve so I don’t have to fuss with a zipper.Then the main compartment is ample and deep but not cavernous like the Ortlieb bucket. I always think about the rain pants first. If those can fit in the bottom then that leaves plenty of room for stashing the other stuff.

The bagrifice.

Truth is the bag has been hanging in the garage for too long. Something had to be done. But I needed hardware which is neither cheap or easy to find. Time to make a sacrifice. A bagrifice. I needed the hardware from another bag to see if I could turn my nonbike bag into a pannier. I chose one that I ruled out of the day-to-day commute because while it cute it fell short in providing what I needed. Also it cheap so I was willing to offer it the the bag muse.

A trip to the hardware store did not prove helpful. I did enjoy the suggestion of velcro, however, that wouldn’t work. I commissioned my husband to see how to get the rivets out of the old hardware to then use the hardware in the tote. He’s very good at listening to my “this thingy should go into this doodad and then there’s these brad deals (rivets) that attach to the rack.”

We opened up the bag and started to work on the rivets.

The hardware was attached with rivets that took about an hour to pound out of the bag. I’ve never done anything like this before so I struggled with how to get under the flat bit and leverage enough to pop it out. Also the hardware is made of plastic and I didn’t want to damage them.

Once the hardware was liberated from the old bag I was free to start considering what we needed to make the “tote-al” conversion. Back to the hardware store to find a rivet gun. The tools necessary amounted to $35. It’s starting to make sense why panniers cost so much. The hardware alone can cost upwards of $35, but then you have to actually attach it to the bag somehow.

Spiked bag. Rivet didn’t break off. Truth is that it needs a little help.

We did several trials with the rivets to be sure it all worked. Using a rivet gun is like holding your breath for 20 seconds and then having someone punch you in the gut. Freaky tool and not a sure thing. Sometimes the shaft of the rivet doesn’t break off and then you’re looking at it like vampire looks at a stake, until it breaks off and then you’re considering opening a bag business because you’re getting pretty good at the whole thing.

That looks good! The five to follow were work times ten.
I’m pretty excited to share my enthusiasm for the perfect bag!

All in all this project was fun. I’d try it again with another bag and if you’re ever in a situation where you think about converting a tote or favorite bag to a pannier I think it would be worth trying out. If it wasn’t for quarantine I probably wouldn’t have bothered, but I’m glad I gave it a go.

Remember Mary Poppins and her carpet bag that she pulls out bottle of perfume, a folding armchair, a packet of lozenges, a large bottle of dark red medicine, seven flannel nightgowns, one pair of boots, a set of dominoes, two bathing caps, one postcard album, one folding camp bedstead, blankets and an quilt? That’s how I approach a bike pannier. It should be able to hold nearly everything you need, still look classy and most of all, compliment the bike.

The TOTE-al makeover. Tote made into a pannier.

That’s a tall order for any bag, but now that I have a rivet gun, well, let’s just say, I feel like it’s all in the bag.

I do have some favorite panniers. I bought a set of Ortleb bags in Germany and I do love them because they say “der Aussteiger” on the side. Also, a great souvenir from a trip.

I also think that Po Campo bags are amazing. They are like the Coach bag of bike bags. Super classy and you want them all. If someone you know loves bags, you should get them a Po Campo. Pretty and practical is always a great combination. I also have a Timbuk2 bag that converts to a backpack and their hardware is indestructable. In the video I show a Timbuk2 tote that converts to a backpack and the hardware is not where the backpack is so kudos on that design. Generally, I’m a fan of a bag that converts to a crossbody or a backpack. The messenger style bag is another favorite however, I’m not big on carrying it, so the two I own I often strap to my front rack. I tend to use the messenger style more in the winter for some reason. Arkel is another spanking good bag brand. Their hardware system is available to purchase too.

The very best bag I ever bought was an Abus bag. I bought it at a bike shop in Potsdam, Germany back in 2009. That bag was about 99% perfect. Pockets in all the right places for me. Not too much of anything and just the right amount of what I need. I wore that bag out. It actually crumbles in my hands. I can’t use it, but I keep it because maybe someday it will be the template for a bag I design.

As long as there is stuff there will be a need to carry it. You have to figure out what works for you. Bags come it all shapes and sizes. Baskets are also an option! Yeah, I have some of those too. Always ask about return policies or start your own bag wall.

I’m happy that I gave this old bag a new life and it’s pretty adorable.

The goal is to ride and making sure you have what you need for each and every mile.

Thanks for reading. What’s in your bag? What are some of your favorite bags? Tell me about them.

Stay safe. Stay well.

Bike Goddess

How Time Zwifts

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Specialized Como popping up outside.

Would you rather ride outside or inside? Pre-corona virus I would have opted for outisde all the time. My commute was perfect and I rarely used my indoor setup. Outside riding for the win. Now I’ve changed my tune. It’s about being active enough that I can close in my rings everyday. Exercise enough, stand enough and move enough to close those rings. When I do close my rings I feel like doing a little dance, a high five, a jig, a chest bump. You get this idea. I accomplished something.

My commute is a memory. Maybe it will return, maybe it won’t. I’m living one day at a time and I know that the fall will mean more changes so I’m focusing on one issue at a time. In my last post I talked about just riding around for the joy of riding and I defiitetly enjoy the random spin. I have even done some errands that involve gardening so I’m outside browsing at plants or buying something for my salad garden. It’s fine. Summer in the Northwest is dreary right now. Clouds dominate the weather forecast and I haven’t been as motivated to ride outside when it’s cool, cloudy and overcast. Zwift to the rescue.

Why does Zwifting feel like I’m somehow cheating on my other bikes? Is it because I sweat a bucket of water or melt like snow in a sauna? Is it because it’s wicked fun and I feel compelled to yell at other riders, “Oh, no you are NOT going to pass me you sly weasel!” Recently while Zwifting I was in the cat and mouse chase with another rider. He’d get ahead and then I was speeding by. We did that for about 15 minutes. Massive fun! I wanted to use wave feature on Zwift Companion to push him off the road. You can’t, of course, but the race was on! Yeah, I was in the zone alright. Mean zone.

Riding in Watopia with my cuz.

My cousin met up with me for a little Zwift time in the Watopia lands and it was a blast. Using the Request Meet Up feature was a little challenging but we got it figured out. However, I felt the same competitve beast rise up and I had to have a little talk with myself about my behavior. The interesting thing is that the competition aspect of it means I was working hard. On Strava after a ride you can rate your “perceived exertion” on a scale of 1 to 10 and I notice that I deflinitely push myself to a level I don’t always get in my daily commute or in my spins around the city. I was expending myself and loving it.

Dude, you are NOT passing me!

The first 5 miles seem like such an effort it’s any wonder I keep going. I’m bored and I’m fighting that part of my brain that just wants to read a book or do something else more interesting. Then I’m suddening moving at a good pace and it feels like I’m a professional racer. Suddenly I’m seeing speeds of 18, 20, 25 mph and I see a group up ahead or someone tries to overtake me and BAM! another 5 miles are done. Okay, I’ll go another couple miles but suddenly I think maybe I can do 14, 15, 20 miles. It’s not like I have plans to do anything so I can keep going. Outside I never go that fast nor do I have that sort of focus. I’m taking in the sights and sounds and enjoying the ride in a different way. I’m in my head and thinking, planning, reviewing whereas in the Zwift lands you’re on a ride to increase your XP, the experience points and level up. I started in March at Level 9 and up to 12 now. I don’t understand it all but I’m getting better with every ride.

Above you can see my set up. The picture on the left was when I first set up the Kickr and my 2006 Trek Portland. Our basement is in a state of s l o w remodel but this room on the right has a nice view. I put my road bike on the stand and all-in-all the set up is more than adequate. I switched bikes. I wasn’t using the lovely carbon fiber bike, so she’s on the stand now. The next thing I need is a fan because of all the sweating.

I bought a Wahoo Kickr to have a bike set up in case I couldn’t ride due to weather. It was my backup riding plan. Zwifting was essential to getting my weekly mileage. Since the start of the pandemic I have been trying to continue getting my weekly mileage, however, some days I go toe-to-toe with the blahs and I don’t feel like going outside. It’s easier to put on my kit and Zwift inside.

I love this bridge in Watopia.

My commute is on hiatus and my Zwifting has taken center stage.This development is surprising to me. I wouldn’t have expected my Zwift road bike set up to replace my commute. I clip in and go, go, go. I escape the heaviness of the coronavirus unknown by cycling into the depths of a virtual world and I love it. I’m not spinning my wheels. On the contrary, I’m energized, inspired and restored by the experience. That’s helping my XP both on and off the bike.

There’s this quotation from an enlightened character named Socrates who was a gas-station attendant in a book published in the 1980s by Dan Millman entitled, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior. It goes something like this, “You have many habits that weaken you. The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” It often gets attributed to the Greek philosopher, Socrates.

Thanks for reading. Take care of yourself.

Be well.

-BG

One is the Loneliest Number

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Just me and my shadow on most rides anyway.

When the song opens I think it’s in C Minor and the repeating chords halt as the vocal comes in which is pleading, resigned and sort of begs for attention:

One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do
Two can be as bad as one
It’s the loneliest number since the number one…
Three Dog Night,

Three Dog Night had a number 1 hit. That song pops into my head when I read #soloriding. It’s one of many trending hashtags and when I saw it I thought of music.

Is riding solo riding a cappella? Imagine if we used musical terms for bike riding. Instead of a peloton it would be an orchestra or ensemble or band of riders. Personally, I am most in harmony with the universe on a solo ride. I don’t need people to accompany me. I’m a sole rider. Sole and solo are similiar and yet sole and the homophone soul are more in tune. 

Other expessions I’ve heard in this quarantine period is “companionless” or “solitary riding.” Again, it sounds like a rider was given a timeout in a padded garage. Stag riding could work if it didn’t sound so raunchy.

Sole riding is the way I prefer to ride. I don’t like how I am in a group ride. It’s not as though I’m hyper competitive but I am competitive enough that I start to compare myself to everyone else and then I start to feel inferior. The “leader” of the ride is checking in with everyone every 2 seconds or they are the type of leader who is a virtuoso rider and you feel like you’re an appendage holding everyone back. 

Friendly ride with a family on a tour with Sarah.

The social dynamics of a group ride can preesnt challenges. Some people are really amazing group riders. I’m jealous that I am not one. Like watching a Rapha video and the group is synchronized like a Swiss watch and they’re all keeping a 22 mph pace with the wind on their handlebars. I’m the one that stays at the coffee shop.

Should you be trying out a group ride for the first time then be preparted to be the new kid in class and you have to show ’em what ya got. The group is trying not to watching you, but they see everything you do. “Hey, looks like your back tire is embracing the road too closely.” In group rides men talk way too much about technique as though they are professional racers and taking some time out to ride with the mortals. Unless you are Mark Cavendish, please just ride your bike and talk about something else. You’d think I could find a gal pal on a ride, but the women if there are any ignore me despite my repeated attempts at conversation. I’ve tried and tried and tried some more.

The only group rides that I have moderate success with are epic group rides, like the Seattle to Portland or charity rides. Those events have a vibe of something bigger. The steady stream of people in front and behind keep a sort of pulse to the affair so you are in awe of it all. The energy of the group and event supercedes the social awkwardness.

Tour with Sarah and a group, Spring 2019.

My favorite type of group ride is a tour. Either I pay or they pay or I’m shadowing a great tour leader. If I’m leading a tour I can point out features of my city which keeps me busy in a constructive way. “On the left there’s this 100 year old tree and on the right is the site of Fort Vancouver and Pearson Airport where the Chkalov flight landed.” Last summer I started shadowing tours by my friend Sarah Bott and it was amazing. My title (given by me) was TourRookie. The people on the tours paid for the tour and they seemed genuinely interested. “The city of Portland has 279 parks. There are distinct personalities to neighborhoods, sometime called quadrants…but it’s all Portland.” There was a ride to the Portland Rose Gardens that was a symphony of experiences that made me happy to be alive. The ideal group ride for me is a tour because they are there to learn and I’m there to help them explore and provide and experience.

Taking a break while the group checks out the Portland Rose Garden.

Quaratine for me while bike riding hasn’t been all that different from my usual sole riding. Since my rigorous commute is only about 10 feet into my study at the present time I miss seeing the butterscotch poodle, who always looks at me as though I’m her kin, walking with her human first thing in the morning. I miss the man speed walking in his Blazers puffy coat. I miss seeing snow capped Mount Hood and the baby pink and blue skies. I miss the weather ups and downs of the day to day bike commute. I miss stopping for groceries and lugging stuff to and from home. I pine for shopping stops at my local Trader Joe’s. Everytime I peddle past there’s a line from the entrance past The Party City and weaving around the side of Petco. Under normal circumstances, I would park my bike at Petco. Now, there’s really no way to keep a distance so I just keep moving. I’ve done that now about a half dozen times at diffent junctures of the day hoping for a lull. I have my mask and hand sanitizer ready just in case a opportunity presents itself. Still looks like an Apple iPhone release.

Petco, Party City and then Trader Joe’s. The line goes around Petco.

The miles are no longer commuting miles, but miles in front of me and behind me. It’s liberating and exciting to just go.

One might be the loneliest number for some but for me it’s the way I prefer to roll.

One is not the loneliest number. You know that kiddie joke about Why was 10 afraid of 7? Because 7 eight/ate 9. So that makes 7 the lonliest number. That doesn’t work with the song. Sole riding is what I have done for many years and will continue to embrace because I just ride. 

What about you? Do you like sole riding or are you missing your band? 

Thanks for reading and have a great week! Stay safe out there!
Be well everyone! Go listen to the song. You know you want to.

🚲 Bike Goddess

Quarantine Made Me Do It!

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What has quarantine made you do? 

History is being made all the time but we’re too busy to notice. I remember asking my grandparents about The Great Depression or rationing during World War II and they said it was hard but you get through. “We were busy raising a family. What did we know?” They came from the Old Country, Thessaloniki, Greece, and anything was better than that. The hardships they knew are why they came to America. “You’ll never know such hardships,” was a common thread. My middle school closed at the end of the day on Friday, March 13th and we’re set to be closed until May 4th. That’s all I know right now.

We’re just getting started and I don’t have any answers but I am noticing some patterns in my own behavior. If my kitchen could text me if would say something like…  “WHAT has gotten into you!  I’m here all the time and now you’re noticing!”  I slow cooked four pounds chicken and shredded it for meals in the coming weeks. I even made my own broth! I have made cookies on a day that was neither Saturday or Sunday. I’ve also made my own bread and I’m not talking banana bread but a yeast rising artisan bread. Yes, a loaf of Honey Oat, no-knead bread from this man, Steve, on YouTube and I will make more of his spectacular recipes because that’s what I do now. Now granted, this week I have been on Spring Break and it has been raining and cold so baking seems like a good option.

In the basement I started to create a studio space for video production. My husband and I painted and spruced it up and I have no more excuses for not diving into the deep end and giving it a shot.

I’ve read several books and listened to a couple more audio books. Speaking of books, the first week we were out of school I rode my bike to a dozen of the Little Lending Libraries within a 10 mile radius and restocked them with some books from my collection. Truth is I was going to take the books to school (I’m a middle school librarian) but I decided that they should go to the Little Lending libraries instead. Now I am taking from one and moving the collections around. Call it cirulation. I am using gloves and hand sanitizer, but I have opted to hold off on that and just donate.

I watched a squirrel watch me while I was Zwifting and despite my efforts to photograph the blur I can’t help but ponder ways I can get better shots in the future. I started by cleaning the windows.

I practiced piano… (for the first time in 5 years) for about 15 minutes just to see what I could remember. I’m not ready to release anything on YouTube, but I remembered more that I thought. Muscle memory even applies to playing the piano. 

It’s not my nature to cut my hair. I’ve heard of people who have cut their bangs.  I have very curly hair and I have learned to let my hair enjoy its wild ways. 

I have ridden my bike not to fetch groceries, do errands or commute to and from work, but just to ride. I’ve never Zwifted more in my whole life than I have since the quaranatine. Last week with all the rain I opted to spin indoors. Accorting to the Zwift report in my email I set a record last week of 3.5 hours. The whole Watopia worlds and even NYC are vast and untapped territory and I like the virtual riding more than I thought. I don’t know what everything means on the Zwift side, but given that I’m not commuting, it has been refreshing, to find people and territory out there that I haven’t wholly embraced before. Also I didn’t know there was a different app for your phone which allows you to give kudos and adjust your ride. 

That’s just it isn’t it? Before Coronavirus (heretofore known as BCV) we didn’t have time to engage in all these activities. I would come home from school exhausted from the day and I’d be happy if I could figure out dinner and get the script done for the next day’s school news program. Everything is slowing down. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m scared and generally freaked out every single day. It’s frightening and sad and I feel vulnerable and like I’m walking on a tightrope with nothing but darkness beneath me. The pandemic continues to spread and we really don’t know what to expect next. I’m grateful to so many for carrying the load right now and putting themselves out there while I stay home and try to be well. All we can do is find something extraordinary that grounds us to the task at hand. Staying at home. Maybe the extraordinary is the ordinary. Being healthy and living through another day. Helping the small businesses and supporting one another from a distance.

In the days and weeks to come quarantine will force our hand. It might lure us like the Greek sirens. It will get harder to stay at home. We will be drawn to the false song of safety and it’ll be okay since we’re going to mingle among our personal groups and friends. There’s no harm in that?

Yes, there is. Stay the course and don’t endanger yourself or others. I was reminded of this E.L. Doctorow quote about writing and think it is an encouraging sentiment in difficult times. “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” Reminds me of bike lights too.

Be smart. Be strong. Stay home and take care of yourself. Get on Zwift and find me and we can “ride on” together until this whole pandemic is history. 

Stay safe and be well!

Thanks for reading.

Bike Goddess

In the comments below tell me what grounds you? What helps you focus on staying home? Oh, and if you use Zwift, give me a tip.

Bike It Out

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You know the saying, especially if you are a cyclist, “When in doubt, bike it out.” I hit a rough patch of road on life’s journey and it has been challenging to find time to write. Yet every morning come rain or shine I get in the saddle and bike to and from work. The motion of my legs and the energy they’re pumping here and there, up and down, to and fro, hither and yon reminds me that I am alive and it’s all going to be okay.

I have been spending some time in a period called then. We while away time in the now but then is something else entirely. Collins Dictionary says, “Then is used when you refer to something which was true at a particular time in the past but is not true now.”

There is comfort in then because if you’re like me and you have good memories it only stands to reason that then can provide calm in the storm and a sense of self. You can’t live in the past and there is no future in then. So I bike it out and think about now and then almost simultaneously and that motion of brain and body is good therapy.

But what about a antiques show? Those are all about then. Why antique shows are the very life blood of then! Plus there are bikes! I went to an antique show and spotted this Schwinn Corvette.

The Schwinn Corvette was made between 1954 to 1964. In 2010, it was reintroduced as an entirely different bike. This one was 1959 and the man selling it used it as a boy doing his paper route in Sacremento, California. Check out the baskets on the back. He said he’d load up his papers and do his delivery route. He told me his wife put new tires on it and added some things that weren’t bonafide Schwinn but tried to make the bike more comfortable for him.

He printed out a manual for the bike and the plastic bag in the left side of the basket had the old parts. He was selling it for $675 and he was firm on the price. It’s his then and you can’t always put a price on that, right? But it turns out he wasn’t too far off the mark on price. This site has some great details and insight into Schwinn bikes and the price was comparable to what I saw on eBay.

The Corvette decal.

I was very interested. I could give it a new home and bring in up to speed in the here and now. Or I could enjoy a little glimpse at then and keep on walking. Which is what I did.

But then after looking at old phones, books, denture molds, cash registers and all the Pyrex on the planet I saw this piece of the past. A Gendron bicycle for $600. There was no one around to talk to about its acquisition but take a gander at the pictures. Gendron is from 1872 and initially produced baby carriages. The bike was interesting times five. I couldn’t stop looking at all the odd little details. Check out the light or should I say lantern! Note the port and starboard, red and green domes aside the lantern. What about that pump? The foot rests on the front fork are pretty large and the swoop to the frame is bewitching. What a machine! The Brooks saddle looks like the newest thing besides the tyres. The booklet was on a table and I leafed through it and saw the wide array of products Gendron offered.

Very interesting to look at and if someone had been present I would have at least asked about a test ride but maybe it’s just as well. Bikes then had a sort of utility that we want our bikes to echo now. Now bikes have modern conveniences and joyous things like belt drives and an array of saddles to fit our bits just right. All the enhancements and advances from then allow us to focus on the journey as well as pick up groceries. It’s fun to think about then but enjoy the here and now.

Here and now.

Have you ever been in the presence of some bikes from back then or are you a collector? What are your impressions of these machines?

Thanks for reading,

Get out there and ride.

Bike Goddess

The 2019 Climb

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A clear NW sky with the majesty of Mt. Hood in the background.

Climbing hills are an inevitable part of cycling. They are challenging because of the obvious reasons; keeping oxygen in your lungs and the struggle of the getting over the hill to the next part of the route. You are required to do more than just pedal. You probably have to alter your pace and push yourself to do more. As they say, Hill, Get Over It! Life too, is full of hills, climbs that are exhausting and take everything you have without the benefit of a vista to Instagram your accomplishment. In the cycling world, races are often won on the climbs. That said, 2019 was a climb. My year was a 16 percent grade hill.

The hardest part of 2019 was the death of my dad on September 1st. That said, I can’t let the sun go down on the year without talking about Anderson, Indiana where my dad was a history professor at Anderson College (now University) and I learned to ride.

My dad did not teach me how to ride a bike. He tried repeatedly to help me, but I couldn’t master balance. I hated training wheels and even when I tried to use them I’d still manage to fall. It had to be hard to watch. I’m sure he was frustrated and scared watching me flail about and then careen into a curb. One spill resulted in a massive gash on my right kneecap. I remember the blood and the crying. That episode sidelined him from the process. All his efforts and mine were finally rewarded when my mom took me out to ride on a deadend road across the street from where we lived on Myers.

I recall the moment of zen when balance was achieved and I could ride without falling. What an accomplishment! A cyclist was born! I like to say my mom taught me to ride and my father taught me how to adventure. Both are essential ingredients to all that I am.

My mom and I went back to Anderson, Indiana for a memorial service for my dad. There’s a challenge to returning to a place from your past. I was worried about the time that had passed. We left before I started high school so everything about my start in life is in Anderson. It was homecoming week at the University and the planets aligned and for a few days I was a Hoosier kid again remembering not only my dad but how Anderson was the perfect place for a kid to grow up.

My parents and I left Anderson in 1976 when my father took a different job, leaving Anderson University and moving to the Pacific Northwest. We left at a time that was a perfect bridge to my future. I say that because hindsight is 20/20 and I remember wanting the move desperately. I was ready for something new. Anderson was the perfect place to grow up. It was my Stars Hollow (Gilmore Girls) or Mayberry (Andy Griffith) or Narnia. I had nothing but time on my hands, air in my tires and places to bike. I biked everywhere and I did, sorry Mom. I biked places I probably shouldn’t have and I fibbed about having done so. But in my defense, Anderson was my adventure. I went everywhere.

Going back to Anderson was a trip. I could see myself across the great chasm of time and very little was changed. Once our travel plans were set I knew I needed a bike. As I often find myself researching the local bike shops, this one, Buckskin Bikes caught my eye. First, the name and then the location; my hometown, Anderson, Indiana. I thought I’d text the store and reserve a bike for the weekend of my trip. I heard back right away. I don’t know why, but I was over the moon when my phone exclaimed an answer. I was asked about my bike preference. Did I want a cruiser or a mountain bike? My first thought was a banana seat BMX, but I opted for the next best thing, a mountain bike.

I found the shop on 11th Street and met Ben. He went to Anderson U and one of his profs, Dr. Strege was a former student of my father, so honestly, he felt like kin. We spent time chatting about Anderson and politics and the need for better bike lanes and I felt like I could run for City Council (as my dad did) and win on the bike platform alone.

Ben, Thank you for your kindness and a bike.

You

Sweet ride, indeed! You had me at the Kona Bikes Welcome mat.
Quick check on the bike before I took off.

Once I had the bike, a helmet and a lock I took off. I rented the bike for a couple of days and I let the bike and a few basic directions be my guide.

Oh, Anderson!

The White River Trail did not exist when I was growing up. Not in any formal sense. I rode my banana seat bike everywhere and I’d like to say I helped pave the way for the trail, however, now, what a great addition. I hope the city of Anderson continues to build it beyond what it is right now. Finish off some of the spots that dead end in a ditch or the mud forcing you to turn around instead of going forward. It’s picturesque and worthy of more attention.

Just like that. Paved and then… not.

Also, while I’m on the rant, there’s no reason that Scatterfield Road needs to be so hostile to anything besides a four wheeled vehicle. I thought I could handle it but I was scared for my life. The auto traffic rivals the Indy 500! I wish I was joking, but I’m not. Peds can hardly cross the street with a light. It’s wretched and if one of the guys at the bike shop hadn’t mentioned Columbus Avenue, I might still be trying to cross Scatterfield Street. Even the idea of staying on it to get to our hotel was dashed when someone yelled at me to “get off the road, stupid.” I pulled over in the Mounds Mall parking lot to see if I could figure out a way to get around it.

Columbus has less traffic and eventually there’s a bike lane, but there’s not much road to share.

Anderson made me a cyclist and also made me fearless about exploring on my own. I always felt safe in Anderson and I still do with the exception of the aforementioned road. It’s mostly flat too. I rode 18 miles on the first day with my Buckskin Bike rental. Then we got busy with dad’s service.

My dad was never far away.

I wanted to shared all this with my father, of course. He would have thoroughly enjoyed the trip down memory lane. We tried to visit all the old haunts, but I’m sure we missed a few, including Steak ‘n’ Shake.

Anderson University is an exceptional ecosystem for learning and my father is remembered as an exceptional professor. While he was growing his career, I was growing. I loved riding my bike to the campus and seeing him consort with his students and hold court telling stories of his adventures. I made daily trips to the campus on my banana seat bike to go up and down the little hills of the campus. I didn’t know at the time what an unique opportunity I had growing up in a small town where everyone knew my parents and I could roam around for hours just being a kid.

Path at Anderson University campus.

He made trails with his teaching methods and I just made trails. He was always one to use all tools at his disposal to make a point or drive an idea into the minds of his students. He taught like a conductor leads an orchestra. I felt like I was bundled up in love and I seriously considered what it would take to move back to Anderson. But it’s funny because I missed my Northwest life. I missed my routes and my home. One does not have to exist without the other though. Anderson is in me and it helps me climb the real hills and the ones that life puts in front of me in the metaphoral sense of the word.

It’s hard to imagine starting a year without my father in it. He’s been a part of all my years; every birthday, every day, every mile. Thanks Dad.

We end 2019 with a slow roll into a new decade. We’ll adjust our pace to manage whatever is ahead, even if it is a hill.

Thanks for reading and here’s to a Happy New Year!

Cheers!
Bike Goddess

Adding Up, Counting Down

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The year end countdown begins. There are numerous tasks that get counted down at this time of the year. The days are easy, but there’s are also miles, number of books read (or not read), weight loss or its opposite, pounds gained. We tend to countdown days to a vacation, or the days before the start of a season for a sporting event (TdF).

Of course, there are news stories, births, deaths and everything in between. This time of the year there are demands on our time that often don’t get on a schedule. There are cookies to be eaten and a variety of tasks that demand vigilence. The new norm is being the busiest person in the room. Sometimes we forget to countdown because we’re busy adding up. My whole working life has been about achiving some sort of balance between school and life. Most days I fail on that count, and yet I continue to try.

No big surprise, but balance for me is achieved on two wheels. It’s like those photos you see when someone is standing in the middle of the photo but there’s a frenetic city scene behind the subject. The technique is called shallow depth of field. Shallow depth is a wonderful oxymoron. When I’m trying to be the subject of my own photos, I can always count on my two wheels to help me find balance and focus within the blur of life.

2020 Full speed ahead!

The temperature today is hovering around freezing. The sky is chalky and dull. It’s not raining but it isn’t sunny. I scheduled myself for a massage and it was wonderful to relax and have my muscles stoked. I rode my bike and it was surprising how few people were out. As I count my miles and calories and add up the books I’ve read and friends and family members, I think about what awaits. A new decade on the other side of the next week will reset my miles and my goals for another year. Moving forward with hope is one thing, but sometimes hope is not a bright shiny day. Hope can be persistence. As the saying, “Keep on keeping on,” gets utilized, I think that’s good. That’s moving forward.

Whatever you celebrate, however you celebrate, be sure to beat the drum and count the seconds to another decade. Celebrating is an essential part of counting down. How do you feel about setting goals in the new year? Tell me in the comments below. Thanks for sharing some time with me today.

Until next time.

Ride.

Bike Goddess

Joy to the Bike

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Explore!

Biking brings me joy. It makes me feel like a star on the top of a tree. I have a tinsel tree. Yes, one of those old fashioned trees that are often found in estate sales or vintage shops. I love it. It fits my house and even though it doesn’t have the Christmas tree smell, I still love the way it twinkles. When I set it up every Christmas I go through all my ornaments as if they are photos from an album. They all tell a story. But my favorites are the bikes, of course. Bike ornaments are always close to the top. I muse about the fact that I need more bike ornaments. My favorite one has a tree on the rear rack and sign that says, “Explore.”

Joy to the bike, indeed! When you have the formula N+1 as it applies to Christmas tree ornaments it’s easier on the budget. However, it’s still fun to exclaim, “Hey, honey, I bought a bike.” Then wait for the goggy sounding, muffled sound of “You what!?!”

“Ornament.” I said, “I bought a new bike ornament. ” I smirk, smile and delight in the moment.

It never gets old.

How about you? Do you have a favorite bike ornament? I’d love to see a picture. Tell me about it in the comments.

The weather is supposed to be wet and nasty this week. I hope I can keep riding through it. There’s still joy to biking even when the weather is challenging. As long as I’m safe. Otherwise I’ll be doing some Zwifty miles.

Thanks for reading and watching. Until next time.

Get out there and ride!
Bike Goddess

Ahead of Pace, mostly

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Hot tea in the thermos was the best idea I’ve had in awhile!

On Strava, if you are doing well and meeting or exceeding your goals, I like the way it says “Ahead of pace.” It makes me feel good. My only competitor is myself so I am passing my goals and ahead of pace. Such a simple thing, but it fills me with glee.

I set my Strava mileage goal to 4K this year and I’m hoping if everything continues as planned, if I can keep my current mileage pace, I’ll see 5K or more by year’s end. That too, will fill me with glee and ready to start 2020 fresh with some new mileage goals.

Do you follow many vlogs? I don’t, but lately I’ve been getting into a few that are interesting. A few of them inspired me to give it a try. I’m not ahead of pace on vlogging since it was something I wanted to start a few years ago but didn’t carve out the time. There’s that quote about it’s never too late to be what you might have been, or something like that. I decided to stop making excuses and get on with it.

Over the long weekend there was an event that is one of my favorite ways to kick off the holiday season and I thought, why not. Get ‘er done. The weather was very cooperative and the time seemed right to give it a shot. The event is a drive thru light show at the Portland International Raceway. I’ve been in attendance at least five times and once I went by car! The auto experience sucked. Really gross. Cars moving like molasses on a raceway with people honking to go faster or slower. The fumes from gasoline gave me a headache as I recall. Totally gross. I never, ever thought I’d go again. But then I heard about the bike option called Bike the Lights. Instead of drive thru, it’s bike thru! Yahssss! It’s $7 per person and it’s perfect. Yes, it’s cold but the ebony sky backdrop and the twinking lights and stars (if it’s a clear night) are brilliant.

The eBike Store had an event to meet up at the store and then ride the 2.2 miles from the store to PIR and so I did it. I usually go on my own, but this just seemed perfect.

It also gave me the perfect topic for my first ever vlog.

Tunnel of lights.

I was reminded of the joys of riding with people and gawking at lights. Your pace isn’t about competition or commuting, it’s about being together and enjoying the ride. Hearing children bellow carols like the Twelve Days of Christmas or Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and listening to parents reminding their children to stay to the right was also part of the chorus. Hearing converations about which display was the best or most creative. No one had their phones on for any other reason that capturing the moment. Sweet! There was one sound that I didn’t quite recognize, but when the kid passed me wobbling left and right on his training wheels, I smiled and remembered the triumph of learning how to balance and ride my bike. I also saw a man on a pennyfarthing bike. Watch the video if you want the details. Wonderful night and an event that makes you simultaneously shiver from the cold and smile at the communion of the crowd.

Bike the Lights is a tradition that gets me in gear for the holiday season. It’s the one thing I must do. How about you? Any bike events that are a must on your schedule for the season? Leave me a comment. I’d love to know more.

Happy December eve.

Stay warm and get out there and ride!

Bike Goddess

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Gobble ’til you Wobble

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What a beautiful day for a bike ride! It was cold but clear with the sun making an appearance now and again. I enjoyed a ride around my neighborhood and noticed these two birds. If these two were my yard, they’d be on a tandem bike. Oh… maybe next year.

I was busy getting supplies for an upcoing bikey event. It’s on Friday evening and I’ll give you a sneak peek. I do like decorating my bike for Christmas so today I spent some time checking on lights and other accessories.

A quick trip to the hardware store for some lights and zip ties and then over to the grocery store for some Thanksgiving Day supplies, such as wine. Then as I was organizing my basket a woman walked toward me and smiled. She doubled back and complimented me on the back of the bike. I confessed that I had more decorations on my bike than my home. “Well, it’s very cute,” she cooed.

“Thanks,” I said. “That’s exactly what I’m going for.” And there’s more to come.

Readers, thank you for checking in and liking my posts. I wish I had more time to blog. I think I see a New Year’s resolution in my future. I do very much appreciate your time and “likes” and on the eve of Thanksgiving I wanted you to know it makes my day.

Check back on Friday for a bit of an unveiling. Who needs a tree when you can decorate your bike!

Until then. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Cheers!

Bike Goddess

TuesDivvy Last Week

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Last week I was in Chicago and I had a moment to Divvy my way along Lake Michigan. The Divvy app is the best it has ever been and I lucked out and found a bike at a Divvy station close to where my cousin lives. I rode around for about 45 minutes and six miles. The fact that Chicago has such a great bike share is one of the reasons I could easily see myself living there and never owning a car. A well-placed, well-run bike share is a thing of beauty.

The best buy is $15 for the day.

I don’t know why I had a head wind both ways, but I do know that if you ever find yourself in the windy city, you should Divvy yourself around the neighborhoods and enjoy the day on two wheels. It’s easy and the app is better than ever.

Thanks to my cousin for the hat that saved my ears. It was Chi-lly.

Divvy now has an option where you “rent” for the day instead of 30 minutes at a time. I suggest you take the day price. A full day for $15 is a great price. You could check in once you get to a destination, like Lakeside to Lincoln Park, then part the bike and get another when you’re ready to head back. You won’t find that a better price anywhere else. I’ve asked. I love the day-long option. I recall sharing feedback about how I ended up paying upwards of $20 for a day of riding which should have been $3, because I didn’t check it in on time, or within the window because I wasn’t close to a Divvy station. Single trip far is still $3, but the day pass is $15 and an annual membership is $99.

Having it for the whole day for $15 is perfect and for someone like me who just wants to ride around the city, it’s outstanding.

There were more geese out than people, and the wind was fierce. However, I was not going to let anything interfere with my time on two wheels. The skies were threatening but there wasn’t so much as a drop.

Way to roll, Chicago!

Have you ever used a bike share system? Tell me about it. I’m a fangirl when it comes to BiketownPDX (Portland, Oregon) and Divvy.

Thanks for reading.

Get out there and ride!

Bike Goddess

Miles To Go

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Fall is glorious. It’s prime time for riding because the temperatures aren’t too hot or too cold yet. It’s that golden time of the year when it seems like every sunrise and sunset is Mother Nature’s attempt at showing off.

Waterfront in Vancouver, Washington

The skies have these marvelous mood swings and a ride that starts out sunny could end up in a ferocious storm. Every moment seems more impressive than the last.

I keep my rain gear close at hand and just go. I enjoy the seasons changing it up and skies spreading their wonder and I pedal on breathing in and out and in and out. Thrilled to ride.

Do you have a favorite season? Mine is everyday.

Happy October eve.

Get out there and ride.

Bike Goddess

Flatitudes

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The day is dawning and you’re feeling invincible. You race the birds and you tell the squirrels to scoot and shoo and get up the trees and it seems like you’re the only one on the roads. Two miles, three, five… then you get your sixth flat.

Six flats in five months and two of them were in the garage when the bike was parked. Not a good way to start any day. It’s one of the top three reasons people stop riding a bike. That’s based on pure opinion and informal chitchat with people who claim they stopped riding a bike years ago because they could get a flat. When people start talking about what they hate about bike riding, flat tires are in close proximity to the other classic reason, “Because it makes my butt hurt.” For me, this summer was all about getting under the rim of the whole issue of my flat tires.

I’ve biked for as long as I can recall and I have commuted for 20 years. I ride all the time. What’s the “normal” amount of flats a rider might get? I have no idea. My normal was about twice a year. Usually there was a giant nail involved. Sometimes a staple that didn’t look like much but ends up being a slow leak. Nothing too extreme. I’m a fanatic about checking my tires, so for me this flat issue is out of the ordinary.

Over the summer that changed significantly. Let’s say that I was thinking by the time I had my third flat that I should learn the fine art of fixing a tire. In July, that’s what I did. Good for me, right? I learned and when I had my fourth flat, I fixed it and thought that was it. The bike gods were testing me.

I was gone for three weeks and did not ride the bike experiencing all the flats. Then I started to analyze the number of flats. Six flats in 13 weeks seems out of the norm. Seems extreme and even careless, as if I’m intentionally riding in glass or looking for contruction sites and purposely riding in lanes made of tacks or something. I was flummuxed. Was it the tire? I was thinking my bike hated me and I needed some sort of tire-exorcism. Did someone have a voodoo bike and puncturing the tires?

Two weeks ago, I went on a 30 mile ride and I came home and parked my bike in the garage just like always. I looked over the tires and everything seemed fine. They were inflated. Then it happened again. I went to the garage the next morning and I had another flat. Can you imagine my utter shock and dismay at the whole situation?

Later in the day I drove my bike to the bike shop because something bigger had to be going on. Owning the bike for only 13 weeks, maybe I used the wrong tube or didn’t pay attention to some detail. Let’s go over it all again. We did. The owner, Wake was very helpful and we went through the tire with a little vacuum and he did give me some great tips on getting the tire back on the rim. I was a sponge soaking up all the technical details and thinking I would like to be a bike mechanic. It was very satisfying. He lubed up the chain and I was feeling great about it. I concluded that yes, it was me. I had missed a step and this would be the end of the cycle of flats.

Thanks Wake for all your help!

I came home and went for a ride to clear out the funky feelings I was having about a variety of issues not related to biking. What a great ride. I had a renewed sense of joy. The chain was lubed and not squeaking like a broken swing, and after 10 miles I felt like my bike was healed.

The next morning… yep, flat as a pancake. Again.

At this juncture, I’m done. I’m want my money back. My bike is clearly defective. I couldn’t deliver the bike back to the shop. I had to be somewhere else, so my husband offered to help me out. He took the bike back and this time the tire and rim were replaced on the back and the front tire was also changed. I was happy that the shop could see what I’d been dealing with over the last several weeks. My husband texted me he was on his way home and the bike was in great shape.

I was home when he pulled the car into the garage. I was thrilled to see my bike and filled with certainty that this was the end of the flat period. I’m looking at the bike on the rack and guess what? Another flat! The bike was on the rack and this time the front tire was flat. The flat disease was spreading! I was shocked and dismayed and so frustrated. My husband pulled right out of the garage anddrove back to the bike shop. Come to find out, they were out of the Shrader valve tubes in the size needed, so they resued one of my old tubes with the intent of replacing it when they got more tubes. The old tube split during the drive home. They did have some new Presta valve tubes, so one of those replaced the one in the front tire. My husband reported that there might be some concerns about two different valves on the same bike, but someone said, “This is Bike Goddess you’re talking about.” I love that and I really like that I have two different valves. How cool am I?

It’s been two weeks…

It has been two weeks since my last flat. Flat tires can deflate a person’s confidence about riding a bike. I still go out to the garage just to see with my own eyes that the tires on the bike are fine and fully inflated. It’s reassuring. There could have been something on the rim that was not sitting right with the whole tube and when I think about the slow leaks and the types of flats my bike was getting it does seem like something was happening that was harder to diagnose. I’m grateful that the bike shop techs were asking questions and trying get me to articulate exactly what was happening.

Flats make even the most experienced rider apprehensive about riding. Have you ever had so many episodes of flats? How did you handle it?

Thanks for reading! Get out there and ride!

Bike Goddess

Bike Noodle, not only for Pools

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Pool noodle, safety tool!

A few months back I read this article about how this person used a pool noodle for keeping cars a safe distance away while touring. I thought it was a clever idea and vowed to give it a try. I was at my local Walgreens last weekend and picked up one on sale for $2.29 and immediately added it my bike.

Traffic in the summer is frenetic and out of control. People in their convertibles and jeeps all seem to think speed limits don’t apply. The zoom effect is the one that always scares me out of my mind. Vehicles are a close shave away and despite lights, mirrors and signals, no one seems to give notice.

Not only does it put a smile on your face, but others enjoy it too.

My experiment was a success. The pool noodle is clearly a biker’s best friend. What a great idea and even if it looks a bit silly it keeps me safe. No one yelled, honked, glared, zoomed by or even flipped me off. Frankly it was shocking how calm drivers seemed around me and my noodle.

Pool noodles keep you afloat even on roads.

Pick one up, especially if you’re touring around, but I do feel like they improve visibility better than a neon jacket. Good for any season. A commuter’s best tool outside of a patch kit and hex wrench.

Thanks for reading,

Get out there and ride!

Bike Goddess

Going Flat

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Water sans waves is flat.

In music a sharp rasies the pitch while a flat lowers it. On a piano keyboard you learn in one of your first lessons that sharps are up and flats are d-o-w-n. When someone sings off key they are flat. When you hear them sing you often make a face to show disdain for what you heard. When pop has “gone flat” it has lost it’s fizz. Being stretched out, outstretched, spreadeagled, prone, reclining, sprawling, supine, prostrate, or recumbent is to lay flat. Lacking interest, being dull, lifeless and level is also uh, flat.

One of the top five reasons people don’t ride their bikes is they could get a flat. I hear that excuse anytime someone talks about riding their bike to work. “Are you afraid of getting a flat tire?” Well, yes, I am. But it really hasn’t been an issue for me until this year. Actually until about May. Since May I have had three flat tires. All on the back tire.

After my second flat tire I decided to take matters into my own hands. I wanted to be less dependent on others to get me back on the road. My family is not handy. I don’t recall my father ever changing a tire on a car. I never learned how to change a car tire and usually any flats I would have on my bike happened on a group ride and there were resources around to change a tire. You know, bike mechanic people who race against eachother to see how fast they can change a tire and get you back out there.

Who’s the real cat eye here?

All in all, after 30 some years of riding, it hasn’t been a big deal until now. I went to a bike shop near me, Bad Boyz Bikes and Larry helped me out. Larry is not the cat. Larry isn’t pictured. Larry is the owner and he’s a great guy. He helped me out with flat #1 and that’s when I thought about learning how to do this for real but decided to get a mani instead and leave it to the experts.

But when I had the second flat I was on my way to co-lead a bike tour and my husband had to come rescue me and deliver me to the bike shop and they fixed the tire. At that time I had an Armidillo tire put on the back. I thought that would be the end of it but I knew it was time to step up and put on the mechanic’s apron and learn how to be self sufficient.

Before another flat would sideline my bike adventures, I went to visit Larry, the tire whisperer. Beforehand I popped in on him to see if he’d help me get over my fear of flats. He said yes, and we set up a day. He doesn’t drink coffee but a smoothie any my gratitude would be his only payment. In about a hour he taught me how to get the tire off the rim and break the bead and check the inside of the tire for debris and get the new tube on the rim and inflate it and get going. He had me flip over my bike and do everything as if I was out on the road. I did mention how much I despise getting grease under my nails and he gave me a pair of shop gloves. He admitted he didn’t like that either. Well, alright then! We did this on the front tire and he took some time to show me how to handle my back tire. He didn’t just talk through it with me, he let me work it out and learn. I felt like I was in 8th grade shop but instead of talking to my friends I was paying attention.

Cute, but doesn’t hold everything I need. Plus it’s less likely that I’ll patch while on the road. Better to replace the tube and patch at home.

I left Larry’s armed with new skills and ready to fix a flat. I looked for bikers in distress and in need of my skills. That’s how confident I was feeling. I worked out all the bits that are needed in my flat repair kit: hex key, patch kit, tire levers, CO2, gloves, mints, Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer. I’d rather not carry a pump even though mine is one of those Lezyne mini pumps, but I’m still not adept at using CO2 so for now I’ll keep the bike pump. It’s great for building upper body strength.

After flat #2 I had Armidillo tires put on the back in the hope that those would help. I prefer Continental tires, but sure, I’ll give those Armidillos a try. That was about a month ago.

Flat #3 happened today. I was at mile 16 and I stopped for awhile and when I returned to my bike I had my third flat. I was weirdly ready to fix that flat. Except in all my arranging and rearranging of my flat repair kit and bags I didn’t have my hex wrench. Texted my guy and he came to the parking lot and we loaded up my bike and in the safety of my own driveway I took my time and fixed my first flat.

There’s the culprit. Looks like a white hair. Slow leak from a staple puncture.

The first hardest part was breaking that bead. Once I got the tube out I inflated to twices it’s size to find the puncture.

It took me and hour and 45 minutes and that includes watching a couple of YouTube videos to get some help with the bead bond. My husband helped me a little when he came to see what was taking me so long. Getting the tire on and off the rim really requires some finesse. I had it on one side but not the other. I was waiting for that satisfying PHEW it makes and I really couldn’t see that it needed to happen on both sides.

Now the last part was the most frustrating was getting the tire back into place. I felt like it was an archery contest trying to pull the derailleur back and the chain out of the way so the wheel wouldn’t hang up on anything. It should be as easy as putting bread into the toaster, but instead it’s like putting a toaster into a piece of bread. Larry said the secret was to have the bike in its lowest gear, so I played with that for another 30 minutes but at last it came together.

I haven’t patched the tube yet. I think I’ll go visit Larry and buy a new one for my flat repair kit and have him show me the finer points of patching. I think I’m ready.

Flats aren’t fun. They are flats after all, but I feel better about fixing them. I don’t fear them. No bike is flat proof.

Flats happen. Bottom line, I’m rolling again and that’s what important. I learned a lot and I’m more confident about what to do the next time.

Any advice for me on fixing a flat? How long should it take to fix a flat? What’s in your patch kit?

Thanks for reading.

Get out there and ride your bike!
Bike Goddess

Ride Your Rapture

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If bliss or being “blissed out” is a type of happiness resulting in a state of utter contentment then I’d say that biking rapture is being lifted out of oneself in such a way that it’s a sort of elevated state of being.

It’s so rare in life when something exceeds expectations that it’s often something we don’t talk much about. Usually we’re looking for the negative. From the moment I walked into the eBike shop to this very moment when I’m composing this blog post I can honestly say I’m overjoyed with my bike. It’s as if I am on a trampoline and I jumped and I’m still enjoying being suspended in the air with my arms overhead and my legs kicking up alongside. I’m that happy. Rapturous!

Where do I begin? Two months ago I added to my fleet of bikes. Now, with a thousand miles on my Specialized Como 5, I can tell you that this bike exceeds all expectations. It ticks all the boxes and if anything I’m still in the phase of learning what else she (the bike) can do.

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With over a 1000 miles on my new bike after two month I think the Specialized Como 5 is da bomb! Okay, hold up. The truth is I have had two flats on the back tire and that’s no fun. For some people that alone is a deal breaker. My bike tires are still just tires with tubes and it’s a machine people, and machines require attention. There are also factors that are not your fault. I blame the debris in the roads. The first flat happened a few weeks after I had the bike and it was a giant nail in the bike lane. The second was possibly due to lack of inflation. You have to remember that you are going faster on an ebike and it’s not uncommon to pick up some extra road flotsam on any route. It’s also a sign from the gods that I need to up my game and learn how to fix a flat. I’d rather pay someone. I did opt to have those armadillo tires put on. Hopefully I’ll never have to talk about it again. Right?

The cheating issue is silly but it’s almost the first thing people say about an ebike. “But isn’t that cheating?” Is a carbon fiber road bike cheating? I also like to remind people that an ebike is only cheating oil companies. If the whole point is less car traffic and less dependence on cars, then ebikes could save the planet. Also, if you don’t work on a pedal assist bike then you’re not going anywhere. You have to pedal, otherwise you’re going to slow down and fall off. It’s not a Vespa. You have to work.

I get a better workout in less time and I don’t have to worry about making it up a hill at 6PM on my way home with my head pounding or a gallon of milk in my pannier. Also, I’d like to talk about headwinds. They are a fact where I live and at this time of the year it is not uncommon to have a headwind in the morning and one on the way home. A little “e-juice” helps give you extra power to deal with the winds right on your handlebars. It’s a great feeling. I’ve put a thousand miles on a bike in less than two months because all I’m doing is riding. Isn’t that the point. Ride on! The Specialized Como 5 has a great range so even if I wander outside my usual routes I can use the app, Specialized Mission Control, to make sure I have 5 miles left to get up the hills home. Just like they say on the website, “It’s you, only faster.”

Take off.

When people say that phrase, “follow your bliss” I always think of riding a bike. I think of open roads and the only obstacle in my way is time. The ride on an ebike is rapturous. You feel outside yourself like I imagine a bird in flight. Summer is all about the open road and time to spin. That’s my plan. More rapturous riding on all my bikes, but the Como is you only better and faster or as fast as you want to be.

One more thing. I do want to thank that outstanding people at the eBike Store for all their help and support. When people love what they do it shows and these people are pedaling with you all the way. They want you happy with your bike. Such good people who want to get everyone on eBikes.

Take some time and enjoy a ride, ebike or your choice. Get out there. Your future self will thank your for it.

What are you biking plans this summer? Tell me more in the comments. Thanks for reading.

Get out there and ride.

Bike Goddess

Spinning in Love

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I didn’t mean for it to happen. I only went to check out the store. Then it seems I was handing over my bag and taking a bike for a test ride. One thing led to another and now I’m in love with another bike.

Three bikes. That’s what I tell all my friends and anyone who asks me about buying bike. Always test ride three bikes. Ask questions and leave the store armed with knowledge and sit on it. Don’t buy. Wait until you feel the pull of love, the nudge of lust. Wait until you feel the bond with the bike. Yeah, I’ve said that. Shameless. I believe it. However after that test ride I felt like done. Decision made. However, I did not buy. Yet.

I’m pining right now. I’m pining for a bike. Again. I didn’t expect to find love again. I mean come on, I have this beautiful e-bike made by Faraday called the Corland. It’s one of the only bikes with a belt drive and I added her to the fleet in December of 2016 when I decided I’d commute both to and from work. I love my Lulu, and she’s had some issues of late. Long story short, but it looks like the future of the company has hit a wall and there’s no longer any support for the bike which means as things go wrong it will be a challenge to keep her on the road. Since I commute with Lulu that presents a dilemma. Also a little heartache. I love my Lulu! She’s beautiful and people always a shocked that she’s an ebike because she’s soooooo pretty! I mean look at her. She brightens up any day. She is the blue sky when there is none.

We’ve been separated now for about a week and I miss her. People are throwin’ some shade on her because of the company going bankrupt or whatever. It makes me sad enough to drown my sorrows in another bike. There’s no therapy for what’s happening here. Except retail therapy at a bike shop.

I went to a bike shop, The Ebike Store, I’ve never been to before. I went to check it out the store and their collection of gear. Brian and Jeff and someone else were extremely helpful and easy to talk to about my needs. I wanted to see what they had to say about my Corland and I wanted to chat about what I need in an ebike. I need one that has more range (Cortland can do 18-20 miles) and can handle the rough rains and road conditions of the Northwest weather. I watched a few EBR (ElectricBikeReview) videos and I had it in my head that a Raleigh ebike might be an option. While at the store I was dazzled by the frame of the Specialized Turbo 5.0. I had never seen one and frankly didn’t know Specialized was in the market. The Specialized uses the Brose motor and I was immediately interested. The Bosch and Brose motors seem to be the two main players. They are the only ones I’ve heard of aside from the proprietary one on my Faraday. The older Raleigh models were using the Brose and that’s one reason I wanted to try one out. But they didn’t really have one. Let me put it this way, if they did, I didn’t see it because I suddenly couldn’t see anything except the Turbo step through and step over. Well, hello sweet ride!

Why yes, I would love to try one out!

The Brose motor is as quiet as a classroom upon learning that they have to make up that snow day. I was impressed enough to consider what I would name it after two spins around Peninsula Park. The rain seemed to stop and I had this new stunning bike under me and we were enjoying a moment. We bonded quickly and with little effort. The first downstroke of the pedal and I didn’t even have the e-juice yet.

Conversation was easy because the Como speaks my language; perky speed, comfortable geometry and zippy. It’s agile handling makes you feel like you’re riding a mountain bike but it has the comfort of my childhood bikes. Instant love, lust, whatever. The Como wants to “Come on-a My House” in the words of the 1951 song. If Goldilocks was taking the test ride she would have said this bike was just right. Plus did I mention how light it is? I don’t actually know how much it weighs, but it’s light enough to pick up without feeling like you’re lifting a tree.

It’s hasn’t been 24 hours yet and still I’m pining. I’m considering giving Lulu an early retirement and riding her in fair weather only. I think she’s earned that after 6,500 miles.

I love bikes. I mean it’s not that hard to see the beauty in virtually all bikes. Even the worn out relics that people use in gardens are lovely. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. That’s the thing about love and bikes.

Maybe another test ride. After all I left my bag behind the desk and didn’t have my phone to give a proper look to my blog followers. You want more, right?

Thanks for reading. I’m getting on my Belle and ripping up some dirt. Displacement activity.

Happy riding,

Bike Goddess

#ebikestore

#ebikes

#faraday

#bikelove

10 to 100 to 1000

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My profession is library. I’m a middle school librarian and I get to read amazing books. Today I finished To Night Owl From Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer. There are many beautiful revelations in this novel and one favorite is the quote about finding something in life than “animates your soul.” It’s all along the same lines as “Follw your bliss” or “happy place” and yet it delves deeper.

March 7th we had what I hope was our last flake of snow until next winter. Temperatures seem to be leveling out and while I know there is rain on the way I’m happy to see a change in the seasons.

Riding my bike is my happy place. Bike rides are my bliss. Being in the saddle and challenging myself daily “animates my soul” to borrow that phrase with appropriate attribution. Every week I have a goal of 75 miles and the last two weeks I went over 100 miles each week. Last night I was looking at my Strava stats and saw this minus 13 miles.

I was close to 100 for the week and a 1,000 for the year to date. Just 10 miles would accomplish both. I put my book down for an hour and went for a ride on a stunning Spring day and let the clear skies and emerging season wash over me. Then there’s that moment when you’re senses catch up with your brain and remind you that this is it. This is you soul getting filled up with all that’s wondrous and beautiful about surviving the winter. The buds are starting to burst, the days are getting longer and the wheels on the bike go round. Adding up the miles to the next 1,000.

Wherever you are in the world I hope the weather is mild and you have an opportunity to get out there and ride.

Tell me about it.

Here’s to Spring!
Bike Goddess

The Day I Hit 5001 Miles (for the year)

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Some cyclists do miles and miles more, some less, but this is me and my first Strava 5000. When I say that I mean that it’s the first time I’ve seen the quantitative results of riding nearly every day. I had a good week and even though there was some rainfall I managed to get out in the weather and get 165 miles for the week. I hoped I’d hit the 5K mark, but I wasn’t going to push it. Really. I was going to do my normal riding routine and if it worked out, then okay, if not, there’s next week. What I usually have going for me if the fact that I tend to ride every day.

I learned a few years ago that sometimes weather complicates matters. You can’t control anything. I was going to keep doing my riding thing and maybe, just maybe I’d see 5000 miles for 2018. When I hit 4000, I immediately started thinking about 5000. It was like something in my brain switched into competitor mode and I was going to show myself that I could do it. I stuck to my routine and even with three days off, I was going to ride. Thanksgiving Day, I rode Zwift for about a dozen miles, but all in all, I stuck to my normal schedule of cycling. I don’t think we drove our car 5K this year, but I rode my bike.

How does it feel? It feels amazing, like summiting the Tetons or seeing Mt. Hood on a clear day. Or like that moment when a plane takes off and you feel uplifted. Take-off. It feels like I accomplished something special and unique. The only competitor in this game is me. I did my best and kept the goals realistic. Last year I did 3200 miles and this year I upped it by 100, but then I started to see that if I went a little farther, a little longer, I could do more. I’m the tortoise and I bike slow and steady and I won the race against myself. It’s a new personal best.

Yesterday in Portland. The fog started rolling in but I was not deterred. Got lights? Heck yeah!

There are athletes on Strava and I don’t think of myself as an athlete. I bike for myself and the environment and I put one pedal in front of the other every day and with five weeks left in the year I hit a milestone. There will be more miles, but right now, today, there’s 5001 and some of those miles were in faraway places. I pedaled each one. There’s that saying about there’s no such thing as luck. It’s just opportunity meeting preparation. I think for me it’s a spoke of good luck. Tomorrow is another day and my usual 20 and that’s what moves me forward. How about you?

Happy riding!

Thanks for reading.

Bike Goddess

Tortoise or the Hare

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IMG_0793It’s no secret how much I love to ride my bike. Some days I think about  just riding from sunrise to sunset, however, there’s the whole job situation. It’s Autumn where I live and it has been the most spectacular weather ever. The leaves have been turning kalidescopic colors and the sun glistens and gleams and keeps on shining so I’ve been doped up on delightment every day. I was remided of the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. If you remember the Hare is about speed and running the race full throttle with “lightnng” speed. The Tortoise, however, just keeps a steady pace and ends up winning the race.

The moral of the story is have a fleet of bikes to make you a better competitor.

No?

The truth of the matter is that I’ve always been Tortoise. I wish I was the speedy Hare. I envy other Hare types, but I’m not. If only I was fast enough to take a nap and then speed by the peloton in Mark Cavendish fashion and win, win, win in the end. The fact of the matter is that I’m all Tortoise. Regardless of how much I train or the amount of carbon fiber in my bike frame, I don’t know speeds of 18-22 MPH. I enjoy a good sprint, but I’m not going to kill myself and I’m never going to pass a biker on the other side of the road and neglect my bikey responsibilities of waving. I’m a slow and steady 12-16 MPH. The moral of the story is have a fleet of bikes that you want to ride so you’ll keep riding no matter the season. You don’t even need a fleet, really. Just one or two that always make you happy enough to ride, rain or shine.

Slow and steady is winning too. Plus the scenery never disappoints.

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I hope you’re having an amazing Autumn.

Get out there and ride.

Be safe.

Bike Goddess

 

Carpets & Canopies

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Nothing like a ride through leaves. Even the thrill of a roller coaster ride doesn’t compare. A bike ride through the carpets and canopies of fall. It’s my favorite time of the year. I love how the conifers seem to let the deciduous trees upstage them. The brazen colors look like lights in a dark forest. Riding in the morning it’s as if the sun and the trees are companions in light. Riding through the celebration and feeling happy to be alive!

Even through I’m on my daily commute the view from the handlebars beg for attention. I stopped and took the picture of Mt. Hood off in the distance. The play of car and street lights add to the scene. A private moment with the universe is noted.

There’s a pumkin on my commute too. A man dotes over his giant pumpkin all summer and then it gets weighed. It’s part of my fall commute as well.

Maybe this week, I’ll meet the farmer and get the secrets behind growing this massive gourd.

Have a great week.

Get out there and ride and be careful!
Happy Autumn!
Bike Goddess

My Bike Ride is My Bliss

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September was a blur of activity. My daily mileage was good but something was different. My school schedule has changed drastically. Now school starts a full hour later than it did last year and the subsequent 20 years of my career. I used to leave the house at 6am but now it’s 7ish. There’s traffic like I’ve never seen in all the years I’ve commuted to school by bike. Now there are four cars at the four way stop and there are trucks and motorcycles everywhere. Deliveries are being made and FedX or UPS trucks are everywhere, or that’s how it feels. The road is not my own every morning. I’ve tried four different routes to determine which one has the least amount of traffic. But where cars are few, school buses are in my lane. Yes, school buses in the bike lanes! I figure by the time I get to the end of October I won’t be as outraged by it all. Maybe by then I will have it figured out. I really should live in Copenhagen or Amsterdam.

The last day of the month and I wanted to go out for a moutain bike ride and catch some falling leaves. The air was heavy with fog and some drizzle but then it cleared up and I was shedding some layers. Another month of riding full speed ahead. Because despite the schedule changes and traffic, my bike rides are my zen. Plain and simple, it’s my bliss.

Happy Fall!
Happy October!
Get out there and ride! You’ll love it, but be safe!

Bike Goddess

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Mission Beach Accomplished

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In the words of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, “The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach — waiting for a gift from the sea.”  I think you can say the same thing about a bike ride. A day of riding a bike to the beach is its own gift. I wanted to ride to Mission Beach and as I started to plan the ride with the help of my cousin last week we noticed that we’d have to be on a road that didn’t seem bike friendly. Google Maps gave us three routes and all of them included Friars Road.

Not to be deterred, we decided we’d park at De Anza Cove and ride over to Fiesta Island. As we were loading the bikes my cousin’s neighbor came over to talk. He mentioned the Mission Bay Bike Trail. After Googling it we decided to stick with our plan of parking at De Anza Cove and follow the signs for the path. An adventure!

Wikipedia says, “In the San Diego area, the Mission Bay bike path is an easy, 3 mile one-way to 19 mile loop path along the shore of beautiful Mission Bay. Location: Mission Bay, near SeaWorld. Distance: Between 3 and 19 miles depending on the routes taken.”

I’m in! Dan was excited to put some miles on his new bike. I wanted to ride to Mission Beach. The plan was to eat lunch at Rocky’s Crown Pub. That was the only plan. IMG_5534

We took off. Lots of sharrows on East Mission Bay Drive. We started out early and the traffic was light. You can hear cars coming up behind you and there’s plenty of room for bikes even if some of it is parking spaces. The skies were overcast and perfect for a day of riding.

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There’s a slight curve in the road as Fiesta Island Road takes you on an extension of the path and it opens up to showcase sandy sights and a warm breeze. Definitely a nice side trip. I had to stop and see the horses.

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As you can see, I’m very happy with Fiesta Island. We parked our bikes and walked up a mound of sand to see a huge field of well, more sand.

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This is an area where the Over-The-Line game is played. Over-the-line is a bat-and-ball sport game related to baseball and softball. News to me, but later in the day…

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at Rocky’s Crown Pub I saw this photo on the wall (Danny pointed it out). Looks like a quite an event. The path turns into Pacific Highway which sounds scary, but it isn’t. There’s a traffic light and you need to stay in the lane and it becomes Ocean Beach Bike Path.

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You’re parallel to the freeway and there’s was a strong headwind, but overall I was all smiles. What an amazing path! Good job, San Diego!

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The path goes on and ontoward the Sunset Cliffs but we were focused on our mission. I’ll have to explore the rest next time.

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The signs to Mission Beach. Everything is well marked and overall the path was clean and easy to ride. All the hairy details on the Google map we looked at were solved by this brilliant bike path and some city planners some years ago. Again, nice job!

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A myriad of bridges and curves make the path interesting. Every turn is another photo opportunity. As you look left to right, each view just as exquisite as the last. I’m sure there are times during the week when it is busier, but there weren’t many people out on Wednesday morning, and it felt like a private tour.

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I saw a pelican flying overhead and wanted to get a picture but knew I’d be too late. Sometimes you have to be in the moment and soak it in.

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Happy to share the path with skateboards, roller blade and anyone else. It does help to have a bell to remind peds you are on the left.

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My Strava map shows the route. The bike is in front of the Caravan Hotel. Perhaps the only spot on the whole path that was busy.

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Sandy public beaches and people enjoying the day. The 12.7 mile ride was better than I expected. After lunch at Rocky’s Crown Pub, we decided to finish the route we started and ride it again. Since we stopped here and there for pictures the first time around,  we thought a second time minus Fiesta would be the perfect way to end the day.

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We were right. When something works out even better than you anticipated, there’s a sort of gleeful happiness that emanates from the knowledge that somehow the universe took care of you and all is well. It was a bike adventure extraordinaire! If you are ever in San Diego I strongly recommend this bike path.

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In the waning days of summer,  I know I will look at this photo and the two signs, Endless Summer Straight Ahead and know that the Mission Beach route was accomplished. (Cue Mission Impossible theme.)

Thanks for reading and following my blog. I appreciate it. What are some of your favorite routes? Post in the comments below.

Get out there and ride.

Bike Goddess

 

 

 

Along For the Ride

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My cousin Danny with his new bike, a Trek Dual Sport 3.

Have you ever helped someone buy a bike? Even though the cyling math rule says the number of bikes a person should own is three, the rule says, (N+1) because you can always use another bike. I’d love to buy a bike whenever the whim strikes or something catches my eye. It’s fun to shop and see what’s new in bikes. When I buy or help someone on the road to buying a bike I have a few things in mind.

Purpose: Consider what you want to do first and foremost with your new bike. Is this a bike that you will use to train for an event such as a triathlon? Or is it for some other purpose? Thinking of saving the planet from the harmful effects of CO2? Do you plan to ride year round? Be honest with yourself about what you want. Half of my garage is devoted to my bikes and gear. When I was a kid, that was my dream. Actually, it was the whole garage! All the bikes in my small fleet get used for different tasks. Plus, they represent an evolution in my biking life. I have sold two bikes in my life and I wish I hadn’t. I’m glad they went to good homes, but I don’t like parting with my bikes, so I’d prefer not to sell.

The Browse-About. It’s not a official term, but it’s browsing around and seeing what catches your eye. Along with that there’s the test ride. Start looking and test riding. It doesn’t cost anything to look, except time. Be realistic about your timeline. I think most will agree that if you’re in training for an event you should train with and on the bike you will use for the event. But I’m not an expert on event training. If you’re looking with the intent of buying in a few months then let the person assisting you at the store know you’re looking and hope to purchase in the next six months. Do your homework and visit multiple bike stores. Even if you have favorites, visit others and get a feel for their expertise. Introduce yourself and tell them about what you need.

Greg A. Heath and my cousin talked a few times before the purchase was made. I went along for the test ride and tried to ask questions about the ride.

If the thought of going into a bike shop is overwhelming, then find a bikey friend and tell them what you’re thinking. Don’t buy until you’ve tried out the bike. There’s no rule about how many times you test ride, just ride. I’d even suggest you test ride at least three bikes. You might have your heart set on one in particular, but still if I were your friend, I’d insist on trying a few others which are comparable to the one you’re considering buying. Know your budget. Talk about what you can get for $500, $800 and up. Disc brake will cost more than pads, but they are worth it! That doesn’t mean you have to have disc, brakes, but you should ask to try one with pads and one with disc just to feel the difference. If there’s some wiggle room then ask the bike sales person to show you something in a range of $whatever to $thelimit with similar components.

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I love the smell of tires in a bike shop.

There might be someone in your life who says they’ll go to Wal-Mart or Target and get a bike. Reconsider that relationship. Just kidding! If you’re in that situation, counsel the buyer to have a bike mechanic put it together. It might cost $50 to have someone else do it, but at least it will be done right. Another option is to go with them and ask what they like about the bike they’re looking at. See if you can get them to elaborate on what exactly is drawing them to that bike. It could be about the color or the basket or something else. I’m not trying to be a bike snob about it, but there are countless reasons NOT to buy from the bike box stores.

When you decide to buy a new bike consider the other gear you might need. Locks, water bottles, kickstand (don’t let anyone shame you out of a kickstand) helmet, tire pump, extra tube, bike bell and other items since you will likely get a discount at that time. If you are an avid rider you probably know that you should get a new helmet every 4-5 years.

The test ride is very important. Wear clothes you would most likely wear for a bike ride. Put on that racing kit (road bike) or wear your shorts and Birkenstocks (cruiser or commuter) and see how it all feels. Remember that you can always upgrade your saddle so if you sit on the bike and decide right away you despise the ride, tell them what you don’t like. “This saddle feels like a plank of wood on my ass.” Use your words and explain what isn’t working for you so they can help tailor your needs. If possible, test ride the bike on a path that has some ups and downs. When you ride the new bike candidate you should get a feel for how the bike will perform in different situations. If that’s not an option because you live someplace flat and that’s not a priority for you then it’s not an issue.

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The test ride is important to get a feel for the bike.

Ask the good folks at your bike shop about getting a bike fitting. It will cost between $65 and $150. I strongly recommend it. A bike fitting isn’t always necessary, but I think if you are small or tall or maybe if you have issues with your shoulders or knees, a fitting can help dial in exactly what you need.

Danny and I rode over 50 miles in four days which means we gave the bikes a workout.

Last week I went to San Diego to visit family and one of the family wanted to buy a bike. I consulted with my cousin on buying his new bike. He has been biking with Zwift over the last year and he was interested in a bike that would do more and feel better. About a month ago he called me and we talked about what he was hoping to do. We talked about the purpose of the new bike.

It was great to be on the advice side of buying. I also enjoyed being present for someone else’s New Bike Day!

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Enjoying the new ride.

Danny bought the bike on Monday and we rode around each day of my visit. After four days of riding around together he went back to the bike store and Greg dialed in the ride a bit more with some fine adjustments made to saddle height and shifting. Bikes aren’t that different from any machine that needs attention. I take better care of my bikes than my one car, but often people think they don’t have to do anything except ride. You have to check tire pressure and look over your bike each time you ride.

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After four days of riding and a new saddle Greg checked over the saddle height and shifting.

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Saddle height measuring.

Buying a bike is an investment in your health, wellness and well-being. If you love it, you’ll ride and find reasons to ride, so be sure you’re happy with every pedal stroke and every spoke. Plus, it’s good for the environment. Mother Earth will thank you. Another reminder. Ask the bike shop about their return policy. If by some chance you decide it isn’t the bike for you there might be a 30-day period when you can change your mind and choose something else. Talk about the details at your bike shop.

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Now maybe you’re wondering how if I took my bike with me to San Diego. I didn’t. During Danny’s test rides I also took the bikes he was considering for a ride. We could compare notes and experiences. Also, I rented a bike for the time I was in town. Danny and I went out every day for a ride. I rode an FX1 and loved it. It’s a basic bare bones sort of bike. Nothing fancy and this bike is affordable. Riding it reminded me of my road bike except the FX felt more responsive and agile.

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Thanks Greg for the ride! The FX1 was perfect!

Yep, the rule is N+1. I was helping my cousin. That’s what family does. I learned that even when you’re not looking sometimes a bike finds you. I didn’t buy, but it was fun to look.

Thanks for reading. Now get out there and ride.

What suggestions do you have for buying a new bike? Leave them in the comments below. Thanks!

Bike Goddess

 

 

 

Athens Sight-Seaing

Aside

IMG_4602 2Every week through every season of the year, I set a goal of biking 75 miles. In the summer I usually go over a hundred miles, but in the winter I might miss a few days because of weather. The weekly mileage goal of 75 has proven to be just right for me. Over the last three weeks I have been traveling and a week ago I started my Strava 75 with 16 miles in Athens, Greece.

If you travel you know that jet lag can hit you when you least expect it and I wasn’t sure how this week would turn out. Super high July temps mean I have to get riding by 10AM at the latest or suffer the heat. My 75 was hard earned over the past several days. The great thing about booking a bicycle tour when you’re traveling is the memory of it. All week I’ve fired up that memory of biking the Athens coast in Kalithea on an actual bike path. A smile skims my face and I think, “Yeah, I did that and it was spectacular.”

Last summer when I was in Athens I found this company, WeBikeAthens,  and I took one of their tours, Historic Athens Views. I thoroughly loved it and wished I had time for more. I also had every intention of posting about it. You know how it is. You get back from vacation and swept into the fray. Which is why I’m glad I got to visit Athens again. This company is top notch: great ride leaders, good pace, super detailed tour and fun. Zeus himself would enjoy a little saddle time with these folks. You know how picky he can be. I’m not the only one who thinks so. Others agree with my assessment. I booked two rides this time; After Sunset Highlights and Athens Coastline Sight-Seaing  After Sunset deserves it’s own post. For this post, I want to share some Sight-Seaing.

I showed up a little early for my Monday morning ride. Athens was hot and humid and remember it’s hours before the tragic fire breaks out. It’s one of the hottest days of the summer. Thankfully they have a bucket of resources and a cat, Diego, managing the sign in.

No one else has booked this tour for Monday morning at 10AM, which means I have my very own private tour with Chrysoula. I’m overjoyed! She very nice and I feel like we’ve been friends forever even though we’ve just met.

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We get our bikes. WeBikeAthens has e-bikes. I’m a big fan of e-bikes. Some people are really weird about the e-bike movement. That’s a whole other blog post. For the purposes of this post let’s just say that e-bikes in Athens are the only way to go. When it’s 5000 degrees outside and you don’t feel like doing anything other than sitting in the sea an e-bike gives you a decent workout without epic amounts of sweat. Instead of slogging it out in a 12 miles an hour pace, you can easily hit 15 and there’s some joy in the breeze cooling you off as you go. The bikes are pedal assist so if you don’t go, the bikes don’t go. Plus there are some delightfully steep hills and some E-juice gives you the assist right when you need it.

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They have other bikes in their fleet of E bikes. The ones we rode are the Wisper Stealth. Chrysoula made sure the bike fit me the way I like. She lowered the seat and I rode up and down Apostolou Pavlou in front of the shop. There’s a park across the street and the Thiseio Metro stop close by.  It takes about 30 seconds to figure out how the bike functions. We packed up our water and set off.

Let’s time travel a tiny bit. Back when I was 15, my family and I lived in Athens for about six months. We lived in a city near Athens called Kallithea. This is important since this tour is going to take me on a bike path in the area of Kallithea.

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We take off and and within less than a mile we’re on a bike path. It’s an oasis in the midst of a city where cars are everywhere.

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I’m thrilled. With all the traffic of Athens I’m biking on an actual path I didn’t even know existed. The only way anyone would know about this hidden gem would be because they found it while riding a bike.

You’ll notice that I’m not wearing a helmet. They are not mandatory in Athens. WeBikeAthens gives you the option of wearing a helmet.

I’m expecting that this path is going to end but it doesn’t. I’m so happy I consider stopping to do a little dance, but I don’t. I keep on pedaling away.

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We do stop in front of this mural and Chrysoula wants to take my picture. She’s telling me about how she has some ideas or a ride that’s purely photography. Take people to spots that are great for photographs. I love this idea and she’s happy that I enjoy being in photographs. What you don’t see in the pic is the heat. The cicadas are loud enough to sound like a jet taking off and smart people are inside enjoying shade or air conditioning or cold water.

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Follow the red brick road and you’ll see a path construction changes slightly here and there, but it’s a path that goes on for about 8 miles and it takes us to the sea. Later I went to Map My Ride and found additional routes. Although some of the routes date back to 2012 I can’t find any detailed information about how Kallithea became the place where someone thought, “Let’s build a multiuse path here.” It’s brilliant and I’m thankful for it.

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Chrysoula stops here and notice how the path and crosswalk line up. She’ll watch the traffic while I pass. Very sweet of her.  The traffic isn’t heavy but she’s protective and cautious and that’s what you want in a tour leader. IMG_4612

Just like home when you see cars in your lane.

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The red works well even if it is a bit faded.

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The staples at the top of the photo which prevents cars from making a U-turn. I feel safe on this path. I start thinking about getting a job in Athens. Just kidding, but when there’s a pretty awesome stretch of bike-pedestrian path, you start thinking about changing your life.

We’re pedaling and talking and I’m as carefree as a puppy and then we turn into a site that has me gobsmacked. First I see a bike share type of rack and I think that the gods of Olympus have intervened on my behalf.

Chrysoula tells me that these bikes are for the SNFCC.

Stop. Red light! SNFCC sounds familiar.

I saw it on a sign at the National Library of Greece which was closed and being relocated. I was there the day before and I saw this sign.

The wheels are turning both on my bike and in my mind. I haven’t put it all together until we come back. Chrysoula asks me if I want to stop at the SNFCC first or on the way back. I opted to keep on riding and check out this cultural campus at the end.

We ride and ride a then start I start spotting the masts of sailboats and we’re at the area with lots of beaches on the Saronic Gulf. This is the Palaio Faliro. IMG_4637 2

We rode around and talked about what we’d name a boat. Remember the name of the tour is Sight-Seaing in Athens. I love the play on words. They get extra points for the pun.

At this point I can’t imagine being any happier. We’ve been having the best time and then we go up a sidewalk ramp and turn a few places and down and up and straight ahead and then… this!

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If only you could smell the salt air and feel the fresh breeze. You could be a dolphin and arc up over the waves. It’s as exhilerating as a roller coaster but my feet are flat on the ground. We stop and soak it in.

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Waves lap on to the pavement and you can’t imagine a more perfect moment. The blue bliss goes on as far as the eye can see.

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The only thing that could make a moment more perfect would be a café freddo. You can fill in the blank with your chosen beverage, but coffee is the Greek way. Ouzo later. We stop at a restaurant on the beach of course.

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Chrysoula and I have a great chat about our respective countries and their issues. “Is life getting any better for the Greeks?” I ask. When I was her age I was already in my career. I was employed in the field of my study and I had been for almost five years. Chrysoula’s degree is in Art Therapy and like many of the Greeks her age she may not be able to pay the rent. She has to work very hard at more than a few jobs to pull it all together. She said that it’s a little better, but she can’t sit back and relax. She was working with refugees and still does but she wanted a happy job for the summer. She loves working at WeBikeAthens and she’s suited to meeting and interacting with people. I’m lucky our paths crossed.

After a nice rest we start to make our way back to the office. However, remember those letters? SNFCC? We make our way back and I learn about the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center. When I’m not riding my bike and writing about it, I’m a teacher-librarian at a middle school. I wanted to see the National Library because that’s what I do. The day before I had given up all hope of seeing it because with limited wifi I couldn’t find where it was being moved to and when it would be open to the public. Once again, a bike ride solved my dilemma. The SNFCC is home to the National Library and the National Opera. Case closed. There’s more to know about the SNFCC than I can write about in this post. Follow the link and learn about its design and construction and if you’re ever in Athens, you must visit it. Also the bikes are for using on the campus. There’s a park and it’s a great area to bring the family and enjoy a day at the cultural center. There are bikes at both ends of the campus.

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As I was getting into the elevator I decided to video the experience. No picture can do it justice. You can’t help but think of it as a sort of modern Acropolis.

Chrysoula stood guard at the bikes while I explored. It was very nice of her to do that because it was about 7000 degress outside and I was cooling off inside.

My first impressions of the place are hard to communicate since I spend most of the time mumbling WOW and staring in wonder at everything. It’s incredible. The library is beyond anything I’ve ever imagined. I mean I have imagined something like that but the reality added another floor and some fantastic furniture. I’m in love. I didn’t want to leave but I was afraid my lovely guide is melting. I headed back down and we took off. Word that day was that it was so hot the Acropolis closed at 2PM. Also the sky was getting very hazy and there was talk of a wildfire.

On the way back our path is blocked by a taxi. Chrysoula tells the driver to move. I love her! IMG_4718

The driver is rolling a cigarette but finally moves out of our path.

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We’re happy for any and all shade on the way back.

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Diego is there to greet us.

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I had such a great ride last Monday that all Monday rides from now on will pale by comparison. The memory of this ride is something I will play over and over when I get back into my commuting back and forth routine. It’s a memory I will nurture during the winter months when I’m trying to think warm thoughts in the hope that my nose won’t freeze or my gloved hands go numb.

Taking a city tour by bike is often a gamble. You may not get with a group or leader that you like. You may not like the bike or feel like the route isn’t for you. But you also don’t know if you don’t try. This is the third ride I’ve taken with WeBikeAthens and I’d take another and another if I could. The cost is 45€ or about $53. That’s a great value. I had the best time and if you enjoy biking then this is a great option for you. Everytime I travel, especially overseas, I look for bike rides. After all, 16 of my 75 miles last week were in Athens.

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The route on Strava.

I hope you’re having a great summer. Take water, apply sunscreen and get out there and ride.

Enjoy!
Bike Goddess

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Santorini State of Mind

Aside

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‎⁨Nisos Thira⁩, ⁨Megalochori⁩, ⁨Greece⁩.

Billy Joel didn’t write this song. I did. The lyrics are in my mind and I have thought about last summer in Greece with about the same frequecy as my bike commute, which is daily. I think about Santorini and it calms me like the humming of a singing bowl. I thought about it last fall as the leaves were changing colors and the air was growing brisk. I ruminated about it when the snow was falling in the winter and in the spring when it sounded like someone dumped a bucket of marbles on the roof as hail clattered and the skies thundered. Memories of my Santorini bike ride got me through.

The whole adventure was both last minute and planned. How is that possible? I would travel to Greece and if I could get a bike ride or two, that would be a bonus. Trip planned, but sometimes you need to be there to figure out the rest. I had no idea if I could pull off a bike ride on the island but I was going to try. I was sitting in the lobby of the hotel and I mentioned the idea to the host. He was not impressed. He was concerned it would be too dangerous. I remember saying, “Okay, sure, but… do you know anyone?” He said he would check. I had the impression that he was not going to check but wait for me to forget about it.

Lo’ and behold there was a travel magazine on the table in the lobby and I was thumbing through it and saw an ad for Santorini MTB Adventures. I wrote down the number and the email. I sent an email first, in which, I described my bike experience and how much I wanted to make this happen. Shortly after I clicked SEND my phone rang and it was a woman who wanted to confirm that there was a opening the next morning. Could I be ready at 9AM? There was jubilation and dancing and I was beaming the rest of the day as like a child on Christmas Eve. I couldn’t go to sleep.

I packed bike shorts and a top because that’s what I do for most trips. You have to get in gear when a bike opportunity rings the bell. The next morning I was waiting at the door at 8:30 for the 9AM pick up as anxious as if this was a first date. Soon I would rendezvous with a bike on a beach and I would see the island from the saddle of an electric mountain bike. Ride on.

Vassili and Katarina were our guides. It was me and a young couple.

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The adventure started at Perissa Beach. I don’t remember much about the beach at the beginning of the trip because all I wanted to do was hike my leg over this bike and get going.

Perissa Beach is in the backgroud. Gorgeous, but at the start of the ride and when I shot this pic, I didn’t even notice the beach. Bikes on the brain!

The e-bikes c have 9 speeds and 4 modes: Eco, sport, tour and turbo. Disc brakes. I have an e-bike that has pedal assist. Same idea but there’s a little more boost in these models. They are a modern day mule and easy to use. Vassili was lead and I followed behind him. I could feel all the commuting miles pay off as we biked up and down and around. The couple followed behind me and Katarina brought up the back.

We puttered around the parking lot for about 10 minutes getting used to how the bikes handled and then we were off. Vassili would take pics here and there and we would also have moments when we stopped to snap a few pics but he strongly advised us to keep both hands on the handlebars and not take pics while we were riding. Okay, who told on me! But it’s true, the terrain is varied and rocky. I knew immediately I should behave myself. I only took pictures when we stopped.

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Santorini is full of those hills that don’t look like much, but suddenly your in the middle of a climb that was so gradual you can almost hear the ground giggling at your attempt to summit without downshifting.

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See how it is. Seems easy enough and then right at the top of the picture it gets steep enough to make you wish for an escalator.

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At each turn there’s a reward of something that you’d miss if you weren’t on a bike.

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Then the narrow alleyway opens up to something else that takes your breath away.

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Our first stop was for a bit of refreshment at a café.

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There were infinite nooks and crannies that demanded attention. We parked our bikes and went exploring.

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The next stop was Gavalas Winery.  We parked our bikes and settled in for a treat which included wine tasting.

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My favorite part was when the guide at the winery, another Vassili said,

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“Fermentation needs patience. While drinking needs company.” Also they wanted a wine that was “Red to your eye, Rosé in the mouth and white in the after taste.” I enjoyed all four wines we sampled.

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My only significant regret was that I didn’t buy some wine or have some shipped. If you like wine, you should check out this winery. I thought I could probably find it somewhere in the Northwest, but I was wrong. 

Vassili the bike guide brought us these amazing “energy” bars.

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Everything does taste better on vacation!

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Then we’re on our way again to see more sights.

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Bring on the oxygen because the views from this spot are spectacular. I was overcome with emotion at truly awesome sights.

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Super steep getting down to a church, but worth it. This is an excursion that welcomes all levels, but keep in mind, there’s sand and gravel and significant climbing in and out of areas like this. Bikes stayed up top and we walked down to the church.

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You can ring the bells!

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The Monastery of Agios Nikolaos in Santorini: The historical female Monastery of Agios Nikolaos is located between the villages of Firostefani and Imerovigli in Santorini. The monastery is dedicated to three saints, Agios Panteleimon, Zoodoxos Pighi (which means life giving source in Greek) and Agios Nikolaos.

 

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View from just outside the church doors.

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Selfie time. The ride was about 15 miles total.  I saw sights that I wouldn’t have seen any other way.

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This is the famous black beach. It  is actually a sharp pebbly one and I strongly recommend proper footwear. If you’re there in July it’s very hard to walk on with your bare feet. The sea was gorgeous. Plenty of comfortable seating available.

Perissa Beach is where we started. By the time you get back to the lounge chairs you are ready for a dip in the water and a cold beverage of your choice.

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This is the look of contentment.

Would I recommend Santorini MTB Adventures? Without hesitation I would recommend them! I loved every second of the bike ride. I was sad it came to an end. This would hold me over for a few days. I would be heading back to Athens after Santorini and yes, I found bikes there too. More in another post about biking in Athens.

Santorini is in the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea. Way back in the16th century BC it was devastated by a volcanic eruption, forever shaping its rugged landscape. Jules Verne wrote about it in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in 1870. There’s some perspective for you. Since this trip many details of life have garnered my attention. Sometimes we get lost in the minutiae of the day.  But in the quiet or even busy moments between the storms I have been able to get myself back to a Santorini state of mind. A few hours that transformed me and my perspective on life. We all need places like that. I can get myself there with each and every pedal stroke on any day, rain or shine. I hope you have a place like that too.

Thanks for reading. Now, get up and get out there and ride your bike!

Bike Goddess

P.S. I am heading back to Santorini this summer. More MTB adventures await, I hope.

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I really do love Santorini! 

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The Joy of Riding

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No cars or bikes were stolen to make this post possible. Joyride is a  women’s “ride to unwind” that is organized by Cycle Oregon. Usually when I see anything from Cycle Oregon I assume it’s about the  7-day awesome ride in September that I can’t attend and I get sad and wish I had a different career outside of education, but last weekend I saw an ad on social media and I followed the trail to see that this ride was completely doable. Saturday, June 9th. I’m in. I registered and then I decided to head to Dayton, Oregon on Friday and I found a link to a go back in time. Doesn’t your Internet do that? Following another trail I saw a link for a place called Vinages Trailer Resort.

I was impatient for Friday. More than usual. I took a half-day personal leave. My husband got the car tanked up and he even cleaned the windows. We took off. Dayton is about an hour and a half away. We were on the road early enough to beat the traffic, or so we thought. I was glad to put the week behind me. I wanted a little adventure and this ride would be just what I needed.

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My bike on the back stuck in Friday traffic.

 

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How cute is this?

We pulled into the Vintages lot and I was smitten with the place instantly. Admittedly I do have a fascination with trailers. I don’t come from camper people.

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Glamping! Yes, this is glamping!

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I know more about bikes than trailers but here’s our Shasta.

I’m not sure what I expected, but I’m thrilled with our trailer. We took our dog Max and apparently the other trailer I had reserved, The Ideal, was not ideal for pet people, so we were switched to the Shasta.

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Max isn’t thrilled with the pug pillow,  but he got a goody bag with bacon treats so he’s waiting partiently for a treat. Who’s a good boy?

It was brilliant that we arrived earlier enough to settle in, order pizza and relax. The place is surprisingly quiet and serene. Even the heavy rain couldn’t dampen my excitement over this find. I was getting a tiny bit worried about the the rain stealing some joy from my Saturday ride, but what can you do? I had brought rain gear just in case.

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A walk around the resort led to some bike envy. It was a feast from the past and even the bikes fit the theme.

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All campers have a barbecue and bikes to ride around the site. There’s a general store with wine glasses, food and souvenirs.

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We had all the amenities including wifi and Netflix.

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By the time the twinkle lights came on in the resort I was thinking of skipping the bike ride and just hanging out in the camper.

But who am I kidding. We slept well. Even Max who gets up a few times at night slept until 6:30. None of us sleep in that late most days.

Joyride had various staggered times so I figured we’d get there and I’d pick up my packet. But first, coffee.

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Then we loaded up the car and took off for the winery.

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Dayton, Oregon is wine country and Joyride starts and ends at the Stoller Wine Estate. The flags! I’m excited to be participating in my first ever Cycle Oregon event.

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We’re following the car in front of us trying to see where we should park.

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Pretty amazing!

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There’s a tree that blew down in the storm last night. Yeah… a big tree.

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Guess that’s not registration.

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The start line. What I love about a women’s only event is that there was a sort of constant chorus of “This isn’t a race. This isn’t a race.” There are three routes; short, medium and long.

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Family pic.

I took off. I was thinking of the medium route which was 39 miles. Easy, peasy! I had a great pace and felt pretty good. I was riding my Trek Portland which my friends at Bike Gallery got spruced up. There were many compliments about my snazzy fenders. Most of my bikes are footloose and I don’t clip in. I seldom ride the road bike. I had a ride the week before and decided I wouldn’t take the Portland, but at the last minute I felt I should go with the road bike for a longer ride. I am not clipping in on the right side. I’m agitated by this and decide that at the next rest stop I’ll have someone help me with my cleats.

About 8.9 miles there’s a rest stop that is glorious. First off the food is amazing. Fresh fruit and chocolate covered hazelnuts and granola and live music. It’s spectacular. Women are talking and there’s a different vibe to the whole affair. It’s relaxed and mellow and “Are you here with a group of friends” or “You can join us if you want.” Also, “I love that jersey. Is that Primal? Where did you find that?” In a word it’s joyous.

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Hummus, cream cheese, Nutella and almond butter on bagels and bread. I love that then men are there serving the women.

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Lovely presentation of everything!

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Yummy!

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I left after about 20 minutes of resting. IMG_1471

Heading back to the route I was feeling amazing. What a great day! I was excited about the 30 or so miles ahead. I was thinking about the other rest stops and what culinary treats would await.

As I got on the road there were some sprinkles or rain starting. Okay, sure, some drizzle. I started out with two rain jackets and it had proven to be too much. I shed one and then put it back on as I neared the road. It’s Oregon. It’s June. It’ll pass. I rode for about 4 miles. I took the medium and long route.

Then this happened.

There was a gust of wind that nearly took me down. I saw the group ahead of me get off the busy road and hide under a tree. I wanted to ride up to the tree but I also wanted to see my next birthday, so I pulled over into a field. I grabbed my phone and got a the video because it’s not that common to see white caps without being on the ocean. I put my back to the worst of the hail and then just waited to see what would happen. Would this pass? I saw the property owner get on his tractor and come down the hill. I thought he was going to yell at me to get off his property. I thought he was coming down to close his gate. Instead he yells out at me, “You can stay here as long as you want.” I could barely hear him over the din of the pelting hail. “What did you say?” I yelled. Again, “You can stay here as long as you want.” Then he waved and rode his tractor back up to his house.

After about 15 minutes some women came by and they asked if I wanted to join them. They weren’t sure if they were going to stick with the medium route but they thought they’d go for a few more miles and decide. We were surrounded by the black clouds and I still have school for another 13 days, and I don’t want to catch a cold. I was conflicted about what to do until I saw a truck speed by and decided I should head back to the short route. I made it about four miles before another drencher hit. I found a tree along with another group of five women. After about 15 more minutes and no blue sky in sight I texted my husband that I was doing the short route and I’d be back at the winery within the hour.

It ended up being a 20 mile day, but still eventful. I was kind of kicking myself about it but after we got home there was another hail storm and more rain.

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I had a glass of Pinot and enjoyed the 20 miles.

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Until next year. Most rides are joyous and wonderful. I had a great day despite the rain and I can’t wait for Joyride 2019.

Get out there and go for a ride!

Happy riding!
Bike Goddess

 

 

Aprés April

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If the month of April was on a bike then it raced past me like a peloton in a sprint for the finish in the Tour. April is usually one of the wettest months in the Great Northwest. We were set to take the record again, then last week happened. Four days of summer temps that were enough to tease me into thinking July was around the corner. That said, April’s true essence came through in the last few days so I’m back in the ol’ rain gear again.

As May is waiting in the wings for its cue I hope for warmer days ahead. You know that saying about how everyone complains about the weather but no one does anything about it.

Last Monday was one of the most amazing April days. Plus it was my birthday and somehow the sun was the perfect present. There’s a newish walking path about 30 minutes from where I live. I discovered it by car two weeks ago but I didn’t know how to get access to it. You know when you’re driving and you see a mini road that parallels a highway and you wonder, “How could I bike that?” I was curious about it and my husband suggested that for my birthday we check it out.

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He drove and I was nervous because maybe there really wasn’t anything there except a missed opportunity. At the Port of Kalama there is a trail, a new restaurant and lodge. The marina is in good shape and there’s a new walkway that I biked to get over to the railway area. There was a train blocking the road and you can’t count on access from Henrickson Road, but it was a stunning day and even though I went back a forth enough for 5 miles it felt different each time. The path has a majestic view of the Columbia River and log rafts.

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It was more than I expected and enough to get me thinking about how I could bike to the site and back home. There must be some back roads. Even if I drive there a few times and explore it would be worth it. I felt like I discovered something with potential for more riding. There’s even an area along the Kalama River that seems great for mountain biking. I didn’t have much time but I was impressed with everything I saw and I’m hungry for more.

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Not everyday you see a fully operational logging company. While I was considering whether my bike could go over logs I was also feeling the watchful eyes of history on my adventure. I was at the confluence of transportation with rain, river and highway coming together in this hamlet. In 1870, the Irish and Chinese arrived to work on the railroad. Fishing and logging settled in Kalama also.

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The tallest totem pole in the Pacific Northwest is right there stretching up to the sky. Plenty of people were out and about on a enjoying the features of the park. Admittedly I was surprised to see the baby blue sky and anything beyond that had me agog.

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Spring isn’t always the best, reliable weather but it reminds us that opportunities are about to unfold in both life and biking.

Hope to see you out there riding!

Enjoy it all!
Bike Goddess

 

 

 

Biking & Women’s History

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The first time I became aware of women in cycling it was 1984 and I was watching the summer Olympics. Connie Carpenter Phinney and Rebecca Twigg were crossing the finish line side-by-side and Phinney. After 50 miles they were coming to the finish line and it was spoke to spoke and saddle to saddle practically. As it turns out it was the closest finish in Olympic history and Phinney won by mere inches.

Here’s the thing, men’s cycling has been in the Olympics since 1896 and women’s since 1984. Women is cycling is a recent development. When I say recent, I mean since about the late 70’s and early 80’s. In light of Women’s History Month and being a woman who bikes I feel like I need to speak up. I remember all to well the times men told me I shouldn’t bike because it was undignified or “not very lady like.” On an endurance ride, I think it was my first of 7 Seattle-to-Portland rides a man asked me if I felt good about coming in dead last and that maybe I should stick with the Jane Fonda exercise videos.

Infuriated and disgusted I tried to stay focused on what mattered to me. The ride. I kept riding and surrounded myself with people who let me do my thing.

Evelyn Hamilton. Ever heard of her? I met Joe Kurmaskie a few weeks ago.He wrote a book about her.  The Facebook invitation said, “Lightning In A Saddle: The Evelyn Hamilton Story. An amazing true life drama that combines the female Jackie Robinson of cycling with the daring of Inglorious Bastards. An equality pioneer, a record breaker and a war hero!” 

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The book isn’t published yet. I preordered it. There were a few pictures that I thought were amazing. I asked Joe if I could take a picture of the pictures.

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Evelyn! This pic is the best. First off, can you see the tan lines? I see her and I see myself sans the helmet, but I ask you, a beret-ish helmet. Stylish, strong, sexy! I’m looking forward to reading the book and learning about this woman, this cyclist!

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Over my lifetime biking has been a constant. From the moment I could balance on two weeks, I’ve been riding everywhere regardless of what opinions people may have about it. In honor of Women’s History Month consider the women (of all ages) in your life and be supportive of their cycling endeavors.

Enjoy the ride! Summer’s coming!

Thanks for reading!

BG

 

 

Box Me In, Please!

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“A small group of thoughful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only this that ever has.” —Margaret Mead

In January 2016, I joined a small group of thoughful people who advise, advoate and work to change our little corner of the world. We meet once a month and there are some people who are always present and others, like me, who try very hard to make each meeting but run into schedule problems on occasion. We are the Bike and Pedestrian Stakeholders Group (BPSG) and we work to make streets safe for pedestrians and bicyclists. In the early days, I sat and listened and I was completely intimidated by all the traffic-speak, acroynms and history. It was hard to keep up and I often felt inept and out of the loop. Frankly, it was humbling on many level, since in my actual line of work I perform competently and with poise. In this new arena, I found it hard to find my words. The content of the meetings continues to be daunting and yet I keep going because it’s interesting and I think what we’re doing is important to the safety of our citizens.

Often times a citizen like me gets involved because they had a particular issue they want addressed. My issue was bikes more than pedestrians, and yet, through time I could see that if a project was good for peds it was usually something you could also expand to bikes. My first two concerns were bike parking in the downtown blocks and the other was an intersection near my neighborhood. The intersection had a history of challenges. At each meeting I would hear that it was being researched for bike box. A bike box is a designated area at the head of a traffic lane at a signalized intersection that provides bicyclists with a safe and visible way to get ahead of queuing traffic during the red signal phase. Bike boxes have positive benefits on both safety and traffic. Read more here.

There hasn’t been a meeting I attended that I haven’t asked about the status of a bike box in that tricky intersection. It was supposed to happen over the summer, then fall. A few weeks ago, my wish was granted. I saw that the road was closed for construction and I could feel myself getting fussy and frothy. I took a detour onto the sidewalk. Then in my periphery vision I saw this puddle of green paint and the work crew waxing on the color. Could it be? It is really? My bike box!  As I approached my left turn I saw a kid and his mom on bikes about to cross the street. I exclaimed something about the bike box and when they didn’t understand I said, “Follow me and I’ll show you.” They followed as I crossed the berm to talk with the workers.

Proudly I exclaimed that I was on the committe that requested this bike box.

The worker knew about the group and gave me a thumbs up. As I got into the traffic lane he said, “Miss, you’re in LIVE traffic.” But the other one told him to hold off the traffic so I could get my pic. All in all, it was a perfect moment.

I use it every day. Drivers are staying out of the bike box. In fact that was one of the constant issues on that street; drivers pulling up beyond the curb line to see traffic. For the first time in three years I feel safe, protected in my green bike box. I was part of making that happen. You could say I helped stop traffic. This victory gives me momentum that will carry me through the next issue, bike parking.

Be safe.

Get out there and ride!

BG

Roadie Renewal

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2006 Trek Portland (after the overhaul)

As a child, my favorite crayon in the box was copper. It still is. The reddish-orange-brown gleams in the sunlight and shimmers under the moon. You don’t need to coax a sparkle out of copper. There’s a luster to it all the time. My obsession started early with gold and silver too, but copper was my go metal in the crayon box for everything. Yes, I was the kid with the whole color page in copper, silver and gold. When I first saw hammered Honjo mud guards I started scheming. That was over a year ago. They wouldn’t fit one of my other bikes, but I never forgot the copper wink.

But that’s not the whole story. In December I was pining for another bike. I was thinking of doing the Rapha Festive 500 but I didn’t want to use my Cannondale road bike. With rain and snow in the forecast there was little chance of me logging any serious miles on it. If the bike shop had my size in stock, this would be a different post. However it was out of stock and not just for the bike shop, but for the brand. I couldn’t even get a test ride on my size. I was bummed and left to consider some other options.

My old commuter bike, the 2006 Trek Portland, was a great bike. I say was because I relegated it to the basement on the Wahoo trainer I bought about a year ago. That was working out fine, but frankly a waste of a great bike. It had skinny tires and I put the original seat on it. I stripped it down to the essentials and took off the old fenders and rack. I rode it on the trainer only. The back tire was shiny with Zwift miles. It would have been easy to leave it that way, but the thing is that bike is a great bike. It has disc brakes and it can climb with more speed and grace than my carbon fiber. Excellent gearing and overall it was a serious investment back in ’06.  My big mistake with the Trek was when I put skinny tires on it for a century. Also, some of my friends were getting new sleek road bikes and I started to think I needed a new road bike. That means my Trek Portland was sidelined and the new carbon fiber was getting all the attention.

It was right around Christmas that I started to consider what if. What if I brought the Portland out of basement biking and back into the riding fleet. A Strava friend posted a picture of his bike and I was blinded by the copper fenders and I started to get organized.

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This was my “inspiration” bike.

I considered doing the upgrade with the carbon bike, but the Synapse doesn’t have disc brakes and I always feel uncoordinated and tentative on that bike. I kept thinking about the Portland. It has everything I want and with a little love and clever bike mechanics, I can pay for an overhaul and get the bike back on the road where it belongs! That was about two weeks ago. My 2006 Trek Portland looks better than ever and rides like a dream. Again!

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Keep your eyes on the road and try not to be distracted by my amazing not-new bike. My Miss Portlandia is geared up for some touring. First 35 miles completed and another 1000 ahead. Easy!

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Before.

If you’re on the fence about your bike options, my advice it to consider how you can make the most of the bike(s) you have. Again, I can say this because that other bike just wasn’t available, but the whole incident was a challenge and I feel like I handled it well and saved myself some money and got exactly what I wanted.

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After. New Continental Gator tires, bar tape and a total overhaul.

Considering a renovation of an existing bike gives you an opportunity to customize the bike exactly the way you want. I never had major issues with my Trek, I wanted a slightly wider tire and some bling. Plus having bike mechanics overhaul your bike and clear out all the built up gunk is a good thing.

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The results amaze me. I can’t take my eyes off this bike. I ride past windows trying to get a glimpse. Riding around I saw heads turn and people raise their eyebrows in approval. Some people say it’s just a bike. Just my bike!

Some little birds think I did a great job! I am thrilled with how she looks and most importantly, how she rides! What do you do to update, upgrade and otherwise renew your ride? Leave your thoughts below.

Thanks for reading.

Be safe out there. Enjoy the ride!
Bike Goddess

 

#TrekPortland, @BikeGalleryPortland #portlanddesignworks @trekbikes #bikingbliss #bikerides #vancouverwa #bontrager #trekbikes #bikes

 

Sights on a New Year

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IMG_8098I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.

Sing it Johnny Nash (not Cash), but songwriters Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff had a way with words. The fact of the matter is that I picked up my new glasses and I can see clearly now both far away and near, off to the left and the right, and thanks to this nifty prism in the lens my eyes are not wandering around making me see two cars when really there’s only one. I can really see! Zippity do da!

The moment when the glasses were slipped into place and I could read a sign across the street was magical. I’m as picky about my the frames on my face as I am about the ones I ride, thus it has taken me about a year to get my prescription filled. What a great way to start the new year! New eyes, new vision, better focus, setting my sights on a whole perspective.

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I’m the one in the blue frames. That’s my mom on the right and I have no idea who’s behind us. 

I had a great year for riding. My goal was 3,500 miles. As the sun sets on the penultimate day of the year I have 4,585 miles and 411 activities. I feel good about that. I’ll set a goal of 4,000 miles for 2018 and 415 activities. I blogged once and sometimes twice a month making this the best year ever on the blog. Go team! If I can increase that by one or two more posts during the course of the year, I will count that as a success. You’ve been a factor in motivating me to write more.  Thank you for following this blog and commenting or just clicking that star. It makes my week!

December 30th is always an excellent day for shopping. After I picked up my new glasses I did a little shopping and at one of my favorite stores the salespeople were asking about plans for New Year’s Eve. I live in the Pacific Northwest and one customer said that her family celebrates “East Coast” time and they’re in bed at 9:30 p.m.. Another said that she has two kids and they play Battleship, eat popcorn and are tucked in by 9 as well. That’s about my speed too. I’m Greek and one tradition I’ve maintained in our family is making a the New Year’s bread. You bake a coin in the dough and toast it up on New Year’s Day for breakfast (whomever gets the coin has a prosperous year.) Once that’s done I’ll have a bike ride and my husband, dog and I will have a quiet evening eating grilled cheese sandwiches, soup and salad, followed by some Champagne cupcakes and Prosecco.

When actors or writers are asked what role or book they like the most they often say, “The one I’m currently working on.” I am grateful for every day I’m healthy and able bodied enough to ride. Every route is a learning experience and every time I ride even the commuting route I see it differently because of the light, time of day, weather—my glasses! I like almost all the rides I take. There’s a few this year that I think about on those really snotty days. Santorini and Athens. I thank the universe for my trip to Greece, summer 2017. It provided some of my best biking memories of 2017. I have been drafting that post for a few months and I resolve to share it soon.

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Nisos Thira, Agios Georgios, Greece @SantoriniAdventures

I can see clearly now and I have my sights on more biking and adventures in 2018. Let’s do this! Happy New Year!

Cheers!

Bike Goddess

 

 

 

 

Ghosting

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Finding some hope.

Rumors of ghosting my readers are false. As terms go it seems that “ghosting” is new. In the essence of full disclosure, ghosting means is to abruptly cut off contact with someone without giving that person any warning or explanation for doing so. I didn’t mean to fall into the well of silence. However the way I understand it, ghosting also means there’s another step. Even when the person being ghosted reaches out to re-initiate contact or gain closure, they’re met with silence. I hope that is not the case readers, so let me assure you that I am still here and all is well. As I was drifting off to sleep last night I starting feeling ever hopeful again. I thought of the beautiful Emily Dickinson poem which is often cited as a quote, but it’s actually a poem:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers – (314)

BY EMILY DICKINSON

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

All that to say that each day I gain the tiniest bit more hopeful. Like taking a deep breath and feeling like I will rise. It has been a challenging time to be an educator. The demands at work have been like a headwind in my soul. Each day more daunting that the last and I wish I wasn’t such a pond of exhaustion at the end of my work day. 

I wish I could eek out a sentence of two in the evening instead of spending another hour or more getting lessons, the school news or whatever ready for the next day. Yet, it’s not only that part. As an on-the-side blogger I am always trying to figure out when to write and how much and how personal and on and on. There’s always a siege of self doubt and second guessing about my writing. While I have been writing in the last several week it has been negative and I don’t want that out there. It’s easier to be hopeful and optimistic when you’re rested, fed and feeling satisfied with yourself.

I wish I could plan and execute my ideas and not be so ready to excuse my lack of writing with the aforementioned exhaustion and criticism.

I wish I was the type of person that didn’t need to be perfectish at work and could somehow hold back enough of the essence of moi to spend on what I want to do later in the day, week, month. 

I wish I could shift into a personal gear that would allow me to be more me for myself than for others. 

Wishes become realities when you do the work and figure out how to make the time and track stand in your own lane waiting for the light to turn and you take off, ready to fly.

Now Albert Einstein had a good quote about that, “Learn from yesterday, live for today.” I don’t want to ghost you, or myself. I want to be present and start hearing that little bird again and I make my way through another Gale.

How are you doing? Tell me in the comments.