We cyclists work out the lower half of the body with every revolution. Whether we go fast or mosey our way to and from work or wherever, we are working out our legs, calves, thighs and gluts. We ride the waves of the pavement like a surfer amidst the swells. Our arms, biceps, shoulders and back hold us in place but they don’t get half the workout that our southern regions do.
Even professional cyclists have massively muscular legs with well defined calves and quads while their arms look like linguine. I’m not a professional but I do love it when I notice my leg muscles. I mean I can’t see ‘em but sometimes you flex and suddenly you’re like, “Whoa, those are my legs and dang, there’s some new definition there.”
In the waning days of summer as the start of a new school year looms I’ve been longing for the water. My guy sails and he’s very good at it. I love the feel of sailing but I admit that within a short time of being on board, I’m ready for a nap. The lulling action is like being rocked into the lands of Wynken, Blynken and Nod. Also, I’m here to admit to you dear readers that sailing is an all day event and unlike biking you’re at the mercy of the currents and wind and factors that on a bike you can usually change by going left or right and trying a different route. I’m not the sailor my guy is nor is he the biker I am.
We’ve been trying for over a week to go out for a sail, but there hasn’t been enough wind to scoot a napkin across a table let alone fill sails. We have a kayak and the ducks and geese in the marina have been terrible tenants. There was evidence of their derelict behaivor and partying so we decided to remind them that it belongs to us. Within an hour we had it all cleaned up and ready for action.
After a deep cleaning and super scrub we successfully exfoiliated all the moss and algae and unidentified green goo from the underside and I went out for a paddle. Not a typo, I paddled a kayak. A paddle over peddle means that a muscle group heretofore unused got a bit a of a workout. It was a gorgeous dead calm day in the marina which means I had a great time paddling about like I was on an Olympic Paddle Team. It was glorious and I stayed out there for over an hour.
I’m not a seasoned kayaker, but I’m not a novice either. Here’s how it usually goes. I go out and then the next day my arms scream for relief and I don’t go out again for 4 years. I was thinking about that as I paddled around. Don’t overdo it in such a way that you never want to do it again.
Despite the fact that the opening to the Columbia beckoned to me like a siren I opted for the safety of the marina. I have no idea what the currents are like and IF my triceps could handle it.
I could stop and start and turn around pretty easily and I was feeling good. I was musing about taking a kayak trip of the whole Columbia, but of course, that’s the lustiness of adventure speaking. I paddled around and felt like a teenager who got their driver’s license. I didn’t know I could record kayaking as a Strava activity or else I’d have proper evidence. Next time.
What about that other muscle group known as the upper body? I’m happy to report that the next day my triceps were fine. Okay, a little stiff but if anything I feel ready to go again. I’m not as sore as I thought I would be. That must mean that I yell and wave my arms at offending car traffic enough to keep those muscles toned.
What’s the attraction? Why kayak instead of a bike ride? Some cyclists run. I’m not a runner. However with all these activities you are communing with nature and enjoying the world around you in a different way and seeing life from another perspective. I’m always up for that kind of adventure.
I rarely choose anything over a bike ride, but sometimes you gotta get out there are try something else. Paddle over peddle? Sure, it’s every bit as fun. What about you? Ever been kayaking? What did you think?
Thanks for reading my blog. I appreciate it and I hope you enjoy the rest of the month. Stay safe and take care.
Kayak Goddess. Nah, just kidding. It doesn’t have the same ring. Until next time, get out there and ride. Or paddle.
One of the tasks that’s been on my to-do since April was the garage. I know what you’re thinking. It’s a garage, who cares? Let me tell you. I do. I never fully appreciated my garage until I didn’t have one. For a period of time we lived in a condo. It was not a great situation for the bikes. I thought I could downsize until it came to the bikes and the bike related accoutrement. I can’t. I like my stuff and I use my stuff. Once we moved back into a house with a two car garage I wanted one side devoted totally to bikes. Thank goodness my husband was on the same page. I’m sure you can understand that as a Bike Goddess I need space for research and development.
For my birthday my husband agreed to help me by adding some shelving and peg boards. I followed all the classic suggestions offered by The Home Edit and KonMari Rules and took the kit and caboodle out of the space and sorted it all. I was thorough and did a deep edit of anything that wasn’t getting used over the last few years. Since I had been considering this refresh for some time I had a hunch about some of the stuff that was going to be moved onwards. I organized like items together. I also wanted to organize for my commutes. What are musts for my day-to-day bike commutes. I considered what happens coming in and out of the garage every day and what specific essentials I needed to have close to my rig. Additionally, I wanted a work bench area, a spot for tools plus a place to showcase things I’ve collected over the years. I’m obsessed with bike bags and I wanted to display them. Yes, it’s a garage however there’s nothing that says it can’t be fun and creative too.
Julia Child used peg board for small spaces and specifically for organizing her kitchen pots. Her husband was behind that idea so I thought I’d follow suit. I recycled peg board from the cupboards already in the garage and after a few refresher lessons from my guy on how to use the drill, I drilled the holes and put up the peg board to spotlight the gear I use every day.
If it didn’t spark joy then I moved it on in its “cycle” of life. The bag wall is one of my favorite things about the garage freshen. I love that I can see all the gorgeous bags and even though I don’t use them every day I know when I need a big waterproof roll top bag I have one, uh, four ready to serve.
How do you park multiple bikes? That’s the big question. We’ve struggled with how to park the bikes but ultimately I let the space speak to me. I noticed that our homemade bike rack looked a lot like the studs on the wall. So why not rest a tire against those when needed? I dismantled the rack my husband built (he used cabinet screws, so hello? That took all day!) and lined up the bikes. It’s given us more room in the garage and overall each bike is easier to valet.
What about the other stuff? Whatever the sport there’s always gear. I have two long shelves for odds and ends that get intermittent use. This was the big addition to the space.
It doesn’t seem like much, but two long boards have extended the space in a way that exceeded my expectations. I used old shopping bags plus some older model bike baskets to stash, store and stow other like items. We needed room for some bike travel cases and the bike rack for the car as well, so those items are on the floor with the two long shelves above. All in all it works better than I imagined. Yes, these are things I dream about. You do you and I’ll do me. I love to organize and I’ve been like this since I was a youngster, so my 10 year old self was super stoked about the whole thing.
The garage already had some built in storage so I deep cleaned it all and added baskets I already had to organize more gear. I did not go out and purchase much for this refresh. Most of it was sorting and classifying and choosing what stays and what moves on. I figured it I haven’t used it in the last two years then I wasn’t going to use it going forward.
How much did it cost?
Shelves and brackets $150
Paint -$0 : Used what we had. I painted the bare edges of the shelves mostly to seal against the elements and because my guy said I had to.
Time -Most of the labor was done in a day. I’m still organizing and fine tuning out how I want things.
Baskets– 4/$60 total at Cost Plus World Market. Not pictured but they are great for gloves and hats and leg warmers or other gear that might be needed. I did search for some cheaper options but I also have several already in the space and I like that they’re not all the same.
$3 for the small storage bin I scored at someone’s garage sale (gotta love the irony) for the teeny tiny stuff like cleats and valve caps. I was going to buy a new one, but this works great so why not reuse it?
Using the phrase Marie Kondo uses, the whole space sparks joy now. Want a bike valve? Oh, I know exactly where that is. Need an Allen tool? Yep, I know where those are. How about tubes? I have an inventory.
Organizing the garage has had a liberating effect on me. I know where the gear I need is and I can get my hands on it immediately and that sparks joy!
How about you? Do you organize your bike gear? What are some things you do to make the gear you use all the time more accessible? Is there anything else you’d like to know about the bike “boutique” garage? Share in the comments.
Thanks for taking some time to read my blog. I appreciate it.
Here’s a small gallery of pics. Do you have a favorite? Have a marvelous day!
I’ve been watching Le Tour de France this summer. I’m always in awe of how fast, how far and just how this race comes together. Think about it. Twenty-three days and multiple countries on flats and in mountains and always right alongside rabid fans. It’s a spectacle that captivates my imagination. I stopped watching in 2017 because I was traveling in July. Then Paul Sherwin of the Phil Ligget/Paul Sherwin team of commentators for the Tour died in 2018 and I couldn’t listen. I missed their collaborative banter. They were such a great team of commentators whose “suitcase of knowledge” about the sport made me feel like I should sit up and take notes. It wasn’t the same without Paul. But this year with Bob Roll riding shotgun with Phil Liggett plus Chris Horner and Christian Vande Velde in the studio it’s been amazing. Watching these young riders primed and ready to attack is entertaing and fun once again. I’m not one for watching any other sport so take this all with a swig of your favorite sports beverage.
I’ve been entertained to such a level that I’ve taken my 2012 Trek Portland road bike (probably more of a touring rig) out for a spin on more than one occasion in the last several days.
As a commuter I forgot what a road bike feels like. It’s a different sort of riding experience when you clip in and go. I’m amazed at how swift and agile the machine feels. Shifting is instantaneous and your heart pumps with a pace that makes you feel alive and ready to race and pace with anyone around. I immediately saw a rider in front of me and went full tilt to catch ‘em like a retriever eyeing a bird. Of course the guy was in his 70s and on a tricycle with a basket, but still, in my mind he was Chris Froome.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m not a racer but gosh it seems like such an exciting life. The bikes are exquisite and I love that the traffic is all in service to the riders. The cars are ready to serve each rider whatever they need; water, air, food, energy bar, a new bike, now that’s perfect.
My husband has stepped up to the challenge of watching with me too. “What’s the Green jersey?” He asks. “But the dots are mountains?”
It’s fun to realize what I know about TdF standings as if I’m a child who knows all the names of the dinosaurs. “He doesn’t have the legs today,” I’ll observe or when I explain how the riders need to cool down after a ride.
“I’m only watching this because of YOU.” My husband observes daily but it’s genuinely fun because the arena is the world. I mean how amazing is it to hear all the languages and see the sights and scenery. I especially love when the rider crosses the finish line and punches the air with the herd of helpers gathering around with water and congradulatory pats and shoulder squeezes.
I understand why people speak in sports metaphores when I watch the Tour. Life is full of stages and some are mountain stages when others are flat and steady but all in all you get up, get dressed and go out there to see if you have the legs. You see what you can do. Some days you’re in the peloton just keeping pace, helping your mates and other days you’re on the podium.
Thanks for reading. Have yourself a Yellow Jersey sort of day.
It’s a simple question that could be answered simply. How was your year? The year refers to my school year which typically starts at the end of August and ends in mid-June. Of course it could be answered with words like busy, hectic, demanding, difficult, arduous, tough, exhausting, and even Herculean. I’m coming up on three weeks of summer break so far.
Readers, thanks for being here. I’m happy to be here too and I’m working on catching my breath after a school year that can best be described as riding a tandem alone on a gravel road with a 12% grade.
A little bit about myself. When I’m not Bike Goddess here on the blog and out on my bike, I’m a teacher. I’m a teacher-librarian which means I moved out of the classroom to be a school librarian over 25 years ago. I got another Master’s degree and became a teacher-librarian or what many call a Library Media Specialist. In some states you are required to have a degree in library science, media or learning resources. I enjoyed being a classroom teacher and I’m glad that I was able to move into library media early in my career. That is the perfect fit for my skills, interests and passions and I love it. Yes, I’m hooked on reading and I love working with tech and research so together all these skills mean that every single year is different. People often think “You must get tired doing the same thing year after year,” and that’s never been my experience. Very little is the same year to year and the last two years have been formidable.
I always have grand ideas about summer break. If it were up to me and me alone, I’d be in the Greek Islands on a bike roaming about from beach to beach eating dolmathes and sardinis and Greek feta with some Αλφα beer but Covid and travel uncertainties and the general malaise of pandemic and politics have grounded me. At the three week mark I usually start to let go of bits of the previous school year. I’m still on track with that. It’s the point where I’m processing the year and my subconscious have formed a sort of story for me to explain how I feel.
Maybe you’ve seen the posts about how teachers aren’t doing well. Maybe you’ve even read about how there are massive shortages in staffing and substitutes. Perhaps you’ve seen additional posts about how teachers can’t focus on their own mental health because of the constant barrage of attacks on what they’re teaching and how. It’s hard to explain how it’s different than a “normal” year since we haven’t been operating normally for quite some time.
Recovery is real and educators are in recovery mode now. While I don’t speak for all educators I can tell you that we’re all hemming and hawing about the state of affairs. When you try to be positive there’s some naysayer ready to meet your glee with doom. July has always been the month where I feel myself loosen up a bit like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. It’s the threshold month when I start to recognize myself in the mirror and feel a tiny spring in my step again. That means that the focus, like when you’re getting your vision tested, becomes clearer and clearer with each passing day. It’s when I can see for myself who I am again and I start to smile and laugh with less restraint. It’s when my pace becomes steady and I settle into a cadence that feels restorative.
My subconscious revealed to me in a dream about moving a grand piano what my year was like. In my dream another colleague told me to move a grand piano to an auditorium several miles from my school. In the dream the colleague said to “just get it done” and his tone was hostile and aggressive. I said it wasn’t really my job to do that. They’d have to hire a moving company or get the school district to make the move. “Not happening,” he said. “It’s you!” In the dream I resisted until I didn’t. I caved into the pressure or expectations to move the piano. Next scene, with a group of several students we moved the piano on its tiny little wheels over the streets and down a hill amidst traffic to the auditorium. None of us alone had the strength of Theseus . We worked together. Hmmmm. Very interesting Sigmund.
I woke up thinking about both the absurdity and truth in the dream. It was another intensely challenging year in which I felt that there was nothing I could do to make things right. I overcompensated with certain tasks which left me bereft in my own life with things I missed doing, like writing and resting. The year was as hard as moving a grand piano across town.
We all have our pianos don’t we? I don’t know what your piano is but I do know that if we don’t rest and if we don’t take care of ourselves the weight is unbearable.
Thanks for hanging out with my blog today. I appreciate it.
Have a great day and get out there and ride your bike.
If it was raining would you know if someone threw water in your face? I ask because last week while riding home from school a kid in the backseat of a car emptied his water bottle in my face and then threw the bottle at me.
Not being one to litter, I stopped and got the bottle and I was so confused by the whole incident I didn’t get a license plate but I did get a good look at the kid and the white Scion hatchback so even though I couldn’t “catch” them to throw the liter bottle back in the car and say, “Hey, dingdongheads you dropped this!” I did manage to think it over well enough to compose a decent blog post.
Over time I have been extremely lucky and had very few encounters like this out on the road. As the rain got a bit heavier and I thought about the times I’ve yelled back at a driver I can say it’s enough to count on one hand.
This sitch was different because there was someone else driving and the kid in the backseat seemed to be gleeful about his actions. I heard him laugh as if he heard a hilarious joke.
After retrieving the bottle I thought I saw them on the opposite side of the road but my glasses were dotted with drops and the din of rain and traffic noise made it hard to tell what was going on. Plus, there are lots of white cars out there.
Once I got home I was telling my husband and he said I should report it. Uh, how do you do that? It’s nonemergency and so do you call 911 or is there another number.
It’s 3-1-1 and there’s a dispatch operator who took down the details I report and asked me a few clarifying questions and then an officer called me to go over the the incident.
Bear in mind that I ride this route every single weekday. Monday through Friday, if I’ve ridden my bike to school I’m very likely riding this East-West stretch home. It’s wedged between a high school and a middle school and in a dozen or more years I’ve never had something hurled at me. Drivers along this segment are accustomed to the bike lane which is what makes this whole event all that much more startling.
“Would you recognize the kid if you saw him again?” Inquired the officer.
“Yes, I defintely could recognize him. He had reddish hair, no mask so I could see his face. He was 15-16 years old.” I replied.
“Yes, that’s consistent with other reports. Were you injured?” He wondered.
“No. The bottle missed me but it was certainly aimed at me. He emptied the water in close proximity to me and seemed like I was being splashed with extra water. It was as if I hit a branch on a tree that was heavy with water on its leaves. But I wasn’t near a tree. Then I saw the bottle and heard his laughing.” I explained.
“Hmm. Do you want to file a report in such a way that you have a case number?”
“No. I want you to know in the event that it happens again.” I continued.
“There have been other reports of a kid in a white hatchback who throws stuff at people walking or riding their bikes. We think he’s being picked up at school. That’s my beat, so I know.” The officer elaborated.
“Really?! Wow! I ride this all the time and this is a first, but I’ll keep an eye out.” I declared.
“Yes, and you have my number so if anything comes up don’t hesitate to let me know.”
After I hung up I felt like it was a small win for bikers. I also loved hearing the word “beat” in the conversation and I thought maybe he had one of those notebooks you jot down notes in like all the cop shows.
The next day, Friday, I took off like normal but when I got to the spot where the bottle was thrown I stopped for a moment to see if I got the cross street correct. Yes, it was 144th. Okay, good. Behold in front of me was the hatchback.
I took a few pics of it and called the officer and gave him a license plate. This is consistent with the other part of the story in which I heard the deliquents again on the other side of the street. I just couldn’t see since they probably passed as I was passing on the other side. They didn’t have school on Friday, but my school did, so I was out and about gathering evidence, I mean riding to school.
Overall, this was an interesting experience. The 4-1-1 on calling 3-1-1 is that you should do it. What’s the worst that can happen? You take a little bit of time to report an incident which could lead to helping out the next person. It’s important to the safety of others if you or someone else is harmed or threatened.
Be safe out there! Don’t let the dingdong heads keep you from enjoying the ride. As I mentioned before this incident was rare but it rattled me until I got it on the record and now I feel like I did my civic duty and maybe helped someone in the future. There’s strength in numbers and my dear readers and fellow bikers, we have to stick together.
Woke up to snow and a late start at school. Then within an hour or less it became a full closure. This day brought to me by Mother Nature and I decided to go ride. I went out early and the neighborhood was quiet and chill. Literally! I watched a bunch of videos from this cool creative person on YouTube called AkubraBromptonGirl and that gave me the motivation I needed to make a video about my romp in the powder.
It was in the forecast but it was “frozen mix” not a full on blizzard! Anyway, it’s fun and I realized how much fun it was to just get out there and ride plus make a video about it.
How’d I do? Is this video okay? I haven’t done one in a long time. They take so much more time than writing, but I do enjoy getting in there and making them. Would you like another about the awesome rain pants from @Showerspass?
Thanks to #Akubra for inspiring me to dive in and try.
Spring Break is almost always a rainy mess where I live. I know I complain too much about the gray days but I admit that I love where I live and I can’t imagine life anywhere else. Spring Break usually means a week of Zwift rides. Today was the exeptional exception and I had a great 40-mile bike ride out to the Sellwood Bridge and back again.
As is often the case the day started out cold but the sun was up and at ‘em so I began to entertain the idea of a long ride while we were out to breakfast. I spent some time on Tuesday cleaning my bike fore and aft since there was encrusted bits of winter clinging to everything. Like a homeowner who knows exactly what stair creaks in the house, I knew my bike was overdue for some lube and general cleaning.
I spent an hour or more deep cleaning and despite the fact that the rear derailer is still a bit greasier than it should be my bike looks brand new. Of course I went for a ride to show off and got caught in the rain. That was Tuesday and I only went 12 miles, but still, I was feeling exultant about my work. Also I’m only too happy to put on my new rain pants. I have to blog about my new Showers Pass Transit rain pants. They are the best ever! I mean they are a game changer!
After breakfast, an indulgence on trio of French toast, I decided to try for Sellwood. The reason this is a big deal is because I’ve only ridden out there a few times and it’s usually during the summer when the days are especially long and I can usually find someone to ride with me. On this occasion I just thought I’d go it alone. No big carved in marble plans, but the opportunity to try.
The first big news is that a land bridge that’s been under construction for the last several months reopened and it’s my direct route to the I-5 Bridge. What a primo upgrade! I mean it’s amazing to traverse this route now. The areas that were gutted and rutted are made smooth. Truly an Hallelujah sort of moment for me.
I did a couple of errands and then decided to go for it. By this time it was getting warmer and I was regretting wearing my puffy coat but it’s Portland and I could probably ride naked and no one would notice. I went through the Columbia Slough which was the perfect viewing deck for both Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood.
Like many things I haven’t done in awhile I was trying to remember how I wanted to get into downtown Portland. There are many routes but which one did I want to use? I almost always take the Broadway Bridge but I wasn’t certain if I wanted to go that way. There are several homeless encampments and friends have said that some areas should be avoided. But as long as I don’t get a flat I’m good, so I figured I’d forge ahead and if my Spidey sense kicks in somewhere along the way then I’ll go another direction. I have nowhere to be today except in the moment with my Sunny Day.
Everything was perfect. I mean picture perfect. I rode and rode and rode some more. I thought about how seamless the routes and trails and roads connect and I felt thankful to live here and to have been here since the beginning of the bike boom. While I often listen to a book or music I didn’t do any of that today. I listened to the air, watched the birds and squirrels. I felt warmth of the sun and watched the light sparkle like glitter on the river. I heard the wheels on pavement and the hum of my perfectly lubed rear cassette and I felt like this has been the moment I was waiting for over the last two years. It felt ever so slightly normal. I went from Vancouver to downtown Portland and then over the Sellwood Bridge and then took the descent into Oaks Bottom and rode along the Springwater Trail and then over the Tilikum Bridge and back into the city and home again. Three hours and 15 minutes to do 40.97 miles.
Unless you’re worried that I’m living in some sort of Bike-topia, there was an incident with a car wherein the driver cut in front of me in pursuit of a parking space. The driver’s window was down so I yelled at her that that was a dangerous move. She sheepishly apologised and I yelled, “Well, that’s not good enough.” I could have used some stronger language, but she did seem sorry.
Out to Sellwood is one of my favorite routes because it takes me along the Willamette Riviera (River) and it brings back scores of great memories of my adventures when I was a youngster in high school exploring the city. Back when I was just discovering how much I loved bicycling everywhere. There was nothing like the current network of paths but there are still some spots that remind me how far the city has come. How far I’ve come as well.
This was the ride I didn’t know I needed. One of those great rides that remind you that you’re gonna be okay. That life is heartbreaking and yet you can still get on a bike and find a path and move forward. That’s a good day in the saddle.
I didn’t go to Hawaii or someplace else for Spring Break. It’s not that I didn’t want to but I’m not ready for that sort of tourist travel yet. I was in Chicago recently not by choice but because my Uncle Harry passed away. I have more to say about that but this was the post that needed to be written today. It’s harder and harder to find our happy. Everything seems hard and it’s not like a bike where we can just shift and make something less difficult. I have two more days of Spring Break, then the weekend and then back to school. Today I had such a brilliant, beautiful ride that it was better than Hawaii.
Not better than Greece, but not much is.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. I appreciate it! What’s a ride that makes you happy? Tell me in the comments.
It’s the four day weekend and I’ve been waiting for it like it’s a long lost love. Four gorgeous days to not work. Four spectacular, wait what is this pain? Why does my head hurt and did Rocky give me a right hook on the, holy mother of pearls, this pain is like a brain freeze married a migraine and this was their offspring. Needless to say my stunning four day weekend kicked off at Urgent Care where I haven’t been since long, long before Covid and it will end Wednesday with a root canal.
It’s hard to fully capture all that was for the last four days but I will say thank the gods of Olympus and science for drugs because pain associated with teeth is torture hence the whole Marathon Man movie and I can’t even comprehend how people got by without the powers of numbing.
It didn’t start out with my tooth however. I’ll say that things were off a week ago. I didn’t feel myself and my neck and head were not feeling full range and normal. I felt tired but doesn’t everyone feel just a little off? I pushed through and by Wednesday last I had done myself in. I missed lunch and didn’t drink any water at school because masks and Chromebook pandemonium and classes and yeah, I did not take care of myself and I should have done something but what can you do? The long and the short of it is simply that there’s not enough me to go around and everyone is pushed to the max. I messed up. Thursday I felt like I would do better but my jaw was aching and I thought TMJ. I’m grinding and gnashing at night and that’s also part of the package right now. I’ll make it and it’ll be okay. But it didn’t get better.
On Friday I was moderately better. I went for a 10 mile bike ride and took some banned books like Maus and New Kid to the Little Free Libraries near my house and the ride perked up my soul, but not my body. I thought maybe the cold will loosen up my jaw. Maybe I should chew some gum? Sure, let’s put my whole face in the cold air like a big dog with its head out the window of a truck. I felt fleeting relief. Once I got back home and got inside the house, my head felt like it was imploding and exploding simultaneously. I was balled up and whimpering and once “the episode” passed I called the Advice Nurse to find out why I hadn’t heard from my doctor and then they suggested going to Urgent Care.
This is one thing we haven’t done during Covid. Thank goodness that we’ve been pretty healthy and all so this was a first. Husband drove me and waited. I didn’t get seen right away, but they did get an EKG and then like dinner at a fancy restaurant they texted me when my “care team” was ready to see me. By this time the pain feels like it’s starting to pool on the right side and settle in my jaw.
I’m escorted back and wait behind the curtain and I’m feeling okay but there are these waves of excruciating pain that are definitely not okay. What the heck is this? Of course I’m an expert on all things TMJ because I’ve read six articles on WebMD and I’m massaging my jaw. In the faux room across from there there a man who’s had a work related injury and a small cut is becoming a “gusher” and I think to myself that pain seen is easier to treat and mine so I’m wondering what happened to him and he’s talking about tourniquets and clotting blood and the nurse says in a gentle tone, “I can’t tell if you’re looking away because of the pain of the blood.” Oh dear Athena, what is going on over there. I want to fling open the curtain and offer my help but my only training is Gray’s Anatomy, so I’m probably no use to them. I hear muffled sounds and grunts and I’ve been waiting for 35 of the 15 minutes they initially said. I have determined that my pain seems to be most intense below my right ear. Is that my tooth then? Hmm?
In my curtained cubical a nurse pops in to apologize and she gives me an ice pack and I practically dive for the plastic bag of joy. She says it won’t be much longer but they’ve had some emergencies. Yeah, I get it I say. Bleeding sounds bad.
Veins take blood away from the heart and arteries to, so look at me. Maybe I can help over there? Nah, let’s not offer. But now the person says that a vein was nicked and they’ll tighten the tourniquet until the doctor can come and advise.
Oh, my gods!
Now the nurse asked if the guy has to work on Saturday.
Mumble, mumble from the guy.
“You need to take it easy. We can give you a note. You don’t want to stress this and you’ll need to take some time to heal.”
Swoosh. My curtain flies open and it’s all about me now. He’s Dr. Matt (I thought only chiropractors introduced themselves by their first name. I’m processing the blood guy and the wait did he say Dr. Matt or did he just say Matt? Why can’t I concentrate in here? He’s very tall. Like 6’5″ and he assures me that he’s there to help me. “Tell me more about how you’re feeling?” Turns out his wife is a Gnasher so he can tell but he’s pretty sure that it’s not TMJ because those symptoms don’t just come on like this did. No elevated blood count that would reveal an internal infection. Lymph glands are fine. Heart is great. Blood pressure is great. Yeah, nothing left but the teeth.
Appears that my right molar is discolored and that’s where his expertise ends and I’ll need to make contact with my dentist.
Saturday was spent on pain killers and penicillin with some fitful naps and not much eating. Sunday I begged for some relief. Thank goodness I wasn’t pushed so far over the edge that I sold a bike to relieve my pain, but I had a partial root canal to relieve the pressure and he said the words I was most afraid to hear, “No bike rides for a few days.”
There’s truth in teeth. Seriously if someone wanted to torture me they’d have to go through my teeth. It’s so sensitive in there and even when you’re given some relief you start to confess things. When I was getting my partial root canal and the dentist was numbing and novocaning, he said he’d go give my husband an update on how I was doing. I called after the dentist about my husband and cautioned, “Be careful, he’s prickly and he bites.” When it comes to teeth and pain in the mouth regions I will cave.
Wednesday I get the real deal and the tooth of the matter is that I’m looking forward to putting this four day weekend in the rear view mirror. I know there are better ones ahead.
As far as the guy in the room across from me I can only hope that he took a few days off and his days are brighter also.
Happy Lunar New Year! I like that it’s a new month and another new year. January was intense for me. January is usually the one month out of the 12 that sort of comes with too many expectations and it has this never-ending quality which is overwhelming. It was challenging to ride and you’ve read my ongoing complaints about rain, so January was a slog.
January is all business. I usually set some goals like how many books I want to read this year (100) and how many miles I want to ride (5,000) and other than that I’m going to enjoy the days and the seasons and see what comes. Not too many plans. I’d like to post more on my blog, but that’s a very indefinite goal. I noticed I posted the first part of last and I’ll admit with my Tigers shirt I felt a post coming on. I know if I’m too definite I end up disappointing myself so when the muse speaks I listen and try to write.
What else? Maybe traveling will come back into view, but if it doesn’t I’ll have to be okay with that. Maybe I’ll get the basement of the house finished but it’ll have to be okay if that doesn’t pan out either because I’m content and I’ve learned over the last two years that that’s a gift all by itself.
I won’t hedge my bets this year on anything and I’ll tame the tiger in me a bit and try to nurture the calm instead of getting riled up. That’s important for the Tiger born since we’re often “hungry for excitement” and I agree that I often look for mischief and even when I try to avoid it, well, it comes my direction anyway.
Ox and Goat are considered the “luckiest” signs in the Chinese zodiac and apparently wearing red will bring you luck in your birth sign year. Maybe I should buy a red bike? Riding a red bike would certainly be the luckiest way to celebrate, don’t you agree? Red isn’t my favorite color, but let’s agree that red bikes are attractive. Have you ever owned a red bike? My first bike was red. It also had three wheels, but it was a beauty.
I am superstitious. I’m Greek, so I was trained in the ways of my grandmother, my yiayia, that itchy palms mean money coming your way and you enter a house with your left foot and you always spit to bring good fortune and toss salt behind an unwanted guest and they’ll leave. I think a red bike for good luck makes sense. There’s one Greek superstition that involved the color red. If you and someone else are talking and you both same the same thing at the same time, like when you say, JINX, well to the Greeks that means that you and the other person are going to have a big argument so you touch red cloth to bread the spell. I know, right? You can’t make this stuff up. A red bike seems to make the most sense.
As the sun sets on one month and we get closer to Spring, life starts to feel less dark. Yes, there’s more light and we’re waking up out of hibernation and it feels good. Winter won’t last forever and we can all roar into another month. I may not see the sun often enough but when I do I try to take a picture so I can remind myself that it’s going to be okay.
Thanks for reading. Greeks also like to say, “Good month” or “Καλο μηνα” at the start of each month. That’s less a superstition than it is a good omen. Now where’s my evil eye? (called το ματι in Greek. Wards off the bad stuff.
The snow came last week and the cold persists into the new year. Meanwhile I think of the white beaches of Naxos or Paros or Santorini because this Goddess can’t warm up. The nippy temps nip at my eyes, masked face and I think I’ll never been toasty again. This isn’t a blog post about how I don’t like the chilly temps. I do enjoy the seasons, my only wish is that they were all like summer. Mostly I’m kidding. All the season have their charms, however, when you are a year-round cyclist and bike commuter you want the weather to cooperate.
On New Year’s Eve I went for a ride and I underestimated the wind chill and the general arctic feel of being outside. My two layers were not enough and I then I succumbed to the nippy air and biked less than six miles and complained about it for at least an hour after I got home. I am not new to this topic. I wasn’t thinking. I have all the right gear and I can only conclude that because the sun was shining I suffered from the delusion that it wasn’t all that bad. Often this is the case in the Northwest. That’s why sometimes you’ll spot someone outside in shorts and a t-shirt when it’s in the high 30’s but the sun is shining like it’s 80.
Admittedly, I was flummoxed about how I could be duped. Wishful, optimistic thinking perhaps?
Today being the first day of 2022 I wanted to go on a local ride in Portland. However it was 23 degrees when I got up and then it warmed to 26 and then my husband did the unthinkable. He made this roaring fire and I sat and enjoyed every ember as though it were a gift from the heavens.
The New Year’s Day ride was set to start at noon. I saw some posts on Instagram and it looks like 70+ brave souls were out there. The fireplace was holding me captive so despite “registering” for the ride I bailed. In the hopes that the temps would climb to 30 degrees later in the day I started planning my own 10 miler around my neighborhood. How did I manage? I layered up as if I was about to head out for the peak of Mt. Hood.
Getting dressed for winter bike rides is similar to climbing a mountain— you have to begin at the base. I started with a two foundation layers; a thermal long-sleeve t-shirt and a merino wool hoodie. Then added a SmartWool jacket with puffy core. My favorite jacket is a Gore insulated jacket that I’ve had for years. It’s perfect at 45º but not enough for today’s temps without a windbreaker, so my ShowersPass windbreaker to the rescue. I bought an XL for just this sort or layering. That’s 5 layers. At this point I wasn’t sure in which layer my phone was hidden. I had to frisk myself. I added fleece lined thermal bike tights and my heaviest DeFeet wool socks. I could still bend in all the right places and generally move, so it was time to test it out.
I lasted for 10.2 miles and 49 minutes. I feel like I could have gone a bit longer but my hands could turn water into ice cubes. Consequently there are no pics because the thought of peeling off my gloves to snap a selfie was unbearable. All in all the layering test was successful. I know that my gloves are in dire need of an upgrade. It’s always something! I have a set of bar mitts but I’ve never had much luck with them. That’s tomorrow’s project.
Mother Nature is a formidable opponent. I know winter won’t last forever and I know that as a cyclist I have to be more tuned into exactly what I need to be comfortable, safe and climate controlled on my bike.
When I say, “Get out there and ride” I mean it, however, make sure you’re ready for the elements.
Here’s a short post to say thank you for being out there following this blog and sharing your insights. Even reading a post here and there helps motivate me. When I see the notification that someone has said something or Liked the post I’m overjoyed and feel less alone in the vast universe.
We know all our rides are not merry. Yesterday someone was parked in the bike lane and up ahead of the parked car there was a police car and the officer was alongside the offending vehicle telling the driver that they were parked in a bike lane and “You can’t be here. I’ll let you off today in the spirit of the holidays, but—see look here (pointing at me) there’s a biker and you’re making her go into traffic because YOU are in the bike lane.” It was a Christmas miracle and had me smiling all the way home.
I give you my thanks for reading, following and generally liking my blog posts. Plus check out these pretty ornaments! I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas. May you find your days merry and bright and may there be no cars in or near your bike lane.
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.
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?
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.
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!”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Do you travel with your bike? Tell me about it in the comments.
Until next time, get out there and ride your bike.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
“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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. All photos are mine. Please contact me if you wish to use them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 Meloncoats 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 Clothingis 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 pannieris “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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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?
It’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.
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.
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!