Ahead of Pace, mostly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tunnel of lights.

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

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

Happy December eve.

Stay warm and get out there and ride!

Bike Goddess

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Ride Your Rapture

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.

Specialized Como 5

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

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

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

Take off.

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

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

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

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

Get out there and ride.

Bike Goddess

Along For the Ride

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I love the smell of tires in a bike shop.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Enjoying the new ride.

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

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

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Saddle height measuring.

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

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

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Thanks Greg for the ride! The FX1 was perfect!

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

Thanks for reading. Now get out there and ride.

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

Bike Goddess