My Bike Ride is My Bliss

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

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

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

Bike Goddess

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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

 

 

 

Santorini State of Mind

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‎⁨Nisos Thira⁩, ⁨Megalochori⁩, ⁨Greece⁩.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Everything does taste better on vacation!

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

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

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

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You can ring the bells!

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

 

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View from just outside the church doors.

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

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

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

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This is the look of contentment.

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

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

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

Bike Goddess

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

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I really do love Santorini! 

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Sights on a New Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nisos Thira, Agios Georgios, Greece @SantoriniAdventures

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

Cheers!

Bike Goddess

 

 

 

 

Glad Ridings to All

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Merry Christmas! There is something magical about snow on Christmas Eve. It’s a child’s dream to see a blanket of white. Everything gets quiet and soft except for the sound of fat tires eating up the powder and making tracks. In truth I lasted only 1.3  miles of neighborhood riding, but still it was an epic ride. A few people in cars giving me sideways glances as if I am “that crazy neighbor” who bikes places they wouldn’t drive to. That’s okay! I love the sound of the tires compacting the snow and moving like a beast on the surface. Awesome!

It’s rare to have snow right now, making it even more special. In 2017, January was the month I rode the least. I got a Wahoo and set it up in the basement. I learned I like being outdoors so I didn’t use it much after January but this year I am going to use it at least once a week for distance and speed. Foreshadowing of some resolutions. Commuting is going well, but the weather does put a damper on the day when you’d like to just have a good workout. A sweat fest of spinning. I did ride more miles in 2017.

 

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January my time was only in the teens. We had record snowfall and school closures pushed the end of the year to June 26th. Longer rides and more miles in the summer months, but October was spectacular too!

I’ve never been the rabbit in the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. Even as a child when I would hear the story, I thought that the tortoise had the best pace. Slow and steady, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like speed. I do! But I don’t want to get injured or break something in the process which could sideline me for months. I’m the tortoise; cautious and slow. I don’t ride to keep up, I ride to set my own pace.

Before 2017 I used mass transit every morning to get to within 5 miles of my work. Then I’d ride. Now, I go the distance and ride in the morning and afternoon. That amounts to 20+ miles per day of commuting. I know some people do more, or less, but this is just right for me. When the weather is cooperative, I’ll add more to the ride home.

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Santa was on track with me this year. I love my slippers! The Wahoo Elemnt is going to be great. I plan to use it today on an indoor ride. Can you do that? I paired it with everything and I’m excited to give it a whirl, but remember that snow I talked about earlier? It’s iced up quite a bit and I’d like to play it safe and spin up a sweat inside. There are cookies in my future today.

Adding to the blog more often and planning out my posts was another goal this year. It has helped immeasurably to hear from you.

Readers, I wish you the best today and everyday! Thank you for following this blog and sharing your adventures and interests. Glad ridings to us, everyone!

As we wrap up another Christmas, I can’t help but wonder what’s ahead. You know what it’s like when you’re on a road and you can’t quite see as the road bends and yet you keep pedaling onward. Forward.

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Until next time.

Season’s greetings and glad riding!
Bike Goddess

Long Weekend Wonders

Nothing like an extra day of weekending. In my neck of the woods, I had sun and clear skies. I had to apply sunscreen for my ride. First time in a while!  I had time for a ride or three. It was enough to get me excited about summer riding. My commute got the weekend off. My other bikes got a little time to play. Time to ride with no real plan is the best way to relax. Drinking in the scenery, the sun and feeling the topography under my tires. There’s nothing like it.

 

The wonders of riding a bike don’t have to be limited to long weekends. Tomorrow I’m back to my commute and I have a taste for summer on my bike.

Get out there and ride!
Happy trails,

Bike Goddess

New Gen Gets All the Fun

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Did you have access to a cycling team when you were in high school? I remember being in my high school math class and there was an announcement over the PA on a Monday morning. Blah, blah, blah and then something about our bike team winning a race. I thought, “Huh, we have a bike racing team?” I had no idea. The team consisted of four to six guys, two of them were in the upcoming spring play with me and I didn’t know that either one even rode a bike. Then what followed was the math teacher saying my name repeatedly to break me out of my dumfounded state of consciousness.

How did I miss this opportunity? I still don’t know, but a friend of mine, Larry,  saw this article and sent it my direction. I wondered why we don’t see more cycling in high school. Find the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) on Facebook and give them a like. Also you can donate online to help their efforts. Mountain biking is a far more attractive option for our young racers in training. What a great way to learn how to handle a bike and perfect your skills with balance and agility. At the end of nearly every sentence I kept moaning, “Where was this when I was in high school?”

Personally I did not find a place with traditional sports in high school. I was easily discouraged. I enjoyed volleyball the most, but I had the impression I was supposed to be good right away and I wasn’t. I thought you went to practice and learned about the game, whatever the game. I parted ways with the idea that I’d be able to learn a sport and put my focus in other areas. I kept riding my bike to school and work at my after school job.

“A lot of these kids have done football, baseball, and haven’t really found their place in traditional sports,” says Shaun Anderson, who coaches the Cuyuna Lakes team in northern Minnesota. “They find this and it’s given them a home.”

Truth be told, I’m older than the mountain bike, but younger than Gary Fisher.  I’ll donate what I can to help the efforts of NICA! The next generation can count on me to support their riding.

Good job team! Read more about NICA here.

What do you think? Wish you had something like this? Were you lucky enough to be on a team in your youth? I would have loved to letter in mountain biking!

Have a great week.

Be safe and get out there an ride.

BG