Racing A Roadie

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Roadie Dude

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading.

Bike Goddess

BrompTuesday

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Have Brompton, can go anywhere!

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

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

Grasslands and glens abound on the Burnt Bridge Trail.

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

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

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

New rack and wheels on the rack.

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

Katniss Everbike with a view.

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

The 411 on The 606

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Welcome, indeed!

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

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

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

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

I’m glowing!

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

Cool mural on the way to the trail.

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

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

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

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

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

A feast for all the senses.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bike Goddess

It’s A Bromptime!

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

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

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

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

New Bike Day with Katniss Everbike: June 6, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bromptosaurus and Katniss in Chicago.

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

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

Stay safe,

Bike Goddess

Chicago near Buckingham Fountain

Special-Evangelize

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay healthy,

Bike Goddess

Adding Up, Counting Down

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

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

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

2020 Full speed ahead!

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

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

Until next time.

Ride.

Bike Goddess

TuesDivvy Last Week

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

The best buy is $15 for the day.

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

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

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

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

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

Way to roll, Chicago!

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

Thanks for reading.

Get out there and ride!

Bike Goddess