The sky looks like Milk of Magnesia and I’m not impressed with the forecast for the day. Not raining does not mean sun. There isn’t rain today but I did experience a brief misting. There is snow in the forecast for Wednesday, but for now it’s just dull.
I won’t say how stunned I am about how quickly this month is passing. I won’t drone on about the fickleness of the weather. I won’t invoke the various frustrations I’m having with the morning temperatures which hover in the high 20s and only climb to the mid 30s. I’ll reject the notion that spring is in the air, because it’s not. The gardening shops are putting out the pansies and it’s all I can do to resist the urge to buy them to brighten up the yard, but the fact is that there’s still frost on the roads and rooftops in the morning and I’m going to stay firm in my commitment to waiting. I’m here to announce that I’m trying to keep a steady cadence in life and I’m overjoyed that Monday is a holiday.
Holly Berry, my newest bike, is simply lovely and I enjoy taking her on rides she hasn’t been on yet. Today we went to the waterfront and looked at how the Milk of Magnesia sky met the gunmetal gray of the Columbia River and I enjoyed looking at her candy apple red frame against the backdrop of winter dull. She’s gleeful in a sea of dullness.
Last week I decided to ride in spite of the weather. I didn’t care if it was icy, I was going to give it a go and commute anyway. We had a late start on Tuesday because there was a bit of a dusting of snow at higher elevations but since school started 2 hours later I figured it would be okay. I’m glad I did so at least I have a sense of what it looks like when I ride in those conditions but I don’t know if I would do that again. Probably I would but I hopped up onto the sidewalk at several points on my commute since the bike paths were icy.
Why do you do it? People ask me that all the time. They cite various issues, like safety and time and of course the unpredictable weather. I guess I do it because it’s beautiful to see how nature works and behold with my own eyes how spectacular it all is. That and bragging rights! There are things about commuting that people often say seem dull. I don’t really get that because I can’t fathom commuting by car. While it is a challenge some days to get in gear and ride, I’d much prefer that to the alternative. I get to witness the sunrise and sunset and the birds and the blooming of everything. It’s like having a front row seat to a performance and sometimes it’s beyond awesome.
Winter is long and cold and sometimes it feels like it will never be over. I often remind myself in a commute that the seasons will change and to settle in and enjoy the moment I’m in. It’s not easy but when you breathe in that cold air and open your eyes wide you can see that it’s pretty special to just be in it all.
Wherever you are in the world and with whatever the season, I hope you’re doing well and enjoying the ride.
Thanks for reading! Get out there and ride your bike
Red is a great color for a bike or a car or a cape. I have wanted a red bike since I was grew out of my red tricycle. I’ve pined over red mixtes (Soma Buena Vista) and road bikes (Salsa Warbird) and even mountain bikes (I did have a Gary Fisher Tasajara) but what they possessed in color they lacked in other ways, or that’s what I tell myself. Hi, I’m Bike Goddess and I have an addiction to bikes. Thanks for being here.
When Bryan at the eBikeStore informed me in an email that the bike of my dreams might be available for a test ride, I bit. See if you can answer the questions:
George Clooney, Madonna, Donatella Versace and Sir Richard Branson all have homes on Lake _________. (Como)
When excited, a favorite greeting is a “High __________.” (Five)
Ferrari’s are often this color: __________. (Red)
When I got my first electric bike it was winter of 2015 and the bike was a Faraday Cortland with a belt drive. It had the 3 B’s. Belt drive. Beauty. Blissful. The third B I use to refer to the sounds a bike makes while you’re riding. I want my ride to be steath and I don’t want to hear the machine of the bike regardless of electric or not. The Como got a 4 out of 5 on the Bliss scale of noise. The battery is the quietest ever however there’s a sound the chain makes that’s a bit on the loud end when you’re coasting. My Cortland was my favorite and still holds a place in my heart. It’s baby blue with hints of opalescence so the color alone is iconic and difficult to name.
Why a belt drive? I took a belt drive bike for a test ride years ago but I let myself be swayed by popular opinion at the time and price. Popular opinion from the bike mechanics was that it was a fad and I should wait and see. The bike was expensive and just wanted to see what it was like. I was extremely impressed but I’d wait. Belt drives are stealth and maintence free. Imagine never dealing with chain grease or chain issues at all. I mean at all.
Lulu, the Cortland, has over 6,500 miles and she’s the only belt drive bike I’ve ever owned. She was my dream ride. Super cute and perfect for my 20 miles a day commute. I dolled her up with a few accessories and we got along famously for quite sometime. However the range of 22 miles round trip proved difficult for a few things just outside the range like riding into Portland and back. Two levels of boost such as boost and a little more boost was fine in 2015. She’s sublime and everything I wanted until I needed just a little more.
Isn’t that the way it goes. My second ebike is the one I ride now which is a Specialize Como 5 Turbo. I did call her Ella (Greek for come) but recently she’s become more of a Perri, as in Perry Como because it’s such a great name and when I had her in the bike shop for some annoying crooning and creaking, Perry became the obvious name choice. She has over 14,000 miles which means she’s taken the lead over any of my miles and my Kona mixte comes in at 13,000 as an analog bike. Both of these bikes fit me like designer jeans or like they were made especially for me. I can ride and ride and ride either bike without worry. All the adages come true with these two bikes. I can go the distance and wear whatever I want, kitted up or not, these bikes are my steelmates.
The desire for a belt drive nags at me however. And the color. I don’t mind the midnight blue but I live in the Northwest and everything from November to May is midnight blue. I want color. I commute to and from work and most errands and generally I do everything and go everywhere on my bikes. Don’t I deserve it? Yeah, but do you really need it? Ugh! Life in my head is like the Devil and the Angel and I’d like to evict both of them.
Very soon I will test ride the new Como 5 in red with a belt drive. There’s a possibility that this bike can also be outfitted with a large basket in front that is frame mounted which is another feature from the Cortland that I adored. This will pose a big problem for me because I will want. I will pine. I will long for it. I will feel all the feels and I’ll need it like I need air. I will feel all the longings of all my days summed up in one object and I’ll be out of my right mind and become obsessed with having the thing I don’t really need but I want.
The answer to the questions above are: Como. Five and red. This is a review from Ebike Review and even though it’s the Como 3, you’ll get the basic idea. I don’t 100% love the look and the deep step through but I could see myself appreciating it in a few more years too.
Will this one have it all? The truth is I could be content with Perry Como as she is. There are many features I’ve dialed in on my 2019 Como. You know how it is. You fiddle and toy and tinker until it fits the way you want and does what you want it to do. I have the basket situation arranged so I use a Timbuk2 messenger bag to stash all my capes and clothes and accoutrement so basically the new Como will have to knock my cleats off. I wonder if it will.
Thanks for reading my musings on bikes and accessories. It is a bit of an addiction, but a good one. At least that’s what I tell myself. Right? What are your bike obsessions? Anything that’s a deal breaker?
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!
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?
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?