Paddle Over Peddle

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We cyclists work out the lower half of the body with every revolution. Whether we go fast or mosey our way to and from work or wherever, we are working out our legs, calves, thighs and gluts. We ride the waves of the pavement like a surfer amidst the swells. Our arms, biceps, shoulders and back hold us in place but they don’t get half the workout that our southern regions do.

Kayak time.

Even professional cyclists have massively muscular legs with well defined calves and quads while their arms look like linguine. I’m not a professional but I do love it when I notice my leg muscles. I mean I can’t see ‘em but sometimes you flex and suddenly you’re like, “Whoa, those are my legs and dang, there’s some new definition there.”

In the waning days of summer as the start of a new school year looms I’ve been longing for the water. My guy sails and he’s very good at it. I love the feel of sailing but I admit that within a short time of being on board, I’m ready for a nap. The lulling action is like being rocked into the lands of Wynken, Blynken and Nod. Also, I’m here to admit to you dear readers that sailing is an all day event and unlike biking you’re at the mercy of the currents and wind and factors that on a bike you can usually change by going left or right and trying a different route. I’m not the sailor my guy is nor is he the biker I am.

Not my dog in the water, but that’s our sailboat.

We’ve been trying for over a week to go out for a sail, but there hasn’t been enough wind to scoot a napkin across a table let alone fill sails. We have a kayak and the ducks and geese in the marina have been terrible tenants. There was evidence of their derelict behaivor and partying so we decided to remind them that it belongs to us. Within an hour we had it all cleaned up and ready for action.

Geese what? They quite literally did #2 on our kayak cover.

After a deep cleaning and super scrub we successfully exfoiliated all the moss and algae and unidentified green goo from the underside and I went out for a paddle. Not a typo, I paddled a kayak. A paddle over peddle means that a muscle group heretofore unused got a bit a of a workout. It was a gorgeous dead calm day in the marina which means I had a great time paddling about like I was on an Olympic Paddle Team. It was glorious and I stayed out there for over an hour.

I’m not a seasoned kayaker, but I’m not a novice either. Here’s how it usually goes. I go out and then the next day my arms scream for relief and I don’t go out again for 4 years. I was thinking about that as I paddled around. Don’t overdo it in such a way that you never want to do it again.

Despite the fact that the opening to the Columbia beckoned to me like a siren I opted for the safety of the marina. I have no idea what the currents are like and IF my triceps could handle it.

I could stop and start and turn around pretty easily and I was feeling good. I was musing about taking a kayak trip of the whole Columbia, but of course, that’s the lustiness of adventure speaking. I paddled around and felt like a teenager who got their driver’s license. I didn’t know I could record kayaking as a Strava activity or else I’d have proper evidence. Next time.

What about that other muscle group known as the upper body? I’m happy to report that the next day my triceps were fine. Okay, a little stiff but if anything I feel ready to go again. I’m not as sore as I thought I would be. That must mean that I yell and wave my arms at offending car traffic enough to keep those muscles toned.

What’s the attraction? Why kayak instead of a bike ride? Some cyclists run. I’m not a runner. However with all these activities you are communing with nature and enjoying the world around you in a different way and seeing life from another perspective. I’m always up for that kind of adventure.

I rarely choose anything over a bike ride, but sometimes you gotta get out there are try something else. Paddle over peddle? Sure, it’s every bit as fun. What about you? Ever been kayaking? What did you think?

Thanks for reading my blog. I appreciate it and I hope you enjoy the rest of the month. Stay safe and take care.

Kayak Goddess. Nah, just kidding. It doesn’t have the same ring. Until next time, get out there and ride. Or paddle.

Bike Goddess

The 4-1-1 on 3-1-1

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If it was raining would you know if someone threw water in your face? I ask because last week while riding home from school a kid in the backseat of a car emptied his water bottle in my face and then threw the bottle at me.

Not being one to litter, I stopped and got the bottle and I was so confused by the whole incident I didn’t get a license plate but I did get a good look at the kid and the white Scion hatchback so even though I couldn’t “catch” them to throw the liter bottle back in the car and say, “Hey, dingdongheads you dropped this!” I did manage to think it over well enough to compose a decent blog post.

Over time I have been extremely lucky and had very few encounters like this out on the road. As the rain got a bit heavier and I thought about the times I’ve yelled back at a driver I can say it’s enough to count on one hand.

This sitch was different because there was someone else driving and the kid in the backseat seemed to be gleeful about his actions. I heard him laugh as if he heard a hilarious joke.

After retrieving the bottle I thought I saw them on the opposite side of the road but my glasses were dotted with drops and the din of rain and traffic noise made it hard to tell what was going on. Plus, there are lots of white cars out there.

Once I got home I was telling my husband and he said I should report it. Uh, how do you do that? It’s nonemergency and so do you call 911 or is there another number.

It’s 3-1-1 and there’s a dispatch operator who took down the details I report and asked me a few clarifying questions and then an officer called me to go over the the incident.

Bear in mind that I ride this route every single weekday. Monday through Friday, if I’ve ridden my bike to school I’m very likely riding this East-West stretch home. It’s wedged between a high school and a middle school and in a dozen or more years I’ve never had something hurled at me. Drivers along this segment are accustomed to the bike lane which is what makes this whole event all that much more startling.

“Would you recognize the kid if you saw him again?” Inquired the officer.

“Yes, I defintely could recognize him. He had reddish hair, no mask so I could see his face. He was 15-16 years old.” I replied.

“Yes, that’s consistent with other reports. Were you injured?” He wondered.

“No. The bottle missed me but it was certainly aimed at me. He emptied the water in close proximity to me and seemed like I was being splashed with extra water. It was as if I hit a branch on a tree that was heavy with water on its leaves. But I wasn’t near a tree. Then I saw the bottle and heard his laughing.” I explained.

“Hmm. Do you want to file a report in such a way that you have a case number?”

“No. I want you to know in the event that it happens again.” I continued.

“There have been other reports of a kid in a white hatchback who throws stuff at people walking or riding their bikes. We think he’s being picked up at school. That’s my beat, so I know.” The officer elaborated.

“Really?! Wow! I ride this all the time and this is a first, but I’ll keep an eye out.” I declared.

“Yes, and you have my number so if anything comes up don’t hesitate to let me know.”

After I hung up I felt like it was a small win for bikers. I also loved hearing the word “beat” in the conversation and I thought maybe he had one of those notebooks you jot down notes in like all the cop shows.

The next day, Friday, I took off like normal but when I got to the spot where the bottle was thrown I stopped for a moment to see if I got the cross street correct. Yes, it was 144th. Okay, good. Behold in front of me was the hatchback.

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I took a few pics of it and called the officer and gave him a license plate. This is consistent with the other part of the story in which I heard the deliquents again on the other side of the street. I just couldn’t see since they probably passed as I was passing on the other side. They didn’t have school on Friday, but my school did, so I was out and about gathering evidence, I mean riding to school.

Overall, this was an interesting experience. The 4-1-1 on calling 3-1-1 is that you should do it. What’s the worst that can happen? You take a little bit of time to report an incident which could lead to helping out the next person. It’s important to the safety of others if you or someone else is harmed or threatened.

Be safe out there! Don’t let the dingdong heads keep you from enjoying the ride. As I mentioned before this incident was rare but it rattled me until I got it on the record and now I feel like I did my civic duty and maybe helped someone in the future. There’s strength in numbers and my dear readers and fellow bikers, we have to stick together.

Watch your 6 o’clock and get out there and ride.

-BG

Oh Sunny Day!

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Sellwood Bridge, Portland, Oregon

Spring Break is almost always a rainy mess where I live. I know I complain too much about the gray days but I admit that I love where I live and I can’t imagine life anywhere else. Spring Break usually means a week of Zwift rides. Today was the exeptional exception and I had a great 40-mile bike ride out to the Sellwood Bridge and back again.

As is often the case the day started out cold but the sun was up and at ‘em so I began to entertain the idea of a long ride while we were out to breakfast. I spent some time on Tuesday cleaning my bike fore and aft since there was encrusted bits of winter clinging to everything. Like a homeowner who knows exactly what stair creaks in the house, I knew my bike was overdue for some lube and general cleaning.

Shiny and bright.

I spent an hour or more deep cleaning and despite the fact that the rear derailer is still a bit greasier than it should be my bike looks brand new. Of course I went for a ride to show off and got caught in the rain. That was Tuesday and I only went 12 miles, but still, I was feeling exultant about my work. Also I’m only too happy to put on my new rain pants. I have to blog about my new Showers Pass Transit rain pants. They are the best ever! I mean they are a game changer!

After breakfast, an indulgence on trio of French toast, I decided to try for Sellwood. The reason this is a big deal is because I’ve only ridden out there a few times and it’s usually during the summer when the days are especially long and I can usually find someone to ride with me. On this occasion I just thought I’d go it alone. No big carved in marble plans, but the opportunity to try.

The first big news is that a land bridge that’s been under construction for the last several months reopened and it’s my direct route to the I-5 Bridge. What a primo upgrade! I mean it’s amazing to traverse this route now. The areas that were gutted and rutted are made smooth. Truly an Hallelujah sort of moment for me.

The Vancouver Land Bridge got a new surface. It’s bliss!

I did a couple of errands and then decided to go for it. By this time it was getting warmer and I was regretting wearing my puffy coat but it’s Portland and I could probably ride naked and no one would notice. I went through the Columbia Slough which was the perfect viewing deck for both Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood.

Columbia Slough (slew) with Mt. Hood in the distance.

Like many things I haven’t done in awhile I was trying to remember how I wanted to get into downtown Portland. There are many routes but which one did I want to use? I almost always take the Broadway Bridge but I wasn’t certain if I wanted to go that way. There are several homeless encampments and friends have said that some areas should be avoided. But as long as I don’t get a flat I’m good, so I figured I’d forge ahead and if my Spidey sense kicks in somewhere along the way then I’ll go another direction. I have nowhere to be today except in the moment with my Sunny Day.

Along the Springwater Trail.

Everything was perfect. I mean picture perfect. I rode and rode and rode some more. I thought about how seamless the routes and trails and roads connect and I felt thankful to live here and to have been here since the beginning of the bike boom. While I often listen to a book or music I didn’t do any of that today. I listened to the air, watched the birds and squirrels. I felt warmth of the sun and watched the light sparkle like glitter on the river. I heard the wheels on pavement and the hum of my perfectly lubed rear cassette and I felt like this has been the moment I was waiting for over the last two years. It felt ever so slightly normal. I went from Vancouver to downtown Portland and then over the Sellwood Bridge and then took the descent into Oaks Bottom and rode along the Springwater Trail and then over the Tilikum Bridge and back into the city and home again. Three hours and 15 minutes to do 40.97 miles.

Unless you’re worried that I’m living in some sort of Bike-topia, there was an incident with a car wherein the driver cut in front of me in pursuit of a parking space. The driver’s window was down so I yelled at her that that was a dangerous move. She sheepishly apologised and I yelled, “Well, that’s not good enough.” I could have used some stronger language, but she did seem sorry.

Tons of greenboxing in Portland. Yes, that’s my riding bunny.

Out to Sellwood is one of my favorite routes because it takes me along the Willamette Riviera (River) and it brings back scores of great memories of my adventures when I was a youngster in high school exploring the city. Back when I was just discovering how much I loved bicycling everywhere. There was nothing like the current network of paths but there are still some spots that remind me how far the city has come. How far I’ve come as well.

Path along the Willamette River.

This was the ride I didn’t know I needed. One of those great rides that remind you that you’re gonna be okay. That life is heartbreaking and yet you can still get on a bike and find a path and move forward. That’s a good day in the saddle.

The Tilikum Crossing Bridge open to the streetcar, bikes and peds.
The view from Fort Vancouver on my way home.

I didn’t go to Hawaii or someplace else for Spring Break. It’s not that I didn’t want to but I’m not ready for that sort of tourist travel yet. I was in Chicago recently not by choice but because my Uncle Harry passed away. I have more to say about that but this was the post that needed to be written today. It’s harder and harder to find our happy. Everything seems hard and it’s not like a bike where we can just shift and make something less difficult. I have two more days of Spring Break, then the weekend and then back to school. Today I had such a brilliant, beautiful ride that it was better than Hawaii.

Not better than Greece, but not much is.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. I appreciate it! What’s a ride that makes you happy? Tell me in the comments.

Now go on. Get out there and ride.

Bike Goddess

Year of the Tiger(s)

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Born in Detroit but also Year of the Tiger

Happy Lunar New Year! I like that it’s a new month and another new year. January was intense for me. January is usually the one month out of the 12 that sort of comes with too many expectations and it has this never-ending quality which is overwhelming. It was challenging to ride and you’ve read my ongoing complaints about rain, so January was a slog.

January is all business. I usually set some goals like how many books I want to read this year (100) and how many miles I want to ride (5,000) and other than that I’m going to enjoy the days and the seasons and see what comes. Not too many plans. I’d like to post more on my blog, but that’s a very indefinite goal. I noticed I posted the first part of last and I’ll admit with my Tigers shirt I felt a post coming on. I know if I’m too definite I end up disappointing myself so when the muse speaks I listen and try to write.

What else? Maybe traveling will come back into view, but if it doesn’t I’ll have to be okay with that. Maybe I’ll get the basement of the house finished but it’ll have to be okay if that doesn’t pan out either because I’m content and I’ve learned over the last two years that that’s a gift all by itself.

I won’t hedge my bets this year on anything and I’ll tame the tiger in me a bit and try to nurture the calm instead of getting riled up. That’s important for the Tiger born since we’re often “hungry for excitement” and I agree that I often look for mischief and even when I try to avoid it, well, it comes my direction anyway.

January night ride.

Ox and Goat are considered the “luckiest” signs in the Chinese zodiac and apparently wearing red will bring you luck in your birth sign year. Maybe I should buy a red bike? Riding a red bike would certainly be the luckiest way to celebrate, don’t you agree? Red isn’t my favorite color, but let’s agree that red bikes are attractive. Have you ever owned a red bike? My first bike was red. It also had three wheels, but it was a beauty.

I am superstitious. I’m Greek, so I was trained in the ways of my grandmother, my yiayia, that itchy palms mean money coming your way and you enter a house with your left foot and you always spit to bring good fortune and toss salt behind an unwanted guest and they’ll leave. I think a red bike for good luck makes sense. There’s one Greek superstition that involved the color red. If you and someone else are talking and you both same the same thing at the same time, like when you say, JINX, well to the Greeks that means that you and the other person are going to have a big argument so you touch red cloth to bread the spell. I know, right? You can’t make this stuff up. A red bike seems to make the most sense.

As the sun sets on one month and we get closer to Spring, life starts to feel less dark. Yes, there’s more light and we’re waking up out of hibernation and it feels good. Winter won’t last forever and we can all roar into another month. I may not see the sun often enough but when I do I try to take a picture so I can remind myself that it’s going to be okay.

Thanks for reading. Greeks also like to say, “Good month” or “Καλο μηνα” at the start of each month. That’s less a superstition than it is a good omen. Now where’s my evil eye? (called το ματι in Greek. Wards off the bad stuff.

Until next time. Take care.

Bike Goddess

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

Spinning in Love

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I didn’t mean for it to happen. I only went to check out the store. Then it seems I was handing over my bag and taking a bike for a test ride. One thing led to another and now I’m in love with another bike.

Three bikes. That’s what I tell all my friends and anyone who asks me about buying bike. Always test ride three bikes. Ask questions and leave the store armed with knowledge and sit on it. Don’t buy. Wait until you feel the pull of love, the nudge of lust. Wait until you feel the bond with the bike. Yeah, I’ve said that. Shameless. I believe it. However after that test ride I felt like done. Decision made. However, I did not buy. Yet.

I’m pining right now. I’m pining for a bike. Again. I didn’t expect to find love again. I mean come on, I have this beautiful e-bike made by Faraday called the Corland. It’s one of the only bikes with a belt drive and I added her to the fleet in December of 2016 when I decided I’d commute both to and from work. I love my Lulu, and she’s had some issues of late. Long story short, but it looks like the future of the company has hit a wall and there’s no longer any support for the bike which means as things go wrong it will be a challenge to keep her on the road. Since I commute with Lulu that presents a dilemma. Also a little heartache. I love my Lulu! She’s beautiful and people always a shocked that she’s an ebike because she’s soooooo pretty! I mean look at her. She brightens up any day. She is the blue sky when there is none.

We’ve been separated now for about a week and I miss her. People are throwin’ some shade on her because of the company going bankrupt or whatever. It makes me sad enough to drown my sorrows in another bike. There’s no therapy for what’s happening here. Except retail therapy at a bike shop.

I went to a bike shop, The Ebike Store, I’ve never been to before. I went to check it out the store and their collection of gear. Brian and Jeff and someone else were extremely helpful and easy to talk to about my needs. I wanted to see what they had to say about my Corland and I wanted to chat about what I need in an ebike. I need one that has more range (Cortland can do 18-20 miles) and can handle the rough rains and road conditions of the Northwest weather. I watched a few EBR (ElectricBikeReview) videos and I had it in my head that a Raleigh ebike might be an option. While at the store I was dazzled by the frame of the Specialized Turbo 5.0. I had never seen one and frankly didn’t know Specialized was in the market. The Specialized uses the Brose motor and I was immediately interested. The Bosch and Brose motors seem to be the two main players. They are the only ones I’ve heard of aside from the proprietary one on my Faraday. The older Raleigh models were using the Brose and that’s one reason I wanted to try one out. But they didn’t really have one. Let me put it this way, if they did, I didn’t see it because I suddenly couldn’t see anything except the Turbo step through and step over. Well, hello sweet ride!

Why yes, I would love to try one out!

The Brose motor is as quiet as a classroom upon learning that they have to make up that snow day. I was impressed enough to consider what I would name it after two spins around Peninsula Park. The rain seemed to stop and I had this new stunning bike under me and we were enjoying a moment. We bonded quickly and with little effort. The first downstroke of the pedal and I didn’t even have the e-juice yet.

Conversation was easy because the Como speaks my language; perky speed, comfortable geometry and zippy. It’s agile handling makes you feel like you’re riding a mountain bike but it has the comfort of my childhood bikes. Instant love, lust, whatever. The Como wants to “Come on-a My House” in the words of the 1951 song. If Goldilocks was taking the test ride she would have said this bike was just right. Plus did I mention how light it is? I don’t actually know how much it weighs, but it’s light enough to pick up without feeling like you’re lifting a tree.

It’s hasn’t been 24 hours yet and still I’m pining. I’m considering giving Lulu an early retirement and riding her in fair weather only. I think she’s earned that after 6,500 miles.

I love bikes. I mean it’s not that hard to see the beauty in virtually all bikes. Even the worn out relics that people use in gardens are lovely. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. That’s the thing about love and bikes.

Maybe another test ride. After all I left my bag behind the desk and didn’t have my phone to give a proper look to my blog followers. You want more, right?

Thanks for reading. I’m getting on my Belle and ripping up some dirt. Displacement activity.

Happy riding,

Bike Goddess

#ebikestore

#ebikes

#faraday

#bikelove

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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