The first time I became aware of women in cycling it was 1984 and I was watching the summer Olympics. Connie Carpenter Phinney and Rebecca Twigg were crossing the finish line side-by-side and Phinney. After 50 miles they were coming to the finish line and it was spoke to spoke and saddle to saddle practically. As it turns out it was the closest finish in Olympic history and Phinney won by mere inches.
Here’s the thing, men’s cycling has been in the Olympics since 1896 and women’s since 1984. Women is cycling is a recent development. When I say recent, I mean since about the late 70’s and early 80’s. In light of Women’s History Month and being a woman who bikes I feel like I need to speak up. I remember all to well the times men told me I shouldn’t bike because it was undignified or “not very lady like.” On an endurance ride, I think it was my first of 7 Seattle-to-Portland rides a man asked me if I felt good about coming in dead last and that maybe I should stick with the Jane Fonda exercise videos.
Infuriated and disgusted I tried to stay focused on what mattered to me. The ride. I kept riding and surrounded myself with people who let me do my thing.
Evelyn Hamilton. Ever heard of her? I met Joe Kurmaskie a few weeks ago.He wrote a book about her. The Facebook invitation said, “Lightning In A Saddle: The Evelyn Hamilton Story. An amazing true life drama that combines the female Jackie Robinson of cycling with the daring of Inglorious Bastards. An equality pioneer, a record breaker and a war hero!”
The book isn’t published yet. I preordered it. There were a few pictures that I thought were amazing. I asked Joe if I could take a picture of the pictures.
Evelyn! This pic is the best. First off, can you see the tan lines? I see her and I see myself sans the helmet, but I ask you, a beret-ish helmet. Stylish, strong, sexy! I’m looking forward to reading the book and learning about this woman, this cyclist!
Over my lifetime biking has been a constant. From the moment I could balance on two weeks, I’ve been riding everywhere regardless of what opinions people may have about it. In honor of Women’s History Month consider the women (of all ages) in your life and be supportive of their cycling endeavors.
“A small group of thoughful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only this that ever has.” —Margaret Mead
In January 2016, I joined a small group of thoughful people who advise, advoate and work to change our little corner of the world. We meet once a month and there are some people who are always present and others, like me, who try very hard to make each meeting but run into schedule problems on occasion. We are the Bike and Pedestrian Stakeholders Group (BPSG) and we work to make streets safe for pedestrians and bicyclists. In the early days, I sat and listened and I was completely intimidated by all the traffic-speak, acroynms and history. It was hard to keep up and I often felt inept and out of the loop. Frankly, it was humbling on many level, since in my actual line of work I perform competently and with poise. In this new arena, I found it hard to find my words. The content of the meetings continues to be daunting and yet I keep going because it’s interesting and I think what we’re doing is important to the safety of our citizens.
Often times a citizen like me gets involved because they had a particular issue they want addressed. My issue was bikes more than pedestrians, and yet, through time I could see that if a project was good for peds it was usually something you could also expand to bikes. My first two concerns were bike parking in the downtown blocks and the other was an intersection near my neighborhood. The intersection had a history of challenges. At each meeting I would hear that it was being researched for bike box. A bike box is a designated area at the head of a traffic lane at a signalized intersection that provides bicyclists with a safe and visible way to get ahead of queuing traffic during the red signal phase. Bike boxes have positive benefits on both safety and traffic. Read more here.
There hasn’t been a meeting I attended that I haven’t asked about the status of a bike box in that tricky intersection. It was supposed to happen over the summer, then fall. A few weeks ago, my wish was granted. I saw that the road was closed for construction and I could feel myself getting fussy and frothy. I took a detour onto the sidewalk. Then in my periphery vision I saw this puddle of green paint and the work crew waxing on the color. Could it be? It is really? My bike box! As I approached my left turn I saw a kid and his mom on bikes about to cross the street. I exclaimed something about the bike box and when they didn’t understand I said, “Follow me and I’ll show you.” They followed as I crossed the berm to talk with the workers.
Proudly I exclaimed that I was on the committe that requested this bike box.
The worker knew about the group and gave me a thumbs up. As I got into the traffic lane he said, “Miss, you’re in LIVE traffic.” But the other one told him to hold off the traffic so I could get my pic. All in all, it was a perfect moment.
I use it every day. Drivers are staying out of the bike box. In fact that was one of the constant issues on that street; drivers pulling up beyond the curb line to see traffic. For the first time in three years I feel safe, protected in my green bike box. I was part of making that happen. You could say I helped stop traffic. This victory gives me momentum that will carry me through the next issue, bike parking.
As a child, my favorite crayon in the box was copper. It still is. The reddish-orange-brown gleams in the sunlight and shimmers under the moon. You don’t need to coax a sparkle out of copper. There’s a luster to it all the time. My obsession started early with gold and silver too, but copper was my go metal in the crayon box for everything. Yes, I was the kid with the whole color page in copper, silver and gold. When I first saw hammered Honjo mud guards I started scheming. That was over a year ago. They wouldn’t fit one of my other bikes, but I never forgot the copper wink.
But that’s not the whole story. In December I was pining for another bike. I was thinking of doing the Rapha Festive 500 but I didn’t want to use my Cannondale road bike. With rain and snow in the forecast there was little chance of me logging any serious miles on it. If the bike shop had my size in stock, this would be a different post. However it was out of stock and not just for the bike shop, but for the brand. I couldn’t even get a test ride on my size. I was bummed and left to consider some other options.
My old commuter bike, the 2006 Trek Portland, was a great bike. I say was because I relegated it to the basement on the Wahoo trainer I bought about a year ago. That was working out fine, but frankly a waste of a great bike. It had skinny tires and I put the original seat on it. I stripped it down to the essentials and took off the old fenders and rack. I rode it on the trainer only. The back tire was shiny with Zwift miles. It would have been easy to leave it that way, but the thing is that bike is a great bike. It has disc brakes and it can climb with more speed and grace than my carbon fiber. Excellent gearing and overall it was a serious investment back in ’06. My big mistake with the Trek was when I put skinny tires on it for a century. Also, some of my friends were getting new sleek road bikes and I started to think I needed a new road bike. That means my Trek Portland was sidelined and the new carbon fiber was getting all the attention.
New tires, tape and fenders.
It was right around Christmas that I started to consider what if. What if I brought the Portland out of basement biking and back into the riding fleet. A Strava friend posted a picture of his bike and I was blinded by the copper fenders and I started to get organized.
I considered doing the upgrade with the carbon bike, but the Synapse doesn’t have disc brakes and I always feel uncoordinated and tentative on that bike. I kept thinking about the Portland. It has everything I want and with a little love and clever bike mechanics, I can pay for an overhaul and get the bike back on the road where it belongs! That was about two weeks ago. My 2006 Trek Portland looks better than ever and rides like a dream. Again!
Keep your eyes on the road and try not to be distracted by my amazing not-new bike. My Miss Portlandia is geared up for some touring. First 35 miles completed and another 1000 ahead. Easy!
If you’re on the fence about your bike options, my advice it to consider how you can make the most of the bike(s) you have. Again, I can say this because that other bike just wasn’t available, but the whole incident was a challenge and I feel like I handled it well and saved myself some money and got exactly what I wanted.
Considering a renovation of an existing bike gives you an opportunity to customize the bike exactly the way you want. I never had major issues with my Trek, I wanted a slightly wider tire and some bling. Plus having bike mechanics overhaul your bike and clear out all the built up gunk is a good thing.
The results amaze me. I can’t take my eyes off this bike. I ride past windows trying to get a glimpse. Riding around I saw heads turn and people raise their eyebrows in approval. Some people say it’s just a bike. Just my bike!
Some little birds think I did a great job! I am thrilled with how she looks and most importantly, how she rides! What do you do to update, upgrade and otherwise renew your ride? Leave your thoughts below.
I 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.
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.
I can see clearly now and I have my sights on more biking and adventures in 2018. Let’s do this! Happy New Year!
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.
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.
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.
You can color outside the lines and think outside the box, but you must not park outside the system. That’s going to cost you. I learned that the hard way while combining my bike love with some Black Friday shopping antics. Planning the whole day, I figured I’d take the light rail, Max, into the city and then pick up a BikeTownPDX bike and pedal about shopping at my favorite local places. I purposely left my bike home to see how I liked grabbing a bike and going as needed. Since I had such a great experience with the SoBi system in Phoenix and as a founding BikeTown member I get 90 minutes of free time riding anyway, so what’s stopping me other that the fact that I own several bikes. Minor point. Get out there and ride any bike!
Let me give you a bit of background. First, I live across the Columbia River in Vancouver, Washington. Portland, Oregon, the home of the Trailblazers, Nike and the BikeTown bike share system is about 15 minutes from my door. I drove the car to a park and ride in Portland and hopped on Max, the light rail system,
My original plan was to get off when I saw a BikeTown kiosk, but I didn’t see any along Interstate so I enjoyed the passing scenery and crossed the Steel Bridge and picked up my first bike at Oak Street. The only reason I throw in this information is to say that I got on the Social Bike train for five rides and overall I covered 8 miles total.
I used the little basket in the front and I had no problems with the RFID information and locking or unlocking any of the bikes. Only one bike has a seat issue which was a problem with the lever of the seat post. Otherwise it was a blast. That’s when I got cocky. I can recall the moment when I started to think I could just ride back to the Max train. Heck, I saw a bike locked up to non-BikeTown racks. That’s what I’ll do, I thought gleefully! I know there’s a bike parking staple at the Park and Ride. I saw it.
What an epically stunning day for a ride. The temps were above 50 degrees and the sun was out here and there. I was riding high and mighty my friends. The endorphins of biking mixed with shopping were heady.
The golden carpet of leaves and the cool air on my face, I felt unstoppable on the heavy bikes. The man on the sidewalk asked me if the bikes were electric. They are not electric. I felt like my bum had cement in it, but I didn’t care. A spectacular day!
Until I got the message from BikeTown that I’d done something very bad. “Your account has been charged $20” very bad. What did I do? I felt like I was seeing my report card and I got a big fat red F in the corner of my spelling paper.
The last bike I had I rode out to the Park and Ride. It was 3.86 miles and it took 26:31 minutes.
My bike is the black dot of doom way up at the top and all the rest of the dots are in the perimeter. A 1,000 bikes and 100 stations, and I can’t seem to follow the rules. The email read, “Your bike has been locked outside the system area” and there’s a fee of $20. I got a parking ticket. I was shocked. But, but, but! Can I see a judge?
I was overwhelmed with disappointment in myself. How did I miss this? I do recall wondering why people were staring at me. Did they think I was stealing the bike and heading across the river to start a bike share in Vancouver? I wish! It does explain why there are nearly no bikes outside the “system area” because $20 is nothing to scoff at!
Last night I had trouble sleeping. I didn’t want the BikeTown people to think bad thoughts about me. Good bike relationships are important. I got swept up in the day. I mean look at that view?
This morning I was still troubled by my behavior. I checked the map and the bike was still there, like a dark cloud over the whole experience. I thought of riding my Kona to the Expo stop and parking it then taking the Max train to where I parked the bike and riding “back into the system” and righting my wrong.
Bike at Expo.
Bike at Park and Ride
I reserved the bike on the app.
It took a few hours. but I got it done.
There are many problems in the world I can’t solve, but this I can solve. I feel better knowing that someone on the BikeTown side won’t be cursing the biker who took the bike so far out of the system it might as well has been in another state.
Don’t be like me. Stay in the system, follow the path and you will be richer for it by 20 bucks. I’m not sure if Robert Frost ever had a similar problem with the road less travelled and maybe it was because it was “outside the system” area.
All in all it was worth it. I like to think the bike had some fun too. At the kiosk it’ll tell the other bikes about the woman who practically rode it to Vancouver. I have a very active imagination.
Thank you for reading and following my blog. I appreciate it and I’m grateful for your likes and follows. Be safe out there!
For me, the best part of any day includes a bike ride. I’m was attending a conference in Phoenix and I was thrilled to find out that they have a bike share program. When we got there though, I didn’t see any bike stations. I concluded that it must not have been successful, and I didn’t really think about it. Then I was on a bus about to get a tour of downtown Phoenix when my mom who was traveling with me texted me a picture of the green bikes.
The bus was about to take off and I found myself madly looking for the website and app. I was frantic for about five minutes listening to the tour director talk and feeling like I should just jump off the bus and get on a bike. I was setting up an account when I was prompted with an alert that the email was taken by another user? But it was my email and user name on the screen. Confusion washed over me. I asked for a reset on a password and lo and behold it was the SoBi bike system which I guess I’ve used in other cities. Is that when I was in Minneapolis? No. Or was it Columbus? No again. I know it’s not Chicago’s Divvy, since that system has its own app and it’s pay as you go. Turns out it was BikeTownPDX which makes sense since that’s one I pay a monthly membership. Suddenly I search for the app which I have and I get it all affirmed, anointed and otherwise confirmed and I’m in! It’s as if I won a million dollars! I decided to go for the week long membership since that seemed the most economical. Now in a perfect biketopia, my membership should have worked since I pay for BikeTownPDX. That’s $12 every month, so why isn’t it like a membership to L.A. Fitness or something? But that’s okay. It’s a bike.
Overall my stats look like this for the trip to Phoenix. I got a bike every day I was there, and this is what it looks like when you log in to your account. Our hotel was close to the conference and it seems like the bike stations were on the other sides of the streets. It wasn’t visible from the main drag.
In the essence of full disclosure, I’ve never used the bike share in Portland because I have my own bikes, so I ride from point to place. However, I think I will make the effort and take mass transit to the closest destination and give it a whirl. The SoBi systems are in many cites. Take a look at the list.
Grid extends to Scottsdale and Tempe. There are ample stations. I’m not sure about bike routes, but I can research that and I start planning a trip for January since I’m sure I’ll need to have a break from the rain at about that time.
The bikes were in great shape. I had plenty of room in the basket for my stuff. My only complaint has nothing to do with Sobi. I simply didn’t have enough time to go everywhere I wanted to go since I had to attend the conference. However, I loved my little rides.
Phoenix could use more bike lanes. They probably know this. There are some areas where the green boxing is pretty extensive. I was told that where the bike lane ends it becomes a sidewalk. Interesting. I always feel awkward being on a sidewalk when I’m on a bike. But there are some streets where it’s too dangerous and no one is interested in sharing the road. Next time I will know more and I’ll have more time to ride.
Phoenix has some spectacular murals too.
The weather in November is perfect. Seventy to 84 degrees makes it easy to ride when you first wake up through evening time. If there wasn’t a conference you know that would have been my plan.
Velo Bike and Coffee Shop
One final thought. I came up a bike shop while I was wandering around. The Velo Bike Shop and Cafe. I shook hand with the owner Eric/Erik. They were getting ready for an event and I had to get to a conference session but they had me from the sculpture out front and the mural. I didn’t have time to go back and buy some souvenirs. Next time. Dear readers, wouldn’t you like to know more? I was impressed with Eric/k. He was great to chat with and I hope our paths cross again. I love the serendipity of riding around and stumbling upon both coffee and bikes. Behold the universe at work!
Victory and my first Grid bike.
Shadows of success.
LED helps you read in the dark.
Easy to read.
Super easy to lock and unlock.
PDX and PHX have little in common when it comes to climate. All that said, it’s a great city and I enjoyed pedaling around seeing the sights.
I felt like Lucy from Peanuts today. Ever have those days when you can’t help yourself from sharing your wisdom? Those days when you’re possessed by the need to shower others with what you’ve learned from years of doing it your way? The last few days have been like that for me.
I rode my bike to the chiropractor the other day. I park my bike at the front by the desk. For whatever reason I took a pic while I was waiting because I thought the light was exceptional and it was Car Free Day and I was in fact car free! While I was getting some realigning of my own my bike attracted some of the folks waiting for their appointments. As I followed my doc out to the reception area there were three people hovering over my bike.
One woman in her early 70s was intrigued by the color and how the racks “looked like they were made to go with the bike.” I explained that they were! She thought my bike was “very pretty” and wondered about the apparatus on the handlebars. What goes in there?
“My phone!” I tell her. ”
Oh, well, I’d like one of those for my golf cart,” she exclaims. Where did I get that?
Then another woman asked about that silver thing. She pointed at it as though she thought she knew but then decided she’d see if I knew the answer. “This is a Faraday bike,” I explained, “and there’s motor up front in the wheel and that silver thing is the controller. It’s where I turn on the bike and lights.”
“This is an electric bike?” Overcome by astonishment. There were Ohhh’s and Ahhh’s and then the Golf Cart lady announced that this was a “cheater bike” and I thought I was going to have to take her down, but I composed myself and said, “Then a golf cart is cheating too.” I was not going to let Golf cart lady off the hook. “Shouldn’t you be walking from hole to hole. Why use a golf cart? With your logic, cars are the ultimate cheat.” Two more people came over and asked whether it was like a scooter. “Oh, no. A scooter takes gas and this is a bike first and foremost. I don’t have to be electric with it, but I have the option when I need a boost up a hill or I need to get someplace at 18mph instead of 12.
“Hills? We don’t have hills!” Golf cart lady said.
“You probably don’t feel them in your car or cart.” I challenged. She was a kick!
“This is a pedal assist.” I explained. “It doesn’t move unless I move. It provides a lovely little boost which helps me get to work faster in the morning and means I don’t have to ride the bus or drive a car”
Golf cart lady was not sure what to make out of me and my bike, “Is that wood? Wood is pretty but impractical for our weather.”
I admitted that I was skeptical at first but I rode all spring and found that the bike stays very clean and the bamboo is low maintenance. There was some nodding and raised eyebrows. All in all, I think I could have convinced them to take a test ride if I’d been in a bike shop instead of a chiropractor’s office.
Golf cart lady wanted the details about the phone holder for her golf cart and told me to be careful out there.
The second advice encounter happened at the bike shop today when a young woman was looking at bike gear. I was waiting for my bike to get some new fenders and I was checking my phone messages. I was sitting on a bench by the shoes and she sat down with an array of overshoe covers. She had a half dozen out and tried them on and took them off. After about 10 minutes I couldn’t help myself. “Have you tried these before?” I probed. She explained she needed something but wasn’t sure what to try. Suddenly I’m pontificating about how I’ve tried them all. I love anything Gore when it comes to a jacket but I have not has much success with the overshoes. I liked the neoprene, but weirdly they aren’t that waterproof in our Northwest rain. I like the grippy quality of the soles but they weren’t waterproof on my commutes.
I found myself leaning in and I told her I wear Sorel boots with a good rain pant and that does the trick. If I was going to do anything different, I’d just buy another pair or waterproof Sorel boots or something similar. I’ve heard Bogs are amazing, but I don’t have personal experience with them.
“What about your helmet? Do you wear one of these?” she asks holding up those helmet shells. I shook my head no. I have a brim on my helmet and I wear often put a beanie over the helmet. I layer my head so I have a lighter beanie over my hair and another over the helmet. It’s amazing and toasty. The rain doesn’t roll down my neck or jacket. Even if it does get wet, it’s usually dried out by morning. I could pop it in the dryer, but I don’t recall doing that at all last winter.
Theses are my two winter looks. The one on the right works beautifully in the rain too!
Early fall. Warm & protected.
Doubled up. Cap on hair and cap on helmet.
Riding though all the seasons is challenging. Everyone has to find what works for them, however, sometimes people who are out in the elements all the time are more helpful in the advice department. I spent some time going through all my gear and I feel ready for another season of riding.
What about you? What advice do you have about gear or riding though the seasons?
Good gear should help you go farther, faster, better. It should enhance, not hinder whatever activity is ahead. We all have opinions about the gear we use. Summer 2017 proved to be a good in the Department of Gear. I have had this space on my site for sometime, but I always talk myself out of writing about products. Also, it’s important to use a product for more than a few days. Gear needs to be put through the paces of your routine. Something that works for commuting may not be the best for travel.
Here are the items I’d buy again. The five items listed I purchased within the last year. Recently I came home from a big trip and all these products were used. If any of these vendors (TerryBikes, SweetSpotSkirts, GoodOrdering, Moxie, and HydraPak) want to sign me up for some swag or send me a coupon, I’d be happy to accept. Read on.
Admittedly, I was skeptical. Long sleeves in the heat of summer? Hello? How can that possibly be cool? But when you get sick of slathering on the sunscreen and you want to be outside enjoying the day and the rays—this is the best top. I bought mine at REI on an impulse. I was heading to Greece and I thought this top would be easy to pack and one of those perfect tops for traveling. I was 100% spot on. I love it. I paid full price and it’s on sale now on the Terry site. I have noticed them for a few years but again, I thought it would be too hot. I was wrong. What a find! The black and white goes with everything and the sleeves are long enough to protect your wrists. Did any sun get through? None! It’s rated at 50+ and the crew design keeps you covered from your neck to hip. You could also wear it over a bathing suit. It’s weirdly cool even when the temps are high. How high? I’ve worn the top in 100 plus degrees and it’s cool. Cool!
I thought I’d only give it four owls since I kind of wanted a few more colors or designs, but when you have one classic design you don’t need anything else. If you want it loose, order up a size. Three stash pockets in the back are big enough for keys, snacks and even a big phone.
I’m choosing owls for my rating. Five owls is the best.
The T-back tank is a favorite. I bought three at an REI sale last year. One of them had a bad pocket, but the other two have become part of my summer uniform. If the soleil top is to keep you covered, then the T-back is for tanning while on tour. Add sunscreen of course!
The T-back top swims well too. I didn’t know that until I found myself at the end of a long ride near a beach and the water was calling my name. This top and I took a plunge in the Perissa Bay. I think when a top does even more than what it was designed to do it deserves five owls. This top really does have moxie! Try eBay for other styles. I’m not sure what’s up with the company. Some of the links weren’t working for ordering new. This is my favorite top of theirs. They also have a t-shirt style, but I wasn’t a fan of the cut. The T-back is flattering and cool and have some built in support (wink).
These skirts are like potato chips. You can’t stop with just one. Note that each one is reversible too, so it’s like getting two skirts. I have too many, but what can I say. I was around when Sweet Spot Skirts was starting up. I know that each one of my purchases has helped support this company and the skirts are cute and versatile. I always travel with one and I wear the skirts throughout the year. Paired with leggings and boots in the winter or cycling shorts in the summer these skirts are great when you want a little more coverage than cycling shorts provide.
It’s hard to choose a pattern because they’re all spectacular. Like I said, the potato chips of skirts. You can wear them with any compression shorts of padded cycle shorts. The possibilities are endless. Check out the site and if you live in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington, go to the store and see for yourself.
How do I love thee… Market Bag! Let me count the ways. First it’s lightweight even when you pack it full with everything from a journal to two liters of water. I was astounded by how much I could fit into the bag and still carry it. It’s a backpack and a pannier. How amazing is that? It’s the best travel bag ever! I didn’t take any tech with me except for my iPhone, headphones and Mophie charger. It worked as a beach bag, a book bag, a market bag, a pannier, a carryon! Plus it’s super distinctive and guess what? You can throw it into the washing machine and let it air dry and it’s as pristine as the day you bought it. I love this bag! I bought it at a bike shop because it was orange and had loads of pockets. I hadn’t used it much because I was afraid to get it dirty. I figured it would travel well and I was right. When I read on the GoodOrdering site about machine washing the bag, my love grew. It’s brilliant! They even make great bags for kids.
It was another impulse purchase at REI. One thing about traveling is you have to pack water. Even though in Greece the water was a Euro or less for a liter, it’s nice to have you own bottle. I took this everywhere and when it wasn’t in use, like the airport, then I’d crush it down to take up as little space as possible. The hard water bottles are bulky and take up a bit of space. I love how easy the HydraPak makes is to pack water. If you need additional water on a ride, this is a good way to do it.
Ready for water.
The most expensive product is GoodOrdering bag at about $90. The Soleil top is $89 but sometimes certain styles go on sale. The Moxie top might be the only one that’s hard to find, but I see REI has them on sale for $30 or so.
That’s a rundown of my favorite products this summer. I’d love to review more products, so if anyone wants feedback on a product, you can let me know and I’ll be happy to try it out. I’m here for you.
Thanks for reading. Tell me about some of your favorite gear. What’s the one bit of gear you couldn’t imagine your summer without?
Early in my biking life I knew I was a tortoise and not a hare. It’s okay, don’t feel sorry for me. I’m not a speedster. I compete against myself, and that’s A.O.K. by me. I’m not a competitive cyclist. I’m a strong, competent, confident commuter cyclist and I prefer touring. There, now you know.
Why tell you that? Sometimes I wish I was more than a wannabe. I sort of wish I was a professional athlete. I’ve talked about this before in other posts. I’m not. However, I can support others in their athletic aspirations.
I watched a new documentary called Blood Road and it is still with me. Every July 4th I go for a bike ride through some of the city’s cemeteries and I watch a movie about war. Freedom isn’t free as they say, and this documentary offers a perspective from both an American and a Vietnamese women about the ultimate cost. I watched this documentary a few weeks ago and I’m watching it again. Blood Road is the story of a daughter finding her father long after the Vietnam War’s end. “I feel drawn to go looking for answers to a mystery that been with me my entire life.”
Every frame of this film is spectacular. The unfolding of the mystery of Rebecca Rush’s father, a U.S. Air Force pilot, shot down during the Vietnam War. Extraordinary “ultra-endurance” biker takes her viewers on the emotional and physical journey she took in 2015 when she pedaled 1,200 miles of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in search of the crash site that claimed the life of her father.
The most compelling aspect of the story are the primary source documents, video and recordings that are shared. Another aspect of the storytelling involves the people who help Rebecca in her quest. When Rebecca meets Huyen Nguyen, a Vietnamese competitive biking champion, and together they traverse the jungles of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam you see their interactions and genuine support for one another. Also, you learn about the Vietnam War.
War has a lasting impact and Blood Road honors the memory of Rebecca’s father and puts a face on victims of war. The Vietnam War may have ended on April 30th, 1975, but it left a mystery that time and trails mitigate. Yes, I’d love to ride it. How about you?
It doesn’t matter if you watch it on the Fourth. Just watch it.
Whenever possible, and it’s almost always possible, I rent a bike when I’m away from home. My life would be infinitely easier if I didn’t have this need-to-ride, but it would be bereft of the experience engaging in the world and trying to get a bike to ride around wherever, whenever, for however long. Riding a bike heightens your ability to sense where you are staying. It’s as though the veil has been lifted and you see all that was, is and could be.
In the U.S.A., the advent of bike sharing in various cities like Chicago, Minneapolis, and Hartford is a preferable option, but not all American cities have that available. Internationally, I’ve rented bikes in Tokyo, Japan and rode around the Imperial Palace. My favorite overseas bike rental experience was in Potsdam. I’ll come back to that later in this post. Riding though the Tiergarten in Berlin is also a favorite memory. I’ve even rented bikes in Pokara, Nepal too and my husband’s bike ended up getting a flat, but even with that it was a memorable way to see the sights and enjoy a city from the saddle of a bike.
That why this story that Tom Hanks shared with Stephen Colbert had me laughing a few weeks ago. The bit about the bikes starts at about 6:58 into the clip. It got me thinking about the worst bikes I’ve ever rented. There aren’t too many bad experiences I’ve had with bike rentals and certainly nothing that comes close to Tom Hanks’ story.
My favorite memory of a bike rental happened in Potsdam when we were there in 2012. I had been in Germany during June 2009 and I rented several times and went between the hotel and the University of Potsdam. I was there on a Fulbright summer seminar. Our hotel had bikes to rent so I rented everyday and then asked for a deal since I was dropping Euros on so much renting. Crazy American! I was told I could take a taxi or the bus shuttle, but what’s the fun in that?
Riding a bike between the hotel and the campus gave me confidence to go a little farther afield. I’d sit in the lectures and listen to speakers all day and then hit the pavement and ride around like a kid free from all the cares of the world. I rode around the city area and took shortcuts through other neighborhoods. One day I ended up with a bike that needed some repairs. I didn’t notice it right away, but after an hour the front tire started to shimmy and the seat post twisted with any slight movement. It literally had some screws loose. I did the best I could but dusk was hanging over me like a cloud and the front rim lights weren’t operating properly. The dynamo light sets that were supposed to run when touching the rim malfunctioned. The rim was out of alignment and would drag on the tire and produce no illumination. That means I was on these narrow cobblestone streets with no lights. I felt vulnerable. Plus as the sun sets everything starts to look veiled and all the straße looked alike. Nothing is on a grid so panic started to set in and I didn’t know where I was.
I listened. I listened some more. The hotel was close to the U-Bahn and I figured if I could hear the train I could ride toward it, find the station and make my way back to the hotel. It pedaled toward the rumbling metal sounds and after a little while I made it.
Logging miles with a rental bike doesn’t have to be disastrous. It requires a modicum of planning and ask around for bike shops that provide rentals. I love this topic and I promise I’ll spend some more time on it in the future. Now see what Tom Hanks has to say. It’ll make you smile.
Renting a bike is the least commitment one can make when trying to decide what bike to buy. Instead of buying, you can try out a bike. However, when you’re traveling and you’re not sure how much if any riding you’ll be able to do, renting is the perfect option and a unique way to dig in and see things from another perspective.
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever tried renting a bike while on vacation.
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.
Off Rhodi…riding! A little rhododendron humor.
Blooming great day of riding!
My spirits are high!
The Lake view
Right side of the tracks.
Lemond mailbox bike.
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.
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.
You know that Mae West quote, “When I’m good I’m very good but when I’m bad, I’m better.” With a few little tweaks to the wording, that’s how I feel about the weather in the Pacific Northwest. When it’s bad it’s wretched and unfair and you want to fist pump the heavens and tell the weather gods to cut it out. But when it’s good you feel like you’ve been cured from something akin to the plague or Dengue fever and you can hear the Hallelujah chorus. It’s as if the gods finally have a quorum and voted in favor of you so the sun shines and all the world smiles. You think this is it, the weather will never be that bad ahhhggainn— wait, was that a rain drop. What? No, not again. You shuffle through your bag and put on the dreaded rain pants.
Even though the morning started out cold and foggy, by the time I got to work it was sunny.
Today I saw blue skies and for a period this morning there wasn’t a cloud to be seen. It was a weather miracle. Another front is moving through and as I write I can hear the wind’s take-no-prisoners attitude. The neighbors’ wind chime sounds like a toddler got ahold of them and it beating those bells into submission. I’m remembering that a few short hours ago I was enjoying 66 degrees and a light breeze. I’m recalling that I took a 16 mile detour to get home for the primary purpose of staying out in the sun a bit longer. I worked up a bit of a sweat. There’s that other Mae West quote, “I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.” Some things are more worthwhile for having been difficult. Some days surviving a bike commute despite the elements is worth it. Some days however you just want to enjoy the ride without the struggle against all the elements of nature. You want to see the powder blue skies and feel the sun.
It was glorious day to ride and I’m greedy for more. Until then. I’ll enjoy my pictures. Of the sun-sational day.
Here’s to warmer temps, blue skies and the sun.
That’s Mt. Hood in view.
How’s the spring weather in your part of the world?
The Easter Bunny brought me this irreverent shirt from TwinSix and I absolutely love it! It’s called “He Has Ridden,” and it’s my new favorite seasonal bike shirt.
Easter in my family of Greeks involves bread baking and an scrumptions spread of traditional village foods.
Lamb and potatoes.
Pilaf and beans.
Yes, there was lamb and green beans, salad and cheese or spinach pies. This year I was in charge of the bread. Tradition dictates that I should make the bread is a braid and red eggs baked into the strands. I tried something different this year. Someone posted something clever on Facebook that showed the dough in a muffin pan. I think traditions can be updated, so I put half the dough in a loaf and made half in muffins. Same dough, so the flavor is the same. The serving is what’s different. The muffin size was a big hit.
I’m gonna need a bigger bowl.
Done and ready to serve.
I managed to make time for a bike ride with my dog. He loves his bike rides.
The weather was very cooperative the last two days. Sunny days ahead I hope. So we can all ride our cares away.
About the t-shirt. Twin Six promotes a t-shirt of the month. Their shirts are clever and unique. I’m a pushover for a good pun and I had to share.
Happy trails. Be safe out there and remember to get out there and ride.
Last Monday we packed up our car and headed to the coast. We’re only about 90 minutes away from the coastal town of Astoria. It’s named for American investor John Jacob Astor. It’s a small, gritty town that has a great Riverwalk and some amazing sights and sounds.
Spring break is a time to put on the brakes and take some time out and maybe even away. I don’t always get out of town. Spring break has a way of sneaking up on me every year and I neglect to make plans. This year I started early and I knew we could do something by either heading North to Seattle or South to the coast. My husband enjoys everything near or on the water, and I just wanted a change of scenery. Astoria became our destination. We started our stay with a bike ride along the Riverwalk.
The Riverwalk is about 5 miles total and hugs the banks of the Columbia River. It’s spectacular and was the highlight of the trip for me. I could have gone back and forth a million times and seen something new each time. Between the creaking docks and the choking sounds of the seal lions it was rich and entertaining.
Here’s the amazing thing about the Riverwalk—It was a Burlington Northern Railroad and built back in the 1890s when Astoria was a real industrial town, and railroads are only built on flat land, and the only flat land in Astoria hugs is right along the mighty Columbia River. I love Rails-to-Trails stories but this one is even better since the placement of the railroad helped preserve the Riverwalk for today’s use. Bonus!
I’m grateful we had Monday because Tuesday was reserved for exploring Fort Stevens and Fort Canby and then Wednesday we visited the Maritime Museum and Fort Clatsop. Plus the weather decided to have a temper tantrum and wind and rain made bike riding dangerous.
I consider spring break a time to put on the brakes and relax. My Riverwalk bike ride is added to my list of happy places. Such a lovely few hours to remind me that I live in one of the most exquisite parts of the world. Another view of the same might river came on Thursday when I took my Kona for a spin.
Seeing the Columbia from Astoria as it spills into the Pacific Ocean gave me a renewed appreciation for something I see everyday and take for granted.
Maybe that’s why we all need to put the brakes on our day to day routines and look around at the beauty all around.
When it comes to fashion, women know all about alterations. Hemming pants, letting out a seam, or taking in a little at the waist or hips. Gathering, ruching, stitching are all part of tailoring an outfit to certain measurements and specifications.
Why wouldn’t we do something similar with a bike? Last week I met with a frame builder. I will talk more about that experience in an upcoming post. While meeting with him I asked what I could do right now with my current bike to make it more comfortable. I have been riding this bike, the Kona Roundabout, since 2012 and I always experience some measure of neck and shoulder pain. My instinct was to correct the saddle, but in a moment he said the handlebar stem looked too low, my suspicions were confirmed.
Too low? I have always wondered about that but frankly I didn’t want to spend the time or money on a full blown fitting. I suspected as much, but lacked the confidence to say, “Hey, I need a different stem.” My frame builder suggested we go next door to the bike shop and see if they had a stem a little shorter and higher. A slight rise might help alleviate the problem.
The floppy handlebars was one sign I should have paid attention to. Another was that I couldn’t balance without both hands. I kick myself for not talking about it, but there’s always the danger of being upsold something I didn’t need. I did not need new handlebars. I suspected something was amiss, but I lacked the confidence to talk about it and I didn’t think it was significant. For three years I haven’t had the alterations.
The frame builder could see it because he’s seen it before. He lives in the world of alterations and modifications. I think about my mother and her mother and how they could eyeball a suit jacket on my father and say it was too big in the shoulders. It looked fine to me, but after years of watching how they would tailer something to the frame of the wearer, I could see it too. The difference was millimeters, but it fit ever so slightly better which meant it fit like is should, for me.
This elusive detail might escape the local bike shop.But for the most part it could be that one little adjustment to make the difference between someone riding and someone saying their bike isn’t comfortable. Something may look good, it may look close, but it still may not be the right fit. Does a millimeter make a difference? Short answer is a resounding Yes. This one adjustment means I can ride my bike like it was made for me.
Wish you were riding more? One step is to think about what hurts when you ride? Where and why? Talk with someone about what bugs you about your bike. Maybe you really do need a new one, but maybe there are some alternations to be made to help you and your bike fit together better. The stem change on my Kona was $35. Less than hemming a pair of pants. Probably not, but close. Like the flower? Someone actually left than on the road. It has a home now on my basket!
The forecast says rain for the next several days. The baby blue skies will turn gunmetal gray and it will grow dreary and dismal and I’ll have to wear the rain gear and boots for another eight weeks. But today was stellar. No gloves! That was liberating! It’s that time of the year in the Northwest when we get a little of everything every single day until May. The sunny days are few and far between until July. After the Fourth of July the weather is nearly perfect. Usually.
The first day of Spring was lovely. Fifty-four degrees (28 this morning) and sun as far as the eye can see. My bike purred along, the blossoms cycloned and swirled as I sped by and the birds seemed to be watching me. I might have started a crow! I went where I wanted and followed the path my bike wanted. I went down a few alleyways and cut a few circles in the middle of a street with no traffic. I was free of all worry and let the moments whoosh around without care. I was seasoned with spring and felt hope at the days to come. One of the most exhilerating parts of a great day of weather is that you can route around. I say that when I’m trying to find other ways to get from point A to B, and C and all the other letters. Routing around lets me explore and imagine other possibilities on the road. It’s the blessing of nice weather and a tiny bit of extra time to just ride.
Snow flurries on Sunday. O’ Spring, you saucy season full of surprises. Maybe a few more sunny days ahead?