New Gen Gets All the Fun

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

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

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

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

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

Good job team! Read more about NICA here.

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

Have a great week.

Be safe and get out there an ride.

BG

 

 

 

 

 

Sun-sational Day for a Ride

IMG_0616You 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.

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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.

 

How’s the spring weather in your part of the world?

Stay safe and get out there and ride.

Thanks for reading.

Bike Goddess

 

 

 

Hoppy Easter!

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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.

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 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.

Thanks for reading.

Bike Goddess

 

 

Braking for Spring

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.

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View from the Lighthouse boat called The Columbia.

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.

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Max in his basket on my bike. View of Astoria-Megler Bridge built in 1966.

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!

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A fitting picture on the Riverwalk.
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The end of the road. Bike ready to head back.

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.

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Go down, down, down the hill and through the Safeway parking lot to the Riverwalk.
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Different section of the river.
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Clouds in the river. 

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.

Happy trails.

Be safe our there!
Bike Goddess

 

 

 

 

Alterations! Please!

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.

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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.
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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!

Happy riding!

Try On Belly & Other Refections on Clothes That Fit —or not

I know I need a new lens prescription for glasses and I was out and about in the world tending to that very issue, but I really did need to backtrack and take another look at the sign in the window. I wasn’t sure if I read that right. As I was leaving the outdoor mall I saw an advertisement on a store front.  A belly you can try on. If only we could lose it with such ease.

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A former co-worker is pregnant and she was subbing at school the other day. She came to chat and she’s showing more now than a month ago. She complained that she’s at the stage where she’s too big for her regular clothes but she hates buying maternity-wear because it’s overpriced and has limited use. Jokingly I said that reminds me of bike gear. We nervously laughed, neither of us knowing much about the other’s clothes. I’ve never bought maternity wear and she doesn’t ride a bike. Yet, we understood the issue. Paying top dollar for something that might not get much use beyond its intended purpose.

Several years ago I stopped wearing bike wear and started focusing on riding and being prepared for whatever the weather had in mind. There are times mostly June, July and August when I find it necessary to wear specific bike gear. You do want fabrics that breathe and items that can take the sweat and still make you look and feel cool. My road bike demands the kit complete with cleats and chamois pad and jersey with three stow pockets on the back. Heck yeah! I love cute bikey socks too, so I could very easily spend upwards of $200 or more getting the cute outfit/kit to wear.  I might spend a little extra if I know there are others who might note what cute kit I’m wearing to match my bike. I try to find jerseys on sale and add the necessary pieces when I hit a Rapha sale or find some choice piece online. However, most of my weekly commuting ride is 10-25 miles in street clothes. On the bike to school, then off and I work and then on the bike and ride home. It’s not endurance it’s existence. There are times when I might wear heavier tights or layers that I peel off when I get to work.

For women the selection of clothes for road biking is better than it was 20 years ago, but it’s still a long ways from what’s available for men.  Also, I know we pay more. I have favorite pieces and items I’ve accumulated over time. SheBeest is a favorite for cycling shorts and knickers. But again, price is $130+ for a decent chamois. I buy from Terry Bicycling and REI the most. I have a few pairs of Sugoi padded skorts that I love but can’t find again. Jerseys cost less unless up want something from Rapha or another high-end brand. I found a gorgeous Rapha wool jersey on eBay for $25 and when I wear it I feel like I won a race in the south of France and I’m on my way to my celebration party. Rapha’s gear is stunning.

There’s a Pearl Izumi outlet store about an hour from where I live and a few times I year I check out what they have in the shop but I’m always disappointed. There are walls and racks of gear for men and maybe a sixteenth of the store has anything for women. The prices are high, especially for an outlet.

 

It stands to reason that a pregnant woman would want to be comfortable and at peace with how she looks before, during and after pregnancy. The try-on belly would give a woman a chance to see how an outfit is going to look in her third month as well as the third trimester. Bike gear doesn’t work the same way. There are brands that we’ve all come to respect and their product is so good that we spend the money since we know we’ll love the item for a long time to come.

Writer Grant Petersen talks about something called beausage. It’s a combination of the words beauty and usage. He says, “Buy good stuff, use it, and enjoy the beausage.” Beausage is like the patina, the wear, the use that something achieves. For my pregnant friend maternity wear probably doesn’t attain beausage. But the GoreWear jacket I bought in 2009 for $200 is my favorite transitional weather jacket. I’ve learned that I can wear almost anything on a bike. I only use cleats to click into my road bike, otherwise, street shoes all the way, everyday. But I have different bikes and I tend to dress with the bikes in mind. Maybe that’s my version of a try on belly. I know I won’t wear jeans on my road bike because of the pant leg and the chain to say nothing of how uncomfortable it would be to ride with jeans hunched over the bars. But that’s me. Some claim that it works fine. Plus there are jeans that are made specifically for being on a bike. Guys have access to the Levi’s Commuter jean. Men, you can have your jeans because there is nothing quite as amazing as riding about it a skirt on a hot day.

“You can wear any casual shoe in your closet—whatever your mood, your outfit, and the weather calls for. You don’t have to go find your “cycling shoes” because you won’t have invested in techie two-hundred-dollar pedals that require them.” Recessed cleat or not, bike shoes need a bike otherwise it’s awkward. Biking should be as easy as when we were kids. Hop on and go!  Now I think more about where I want to go and how I want to hit my Stava 75 each week and I try to do what Grant Petersen says and just ride.

I’d love to hear from you about your gear or “un”gear for your adventures. Next time I’ll tell you about the coat that put the “win” in winter riding.

Until then. Happy trails!
Get out there and ride.

Happy April!

BG

Excerpts From: Grant Petersen. “Just Ride.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/9N5ZD.l

To Exercise or Not to Exercise

One of my favorite all time quotes from Mark Twain is this, “Whenever I get the urge to exercise, I lie down until the feeling passes away.” That was me today. It’s raining again. The last two days I got caught in a downpour. I did not want to suit up in rain gear and ride in the misery today. There was a thirty minutes break between storms and I opted for ignoring the urge to exercise. I read. I’m a middle school librarian and I thought Mark Twain would approve of that option. Ignore the urge and read.

Yet, the nagging issue is getting exercise. That’s a big deal in my book. Mark Twain was a wiry, witty guy and health probably wasn’t a consideration then. The reality for me is I have a goal of 75 miles a week and last week I broke the record and hit 94 miles. Then the devil on my shoulder chimes in, “It’s not going to require that much additional effort on a day off to get some exercise.” Plus, I have my Wahoo and the whole Zwift thing. The virtual ride was calling my name.

I changed and went out for my usual 13 miles. That’s what my commute would be and if I want miles I need to get in the saddle and get it done.

Off I went to Watopia. I ended up having a blast. There are still things I don’t understand, like customizing your avatar and why do some people have those fancy yellow rims? I don’t always know what sort of a workout I want. I’ve been doing flatish rides to build my confidence. Some avatars seem to have screens in front of them as they ride. I don’t get it. I’ll figure it out. Admittedly my virtual riding isn’t the first option that springs to mind on days it’s too much to really ride outside. Today, I’m glad I reviewed my alternatives and got off my bum and went for a virtual ride.

The sun and palm trees was exactly what I needed to see. Plus I didn’t have to put on sunblock.


Then the aquarium took my breath away. This virtual riding is entertaining.


The cobblestones make me laugh however I love this little village. I want to pull over and have an espresso at the café on the right. These virtual rides make me happy I embraced the urge and went for a ride after all.

Happy riding!

BG

Zwifting Time

My people are not athletic. We are Greek, but not Olympians. We win the gold medal in talking, shopping and academic endeavors, but we’re not athletes. A few anomalies exist in the DNA like my cousin Harry Jr., who was amazing at all things gymnastic. There are some cousins who excelled at basketball and baseball, but the girls, not so much. I was always terrible at team sports. I wanted to play volleyball, but the coach just shook her head and said I shouldn’t bother. I’m lucky I passed P.E. at all.  I grew up at a time when girls were not encouraged to be all they could be. Bicycling saved me. As a kid, when I learned how to ride a bike it was a ticket to freedom. Since I commute and ride casually, it’s also been my gym, my meditation, my thing.  I want to put that out there in case someone reads this and thinks that indoor, virtual cycling is only for the avid roadies who do centuries every weekend. I’ve done my share of centuries and charity rides. I bike commute and now, apparently I Zwift!

The Wahoo Kickr Snap was delivered last day of January. On Friday I finally put the whole thing together. It was a snap! We had yet another snow day and I figured it would take all day. But it really was a snap.

When I was researching the trainer I wanted I came across the genre of videos about “unboxing” your purchase. Only a time-lapse. Here I am unboxing and putting the Wahoo together. Pardon the construction and boxes. We’re renovating various parts of the house and the basement is on other side of that to-do list.

Then I took a ride. My avatar! She needs curly hair…, but wow! Hello! Then I was cycling around London like a serious roadie.


Friday, I was trying to get the hang of it all and see how the app worked. I also had to get Strava talking to Zwift which was teeny-tiny roadblock, but today it’s working without a hitch. I rode for a few miles and loved it. Exhilerating is not a word I would have thought I would use to describe any trainer. The Wahoo was incredibly easy to set up and once it paired with Zwift, I was set. Zwifting is a blast. There was a pause in the rain Saturday and I got outside for a real 11 miles, then today, I finished the set up and reorganized some of the cabinets downstairs for more comfortable use of the iPad. I took my cleated shoes downstairs and some water.


This is becoming the biking spot. See the two horizontal drawers above the tires? I pulled those drawers out,  propped up my iPad and virtually took off! I only did four miles but I sweat enough for 20! Mission mostly accomplished. I think I need a fan.

Clearly I was waiting for these trainers to get smarter. It was worth the wait.

Any Zwifting tips? Please feel free to correct me if I’m not using the correct terminology. It’s a whole new world.

Until the next time. Have a great ride, virtual or otherwise.

BG