Advice: The Goddess Is In

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.

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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?

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“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.”

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“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!

 

 

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?

Until next time, get out there and ride.

Happy Autumn!

Bike Goddess

 

 

Best Summer Gear 2017

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.

First up: The Soleil Top by Terry

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.

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#2 Next up: Moxie Cycling 

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!

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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).

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 #3 Sweet Spot Skirts 

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.

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I can stop anytime I want.
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Handmade too! I tend to choose colors that will go great with anything in my closet.

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#4 is the best bag ever. It’s the Market Bag from GoodOrdering.

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.

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#5 The HydraPak..

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.

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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?

Get out there and ride!
BG

 

 

 

Ho Chi Mihnute: Blood Road Documentary

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.

Screen Shot 2017-07-02 at 5.33.53 PMWhy 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.

Available to rent or buy on iTunes.

Have a Happy 4th!

Be safe and get out there and ride.

BG

 

 

Bike Rental: the Leased Commitment

 

DSCN0989Whenever 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.

 

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My rental in Potsdam during the summer of 2009. 
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. 

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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.

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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.

Happy riding!

BG

 

Long Weekend Wonders

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.

 

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.

Get out there and ride!
Happy trails,

Bike Goddess

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