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?
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!