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

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Riding Interrupted

I am a creature of habit when it comes to my daily ride. It feels like I’ve veered off into the ditch of doom when I don’t get my daily spin. The biggest obstacle with the start of the 2017 year has been wind, freezing rain and snow. I ride through most weather conditions, but ice is not nice. I got out yesterday on the fatty bike since we had something more than a dusting, but less than an inch of the white stuff. A short, cold ride was totally worth it until I couldn’t feel my hands or take pics, but then today the freezing rain started and the wind is about 38-45 mph and the temps drop to the teens and I’m spending time researching Zwift and smart trainers. I can’t go out and buy something because of the aforementioned snow and ice, but I am learning about some of the desireable features.


Please feel free to tell me what you think in the comments. I’d appreciate constructive feedback on trainers and Zwifting. My budget is $550 or less. I am not training for something other than life, y’know. Being a healthy, fit person. I like to ride everyday and when weather derails the day, I want a back up. Truth be told: I will always be a slow poke. I have an active imagination, but I know the podiums exist only in my imagination. I don’t care! I do enjoy the competition I see on the Zwift boards. I mean it doesn’t matter to me if I am on a ride and I’m dead last. I’d prefer being alone and going at my own pace. Now I hope my performance doesn’t adversely effect the peloton, but from what I can see I can have a nice workout and enjoy some interesting scenery. It won’t be the same as outside, but I’ll have a ride which isn’t compromised by the weather.

My list and musings:

Smart trainers under consideration:

TACX Satori Smart Trainer  gets decent reviews and price point is okay.

Kinetic Road Machine Smart Trainer  is one I’ve seen in bike shops. It costs a bit more than the Tacx and that’s about all I can see that’s different besides the look of it.

Elite QUBO Digital Smart B+ comes in at about $250, but gets low marks on its Bluetooth connection.

KickR Snap by Wahoo is very cool but it’s over budget. I’m also considering the usual suspects like Cyclops and giving up on the resistance training. But then I stop and consider the resistance is probably one of the big selling points of indoor training. Maybe it would be a motivating factor for me to ride more, train harder and actually have a different riding experience. Less utilitarian and more endurance.

I already have Strava Premiere subscription, so I’m not factoring that into my budget. There’s space in the house for me to dedicate a spot to Zwifting. I even have a yoga mat I could use for the mat that everyone seems to show as well.

Months ago when I talked with someone at a bike shop about trainers, there was a deluge of details about the back tire. Seriously! I couldn’t handle the info. By the time I heard about changing my back tire and rim, I was done. I don’t want to get into that. Get me to the Zwifting start line and if I’m using it so much I wear out the tire, well, I’ll deal with that when the time comes.

Frankly, there are two potential bikes I could use on the trainer. One is my actual road bike which is a lovely carbon fiber Cannondale Synapse sweetheart.

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She’d love to be on a trainer. Poor dearie, doesn’t get much time at all. I am skittish as a kitten on ice when I’m on a road bike. Rollers are not an option. But we’ll talk about that in another post. I know I need about $100 for the incidentals like the Ant and other bits, but am I missing anything other critical parts?

Here’s a great video from this guy, Shane Miller,  I found on YouTube. This was extremely helpful. Shane goes through a set up from start to finish. I have checked CraigsList for a Cyclops or even someone’s cast off. I’m still in the research phase. I need to try out a few trainers and see how they work and feel.

If you got out today, good job! I’m hoping we have some warmer temps in the forecast this week, because bottomline, I don’t like having my rides interrupted.

Here’s to you! Thanks for reading.

Get out there and ride or… Zwift.

BG


Insight into Illumination

bikeyRolling into another season of commuting, I wanted to pamper my commuter rig. I gave my bike the gift of dynamo lights. It’s one of those upgrades I’ve wanted to do for quite some time but always found an excuse. Mostly it was cost. I have a vast array of USB lights and a few others which take batteries. I had more than a few occasions  last year when I neglected to recharge my lights at work and ended up with only the blinky light on my helmet to find my way back home at night. Something is better than nothing, however, I was doubting my ability to remember to charge my lights before leaving work this year so at the end of the summer one of my favorite bike shops posted a picture on Instagram of a Kona bike with these awesome fenders and dynamo lights and I felt compelled to get it done. Sadly, the bike mechanic said the fenders wouldn’t work for my bike, but the lights were a go!

Naturally the next part is the immense regret and heavy burden I bear for not having the wherewithal to install the lights a long time ago. What was I thinking? This is the best thing I’ve ever done on behalf of biking and commuting! What are you waiting for? If you don’t have dynamo lights and you are on the fence about getting them—get off the fence and get it done! Talk with your mechanic about what it will look like and how it will be mounted and then choose your lighting system. I wanted the safest, brightest light I could get without taking out a second mortgage.

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I did spend some time getting quotes from three shops, but service and willingness won out. I was going to be out of town for a week and I opted to leave my bike at the shop for a few days. The hubs and rims needed to be rebuilt and I needed new rims anyway, so it all worked out. Be prepared for spending $400 to $600. It might be less, but I didn’t realize how much I needed to rims. While it was there I had the break pads done and a few other little tweaks. My final bill was $560.

After. The first thing you’ll notice if how liberated you feel. Pure unfettered biking with little regard for time. I can go to Happy Hour and still get home without worrying about the whether my LEDs have enough to get me home or if I will get plunged into darkness and need to catch a bus. Those days are over! I feel like I’m in control, not the lights.

My first encounter with integrated bike lighting was in 2009 when I rented a bike in Potsdam.

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My bike rental in Potsdam, Germany in 2009 had a lighting system that was bulking but effective.

 

The other great thing is that these lights can be taken off this bike, in the event that I ever replace the Kona, and installed on another bike. Personally, I can’t imagine buying a bike without having a dynamo system installed. I commute 50-70 miles a week and there are days when I’m at a meeting which goes a little too late compromising my ability to get home safely. Dynamo lights on my bike mean I can think about loftier issues and not worry if I’m going to make in home before it’s pitch dark.

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What do you do for lights on your bike? Do you have a dynamo or similar system?

Be safe out there.
Happy riding,

Bike Goddess

Mad About Mass Transit

I love mass transit. I’m a transit junkie. Figuring out bus and train schedules is like planning a trip to a far away destination but the ticket is infinitely cheaper. I don’t know why I love it, I just do. You become the travel agent. In the mornings I commute by bus and bike and in the afternoon I ride my bike all the way home. It’s what I do and it works for me. Last year I got lazy and didn’t take the bus much opting for my husband’s offer to drive me to work. Then the bus schedules changed this fall. It has been the best change too. At first I was upset since I wasn’t sure how it would work. Now, I love it. My bus goes farther east which means I only have to ride 2 miles in the morning and I’m at school at 6:40 a.m., instead of 6. That extra time has been put to the pillow since I don’t have to get up as early. The bus comes a bit later so I don’t have to wait outside until 5:50. Liberating!

The other amazing upgrade this year is my bus. Not that I had much to do with that change, but what a difference it makes to ride a shiny new eco-friendly bus.  The first day I was on the new rig I was wearing a dress and it felt like a special occasion. What a difference. Quite a boost to morale to be riding is such a posh carriage.

With few other bikes on the bus I feel like I have it all to myself. There are a few other bikers who ride but they get on after me. There was only one day I had to school the guy who was on before me about how to put his bike on the rack closest to the window so others could get their bikes on swiftly. He has since learned his lesson. There was a day last week a young guy got on and he was asking me about my bike. His friend gave him a fixie and he wanted to know where to buy tubes and how to get his new acquisition into shape. I gave him a few tips about patching the tire and taking it to a bike shop to have a mechanic give it a more thorough check up.

Since the bus goes a little further in the morning and I don’t have to ride as far, I tend to wear my work clothes and pack whatever bike related knickers I plan to wear home. That was working great for the month of September, so we’ll see what the rains of October bring. I pack my rain pants and it would be easy enough to change if the weather required it.

There was another upgrade I made this year, but I’ll save that for my next post.

Be safe and seen out there!

Happy riding!

Right after the bus drops me off.