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

 

 

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.

Just Living the Ride

Riding a bike is what I do. I was never a fan of working out in a gym and the whole idea of riding a stationary bike indoors over a spin outside seems unappealing. Gym membership is not my thing. My daily prayer for myself is that I can ride my bike. “Please, God, let me ride my bike again today.”

Like many of my brothers and sisters in bikes, I went through the period of being a roadie. I’d dress up in my kit and go out for hours, but now I don’t care about what I wear when I ride, I care that I ride. Usually it’s my commute, but on the weekends I love doing errands by bike or riding to fetch groceries, whatever, wherever, let it be by bike. That’s my mantra.

Winter is the most unpredictable season for riding. Despite the apps and radar and updates, you don’t know what the day will bring. I’ve had exceptional rides on days that the weather app told me it would be raining for hours. In the Pacific Northwest, you can’t let the rain get in your way, or you’d never ride. However, I do think that weather can be managed. The weather gods should be limited to one weather system at a time. You can give me rain and no wind or wind an no rain, but together…well, that’s like weather doping. Not cool Mother Nature! Dress for it and don’t be stupid. If it seems too dangerous, then wait it out. Like the company so aptly named, Showers Pass… they do. Showers do pass and sometimes you can find that opening in a weather system and still get a little time in the saddle.

Happy 2016 and start the year with a ride. You can thank me later.

 

Spring in Your Wheels

It was a long winter of commuting for me. The thing that really gets me about winter commuting is waking up in the dark and going home in the dark. Noir riding. I think most people have a similar complaints. The only cure I can come up with is weekend riding, or leaving working on time. Once the switch to Daylight Savings Time is complete, I feel like I gain light, but I lose energy. Only for a little while, but it seems like such a dramatic switch.

Riding my bike puts spring in my step all year long. I could get an few extra hours of sleep every week if I drove, but then I’d lose that spring. There’s that week or so before the time change and I get to see the most spectacular sunrises from from bus. I love that time. It feels like you are part of a secret the universe has reserved for you alone.

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The first few weeks of spring have shown temperature ranges of 20 plus degrees. There’s been rain, hail and even a little snow at higher elevations (1000 feet). Ah, spring! But if you love the ride, it doesn’t really matter what the weather is doing.

Enjoy the ride.