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

 

 

 

 

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

Wahoo the Winter Away (and anytime, really)

Wahoo! Snap! Eventually it will be delivered. Currently it is out-of-stock and expected to ship on January 30th. I have family in Chicago and today it was in the high 40s while here in the Pacific Northwest we are still snowed in. The temps have been hovering in the teens and I’m a feeling a mixture of cranky and grumpy since I haven’t been on a bike in a few days. I miss my commute! Heck, I miss my job. I can do about a mile or so on the mountain bike which is fun, but not enough. I found a Wahoo Snap at REI online. I thought maybe I’d find it in the store and when I didn’t see it on the shelf I tried very hard to leave and not gaze longlingly at other trainers. Immediate gratification is not gratifying when you compromise on what you want to get it now! There was the $1200 Wahoo, but no… that’s not what I came to purchase. I willed myself to leave. Then my husband took be to another bike shop. I was sure they’d have something, but nada. Seriously! The coolest thing about this experience in semi-impulse shopping mode was I did my homework. I knew exactly what I wanted and why.


The guys (we need more women in this business) at the shop asked me if I needed help and that opened the conversation up to trainers. Immediately they told me about Kinetic which they had one in stock. However it had no “smart” capabilities. They also had a $1200 Cyclops. Nope I said, I wanted Wahoo Snap or Tacx Satori. They didn’t have either but could special order them. Thanks, but I can do that too. No biggie. Surprisingly they didn’t know much and I left feeling like at least I knew what I wanted. I spent another hour this evening watching videos online comparing the noise level and decided to Wahoo. I also think I will ride my road bike more and my husband even expressed interest in trying it out. Let’s do this! 

I ordered the Wahoo Snap and it’s a good thing since it looks like winter has only just begun. Most snow in the forecast. 

Until then, I’ll ride when I can for as long as I can. Outside. 

Thanks for all your help. 

Have a great week of riding!

BG

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


First Day of a New Year: Ridesolutions

  Thirty seven degrees outside and it looked like it wanted to rain, but I was undeterred. I wanted to get in 10 miles on the first day of the new year. Today’s ride gives me 87 miles for the week and 10 for the start of the year. It was good! I even saw a hawk. The light was spectacular. Check out those trees! It’s as if they were dipped in white paint. The contrasts of the green grass and steel gray clouds, baby blue sky and the sun bleached trees. What a visual feast!

Do you have any ridesolutions? I wanted to hit 3,500 miles in 2016. I was on track to do that without too much trouble until June. I pulled a muscle in my left leg and I was sidelined for about two weeks. I hated it and it put me behind. Most of July I was pampering my leg and working on a project for my father’s birthday. I had one of those amazing rides on my road bike and pushed too hard too early.  In the summer I tend to ride more, but rest assured my commuting miles take me from Fall to Spring with a minimum of 12 miles a day. I don’t want it to be a job. I want my ridesolutions to be milestones for my year of riding. Even if I ride one more mile over 2016, that’s good by me. 

Here are my stats:


If I have a goal for 2017, it’s 3,388. I hope to be injury free and above all safe and seen. We probably all want that. I also don’t really utilize Strava as much as I should. Meaning that I don’t know everything it can do. I see the routes of others and yet I don’t know how to copy them or use them for my own riding. I need to get better about using the features of Strava or I need to go back to MapMyRide. In any case, here’s to another year in the saddle, enjoying the world on two wheels! 

My other big goal for the year is this blog. 

Get out there are ride!

What are your ridesolutions for 2017?

BG