Massachusetts North Shore

5 Oct

We’ve spent late September in Massachusetts the past two years. Last year Cape Cod, this year the North Shore/Cape Ann area. Both are beautiful, both are great places to cycle.

If you are interested in cycling in the North Shore area or even the greater New England  area, I recommend checking out: It’s quite the website with suggested routes, maps and cue sheets for all the areas. The tour was through Road Scholar and is offered twice each year.

This was a lower mileage tour than those we’ve done in the past and I found I enjoyed the lower miles too. With fewer miles there was more time and tendency to see the sights in the towns we stayed – Ipswich and Newburyport, MA. Quaint towns with tons of history, restaurants with great seafood and plenty to see and do off the bike.

Like our other bike tours, we rode with a wonderful group of people, participants and guides alike. There was a mix of ages and cycling experience but we meshed together well; truly a delightful group of people. The group of 14 usually broke into smaller groups, with at least one guide riding with each. All 4 of the guides were terrific and took good care of us – thanks to Gordon, Paula, Barbara and Jimmy. Unlike all the other tours, no one drove a support van and it worked out great. It wasn’t needed, we did out and backs from both locations and if someone had needed a lift back I’m sure one would have been provided.

In addition to riding in the North Shore/Cape Ann area we spent several days in Boston beforehand and had a chance to ride there. First off we did the Boston City View Tour with Urban AdvenTours – highly recommend them. The guides took great care as they navigated us through the streets of Boston, providing a very informative tour of Boston’s historical sites and neighborhoods. A wonderful way to see Boston, in addition we did several walking tours, but the bike tour was our favorite.

Boston's Urban Adventours City View Tour

Boston’s Urban AdvenTours City View Tour

Last but not least we used Boston’s bike share – Hubway. We bought a 72 hour pass so we could have the flexibility to ride each day and meet my “ride every day” goal. The most fun was when we decided to hop on and ride back to our hotel after eating a huge meal including a bottle of wine at Al Dente in the North End. We ended up in the middle of Chinatown on Saturday night – traffic jam deluxe! What a memorable ride that was – if only I’d had a GoPro to catch the whole thing on video!

Speaking of GoPro, or the lack of, I did take photos of our North Shore tour, most on the fly. Not nearly as many as the California or Quebec tours you might be happy to know. Here they are:


It was a fantastic experience and just a beautiful place to ride!





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25 Jun

One of my bikes I have always loved but I’ve never really loved riding. Know that feeling? Beautiful frame, pretty color, just a classic bike, the 2010 Jamis Aurora Elite.



The frame is Reynolds 631, with a sloping chromoly lugged crown. A thing of beauty, and a ride that smoothed out the rough roads around here. What didn’t I like? The disc brakes, the fenders, the toe-overlap and the too-long reach, mainly. The 50cm frame was just a little large, but the next size down was a 47cm – too small. A Goldilocks dilemma, with no “just right” size I opted for the 50cm.

I adjusted to the slightly too tall frame, but I never adjusted to the sluggish ride. So much slower to accelerate than my Scott road bike, and consequently over the years I rode this beautiful looking bike less and less. My plan was to sell it and buy something like a Trek FX or similar.

Fast-forward to May.

Since I rarely rode it anyway, I decided take it to northeast Ohio and keep it at my mother-in-law’s so I’d have a bike when I visited. With my commitment to RideEveryDay I wanted to make sure I had access to a ride when visiting and I’d buy the FX or something similar to ride here.

Additionally I decided to spend a few bucks (turns out more than a few, but isn’t that always the case with us and our bikes) and make it more to my liking. A few weeks ago I took it to my LBS of late and replaced the disc brakes with calipers and the 90mm stem with a 70 to improve the reach. I also had to go to a narrower tire so I switched to 25mm Gatorskins. The fenders were a joke so I removed them plus the rack. I may get a seatpost mounted rack.

The result? Well, the bike isn’t going to my mother-in-law’s any longer because I ride it almost exclusively now. Sorry Rocket (my Scott). The difference in the ride is nothing short of amazing and has me questioning what took me so long.

The biggest difference? Has to be a tie – between the improved acceleration/ride quality and the improved cockpit and comfort. I LOVE this bike – and now I LOVE riding her.

The moral of the story:  if you have a bike that doesn’t quite do it for you, before you sell it and buy something else maybe try to see if you can make it right.

2010 Jamis Aurora Elite – For The Love of Bikes

2010 Jamis Aurora Elite – For the Love of Bikes



Getting More Women on Bikes

29 May

© For the Love of Bikes

© For the Love of Bikes

The number of women bicycling lags behind men bicycling. A recent study, Bike Shops for Everyone, by The League of American Bicyclists addressed how to make bike retail more accepting and welcoming to women.

Caitlin Giddings, with Bicycling Magazine, took it a step further outlining 10 basic ways local bike shops could facilitate more women biking in her article, 10 Ways Bike Shops Can Welcome Women

I encourage you to read the article but her 10 strategies rang true for me; if you’re female they likely will for you too.

They are as follows:

1. Don’t assume she’s a beginner. Don’t assume she’s not. As you should with any customer, start a conversation to get a feel for her level of bike experience and then work from there. You’ll be glad you took the time to assess the situation when you’re saved from the embarrassment of explaining a basic bike concept to a pro masters racer who happened to wander into your shop in civilian clothes that day. If it turns out that you are dealing with a beginner, don’t just sell her the bike—explain what other gear she might want or need.

2. Remember that women aren’t a niche. We’re road bikers, commuters, mountain bikers, cyclocross racers, bike messengers, cycle tourists, and more. Don’t pigeonhole us or stereotype us. We have just as many needs and interests as men do on the road (or trail!).

3. Stock diverse women’s gear in different sizes—from XS bikes to plus-size cycling clothing. And make women’s gear look just as appealing as the men’s, says deputy editor Emily Furia. “Don’t cram a measly two women’s jerseys amongst a big rack of guys’ stuff, forcing us to dig for it like we’re at TJMaxx (an awesome place to score deals, but not a pleasant shopping experience).”

4. Don’t assume she wants a women’s bike. Gear editor Gloria Liu tells this story: “A friend of mine recently had the Liv Avail pushed on her so hard by multiple shops (though she said repeatedly that she didn’t like the position it put her in) that she asked me, ‘Geez, are they getting a special commission to sell these things?’” The geometry commonly used on women’s bikes—shorter top tube and taller head tube—doesn’t suit every woman’s body or riding style. And men with long legs and shorter torsos could be better served with a “women’s” bike, depending on their preferred riding position.

5. Take us at our word when we say we can do a mechanical task, says Emily Furia. “At a demo tent at a gran fondo, I had to explain to the guy working there THREE times that I knew how to install pedals before he would release my test bike without them.” Also, we like to work on our bikes, too, so stick to the requested repairs unless we’ve indicated otherwise.

6. The golden rule of all human interaction: Don’t be a dick. Staff writer Molly Hurford says this just boils down to a few simple points. “Don’t talk down to women, don’t hit on them, and don’t make assumptions about what kind of riding they’re doing.”

7. Hold rides, events, and mechanical clinics tailored to women. Many women feel perfectly at ease in a bike shop, but others don’t. And most will be excited to have new riding buddies. “Ask if she has friends to ride with,” says contributor Selene Yeager. “I saw an interesting survey about women riding much more often when they have others to ride with. Help her find a community.”

Associate editor Taylor Rojek, who used to work in a bike shop, agrees. “We had a women’s ride that was really great for introducing women to each other and growing networks,” she says. “Something I did personally was to ask women who were buying new bikes if they wanted to go for a ride. There were plenty of women who were just plain scared to ride on the roads, by themselves, with this expensive new bike. If you add in someone who’s supportive and encouraging and knows what she’s doing, it becomes a way more positive experience.”

8. Ask your customers—both men and women—what they want from your store. Women’s bike shop Gladys Bikes in Portland, Oregon, has this down to a science. “We have this thing called ‘GAB,’ the Gladys Advisory Board, made up by customers providing feedback on what they want from a women-specific shop,” shop owner Leah Benson says. “We’re constantly evolving in terms of what it means to make a place relevant for a large community of women by asking our board, ‘Hey, what do you want to see?’ Our Saddle Library came out of that. A lot of women saw saddle comfort as a barrier of entry to cycling, so we said, ‘Hey, we can make your butt more comfortable!'”

9. Talk saddles, suggests Selene Yeager. “I’ve heard from many many top industry insiders that this is the number one silent issue that keeps women off bikes. They are uncomfortable ‘down there,’ and they’re not comfortable talking about it. Dudes in bike shops are generally uneasy about broaching the topic. But somebody HAS to or there will be many women who will simply not ride.”

10. “Hire women!” says Taylor Rojek. “Having me at the shop made the whole experience more comfortable for a lot of women, and they were super appreciative of it,” she says.”

Case in point: Several years ago my husband and I went to a LBS for bike fittings. Mine was first, and although I repeatedly explained to the guy that I had ridden for many years and cycled many miles, done multi-day bike touring, etc., he insisted on setting me up on my racy ready carbon fiber road bike very upright, not the least bit aero. The problem was he treated me like his mother rather than a fellow cyclist. If he had listened he could have told by my level of understanding that I didn’t just fall off a cruiser. Completely ignoring my input, he explained I’d be “more comfortable” with the “non-aero” fit and left it at that. I didn’t want to be comfortable, I wanted to be fast!

My husband who at that time had ridden very little in recent years was fit in a much more aero position than I, even though he explained to the guy he hadn’t ridden much and was just getting into it again.

This shop did an injustice to me and my husband by making assumptions based on gender and not listening to our needs and experience level.

The same thing occurs because of age, but that’s a post for another time.

Happy trails!


Two Mile Tour

19 May

Not a three-hour tour, a two mile tour.

If you’re old enough you may remember Gilligan’s Island and the three-hour tour… three-hour tour.

Got the song in your head now? Me too. Sorry.

About the Two Mile Tour. I came across this cartoon by Bikeyface on Twitter last week. It hit home with me.




Riding a bike doesn’t mean riding some long distance, well it doesn’t only mean that. Riding a bike can mean pedaling for a block, a mile, two miles or a century. It’s all riding.

So it is about the bike, but it isn’t about the distance. Cyclists, myself included, tend to get hung up on mileage and speed. That’s changing for me though.

With my attempt to ride every day – prompted by April’s #30DaysofBiking – I’m learning a bike ride doesn’t have to be at least 20 miles to be worth doing. I wasn’t aware I operated on that belief but I did.

With the #RideEveryDay policy some days my bike ride has been as short as a mile or even less on a few days when it was pouring. RideEveryDay isn’t about the miles as much as it’s about riding the bike every single day no matter what. I’ve missed a day, May 8th, because I was away from home and didn’t have a bike, but otherwise I have.

Bikeyface’s point is that just about anyone can ride two miles and then build on it if they want. They may never choose to ride further than a couple of miles and that’s okay.

They may never choose to wear lycra shorts or use clipless pedals and that’s okay too. Good in fact.

Honestly I’m relatively new to the camp of “biking” rather than “cycling”, where with the former anyone can do it, and the latter is populated by two-wheeled addicts (or enthusiasts if you prefer) like myself and probably you with our high tech gear on our high-end bikes.

If you pay great attention to wind speed and direction you’re likely in the cycling camp. Before smart phones and apps the weather channel was my most viewed cable channel.

I get that the cycling model I’ve always subscribed to has not appealed to the majority of people. It hasn’t brought bicycling to the masses by any stretch. Seems to me that most of the new people coming to cycling/bicyling just aren’t interested in seeing how fast and how far they can ride. They aren’t interested in what their resting heart rate is (46) or their average speed (15-16 if it’s flat). They are drawn to biking for transportation and fun.

Personally I don’t care what brings people to biking just so long as they’re here.

The love of bikes can include all of us: athlete types, people riding for transportation and the people who haven’t been on a bike in years but remember it fondly and want to try it again, just for the fun of it.

For those people, two mile tours, in street clothes, sans helmet if they choose, might just be the ticket to get them riding. Hope so.



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For the Love of Bikes Blog by Susan Lash (2009 - 2014) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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