Archive by Author

Catching Up

17 May

Share/Bookmark

Greetings fellow bike fiends!

It has been a while since I last posted, but I still ride and still love cycling – blogging evidently – not so much.

Since it has been a while, I thought an update might be in order.

2015 Goals ~ First off, as far as my previously posted cycling mileage goal for 2015, I exceeded it. In the past that used to happen frequently, but in the last few years I have typically missed the mark. My 2015 cycling goal was 3,000 miles, I finished the year with 3,187. Nothing grand for many cyclists, but for me it was an achievement I was proud of, mainly because of how I did it, which I’ll explain in a bit.

As you might recall from my posts last year, I decided to continue April’s #30daysofbiking through the rest of 2015 with a #RideEveryDay goal. To that end, except for 12 days, I managed to ride every day from April 1 – December 31, 2015.

Going in I knew I likely wouldn’t be able to ride every single day – sometimes it just isn’t possible. There were days while traveling when I didn’t have one of my bikes so I had to get creative with how I could get my hands on one to keep the streak intact – anything short of stealing. So I utilized bike share, test rides and borrowed a bike from someone while traveling once for a quick ride.

Most importantly for me, riding every day changed the way I ride. I used bikes much more for transportation than I ever had previously – a big win. I also took shorter, slower rides which I found renewed my enthusiasm and love for cycling. No gadgets, no lycra on some rides – just me pedaling for the joy – and the goal of riding every day. Cycling had become too much about the miles, average speed and the like. Working a bike ride into my daily activity made me shift my focus from doing training rides to using cycling to get places, for recreation or stress relief or just to enjoy a beautiful day.

2016 Goals ~ When 2016 rolled around I wasn’t sure if I would set another goal to ride every day or wait until April’s #30daysofbiking and try to ride daily the remainder of the year – or neither.

As it turned out several illnesses over the winter made my decision for me.

Although I did bike some in January, February and March, more days than not I didn’t. I managed to ride every day in April, and the first part of May but then I missed a day, than another and so decided 2016 would be different with a change of focus.

With no daily goal of riding I have found more time for long walks, a few over 10 miles, the longest has been just over 15. I’ve also implemented daily weight training and yoga/stretching. Mixing it up basically and cycling is just a part of the mix.

Intermittent Fasting ~ Another part of the mix has been to implement Intermittent Fasting (IF). I utilize the 16/8 IF schedule 7 days a week. Basically I skip breakfast – black coffee only – and eat my first meal around noon or so. Dinner is around 7pm than nothing after 8pm until at least noon the next day – 16 hours of fasting.

Google Intermittent Fasting if you’re interested, there are some great resources on the web, one of which you can find here.

I love it. It’s easy, you don’t get hungry and if you want to turn into a fat-burning-beast, exercising during that fasting window is the way to do it. I’ve lost weight, but more than that I’m gaining muscle, getting leaner, from burning fat – win/win. Intermittent Fasting has become popular in the last few years and there are a number of ways to approach it, you likely can find something that will work for your lifestyle.

Primal Blueprint ~ Another change I’ve made is to follow the Primal Blueprint approach to food and exercise. You may not have heard of Mark Sisson but he’s a goldmine of nutrition and fitness information. You can find him and his Primal Blueprint at Mark’s Daily Apple website.

If you are familiar with Paleo diet, Primal is basically Paleo with a heart. The basic rule is you eat real food, not processed food – like meat, poultry, seafood, fruits and vegetables and some dairy. Unfortunately for a sweet lover like myself, chocolate cake doesn’t fall in the realm of “real food” but you can still enjoy wine, dark chocolate and the occasional indulgence – including chocolate cake.

The Primal method allows for an 80/20 adherence, mine is more like 90/10 or 95/5. I was very strict the first 6 weeks or so. For the most part I eat what I want, and certainly eat enough where I am satisfied. If it didn’t work well for me I wouldn’t do it. It doesn’t feel like a “diet”, you don’t go hungry and you eat good food. You do cook more and eating out requires a little thought and planning, but there are huge payoffs.

The surprising thing too has been 1) how easy it is to do, 2) how easy (fast) it is to lose weight, 3) how much more energy and focus I have.

Normally I don’t push or write about my lifestyle choices – sans cycling obviously – but I’m making an exception for Primal and IF because it works so well and is so simple. It seems like one of those things that’s too good to be true, and too good not to share.

If you are interested, check out the links above and like with everything else, google. Does anyone practice Intermittent Fasting or the Primal/Paleo way of eating? Feel free to comment below, I’d like to know your thoughts/experiences.

 

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: http://bikenewengland.com. 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!

 

 

 

 

Re-Cycle

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.

aurorablue

 

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.

www.loveofbikes.com

2010 Jamis Aurora Elite – For The Love of Bikes

www.loveofbikes.com

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!

 

Creative Commons License
For the Love of Bikes Blog by Susan Lash (2009 - 2014) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.loveofbikes.com.