Category Archives: outfitting

Letters from the Bike Path (and Gearing Up!)

Those of you who know me well and/or are facebook friends with me might have noticed that I often communicate in the form of letters/brief memos. Par example:

Dear Weather,
Why do you keep raining? It hurts my heart because it makes it dangerous to ride my road bike and it’s for realz interfering with my cycling schedule. I’m glad that rain exists in the world, but perhaps it could take a vacay to the southwest for a while? They could REALLY use it.
Love Always,
Say

Often I compose these mental letters while on the bike path. For your amusement, here are some mental letters from recently. Please pardon some of the cynicism coming through; a number of them were composed two Sundays ago, and Sundays on the bike path can be a trial.

Dear Gentleman on the Trek Mountain Bike,
I didn’t know that it was possible to actually buy cycling shorts that are that short. Wow. Doesn’t that make you nervous?? It made me very, very nervous.
Best,
Say
P.S. – Chafing?

Dear God,
You know birds? Those were a really, really great idea. Thanks for that.
Sincerely,
Say

Dear Kindly Fellow with Two Cute Dogs,
Thanks for offering to keep an eye on my bike for me while I was using the outhouse. Chaining it up just for that purpose really is kind of annoying.
Appreciatively,
Say

Dear Columbus Parks and Recreation,
Oh good god. Please, please, please do something about the outhouse at Whetstone Park. Seriously. I can generally suck it up when it comes to outhouses, but  . . . Let’s just say that having to pee while riding a bike is never enjoyable (especially for those of us who are female-bodied) and I chose to hold it.
– Say

Dear People at Antrim Lake Walking Across the Bike Path Waving Fishing Poles Around Without Looking,
Don’t. Those things have hooks.
Take Care,
Say
P.S. – I’m concerned about the fact that you had buckets. Should you really be eating fish out of Antrim Lake? I mean, it’s better than the Olentangy River, but still – that is not a natural color for lake water.

Dear Pedestrians/Runners,
For real, if you continue to run/walk at me in the wrong direction on the path, Imma be forced to run you down. I understand that it’s a multi-use path, and I try my best to promote harmony between cyclists, rollerbladers, runners, and pedestrians, but I really don’t want to experience another pedestrian-induced fall that will have me in physical therapy rehabbing my knee almost a year later.
Godspeed,
Say

Dear Small Children Riding Teeny-Weeny Bikes,
You’re freaking adorable. Also, it’s both cute and terrifying how you look behind you when you hear someone coming and, given that you’re still learning how to coordinate your body (I get it, believe me!), when you turn your head your entire upper body turns with it, thus swerving your teeny-weeny bike into the passing lane.
Be Careful,
Say

Dear Dude Practicing Walking on a Tight Rope,
Thank you for existing.
Best of Luck in Your Pursuits,
Say

Dear Body and Sweet Thunder II,
Thank you for combining and coordinating your efforts to give me some strong, badass rides lately.
Love,
Say

In other news . . .

You know the one thing I don’t totally love about cycling? The expense. I mean, good lord! (Dear Self, Did you have to fall in love with a sport that’s SO expensive? You know you’re a poor grad student, right? Love, Self)

For example, Sweet Thunder II (road bike) is the third most expensive possession I have, behind our car and my computer. And then there’s so much gear and clothing to buy if you want to cycle regularly and have it be a) comfortable and b) functional. I guess the good thing is that once you invest, things last a while. So, I’m trying to gradually accumulate the things that I need (well, okay, and some things that I don’t!). Right now I’m prioritizing getting ready for the 50K that I hope to ride next month, and I also need to outfit my hybrid to make it a more functional commuting bike (I need a rear wheel rack, a trunk, and panniers for realz).

So, my recent gear investments have been this Cambelback, which was a conveniently discontinued style, and thus quite a steal:

I have not yet had a good opportunity to use it yet because the abnormally hot temperatures that we were having have turned into lots of rain and that, combined with the mess that is always the end of a quarter, pretty much precluded doing any longer/hotter rides. Soon, Camelback. Soon.

My most exciting purchase happened this weekend, with my first cyclocomputer. wOOt!

Disclaimer: Please excuse my HORRIBLE bike path etiquette here. Normally I would NEVER take a photo like this while moving. It’s just that . . . if I had stopped, the picture would have shown a big 0.0mph, which is SO not badass enough for my blog. I did make sure that I waited until I was on a straight, abandoned part of the bike path, and I snapped it very quickly with my phone! (I know . . . excuses, excuses!)

I really freaking love having the computer on my bike. I had guessed that I average about 15mph on my road bike, and I clocked in at 15.3mpg average on my ride yesterday. The computer definitely helps me keep my pace, and it also encourages me to shift through my gears more so that I can keep my pace steady. And it keeps me really focused and present in my ride, which is a lovely bonus!

And then, while I was waiting for them to install my computer at Performance Bikes (oh, how I love, love, love this store), I might have found this:

It’s just . . . it was on mega-sale, okay??? There was only one and it was my size and it was cheap because no one buys jackets in Ohio in June! And it’ll be really nice for riding in the fall. AND, actually, one of the classrooms in which I have class this summer and my TA office are both so overly air-conditioned that I actually brought it to school with me today to insulate myself against the temperature. It worked quite well, my friends.

In the meantime, barring inclement weather, I will not back out of the 50K next month. *repeat, repeat, repeat* I’m starting to get cold feet . . . but more on that later!

As a final note, this is not at all cycling related, but here’s one of my favorite Youtube videos ever. It cracks me up EVERY TIME.

I.Love.This.

A wonderful person in my life posted this video on facebook. It pretty much sums up how I feel about riding my bikes.

I also have the serious need to ante up and go clipless staring me in the face. (Please note the section toward the bottom of that link entitled, “But will I fall over?”.) More on this topic later, but I now have a new goal for going clipless. In addition to not seriously breaking anything on or in my bike or my body, I feel strongly that I should probably memorize this speech so that I can recreate it at the right moment, because I know that I’m going to feel REALLY happy of myself.

 

UPDATE:

SOMEONE ADDED AMAZING MUSIC!!! Epic. And yes, I’m posting both videos, because it makes it much more efficient for me to watch them over and over.

Did you know??

Ohio has a monsoon season. Yeah. This was news to me too. Le sigh. We’ve had a seriously stupid amount of rain this month. I’ve only gotten in about three rides in the last two weeks. It hasn’t been warm enough to risk getting caught on my bike in a rainstorm yet, so I haven’t even been taking my hybrid out when there’s rain predicted. I have done some disgruntled cross-training at the OSU fitness center – not because I hate what I do there, just because I hated that I was doing it so much during what should be cycling season! When the weather is nice, I will always choose cycling over working out in a gym, for sure. I’ve also managed to take some nice walks when we’ve had brief breaks in the rain. (That’s right. Come and get me, Vitamin D. I dare you.) It hasn’t been warm enough to risk getting caught on my bike in a rainstorm yet, so I haven’t even been taking my hybrid out when there’s rain predicted. I also had one particularly cranky day where I decided that I’d rather ebay shop for cycling gear than have to workout inside again. I bought a 5.99 used jersey by Patagonia. Let’s just say . . . really, Patagonia?? Whatevs. It was $6, and I guess it’ll be a good back up.

Today, however, was cycling weather!!! It was windy and bit cool for the first ten minutes of my ride, but once the sun came out, life improved. I generally ride on the Olentangy Trail, which runs along the Old-and-tangy Olentangy River. The river was SO high today! However, I was heartened when I made it up to Worthington and under Rte. 315 without hitting any majorly flooded areas.

But then . . .
tragedy.

About a half mile north of that celebratory moment, I stumbled rode upon this:

After conferring with another woman cyclist* who stopped right after me, we decided that it could easily be six inches deep, and we didn’t want to get that sewage overflow river water on our road bikes. We did, however, then get to witness a group of three cyclists who came around the turn way too fast, and almost suffered the domino effect due to stopping short. So, I had to cut my ride a couple of miles short. But, AT LEAST I GOT TO RIDE!!!

In other news, I’ve joined the Friends of Consider Biking team on ridenet, and I’ve been logging my rides. I’ve broken the 100 mile mark this season, which isn’t too shabby, given all of the rain and the fact that I’ve only been back in the saddle for a few weeks! Check out my ridenet profile by clicking here.

* I had no idea the extent to which cycling is a male dominated sport until I started becoming more serious about it. If you’d like an example, pick up any copy of Bicycling magazine ever. Or go to a bike store. Or chill out next to a bike path for a bit. Hence, I get a bit excited when I see other women cyclists out and about!

Not all is quiet on the biking front – except for the deer.

First of all, it’s been warm enough the past couple of days to take some really nice rides outside. SO nice. I rode my hybrid to school yesterday, and then took a long route home to enjoy the weather. I took my road bike out on the bike path today as well.

 

As is often the case, I saw some beautiful deer on my ride today – and this time, I had my camera!

Do you see it?? Hmmm??

Mostly I’ve been working out inside recently – Dance Dance Revolution at home. (Yes, I got it for Wii.) Or the fitness center at school, where I generally use a stationary bike and/or an elliptical runner. Riding the stationary bike obviously is not the same as riding a real bike outside, but when I get my groove (and my music) on, I have a good time. And I want to stay in shape over the winter that I can get back to cycling regularly when it gets warmer. However, let me just say . . . after a few weeks of this, and then getting back on my real bikes yesterday and today, I have one thing to say – Holy quads, batman!! Clearly, the stationary bike is only going to do so much. It’ll keep me in shape, but it just doesn’t work out the muscles that riding a real bike does. Clearly, the effort having to actually balance, dealing with really hills instead of just a change in resistance, and dealing with traffic and road conditions makes quite a difference!

Other than trying to work up the nerve to do the occasional winter ride (they’re going to plow the bike path this year!), I’ve been trying to find ways to keep myself active as a cyclist in the winter.

This past week, the organization that I volunteered for this summer, Consider Biking, had a volunteer meeting, so I’m excited to continue my work with them. Amongst jokes about spandex and talk of the overarching goal of getting “more bikes on butts” in Columbus, we were introduced to a lot of cool volunteer opportunities, such as helping monitor the bike paths, working on the 2 by 2012 campaign, and helping plan and staff the Ride of Silence in the spring and the Columbus Bike Festival in the summer. That should keep me involved for sure! They also handed out buttons for 2 by 2012, and I happily wore mine upon commuting to/from school yesterday. I’m okay with peer pressuring people through buttons.

I’m also trying to work up the courage to go to a free class on basic bike maintenance at one of the local bike shops. I’m easily intimidated (and, quite frankly, very bored) by mechanical anything, but really, I should know how to fix a bike flat, dammit! Am I right, or am I right?

P.S. – I’m in dire need of some padded, winter-ready spandex. It’s not even a joke anymore. Must invest.

‘Tis the season . . . for spandex.

I give up. I fought long and hard to not resort to spandex. Or, at least, I was wearing spandex shorts underneath athletic shorts. Because, you know what they say . . . “Nobody looks good in bike shorts.”

But the thing is . . . spandex is just more comfortable when it comes to bike riding. It stays in place, it moves with you, and if everyone’s wearing it, well, at least you’re on a level playing field, right??

So, it’s now that time of year where the weather is in between. It’s hard to dress properly for a bike ride without being too hot or too cold at some point on your ride. Most likely, you’ll be too warm at some point, and a bit too chilly at another point. So, I decided that I needed to get some more versatile spandex for this time in my life. Thanks to getting myself a membership in the Performance Bicycles Buyer’s Club when I purchased my bike, I was able to get some arm warmers and cycling gloves without spending any money. Yay!

So, here’s the combo I had going on yesterday and today, and it worked out wonderfully:

 

Spandex capris, short-sleeved jersey, and arm warmers that came off at the halfway point of my ride after I had generated some body heat. Well done, self.

Also, here are the sweetass cycling gloves I got:

 

In other news, it’s official. My road bike’s name is Sweet Thunder, after that originally Huffy. I know. Sheer brilliance. You don’t have to tell me. 🙂

Taking a ride down memory lane . . .

My new bike is here!!!! Yes!!!!! I freaking love it so much. And, as I was out riding today, I was thinking about the different bikes I’ve had throughout my life and my various levels of bonding with them. I shall now take you on a little ride down bicycle memory lane . . .

My first bike was a Huffy. If I remember correctly, it looked something like this. (Maybe it even was this model??) I DEFINITELY remember the banana seat. Also, when I grew out of this bike, I remember being SORELY disappointed that not all bikes had banana seats. This being my first bike, for a long time it meant that Huffys (Huffies? Huffy’s?) were the epitome of bikes to me. Oh, young naivete.

This picture is not mine. This is some stranger’s bike. However, it is a stand-in for the string of mountain bikes I had as I grew up and grew taller. These were the days of bikes being sized by the size of the tire. These bikes were the bikes you get from big box stores – Roadmasters, Huffies, Schwinns, etc. My dad rode this kind of bike. My brother road this kind of bike. I thought that this was pretty much it for a long time. I liked riding these bikes, and had phases where I would ride quite regularly. But eventually these bikes crap out, even with tune-ups. And they’re HEAVY. When Luke and I moved to Ohio, I was riding a bike much like this one pictured, and despite having tune-ups, it still would only shift when it felt like it, some gears were completely useless, and the chain liked to pop off on a semi-regular basis. It didn’t make the cut into the UHaul.

Then, bikeless and adjusting graduate school and life in the Midwest, I didn’t ride for a couple of years.

Then, last spring, I got this puppy:

I don’t really know how to explain what happened here. I got it used for about $100. Some weird sentimental craziness took me over and made me want a Huffy. I was also exceedingly nervous that I would be that one person who DOES forget how to ride a bike. I wanted to start as basic as possible. So I got this. Gold. A cruiser. One speed. Bulky. COASTER BRAKES. That’s right. The kind where you pedal backwards to stop the bike. I learned quickly that if you get going fast down a hill, you can STAND ON THESE FUCKERS WITH ALL OF YOUR WEIGHT and they won’t stop you.

It was fun for a while, especially as I was just beginning to ride again. But, everyone passed me on the bike path. I don’t think I could have been going much more that 8 miles an hour on this business. I wanted to make myself a t-shirt that read, “I don’t have gears!!!” to explain my crawl up hills. Cruisers are cute/fun for around town, but that’s about it. I bonded quickly with this bike, but over time the relationship went sour.

So, I did some research, went to a different used bike store, and came back with this:

A GT Palomar, purchased for about $180. I wanted a hybrid at the time, but they didn’t have any, so I went with this. Definitely a mountain bike, but it sat the rider a bit more upright, somewhat like a hybrid in terms of comfort. I fucking loved this bike. It was SO nice to have gears again! It still didn’t go very fast, being a mountain bike, but I really loved it. It was my first bike that was a brand you would purchase in a bike store, and I had never ridden anything of this quality before. As the guys at the bike store told me, “It’s not a KMart bike.”

Then my brother moved in with us, and he took over riding “The Golden Bicycle” (the Huffy cruiser). Luke also purchased a bike at this time. We were a riding family – until all of our bikes got stolen within a few weeks of each other. I was heartbroken when this bike got stolen. I’m not a crier, but I cried over that GT.

I went back to the used bike store, and got this bike for $165. It’s a Fuji Crosstown hybrid. It took me a while to get used to it. It was the first time I rode  a bike that didn’t have mountain bike wheels, and I was definitely a little wobbly. But, it had me at the test ride; I had no idea bikes could shift so smoothly! I was  still heartbroken about my GT, so it took me a while to warm up to this bike. But, I still have it, and I still love it. It really needs a tune-up, but it’s been a very reliable bike. I commute to school on this bike, and I think of it as my “pleasure craft.” Her name is All the Way Mae, because she’s versatile. (Yes, she is named after Madonna’s character in A League of Their Own.)

This summer I started off riding the hybrid exclusively, as it’s the only bike I had. But, as the summer wore on, as I’ve learned more about bikes, and as I look forward to the possibility of training and doing a distance ride next summer, it became clear that I would need a road bike. Good road bikes are NOT cheap, so I decided to start with an old, used one just to get the feel of a road bike.

Back to the used bike store I went:

It’s a 1977 Concord “Freedom Deluxe.” It was good to transition, and I got it for $165. The frame wasn’t really meant for someone my height (aka short), as you can see by the fact that I had to lower the seat so much that I was pretty much sitting on the top bar. And yes, I did have horrific visions of what might happen if I hit a bump or pothole and slid forward off of the seat! This was a good practice road bike, though it was never meant to take me on distance rides. I also had to stop riding it a few weeks ago, as its poor fit seemed to be exacerbating my knee pain. Physical therapist’s orders. Her name is Pippi. She’s being passed on to Luke.

And now, MY NEW BIKE!!!!!

Omg. It’s amazing. It’s a 2010 Fuji Newest 2.0. I got it on Thursday evening, and I’ve taken it on two good rides since then. I’ve definitely had to do some adjusting! The tires are SKINNY, so I’m currently a bit wobbly if I ride one-handed. Also, the hand brakes on the curved part of the handle bars double as the gear shifts, and the front and rear derailleurs are the opposite of each other, so the first ride included a fair amount of shifting improperly and making embarrassing noises on the bike path. But, I’m getting the hang of it! This bike is FAST. And we’re already thoroughly bonded. I’m still trying to choose a name. Right now I’m leaning toward Cayenne. Or maybe Paprika. Suggestions welcome.

Wow. That was long. In other news, I need to bite the bullet and make the full switch to the padded spandex bike shorts. My butt would be happier, and puffy athletic shorts just look silly with cycling jerseys!

New Threadz

Sometimes, you go to Border’s to work on a final paper. But, you get sidetracked by the “BIGGEST SALE OF THE YEAR!!!” banners hanging on Performance Bicycles two doors down.

And then, you may or may not find a rad cycling jersey on sale for 50% off. And then, you may or may not buy it.

I’ve been wanting one of these for, well . . . over a year. But I didn’t want to spend the money on one until I was sure that cycling was something I was going to stick with. A year later, I’m pretty sure I’m sticking with it.

I shall now model it for you.

I’ve always been so jealous of people with those little pockets! Win!