Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Dear Santa ...


Do you remember your first bike? I think I remember mine. It was a hand-me-down from my brother. It was powder blue and it had an alligator on the chain guard. It was awesome. Until, the day my dad ran it over with his car. 

That Christmas, to replace my otherwise flattened bike, Santa brought me a brand new bike. It had a giant banana seat and it was rainbow colored. It even had rainbow streamers in the handle bars. In my opinion there is nothing better than getting a new bike.

Fast forward 30 years- Every year my husband and I sponsor children through the Precious Child program and the Boulder County Bar Association. https://apreciouschild.org/what-we-do/precious-gift/

The Precious Child program collects donated new toys, gift cards and gifts for children (babies through teenagers) in the most need in the community.  They make incredible efforts to assure that children do not wake up Christmas morning without a present. This year, one of the children we sponsored was an 8 year old boy. His Christmas list to Santa included new clothes, dinosaur toys and a BIKE.  My husband and I were thrilled to help Santa deliver a new bike to this little boy.



During our search for a new kid’s bike, we met a retired Auto Worker who now lives in Lafayette, Colorado. This incredible man spends his retirement fixing-up and donating gently used bikes to the community. He works out of his house and has bikes available for sale or donation- depending on your need.  You can drive past his house in Lafayette and see his display of available bikes. It’s amazing. He also donates bikes to Community Cycles, and is happy to donate bikes to charities in need. Check out Community Cycles- https://communitycycles.org/ Their focus is not just children’s bikes, but adult bikes as well.  Many individuals are dependent upon their bike as their primary mode of transportation.

We are lucky to live in Colorado where numerous organizations exist that donate bikes to both children and adults. Check out some of the bike donation programs in Colorado. A Bike can change a life and make things that were previously inaccessible, accessible. If you have any bikes collecting dust in your garage, consider donating them and giving the bike and its eventual recipient a new life.


Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Making Group Rides Great!





Long live group rides!  They are an opportunity to spend time with old and new friends, offer safety in numbers, and allow us to ride better, longer, and on new routes than we might on our own.

They can be even more fun if you follow these simple rules.


1. Keep the group to a reasonable size.  The size will vary based upon the type of ride, but for informal, social rides, 3-5 people is the perfect size. This size isn't that difficult for others (cars, other trail users) to navigate, and you won't develop a herd mentality that ignores the needs of others.  Finally, as a good friend says, for any group ride over three people, add 15 minutes to your total ride.  If time is of the essence, keep the group size small.

2. Know your skills and fitness.  As the ride is planned, have a realistic expectation of what you can do right now.  Most likely you will be fine, especially if you know and trust your riding partners. But it is good to know how long, how far, how much elevation gain, and how technical the ride is so you can map that back to what you've been doing.

3. Keep together.  Don't split up, unless you've planned ahead or have a communication plan to make sure everyone has made it home safely.  Regroup at natural places (trail heads, intersections), recognize that everyone has their own pace, and make sure you are never that far apart from one another.  This is for fun of course because why ride in a group if you don't spend time together, but also for safety.

4. Be situationally aware. Pay attention to the situations around you -- vehicles, trail users, etc -- and be respectful of them.  Groups can be intimidating to other folks and showing that you are paying attention to them goes along way.  Try not to impede traffic, repeatedly stop in front of other trail users, etc.  As for the group itself, use some judgement about how often and when you stop for snacking, changing wardrobe, etc. and try to coordinate that when others are doing it.  Being considerate can make the ride flow much more easily.


5. Car pool.  If you have to drive to ride, make it more fun by carpooling.  Drive together, ride together.  You are doing the environment a favor, saving money, and getting more out of your ride. 

Finally, many of us have ridden in the back of the pack and have had the faster riders wait for us.  It's really no big deal, and they most likely haven't been waiting long.  Don't apologize for 'being slow.'  Just say, 'Thanks for waiting.'  It's the nice thing to do.


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

I Love My E-Bike!

I admit, I felt a bit like a failure when I first got my e-bike. I have learned better though, because it has allowed me to #ridemoredriveless!
My day starts with my “commute” to work.  That involves me getting out of bed, walking outside of the house with several dogs, and then to the kitchen.  This is where I start the feeding process for my most demanding job which is boarding dogs. Then, I turn my computer on to start one of my other jobs. My day is a balancing act of getting everything done and never being away from the house for long.  My other jobs require me to travel to a couple of banks in Boulder and Louisville and to take care of random errands. This is where the e-bike comes in.
E-biking to the pet store

Panniers help me transport groceries
I thought that I would be cheating the system by riding a bike with a motor. However,  I have learned that I can get a ride/workout in rather than sitting behind the wheel of a car.  I used to think that the bike did all the work, but it is just like any other bike. You can work really hard or take it easy.  I just get to places much faster than before.
I have had my e-bike for about a year and a half now and I love it. I went to one of my favorite bike shops, tried it out and ended up getting a Specialized e-bike. I get a lot of questions about my e-bike. People ask me if it’s really easy. If I have to pedal?  How fast I can go?
Cheryl, a Bike Ambassador teammate, and I will sometimes commute together.  She, however, does not have an e-bike, so it is sort of fun to watch her really sweat as I climb the small hills much faster than before.  The tides do turn when it’s downhill. My motor stops at 28 mph, and now I am pushing the 45-pound bike (before the panniers are loaded) as hard as possible to keep up.  
Banking by e-bike
The e-bike has made me stronger, faster and allows me more ride time.

The only problem that I have had with the e-bike is that it sometimes goes missing.  I will want to run errands, but my e-bike is gone. Turns out Cheryl likes riding my e-bike, too. She must have been running late or just wanted more of an intense leg workout and decided to take the e-bike.  So, if you decide to go the e-bike route, just let everyone else believe you are being a wimp. Otherwise, you may find yourself in the same boat as me some days without a bike. - Rhonda W.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Grocery Gettin’ - By Bike!

I’ve had to park my car on the street lately, and living in downtown Denver, driving less than a mile to get groceries and having to find another parking spot (when I get home 20 minutes later) just does NOT make any sense. Luckily, I have an awesome commuter bike, complete with a rack on the back and a decent selection of bags and panniers that attach to it that allow me to get whatever I need home without too much issue. 

Sometimes, the little bag is all I need:

A small trunk bag, like this one from BiKASE, holds a few small items.


It holds a couple things, like a pound of coffee and a bunch of bananas...

I have a super convenient bag that has a zipper to extend the storage capacity:


This bag is from Banjo Brothers. LOVE the expandable compartment.


This is probably the bag I use the most, as I usually totally overestimate what will fit. 

If I know I need a bunch of stuff, I throw the panniers (or at least one of them) on the rack - just gotta be careful to load them somewhat evenly weight-wise - I’ve about fallen over trying to get on the bike times that I haven’t paid attention!

Pannier from Koki.
Now, try as I might, I do occasionally completely blow what will fit in my bag(s) and have to ride home with a bag in my hand!




All in all, riding to the grocery store is far more pleasant than driving!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Getting started Commuting - The Gear


It's been a couple of months since I wrote my first piece and really started committing to commuting (that sounds like a bumper sticker, except for your bike).

While I haven't been as successful as I was hoping, it still takes a very conscious effort to make commuting by bike possible. And what I've found is that the more you commute the more you find what you need to make this lifestyle change.

I think for a lot of people (myself included) there is just so much to pre-plan to commute and if you are like me, this takes time that I feel every day I have less and less of. But the thing to remember is that this is time for yourself, it's adding time to your life, and in many cases, if I hadn't chosen the bike over the car that would've been the only time that day I gave myself 30 minutes of physical activity. They say two birds one stone right!

One thing I figured out early on was gear. I'm extremely analytical so I think about details, like how am I going to carry my yoga mat and water bottle to class. Let's also be honest the ladies love bags and I'm no different. Not only was I in search of a functional bag but something fun, stylish and screams of my personality. I'm a fan of a company called Lolë. They make everything from puffy jackets, swimwear, athleisure pieces, and BAGS. And there she was the perfect match of function and style; the Lily Bag. It retails for about $140, but it was completely worth the spend. You can carry your yoga mat, two water bottles, computer, toiletries and it comes with a shoe bag.

 

Next was the lock. Again I like to go for both function and style and I had the perfect one already in my stash. The Knog Party Frank lock; it's flexible and can fit in a variety of places. They, of course, come in some of the most fun colors which are a bonus if you want to look stylish while commuting.

And finally, let's talk about the bike or bikes. As a committed cyclist, I happen to have a good arsenal of bikes. When I started commuting I focused on riding to the ride, which meant that I was riding my full suspension mountain bike most often. That doesn't translate well when riding to yoga, the grocery store and to meet friends. So I've switched things up a bit. If I ride to meet friends I'm typically with my husband so we grab the cruiser bikes. But when I'm on my own I've flipped between my hardtail mountain bike and my gravel bike. They are both really sturdy and especially my hardtail mountain bike puts me in a more upright position that I feel most comfortable with. I'll admit I'm not awesome at taking selfies while commuting so you'll have to excuse my bikes in the wild photos. But the point is, whatever you feel most comfortable on or have access to is the best bike to get started.

The other reason I have been choosing one of these two bikes is because when you see that opportunity to take the dirt on the way home, I'm prepared and while it might take me a bit longer to get home I can tap into a small portion of my happy place that I might not have otherwise had that day.

Hardtail MTB
My Gravel Grinding Queen
Happy Commuting!

Cheers,
Aimee

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Commuting for summer Saturday Open water swims

Summer Saturdays have become my new favorite day of the week for one reason .....commuting by bike to my open water swims!

I have used my commuter bike which is a Salsa warbird, great bike with knobby tires and makes it easy to travel along the stable Road in Chatfield, specifically when Chatfield was under construction.

I have tried two modes of packing this summer, one with a salsa waterproof bike frame bag and the other a backpack. Although I like not having weight on my back, I found the salsa warbird bike packing frame to sag and rub my wheel. After doing some research, it turns out I did not have it packed down properly, and now that I have learned to do this correctly it is great to have the weight on the bike frame and not on my back and shoulders, specifically before and after swimming.

Below are a list of items that I pack for open water swims:
Wet suit  (Sleeveless currently, but started with full sleeve early season)
Swim cap (Insulated swim cap for temperatures less than 65° early season)
Goggles
Wax earplugs
Sunscreen
Body guide to prevent chafing on my neck
Snack
Bike helmet
Jacket (early season for chilly mornings)
Sunglasses
Socks
Cycling shoes 
Towel to dry off after swimming
Cycling gloves
Bike lock

Commuting by bike really paid off for me this year specifically, as Chatfield was under construction and driving my car around to the east entrance took an extra 25 minutes. By bike from my home I could get there in around the same time adding maybe 10 minutes and getting a 20 mile ride in round trip which was a bonus!  Not to mention the fresh air, seeing other cyclists, and enjoying the hot air balloons over Chatfield reservoir in the mornings. I’m always amazed at how much I can see and what I notice by bike that I would not if I were driving my car.  Parking can be a hassle as well, but parking my bike against the fence by the gravel pond sure isn’t! 😀. 
I am so grateful I am able to commute on these beautiful Colorado summer days, train for triathlons, chat with other cyclists, all because of the mode of transportation I have chosen. Another bonus is by the time I get home my wetsuit is virtually dry! 🚴‍♂️❤️😀
























 
 



Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Commuting on Vacation


Bike commuting doesn’t have to be limited to riding to and from work, or running errands around town. In fact, I have professed, on numerous occasions, that my favorite method of exploring a new country, state, city or town - is on a bike.  

Many European cities are exceptionally bicycle friendly and make commuting by bicycle easy.  In fact, Amsterdam and Copenhagen are notorious for their bike friendly culture. But, to my surprise, urban metropolises like Tokyo and Chicago are also making efforts to encourage transportation by bike.




Although both Tokyo and Kyoto have mass transit systems, they also have designated and well respected bike lanes. In Tokyo, a technologically advanced and modern city with over 13 million residents, you can join the masses funneling into the city’s complex subway system, or you can hop on a rental bike at one of the many rental kiosks available around town. Like the popular cycle rental kiosks available in the United States, Japan, and many other countries, have a similar bike rental kiosk system. You can rent a bike from a kiosk for a few minutes, or several days. In addition, many large cities, like Tokyo, have a myriad of bike shops that cater to tourists and rent a variety of bikes, from electric bikes to road bikes, perfect for exploring the city.



Limiting your travel transportation to the subway or mass transit system when  in a new city can be confining. Last summer while in Kyoto, my husband selected a hotel because it had electric bikes available for its guests.  We checked the bikes out every morning and returned them, with dead batteries, in the evening. Each morning, the bikes were returned to us with charged batteries and ready for our next daily adventure. While in Kyoto, we never took the subway or a taxi. On bikes, we were able to explore the city in a depth that we would have missed in a taxi or on the subway. We found incredible bakeries on side streets that we surely would have missed in a taxi, and we discovered ancient shops on secluded side streets and alleyways that we would have passed right under on the subway.

Finding a hotel with bikes available has become a priority in our vacation travels. In Charleston, our hotel had cruiser bikes available for all guests. Pedaling to our dinner reservation was far more enjoyable than trudging the cobblestone streets in the city’s infamous humidity. In Charlotte, although our hotel did not provide its guests with bikes, but a bicycle rental kiosk was conveniently located right outside. 

It’s surprising how many hotels now make bikes available to their guests.  Just check online before you book your hotel and ask if bikes are available.  And, many cities both in the United States and abroad offer bicycle rental kiosks. Check out www.bcycle.com/top-nav-bar/bikes-stations for a list of cities in the Unites States with bike rental kiosks.

In addition, with so many hotels now offering bikes to their guests, there are now online directories for bike hotels. Check out http://www.bikabout.com/lodging/ before your next vacation.  Not only can you save yourself the hassle of navigating a new city by car or subway, you can also get your lungs, heart and legs pumping while exploring sites that would be otherwise overlooked in standard mass transportation.