Gear & How-To’s

On Safety, Speed and Style

adobe-sparkWhenever you’re riding a bike, you should be wearing a helmet. Whenever we ride outside, we are sharing the road with many other users and are confronted with uncontrollable factors such as weather, road conditions, etc. In bike racing, USA Cycling requires helmets that meet certain safety standards for all races. Luckily for us, today’s helmets are anything but dull: In addition to outstanding safety technology used, there are options that come for all formats, purposes, and styles.

One of the most recent safety features in helmets is Continue reading

How to Stay Sane Organizing a Charity Ride

Cyclists have a lot of love in their hearts. We love riding our bikes, talking about our bikes, and talking to people who also love bikes. We love the communities we ride in and around, and we love doing good for ourselves and for others.

When it comes to making a positive impact on the community, the natural inclination is to find a way to join something we enjoy with something that can help others. Thus, charity bike rides grow in popularity year after year, raising incredible amounts of money for a wide array of causes, from military veterans, shelter pets, children’s cancer research, to my personal heartfelt mission of seniors and adults with disabilities.

Thinking of starting a ride to benefit your favorite cause? Event planning and organizing, at any level, can be overwhelming, but the results are often well worth it! As a professional fundraiser working in the nonprofit field, I myself recently started the process of planning a charity ride for my organization, Family Eldercare in Austin, Texas, and I’d like to share what I’ve learned from the process. This is not a complete list because that would be much too long for a blog post, but I hope it provides a good basic set of ideas to guide you!

In the Beginning Continue reading

Bicycle Components – where to splurge and where to save

Bicycle components, what to splurge on, and what to save on is a bicycle owners biggest dilemma. If your finances are limited, you can purchase a few components that will give you the most bang for your buck. I’ve personally had to decide what it is that’s a priority for me. Do I splurge on a new seat, or, do I buy those really spiffy, gotta have cycling shorts? While they’re not all true components, these are the things that are the most essential to me: a really spectacular pair of over- the- top (some of my co-workers still harass me about HOW much money I actually spent) cycling shorts, a bicycle pump, the seat, and last but critically the most important, good brakes.

1. Shorts

Ah, one of my favorite topics, cycling shorts. This is a totally personal choice based on style, economics, preferences, and what works best for you. You may go through a lot of trial and error here, but the most important advice is to go Continue reading

My First Attempt at ‘Bike Packing’

Last summer I was envious of my friends leaving for weekends on their bicycles with their panniers packed with all of their camping gear.  I love camping and I love biking, so I had to figure out a way to join them without going out and buying a touring bike.  IMG_3176As an avid backpacker, I already own all of the ultralight camping gear, so it was just a matter of how to get it all on my bike and still be able to ride it.  If I’m able to pack all of that in a backpack and carry it on my back for 10 miles, how much harder can it be to carry it on a bike, right? (And yes, all of you that have ever carried your camping gear on a bike, feel free to snicker a little at this point.)  The Katy Trail was picked for the destination as an easier route for a first-timer.  I was also biking with my friends Jackie and Kirk, and Kirk’s 13 year-old daughter Mazzy.  It was Mazzy’s first distance ride, so Continue reading

Part 3 – The Seatbag

Ladies love their purses – well, I certainly do. And while riding bikes might have limited your style statement in the past, those times are long gone. Join me on a journey of fabulous options that will turn your commute to work, your coffee ride, or your touring in an adventure where form meets function!

After focusing on rear rack options in Part 1 and the handlebar and cockpit bag in Part 2, it’s time to see which seatbags can help you ride prepared for all scenarios. Seatbags are usually designed to hold the bare necessities – spare tube, tire levers, and maybe a CO2 cartridge. More often than not, I have had trouble with a) fitting everything in and b) having the seat pack stay attached to my bike on bumpy roads. A lot of companies started introducing clip mounts in addition or replacement of the traditional strap closures. While I love the reliability of the clips, there is one drawback: the clip mounts won’t fit all saddle positions. So while the mechanism is more secure than the usual straps, make sure Continue reading

Best Water Bottle for You

I am not sure that someone can be considered a water bottle expert exactly.  But if they can, I am pretty sure I have a Ph.D. in water bottles.  My husband calls my collection excessive; I call it thorough.  You need different water bottles for different things even in cycling.  Let’s talk about when you need what.

When you are riding short

You just need some20160804_095248thing that fits inside your water bottle cage on your bike.  Unfortunately, water bottles and water bottle cages are not universal, so you will need to find one that fits yours.  But don’t feel like the more expensive the better.  Honestly the water bottles you get in race goody bags generally work great for this.  You may want to up the ante and get an insulated water bottle if you live in a hot climate or like your drink ice cold like I do.  Look for an easy open spout that you can open with your mouth.

When you are riding long Continue reading

Part 2 – the Handlebar Bag

Ladies love their purses – well, I certainly do. And while riding bikes might have limited your style statement in the past, those times are long gone. Join me on a journey of fabulous options that will turn your commute to work, your coffee ride, or your touring in an adventure where form meets function!

Part 2 of the series introduces you to an alternative that I discovered relatively late in the game: The Handlebar/Cockpit Bag. Read Part 1 on the Trunk Bag, Bent Basket and Pannier Set here!

Detours DayPass Handlebar Bag

Detours DayPassI am surprised that it took me so long to think about handlebar bags. They are the easiest feature to keep your phone, wallet or camera accessible while riding – plus some of them, like the Detours DayPass, transform into mini-purses that are not only cute (a purse design with radishes??? Yes!) but super practical. In addition to their secure buckle straps for the handlebar, the DayPass comes with a detachable shoulder strap so you can carry the purse around when you’re done riding – it definitely has become my perfect companion for a coffee date with friends! It also comes with reflective details for more safety on your way back home.

Banjo Brothers Canvas Barrel Bag Continue reading

Part 1 – the Rear Rack

Ladies love their purses – well, I certainly do. And while riding bikes might have limited your style statement in the past, those times are long gone. Join me on a journey of fabulous options that will turn your commute to work, your coffee ride, or your touring in an adventure where form meets function!

Part one of this series on all things transportation is rear rack options.

Business Casual: PoCampo Uptown Trunk Bag

Uptown Trunk Bag
is probably one of my favorite brands when it comes to Continue reading

Have a safe and FUN group ride!

Riding in a group can be fun, increase your skill set making you a better and faster rider, and can be incredibly frustrating. I’ve been coordinating and leading group rides for years, and I’ve seen just about everything (both good, bad, interesting, and entertaining!). Here are some tips to ensure that you have a FUN, not a frustrating, group ride.

1 –Wear a helmet. This should be a given, but you’d be surprised how many people show up without a helmet. Especially if you’re participating in a shop supported ride, you won’t be allowed to join if you don’t have a helmet.

2 – Leave the ear buds/music in the car. When riding on the road, you need to be able to Continue reading

Long Distance Rides: Planning and Preparation

I really enjoy going on long multi-hour bike rides.  By this point in my cycling “career”, I somewhat take the preparation and planning skills needed to pull these off for granted. I love planning things and thinking through logistics — it’s one of my favorite things to do, but what if this isn’t your strong suit?  I’ll explain an overview of how I approach long ride planning based on what I did while planning my upcoming “Ride Across Iowa in a Day”.  The planning process for this ride took me a week to hatch the idea, recruit people, and create a route that would take us north to south on pavement in <24 hours on our road bikes!

Figure out a rough idea of where you want to ride

I typically start the process by daydreaming up a crazy route idea or concept.  Sometimes I try to string together a century ride and seek out as many hills as I can find in my relatively flat area of the country.  Other times, I have a friend willing to pick me up in a different city as part of one of their trips, so I capitalize on that.  I had a completely free Continue reading