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Monthly Archives: November 2011

SF Bike Expo in 150 Words and 15 Photos

It’s not Interbike or the North American Handmade Bike Show, but for the average Joe or Jane Biker the SF Bike Expo is the next best thing. A chance to see new products from smaller, often local, manufacturers, ogle bikes from custom builders and score some good deals on gear, as well as gently and not so gently used bikes and components. Oh, and a bike fashion show from Pedal Savvy. What’s not to love?

Dick and I hooked our biggest panniers on our touring bikes and headed up to the show on Caltrain, checked out the goods, bought a few things and rode a flat 35 miles home through the industrial spine of the San Francisco Peninsula. After pushing the pace to beat the sunset, we arrived home just as the last light faded from the horizon. If only we had bought those cool mini lights from Bookman we wouldn’t have had to hurry.

What’s your favorite new bike product? Bonus points if it’s from a small-scale manufacturer.

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Posted by on November 13, 2011 in Gear Talk

 

Bring It On, Rain!

Ain’t no way we’ll let you stop us from causin’ mayhem. I’m not afraid in my raincoat, wool cap and leather boots, with fenders and waterproof panniers on Zella. We’ll ride this road together, through the storm.

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Posted by on November 11, 2011 in Cycle Fashions

 

Happy Anniversary to Me! (Now pass the cupcakes)

Diets don’t work, except when they do. This week marks my nine year anniversary of becoming a lifetime member of Weight Watchers. In 2002, I got fed up with being too overweight to enjoy hiking or biking hills anymore. So I joined Weight Watchers, lost 35 pounds and have kept my weight within the “healthy” BMI range since. Given only 6% of Weight Watchers members meet their goal weight and achieve lifetime status, and that only about 20% are within five pounds of their goal weight five years later, I’m pleased.

Why did I succeed where others failed? First, while I was quite capable of packing on the pounds, my parents raised me to eat real food instead of junk and encouraged physical activity. When I gained weight, I was eating far more than I should have for my activity level. Second, and more importantly, I made lifestyle changes afterward that set me up for success. Like joining Team in Training and completing my first triathlon, dating a hard-core cyclist (who I’ve since married) and joining a women’s bicycle racing team.

My everyday and social lives now revolve around physical activity, which frees me from the burden of counting Points Plus all the time. Because you can’t spend the rest of your life counting calories, or eating one meal a day or never eating ordinary food with friends and family. That’s not living.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to stay lean. We Americans live in a culture that’s created the perfect storm for obesity: inexpensive, high calorie processed foods, super-sized restaurant meals (not just at fast food places either), and the virtual elimination of ordinary, everyday physical activity, like walking or bicycling to school or work.

You’ve probably heard the statistics about how 30% of Americans are obese, but do you realize that just 20 years ago less than 15% were? That’s a horrifying increase. Watch this video to see how in any given year a significant number of states increase their percentage of obese residents.

For those who are curious about how I looked at my max weight, I did find a photo from that era. Photos are rare since I didn’t like how I looked. Or how it kept me from being active outdoors like I am today.

Has maintaining a weight you’re happy with been hard for you? Do diets work for you?

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Posted by on November 10, 2011 in Other Stuff

 

Helmet Hair Do’s (and a Don’t)

When I tell people that I ride to work in professional clothes I get a lot of questions, starting with “don’t you get sweaty and need to shower at work?” I explain that since I ride at an easy pace for only 25 minutes, I sweat less than I would if I walked. That seems to satisfy most people, except women, who inevitably ask: “What about helmet hair?” This question is harder to answer.

The short answer: helmets don’t mess up my hair. Whether I leave it in its naturally wavy state, pump it up to super curly or iron it straight into submission, I can fluff or brush my hair at my destination and it’s no worse for the wear. Like riding in street clothes, excessive sweating is the problem, not the helmet per se.

Still, it took a professional to convince me I didn’t need to wash my hair every time I got a little exercise. I once had an afternoon hair appointment and at the end my stylist (and fellow mountain biker) gave me a fabulous blow-out. Silky and straight with a flip at the bottom. I loved it. “Too bad”, I said, “I’m riding tonight and will wash it all out later.” “Don’t wash it,” Kelly said, “just brush it out when you get home and put it up in a scrunchie at night. It will still be great in the morning.” She was right.

Now I’m so confident that my hair will recover post-ride that I take my bike to hair appointments, like I did last Saturday. Kelly O’Dea gave me a great layered cut, then styled it curly by adding a hefty amount of product, scrunching it and blowing it dry with a diffuser. The result: super-super curly and so full I wondered if my hair would fit under the helmet.

It did, of course, fit under the helmet. And even after the making a few stops on the way home, my hair was still full and curly. Thank you, Kelly! So, here are my DO’s for keeping your hairdo intact when you ride:

  • DO Take it easy on the bike. It’s not a race or a training ride.
  • DO Pull over and take a layer off if you start to sweat.
  • DO Take your helmet off and remove any elastic headbands or ponytail holders as soon as you arrive.
  • DO Brush, comb or shake your hair out. Fluff and go ahead on with your fabulous self!
  • DON’T Let fear of helmet hair keep you from riding. If my DO’s DON’T work for you, tweak your technique and try again.

What do you do to keep your ‘do from being a don’t after you ride?

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Posted by on November 9, 2011 in Around Town, Cycle Fashions

 

Duck Hunting in a Birdwatcher’s Paradise

Caution: If you think hunting is a barbaric activity that has no place in the modern world, you might want to stop reading now. Because this post is about shooting ducks, and I’m not talking about shooting with a camera.

Strictly speaking, I’m not a birdwatcher. But I live and work near San Francisco Bay, a major stop on the Pacific Flyway that draws in an amazing assortment of birds: great blue herons, snowy egrets, red-tail hawks, white pelicans, skinny-legged avocets and ring-necked pheasants (my personal favorites). If you walk, run or ride on the bay trails you can’t miss them.

Of course, there are ducks too. And wherever you find ducks, you find duck hunters. Even today, in the middle of the second largest metropolitan area west of the Mississippi, there are duck hunters and legal duck hunting just minutes off the 101 freeway, right in the heart of Silicon Valley.

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On Sunday, Dick and I took an easy ride on the baylands where we met a group of hunters coming in from a morning hunt. The duck blinds on the salt ponds are open to the public on a first come, first serve basis, organized by a clipboard at the trailhead. As with all hunting, there are licenses and fees and lots of strict limits. But now the salt ponds are open to all, not just members of exclusive duck clubs, like it used to be.

Now, I’m not a hunter and I can’t see myself killing animals for sport. Yet as a meat eater, I don’t feel right criticizing those who kill the meat they eat. Hunting is a highly charged issue that brings up strong emotions on both sides.

What I find most interesting about hunting on the baylands is how hard hunters have worked to maintain access against formidable public outcry. Hunters are about as popular with birdwatchers on the bay as cyclists are with hikers on trails or drivers on the road. Maybe their slogan should be “Share the marsh.”

What do you think of duck hunting in a wildlife preserve? Does the advocacy work that hunters have done to keep wilderness undeveloped offset the fact that they’re killing wildlife?

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Posted by on November 7, 2011 in Dirt Trails

 

Bike Date Blasé at Kabul Restaurant

Last Friday’s bike date was nothing to write home about. Not that the food wasn’t tasty or unique: our authentic Afghan meal of lamb and chicken kabobs and a vegetable platter of pumpkin, spinach and spicy cauliflower was exceptional, worthy of the long waiting list that formed as we ate.

The bike route to the restaurant wasn’t bad either. We took the Stevens Creek Trail, cut through two bike-only access points into Sunnyvale and then traversed the grid of an older neighborhood, approaching the restaurant from the rear. Very important since the restaurant is located in a strip mall on the bike-unfriendly El Camino Real. Given its location, I didn’t expect a bike rack, but there weren’t even any sign posts to lock up to. Just an inhospitable “no bikes on sidewalk” sign on a brick pillar. Sigh.

After the date, we wondered: why was this date so dull? After a year of weekly bike dates, has it become stale? Have we run out of places to go? Has Bike Date Friday become passé, or have we just become blasé? We’ve had other dates that didn’t turn out as expected. Where we couldn’t get a table without a long wait, where the food wasn’t that great, where we faced a rude driver on the way to the restaurant. But the date was always fun, never dull.

I think the difference is that we usually choose restaurants in walking districts, not strip malls, so there’s a lot more going on. If we don’t like the looks of the restaurant we have planned, we walk on to another. If the food is so-so, at least there was something entertaining we saw on the street. Or we could duck into another place for dessert or coffee.

I’m not going to say I won’t go back to Kabul since the food was really good and it was cool to see large extended Afghan families gather for a meal. But I will say it won’t be a bike date, and it may only be take-out.

How important is ambiance when you choose a restaurant? Or is it just about the food?

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About Bike Date Friday: Since September 2010, my husband and I have had a standing date every Friday night. We eat at a different place every week and arrive by bike. There’s no better way to end the work week.

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2011 in Bike Date

 

Stylish Prize Schwag

Whoo-hoo! I scored some stylish prize schwag from SF Bike for their Dress-Up Challenge: a Nutcase helmet for me and top tube sleeve from Rickshaw Bags for Ginger.

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Posted by on November 4, 2011 in Cycle Fashions

 

Surprise, You’re a Winner!

During Bike to Work month last May, the San Francisco Bike Coalition sponsored a Dress Up Challenge. Compared to other bike challenges, like the CLIF 2 Mile Challenge or our local Drive Less Challenge, the Dress Up Challenge was an easy, one-shot deal. Simply photograph yourself with your bike all dressed up for work and post it on the SF Bike Facebook wall. A winner would be selected by random drawing at their Bike to Work Day after work party.

Since I dress up for work and ride my bike to work every day anyway, all I had to do was pick a favorite outfit and convince my husband Dick to get up early and take the photo. I did my best to imitate the natural easy style of Dottie and Tricia’s bike photos on their Let’s Go Ride a Bike blog. It wasn’t easy, since I’ve never been that comfortable in front of the camera (I’m better now). Fortunately, writing the caption was much easier: “Timeless Charm: Pearls, pleats, and polka dotted stockings on Juliett, my Dutch bike.”

So I posted the photo to the SF Bike Facebook wall and then posted it to my own wall with a message asking my friends to join me in the challenge. I don’t know if anyone took the challenge, but the compliments I got were addictive. So for the 15 remaining work days leading up to Bike to Work Day, I posted a dress up photo on Facebook and ignored that little voice that told me that people would think I was vain.

When it was over, my friends asked if I had won, telling me I deserved to win. I explained that it was just a random drawing, and that no, I didn’t win. While I was relieved to not have to plan photo-worthy outfits each day, I wasn’t ready to stop. So I started posting a photo a week on “Fashion Fridays” and Dick regretted he’d ever agreed to take that first photo.

Then I started this blog about my bike fashions and bike adventures and I forgot about the contest that inspired it all until last Saturday when I came home to a couple of packages from the SF Bike Coalition. “You were chosen as our Dress-Up Challenge Winner for 2011!” the letter said, “your enthusiasm for bicycling was inspiring and contagious.” The package was a sweet Nutcase helmet and a top tube sleeve from Rickshaw that happened to match the herringbone mini-bag I had just bought at their warehouse. Awesome! I didn’t take the challenge to win prizes, but surprise gifts are always fun.

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For those who missed my Dress-Up Challenge photo series on Facebook, here’s what I wore to work for the two weeks or so leading up to Bike to Work Day last May. Click the thumbnails for high-res photos.

What’s the dressiest outfit you’ve ever worn on a bike?

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2011 in Cycle Fashions

 

On Pumpkins and Other Weighty Matters

I like pumpkins. I like the way they look, all orange and round (or not). I like the way they taste, whether sweet and spiced or roasted and savory. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin ravioli. Pumpkins make me smile at a time of year when it’s getting colder and darker by the day.

So it only makes sense that I would look forward to the annual Pumpkin Ride hosted by ROMP, the local mountain bike club. The ride starts at about 3000′ on the ridge line, then drops down to a pumpkin farm on the coast where we select as big or as many pumpkins as we’re willing to haul back up to the ridge. Costumes are strongly encouraged, as if hauling pumpkins uphill on a bike wasn’t silly enough.


The record pumpkin weight dragged back up to the top is an unbelievable 112 pounds, made possible by a BOB trailer. This year’s winning weight was a mere 38 pounds, strapped directly on the bike with some engineering ingenuity and duct tape, of course. Still outstanding.

The next day, as Dick and I headed out for a brunch and grocery shopping ride I wondered: how do my overstuffed grocery runs compare to the winning pumpkin haul? With Dick along, I was able to buy a lot more than usual, including a full bar restock at Bev Mo and full soda restock along with a modest amount of other items at Trader Joes. The numbers: 35 pounds for Dick, 21 pounds for me. Not 112 pounds carried up 3000 feet, but it was no sweat even without a trailer. I could have even added a medium pumpkin or two.

What’s the most weight you’ve carried on your bike?

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Before anyone wonders why this post about a mountain bike ride doesn’t talk about the ride at all, here’s a video of the best part–the totally awesome loooong descent down Wittemore Gulch with over a dozen switchbacks sharply cut into the hillside. I can see why the downhillers shuttle this run.

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2011 in Dirt Trails

 
 
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