Saturday, March 29, 2014

20 Reasons to Love Cycling

I can relate to all of these points and cannot agree more :-)  Here is why...

  1. Cycling is a sport that fosters a spirit of familiarity and trust that exists between friends--even with strangers you have never met you already have the common bond of two wheels. Even in competitive racing the riders on different teams work together towards the finish. Can you say the same for football, basketball, volleyball, or baseball?
    I love riding my bike to meet my lovely friends and I have made new and lasting friendships while cycling! 
  2. The technology is beautiful in the components of bicycles
  3. Cycling is a colorful sport and a beautiful sport because the scenery always changes. Look up the word "peloton" (a group of riders in road racing) on search engines and you'll see what I mean. The cycling kits (clothing) is like a box of color crayons or van Gogh in motion!
  4. Pedals used to have toe clips and straps, like the one pictured below with Brooke Shields to anchor the feet through the upstroke when pedaling. Now there are "clipless" pedals (a system of cleats on shoes that connect with special pedals so you can just step-in/step-out without needing to tighten/loosen straps). One day I'll explain the pros and cons.
  5. Cyclists LOVE coffee. Sure, I can drive to get a cup of Joe but biking to a coffee shop (usually to meet friends) and sharing our lives over cappuccino makes my day even more AWESOME!!
  6. I love flying downhill! It literally feels like I am flying.
  7. Cycling works your cardio system, your legs, abs, arms, back, core and bum!! I arrive at work mentally alert and in the best mood. I no longer go to the gym where I am stuck indoors "working out" and instead I can enjoy lunch with my colleagues.
  8. Cycling is a quick way to get from A to B. I don't have to warm my bike first like I do my car or (drive around to) find a parking space. It takes me about the same amount of time driving to work as it does to bike to work which I'll talk about later.
  9. Cycling is a great self-confidence booster. How can I hate the strong and sculpted legs that helped to pedal me for miles and miles? I learned to appreciate all of my body after I rode 35 miles, 52 miles and over 80 miles on my own in just a few hours. Heck--I don't even drive that distance in a day when I do drive!
  10. Once I learned and understood racing strategies, cycling became even more enjoyable but it's not necessary to like racing at all. My husband races and I enjoy being a spectator but not all cyclists like to watch bike racing.
  11. I never used to like riding up "hills" and as I started cycling more and more, the "hills" became smaller and smaller. Now I find hills and mountains an awesome challenge to ride up. I am pretty proud of myself after I reach the top and look back. It is like hiking uphill but even faster!
  12. I can go anywhere the road takes me :-) (see also 15.)
  13. Seeing the main field of riders in a road race fly by is pretty impressive. Much like watching a car race or air race, however...
  14. Seeing a race up close is a rush. You can literally reach out and touch them AND in some races the riders come to you!! Can you say that about other sports??
  15. I mentioned before in 12. that I can go anywhere (the road takes me) and getting lost means a discovery of an alternate route and a new path. It can be fun (if you are on a ride for pleasure).
  16. Cycling is a great way to burn calories. My bicycle commute to and from work takes between an hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes in my day BUT IT IS FUN the entire time!! I am not stuck in a car and stuck in traffic. The whole time I am pedaling uphill and downhill, I feel the wind on my skin, my heart pump blood through my body, I smell flowers blooming or the aroma of a BBQ from the backyards I pass by, I am strength training my calves, legs, thighs and bum. So I never feel guilty about indulging in a hamburger or pizza or drinking beer.
  17. Cycling is an earth-friendly mode of transportation. Where a car needs fuel to run, my bike needs me -- human and muscle power.
  18. At the end of a ride, it is great to have a cold beer ... or sip a glass of wine. Having this much fun should be a crime, LOL!!
  19. Cycling is relatively inexpensive. One of my bicycles cost $25 and I already had a hand-me-down helmet and a bicycle pump. The only additional expense after acquiring it were new tubes for the tires...and a really cute bicycle bell that looked like a bell pepper :-D
  20. Feeling the wind in my hair is ABSOLUTE FREEDOM. Riding my bike is simple: a swing of my leg over my bike and I pedal away - instant and sheer freedom. But 99% of the time I wear a helmet to protect my head should the unexpected happen. I know I am a naturally clumsy person and should I fall off my bike, having a helmet on my head can make the difference between getting back on the bike and on my way and a visit to the doctor, which would ruin my day.
So...what are your reasons for your love of cycling? I know there are more than mentioned!!

    Friday, March 28, 2014

    Flash from the Past Friday

    A member of Reno Wheelmen poses with his bicycle in this undated photo from the University Libraries' Special Collections Exhibit.

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

    Bike to Work Week will soon be here!

    The 2014 annual event will take place May 10 to 16 so if you are looking for a great opportunity to ride your bike to work, school and fun, head to the Truckee Meadows Bicycle Alliance's website bikenevada.org and register! Registration is free and there are prizes and perks for doing so. You can also find and participate in the week's event and ride your bike to a baseball game or a pancake feed. If you are planning on joining in on the fun, I would love to hear from you in the comments! Remember, you don't have to do this alone. After you register, find a group and say 'hello'! You can even sign up your workplace for the Commuter Challenge and rally your co-workers to participate.

    Are you interested in biking to work or school but are not sure how to get started? If you stick around, I will cover in future posts:
    • how to find your perfect bike (if you don't already have one or just want a new one)
    • how to plan your safe route
    • what the local laws are so that you are informed
    • where to find support such as classes and bike shops
    • the clothing and gear you may need to make your commute comfortable (because that is what this blog is all about--bicycle commuting, cute clothing and gear)
    • and so much more!!
    Although I commute to work on average four times a week, I will definitely participate this year. So see I hope to see you on bikenevada.org!


    Wednesday, March 26, 2014

    Urban Bicycling on a Brisk Spring Day

    I did not commute by bike today but still needed a dose of bicycling. So I hopped aboard the Sierra Spirit Shuttle to downtown Reno to find other bicyclists. Despite the cooler and breezy spring weather, there were many people of all ages out riding their bikes to get from place to place. You may see folks in these photos without helmets and those are students on the UNR campus. Perhaps because the environment feels safe and the routes on which they ride are car free is why they ride without a helmet.

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

    Bike Ride to the Dentist's Office

    Today I had a dentist appointment during my lunch hour. Since I rode my bike in to work it was my mode of transportation to get to my appointment. I couldn't wait to get out into the fresh air again!! All the while I was pedaling there, there was a good breeze blowing in the darker clouds and I had hoped it wouldn't rain on me. Silly commuter, I thought. I chose to leave my coat at home today even though I knew the weather forecast indicated a good chance of rain.


    My route took me on Mill Street and I was very grateful for the bike lane. Mill Street once had four motor vehicle lanes in each direction. There was no on-street parking and no lanes until the road conversion took place. Now there are three lanes (one in each direction with a turning lane in the middle), on-street parking and bike lanes in each direction.

    I think generally the public frowns on "road diets" for fear that it could not accommodate the existing traffic. But you picture a four lane road before the conversion, you have:
    • motor vehicles who need to make a left turn that can hold up traffic behind them
    • motor vehicles making a right turn that can hold up traffic
    • bicyclists on the right shoulder of the road that can impede motor vehicle traffic or in the left lane needing to make a left turn (yikes)
    • no on-street parking (we know what that's like to drive along side streets looking for parking)
    • pedestrians needing to cross all four lanes to get to the other side safely
    So there is a lot of motor vehicles speeding up, slowing down, turning or changing lanes to go around other vehicles or a bicyclist. And since the drivers are focused on driving ;-) the pedestrians or bicyclists would be secondary on their radars--no wonder accidents happen.


    No doubt road diets make it safer for all users of the road. For pedestrians, it means crossing three lanes of traffic instead of four. At the end of the day, we all want to walk, drive or bike where we need to go safely right?

    I am grateful for road diets because it has allowed me to bike to the dentist's office during lunch! Without safe access, I would have needed to drive to work today so that I could get to the dentist's office and back.

    Find out more about road conversions and how that makes things safer for everyone here: http://www.rtcwashoe.com/streets-highways-32-157.html

    Monday, March 24, 2014

    My Birthday Weekend at the Chico Stage Race

    It has been nearly a year since John raced bicycles and it was time to break the streak with the 2014 Chico Stage Race. In fact, the same race in 2013 was his last race of the previous season. After that, life got in the way. We purchased a new home and moved last April, he fell down a flight of stairs at a casino and hurt his knees, then fractured a rib after he slipped and fell at our hotel while we were on vacation in Cancun celebrating his 40th birthday. He was ready to race again after such a long break.

    So John and I took Friday off to drive to Corning, CA where the first of the four stage races began. Along the way, we stopped in Auburn at the Big Salad Shop to eat lunch. The salads looked amazing but we both ordered deli sandwiches.
    Thunderhill Twilight Circuit Race was the first stage of John's race, held at the Thunderhill Raceway Park. When we arrived Friday afternoon, there were people driving their Porches on the course. It was really neat to watch them whizzing by like airplanes. I had a chance to go for a ride if I would rent a helmet but I wanted to be around for John in case he needed my help prepping for the start of his race. Finally the guys were done driving and the course was open for the bicycle race.

    Since I knew that the auto racing track was a three-mile course, I wanted to be able to get around from point to point to watch John's race and take photos. So we brought my touring bike since it had a rack on which I could hang my pannier bag and carry items I would need while out in the field. Bringing my bike was the best idea because it would have been A LOT of walking otherwise.
    Stay tuned for the photo slideshow from the Thunderhill Twilight Circuit Race.

    John finished in 11th place of the circuit race (you can kind of see him in this photo in red shoes with tattoos on his arm in the photo below).
    This is a better pic taken by another spectator where you can see John in the mostly black kit behind the guy who was about to raise his hand as he crossed the finish line.
    Thunderhill Circuit Race Finish

    After the race finished we went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant called Casa Ramos near our hotel. I had mahi mahi fish tacos and John had the beef fajitas. We were very pleased with how good the food was and the staff were all very nice! With our hotel discount, our meal and my grande margarita our bill came to like $27. What a deal!!
    John looks pretty good for being dirty after a rigorous race.
    The next day was the Paskenta Hills Road Race. A 45-mile loop with a famous 4-mile stretch of loose gravel and dirt. John's group rode two loops for a total of 90-miles. Once again my bike came in handy because it was quite a walk from the parking area to the start of the race and then about a mile walk in the opposite direction to the finish line of the race. In addition, the feed zone (the area where support for the riders (such as family, friends and teams) are permitted to hand off water and food to the riders as they pass by was 3 miles away from the finish line. With my bike, getting around was easy.
    I was able to cruise the quiet back country roads on my bike while others had to drive their cars out there. I would have had to drive too, if we didn't bring my bike along. I am glad we did because I used the heck out of it. Paskenta was so peaceful and beautiful!! It seemed like I had the whole place to myself besides a few passing cars (locals and race visitors).



    I had so much fun riding my bike along the rural roads!!

    This is a photo slideshow of the road race that I was able to see.
    John finished 10th in the road race out of I believe 56 guys who signed up in his category. Other than the Pro 1/2/3, I think the next competitive category is his which is the Men 35+ 1/2/3 category.

    That evening we went to dinner at a Chinese restaurant called the Rice Bowl in Chico, CA. It was really cute inside and massive (you wouldn't think so from the outside that the restaurant would have so many rooms with seating spaces). I had a sakitini and we ordered fried crab and cream cheese wontons, combination chow fun, szechuan scallops and something else and they were all delicious. Again the food was GREAT! And the waitress brought me a strawberry mochi ball as a "birthday cake".

    Sunday was a big day because John had two races in the same day. A time trial followed by the criterium downtown.

    The time trial is each rider racing against time down a 10 mile course (or something like that) and each rider takes off about 30 seconds after the previous. So that stage moves very fast.

    While I enjoy watching (and taking photos) all of the races, the criterium is the best for spectators because they can get a close up view of the racers as they ride by in a repeating loop, zig zagging through the streets of downtown Chico.

    I had my bike so it made it easy to ride to different street corners to take photos. John crossed the line in 6th place of the sprint finish and placed 9th overall (time average of all four races).
    Chico Downtown Criterium
    I am really proud of him and his accomplishments. His perseverance to sit on the bike for hours in the garage day after day...and after working 8 to 9 hour-work days throughout winter. I think this will be a great season for him. I think he was satisfied with how he did too, because he was all smiles when the all of the races were done.
    As for me, I had a really nice birthday weekend...and month actually. It all started when I was in Vegas for a work-related conference a couple weeks ago when I spent the day at the nail salon, shopping and having lunch at Bahama Breeze with my mom-in-law.

    My parents-in-law have to be the coolest parents. Not only did they take me to a fabulous lunch dining in the sun I miss so dearly, they gave me these really neat nippers and a new set of bikinis for my birthday!! I saw my mom-in-law once again for lunch and we did some more shopping before heading to the airport.



    Polka Dot Bikini




    Along the way home from the Chico Stage Race, we stopped in Grass Valley and ate dinner at Cirino's. There was a parking spot right in front of the restaurant, as if it was saved for me. And so we sat right inside the window to the right so we could keep an eye on our bikes on the roof of our car.

    Outside Cirino's in Auburn

    I couldn't have asked for a better birthday because I spent it with those that I love. And my family who lived in other states called me or mailed cards to wish me a happy birthday. So many friends posted birthday wishes on my Facebook. My sweet dad left me a voicemail before I woke up and turned on my phone, a happy birthday song he played over the wire. I take it that he was too shy to sing LOL. I am so, so blessed and so thankful!!


    Monday, March 17, 2014

    My Office

    I love my office because it has a lot of sunlight which is good for someone who is solar powered like me. Through the two big windows on each side of my desk, I can always see the weather outside to gauge my bicycle or scooter commute home. 

    Although there are two other desks in the same room as mine, they are currently unoccupied so I have had the space to myself for a long time. 

    Now that we will have more people (who were recently hired) moving into our office building and since they don't have a place to sit in their group suite, I will need to move to an office of my own. There are no windows to the outside world in exchange for privacy. Still, I am bummed. 

    I suppose this will be all the more reasons to appreciate the time I have pedaling to and from work underneath the sun!

    My Office

    I love my office because it has a lot of sunlight which is good for someone who is solar powered like me. Through the two big windows on each side of my desk, I can always see the weather outside to gauge my bicycle or scooter commute home. 

    Although there are two other desks in the same room as mine, they are currently unoccupied so I have had the space to myself for a long time. 

    Now that we will have more people (who were recently hired) moving into our office building and since they don't have a place to sit in their group suite, I will need to move to an office of my own. There are no windows to the outside world in exchange for privacy. Still, I am bummed. 

    I suppose this will be all the more reasons to appreciate the time I have pedaling to and from work underneath the sun!

    Friday, March 14, 2014

    Friday Finds in Advocacy

    1. Pro-Bicycling Bumper Sticker for Your Car ($2.00 on Etsy).  This sticker vocalizes how I feel when I drive and take up a parking spot from someone who might really need it more than I do.


    2. Bicycle Sticker: "I'm Passing Gas" ($1.00 on Etsy).  This sticker makes me laugh because it is a lesson I learned early from drafting my husband when we ride our bikes together, LOL!! Nevertheless this sticker is a great message. There is no need to fuel up on gas when you ride a bicycle so you can just pass gas (station).


    The Benefits of Bicycling in a 7-minute Video

    This video pretty much summarizes the economic, social and health benefits of bicycling. I can imagine our Reno-Sparks community like this. Bicycling can reduce congestion, improve property value, be good for business, and increase health and well-being for those who ride.

    Bicycling is easy and economical...you really do not need special clothing and hear (although it can help) to ride comfortably, look fashionable and have fun! THIS is what Cuter Commuter is all about!!

    Not So Much My Favorite Muffin

    I rode my bike downtown today for a lunch meeting at My Favorite Muffin on California Street. This location has a nice dining patio to the side with ample seating and is located conveniently for surrounding neighborhoods and other local businesses. It is easy to walk or bike to since California Street is walkable, has bike lanes in both directions, one motor lane in each direction with turning lanes in the middle and on-street parking, free-parking. My Favorite Muffin also has designated motor parking on the side street. By the way, I picked this location for my meeting place because the bike lanes lead me safely to the front door.
    No bike racks at My Favorite Muffin

    Since there were no bike racks to be seen, I chained my bike to the fence. It is a drill I am all too familiar with--after all, I have biked here more often to grab a bite to eat than I have driven here because I like My Favorite Muffin. Other patrons who rode bikes there (including the other person I was meeting with) locked up wherever they could find a pole or something that was nailed down to chain their rides to (I should have taken a photo of the other bikes in need of a secure place to park). You would think locking bikes up this way would be a potential safety hazard pedestrians or pets on leashes. In Reno, it’s illegal to use trees, sign or light posts to secure your bike (source). I walked inside with my helmet and ordered a sandwich. I even tipped at the counter.

    From my photo it looks like there could be room for a bike rack where my bike is or one of the parking spaces in front could be turned into an on-street bike parking corral. If I drove my car there, I certainly wouldn't mind walking a few feet from the side street parking to the building.
    Source: sfbike.org
    At the very least, there is definitely room for a sidewalk bike rack like they have in Portland or San Francisco. There are many options for bicycle parking.
    Source: sfbike.org
    I like supporting local businesses but I have decided that this location is not so much My Favorite Muffin. And until there is a bike rack, I will stop going there to meeting anyone there for breakfast or lunch. To be fair, I will write the owners to give them an opportunity to make improvements. I realize that bicycle racks are not guaranteed security but I can worry less about whether I will have transportation back to the office and back home at the end of the day.

    Can you think of businesses you have ridden your bike to that does not have a bike rack? Would you go as far as not visiting the establishment because they do not have a bike rack?

    Friday, March 07, 2014

    Sunny Day

    I am still thawing from my morning commuter to the office in 36 degree temps this morning. I have ridden in colder weather so it usually is not a problem. Perhaps I am cold today because I am not wearing the usual leg warmers and boots. I have a base layer long sleeve shirt underneath the denim chambray shirt, an argyle vest, capris and slip on shoes. A least it is a sunny and gorgeous day!!


    Wednesday, March 05, 2014

    2014 Bicycle and Pedestrian Summit in Reno, NV

    The annual conference for walking and biking enthusiasts will take place right here in Reno, NV  Tuesday, March 11 and Wednesday, March 12 at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa.

    Attend to get the latest information on bicycle tourism, new technology, facility planning and design, safety, enforcement and education initiatives, bicycle and pedestrian legislation, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodations, as well as Safe Routes to School program information.

    There also will be talks and guest speakers, a "Building Advocacy" Mixer from 5:30PM - 7:30PM with finger foods available, a Walking/Transit Workshop with a ride on RTC RAPID, a Bicycle Facilities tour in the area hosted by Scott Hall and the Reno Bike Project, and a NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide workshop (register to reserve your seat as there is limited seating).

    Anyone can attend the 2014 Bicycle and Pedestrian Summit but you need to pre-register. If you are registered - you get FREE breakfast and lunch both days and finger food at the Advocacy event Tuesday night. You also get pedestrian/bicycle safety items to walk and/or bicycle with!!
    To register please contact Janie Fromm: jfromm@dot.state.nv.us or call (775) 888-7727. Please provide your name, title, organization, phone number and email address.

    The summit agenda (.pdf) and more details can be found here: http://www.nevadadot.com/About_NDOT/NDOT_Divisions/Planning/BikePed/BikePedSummit.aspx

    I wish I could attend but I will be at another conference so if you go, please let me know. I would love to hear all about it!!