Saturday, May 24, 2014

Death Valley Road Stage 1 Race Photos

As my husband and I drove into the small town of Bishop, CA just before 10 p.m. not a single soul moved on the streets of the old cowboy town. All that remained on the sidewalks were picnic chairs; most were set up one next to the other for blocks and blocks as a placeholder for the Mule Days Parade that would take place the next morning.

However, we were not in town for the fun-filled world class annual event. John raced the Death Valley Stage Race today (Stage 1) and he placed 3rd in his category and 8th out of all who competed today. It was a brutal course. 44 miles and 8200 feet of climbing. And it was also quite warm. Fortunately the view was beautiful and afterwards we went to eat at Raymond's Deli before checking in to our next hotel. While John took a nap, I took my road bike for an exploration trip around the neighborhood of Independence, CA.

Tomorrow is Stage 2 where the racers will ride 13 miles with 5200 feet of climbing to the summit! I am SO GLAD that I am not racing. Yep, bicycle commuting is WAY MUCH easier than this!!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Northern Nevada Business Weekly - Bike to Work Week 2014

If you have not seen this publication at one of the local bike and coffee shops during this year's Bike to Work Week, you can read or download the digital copy of the Northern Nevada Business Weekly insert for Bike to Work Week 2014 on ISSUU.

Inside you will find lots of insightful and great articles on bicycling culture, safety, education, events and more! While some of the conversations refer to events that occurred locally, many of the topics still apply no matter where you live. The True Cost of Roads article by Elly Blue is a MUST READ. Enjoy!!

This publication was printed through a collaboration between the Northern Nevada Business Weekly and the Truckee Meadows Bicycle Alliance. Thanks Julie at the Washoe County Health District for the link!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Keystone Avenue Corridor Study Open House

There was a good turnout at the Keystone Avenue Corridor Study Open House as residents of Reno and Sparks, NV gathered to review the proposals for improvements of the affected streets.

I followed my colleague from the office to the McKinley Art Center on Riverside Drive in downtown Reno.
 It was great to see quite a bit of support from the cycling community.
 The room was full of design proposals and people. Attendees were given the opportunity to choose whether they liked a plan, disliked a plan, or felt no difference and also submit comments. I thought the Open House was well organized.
I just hope that whatever the outcome, the roads are more friendly and safer for everyone--no matter what mode of transportation they are using.
More details on the Keystone Avenue Corridor Study can be found on the Regional Transportation Commission's planning page: http://www.rtcwashoe.com/section-planning

Monday, May 19, 2014

Second Women's Bike to Brunch at Stonehouse Cafe

As if Bike to Work, School & Fun week wasn't exciting enough, to finish the weekend by having brunch with family and happy hour with friends was simply icing on the cake!

Sunday morning my husband and I rode our commuter bikes to breakfast at Brewer's Cabinet. I think this is the third weekend in a row we've dined there? But I like the patio and the staff is nice and their sausages are bigger than my ring finger! Aheam--I meant the link sausages served with breakfast.

This is a video of me going downhill. Yay...exciting right? ;-) It sure was fun to go fast and feel the wind play with my hair!
We rode through the residential streets of the city of Sparks. It's a great route because there is little traffic and the speed limit is low. OMG, are you sure can you handle another video with so much excitement?!? I am being sarcastic, LOL.
Eventually we were in downtown Reno where met family who were in town for the University commencement.
Looks like I got caught with helmet hair in this photo. Can you forgive me? My husband did not feel like riding to breakfast and when he finally came around we ran a few minutes late so we were pounding the pedals as we got closer to downtown. I like riding hard but that means accumulation of sweat under my helmet and helmet hair. Note to self: bring a cute cap!

Later that afternoon I head downtown again because I had organized a social gathering of women for Happy Hour. It is called the Women's Bike to Brunch but in this case it was lunch and dinner (or should I say 'linner')? One of the six women who would be attending's name was Ilsa, whom I met up with in Old Southwest Reno. She is 6 mos. new to Reno and since I had never met her before Sunday, it was really fantastic to meet her for an easy bike ride before we grab some food!!

It was a little breezy but still gorgeous weather and a fire was burning in Hunter Lake west of Reno. Still it was warmer than the first Women's Bike to Brunch. I was really grateful to have one-on-one time with Ilsa and getting to know her and I had a lot of fun riding and chatting a long the way. Ilsa is a long time transportation cyclist. She also has a road bike but like me, prefers a happy pace and riding for the social aspect. She is certainly a Cuter Commuter, right down to her shoes isn't she?!
We concluded our joy ride back at the restaurant where we would meet all of the other women. All of them I had met since moving to Reno through my job and through bicycling organizations.
In our group we have someone who is a data warehouse admin, a nutrition programs professional, a V.I.S.T.A (Volunteer in Service to America), an executive assistant, independent consultant/web designer, and a business analyst.
We sat on the patio and ordered BBQ wings, chicken vegetable pot stickers, sweet potato fries with cajon aioli, and calamari with lemon aioli and marina sauce. I was THRILLED to know two other people at the table likes to eat calamari tentacles because so do I!!
We were there for about an hour. It is never enough time together but that means we can look forward to the next time we can meet again.
Then it was time for each of us to go our separate ways. Back on the Truckee Meadows River Trail towards Sparks, NV for me. I enjoy the ride but I must admit that it would be nicer to live closer to my friends or have someone to bike with when I am traveling between Sparks and Reno.
The breeze seems to have died down and since the sun was still out, it was a beautiful evening. It is so nice to see other families outside riding their bikes!



Saturday, May 17, 2014

Our Fine Feathered Friend - a Little Finch

This morning I was in the backyard pulling weeds when John noticed a bird hopping along on the ground. It obviously injured and I didn't have much of a choice but to pick him up and bring him inside. In my hands it laid calmly on its back as if to surrender. It was so small and weighed no more than a whole clove of garlic. Perhaps an adult male House Finch. By the torn and raggedy wings, I could see something was terribly wrong but it was not bleeding anywhere. From the state of the bird, it must have been in this condition for days. Some how it found its way to our back yard.

I put water in a beer cap and laid down some seeds. When I put the little bird down, it plopped on its belly with its beak in the beer cap of water. And did nothing and lied still. I don't blame it. I am sure it thinks that this is surely the end of the road.

Then it started to drink water. It's little tongue lapped up the liquid. It kept drinking and drinking.

When its thirst was quenched it picked up a sunflower seed but wasn't able to crack the shell since its feet were bound. So I pulled it away and John remembered we had shelled sunflower seeds and offered it to the finch. After some hesitation the bird started to eat the seeds. It fed itself like the starving little bird it was. It seemed the bird was doing so much better!!

And so we decided to take it to our veterinarian. But they don't work with birds. Long story short, we went to two other animal hospitals and none of them can help the bird. They cannot help wild birds because they may carry diseases (but what about domesticated animals with diseases). Finally we were referred to the Washoe County Animal Control. The whole time the finch ate and drank...and even tried to take a nap. I am sure it was exhausted from hopping around for days looking for food and water! It let me pet its soft little head to comfort it. By now it must know that John and I are not going to hurt him and trusted us.

The office was not open yet but a guy allowed us in and looked at the bird. He suggested the best thing to do was put the bird back where we found it. But we knew the bird couldn't survive on its own and would die of starvation or hunger if it didn't get eaten by a prey. So the guy offered to take a look. He didn't seem to have a lot of patience and it was understandable. I bet he sees this so often, he's desensitized to hurt wild animals being dropped off at the shelter. Finally he shook his head and said he would have to euthanized the little finch.

John and I had our hopes up that the little bird would be okay and would be able to return to the wild. We were willing to take care of it until it regained independence. We weren't really prepared to part with it at that moment and we were stunned speechless. I started tearing ... but I knew it was probably for the best. Not knowing what else to say we gave in and walked away.

Only until after we came home did the impact of the little finch hit me. I felt the sadness of losing a pet who had been part of the family. I know you would say, it is nature and animals in the wild die all of the time. But it didn't die. Against all odds the bird found its way to our back yard. It was doing so well after water and food. All it needed was a chance to get better. Since its life was in our hands we felt responsible for its survival...and we feel terrible for not having fought for him. And sad for having saved him only for him to be euthanized.

So may he rest in peace. At least it was able to drink the water and eat seeds it. It didn't die of dehydration or starvation before it went to bird heaven. And it some ways it was able to fly again...if only in a car. I will bet most finches can never say they have ridden in a car in their lifetime.

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Skirt for Bicycle Commuting to the Office

After my failed attempt to bike to work in a pencil skirt, there is finally a fitted skirt that I CAN BIKE TO WORK IN (that I like)!! For Bike to Work Day, I wore my Bike to Work Skirt by Betabrand and I LOVE IT!! I will tell you why.

But first a little story if you'll allow me to get off-topic. After getting dressed, I walked downstairs and asked my husband to take these photos. He hesitantly said, "What...is that...? A belt around the outside of your sweater?" And then, "Is it supposed to be worn like that?" I assured him that the belt was worn on the outside on purpose.

[Tangent: I admit that I really don't know anything about fashion. I just wear what is comfortable for me and what makes me feel good. Because when I feel good, I feel confident. Since I am an introvert and shy around people I don't know very well, I need all the confidence I can get!] So my cardigan has a straight cut and NO shape. And I've read that for someone who has an hour glass figure I should not wear things that hide my waist or I will look like a tree trunk. Well...not exactly THOSE words but that's how I remember it. I have also read that a belt worn at the waist can cinch a shapeless sweater so I did just that!

At first glance the Bike to Work Skirt looks like a fitted pencil skirt. BUT a-ha! There is a little secret--the hidden godets that allow for a wider range of movement when cycling. The low profile zippers on the seam just above each knee unzip from the hem at the knees up to the hips revealing an extra piece of fabric attached to the inside of the skirt. Another zipper is located on the side of the left hip to get in and out of the skirt.
Hidden godets at the seams above the knee allow for a wider range of leg movement.
With this skirt, I don't have to take dainty steps--you know, like penguins do?! The extra flap of a lighter fabric underneath allows for a wider range movement of the legs than most fitted skirts will give. I can kick my leg!
I can take BIG strides!
Also, there are two functional pockets in the back that are nice and deep. Approximately 5.5 inches deep (about the size of most pens).
In one of back pockets there is a flag with reflective edging for those times when bicycling in low light!
Betabrand Bike to Work Skirt looks great on and off the bike.
I COULD NOT WAIT to get outside and start riding! And oh the JOY of pedaling with being constricted!! So I took off towards the office.
The skirt is a great length and the fabric has a nice heavy weight. The material is water/soil-repellent with a very slight stretch (59% cotton 40% polyester 1% spandex). When pedaling while sitting or standing the fabric stays down and does not ride up my thighs. Still, I made sure to wear cute underwear - just in case!
Before going in to the office, I had a quick detour for breakfast at the Reno Bike Project, a community bike shop that was hosting a Pancake Feed. Once I dismounted my bike, I zipped the skirt and it is once again, a fitted (although it looks just fine unzipped as well and therefore, looks more like a skirt with pleats).

The only flaw I could find was the back stitching of the hem on one side went too far and prevented one of the zippers from zipping down and up easily. I will need to fix that when I get a moment. Other than that, the skirt is well made (in San Francisco, CA) and will last through many washings. I am very hard on my clothes but I definitely think this one will last at least two seasons. At $98 it can be a little pricey but the features are well worth it to me. I picked it up for $73.50 during its concept design and it needed crowdfunding to go to production. But if you can get a 10% or 20% discount code by uploading your photo to be Betabrand's model citizen!

I am so glad Betabrand's graphic designer Mickey Roxas designed this skirt, which is currently offered in gray and black. I love it so much I ordered another skirt in black. The Bike to Work commuter skirt does exactly what it is designed to do and it does it well!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Ride Coozy - An Affordable, Reliable, and Fun Electric Commuting Bicycle

I understand some of the challenges to bicycle commuting as I have faced these myself:
  • I'm out of shape 
  • It takes too long
  • There's too many hills
  • It's too far 
  • I don't want to arrive at the office sweaty/no showers 
  • I have to run errands commuting by bicycle
Many of those challenges can be addressed with an electric bicycle. So as you get in to shape, have more time during your morning commute, or feel great one morning and want to use your own power to pedal you can do it! An electric bicycle may help you get to that point. At the end of my day when I have a one-mile hill that's 9% grade to pedal up before home, I sure wish I had the assistance of an electric bicycle!

Check out my friend's project, the Ride Scoozy on Kickstarter!


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/77349922/affordable-reliable-and-fun-electric-commuting-bic

The American League of Bicyclist also has some GREAT TIPS for overcoming the challenges of bicycle commuting.
Click this link for larger image.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Wheels of Willpower

Wheels of Willpower are stories by individuals who have overcome challenges in their life through cycling. I gave up drinking alcohol for over two years when I committed myself to cycling. My husband dropped 70+ pounds from his body and is living a healthier life because of cycling. But our stories seems pale by comparison to the millions of stories out there. Like Pat Cashell, who is 7 years sober from his severe addiction to meth. And guess how he did it? CYCLING. Check out this video and keep some tissues nearby to dry your eyes!


I have personally met Pat on several occasions during cycling races and he is also on my husband's cycling team for Audi Reno-Tahoe.

I remember another story I did not get to mention. When I fell off my bicycle heading to an appointment in Reno a man who helped pick me up was headed to an Alcohol Anonymous meeting. I cannot recall exactly the number of years he had been sober but I remember being impressed by it. It was something like 11 or 12 years.

So whenever there is a heated conversation about cycling. You know, the ones where threats words are thrown around like cyclists don't belong on the road or squash you like a bug I will remember these positive stories. In so many ways cycling is more than just a sport--IT SAVES LIVES!! Not to mention the ripple effect the impact can have on these people's families and the community. And is certainly a different high that alcohol abuse, meth addiction or overeating could make you feel.