Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Laid back bikes are making it to Texas

Let's make a North Austin Social Ride.

Okay, Austinites.  I live north of 183, and it's a royal pain fighting my way all the way to either downtown or south Austin to ride bikes with other people, preferably with a tasty food or beverage at the end.  Or even just to chill out in a park.  So, like Pikachu, north Austinites, I choose you!  Let's come up with a starting point and a destination - I can do the routing.


Monday, June 18, 2012

The Proper Way to Use a Bike, by Amstel Light

If anyone recalls the Miller High Life ad, "Man Power", it centered around my favorite way to use a bike (as my personal beer jalopy).  Amstel brings it all home with the 2012 UEFA Championships and this awesome dude and his beer bike.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Happy Weekend!

Summer is here - the beer is cold, the skies are sunny.  My weekend is totally unplanned, which as far as I'm concerned, is totally awesome.  I'm planning on taking a couple nice rides, including (FINALLY!) getting my fancy new mountain bike out on the trails now that I have the footwear to do so!  I'm going to try to take some pictures of the fabulous Walnut Creek and will probably take Guinness to run with the bike while I'm at it.

I hope everyone has a merry time of it, bikey or no!

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Roof, the Roof, the Roof is on Fire

My house hasn't burned down, or anything like that, but the weather is doing it's annual summer heat-up and not being terribly shy about it.  While not as suddenly, brutally hot as last year, this is Austin and our summers are nothing if not long, hot, and dry.  We haven't yet broken 100 F, but we're into the 90s every day, and with that has come the long, slow adjustment period to the heat in terms of dress, habits, and even the speed ridden.

Every year, our brief few weeks of spring gives way to summer with alarming speed, and there are so many things that you have to adjust for to make summer cycling safe and fun.  So here's a brief list of tips and tricks to make get a bit more fun out of summer and a bit less "swelteringly miserable".

1.  Sunscreen!

Okay folks, it's 2012.  At this point, there's probably not anyone in the USA who's never heard the sun is bad for your skin in large doses.  If you're riding a bike in June, the sun doesn't come in any other dose than "large".  I personally prefer SPF 50 head to toe, because the sun <i>really is</i> that hard on your skin.  Don't think this is limited to the fair-skinned: I'm hispanic, and despite my light hair, tan extremely easily and rarely burn.  I wear the sunscreen anyways.  Don't give me any of your "it feels icky," either - wear it anyways.  Your skin will thank you.

2. Summer clothes

The clothing can make or break your experience tooling about town in the summer.  I personally almost never wear cotton (most of my clothes are technical fabric or wool anyways).  In non-technical fabrics, summer is the time for the loose and flappy.  Bust out your linens, your shorts, your favorite sundress, or whatever you have that makes you feel cool.  Counterintuitively, covering your skin can really help with keeping you cooler - think about the guys who work construction in the summer.  Long sleeves, head coverings.  It's built-in shade!

3.  Hydrate!

Man cannot live on tea, soda, or beer alone.  Water.  Electrolytes - they're what plants crave, but they're also a critical component of keeping you upright when the weather is sweltering.  If you've ever wondered why your sweat tastes salty, that's electrolytes, and as you sweat you don't just lose water, you're losing minerals.  Sticking to just water is a great way to pass out after any duration of activity, and having a sport drink around to complement the bottle of water you should be drinking anyways will help keep your electrolyte levels in balance.

4.  Slow Down

In the wintertime, I feel like a speed machine.  The environment is helping me keep my core temperature down, which is one less thing to think about.  In the summer, you have to actively work to keep your core temperature down and the one easy thing everyone can do is slow the hell down.  Reduce the workload on your body, and absorb the sights a little better while you're at it.  My preferred pace in the summer is fast enough to catch a breeze and get where I'm going, but no faster.

5. Take breaks

As a corollary to "Slow down", take more frequent breaks in hot weather.  It's possible to go from slightly dehydrated to heat stroke in an amazingly short amount of time - take it from me, I've had heat stroke more times than I can count on my fingers and toes.  Even with sunscreen, summer clothes, adequate hydration, and taking it easy, I've found myself seeing stars, unable to lower my core temperature.  If you ever feel like you're cycling in slow motion, stop.  If you see spots, stop.  If your breathing "feels" hot, stop.  Don't let your pride get you injured out in the world.  Leave a little earlier, get there happy and healthy.

I hope everyone has had a wonderful spring of cycling and that summer goes the same!  I'm happy to field any questions about hot-weather cycling - being from Texas, you get to be a pro.  Happy summer!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Moments in Bike Lust: WorkCycles Secret Service

As a side effect of one of my prior posts, I catch myself looking at step-through bikes.  I've always had a serious thing for ladies' bikes, and none of mine are particularly girly. I've been emailing a few shops to rectify my desires in a ladies city bike of the upright stepthrough bike: I'm quite short, and Austin can be quite hilly, two charscteristics often challenging to rectify in a Dutch Bike.

Two shops, Clever Cycles of Portland, OR and Dutch Bike Co. of Seattle got back to me recommending Workcycles, specifically the Secret Service. It is available down to 45 cm and is offered in a range of gearing that can handle Portland and Seattle, which means it can handle Austin.


My research tells me that WorkCycles is run by Henry Cutler, an American who lives in Amsterdam and runs both the brand and the shops. All by itself, sounds pretty cool!  The Secret Service is a modernish take on the classic Dutch Omafiets made for smaller riders and longer distances than the frankly tank-like classics. The tubing and racks are a bit lighter, making it as sporty as a Dutch Omafiets gets. That being said, you can still move a kid, throw some groceries on the front rack, and leave it parked outside.  So...that's basically the exact bike I was trying to come up with.  I really wish I could test ride it,but maybe that's the bike to save up for next.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Re-do, Review, Revise

In my pursuit to Find the Scenery, I've found a wonderful little road that's right on the way to work that just gives me 10 minutes of peace of mind every time I ride down it. It carries me past an historical marker, the train track that carries our Metro Rail, and some beautiful old oaks and pecan trees.  I had to share.

Maybe in the past, the scenery has always been there, and it's on me to find it.  

Aaaah, I just felt my brain relax.  Which, for me, is the whole point of riding a bike to work.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Four years later and still going

A lot can change in 4 years.  4 years ago, I had just graduated college and was gut-turningly anticipating my next adventure - moving to California, both because it's where I wanted to be, and because there was a guy there.  I got there, and the guy was a cyclist.  So were a lot of his friends.  So I did what a lot of girls do - I got a bike to try and hang out with my cyclist boyfriend.  That bike turned into a bike from Craigslist, which many bikes later, has become the TARDIS.

As soon as I got my first "Good" bike, I started riding to work as well as for fun and to impress the boyfriend.  California really does have phenomenal weather.  Many months later though, everything sort of folded in on itself and I found myself broke, heart broke, and generally in need of repair.  So I came home, but when I came home, I brought two bikes, a car rack, and several thousands of miles in my legs.  So to get over the breakup, I rode.  There were rides where I broke down and cried halfway through because it killed me to ride alone.  So I kept riding, on the assumption things couldn't suck forever.  It took my mind off my problems and depression.  What do you know, eventually I could ride for me again.

Eventually, I started training for rides.  I woke up before dawn and stood on bridges watching the sunrise.  I moved to Austin, and I started this blog.  A year of blogging later, here I am.  And 4 years of living, two things have stayed the same.  My dog Guinness, and my cycling.  I am a lucky lass.

I also take one horrible Panda shot.