Where The Bike Takes Me

Continuing this journey of cycling in efforts to get into shape, lose weight, enjoy the outdoors, and save my knees from their arthritic state at 28 years of age.

First Indoor Training Class with Melissa Dalio November 9, 2008

Filed under: bike,cycling,Cycling in the DC Metro Area,Great Ideas — f8th637 @ 4:34 pm

So, I’m behind in some blog posting.  I meant to blog about how The BIke Lane in Reston was holding classes for Yoga and indoor training classes twice a week starting this month.  The indoor training class is either Wednesday morning or Sunday morning and costs $30 for a month.  Last year, I was thinking about how great it would be if there was a place I could take a spinning-type class in the winter months where I wouldn’t have to commit myself for a year.  With these classes in Reston, I sign up monthly.

I missed last week’s first class since I was in Orlando on vacation but I did go today.  We worked on leg speed.  I was clearly the most inexperienced out of everyone (that always seems to be the case.)  There were four of us.  We worked for 1.5 hours on cadence and pedaling techniques using intervals.  The 1-legged intervals were PAINFUL.  You wouldn’t think that it would be difficult to do these but they are.  I challenge you to maintain a cadence of 90 RPM with a clean pedal stroke for 2 minutes.

I came home after the a stop at the Starbucks for one of their Banana-chocolate drinks (yum!) and a quick stop at the craft store.  I promptly passed out.  I am TIRED and I know I’ll be sore tomorrow.  My quads are kinda fatigued but nothing like that Pilates class I attempted a few weeks ago.  This’ll be good for me even if it may hurt a bit.  This is what I need to motivate me at the moment.

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New Look & Late-Night Ramblings September 6, 2008

I decided just now, without any forethought, to change the look of my blog. I felt just now that it was too sterile looking and I wanted something that had a wider layout for the posts because I’d like to incorporate more pictures. I like how this theme kept all the categories in place for my links. Some themes just did away with the categories altogether and just lumped all the links in one big blogroll. You would have loved that one. So what do you think? Yea or nay?

I’m up late because I’m having my monthly bout of insomnia which I think is exacerbated this month by a.) this upcoming reunion I’m planning and b.) IT’S A WEEK TILL THE AUTUMN ESCAPE BIKE TREK! This time next week I’ll have completed the first day of the 3-day tour. I am a bit worried I haven’t got as much riding time as I think I should have. I don’t feel I’m as strong as I was earlier in the summer which is probably never good. I did drag my husband and Bach out west to do Scott and Jim’s Lovetts or Leesit ride on Labor Day. More on that in the next post. The ride did further confirm with me, however, that I needed to take the bike into the shop for some work.

I went to Bikes at Vienna bright and early Thursday morning a few minutes after they opened up. Tim, the head mechanic, was there. He worked on the Lotus for me a few months ago and really digs that bike. When I told him the changes I wanted done with it he was like, “Ah, someone’s been visiting the Rivendell website.” I knew I was talking to a man after my own heart when he said that. Haa haa! So he transformed it and gave me grips to match my honey Brooks which is no longer on that bike sadly. (If anyone has one they are looking to get rid of please let me know!) He said if I was ever interested in selling the bike to let him know because he might know someone who would want it. I think the bike is a tad bit too small for me but I love how light and smooth it is especially compared to the Kona and my husband has come to terms with the fact that it is my “fun bike” as he calls it that I just can’t let it go.

Anyway, I told Tim the issues I’d been having with the Sutra. I realized he didn’t know who I was without the Lotus. I told him I moved the Brooks from the Lotus to this bike and then he remembered. (It’s like dog owners who can tell you the name of the neighborhood dogs but not the name of their owners.) I told Tim about the clicking noises I was experiencing in the crank/bottom bracket area and the shifting issues that I knew just needed an adjustment. I also had a crimped cable up front that I had noticed long ago but never got checked out. I also needed bar ends because I somehow lost both of them. I installed a kickstand (just plain old one) earlier in the week but never got around to trimming it down to the length. I had Tim take care of all that for me too. He noticed (like I had) that my rear disc brake seemed to rub. I have tried all kinds of adjusting on that thing and when I put the kickstand on I decided to check the rear tire and brake. I loosened the brake as much as I possibly could and then turned the wheel. It kept spinning and spinning as it should. But when I hit the brake hoods and pulled the levers it was so slack it did nothing so I had tighten them back and was back to square one. Tim noticed this without me even having to point it all out. I was like, “If you can fix it, that’ll be great!”

So he gave me a “tuneup lite” as they call it which is basically adjusting the brakes and the shifting cables. He also regreased my pedals and tightened the crank bolt and the chain ring bolts to help me with the ticking sound. He then straightened that bent rear brake rotor as well. He replaced the crimped cable and the housing, gave me bar ends, and trimmed my kickstand just like I asked. And the bike was ready a day early. 🙂

I can’t wait to ride it and try it out but sadly I will have to wait until Sunday as tomorrow a hurricane is suppose to blow through. It’s 3 AM and aside from a little rain earlier in the evening I haven’t seen much else.

There are no Kona dealers in the area except for Proteus that I can tell. Everyone else keeps the usual brand names. My Kona Sutra is the first one he’s worked on and Tim said he enjoyed working on the bike and that he liked it. How many bike mechanics tell you that? He also really liked my VO baguette handlebar bag. What I really like about Tim and the other guy who works there (whose name I never get but knows me by my Lotus too) is that they kinda dig the things I do to my bikes. Tim’s a huge Brooks saddles fan. He even noticed the reflector decals I put on the bike and asked me if it came that way or if I did it myself. My husband says I girlify the bike but I like to think I just personalize it. Ok, it happens to have yellow reflector flower decals. I only bought them because they match the yellow accents on the Kona logo and the yellow Candy C pedals on there. I didn’t buy them because they were flowers. I know it’s silly but it tickles me to no end that they appreciate the ‘style’ (was the word they used) that I have with my bikes. Of course, to each his or her own. I’m just glad they get me. 🙂


Fall is Coming! August 26, 2008

I think I blogged about this last year but somehow the days getting shorter snuck up on me yet again this year.  I left the office at 6:45 PM today, stopped at the nearby Wal-Greens (the one in Herndon) to pick up my prescriptions from their drive-thru (I do it all the time) and it was pretty dark by the time I got to the Whole Foods in Vienna.  I still had a ride time of about 25 minutes to go.  There were plenty of people still on the trail but naturally today I had no light and no really bright or reflective clothing.  I did take the one reflective band I keep on the bike and slapped it around my ankle.  It was slim consolation but it was some.  I got home just as it was too dark to see outside without a light.  I was booking it out of straight nervousness.

Anyway, I spent this past weekend going to REI trying to find a suitable handlebar bag to carry my SLR for the Autumn Escape Bike Trek in a few weeks.  The Detours Zoom bag ended up being too small for the body with the lens attached.  Just a wee bit too small but I did like how padded it was.  I was leery of the plastic clip to attach it though.  Anyway, I didn’t find what I was looking for in terms of a handlebar bag at the REI but I did find the high-viz green vest/jacket combo that I was looking for.  Score!

On Sunday I stoppped at Bikes at Vienna to check out what they have.  I figured they had a few of the higher-end handlebar bags.  I was really looking for the black and yellow Ortlieb bag but they had both a small and large Arkel handlebar bag.  The small looked too small for the SLR and the big seemed like it would have more than enough room.  Where’s the medium when you need it?  Anyway, it was a bit pricey but Robert at Bikes at Vienna (who loves to take pictures too) brought up a good point, “Would you rather buy a new body (for the camera) or spend a $100 or so on a nice bag?”  I figured I’d take it home and give it a try. I really, really liked how the mount was metal.  I wish it had come with a raincover though.  I set it up last night and I swear it only took me like 10 minutes to mount and all.  Today I tested it on my ride home.  It feels solid, like an extension of the bike really.  Of course the bag jostles a bit but I was not at all worried about the thing coming loose or anything like that.  My next test will be with the SLR and maybe some clothes or something to help pad it.  I had my bike lock in it today for the hell of it and while I could see it affecting the steering it wasn’t anything to write home about.  The real test will be when it’s full of stuff but so far I’m really liking it.  I plan on spraying it inside and out with some water sealer spray.

I really love the Velo Orange Baguette bag. I love how it’s big enough to actually hold things in there.  It’s kinda smooshed up against my rack at the moment but I love having the extra storage options.  What can I say?  I’m a bit of a utilitarian rider.  I will probably take the rack off for the tour in a few weeks.  I think that with the handlebar bag I should be fine.  I also think that my husband should start carrying some of his own stuff.  😛  So we shall see.  I’ll take pictures of both bags on the bike.  I just need to get it on the trainer so I can do it justice.  Do people put kickstands on touring bikes?


Bike to Work Day May 16, 2008

Filed under: cycling,Cycling in the DC Metro Area,Event,Gear — f8th637 @ 1:31 pm

So I did go to the Performance Bike yesterday to return my Speedplay Frog pedals.  I decided to just stick with what I have (the yellow Crank Brothers Candy C) as they didn’t at all bother me on the very flat century I completed last weekend.  I know I need to get a ride report in.  I didn’t buy the rain jacket that I was thinking about getting last post but I did walk out with a new, cheap saddle and a pair of Pearl Izumi Sugar knickers.  I have been having saddle comfort issues and wanted to see if I could alleviate this some.  I hate being cheap when it comes to buying things but I am learning that you get what you pay for.  Anyway, I installed the Forte Women’s Contour Saddle.  I really liked that it had the cut out and was a bit wider than my current saddle and it was flat.  I wanted to just test that out with my old shorts but I realized I hadn’t done laundry in a few days and was out of bike bottoms.  So I had to wear my new knickers today with the saddle.  Seriously, the most comfortable ride saddle-wise thus far ever this morning.  I am definitely keeping the knickers as they rock but I will have to see if the saddle also makes a difference.

As to the rest of Bike to Work Day, aside from the pitstop it was fairly uneventful.  I hit some rain a few minutes from my pitstop at the Whole Foods in Vienna but it stopped while I was there. I seem to remember that last year there seemed to be more giveaways and free schwag but beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose.  I did talk to some other ladies in the area who stopped at other pitstops and got cool things like chamois towels and even a handlebar bag!  I did get my free t-shirt and had the breakfast I wasn’t able to have before leaving this morning.  I had gotten out a bit later than I had wanted to. I also got my hot-off-the-press Fairfax County Bicycle Map.  There’s a good article about it at the Washington Post.  I took a look at the map earlier.  It looks pretty cool.  My husband and I are always wondering how to get around places by bike in the area.  This should help!  There was a pretty decent turn-out at the pitstop despite the weather. Most memorable to me was the man who was tandem riding his daughter who was probably about 6 or 7 at the most.  She was wearing her backpack underneath an oversized rain poncho and was too cute.  What a trooper to participate even in the rain!

As to the fender issue, It probably would have been nice to have one up front this morning. Definitely a lot of spray but not too bad.  I may consider the EZ Fenders that are fairly quick to detach for days like this.  Since my commuter is my regular bike because of the length of my commute, something I can take on and off easily sounds best. 

I’m working on that ride report for the Knotts Island Century, I promise!

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To Fender or Not to Fender May 15, 2008

Filed under: cycling,Cycling in the DC Metro Area,Gear — f8th637 @ 10:16 am

Tomorrow is our area’s Bike to Work Day. I have been watching the weather forecast diligently hoping that the Friday morning weather would be somewhat pleasant for riding in.  Thankfully, the forecast is no longer really calling for thunderstorms.  Rain, I can handle, lightning is a whole other matter.  But the forecast is calling for certain rain for those of us planning on joining our area’s BTWD festivities. So I have been asking myself how I want to handle the rain.  I don’t mind riding in rain, sometimes it’s even fun, but I definitely don’t like the wetness feeling that comes from the affectionately-called ‘skunk stripe’ that those of us who ride in rain without fenders get.  I like fenders when it rains but I can definitely do without them when the weather is beautiful is out.  I commute on my regular bike since it’s 15 miles roughly so whatever I put on there will generally stay on there.  I had fenders on my hybrid before they practically fell off and like I said they were great in the rain.

I have a rear rack on the Sutra which should help with the skunk stripe.  I’m debating whether or not I want to put a fender on the front.  I’m leaning towards ‘no’ as I’m feeling lazy at the moment to really deal with fenders which can sometimes be a tricky business.  I have a regular rain jacket that I typically wear when the weather is crappy from Sierra Trading Company.  While it has a hood, it is not a high-vis color nor is it longer in the back.  My helmet fits right inside the hood.  I have contemplated springing $15 for this jacket at Performance but the lack of a hood keeps me from doing so.  The truth is I can wear my current rain jacket, my bright orange reflective vest, and keep most of the rain from the rear wheel off my back with the rear rack.  It’s just hard to not want to buy stuff.  😛

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First Ever Metric Century Coming Up May 5, 2008

Filed under: cycling,Cycling in the DC Metro Area,Event — f8th637 @ 4:08 pm

The husband and I have been trying to figure out what rides to do this year.  We’re both fitter than we were this time last year.  Among some of the rides we found was the Knotts Island Century thrown by the Tidewater Bicycle Association.  We are opting for the metric century which is the furthest we’ve ever ridden complete with a ferry ride in the middle.  The area is pretty flat and just minutes from my parents’ home.  I figured it would be a nice way to kill several birds with one stone: first organized ride of the year, first metric century (flat), excuse to see my family especially my niece and my dog (who is on “vacation” with my parents), and spend Mother’s Day with my mom.  I’m also bringing down some stuff that I want to give away to my sister and my friend so they will stop taking up room in my home.  I figure it’s fairly win-win as long as we complete the ride strong.

I am a bit apprehensive because we’ve never done this ride nor this distance before.  We did a 32-mile ride on Saturday to help us get some miles in mostly along the Arlington loop (which was quite crowded) with some adjustments of our own.  By the time we got to DC we were feeling good at about the 20-mile mark.  From there we went to Georgetown and popped out in Rosslyn and proceeded up Wilson Blvd in all its hilly glory.  Not only was it uphill but it was hot, baking from the pavement hot, and there was no shade.  I quickly got crabby and prayed for any wind at all to help relieve me.  From Arlington on, I was uncomfortable.  I didn’t wear gloves because I couldn’t find the weightlifting gloves I had been using last year and did I mention I was hot?  I felt like my skin was baking and thankfully I had put sunscreen on.  There was this miserable whine coming from the front wheel that didn’t let up until I started going about 9 miles an hour.  Then my left knee started bothering me.  That hot hill up Wilson was what did me in.  I’m hoping for more comfortable weather this Saturday for the century.  Generally, I felt good after the ride.  My shoulders and neck were kinda sore but that didn’t linger into the next day and I’m amazed at how my body doesn’t seem to feel anything painful the next morning after longer (to me) rides.

My knees still hate me but I’m hoping they will forgive me once I get my Speedplay Frog pedals in that I ordered yesterday.  I have heard they are great for people with knee issues like me who are knock-kneed so I figured that I’d use my $100 award from work and go ahead and buy the suckers.  Among my other recent bike-related purchases were some yellow and black gloves to match my bike to be worn on the ride this weekend, Spinervals Sweating Buckets 2.0 Fitness Series for when it’s pouring outside, and a new pair of shorts that I got in a size Medium instead of a size Large (w00t!).  I also bought my husband his first pair of shorts with padding and he said they were very comfy.  I guess the secret to him is just to buy it and let him try them.

I also signed us up for Bike New York’s Long Island Harbor Ride in June.  We have yet to sign up for the Harlem Valley Rail Ride that we did last year and are tossing around the idea of doing the American Lung Association of America in Massachusetts Autumn Escape Bike Trek instead of the 8 Lighthouse Ride we did in Portland, ME.  I am really excited about the Bike Trek which is a 3-day tour basically of the cape.  I think it’ll be a nice intro into bike-touring with a support system.  So that’s what we have on the plate so far.  I’ll keep you posted.


Non-Emergency Numbers in the DC Metro Area April 24, 2008

Filed under: Cycling in the DC Metro Area — f8th637 @ 1:05 pm

Shared by one of the members of Babes on Bikes:

Arlington (703) 558-2222
DC 311
Fairfax County (703) 691-2131
Fairfax City (703) 385-7924 or 7933
Falls Church (703) 241-5053
Montgomery County, MD (301) 279-8000

Keep them handy in your cell phone to report any non-emergency you’d like to notify them about.