Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Very Merry Christmas

Over a blue bottle of special yummy German Riesling, and our favorite Thai food, my Girls' Night Out friends and I happily swapped holiday gifts. Cathy, Patty and I meet every month, despite our busy lives and try to close the restaurant (that's not hard to do with such good company). I especially liked the bicycle earrings made for me by Patty's neighbor, Sally Lewis. I'm impressed at how lightweight the pair of earrings is, considering all the wire it must have taken to spoke the wheels. They sparkle and shine, are strong and intricate, and I adore them!

The decal is a gift from another old friend, coincidentally named Patty, who knows how much cycling means to me (and chocolate too). Her love and friendship all the way from Oregon spans many miles and 30+ years.

I feel wonderfully fulfilled to have this many close girlfriends in my life. Y'all make me smile.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Bag for Sally

This bag for my sister-in-law should look stylish and swell on a girly bike that I will be fixing up for her this winter and spring. (Sally is my "selection" this year for a gift on my husband's side of the family and I couldn't locate the right type of bike before Christmas). I placed a simple bike lock inside the bag and will make a tag to attach to the handle, promising a cool bicycle for spring.

Straps are stylish and long, but should
 not get in the way of the handlebar.

I rescued the strongly woven and satin lined bag from a second hand store for a $1.00. The braided handles are leather. The front is decorated in leather strings with beads. The rim is trimmed in black suede. It was tough, but I managed to sew button holes through the rattan material. At a dollar store I  purchased two leather dog collars, trimmed each to the desired length, removed the extra metal loop for dog leash, and re-riveted the buckle. I now own a leather punch and rivet set for future bag enhancement.

Ssshhhh...don't tell her about the bike or the bag!

Detail of the strap.
Back of bag has shell decoration.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cycles Gladiator Wine

I can't resist this wine if only because of the label. I've had it many times and it's a decent wine for the price—less than $10.00. Besides, it looks nice at a party for cyclists or could make an appropriate gift for your pedaling friends. Cycles Gladiator comes in many vintages. The cool thing is that the label was a real Parisian art poster created in 1895 to advertise a new fashionable bicycle.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Memory of Running

I'm not sure how The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty escaped my bike radar, except it's a work of fiction and would never have appeared on the shelves next to all the accounts of biking across the U.S., world trips, etc. It is a clever book, written with stark prose, funny and poignant, and often breathtaking.

It is an account of one man's emotional and physical journey on his red Raleigh after the death of his parents. Slovenly Smithy Ide starts riding for escape, then pleasure and finds himself far from home. Taking one day at a time he acquires supplies as needed (something I've often pondered). As Smithy rides west a cast of  hilarious characters and sometimes not quite far fetched predicaments will leave you wondering whether to laugh or cry. He often reminisces about his schizophrenic sister and is discovering, one mile at a time, who he is and where to go next. If there is anything missing in this novel (for me), it would be more of his daily riding which soars with discovery, hope, and the pure beauty of the journey.

The Memory of Running is a ride worth taking.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Photo by J. Maus,
BikeCraft is right up my alley and I drool over all the creative ideas presented in this year's show in Portland, Oregon. I would love to attend and sell my stylish and functional one-of -a-kind bags. I moved from P-town (as my husband and I called it) in 1996 and continue to be enthralled and amazed at Portland's mushrooming growth of all things related to bikes.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rails-to-Trails Hall of Fame

A family takes a break on the Causeway.

I was ecstatic to discover my local trail, The Island Line, a Hall of Fame champion at Rail-to-Trails this month. You've heard me mention the Burlington Bike Path...well, this is a section of the greater 14 mile Island Line that links 3 communities. A segment, the Causeway, is a personal favorite for its marble lined section that arcs through Lake Champlain.

With a ferry service that links an open water section, several city parks, and two bridges, the line is especially suitable for families or anyone who wants a spectacular rail trail experience. My favorite time of the year is the fall where the leaves explode in color and Canadian geese rule the skies.

Here's to our special award!

Waiting for the ferry.

Bridge linking Burlington with Colchester.

Friday, December 10, 2010

End of 2010 Riding Season?

The snow was starting to stick to the path.
With blustery snow showers I set out on a sixteen mile ride in 28 degree weather. By the time I braved the wicked wind and quick splash from Lake Champlain--it literally smashes up against the bike path and showers on its users--I found myself pedaling through an inch of snow and slipping sideways like it's the dead of winter in Vermont. Despite the nasty weather it's certainly time I give up bike riding for the year, yet I'm hoping for one more good window of opportunity so I can squeeze in 18 more miles to complete my yearly goal.

Surprisingly, I liked the weather while I was out there. I was warm and toasty. The road conditions were scary, yet I felt exhilarated. I was surviving my first snowy ride in nearly 20 years. Only a few times during the year does the lake look like the ocean, big swells rolling toward shore, and I was privy to something larger than myself.

Lake Champlain and its ocean-like waves.
There is a growing number of riders who commute throughout the winter and I plan to post photos of the ones I come across. I will not be among them. I do not feel safe enough to ride in winter traffic with snow plows and buses, one slip away from skidding underneath a vehicle.

There is a Nor'easter headed our way. But not to worry, there will be many more posts this winter.

New signage and benches on a segment of Burlington's Bike
Path. Riding was a bit slippery at this point and it took me
longer to slow down.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Simple Way to Reuse a Nice Bag

I use an old handlebar bag plastic stiffener
on the inside to retain the bag's shape.

This bag is another of my repurposed creations and fits nicely between the mustache handlebars on my Miyata. The bag is made of cordura with multiple pockets, leather top handle and zipper pulls, and has a long shoulder strap that can be tucked away in a pocket while on the bike. As soon as I spied this at the Salvation Army store I knew how I was going to use it.

I sewed dark colored velcro-type loops on the back side to secure the bag to the handlebar. The bag becomes a place to stash your valuables, snacks, a light weight jacket, etc. I've even used this bag for walking around New York City because the attachments blend in with the overall look of the bag.

Just think of all the unused but strong bags that can be retrofitted for the bicycle!

I was able to place the bag in my sewing machine to fasten
the velcro, but you could just as easily
 sew the strips on by hand.

Notice that the bag is held away from the
bike by the reflector.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tis the Season

Comfy Woolrich shirt,
L.L. Bean skort,
thick Under Armour
tights (my favorite).
Oh, the weather outside is frightful...okay, enough of that! I headed out this morning dressed in my woodchuck woolies and rode with my son to his school. Afterwards, fueled by Blue Mountain coffee, I pedaled along the waterfront amidst snow flurries to do some Christmas shopping.

I passed by a Nail boutique and adored their holiday display of child-size deer and snowmen. When the proprietor saw me photographing, she waved at me to come inside, but I chuckled and made some excuse about moving on.

Church Street had it's normal buzz of activity and loiterers, even at 8:30 a.m. as Christmas carols rang from speakers and holiday lights twinkled in the morning greyness.

I love how one parking spot was replaced with a "blue bus" for bikers.

Display outside of a nail boutique.

Church Street pedestrian mall.

The "blue bus" bike rack.