Monday, March 30, 2020

The Brilliant, Simple Evo Pannier

The sleek and effective Evo pannier.
I found a simple, large volume pannier at Sierra Trading Post last fall for 20.00. Since then the Evo grocery pannier has come in handy as a supplemental carrier when I need more capacity, say if on a whim I decided to shop at lunchtime and wanted to carry home my packages, needing extra cargo space. The pannier is normally left at the office. Since it holds a grocery bag's worth of items, I knew it would also come in handy to haul my once a week, farm share pick up home.

Off the bike, fold over fasteners so they don't snag on clothing.
Last week I used it to lug my laptop, keyboard, mouse, and heavy power brick home. What a brilliant, lightweight addition for my commuter bike!

Made of rip-stop nylon with ample sized tote straps, the bag attaches to rack with two extra strong hook and loop pieces placed over the rack then threaded though plastic loops and doubled back onto the webbing. The system is easy enough in theory, except  a full bag is heavy so I am often balancing the weight in one hand while trying to attach the first 'hook". Afterward, the second one goes more smoothly.

The top zipper works well, but if you happen to over stuff the bag, leaving the bag open in transit does not create dangerous sway. Pretty ingenious, considering the bag lacks bottom attachments - all weight is suspended by the two very secure straps. There's also an internal small zippered pocket. A quick wipe down of the material is all that's needed if it becomes dirty from road spray. The bag lies flat against the rack until packed (if empty) or stored collapsed inside my office cubicle, taking up little space.
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For low cost supplemental storage, the simple Evo pannier has nailed it for style and functionality. Unfortunately, it looks like it's currently only available on eBay.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Ideas for 2020

Until a month ago, our focus in 2020 was moving in May, adjusting to a longer bike commute, and life situation, with my husband transitioning to part-time work. We presume events will still happen - just a little later than expected.

Priorities may look different, of course, with travel likely postponed. Instead, I'm planning to focus my energy on Miss Clementine's makeover this year.
  • Explore a new upright bar setup, possibly using a removable face plate (that I bought last year and is shorter reach). I love the svelte look of Albatross bars, but I'm also considering Velo Orange Curvy or Granola bars. Alternative hand positions are just as important as bars with less rise (or no rise) than Rivendell's Boscos currently fixed on Clementine. After 3 years, I need to make a change. With two stems  and 2 types of bars (Curvy One and Granola?), I will have options and may put the unused bar on my Peugeot St. Laurent commuter bike. I've found whatbars.com to be very helpful.
  • I've been having discomfort using thumbshifters on my winter bike, but once I transitioned to the Peugeot for spring commutes, shifting has been easier/smoother, so for now I'll leave thumbies on the Clem. 
  • I need to redo racks! After the Racktime Topit failed on a WTF adventure, I'm rethinking how best to setup the Clem for tours by shifting racks between bikes, hopefully saving another expense.  
  • Less of a priority is switching tires. Although current 2" wide tires are functional and perform well on dirt, they are sluggish on paved roads. Visually, I dislike black tires. I may replace them with 1.75" gumwall Paselas.
I plan to also dismantle the Trek Antelope this year as it no longer fits me well. I will save many of her accessories and components to be used as back-up for the Peugeot commuter, including the wheels that will live on as extra wheel set with studded tires, making safe winter riding on the Peugeot as easy as swapping wheels!

What's on your bike agenda in 2020?

Monday, March 9, 2020

Maintaining Equilibrium During a Hectic Spring


It seemed fitting that along with Daylight Savings Time and a glorious Monday morning, with warm extended forecast, I transitioned to the Peugeot step-through darling for the foreseeable future. Upon leaving the driveway, in a fit of excitement, I instinctively lifted my leg over the seat - old habit from mounting the diamond-framed winter bike. Every time I switch bicycles, I also wonder what shape I left the bike in before abandoning it for a while. Thankfully, the Peugeot's shifting is smoother, and with narrower tires, I sped to work in record time.

Ah yes, this spring is going to be a wild ride.

I cross-country skied only twice this winter in local environs. In the mountains there's still plenty of snow.  Though I'm always torn between skiing and riding bikes, being outdoors on two wheels is daily exercise and peace of mind while we've been fixing up our current home and making far reaching decisions about our new place. Fortunately my husband and I feel like we're over the hump with house repairs and purging/packing boxes. With the weather change, I'm ready for outside chores that need to get done. Daffodils are bursting from the grey, flattened stalks that I never raked last fall, and birds are chirping.

Our new home site sits safely above the Winooski River with wonderful views. I  noticed the river ice has thawed, Canadian geese were honking overhead, and construction is coming along nicely. We move in May and establish ourselves into new routines. With the waterfront bike path two minutes away, we'll all be pedaling on two wheels, more than from our current hill location. It's all good.

Everything about this move just feels right!


Friday, February 28, 2020

Best Things about Cycling into My Senior Years


There are many advantages to cycling in our later years beside the obvious: benefiting physical and emotional health. Aches and pains are a given but the wisdom gained from experience lends a certain comfort. I expect to continue riding for many years to come, and when I think about it, there are aspects to aging that should help me keep the momentum going.

I no longer care about mileage or speed. As long as I can get to work, have mini overnights/or tours where I arrive before dark, or embrace the multi-modal mindset - what matters is having adventures and moving.

Bicycles are for riding and not for show. I've discovered it's more about riding a comfortable bicycle and less about aesthetics. As we age, a bike may no longer fit like it once did when we were more flexible. Best to sell/donate/part with a bicycle that's unused so it puts a smile on another's face.

Being able to afford and store multiple bikes. Remember when we were thrilled to have even one bicycle? (Mine was a Schwinn Continental.) And while I believe owning too many bikes and dealing with maintenance can be overwhelming (because, remember, bikes are to be ridden), it's nice to have a back-up when one requires repair.

Unafraid to tinker. Being able to change a flat tire is liberating, and often the first step toward freedom for some who'd love to pedal beyond the radius of a LBS. I can repair more things now than when I was 25 years old, of course. I have on many occasions used a LBS to fix my mess or repair something more complicated (anything to do with wheels!). I continue to add bicycle-specific tools (love a recently acquired master link removal tool) as necessary to my overflowing toolbox.

Adaptation is key, life-long learning required!  It's necessary to have new experiences for personal growth. I'm a traveler at heart and my goal is to visit at least one new place every year. It doesn't matter if it's in an adjoining state or in a different country. For adventures close to home, I explore coffee shops, parks, beaches, get groceries by bike, There are Meet up groups galore: over 50, all women, WTF, etc. Attend a maintenance class at a local bike shop. I've tried a cargo bike, fat bike, folding bike, bike share, e-bike, etc. We may not have time on our side but we currently live in a era of bike styles up the wazoo, which means if our physical needs must adapt to a different style of bike, that ought to keep us older riders going for a long time.
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What do think is cool about being a senior cyclist?

Friday, January 31, 2020

Thankful for QCBC Wrench Series



How to work on your bike in good company? Attend a weekly Queen City Bike Club Maintenance Night! New this winter, when it's too cold or snowy to hold the usual club ride and later gathering at Zero Gravity, you can attend an open session at Old Spokes Home to address any bike issues. Guided by a lady staff mechanic, I showed up to clean my Trek Antelope's drive train, popping the chain into an ultrasonic cleaner, plus replaced the right shifting cable and housing. The next session is in another week or so and with scarily soft brakes, that's the next item on my agenda.

It's great to have dedicated time to get some much needed maintenance done.