Friday, May 28, 2021

The Simplest, Easiest Bike Overnight

The Peugeot Saint Laurent, my commuter bike, is perfect for a quick bike overnight.

We are lucky to live a two-mile ride from - along a stellar lakefront rail trail, no less - our cozy camp on Lake Champlain. It's a spot that holds family memories, the best place to relax on breezy summer days, accompanied with refreshing lake dips. There's nothing better than sipping a cold drink while relaxing in cushioned deck chairs, then later on, marveling at beautiful sunsets - in short, the camp and its view are a treasure!

I have mentioned staying at camp in the autumn, and a fun family ride for a coffeeneuring outing, plus errands - all when we lived 6 miles away, through a maze of tight neighborhoods, near a busy university and hospital. Fast forward to 2020, relocating closer to the lake, getting settled, then enduring a record-breaking hot summer. I lost interest in visiting this family residence. Looking back, it was a period of major transition, and our perceptive youngest son said something that hit home: camp for him meant hanging out with friends and family, not encouraged in 2020. Certainly, a rollercoaster year we'd all like to put behind us.

In 2021, vaccines are making family events look promising. I have renewed interest in this amazing spot, even though we reside near water. It's been by far, best to eat dinner at home, pack a few necessities in panniers, then pedal 20 minutes to camp. We eat breakfast with a view of the lake, then return to work from home. I have packing down to a science, filling two small panniers. I schlep all belongings back and forth, lending freedom based on weather or mood.

I can't think of an easier bike overnight, and yet so worth it!

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Ideas for 2021

Dahon Boardwalk, a simple and beautiful folder.

As some routines start to resort back to normal, I'm starting to think about travel. I know it will be different, of course, but welcome in whatever capacity!

I need a proper vacation in 2021 - specifically, out of state. To that end, my goal will be to practice bike camping locally on the Dahon - flatter terrain is essential with limited gears - with the long-term goal of a multiday excursion later in 2021, heading to the Atlantic Coast. Is it possible to carry enough gear on a folder without affecting steering, etc. or should I forego the camping and/or cooking part? Either way, local experience is key before setting out on longer adventures.

I have reservations with, well, reservations! Understandably, there's pent up demand with increased pressure on campgrounds, motels, etc. all of which makes me unwilling to commit to travel plans months in advance of when Amtrak is supposed to resume service in our region. I'm worried that travel anxiety will nix my out of state quest in favor of in-state adventures. Even local parks are seeing spots fill up months in advance. 2021 travel is complicated! I may reserve a few days at a NY campground, in hopes the other plans will follow, and if that doesn't work out then hopefully I'll be able to cancel reservations.

I'm starting to access camping equipment, rack setups - something that was the furthest from my mind a year ago - so perhaps all is not lost.

Baby steps, 2021. Baby steps...

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Are Practical Bicycles on the Rise?

2020, with all it's failings, has at least jumpstarted a cycling revolution! Inventory for almost every bike has sold out, or is non-existent. Bicycle companies are taking pre-orders (think Velo Orange, Rivendell, and quite possibly your local bike shop). Every business associated with cycling, from bike parts, to clothing, to cycling accessories, (like Po Campo and Terry Bicycles) has seen a phenomenal uptick in sales. Not to mention, e-bike riders that had been growing exponentially pre-pandemic. Just try and get a reasonable priced e-bike today! Folks are flocking to two-wheels.

Where are all the new riders coming from? Just take a look at your local rail trails. A three-fold increase in use! Enough to make most regular riders uncomfortable in unvaccinated heavy breathing crowds. It's obvious that cycling is a wonderful family activity. And at least one family member needs a new bike or service on existing bicycle. I also think more people are commuting, or if not, are squeezing in a fitness ride post home office hours (like myself).

Speaking from experience, pre-pandemic regular riders are also responsible for rising bicycle sales. I bought a mountain bike to get away from crowds, while my husband also purchased his own, in his case, to do future extended backcountry touring. I think many folks are treating themselves to new bicycles, because it's instant gratification, they make us happy at a time when travel is non-existent or unsafe. What better time - if you can get one - to add that unique plus one bike to your collection?

As the title of this blog post suggests, it appears practical bicycles are selling fast. Are there more people riding to the office? I'm not sure, considering how many people currently work from home. I wonder if people are buying what they can get their hands on. Does that explain why folding bikes have become extremely popular? Or are city dwellers escaping city crowds, heading to parks on a practical bicycle that's easily stored in limited spaces? At any rate, I'm fascinated with Dahon's limited stock and their new pandemic-inspired venture, the HIT, a low cost bicycle to meet the rising demand. The Marin Larkspur is also intriguing, and what explains the instant (15 minutes) near sell-out of pre-orders for a more expensive option, Rivendell's Platypus? And that's only the frame...

What has been your experience? Did you buy a new/used bike in the past year?

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The Great 2021 Terry Clothing Experiment!

a pile of Terry Bicycle cothing
What's a girl to do with all these choices?

For a long while I've preferred multifunctional garments over bicycle-specific clothing. But that wasn't always the case. I've tried to like padded shorts, however I wilt in heat and humidity, therefore wearing the least amount of clothing possible has been my preferred choice. I've had saddle discomfort for years, but I didn't know what to do about, short of taking periodic breaks from riding, and trying various saddles. 

I eventually settled on thin t-shirts, rayon button-down tops, or Hawaiian shirts - loose garments that allowed airflow, were quick drying, and virtually odorless when worn multiple times. For bottoms, I preferred stretchy cotton, yoga-style shorts. When the bottoms became threadbare and not easily replaced, I added cute Terry skirts for better coverage. It was a wonderful solution, whether shopping or riding to work - a presentable option for strolling inside until changing into business casual attire.

Enter the pandemic, and unemployment. 

I eventually found a new opportunity - of all places - at Terry Bicycles! Georgena Terry sold the saddle and clothing business 10+ years ago. Since then the office/warehouse has been in Burlington, Vermont. In a home office for the time being, I'm having fun trying various padded shorts, knickers, skorts, and breathable synthetic tops on evening rides. It's equally a personal experiment and professionally the best way to understand products. I suspect that riding in chamois-lined shorts during the summer heat will be the ultimate test. Couple that will testing saddles and I just may be the best dressed commuter rider out there!

I don't know where this journey will take me - I'm a creative soul - but I'm willing to go along for a short ride. 

In the meantime, let's all get on our bikes. :)

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Simplifying, Eliminating Negativity, and Riding the Dahon

Lately, the Dahon Boardwalk has become my main ride as we're experiencing more spring-like weather. The small-wheeled wonder is just plain easy to ride, easy to maintain, and perfect for 90% of the flattish miles I'm currently riding after work and on weekends. Until I commute daily to the office and back, requiring more luggage capacity, I'm thankful every day that I bought this spritely folder.

I'm so happy that March has brought the sun! It may be chilly - except for the current 60s F stretch - but the blessed sunshine and geese honking overhead are signs of Spring. With a newly built home, we're starting fresh with landscaping. But for the first spring in a long time I don't feel tied to the land. A few bulbs will emerge, that I put in the ground last year. That's enough for now. I may plant a small rhododendron - I love rhoddies - but I feel liberated from trying to maintain a weed-free garden plot.

A year into the pandemic has taught me what's important. 

  • Family is number one. And..there's nothing like difficulties to illuminate siblings who are willing to help and those who run the other way.
  • Lean on friends for support. Social distancing means we can't hug, but the main thread of friendship carries on. 
  • Being outside, every day, is necessary for mental and physical health. 
  • This is the time to purge negativity: delete blog links, news items, eradicate books, and other sources that are not positive influences in my life. I keep up with daily headlines, but that's about all I can endure. 
  • I cannot be the person who saves the world, so-to-speak. I lack boundless energy like some friends/acquaintances. My mental health rests on helping my family and close friends, interspersed with restful, quiet moments, and of course, a bike ride to clear the mind.
  • Regular yoga sessions have helped improve my physical presence. There's no stopping me now!

Compared with how I felt last April, it has taken quite a while to live day to day long-term, being a traveler at heart, but somehow over the course of a year I have arrived in a contented state of mind - some of that has to do with finding employment in the bicycle industry (more on that to come!). Pre-pandemic, I had equated stagnation with non-learning. If I wasn't planning a yearly vacation, or two - I wasn't visiting new places, experiencing different cultures, trails, etc. - I felt like I wasn't growing as a person. I miss traveling, for sure, but it's not integral to my happiness. I can evolve in other ways. like pouring my energy into creative pursuits, whether that's designing a deck, constructing bike bags, sewing mittens, etc. I recently had someone build a shoe bench, that I stained, and I'm currently in the process of creating a top cushion. 

Thrown into upheaval against our will and not by choice, certainly had it's drawbacks, of course. But progress can also be defined by finding the root of happiness. And, even though there is hope on the horizon, I'm refraining from planning a 2021 vacation.

What's one thing that you've learned over the past year?