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?

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Bike Blog Love - 9th Edition and Various Thoughts about Blogs

bike blog love and thoughts
Exploring and thinking miles, 2020-21.

I have cycling friends all over the world! How cool is that?

Reading blogs during the pandemic has become especially meaningful to me, a connection with like-minded souls who are out exploring, clearing confused minds in a what-comes-next world. I have not taken this community lightly. I've appreciated everyone's thoughts about coping during the pandemic, because, surely, it has helped not only me but others across the Internet.

Waning Interest in blogs

It's not surprising the lack of interest in writing blogs, and thus, by extension, readership has fallen. Instant gratification and connection can come from abbreviated social media sources that certainly satisfies instant connection. Who knows what the longevity of the blog format will be? In a nutshell, I think of bloggers as writers, folks with a passion who enjoy the process of explanation and sharing. It's nearly impossible to do that on Instagram, though some have tried. Whatever the long-term outcome of the blogging format, we will adapt, as 2020 has proven in other aspects of our lives.

Getting back to title of this blog. At the end of this post you'll find the 9th and probably final blog suggestions (for obvious reasons) if you prefer to skip ahead.

But first, I have to ask:

For what reasons are you drawn to particular blogs?

I have been a regular reader of some blogs (the ones that survived anyway). There are key ingredients that make me a regular follower.

  • Sticking with blog title or theme - If I'm following a bicycle blog, I want to hear about bikes or bike-related content. Occasional diversions accepted!
  • Glimpse into personal life for context - Brief references to personal circumstances makes for better reader understanding. Personal histories, work life, family, climate, etc. affect how we see the world. 
  • Writing style - Well thought out content goes a long ways. I like to see at least one photo to anchor each blog post. I can think of only one blog over the past ten years that didn't need photos - exceptional writing painted wonderful pictures!
  • Regular posting - Regular blog posts are relative. Once a month, twice a month, once every six months. There are prolific writers too! I shy away from reading daily posts (I check in once a week), but that doesn't mean they're not worth my interest. It's your blog and you do what makes you happy! 
  • Natural curiosity about things - I enjoy blogs where people challenge themselves, show passion, are true to themselves, admit failure, always learning and striving, ultimately growing as a human.

Without further ado, here are a few blogs that have appealed to me:

It's ALL An Adventure

A long haul driver who spends overnights on the road, the author recounts his layover excursions in new places. He is an adventurer, sometimes squeezing in long mileage starting from his home to visit family. 

Out and About on the Bicycles!

A retired couple living in Colorado Springs enjoys daily outings on the region's bike trails. They have owned various styles of bikes over the years and are currently contemplating yet another switch.

DFW POINT-TO-POINT

Splitting time between Texas and Washington State, the author espouses on anything from bike infrastructure etiquette to recent interesting stats on disappearing blog interest.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Riding through a Gauntlet of Emotions

Doing the best that I can do right now.


Leaving from my home office after a less than stimulating work day, it was imperative to get outside, (now a strange form of exercise when I used to bike commute). Indeed, 5 pm never rolls around fast enough for me. I alternate evening walks with my husband with solo bike rides on the Burlington Greenway, listening to soothing sounds of waves or relishing the quiet stillness, encountering only a few walkers. This is usually the me time that I crave.

But after wonderful cross-country ski snow, a warming trend has softened compacted firm snow on our trails to slippery mush. I came to grips with this reality this evening, fleeing local water-filled, icy trenches for roadways with cars, (so noisy!), studded tires rattling on asphalt, wondering if it was worth pedaling at all. I passed a beautiful odor-free dead skunk, weaved around puddles, feeling that I was unprepared and emotionally caught off guard after navigating frozen snow-filled paths with confidence for 3 months. Then a car sprayed me as I pedaled through a neighborhood - nobody's fault, I realize - but nonetheless it seemed like the nail in the coffin. What the heck was I doing out here on roads?

Shortly afterwards, I headed to the waterfront path, determined to take my chances heading home on a car free route. It was quite slushy and slippery at times. I had to concentrate to maintain forward momentum and keep the front wheel straight, and even so there were periods when I had to put my foot down, walk a bit, before setting off again. It was then that I realized all the balance skills I acquired from riding on packed snow came into play, lending confidence. Without pedestrians to dodge, I challenged myself to keep at it for as long as possible. There were also stretches of bare pavement - more than I had anticipated - that gave a welcome reprieve from intense bike handling.

As I crested the bridge over the Winooski River, I felt euphoric - this bridge always has that effect on me - because it's the homestretch, because it feels like I'm flying in the darkness. I could walk home from there if needed. As I navigated the last half mile home, I thought about how this particular ride, through a gauntlet of emotions (better word than "gamut" don't you think?), seemed an apt metaphor for 2020 and now 2021. We're all dealing with change, highs and lows, but we keep moving forward, as best we can.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

In Love with the Bern Muse Winter Helmet

Bern Muse helmet in action.

As previously mentioned, my goal was to ride throughout the 2020-21 winter. Along with getting the right footwear and longer length windproof jacket, I found a comfortable insulated helmet: the Bern Muse. 

I tried on numerous brands of ski helmets at our local Sierra Trading Post - to keep the cost down, especially if I was adding a third helmet to my collection! I immediately fell in love with a purple colored Scott brand, but the padding was too thick, which pinched my head. The Bern Muse is geared towards burly helmet protection with a lightweight liner, in the classic visor style - indeed the overall helmet weight was half of the heavier padded options, which I knew would translate to less neck strain on longer rides. Definitely a better trade off - getting the right fit was critical as I wanted the helmet to be part of my routine winter setup.

The color scheme is not my favorite (only choice in my size), but the removeable liner and full coverage ear flaps won me over.

The back of the helmet has a clasp for goggles.

Since November, I've tried various weight balaclavas, neck warmers, and beanies underneath so I'm not overheating on rides. I've settled on a lightweight balaclava or thin wool beanie plus a thin neck warmer  to use as a makeshift mask when passing other riders. Goggles have helped during snow blinding conditions for depth perception or to keep my face warm, but generally I have a love/hate relationship with goggles in conjunction with mouth/nose coverage - feeling like I can't breathe in addition to partially fogged goggles. 

The Bern helmet completes my necessary winter riding trifecta: adequately covered head, hands, and feet - items that should serve me well for years to come.