Thursday, October 20, 2016

Platform Pedals - A Cure for Knee Pain?

In August I transitioned from toe clips to a platform pedal on my Ross commuter bicycle. I didn't make this change out of necessity - I was looking for easier footing to accommodate flip flops, sneakers, or monstrous winter boots. After the switch, my nagging knee pain lessened, considerably, a benefit I did not expect. And while I generally spin at high cadence - that simple remedy learned from past long-distance tours - the new pedals have made a noticeable difference. My foot naturally falls more forward on the platform pedals, approximately 1-2" than previously wedged into toe clips. I've been wondering if my body wanted to stretch and lengthen to account for a too small bike frame, in addition to the adjustments I've made - namely a longer seat post and slightly upright bars. Whatever the reason, platform pedals are here to stay!

Has anyone had a similar experience?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Coffeeneuring 2016 - Second Cup at Bayside Park

I love coffeeneuring with my spouse. It's like a bike date and a picnic all rolled into one awesome outdoor adventure. And a bonus: I have a willing person who can take a snapshot of me relaxing in my camping chair - a self-imposed chore that's proving difficult with self-timing cameras limited to 10 seconds. (If anyone has photography tips, please reply in the comments. Otherwise, it's a good thing my readers can't see me perform this comical maneuver!)

My husband and I shared a bagel and watched s few sailboats zip across the bay. With an unusually hot summer and lack of rain, we'd heard that some sailboats are stuck in the sand, which would explain why, in mid-October, so many boats remain in the water.

I set up the stove behind a public building to heat tea water. What's up with all these windy coffeeneuring days?
I've been riding Miss Clementine lately for joy rides and for coffeeneuring - outings where I can keep my eye on her. We are getting to know each other.

The Place: Bayside Park
Date: Saturday, October 15.
Drink: Yorkshire Gold English Breakfast Tea 
Observation, Bike Friendliness: The beachfront park has a beautiful grassy lawn overlooking Malletts Bay. 
Total Miles: 21

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Blast of Vermont Fall Foliage

Heading towards Smugglers Notch.
It's no secret that I love Vermont in autumn. I will drive to see the changing leaves...

I will pull over to experience the ambiance: the smell, the whisper of wind moving the canopy, the vibrant explosion of colors.

Grist Mill covered bridge, Jeffersonville, VT.
I love to visit covered bridges.

Peak foliage is nearly at lake level currently, so I'm devouring my surroundings via riding my bike to work...

And plowing through crackling leaf puddles on the way home.

My son has even been getting into the act, filming Stowe's peak color over the Columbus Day weekend.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Coffeeneuring 2016 - First Cup at Leddy Park

Using my ancient Ben & Jerry's mug, easily 30 years old.
Again, I plan to complete the Coffeeneuring Challenge, using the Coffee Shop Without Walls option. Since there are numerous public spaces to brew hot beverages, all with Lake Champlain vistas, my goal is to locate 7 additional scenic spots without repeating last year's list. 

To make it easy to organize the coffee accouterments, I pack everything inside a basket in our kitchen then bungee the goodies onto my rear rack.

Commuter bike, weekdays. Coffeeneuring bike on weekends.

As I pedal on the waterfront path, I notice the fall color is just beginning.

True to form, much like last year, the wind is howling during coffeeneuring, so I bypass the beachfront view at Leddy Park and opt for a somewhat sheltered spot on the bank. I set the water to boil beside a tree and put together my new coffee companion, a Helinox Ground Chair. The chair immediately topples over!

Mr. Pondero, how do you make coffeeneuring look so calm and relaxed?
I get the water to nearly boil then pour it over a drip filter. It's a slow process and the coffee turns out luke warm - not the best tasting drink, but by then I'm chilling down and gulp the coffee. Clearly, I need to reclaim my screen filter back from my husband who's taken it to his workplace. I also attempt a couple self-timed photos and realize I either look silly sitting in this miniature chair or I need to master some photo skills. However, I enjoyed the lovely view and there's always next time to improve my coffeeneuring experience!

The Place: Leddy Park
Date: Saturday, October 8.
Drink: Vermont Coffee dark roast 
Observation, Bike Friendliness: Tourists tend not to visit Leddy Park because the beach is hidden from the bike path by an indoor ice rink. 
Total Miles: 10

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Loving the Helinox Ground Chair

The Helinox Ground Chair is easy to put together.
I've been lightening my bike camping gear, little by little, but this year I've added a 1 lb. item that I can't live without: the Helinox Ground Chair.

I was seeking a foldable, compact, lightweight chair that I could relax in at campsitea, and/or as an alternative to spending long nights in a cramped prone position inside the tent. Helinox's Chair One has garnered rave reviews. I was close to considering purchasing the Chair One when I stumbled on the Ground Chair version, a relative newcomer. While both versions are reputable, I liked the stability, lighter weight, and smaller package of the Ground Chair. Both chairs have their pros and cons. The Chair One is slightly less compact, weighs 2 oz. more and is a normal chair height, yet the separate legs may sink into the ground. The Ground Chair has a stable base, but sitting position is low and it's more difficult to get up out of the chair, a feature I can live with.

The Ground Chair is a brilliant piece of engineering. It has aluminum shock-corded poles that once unfolded, practically put themselves together. Just check that all poles are securely fastened then place the sling-style cordura and mesh panel in place. And just in case you need help, directions are conveniently printed on the backside of the fabric.

The chair dimensions are surprisingly small, but once I was seated, I felt very comfortable. I've sat in the chair at events and on one bike overnight. I hadn't intended to use the chair inside a tent, but to escape insects (and admittedly to feel less vulnerable sitting outside alone in the dark) I was, quite amazingly, able to wedge the chair inside my one person tent and read for an hour.

A compact package, about the size of a 3-season sleeping bag.

The chair is a perfect addition to my bike camping adventures and can double as coffeeneuring seating for this year's Coffeeneuring Without Walls adventures. Think about it, what could be better than sipping a cup of joe, while relaxing in comfort and staring out at beautiful Lake Champlain?