Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Rewind

2016 was a spectacular year of many firsts. From a record number of bike overnights to a new bicycle purchase to B&B touring in Canada, it gives me great pleasure, emotionally and physically, to expand and explore this bike universe, one singular moment at a time.

At 54 years old, let it be said that my thoughts on cycling and motivation are still evolving, and have been affected by recent changes: the rise of winter commuters, broad acceptance of cargo bikes, fat bike craze, improved infrastructure, inexpensive and better light systems, and increasing number of local social events. And, of course, there is the impact of the Internet, not only for the spread of information but also for purchasing, which - for better or worse for LBS - opens up a world of choices and options to accessorize, maintain, and/or buy a bicycle. So, with that said, here's my recap of 2016.

In January and February I surprised myself by periodically commuting during an unusually mild and snow-free winter. I also repaired much loved panniers and re-used bicycle tubes for an interesting do-it-yourself project plus continued my annual ode to bike bloggers, now in it's 4th edition.

During March and April I completed the Errandonnee, started experimenting with my first, nicer poncho in place of typical rain gear, and got caught in an April snow shower. I also bought my first non-tour type pannier, which has fulfilled my needs, though I had to repair the bag later in the year. I completed my first intentional spin during my lunch hour.

In May, after much research, I ordered a Rivendell Clementine, my first new bike in thirty years. I am still getting to know this bicycle so expect to hear more in the coming year.

Adele and I started our September trip with a great cup of coffee.
In June I began the first of a series of four (one for each summer month, a record for me) bike overnight/adventures, two of which included staying in B&Bs (thanks Adele, for another first!): 4-days in Canada, 3-ferry tour,  Grand Isle State Park, and Salaberry de Valleyfield with Adele.

Are you getting sick of me saying "first"? 

View from Day Mountain with The Cranberry Isles in the distance, Acadia National Park.
In July we explored more of Acadia National Park's carriage roads plus two trails in Portland, Maine. We spent more time as a family at our camp, which allowed me the wonderful opportunity to experience what I consider as the ultimate bike commute.

Clementine and Boda Boda.
In August, at about the same time as my Clementine arrived and I installed fenders and a rack, I had an opportunity to try my very first cargo bike and couldn't help comparing the two.  As both bicycles used platform pedals, in September I removed toe clips on my commuter bike and have been happy ever since. Also of note, our youngest son, who gained confidence after taking a bike mechanics class, began fashioning an old mountain bike into a single speed. It's nice to see one of our children taking to cycling and exploration.

Coffeeneuring #7, Battery Park.
The autumn months were a whirlwind of Coffeeneuring adventures, experimenting with a lightweight folding chair, Girls Ride Out fun rides, exploring the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail with my husband, attending fat bike demo day, and, to come full circle, transitioning back to riding in colder weather. And somehow, I managed to surpass the 3,000 mile mark for the year.

Having a year of firsts has broadened my bike horizons. I now own two different helmets (another first), one with less ventilation for the colder time of year. I learned that someday, I would like to have a cargo bike to share with our family, and that winter commuting is only a process, and not a weird transport option. Though 2016 is nearly behind me, the year's events felt like the beginning of something very exciting, an awakening of sorts, and so I look forward to the events that unfold in the new year.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Winter Solstice Bike Ride

The weather cooperated to attend my first Winter Solstice Bike Ride. Ideal conditions: mid-30sF, dry roads, and a windless evening drew a record 30 like-minded riders who came with bikes decorated like holiday trees.

With a stellar forecast, I still wasn't sure I'd make it because of an incident that had occurred earlier in the day. I arrived at my workplace bike rack in the morning and heard something metallic hit the ground. Fortunately, it was only my kickstand, which had fallen apart, with bolts, springs, and the kickstand arm itself, scattered beneath my bicycle. I laughed at the shear weirdness of the unlikely event, then collected the parts in a bag. (I'll deal with that minor issue on the holiday weekend).

We met on Church Street, a beautifully decorated and lighted outdoor pedestrian shopping district. There was much conversation, bike and light comparisons, and introductions. I was happy to find familiar faces, plus some Girls Ride Out buddies my own age.

My bike is just behind the bike trailer, leaning against a wall, now lack a functioning kickstand!
Thankfully, I wore my trusty down jacket, but I was still chilled when we eventually rolled out. However, we immediately chugged up a long steep hill that warmed my core and continued for many miles, swinging around downtown, looping south end neighborhoods, then returning to the head of Church Street for silly circuits around a huge holiday tree.

Photo credit: Mark Bowman

Interesting rope lights adorned bikes.

We ended the evening at a brewery for more conversation then I pumped up the hill back home. What a fun group of bikers and a great reason to get together, light up the night, and welcome the return of lengthening daylight.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

3F and Preferring to Be in Control

Loving the cold, crisp bike rides home on peaceful lanes.

I ride for transportation only, in the winter. Unlike last year's distinct lack of snowfall where it was easy to dip my toes into winter biking and avoid slippery surfaces, this December feels more like a normal Vermont winter with regular snow fall and so far, 4-6" of accumulation. If I'm to bike at all, I pay careful attention to the forecast, in-house weather station, and as last confirmation - peeks outside our window - before I decide whether to ride, drive the car, or take a bus 5 miles to my workplace. I can think of 3 times this month when my pannier was packed and just before I headed out the door a squall deposited enough snow to cover the ground.

I love the snow. I love to cross-country ski, which I've been able to do once already this season. But I also love to ride, and after having a taste of winter riding last year, I want to commute more when dry pathways prevail. The alternative is walking 30 minutes to catch a bus that takes another 20-25 minutes to drop me near my office. Driving our one available car takes 20-25 minutes, but I must share the vehicle with my husband (plus I feel guilty for using our vehicle when he is a regular bus rider). Riding my bike takes 25-30 minutes, plus I allow an extra 5-10 minutes to negotiate any dangerous areas.

I thought I would embrace bus travel. After all, part of working closer to home meant I could leave the car behind and take alternative transportation. But, after several bus trips and driving as many days this month, I've come to realize how much I dislike both modes of transportation for the busy region I navigate, especially the journey home which necessitates enduring stop and go traffic for a mile without an easy way to avoid the messy corridor. In my previous job, without a bus route, the decision was made for me, I had to drive during the darker months from November to March on rural roads, whether I liked it or not.

Now, with transportation choices (and I'm happy to finally have them!) I'd still rather ride my bike because I am in control: I'm free to ride on quiet residential streets, little used paths, through city parks and in open fields - away from noisy automobiles. And, I love riding in the dark with snow as my guide, edging the paved trail. I do have to be careful though and make responsible, safe transportation choices because I have a tendency to avoid car and bus travel even when it may be too slippery to safely ride a bike.

So, as we slide by the winter solstice and days become longer, and my personal bike barometer (temperatures 0F and above, 90% dry paths) allows me to bike commute, you can bet I'll be outside bedecked in balaclava and down parka, expanding my winter horizons.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Animated Bicycle

We have a son that is enamored with technology. From drones, to programming robots, to creating websites, to animation, he is all over this stuff like a duck takes to water. I will miss him (and his free tech advice/help) when he heads off to college. In his spare time last summer, he put together this animated bicycle for me.

And I'd be remiss if I also didn't share his amazing autumn foliage video, again. If you need a mood lifter, especially during these colorless winter days, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Tipping the 3,000 Mile Mark and a Self-Healing Bicycle

My new helmet provides the only color in an otherwise black wardrobe.
I need to start wearing my reflective vest!
Deep into October at the point when I'm giddy with Vermont's foliage extravaganza, I tally my riding miles, just to get a hint of where I might end up for the year. To my surprise, 3,000 miles was easily attainable, and so, without fanfare, I rode home in the 25F dark last night, knowing I surpassed a special goal.

The mile marker, in and of itself, is not something I specifically strive for each year. After falling short for several years, I'd come to terms with my personal riding goals, preferring instead to set other forms of motivation: accomplishing more bike overnights, riding all of Burlington's city streets, and lately, pushing myself to ride more in the winter. As I grow older I am learning to expand my cycling horizons, which don't necessarily align with conventional wisdom. I realize I am anything but conventional these days, which suits me just fine!

The miles are a bonus. How I accomplished 3,000 miles still blows my mind because I didn't feel like I was riding more than usual. I believe it was a culmination of a mild winter, commuting as many days as possible, completing a record four bike overnights (of which two were multiple days adventures), test riding a cargo bike, coffeeneuring stints, and generally, riding. It's the riding and not the distance that puts a huge smile on my face.

Boots are necessary once the temperatures dip into the 20sF.
My Ross Mt. Saint Helens continues to be my primary bicycle. A sturdy, dependable friend that I keep fixing because I know it won't let me down. I continually search for a replacement in a larger frame size, but that's just an exercise on the rare chance I'll stumble onto the 1988 Peugeot models: St. Laurant ExpressU.S Express,  or Montreal Express, the only year, apparently that Peugeot sold an equivalent mountain bike in my preferred 21" size. Until then I will upgrade my trusty Ross.

Cosmetically, the Ross has seen better days, but that's why it's also the perfect experimental winter commuter. It's also the perfect year-round commuter. As such, the bicycle gets lots of maintenance. A new chain every year. Periodic wipe downs. New tires when needed. Local shop service for repairs beyond my ability. I baby this bike because, for obvious reasons, I need to keep it going.

However, an odd squeaky noise has been driving me bananas for nearly two years. It's been difficult to diagnose. The sound would come and go, in every gear, each chain ring, whether I stopped pedaling, stood in the saddle, etc., sporadically, nothing I could easily pinpoint. For a while I thought the noise stemmed from the plastic pie plate, seat post, or the older wheels. I couldn't even determine whether it was front or rear noise and would never exhibit itself once I put the bike in the stand. Talk about frustrating! During that time period the crank, seat, chain, and pedals were replaced in the course of regular maintenance, but the noise continued. But this past October, thankfully, the noise simply disappeared. Just like that. Now how can that be, I wondered. But by then I'd given up trying to find a solution; the noise never got worse and if and when the bike failed, well then I could tend to the problem. Now I don't have to!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Fat Biking Beneath Fat Flakes at Catamount

What could be better than Global Fat Bike Day Demos? At nearby Catamount Outdoor Center. Compliments of our local bike shops and hosted by Fellowship of the Wheel. I can't begin to name the two bike models that I test rode. Or cared that I got momentarily lost, pedaling in circles.

Fat snowflakes fell in a hemlock forest. On me. Coating packed leaf trails. Pure outdoor wonder, weaving, bliss.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Winter Riding is Here

"Bridges freeze before roads," something that becomes very evident once we experience the season's first snowfall. The pathway was snow free except for the two bridges on my commuting route.

Like signs of autumn commuting there comes a time when, unmistakably, winter commuting requires a different mindset. Now that snow has fallen and the thermometer hovers around 30F, it is not easy to get out the door, on time, and properly clothed. The transition, however, is only another hurdle, one that I will adjust to, with a few changes.

Consult the weather station
What are the daily highs and lows? Is it too slippery to safely ride or do I need to change my mode of transport?

Thicker tights are mandatory
I was using double layers, but once I mentioned that I wanted  my own pair of Performance's Triflex Tights for Christmas my husband gave me his. After borrowing his pair last winter, I swear by the warmth, windproof capabilities, and freedom of movement, especially in the knee area. Eventually, I will add another layer once the temps slip below 30F.

Headband is not quite adequate
Now where did I store my balaclava?

Add a scarf for extra neck warmth
A simple scarf bridges the transition from headband to balaclava.

I need to find alternative eye protection
My hardware store clear glasses don't fit well beneath my current helmet, especially with a helmet mounted light adding weight to the brim. I've unearthed a 25-year-old pair of amber snow goggles that I once used on Northwestern slopes that may work in colder temps.

Wearing boots is just around the corner
I'm glad I switched to platform pedals that will accommodate any type of footwear.

Allow extra time to navigate dicey paths and roadways
An obvious consideration, yet I often cut my commute times too close for comfort.
Windproof mittens are my go-to hand wear
I seldom use gloves any more. If it's below 40F, mittens are required. 

A down coat will keep me toasty
I haven't resorted to my down jacket quite yet, but I know it's available for instant warmth - the best kind of winter riding insurance.

A change of helmet?
For the first time ever, I've contemplated the switch to owning two helmets, one with less ventilation to keep my head warmer in colder temps. Helmets are discounted in late fall, easy justification to buy two helmets to replace my current, aging leopard print-covered Bell helmet. So I went for it. I now own two different Giro commuter helmets - both styles I had admired for nearly a year.

After managing to commute through much of last winter, I have the confidence, experience, and desire to continue riding on days when it's cold and trails are snow and ice free. I know my limits, but I long for those dry path days and crisp, cold and quiet night rides home that provide me with a sense of peace.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Lamoille Valley Rail Trail - Cambridge to Morrisville

Official Cambridge starting point on the LVRT.
Over two afternoons, a couple weekends apart, my husband and I completed a 17 mile section of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT). This trail, when completed, will stretch 90+ miles across Vermont and link many small communities.

We had to check out the nearby covered bridge!
A couple miles east of where we parked our vehicle is the official Cambridge Jct., now a wonderfully designed parking area with maps, bathrooms, a caboose style covered picnic area, and a kid-friendly train that houses a slide, sand box, tunnels, and a place to pull the rope to ring the bell.

Step inside the caboose and choose a picnic table!

What a brilliant user friendly train! I had to ring the bell. The smooth gravel trail runs beside the train.

There was still a bit of autumn color as we made our way toward Johnson, turnaround point on the first day's ride.

Unlike the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail that frequently crosses a highway, The LVRT is more rural, passing farms, beside a lumber mill, over small bridges, across fields, over quiet dirt roads, through woods - distinctly altogether a different feel as the trail follows the Lamoille River. I can imagine riding during peak foliage, in the hot summer, taking breaks to cool off in the easily accessed river, or using the trail for a bike overnight.

The brewery provides bike racks or you can store your bike beside the outdoor beer garden in the warmer months..
On our second outing we stumbled across the trail side Lost Nation Brewery and split a pint, just because we could! The brewery, which also serves food, could easily be a destination in itself for a well deserved break before heading back to Cambridge.

An interesting slop roofed bridge.
Each community has a similar depot, bike racks, and map, unifying the trail and lending a unique flavor. I can't wait to ride the Danville to St. Johnsbury segment, which I imagine is just as nice.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

2016 Coffeeneuring Map

Using Google Maps and Paint, I easily labeled coffeeneuring stops.

For an interesting exercise I labeled my 2016 coffeeneuring stops. I live near the blue dot so all Champlain View, Coffee Shop Without Walls trips were started from home with the distance between #2 and #5 approximately 10 miles. I mixed up the miles traveled with loop trips or out and back excursions, plus I included company on 3 adventures.

The Run Down - Links to blog posts and documentation

#1 Leddy Park
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

#2 Bayside Park
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

#3 Second Overlook Beach
The Place: Second Overlook Public Beach
Date: Saturday, October 22.
Drink: Celestial Seasoning's Wild Berry Zinger Tea 
Observation, Bike Friendliness: Plenty of places to lock a bike to the railing. Coffee Shop Without Walls outings are better with a partner. This is the only beach that is sheltered from both north and south winds.
Total Miles: 14

#4 Starr Farm Beach
The Place: Starr Farm Beach
Date: Sunday, October 30
Drink: Yorkshire Gold English Breakfast Tea 
Observation, Bike Friendliness: This is a private beach community where my husband's family owns a camp, so we had free reign to pick the best beach spot. I need to wear warmer clothing the next time I venture out. 
Total Miles: 14

#5 Rail Yard Park
The Place: Rail Yard Park
Date: Saturday, November 5
Drink: Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice Tea 
Observation, Bike Friendliness: The waterfront trail passes by this tiny, but well situated peninsular park.
Total Miles: 5

#6 Bank Near the Fishing Pier
The Place: Near the Fishing Pier
Date: Saturday, November 12
Drink: Vermont Coffee Company, Dark Roast 
Observation, Bike Friendliness: There is a bike rack, should anyone require it to use the fishing pier. I love this relatively secluded spot behind the water department building.
Total Miles: 17

#7 Battery Park
The Place: Battery Park
Date: Saturday, November 19
Drink: Vermont Coffee Company, Dark Roast 
Observation, Bike Friendliness: Family friendly park. A sweeping view of waterfront where American troops once defended attack by British during War of 1812.
Total Miles: 4

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Coffeeneuring 2016 - Seventh Cup at Battery Park

The stars aligned for the last two Coffee Shop Without Walls adventures! So much for failing and spilling milk - now a minor hiccup on my coffeeneuring 2016 experience - because I've more than made up for my carelessness. I've learned to store milk in a mason jar, pack the stove in a baggy, put matches and a lighter in separate containers - in short - relearn my kitchen camping skills.

With temperatures climbing into the 60's on Saturday and plummeting to the 30s on Sunday, I planned ahead to take advantage of a spectacular morning at nearby Battery Park, a wonderful spot overlooking the Burlington harbor. Like the exquisite Ethan Allen Tower coffeeneuring experience with my husband in 2015, its nice to remind myself that not all Lake Champlain vistas have to be located on the beach.

There were lots of people strolling, relaxing on benches, likewise enjoying what could be our last warm fall day.

A flock of geese flew overhead, my stove provided hot water in record time, and I unzipped my jacket - all indications of a spectacular morning. I became fascinated with the large tree in the foreground, admiring its toothy trunk.

And so, my coffeeneuring challenge is complete. Along the way I've learned that I do not need the complications of including my camping chair, I may need to replace my stove, and I have a long list of additional lakeside brew up spots - enough to finish out a third year without repeating a venue.

Long Live Coffeeneuring!

The Place: Battery Park
Date: Saturday, November 19
Drink: Vermont Coffee Company, Dark Roast 
Observation, Bike Friendliness: Family friendly park. A sweeping view of waterfront where American troops once defended attack by British during War of 1812.
Total Miles: 4

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sometimes You Gotta Take the Closed Bike Path

Sometimes You need to explore what's on the other husband leads the way.
With an integral section of our waterfront path closed since mid-September - and the detour involved: a grunting ascent up the steepest street in the city, along a busy corridor, then braking descent back to the path through a public campground - the arduous detour has grown old. By mid-November it's no wonder that commuters and runners are circumventing the fencing, taking their chances with encountering workers and construction vehicles to save time and effort.

For a while I went through this routine twice a day when I was living at our family's camp in northern Burlington. However, once I moved home I tended to bypass the closed section, entering the waterfront path on either end and avoided the detour altogether. But on a coffeeneuring run with my husband we returned, heading south and stopped at the fenced perimeter and looked longingly at the newly paved path. We contemplated getting around the fence because I'd been watching groups of runners easily scooting around and barely breaking stride. Before I knew it my husband had pushed his bike through the woods, said it was pretty easy, so I followed, my pots and stove clattering in the basket on my rear rack.

And what a smooth ride, indeed! After a quarter mile the pavement gave way to packed gravel with a new cement sidewalk spur leading to Texaco Beach.

There has been much earth work: shoring up an eroding bank, toxic soil removed or covered over because this section of the waterfront used to be an oil port, relocating path close to the lake, plus many new trees planted. There will be pause places with information signage and exercise equipment. In short, it will be an amazing improvement, but a long time coming!

It is difficult to be patient when construction seems to take forever, all this on the heels of last year's 2-3 month closure in a similar location, with the very same awful detour! But wait, we will, because , there isn't another choice...except for the times when we can't stand it, to take a peak at the progress.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Repairing the Blackburn Central Shopper's Pannier

Adding an extra strap saves the day.
After using Blackburn's Central Shopper's Pannier almost daily for six months, the latch hooks that secure the bag to the rack broke - both failing within the same week. Some folks might rant to Blackburn: others might just throw the bag away and call it quits, never to purchase anything by the company, ever again. I love to fix things, if only to extend their life, and if it involves sewing, well it's worth it to try fixing the item rather than sending it back.

The left hook shows the broken latch whereas the right hook still has the secure latch.
A couple days later this one also came apart.
The hooks are still usable, but now without the extra security measure, the slightest jostling could dislodge the pannier off the rack.

Another view. I added plenty of strap length for when I use the extension sleeve so I can cinch a large volume to rack. Ideally, I would've preferred to pull and tighten the strap so it dangles the opposite direction, away from the wheel, but when unbuckled, the long strap tucks into the same pocket as the hooks, hidden by the zippered panel.
  Refer to previous  blog post. 
For sometime I've been wondering how to fasten the top opening plus hold the bag closer to the rack to prevent sway - indeed, when I first started using the pannier (reviewed here) it was the one feature I wished the bag came equipped with. If I add more volume I cinch the drawstring extension sleeve, but because of the bag's slightly wedged shape (wider at the top) it would come in handy to have extra protection holding items closer to the frame.

Once the hooks broke it was imperative to quickly come up with an idea to secure the pannier to rack. My solution was simple. I used a Fastex-type clasp and black strap, which when looped around the rack close to the hooks, secured the pannier and when pulled tight, the strap closed the bag opening. This simple idea also keeps the shoulder strap from slipping or coming unlatched altogether and dangling near the wheel. I love that the added buckle and black material looks like it was originally part of the design (Backburn, are you reading this?).

I'm pleased I figured out how to save this otherwise wonderful bag. I'll cross my fingers that the remaining hooks stay intact or I'll be undertaking a more difficult solution and potential repair. I really love the bag's quality material and features.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Coffeeneuring 2016 - Sixth Cup on the Bank Near the Fishing Pier

A day like November 12 was the quintessential Coffee Shop Without Walls experience. I didn't intend to do my brew up on Saturday - Sunday was forecasted to be 10F warmer, near 50F -  but by the time I'd raked and bagged leaves and the morning remained windless with brilliant sunshine, I couldn't resist the opportunity for the perfect opportunity on the waterfront.

The fishing pier is located just beyond the metal wall, and is lit up at night. The pier deserves another visit, perhaps next year with a hot drink in a thermos so I can walk around and enjoy a different experience.
I set up on the bank near the fishing pier - the very place where we watch July 4th fireworks - so the location is familiar. I considered brewing up on the end of the pier, except the railings would obstruct my view unless I leaned over the rail - definitely not conducive for lounging in my chair! This time I rode Miss Clementine. I itched to take her out for a longer spin afterward.

It was nearly noon, but I still favored coffee over tea so I brewed using my usual method: a nylon filter propped up with stick.

Ah, a mug of coffee with my husband's homemade fresh roll. Gotta love it! I could sit like this for an hour, watching the lake. With intense sunshine, it was hard to imagine it was only 40F.

I am trying a new seat on Clementine.
I spent a while in my chair, but eventually I wanted to take advantage of the fine weather. So off I went, rolling beneath the last autumn foliage, delightfully cruising for several miles before looping back towards home. 

The Place: Near the Fishing Pier
Date: Saturday, November 12
Drink: Vermont Coffee Company, Dark Roast 
Observation, Bike Friendliness: There is a bike rack, should anyone require it to use the fishing pier. I love this relatively secluded spot behind the water department building.
Total Miles: 17

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Girls Ride Out, November 2016

Ride name change to Burlington Bike Babes, but I can't get into the new name - sounds like a motorcycle gang!
Girls Ride Out in November consisted of a smaller but cozy crowd. Not every woman can tolerate mid 40sF temperatures plus have lights and be comfortable riding around the city in darkness.

We start at Old Spokes Home as usual, meeting indoors, and holding drawings for several sets of lights, provided by Local Motion. I was tickled to have won a pair, which now graces my helmet, much brighter replacements than a flashlight and cracked red flasher. Add to that a handle bar light and seat post blinky, and I might be the brightest cyclist in Burlington!

Hannah (on the left) is a Girls Ride Out regular but Lauren is a newcomer. I was surprised that there were a few initiates - it can't be easy to start this time of year - but perhaps these ladies regularly commute but for whatever reason could finally attend the November event.

Hard not to notice the political statement!
I love that purses and sling bags are pretty normal attire. We women carry our stuff in so many cool ways.

One hardy lady has bare legs.

We end at Zero Gravity, enjoying our free drink (thanks Christine for making that happen). Our group splits into 2 booths. A couple of us order hot dogs - they make mean Coney Island Dogs, smothered in meat sauce, onions, and mustard.

It was wonderful to find that Zero Gravity has expanded their indoor seating. I much prefer the outside terrace where it was much easier to mingle, but of course, that won't happen until spring.

By the time I left there was a discussion about trying to set up a December event. It seems there are some who don't want to give up even if it gets cold. I wouldn't be opposed, especially if roads are dry and - as I pointed out - riding in December would encourage more winter riders. We'll see.