Saturday, February 16, 2019

Leopard Print Thermos Koozie - Love the Fuzz!

For ten years I've been a huge fan of leopard print fabric. I came across a large piece sewn and backed to black fleece - enough to nearly wrap into a skirt - at Goodwill. I had visions of creating an insulated, stylish winter skirt or leg warmers, but fortunately I didn't have enough material or know-how to create either, nor did I think in the long run I would necessarily use them for a long period, so I gave up on both ideas.

I've decided to use the fabric for small, more practical projects like a koozie for my Stanley thermos. As with most Stanley products, they're well made and their thermos is no exception. When used the exterior metal is very cold to the touch, even with gloves. It seemed ironic that on winter days I grasped a cold thermos to sip hot liquid!

The construction was simple. With both fabrics (leopard print is more like velour with a nap than fleece) I wrapped around the cylindrical shape with enough overlap for a strip of black Velcro, sewed the edge, then the fastener. I hand-stitched the circular bottom two pieces to keep them from shifting, then machine stitched the circle to the cylinder.

The finished koozie is snug, stylish, washable, and - most importantly - keeps my hands warm!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Frankenbike - An Antiquated or Appropriate Term?

My initial understanding of a FrankenBike: an oddly, unique bicycle. Image found on Twitter. 

The term FrankenBike has always bothered me, but as I've discovered, it's more the name itself than the actual process: as defined by the Urban Dictionary "a bike built up from various components scrounged from different sources (friends, swap meetscraigslist, etc.)."

My first impression was a bike that was instantly recognized (pictured above), unique in frame style certainly, but functional. Possibly a bike to be used at special events, for short distances.

A typical commuter Frankenbike. Photo credit: The making of a Frankenbike.

But then I started seeing various bicycles called Frankenbikes, and many styles that resembled typical  commuter bikes.

I became confused. Was a Frankenbike a broad term for any bike cobbled together from various parts?

Digging deeper, I discovered Frankenbike's origins derive from FrankenBike swap meets in Austin Texas. This is a German settled area, so thus the reference to Frankenstein (in it's logo) and my image of a miscreated or abnormal bicycle. And interestingly enough, as I understand it, only bike related parts are sold, which means the term FrankenBike has taken on a life of it's own as a loose term for actual functioning bikes created from a swap meet collection (or Craigslist, or a local used parts dealer, etc.)

Apparently the term is fairly liberal.

I wouldn't classify the good work that Beth does, rescuing frames and making serviceable bikes for new Americans, or the cool Randy creations as Frankenbikes, because in reality, I think the term has strayed from it's origins. But then again, beauty, functionality, and exacting descriptions in this day and age of  plentiful, diverse new and used components remain in the eye of the beholder. 

What I do know is I'd love to attend a FrankenBike swap meet!

What do you think about Frankenbikes? Does the terminology bother you?

Monday, February 4, 2019

Ideas for 2019 and Beyond?

Inspired by last year's New York City adventure, I had a general idea to visit family in southern Connecticut, then board a ferry with the Dahon to explore Greenport and Montauk regions on the tip of Long Island. As I age, coastal communities - and of course sandy beaches - are appealing to me.

I'm also interested in attending the Philly Bike Expo and riding Philadelphia area trails. (Thank you MG for the ideas!) It would be my first attendance at a bike-related trade show plus an inaugural visit to Philadelphia, easily reached via Amtrak. I'm hoping a son or two might enjoy a long train excursion and weekend with mom.

But then my husband suggested a European hiking adventure, the Tour de Mont Blanc, which is too good to pass up! I picture rebonding with my husband on this famed, picturesque journey, a region we passed through during our 1990s around the world trip, then revisited 5 years later for day hikes near Chamonix. Though the  100+ mile circuit would eat up my meager two weeks vacation, now that our children are self sufficient, and if the logistics work out, that's where I'm headed this summer.

The Long Island foray make take a backseat, but I'm still considering the Philly Bike Expo vacation. And if not, either outing can be revisited another time. Plus, always at the back of my mind is to attend bike school in Colorado - some day! 

On the home front, I have visions of overnights 10-20 miles from home, plus an annual weekend visiting Canadian trails and back roads.

Bike wise, my primary focus this year is on the Dahon. I appreciate it's versatility and it's obvious benefits while traveling by train. Plus, with the right baggage setup the folder can do double-duty as a commuter.

Tasks/ideas/thoughts on the Dahon's makeover:
  • Install new tires (that I bought last spring!)
  • Sew/reuse material to create bags for the folder. I have ideas and I recently stripped, cleaned, and cut up an old backpack for this project.
  • Explore how to easily lower the Dahon's gearing (new front chain ring?), while keeping the 1x set up.

Who knows how 2019 will turn out? At least I have some goals to work towards...

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Bike Blog Love - 7th Edition

It's that time of year when snowy, icy roads and paths keep my cycling to a minimum. But of course cycling is never far from my thoughts and is a perfect time to share my annual homage to bicycle bloggers. So, without further adieu, enjoy my collection - all new to me in 2018.

Florida by Bicycle
I identify with this couple, and while not yet retired myself, they downsized and moved to a simpler living situation and have learned that owning two bikes each is all they really need. Written from a female perspective, she's relearning to bike tour and camp all over again while setting off on solo journeys. Oddly, readers are unable to post comments. I would love to tell her how much I enjoy following along!

a new recyclist
An Australian cyclist who enjoys restoring vintage bikes. Blog posts are few and far between, but entirely worth the wait.

Bobbins, Bikes and Blades
Another Australian and avid cyclist, who also loves to sew and play accordion.

The Simplicity of Vintage Cycles
Follow this blog for classy restorations of beautiful vintage bikes.

Brenda and her husband are avid adventurers (admirably in their later years) who love to cycle camp in England. Brenda recently got an e-bike that has added dimension - and the ability to keep up with her husband - while maintaining distance to their sojourns.

Bicycle Kitty rides a pink bike! She loves group rides, distance, and stops for coffee. She lives near - if not in - Portland, Oregon. Check out her account of 2018 flat tires.

A busker who lives in Edmonton, Alberta, and commutes year-round. An infrequent blogger but, wow - what a collection of bikes!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Winter Cycling, a Challenge in Itself

There are different realms within winter cycling, whether it's challenging yourself to ride on snowy or only dry roads, ride at least once per month, or to be able to withstand a certain temperature. Throw in commuter cycling versus pleasure cycling and "winter cycling" covers a broad spectrum. Riding in 30 degrees in Washington DC could be very difficult for some while hearty Swedes might consider similar temperature as balmy spring riding weather. We all have different tolerances. Distances, temperatures, and lifestyles are a significant factor in whether winter cycling is doable.

Until recently I've been a fair weather winter transportation cyclist, riding only when dry roads prevail. However, something has undoubtedly changed and I've made a personal breakthrough. It wasn't one big decision, but rather a metamorphosis over the span of a couple months.

In November cold descended early upon Vermont. I struggled to complete the Coffeeneuring Challenge and pedaled on weekends in 20 degree cold aided by a thermos filled with a hot beverage.  Miraculously, I kept warm.

In December cold days prevailed, but I refused to give up weekend pleasure rides and kept at it, dressed warmly, and actually enjoyed sunshine and lake views. It was a revelation that cycling along the waterfront meant peaceful meanderings. Gone were the summer and fall crowds. Hello quiet sunsets and awesome clear air!

On New Year's Day I set out again, breathing in cool air and after stopping for a blazing sunset, popped on my lights and rode home through quiet neighborhoods.

And then, just last weekend during a cold snap I waited until mid-afternoon to get outside. The temperature had risen to 13 degrees. It would've been my first ski of the season on powder snow, and yet because it was faster to dress for bike rides, rather than switching sports and driving 2 miles to a nearby country club, I chose to spin wheels. The Burlington Greenway was sketchy, with packed snow and ice in places, but I prevailed. My feet grew chilled after a while; the remedy was jogging a bit, but that's probably my limit for pleasure rides.

Monday I rode to work in zero degrees or slightly below, depending on which weather source was accurate! I rode on snow covered paths then resorted to snow packed, gritty sidewalks with occasional bare spots. This would normally be beyond my comfort zone, but conditions were rideable and I didn't freak out, but instead slowed to a manageable speed. The downside of those conditions was that I had to clean a dirty drive train.

I don't know if I'll continue riding on weekends. I've pushed my limits - something I never expected - and broken a barrier, so only time will tell whether I will keep it up.