Loose gravel on the road can lay your bike down in a heartbeat. I’ve tended the scrapes of friends who have gone down and gotten personal with the pavement this way.  Yet today I had fun following Coby over gravel by the railway track.

The gravel tends to turn the wheel, then let it keep going sideways until you are no longer upon the wheel, but falling.  But if you keep attentive, and have a responsive core, you can keep finding vertical.

This must be what off road cyclists love. Intense concentration, and what feels like a full body workout. Arms constantly correcting direction, deep core muscles realigning to keep the bike between you and the earth.

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weighty matters

Friend got a carbon fiber bike, then a huge chain to lock it up. The links are seriously big.

I’ve noticed that the more money is spent to get a light-weight bicycle, the heavier the lock to protect it. Seems to be an inverse proportion.  Must be a formula.

Some bike messengers leave locks in place at their frequent delivery stations.

Unless you have such an arrangement, live in a low theft area, have great insurance, or are otherwise protected, consider getting a slightly heavier bicycle and a good U-lock. Save yourself some money.

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Aches and Pains

Our Easter ride was double my usual commute. Fortunately, as a former dancer, I know what to do for sore muscles.

I won’t sit still. Immobility will make things worse. Gentle walking, bouncing, stretching will keep my body from freezing up.

I am going to soak in a warm tub with Epsom salts. I’ll put about a cup in. If this had been more strenuous, I might have used two. You can get them in the drug or grocery store. They are inexpensive, but usually hidden down on the bottom shelf.

If any places in particular are talking to me, I will rub in some arnica gel. This is an herb that is an age old remedy for swelling and bruises. I use a brand called Arniflora. I had thought that this was a new discovery, but my mother informed me that Lil Orphan Annie used to get down the big bottle of Arnica after her battles with the Pirates.

If my muscles are in serious condition, or I have to heal quickly, I also take homeopathic Arnica. Homeopathy makes no sense to me on a mechanical or biochemical level. But my experience has shown that it works whether I believe in it or not.  A naturopath once prescribed 1M arnica for me post-surgery. The allopathic doctors and surgeons were astounded at my fast recovery.

Massage also helps push the soreness out. My grandfather was a poor farmer, who tended his fields with a team of horses. He got a weekly massage. Coming from Finland, he regarded this as essential for good health.

The next day, if I am going to use the same muscles again — that is, if I am biking again, I will very gently move to warm and then stretch all the affected areas. This helps get out the lactic acid and other fatigue compounds that make your muscles sore. When you move, listen to how your body wants to stretch, like a dog or cat does. They don’t reach for a goal. They listen to the pleasure of the body, and what it needs.

Just before donning my garb to take off, I might rub the tender spots with some ice to draw blood to them. I learned this from a chiropractor who was an over-40 Tae Kwon Do champion. A hot rub, like Ben-gay or Tiger Balm, or White Flower Lotion, will do the same thing.  (If there is some injury involved, not just soreness, don’t apply actual heat for at least 48 hours, unless told differently by your health professional).

If all else fails, you can take some Ibuprofen to get the muscles to relax. Watch the quantity — it is hard on your kidneys. The natural remedies are much easier on your whole body.

As the soreness leaves, enjoy your growing strength and stamina!

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Easter Ride

I ventured a ride for fun with my husband Coby, to see a friend and his 16 month old girl. It alternated sun and rain, so we rode with layers, and adjusted according to weather and to hills. We took a route along the river parkway, and past the Rose Garden. When we rode past a man who I imagined had been sleeping in the shelter of some evergreens, he did not meet our eyes or greeting. As he clearly came from south of the border, this saddened me. We passed by quite close. Where he was born, people always greet each other, nodding an “Adios” — “to God.” He has given up on Northerners acknowledging him, leaving us to our coldness.  I thought of the beauty of Holy Week in Mexico and Guatemala and how this rain in secular Portland must make that celebration seem of another world.

On the next block, showers of pear blossoms drifted down to the road like a benediction. I hope they reached him.

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Biking to Blossoms

After the coldest, wettest spring in Portland’s recorded history, some sun has been sighted. My husband Coby got a bit of a sunburn on Friday.

Today, we went biking for fun for the first time in months. We rolled down Waterfront Park, checked out a lively band at Saturday Market, then enjoyed the cherry blossoms at the Japanese Memorial.

A wedding party fled amid shrieks and laughter when hail brought down both ice and petals upon them. We found shelter under a bridge. Not long after the sun re-emerged.

Despite the occasional shower, many more bicycles were out.

If you are thinking of riding your bicycle in the city, stay tuned. I will soon post my journey from just thinking about riding to becoming confident on my bike.

Please feel free to ask any questions regarding what it keeping you from biking. And if others of you have answers, please chime in. The more of us that are out there, the easier it is for all bicyclists.

Happy pedaling. And petaling.

Posted in Biking and Community, Biking in the Rain, The Biking Experience, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Lash your Laces

Loose ties, laces and straps can spell trouble. They can get tangled in your spokes. Wrapped around your gears. Catch on passing objects.

Coby wrecked two pairs of bootlaces as they were shredded by his bike. He is lucky that they shredded rather than causing an accident. Now he carefully tucks the laces inside the top of his boots.

I tattered a pair of new pants once at Burning Man. When I commute, I carry anything long and flowing in the pannier, to change into on arrival. I have some straps with velcro, and others with elastic that I plan to use next summer with any wide-legged pants.

I tuck the long straps of my panniers under the bungee cord that holds my bike lock. The other day, when unmarked construction holes bounced me around and against the curb, these straps kept my pannier attached when the clips came loose. Redundancy is a good thing in the realm of safety.

So tuck in all your loose ends, and ride safely. Happy biking!

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Bike Gloves: Keeping Your Fingers Warm

The body part most susceptible to cold while biking: the fingertip.  Your hands are out there, foremost to the wind. They are often touching metal. They are not as active other body parts, such as your legs. While the rest of me might feel toasty, the tips of my fingers can get so cold that they hurt. Solution: a wardrobe of gloves.

l to r: down-and-leather, lobster gloves, water-proof gloves, light gloves

When it is so cold that all moisture is locked in snow or ice, I use the down and leather gloves a family member found for me “in-the-bins”. These would hold no warmth in wet, but are very comfortable in snow. I tried them in a parking lot to make certain that I could shift and brake with them, before taking to the street.

New to me, lobster gloves I got on line, and on sale. By grouping two digits together, fingers stay warmer.  Yet there is more dexterity than with other mittens than might hold up to wet cold. Next fall, I will use these when it is still above freezing, but dips below 38 degrees F. Very soft inside! Velcro closure, nose wipe. I saw some similar gloves by another manufacturer that had inner gloves. These are very nice for dealing with bike-locks, turning on flashers, and other tasks that need fine pointed dexterity. But I couldn’t find them in extra-small.

I use the Gore waterproof bike gloves in wet cold weather. I like them in all but the coldest wet weather. There is good padding on the palm, and a nose wipe on the thumb. The wrist closes well, to keep out wet and cold.

I use the Novara gloves for early fall and late spring, when I need a little warmth, or cushioning. Nose wipe, elastic wrist.

Since I like to bike in an upright position, rather than bent over, I probably won’t need to wear any gloves in summer. When you lean forward over the handlebars, you put weight on your palms. I also don’t sweat much in my palms, so I don’t have issues with grip. But other people might want absorbant fingerless gloves, with padding on the palms.


Posted in Bicycle Clothing, Bike Clothes, Bike Gear, Biking in the Rain, Winter Biking | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment