mountain bike oregon

ADVENTURE AT MOUNTAIN BIKE OREGON

Hello Ladies & Lady-Lovers! I’m back and refreshed after tagging along on Mountain Bike Oregon this past weekend.

An aside: As someone relatively new to mountain biking, I have to encourage Ladies a little hesitant to ride off-road to push past fear and give it a try. Meandering through the forest on two wheels feels like moving meditation, and the sights you’d otherwise not see, and animals that cross your path, make the experience magical. Handling comes with time and miles, and till you’re ready for root drops and rougher terrain, there are tons of beginner and intermediate trails to choose from.

So as I sit sipping my morning caffeinated beverage (these guys are some of the best coffee roasters in PDX) reflecting on three days of camping and beautiful riding in the mountains around Oakridge, OR, I find I’m left with three lessons:

1) To improve handling, LET GO

2) Talk to strangers

2) Gin is not an appropriate sports beverage

As a Lady only recently dipping a toe into the MTB world, I was excited to expand my skill set on some of the gorgeous central Oregon trails I’ve heard so much about. I watched videos, read reviews, and made a mental list of which rides I’d be giving a go. I’m currently training for an amazing adventure tentatively scheduled for next spring (stay tuned…) for which I not only need to hone my off-roading skills, but need to purchase a well-fitting, trek-specific mountain bike.

Mountain Bike Oregon includes shuttles to the top of trails, a beer (& hopped cider!) garden, meals included, and what I needed most: access to demo bikes. I’ve only ridden an older steel Schwinn mtb named Bumblebee, who handles quite wonderfully, but I needed to get a feel for rides beyond what I’ve tried. Gearing? Wheel size? Never-ending, not-necessarily-needed accoutrements? I had no clue what worked for me, and I hoped this trip would give me a better idea. Oh, and the ability to improve my steeper, cliff-edged, curving, root-dropping, sketchier descents which I heretofore tended to hike-a-bike through.

The trip was phenomenal, it was an adventure, and all but one goal was attained. I feel fulfilled, and I can’t wait to head back out there to ride some more.

LET GO

Having been lucky enough to have raced a wee bit of Portland cyclocross (thanks to the urging of a phenomenal friend and a group of absolutely wonderful people. I suck, by the way, but it’s really fun!), I had previously learned, with eyes wide and stomach in mouth, that the sketchiest of descents requires release – you have to stare down impending-maiming, take a deep breath, go relatively limp, shift your weight back, and just go for it. The slower you go, the more you try to brake, the more you hold on, the more likely you are to flip head-over-handlebars or crash in other equally damaging ways. Trust your bike, it will ride over most rocks and roots and mud if you keep your speed. Slow down and you’ll fail to gain needed momentum to overtake obstacles. It feels similar to technique for effectively skiing moguls.

This technique was never more apparent than on my trips through North Fork, an intermediate Oakridge trail, where the let-go approach sort of reversed itself. This lesson on descents is now ingrained in my muscle fibers, but I never knew that CLIMBING applied the same concept until I rode parts of this trail. Overtaking a bolder on an uphill? Relax and keep pedaling, and for gods sake, follow through. You’ve grunted your front tire up and over – good for you! But you have an entire second tire that needs to clear the rock. This is where the gearing on the Niner bike I demoed became essential. Keep the gearing low, release your fear and hesitation, and just keep pedaling. NO MATTER WHAT. My only crashes this weekend? T-tipping over (and down a small cliff) as I failed to get my back tire up and over something large, all because I hesitated out of fear that I wouldn’t make it.

And so the lesson that applies not only to riding, but to almost everything in life – relax, believe in yourself, and move towards what makes you afraid. You’ll never know what you’re capable of if you don’t try, and you’ll never expand your world and yourself if you don’t loosen your grip.

TALK TO STRANGERS

Stranger danger! We’re molded by our culture to be afraid of, well, everything outside of our immediate family and friends and gated neighborhoods. But this is a large part of the beauty of traveling and exploring by yourself – you’re FORCED to interact with people you don’t know. And guess what was reinforced for me this weekend? Most people are good and respond to openness and kindness. This opening to the unknown is what I like to call “adventure”, whether it’s in the kitchen, on a trail, or in social interaction. This is what makes life fascinating and engaging and growth-producing throughout the years you’re lucky enough to have. If you were raised in a bubble-wrap-suburban childhood like myself, openness takes time and mindful practice to cultivate. But it’s worth it – it will change nearly everything about your life.

I encountered some absolutely lovely people that made this trip for me. Some from Oakridge (make sure to check out the amazing Ladies working over at Lion Mountain Bakery if you’re in town), some from California, some from Portland, some originally from New Zealand & the UK, some from Australia (and yes, the rivalry between the two is more than Flight of The Concords fodder), and all from varied backgrounds and age groups.

I owe it all to volunteering (the Nossa Familia coffee family is molto bene – check out their brews if you get the chance) and to accidentally hanging my hammock within the camp of a group of guys that welcomed me into their chats and beer garden jaunts when I wasn’t being anti-social with my reading and napping (the latter mostly due to gin…). They made me laugh, their personalities and guitar collections blew me away, and I truly hope to stay in touch with them. My weekend wouldn’t have been the greatness it was without all of these people, and I wouldn’t have met any of them if I hadn’t exited my comfort zone of solitude to talk to people I didn’t know.

GIN IS NOT AN APPROPRIATE SPORTS BEVERAGE 

And finally, to the lesson of re-learning lessons. I spent most of my college years as a partier (and high school for that matter). I got great grades, I overachieved, and I got completely blitzed most nights of the week. Life, as it turns out, is more of an un-doing than a becoming – you have to work diligently to un-become the person your hometown, your family, and everyone but yourself has shaped you into. To really know yourself, to really be yourself, you have to figure that shit out on your own by forcing yourself outside of situations and places you’re comfortable in.

The process is particularly challenging if you grew up contorted – creating a habit out of forcing yourself into boxes that were ill-fitting at best. Long ago I acknowledged that I don’t like getting wasted – I’m so much happier taking all of that in moderation, waking up with the sunrise, and getting out to do something physical in the outdoors. Occasional partying? Sure. But on the whole, it’s just not who I am anymore – it was never who I was.

And so I reminded myself of that with gin and delicious cider this past weekend, as did many other painfully hung over riders. Chatting and hanging out with people was amazing! Drinking far too much was not, and was entirely my fault. I should know my limits by now… but once you’ve had a drink it seems like more and more of a good idea to keep on drinking, and old patterns reappear. If I had paced myself and been an adult, I wouldn’t have had the worst hangover I’ve had in a long time (I also could have avoided nearly falling asleep on a bathroom floor and being helped back to my campsite, which in my drunkenness I couldn’t find, by a good Lady Samaritan).

Yah, I embarrassed myself. But I had a great time with my campmates, reminded myself of my priorities, and ensured that I will never again forget the late-onset-drunkenness of gin. Next time I’ll make the same decisions – minus a handful of drinks.

Riding is magical, Oakridge trails are glorious, and people are pretty awesome. This experience was great and I’m on my way to getting a great mountain bike so I can continue to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors in new and sometimes-challenging ways. More than anything, this trip reinforced my gratitude. Gratitude for a working body, the experiences I’ve been lucky enough to have, and the adventures I have yet to experience.

So get out there, Ladies & Lady-lovers! Adventure awaits, and nobody can find it but you :)

XOXO

PS- The links above have more about the trails in Oakridge. If you missed MBO, head out on your own! The West Fir Lodge is a great B&B at the trail head, or you can head 30 miles down the road to Waldo Lake for camping and a 22 mile, easy-intermediate mtb loop with gorgeous views (plus kayaking!).

Women's 100k 2014

100km TO FREEDOM

There are myriad ways to run away from things.

Shut down emotionally, move to new cities every six months, speak appeasement rather than truth, silence an incoming call, leave an e-mail unopened, float along in just-comfortable-enough circumstances. Regardless the modus operandi, you find a way away from whatever it is that urges you to turn and run.

For a significant portion of my life, for a significant amount of reasons, I was the queen of running away. Switch majors, move to a new town, sink further into a not-quite-right relationship.

Risk of exposing whoever-it-is that I was – to myself and others – was quickly quashed in one way or another. And for a time, this pattern worked for me. It kept me comfortable, it prevented a rattling of cages I’d rather not open, and it allowed the conceptions of myself and my world created in the image of my parents and an ill-fitting hometown to remain intact.

But that’s the thing about avoiding reality and inconvenient truths: they don’t go away, and at some point you must choose to face them or cling ever-more-tightly to an inauthentic life. And living a life that isn’t your own? It’s a lonely existence. How can you really connect with anything if your can’t connect with yourself?

Well, at some point, I realized something was amiss. I couldn’t put it together, but I knew I needed something… an experience, an adventure, a break from my routine.

I never truly chose to face myself.

I just rode my bicycle 500 miles.

****

I still remember the 2×2 advertisement in Adirondack Sports & Fitness. I’d picked up the free local newspaper from a wire bin at a local eatery in upstate New York during year two of forcing myself through this-might-not-be-right nursing school. I’d seen several other ads for marathons, trail runs, even a 62 mile bike ride. “Those sound like a challenege, but I don’t know… They don’t seem like enough,” I remember feeling.

Enough of what? I don’t know. I just know that when I saw an ad on one of the final pages of the paper with a cartoon pig riding a bicycle for an event called “The Great Big FANY Ride”, I felt drawn to read more.

F-A-N-Y: Five hundred miles Across New York.

“FIVE HUNDRED miles? I can do that!”

Nevermind I hadn’t ridden a bicycle since I was a child, that I no longer owned one, that my fitness routine was primarily composed of napping, nor that the event was just over 2 months away. “I can do this. I need to do this.”  I felt empowered by the very idea of attempting something so epic – something so entirely outside of my comfort zone. Without further thought of what it meant, I decided right then I was going to do this ride, and that I would finish. I signed up and paid the entry fee that day.

Next step: buy a bike.

****

Fast forward a handful of years, and the bike – Lady Steed – that original bike that carried me through excitement, frustration, pain, sores in all sorts of areas, repair-caused pinch-flat embarrassment, joy, and every other imaginable emotion and sensation that unearths itself during the physical release of endurance events has now ridden roads and mountains throughout the country, including those original life-changing 500 across the beautiful state of New York, racking up mile upon mile upon mile of self-propelled experience.

What I learned during that ride and those that followed wasn’t immediately clear, but what you feel with complete clarity is a shift – something significant cracks open.

While I’m in the saddle, I feel a kind of freedom I’ve never known before. I can go anywhere, I can see any place. Boundaries of all kinds lose their solidity. If you put in the effort and, more importantly, really believe in yourself, all is possible. That feeling of self reliance, even in the beginning when it was mixed with a healthy dose of doubt, is incredibly liberating. It’s life changing.

And so, as the pieces have fallen into better fits and lessons have settled into place, I can now see that riding my bike, riding it for more miles than I knew I could, brought me a sense of self that I couldn’t access through habits and ways of living I’d previously relied upon.

I found myself by running away. By running away towards something.

****

And so we arrive at now, where I’ve dedicated a significant portion of my life to bringing other Women along on rides they never thought they could accomplish. To providing a safe and welcoming entry point to the awesomeness of disproving self-doubt.

This year was the second annual Women’s 100 – a metric century bike ride started by Rapha, the bicycle accessory company. Women all around the world join together in riding 100km the same day as a Tour de France stage of the same length (a race that still lacks Women riders). Rapha is awesome for bringing this ride into existence, but the ride feels somewhat inaccessible to Women entering the bike world - it’s more for Women already racing and riding hard in the high-end gear Rapha produces.

So while a ride has launched from the Rapha headquarters in my city each year (an awesome ride with awesome, fast, relatively experienced Ladies), I’ve led a separate ride for Women who would normally hear “62 miles” and laugh at the sheer implausability of traveling that distance utilizing anything but a car.

That implausibility isn’t really about the distance – it’s the disbelief that you can accomplish something like that, especially in your current noodly-legged state. But as I have shown myself, that doubt is baseless, and proving it so is a magical experience.

The ride took off this year from the same location as last year, Ristretto on Williams (a wonderful coffee shop and roastery), with myself and a handful of others – experienced and not. The majority of Ladies rode further than they ever had before, putting foot to pedal for an adventurous tour of swimming spots, farms, beer-on-tap cycle shops (thanks, Cycle PDX!), street mandalas, almost-there tea, and we-did-it drinks. Sometimes the miles passed without notice, riding abreast immersed in each other’s company. Sometimes the smallest hill felt like hell incarnate.

It was the littlest taste of how things like this, pushing yourself like this, can change everything if you let it. It was a taste of freedom and happiness and the rolling hills of life and love and recreating yourself. It was an experience, and one every Lady should have the chance to be a part of.

And so we will ride next year. By mountains, by cities, by cows and random scenery. We will ride for the try of it. We will ride for ourselves.

And with that, I leave you for the week, Ladies. The featured photo for this post shows the brave and wonderful Women who joined our ride this year. Thanks to everyone who came, and hopefully we’ll see you next year.

 

Here’s to riding! May you find the ride that changes your life – may you find a ride completely your own :)

XOXO

LADY OWNED, FOCUSED, AND RUN BIKE SHOP OPENS IN PORTLAND, OR

More Women riding bikes more often.

Gladys Bike Shop in N Portland, OR

Gladys Bike Shop in N Portland, OR

That’s precisely the goal of Gladys Bikes, a new bike shop located inside the HUB building along the heavily ridden Williams corridor in Portland, OR (2905 NE Alberta Street, Portland, OR). If you’re a Lady riding Vancouver/Williams, you need to check this place out.

Owner Leah Benson has stocked her shelves with essentials for a comfortable and fabulous ride, from reflective flower pins and helmet bows, to rain jackets, saddles, helmets, and more. Also offering Lady-run maintenance, classes, and bike fittings from an oh-so-accessible $50, Gladys is exactly the kind of shop that makes entering the realm of riding feel approachable for Women of all ages and abilities.

And did I mention free cookies?

Lovely reflective pins!

Reflective pins… and cookies

While the face of two-wheeled travel is still predominantly male, shops like Gladys are tapping into what happens to be the fastest growing segment of the two-wheeled world: Ladies! From the League of American Bicyclists:

Looking at the gender breakdown, the data shows the total number of women bike commuters in 2012 grew to 236,067, which is an almost 11% increase from 2011. More broadly, women commuting by bike has grown by 58.8% since 2006. What’s more, the ACS data shows that the growth in bike commuting by women is outpacing that of men. Between 2011 and 2012, the growth in bike commuting by women was 10.9%, compared to 8.4% for men.

The lovely Leah Benson, owner of Gladys

The lovely Leah Benson, owner of Gladys

Gladys Bikes is a lovely shop in a great location with a wonderful owner and mission worth supporting. Check out the accessories and awesomeness in the space just behind Ristretto next time you’re riding by, and in the meantime, you can check out and LIKE Leah’s shop on facebook, and attend her clinic “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Your Bike (But Were Afraid to Ask) on 10/17 @6:30pm at the shop.

Keep pedaling, supporting local Lady-run businesses, and enjoying the ride, Ladies!

XOXO

BICYCLES AS ECONOMIC ENGINE: OREGON CITY SEEKS TO BOOST FINANCES AS “BICYCLE TOURISM” HUB

Bikes = business.

(… and joy)

The lovely Ladies (and Lady-lovers) in Oregon City have received the go-ahead from the Urban Renewal Commission to convert their deserted Amtrak station into a thriving center for bikey goodness and tourism. Wonderful!

More on the development from The Oregonian:

The city-owned station at 1757 Washington St. is vacant and is served by a few trains per day. The historic building, once the town’s freight depot, lacks any glimmer of life. There’s no inside seating, no one on duty, no snack bar, vending machines or payphone.

Meier wants to convert the building into a comfortable way station for visitors, especially those who arrive with bicycles.

The Amtrak station would be a hub that would directs people to destinations around the city and county, said Adam Beykovsky, who is working with Meier.

“The idea is to push people out into the community,” Beykovsky said.

Oregon City is “a dying if not dead mill town and we need to look at something else … envision a new picture for ourselves,”

Cities embracing Ladies are seeing the benefits to their economies (another example of that here, too), not to mention the benefits to everyone’s quality of life.

The features of the new cycle-centric station include:

North End
- Comfortable waiting area with informational displays for Amtrak riders
- Restrooms and drinking fountain for bottle refills
- Community bulletin board for local activities and cycling events
- Oregon City and Mt. Hood Territory tourism information
- Snack bar with desserts, cold sandwiches, coffee, and pedal-powered smoothies
- Featured local craft beers and wine tasting
- Bicycle-themed lounge with couches, television, books, maps and art
– Small retail space for bicycles, accessories, and minor repairs
– Brochures re bicycle group rides, overnight tours, train packages and bicycle rentals

South End
-Map room with web access for trip planning and information exchange
- Office and meeting area for the Oregon City Trail Alliance and representatives from various cycling advocacy groups and tourism organizations
- Meeting area for organizing group rides and storing supplies and gear
– Kitchen area for organizing food service for group rides
– Showers for touring cyclists

Lovely! Facilitating bike commuting, travel, vacation, and fun is in the best interest of any forward-thinking, and economically competitive, town or city. Way to go, Oregon City!

I know I’ll be checking out this hub (pun-intended) once it’s up and running.

The Sauvie Island bridge on my sunny, MLK Jr. Day ride. St. Helens within view, bike between my legs. Lovely!

The Sauvie Island bridge on my sunny, MLK Jr. Day ride. St. Helens within view, bike between my legs. Lovely!

Till then, what places do you like to bike for the sheer joy of it? Sauvie Island is an easily accessible, nearby location I try to visit and appreciate on a regular basis. Ladies from other cities: what natural features and rides are near you?

Keep riding, investing in local economies, and building community, Ladies!

XOXO

THE COMMUTING CHRONICLES: A LOVELY WINTER RIDE

This morning when I awoke next to my window, bathed in hues of pink and peach and radiative heat loss, I knew my ride was going to be gorgeous, clear, and frozen.

In winter, the normally celebrated lack of cloud cover and/or presence of sunshine is a meteorological announcement of the frigid conditions outside my door. Planning my commuting garb ahead of time proves about as useful as preparing a meal for unconfirmed guests: the variability of Winter weather means decisions are made day-of lest I be left broiling in rainpants on an abnormally warm day or thawing in wet, frozen jeans.

Based on the chill and beautiful views, I started gathering necessary supplies: warm socks, scarf, hat, warm gloves (thanks, Mom & Dad!), down coat. I decided that on a day like this, cuteness need not be abandoned for spandex, goretex, nor any other highly engineered “-tex” you can think of. This Lady was braving the frozen dawn in a skirt.

My adorable pencil skirt: worn proudly atop two-wheels this morning.

My adorable pencil skirt: worn proudly atop two-wheels this morning.

I used to think through my layering, but at this point it feels relatively routine. Underwear (which, outside of added warmth in winter, are unnecessary in my opinion), leggings, wool socks, pencil skirt (practicality note: be prepared to expose a lot of thigh, or in this case, legging). On top: tank top, t-shirt, wool hoodie (Icebreaker has amazing layering that is well worth the expense), down coat, rain shell. Layering gives you a dial on your internal thermostat: stop and take shit off when you’re over heating or when you arrive, add more when sweat starts to evaporate and you begin to feel chilled. The flexibility of layering allows me to dress in lovely attire rather than spandex and “cycling” garb.

Next to-do: basic component check. The precise “not-too-squishy” squeeze of my tires to assess adequate inflation, a look at my brakes to ensure brake pads are not entirely worn (also effective: the equally precise “metal-on-metal” sound check that tells you pads need replacing), and a squirt of lube across the length of my chain (which is essential this time of year. Every month or so you should also clean your chain of winter build-up using a wet cloth, then re-lube it.). All checks out? I’m on my way.

With the weather so gorgeous, I left home early this morning just so I could relax and enjoy my ride. Occasionally taking time to savor sunshine and beautiful scenery is essential to my happiness, and this was a perfect day to do so. Riding on a bike boulevard, a glorified low-traffic road in Portland, means seeing other cyclists, especially at rush hour. Two Lady-lovers in front of me, a Lady or two behind me, occasional spandex-clad racey-types speeding past me, the obligatory tight-pantsed helmet-less rider on a fixie (which reminds me: have any of you seen Premium Rush? I had the pleasure of experiencing this gem of modern cinema with friends. If you appreciate bikes and absurdity, it’s a must watch.)… we create a temporary community. I smile at people passing and just generally appreciate the blessing of a working body and people to share the ride with.

My 5-mile-each-way commute includes a categorized climb about 3/4ths of the way in. That means my legs are burning, my heart is pumping, and some days I feel incredibly strong and empowered, other days it means incessant cursing and huffing. Today as I sat stopped at a light preparing for The Climb, a cyclist behind me grabbed my attention to compliment my blue tires. It was so sweet, and I thanked her and wished her a lovely day. This exchange exemplifies one of my favorite parts of commuting on two-wheels: how often do we have genuine interactions with strangers in our daily lives? Well, I can tell you, not often enough!

Despite the traffic, I had a relatively uneventful, beautiful commute. Just a few days ago on the stretch of my ride I refer to as “the gauntlet” (look for a post on this next week), a Lady I recognized as my regular waitress at a local diner was felled by a car cutting into the bike lane. She was in a lot of pain, but luckily OK. Cycling is far safer than most would have you believe, but incidences like that remind me to appreciate every day and every pedal I have the opportunity to experience.

Today was a beautiful ride. Ladies (and Lady-lovers), I hope yours was as well :)

Keep riding, smiling, and rocking pencil skirts, Ladies!

XOXO

PS- What’s the best part of your commute in the winter? Leave comments and share advice below!

COMMUTING CHRONICLES: THE LAST MILE

Good morning, fabulous Ladies! Welcome to our first post in a series we’re calling “The Commuting Chronicles”; stories and issues raised while traversing Lisa Marie’s and Annette’s daily two-wheeled commute.

Planners and city officials often bring attention to the idea of the “last mile problem”, meaning public transportation can get you within the vicinity of your destination, but the last stretch between public transit stop and end-point discourages transit use, leading to more people traveling via personalized steel-coffin. Combining bicycles and public transit? Voila! Problem solved!

In Annette’s case, “the last mile” was the inverse: a portion of her riding that felt unsafe and intimidating (and exhausting!). Read more about her conversion to riding, the anxieties and neuroses invoked by The Tram, and the joys of overcoming perceived road blocks (pun intended!).

I started using my bike for regular transportation as soon as I moved to Portland.  Grocery stores, coffee shops, restaurants. But I couldn’t bring myself to ride work, the place I go more often than anywhere else.

My office is on the top of a steep hill. I wanted to ride to work, but to get up this hill I had two options: either ride up the hill next to cars on narrow roads, or park my bike at the bottom and take the Portland Aerial Tram, a beautiful pod-structure dangling frighteningly from a line. To most new commuters, the risks of riding on twisting and heavily trafficked narrow roads would make the tram an easy choice. But I’ve always been afraid of heights. I’d never tried or even thought to change that about myself; avoiding heights was simply a rule I chose to follow, limiting me in a small way. So for too long, I put off deciding between these options and just continued taking the bus.

Duh-du-duuuuuhhhhh

Duh-du-duuuuuhhhhh

At some point, though, I realized that this was silly. I knew this fear of heights was less than completely rational. I wanted to ride to work and didn’t want to be my own barrier to doing that. So I chose to give the tram a try.

The first couple weeks I rode the tram, I would get there after a joyful outing on my bike and then immediately switch to a state of fear.  As the tram lifted into the air, I clung firmly to one of the interior poles, staring straight ahead but completely focused inward, trying to get a grip on the dizzy spells I’d experience when the tram swung back-and-forth. Based on what I’d seen of desensitization and exposure therapy on a couple disturbing episodes of A&E’s Obsessed, I was proud just to be able to ride it without drawing attention to myself, and grateful to face this fear outside of the gaze and judgment of a national audience (in any case it would have made for boring television).

During my third week of riding the tram, without thinking I scurried onto a crowded tram as the last passenger at the end of my work day.  The cabin was stuffed with people, leaving me with the option of panicking and manically explaining my special need to access the pole in a sea of chill people, or just holding my ground. Social anxieties won out, and I decided to go for it. I braced myself as it swung, and felt surprisingly okay, familiar with my surroundings and the whole experience after weeks of riding the tram.

My glorious, and less anxiety producing, view from the tram

My glorious, and less anxiety producing, view from the tram

Over the subsequent weeks, I evolved to always standing without support, at times seizing a prime spot towards the front in order to look down at the city in action, or straight ahead to admire the stunning view of Mt. Hood. My awareness has gradually shifted completely from fear to appreciating the experience of riding the tram – even looking forward to the thing I’d once dreaded the most.

What’s been most surprising is how this change has opened my mind to trying new experiences I would have assumed would be too frightening in the past but have found thrilling — aerial silks and trapeze classes, snowboarding, etc. I had no idea how limiting this fear was until I’d tempered it to the level of a satisfying adrenaline rush, allowing me to stay mindful and experience the fun of these new and challenging pursuits. And I indirectly have my love of bicycles to thank for that.

Oh the things a Lady experiences… on and off two-wheels.

Keep riding and letting go, Ladies!

XOXO

RIDERSHIP IN WASHINGTON D.C. UP AN AVERAGE OF 271% SINCE 2004

The joy of life atop two wheels is catching on in Washington D.C.!

More of this = more Ladies! And who doesn't want more Ladies?

More of this = more Ladies! And who doesn’t want more Ladies?

Recently released bike counts of 19 different locations around the capital showed a whopping 271% average increase in cyclists per hour. What lovely news!

But guess what, Ladies? This bikey-’splosion didn’t occur in a vacuum. Bright policy makers and planners (who I will assume are, clearly, Ladies) in D.C. decided to dramatically expanded their Lady-friendly infrastructure during the same time period.

Yet again, IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL RIDE.

From WashingtonPost.com:

The city has also made it easier for bikers to get around in the past eight years. In 2004 the city had 14 miles of bike lanes. Today the city has 57 miles of bike lanes.

The more respect shown to active transportation via smart planning and the more people are given viable options for commuting that don’t threaten life and limb, the more you will see lovely Ladies (and handsome Lady-lovers) beautifying city streets.

The only issue with this ray of two-wheeled sunshine: the vast majority of the riders weren’t Ladies. A full 77% of riders were men. More Ladies riding tends to signify safer, lower-stress bikeways, so while D.C. is doing an amazing job, they still have a ways to go.

And Ladies in D.C.: it’s time to make your fabulous selves seen! Get out there and check out the infrastructure for yourselves. Plan your trip ahead of time with this interactive bikeway map that shows bikeways and local bike shops.

So get out there with the gentlemen of D.C. and enjoy your ride, Ladies!

XOXO

MONTHLY BALTIMORE BIKE PARTY DRAWS OVER 700 RIDERS

My heart swells with pride for my hometown of Baltimore, MD.

Be still my heart… bikes and joy take over the streets of Charm City (photo courtesy of BaltimoreMagazine.com)

Cycling Ladies (and Lady-lovers) gathered this past friday for the regularly scheduled Baltimore Bike Party; a ride on the last Friday of every month. Lovely Ladies (and handsome Lady-lovers), peaceful evening streets, and an experience of Charm City few ever experience.

And last week’s ride, in celebration of the blue moon, drew over 700 riders; the highest attendance to date!

The sheer joy of riding the streets atop two wheels with neighbors and strangers alike was described wonderfully by Lady-lover Ron Cassie over at BaltimoreMagazine.com:

I didn’t plan to write one of those “Best. Time. Ever.” posts. But I’ve never seen so many people riding bicycles and smiling as I did at Friday night’s most recent iteration of the Baltimore Bike Party — the last Friday of each month group pedal around town. Big smiles, too.
I actually heard a guy at the Druid Hill Park rest stop say that he’d been waiting for a bike ride like this his whole life. (He was probably in his mid-20s, but still.)
More than 700 bicyclists, surpassing all expectations, rolled out together from Mt. Vernon’s Washington Monument for the “Moonlight Madness”-themed ride, a 12-13 mile trek through East Baltimore, West Baltimore, Druid Hill Park, Hampden and other neighborhoods. It wrapped up about 10 p.m. with an outdoor party at the Wyman Park Dell: Buscia’s Kitchen and IcedGems food trucks, Natty Both on tap, music and dancing. Whole night could not have been better — check the comments on the event’s Facebook page. (The above photo, I took, the rest are courtesy of the event’s Facebook page. 
The ride was organized, traffic-friendly (with assistance from Baltimore’s finest), non-confrontational, and yet, blocks-long, had the feeling of an impromptu parade with bikes decorated with glow sticks, strobe lights and disco balls. And it was noisy, too, horns, bicycle bells, cowbells — and something that made a moose call — at least, that’s my best guess. Tim Barnett, one of the ride organizers, pulled a sound system in a trailer behind his bike as well, blasting everything from Ozzy to Kanye. Participants ranged from 15-50.
Best part, hands down, was the reaction in the neighborhoods. People came off their porches to high-five bicyclists. Young kids sprinted and roller-skated on sidewalks to keep pace. Older kids jumped on their bikes and joined in.
Absolutely lovely! Connecting the community and spreading happiness. Bikes are revolutionary not only to transit, but to neighborhood cohesiveness.
All my fellow Lady (and Lady-lover) Baltimoreans, and Baltimoreans at heart: keep riding, smiling, high-fiveing, and spreading the joy of life atop two wheels!
XOXO

HANDLEBAR MOUNTABLE TURN-BY-TURN DIRECTIONS FOR CYCLISTS

Google has a Lady (and Lady-lover) commuter’s back.

No more need to slow and squint in the darkness of back roads to search for street names. Google maps now offers audible, turn-by-turn directions for cyclists! You can use their GPS or your smartphone, both mountable to your handlebars.

More on this excellent option:

“Where the hell am I?” averted with Google Maps

According to Google, not only are such handy bike-route maps available for desktop and mobile users, cyclists using Google Maps Navigation (beta) can now mount their Android phones to their handlebars to receive turn-by-turn directions and navigation, as well as voice-guided directions.

This comes on the heels of Google Map’s recent expansion of its cycling route maps to an additional 10 countries — Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

“We know there are lots of ways to get from here to there, which is why in 2010, we added biking directions to Google Maps in the U.S. and Canada, and continue to work to bring more biking features to more places,” writes Google’s Larry Powelson, in a blog post. “Today, there are more than 330,000 miles (equal to more than 530,000 kilometers, or half a gigameter) of green biking lines in Google Maps.”

The future of transportation meets the future of navigation. How lovely!

I still prefer paper maps and getting a little lost, but for two-wheel trips in foreign lands, this could be a life-saver. Not to mention the potential-Lady-commuters who may be anxious about riding in traffic that may now be encouraged to try, knowing they wont be forced to make hurried maneuvers in an attempt to re-direct a misrouted trip!

Enjoy your fabulous, worry-free ride, Ladies!

XOXO

BIKING PORTLAND: LESSER KNOWN ROUTES

Whether you’re a fellow Lady living in America’s bike capital or just a Lady-tourist checking it out on vacation, sometimes the best way to cycle a city is to take routes less traveled.

Oh the views! It takes a Lady’s breath away!

That is why, lovely Ladies, these routes (maps and directions included!) are an excellent exploration. Adventure in your own backyard? Yes, please!

A great option is NW Portland up to the Pittock Mansion, where views of the entire city and Mt. Hood are almost as fabulous as riding an upright in a skirt. You can also access Wildwood Trail in Forest Park from the Pittock parking lot, so ride up, have a lovely picnic on the Pittock grounds, and gently meander through the woods before your descent.

The route is steep, but any Lady (or Lady-lover) worth her weight can tackle this challenge by taking her time. And savoring each moment? A Lady strong suit.

From the article on WWeek.com:

When seeking a solid hill climb in the city, a lot of riders head for Council Crest or Mount Tabor. Here’s a quieter and arguably more scenic climb that begins right in the Pearl. Head up Northwest Johnson Street via a gradual climb past condos, Victorians and trendy shops. After 24th Avenue, Johnson becomes Westover Road, and the serious climbing starts. The official route follows Westover and Cumberland, but instead turn left onto Marlborough and wind along the quiet, steep streets lined by mini-Pittocks to take advantage of the supreme views. It’s easy to get lost in this labyrinth, but as a general rule, just keep climbing! Eventually, find Monte Vista Terrace to access the back entrance to Pittock Acres Park. It may be exhausting, but the view at the top is especially stupefying when you’ve really earned it. Bask in the glory, then check your brakes and enjoy coasting back down to celebrate with ice cream at Cool Moon (1105 NW Johnson St.).

Enjoy the views, Ladies!

XOXO