Posts Tagged ‘bicycling’

Interbike: A First Look at Specialized Women’s Bikes

September 29, 2010

The Specialized Women’s 2011 bicycle line is very impressive indeed.

Specialized has rethought bike design for women in a three dimensional way; this makes their mountain bikes particularly easy to handle in all types of terrain.  The Specialized MTB bikes I tested are light enough to Manipulate and maneuver,  but  have a weight distribution that made it easy to keep  “tires to the ground”.

For Women’s road bikes, the Amira will be the bike to look out for. This is their premium bike for women. There are a lot of details that make the Amira stand out (it has all the earmarks of a really fast bike). One look at the geometry and you can see how nothing compares. It’s also sexy as anything.

If you are a fan of Specialized already, you need to try one of their 2011 bikes.  But if you’ve had questionable results with their Women’s geometry bikes from previous years (hey, I wasn’t always a big fan), then you really need to try the 2011 series. Specialized really went back, did their homework, and found what really works for Women’s geometry; and in this 2011 line up, it  shows.

In the coming weeks I will have separate reviews of 2011 Women’s Specialized bikes, including:

Myka – A 29er Women’s Hardtail Mountain Bike, with entry level pricing (warning, this bike could make mountain biking addictive).

Safire – Women’s All Mountain Bike (a dream to ride in 2010, with some interesting changes for 2011)

Era – Women’s Cross Country Performance Mountain Bike (2011 line adds a budget conscious carbon fiber level).

Amira – Women’s Premium Road Bike, redesigned again ( the delight is in the details).

An AIDS/Lifecycle Story: Instant Karma

August 20, 2010

Here’s a story about how I met a young man whom I’ve grown to admire through AIDS/Lifecycle. Let’s call him “Crash”

I believe it was the Day 1 of my first AIDS/Lifecycle as a rider. I’d trained well for the ride, and met my fundraising goal, so this AIDS/Lifecycle really was an opportunity for me to sit back, and take in some of the gorgeous views as a cyclist.

In the afternoon, I found myself overlooking the cliffs of Pacific Coast Highway, looking out onto the Pacific Ocean. It was a warm day with a cooling sea breeze. I was climbing a small hill when I noticed him. He was standing by the side of the road, obviously a rider who had crashed. Despite his thumbs up, he was bleeding in a few places, and crying, but still trying to smile, he nodded yes when I asked, “is everything OK?” I think that’s why it took me another twenty feet before I thought, “What? Wait a minute. That’s not right!”

It wasn’t just the fact that Thumbs Up (and smiling for that matter) is the AIDS/Lifecycle symbol for “I’m OK”. It was the Universal Thumbs Up that caught my sense of irony; that “everything’s honky dory, carry on”, “I approve of this message”,  that  got me.  He was in fact, being a real trooper through some painful road rash. He was clearly shaken. Boy, do I know that feeling. I pulled over, stopped, and walked back to him.

“Are you sure you’re OK?”

“Yeah, my front tire blew, and I fell while trying to get to the side of the road.  Something’s wrong with my bike now, so now I’m waiting for the Sweep Car.”

“I was a Bike Tech last year, so I could take a look at your bike if you want. But you should really clean the wounds that are bleeding as soon as possible.” (With road rash (or trail rash), this is the best way to prevent Staph infection.)

I offered him my emergency Crash Kit, which he gratefully took. We chose a shady spot, and while tended to his wounds I tended to his bike. It turned out that his handlebars got knocked out of alignment during the crash, which is an easy on-the-fly adjustment. I lent him an inner tube, since this he was out. We had a pleasant conversion on the side of a hill, overlooking the ocean.

He decided that he’d like to get back on his bike and ride the rest of the way to camp. Like I said, he was a Trooper. His first few strokes of the pedal were understandably a bit shaky and tense, but after few miles of following him, I could see that he was fine. More than fine, he was actually quite a proficient rider. I felt no qualms about leaving him when he turned off at Rest Stop 4, and I continued on to camp.

BOOM. That’s the sound you hear when you’re in a rush, and  pump up your tire too fast. It was 7:50 am the next day and I was still in Bike Parking. My rear tire had gone flat overnight, so there I was, rushing to fix a flat and get on the road. Threats of sagging (not being able to ride that day) were blasting over a megaphone, and I had just used my last inner tube.

“Can anyone spare an inner tube?” I yell out in desperation.

“I CAN!” I hear a familiar voice call out. It was Crash. He looked fresh as a daisy and ready to ride. He lent me the tube, and I made it out in time to have a wonderful riding day. Thanks, Crash.

It’s wonderful how Instant Karma works, isn’t it?

If you’d like to register for AIDS/Lifecycle 10, visit http://aidslifecycle.org

I’m registered as a roadie this year! If you’d like to help me help others, you can visit my AIDS/Lifecycle 10 Webpage here.

Thanks.

Girl Meets (Electric?) Bike: Sanyo Dreams Big with Eneloop Bike

October 7, 2009

It’s a good idea; sometimes big companies have them. Sanyo has entered the North American electric bike market, with one sweet little bike:
the Eneloop:

Guess which one they had me ride?

Guess which one I got to ride?

They call it a Synergetic Hybrid Bike. The idea is that the feel of the electric motor shouldn’t be jerky at all; on the contrary it should feel completely seamless and unnoticeable. Yup, it’s true, the feeling is seamless and fluid, and easy. Plus it’s lots of fun. Did you know that one in seven bikes, is battery operated (worldwide)? Surprising, isn’t it? I could see these bikes being a big hit, if Sanyo works it properly.

The Eneloop has the lightest e-bike battery, weighing a little over 3 pounds. For reference, most electric bike batteries are about 6-10 pounds. But the bike overall, is still a bit heavy for most women to lift (upstairs, into a car, etc.), at fifty pounds. It’s not something I’d like to lug around if the battery runs dry. However, that seems unlikely, as the battery can go up to 40 miles per charge (on auto-mode, or 17-20 miiles on standard mode). The battery charges whenever you coast downhill, and whenever you brake. I really wish this technology was hooked up to something a bit lighter, as I could easily imagine loading the Eneloop with bags, and using it like the sherpa of shopping.

The look of the bike itself is pleasing. It is a step through bike, so you don’t have to swing your leg over the bike to get on. Sanyo presented models complete with fenders, racks, and wicker baskets up front. I loved the one I tried, which was an white color, with pink flowers a bow. Sweet, but what was really sweet, was the ride itself. It was fluid, fast and felt light on the pedals. It was easy to make it go fast, easy to control in general. With a three speed internal hub, I can imagine that this would get you up and down most anything.

Love the Bow

Love the Bow

But Sanyo isn’t just thinking about the normal bike buyer. No, their plan is much bigger, and far better. They plan to have fleets of rental bikes (with all the bells and whistles like these), at convenient stations around cites and towns. Sanyo’s bike recharging station is revolutionary, in that it is fully Solar. That means the electricity to run these bikes will be off the grid. Can I get a Wow!

An extra tip’o’the’hat goes to both Sanyo and Panasonic, for working in cooperation to bring you the best of both worlds for the motor.  You guys had me at “Double Torque Start-up motor.” The “double torque start up” is for when you have a heavy load, or you’re starting out on an uphill. It will allow an easier start, with less strain on the motor.

I’ve often said that if we get the women of a community on their bikes, then the rest will follow. So how will women react to the idea of a “bike sharing program?” I don’t know, yet.  I can only tell you the things that would get me involved in a “bike sharing”program:

  • I’d need to make sure that the routes from station to station were safe, both from traffic, and nefarious characters.
  • I would want to know that the bike I was borrowing was in good shape, i.e. no flats, saddle is in good shape, lights work everything safe and on tight.
  • I would want an inspection sheet at the station, in case I forgot how to inspect a bike to make sure it’s safe.
  • I would want at least one of the fleet with a “baby carrier” option.
  • I would want a bike that was ALREADY adjusted down to my size. Did you know that over 53% of American women are under 5’4″? Personally, if I’m in city clothes, then I don’t want to spend my time, and break a nail, adjusting the stem, the seat height, etc. This would be solved by a simple, two-size option; sm/med and lg/xl.

So, make it safe and easy and fun for me to get from point A to point B, while looking fabulous, and I will ride it.  And share it.

Girls, would you participate in bike sharing? What would your perfect bike sharing program look like?

Engadget wished for an Eneloop bike, back in 2008.

All the Specs for the Eneloop bike are HERE.

Article from Scientific American:  How to Get More Bicyclists on the Road: To boost urban bicycling, figure out what women want

Is It Time for INTERBIKE Already?

September 1, 2009

In the spirit of getting back to business

It’s that time of year again. Just like in the fashion world, September is January for those in the bike industry. All year long, companies that work for and with all things bike, have been battling it out for what will be the next coolest thing. Every year,the next coolest thing is revealed to a captive audience of bike geeks at Interbike. In a few weeks, the amazement and wonder of Interbike(1) begins.

Yep, I am a Bike Geek, and I impatiently await the marvels that will be set before me. What wonders will they reveal this year? Will the trend of recognizing women riders continue? It would be wonderful if it did. Only a few short years ago, the business of Interbike was, well, a bit sleazy IMHO. Set in Las Vegas, it was easy to ignore the call for “real” women riders products, in lieu of the easy out for most of the bike industry, which was that, if you want to call something a women’s product, just “shrink it, and pink it”. Gone is that ABHORRENT practice! These days, the bike industry is finally realizing that if you want to make money, you NEED to cater to the other (nearly) half of the cycling population(2). NO ONE has recognized this better than Rich Kelly, marketing manager for Interbike. In the couple of years since he took over Interbike, he has helped change, not just the mood of the convention, but indeed the biking world itself, from an “old man business” community, to a fresh young hip, and girl-friendly place to be. It’s amazing and wonderful how much the industry has grown (up), and Interbike (via Rich Kelly) has been a wonderful contributor. Nearly gone are the “booth babes” of the convention (those are girls who are usually Vegas showgirls, and have NOTHING to do with bikes the rest of the year). In their place, is a far more palatable type of pulchritude: actual women riders, and venders, buying and selling things to and for women. There’s even a little sorority of sorts that has form by way of the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition luncheon. I always seem to get grounded and have clearer, more set goals after meeting with these dynamic women.

Plus, once again this year, we will have an amazing “urban cycling” fashion show put on by Momentum Magazine. Here’s what it looked like last year:

Grafton 3/4 Sleeve Jersey- You had me at Wool/ Silk Blend

Grafton 3/4 Sleeve Jersey- You had me at Wool/ Silk Blend

Luna's Merino Wool Pro Sweater

Luna's Merino Wool Pro Sweater

So what am I looking forward to seeing? Well, the first thing that to comes to mind is LUNA cycling clothing; yes, the yummy Luna Bar company has now launched their own clothing line for women. And who better, really. They’ve been paying good attention to women’s physiology for a long time, and have built up a great reputation, by way of their awesome, some years unbeatable racing team, the LUNACHIX. These women know how to ride, and I have no doubt that the LUNA gets plenty of chamois/cycling clothing opinions from their often winning roster. No doubt, they’ve come up with something interesting. (HINT- I got a glimpse of the wool/silk blend gear at Sporteve early this year, so I KNOW it’s gonna be good).

Road tires, and Wheels: There have been leaps and bounds in the technology of them round things. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for lightweight riders (those under 150lbs). And when I say “they” I mean that I want to see everyone’s gear. I have no loyalty to any brand right now, save my Michelin tires. So Wheelbuilders and tire companies better bring it ’cause I wanna see, and I’m listening.

More to come as Interbike nears…

(1) Interbike is the annual international conference for the bike industry.

(2) Women now make up ~47% of all cyclists. That’s up from ~44% two years ago. From Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN) June 1, 2009 issue, P 26.

Tales from the Lack of the Peloton: Janet

July 15, 2009

It’s hard to explain what I experienced, what I saw in the Race Across AMerica; but here’s a tale of something I saw in Janet Christiansen, the solo racer I crewed for on the RAAM.

I’ve played with this blog a bit.  I hope it still reads well.

Upon a bit of reflection, I realize that what I witnessed in Janet was the ultimate in raw will and determination.
But also something more.
When there was nothing left, there was determination.
And when I say nothing, I mean riding non-stop for days and days and days, and every once in a while you get to stop, and maybe sleep a bit, but mostly, as in 21 hours a day you are riding; that kind of nothing left.
But there was always, the determination, the drive to move forward, even when exhausted beyond compare.
Janet forged ahead.

Mostly, she did not complain, but occasionally had a cursing fit. Interestingly, it has recently been found that cursing can be a type of pain reliever, and she did indeed, go through pain (Endnotes 1,  2).
One rarely comes across this breed of human, for surely no human would put herself through such hardship, such challenge, such pain; and for what?
The Honor?
No, no, wasn’t that. It is, in fact, most probably a lot closer to exactly not that.
What was it that kept her out there?
Raw will?
What gave her the fortitude, the tenacity to move forward through bone-aching exhaustion and pain?
(Will someone please let her get some sleep?)

Stories of the other riders unfold.
So many more of them then you’d think.
Not many women though.
And for these Ultra-endurances-athletes, the ultra-cyclists,
for them the RAAM is the Holy Grail;
for soloists, the end all, be all race.
It is The World’s Toughest Bicycle Race.
Yes, it is.
Really. It is.

Start: Oceanside, California
End: Annapolis, Maryland
3,016 Miles
ONE Stage

And each person’s reason for being there is very different, very interesting. And each rider’s experience was unlike anything else that’s ever happened, even if they’d done the RAAM before.
This is what EPIC means.

There is no prize money to be won, nothing but some chance at doing something very special, something that few have the capability to do. No wait, make that very few.

janet 1janet 2janet 3

janet 4Janet is a smart individual. She’s a natural born problem solver and practical to the core. She cycled well through the bad weather in New Mexico,
the corn fields Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, and Ohio,
where rain and thunder and lightning and hail caught up with her in the dead of night.

janet 5janet 6
She’d been asleep for over three hours.
“don’t let her oversleep. She gets three hours a night.…”
“…and hail is the only thing that stops her.  Otherwise, she’s on the bike.”
That was the advice I was given.
It was my turn to wake her. I was amazed and delighted when she arose immediately and with purpose. There it was again, that vibe of someone who was about to do something absolutely extraordinary. Without much coaxing, she was out of the van (where she slept), and on her bike.
I was watching her at a time where she had figured out “a system” for herself; she’d found her rhythm. And in the quiet, still, dark, rolling hills of Ohio,
Janet rolls her ride again…and again…and again.
janet 7janet 8

Endnotes:

“…cursing may ease pain..”

1.  Web MD:  http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/news/20090713/go-ahead-and-curse-it-may-ease-your-pain

2.  Reuters:   http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE56C3WX20090713


Girl Meets Bike’s “Rules of The Road” for avoiding accidents

April 23, 2009

Check you bike for Safety, before you go out – Short list: Skewers, brakes, tires, gears, seat height. Carry a repair kit.

LL, double L, double L rule

Look before you Left – If you are riding on a bike on a road, before moving even just a few inches to your left, look to your left for faster passing traffic. This is a simple concept, but is vital to adhere to, for self preservation. If you don’t, you’ll likely collide with traffic, which could be a car or a bike. I promise you, neither is pleasant, and you will lose in the battle of momentum.

RR, double R, double R rule

Right is Rear– And when things go very bad, generally Right is Right (correct). When you need to slow down in a hurry, squeeze your rear (right) brake first (unless, you are British) and then your Left (unless you are British).

Wear Your Helmet – I wear my helmet every time I ride. This is not because of the way that I ride; I’m a totally awesome rider. No, I wear my helmet every time that I ride because of the way that other people drive and ride. Because the fact is, it doesn’t matter how awesome I am, getting hit from behind will vastly increase my chances of flight. I’m  increasing my odds of surviving that landing, BRAIN intact, by wearing a helmet every time.

Pay Attention – Pay attention to the traffic and obstacles on the road. When you ask most people about bike accidents, they always seem to just come out of nowhere (oooo, ghostbike). Well, if You are not paying attention to You on a bike, why should anyone else feel obligated to?

Be Visible & Predictable – You are far less likely to get into an accident with other traffic , if you indicate what you are doing to the traffic around you. Drivers will generally respect you as a cyclist, if you predictably stay six inches into the lane (except where to do so is not safe). At night, dusk and dawn be as visible as you can with plenty of lights (front & back) and clothing with reflective material.

Scan the Road- Constantly and consistently scan the road with your eyes for glass or other debris, moving objects right or left. Use your left ear to hone in on the traffic behind you, but remember that some traffic (like a bicycle, or an electric car) is all but silent, so still

Look before you Left, or Double L

Shella Moon has Won me Over

September 27, 2008

Without giving away too much, I will say that her collection this year is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The commuter clothes are SO pretty, you’d never guess that they’re meant for the bike. Here’s a quick picture, to show you the direction Shiela Moon is headed for Spring 2009.

reviews soon…


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