Saturday, October 24, 2015

Road Hogs making life miserable for all cyclists

The following post appeared on my bike club's Facebook page. One rider complaining about other riders from our club.

from the post......For the 4 riders on ABC Mill Road this morning at about 11:00am, when you coast down the middle of the road at 15mph, 2 wide, having a chat and poking each other, with a line of 4-5 cars behind you, those drivers get upset. When those drivers get upset with you, they get upset with all of us the next time we are out there. Respect goes both ways.

(disclaimer, don't know who these guys are)

Somebody please tell me what motivates group riders to ride oblivious to everyone else on the road. I don't want to follow these guys, do you?? How in blazes name can a car pass these morons? Then if a car buzzes them they are the first to raise the middle finger.

Riders like this make my beyond angry. They make me vulnerable on the road. I ride solo and I do all i can to make it easy for cars to pass me. I move over, I slow down, whatever it takes to help the car get safely past me. My apologies to this pig, but this is what I think of you large group riders when you blast down the road with this motto on your breath... me, myself and I.

sorry pig, you probably know better

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

hey buddy learn how to shift gears

This past Sunday I was following a fellow biker on a long flat road, he passed me and then I caught up to him. I noticed he was pedaling very fast. I wondered how he accomplished this in his higher gears which would have been appropriate for the road we were on. I just assumed he was pedaling along in the big chain ring upfront (50-52) and a middle cog in back. But I pedaled up close and saw he was using his largest chain ring upfront and his largest cog in the back. Probably the worst gear to bike in. Chain stretched across the cog in back.

This fellow needed to drop his back gear for the betterment of his chain.  Or else if he finds the big chain ring and middle cog in back is just too hard,  I would suggest he try the triple crank. The fellow was an older cyclist like myself and would be greatly served if he had some more options with his chain rings and cog.

We spend a lot of money on bikes with many gear options, if yours does not suit you, change it. Make your cycling more fun by having gears appropriate for your skill level and or age or both.

Biking is a great sport but consider finding a bike with the gearing that matches your skill and age. Many folks prefer the compact crank and this is a good option but if you find this crank is not meeting your needs do some research and talk to your bike mechanic.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

to helmet or not to helmet and other pet peeves

Biggest pet peeve

for me, seeing a family of mother, sometimes father and kids on the road biking and parents have no helmet and kids' helmets are so far back on their heads that they might as well not be wearing them. Don't people have ANY common sense anymore? The helmet has to worn correctly or you might as well not wear it. Here is a good checklist for helmet fit. There are lots of You Tube videos if you want to spend some time, Remember, 3 minutes watching a video may save you or your child's life.

Second pet peeve

for me,  cyclists passing another cyclist not in their group. I often ride solo and I go slow. Often times large groups of Lance wannabes pass me at break neck pace and way too close. When you bike slow, especially up a hill, maintaining a perfectly straight line is hard to do plus I have to  look at passing cyclists making my journey not so safe.  The passing cyclists often do not announce that the are coming, particularly true of a lone fast cyclist. They just buzz by scaring me. Not sure why cyclists whine and complain when a car buzzes them but have no idea that a cyclist can buzz another cyclist. Hey slow down Mr Speedy, so  you lose 10 seconds off of  your ride, where are you going anyhow that your time and speed actually matters? Sometimes I feel I need an engine when getting passed.

Third pet peeve

for me is when a car passes me. What can possibly be going through the motorist's head when he or she passes me when I am going up a hill and there is a huge curve in the road. Ya'd think the car might slow down and wait. No the cars blast past, I know I will witness a head on crash someday.
Today a car squeezed by me when oncoming cars were actually passing opposite me. I could not believe it. I don't get the need for speed when most of the motorists passing me probably waste hours a day checking email and Facebook. But losing 10 seconds behind me is an impossibilty.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Old folks should buy bikes

I am very lucky to live in an area with relatively flat biking available. Chester County, PA is home to the Brandywine River Valley. We have many roads that hug the long and winding creek. There is a west branch and east branch and they meet up in a little place called Northbrook. So there are lots of nice tree covered basically flat or easy hill roads for me to ride on.

Today I did a very easy 24 miles with the biggest hills being my ascent back into the West Chester boro where I live. I ride a nice bike and I have great equipment as well. I hear so many folks complain to me, I cannot afford to buy a bike or I am afraid to ride on the roads with the cars.

Both of these issues are valid but let me try and convince you otherwise. I purchased my bike 5 years ago. It is a custom bike mainly because I am tall for a woman and not able to buy off the rack so to speak. I have a few good cycling clothes, a helmet and very good bike lights.

I have studied the maps of my area and have driven many of the roads scouting out a good ride. Lots of preparation goes into taking up the sport of biking but so worth it. I have learned how to change a tire and I have learned how to clean and maintain my bike. I make the time to learn these things. As an older female cyclist, I believe in being prepared and knowledgeable on the road.

my custom Spectrum, titanium frame, Shimano ultegra

Pictured above is my bike and below that is the mighty Brandywine with a home way in the background rumored to be home to an Andrew Wyeth relative. 

OK you are still asking why bike????

1. to see great scenery and your own area up close, until I got a bike I had no idea the roads I am now biking on even existed

2. I am 65 years old in a few weeks, the knees are going along with other things but I can still bike and enjoy life

3. I bike slow, real slow, no cars have any issues getting past me, I rarely run into the nasty drivers I hear others complain about but I make every effort to assist in helping cars pass me

4. Get off  your tuff and try a new hobby, I took up biking at age 55 and now 10 years later I am still doing it

5. And most important, getting a bike.................

Go to a good bike store. You have several options, do your homework before you go.

1. buy a good hybrid bike, if you cannot see yourself on a road bike, consider a good hybrid with a TRIPLE CRANK, the triple crank is often referred to as the granny gear!!! well we are grannies

2. if you can see yourself on a road bike you can spend from approximately $1000 to $3000 depending on equipment

3. there are several good brands - TREK, SPECIALIZED, CANNONDALE to name a few. You do not need top of the line components but I do recommend  you get a triple crank

4. Check out my past posts on the right side of this blog on buying a bike, I have done many

Overall I have invested  a lot in this hobby. My custom bike was pricy, $5000 but five years later it is still like new and rides like a dream. For my 60th birthday and all future birthdays, my bike is my gift. Don't need any fancy cruise or a big party. I will ride hopefully for at least another 5 -10 years. So over a 10 year period my investment is now $500 per year. Hardly a steep price for health and exercise. You probably waste $500 a year on eating out and driving your car way too much. 

Your bike will not cost $5000 and can be had for way less. I have biked with lots of ladies over the last 10 years and most have upgraded their bikes. They started with low priced road bikes and after a few years realized the waste of money it was and upgraded to a better road bike.

Nonetheless, I often hear folks say I will buy a cheap bike and see if I like it. Well I can guarantee you will hate biking on your heavy, difficult bike and after a few rides you will discard the bike and complain you wasted your money.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

we are all guests on the roads

My gorgeous view today on the bike!!!

I finally have what looks like a full summer ahead of me on my bike. After a broken ankle and two rotator cuff surgeries I am fully healed and raring to go on my bike. I am very fortunate to own a custom Spectrum Bike with a triple crank making my biking relatively easy even with the hills in Chester County, PA

Today was 78 degrees and spring is bursting out all over my county. Flowering trees and daffodils were everywhere. I am a Medicare card carrying woman and today I had no trouble peddling away for 30 miles. How fortunate I am to have the health to do this!

As I was climbing slowly up a hill, a huge group of cyclists sped past, heads down with speed as their only goal. How fast, what's my mph, am I leading the group and the list goes on and on. I wonder do they take the time to smell the roses.

I rode by myself today and like the blog title says, I consider myself a guest on the roads. If I was driving a car I would feel the same way. We are all guests on these roads. Sharing the pavement with each other is what we should all do. Just like if you were a guest in someone's home,  don't make a fool of yourself on the roads be it in on a bike or in a car. Don't fight with cars, don't fight with other cyclists or anyone on the roads. I often hear members of my bike club refer to drivers as "dickheads", 'fuckwads" etc. Why such crude and useless descriptions when confronted with a driver?? What purpose does it serve?

We are all guests on the roads and if you are on the road and on a good road bike consider yourself one lucky person!! You are healthy, you can afford a good bike and you are in good shape. So stop whining and spread a little cheer when out biking. Move over and help a car get by on a narrow road, avoid cycling in such large groups that no one could possibly pass.  Every car you let by is one less angry driver. I don't feel like I have a right to be on the roads but I do feel it a privilege to be on the roads.

Try adjusting your attitude next time when on the roads. In the Philadelphia area where I live, folks carry guns and will shoot. We just had a young girl get shot in her car on a highway by an angry motorist.

So be a good road guest and do your part to help make everyone safe. Some friends I met along my ride pictured below.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

two recent bike deaths in my area

Two cyclists have been hit and killed in my local area of West Chester, PA. I do not know what these cyclists were wearing or the worthiness of their bike lights. I see many cyclists during the day wearing the new cool color for bikes - black. Why manufacturers make black bikes and black cycling hear is anybody's guess?  The two cyclists were both biking at night. If you commute to work on a bike, take some of the money you are saving on gas and buy top quaility 400 lumen lights for the front and back of bike. If you own nothing but black cycling gear get a reflector vest at Home Depot. The type the construction guys wear.

Mount your lights and put on as much reflective gear as possible. Keep your lights well charged. Get a good rear view mirror and use it.  Bike cautiously at night. Remember, NO ONE is paying attention anymore to the road. Constantly check rear view mirror for idiots behind you.

Always assume each and every car out there is aiming for you. Bike defensively at night. There is no margin for error.

Texting has changed everything for cyclists as it takes a blink of an eye for a car to swerve when involved in this activity. If the road has no shoulder, find another route. My son used to bike 30 or more into Philadelphia from the suburbs, he rode on my 4 lane highway with a huge shoulder. He had 10 feet between him and the cars. No a pleasant ride but a safe one. He now commutes in NYC and in the dark. He has 400 lumen lights and a reflective back pack. He bikes defensively.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Biking is dangerous, DON'T forget it for a second on the road!!

I pass cyclists all the time, some with helmets, some not, some yakking to the person next to them, some going way too fast down a hill, most if not all believing accidents happen to the other guy. Well that is simply not true.

A friend of mine who has been biking in all environments for over 40 years got hit by a car. He got brushed across the front and he went over his handlebars and ended up with cracked ribs and much bruising. His helmet saved his head. He did not see the car, it came from around a corner and plowed into him. The driver never saw him.

So shit happens!!! and it can happen to the most skilled cyclist. I see large groups racing around roads not meant for pace lines or speeding bikes, yet they continue this reckless behavior saying, hey we know what we are doing, we are not beginners.

Well so was my friend, but accidents happen. You must be 100% alert on the road. If for one second you forget you are on a road with 2 ton cars and trucks whizzing by you, then stop biking.

I avoid group riding now, I need to concentrate 100% of the time on the road. Drivers are crazy, cellphone and texting have changed our safety on the roads. For those of you riding at ridiculous speeds in pace lines double across, keep in mind, your biking puts us all in danger as drivers see you taking over the road and their  hatred spills over to me, an old lady biking slowly, alone and way over. If I have a car stuck behind me, I do not hesitate to pull over, better safe than sorry.

Most A level riders think I am a fool. We are safe and smart they all say. Just remember, everything YOU DO affects all the other cyclists out there. Your behavior impacts me.

I want to recommend all cyclists consider getting top flight bike lights and not the cheap blinkie lights.
You want 300-400 lumens and you want to be seen.

Here is a video of my lights and next time you are out on the road, biking across the yellow line, in pace lines 10-20 riders long, remember what you do on the road impacts the rest of us. Keep that in mind. PLEASE!!!! my bike lights

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Pay it forward if you can

I was out on my first ride of the season, solo riding which I prefer. Nice day, enjoyable ride, and having fun. I came across a group of 3 men, one was on the phone and the other two told me he had put two tubes in his tire and blew both as soon as they took off.

I knew the problem as we ALL have had this problem. We forget to check the tire for glass, metal or some pointy object. We took off his tire and I found the metal piece quickly. Lucky I had extra tubes and CO2 and was able to help get this tire back on and get the rider on his way.

I often wonder as I pass riders on the road, do they have a tube and an inflation system that they can actually use if need be?

I told the fellow whom I helped with my supplies that he was now obligated to pay it forward and help the next guy he sees stranded on the side of the road.

But if you are reading this and just home from a great ride, go out to your bike and pull off your little supply bag. It should have 2 tubes, 3 or 4 CO2 cartridges, and a tire lever that can actually do the job.

Practice changing a tire at home, do it in your yard standing up as that is how you have to do it on the road. Use whatever inflation system you have and practice with it. If you only carry a small pump make sure you can inflate the tire to a good pressure.

Pictured are my bag and supplies. I have plenty of C02, two tubes in plastic bags to protect them from punctures, a Pedro tire lever, big and strong, tools and some extra washers and screws for my shoe cleats. This all fits into my rather small useful bag. Also suggest buying your CO2 online, way cheaper than what they charge in bike stores.

ALWAYS carry a cell phone, and ID such as an expired driver's license. If you are biking with a friend or wife or hubby, make sure you EACH have a phone. You can get separated and then the phoneless spouse or friend is stuck. I have run across this scenario many times.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Not Copenhagen but a very ambitious effort in Pennsylvania, hats off to the Chester County Commissioners

Chester County, located west of Philadelphia by about 30 miles, has recently completed a 24 year effort to build a multi-use trail running from Exton, Pa to King of Prussia Pa. The trail was dreamed about in 1990 and finally in 2014 it is almost a reality.

For those living in areas that are not congested and hampered by many obstacles such as numerous culverts, overpasses to be built, highways, housing, industrial parks and the list goes on have no concept at how amazing this project was and IS!

The Chester Valley Trail will ultimately connect Exton, PA to Philadelphia PA once the last portion in Mongtomery County is completed. The Montgomery County portion will traverse one of the most congested shopping areas on the East Coast. To imagine a bike trail through this area is almost unbelievable. To see this effort in my county makes me proud to live here.

It is one thing to build a trail along an underdeveloped railroad bed but to put this trail right alongside a huge highway and areas of intense population is nothing short of a miracle. The final portion will go over the Schuylkill Expressway and wind its way over the Schuylkill River in Norristown and meet up with the famous Schuylkill River Trail.

The final trail from Exton to the the famous Art Museum steps that Rocky ran up will be approximately 50 miles in one direction making the full circuit almost 100 miles of trail running through an area that is just not to be believed until you ride it.

Hats off to all who had a hand in the project. Many folks fought long and hard to oppose the trail but by  very hard work, Chester County Commissioners hung in there and got the project completed. 9/11 almost killed the project as companies along the route feared terrorists using the trail.

But I want to extend a huge thank you to all involved.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ladies - Get a bike that fits, please

Biggest mistake ladies make when buying a bike  -  buying an ill fitting bike. Happens over and over, even good cyclists buy bad bikes. Rule number one.....

1. NEVER buy a man's bike, ever, ever ever ever, no matter what the guy says in the bike store, always ask if this is a women specific bike or a man's bike

2. DO you homework before going, there is a new thing out, it's called the Internet!!! use it and do your homework

3. See my post on bike gears and get yourself a bike that you will use over and over and over

4. check out a few different bike stores, there is no need to spend a ton of money, a good bike can be had for around $1400, you are saying holy cow, that much, hey do you want this hobby or not, think how much other hobbies cost over a few years time, skiing, golf or a vacation, $1400 is cheap in comparison

5. higher costs for a bike are determined by the quality of gearing, not necessary to buy top of the line

6. frame, wheels etc all go into the cost of the bike

7. NEVER LET THE bike store owner tell you that you do not need easy gearing, trust me, YOU WILL NEED IT

See you on the road!!!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Year's Plea for cyclists

Hey folks,  I have not died nor have I have I given up riding the ole bike. Just had a few setbacks - torn rotator cuff and broken ankle last May and surgery to fix it. Rotator cuff surgery this month, 4 month recovery and hopefully back to full time cycling. But I have squeezed in some riding since the broken ankle.

So why crank up the old blog now - well when I am out biking by myself, I get a chance to think about lots of things. Mostly biking things. Mostly safety issues when biking.  My motto - MAKE YOURSELF SEEN ON THE ROAD, RIDE DEFENSIVELY

So here goes my whining for the New year.........

1. ya just might be an unseen cyclist if you go out in an all black outfit, no one can see you, moron! get some day glo yellow or green, dress like a bumblebee

2. ya just might be an unseen cyclist if you have no light on your bike, get a good light, not some cheap blinkie light - use it day and night, I highly recommend the Dinotte 300R

3. ya might be an unsafe cyclist if you do stuff on your bike that you would not do in your car  such as riding up alongside waiting cars at a red light, stay in LINE, be like a car, take your place in line

4. ya might be an unsafe cyclist if you ride in large groups and make yourself one big pain in the neck on road, ever try passing a line of 15 riders on a back road in your car, come on man, split the group or pullover if you have a parade behind you

5. ya might be an obnoxious cyclist if you pass a rider and do not announce yourself,  now many of you guilty folks in this regard have never been passed, so you have zero idea how it feels

6. ya might be an unsafe cyclist if you ride in groups and forget to avoid riding down the center of the road, stay alert and stay safe

so my advice, stay safe, make sure the cars see you and know what you are doing and where you are going, use hand signals, get lights, get bright clothes so STAY ALIVE and bike courteously, share the road means just that - share the road, it goes both ways

Monday, March 26, 2012

why i think the standard triple is the best gear for women

I strongly believe the best possible gearing for women who are past 45 and want to bike well into their 70s and 80s, is the standard double with a third chain ring. Size is 52, 39, and 30. Why you ask is this better than a compact double or the new Apex gearing now appearing on many womens' bikes?

The standard triple

with the 50,40,30 and a 12-29 cassette in back offers the aging woman a bike that she can ride for years and years. The large 50 chain ring makes for some nice flying on flat roads. When I go into this gear I can easily maintain 17-19 mph on flat roads. The 40 is the most overlooked gear for women in my opinion. This gear is super. It give you a nice middle gear that is easy to push and often a handy gear for climbing hills. The compact triple does not have this gear. ( more to follow) The third chain ring at 30 with a 12-29 cassette in back makes for a nice hill climbing gear. What would make the standard double with a triple chain ring even more perfect would be for the number to read like this - 50, 40 and 30.

The compact

is 50/34 and that is it. Now you can push your cassette to a 29 in back but you are missing that good middle gear and climbing hills with the smallest gear being 34/29 is just not that easy as you begin to age into your 60s and 70s.

The standard double

is just a 52/39 and is often paired with a cassett that is 11-26. This bike gearing is ideal for young men and men who bike a lot. Also strong female riders may prefer this gearing especially if they get into competitive racing.

So what to buy?? Get a bike with the best gearing possible for a woman!! Not for a man. I recommend the standard double with a third chain ring, often called the triple.