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 52,39,30 and a 12-29 cassette in back offers the aging woman a bike that she can ride for years and years. The large 52 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 39 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 - 52,39 and 29.

The compact triple

is at a slight disadvantage in that the gearing is 50, 34 and 30. This gearing overlooks that very handy 39 on the standard double which is so handy.

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.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Giant Food Stores in PA SUCKS (off topic)

This picture above is ME, an angry ME.

Following is a copy of the letter I sent to the USA CEO of Giant FOOD Stores. If you are reading this, send him a letter as well and voice your anger. Giant is buying up all the foodstores in my town. Giant is in the states of PA. DE and NJ and I do not know where else.

Mr. Carl Schlicker CEO
PO Box 249
Carlisle, PA
March 14, 2012

Attention Mr. Schlicker,

I have been shopping at the Giant Food Store located at 698 Dowingtown Pike, West Chester, PA 19380 since it opened its doors. According to my Quicken information, I have spent close to $60,000 at that store since 2009. That is a lot of money. That is a LOYAL customer.

Imagine my shock when I learned that Giant does indeed use “pink slime” in their ground meat sold in MY Giant. I have been buying this product for at least 3 years with no knowledge of the chemicals and the processing that goes into this product.

I got an email back from Eileen Katz at Consumer Affairs at Giant telling me this is a safe product. She even goes as far as to say “All types of lean finely textured beef are sustainable products because they recover lean meat that would otherwise be wasted. The beef industry is proud to produce beef products that maximize as much lean meat as possible from the cattle we raise. If this beef is not used in fresh ground beef products, approximately 1.5 million additional head of cattle would need to be harvested annually to make up the difference, which is not a good use of natural resources, or modern technology, in a world where red meat consumption is rising and available supply is declining.”

Oh my, Giant is saving the earth with this product. Well then let’s dig in, ammonia and all.

What infuriates me the most is that Giant did this without telling its consumers. I do not care how safe Giant says this product is, it is the sheer fact that if this product is so damn good why not advertise it? Why not make it public to your consumers??

Without your consumers, Giant has nothing except empty stores. This underhanded tactic has caused me to lose complete faith in ALL of your products. What else are you not telling your consumers?

I am disgusted by this action. When I asked my butcher if pink slime was in the ground meat he replied, “NO.” When I asked the manager, he thought no but said he would check into it. I never heard back, Again, why the secrecy, put this fact displayed above the ground meat. See how many of us gobble up that ground meat.

Today I went to Whole Foods and spent $165 on meat and fresh veggies. I stocked my freezer with Whole Foods ground beef. I will never buy Giant ground beef again nor do I feel confident buying other meats in your stores.

I hope Giant discontinues this practice and makes more information available at the stores about where the meat comes from, what is in the meat?

I am one disappointed customer and my lost faith will be hard to regain.

Elizabeth Maxim

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

buying a bike for a woman, holy cow, every bike store has a different story

I have spent the last two days helping an older woman get a new bike. She has biked for over 20 yrs on a heavy bike and as she has aged she needs a lighter model with better gearing.

Here is a list of some stuff we learned:
1. Don't buy aluminum
2. Don't buy carbon
3. Don't buy the new Sram Apex, too hard for women to shift
4. Buy Apex, it is great
5. A man's bike is just like a woman's bike
6. Don't get a triple
7. Get a triple
8. Which is better, large chain bike store or local bike store??
9. Plus this is my opinion ONLY but i do feel old folks, over 70 get ZERO information from the bike store. From what I can see they are at the mercy of the store associate. This person wants to sell a bike no matter what. And these folks tend to believe anything they are told as they do not know how much stuff they SHOULD know before even going to the store.

So what to do??

From what I have pieced together aluminum with a carbon fork is a fine choice for this lady. Carbon is not a deal breaker. The Apex is an unknown to me. For one thing, your cogs in back jump from 11 to 32, not leaving a whole lot of choice in between with lots of jumps. Some may find this difficult to get used to.

A man's bike has a longer top tube. A man's bike has wider handle bars. A man's bike has a MAN'S seat. A man's bike is not a nice color for chicks. Too much black. A man's bike has huge brake shifters and gear shifters. Now I guess if you are a woman with a long long torse, wide shoulders and big hands, hey wait, if you had all that you would be MAN. SO STAY away from a man's bike. There are plenty of great women specific bikes on the market.


With help from several sources I came to the following conclusions.

1. If you have the money -$3000 or more- get a women's specific carbon frame bike with Shimano components or a good comparable brand such as SRAM. Get the Shimano 105s if you can or Ultregra. A bike this price SHOULD be equipped with good rims. Ask about the rims. I HIGHLY recommend a triple unless you are in your 20s-30s and fairly athletic. If you are a weekend rider, GET A TRIPLE. If you are past 45 and want to bike well into your sixties or seventies, GET A TRIPLE. If you can get a 12-29 cassette on back. You will personally thank me. This bike will last a long long time at these prices.

2. If your budget is between $1500 - $3000 you have to make compromises. Might want to forego the carbon for aluminum. Can lower the quality of the components. Shimano has several levels of quality -Shimano order of components (high to low): dura ace, ultegra, 105, tiagra, sora.

3. If I can believe bike store man, Shimano has a nice easy touch, making it ideal for small hands. But again, this could just be his preference.

4. Some suggested models if you budget is under $1200. This came from a trusted friend who does NOT own a bike store.

Cannondale Synapse Alloy Women's 6 (Tiagra) = MSRP $1280

" " " " 7 (Sora) = MRRP $1000

Trek Lexa S (Sora - Front/Tiagra - Rear) = MSRP $960
" " SL (Tiagra) = MSRP $1210

Specialized Dolce Sport Triple (Sora) = MSRP $1100

Fuji Finest 1.0 (Tiagra) = MSRP $1179

SO IN CONCLUSION, find your price point before you go to the store. Follow guidelines above. Ask questions, do not let yourself be talked into anything you do not want.

I personally bike on a Spectrum Custom bike made by Tom Kellogg of Pensylvania. I have Shimano Ultrega with a Standard Double with an additional 30 triple chain ring up front. My cassette in back goes from 12-29. I have Mavic rims and fabulous seat by Selle. Woman's seat! My bike is made of titanium. I have LOOK Keo pedals and the highest float cleat made for LOOK.

I can ride and ride all day long and can climb most hills. I did 5000 miles last year and this year I am forgoing the counting of miles. Simply riding whenever I feel like it. I am retired. I am 62 and 5'10'" tall. Hence the reason for a custom as no store bike would fit me and the stores would try to stick me on an ill-fitting man's bike.

Get educated BEFORE you buy your bike. You are spending a ton of money. But it is a one time purchase. A good bike will last a long long time if you keep it clean and maintain the components.

Good luck and go biking.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


HERE in Philadelphia we cannot stop killing each other. Everyday there is a story about the senseless death of a young person. This past weekend a young man was brutally beaten to death when he interacted with strangers in a passing car. A quick use of the "f" bomb and three men jumped out of a car and beat to death a 23 year old man.

What does this have to do with cycling? Plenty! I hear stories from fellow cyclists that go something like this; this da**m guy in a pick up truck, who does he think he is, or some guy in a big SUV buzzed me, I gave that jerk the finger to show him and it goes on and on.

SO RULE NUMBER ONE for cyclists - Never interact with a motorist. Never give a motorist the finger. Never try to make a point with a motorist. Their car is bigger than your bike. Their car may have a loaded gun in it.

And please stop making assumptions about the folks in the cars or trucks that pass you. You have no idea what is going on in that person's life or day and to make assumptions about the drivers of these cars is plain arrogant.

When you bike, go out and enjoy yourself. If an unruly driver is coming, pull over and let him or her pass. Don't try to make a point. As it might get you killed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

open letter to older women with kids and families

Today I received an email from a mother of 3, wife and parttime bank teller. She recently went back to horse back riding. She was a talented rider when she was young and in high school. Marriage, 3 kids, husband surviving throat cancer and money woes later, she decided to try horse back riding again. She is in her late 40s.

Here is her post to me.....

It's amazing what riding a good horse for a while can do for me. The first and second lessons had me breathing really hard--it's a lot of work cantering around a ring on a horse and keeping it all together like I did back in the day. Today I wasn't breathing nearly as hard. I even brought my old saddle today that I had up in the garage and used that. The whole thing is like opening up an old dream box for me. The instructors are amazed that I am doing so well at this age, after all these years. It comes back just like riding a bike. Anyway, I don't know how much longer I will be able to afford to do it, but I just wanted to let you know how much fun it has been, and how happy it has made me. I actually feel good at something again in my life.

So what does this have to do with biking??

Biking is an activity you can do as an older woman. You can go out with other like minded folks or bike solo. Join a bike club in your area. Bike on a bike trail.

But find something you can do that does not involve your family or kids. Physical activities enrich your life as you age. You feel good. I have now been biking seriously for 5 or so years. I can jump on my bike and do 50 miles and hardly blink. I climb hills and coast down hills. I see eagles, herons, owls and deer and horses and cows and the list is endless.

I hear all kinds of excuses from older ladies. For once in your life, stop making excuses and using your family and finances as a reason you are not doing something for yourself.

Make the time, pick some type of physical hobby and do it - even just walking around the block is a start. JUST DO IT.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Living in a state park

Ridley Creek State Park is only 16 miles from Center City Philadelphia but is an oasis of tranquility and beauty. Get on your bike and take a trip to the park and enjoy the 5 mile mulit-use trail in the park. Get a peek at one of the 24 houses that are rented out on a lottery system. Folks wait 20 or more years to get a chance to rent one of the historic homes, Read about this park at and read the article below for more information on this unusual way to live in nature.

It's a wild life for envied tenants of park dwellings

March 27, 2011|By Mari A. Schaefer, Inquirer Staff Writer

Never mind the drafty windows, or the sagging floorboards, or the lilliputian closets, or the frozen pipes, or the bugs that creep in, or the occasional coyote on the porch.

Scattered through the woods and across the meadows of Ridley Creek State Park are 24 of the most coveted rental homes in Delaware County, with a list of 500 applicants vying to time-travel back a couple of centuries.

The wait can be interminable. The hardy band of tenants who occupy the historic abodes tend to stay put, viewing life in the wilds not as an inconvenience but as a gift.

Built in 1771, hers is hardly the oldest of the dwellings that the state has rented out since it bought the land in the late 1960s and fashioned a 2,606-acre park.

Some are remnants of an early-18th-century village that sprang up around a gristmill and a sawmill. They include what were once the town library, the mill office, several workers' homes, and farmhouses - all anointed in 1976 by the National Register of Historic Places.

Tenants pay $500 to $2,000 a month, but one month a year is rent-free. In return for the break, they take on the labor and cost of minor maintenance and repairs, such as fixing broken windowpanes and torn screens. Projects the magnitude of bathroom renovations or new roofs require park approval, and they earn rent credits for those who do the work themselves. Improvements must be done out of necessity, however, not in surrender to modernity.

Warren Graham, a 60-year-old beekeeper, and Cecile Mann, 59, are among the rare newcomers. They moved into their two-story stone home in early 2010, just in time for record snows.

In a rookie mistake, they parked their car near the house, rather than the end of their 100-yard-long driveway. "We couldn't get out for five days," Mann said.

The house had been empty for a few years while a small bridge to the property was repaired. Animals made their way inside and left their scent. So the couple's first year has been spent scrubbing the walls and cleaning.

"The house was quite neglected, but we have begun to resurrect it," said Graham, whose never-ending to-do list includes a refurbished kitchen and floor and a garden.

"You wonder if you're crazy," he said. "But then, on a spring day, it's" - he paused - "wonderful."