Thursday, December 30, 2010

my final rant of 2010

Both my son and I have had spectacular years in biking. Frey biked 10,600 miles and I biked 4500 miles. While Frey is 26 years old, I am 60 years old. Not bad biking for an old lady.

I was out today getting my last 40 miles in to hit the 4500 mark. Saw only one cyclist. Temperature was 40 degrees and the roads still had some water and ice from our snow storm last Sunday. I am sure you heard about the snowstorm in the Northeast especially if you were flying.

Sorry about that. Anyhoo, as I was biking along the roads, many of the shoulders were covered in snow and had a good melt going. I had to bike in the center of the road to avoid some hazards. And it got me thinking.

On December 22 the Philadelphia Inquirer had an opinion piece about policemen and why they don't tickets cyclists for traffic violations. Most readers all agreed. Yeah, give those bums tickets if they run a light or stop sign.

Well if you motorists want us cyclists to ride like cars, then by golly, that is what I am going to do. Today I got right in the middle of the lane when the shoulder hazards demanded it. I rode down the middle of the road where cars where parked on the right to avoid the "door opening hazard". On one road I had to climb a small hill and there was NO shoulder. I got right in the middle of road. Would you believe a car squeezed past me to rush to the red light only to have me pass him as I turned right at the light?

So for 2011, I will ride my bike like a car since this is what the motorists claim they want. I will take the whole lane when it is necessary and at stop lights and stop signs, I plan on sitting in the middle of the lane...just like a car!!!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

stupid editorial in the Daily Local News

Here is the title to an editorial that appeared in the Daily Local News of Chester County, PA - "Bad cyclists aside, bike initiative is an excellent idea." Ellen Zadoff, chairperson of the Chester County Bicycle Coalition is trying to make West Chester, PA a more bike friendly town. Yet our esteemed local newspaper editor takes that opportunity to use something good about biking and turn it into something bad. Ellen wants to make our community safe for cyclists. She wants some bike racks and some safety initiatives in our boro. Good for you Ellen.

The Daily Local editor posts an editorial that spends half of its content on bad cyclists. Gimme a break. Here is my letter I immediately sent to the editor. Feel free to send him more. His name and email is Editor, Andrew M. Hachadorian, 610-430-1116, (e-mail)


Just loved the editorial, really, just kidding.

Please show me all the cars that stop at stop signs in the boro of West Chester. I live near 3 boro stop signs; corner of E Virginia and N Matlack, intersection of E Marshall and N Matlack and three way stop at E Vriginia and N Franklin. I cannot count how many cars run the stop signs on E Virginia Ave and I often see cars bombing through the stop sign on E Marshall. Before you start bashing cyclists let's all take a hard look at all the automobile abuses in the boro. When was the last time you were able to drive down E Gay street and not have to dodge all the illegally double parked trucks? When was the last time you saw a car actually come to complete stop at a stop sign in the boro? When was the last time you were able to park and unload in an loading/unloading only space?

I seriously doubt anyone is going to be killed if a bike does not come to a complete stop at a stop sign. Cars weigh tons and can kill. Bikes weigh less than 50 pounds and cannot kill. Good friends of mine, both over the age of 65, were biking on a tandem bike. They were hit by a car and left unconscious on the road. Where is the outrage in your editorial for this kind of behavior?

Bashing cyclists is the easiest thing for uninformed editors to do. It creates a big huge surge in angry comments from all the drivers in the boro. How easy to bash a cyclist on the road? I bike all over the county. I do my utmost to avoid awful motorists. Yet cars will go out of their way to buzz me close. I even had a car go over the white line at the edge of the road to buzz me even closer.

My son was just in Amsterdam. He said the cyclist is king in that country. Cyclists have their own roads and never have to interact with cars. Until this happens in America, the cars have to share the road with cyclists. The day that a car goes out if its way to be nice to me on my bike, is a day I am still waiting for.

Libby Maxim

Friday, December 3, 2010

man oh man oh man

(I did not take this pic, but this is what I saw)

I was out biking today, high 30s and blustery. But the sun was shining and it was a glorious day for biking. I am well suited for cold weather biking, probably the large layer of blubber I carry around helps!!

Anyhooo, while biking I spot a huge grey heron sitting on a log on the Brandywine River. A sight to see. I continue on and come to a spot where I often spot herons and other marvels of nature. I was biking slowly and quietly along the distant pond and I see a large bird sitting atop a huge dead tree. The tree is barren and sitting on top was this large brown bird. I knew it was special. I moved farther up the road and lo and behold, the bird's head is WHITE. I knew it had to be a bald eagle. It finally took off and I could see how large the bird was.

If you bike slow enough and look hard enough, you can indeed spot many a marvelous thing. Today I saw 2 herons and 1 bald eagle.

What did you see today? Did you take the time to notice something new? I hope so.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

the "zen" of biking

Biking as a sport is loads of fun and often done in groups or bike club rides. Most folks like to bike with other people. Most folks bike for social companionship. Few ever bike alone as it looks odd if you are out there by yourself. Most folks who pass you think, gee, poor slob, she has no friends. She is all alone on the roads. How dangerous!

Well, this year, after biking exclusively with other folks, I got the courage to do it alone. I carry a cell phone, I can change a bike tire and I tend to bike on roads that are familiar to me. I make a route and off I go. After a full season of "alone biking" I have discovered it is a different activity when out by yourself.

It is completely silent. No one is talking. You tend to look around more and notice small stuff. You see birds, plants, trees, flowers and small animals. You hear the wind and the sounds of leaves falling. You get to a place where you are no longer biking but just enjoying the outdoors around you. You forget about your heart rate, your speed, your pace and all the stuff many weekend warriors worry about. Your mileage is not important. The only thing you want to do is to be out there; pedaling and moving quietly along the country roads.

It becomes more "zen" like. I imagine many runners feel this same way as running tends to be a singular activity. Solo biking is relaxing and quiets the mind. Far better than sitting at home watching TV or sweating away in a spinning class. In a spin class, all you think about is how many calories you are burning.

Solo biking is worth it. You have to do a lot of it to get to the point that you stop fretting over the cars and getting buzzed or taunted. That all slides away and you reach a point where it is just you and the road and your bike.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

West Chester dude commutes 60 miles a day to school

Frey is commuting 60 miles a day from West Chester PA to center city Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania. Frey sold his car to help pay for grad school. He had to spend some cash to get his bike "commuting worthy".

Panniers were a must. He did 10 weeks with a backpack and realized he needed panniers to tote gear and food and liquids. Reflective jersey a must as well. Frey has front and back lights, each running 400 lumens of light. Battery packs are attached to his bike. Frey bikes with a lot of weight on his bike. It is heavy when you pick it up.

Frey is 6'7" and had to get an extension for the fork to get his handlebars up high enough. The bike is a store bought Cannondale 63 cm, more than 5 yrs old. He has a setback seatpost and 185 cranks.

His supplies consist of tons of food and his trademark "Triathlon Juice". He carries a pump, CO2, tubes, tires and tools. Way more than the normal bike rider carries. He comes home at night and has to be prepared for most anything as the bike stores along the way are closed.

To quote Frey, "bike commuting is the best part of grad school". He likens it to taking two additional classes as he spends 4 hrs a day on the bike. So with 4 courses already, the commuting puts that up to 6 classes.

One thing Frey has noticed is that the regular folks along his route remember him and they wave to him. The crossing guards sometimes help him cross a 4 lane highway. Heading home at night and in the cold takes lots of planning. Lots of layers are packed in the panniers.

Penn is very accommodating. He has an indoor spot to lock his bike. He rents a locker right in his classroom building to store his gear and a change of clothes for classes . So he does not have to drag winter coats and stuff to walk around campus. His wardrobe is a pair of shorts and a t-shirt that he leaves in his locker.

Frey is closing in on 10,000 miles for the year. His most mileage ever for one year. Biking is such a cool way to get places. Most folks find millions of excuses as to why they cannot bike commute. It does take preparation. It takes time and dedication. Frey gets in around 9 pm Monday night and is back on the road at 7 am the next day.

Anybody can get in a car and drive to work. It takes someone special to bike there. Hats off to you Frey. A job well done.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

why I love biking part 5, making new friends

a great slide show plus I had a large heron fly right over me and two red tailed hawks soared close as well, a great day for riding, cold, windy and brilliant sunshine......

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

why I love biking part 4

there is a large heron in this pic, look hard, my cell phone camera skills suck

what we all have in mind when we hear "free range chickens"

real grass fed cows

my bike and Cookie the cow (her name was on a tag in her ear)

I have discovered that this time of the year in Pennsylvania is the best time for biking. I love, loves the low 50s for biking. Love not sweating. Love the changing leaves. Love the gusty winds. Love seeing all the animals and birds. Deer everywhere. Herons and hawks gracing the skies and the landscape. Biking is the bestest ever activity. It is just plain fun.

Get out there and bike.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

why I love biking part 3

Today I rode through the covered bridge above and then I ran across this beautiful swan. The swan pranced around and posed for me and another lady who was also taking pictures.

The whole ride was one beautiful scene after the next. Blowing leaves and a good wind to remind me that it was indeed getting colder and winter is soon coming.

Chester County has some of the most scenic countryside in Pennsylvania. Unless you bike, you are missing much of it. I did pass a large group of seniors all getting ready to take a hike. I passed many cyclists out as well enjoying the gorgeous day.

Monday, October 25, 2010

why I love biking part 2

I am battling a bad knee. Doctor said go ahead and bike until the surgery, just load up on pain meds. So I downed 3 Advils and out I went. I had no plan except to just have fun. I meandered all around Chester County. Meandering on a bike is just plain fun. When you bike alone, you can go whatever speed you want and take whatever route you want.

So this is what I did. I ended up doing 40 miles. But it was pure joy. The leaves are so brilliant. It is as if they are spray painted. Plus with today's wind, they were falling like snow. I was peddling down a country road with a creek winding alongside. I spotted out of the corner of my eye a blue heron standing stiff as a statue. The heron was trying in vain to disappear into the foliage. I stopped my bike and as soon as I did, the heron took flight. The heron has to be the largest I have ever seen. Its body was gigantic. The wing span was huge and the sound of those large wings flapping as it took off was something to behold. Whoosh, whoosh as it disappeared into the sky.

If you are not biking, you are missing one of the most enjoyable activities. You can bike at any age. Enjoying the sights and sounds of nature and your surrounds, nothing is better.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

hey Bike Store owners and managers, gimme a break

my bike - a custom Spectrum by Tom Kellogg

I got an email the other day from the manager of a local bike store. It was a woman which made her email even more maddening. Here is her email...........

"Hi Libby,
I work at So and So Bike Store in West Chester...a customer named Jane recently purchased a hybrid and was looking for casual/social/easier rides and I thought you may be able to point her in the right direction.
If you don't mind, I'll pass along your email and maybe you can advise her of some C level or "chick rides".
Thanks, Libby and have a super day,
manager So and SO Bikes of West Chester"

My reply.......

"the ABC Cycling Club does not offer rides for hybrid bikes
only road bikes , I hate to see a woman buy a hybrid as it limits her
all of our C rides are for road only
hybrids are too heavy and slow and not road worthy for the hills in CC
tell her to use the Schuylkill River Trail

sorry, Libby "

I was out today riding in beeeaaaauuuuutiful Chester County, PA. Nothing but red and gold leaves reflecting off of the Brandywine Creek. Gorgeous stuff. Tons of cyclists. Too many to count. But I could count the women, maybe I saw 3-4 ladies out there. One on a hybrid and the rest are road bikes. The men, all ages, with nary a one on a hybrid or some clunky bike.

Why do bike store personnel assume when a woman comes in for the first time that a hybrid is a good choice? I hear this sentiment often. "Well, I got a hybrid because it was cheaper and I want to make sure I like biking."

Trust me, you are NEVER going to like biking on that monstrosity you just bought. Women tend to be smaller and not quite as strong as men (some women) and yet bike stores stick them on the heaviest and most cumbersome bike in the store.

When I ride with my bike club, the men are all on bikes light as feathers. Fast, sleek and light! No wonder they love cycling.

Bike stores limit the potential for making a life long customer by selling the women hybrids. These ladies will ride maybe 2-5 times and give up. All they can do is ride on a flat bike trail and even that is going to harder than the guy on the road bike whizzing by them.

The bike store is never going to see this lady again. Her bike will sit in her garage unused. Had they sold her a good road bike, she would be back, she would want bike gear, and would most likely will be upgrading her road bike after a year or so and be looking for an even better bike.

So Bike Store owners, do me a favor please. Offer the woman who comes into your store a chance to think of herself as a cyclist. Encourage her to buy the road bike. Tell her the drawbacks of the hybrid. At least give her the choice. When you steer her to the hybrid you are assuming she will never be a cyclist and you just want to sell a bike. This shortsighted approach is the the one reason in my opinion that men rule the road and women, well, their bikes are sitting in the garage.

Friday, October 22, 2010

do you bike on the roads??

I get this question all the time. When I mention to folks that I bike, the first thing out of their mouths, "do you bike on the roads?" Where else would I bike? They assume I am on bike trails. Right now my county is building an ambitious trail that will ultimately connect West Chester, PA with Philadelphia, PA. While I enjoy biking on trails, the real joy of biking happens on the roads.

Chester County is fortunate to be an ideal place to try biking on the roads. We have a road network in our county that is hard to find elsewhere in the country. We have so many tertiary roads that I could conceivably bike on different roads each and every time I head out on my bike.

Tree lined roads, horse farms nestled along the roads, big fat piggies walking alongside deserted back roads and the list goes on and on. What can be better than biking by yourself on a nice country road enjoying the scenery? Nothing.

I have posted before though that to succeed in biking on roads with fast traveling cars takes some practice and skills. You must have a rear view mirror. You must dress in bright clothing. You must follow all rules of the road. You must be aggressive. Cars must know what your next move is going to be. No sudden stops, no swerving into the car lanes, signal when turning and on and on. Bike like your drive a car.

Always carry your cell phone and make sure you know how to change a tire. Carry supplies for tire changing. You WILL get a flat at some point in time.

Have fun and bike on the roads. Chester County is quickly becoming a biking mecca. I see many cyclists out. I see old folks, young folks, men and women. Get your bike out and join us on the roads.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

the time of his life - Superman

Frey's leg ( yes, he can bike barefoot,too!)

My son, Frey (free) is earning his Masters at the University of Pennsylvania. While this is a huge opportunity for him and he appreciates it greatly, his greatest joy this autumn is the commute to Philadelphia from his home in West Chester, PA. The total commute is close to 60 miles. He travels down Rt 3, known as West Chester Pike, and climbs into the city through Fairmount Park. He has spectacular lights for his bike, over 240 lumens for his tail light.

He does this ride 5 times a week. His mileage for the year is high, he is closing in on 9000 miles for 2010. He said the ride is beyond fun and challenging. Rt 3 is busy, busy, busy. He has to pass the on and off ramps for I 476, which in itself is harrowing.

He is quickly becoming a regular on this ride. The crossing guards give him a wave. The construction guys give him a wave. He has a horn and squeaks it back to give an hello to his new road friends. He travels with about 25 lbs on his back. His food consumption is high and he carries his daily needs in his backpack. Since the roads are littered with glass and nails, he carries tubes, tires and patch kits.

He rolls in to home around 9 pm. On Mondays, he gets in after 9 pm and hits the road on Tuesday by 7 am to make his 10 am class. Frey locks his bike in a closet in a building on campus. The building is security locked and has a security guard. Frey's bike is in a closet. The security guard has nicknamed Frey, Superman. He goes into a small closet in bike gear and comes out in street clothes and eyeglasses.

As I have said, "the time of his life. Enjoy, Frey!"

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

disabled for biking

My goal for miles this year was 5000 but alas, my left knee is going to derail those plans. Currently I have 3800 miles on my bike. Glorious biking through beeeeautiful Chester County. Heading to doctor today,I will most likely need the scoping of the knee as I had done on my right knee a few years back.

Recovery is not bad, I hope that is all it is as I MISS biking. I will miss the fall foliage and the best weather for biking.

So instead, I am busy painting some rooms in my house to give me something to do as I am in complete withdrawal from biking.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

why I love biking

look hard, the piggy is out in the distance

Here in the northeast, we have had about 3 days of rain. But today the sun came out and I went for a bike ride in gorgeous Chester County. My usual sights are hawks, foxes, herons, goats and tons and tons of horses and foals. As I was making my way down a very back road, I spotted out in the distance a large black pig. At first I was hesitant to pass it. I have never run into a pig walking on the side of a road before. I slowly crept up and lo and behold, I see the largest pig I have ever seen just meandering down the road.

I tired in vain to get a picture but fumbled with my camera phone as I rarely use it. The picture above is the best I could do. This piggy had come down a long country driveway, crossed a bridge and then turned and went down another driveway. Now since I was out in the country, I could see no farms or houses.

But apparently Porky the Pig knew where he was going. But so much fun for me to spot this piggy and watch him.

Biking is the best activity by far.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

be aggressive but talented too

Biking is never going to become an acceptable means of travel and recreation until folks doing it learn to think about the other folks on the roads and become talented and skilled riders. I see large groups of fast cyclists riding together and basically taking up the entire lane. Often times, they are 4 abreast and unaware of any cars behind them or even the scare of death they give to a slower cyclist that they might pass on the road.

This just happened to me last weekend. I got passed by a large group of cyclists and they wizzed by very close and not one person in the group announced "passing on the left." It was unnerving to say the least and very poor form. I saw others speeding over large gravel piles and taking no precautions for safety. I see cyclists make sudden turns or stops. I had a female cyclist miss hitting me by inches going downhill. She did not think about the rain and her brakes.

Biking is a fabulous activity and lots of fun. I have discovered the joys of solo cycling this year and find it the most relaxing activity. But I have also learned how to be a better cyclist. I spent a lot of time riding with my 26 year old son. He is now commuting 60 miles a day to center city Philadelphia so he is doing some serious riding. Getting into the city from an outlying suburb takes some serious skills on the bike and tons of experience biking on highways and busy streets.

But what I have learned from my son is how to bike and be in charge on the road. He stays way over on the side, never dominates the car lane and follows all the rules of the road. But he also is in charge of himself in relationship to the cars. At intersections he gets right out in front of a car if he needs to take a lane to make a left turn. He is dominant on the road but not to the point of being stupid. This is a fine line and I have learned from watching him bike that he can be aggressive but at the same time show talent and confidence on his bike. The cars KNOW exactly what he is going to do next.

His model of cycling has helped me immensely on the roads. I feel more confident and more skilled on the road. But like my son, I never take this for granted. I constantly think about what I am doing on the road. I constantly use my rear view mirror. I constantly look for gravel or pot holes. Cycling is fun but it also demands vigilance on the road.

So be aggressive but be skilled at the same time. Take care and you will not find yourself hitting gravel and flying over your handlebars.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bike Communting with $450 worth of lights

I know a fella who is bike commuting to Philadelphia from the outlying suburbs. The round trip runs around 60 miles. So this is a substantial commute. On the advice of his trusty friend, the Internet, he decided to invest in some high powered lights. The lights require that the cyclist attach the battery packs to the bike frame.

So armed with a huge backpack and his huge body (he is 6'6") and the fabulously powered lights, he said biking became a whole new adventure. On his way in, during daylight, he turned the lights on as he approached the city limits. He said all of a sudden, he noticed that cars and buses started giving him a wide berth. Coming home it had become dark and he had both the front and back lights blaring, he said the wide berth experience was even more pronounced. Buses hung back and passed him slowly as the drivers gave him the OK sign. On four lane roads, cars moved over to the passing lane.

People stared at him. He passed a high school soccer game and he said they all turned to look. So the investment in the high powered lights was worth every penny. No one buzzed him. No one gave him the finger and swore. Apparently the motorists had no idea who or want he was. Being a large male certainly helps but he has been hassled and buzzed on his bike. The big difference seems to be the lights. They create an impression that he is either a police officer or someone important. No matter what, the lights seem to keep him safe.

Here is the link to the company he used to buy lights: DiNotte Lighting. My son bought a tail light with 240 lumens. So spend some serious cash. It's cheaper than an ER visit.

If you are a commuter and plan on doing it regularly, go get some good bike lights. I want them now. Although an old lady on a bike with high powered lights might not elicit the same response as a huge 20 something male on a bike.

Friday, August 13, 2010

our vulnerability and helping each other

This blog has detailed my many biking adventures and the joys of doing this activity as we age. I am accustomed to asking folks who are off their bikes along the sides of the roads if they are OK?? Most time they are fine. Today I was not on my bike but coming home in my car from picking berries and nectarines from my local "u-pic-um" farm. I see a neighbor sitting on the grass at the side of the road with a dog who appears to be down as well.

Lo and behold my neighbor was indeed in need of help. The dog was merely comforting her as she lay in pain. She had fallen and had either broken her ankle or sprained it badly. The dog was not her dog. She was walking a neighbor's dog and slipped on the wet grass. She was as pale as a sheet and desperately needing help. My son and I got her and the dog into the car, we took the dog home and retrieved my neighbor's purse and took her to the ER.

I left all my phone numbers with her in case she needs a ride home. Not sure if she has other folks she can call. This lady is a loner. She lives alone and I never see anyone at her home. I know her as we both have lived here forever. My heart ached for her when I saw her stranded on the side of road.

Like me, she is getting older. She and I are now the resident old farts in the neighborhood. The older folks have died off and young families have moved into their homes. My greatest strength is that I am a nosy neighbor. I do notice folks. I know everyone's pets and cars and whatnot. I would recognize anyone even if I did not know their names.

Lesson to be learned is that as we age, carry your cell phone, even when walking a dog. You never know when you might go down. I wear ROAD ID as well when biking but I am thinking maybe it is not a bad idea to wear it all the time. Lucky for my neighbor I know her. I could help. I am heading back to the hospital to see what is up. I have called several times and she was still in the ER.

Bike more and get better

I bike with many different folks; ladies, men and newbies and experts as well. At one point I was a newbie. I was afraid on the road and I could not do many things on my bike except fall over when put into a difficult spot. I fell going up steep hills, and I fell at intersections when I could not unclip fast enough.

I have had my fair share of close calls. I could not even stand up on my bike when riding. Last year my total miles was 2400. Sounds like a lot but even that high number was not enough to make me much better on the roads.

This year I am already at 3000 miles. And this year I am improving. I can now stand. I can now avoid the falls, and I can now bike on busy roads. Have I done anything extraordinary on the bike?? No. I simply went out and biked. Some days I went fast and some days I went slow.

I had no plan. I went to no training clinics. I do not wear a heart rate monitor. I have no idea what cadence means. I have no plan except to get out more and bike.

I have found as well that many ladies want to bike and do it sometimes but not enough to improve. As a result, they give up. They make excuses as to why they cannot bike. I have had little success in getting women to bike regularly. Since I have been leading bike rides for my club I can count on one hand the number of ladies over the last 4 years that have really taken to biking. My hat is off to these ladies. It is fun to see them improve and ride. One lady recently rode across Iowa and one lady is doing her 2nd 100 mile ride this weekend. If these ladies and myself can do this, why can't you? None of us is under the age of 50 and yet we found a way to bike. One of us is retired, one works full time and one works parttime. So we come from all walks of life.

So tell me, just what is your excuse??

Sunday, August 8, 2010

thanks frey

Frey (free) and a friend

Yesterday I did a 54 mile bike ride, the Dog Daze Ride sponsored by the Brandywine Bike Club of Chester County, PA. It was a long fairly hilly ride but the weather had finally cooled and it was quite nice for a change, no sweat stinging my eyes. Most sponsored rides attract folks ranging from expert to novice. My son , Frey, accompanied me.

I am a good rider but I cannot do the speeds of the faster folks on these rides. Pace lines flew by, old men passed me on the hills and younger women also passed me. We had men go flying by pumping away up the long climbs.

My son can easily out bike anyone on this ride. He is large and strong and one awesome cyclist. He has the stamina of a work horse when he is on a bicycle. But not once in this ride did he ever feel the urge to take off and try and pass anyone. Never once even when the old gray haired guys went by and said, "hey, how ya doing?"

Took me over 4 hours to complete the 54 miles. My son could have done it in half the time. But he choose to ride with me, lucky me:)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Open Letter to the Chester County Commissioners

Chester Valley Trail approaching Bacton Hill Road

These are the names and email addresses of the Chester County Commissioners
Kathi Cozzone -

If you live in Chester County, PA and are a cyclist, do yourself a favor and get political about the new Chester Valley Trail. This trail sat in limbo until Carol Aichele gave it a strong push. Thanks to Carol, this trail may at some point become a reality. We, here in Chester County, have been waiting since 1991 for this trail.

Today, I made my way from West Chester to the trailhead at Phoenixville Pike just south of the Battle of the Clouds Park. I biked along the trail to the Church Road bridge which is currently under construction. We left the trail and got back on it at Mill Road. This trail will be a SENSATIONAL bike riding experience for the residents of Chester County when finished. This trail is supposed to connect to the Schuylkill River Trail at some point in the future.

If I was a Commissioner, I would be doing everything humanly possible to see that this trail completes. It is planned to go from Downingtown, PA to the Schuylkill River Trail in three phases. Phase 1 is now being built. This phases goes from Valley Creek Blvd to Rt 29. Phase 2 will go from Rt 29 to ultimately the Schuylkill River Trail. Phase 1 and Phase 2 are scheduled to be complete in 2012. Phase 3 goes from Valley Creek Blvd to Downingtown and currently there are NO plans for this section.

This trail is and will be the single greatest accomplishment that Chester County has ever done for cyclists and trail users. Why the commissioners are not pushing for the completion is a mystery to me? Please, take some time and email the commissioners and ask them to complete the trail.

Once the sections of this trail in Phase 1 and Phase 2 are completed, people will use this trail. Cyclists will make their way to this trail. Currently getting to this trail is difficult as the roads in the area of this trail are poorly suited for cyclists, and joggers and families making their way to a trailhead.

The route I took to reach the Chester Valley Trail from the boro of West Chester, PA is linked here. It does require biking along Rt 30 in Frazer and biking down Planebrook Road. Neither road is great but this route is very doable for West Chester residents. The trail will attract a crowd. Motorists are going to be surprised by the amount of cyclists on local roads making their way to the trail. Townships should be looking at ways to make these roads safer. Most likely nothing will happen until a cyclist is hit and killed on his way to the trail for folks to take notice.

These three Chester County Commissioners have an opportunity to leave their mark on this county. This trail will set Chester County ahead of its neighbors and finally make cycling in busy suburban areas a reality. Folks can commute to work on this trail as it passes many large corporate parks. The effect of this trail on the county is huge. The value it adds to the area is huge. The recreational possibilities are huge. Please Chester County Commissioners, FINISH THE TRAIL.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

are we this stupid?

Today I open up my local paper, the Daily Local News, and on page two I read about my local school district changing the bus schedules to save money. Middle school children in one of the middle schools will now go from 7:30 am to 2 pm. The start time being changed to earlier by thirty minutes. With this change middle school kids and high school kids will be on the same buses, hence saving money. Four elementary schools will also be changed to any earlier time.

Then on page 7 in the same paper, I see an article on how even starting school 1/2 hour later can make huge performance changes in teenagers. "Giving students 30 extra minutes to start their school day lead to more alertness in class, better moods, less tardiness and even healthier breakfasts."

So does anyone on my West Chester Area School board even think about the health of the students and how to make the school day more productive for them? Does not seem so. Why does the school day have to start so early?

If school started later, kids might be able to walk or bike to school. Kids would have time for breakfast. Kids will be rested and more fit. With more sleep, more exericse and better food, a child's school day could be a whole new experience.

But why do this? Let's start them earlier and earlier to save money and make life easier for adults. And then let's all complain about students' poor performance and behavior in school.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

if you build it they will come

one of the roads to the Chester Valley Trail, rt 30, rider must turn left if coming from the west

Chester County is currently building the Chester Valley Trail. This Trail will link Exton, PA with Norristown and the Schuylkill River Trail. This trail was envisioned in 1990 when traffic was not as bad as it is now on the many roads of Chester County. The CVT crosses many roads on its way to Norristown.

Today I traveled by car to see some of the road crossings. This trail crosses heavily used back roads in and around Frazer and north towards King of Prussia. Most trails are built away from roads and provide safe places for families and novices to bike and run. The CVT does not. This trail traverses through busy areas and has to cross multiple roads

The Chester Valley trail will attract many riders. Because once built, folks will flock to it. Of the three Chester County Commissioners, Carol Aichele, has been dominant in getting this trail completed. It sat in limbo for over 15 years. In her zest to complete this project I am not sure all the dangerous road crossings have been given enough thought.

This trail has the potential to move Chester County into the greenest county around. This trail goes through very high density areas and will ultimately connect the western suburbs with Philadelphia.

But for now, the trail has some obvious shortcomings which I hope can be corrected over time:

1. This trail will currently start on N Ship Road. There is no parking there. The only way to get to it is to bike along Rt 30, a busy highway and then bike along Ship Road. Ship Road is a poor, poor road for cyclists. No shoulders and it is a busy cut through road for commuters.

2. The trail crosses at least four busy roads; Ship Road, Phoenixville Pike, Mill Road and Rt 410.
The trail will eventually have to cross rt 29 and make its way through a large proposed shopping center. Some communites are placing signage but a better alternative would be traffic lights on Rt 401 and Rt 29.

3. There is no access to this trail on Church Road which has a wonderful overpass for the trail but alas there is no way to get on it. Church Road serves a huge population that would love access to the trail. Their only alternative is to get on Swedesford Road and make their way to another access point. Again, Swedesford Road is a poor road for cyclists. No shoulders and lots of curves and hills.

4. This trail is being built from King of Prussia back to Exton hence making access in the Exton area near impossible if cyclists are fearful of Rt 30 and Ship Road. The access from Exton is Phase 3 and I understand this phase is years away.

5. Access from heavily populated Downingtown, West Chester and Coatesville is near impossible unless you are able to bike on 4 lane highways and narrow back roads.

6. There are virtually no safe roads for future commuters to make their way to this trail and on to their places of employment. This should be the final goal of this trail. Making it a viable way to commute to work for suburban folks. We see lots of bike lanes and access in inner cities but almost nothing exists for the suburbs.

The potential for this trail to be a one of kind commuting route for suburban folks is unbelievable. Not only can folks get to King of Prussia but can go on to Conshocken, Norristown and Philadelphia. Bike commuting has been nothing short of hazardous for suburbanites; four lane highways and no safe routes.The trail can be something Pennsylvania and Chester County can showcase as a way to make living in the suburbs livable in terms of being able to bike commute.

So I am asking the Chester County Commissioners to keep going with this trail. Just building the trail is not enough. Think safe routes to the trail. Bike lanes and bike friendly shoulders would be a good first step. Parking at trail heads for weekdays. Right now the trail is depending on weekend parking in business parks. Not a good option for weekday commuters.

Plowing this trail during the winter is another way to keep folks commuting. Keeping the trail clear of downed trees and litter would also go a long way to making commuting doable. And getting the trail finished all the way to Downingtown helps keep this trail available as a commuting route for folks in Coatesville trying to get to work in Exton.

new bike from Spectrum and Tom Kellogg

Titanium Custom Fit bike from Spectrum, with the Ultegra Triple Crank, it does not get any sweeter than this!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

what an idiot

If you know this guy, let him know he is one first class idiot!! Not only does he have shaved legs and NO HELMET, he was talking on his cell phone. One big wet noodle directed at this guy. I have seen him before and he bikes with a guy who also wears no helmet and is always dressed in blue. Make sure to hassle them if you see them on the road.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Trails are now cool

Chester Valley Trail, completion date 2012

In Chester County, the Commissioners have been trying for over 20 years to build a trail from West Chester ultimately connecting with the famous Schuylkill River Trail. This trail would enable Chester Countians the ability to bike from West Chester all the way into center city Philadelphia.

In the late 80s and 90s, folks who lived near these proposed trails objected. No one wanted a trail near their home and many believed the trails would bring in criminals. The Chester Valley Trail almost died a near death after 9/11 as the companies near the trail feared terrorists using the trails.

According to the Daily Local News, local trails are now hot, hot. hot. Folks now want these trails near their homes. My county has many trails in the planning stages. Folks in government finally figured out that trails make a county appealing and bring in money. They are now a selling point for a community.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

get a happy horn

I was out biking today with a fella who has a cute squeaky horn on his bike. Every time he gave it a squeeze, it elicited a happy smile from pedestrians and those near us. It not only has a very cute squeak but it seems to help ease the tensions between cyclists and motorists and pedestrians.

Go buy yourself a happy horn and give it a toot! Wait for happy smiles of those who hear it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Public Transportation SUCKS

good luck finding this guy

I live in the suburbs, about 30 miles from center city Philadelphia. I am not out in the boondocks. I want to ride Amtrak to New York. I want to use public transportation. I want to leave my car at home. Sounds like a good idea, right??

Well try getting Amtrak to actually sell you a ticket. I go online and order 2 tickets. I have to make a change, so I call Amtrak. Unbeknownst to me, the agent forgets to mark, MAIL TICKETS. Six days later I call Amtrak as my trip is 2 days away and I have no tickets.

Amtrak is stuck. I am put on hold for several minutes. Finally a customer service person tells me to call the day of travel, a Saturday (like I actually believe someone is going to answer the phone) and tell customer service to call Harrisburg and remind them to print my tickets. Yes, I just said, remind the ticket office to print my tickets.

Now this plan sounds downright flaky. I ask the woman on the phone, how do I get paper tickets before my day of travel? Well I can now drive, yes, DRIVE 20 minutes to the nearest train station that has a train ticket office and see if I can get my tickets there. I can only hope the person at the ticket window has some means to verify that I have already paid for 2 round trip tickets.

Amtrak is a government run agency. God help us. Why does Amtrak have no way for folks to print tickets online? How come there is no way to buy a ticket except from one train station that has very limited hrs? It is never opened on weekends or holidays. You are stuck if you want to get somewhere on Amtrak on a weekend.

Only option is to take a SEPTA train to Philly and then try and coordinate a trip to New York from the Philly station.

I asked the woman on the phone why we cannot print out a bar code and simply take that to the train. She said, well they are working on it but it will be a while before the right equipment can be purchased to make this possible.

Can you imagine an airlines doing this?? Making it near impossible to buy a ticket unless you lived near the airport.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Bike Rant to parents with kids on bikes

no, I did not see Obama but I saw a dad just like him above

I was heading out today for a nice bike ride. To get to my ride I have to go through my small hometown. I see waiting at a red light, a father on his bike, and his daughter on her bike.

How nice I think. EXCEPT the dad did not have a helmet. What is the thinking that goes into this decision?? Dad won't fall, only need to protect daughter as she is most likely to fall.

So how safe and protected in his daughter when this dad falls and is knocked unconscious?? What is the daughter going to do now??

I have seen this parent-no helmet/child-helmet combination many times. Once I saw a mother alone on a large bike trail with 2 kids, they had helmets, she did not. I did stop and ask her what her kids would do if she fell and was unconscious?

Come on parents. Put the helmet on and go over some safety with your child. Carry a cell phone and make sure the daughter or child with you knows what to do in an emergency.


Monday, May 31, 2010

I rode the Peloton

I am turning 60 shortly, I am on a bike from the 70s, although a very fine bike. It is a custom bike, steel frame and has some new updates; compact crank and shifters on the handlebars. I have been riding for about 5 years. Never got much better. I would do a ride here and a ride there. This past year my youngest son came home (he is 26) and rides a lot. I got motivated and starting joining him on the road. I road all winter despite two huge snowstorms here in the Northeast.

OK, so what, you say. Well what I say is that if you want to improve your biking you do not need a trainer, nor do you need an indoor windtrainer. You do not have to go to spinning class at 6 am. You do not need to go out and bike fast. You do not have to go to some computer driven training class indoors. All a waste of time IMHO. You don't particularly need the best bike on the market. If I can ride a steel frame with only 14 gears and manage to get better, your excuses will fall on deaf ears.

Today I decided to conquer my fears and went out with the B- group in my club. We did 47 miles. Biked from West Chester PA to Wilmington DE. The group was large and the group was moving. Somehow I managed to keep up and rode the fastest ride of my life. Plus it was hot today, almost 90 degrees.

Coming home I was actually in the peloton. Pumping away at over 20 mph. It was flat coming home.

What is the point of this post? The post below talks about toxic people in a female's life. Family and friends telling her she cannot do this and cannot do that. Some of the people closest to us give us the most toxicity. In subtle ways, they will discourage you.

Lucky for me, my son is just the opposite. He is constantly telling me to "do it" and stop making excuses. In his own way, he motivated me to bike and to bike well. When I was in the heat of the peloton I could hear his voice in my head. Come on Lib, keep going, keep eating, keep drinking.

I prepared for the ride as I knew this group would not stop to snack. I had all my snacks in a triathlon food bag on my top tube. I could grab food as I biked. This was key. I carried 3 bottles filled with Gatorade, no water as it has no calories. I refilled the bottles at our big rest stop with apple juice and downed both again. Plus I carried a small bottle of water in my back pocket.

Older women can ride and older women can get BETTER. All I have done is bike. Nothing special, nothing fancy. If you own a bike and are reading this, WHAT IS your excuse???

Sunday, May 16, 2010

chicks and biking

The other day, I heard about a young cyclist in my bike club, Julia. Julia has progressed from a beginner rider on a Craig's List bike and one pair of bike shorts to a seasoned veteran winning her first Crit and Road Race on a new and better bike. Julia did this in one year. I saw Julia out biking the other day when I was out.

Julia has gone from average cyclist to top-notch cyclists. How did she do this?? How did Julia manage to avoid all the toxic naysayers in a female's life?

I was in my local bike store the other day. I see a fit teenage girl with her dad. The bike store clerk is showing her some big awful hybrid bike. Her dad says she will not bike much, probably never do anything other than bike trails or beach boardwalk biking. Store clerk agrees. I could not resist. I say,"buy her the best bike you can afford, a road bike and get her biking."

I was out biking a few days ago and see a wife and husband biking. Again, the wife is on some horrible bike struggling like crazy to climb a small hill.

When I bike with my chick friends, I often hear the ladies denigrating themselves. I am too fat to bike fast. I am out of shape. I cannot go up that hill. It never ends. Toxic negativity. Toxic negativity from their husbands and boyfriends. Toxic folks telling them they cannot be a better rider, toxic folks telling them not to upgrade their bikes. I was riding with a fellow about 42 years old. I asked him where his wife was. He said she cannot ride on these roads, she is too afraid. Apparently he is not afraid yet he is quick to say his wife is. I don't get this.

So much naysaying. Always the negative thoughts that getting as good as Julia did is something of an anomaly. Only some athletic chick can do that.

I want to see more chicks doing what Julia has done. I would like to see chicks taking up the sport of biking and doing more than ride your hybrid at the beach. My county, Chester, in PA seems to have lots of female cyclists. My bike club supports chicks hoping to get better.

My club offers many levels of rides and goes out of its way to encourage women to ride and for women to get better. Despite my county doing little to support biking in terms of on road amenities such as no shoulders, and when and if there are shoulders, they are filled with gravel and tree debris, the numbers of female cyclists I see on the roads of Chester County is definitely growing.

So here's to the women in my county hitting the roads on good road bikes and doing it often on solo rides.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

To boost urban bicycling, figure out what women want

CYCLE TRACK, here along New York City's Ninth Avenue, keeps bicyclists physically separated from motor vehicle traffic. Such designs make riding safer and could boost the number of women cyclists.
Monica Bradley

According to Scientific American, a good barometer of a community's bike friendliness is the number of women actually biking. The article states that women want a good infrastructure and safety.

From the article - "Women are considered an “indicator species” for bike-friendly cities for several reasons. First, studies across disciplines as disparate as criminology and child ­rearing have shown that women are more averse to risk than men. In the cycling arena, that risk aversion translates into increased demand for safe bike infrastructure as a prerequisite for riding. Women also do most of the child care and household shopping, which means these bike routes need to be organized around practical urban destinations to make a difference."

But I was out biking today in Chester County, PA and doing a solo ride. While out enjoying the scenery I was struck by the fact that I saw so many other ladies out doing the same thing. I saw well over 10 other ladies, most age 50 or older, out biking on roads with no shoulders, no bike lanes and often resurfaced with the worst material known to mankind; tar and chip.

I stopped and and talked to 3 ladies that I knew but again was amazed at how many ladies felt safe and bold enough to bike on roads. Most times communities think women will only bike on bike trails or in bike lanes.

But from what I saw today, I can only conclude that Chester County is making headway in the biking arena. This progress is astounding considering that my county and state have not contributed one iota to this growth.

My state of PA has done nothing in my county to make biking fun and safe. As I said, we have no shoulders, no bike lanes and no provisions at all to make biking safe. Plus my state dumps tons of gravel and tar on all the roads to resurface them. Why my state uses this awful material is anybody's guess? I hear the old argument that they cannot afford a better material but my neighboring state of Delaware manages to pave all of their roads with macadam.

This growth of the female biking demographic in my county is apparently being pushed by the women themselves. They feel safe and they want to bike. AND they ARE!

What a pleasure for me, who has been biking for over 20 years to finally see other like-minded ladies out on the roads. We all waved to each other and felt good seeing each other.

So despite NO infrastructure, ( I had to take a pee pee behind a tree) the women in my county are hitting the roads and biking. YIPPEE

Monday, May 3, 2010

Two fabulous charity rides coming in Chester County PA

Pedal to Preserve Logo

For those reading my blog who are not local residents of Chester County PA, consider signing up for these two rides. Both rides start in Chester County.

The first ride, Chester County Cancer Challenge, starts in the borough of West Chester, PA. The event is May 23, starts at 8 am. This is a hilly ride and goes through some of the nicest horse country you will ever see.

The second ride is the Pedal to Preserve. This ride is June 5. This ride starts in Chester County but heads into Lancaster County. If you want to see the PA Dutch up close and personal, this ride is for you. The ride weaves in and around many many PA Dutch Farms and highlights all the preserved farms as well. Children wave from their front porches as you pass by. I rate this ride as the " best of this area." It is flat and just beautiful.

So if you are looking for a travel weekend, pick one of these rides and come visit Chester County.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

the finest bike shorts made

I have ordered and bought the Terry T short for years and years. Have worn them for almost 20 years, so I have seen many shorts come and go from Terry. I have worn Pearl Izumi too.

The T short comes in short, regular and long and plus size. What other bike company offers this kind of selection? I bought a new pair this year, first in about 3 years. This year's bike short is made of the most fabulous material. The chamois is spectacular. Soft and breathable. When you bike in these shorts, you do not even feel like you have shorts on.

The fabric breathes so well, even in today's 90 degree heat, I was comfortable.

I HIGHLY recommend these shorts. Buy one size smaller as the fabric is stretchy. The only problem with Terry is that they have a very strict return policy. So if the shorts do not fit, get them right back and ask for the right size.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

chester county at its finest

The horse farm below houses over 100 horses and is expecting over 25 foals. It appears as if 15 or so have been born. Some were too far away to get pics of. The goats were a different farm. But when I stopped on my bike they all started up towards me. One had a bell that kept ringing. Too cute!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pee Standing Up

Let's hear from the ladies. Where and how to pee when biking long distances with few trees or woods and no stores or restrooms along the way?? What do chicks do?? DO we risk mooning the cars going by when we squat behind a tree?? Our chubby cheeks out for all to see!

Some products I found on the Net. GO GIRL Female Urination


Sunday, April 25, 2010

post UMLY Triathlon Meal

Most folks after a big race or bike ride, head to the local Iron Hill and down a few brews and munch on a pizza. I decided to make a much better and healthier option for my son who did the race this morning in a cold cold rainy drizzle. He also biked to the race and after competing in the rain, had to climb back on the bike and pedal 12 miles to get home.

I cooked this up for my son and added 2 things to the recipe. First, a large head of broccoli. I simply chopped it and tossed it in raw and second, I used whole wheat organic macaroni. I put one layer of macaroni, add broccoli and then pour half of the cheese mixture, add the rest of the macaroni and pour on the remaining cheese mixture. This also keeps well and reheats well. Divide up into portion sizes and put it in plastic ware to enjoy on another day.

Macaroni and 4 Cheeses

2005, Ellie Krieger, All rights reserved

8 servings


  • Cooking spray
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen pureed winter squash
  • 2 cups 1 percent lowfat milk
  • 4 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 2 ounces Monterrey jack cheese, grated (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon powdered mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until tender but firm, about 5 to 8 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, place the frozen squash and milk into a large saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up the squash with a spoon until it is defrosted. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the mixture is almost simmering, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the Cheddar, jack cheese, ricotta cheese, salt, mustard and cayenne pepper. Pour cheese mixture over the macaroni and stir to combine. Transfer the macaroni and cheese to the baking dish.

Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and oil in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, then broil for 3 minutes so the top is crisp and nicely browned.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

how to get good in biking part 2

passed these darling little animals this morning

It is no secret. You do not need to go to the spinning classes and spin your fanny off. This will not help in road biking. Throw your indoor trainer away. Don't go to some stupid computer driven training class. Waste of time and money.

So what is the secret?? Just do it for pete's sake. All I hear from other folks, I am too busy, I have other stuff to do, funny, the A riders don't seem to have these excuses and they all seem to have jobs and lives.

Just bike, bike slow, bike fast, bike long, bike short. It simply does not matter. I am living proof of that. I am old, almost 60 and have seen probably better days but I am slowly getting better in biking. I am faster, I am stronger and I can finally stand up and pedal uphills with some kind of speed. Remember, I have fallen at least 3x times grinding to a complete halt on a steep hill. So I know what I am talking about.

If I can get better, trust me anybody can. But you have to bike. Take a short spin after work. Take a short spin any time. You do not have to go out and hammer out 30-40 miles each time you ride.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

how to get good in biking

My town recently had a bike shop open that promotes computer driven bike training programs. Many folks go to spinning classes in an attempt to increase their biking prowess. I am not convinced any regimented training program does one ounce of good in terms of improving road biking.

I do believe the only way to improve your cycling skills is to get your butt on your bike and go out and bike. Bike slow, bike fast, bike short and bike long, it makes NO difference.

Cycling improves based on your miles, plain and simple. I am a member of a local bike club. Who are the best cyclists in the club? The folks who bike tons and tons of miles.

Why are the C level riders slow? They do not bike much. C riders do not get out as much as A riders. C riders rarely bike through the winter months. Biking a few times a week during good weather will not improve your biking.

Now many of you do not care to improve and that is fine. You are a recreational rider. You enjoy occasional riding. But if you do want to get better and faster, all you have to do is get on your bike and bike.

If you think improvement involves some fancy training program and this is the reason you shy away from it, change your thinking. Just get your bike out and get yourself on it and pedal away. Do 5 miles, do 30 miles, it makes no difference.

Just get out and enjoy. Make the time, it is worth it.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

which is the healthier meal for your child

OK, you are presented with two meals: one is a processed chicken-like patty, deep fried on a white bun and big stack of processed French fries; the other is a 7 vegetable, pasta stir fry, real cooked chicken and fruit cup. Pick the healthiest meal, the one you would want your high school child to be eating in school. Give up??

You lose, the meal designated most healthy and reimbursable by the US Federal government is the chicken mystery meat and fat soaked French fries. Why you ask, how can that be??

Well the veggie meal according to the dietitian employed by the Huntingtown WVA school district says so. She says the veggie meal does not have 1 1/4 cup vegetables. Again, how can this be? Well it sure DOES BE, the French fries count as 1 1/4 cup veggies, so the dietitian says the veggie meal is not reimbursable, whatever the heck that means. I don't know if the Federal government sends the schools so much set monies for reimbursable meals. I have no clue.

But seriously, the dietitian, with a straight face, bad mouthed the healthy veggie meal and preferred the French fry, chicken mush meal. I swear, the school cafeteria could have piled "doggie do" on the plate and put French fries next to it and the dietitian would have been just as happy.

She has lost her ability to think. She follows ridiculous Federal guidelines and come hell or high water, she is meeting those guidelines. Her degree in nutrition is a waste of money. She is not using it. All she is doing is following guidelines. We could hire Bonzo, the monkey, to perform her job. She is complaining that there is not enough money to retrain the lunch ladies to cook from scratch.

Hey, I got a wild idea, why not fire the dietitian, cuz from I can see, she is worthless. Her brain has gone to mush. She reminded me of the postal worker I met the other day. I was mailing an envelope that needed to be weighed. With a straight face, the postal worker recites the mantra, "is there anything perishable, flammable, liquid or explosive in that envelope?" Just doing and saying what the Federal government tells them to say regardless of whether it even makes sense.

The public school system is not able to function anymore. The employees cannot think anymore. No one can evaluate anything anymore. There is a show right now on ABC called the Food Revolution. Not only is the TV show a sad portrait of the school cafeteria, it is a sad portrait of just how bad entrenched government workers have become.

I can excuse the postal worker, his incompetence is not really hurting anyone but the incompetence of the the school employees, including the lunch ladies and dietitian IS hurting our children. Watch the show, trust me, not only will you be enlightened about how America is brainwashing our kids to eat processed food but you will see "stuck in cement" school administrators unable to think without their guidelines rule books attached to them at the hip.

Sorry for rant.

Livable streets, heck, they are not even driveable

I was in Ann Arbor this past week and drove there from the Philadelphia area. If you want to see the "Rust Belt" up close and personal, drive through Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toledo, and Detroit. Some of you young folks might not be familiar with the term 'rust belt'. Think of the cities I just mentioned and you can pretty much figure out the term.

But back to my point of livable versus driveable streets. Ann Arbor was awarded a silver medal from the League of American Cyclists. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why. I would rate the roads in Ann Arbor worse than the worst roads in Pittsburgh. Not only are they littered with hodge podge patchwork, and potholes, the curbs are actually crumbling.

The bike lanes were narrow and covered with the crumbling curbs. The edges of all the roads have many awful patches of tar and what not, you would need a mountain bike to ride on them. I noticed the U of Michigan kids were biking on the sidewalks. You cannot blame them.

My son was moving out of his apartment in Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor is apparently spending what little tax revenues they have on recycling. To get rid of his junk and old furniture was an adventure in the world of recyling. We finally find the landfill, you must pay to drop your stuff.

We have a gazillion bags of everything. They ask us, do you have recyclable textiles, old clothes, glass, metal and the list went on and on. We lied, we had too, there was no way I was unpacking all the bags to separate the stuff.

Next trip, we did better, we had cardboard and went inside the big garage to recycle it. They had bins for white paper, colored paper, paperback books, hard back books and it went on and on.

We had furniture with us as well. We were instructed where to take it. So another trip to another part of town to dump furniture.

Both my son and I joked, Ann Arbor is spending a ton of money on recycling, yet their infrastructure is falling apart and no one even notices it. The tax base is so depleted in Ann Arbor since Pfizer closed its plant (Viagra went generic), so Ann Arbor has little money and it is obvious to the non Ann Arborian that the roads are literally crumbling. I guess when you live there, you do not notice. Another way Ann Arbor is attempting to raise money, ( taxes are so high, they cannot raise them anymore) is to lower the speed limit on main roads and highways and then fine the living daylights out of the unsuspecting motorist. It got to be a joke seeing all the cars pulled over.

Michigan has a good state wide park system, I am not sure how well maintained they are at this time and Michigan probably spent a bundle making these parks. But Michigan and Ann Arbor and many cities in the 'rust belt' are losing their infrastructure.

Green is good and recycling is good but someone please tell Michigan, your roads are a mess.

Monday, March 22, 2010

we're doomed

ABC is starting a series about a food revolution. Jamie Oliver, a British foodie, goes to Huntington WVA. This town was designated as the most unhealthy place in the USA. The residents are the fattest and most unhealthy in the country. Jamie travels to the town and tries to start the food revolution. He decides to start in the schools first. Keep in mind, any one reading this blog, your kids right now are getting the same food as the kids in Huntington. All of this processed food is being made expressly for school cafeterias. They ALL buy it. They ALL serve it.

But the real kicker in this show is how it unintentionally highlights in bright neon lights all that is wrong with public education today. Once a rule book gets written and in this case it is the USA government food experts writing the food rule book, there is no one one in any school district who would dare challenge it.

The food served to today's kids is nothing but processed food. Even the mashed potatoes are artificial. The menu is pizza, chicken nuggets and fat and salt and colored milk. The kids throw most of it away. Tons of food gets made, tons gets thrown out.

Much of this food is provided by government subsidies, this is YOUR MONEY. These are your children and grandchildren eating this hydrogenated fatty food.

Jamie goes on to visit a mother and her four overweight children. The mother is also overweight. What shocked me was the startling contrast between this mom's reaction to Jamie and the school's reaction to Jamie.

Mom is all set to throw out her bad food, and the kids are more than willing to eat the good food. The whole family is happy and jumps at the chance to fix their food and cooking. The kids want to exercise and the kids want to eat better, nary a contrary word is uttered by this overweight family. They readily admit they need help

Flash back to sour puss Alice, the school head cook, a million tons of dynamite would not get that woman to change her mind about her food. She is right. She does not care that the food is terrible. She does her job, never questioning whether it is good food or not. The rule book says make this today, and god forbid, Alice makes it.

Many who read this blog are proponents of biking and walking. Many support safe routes to schools, bike trails and places for exercise. Walkable cities, livable communities. This is all fine and good but it is not the solution to the overweight unhealthy culture we now live in.

The problem and solution lies in the food industry and what it is doing to us. Someone decided at some point that there was going to be a market for artificial eggs, potatoes and meat. And that that there was gonna be big money in it. Folks are making a ton of money selling "fake" food.

Kids cannot even recognize real food. The kids in Huntington could not even recognize tomatoes.
Mothers have been brainwashed to buy the fake food, advertising has done its job. Jamie is correct to start in the schools but the cooks and administrators in Huntington WVA are firmly stuck in the congealing fake potatoes and yes, if not poured quickly, the fake potatoes turn to cement.

My advice Jamie, go back to the moms, they are willing to learn, willing to change and willing to save their kids. I have never met a mom that did not want the best for her children and moms are willing to take help.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

a stellar ride today

It was an overcast day here in Chester County but nonetheless, a great day for biking with little to no wind and temps in the 50s. I left around 9:30 am and there were few cars on the roads. I traveled over quiet, scenic roads.

First leg on the ride I spotted the illusive blue bird, my second sighting this spring. Coming home I was passing a well known horse farm in my area and saw one of the stable workers walking along the road. I stopped and asked when the foals were coming. Much to my surprise she said one was born already and was just 2 days old. She said turn around and see little Sophie. A 2 day old baby horse, running around its mother. Beyond cute and worth stopping to see.

This horse farms houses over 100 horses and expects 30 foals this spring. It is quite the sight. I often see cyclists out in pace lines or heads down as they race along the roads.

Sometimes slowing down to smell the roses is a good thing. Sometimes it is more than the miles and speed, sometimes it is just looking around and appreciating the fact that you are on a bike and not at work, and that you have the health to enjoy the activity.

sorry, no pics as I forgot my camera

Terry brings jersey for women wanting more room

For many female cyclists, biking is something they do once in a while or only in the summers. These ladies are often looking for bike clothing that is wearable off road when they stop to shop or eat at a rest stop.

Many female cyclists also like jerseys without elastic at the bottom.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

March 14 Bike Clinic and Ride Leader Meeting

March 14, Bike Clinic and Ride Leader Meeting, my house, email me for details

2:30 pm Bike Clinic, clean your bike, change a tire, get advice on how to maintain your bike and how to buy a bike, bring rags and chain lube

4:00 pm, Ride Leader Meeting and Idea Sharing, Event Planning,

Bring anyone you want, do not have to be a member of the WCCClub.

Learn what to carry when on a bike ride.