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.