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.