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."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

to PEE or not to PEE, that is the question of the day

You are out on your bike ride with a large group of cyclists. Men and women cruising along enjoying the countryside. The fellows in the group decide it is time for the "pee break". They move off of the road and face the country. Off they go to do what guys do. But lo and behold, their backsides are still visible to those passing by on the road not to mention the women that are along for the ride.

Is this ok? Is this what you would not mind seeing as you pass by in your car or on your bike? If you were driving a car would you do this? With your family in tow, would you pull over and take a wee in front of your family members?? Why not?? or why yes?

If you are miles from a bathroom, ok, use the road but can ya at least get behind a rock! If you are near a bathroom, is it still ok to just turn and drop trow? Is this strictly a guy thing or do women do this as well?

Would it be safe for women to squat and pee right alongside the road? Why or why not? Heck the men do it. Why do women look for porta potties and or a large tree? Are they just more polite, more mature or more what?

If you peed in public in a city or a parking lot or any other place, you would be arrested. Why do men do it so much when cycling? Why cannot they find a gas station or convenience store or at least some woods?

Post as to what you think??

Best ride EVER in Chester County

Where can you be only 40 miles from a large city and be in country so deep you would think you were in New England? The answer in Chester County. The seat of this gorgeous county is West Chester, PA. Google it and take a look. Below is the cue that I recommend if you want to see some of the most exclusive race horse farms in the Northeast.

Picture above is on Runnymeade Road. Such a small road you will think you are on someone's private drive but trust me, it is a road! It is between mile 20 and 21. ENJOY

Sunday, October 9, 2011

why bike??

updated my blog finally!! have not posted for awhile as I have been busy with my oldest's son wedding and all that entails....

But Libby is back and still biking. Just this past weekend I threw down 53 miles touring my gorgeous home county - Chester - in the state of PA. My bike club did a ride that took us through countryside that only exits elsewhere in England. Chester County looks a lot like the English countryside with rolling hills, horses, cows and beautiful vistas.

We had a brand new cyclist on our ride. A NEWBIE! I have not ridden with a newbie for a long time but it was such fun to see this guy really enjoying himself and learning a lot in the process.

Course he did what all newbies do - he bought an inexpensive bike. For most folks the thought of dropping several thousands of dollars on a bike is something that they cannot even wrap their brains around. We all have memories of childhood and our little bikes and we think it is the same when you are an adult. You think you would have to be nuts to spend that kind of money on a stupid bike. Cuz what is it other than a seat, wheels, pedal and some gears. Any bike will do as long as it takes me from one place to the next.

But do you use this kind of thinking in any other large purchase your might do. Say buying a new set of golf clubs? Do you go to KMart and buy a little starter set and then hit the links? Well maybe if you were 18 years old.

But if you are an adult with a decent job, and want a LIFELONG hobby that will serve from your twenties all the way through retirement then buy a good bike. Spend time researching bikes. With the Internet it is practically impossible to not be knowledgeable about a large purchase.

Visit many bike stores and just browse. Ask questions. Figure out what size you need and then figure out what you are going to spend. If you want a bike to go around the block with your kids, go to Walmart. If you want a bike that will become a passion, get something good.

Bikes nowdays range in price from $700 to $6000. You want a road bike, not a hybrid. You do not have to buy the top of line road bike, a good starter road bike will do for your first few months. But as soon as you ride with someone on a better bike than your bike and see them flying up and down hills and coasting like there is no tomorrow, your starter bike is going to start looking bad.

Whatever you do, please consider biking as a great recreational activity that you can do alone, with friends and on any road. Once your initial costs are over, you have a piece of equipment that can last years and years.

Happy cycling and see you on the road.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

61 years old - 41 miles and not even tired

I am fortunate to live in the most spectacular county on the East Coast for biking - Chester County. The county is west of Philadelphia. County seat is West Chester. Plus I am lucky enough to have the most talented group of like-minded folks with which to bike. All of us are past 50, some past 60 and we all rock on the bike. Off we go and knock off 30 or more miles without a blink.

We all bike well and often. We climb hills and handle ourselves on the road with confidence. Biking, if you are nearly retirement, is probably the best activity you can do. It is easy on the knees and you can sit the entire time if you choose. You can go slow or fast. It does not matter as long as you are out enjoying the fresh air. We have spotted herons and bald eagles on our rides. The bike allows you to find roads in your area that you did not know existed until you climbed onto a bike. Chester County is loaded with tertiary roads.

Today we rode through gorgeous horse farms and a covered bridge. The Biker Chicks are one lucky group. We are healthy enough to bike and lucky enough to live in Chester County.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dear Governor Corbett and PENN DOT

Some folks that run the Pennsylvania Transportation Department feel that using oil and chips is a fine way to resurface a road. Today I learned that PENN DOT dumped a truckload of oil and chips on some of the most scenic roads in Chester County.

The big trucks dump tons of stones and oil and make a complete mess of smooth surfaced roads. And since these are back roads, they stay in this awful condition for months before cyclists and motor cyclists can use the roads.

Not to mention the mess the stones make with the properties that abut these roads. Gravel, several inches thick, lines the roads making them near unusable for cyclists. I guess the BIKE HATERS are happy to see the roads made impassable for anything other than tractors and 4 wheel vehicles.

SO I ASK the legislature of Pennsylvania why, as citizens of this state, we have NO SAY in how the roads are surfaced? I am willing to pay for macadam. The days of thinking of Chester County as some backwater farming community are long past.

Chester County is a premier biking community. It is a premier place to live. Many motorcyclists also use these roads. I bike past magnificent homes and horse farms in Chester County. These folks cannot be happy taking their cars on these roads either. It has to ruin paint jobs and nick up the surface.

What does tar and chip do for a road? Is it a worthwhile resurface treatment and why oh why cannot we not get macadam for our roads?

Where do my taxes go? Make a special tax for road resurfacing. I am more than willing to pay it if my county's roads got paved instead of ruined for months and months.

Come on Harrisburg, get into the 21st century and use a paving material that is not dangerous for cyclists and cars alike. So Gov, come on out and take a pleasant ride on our newly ruined roads. Better come in a tank.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Improving your cycling by lifting weights - for women over the age of 60

If you are past the age of 60 and have been riding your bike for a few years but are not feeling any better on the bike, do some serious lifting using your hamstrings and glutes as they guy above.If hills still destroy you and on the flats some ladies are leaving you behind, strengthening the back of your legs and butt can do wonders.

As women, we do many awful exercises that while we might feel good doing them, in actuality, they are doing nothing for us as older women.

Strengthening the glutes and hamstrings will make you stronger and more steady on your feet. My personal trainer has been working on these areas with me.

The dead lift above is one exercise I am doing. Course not with the weight of that world champion but nonetheless, with weights. I also do an exercise called the "rack pull" focusing on this same area.

My PT has me walking with weights in my hands. Today I walked with a weight above my head. Also good for the core and my aging bones.

While no woman in my health club does anything like I am doing I have found these types of exercises are beyond fun. My cycling has improved greatly and I find I can bike and bike and the hills do not destroy me as they did before. MY PT says the key for an older woman is a strong butt. The bigger and stronger it is, the better your posture and overall well being when standing up.

All my exercise are geared to improving these two main moves: the rack pull and the dead lift. Most PTs tell older women to do lots of reps with low weights. I do the opposite, less reps and more weights.

By the way, I am beyond lucky to have a son who is my personal trainer. He is not only very good but he is very tough.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

teach your kid to ride a bike in 15 minutes

I was talking to my neighbor today and I asked him how he was doing teaching his son how to ride a bike. I had seen them earlier in the week going down the street with the child in tears and the dad frustrated. Looked like they had a ways to go.

Well today he tells me they found out about a program in NYC Park system that teaches kids to ride their bikes. He found the video on You Tube and voila, his son is now riding his bike.

Watch this video, you simply remove the bike pedals, find a slight decline and roll the child down and let him figure out on his own how to balance himself. Once he does, put the pedals back on and the child is on his way.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

women are notorious for looking for excuses

now this is what I am talking about

This post is a repost from, thanks Freybird

this post is so true for women and cycling, all I hear from women are all the reasons why they cannot bike on the roads, read for some inspiration.....................................

Genetics and Athletics
When discussing the opportunity for a given athlete to participate in a sport, the issue of an athlete's genetic limitations always arises. I am telling you now. Ignore genetics. They play such a small role in determining one's athletic abilities that it's not even an issue worth consideration.

I heard this argument from a friend on mine just the other day. "I wasn't cut out to be an athlete. My parents weren't athletes, and I just didn't have it in my blood. So, I never played any sports." This made me sick to my stomach. I can't stand this type of self-limiting, complacency, failed dreams, self-imposed dialogue.

It is true that genetics play a role in determining an athlete's athletic potential. This is, in part, because genetics determine the functional make-up of the musculoskeletal system. Things like bony make-up, muscle fiber type distribution, and tendinous insertion locations will all play a role in the athlete’s ability to develop comparatively high levels of force production/speed or endurance capacity.

But the point I am making is that most athletes never even come close to approaching their genetic potential in a sport. People just decide in their heads (for whatever reason) that their genes have limited them in some way, then go ahead living their lives based on this arbitrary decision.

Focused practice is what it takes to excel in any sport - not some genetic gift. Ask any successful athlete, and they will tell you that it's years and years of huge amounts of focused practices that has gotten them to where they are.

This is a foundational concept in one of my favorite books of all time: Bounce by Mathew Syed.

The underlying theme of the book is that EVERYONE can fulfill their dreams if they just keep at it, and find people to help them in the right direction. This is the case even in elite level performers that are considered “prodigies” in their sport or field. It always comes down to consistent, focused practice with the guidance of an experience mentor.

Don't believe me? Ask Wayne Gretzky...

“I wasn’t naturally gifted in terms of size and speed; everything I did in hockey I worked for. The highest compliment that you can pay me is to say that I worked hard every day….That’s how I came to know where the puck was going before it even got there.” -Wayne Gretzky (he played hockey)

The take home point is this: Suck it up. Work hard. Your only limitations exist in your mind. You have much more physical ability than you can even imagine.

a plea to bike store owners

This is a cry out to any female looking to buy a bike and get into cycling. I again received another email from a woman looking to enter the world of cycling. Here is her email....

Libby, I am a 70yr old woman and just returned from a 6 day bike trip in Ireland. I never rode a bike with gears before and I used a trek 7300 hybrid. I was all set to purchase a similar bike before I read your blog. I live in Malvern and would like to start biking around here but don't really know the difference between a road bike and a hybrid. I thought the road bike was heavier. Could you please tell me the difference. I tried to register on that Terry site but was unsuccessful. Any advice would be appreciated.

Bike stores would be well served to have some older women working in them and selling bikes to older women. It is very intimidating for a women age 70 to walk into a bike store and ask for bike. I am willing to bet that this woman will walk out of the store with a heavy hybrid bike that she will struggle with when attempting to ride on the roads.

A 70 yo woman can be a serious biker. She can easily buy a good road bike and take to the sport even at her age. I am at a loss to explain why a bike store would sell a heavy hybrid bike to an older person trying to get into biking.

A road bike just makes more sense for older folks. It is lighter and most likely has better components and better wheels. A good road bike offers much more versatility for the older female rider. Hill climbing is easier, coasting is better and acceleration will be more efficient.

If you are reading this blog post and are an older woman - do your homework BEFORE you buy a bike.

1. Get informed and a good place to start is the Terry Cycling website. Watch her videos about bikes and bike fit.

2. Visit several bike stores -tell them you want to bike on the roads and want to be able to climb hills.

3. Get a bike with a TRIPLE CRANK. This will make hill climbing easier.

4. Find a bike club in your area and contact them and ask for help in finding a bike and or bike store. Look for a bike club that offers rides at the C or D level as this is a good place to start. You will find others in your same boat with the same skills.

5. An interesting bike for older women is one by Specialized called the Ruby. This bike has excellent gearing for the older cyclist. The cassette is an 11/32 which means you will have a nice easy gear for climbing hills. I bike with a woman now who has this bike and she sails up the hills.

6. Learn what it means to have good hill climbing gears. A good combo for you is the Triple Crank with a a cassette around 11/28 or you can go the route of the Ruby and get a bike with the Sram Apex which allows for very easy hill climbing.

The point of this blog post is to alert you to the value of doing your homework BEFORE you buy your bike. A bike store appreciates a well versed woman in terms of biking knowledge.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

from a fellow cyclist

Biking in Chester County, PA

Today I received a very pleasant email from a female cyclist in the Boston area. She has managed to capture my opinions on women and biking quite clearly and most likely has done a better job explaining my views than I have done. This year I am proud to say that the Biker Chicks have taken biking to a whole new level and I have inspired 2 new riders; one a fit 48 yo and one a fit 56 y0. I am happy about that.

Here is her email.... "Hi Libby,

I just spent about an hour reading through your biking blog and I LOVE your insights and your attitude about women and cycling! I am a 46 year old woman and I am in love with biking. It is my second love after running which has become more difficult to do as I age. My home is in Minneapolis but I am currently living in Boston - a far cry from the Twin Cities cycling scene. Your area looks beautiful for cycling with its rural roads and wildlife. I wish I could go riding with you!

Like you, I just don't understand the attitude of many women when it comes to cycling. They will spend a boat load of money on handbags and shoes but then want to buy a used bike from Craig's list that doesn't even fit them. Or they drive a BMW but won't invest in a nice bike to ride. And if they do, they can't change their own tire. I enjoyed reading your blog and "hearing" you voice some of the same passion for biking as well as some of the same frustration about it too. It is nice to know that I am not alone out here.

I just "subscribed" to your blog. Thanks for writing it!

Happy Riding :-)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Biker Chicks' Graduation

CONGRATS to all my Biker Chicks and hubbies of Biker Chicks, we have all officially moved up to an average speed of 13-15 mph. For Chester County, this is a fabo pace as we do climb hills. But we are all past age 55, well most of us, there are a few chicklets in the bunch, and we all look absolutely fabulous on our bikes.

But we have been at it now for almost 5 years and finally, we are getting better. It was not for lack of trying, god knows, we gave it our all over hill and over dale.

We have biked in 100 degree heat and in cold weather and in rain. We have fallen many times getting used to cleats and have had our share of flats.

But through it all, we have gotten better. The Chicks are finally upgrading bikes and wheels and it shows now. Coasting downhills at over 30 mph, wheeeeeeee!!!

But what a group of dedicated women and men. We have no fears on 4 lane highways, take the lane with ease and squeeze through tight spots.

By golly, we are now experienced cyclists. Hats off to all of my devoted cycling friends.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

how to take your kid out on a bike

Forget those child trailers, forget the tandem, forget dragging your kid behind your bike. You may feel good. You say to yourself, "hey I am saving the planet, I am a green parent teaching my kid how to be green, I feel great and really cool as I bike to my errands dragging little Johnny behind me in his trailer " or whatever gadget you have hooked up.

Today I had posted a ride to my bike club. Imagine my surprise when a dad showed up with his 11 yo son who was on a road bike and with clip pedals, helment and club jersery (man size small and still too big). At first I was annoyed to see the dad and his son. Dad said son has been on club rides before. OK I say. Come along. I am thinking, we will lose this pair within the first 5 miles.

Well this little kid not only stayed in front, he smoked the ride and left his dad eating his wake. We did 32 miles at a good pace, not race pace but decent enough for most of us who are 55+ adults. When we got back, only person still fresh as a daisy was the kid. His dad looked terrible, we lost a guy on the ride as well.

So for all you dummies out there dragging your kids in strollers, trailers, back packs or whatever. Put them down on the ground, get them walking and using their tricycles.

If you kid is past age 2, you do not NEED a stroller. Get the kiddo walking. Once my kids were past 18 months, we never put them in strollers, We went to Disney World with a 6 yo and a 3 yo and we had NO stroller. We walked and we walked. No child was carried.

The dad of the little guy above said when he picked up the children's bikes in Walmart he was shocked at how heavy they were. Instead he went straight to a large chain bike store and bought a decent road bike for his son. Kid was not big, rather small for an 11 yo but he could bike and never tired. I credit this dad for getting his kid into exercise in a fun way.

Hats off to this dad, keeping his son active in a fun way. No health club camps for this kid, just real actitivity.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Move out of the 19th century, LADIES

Today I was out biking by myself enjoying the sounds of birds chirping and the warm sunshine. Lo and behold, stranded on the side of the road is a fellow female cyclist with a flat tire. She had her husband on the phone and he was giving her directions on how to change a tire. Needless to say, this was futile and her tire and tube were tangled and a mess.

I stopped and pulled out my supplies and changed her tire and inflated it with my handy dandy CO2. She had a hand pump but I have yet to find any female who can manually inflate a tire past about 45lbs. Took me all of 10 seconds to inflate her tire.

She kept apologizing that she usually bikes with her husband and he changes the tires. I asked her when was the last time she updated her tubes. She did not know. Her bike chain was covered in grim and her cassette as well. Most times when these ladies tell me their boyfriends or husbands are maintaining and cleaning their bikes, I find dirty bikes with tons of issues.

My advice to you chicks of the 19th century, learn to take care of your bike and do not rely on your husband or boyfriend. There are some husbands or boyfriends who do a great job taking care of the chick's bike but most times, they do a piss poor job.

The lady above was very grateful. I hope she goes home and learns how to change a tire and cleans her bike HERSELF. I bike with ladies of all ages, rarely do I run across a woman who regularly cleans her bike and maintains her tires and tubes. COME ON LADIES, move out of the 19th century and take care of your bike.

ON A SIDE NOTE and very funny.......................

This lady kept her husband on the phone the entire time I was changing her tire. She still figured he had the best help available to her and I was probably not going to be able to change her tire.

3rd rant on Child Bike Trailers

The other day, I was driving on Airport Road in West Chester, PA and saw a dad with a child trailer. The road is very very busy and has a narrow shoulder. Google the road. Several industrial parks line the road. It is the main access road for a large UPS site and the only way to get to the West Chester Airport. Why in the world a dad would choose this road to take his two kids for a ride in a bike trailer is beyond my comprehension? Two kids were jammed in the trailer with no helmets or any safety features. Cars do 50 mph or more on this road.

If you feel this child bike trailer above provides safety for your precious cargo from a large UPS truck barreling by at 50 mph, you must need to have your head examined.

Adults are free to bike on any roads they choose. I support biking by adults as commuters or pleasure biking. But your child does not have this choice when you put him or her into a trailer and then bike on roads that are dangerous even for adults on bikes.

Roads that house large industrial parks tend to attract drivers rushing to and from work in their cars. Airport Road is a cut through road to access a large highway - RT 202.

It is not a safe biking road and if used by adults on bikes requires much diligence to remain safe.

Dads and Moms, please use your bike trailers on roads that are safe for pedestrians and cyclists. Choose roads with bike lanes or large wide shoulders. DO NOT choose roads where cars go over 50 pmh and have companies that use large delivery trucks.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

hats off to Centerville, Delaware


It's Just Chalk, But Oh What Chalk - 13th Street Bike Lane Chalked Today

We see lots of bike lanes being promoted in our cities. Philadelphia is quietly adding many bike lanes as you can see above. New York City and other cities are adding bike lanes and making city biking much easier for commuters.

But the suburbs lag way behind. I know of no suburban communities in Eastern PA with bike lanes on their major roads. My county of Chester is finally building a bike trail that has been almost 25 yrs in the making. The roads of Chester County have no bike lanes and many have no shoulders. When shoulders are available they are often littered with tree debris.

Imagine my surprise when biking on rt 52 in Centerville, Delaware. This town has spent the last year making a major highway into a bike and pedestrian friendly road. From Center Meeting Road to Burnt Mill Road is now an oasis for cyclists and walkers. This town has put beautiful sidewalks and bike lanes through its entire town. This town sits on a highway but now it is a friendly road with places for cars, bikes and joggers and walkers.

HATS OFF TO DELAWARE. This state is making its roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians. I wish my state of Pennsylvania had similar plans.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

re-post from the philadelphia bike coalition page

Greater Philadelphia Bicycle News: Bicyclist Killed by Hit and Run Driver in Upper Bucks County

one reason you want to be extra careful, even pulled over to the side of the road and the cars will still try to get you, some motorists simply cannot stand seeing folks on bikes, let's hope this hit and run drive is found and convicted. Ghost bike below is a symbol for fallen cyclists.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

NBA Chicago Bull's center Bill Cartright's bike lives on

Bill Cartright's custom Zinn bike, built for the 7'1" center comes alive again in a resale on ebay. My son scored this bike on the Net and is enjoying riding it. Cranks are 210mm, so you have to be a big guy to ride the bike.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rescuing an old bike

circa 1978 ish
(not sure)

It is not easy finding a good used bike for a fellow 7' tall. My son lives in NYC and wanted a bike. My other son got on the Net and looked and looked and looked. Finally an old Miyata steel frame 69 cm was found. Above and below are before and after pictures of a phenomenal restoration done by a local bike enthusiast. Parts were found after scouring ebay and the Net and finally it all came together.

restored to its original glory with updated parts
new derailleur, new handlebars, seatpost, cables, tubing, tires, tubes, brake pads
headset, stem, shifters and a good clean job, hubs repacked
and the list goes on and on

Monday, April 25, 2011


just the other day I saw a dad with this kind of trailer and his daughter in the back as he made his way down a very busy narrow road, the dad is an idiot in my opinion!! read on for my repeat post
this style is just plain dangerous

this is better

I saw a post on talking about a problem a cyclist had with a motorist and his bike and child trailer. He has his daughter in the trailer and got buzzed closely at an intersection. The cyclist blamed the motorist.

I am taking the reverse position in this regards. I do not like to see bike trailers on roads. To me this is just too dangerous and not worth the risks to the child. There are other options, bike trails or roads in housing developments.

A better alternative is to get a good tricycle or small bike for the child. Walk with the child while she rides, more exercise and a better all around activity. I used to jog and my youngest rode his bike next to me. He loved it and we both got exercise.

Or if lucky like me, we had a large hospital parking lot near by, which was most times half empty and especially on weekends. We would bike together to the lot and then play bike games at the lot.

In the Philadelphia area we have many trails for parents to use with children and trailers. I do plead with those parents who think dragging a child in a trailer is safe to find something else to do with the child.

A trip to a park comes to mind. Swings, slides and climbers, way more fun for the child. But get rid of the trailes, just tooooooo dangerous.

Biking in Chester County in Pennsylvania

I live in Chester County, about 30 miles west of Philadelphia. My county is particularly suited for biking. What makes this county so unique is the amount of tertiary roads. This is not found in many areas. Most areas have roads and few secondary roads but not the spider web of little tiny side roads winding down along creeks and past farms and cows and horses and sheep and goats and herons and swans and foals. This is unparalleled in my opinion. I have biked in Santa Barbara, CA, Delray Beach, FL and Ann Arbor and I have yet to see an area that can duplicate the intricate maze of back roads.

The routes are endless that you can ride and not once repeat yourself. The wildlife and birds along the rides include foxes, deer, herons, eagles, bluebirds, red tail hawks and Baltimore orioles to name a few. The horse farms are almost uncountable. Mares and foals and riders on horseback dot the countryside. Creeks meander almost down each and every turn. Some back roads are so back, that nary a car passes.

If you live near or in Chester County and you are not biking, you are missing one fine pasttime. You can bike whether young or old, all you need is a good bike preferably a road bike. With the right equipment you have a life long sport to keep in you in shape as you age.

So what are you waiting for????

Monday, April 11, 2011

clean your bike you moron

Dirty Bike

Sorry about that, but if you do not bother to keep your bike chain and drive train clean, you are begging for trouble. If you spend some serious cash for your bike, then why would you not take the time to learn how to care for it?

Depending on the once a year modified cleaning your bike store will do for your $25 checkup is foolish. First of all, the bike store is not going to do much for $25. If you never clean your bike, ya'd better fork over some dough and get a full drive train cleaning where the bike parts are removed and cleaned in a solution. But even this is NOT enough.

It only takes a few rides for gunk to build up on your chain and in and out of your derailleurs. Your chain has to be cleaned and lubed frequently if you are riding once or twice a week. Some folks clean and lube chain after each ride.

Go out right now and look at your bike. Is the chain all black and covered with what looks like black dirt? Are your back small wheels that wrap your chain covered in grim? Are your brake pads clean? And the list goes on and on.

I ran a bike clinic yesterday and one fellow showed up with a bike covered in black grim. Plus he was also using his bike pump incorrectly therefore he had not put air in his tires since last October. The pressure in his tires was round 50 PSI and he did not even know it.

Why spend gobs of money on a bike and then ignore it??

It is not like I am some mechanical genius but I have taken the time to learn how to maintain my bike. I can change a tire, I can clean my bike and I can lube my bike. If I do not know something I ask someone who knows bikes to help me. How hard is that!

Take care of your bike!

Friday, April 8, 2011

the joy of the bike ride

Lots is written today on making our communities green, providing bike lanes and what not. But while many sit around and wait for ideal biking conditions, time is passing when you could be biking. Conditions are never going to be perfect unless on a bike trail. But bike trails are far and few between and are often crowded with families and children and dog walkers.

The best place to ride is ultimately the roads. Now many of you may not live in places that are conveniently located to great road biking. Nothing is preventing you from throwing your bike into the back of your car and driving a few miles to an ideal locale.

If you live on a busy highway or on top of a big hill, find a spot near by where you can park your car and hop on your bike.

Get a map or study Google Maps and plot out a nice ride. There are many sites online that allow you to make a map and print a cue sheet. But good old-fashioned map reading seems to be a dying skill. Try resurrecting it and you will be surprised what horizons open up for you.

Many of you are busy, busy and more busy. Still there is nothing stopping you from taking a few hours once a week and doing a short bike ride. When my children were young, I would get up on Sunday morning at 5 am and go out and do a 2 hour ride. I was home before they woke up. Once my kids were older, I took them on bike rides.

Find a way in your busy schedule to squeeze in one bike ride each week. Trust me, over time you will want to ride more and will start to plan more time for your rides.

A habit starts slowly, one ride at a time and over time more rides. There is nothing comparable to a solo ride to help you unwind or enjoy your own private thoughts whilst you meander along on a country road.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Google Maps Link to Meet ups for Biker Chicks

Follow link below to find directions to the start point for ALL CUES listed on the West Chester Cycling ride page. Maps below also include starting points for the Chester Valley Trail and the Schuylkill River Trail and Shaws Bridge Park. Now get out and bike!!

click link above

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

to hybrid or not

I just got another email from an excited lady who bought her first bike - a hybrid. Oh joy. Why has this become the bike of choice for ladies just getting into cycling? Why does this heavy bike become the bike of choice for women especially those over the age of 50?? I guess if you are biking in a city or on bike trails, this bike might make sense. For biking at the beach along the shoreline, a hybrid would work fine.

I rode a hybrid for years. Did not do much biking but I did bike and managed to bike hills and whatnot. But when I got a road bike, holy cow, what a difference. Lucky for me, I was given a road bike and once on one, I knew I would never go back to a hybrid.

I recently treated myself to a custom bike for my 60th birthday. To me, a worthwhile investment in my future health and well being. Now I bike often and biked 4500 miles last year. I also made a change in my gears and opted to get a triple crank. Again, the best decision for me. Since I cannot avoid hills when biking in Chester County, the triple has enabled me to tackle any hill. I drop down to my easy gear and spin my way up most hills. I now tend to tackle new roads more often and do not panic at the sight of a hill.

So old ladies - consider yourself a fit athlete and get yourself a great road bike.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

now that's how you take up the sport of biking

I have been trying desperately for the last 5 yrs to get women past the age of 40 to take up biking. If, like me, you are past age 60, sports for girls in high school were nonexistent.

In my day, the only sport available was cheerleading. We had basketball but it was intramural and only one player per team could run past the center line. She was known as the rover. The rest of us stood behind the center line and hoped she made a basket.

I did participate in competitive swimming but that was at my local YMCA. Our team had a total of 10 girls on it. We swam in pools that would be deemed unhealthy today.

So for my generation, climbing onto a bike and touring around on roads is not that easy to do. I have had women come to one ride never to be seen again. When I tell other ladies that I bike on the roads, they all say, "oh I could never do it."

But this year I am hopeful. I had a new woman show up on a hybrid bike. Her first ride with our club was 33 miles with hills. Not only did she manage to stay with us she never once complained.

Lo and behold she came back for another ride. She is still on her hyrbrid and she brought her daughter as well. This woman has already improved and has not quit. She has not complained about the busy roads or cars. She seems fine with all of it.

Hats off to what looks like a woman getting serious about biking. I really do not care that much what you are riding, I just want to see you riding. Eventually if you stick with it, you will buy a better bike. And you will have a great way to stay in shape as you gracefully age into retirement. Anyone can ride a bike. You do not have to be particularly fit or athletic. You will get fit and athletic by just riding.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

bike mechanics, please read

How do you maintain a chain? What lube works best? Is it necessary to use a chain cleaner and a degreaser? If I lube and wipe down my chain once a week do I need to drag out the clumsy chain cleaners and run the chain through it?

I have been told something different from every bike store I have asked about this matter. Each mechanic swears he knows more than the other guy. I have found bike store folks are very quick to make fun of other bike stores and have no trouble running down the mechanic at a competing bike store.

Kinda disappointing to see them do this. But as far as I can see, each bike mechanic or bike store owner does indeed believe their methods are the only methods and anything else is a poor imitation.

SO please post as to how you maintain your bike chain??

pay attention

Biking, just like driving a car, requires attention. Attention to the cars coming and going, attention to potholes and road debris, and attention to pedestrians and joggers are just a few things that can cause a cyclist to lose control of the bike.

I hear from so many people who say they are afraid to bike. Biking is safe if you are constantly paying attention. If you want to daydream while biking, then use the many bike trails available to cyclists.

I use a rear view mirror to help me monitor the roads.

This mirror attaches to your eyeglasses. Once you get used to using the rear view mirror, you will never bike again without one. You can easily see cars coming up behind you and cyclists passing you.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

welcome new folks to biking

West Chester Cycling Club has a brand new webpage and Biker Chicks has a direct link. So I thought I would make a nice information page for those looking to try biking for the first time with a club.

To those clicking to this blog for the first time and looking for information on the Biker Chicks, read below for tips.

1. Biker Chicks is run by Libby and I post rides on the WCCC ride page. Rides are posted as C level rides. This means that our average speed is around 12 mph. That is the speed of the entire ride including hill climbing and the riding the flats. Other folks post C level rides as well and all leaders follow the same rules that the club encourages us to use. This will be covered further down.

2. C level rides stay together or regroup often. No one is left behind unless some unforeseen circumstance prevents the group from staying together. Always be prepared for this by bringing the cue sheet and having a cell phone with you.

3. Club rides are best done on road bikes. These are bikes with the curved handlebars and pedals with cleats. Hybrid bikes or mountain bikes are good bikes but not for riding in Chester County. They are too heavy and make for a very difficult ride when you have to climb a hill. The WCCC also has a ride leader posting D level rides and the hybrid bike would be fine for these rides. These are shorter rides with few hills.

4. Group rides require those participating to follow some basic riding etiquette. We ride single file when needed. We obey all road rules and use hand signals for turns. Group riding, despite its name, does require EACH rider to make his or her own decisions when turning or crossing a lane etc. Never just blindly follow the person in front of you.

5. Come to the ride prepared. Have the cue sheet (links are provided for the cue sheets on the ride page, download it and print it up, PLEASE). Have food and water with you on your bike. Carry a cell phone and carry a bike tube and a system for inflating your tire.

6. Download the non-member waiver if you are not a club member and bring it with you.

7. Check ride page frequently to see updates to posted rides. Weather, illness or emergencies can cancel a ride at the last minute. SO CHECK the page before heading out.

8. Finally, if you want to ride, DO IT. Don't wake up Saturday morning and chicken out. Get on that bike and do it. Don't wait till July. By then, the C riders are all riding and getting better. The time for newbies to ride is NOW.

9. See you on the road.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

what you are missing

this is your future if your bike is still sitting in your basement

Today I had a ride up for my local bike club. It was a C level ride, so it was not a speedy ride. The ride was for less than 30 miles. There were other rides listed on the club page. When I checked the ride report page later in the day, all groups had large numbers of riders. One group had 26 riders show up.

The C group had 2 folks show up. Yes, I said 2 people. For the life of me I cannot figure out why some folks will get up on a Saturday morning and go biking and others just do not make the effort or plan for the time involved.

The faster groups never have this issue. These folks seem to find the time and make plans that include biking. There are men and women in these groups, and just about all of them have families and jobs.

But let me get back to my C riders today. One fellow was 78 years old, one lady was 67 years old. The fellow has been biking since 1972 and the woman has been at it for years and years. Both are married and both raised children and both worked fulltime jobs.

But when see these two folks, it does not take a genius to see the effects of a lifelong physical activity. These two cyclists are fit and healthy and quite happy. The 78 yo guy logged 3500 miles for last season, of course he did way more in his younger day. The lady has logged many miles as well and did it while working fulltime, raising children and now finally retired and biking whenever she wants.

But these older cyclists are now reaping the rewards of such a fit lifestyle. They can easily jump on a bike and do 30 miles and not even break a sweat.

So all of you NOT biking and finding so many other important things to do, think about these two cyclists, fit and healthy and not being a drain on our health care system.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

cue sheets, cue sheet holders and speedometers

cue sheet

cue sheet holders

bike speedometers

Make sure when heading out the door to bike, either by yourself or with a bike club, to have the ride cue sheet with you.

Get the holder and attach the cue sheet to your bike so that you can read it WHILE biking. The cue sheet is worthless if it is in your bike bag.

Get a speedometer so that you can monitor what mile post you have passed so that you know WHERE YOU ARE!!!!!!!

The cue sheet holder is inexpensive, shop online for one and a speedometer can be had for less than $10. Make sure to buy the speedometer before you buy your bike so that the store can put it on if you cannot read directions.

If you are on a ride and you missed a turn or get dropped by your bike club group, it does help to know where you are on the cue or else the cue sheet is worthless as road signs might not be visible from where you are.

Learn how to read a map and check your cue sheet directions on a map so that you have some idea where you are going. Again, if you have to call for help, you must be able to tell the person on the phone where you are located.

I have biked with countless folks who had NO idea where we were. If they got separated from the group, they are up a creek without a paddle so to speak,

Saturday, March 5, 2011

a sure fire way to hate cycling

I have been leading female cyclists on bike rides for about 5 years. In this time I have learned some sure fire things we, as women, do, that ensure we will fail at the sport of cycling.

1. First, before we even start the sport, our thinking goes like this. "I won't spend much money on a bike because I may not like it."

ok, you have already started the process of failure here, you have already told yourself that failure is indeed an option

2. You go to a bike store and apologetically ask the salesperson for help, you tell him or her that you are new to cycling and are not sure you will like the sport.

translated to salesperson, " i will most likely never bike except at the shore and then only on flat land"

3. You tell the salesperson that you know nothing about cycling, bikes or quality

again, you are now telling the salesperson that you are an idiot and plan on buying a bike with no knowledge or research

4. Salesperson drags out a large hybrid bike and proceeds to tell you how this bike is just what you need, it is durable, has thick tires, and shifters right in the handlebars, pedals do not require cleats cuz you do not want cleats, that is too hard for an idiot like you (remember, you presented this idea to him/her by declaring how little you know)

now you are really getting close to abject failure, you got the big heavy awful bike right in front of you and someone is telling you how great it is and you believe him

5. Salesperson tells you to take it for a spin around the parking lot
perfect, riding in a circle on a flat lot, bike feels great, you love it, you feel safe with those big heavy tires

6. You buy your sturdy bike feeling good. You ride around your neighborhood and feel good.

you love your bike, you buy accessories, a big bag up front and some capri pants to wear when you bike

7. You join a bike club, sign up for a club ride, you pick the slowest group thinking they will go slow like me you get there and even this slow group looks intimidating, road bikes, cleats and bike clothes

8. You head out and have a tough time, your bike cannot go like the road bikes do, you are slow and exhausted and feel terrible and are embarrassed

failure is now in full swing, you hate biking, you tell yourself your are not fit enough, you will never be able to bike like the bike club folks

Here is a better plan.....................

1. Go to bike store equipped with tons of knowledge, get on the Net and do research, start on the Terry page, watch her videos and listen to her podcasts

2. Go to several bikes stores and compare how they fit you and what they say to you

3. Look on the Net at prices of your bike at various bike stores or online stores

4. Do some research into components for your bike, here is one example

5. Then buy the bike, do not let anyone talk you out of a road bike

6. I do suggest you get the pedals that require cleats and get bike shoes, I personally like road shoes but many get mountain bike shoes

7. Get some bike clothes, at least get a decent pair of cycling shorts, your bottom will thank you

8. Join a bike club and find some like minded cycling buddies who can help you learn how to shift gears, change a tire etc

9. Do not leave home without a cell phone, ID and tire changing equipment, if you cannot change a tire, make sure you have a back up plan, someone who can come get you in an emergency, trust me, you will at some point have to call for help

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

how to become a great cyclist

This is also a question I get. How do I become a good cyclist? What training program should I use? How often should I bike? And the list goes on and on. While I am sure there are many programs that provide good training, for the majority of us, we have neither the time nor the money to pay for something like this.

You would be better off saving the money and putting it towards a good road bike. Right now there are lots of 2010 models being offered for sale in many local stores. A good buy can be found if you look around and do not buy the first thing you see.

Performance Bike Store in Paoli or the many Bike Lines all are having sales right now. Go to several stores so you can compare how each one fits you. If you are a chick, I suggest you resist the sales' talk about buying a man's bike. It will never fit you. The handlebars will be too wide and too far away no matter what the salesperson says.

The top tube will also be too long. If a man's bike would fit women, we would not have women specific bikes. Do some research on the Net. Terry Cycling has 4 good videos that provide much information about bike design.

Get informed BEFORE you go. Know what kind of questions to ask.

Once you have purchased your bike, let the training begin. Just get on it and go. Do 2 miles, do 10 miles, do whatever you can. But keep doing it. That is it. All you need to do is bike regularly. When you get home from work, take a quick ride. Do 5 miles. But do it.

Better yet, bike to work. Combine your workday with your biking day and kill two birds with one stone. If this is impossible, plan your biking so that you do not make excuses about why you cannot bike.

Yeah, I know many of you have many obligations but taking care of your health and well being should be one of them. If it is not, fix it. If you have kids, get them good bikes and go out on a trail. If retired like me, then bike till you drop, why not? My club is always packed with men on the Saturday morning rides. These men have jobs and families but somehow they get themselves on the bike. That is why they are so good. They bike and they bike often.

See you on the road. Heading out the door soon for a short ride. Sun is out.