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.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

let's go biking

my bike

About this time of the year, I hear from women looking to do some bike rides. Invariably it goes like this. "Hi, I am new to biking and just dug out my old mountain bike from the basement and was wondering if you bike on roads with hills? I am really interested in biking."

If you were really interested you would never have wasted the money on the mountain bike and instead saved your dough for a decent road bike. Biking in Chester County requires a road bike. You must be able to shift gears and I highly recommend a bike with the triple crank. This gives you what I call the "granny gear". A gear low enough to make climbing hills very doable even for the beginner.

Biking is one of the best activities for women especially as you age into retirement. Not only is it easy on the knees but you can do it while sitting on a seat. You do not have to go fast and you can still get a good workout.

Now if all you want to do is bike on a bike trail or the boardwalk at the beach, your mountain bike will do fine. But not in Chester County. While I consider it the most scenic biking area, it does require a good bike to make the riding fun.

Before you head out the door to bike in Chester County, get prepared. Get a good bike bag and equip it with 2 tubes and an inflation system such as CO2. Make sure you can use your system and know how to change a tire. Carry ROAD ID, cell phone and 2 bottles of liquid preferably some type of Gatorade.

Most women head out the door thinking, I will just take some water and get a good workout and lose 10 lbs. I won't eat on the ride so that I burn even more calories.

Good luck with that. First of all, you will do fine on one ride of about 25 miles or less. But when you head out again in a few days doing the same thing, most likely you will hit the proverbial wall. If you want to bike regularly and do it well, hydrate well and carry 2 times what you think you need to eat.

Bananas, cookies, fig bar, Rice Krispy Squares....anything with sugar is good. Avoid stuff like nuts and fruit, as the nuts takes hrs to get into your system and fruit does not have enough calories. Some bike rides I am out for over 4 hours. Thinking you can starve yourself during a ride of this duration is wishful thinking.

Starve yourself on your own time, not when out with a group of cyclists. Your fellow riders will thank you for not bonking on the ride. I have bonked, so I know it can happen.

Below is picture of my bike bag and followed by a picture of the stuff I can fit into my bike bag.

CO2 inflator and spare cartridge, bike tools, tire lever, two tubes I keep in plastic and some extra screws and washers for my bike shoes. I have had these screws come loose and fall off. I also carry an insurance card and my ROAD ID has emergency contacts.

Carry money and make sure your cell phone is charged. If riding with a friend or husband, you both need the identical equipment. Do not rely on someone to carry your stuff. I have passed stranded females whose significant others have left them behind. The stranded person has no cell phone or tire changing equipment. SO PREPARE.

See you on the road. Me and my bike.