Wednesday, March 28, 2012

First Ride

After much delay and confusion I have a new Bicycle. It is not the Public C7 that I was expecting, but a discounted Public  J7 that the bicycle shop had in stock that I originally test rode  and that I love. I actually prefer the paint job on the J7 to that of the C7 and am quite happy with the bicycle, if not with the bike shop who gave me the run around for about a month as to when the bicycle would be delivered. I suspect that the owner owed Public money and that they would not ship any new bikes to him.

So far, I've experienced not one moment of buyer's remorse. Unsual for me.  Did I say I LOVE the bike? It is fast, light, and easy to ride.  Thanks to my daughter for the photo as I ride into the sunrise. Best morning of the year so far. 

Early Spring

We had an early spring here in Lexington. The weather has been extremely mild and everything has  burst into bloom a full month ahead of normal schedule. As I write this, only a week into the official start of spring, the daffodils are spent and the trees have dropped their blooms and are sporting their new leaves. It was great weather to ride a bike but I experienced a little frustration by the delay in delivery of my new bike, so spent much of the spring just walking through the neighborhood.

The Bradford Pear trees in the photo were planted throughout the city . Unfortunately, beautiful as they are in bloom,  their days are numbered.  While fast growing, they are fragile and are frequently damaged by high wind, ice and snow making them unsafe to walk under in severe weather.  The city is encouraging everyone to replace them.  They will be missed.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I’ve made a bicycle choice.  At last! I feel as if an incredible burden has been lifted.  On Saturday,  drove  87 miles to test ride some Public bikes. Reser Bicycles in Newport, KY had two models on the floor and my daughter and  I took both  the  J7 and the Mixte 8 for a test ride.  The shifting on the J7 was incredibly smooth for a derailleur and the glide on the Mixte 8 was otherworldly. The J7 they had on the floor was sold so I ordered the C7 in white which I am told is practically identical to the J7  and hope to receive it in a week or two. My daughter meanwhile, who apparently has deeper pockets than I do, purchased the Public Mixte 8 in chartreuse .  

I had a lovely day at the bike shop and shopping for a bicycle this winter has been a joy with so many mild weekends to enjoy the test rides.   I can now turn my bicycle obsession to a quest for accessories. I need a bell, should it be red, white, or silver? How about a basket (wicker or wire)?  A new saddle perhaps (Brooks)?  A skirt guard? 

I have been lax in my training due to the hours of my job (post about that to follow) but I feel energized now that I have chosen a bicycle and plan to be in great shape by the Bike the Drive event in Chicago.   

Since my last post I have heard that I was chosen by lottery to ride in the NYC five boro bike tour.  I’m saddened to report that  after looking forward to this ride for so long I will be unable to participate. I have a family obligation that I must tend to  that weekend here in Kentucky.  I will however, be able to bike the drive in Chicago on Memorial day weekend and I am excited by that prospect.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Whats So Embarassing About Old Age?

I have been thinking about the title of this blog. A little research has led me to the discovery that I am past being  “ of a certain age” and moved on to just being an old lady. This leads me to wonder if being old has always been embarrassing. I recently started a new job in a call center.  Many of the people who call in are elderly (my age) and our  trainer refers to these clients as “seasoned” members (wink, wink).  Meaning that we can't expect them to have their wits about them. 

I was thinking about all this yesterday when I stumbled across an opinion piece by Carole Simpson on the CNN website, who wrote about the negative feelings that young people in her college class have about old people. At the same time, she revealed her own negative feelings about old people, and being old herself, by suggeting that the best way to command respect in old age is to  color your hair, have plastic surgery, dress fashionably and just pretend to be young.  She also cites examples of many role models, all of whom are celebrities with enormous resources.   She is a particular fan of Betty White (aren't we all) as an example of aging well. Betty White is  a comedian who is  reaping the rewards of playing the role of the sassy little old lady.  That role is not so lucrative for most older women. She makes no allowances for lack of resources, loneliness, failing health and the many things that may be outside of one's control. 

Old age is part of the normal life cycle.  We do not need a euphemism to describe it. I feel like I'm coming out of the closet by declaring that my certain age is 65. 

For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


I have registered for the lottery to enter the TD Five Boro Bike Tour  I won’t hear before February 7.  I think I will delay buying a bike until after I’ve heard whether or not I have been selected to participate. I have heard mixed reports about how difficult and steep the approach to the Verrazano is and if I get to ride, I will buy an 8 speed  derailleur  to train on rather than the commuter bike I had planned to purchase.

Raleigh Detour
I have decided that I will rent a bike should I go to New York and the bikes offered for rental are Trek 8 speed hybrids.  I will test one of these Treks  when the weather warms up.  I have ridden the 8 speed Raleigh Detour 2.5  and really enjoyed the ride. The 2.5 is at the low end of the price range for a Detour but it has a steel frame and I prefer that to aluminum.

On the other hand, if I don’t get in and I do the Chicago ride, I will go with a 3 speed internal hub.   So far  the KHS Manhattan Green tops my list. I like the look of this bike and really enjoy the ride. I am, however,  currently re-examining my need to buy a commuter bike. I plan to ride mostly on trails and locally. I will do everything I can not to ride in the rain or at night so maybe I should go with a lighter weight bike without fenders, a rack  and a light. At these price points maybe I can have one of each. We'll see. 

Meanwhile, I have begun my training for the ride by going to the gym and riding the stationary bike and doing some Tae Bo tapes at home.  Having a specific goal in mind makes exercising easier for me. 

Looking forward to an exciting May in either event.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Bike New York or Bike the Drive?

As stated previously, my goal for 2012 is to participate in three organized bike rides
Registration Bike New York’s TD Five Boro Bike Tour opens tomorrow. The ride which will take place on the first Saturday in May is open to 32,000 riders.  Due to the demand for spaces in this ride they have instituted a lottery system this year and you must pay a $6.00 fee to enter the lottery. If chosen,  the fee to ride is $75.00. This ride is 42 miles and touches on all five boros of New York City.  I grew up in New Jersey and have lived in New York City on more than one occasion. It would be fun to ride through my former living and working neighborhoods.  

Registration for Chicago’s Bike the Drive which takes place on the Sunday before Memorial Day begins on Friday.  This appears to be a less intense experience than the Five Boro  and I am considering this ride instead. I have never been to Chicago and would supplement the ride with one of the guided bicycle tours through Chicago neighborhoods that are offered.

In either event, there is good information on the Bike NYC website on how to prepare for a ride of this length. According to the website the first step is to begin by following the CDC's physical activity recommendations: 150 minutes of moderate activity (like brisk walking) or 75 minutes of intense activity (like running) each week. I got in 30 minutes of moderate activity at the gym today, including riding a stationary bicycle. I found even this small amount of exercise challenging.  I've got lots of work to do.  

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
-- Lao-tzu (c. 604-c. 531 B.C.)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Taking the Lane

A speedy recovery to Gene Hackman who was hit by a car while riding his bike in Florida yesterday.  I was going to write more about my search for my next bike but this accident brings up another question for me:  Do I feel safe riding in traffic? The answer  is that I do not.  While many cycling advocates instruct riders in the use of  vehicular cycling and insist that cyclists should "take the lane", at least for now, I fully intend to limit my riding to quiet streets in my neighborhood and designated bike trails.  

I understand that the roads belong to all of us and that cars should share the road.  When I was younger I was much more daring.  Maybe it is because my reflexes have slowed, or that my range of motion is limited and I can no longer keep looking over my shoulder.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that age has brought with it an increased awareness of my own mortality or I have just acquired common sense. Whatever, I am much more cautious than I used to be. I don’t think I will ever feel comfortable with taking the lane as so many cycling enthusiasts seem to advocate..

Friday, January 13, 2012

Flat Foot Technology

Felt Cafe 3

Bikes with relaxed geometry  seem to be especially popular with “mature” riders as they allow you to put your feet flat on the ground when stopped. This concept appealed to me as I was just beginning to ride again and the consequences of falling off a bike and breaking a bone when you are 65 are so much more dire than when you are 25.  The Felt Cafe 3 brochure indicated that not only did it have relaxed geometry but that it could also climb hills. I loved the look of the bike and was especially drawn to the cup holder which really I would be unlikely to ever use. I took it for a test ride and the difference in the ease of riding between the Felt and the Huffy was amazing to me. I was really convinced at that point that I needed to buy a better bike.  I was to return to riding this bike after having tested several others and at that time it felt rather flimsy to me. I learned that I really prefer steel. 
Electra Townie

I wanted to try the Electra Townie, the pioneer of the flat foot technology bike. I love the look of these bikes, they come in really cool colors and just seem fun to ride. According to the Electra website the Townie provides:

"An efficient, upright riding position that lets you pedal with full power and ease. You're more in control. You have a lower center of gravity. Your back, neck and arms don't get as tired. And you can plant your feet on the ground whenever you want."

 I enjoyed this ride.  I approached a Townie owner at the local bike trail who was riding a Townie 8 and he said loves his  bike but wishes he had purchased the 21 speed as he was having trouble climbing hills with just 8.  He was a pretty big guy a lot younger than me and he reported having to frequently push this bike up hills. I live in a fairly hilly neighborhood and realized that the relaxed  geometry of these bikes  is  probably not for me.   I love the look of these Townies though.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Finding a New Ride

 When I decided to start riding again at the beginning of  the summer I purchased  a used Huffy Cranbrook beach cruiser like the one on the left for $40.00.  I was thrilled to find a bike at this price and couldn't wait to start riding again. 
The bike is  pretty, and I thought well a bike is a bike. It kinda fits me and it rolls. I was happy with this bike until I started reading the cycling blogs.  Ignorance is bliss. and  I had great times on this bike while increasing  my strength and stamina considerably.

I am now ready to move on and up. I do not plan on doing a lot of riding until the spring but in the meantime the extremely mild winter we are having has allowed me to test ride quite a few bikes.  I have set a budget of $500 and have determined that I prefer a steel bike with a step through frame. So far I have ridden Electras, Felts, Globes, Schwinns and Treks. I would like to ride a Public but no local bike shop carries them. I may travel  the 80 mi to Cincinnati to try one out.

It seems the bloggers I read all have Pashleys, Rivendells, Abicis, Gazelle’s, etc.  Not only are these out of my price range, we have no LBS that carry them. I  have never seen one of these bikes on the street or on the trail here in town and I have been looking.  Most folks are riding Schwinns, Treks, Electras, or big box store bikes.  I went into a LBS that carries Electras and the salesman said that they don’t carry the Electra Amsterdam because it is too expensive for this market.  We just don’t seem to have the expensive Dutch bike culture here. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cycling Blog Addiction

I’m addicted to cycling blogs. The blogs that I frequently read  seem to fall into two categories:   
1) the cycle chic variety, or  2) those aimed at turning recreational cyclists into transportation cyclists. While I love these blogs, the information contained therein pretty much does not apply to an aging baby boomer like me.  I like to think I have at least a shot at cycle chic, but I am not going to give up my car.  I am retired so I don't commute. 

My goal for 2012 is to do three organized leisure rides. I hope to do Bike the Drive in Chicago, maybe do a seersucker ride in Atlanta , and one more ride, (perhaps a tweed)  yet to be determined.   The purpose of this blog is to record my progress toward that goal.