Sunday, April 6, 2014

Bike Ride to Breakfast at Squeeze Inn

My husband, John, and I have dined at every Squeeze Inn restaurant location except for the one on Sparks Boulevard until today. Our home is just 2.5 miles away, yet this was our first visit in the year we have lived here in Sparks. Rather than drive, we took advantage of the quiet Sunday morning and relatively warm weather to ride our bikes to the restaurant. Along the way, we dropped off a movie we rented the night before at a Redbox kiosk.

On most weekend mornings, John has a long road bike training ride for miles and miles that lasts for hours. I usually have somewhere to be and things to do on my touring bike so we always try to make sure we ride together when we can. Bicycling gives us more time and a chance to talk about anything and everything on our minds along the way. I think it is important in every relationship to have things in common. For us one of the things is bicycling, although we both enjoy it in different ways. Sport and racing for him, transportation cycling for me. Yet we are still able to spend quality time doing the things we enjoy together.

When John and I arrived at our destination, there was not a bike rack to be found so we did what we had to do and secured our bikes to the bench. There were a few people waiting to be seated so John put our names on the wait list and grabbed us both cups of coffee. We don't mind waiting. All the more time for us to spend together.

Bicycling has also taught us a lot of patience. Although each of us have learned to apply it differently. For John, it is in terms of training and perseverance for those few but important races throughout the racing season. For me, it has taught me to enjoy my bicycle commutes between the office and home. Sometimes it feels like I am on the road for a long time, but my commute actually does not take much longer than driving. The only difference is, there is the absence of stress from driving defensively in traffic and I get more cardio activity time for me. The 30 minutes I used to spend driving to work and 30 minutes driving home became time to reflect on the day and think about my plans while pedaling my bike, moving my body and getting a cardio workout.
For breakfast John ordered french toast with sausage and I had banana walnut pancakes with eggs. We toasted to the day with mimosas. Why not?!? Every day is a day worthy of celebrating!! John and I really enjoyed our time at Squeeze Inn. The food was great and the staff were all so friendly. We spoke to the manager and expressed our desire for a bike rack and he agreed. It was a matter of logistics and we hope there will be racks the next time we visit because we definitely plan to return to the restaurant. Then we rode towards home along a different road.
On our way, we stopped at the bottom of our street where there was an overlook and view of Reno. At the top there was a bench on which we sat to soak in the city. The weather was getting more and more gorgeous as we sat there. I think we could have sat there all day but our day was just beginning and we had plenty more to do!
The container on the rack of the green bike held my leftover breakfast.
The last hill to our home is always the hardest for me and I sometimes dread ascending after a long day of work. But this morning I did not want the road to end because I did not want our ride to end. I may talk like we never do this but we do ride our bikes together often LOL. It just never seems to be enough time.
When I am on the bike, I never want to get off.
I feel like I can ride forever if I did not have house chores, a yard to tend to, and cats who need me too.
There is always another weekend and I am looking forward to it!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Imelda Marcos of Cycling

My husband tells me he needs new sneakers. The toe box of his one and only pair has worn a bit thin; the tops of his toes are pushing through.

"Oh?" I replied as if surprised to hear this for the first time. "Why don't you just go out and buy a new pair?" This is a conversation we have had for the past six months.

It's not that we can't afford new shoes for him. His shoe budget is actually pretty generous. It's because he doesn't want to spend the money...on fashion shoes. Really? Coming from the "Imelda Marcos of Cycling Shoes" it bewilders me why he won't buy a pair of every-day shoes he needs so badly yet he has had 10 or 30 pairs of cycling shoes over the past few years since he started cycling again. And at any one time, he has at least two to three pairs of shoes for his sport. Sidis, Shimanos, Giro, and Bont custom cycling shoes that are $300 to $400 a pair. He has owned three pairs of Bonts at one time.

As for me, how many pairs of road cycling shoes do I have? One. I use them when riding my road bike. However, I have been thinking of getting women cycling shoes with clip-less pedals, specifically SPD clips (special clips designed by Shimano). Normally, I wear flats or boots - they work fine on the platform pedals of my bike. Even so, my foot has slipped off the pedal at times when I push down or the muscles in my feet become fatigue because the soft soles of my flats do not offer a lot of support. If you are curious to know more about the advantages of clip-less pedals, there are some great articles out there such as "A Beginner's Guide to Clip-Less Pedals."

It would be nice to get off the bike and walk about in my cycling shoes without feeling like I am walking around in soccer cleats. However, I also don't want to look like I'm going to run the gym or scale a dirt trail either because most shoes with clip-less pedals still look sporty to me. I want something that is stylish and is appropriate to wear at the office with the semi-professional clothes I normally wear. For the men out there looking for urban bike shoes, DZR makes some stylish ones you can wear at the office!

As more and more cycling shoe companies develop urban cycling shoes, it seems I have some options to consider. By the way, it is not necessary to have cycling shoes and certainly does not have to be as expensive as these for bicycle commuting. I would actually consider these women specific SPD cycling boot called the "Zurich" by DRZ but at the time, it was out of my price range when I needed regular boots for winter. Since only 50 of them were made by hand, you might get lucky and score one through Terry Bicycles in Fall 2014.

1. The Women's Giro Civila™

2. The Women's Giro Whynd™

"Athletic Inspired" may be too sporty

3. I will even consider the Men's Giro Republic Shoe

4. Vittoria has vintage shoes in their Line 1976. Bike Snob NYC wrote a rather funny review on his blog. This is the Men's Bianco Line

5. Bianco Line Suede  I really like this one because of the suede and bright color but not as practical as a pair that is more versatile so this might have to be my second pair.

Still, I cannot help but think these shoes would be a better fit with the trousers and jeans worn by men than would be appropriate for women's work wear. They slightly resemble bowling shoes! Meanwhile, my local bike shop and my husband are working on getting a few pairs in my hands to try and see if they are for me. Once I can see for myself, I will definitely post a review.

I suppose I am not much different from my husband when it comes plunking down a chunk of change for cycling shoes. After all, I would rather invest in new cycling apparel or a new bike than purchase a designer handbag. These shoes would get more use by me nearly every day during my commute between home and the office than a purse would. It's all about priorities, right?

Apparently, we are not alone because bikes benefit the economy in Nevada. Here is a quick fact from the League of American Bicyclists:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

20 Reasons to Love Cycling

I can relate to all of these points and cannot agree more :-)  Here is why...

  1. Cycling is a sport that fosters a spirit of familiarity and trust that exists between friends--even with strangers you have never met you already have the common bond of two wheels. Even in competitive racing the riders on different teams work together towards the finish. Can you say the same for football, basketball, volleyball, or baseball?
    I love riding my bike to meet my lovely friends and I have made new and lasting friendships while cycling! 
  2. The technology is beautiful in the components of bicycles
  3. Cycling is a colorful sport and a beautiful sport because the scenery always changes. Look up the word "peloton" (a group of riders in road racing) on search engines and you'll see what I mean. The cycling kits (clothing) is like a box of color crayons or van Gogh in motion!
  4. Pedals used to have toe clips and straps, like the one pictured below with Brooke Shields to anchor the feet through the upstroke when pedaling. Now there are "clipless" pedals (a system of cleats on shoes that connect with special pedals so you can just step-in/step-out without needing to tighten/loosen straps). One day I'll explain the pros and cons.
  5. Cyclists LOVE coffee. Sure, I can drive to get a cup of Joe but biking to a coffee shop (usually to meet friends) and sharing our lives over cappuccino makes my day even more AWESOME!!
  6. I love flying downhill! It literally feels like I am flying.
  7. Cycling works your cardio system, your legs, abs, arms, back, core and bum!! I arrive at work mentally alert and in the best mood. I no longer go to the gym where I am stuck indoors "working out" and instead I can enjoy lunch with my colleagues.
  8. Cycling is a quick way to get from A to B. I don't have to warm my bike first like I do my car or (drive around to) find a parking space. It takes me about the same amount of time driving to work as it does to bike to work which I'll talk about later.
  9. Cycling is a great self-confidence booster. How can I hate the strong and sculpted legs that helped to pedal me for miles and miles? I learned to appreciate all of my body after I rode 35 miles, 52 miles and over 80 miles on my own in just a few hours. Heck--I don't even drive that distance in a day when I do drive!
  10. Once I learned and understood racing strategies, cycling became even more enjoyable but it's not necessary to like racing at all. My husband races and I enjoy being a spectator but not all cyclists like to watch bike racing.
  11. I never used to like riding up "hills" and as I started cycling more and more, the "hills" became smaller and smaller. Now I find hills and mountains an awesome challenge to ride up. I am pretty proud of myself after I reach the top and look back. It is like hiking uphill but even faster!
  12. I can go anywhere the road takes me :-) (see also 15.)
  13. Seeing the main field of riders in a road race fly by is pretty impressive. Much like watching a car race or air race, however...
  14. Seeing a race up close is a rush. You can literally reach out and touch them AND in some races the riders come to you!! Can you say that about other sports??
  15. I mentioned before in 12. that I can go anywhere (the road takes me) and getting lost means a discovery of an alternate route and a new path. It can be fun (if you are on a ride for pleasure).
  16. Cycling is a great way to burn calories. My bicycle commute to and from work takes between an hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes in my day BUT IT IS FUN the entire time!! I am not stuck in a car and stuck in traffic. The whole time I am pedaling uphill and downhill, I feel the wind on my skin, my heart pump blood through my body, I smell flowers blooming or the aroma of a BBQ from the backyards I pass by, I am strength training my calves, legs, thighs and bum. So I never feel guilty about indulging in a hamburger or pizza or drinking beer.
  17. Cycling is an earth-friendly mode of transportation. Where a car needs fuel to run, my bike needs me -- human and muscle power.
  18. At the end of a ride, it is great to have a cold beer ... or sip a glass of wine. Having this much fun should be a crime, LOL!!
  19. Cycling is relatively inexpensive. One of my bicycles cost $25 and I already had a hand-me-down helmet and a bicycle pump. The only additional expense after acquiring it were new tubes for the tires...and a really cute bicycle bell that looked like a bell pepper :-D
  20. Feeling the wind in my hair is ABSOLUTE FREEDOM. Riding my bike is simple: a swing of my leg over my bike and I pedal away - instant and sheer freedom. But 99% of the time I wear a helmet to protect my head should the unexpected happen. I know I am a naturally clumsy person and should I fall off my bike, having a helmet on my head can make the difference between getting back on the bike and on my way and a visit to the doctor, which would ruin my day.
So...what are your reasons for your love of cycling? I know there are more than mentioned!!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Flash from the Past Friday

A member of Reno Wheelmen poses with his bicycle in this undated photo from the University Libraries' Special Collections Exhibit.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bike to Work Week will soon be here!

The 2014 annual event will take place May 10 to 16 so if you are looking for a great opportunity to ride your bike to work, school and fun, head to the Truckee Meadows Bicycle Alliance's website and register! Registration is free and there are prizes and perks for doing so. You can also find and participate in the week's event and ride your bike to a baseball game or a pancake feed. If you are planning on joining in on the fun, I would love to hear from you in the comments! Remember, you don't have to do this alone. After you register, find a group and say 'hello'! You can even sign up your workplace for the Commuter Challenge and rally your co-workers to participate.

Are you interested in biking to work or school but are not sure how to get started? If you stick around, I will cover in future posts:
  • how to find your perfect bike (if you don't already have one or just want a new one)
  • how to plan your safe route
  • what the local laws are so that you are informed
  • where to find support such as classes and bike shops
  • the clothing and gear you may need to make your commute comfortable (because that is what this blog is all about--bicycle commuting, cute clothing and gear)
  • and so much more!!
Although I commute to work on average four times a week, I will definitely participate this year. So see I hope to see you on!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Urban Bicycling on a Brisk Spring Day

I did not commute by bike today but still needed a dose of bicycling. So I hopped aboard the Sierra Spirit Shuttle to downtown Reno to find other bicyclists. Despite the cooler and breezy spring weather, there were many people of all ages out riding their bikes to get from place to place. You may see folks in these photos without helmets and those are students on the UNR campus. Perhaps because the environment feels safe and the routes on which they ride are car free is why they ride without a helmet.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bike Ride to the Dentist's Office

Today I had a dentist appointment during my lunch hour. Since I rode my bike in to work it was my mode of transportation to get to my appointment. I couldn't wait to get out into the fresh air again!! All the while I was pedaling there, there was a good breeze blowing in the darker clouds and I had hoped it wouldn't rain on me. Silly commuter, I thought. I chose to leave my coat at home today even though I knew the weather forecast indicated a good chance of rain.

My route took me on Mill Street and I was very grateful for the bike lane. Mill Street once had four motor vehicle lanes in each direction. There was no on-street parking and no lanes until the road conversion took place. Now there are three lanes (one in each direction with a turning lane in the middle), on-street parking and bike lanes in each direction.

I think generally the public frowns on "road diets" for fear that it could not accommodate the existing traffic. But you picture a four lane road before the conversion, you have:
  • motor vehicles who need to make a left turn that can hold up traffic behind them
  • motor vehicles making a right turn that can hold up traffic
  • bicyclists on the right shoulder of the road that can impede motor vehicle traffic or in the left lane needing to make a left turn (yikes)
  • no on-street parking (we know what that's like to drive along side streets looking for parking)
  • pedestrians needing to cross all four lanes to get to the other side safely
So there is a lot of motor vehicles speeding up, slowing down, turning or changing lanes to go around other vehicles or a bicyclist. And since the drivers are focused on driving ;-) the pedestrians or bicyclists would be secondary on their radars--no wonder accidents happen.

No doubt road diets make it safer for all users of the road. For pedestrians, it means crossing three lanes of traffic instead of four. At the end of the day, we all want to walk, drive or bike where we need to go safely right?

I am grateful for road diets because it has allowed me to bike to the dentist's office during lunch! Without safe access, I would have needed to drive to work today so that I could get to the dentist's office and back.

Find out more about road conversions and how that makes things safer for everyone here: