Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I Have a Dream of Reno Slow Roll

I have a dream. That the roads of our community would be filled by bicyclists. That we would have access to use the roads without fear of getting pushed off or run over by other people driving motor vehicles. A day when bicyclists of all ages, abilities, gender and bike preference will ride side by side. That day came over Martin Luther King weekend.

It was only the first Reno Snow Roll organized by the Reno Bike Project and over 60 participants showed up ready to ride!

All sorts of bikes were represented as we rolled out of our meeting place through downtown Reno. Recumbent, cargo, cruisers, mountain, touring, road,
Bike bells rang around me as we rode together. The pace was slow so that no one would be left behind. It also allowed us to chat with others around us and people we have never met.
Even though I had plenty in common with my fellow riders, my shyness got the best of me and kept me from approaching others and so all I could do was SMILE and pedal quietly behind.
My personal goal for the next ride is to come out of my shell and introduce myself to someone in the ride that I have never met!
The ride featured a local business so half way through our route, we stopped at the Hub Coffee shop for complimentary hot cocoa and mingled.

Do you have or know of a local business who would like to be featured? Please contact me for details on how to become a Reno Bike Project Business Member and your business could be featured during the next Slow Roll.

Then it was time to leave and everyone I passed was ALL SMILES!!

Well how can we NOT have fun?! Riding bikes is so AWESOME!
After we parted ways, a few of us in the group went to check out The Depot on 4th Street, an antique train depot converted into a brewery, distillery and restaurant. There is a great article about The Depot on the Drinkable Reno blog.
I had a dream about a large community bicycle ride that was for all riders of all ages and abilities and bicycles. And for one day that dream came true!

View the rest of the photos on the Reno Slow Roll album.  Feel free to download and/or share!!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Happy New Year!

I hope your year was filled with all good things. I know I have a lot to be thankful for that has happened in 2014!

In the new year, the weekly Ladies' (Bike Repair) Night at the Reno Bike Shop will continue, we have Bike Week 2015 (May 9 - 15) coming up, the inaugural CycloFemme Ride on Mother's Day which will put Reno-Tahoe-Sparks on the world map and more regular fun rides through town to look forward to! I would also like to offer meetups for bicycling skill sharing for anything you'd like to know (how to choose a bike for commuting, how to dress for different weather, how to carry your things, how to navigate the roads safely, how to plan the best route to where you need to go, basic routine maintenance you can easily do, etc.) if there is interest. Just let me know !

Cuter Commuter is also launching an online boutique and storefront offering vintage dutch style bicycles and stylish but practical bicycling bags, pumps, apparel, flat tire kits and accessories for women!! I am excited to bring to our town options to help you express your personal style! Stay tuned to CuterCommuter.com.

Above all, I am grateful for the friends I have made through Cuter Commuter rides this year. I am eager to meet each and every one in the coming year and ride again with old friends!! Until then, I hope all of the roads you travel lead you safely to family, friends and fun!

Have a Happy New Year and may 2015 bring you all the best and happiness in life!!

Sincerely Your Cuter Commuter Sister,

stylish bicycle commuter woman, bike to work

Friday, December 12, 2014

Winter Riding in a Summer Dress

The winter season doesn't stop me from riding, especially in a skirt. Tights and boots are popular with younger women in Reno and although I like to wear tights with boots when I'm running errands during the weekends, it's not necessarily "appropriate attire" for the office.

This baby pink dress I am wearing is actually a sleeveless button front summer dress and is perfect for layering!

Asummer dress for winter riding with tights underneath
Under the dress, I wore a thin, long sleeve base layer with sweat-wicking properties. Then slipped a navy crew neck sweater over the dress and pulled on some soft, thick leggings in dark blue. Finally topped off with a light corduroy blazer and short brown boots but you can also wear taller boots if you like with knitted leg warmers if you tend to get cold.

I try to keep my layers to a minimum to avoid getting too hot (and subsequently sweaty) so that I start out a tad cold and then warm up a few minutes into my ride.

This outfit I wore on Tuesday morning did just fine in 34 degree weather, even with wind chill!! Nothing special, just ordinary pieces from my closet. Bicycling to work in regular clothing can be done. Even in a summer dress.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

My First Bicycle

My first bike as an adult was a mountain bike. And I'll bet many people would think of getting a mountain bike over say...a road bike when considering a purchase. With its knobby tires and front fork suspension, a mountain bike can be great for hitting potholes, going over large curbs and crossing gritty patches of dirt along your commute.

However, they can be heavier and take more effort to ride on the road because their wider, softer tire with less air pressure flattens more when rolling on the ground. I would pedal several miles on pavement and be out of breathe. I thought, was I really THAT out of shape? I didn't know then that the flattening was "rolling resistance" which kept me from coasting along like I would with less effort on a road bike (which have  narrower tires, less contact with the road = less rolling resistance like ice skates on ice). I didn't really need to go fast, I just wanted to ride a few miles without huffing and puffing and breaking into a sweaty mess. That was probably because I was trying to keep up with my husband on his road bike ;-)

If you really like going off-road on the weekends (because that's what it is designed for) then a mountain bike could make a tough commuting bike. My mountain bike and I went on a few fun rides together but it never saw a dirt trail or gravel road. Sadly we parted and I imagine it is somewhere eating up mud on the mountains!!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Women on Bicycles - Annie Londonderry

There is a throwback Thursday for you! Annie Londonderry successfully cycled around the world at age 25. She only had her bike, a change of clothing and a pistol.

Women on Bicycles Annie Londonderry
This excerpt is from "The Girls' Bicycle Handbook" by Caz Nicklin. Order from Cyclechic and get a signed copy by Caz herself. Sounds like a great gift for that lucky girl - for Christmas or any occassion!!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

MonkeyLectric M204 Bike Wheel Light Review

Since Daylight Saving Time ended, I found myself riding more and more often into the night. Naturally, safety is always a concern in the back of my mind when I'm bicycling in the dark. And I have felt that my front and rear lights were not quite enough, especially when it comes to being visible to cross traffic from the side.

So when I received the new Monkey Light M204 (released in mid November 2014) sample for review, I was very curious to try it out! I have been running the light during my commute home for about a week now and I am ready to share my thoughts and photos with you.
MonkeyLectric Monkey Light M204 Bike Wheel Light display

First, I must admit that I am NOT mechanically inclined. The only bike lights I've used are the plug-and-play kind. So when I initially saw the product package, and without a clue as to how the wheel light system worked, I was a little intimidated at the thought of having to "wire" together something.

Resisting the urge to ask my husband for his assistance, I waited until I had a full weekend without any distractions to focus on the installation.
Monkey Light M204 retail package

Once I finally sat down and opened the package, I realized how silly I had been to put off using it! The way the system goes together is INCREDIBLY simple, especially after watching the helpful video on installing the M204 Monkey Light. Basically, the Monkey Light straps to the spokes of the bike wheel, and the battery holder straps to the hub using cable ties. There are two buttons on the light piece labeled "POWER" and "COLOR". Once connected and powered by three AA batteries, turn it on and pedal away!

One thing I have learned from assembling furniture from IKEA is to unbox everything and make sure all the pieces I will need are there. The retail packaging comes with:
  • MonkeyLectric M204 Monkey Light bike wheel light (about 1 1/4" height x 2 1/2" length). The package says 4 LED but I only see 2 lights. Perhaps there are two lights clustered together?
  • MonkeyLectric Hub mounted battery holder (1 1/2" diameter and 2 3/4" length that straps to spokes with vibration proof mount). Here is a photo of the battery holder and core.
  • Stainless steel antitheft straps (are hard to cut once installed)
  • Plastic cable ties for mounting (there are more than the minimum needed in case of oopsies)
  • Soft rubber blocks to adjust the fit of the light
  • MonkeyLectric bike stickers ()
  • Instructions in 22 languages (how did they miss Laotian? )
Cat examines M204 Monkey Light
Havi inspects the pieces of the M204 Monkey Light
I also checked the light to see that it worked, that I understood how the pieces fit together and how the batteries fit into the holder. This way I can spend as little time as possible doing the installation while in the cold garage.

This particular Monkey Light has 5 themes. Depending on the light settings that you use, the lumen (amount of light emitted per second) varies from 10 lumens to 40 lumens which also impacts the lights' run time (50 hours to 12 hours).
All components have solid rubber construction and are waterproof for use in all weather
You will need to supply your own:
  • 3 AA batteries (which are not included, as stated on the package)
  • A pair of needle nose pliers to pull the cable ties tight in the hard to reach places near the hub 
  • A pair of wire cutters to cut the excess cable ties
A wire cutter (a/k/a dykes) and needle nose pliers
Super-excited, I gathered my supplies and went into the garage to put the lights on my bike! The installation went off without a hitch. Two cable ties attach the light piece to each spoke. Here I installed the light as far away from the hub as possible. I did use one of the rubber blocks to adjust the fit of the light to spokes. Two more cable ties attach the battery holder to the hub. Cut the extra length of the cable ties. Insert the battery core into the holder. Connect the wires, press the power button and ta-da!
Make sure to wrap the wire around the spoke so it doesn't interfere with the teeth of the cogset.
So I took the Monkey Light for a test ride around the neighborhood. But this is where things didn't go quite as I had expected as far as the "ring of light" I had hoped to see as pictured (below) on the packaging and on the website.

Looking at the M204 User Guide, it looks like the power button is controls whether the lights flash in a dash pattern or a solid pattern.
I tried pedaling at different speeds but still couldn't get the effect. I only saw a few dashes of light.

Then I had my husband ride my bike so that I could see what the Monkey Light looked like. He rode faster than I could and I think that's when the persistence of vision effect finally kicked in. At this point, I think if I changed the theme I might have seen the ring of light.

I definitely have to play around some more with the settings. I also sent my questions through Monkey Light's support form yesterday and am waiting for a response to how I can make the light work better. Since it is a holiday weekend, I will wait until next week for a response.

Overall, the M204 light does its job which is to help you "be seen". There are other Monkey Lights with more LEDs that you can have fun with on the website. Some display patterns and graphics! This particular set is:
  • Easy and quick to install five minutes or less.
  • Affordable at $25.99USD and can be purchased from any dealer.
  • Relatively easy to operate. The POWER and COLOR buttons are differentiated and separated so I can easily turn it on/off and change the colors even when it is dark outside.
  • Nice and bright. It can be blinding when trying to change the color settings but that is a good thing for visibility!
  • Quiet. I've notice no noise or rattling from the light on the spokes or hub battery pack.
  • Fun. It is like having a disco party under my seat!
  • Cool. As confirmed by two young boys with skateboards who shouted, "That's cool!" when I rode by them. Kid you not.
With the amount of hours that I ride in the evenings, I only wish it was a USB rechargeable system or the hub-mounted battery core was rechargeable. So we shall see how long the first set of batteries last. For now, I carry a few extra batteries with me and, doing the math, I think the 48-pack I purchased should last me quite a while!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Annual Member and Volunteer Appreciation and Potluck

Yesterday evening my husband and I attended the Reno Bike Project's Annual Member and Volunteer Appreciation and Potluck. The event was held at Under the Rose Brewing Company on East 4th Street near the community bicycle shop near downtown Reno.

Since the Reno Bike Project is a non-profit community bike shop, it relies heavily on volunteers to help with the success of the community outreach, educational programs and events. People give hours and hours of their personal time to repair bicycles donated from the community to give to kids in need during the holiday season. Others, like Rachel (who received one of the Volunteers of the Year Award) are at Ladies' (bike repair) night every Tuesday evening to offer a helping hand.
Each guest brought something to share. There was a large buffet table full of delicious food -- homemade quiche, cookies and breads, Brussels sprouts salads, chips and dips! Meanwhile, vegetarian burger patties and bratwurst were cooked on a grill. The brewery provided free beer on tap. The Saison and Pumpkin beer were my favorites.

Members and volunteers chatted with each other, our voices and laughter filled the cavernous warehouse of the brewery. We played games like Jenga and fooseball. I didn't say harmless games because, believe it or not, I actually sprained my hand playing team fooseball!! It's going to hurt to squeeze the brake levers during my bike commute to work this week.

Near the end of the night, the Executive Director and co-founder of Reno Bike Project stood on a table to  recognize the selected Volunteers of the Year and Members of the Year. One by one they walked up to receive their award while everyone in the room clapped and cheered, myself included with great joy because I appreciate so much all that they do!
I was completely surprised when he called my name to receive an award as one of the Board Members of the Year. It caught me off guard as I bashfully walked up to the front. Public recognition is just not something I have yet to learn to accept with grace. Because I was flustered, all I could hear the Director say was something about "not only does she talk the talk but she walks the walk commuting by bicycle from Sparks to Reno every day".

I am humbled to receive such recognition, as undeserving as I felt, among these volunteers who have done so much throughout the year! All I know is that I just LOVE to do what I do and help others get in to bicycling. Because I believe so much in what bicycling can do for our physical and mental well-being, and for us as an individual--and for our community.

Bicycling brought all of these people together. People who have their own life--their family, jobs, and personal commitments and obligations to give their precious time and put forth their best effort to make Reno and Sparks a better community for bicycling. At the end of the day, all we want is MORE BUTTS, ON MORE BIKES, MORE OFTEN!!
The wool cap I will wear proudly and motto I keep close to my heart.

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