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Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Perfect Bike Briefcase

Last October, when I was dressing for success for a meeting with the new CEO, I asked for your opinion: which bag I should choose to replace my unstylish briefcase pannier? The votes came in for the FastRider Black Charm Shopper, which I’d seen in the company’s online catalog, but couldn’t find for sale anywhere. When it wasn’t at the ultimate city bike shop in London, I almost gave up. And then, Eureka! I found it for sale online!

The shipping cost almost as much as the bag, but I had to have it. I ordered it in early December, which meant it didn’t arrive before I lost my job. But I don’t care. It’s lovely and I’m finding it useful for trips around town, like taking my laptop in to the Apple store. I even took it to Las Vegas for a conference and it worked like a charm.

How far would you go to get the perfect bag?

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Posted by on January 11, 2012 in Cycle Fashions, Gear Talk

 

Las Vegas by Bike

For most cities we visit, we rent bikes to get around town. But Las Vegas? Uh, no. With city planners who believe in eight lane arterials everywhere and quarter mile superblocks, Las Vegas is the ultimate car city. So no city bikes for us. And after a walk to the drugstore a block and a half from the hotel that took 20 minutes each way, we resigned ourselves to taking taxis. By far the easiest way to get around Vegas.

To get our bike fix in and to get away from the smoke of the casinos and the ever-present ding-ding-ding of the slot machines, we headed out to the desert. Las Vegas may not be known for the great outdoors, but it really should be. The desert is worth a trip to Vegas, even if you hate gambling, drinking and late nights.

For our first desert trip we rented a Harley from Eagle Riders. Since both Dick and I had driven out to Hoover Dam and Red Rock Canyon on previous trips, we took the advice of their friendly staff and rode the Valley of Fire and Lake Mead loop. I can’t describe the striking landscapes and deep color of the rock formations in this valley. Let’s just say the Valley of Fire is the best kept secret in the southwest. Simply amazing.

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The next day we switched bikes and deserts with a trip to Cottonwood Valley in Red Rock Canyon park. Through Escape Adventures, we took a half day mountain bike tour on rocky, sometimes technical singletrack. Riding the dirt in the desert was a completely new experience. We were both a bit unsure of how to approach the loose, rocky trails on unfamiliar bikes with tires overfilled to prevent pinch flats. But the weather was perfect, the views amazing and we both dodged the rocks well enough to come away without drawing blood.

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Note: I took video during both bike trips, but I was sorry to discover they were much shakier than usual. In the Cottonwood Valley video, the cause was a rocky trail. Maybe I should invest in a chest mount for my GoPro. In the Valley of Fire video, the problem was rough chip-seal pavement and wind bouncing my iPhone around. So I captured some stills from my video and included them in the slideshow.

Las Vegas: love it or hate it? Would you head for the casinos or head for the desert?

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Posted by on January 10, 2012 in Dirt Trails, Travel

 

Fashion Friday: White Wedding

The bride wore a mandarin collared cycling jersey with princess lines by Italian designer Castelli, accented with a touches of gray to coordinate with capri-length cycling knickers by American designer Georgena Terry. Whisper helmet by Catlike and Genius cycling shoes by Sidi.

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Posted by on January 6, 2012 in Cycle Fashions

 

A Wedding to Remember on Mt Hamilton

Six and a half years ago when Dick and I were planning our wedding, I was having trouble getting motivated. The only thing decided was a wedding date of January 1st, which I liked because New Year’s is the perfect day to start something new, like a married life together. Plus we’d always have our anniversary off from work and nothing happens on New Years anyway except football games that we don’t really care about.

Dick wasn’t helping either. Whenever I asked for his opinion about wedding plans, he would say, “Make sure the ceremony isn’t too early in the day, you know I always ride Mt Hamilton on New Year’s.” So the inevitable happened: we ended up with a bike wedding. The plan was to ride up Mt Hamilton with an entourage of friends (and select family in cars), have a simple ceremony, and then ride down on a tandem.

The weather turned out to be wet with dangerously high winds, so we skipped the ride and performed the ceremony at the bottom of the hill at Grant Ranch. It was still very special, even without the ride.

Now we celebrate our anniversary with the ride we couldn’t do on our wedding day. This year the weather was more spring than winter with clear skies, no wind and warm temperatures. I was worried about the 11 mile, 2800′ climb since I’ve been doing more cross-town trips than hills, but I surprised myself. Still, the climb goes on forever, with the observatory on top remaining in view so seemingly close and yet so far away, taunting you.

The best part of a long climb is the long descent, and Mt Hamilton was even better this year due to large sections of fresh pavement. On the top third we had it free and clear until we caught up with a Prius who had too much pride to pull over for a couple of bikes. My hands were hurting from all the braking, but it gave us more time to spot Brian climbing up the hill and call out a quick “Hi Brian, Happy New Year!”

That evening we went out to dinner dressed as we did for the formal dinner that followed our bike wedding. I am grateful that my dress still fit (ditto for Dick and his suit). But mostly, I’m grateful that after six years we still enjoy each other every day and still enjoy celebrating the beginning of our life together as a committed couple.

What traditions do you have to remember and celebrate the big days in your life?

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Posted by on January 4, 2012 in Backroads

 

One Woman, Many Bicycles: 2011 Year in Review

The other day WordPress sent me an annual report for this blog with statistics for 2011. The infographic showed I wrote 121 blog entries, uploaded 1004 photos and that the blog was viewed 5,800 times–the number of people it takes to fill 5 New York subways. That’s a lot!

Thank you to all my readers, especially from Facebook (the top referring site), and to Dan and Cara for listing me on their blogs. And thanks to Lorri, Brian, Cindy, Katie and Rachel, my top commenters. The report also listed the top five posts of 2011. These rated highest because you all shared them with your friends.

1 Making the Grade the Low-Key Way Coordinating a hill climbing “race” with over 100 riders.
2 Wheels of Change at Public Bikes A book signing about the long love affair between women and bicycles.
3 Where Buena Vista Doesn’t Mean Good View When hill residents demand a stop sign, I investigate.
4 On Pumpkins and Other Weighty Matters A dirt ride to the coast to pick up Halloween pumpkins.
5 Blazing Trails at Water Dog We dig, pick, rake and drill to create a new hiking and biking trail.

Not all posts got this sort of attention, however, including some that I think are among my best, but didn’t get a lot of traffic. So, in the tradition of end-of-year reviews, here are my top five posts you might have missed, one for each month I’ve been blogging.

#5: Picnic in the Garden

Dick and I pedaled off to a park for a picnic for a bike date on one of the last warm evenings of summer. The gardens were still in bloom and pleasantly private for an intimate dinner for two. Read post >>

#4: Amsterdam After Dark

A very different bike date in Amsterdam uses photos more than words to tell the story of a night ride to a walking district with a wide range of dining choices. Read post >>

#3: Cycling from Eight to Eighty

My mom and dad are over 80 years old and are still riding strong. They really impressed me with their riding skills on our family vacation in Florida last summer. Dad even rode some dirt trails in flip-flops. Read post >>

#2: Guilty Pleasures in Paris

Dick suffered through travel delays while I lived the good life waiting for him in gay Paris. Gourmet dining for me, airport food for him. Riding around the city for me, waiting at the airport for him. Poor Dick. Read post >>

#1: On Tradition: Foot Guards, Ghosts and the Queen

In London, we tracked down a pub with a colorful history including a murdered foot guard that still makes his presence known. Oh, and we visited the queen at Buckingham palace. Read post >>

Thank you to all my readers for keeping me going. It’s not always easy to sit down, compose my thoughts and write about my adventures. It’s knowing that you all are reading that keeps me writing. And special thanks to my dear husband Dick who proofreads almost all of my posts. If there’s a grammatical error, misspelling or typo, you can be sure Dick wasn’t involved.

Thank you again all for your support and a happy New Year to all!

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2012 in Other Stuff

 
 
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