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Tips to Get You Rolling After a Long Winter

12 Get Ready for Spring Cycling

It is currently mid-March in Colorado and the weatherman is giving us more good days than not. I don’t know about you, but  I’m itching to get back into a rhythm of riding. What that really means is I’m trying to build back up the confidence of being on a roll and feeling the comfort of routine.

Sorting out the kinks after a long winter can be a challenge, but don’t let it trip you up or keep you from being excited about blue skies and two wheels! Here are the tips I’m taking over the next week to be ready for spring and many of miles with my bike before the weather is picture perfect.

1.) Get your bike ready

This could be a full service tune up or simply pumping up the tires, lubing the chain and giving it a once over. Either way, get your bike ready for that next warm day!

2.) Get yourself ready

This weekend an action item on my to-do list is to sort out my bike clothing. This includes being ready for some not so perfect days, but knowing where my gloves, shoe covers and possibly rain jacket is. That way I’m not searching for my left glove 15 minutes before my group ride is supposed to leave!

3.) Short trips are better than no trips

If you need motivation, ride to the coffee shop or friends house. Your first rides back on the bike don’t need to be epic, they need to be easy and familiar.

4.) Motivate yourself

Maybe you need a new gadget for your bike, or maybe you need to outline your cycling goals. Either way, put a carrot in front of yourself and bring on the motivation!

5.) Do it

Seriously, just get on your bike. You’ll thank me later.

How to Dress for a Cold Bike Ride to a Concert

9 Cold Weather RIding

This guest post is by Lindsay Piper of QBP.

Man, my boyfriend is the coolest.  Me: doot doot doot, working away.  BF: Guess what? I got tickets to Polica tonight.  Me: Whaat?  OMGAWESOMEYAY

Here’s the thing, this conversation took place in early December in Minneapolis.  The concert was to take place at a concert venue called Mill City Nights, which is in downtown Minneapolis.  Well on a weekend, parking is a pain, and there’s the whole problem of not wanting to drink & drive, but well YEAH I’m going to have a cider while I watch Polica.

So what’s a gal to do? Ride her dang bike, that’s what a girl’s to do. 

That’s a bit easier in summer of course, but that night was expected to be in the range of 20-30 degrees, and the roads & paths were covered with a bit of snow/ice slop.  So this brought up the obvious question – what on earth do I wear to stay warm & dry on my bike, but still look concert-worthy?  I set to work a-wardrobing.

It is Crucial to Layer

winter bike clothing

 Layer 1 – The concert layer

Key #1: Toasty legs- I accomplished this by layering Patagonia midweight Capeline pants under my Outlier Women’s Daily Riding Pants. The Outlier pants are super stretchy, so it’s easy to add the layer under them without becoming immobile.  And they look like jeans, so style.

Key #2: Warm & dry tootsies- Nobody likes cold soggy feet while trying to take in awesome music.  To fix myself up here, I layered some DeFeet Wooleator socks (Minneapolis Bike Love Edition) under my Stella McCartney for Adidas high tops.  They’re made entirely of shiny synthetic leather and cover my ankles; both factors keep my feet dry & stylish at the same time, in a slightly Marty McFly kind of way. Where’s my hoverboard?!

Key #3: Warm but not sweaty core- I snagged a delightful tee shirt, complete with printed sassy phrase, and layered it under my numero uno, all-time favorite piece – my Surly long sleeve merino jersey.  It’s comfortable, keeps me warm & sweat wicked, and looks feminine but not girly. Disclaimer: I manage Surly and a few other brands’ clothing offering- this is one of my babies, so I might be biased, but it really and truly is awesome & indispensable.

winter bike clothing

Layer 2 – The outer layer (as watched over by my late dog Baxter, who was not thrilled that I was about to leave him home alone)

Key #1: Dry & Windproof torso – My handy OR Mithrill softshell- another indispensable piece, does the job with panache.

Key #2: Warm, safe extremities – On the paws, my 9,000 year old Swix lobster mitts.  They’re a little sad looking at this point, but they work.  I’ve yet to find a bike-specific pair of gloves that I like as well.  My 45NRTH Greazy merino cap.  It’s warm, fits nicely under a helmet, and has plenty of ear coverage.  Same disclaimer as above, and also in this case the Brand Manager is also the aforementioned boyfriend, so there you go.  Anyhoo popped on top of that is my Lazer 02 helmet.  The high-vis yellow is nice for night riding, and the one-size-fits-all adjustment means it’s easy to fit it over a hat.  The finishing touch is a pair of photosensitive Optic Nerve glasses to keep the crap & wind out of my eyes.

Key #3: ID & money required- The tiniest of Timbuk2 messenger bags, the Catapult, is so handy.  Plenty of room to stuff my gloves & hat once I arrive at the venue, without excess bulk.  And it rides high & tight to the body, which is really nice for riding.

Lindsay Piper

Striking a pose in my concert getup at home

Lindsay Piper

About to roll out.  Note the front & rear lights.  Safety, people!  I’m riding my All-City Macho Man with 45 NRTH Xerxes studded tires to cut through slop & ice.  You can tell this is still early winter, because my neighbors & I had still been taking snow removal much more seriously & thoroughly.  We’ve since given up on the prospect of seeing actual pavement.

Cold Weather Commuting

Success!  Opening act Marijuana Death Squads, and headliner Polica.  Love her pants!

Review: Banjo Brothers Frame Bag

4 Banjo Brothers Frame Bag

Above is a great example of what I normally carried in the frame bag. A random piece of fruit or a small, light-weight, rain jacket are missing from the photo.

Roughly a month ago I did a quick preview of the Banjo Brothers Frame Bag, which you can read over here. The bag has around 700 commuting miles and a couple accidental tumbles while gravel grinding.

Banjo Brothers Frame Bag $32.99-34.99

Size on test: Medium
Size and type of bike tested on: 56cm carbon cross bike, 55cm carbon road bike, 17″ mountain bike

Use and Abuse

Banjo Brothers Frame Bag

The main testing ground of this bag over the past few weeks was on my cross bike during my August commuter assault. 60 miles a day for 2-4 days a week during the month of August. Only once during this assault did  I not used the frame bag and used a backpack instead to see if my opinion of this frame bag could be swayed.

The bag looks pretty brand-new even with the daily use. The only thing showing wear is some mud on the bottom down tube strap. The velcro and straps aren’t fraying and they never scratched any of my frames due to a nice piece of padding between the velcro strap and frame.

The zippers have a nice weather resistant cover to them and in the handful of rainstorms I caught myself in, the fabric nor zippers let in water. This is also in part of the front “pocket” that you can pull the zippers into.

Features

There are a few things I really like about this bag.

  • Reflective piping around the rim of both sides make this bag a great extra piece of safety when riding at night.

Banjo Brothers Frame Bag

  • The smaller and larger pocket compartments are a nice touch. Allowing me to put smaller things like multi-tool, money and keys in one pocket and then food/jacket and tubes in the other pocket.
  • Double zippers allow you to access gear easily from either end of the bag. Pretty crucial in the dark when you are looking for your arm warmers that you buried thinking that you weren’t going to need them.
  • The padded piece between the velcro and frame are pretty killer.

Downfalls

Some of these downfalls will depend on your frame size and usage

Banjo Brothers Frame Bag Review

  • My front bottle was pretty hard to get out when using the frame bag. If you are using this frame bag for bike camping or long rides get in the habit of drinking out of your seat tube mounted bottle and then rotating when you empty that one. They do advertise you can run a 70oz hydration bladder in the bag.
  • Take care when trimming the velcro. If you plan on moving it between bikes it may be long on some frames and rub your leg. There is no way around this, but if you keep it on one bike you can trim the velcro straps perfect and never run into a problem.

Overall Thoughts and Review Conclusion

I used this mostly during the testing for review while bike commuting. This bag may not be ideal if you have to lock up outside or leave your bike parked somewhere that the bag could be lifted. If you are doing some longer rides, want to test out bike camping without breaking the bank or just want a different way to carry some essentials with ease – give this bag a try. You can’t beat the price, quality or company standing behind the product.

To give you an idea of how much I enjoyed using this bike, when we plan out some overnight bike camping this fall I plan on picking up another one for my gf’s cross bike. Pairing a Banjo Brothers Frame Bag with one of their Handlebar Bags and Waterproof Trunk Bags, I believe she’ll be set as I’ll be carrying the tent.

Disclaimer: This product was provided at no charge for review purposes

Commuting Basics: If You Arrive on Time, You’re Late

20 sweaty bike commute

Bike commuting is a passion of mine. The joy of swinging a leg over my bike to get to my next destination is freeing and can make any day feel complete. One thing I realize as more friends and readers are getting into bike commuting is that there can be a hugee lack of preparation for going by bike and the stress that involves. There are many topics on this subject, but today’s point is this.

Just because you rode your bike does not mean you should walk in sweaty and rushed.

Too many times in my experience bike commuters are running behind because they didn’t give themselves enough time. For those showing up early they are sweaty and need time to “cool off.” Selfishly, I want bike commuting to be looked at as a viable alternative to many people’s car commute. Helping give it a good image and taking a bit of time to be presentable and ready to go when your day starts will go a long way!

Suggestions for looking like you didn’t commute

  • Time can be your friend. Give yourself built in time incase of a flat tire, mechanical or to try a new route to work. I’ll often wait to drink a cup of coffee for when I get to work, that way I have time to stop sweating before I wipe off and change.
  • It’s not a race. Enjoy the ride and don’t rush it. If you want to rush off somewhere on your commute, let it be the ride home where you can be sweaty in the comfort of your own couch.
  • Wear wicking clothing and have spares. I wear a running t-shirt in the wicking material, or an Ice Breaker light weight wool t-shirt. Unless it’s under 70 I come prepared with a different shirt. The same goes for the bottom, except I bring extra unders! Working in a bike shop I’ll wear the same pair of jeans 3 or so days straight, leaving them at the shop but bringing in clean underwear every day with me.
  • Action Wipes. It’s like a shower in towel, disposable and all natural. Start from your face going down, it will leave you feeling clean and you won’t be salty the rest of the day.