Portland Design Works has released a matte black version of their popular Full Metal Fenders. This new Matte Black color is only available in dealers which is a great play on PDW’s part to help direct business to the local bike shop.
As a mom, and anti-training wheel advocate, I am so happy to see the push bike market growing for children. The more readily available options there are will hopefully create more buzz around teaching children how to ride without the training wheels. Public Bikes was created “to make riding more enjoyable, practical, and chic.” Their adult city bikes aren’t known for fancy parts, or being overly durable (and expensive). They are simple, classy, and getting people back into the everyday neighborhood bikes. They entered the kids market with the Mini V and Mini C push bikes and we have had one in for review for the past few months.
Tomorrow will be my first ride on the trainer in a year. Some people may groan when they read this thinking that riding indoors is boring or worthless but these indoor rides are critical for my sanity and fitness during the winter. I don’t mind riding when it’s frigid cold out, but in Denver we get a lot of freeze/thaw/freeze which leaves a lot of black ice. Black ice and over confident drivers shouldn’t be put together, but they often are on the streets of Denver. Additionally, riding the trainer gives you very dedicated training time to knock out intervals and pile on the watts. You don’t need to find the perfect road, or be frustrated with stop lights and you can get your work out done quickly during kids naps!
There are many trainers on the market these days, and in an effort to add clarity to the confusion I put together a quick guide to the essential pieces that you need to know when buying a trainer.
Going into this new training experience I knew that running would be an evil necessity in order to squeeze in quality workouts around my wife’s schedule, the weather, and the ability to include a baby most days. After yesterday’s Field Test I needed to shake out my legs, so in came a 30 minute walk/jog (I refer to this as wogging) as recovery. It was also a good system check to make sure my legs don’t fall off next Saturday while wogging a 5k “Race” & pushing Ellington in her stroller. I’m only doing this race because there is a promise of Pumpkin Pie at the end.
This weekend’s workouts were gorgeous, and an amazing reminder of why we love Colorado. Even surrounded by this beauty, it was difficult not to think about the events in Beirut and Paris over the past couple of days. As I shuffled along on my run this afternoon I thought of the families who will never see their loved ones, the people compelled to act in such violence, and what an individual like me can do. Over the course of my 30 minute wog the only words I was left with were love and respect. We are pushing ourselves and each other harder, faster, and stronger than ever. Instead we should be making the time, and forming a habit to show respect, share hope, and compassion for all those that you can. Let’s all smile a bit more, say thank you to strangers, and slow this world down a bit. The cause of these events are anger, confusion and hate. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Running hurts. I don’t really enjoy it because I don’t do it enough, but running reminds me that I am alive and that I have a life worth living.
The forecast for the day is 60 degrees, a field test for the start of my training and some gear testing. What that really means is finding gear, feeling like a disorganized mess, and being momentarily frustrated that my bike stuff isn’t where it belongs. Then charging gear (garmin), testing batteries on heart rate monitor, and powertap, and pushing off the cobwebs physically and mentally for 2016.
Last night’s birthday celebrations didn’t leave me too worse for wear this morning. The copious amounts of coffee and water intake this morning should have me set by the late morning bike ride. Also on tap is trying a few new items from Pearl Izumi that showed up for review on Thursday. The hi-viz colors spreading across cycling soft-goods warms my heart and hopefully will keep people safer on the streets over the standard black spandex the industry pushes out.
Today’s Training: 1 hour ride including 2x8min Field TestDisclaimer: Product & CTS Training is provided at no-charge for review and coverage purposes.
It’s Friday the 13th, it is also my 31st birthday. 31 years ago my mother had been in labor for too many hours. I was stubborn, and that should have been a sign of what she was in for!
I have always treated my birth day much like people treat New Years Eve. A day of review, joy, and new goals for the next year. Looking back on my 30th year it is very easy to say it was my best yet. Emily was in her 2nd trimester as my 30th year began. We welcomed Ellington in to this world. We built a house. We moved in a beautiful community of green space, walking paths, and like minded families. We have also created an amazing village of friends, and family. I became a stay at home mom and have experienced the most joy ever in my life thanks to the days surrounded by children.
My 30th year ended up being nothing like I thought it would be 365 days ago. A house purchase, and stay at home mom position was not in our family’s minds! It is difficult to predict what my 31st year will bring, but I am committing to a positive, loving, and joyous year. I started off the day surrounded by loving friends, their amazing children, and my favorite biscuits and gravy. Later this morning I talked to my coach from CTS for the first time to plan out the next year of goal setting, and tonight I will end the day surrounded again by so many loving friends and family.
Thank you to all of my readers for sharing in the journey with me, and joining me for another 365 days!
We’ve put together a regularly scheduled, fast-paced hour of ideas, entrepreneurs and bikes to capture some of the exciting things happening for Colorado Bikes, Biz + Beer around the Front Range.
At each event, four speakers share short pitches on bike products, events, businesses, art, design, tech, art, nutrition and any creative ideas in the bike space. This idea exchange is designed to help incubate bike biz, develop entrepreneurs, and improve all things bikes. Throw in a little bit of our community magic (read: beer and bike swag) and you have the best short weeknight party you’ve been too in a long time.
A Recap of November’s Announcements and Speakers
Downtown Denver Partnerships reminded everyone to come to the Grand Opening of the Arapahoe and Lawrence protected bike lanes. December 3rd at 11am. Link to come.
Luis Benitez thanked everyone for “being nuts” because we are the reason he has a job as the Director of Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office.
Leslie Kehmeier from IMBA: “Have Mini-Van, Will Travel: Life on the Road Documenting Trails for IMBA + IMBA’s MTB Project”
Leslie has been traveling the country helping map and document all the open trails for the MTB Project. I always thought this app and website was another milage tracking app, but IMBA is more focused on capturing data, land use, and trail details instead of being another Strava. If you are a mountain biker please download and use this app so that IMBA can advocate on your behalf!
Rachel Scott from Quick Left: “Tips and Tricks to Weave the Bike into Your Business Decisions”
Rachel went through a quick timeline of how she used her passion of riding to help develop her career, and even examples of how she uses that passion to pitch clients.
Sarah Rawley from VIDA MTB Series: “YETI BETI: Building a Bike Around Community”
A great presentation on how a community is the key part of Yeti Cycles business plan, and creating a women’s bike was more about listening to riders instead of reinventing the wheel.
Allen Lim from Skratch Labs: “Dopest Business Ever”
A motivational 5 minute talk about where Skratch came from, and how to stay humble during success. It was a great reminder that you can make something possibly out of nothing if you focus on spending less money than you have in the bank and utilize your resources well.
Check out the next CO Bike + Biz + Beer on January 26th!
8 months into this new life chapter of parenting and I have found pieces of myself that I didn’t know existed. Most days I find that I have unlimited patience, a knack for distracting a busy baby, and sometimes I cook a surprisingly good meal. The concept of life balance has really come to light as my household juggles a crawling baby, resident life schedule, college classes, and keeping a healthy relationship between all parties. Your belief system around your priorities completely shift once you have children, but a small voice in the back of your heart reminds you not to lose yourself in the mix.
Our family is tuning out this next week to enjoy some quality rest and recovery. We plan on recharging our batteries, and to work on a schedule for the next 3 months until our next vacation. What are our goals for those 3 months? What do we need to do to achieve them? How can we support each other to meet our goals? Wash, Rinse and Repeat.
As we head into the off-season for most of my readers, I want to take some time to recognize a change within my life and to reflect on the space that I see this community fulfilling for me and for you. One of the hardest things to figure out when becoming a mom, and then a stay at home mom, is how to be the best mom, wife, and partner you can be without losing yourself. Before motherhood I would identify myself as an athlete, and since motherhood I have lost that identity. My goals must be more realistic now that there is an adorable small human filling up my time but I plan on taking the next 3-6 months to better understand how to lead a healthy and active life while balancing the rest of it. Not only is this for myself, but it is for all women out there trying to juggle – and to teach my daughter that above all you are the sole provider of your happiness.
In the middle of November I will be teaming up with Carmichael Training Systems to break down those walls for the do-everything-woman. How do we be the best at everything? How do we fit in excercise around work, kids playdates, family budgets, grocery shopping, or late night homework assignments? The first step will be identifying some reasonable goals to work towards. Hopefully at the end of this next week from being unplugged I will come back with that list of tentative goals to share with you, and my coach.
Turning it over to you
What are your life-balance goals? How do you find the balance? How has your life changed in order to find that balance?
It has been a pleasant sight over the past 2 seasons to see more road bikes become “Any-Road” bikes with a more upright fit, disc brakes and ability to take fatter tires. For many years I have been selling cyclocross bikes to normal everyday folks as a road bike because that style of bike offers more tire clearance and a less aggressive ride than a typical road bike from 5+ years ago. FitWell Bicycle Company’s version of this category is called the Fahrlander, pronounced far-lander with an accent that I can’t duplicate. In September I did a quick video preview for this bike, and also wrote a piece on how to fit and order a FitWell. Today we are going to dive a bit deeper into a full review including pros and cons, and who I believe this bike is suited for.
FITWELL FAHRLANDER II Details
MSRP: $1,310 (Currently <$800 online)
Key Specifications: Shimano 105 10 speed drivetrain, steel frame, Tektro Lyra mechanical disc brakes
Sizing: Currently only available in the Riley fit, which is rather upright. They are working on two other fit options.
Out of the Box Impression
Pulling the bike out of the box the first thing I noticed was the color. It has a great mix of a steel gray and a purple to add personality. If purple isn’t your thing they have a blue and orange version. The next thing that I noticed was the overdose of logo usage. You get used to it after a few rides but it reminded me of late 90’s Trek and Cannondale logo placement on every tube possible. The cockpit is made up of no-name handlebar, stem, and seatpost decorated with the FitWell logo. The handlebars for the medium sized bike seemed rather narrow at 40cm. Much like any major manufacturer, the bike came 90% pre-assembled where you need to install handlebar, front brake and tweak all of your gears. Everything went together fine, but the brakes were an extreme PITA to install as the pads didn’t seem to center no matter what trick and tool I threw at them.
The bike is a pleasure to ride as long as you don’t have in mind a typical twitchy road bike handling. It lends itself to more of a touring bike than cyclocross bike due to the front head tube angle BUT it has much shorter rear stays than most touring bikes so it does corner quickly and accelerate well with a tight (short) rear end. I also found it appealing that this small little company has unique tubing lengths for each size bike. Most manufactures will keep certain tubes the same length on all sizes to save on costs and headache. This is a great bike to put under someone that is unsteady or twitchy with little core muscles to keep them upright. The head tube (front end of the bike) is rather tall so I kept my stem flipped to the flat side and lowered down to keep a relatively 0″ drop from seat to handlebars. Out of the box with the stem flipped up and at it’s highest point the handlebars were 2-3″ above my seat which is great if you have super tight hamstrings, back problems or a lunch muscle in the way. As I mentioned, the front end steers more like a touring bike while the rear end skirts around very nicely. This leads to a great everyday bike especially on unsteady roads or loose gravel.
Whenever I see a bike that is significantly less money than competitors and sold mostly online I get concerned for safety and spec. Where did they cut corners? The frame and fork itself are of fine quality. You aren’t going to win any lightweight awards but it rides well and the steel tubing can take a beating. The drivetrain is mainly 10 speed Shimano 105 which is perfect for an adventure/touring bike because it won’t wear out quickly and it won’t be a huge price to replace parts as parts do wear out. The Novatec hub to Weinman rim wheelset is an above average wheel set for the price point. As an avid (abusive) gravel/sand and all weather rider if this was my goto bike for an entire season the wheels or bearings would need replaced before long as the hubs and bearings are already starting to show some signs of wear. If you are a fair weather rider these wheels will treat you perfectly fine. The Maxxis Columbiere tires were a pleasant surprise for me. They roll well and didn’t experience any punctures even when riding through goat head strewn paths. The brakes are a deal breaker for me and would be upgraded the same time I bought the bike. The pads never stayed centered and would alternate dragging from one side to the other on any given ride. The paint on the frame chipped in a few places from rocks hitting the down tube, but that isn’t uncommon on bikes that travel on gravel. Overall I think the build quality is strong and hopefully they will change the spec of the brakes for upcoming seasons.
There are a couple odd things I noticed on this bike that don’t really fit in any specific area of the review. They are more for your information if you buy the bike than a review of the actual bike.
- Bar tape is installed backwards from the typical technique. The bar wrap starts at the stem and goes to the end of the bar instead of reverse.
- The thread diameter for rack and fenders seems to be an M6, which is a bit odd as most rack hardware is an M5.
- I would recommend chasing all the threads on your bike as paint covered most of the eyelets and even the bottom bracket shell wasn’t faced as well as I would prefer.
- When I wore my clip-in shoes with worn out cleats that have a lot of play side to side I did experience excessive heal strike on the rear chainstays. I wear a size 43 and was riding a medium. Something to think about if you have big feet!
At $1,300 this bike will be difficult to match on price to spec. The company which is based out of Minnesota, FitWell Bicycle, saw an opportunity to make bikes around the fit and less about the object. If brand names matter to you, this company probably won’t be a good fit but if you are care about sizing and value than this is a bike I would tell you to look at. This bike would be someone’s first road bike, light touring or bike packing bike, an everyday commuter or for sand bike paths. You won’t buy this bike if you care about weight, stiffness or being aerodynamic. FitWell also offers two programs if you don’t feel comfortable building or fitting your bike that help pay for a shop to assemble the bike, and for a qualified shop to fit you on the bike. Information on these two programs can be found here. These are two unheard of offers from online retailers.
Personally, if I was looking for a daily do all commuter and a get out of town bike-packing bike this would be the first option I would look at.
Disclaimer: This bike was provided at no charge for review. We were not paid nor bribed in anyway for this review.
PDW The Bird Cage Details
Colors: Black, Silver, Milk White
I’ve enjoyed the look of this cage immensely as I’ve switched it around bikes to test out the functionality. The cage really grips a bottle, but the tight wings don’t allow much movement to get your bottle out at difficult angles. If you have a wide open triangle on your frame I wouldn’t worry about it, and the look of the white really makes a bike pop. For $20 this can easily class up your ride, and the product is backed by a great company, Portland Design Works.
Find more info or your local dealer on RidePDW.com
Disclaimer: This product was provided at no charge for review. I was not paid or bribed for this review.