The Great Commuting Debate: Backpack vs Pannier
How do you carry things when you are commuting? Backpack. Panniers. Frame bag. Handlebar basket. Trailers. Sherpa?
For this first week of my new 20 mile round trip bike commute I used a pannier 100% of the time. One day I used my Chrome Niko camera bag in addition to the pannier, but a pannier was always used for the past week. Yesterday, I switched it up to my trusty Mission Workshop Vandal backpack as I was carrying a laptop and more expensive camera gear.
Granted, I was carrying some heavier gear (an extra 4 lbs for my laptop with charger) with my backpack but it changed many things riding up my 20 mile roundtrip commute. Some good and some bad, I won’t do too much talking on this until I do some more testing. For the month of September I plan on experimenting more on the backpack vs pannier debate. At the end of the day I believe it will depend on what you are carrying and for how far. Having a go to “setup” that I don’t have to think about too much will be ideal.
What do you prefer? Backpack, pannier, front basket or something else?
Fartlek, which means “speed play” in Swedish, is a training method that blends continuous training with interval training. The variable intensity and continuous nature of the exercise places stress on both the aerobic and anaerobic systems. It differs from traditional interval training in that it is unstructured; intensity and/or speed varies, as the athlete wishes. (Source: Wikipedia)
The art of exploring is why I fell in love with biking some 18 years ago. The ability to just go find new places and adventures on my bike without the demands of school, sports practice or home life. It was a great escape and something I think we all forget as we grow up.
This past Monday when Emily and I got back from our weekend in the mountains I hopped on my bike and went for a fartlek, or Fartlick as my iPhone calls it. The goal was to blend in different speeds, try new routes and see how my knee felt on the single speed. The result was great, I enjoyed myself and found new trails near my house. An elevated my heart rate also showed me that my knee isn’t ready for the single speed just yet.
Do you implement fartleks in your training or weekly rides? What do you find?
I find new places to take photos, time to beat up on the pedals and needed bike time without a Garmin or HRM. During big training blocks I often find my best power over time results as I’m just getting in a groove with out focusing on the Garmin.
Now, go fartlek. Take a friend if you can!
Photo Disclaimer: I lost my bar ends on the ride, they will be replaced ASAP!
A Cyclocross Race for Last Place
When someone asks how your race went, traditionally you want to tell them your place 1st or 5th out of 10, something to that tune. When you are in last place you want to list out all the other positives of the race, this was my race this past Sunday. My first race of any discipline in Colorado, my first cyclocross race of the season, and my first race as a Category 3.
Sure, I’m looking at most of this early season’s racing as practice and learning, but it was still a pretty brutal showing on my part.
The Course at Cross of the North
I strongly believe that my carbon 29er hardtail would be been better suited for tearing up the 95% sand course that made up the Cross of the North. Up and down you went, a lot of sweeping turns that let me learn with 4 laps of racing practice, how to turn in sand (you don’t “turn”) and how to gracefully place your front wheel to force you to tumble off the bike.
I’m sure with the proper training in my legs the sand would have been easier to spin through and the necessary dismounts on two sandy hairpins would have been unnecessary, but for this race they were necessary and my legs were toast.
Cyclocross in Colorado
To be honest my biggest reason for nerves going into the race was the people, or lack there of knowing the people. Cyclocross is about the community to me. Shelling out and racing for 45 minutes is just the icing on the cake. Driving to races in the heat, cold, snow and rain is my own version of being a fan of football. Instead of being crowded around a TV or a grill at a tailgate, I’m at a cyclocross race surrounded by some of the best people I could ask for. This to me is cyclocross and I could only hope that Colorado would deliver like Maryland and North Carolina have.
Most of my teammates of Team Cycleton don’t start racing until October, so there isn’t that instant family to find when showing up in the morning but there was faces that I recognized and was greeted with warm smiles. There was the chatter before the whistle at the line and friendly talks in the parking lot with faces you don’t recognize but saw you racing and find the light in the wreckage of your failed race.
Results are in the Smiles and Miles
The race was hot, dusty and a bit shattering for me. I was happy with last place in SW3, which would have been top 10 in the SW4. I am happy that I didn’t submit a downgrade request when moving and I’m happy I showed up to race. One more step closer to making Colorado my home and to create the community I miss so badly from North Carolina.
I need to thank the handful of fast dudes from Boulder Cycle Sport that were all super friendly and eased my nerves when the talked it up in the parking lot at 8am.
Thank you to Megan Hottman of The Cyclist – Lawyer as she encouraged me when passing (after flatting, getting fixed and catching me)
Your Feedback Wanted: What Makes a Great Women’s Cycling Team?
Over the years I have been lucky enough to be embraced, grow with and learn from some great women’s groups. The first that comes to mind is Artemis Racing out of the Mid-Atlantic and then there are the Dirt Diva’s in Charlotte, NC.
As I mentioned earlier this week, one of my goals over the next year is to help my Team Cycleton build and grow a women’s team. As I build the groundwork and before I put out a call for applicants for the team I want to hear from you.
What Makes a Great Women’s Cycling Team?
The specific word I want to point out in the above question is TEAM. While there will be some club aspect, social events and rides, it is also a large goal of mine to help develop female racing. This includes having like minded goals, training rides or events and education on all aspects of bike riding/racing.
So sound off, what have you seen work in making a successful women’s cycling team that helps develop women into strong riders and racers?
Sunday Bike Ride with the Greenwalds
For the past few days Emily’s parents have been visiting us in Denver. They are a fairly mellow couple but also very active. It’s a great joy to have them around, watching their mutual loving relationship and the enthusiasm for adventure is contagious. I can only strive to be to Emily what her parents are together!
Yesterday we decided to go on a bike ride down the Sand Creek Greenway. Without a goal in mind we reached the end and decided to head into Denver on the Platte River Trail. A few things to note: Emily’s parents are in their early 70′s, her mom rode a Pugsley and her dad a folding Dahon with 16″ wheels. We went 24 miles for the full round trip.
In my humble opinion yesterday’s bike ride was amazing and I’m super impressed with both of Emily’s folks. I know where Emily gets many of her traits that I love so much!
What did you do this weekend?!
Weekly Bike Commuting Update
After last week’s post of finding motivation, I’ve put my legs to the grindstone and found happiness in both days of commuting on Thursday and Friday. With threats of rain (flooding to be exact) each day as I pedaled closer to home I found myself chasing rainbows and finding peace with where I am.
Next week I hope to track my food intake better, at least for breakfast/lunch/dinner. Not down to calories, but just to have a better clue have how much food it’s going to take to hit the 1,000 miles this month. For now I’ll leave you with some Strava stats and Flickr photos.
Stats for the first 10 days of August (4 on the bike)
- 169.0 miles (831 miles to go!)
- 11hr 28m of ride time
- 5,856ft elevation
Commuting, Setbacks and Motivation
Last week I committed to commuting 1,000 miles in August. Not less than 12 hours after typing that post I woke up swollen, looking like a chipmunk, in great pain from a tooth that later that day would need to be removed. After a dentist visit, one less tooth and one more hole in my head I spent most of Friday through Sunday being lazy around the house and controlling the swelling of my face. By Sunday night I felt pretty alright but needed the dentist to confirm this.
With a pocketful of other excuses I can say I haven’t been on the bike since last Thursday, and today is Wednesday of a new week. No commuting miles and not any closer to my 1,000 miles. While for a moment this morning I allowed myself to be frustrated with this fact, I swallowed my shame and remembered I made the decisions that put me in this situation. All I can do is get on my bike tomorrow morning and maybe add some longer routes to my commute strategically to hit the 1,000 mile marker.
Setbacks Happen, Moving Forward is the Success
A wise friend once told me that when a setback, injury or change of course happened they welcomed it with open arms. It shaped them, it allowed them to show true strength, intelligence or humility where some might find frustration, embarrassment or anger. It made them mentally and emotionally stronger, but more importantly a better person than if it was all smooth sailing.
Lately I have been finding comfort in these thoughts and words.
We are only as good as how we handled our biggest failure. Your true character is the one that shows up when you are handling stress, struggles and fear. As an athlete I find excitement out of proving myself when the chips are against me and this commuting challenge isn’t any different. The strongest people I know aren’t numb to their emotions or ignorant to fear, but instead they find the rainbow and learn how to dance in the rain.
How do you handle a setback in training or life?
Everyone handles things differently, how do you handle a setback? How do you stay motivated? Is it through music, an idol or an inspirational quote taped to your bathroom mirror?
Colorado Cyclocross Calendar
it’s my first year living in Colorado for cyclocross and I’m starting to get excited! The calendar on BRAC (Bicycle Racing Association Colorado) is lacking links and non-sanctioned races/clinics so in my effort of research, here is what I have found for cyclocross racing in Colorado.
Cross of the North 2012 – Men’s Open from Jamie Servaites on Vimeo.
20 – Formula Four Boulder
23 – FasCat & Jeremy Powers Cross Camp Boulder
27 – Relay Sixty Boulder
7 - Women’s Cyclocross Camp 2-5pm in Fort Collins. $25 for the camp
7 - Kick It Cross Festival Fort Collins
8 – Cross of the North Fort Collins
14 - Zero Gravel Cross Littleton
15 - Cyclo X Flatirons Mall Boulder
21 - Cyclo X Valmont Boulder
22 - Body Synx CX Golden
27 – BRAC Junior Cyclocross Camp
28 – BRAC Junior Cyclocross Camp
28 – Cyclo X Rhyolite Park
28 – Queens of Cross Arvada
28 – LTR CX #1 Grand Junction
29 – BRAC Junior Cyclocross Camp
29 – Storm the Castle Castle Rock
5 – Frisco Cross Frisco
6 – Primalpalooza Arvada
19 – Colorado Cross Classic Boulder
20 – Boulder Cup Boulder
26 – Cyclo X Xilinx
26 - LTR CX #2 Grand Junction
27 – Frites CX Parker
2 – Schoolyard Cross Brighton
3 – Feedback Cup Golden
9 – Cyclo X Interlocken
9 - LTR CX #3 Grand Junction
10 – Blue Sky Cup Longmont
16 – Cyclo X Louisville Louisville
17 – Mile Hi Urban Cross Denver
23 – Cyclo X Westminster Westminster
23 - LTR CX #4 Grand Junction
24 – Green Mtn Sports CX #2
28 – Turkey Cross Morrison
30 – Castle Cross Castle Rock
1 – Cowboy Cross Denver
7 – Cyclo X Boulder Boulder
8 – The RLW “in Memoriam” Cx
14 – Colorado CX Championships Louisville
15 – Colorado CX Championships Louisville
28 – Tune-up Cup Golden
Dialing in a New Bike Commute to Louisville, Colorado
The above photo was taken for my sweet Em and her love of cows.
It’s been two and a half weeks of work at the new job and pretty early on it was apparent that I need to do something with this 45 minute car commute each direction. Between the time spent staring at cars and mountains ahead of me, the miles on the car and the gas being wasted a bike commute plan needed to be made ASAP.
Last Tuesday I rode into the office at Pearl Izumi for the first time. Roughly 28 miles each direction (an extra 5 on the way home after getting lost) added up to a solid day of riding but broken down into two bite size segments so my legs weren’t toasted when I woke up the next morning. There is a perfect mix of greenways (paved and gravel), road riding and dirt roads to keep everything interesting. The sights are gorgeous thanks to in the morning riding towards the mountain and then riding through “open space” with animals all around. I’ve already seen cows, foxes, prairie dogs and a ton of cool looking birds. Also, I’ve already wiped out on the greenway due to some construction and really soft sand being thrown across some gravel. Don’t worry, the bikes okay.
I’m scheming up a rather lofty goal for August when it comes to bike commuting, it will mean random commuting rants on here, a lot of great gear reviews and all of you keeping me motivated but look for a full disclosure of this crazy plan come early next week.
Hopefully, your week is going well and you’ve put some time in the saddle! Who else commuted by bike today??
Bike Commuting in Denver: Part III
An on going series of riding and commuting in my new city of Denver Colorado. See more about my Denver Cycling experience here.
With my move successful complete (there are still boxes to find and empty if you would like to help,) I started testing out the commute from my house to the bike shop this past Monday. While I’ve only done the round trip commute a couple times it is great to explore a new city and perfect the streets to ride on or avoid completely.
Below is a Strava map of my ride into the shop. Pretty mellow and down hill until the last 2.5 miles which are constant climb to the front door of Salvagetti. This isn’t a horrible thing, but I’ve been testing out riding a single speed cyclocross bike with flat pedals for commuting and daily errands. I’m interested to see how fast the ride goes with gears so that I can push the pedals a bit more on the downhills.
My goals for the next few days are to get Emily’s new commuter rig built up (photos and bike profile coming soon) and to finish the unpacking of essentials like my 4 tubs of clothes. This will allow me to be less stressed and able to get out of the house next Tuesday/Wednesday when I have off.