Safety first

Another thing that’s taken me way too long to do: get a Road ID. They even make a clip on version for Garmin, Apple Watch etc. so you don’t have to remember one more thing when you go out for a ride!

Don’t mind the paint splatter on my band…

This link will get you $5 off your own!

 

 

Safety first

(Bike) Storage wars

It took a full 6 weeks after moving in, but I finally got my bikes hung!

The front of my house has this kind of odd bonus room called a “keeping room” where the original porch was enclosed, and I knew it would be the perfect area for storing bikes. After years of apartment living and leaning the bikes against walls (which promptly scuffed said walls into oblivion), I could finally do something more functional!

A friend cut three 1×5 boards from some old door frames he had, and I screwed each one in at all 4 corners with an impact driver (after drilling guide holes or the wood will go splitsville). Then I drilled guide holes for the hooks with a larger drill bit and twisted the hooks in using all the upper body strength a cyclist can muster (which, relatively speaking, is not a lot).

I was originally going to hang two on the left and two on the right, but a) the paneling was more secure to drill into than the drywall on the left, which is doable if you’re better than me at finding studs, and b) I didn’t want to get tangled up in spokes whenever I went to retrieve a bike. So my road bike is hanging on the left with my commuter in front of it (it’s constantly in and out and usually has panniers on the back so it would be annoying to hang anyway). A guest bike that we won’t have to pull out too often is hanging behind A’s bike.

Next will be helmet and accessory storage, hopefully that won’t take another 6 weeks ūüôā

(Bike) Storage wars

BRB

It’s been quiet, but for good reason:

I bought a house!

While I paint, tile and paint some more, I’m also doing this

And this

And this

Yep, over about a month of home renovations I’m moving by bike. But when it comes to the sectional couch and mattress, the bike’s not cutting it.

(I did try to find Smooth Movers from Portlandia, but the clip is inexplicably not on YouTube)

I’ll share some before/after pictures once the dust (literally) settles..

BRB

Steel is real (as is teal) 

I haven’t really mentioned the fact that I bought a custom built steel frame road bike earlier this year. Probably because I’ve been busy riding it.

 


 

It was a long time coming, as I bought the groupset for a steal online last summer. Then pondered what kind of frame I wanted and where I would buy it.

 

 

 

I wanted a road bike that would replace my 27 lb touring bike with something lighter, while still being durable and hardy enough for long distance riding and tours.
And of course, I wanted something pretty.

 

 

So a friend mentioned that there was a small outfit in Italy that did custom steel frames with Columbus Spirit Tubing, and I decided to give it a shot.

 

 

It’s an expensive gamble to do something like this online and across the ocean more or less on a whim, but when you don’t spend $9k a year on a car, you do have these luxuries.

 

Vincenzo did a beautiful job, and there were more details and options than I could have imagined. From the tapered head tube to the exact RA# paint colors to the placement of the cables, it was a treat to get to select each aspect of the bike.

 

 

One of my favorite details to select was the writing on the top tube. I selected “senza pareti”, which is Italian for “without walls”, after a particularly zen morning commute where I realized that I felt particularly connected and at one with the environment when on my bike, surrounded by cars where people are walled in and cut off from the world, stuck to the confines of doors and windows while on the open road.

 

 

The custom build process also forced me to learn more about bike mechanics and look up the pros/cons of each aspect of the bike. Most of my choices were focused on weight or aesthetics, but I did go with disc brakes because I’m a control freak about descending. Maybe about a few other things as well.

 

The finished built bike (with 11-speed Ultegra, mechanical disc brakes, some carbon fiber pieces like bars and seatpost,¬†and Chris King wheels) weighs in around 20 lbs. ¬†If you’re in Greenville, Carlo at Velo Valets is your guy for custom builds!

 

 

 

I changed out my beloved¬†Selle Anatomica saddle for weight, but I’ll probably try one of their new lighter models before too long.

 

 

 

We’ve already explored roads and trails in 6 states and covered over 1,000 miles, and we’re just getting started!

Steel is real (as is teal) 

two-wheel-barrow

 

In unexpected ways, biking lets you be super lazy sometimes. For instance, why walk over to the community garden when you can ride out and fill a pannier?
Speaking of which, I’m really digging my Brooks rolltop pannier for my commuter. It’s waterproof, has a nice neutral tone look, and stays put nicely on a standard rear rack. I already have a set of Ortliebs for touring and grocery runs, but the simple hooks plus exterior pocket and interior organizer features on this pannier made it worth the impulse buy (and it was half price to boot!). Frustratingly I can’t find this exact model online but it’s most similar to the Land’s End Rear Pannier here¬†(just with aforementioned pocket and organizer).

two-wheel-barrow

it’s all fun and games until someone gets to work

I loved this reading perspective from the Urban Phoenix on how cycling is seen so often as just a recreational activity or a last resort means of transportation. Most of what the author says has also been my own experience.

For example, the four main responses he summarizes:

screen-shot-2017-05-28-at-8-51-43-am.png

 

#1 is typically from other people who currently or previously commuted.

Living in South Carolina, I probably get #2 the most (a combination of that and “how do you get groceries/how far are you from work”/other logistical and often incredulously intoned questions)

I rarely hear #3, and when I do it’s typically from the teenage boys in my mentoring group. Once I turned 16 I felt the same way, driving was new and exciting and way cooler than riding a bike. But I also lived in suburbia and that feeling wore off after a few years.

And #4 is often phrased after I myself mention that I don’t have a car, and get the response “… Like, by choice?”.

 

This attitude of “if she doesn’t have a car, something must be terribly wrong” is why I named this blog “Rebel Without a Car” instead of something like “Maniac Behind Bars”. Sadly, in the current cityscape you do have to be a little crazy to bike for practical purposes, since most of our roads where I live are built only for cars. I certainly wish I wasn’t some pedaling pioneer or workplace anomaly, but that my interactions could be more run-of-the-mill “oh cool, you ride too”.

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 9.07.16 AM

 

This isn’t just a problem with getting local council members on board with the vision for complete streets (although you should definitely go talk to your city and county council members); living in car culture is something we all participate in, one way or another.

Which for me is what makes it so fun to ride around in non-cycling clothes, hauling my groceries or going to a meeting with some mild helmet hair (which¬†is hard to suss out from¬†what my hair would look like otherwise, #curlyhairperks). Because when we have visible, diverse bike commuting in our communities, we fight stereotypes and challenge the ‘my way is the highway’ mindset. Every single bike ride you take is a part of that.

 

 

The only asterisk I want to stick in this article is where the author refers to bikes as “like cars, only slower”. In urban locations, bikes are actually the most efficient means of getting around; when I studied abroad, I would always beat public transit (even the really nice European kind) and cars within the city thanks to the cycle paths, bike lanes and ease of parking. This phenomenon was also wonderfully demonstrated locally in Greenville last month for an Earth Day event:

 

The cyclist wins once again

 

 

Yep, that guy with the helmet beat out the driver (on the left) and the public transit user (on the right).

And when the results were announced on social media, the snarky comments weren’t far behind. “Did the cyclist obey all traffic laws?”* “I don’t see his bike.” ** “The city doesn’t provide enough parking for cars.”***

* Yes, or he would have been disqualified. And no one asked, but the driver did too

** It’s parked and locked at the rack¬†that can be seen in the left side of the photo above, per rules of the contest

*** Just… no.

 

So in summation, I would argue that not only do we need to communicate that bikes are a viable means of transportation, but we need to realize that they also just make sense.

 

And that starts with a bike ride. So I’m off to log Day #148 for the year! (yep, still going strong).

it’s all fun and games until someone gets to work

Happy Bike to Work Week!

Abus recently sent me my new favorite Tshirt (that’s saying a lot, given my bike Tshirt collection). While I may not be wearing it to work, it will get some good wear, especially during bike month.

I’m also testing out the Abus Bordo lock and pretty happy with it so far. I really only go for this security level when in a bigger city (I also lock my bike to a rack that’s properly bolted into the ground..), but it’s comforting to be able to leave your bike outside and not have that vaguely worried feeling in the back of your mind. My only gripes are that I’m not great with keys and would prefer a combination version, and I’m used to threading a coil lock through a wheel as well as through the frame. But neither are a very big deal (locking skewers are a good idea in higher theft areas so your wheels don’t walk off).
Ride on and prosper ūüĖĖ
(That would also make a good Tshirt)

Happy Bike to Work Week!

App Update

As a self-confessed app addict, I figured I would update my list with what I’ve discovered since last posting about my favorite apps

  1. Fresh Air

Like Dark Sky for weather, but free. And with pretty visuals.

 

2. Goals


Also¬†free,¬†easy¬†way¬†to¬†visualize¬†habits¬†that¬†you¬†want¬†to¬†build¬†and¬†it¬†has¬†a¬†reminder¬†feature¬†that¬†you¬†can¬†set¬†for¬†a¬†certain¬†time¬†of¬†day.¬†I’ve¬†tried¬†a¬†few¬†similar¬†apps¬†but¬†this¬†one¬†is¬†my¬†favorite¬†because¬†it’s¬†so¬†intuitive.¬†I’m¬†currently¬†using¬†it¬†to¬†remember¬†to¬†log¬†at¬†least¬†1¬†mile¬†on Strava¬†per¬†day¬†in¬†2017¬†(so¬†far¬†so¬†good!)

 

3. Achievemint


Better than free, it actually pays you to exercise. It’s just $10 per 10,000 points, but you can sync it to apps like Strava and Apple Health, and then go about your usual business. And yes I do have a referral link if you want to try it.

 

 

 

 

4. ByCycling

 

This¬†new¬†app¬†is¬†just¬†released¬†from¬†beta¬†testing,¬†and¬†automatically¬†detects¬†your¬†rides¬†and¬†counts¬†up¬†mileage¬†for¬†you (as long as wifi is enabled). It¬†claims¬†to¬†use¬†up¬†very¬†little¬†battery¬†while¬†running¬†in¬†the¬†background,¬†and¬†so¬†far¬†this¬†seems¬†to¬†be¬†true¬†for¬†me.¬†I¬†don’t¬†Strava¬†every¬†ride,¬†but¬†it’s¬†fun¬†to¬†see¬†how¬†many¬†miles¬†rack¬†up¬†just¬†commuting¬†back and forth. It appears to be pretty accurate too and doesn’t pick up walking or driving as far as I can tell. If you can encourage your employer to sign up, you can put the incentive feature to use as well!

 

 

App Update

Cheers to 2 years

It’s now been 2 years since I said goodbye to my lemon of a car and never looked back. I still have this picture in my camera roll because it’s a favorite memory now; I remember the feeling of nervous-impatient-anticipation leading up to turning in these keys and walking away (OK, I did get a ride back from the dealership, it was a ways outside of Greenville). Later that day I was riding my bike downtown with this euphoric buoyant feeling, and I realized it felt like an actual weight off my shoulders not to own, maintain and stress over a giant hunk of treacherous machinery.

It’s hard to pick a best and worst thing about not having a car. Life is a lot simpler because I don’t feel obliged to go to events on the other side of town where the traffic is abysmal. Purchasing is more intentional because I’m not tempted by regular Target runs and thrift store pop-ins, and I tend to shop locally at stores in bike/pedestrian friendly areas where I get to know the owners and only buy what I need. I’ve always been a couch potato, but now I’m in the best shape of my life and don’t go to the gym. Without the expense of car payments, insurance, maintenance, gas or property taxes, I’ve eliminated most of my stress about money (while living on a teacher’s salary) and can spend money on things I enjoy such as travel, good food, and charitable causes (and some new wheels once in awhile).
The worst thing is probably the lack of cycling infrastructure where I live. To me, this is a challenge that makes it feel like a satisfying accomplishment to get somewhere that most people wouldn’t think of going on a bike, whether I use back roads, take the bus, or just take the lane. It also feels like a vote (and sometimes a middle finger) against whoever decided cars were the only viable way to get around. Hopefully at the same time I’m inspiring someone else out there, and that’s more than I could say when I drove my car.
Not that I can’t abide driving whatsoever. I still have to occasionally borrow or rent a car or uber for practical reasons once in awhile. But once the excitement of obtaining a drivers license wore off and the realities of the economic, health and environmental tolls set in,¬†the car lost its magical allure for me. I couldn’t manage to feel good about driving being a regular part of my day or a necessary part of my world. I’m more satisfied with my choice than ever on this anniversary, and I look forward celebrating to many more down the road.

Cheers to 2 years

Favorite things/ Selle Anatomica saddle

 

I’m not the pickiest when it comes to saddles, but after trying the Selle Anatomica X series I’m pretty sure it will be hard to switch to anything else.

 

My first road bike was a steel touring bike that came with a thin, flat Selle Royal saddle. I had no problems until I started doing longer rides, and past around the 40 mile mark I started to notice my legs going numb. Not so great.

 

I graduated to a San Marco Concordia, which had sloped sides that didn’t cut off my circulation and was generally comfortable, so I figured that would do just fine. And it did for awhile.

 

And then my friend had me sit on a Selle Anatomica, and I realized everything my butt was missing. It’s pretty much like an armchair got installed onto your seatpost, but¬†with the shape and performance of a road saddle, plus flexibility and movement that eases discomfort that usually sets in with saddles on longer mileage rides. It can be tightened as you wear it in by a bolt on the front, and it has rear attachments for the vintage style saddle bags (which I have my eye on for my birthday, hint hint family). I’ve got one on my road bike and one on my commuter, and it’s comfortable with or without a chamois. I also love that they’re made in USA out of excellent quality materials.

 

Cons: it weighs about 1 lb, and if they make a version that can get my new road bike under 20 lbs, I may just go for it. You also do need to make sure you put on saddle sauce/ take care to weatherproof it as needed to protect it from exposure to the elements. That said, I’ve put my commuter saddle through hell and back already and it’s doing fine so far ūüôā

 

[Not a sponsored post. Just a very happy butt.]

Favorite things/ Selle Anatomica saddle