All I want for Christmas is you. And you. And you..

Under the guise of “a gift guide for the cyclist in your life”, here’s a list of stuff I would freaking love to get for Christmas IRL.

 

A recent visit to anthropologie might have started this whole post. It took all of my willpower to leave the store without this, and I don’t even have a Christmas tree to put it on.

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Tree in Transport ornament, Anthropologie, $16

My handmade doormat is quickly succumbing to the ravages of the real world now that I have a house. This would ease my pain:

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Bike Doormat, Uncommon Goods, $32

I asked for this and after getting rather soggy the other night in a non waterproof jacket, I’m extra excited to receive it:

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Women’s Odyssey Jacket, Showers Pass, $189

I *might* be addicted to panniers. This one takes the cake.

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Bergen Pannier in Mosaic, Po Campo, $115

 

Every bike commuter needs a small arsenal of these bad boys on hand to beat the winter weather:

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Buff Original Headwear in Nordic, Amazon, $17

Big fan of this local Greenville artist who makes adorable laser cut jewelry:

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Laser Cut Bicycle Ring, Etsy, $7

Only tools don’t carry tools.

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Acadia bicycle multi-tool, Etsy, $35

It’s a well established fact that you ride faster when wearing a jersey that looks this pretty.

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Women’s Stained Glass ES Jersey, Velocio, $169

I said that I didn’t need one of these, and then my plain wooden stand broke this morning. All by itself, I swear, I have no idea what happened.. Guess I need a gorgeous copper replacement.

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custom engraved Copper and Wood bike stand, Velo Valets in Greenville SC, $140

and for some reusable gift wrap:

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Bicycles Tote Bag, World Market, $4

All I want for Christmas is you. And you. And you..

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

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 🖖
(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

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 🙂

 

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

Favorite things/ Selle Anatomica saddle

Memberberries

When I decided to move to Greenville from Charleston, I knew I had to say goodbye to my beautiful single speed beach cruiser (her name was Lulu) and find a new steed that was more compatible with rolling hills. I was evidently so worried about finding a bike shop in Greenville (ha) that I looked up Affordabike on King street, and fell in love with Oliver. He made the journey to Greenville with me and we had a great many adventures together. Suddenly no longer limited by geographical barriers such as bridges or bodies of water, it was with Oliver that I began to explore the possibility of living car free permanently, rather than going a few weeks at a time without driving.

 

 

Unfortunately, our love was not built to last. As beautiful as he was, the hills were calling and he weighed a hefty 42 pounds.  Being exposed to the road cycling culture of Greenville made me realize there was a more efficient way to get around. After just 6 months, I bought a touring bike and eventually sold Oliver since I simply don’t have room in my apartment to keep him.  As nostalgic as I can get about my past bikes, I like to imagine them continuing on their journey and bringing joy to other riders.

Memberberries

Kickstart your bike commute

The bike poncho I contributed to on kickstarter should be shipped to me this week, just in time for me to find something else to anticipate getting in the mail (though hopefully this project will be a lot less complicated in production and should ship in the next month or so).

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I’ve been wanting something besides a top tube mounted tri bag for my commuter bike, as I can envision myself using this bag for my keys, a breakfast bar, phone, sunglasses and gate remote. Having these things at hand prevents needing to stop and rummage around for them, and anything else I’m taking to work (papers, makeup bag, wallet, emergency items) I can just keep in my handy Mme Velo bag in the back.

This project is almost fully funded, and to be completely honest at the retail of $30 I’d consider just making my own version, so for the discount go ahead and check it out now! As soon as mine arrives I’ll be sure to test it out and share my thoughts!

Kickstart your bike commute

A few of my favorite things: Mme Velo bike bag

Since I started my teaching job last August, I’ve had a commute across town that goes from riding on a trail to popping my bike on a bus to get over a heavily congested and therefore unsafe area to a final 3 mile road ride to get to school. It’s actually a pleasant way to jumpstart my morning, but I have a good bit of gear that makes everything run smoothly.

One of those things is this bag. It has held up so well despite heavy use that I decided I just have to review it, because while I have other panniers, this bag helps me look more work appropriate and less ‘just got back from my cross country tour’.

 

Pros:

  • Even in nasty weather, this bag keeps my things dry (I stick my phone in a plastic bag when it’s raining just to be on the safe side) and is easy to wipe clean if it gets sprayed with road gunk.
  • It has enough pockets to keep me organized, but not so many as to be frustrating
  • The pannier hooks are easily concealed, and best of all incredibly tough. I shove this bag on and off every day and have not had one worry about the bag falling off of my rear rack. The hooks have enough tension to stay on over bumpy terrain (as in, crumbling South Carolina roads, comparable to cyclocross in a hurricane) while also being easy to lift off with one tug.
  • I get lots of compliments on it, and it goes with pretty much everything.

Cons:

  • The top handle is just starting to show signs of cracking a little bit, which doesn’t surprise me given that I yank it on and off my bike several times a day.
  • If I want to fit a binder or file folder in it, it’s hard to zip closed. That has more to do with how much crap I have and less to do with the design, because I really like the shape and wouldn’t really want it to be bigger.

 

Overall, I would definitely recommend this bag, especially for commuters. At $140, it’s my most expensive bike bag to date, but thanks to its durability and useful features it has been a worthwhile investment.

 

 

A few of my favorite things: Mme Velo bike bag