Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Re-invent your bike




I love the bicycle both as a means of  transportation and exercise and as a work of art.  It’s wonderful invention. I am a total bike geek in that I love to build my own bikes from the frame up. 

In 2003, I had the mad idea to buy a frame and learn how to build it to my own specifications.  I learned as I went along, buying mostly used parts off of eBay.  I scoured the internet for how to articles. I made a lot of mistakes…  I learned how to correct them and sometimes in the process made more mistakes. Through it all I ended up with a bike that felt all the more mine for the comfort it offered and the sweat I put into it. My brain was enjoying learning a new skill. There were bike parts all over my house. Needless to say, I lived alone at the time.

Many frames later, as I have bought and sold quite a few, I have truly gotten to know how I want a bike to fit me and how I want it geared for my riding style. I know that as a middle-aged, heavier woman, I need a wider gear range, a more upright riding position, a truly comfortable saddle, wider tires, a rack and some fenders to keep my butt dry in crappy weather. Last but not least, it needs to have a kickstand.  I do not care if anyone thinks that is uncool or that it adds weight to my trusty steed.  I am not a racer, If I want a lighter bike, I should lose ten pounds.

I love that I am able to re-invent a bike just by changing out a few things.  I would encourage women who are uncomfortable on their bikes or are afraid of hilly terrain that there are components that you or your bike shop can change to make cycling much more pleasurable.  In turn you will ride more and gain a true love of cycling as so many of our guests have.

Next week I will feature one of the bikes I have built and show the components I chose to make riding a better experience for me.


Annette

Monday, November 28, 2016

Winter biking goals

“Winter motivation”

Last April I took the 30 Days of Biking Challenge and I felt that it really helped prepare me for the cycling season. As I sit at my desk feeling like a lump after the Thanksgiving holiday, it occurred to me that if I gave myself that goal again in December, it might keep me riding all through the winter.  I realize that having a goal really helped me get out there every day, if only for a few miles. 

The worst of our weather here in Rochester, NY usually comes in January and February.  If I build up a good base in December, I figure that I can make it through the coldest and snowiest days either outside for a short ride or on my trainer.   I should also add that I am almost finished building up my own Surly Pugsley Fat bike with 3.8 inch tires!!  I guess between that and setting a goal, I have no excuses.

The 30 Days of Biking Challenge will come around again this April. I hope I am in better shape to take it on in the spring. We will see how it goes. 

Does anyone out there have similar goals for riding through the winter and if so, what’s your plan?  Any other fat bikers??? Feel free to share and encourage me:)

                                                       Photo/Adventure Cycling Association



Annette

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

2017 Guide Schedule

People choose tours for all sorts of reasons, but if you have been waiting to see which guides are doing which tours in 2017, wait no longer!  Here is a list of all of our guides and the tours they will guide next year.

Kelly Attridge:

Hawaii: Big Island Mixed Plate
Hawaii: Circling the Big Island
Wisconsin Door County
Maryland Eastern Shore 
Scotland: Edinburgh & Beyond 
Island Hopper: Nantucket & Martha's Vineyard 

Cy Pugh:

Hawaii: Big Island Mixed Plate
Hawaii: Circling the Big Island
Maryland Eastern Shore 
South Dakota: Badlands & the Mickelson Trail
Yellowstone & Teton National Parks
Idaho Greenways
France Bike & Barge
Italy Bike & Barge
Kentucky Blue Grass
North Carolina Outer Banks
Virginia Capital Trail
Glacier National Park

Patty Jackson:

Florida Everglades & the Keys
South Dakota: Badlands & the Mickelson Trail
Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks
Holland Bike & Barge
Italy Bike & Barge
Northwest Coast Epic Tour
Cross Country Pacific Coast
Utah: Moab, Arches & Canyonlands
Death Valley National Park

Laurie Collins:

Florida Everglades & the Keys
Louisiana: Biking the Bayou
Texas Hill Country
Blue Ridge Parkway Epic Tour
Idaho: Teton Valley
Idaho: Sun Valley
Balkans: Macedonia, Greece, Albania & Bulgaria
Croatia Bike & Boat

Katie Craney:

Death Valley National Park
Minnesota Lake Wobegon Trail
Wisconsin Door County
Alaska & the Yukon: The Golden Circle
Kentucky Blue Grass
North Carolina Outer Banks
Virginia Capital Trail

Denise Purdue:

Death Valley National Park
Cross Country Southern Tier
Minnesota Lake Wobegon Trail
Wisconsin Door County
Spain: Camino de Santiago
Florida Everglades & the Keys
South Dakota: Badlands & the Mickelson Trail

Michelle Slusher:

Florida Everglades & the Keys
Costa Rica: Volcanoes & Rivers
Maine Acadia National Park
NY: Finger Lakes Wine Country
Niagara Falls Pathways
Idaho Greenways
Glacier National Park
Jersey Shore: Cape May
California Coast Epic Tour

Kimberly Masters:

Morocco: An Adventure Mosaic
Maine Acadia National Park
NY: Finger Lakes Wine Country
Niagara Falls Pathways
Canada: Prince Edward Island
Pennsylvania Dutch Country

Emily Rose:

Cross Country Southern Tier
New York Erie Canalway Trail Epic Tour
California Coast Epic Tour

Sid Moffatt:

Louisiana: Biking the Bayou
Texas Hill Country
Albania: Europe's Last Frontier
Holland Bike & Barge
Idaho: Teton Valley
Idaho: Sun Valley
New York Erie Canalway Trail Epic Tour
Jersey Shore: Cape May
Utah: Moab, Arches & Canyonlands
Death Valley National Park

Sue Lincoln:



Have fun trying to choose!!!   

Annette












Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Making directions easier on tour

Ride with GPS praise

I recently returned from spending a few days traveling with the Atlantic Coast tour group.  I joined them in New Hope, PA and left them after they crossed into New York state. They are an inspiring bunch of women who have been riding up the coast since April and will end in less than two weeks in Bar Harbor, ME.  That's a long time to be on a bike and we are always trying to make it a better experience for our guests.

Michelle in the office is now including the ride route links for the  Ride With GPS app on most of our tours as of this season.  While on the Atlantic Coast, I was chatting with guest Virginia Sorrow who mentioned how great the links have worked for her after downloading them to her smartphone. She learned how to use the app from fellow guest Pat Spiegelberg. They and many others on the tour are now doing the same.  Most of the women on this epic tour are using either a Garmin or their smartphones in addition to the cue sheets to keep them on the route.  Virginia sent Michelle this great letter explaining how it works:

Michelle,

While I am thinking about it, I want to tell you how much I love Ride with GPS!!

I do not have a Garmin, and I do not have GPS in my car so this is my first experience.  When I got your first email, I thought "don't have a Garmin, too late to learn now", but I saved the email.  My roommate on the first night in Florida, Pat Spiegelberg, explained to me that I could download the Ride with GPS app and use it with my iPhone (or any smartphone).  She helped me get started, and I am a fan (also love that it is tracking my statistics).  Almost everyone who is now using Ride with GPS is using it with a phone, not a Garmin, so in the future please let people know that a Garmin is not necessary.

I now have my phone mounted on my handlebar, but I can also hear it from my jersey pocket.  When the cue sheet says turn, and the phone says turn, and I can see the road sign, I am absolutely sure I am going the correct way.  I don't think I have been off course by more than 100 feet the whole trip.  It is also great to be able to look at the map when needed to find ways around detours, changes in roads, etc. - so much easier than Adventure Cycling maps.

The printed cue sheets are still absolutely essential, but the GPS is a great addition.  Please keep doing this.  It would be wonderful for both long and short tours.

Thanks again,


Virginia

Thank you Virginia for this great feedback. We encourage other women who are planning to travel with us to download the app and try it out, it's great and you can store your own favorite rides too.
Virginia Sorrow rides in Pennsylvania on the Atlantic Coast Tour with her cellphone mounted to her handlebars.  She uses the app Ride With GPS to give her directions from WomanTours route links.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Finding Belva Lockwood

I love history, photography and riding my bike.  When I get to combine all three into one experience, it is nirvana. I rode the length of the Erie Canal across New York state in 2013 while working at my former job as a photojournalist here in Rochester.  I loved that the riding was generally flat  and largely off road with all sorts of history to be found along the way.  The trail is populated by canal towns that sprung to life in the 19th century, some that continue to thrive to this day, others ghosts of their former lives, but all providing a hint of what was. In all, it's a fascinating trip on crushed stone,  flat grassy single track and yes, pavement, across the Empire State from Buffalo to Albany.

Since making that trip, I have wanted WomanTours to offer this trip to our guests. Sometimes, you get what you wish for.   I have been entrusted to organize and scout this new tour for WomanTours to be added to next years schedule.  As the newest employee, this will be my first time taking on such an important assignment.  It is no small task, but I am working under the guidance of everyone here in the office who between them have years of experience planning new tours.

I began my hands on work yesterday scouting Lockport, NY, the home of the historic Flight of Five locks built to move boats up and down the Niagara Escarpment, a true engineering feat in 1824. This is where we plan on beginning our tour. While stopping at the Niagara County Historical Society, I happened upon a school tour where the kids were learning about former Lockport resident Belva Lockwood, who twice ran for president of the United States in 1884 and 1888. Belva Lockwood, who was she, I thought. Was I ever taught about this woman in school? (Perhaps my 58 year old brain just can't remember) I was instantly curious and did some Google searching to find this amazing woman and her history.

Born near Lockport, she married at 18 and was widowed with a young daughter three years later. Realizing she would need to support herself, she attended school for three years so that she would be able to teach. She taught at the Lockport Union School for several years before moving on to attend law school and become a lawyer in Washington, D.C. Her story is a great one and well worth reading. As icing on the cake, in her 50's, she became a bicyclist.  

 Here are a couple of links with good info : 

http://www.buffaloah.com/h/lock/lock.html
http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2005/spring/belva-lockwood-1.html


I have a long way to go and a lot work to do to finish planning this tour that will start in Lockport and end in New York's capital city of Albany, but now I can take thoughts of Belva Lockwood with me as I ride.

Annette


Lockport's Flight of Five locks from above
Belva Lockwood

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The hills are alive...

With the sound of my heavy breathing as I ascend a hill in my daily ride as part of the http://30daysofbiking.com/ pledge. I am riding my bike every day in the month of April as part of this national biking pledge.  I knew if I made the pledge public and shared a photo every day to the @womantours Instagram account, that I would stick with it and begin the cycling season stronger this year.

I am on day twenty today, and I have to say that I am feeling stronger and am enjoying the routine of making time for my ride everyday. I am including at least a small hill in every ride to help with my climbing abilities, always a weak point in my riding.  I am concentrating on gearing down early in the hill and maintaining an even comfortable cadence while I remain seated.  On longer hills, I sing songs in my head to keep a good rhythm and distract my brain from thinking negative thoughts. A favorite is and oldie but goodie, the early 1960's anthem "500 Miles" popularized by Peter, Paul and Mary.

I am happy to report that I am feeling stronger and more confident as I enter the third week of cycling.  I have never had the body of a classic climber, small and svelte. I now carry the weight of a middle-aged woman who enjoys food, so my gains this month are truly heartening.

I know that many of our guests fret over hills on our tours.  While the van is always nearby to give a lift, the feeling of cresting a tough hill on your own power can be very exhilarating. So all of you who might be wary of taking a hillier tour,  just know that with some training, those tours can be within reach and just as enjoyable as the flatter ones. Happy riding ladies, I hope to see many of you on tour this year.

Annette

Monday, April 11, 2016

There's a new blogger in town

Since our president Jackie Marchand is a very busy woman with alot of travel in her future, I will be an additional poster to the WomanTours blog. I have been working at WomanTours since last August doing social media updates, still photography, video and the upkeep and assigning of the rental bike fleet.

It's a job tailor made for me after twenty-six years as a photojournalist and self described bike geek. I hope to be posting often with musings from the world of WomanTours and cycling in general.  If any of you have bike or photography questions, please send them my way - annette@womantours and I will happily respond.