Friday, January 13, 2017

Furry Friday

I worked in downtown Rochester in a large building for a large corporation for the local newspaper for twenty-six years. It was a fascinating job and I had a great career. In any job with layer upon layer of managers all answering to someone above them, there are rules, restrictions and meetings, endless meetings. 

I knew that when I left to join WomanTours, it would be a drastic change in environment. We are five women in a two room office here in Rochester. Everyone gets along, we all share ideas and everyone works hard to make our tours the best they can be for our guests. But some of the perks were unexpected. 

In November, Jackie and her sister Jen adopted two Maine Coon kittens.  Jen’s kitten Francis is a beautiful, sweet strapping boy cat. Jackie’s kitten had some serious health problems that through surgery and medication are now under control and she too, is growing into a sweetheart of a cat.  Because of her illness, Jackie started bring her to the office so we could all keep an eye on her as she recuperated.  As she improved, they decided to reunite them on Fridays in the office.  We have dubbed it Furry Friday.

We are all animal lovers and look forward to their Friday visits.  Running and chasing each other around our desks turns into sleeping on laps or desktops.  Having a purring creature on your lap as you work is great for the soul.  

Workplaces can and should be places of inspiration and enrichment. It’s so detrimental to mental and physical health that so may workplaces are just the opposite.  Adding fur to the mix, when possible, is a great way to start. Meow…..Annette



Tuesday, January 03, 2017

The old into the new

I welcomed 2017 with a sunset bike ride around the city of Rochester after riding my bike everyday in the month of December.  It was a great way to start the year.  On January 2nd, a gloomy day, I took an afternoon nap.  It was great too.

What I took away from my personal challenge is that you don't have to ride far to get a benefit from daily riding.  On my worst days, I rode a couple of miles and ran back inside, both for safety and sanity. On my best days I rode to new places or to favorite places made new by being snow-covered. I tried to take joy in each little journey by also challenging myself to make a picture on my ride everyday.  It's nice to have a visual record of the month.

The cold isn't your enemy if you are dressed correctly.  A good balaclava and lobster gloves are essential when it's under twenty degrees. The snow isn't bad on the right bike with wide enough tires. The wind is tolerable if you ride into it first and have it at your back when homeward bound. Don't ride far if it's too windy, too icy and too cold all at once.  Always wear bright clothes and use lights.

Once I was out there, I was almost always happy. (OK, the seventeen degree day with a thirty mile an hour wind was hard). I am going to try and keep riding as much as I can through the rest of the winter, but taking the day off yesterday and snoozing on the couch sure was nice too.  A balance is what I'm going for now. That, and the joy of knowing in three months my butt isn't going to hurt on those first warmer spring rides. - Annette

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Taking our own advice

As some of you know I have challenged myself to riding my bike everyday in the month of December here in cold, snowy Rochester, NY.  With another eleven days to go, I have struggled with some of the realities of winter biking, the largest of which has been ice. I can stand the cold and even the wind, but the ice that has formed on the paths and roadways I like to ride has been a bit daunting. I find myself truly hoping for a meltdown on the roads before I have one myself.

We always tell women on tour that there is no shame in walking a section of road if it is too steep for them.  I found myself taking that advice yesterday when my own street was a sheet of slick ice.  I walked two blocks before beginning my ride on a well salted main street. I am riding a fatbike with four inch wide tires so I am on the best bike I could be for this endeavor, but I have to admit, there are some instances where riding a bike is just not a good idea. 

While searching for advice on winter cycling technique I found this quote in a forum on ice biking:

 “Ice can be rideable, or it can be so slippery that you'll crash just holding a straight line, but experience will teach you the warning signs. Treat winter cycling as a learning experience, always. It will turn you into one heck of a bike handler.”  


Sage advice to be sure. I am enjoying the challenge and riding the fatbike is great fun.  It has been beautiful seeing my favorite biking places in the cover of snow, but I am going to heed the warning signs of that shiny ice and walk when the going gets too slippery. - Annette

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

My criteria when building a bike

When I begin building a bike, my first priority, no matter what I plan on using the bike for, is comfort. If I’m not comfortable on a bike, I won’t ride it.  I enjoy what riding does for me mentally and physically so much that I don’t want to deter from that experience with something nagging me that can be addressed.  

First things first, you need to be on the best size frame for your size.  For most people, that means going to a bike shop and at the very least riding a few bikes to see what feels best for you.  The other option is to actually be fitted for a bike at a shop by someone trained in how to do so.  There is usually a charge for this, but it can be very helpful. 

I know that I want to be pretty upright when I ride, even on a bike with drop style handlebars, so I don’t want a frame with a longer top tube.  Women specific bikes often have a shorter one.  I am of average height at 5’6” with a 30” inseam, so I can ride a lot of different frames, including most mens frames.  You can request a more upright stem on all bikes or handlebars with some rise or a sweep back to get you up higher on a bike.  A good bike shop will be willing to work with you to swap out parts and lengthen cables to allow for this.

Once I have a frame that I like, I choose the components that I want.  Most important to me is the gearing, especially as I have gotten older.  I’m 58 now and need more help up the hills. I want to be able to sit and spin up an incline in an easier gear that will be nicer to my knees.  For this I use mountain bike gearing on all my bikes, all of which are ridden on the road, crushed stone, gravel or hard packed dirt.  I am not a mountain biker:) 

I use a triple crankset on the front with chainring teeth in the range of 42-30-26.  This is widely variable, but I have found this is a perfect range for me.  On the back wheel, I use a wide range 12-36 tooth cassette which gives me a very easy set of climbing gears.  The higher the number of teeth in the rear and the lower the number of teeth in the front, make for easier gearing. If you are a strong rider, this is not as necessary, but for me it’s a godsend.

I prefer bar end shifters mounted with adapters on my handlebars as they are very simple to adjust and use.  This is kind of old school, but I love their simplicity.  Many touring bikes are still sold with bar end shifters just for this reason.  

I use straight style handlebars with a curve and a backward sweep so that I still have two different hand positions and can change periodically to prevent fatigue. 

Saddle choice is a highly individual matter.  Some people are fine on almost any kind, others try many before finding a winner. My true favorites are the Selle Anatomica X Series and the Rivet Pearl. Both are leather with a cutout and have a lot of give right out of the box.  These saddles are made to move with your sit bones as your ride. They, like many saddles, are not cheap, but if you ride a lot, worth the investment. 

Lastly, I prefer a wider tire, again for comfort.  I know many people say wider tires make you slower and I am not going to argue the point.  I just know that I go as fast as I want or need to on 32-38 mm tires vs the stock 28,25 or 23 mm tires that are standard on most road and many hybrid bikes. I also feel more stable on a wider tire in changing road conditions.

This is a lot of information, but winter is a good time to think about what you can do to make your bike better for YOU, or to purchase one that really suits your style of riding.  Bike shop mechanics have a lot more time during the offseason to work on your bike and get it just the way you want it. 

I am happy to answer any questions you may have about making your ride the best it can be. Annette








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