Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bicycling Jerseys that Send a Message

If you bicycle on the road, then you've probably been nearly run off of it sometime by a discourteous or oblivious driver. Here's your chance to talk back. Wear a jersey with a message. 

I can't guarantee the fit. Looks to me as if they're styled for men, but wearing the message may make giving up a little style worth it. There are a bunch of different statements available and they're inexpensive too. Be safe.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Training Plan for the New Year

I'm often asked about how to train for a bike tour. With the new year soon upon us, I thought it a good time to present the following 6-week bicycling training plan. It can be followed by someone new to cycling.

Week    Mon    Tues     Wed    Thurs     Fri       Sat       Sun       Total
1           off        ½ hr     off      ½ hr      off       1 hr      off        2 hrs
2           off        ½ hr     off      ½ hr      off       ½ hr     1½ hr   3 hrs
3           off        ½ hr     off      1 hr       off       1 hr      2 hr      4½ hrs
4           off        1 hr      off      1 hr       off       1 hr      3 hr      6 hrs
5           off        1 hr      off      1 hr       off       1 hr      4 hr      7 hrs
6           off        1 hr      off      1 hr       off       1½ hr   4½ hr   8 hrs

Plan: Your schedule should be personalized for you. And remember – it should be fun. Feel free to modify your training plan based on your own physical condition, daily schedule and preferences. If your time doesn’t allow you to exercise on the weekends, then plan your long rides during the week. If you’re starting a new fitness plan, be sure to check with your physician first.

Speed: You’ll notice that the training plan is based upon time. I don’t mention speed. Feel free to bike at your own pace. Your “time in the saddle” is more important than the number of miles you cover or how fast you go.

Pace: Strive to keep an even pedaling pace (cadence) as you bike. Spin your feet evenly and smoothly through the pedal stroke. Use your gears effectively, shifting up or down as the terrain changes to keep a constant cadence. It is easier on your knees to pedal quickly and smoothly at an easier gear rather than slowly and firmly on a hard gear.

Stretching: The best routine is to stretch after you have cycled 10 – 15 minutes, and then again at the end of your work-out. Be sure to include stretches for your legs, shoulders and neck muscles.

Hills: The more hills you ride, the stronger you’ll get. They not only strengthen your muscles, but they help you practice shifting and give you confidence. Don’t be afraid of hills. If you learn to downshift to an easier gear at the bottom of the hill, you’ll learn to spin easily at a constant pace and use less energy. Learn to enjoy the slower pace that hills allow. Listen to the sounds around you that you can only hear when you don’t have the wind in your ears.

Intervals: In addition to including some hills in your plan, it’s a good idea to include some interval training too. Intervals are short periods of high exertion followed by periods of recovery. After warming up with easy riding for 15 minutes, try suddenly cycling as hard as you can to the next tree or up a hill.  Once at the top, slow down to your normal speed until you’ve recovered. Do this a few times and then continue on with your ride at an easy pace to cool down. Intervals are an excellent way to increase your strength and speed.

Spinning: Gym classes that incorporate spinning bikes are an excellent substitute for bicycling outdoors. Join your local fitness club and take a spinning class instead of forcing yourself to bike in the pouring rain or through a blizzard. Remember – keep training fun.

Cross-training: Feel free to use one of your work-out sessions each week to cross-train. Use the time to hike, run, ski, play tennis or take an aerobics class. If you mix up your training, you’ll be less likely to get injured, bored or tired of it.

Weight-training: In addition to increasing your aerobic capacity, it’s a good idea to strengthen your muscles at the same time. Consider lifting weights twice a week in addition to your biking schedule. If you’re new to weight training, start with very light weights to avoid injury. Be sure that a trained professional shows you proper technique and equipment use.

Advanced Training: If you have signed up to do a more advanced tour, including a cross-country tour, you should double or triple your weeks of training. Steadily increase your weekly mileage to build endurance. Work up to two or three 6-hour cycling days in a row. The more fit you are before the tour, the better you’ll likely enjoy it. If you’re not as in shape as you wish you were, you can always ride part of the day during the tour in the van. By the end of the week, you’ll be in great shape for your next trip!

Resources: If you are new to cycling, a good book is “A Woman’s Guide to Cycling” by Susan Weaver. It covers many topics about bicycling including training. Also, we are always available to help. Please do not hesitate to call or email us for advice or instruction.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Return from Outdoor Adventure Conference

We just returned from the America Outdoors Association conference in Reno, NV. The record cold temperatures made sure to keep us inside so we'd attend all the sessions and visit all the vendors. Look for new WomanTours hats in 2010 and expect our tour leaders to be thrilled with our new fancy food and drink coolers. 

The conference was also the first time that some of our staff met one another. Sandra and Michelle hit it off though. They brought money home from their one night out at the casino.

Jackie, Jen, Marian from the women's adventure travel company, Adventures in Good Company, and Michelle and Sandra say good-bye to the "Biggest Little City in the World."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Happy Holidays from WomanTours

Let us take you away from your hectic schedule this time of year for just 3 minutes. We'll take you to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks on your bike. You'll hear one of our tour guides, Michelle, perform her song. Before the end, you'll probably wish you were on your bike beside her and singing Rain Dance Road along with her. Enjoy! Watch our bike video.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Work on the Arizona Spring Training tour

Not to be outdone by my sister (see below,) I was recently in Tucson working on the improvements we've made to our Arizona bike tour. We're biking on 2 bike paths through the city now and visiting the awesome Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum again. I was so glad to see that the outside restoration of the San Xavier Del Bac Mission is finished and the scaffolding is gone. We bike there on a Monday now, so we can actually go into the church and not interrupt the Sunday service.

If you've already done this tour, it may be time to come back and do it again. Then you can let us know if the 3 new bike rides, 2 new Tucson restaurants, and changes in the hotels are the improvements we think they are. Arizona is still the best place to bike in the States during the dead of winter!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Work on the Washington DC tour

We're busy in the off-season getting our 2010 tours ready to go. Jen was recently in Washington DC cycling the bike paths of our new Washington DC Bikeways tour. We try to double and triple check our cues, especially when they involve bike paths.

Jen says, "There's absolutely no better way to see the monuments than by bike. You don't have to deal with the traffic, getting lost on one-way streets, or finding parking. And you don't get so tired as you would if you were walking."

She walked into the National Archives on the spur of the moment and fell into a tour for new White House interns just as the building was closing. She saw the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. She said, "It was amazing. We had the place to ourselves. I didn't even know we had a National Archives, let alone what was in it!"

Here's Jen across the Tidal Basin from the Jefferson Memorial.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Electric Bicycles...The Future?

One of our best customers, Peggy, has been on more than a dozen WomanTours trips. At 75, she's not as spry as she once was, but she doesn't let that slow her down.

She's the proud owner of a BionX electric bicycle. She brags that she can easily climb hills with whopping 10% grades. She uses the electric motor only when she needs it, and easily sets it at 25%, 50% or 100% level of assistance on the fly. She brings her bike to our tours and says, "Hilly routes are no longer intimidating."

A retired engineer, she's never been afraid to test the newest in technology. She explains, "I think this BionX motor assist will revolutionize biking for the senior set." And no, neither she nor I works for the company. We're just trying to keep more women bicycling.

Here's Peggy on her old bike on our Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard bike tour - BEFORE she got her BionX.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Recipe for WomanTours Signature Salad

Here's the most requested recipe from our picnics. Many thanks to my sisters Michelle and Jennifer, from whom this salad was commandeered.

WomanTours Broccoli Cole Slaw Salad
• 2 packages broccoli cole slaw
• slivered almonds
• sunflower seeds
• craisins
• 2 cans drained mandarin oranges
• 2 packages beef or mushroom Ramen Noodles (break up and add just before serving)
• Mix together and pour on above:
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
• 2 T sugar
• spice from 1 soup mix

Monday, November 02, 2009

Sunny Santa Barbara bike tour

You can tell it's a lot warmer and sunnier in southern California this time of year than it is in Virginia (see below.) Here's our group at the end of our new Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez Valley bike tour last week. We don't get blue skies like that very often in the fall here in Rochester. Thanks for sending along the photo Kathy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Shenandoah Bike Tour

We had a wonderful group of women on our Shenandoah bike tour a week ago. While another group was enjoying the sunshine in Moab, Utah, we were enjoying the autumn colors - when we could see them through the fog - in Virginia. We had a couple days of cold rain, but there wasn't a whiner in the group. They were wonderful.

We've learned our lesson though. We've scheduled next year's tour for the spring. We'll hope the rhododendrons are blooming.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Moab Bike Tour Slide Show

Beth and Annette have done it again. They've produced the most amazing slide show of our recent Moab Arches and Canyonlands Bike Tour. Caution - view it at your own risk. You might just want to go yourself. What a place.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Moab Bike Tour Blog

Our photographers are on assignment on our Moab: Arches and Canyonlands tour this week. Check out their Road Trip blog about their tour.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Discount on our November Death Valley tour

In celebration of our wonderful touring year and in support of the PBS Ken Burns special about the National Parks: America's Best Idea, we're extending the 5% discount on our last tour of 2009.

There are 7 spaces still available on our Death Valley National Park tour. Come join us and you'll get a 5% discount off the tour. That's a savings of $94.50.

The offer is good until the tour is filled.

Friday, October 02, 2009

New Women's Cycling Magazine

There's a new Women's Cycling Magazine in print. They're trying to cover all things female cycling, not just racing. They have a nice website too, full of articles about fashion, new products, bike industry trends, eating healthy, etc. Looks as if they're really trying to cover all the bases. Check it out here and let me know what you think.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Eavesdropping on a Bike Forum

I couldn't help but eavesdrop on a women's bike forum over at Team Estrogen - my ears always perk up when I hear "WomanTours." Feel free to read the unsolicited comments, and add your own. They made my day....

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Back Home from the Adirondack Tour

Sue, Nancy, Maria, Kathy, Risa and Jenny enjoy the view atop Second Brother Mountain in Adirondack State Park. Despite what all my photos may show, we did a lot of biking on this tour too, along with our kayaking and hiking.

It was a beautiful tour. We watched the trees change colors before our eyes, as I've written on our tour itinerary. They all made fun of my marketing hype, but it was true.

I came home to rain, a sick dog, and kitchen cupboards inhabited by mice. But the rain has since stopped, my dog's on antibiotics and I now have fully cleaned cupboards. It's almost time to go on another tour!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New Book about Bicycling the Southern Tier

Lorraine Veisz biked the Southern Tier with WomanTours a couple years ago and then went on to do what the rest of us only dream of - write a book about it.

Conquering the Borderlands is a beautifully written and wonderfully illustrated tribute to her 3000-mile bicycle trek and the lands she rode through. She weaves historical stories about the roads, towns and geography of the Southern Tier into her personal bike journey across the country.

It's a must-read for everyone considering doing a southern tier bike tour themselves. You can find it for sale through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, AuthorHouse and Adventure Cycling.

I found myself sad when I turned over the final page. I didn't want her journey to end. We'd both been having such a good time.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bicycling with your Local Bike Club

I've been spending a lot of time in Lynchburg, Virginia and the weather has been gorgeous lately. This morning I set out to meet the "B Group - no one gets left behind ride" from the local bike shop.

After a couple miles of dying, trying to hold on, I told the group that I was going to do my own ride and they should go on without me. The 15 men were way too fast for me - no surprise. A couple of them valiantly protested, but we all knew they'd be happier without me.

Then another of the two women in the group volunteered to go with me. She admitted that they were too fast for her too. We set off together and chatted some, but she was obviously stronger than me. She waited at the first turns for me, but for no more than 20 seconds, as I was always within sight. And then, during the second half of the ride, she disappeared. She dropped me. I rode back alone to the bike shop's empty parking lot and drove home.

You know I'll never try that again! Unfortunately, people like that do bicycling a disservice. They give the sport a bad name. And they wonder why more people don't bike.

Thank goodness for our tours, where I can bike with women - some faster, some slower - who will wait for each other and always stick around to cheer the last one into the parking lot at the end of the day.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back from the Northwest Loop

It's been only 10 days, but it seems so long ago that my week with the Northwest Loop bike tour ended.

They told me I missed some incredible scenery by only being able to ride the last week. I saw the ocean, but they saw rivers: The Columbia, the Snake, the Salmon and the Willamette. They saw mountains: the Coastal Range and the Cascades. And they saw the high desert. Who knew the terrain of Oregon could be so varied?

The women who did the entire 4-week tour raved about it and said we should keep the trip on our schedule. Look for it again in 2013.

Pam takes in the view.

Hille, Nancy and Ramsey first met on our 2007 Southern Tier tour.

Some of the beautiful scenery.

To read personal travelogues of the trip, click below:
Anne Cowan's blog
Carolyn Froeberg's blog
Barbara Minnick's blog
Nancy Norton's blog
Clark Taylor's blog

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Win a Free Bike

Here's a chance to win a free bicycle. Create a link on your own blog or website or twitter account and you'll be entered in a weekly drawing for a free Madsen utility bike. They look pretty cool! Click below for more details.
MADSEN Cargo Bikes

Monday, August 17, 2009

Update from the Northwest Loop tour

I received this great photo in my email this morning. Looks as if our Northwest Loop volunteer SAG drivers and sous-chef have been a little grumpy!

We couldn't run our cross-country tours without them. They agreed to work part of their time to support the tour in exchange for a discount off the price. I'll get to meet them later this month when I join them for the last week of their 4-week tour. Can't wait!

We still need a SAG driver for our cross-country Southern Tier 2010 tour. You can find more information on the WomanTours website here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sun Valley tour highlights

Back home from an amazing Sun Valley tour. Great group of women. Great scenery. Great weather. Great biking.

But sometimes I felt as if I were the only one out there...

When we weren't biking, we rafted down the Salmon River...

and watched the beautiful sunsets in Stanley....

Next year's tours is scheduled for August 18-25, 2010.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

And they're off!

The Northwest Loop Ladies left Portland, Oregon last weekend for their 4-week bike tour through Oregon, Washington and a tip of Idaho. I'll be lucky enough to join for the last week of their journey. Wish them luck, tailwinds and a break in the heat wave!

Friday, July 31, 2009

And the Winner is....

Sonia from Baraboo, Wisconsin. She won a free WomanTours trip for guessing closest to Alberto Contador's winning time in the Tour de France. Her guess of 85h:48m:04s was just seconds away from Alberto's time of 85h:48m:35s. Congratulations to Sonia!

In her words:

I'm still shaking!!!!! OMG this is the best news ever. I don't win things and 2009 has not been a good year for me but I feel that my luck is about to change. My husband was home recovering from emergency surgery so we watched the tour everyday. And everyday I would say, "It would be so awesome to be there." The tour, the scenery all of it.

I told him that we should plan a trip for our 25th wedding anniversary (in 6 yrs). We started biking about 7 yrs ago and have followed the tour especially since Lance and all his successes. Words cannot express how excited I am.

P.S. my family was making fun of me because of all the work I put into calculating the winning time!! Who's laughing now?! THANKS SO MUCH!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Northwest Loop Bike Tour About to Begin

We're getting ready for the start of our Northwest Loop cross-country bicycle tour this week. WomanTours photographers Annette and Beth just arrived in Portland, Oregon with our SAG vehicle, affectionately known as Bo Peep. You can follow their trek across the country on their great blog.

To follow some of our bikers' treks on the tour, you can read these blogs:
Anne Cowan
Carolyn Froeberg
Barbara Minnick
Nancy Norton
Clark Taylor

You can also read about Anne Cowan's prep for the tour in an article that appeared in her local paper, the Bristol Herald Courier.

Wish them luck, tailwinds, and a break in the present heat wave!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wildflowers on the Sun Valley bike tour

Past forest fires bring fields of wildflowers. A couple of us arrived early before the start of the Sun Valley tour and hiked the Fox Creek Loop. The flowers were amazing. And almost as tall as Sheryl.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Finger Lakes Wine Country Tour

For the first time, we ran our Finger Lakes Wine Country tour as a shorter 4-day tour. The women tell me it was a hit. Jen (second from right) wrote us, "I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the tour. It was wonderful and I can't wait until my next one." Jacki and Lisa (second and third from left front) have already signed up for their next tour. I knew it was a great group from the start when they organized a group photo before they even knew each other's names or biked a mile. Thanks Leisa (9th from the left) for the pics!

Later in the tour, we took a break from the bike to hike through Watkins Glen. We have some beautiful parks right here in upstate New York. I bike all over the country, and I still love to come back to bike the Finger Lakes region. It has a little of everything - except those snowy, jagged peaks. I'll be seeing those next week on our Sun Valley tour.

In a car, scenery is wallpaper....

I don't often read articles about people's bicycling travels. I get too jealous and beat myself up over being inside reading, rather than out there cycling. But my parents had cut out the NY Times article for me and the headline, "4 Days and 2 Wheels on the Oregon Coast" caught my attention. I'd be joining our Northwest Loop tour next month to bike up the Oregon coast myself.

I was quickly taken in by author David Laskin's first paragraph:
In a car, you'd cover the hundred miles of the southern third of the Oregon coast in a couple of hours, and you'd think, How gorgeous! But on a bike, you don't so much view the scenery as absorb it....In a car, scenery is wallpaper. On a bike, it's your mission."

I knew I'd found a true comrade. Feel free to read the article yourself, and then get out there and absorb some scenery!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Win a Free WomanTours trip!

Sign up on the Terry Bicycles website with your best guesstimate of the Tour de France winner's time, and you could win a WomanTours bike trip! Check the Terry website for details and to guess away. But do it by July 19. Good luck!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Busy Bike Touring Season

We've all been busy in the office getting our summer tours underway. Meanwhile, we're trying to get on our bikes ourselves. Michelle recently returned from doing our Pennsylvania Dutch Country tour. Here's her leggy group.

Jen just finished biking across Ohio on GOBA. She did it with Lynore whom she met on a WomanTours bike trip in Alaska and she met Debby (from several of our cross-country tours) along the way. She said it was as well-organized as our tours, but she quickly tired of sleeping on the ground in her tent.

Gloria did our Yellowstone and Teton National Park tour last month. Here's some of her group taking a break from their bikes to float down the Snake River. (Thanks to Polly for the photo.)

I just got back from bicycling 130 miles from Boston to Provincetown. I ran into Robin from this year's Southern Tier tour there and a bunch of us finished together - exhausted! When we're not working on tours, we're touring!

Friday, June 12, 2009

New Louisiana Bike Tour Video

If you've always wondered what it would be like to try a tour with WomanTours, then here's a chance to see for yourself. Annette Lein has produced an amazing short film for us, but, of course, she had some amazing talent to work with. View our first video and let me know what you think!

Biking the Bayou with WomanTours on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Invitation to Bike Ride for Ovarian Cancer in Washington, DC

Laurey Masterton finished our 3000-mile cross-country Southern Tier tour earlier this year and raised a lot of money in the process for the fight against ovarian cancer. She's been invited to deliver the closing speech at the 12th annual Ovarian Cancer National Alliance’s annual conference in Washington next month.

In conjunction with the conference, Laurey is planning a short bike ride. Everyone is invited to join her for a fun, moderate bicycle ride on July 5th at 10:00am. Meet at Temple Ohr Kodesh at 8300 Meadowbrook Lane in Chevy Chase, MD. It is one block from the intersection of East-West highway and Rock Creek Park.

Bike about 30 miles from Chevy Chase to Lake Needwood and back along the Rock Creek Trail. There won't be SAG support, but the group plans to stay together and help one another if anyone needs assistance. Bring a spare tube, water and snacks.

At the end of the ride, there will be a light lunch and time to hear about Laurey's recent ride across the country. If you’d like to join her, contact her through her blog so she knows she'll have enough food at the end. She'd love the company.

This is primarily a fun ride, but if you are so moved, feel free to make a donation to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. Make checks out to Jubilee with a note in the memo line "Laurey Bikes." Have a great ride!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Bicycle Gear Auction

A good friend of mine is looking to help the children of Nepal. She's organized an on-line auction and all the winning bids go straight to the Nepalese Youth Opportunity Foundation.

There are lots of bicycling related items. Bid on a bike tour to Vietnam, a bicycle travel case, or registration for the Heart of Virginia Century Ride. Or go for the round-trip air fare on Southwest Airlines or the Marriott in Chicago or the one-week oceanside villa in Nicaragua.

She's done a lot of work getting all these donations and organizing this auction. She's also an amazing bike rider. I've never been able to keep up with her. Now I know why - she has a ton of energy.

So bid on a couple of her items and have some fun. You'll get a bargain and help some children who really need it. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

National Trails Day is Saturday, June 6

Go celebrate National Trails Day this coming Saturday, June 6. Even though the day is coordinated by the American Hiking Society, trails are used by a lot of us bikers as well.

Take your bike on a rail trail and show the country that if they build them, we will come. And consider joining a group in your area to help support our trails. Pick up litter, build a trail, or attend the ribbon cutting ceremony for a new trail opening.

If you like to both bike and hike, consider signing up for our multi-sport Adirondack tour this fall. (Sorry - couldn't resist!)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

New Texas Hill Country bike tour

We finally developed the bike tour our cross-country cyclists have been asking for. Our new Texas Hill Country bicycle tour should show everyone the best territory the Lone Star State has to offer. It's always been the area our Southern Tier tour cyclists tell us they wish could return to. And who better to design it than Michelle Slusher who has led our women across the country on their bicycles half a dozen times. We'll hope to hit it at the peak of wildflower season next April 3-9, 2010.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Second California Bike Tour Added to Fall Schedule

Our October Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez Valley tour filled so quickly that we've added a second tour to our fall schedule. It will be October 26-31, 2009. You can still be added to the waiting list for the first tour if someone cancels. But we have plenty of space on the second tour.

The Santa Ynez Valley is where the movie Sideways took place. I'm not a big fan of the film, but I do love the area's quiet vineyard roads for biking and the fantastic restaurants for dining. It offers all that Napa Valley does, but without the traffic and high expense. And then there's Santa Barbara, the Silver Bicycle Community Award winner, for all of its bike paths and lanes and bike friendly accommodations. Our tour is a good combination of the two regions.

Because of this addition, we've taken our Arizona in Autumn tour off of the schedule. We've been running it the same way for years now and it's time for a face lift. There are so many wonderful places to ride in and around Tucson. We're exploring some new routes and lodgings and will be changing our tour itinerary for the February tour. Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez Valley bike tour

It's funny that I would write about biking in the rain and then a week later, be in sunny Southern California. Boy, it's beautiful here. We had to switch the days of our Santa Barbara tour itinerary because of the Jesusita Fire last week, but in the end, it all went off splendidly.

We biked all the routes as planned, just on different days. The weather was perfect, the food excellent, and as always, the women have been a blast. For me, it was wonderful working with Michelle who was able to step in at the last minute. She filled in for Patty who had a family emergency. I'm jealous of the two of them who get to do this tour together this fall. They won't have the scent of ripening strawberries in the air. Instead, they'll get to watch the grape harvest.

WomanTours founder Gloria said that this tour beat our old Napa Valley tour hands down. "The roads are so much quieter!" she said. And we still got to do our share of wine tasting!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Riding in the Rain

One of the most common questions I’m asked by women new to our bicycling tours is, “Do you ride in the rain?” The easy answer is that it’s always a choice to ride. Whether it’s rainy or sunny, it’s always your personal decision. However, peer pressure can take over and before we know it, the whole group will be bicycling in weather that individually none of us would have chosen to do on her own!

So the next time peer pressure gets the best of you, be sure that you’re prepared for it. Don’t let improper clothing or technique ruin your rainy ride.

First, invest in a good rain jacket. It should be a bright color, so it’s highly visible on grey days. Look for a jacket made of a waterproof but breathable fabric and is unlined, so you won’t roast in it. It should have a back vent and zippers beneath the arms to help let your body heat out as you ride. It should have a high neck and a low back, and its hood will either detach or fold up to get out of the way.

According to women on a cross-country tour who got caught in hurricane-like winds and rain, the Showers Pass Elite jacket is the best jacket on the market. Good rain jackets aren’t cheap but they’re worth it.

If there’s a chance of rain, you may also want to start your ride by putting a blinking red light on the back of your helmet or bike seat so you’ll be more visible. Wear wool socks to keep your feet warm even if they get wet, and a helmet with a visor to keep your eyeglasses streak-free. Stuff a hotel’s shower cap into your pocket to throw over your helmet if there’s a downpour. On colder days or in the hardest of rains, consider wearing rain pants and shoe covers to keep your legs and feet dry.

Once you find yourself in the rain, ride cautiously. Roads are especially slick at the first sign of a light shower. The little water can cover oil spots on the road and make them treacherous, so be especially careful. Remember that it takes longer to slow down when you brake on wet rims. Leave more space between you and the rider in front of you. Walk your bike over all railroad tracks, metal bridges and steel grates. They’re slippery when wet and have caused many a cyclist to go down! Avoid riding over wet leaves and through puddles. It’s hard to tell how deep a puddle is and what lies beneath its water’s depths.

If you’re careful and wear the right clothing, riding in the rain can be exhilarating. Colors take on a muted, surreal look. Smells become heightened and sounds louder. It can feel as if your senses have come alive. So the next time it rains this spring, don’t run for cover. Suit up and enjoy it!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Free Bike Clothing Offer

I recently received this email from one of our riders, Tracy.

I have been working really hard to lose weight and so far, I've lost about 75 pounds. I have lots of plus-sized bike clothing that I would love to get rid of so that I will not have it to fall back on. Do you know someone that would wear about a 2X or 3X that would ride or ride more if they had the proper clothes? I would be happy to give the clothes to someone who would use them to get themselves in better shape.

Anyone out there in need of some larger size bike clothes? Pop me an email and I'll forward it to Tracy. No sense in having perfectly good cycling clothes go to waste!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Cross-Country Southern Tier Tour Finishes in St. Augustine!

Our group of women successfully bicycled into St. Augustine, Florida on Thursday, completing their cross-country bicycle tour. Congratulations to all of them!

Here are some of them as they wait for the police escort before cycling their last few miles of the 3000-mile trip. And Lois dips her front wheel in the Atlantic Ocean. Her smile says it all!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Kudos from a Bicyclist on our Natchez Trace Tour

What a wonderful way to start the day: to open my email and see this message from Jackie of Delaware, Ohio. She just finished our Natchez Trace Tour of Mississippi.

If I wanted to do another tour, it would be with you guys.  You will get an "excellent" always from me when someone asks about your company.  The biggest thing is if I'm tired, I can stop riding.  If there's something wrong with my bicycle, it will get fixed.  If I'm the last one, someone is with me until I finish and they coach  you a little to get you to finish even when I would rather give up!  Oh!  We are fed like it's the last supper!  There's always great food.
Thanks much for a great vacation!  Keep doing what you do. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Boston to Provincetown Bike Ride

If you need a good reason to go out and train this spring, or if you're just looking for a real challenge, consider joining a few of us on the Outriders 130-mile bike ride this June. Bicycle from Boston to Provincetown on June 20, 2009.

This isn't a WomanTours event. There's no SAG support, but the route is extremely well-organized, very well-marked and there are food breaks every 30 miles. They cap registrations at 300 people and usually donate to worthy causes with any leftover proceeds.

It's one of those rides that makes you feel really good when it's over. We always celebrate by going out to eat and a few of us will have to helped out of our chairs to leave the restaurant. Walking can be hard after bicycling 130 miles!

It's a great event - let me know if you want to join me.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bike to Work Week and Women's Mountain Bike Rides in Pocatello

Sandra runs the west coast office of WomanTours in Pocatello, Idaho. When she's not coordinating the logistics of all of our tours, she's volunteering her time on her local Bike to Work Committee. May is Bike to Work month, so it's not too early to help plan your own community's bike to work activities. Check with the League of American Bicyclists for more information.

Sandra is also an excellent mountain biker. She's starting a women's only mountain biking group to introduce women to the joys of bicycling the beautiful trails in and around Pocatello. If you're in the area, join her!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Second Louisiana Bayou bike tour comes to a close

They biked up and down the Mississippi River, staying at historic antebellum homes along the way. Here's the group just before going out to ride.

For more pictures from the tour, see Annette's and Beth's blogs.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fund Raising on our Southern Tier

Some women bike across the country on our Southern Tier tour for the challenge. Others do it to see the country or to get into shape. But then there are a few women who use it to raise money for a cause and who inspire the rest of us.

As a 20-year survivor of ovarian cancer, Laurey Masterton is one of those women. So far she's raised $33,000 for the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance toward her goal of $50,000. She'd like to appear on the Ellen DeGeneres show to help spread the word. She owes her life to early detection. You can read more about Laurey in a recent article from the San Antonio Express-News.

Marci Silverman has raised more than $11,000 for the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson's. Her grandfather died from the disease and her boyfriend's uncles suffer from it. She recently appeared on KPLC 7 news in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Laurey and Marci and all the women on the Southern Tier are an inspiration to the rest of us. They'll finish their trek from California to Florida in less than 2 weeks. Wish them luck.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Stopping in the Southern Tier

After I finished our first Louisiana Biking the Bayou tour last week, I drove to meet the group doing our cross-country Southern Tier tour in St. Charles, LA for dinner.

They didn't realize it yet, but having just finished their 3 weeks in Texas, they're now on the downward slope of their tour. The state crossings - Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama will come fast and furious now. They'll be in Florida and worrying about how to get their bikes back home before they know it.

Thanks for a great dinner, Linda and Lois. And a big thank you to our volunteer SAG drivers, Jan, Nancy, Ann and Carol, who are doing a wonderful job.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Louisiana Biking the Bayou bike tour

Just back from helping lead our first Louisiana bike tour and I have such great memories. The roads were a little rougher and busier than we would have liked but they were FLAT, as promised. The food was delicious, especially if you liked seafood. The swamp tour was memorable, if not for the alligators, then for the airboat driver. For many of the women, it was the furthest and longest they'd ever biked - congratulations to all of them!

Here's kudos to Karen who raised $2000 for her Slippery Rock Community Library by biking her personal best!

Click on my twitters to the right to see more images from the tour.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bike with your Favorite WomanTours Guide

Many of the women who travel with us come to bicycle with their favorite guide. If you're having a hard time choosing your annual tour, then find your favorite leader below and join her!

If you'd like to see Laurie again, then you can find her this year on:
Louisiana Biking the Bayou
Natchez Trace of Mississippi
Maryland Eastern Shore
Cape Cod & Martha's Vineyard
Pennsylvania Dutch Country
Maine & Acadia National Park
Shenandoah National Park
Outer Banks of North Carolina

Michelle will be guiding the following tours:
Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks
Idaho Greenways
Glacier National Park
Sun Valley of Idaho
Moab of Utah
Santa Barbara & Santa Ynez Valley in October
Arizona in Autumn
Death Valley National Park in November

Linda B will be guiding and cooking:
Teton Valley
Idaho Greenways in July
Glacier National Park
Northwest Loop
Arizona in Autumn
Death Valley National Park in November

Patty will be guiding and cooking:
Santa Barbara & Santa Ynez Valley
Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks

Teton Valley
Utah: Grand Canyon, Bryce and Capitol Reef
Utah: Moab

Sid will be guiding:
Alaska: The Inside Passage
Cape Cod & Martha's Vineyard in September
Blue Ridge Rambler
Shenandoah National Park
Outer Banks of North Carolina

Linda G will be guiding:
Cape Cod & Martha's Vineyard in June
Sun Valley of Idaho
Idaho Greenways in September

Lynne will be guiding:
Louisiana Biking the Bayou
Natchez Trace of Mississippi
Maryland Eastern Shore

Kimberly will be guiding:
Blue Ridge Rambler
Maine & Acadia National Park

Denise will be guiding:
Northwest Loop
Utah: Grand Canyon, Bryce and Capitol Reef

Meanwhile, you can find me on:
Louisiana Biking the Bayou
Santa Barbara & Santa Ynez Valley in May
Finger Lakes of NY with my sister Jen
Sun Valley of Idaho
Adirondacks fall foliage

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Crossing Texas on the Southern Tier Cross-Country

They entered Texas on March 20 and won't leave until April 9. Texas is a very looooong state and no one knows it better than the 23 women biking across it with our Southern Tier cross-country bike tour.

The women are experiencing the unseasonably cold air and wind that is making its way across the southern states right now. Lois writes, "How to keep warm on a bike in such weather? You put on every bit of clothing you have with you and pedal as fast as you possibly can."

Their ride yesterday took them, "to the tiny town of Marathon and the unexpectedly wonderful Gage Hotel - quintessentially Texan: stuffed dead animal heads on the walls, ornate saddles displayed as art, hammered copper ceilings, heavy wood furniture about 25% bigger than usual - quite wonderful. It's a very different world, this Texas is."

On her tweets, Marci just describes every day as, "the middle of nowhere...again."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Update on Cross-Country Southern Tier Bike Tour

This just in from Lois, on our Southern Tier cross-country bike ride:

Out of Silver City, we climbed through the Gila National Forest, which looks almost like Colorado.

After the stark flatness of the California/Arizona/New Mexico deserts, it was a rich visual feast. Then, the cragginess opened up into a big, wide valley - we're talking, stealing from the world of Broadway musicals, Brigadoon - total magical enchantment. I was not the only lady who admitted to riding along mildly teary & choked up at the truly breathtaking beauty and thinking, "What did I do to deserve this?"

This is the view from Emory Pass, the crest of the Black Range, elevation 8,828'. The climb, by the way, wasn't all that bad - long, but not impossibly steep and I didn't have as hard a time with the altitude as I'd thought I was going to. Note to Self: "Things are Never as Bad as Anticipated."

The end of our ride was the Black Range Lodge - dating from the 1880's, off the grid, owned and run by a couple who are into straw bale building, with two wonderful resident dogs, Pepper and Charlie.

The next morning we continued down into the valley. Now, when I think "New Mexico" I think "Taos, Santa Fe, Albuquerque." This wasn't that NM at all - vast farmlands of...

pecan orchards...

...pima cotton fields...

...and miles of red and green chili peppers.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Food in South America

I’ve always said that the best part about our tours is the fascinating women on them. Our Argentina and Chile tour was no exception.

Meet Maggie. When she’s not laughing at someone’s joke or bicycling across the Andes, she’s cooking and managing the kitchens at her Cesar restaurants in northern California. She's even published a cookbook.

All across South America, Maggie took photos of all of our meals. She reveled in learning how the food was prepared, the spices blended, the meat cooked. She taught me to salt and soak onions to soften their bite before adding them to salsa. She taught us that congria, loosely translated as whitefish, was really eel. She showed us that no matter how full we were, we could always eat dessert.

The next time you find yourself in the Bay Area, be sure to stop by Cesar and tell them WomanTours sent you. And be sure to look for the Argentina and Chile inspired dishes on the menu.

If you’re lucky, Maggie will be on your next tour. If so, beware. All the talk about food will make you eat more!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Argentina and Chile bike tour

I'm just back from a fabulous WomanTours trip across the Andes from Argentina to Chile. We learned that unlike in the USA, cyclists in Argentina have no rights to the road. That looks to be changing, as this sign in Buena Aires announcing a bike lane will show.

Our group of women kept busy. We all biked every mile over the pass through the Andes.

Some of us went rafting below towering Mount Osorno.

Others hiked the sand dunes along the Pacific Ocean.

While others - namely Jan, Sue, Kathy and JoAnn - decided it was their duty to find the best pisco sour in South America. We all had a wonderful time!