Happy New Year! I know, it’s January 6th but I reserve the right to wish you a happy new year at least throughout the first month of the year. This week’s links focus on some of the bike-related blogs I really love.

http://www.ecovelo.info/ — Eco Velo is a fabulous site focused on the bike commuter lifestyle and is, unfortunately, being retired by the creators. But, they’re keeping the awesome content on line for all of 2012 so check it out while you still have the chance.

http://ladyfleur.wordpress.com/ — Velo Girls alum, Janet LaFleur, has created a fabulous blog focused on her bike lifestyle experiences. The writing is solid, the photos are beautiful, and the topics are sometimes gritty and sometimes whimsical. If you love cycling, women, bikes, the bay area, you should share Janet’s experience.

http://norcalcyclingnews.com/ — Norcal Cycling News has taken on many different iterations over the years, but it’s still got solid readership focused on norcal bike racing. If you love bike racing, this is a must-read, with a good mix of gossip, editorials, interviews, and news.

http://counterattackingreality.com/ — Rand Miller is the best local underdog you love to love. His blog focuses on his pro racing experience with more than a touch of sarcasm and heckling. Rand makes you believe that if he can do it, anyone can.

http://bethbikes.blogspot.com/ — Beth Newell is one of the funniest writers in the bike world. I’ve watched her struggle and rise to stardom over the years and am thrilled she’s racing in the big leagues now. Let’s hope she holds true to her promise and blogs more regularly again in 2012, because her writing is spurtle-my-coffee-on-my-keyboard funny.

I find I do most of my reading online these days. You too, right? I have certain blogs I subscribe to and certain sites that I visit regularly. And then I find little tidbits here and there from my friends on Facebook + Twitter. Today’s links include one bicycle industry site and two non-bike sites.

http://www.bicycleretailer.com/news/newsDetail/6316.html — I’ll admit, working in the bike industry, that this topic really hits a nerve with me and I’m thankful that Specialized Bicycle’s Mike Sinyard spoke out about it publicly. We’re all about “the deal” but that often hurts your locally-owned bike shop. Buy local, folks! Support the communities you live in.

http://zenhabits.net/fitguide/ Zen Habits is one of my favorite blogs and I always pick up a practical tip or two to help improve my life. This post focuses on how to start a healthy habit and grow it into a healthy lifestyle. It’s okay to start small. Be patient. Invest in yourself!

http://www.grist.org/biking/2011-12-27-10-bicycling-myths-debunked — Grist takes a humorous look at serious environmental stories. They often write about the impact of bicycles on the environment. This one’s as silly as most, but contains some “real” reasons why bicycling is an awesome way to improve your life. And thanks to Grist for the infographic (below) that went viral earlier this month.

Biking And Health

Created by: Healthcare Management Degree

As a small business owner, I find myself (like other small business owners) sometimes doing more “business” than actual coaching. Year-end is always super-busy for me in this respect — finalizing all the details for Velo Girls (the club + the team), membership renewal, securing sponsors, publishing my Savvy Bike coaching calendar, and (this year) trying to launch two new websites. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time riding my desk instead of riding my bike.

Today I spent the day in my mobile office (aka Honda Element) with meetings that took me from San Jose to Carmel Valley to Santa Cruz. Along the way, I snapped a few images, the best of which I want to share with you.

While I would have rather been riding my bike today, the miles in the car reminded me of the many things I LOVE about riding. I love the people I’ve met, the places I’ve been, and the things I’ve seen. Today I was awestruck with the amazing beauty that is California. I saw winter hills, redwoods, Spanish moss, mistletoe, California live oak, eucalyptus, and madrones. I saw farmers’ fields, a sandy beach, and country roads. I crossed the path of cows, horses, deer, peacocks, hawks, skunks, and a wild boar (still roaming Carmel Valley Road where I last saw him 3 or 4 years ago).

We’re blessed to live here and experience this beautiful state in such an intimate way — on the saddle of a bicycle.

Here are some more holiday gift ideas — this time focusing on your favorite mountain biker.  What could be better than a gift membership to your local trail advocacy group?  They work hard to maintain trails, educate trail users, and fight to keep trails accessible to bikes.

Bicycle Trails Council of Marin

Bicycle Trails Council of the Easy Bay

Monterey Off-Road Cycling Association

Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz

Responsible Organized Mountain Pedalers

Sonoma County Trails Council

Action Wipes — a 20% thank you from Velo Girls partner — like a shower in a bag!  There’s nothing better to refresh and recharge after a ride.

Bike Flights — great options for flying with, or shipping, your bike!

Grease Monkey Wipes — one of my favorite products with a HOT discount for Black Friday.  I use the canisters in my bike fit studio and carry the single packets on rides.

Pactimo Black Friday Sale — check out our latest partner with 30% off all orders with discount code “blackfriday” and free shipping on orders over $100.

Savvy Bike on Facebook — go, like, get savvy!

The Holstee Manifesto: Lifecycle Video


I’ve been thinking a lot about blogging lately.  I’ve had a blog for the better part of 10 years.  In the pre-Facebook days, lots of bike racers had blogs and we built our own social network of sorts by commenting on each other’s blog posts.  Nowadays, when we’ve got a thought, a photo, or a status update, we take the quick + dirty and post to Facebook or the quicker + dirtier and post to Twitter.  That’s all fine + good for an instant gratification type of bonding, but I think there’s something to be said for creating a longer-term archive — something we can see and read and refer back to.

One of the things I think about are all the fun resources I find online.  In the old days, I’d add these to a links list on my website, but with the dynamic nature of the web, that’s one of the “features” I’ll be eliminating from my new website.

So, I thought I’d share some of the recent links I like.  Maybe you’ll even comment on this post.  And maybe I’ll do it again sometime, too!

Bicycle Friendly — a campaign to recognize businesses who are bicycle friendly

Bikesy — a bicycle route-mapping site specific to the San Francisco area

Cycle Chic:  Female Cyclists Through The Ages — a beautiful photo essay

Momentum Magazine’s Holiday Gift Guide — some seriously awesome bike bling here

I went to see a movie this weekend — Moneyball — the story of Billy Beane, the Oakland A’s, and sabermetrics. Yeah, a baseball movie. I’m not a big baseball fan and don’t really know much about the sport or its history, but Moneyball received positive reviews from my friends and who doesn’t want to stare at Brad Pitt for two hours?

The film opened with a quote by Mickey Mantle:

“It’s unbelievable how much you don’t know about the game you’ve been playing all your life.”

Immediately, before even knowing the context of the quote in the sport of baseball, I felt the urge to share this quote with my cycling world. You see, that’s how I feel about my job. I teach people how to ride a bicycle. But we all know how to ride a bicycle, right? In my opinion, no. Although most of us have ridden bikes since childhood, we don’t really KNOW how to ride a bike. Of course, when I tell people that, especially cyclists who have been riding for a while, I run the risk of offending them. But by the end of a four-hour Bike Skills clinic or a two-hour one-on-one session, clients agree that they really didn’t know what they thought they knew. And they agree that NOW they know how to ride a bicycle.

As children, we’re very in touch with our environment and how we interact with it. We have a keen sense of proprioception. We listen to our body. When we hop on a bike, we intuitively know what to do. We don’t try to fix, manage, or correct the natural physics and mechanics of the bike. We let the bike do what it was designed so well to do. We don’t over-think it. We trust the technology and the science behind it. And riding a bike is easier because of this.

In the past 10 years, I’ve developed a career of teaching folks (mostly adults) how to ride a bike. More than 900 men + women participate in our various Bike Skills clinics each year. For some, this is their first experience riding in their entire lifetime. For others, they’re returning to the bike as an adult after a hiatus. And for others, they’ve been riding for a long period of time but want to really learn and understand how to ride. Some folks want to learn specific skills (like descending or group riding or racing or mountain biking). Some folks find me because they’ve experienced fear or a serious crash or simply the frustration of not being “perfect” at this sport that was so easy for them as a child. Many feel they don’t need the fundamentals. Of course, in my opinion, everyone needs the fundamentals. The fundamentals are the foundation of everything we do on the bike.

So, like Mickey Mantle and the sport of baseball, I try to enlighten cyclists about all the things they don’t know that they don’t know. We all know how to ride a bike. We’ve done it our entire lives. But it’s pretty amazing how much we don’t really know or understand about riding a bike.

Come, learn, understand, improve in our final clinics for the 2011 season:

Oct 22nd — Bike Skills 101 — Fundamental Bike Handling Skills sponsored by BicycleLawyer.com

Oct 22nd — Bike Skills 201 — Climbing + Descending sponsored by Teresa Callen of Image Arts Salon

Oh, and Mickey Mantle DID ride a bike. He’s often discussed the importance of life-long fitness and an active lifestyle. Here’s an image from a 1977 print ad by AMF.


The long way home

who doesn’t like a little challenge? after a month off the bike in October, doing nothing but physical therapy and coaching clinics, I wanted to get back on the bike, add in some yoga (more on that in another post), and just find some consistency in my riding, my energy levels, and my mood. during October I’d also been focused on weight-loss and my caloric deficits, combined with the end of Daylight Saving Time, seemed to be affecting my sleep patterns. I needed balance. I needed energy. I needed a goal — something that was consistent and achievable and that would motivate me.

so I gave myself the goal of riding at least one hour every day in November and December. I set no parameters besides time — I could go long or short, flat or hilly, road or dirt. I would listen to my body, vary my intensity, and keep it fun.

I started a day early, with a challenging mountain bike ride with Team Velo Girls at Waterdog on October 31st. it hurt — mentally and physically. in the 12 years I’ve been riding, I’ve had some extended periods of time off the bike, but usually due to illness, not injury. when you return to the bike from illness, you expect to be winded and to feel weak. I didn’t expect this after my hiatus in October. this first ride was a wake-up call for me.

so, November 1st came and I rolled. pretty easy at first. road + dirt. 7 days in a row for a modest total of 10 hours. and on the 8th day it rained. and I was tired. really tired. I ramped up a little quickly, I think, with 10 hours on the bike that week as well as 2.5 hours of yoga and swing dance. so I gave myself permission to take a nap instead of a bike ride. it was the correct decision.

week #2 went well, but again, I had one day that I was just completely exhausted. so I gave myself permission to nap instead of ride. I decided that I hadn’t failed at my goal by missing 2 days. I was still out there riding and being consistent, and that was the intention of my goal. in those 6 days I was able to ride 10 hours and also danced for 1.5 hours. I was learning how to manage my time to add in the riding and yoga. I was making time for myself!

week #3 and my body was happy (as was my mind). I was sleeping well, the weight-loss continued, and with the exception of one significant bonk, I was having great rides! I started doing some more challenging rides. most of my rides have been solo. I was having fun riding by myself, something I haven’t done in years. I was listening to my body and going easy on days I needed recovery and hard on days I wanted challenge. and I was mountain biking a lot. all is good.

week #4 and I planned to ramp up my yoga. I finally found the time of day and styles of yoga that really worked in my life. my goal was to practice 5 days this week. life is good and I’m finding balance. I’m really happy. I’m smiling so much that I’m starting to annoy myself. unfortunately, a silly sleeping injury (seriously) kept me off the bike and out of the yoga studio for 3 days. on Thanksgiving day I got back out on the road for 3 hours in freezing cold. and I’m proud that I was able to maintain my caloric deficit in the face of Thanksgiving dinner. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday included more rides (road and mountain) and my first ever double-header yoga day.

November was a good month. I got on the bike 24 of 30 days. I rode almost 40 hours for a total of more than 400 miles, including 5 mountain bike rides. I practiced yoga 6 times and took 4 dance classes. I feel consistent. and happy. and very mobile. my head is in a really good space. I promised myself at least an hour a day — just for me — and I was able to achieve that.

one of the ways I’ve been able to fit this all into my schedule is to combine my bike + yoga time. no, I’m not stretching on the bike, but rather I’m riding my bicycle to yoga class. I have this silly 5-mile rule — I don’t drive my car if I’m going somewhere that’s within 5 miles, so this fits right in with yoga class. I can ride the short way (only about 15 minutes), take class, and then take the long way home, the scenic route. the road less travelled. I’ve enjoyed riding through the hills and canyons of Hillsborough and Burlingame. I’m rediscovering roads I haven’t ridden in years. I’m swearing under my breath at the 15-20% grades that pop up out of nowhere and then applauding myself at the top of those hills. I’m admiring the mansions. I’m noticing the subtle changes of fall: golden and red leaves transitioning from tree to ground. and I’m enjoying every single moment on the bike.

how often do you go out of your way to discover a new road, climb a new hill, or check out a new vista? too often in the past, I found myself “training” and forgetting what it is that I really love about the bike — the same thing that I loved as a child — the freedom! I was so concerned with the destination that I missed the journey. so I’ll encourage you to give yourself the gift today of freedom. and fun. and cycling. go ahead, take the long way home!



Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! whether you celebrate this day in a traditional manner with friends + family or in a less traditional way (for me, on the bike), I hope you’ll each take some time to reflect on the blessings we have and the opportunities we’ve been given. since this is technically a bicycle-related blog, I’ll share some of my bicycle-related thanks.

I’m thankful that I ride a bicycle. yeah, that pretty much sums up my life, so if you have a short attention span, you can stop reading now.

I’m thankful for all the amazing places throughout the world I’ve visited while riding my bicycle. I’ve been fortunate to ride in New Zealand, Australia, and Spain, but even more fortunate to explore every nook + cranny of the amazing state of California, as well as Colorado, Oregon, Washington, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Alaska. there’s no better way to really experience the country than on the seat of a bicycle.

I’m thankful for all the really cool people I’ve met while riding my bicycle. my life has been filled with folks who’ve shared a few miles or many years with me.

I’m thankful for the personal challenges I’ve experienced while riding my bicycle. I’ve ridden up mountains, in the dark, snow, cold, and rain. I’ve ridden on the dirt and on highways. I’ve done things I never would have thought possible — all on a bicycle.

I’m thankful for all the extra yummy + delicious guilt-free calories I’ve been able to consume while riding my bicycle.

I’m thankful that I’ve been able to build a career riding my bicycle, and that in doing so, I’ve enabled lots of other folks to share in the benefits of riding a bicycle.

I’m thankful (and hopeful) that I love a sport that I can continue to participate in long after most folks have resigned themselves to the couch. I plan to be that little old lady you see with the long silver ponytail under her helmet.

yes, I’m thankful for riding a bicycle!

I’ve long been a bike commuter. it began with my desire to get more training time in way back in the winter/spring of 2000. I was training for my first California AIDS Ride and felt that my weekend long rides + weekday spin classes just weren’t doing it for me. at the time I was working in San Francisco and living in San Mateo. each way, the commute was about 22 miles. interestingly enough, I found that the total time commitment to commute by bicycle was similar to the total time commitment of commuting by car or taking the train. yeah, car traffic was pretty crazy + unpredictable back in the day.

so I started commuting to work. my decision to do so was pretty impromptu. I decided one Saturday morning to try riding to San Francisco from home, checking out a possible commute route and timing myself. so I bought a set of bike lights, declared myself a bike commuter, and, two days later, I jumped in.

my first commute was a great adventure. I had no plan. I didn’t really have the right equipment. I had too much stuff to carry and didn’t have a good way to carry it. I had nowhere to park my fancy new road bike. and once I arrived at work, I didn’t have anywhere to shower or prepare for the day. I remember walking to the nearest gym (where my employer had a deal for us), proudly stating that I was preparing for the CA AIDS Ride, and expecting them to let me shower for free. the desk clerk felt sorry for me (or maybe I just stunk) and let me shower — that one time. after that, she informed me, it would be $10/day. when I got back to my desk, I emailed our Team Schwab cycling club list to find out where there was a shower on-site. unfortunately, there was nothing in any of the buildings near me except one secret, private shower that had been built for the CEO of the company. he had moved offices and no one was using it, but my contact suggested I could sneak in + out and no one would notice. and that’s what I did for months.

my commute home was equally as adventuresome. less than a mile from my office, I nearly killed myself trying to avoid a muni bus. I ended up with my front wheel in a muni track and took an embarrassing tumble onto Market Street. I got a flat tire 3 miles from home and didn’t know how to change it so I rode home on it. but I survived and was ready to try again.

I quickly learned that I couldn’t carry so much stuff on the bike. I started emailing files home instead of carrying paper (yes, this was pre-access-at-home days). I left three pairs of shoes at the office (brown, black, and blue pumps — I was set for every occasion) as well as a warm winter coat. I stored a complete set of toiletries (including towel, wash cloth, blow dryer, and curling iron) at my office. go ahead, laugh about the curling iron, I dare you! and I tried a bunch of different bag systems, finally settling on an oversized lumbar pack from REI to carry just my clothes, wallet, and palm pilot.

as you can see, it took some planning. and preparation. and a few attempts before I had a seamless commute.

I continued to commute for the next year (while I was still working in SF). somedays I would ride to work and take the train home. somedays I would ride both ways. somedays I would add on some extra mileage just for fun!

and while my original goal was to increase my training time, what I learned was that there was a HUGE emotional/mental benefit to bike commuting as well. when I arrived at the office, I had already achieved something great. I was able to check something off my list before work even began. and I found I had more energy and less stress than if I had been sitting in my car, stuck in traffic, for 60-90 minutes.

since that time, I’ve continued to commute and errand by bike. I actually went car-free for two years — a big accomplishment living on the peninsula (during a time when CalTrain discontinued weekend service). I transitioned to a cyclocross bike with mounted racks and panniers and eventually to a touring bike. I still have a five-mile rule: if a trip is within five miles, I dont take my car. there were some definite lifestyle changes involved in these decisions, but overall, I’m thrilled with the fact that I choose to live as car-lite as possible.

commuting and erranding by bike is a great way to save money, contribute to our environment, reduce stress, and stay in shape. but it can seem like a daunting lifestyle change. Velo Girls would like to help you learn how to make this change. one of our members, Torea Rodriguez, took my May Bike Month Challenge, and has forever changed her life. on Wednesday, December 1st, she’s going to share her experience with you.

join us at Mike’s Bikes in Palo Alto for our 2011 Velo Girls membership kick-off, where Torea will be our featured presenter, discussing the ins + outs of transportational cycling — 6:00pm – 7:30pm.

Details of this and other Velo Girls rides + events at http://www.velogirls.com/calendar.php