Reblog: More functional commuter gear

March 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

Speaking of functional women’s athletic wear – I’m pretty sure I need this jacket.

Girls Biking to Work

I have a complicated relationship with reflective clothing. I love how it makes me more visible and therefore safer while I’m riding my bicycle. I hate wearing flashy stuff (ha!) when I’m off the bike. Since I generally use my bike for transportation, there’s a fine balance to be struck.

Here are my top three picks for office-compatible reflective gear.

1. Beamer reflective saddle bag (on sale at Team Estrogen)

Image

The best solution to this conundrum is to add reflective stuff to your bike – not your butt. The saddle bag I have on my main commuter has reflective trim that is highly visible from three sides. An all-reflective version would be even better.

2. Novara Edgewater Bike Jacket

Novara Edgewater Jacket

There’s a lot of bike commuter clothing with reflective material hidden behind a weird, otherwise inexplicable flap. I don’t own this jacket and can’t speak to other aspects of it’s bike-worthiness…

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6:30AM

March 28, 2013 § 1 Comment

It’s 6:30AM and Wildcat by Ratatat is buzzing from my phone. A routine call to the morning. I sit strait up into the cold of my room, jump to open the blinds to a nascent sunrise before hustling into my running clothes and Vibrams. Sleep still weighing on my limbs and dragging on my eyelids, I jog out the door as I hit play. It looked like this:

2013-03-27 06.56.49

The familiar siren sounds of the gates of Abel Township opening ring in my earbuds – chapter 4 of Zombies, Run! – there’s a lost child in the wilderness of zombies! How appropriate as I set out for the local high school in real life.

There’s a field behind a school that seems to run on forever, a playground, football field, and baseball diamond spotted in the open space. The ground is hard with frozen grass, crunching, I can feel it between my toes. It’s glistening lightly, waking up with me and the sun. The sun! Having decided it might finally be spring, crests the top of the school building, barely grazing the landscape with warmth. The grass smiles up with me, shaking off it’s blanket of frost.

Meanwhile, the story in my earbuds has developed! I’ve found the child and saved it from zombies, met a mechanic on a motorcycle, and we’ve managed to find a rocket launcher (go me!) It’s time to turn back to Abel Township with all the loot. I turn around and start zig zagging towards the sun and my house, around a flock of geese that has staked out the middle of the field, back and forth to a playlist called “Red Solo Cup.”

I’m coming upon my house and I’m not ready to stop – I can feel my Achilles tensing at each step in my barefoot shoes, but otherwise feel great! The sun is beaming down now, I zip past my door twice before slowing to a trot and then a walk.

4.22 miles at 9:34/min a mile before hopping on my bike, singing at the top of my lungs all the way to work.

Anticipating Adventures

March 26, 2013 § 1 Comment

Since graduating from college I’ve consistently had at least two countdown timers on my computer desktop, clocking the days until my next big trip. The two countdowns I’ve got going at the moment:

July: Bike trip from D.C. to Shenandoah – bikes, hikes, beer, and BACON!
December: Yearly migration to Colorado to shore up some gnar points and shred some pow-pow.

countdown

Immediately after trips, I reset my timer for the next one. It always seemed like it was a little masochistic and a little “not living in the moment,” pining after a thing that is at times a full year away, but as it turns out, I’ve actually been accidentally maximizing my happiness this whole time!

“When booking your next holiday, you might want to schedule it several months into the future—according to a new study, we’re happiest when we’re anticipating vacation…not actually on it.” – Newser, 2010

I’ve been contemplating the idea of Microadventures after reading Alex’s post last month, and it seems like the idea fits neatly into the results of this study: more micro-adventures for more anticipation-related-happiness. After spending some time poking around the New Jersey state parks website (and discovering an alarmingly few number of ‘winter’ campgrounds that are open), I’ve decided to make it a trip and bike over to Allaire State Park this weekend.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

Feminized Athletic Wear Sucks

March 24, 2013 § 4 Comments

If you’ve biked down the 1 in the west coast, you’ve probably seen directional signs along the way by The Three Amigo’s. The Pacific Coast bike route is in decent repair and mostly well signed, but some roads are unsigned and some turns confusing. In those times, you can pretty reliably find spray painted in the bike lane a big arrow pointing you the right way labeled “Three Amigo’s” with the year they were there. Super helpful, all the way down the coast.

In 2007, I rolled into the hiker/biker site in Gaviota State Park to find none other than The Three Amigos in real life..!

Gaviota State Park

Three Amigos, Gaviota State Park 2007

Totally. Cool. Dudes.

They’d biked the coast so many times that they were doing it again on single gears with nothing but sleeping bags and a change of clothes. While we woke up to unpack our mess kits and cook breakfast, they woke up to bike to a hotel with free breakfast that they’d scoped out.

When we first met them (the night before that photo was taken) two of them were rockin’ flannel shirts and bike shorts. The next day they were also wearing what seemed like whatever.

This is exactly what I’d like to wear – whatever. But sometimes whatever chafes and doesn’t breathe that well. Sometimes, whatever smells terrible after like, an hour, and retains all the colors of all the things you’ve dropped on it. In other words, what suffices at whatever in normal life, is actually more trouble than it’s worth in bike life.

For years, I feel like my only option was ugly pink crap like this when I walked into the bike store. In an effort to appeal to female cyclists, companies made exactly the thing that I would never buy (ugliness aside, marketing pink as a gendered product – because let’s be honest, the same clothes decidedly are never offered in men’s sizes – smells a little too much of the history of sexism in marketing for my tastes). I’ll take the men’s extra small in neutral colors please.

Some brands are taking note – Beta Brand’s Women’s bike to work pants for example:

women_s_black_bike_to_work_pants_3

Practical, demure, and like, whatever. They’re pants, they help you not get hit by cars, and they don’t make you look like a 13 year old dressed up as princess on Halloween. It doesn’t seem like a lot to ask for, but there it is. Beta Brand and companies like it are certainly helping to shift the absurd apparel gender divide, but their products are still more than a little too pricey for the average cyclist (and if you look at their whole catalog, they still have more practical men’s cycling clothes than women’s).

When it comes to practical things that aren’t stupid looking (and last forever!), I still look to REI. If you’re looking for something to spend your dividend on this year, look no further than their women’s cycling wear!

Novara Haisley Woven Bike Top

Gender equity in athletic wear is obviously just facet in a world seeped in accidentally reinforcing gender stereotypes, but it’s one that I’m just as happy to get rid of as the rest.

Viva la women’s cycling flannel!

semi-planned wander

March 22, 2013 § 5 Comments

I need to get outside. Somewhere, anywhere for a good old fashioned rigorous excursion. It still feels like the middle of winter, snow pounding down, 20 mph wind gusts, and a chill that kicks you right in the teeth. The perfect day for a bike ride.

My roommate recommended (and by recommended I mean she said “Oh I hear some people maybe go do this thing?”) the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail, so I pulled it up on Google maps to try and figure out how to get on the trail – it looks like it runs in the middle of water? – hop on my bike with panniers in tow so I can swing by the grocery store on the way back, and sprint out the door.

After shaking off the wall of cold, I got into a nice pace down Franklin and almost miss the path onto the trail because it’s a little flooded. I’m wearing my Vibrams and it’s too cold to play in the water, so I pick up my bike and gingerly tip toe across the stones.

Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail

The path is comfortably wide, and surprisingly flat and strait except for a few flood gates like the one above and below.

Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail
Too bumpy to ride on without risking a spill (usually I’d be fine with this, but the water on both sides in freezing temperatures was a good deterrent), these were pretty good reminders to pause and look around (it’s not often that you’re on a trail surrounded by water on both sides!) but mostly it looked like this:

2013-03-16 10.25.01

I ran into some construction on the trail, took out my handy magic phone to figure out where I was, hopped back on my bike and sped past open fields and abandoned houses to the grocery store and then back home. 37 miles and negligible elevation – sometimes it’s nice to just wander.

Lunch Run

March 15, 2013 § 1 Comment

I was in three days of ten hour meetings in Boston this week and on the last day as we broke for lunch, half the people in the room scurried into their running clothes and bolted out the door. It’s a testament to the kind of people I work with. .. The awesome kind.

I discovered that (1) the Zombie Run! app is way less scary during the day as you’re zipping past crowds of decidedly not zombies, and that (2) you can pause the missions if you don’t have a full hr/half hour and restart them later.

1.78 miles at 8:06 miles/minute around the Boston commons with piles of snow all around – feet pounding, red faced, and happy.

It was a good run.

(You know it’s a good run when Asian tourists take pictures of you.)

i ride my bike to work

March 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

bike commute snow

2 bike commute snow

No bus schedules or traffic jams, waiting in metal boxes, waiting to be taken to this place or that. No barriers or delays, pauses for the modern world. I bike commute because I carry my own weight, I’m a single human open to the whole wide world and the sky above, in light snow drifts and piercing winds, the dry sun or the wet summer weighing down. I am not alive apart from the pot holes and light hills, the early flower blooms or heavy freezes, I am alive as a part of it all, heart pounding, tires pedaling pavement.

Bike commuting is an engaged process – it gets you going in the morning to work and reminds you of everything outside of the office and the campaign on the way home at night. Red lights are moments to soak in the details – the way a snow drift has whipped up against a front stoop, the way the snow pauses slightly in between wind gusts as if to say hello before being carried off again, downhill drops give that kid inside of you a few seconds to let loose and just holler at the top of your lungs, and every turn, every stop, every detour, all movement of my own volition.

It is my own meditation, my best time for mindfulness. It’s the best time to recognize the challenges and the heartache, the joy and the hilarity. To watch your mind tick and put the pieces in place.

It’s an exercise in love and labor, of necessity and selfishness. It’s my favorite part of the day.

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