Remember B.L.A.T. Before Heading Out the Door

In the movie The Spy Who Shagged Me, Austin Powers recites, "spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch[...]". Before I go anywhere on my bike, I too have a similar checklist (sans testicles unless I am biking to a restaurant with my husband ;-)) However, my list is of the essentials I need for traveling around town on my bicycle. To help me remember, I created the acronym B.L.A.T. No...not bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato (although you could bring these along as well)!

The list could go on and on to include sunscreen and so forth but I tried to limit it to the essentials I would check and carry when riding that I wouldn't necessarily bring when driving.

1. "B" for Bottle of Water

While it may seem obvious to take along something to drink for hydration, I sometimes use the water to rinse my hands or dampen a towel. I carry water in a bottle that is squeezable which is easier to drink from using only one hand while riding my bike. And should I get chased by a dog (friendly or not), I could squirt water at it which is a more pet-friendly alternative to pepper spray.

2. "L" for Lights and Lock

I use rechargeable USB bike lights which I plug in overnight. A white light for the front of my bike and a red light for the back of my bike (just like white headlights and red taillights on a car). In the morning I strap them onto my bike and they are ready for the day.

Rarely is there a day when I do not have somewhere else to go between the office and home so I always carry a lock with me to secure my bike while I run errands. Some bike locks attach to the frame of the bicycle for convenience but I keep mine in my bag and so when I change bags, I remember to carry a lock.

Browse our shop for bicycle lights and locks hand-picked for you by Cuter Commuter!
Whether I will be away for a minute or for an hour, I always lock up my bike so it will be there when I get back.

Whether I will be away for a minute or for an hour, I always lock up my bike so it will be there when I get back.

3. "A" is for Air in the Tires

The ride will be much nicer if the tires of your bike are inflated. I always check the pressure of the tires on my bike and inflate to the recommended p.s.i. (or within 5 p.s.i.) before I go anywhere. Not having sufficient air in the tires could lead to a pinched tube and flat tire as a result of hitting a rock or pothole. The inner tube gets pinched between the rock and the wheel hard enough to puncture the tube. It's not fun to change a tube when you have somewhere you need to go under time constraints so it's worth the extra seconds to check and pump. Once the tires are properly inflated, squeeze them with your hands to get a sense of what that feels like and eventually you'll have a good sense of whether the tires need inflation or not just by squeezing them. When in doubt, pump and check the pressure on the gauge of the bicycle pump.

Shop our bicycle floor pumps to keep in the home or office and bicycle hand pumps for when you are on the road! These are the same pumps that we use before and during our commutes.

4. "T" is for Tubes and Tools

Just like you may have a spare tire, wrench and jack in the trunk of your car it is important to carry some tubes and tools when you travel by bike for repairs when you're on the road. My "flat tire kit" consists of:

  • One or two tubes
  • A bicycle hand pump
  • One or two C02 cartridges and adapter for the valve
  • One or two tire levers depending how hard it is to separate the tires from the rim of the wheels and to put it back on
  • A multi-tool (and a c-shaped wrench if your wheels are not quick-release)
  • A pair of latex gloves
  • A patch kit

When riding my road bike, I pare down to just one of each item and carry everything in an empty sunglasses cloth case and stash it in one of my back jersey pockets. For my daily commutes, I keep all of these items in a Brooks Challenge large leather tool bag that hangs from the seat of my bike for convenience. That way I always have spare tubes and tools wherever I go on my bike.

You'll find a few of our picks for bicycle pumps and multi-tools in the Cuter Commuter shop!
Keeping the spare tubes and tools in a bag with your bike ensures they'll go wherever you and your bike goes!!

Keeping the spare tubes and tools in a bag with your bike ensures they'll go wherever you and your bike goes!!

One last note, I also remember to carry a helmet and sunglasses for protection from the sun and road debris. I did not incorporate these items as part of the list because I absolutely feel naked without them so they're things I always grab before heading out the door.

Check out the selection of stylish Yakkay helmets and covers for your commutes!

How about you? What other items do you try to remember and carry with you on your bike?

 

Guide to Bike Month 2015 and Beyond

Here in the Washoe Valley, Bike Week 2015 has begun! Mark these dates on your calendar!

Bike Week Events

Make sure to register at BikeWashoe.org then ride and log your miles to win prizes! The registration process is easy. Just follow the steps in this video!

There are many fun events, clinics and Commuter Challenge Teams to participate in throughout the week. Don't miss these events!

Sunday, May 10th: CycloFemme from Bibo Coffee on Record Street, 9am - 10:30am
Monday, May 11th: MidTown Monday and Bike Around Bingo, 4pm - 6:30pm
Tuesday, May 12th: Ladies (Bike Repair) Night at the Reno Bike Project
Wednesday, May 13th: Dan’s (Bike Repair) Night at the Reno Bike Project
Thursday, May 14th: Mayoral Challenge Ride from downtown Reno to downtown Sparks
Thursday, May 14th: Ride for Reading
Friday, May 15th: Coffee Shop Stop
Friday, May 15th: Commute to Coffee
Friday, May 15th: Pancake Feed at the Reno Bike Project, 6-10am
Friday, May 15th: Family Fun Ride from Cottonwood Park, 5:30pm - 9pm
Saturday, May 16th: Great Reno Bike Swap, 9am - 2pm
Saturday, May 16th: Slow Roll to the We HeArt Bikes Show from the Reno Bike Shop, 5:30pm

For details, visit http://bikewashoe.org/bike-week/events/

CycloFemme Ride to Celebrate Women on Bikes

Cyclofemme is a worldwide celebration of women on bikes.  For one day of the year on Mother’s Day, riders of all ages and ethnicity across 25 different countries share in the joy of cycling regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or bicycle preference. Join the ride in Reno and Sparks on Sunday, May 10th, 2015, to celebrate all women.

Where/Start: Bibo Coffee Company at 9AM
945 Record St
Reno, NV
(There is public parking along 9th Street or Evans Avenue if the Bibo parking lot is full)

End: Wingfield Park around 10AM
Let’s make it a picnic at the end of our ride (or we can eat at Brewer’s Cabinet)!!

Route: 9.5 miles route to Lakeside Market looping back on Plumas and Arlington to Wingfield Park (http://ridewithgps.com/routes/7785056).

For more details, see the full listing: http://www.meetup.com/CuterCommuter/events/219027686/

Logging Your Miles

You can do it the old fashion way and use Google Maps to calculate your miles based on the start and end point.

There are free phone apps available such as Endomondo (which integrates with the National Bike Challenge), Strava or MapMyRide. They track your route so you'll have a map of your route and give you information about your ride such as the distance, speed, elevation, etc.

It's fun and you can see your accomplishments, set goals and try to beat it next year!

 

Protecting Your Head

One of the great debates in cycling is whether helmets should become mandatory for all cyclists. Despite the good points on both sides of the argument, I believe wearing one should be a personal choice. I know I have fallen a few times on my own accord while pushing my limits on a joy ride and while racing road bikes many years ago. Fortunately, I was wearing a helmet. It protected my 'noggin so it has become a habit of mine to wear one during my bicycle commutes.

As an added plus, the brim shields the sun from my eyes and rain, and protects my face when the sun is high.

You may also hear arguments that helmets are just a piece of foam and offer little protection. There have been some advances in its technology but in my experience, having some protection is better than nothing at all.

Others choose not to wear a helmet because "it looks dorky". They don't have to be. Helmets can be stylish like the Yakkay helmet and covers I wear every day during my bicycle commutes. The helmet's safety rating meets the standards for the level of riding that I usually do.

If you are going to wear a helmet, then let's talk about protecting your head properly.

1. A helmet cannot do its jobs if it is not on your head.

A helmet can make a great basket hanging from my arms while I am walking around but when I am on the move, my helmet works best when worn on my head.

2. A helmet can protect your head better when the straps are snapped together.

Too often I see people with a helmet on their head but for whatever reason, they have forgotten to buckle it. If they were to be pitched off of their bike, the helmet would surely fly off their head leaving their skull vulnerable.

Remember to snap the straps together so the helmet stays securely on your head.

3. Helmets work best when it is the right size for you and when it is adjusted properly.

Proper size and fit. Use a cloth measuring tape and measure around the widest part of your head about two inches above your eyebrows. It helps to have a friend help you. Helmet sizes vary by brand so a small size in one brand may be a medium size in another. A helmet that is too small will sit high on your head like a crown instead of being seated properly around your head. Yet, a helmet too big will easily tilt forwards or backwards while on your head.

Worn level on the head - not tipped up. I see this often and cringe because it leaves the forehead exposed. Try smacking your forehead with an open palm as a good test.

Adjusted properly (buckles and straps). Helmets have buckles on each side of the straps that can be adjusted. The buckles should be adjusted to fall just below the earlobes so it doesn't fall at your jawline. The straps are adjustable so when they are snapped together, should allow you to look down without choking you yet should not be too loose. When the straps are snapped together securely, you should be able to slide two fingers under your jaw as a good test.

4. Maintenance

  • Wipe the inside and outside of the shell regularly with a cloth dampened with warm water.
  • Clean the straps and pads to avoid having unnecessary skin breakouts. You can put the pads in a lingerie mesh bag and throw it in a washing machine if you don't want to wash by hand.
  • Wash your helmet with warm, soapy water occasionally. I like to use my face wash rather than dish soap because it's more gentle.

5. Helmets should be replaced if they get old or have had significant impact. Here is a good resource for when you should replace your helmet.

Keep in mind that helmets are not anti-collision devices any more than seat belts will keep you from getting in a car accident. Helmets can help to mitigate head injuries. There are many road hazards such as potholes, rocks and edges where the asphalt or concrete meets the pavement. If I'm not paying attention, I can catch the wheels of my bike tire on these hazards during my commutes and fall. Should I lose my balance and hit my head, a helmet can offer an extra layer of protection. Knock on wood -- I have never fallen during my years of commuting by bicycle but just in case, I wear my helmet. If I am going to "bother to wear it" then I wear it properly so that it can do its job as a safety equipment and protect my head.

Source: http://cutercommuter.com/shop/?category=He...

How to Cycle in a Skirt

My husband, who was a young boy at the time, was on a road trip with his parents when nature called him. Since they were on a long stretch of highway far from the next rest stop, his parents pulled the car over to the side of the road so he could relieve himself. My husband, concerned about his dignity, pointed out to his Dad that other people who drove by would be able to see his private parts!

At this point his Dad, who always has the funniest yet truthful things to say, responded...

If they've never seen it before then they don't know what it is. And if they have seen it before then it's nothing new.

And that was settled.

Whenever I pedal down the street wearing a skirt or dress, this story flashes through my mind. I've mentioned before that I don't like to change in and out of my clothes (and carry them) to ride my bicycle and then have to change again when I get to my destination. So I wear the same thing for my bike commute as I do walking around the office. I also prefer skirts and dresses primarily for the freedom of movement and I wear them often. Even during a 53-mile round trip bikepacking adventure this past weekend! Check out Riding in Reno's Deer Creek Bikepacking Report blog post.

The skirt or dress material and length will determine how well it rides or not. Take it for a test ride!

The skirt or dress material and length will determine how well it rides or not. Take it for a test ride!

There are some things you can do when cycling in a skirt, if you have the same concerns about exposing more than you care to show to the public.

  • Wear tights. I love fashion tights because they also keep me warm during cooler months.
  • Wear shorts underneath. There are bike shorts and bike bloomers in the market to choose from that are designed to be less bulky when worn as undergarments.
  • Choose your skirt or dress carefully for the fabric and the length. But it can be hard to tell what it will do on a bicycle so try it on a short ride first.
  • There are clips and garters available in the market. If you're interested in some suggestions, just let me know! Or use this little trick with a rubber band and coin. I've tried it and it works in a pinch!

We love bikes. We love skirts. But sometimes these two don't mix well. Which is why we came up with Penny in Yo' Pants. An easy solution to making your skirt bikeable.

  • There are also several skirts designed for cycling. I've worn one that is a pencil skirt that converts with a simple zipper and hidden placket to a skirt that I can easily pedal in. Imagine that! A pencil skirt perfect for the office that you can also ride a bicycle in!
  • When coming to a stop, I usually do not dismount from the saddle but getting off the saddle could help the skirt to fall back down and keep from continuing to ride up your thighs.

Lastly, it's what you make of it. I've been there. I thought my dress would be fine. Several minutes of pedaling and it rides up in the front or rides up in the back or flies up to my hips or flashes my Hello Kitty panties to innocent people passing by. When wearing a shorter skirt, I try to pedal with my knees together and make sure to wear pretty underwear with flowers and lace just in case! Also, having a bag or purse on the front rack can block the view of people nearby. Besides, I pedal so fast and roll by so quickly that they can hardly catch a glimpse anyway. Remember, there are far worse things than seeing undergarments that we all wear after all and if they've seen it before, then it's nothing new!

Three Movies With an Unexpected Character - the Bicycle

Like my cats I am easily entertained. I can watch the "what's playing now" digest channel as if it was an actual t.v. show. But that was way back when we had cable television in our household. Hard to believe I once attended film school in LA for a couple years, huh? I lived and breathed movies when I lived in Burbank, California. And for a while after that, it was hard to watch films for the sake of entertainment without scrutinizing the cinematography or continuity. Now the extent of any cinema in my life is in the form of NetFlix streamings, the occasional Redbox rentals and the even more rare flicks at the Box Office.

Still, I know a fun-to-watch movie when I see one and I've enjoyed replays of a few flicks where the bicycle plays a surprising role:

I. The Right Kind of Wrong (2013)

Leo is a failed-writer-turned-dishwasher who is made famous for his many flaws and shortcomings in a blog and published book written by his ex-wife. Then Leo meets the girl of his dreams on the day of her wedding in this heart tugging super-cute romantic comedy. Check out the trailer! I love this movie because he goes everywhere by bike and there is nothing sexier than a man on a bicycle.

II. Wild Target (2010)

A hitman tries to retire but a beautiful thief (played by Emily Blunt) may change his plans. There's not a whole lot of bicycles in the movie but Emily is dressed so cute, cute and of course, the movie is great. Entertaining and funny. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did!

III. 3 Days to Kill (2014)

Kevin Costner stars in this action-thriller as an international spy who wants to give up his high risk occupation to rebuild a relationship with his estranged daughter but he has to do one last job. The trailer does not do this movie justice. The story between him and his daughter is better. And it's funny how often the purple bike Costner purchased for his daughter appears throughout the movie. It plays a significant role in the movie!

If you've seen these movies, what did you think? If you haven't, I hope you enjoy watching them like I did! At the very least, watch them for the bicycles.

No Shower? No Problem! Tips for How NOT to Sweat While Biking to Work

One of the questions I am asked frequently about commuting by bicycle is if I sweat and change clothes once I get to work. It's a great question and I can understand the concern--especially for women. And my answer is "not really, the extent of my perspiration is usually not any more than if I went on a brisk walk in the middle of the day" and "no, I wear the same clothes to ride my bicycle as I walk around in the office with". They are surprised to hear that, especially after knowing that I ride 10-miles one way.

Audrey Hepburn staying sweat-free on her bicycle.

Audrey Hepburn staying sweat-free on her bicycle.

I bike in regular clothing because I like not having to change once I get to the office and having to change back for the trip home. The funny thing is...my colleagues would have thought I drove my car in if I weren't pushing my bike into the office.

Here are some tips to avoid feeling feel sticky and uncomfortable so you don't have to worry about smelling like the French skunk, Pepé Le Pew:

1. Dress Lightly or Dress in Layers

Dressing too warmly is one of the biggest contributing factors to sweating. Even during the winter I try not to wear heavier clothing than I need to. The idea is to dress in layers (for example, a tank top or camisole underneath a long-sleeve t-shirt with or without a button up shirt and a cardigan or light jacket). It is a little chilly when I head out the door but after a few minutes of pedaling, I generate enough body heat to stay warm. I peel off my layers of clothing before I feel my body temperature rising above being uncomfortable and stow them in bag that hang off the rear rack of my bike until I get to the office.

2. Pedal at a Moderate Pace

When you are riding to work in the morning, pedal at an easy pace and save the workout ride for the way home. I often have to remind myself to slow down when I'm having too much fun going fast in order to avoid breaking a sweat. Road cycling has taught me to ride a smaller gear and pedal faster (there are times when you need to do this but it tends to bring my heart rate up). Now when the road is flat, I shift into a bigger gear and pedal slower yet I can still maintain the same speed. It helps to keep my heart rate down. Stop lights are a great opportunity to rest and lower the heart rate to keep perspiration at bay. But you're still getting more cardio and physical activity than driving!!

3. Carry Your Things in Pannier Bags or Baskets

Not only will you feel the weight on your back and shoulders if you carry your things in a backpack but doing so could make your back sweat. It is okay if you're going to change clothes once you get to work but the goal is NOT to sweat so that you do not need to change clothes when you get to your destination.

4. Get a Boost with Electric Assist

If you have a lot of hills along your route, it will be hard not to get sweaty no matter how slow you go. A bicycle with a battery powered electric-motor can help ease the effort to get up those hills to keep sweating to a minimum. Less physical exertion can result in less sweat. If you do not have an electric bike, your best bet is to use a small gear and spin to ease the effort of going uphill--and take your time!! Relax, sit back and spin up the hill. It is not a race.

5. Choose Performance Fabrics

Some clothing pieces have better moisture-wicking fabric to draw the sweat and moisture away from your body than others. This helps you to stay drier and smell less. Look for performance innerwear such as bras, camis, tank tops, tees and long sleeve t-shirts to wear underneath your regular clothing.

6. Consider Multi-modal Transportation

If you have a long ways to go you could bike and bus or the other way around to cut the distance you have to travel. And if you are really concerned about arriving at work in a hot mess, you could bring your bike with you by bus or carpool and ride home in the evening.

7. Have a Backup Plan

Carry (or keep at the office) wet wipes and/or a small towel to dampen and wipe off should you get sweatier than planned. Sometimes during the height of summer I will carry my blouse or button up shirt in my pannier bag and an extra base layer (camisole or tank top). Then after I arrive at the office, I will change out of the sweaty inner layer and slip on a fresh one underneath my blouse or button up top. I also keep a set of clothing in my desk drawer (camisole, button-up shirt, pencil skirt, and socks) but I have never needed them.

What you wear, how hard you ride and how you carry your things will make a difference in how much you sweat. After a few rides you will get better and better at knowing what works for you and what doesn't. I like to pedal at an easy pace to enjoy the fresh air and the outdoors. I wear my office attire when I commute by bicycle and I let my bike do the work in carrying my things so that sweating is one of the last things on my mind.

Choosing a Bicycle to Get Around Town

When choosing a bicycle for riding around town, the features that a bicycle has (or lacks) can make a difference in the convenience and comfort of your ride. Find out what makes an ideal bicycle for commuting before making a purchase decision so you can get to where you need to go.

When I started bicycle commuting, I used a bike that I had from when I raced road bikes and rode for training and endurance. My bike was designed for competitive cycling, not necessarily for commuting to work. I wore specific shoes that snapped into the pedals and special clothing designed to work with the seat installed on my bike. This meant that I needed to change clothing after I arrived at the office and change again for the ride home.

Bicycle Commuting on a Rainy Day

I quickly learned that what I really needed was a bicycle designed for commuting to better fit my needs of transporting myself and the stuff I carried on a daily basis. So I went into our local bike shop and they helped me find my daily commuter ride. Since then, my bike and I have been inseparable!!

Here are some things you may want to look for when searching for a bicycle to get around town.

 

1. STYLE (choose a city, comfort, or touring bicycle)

The style of the bike will dictate how you travel and what you can wear. There are many, many styles of bikes and they work well for what they are designed for. For example, road bikes are for going fast on pavement and mountain bikes better for riding on dirt, rocky trails or gravel roads. Could you ride a road bike or mountain bike as a commuter? Of course you can! But without swapping pedals or tires or adding racks and fenders, the bike may not be as functional or comfortable as a city, comfort, or touring bike -- which is what I recommend if you plan to use your bike to run errands, grab coffee or lunch with friends or ride to work.

Dutch style city bikes such as the Papillionaire "Sommer" with its swooping step-through frame is also a good option.

Above all things -- you have to LOVE, LOVE your bike or else you will not ride it. So pick a bike that you like the looks of!

2. GEARS

Depending on where you live, you may or may not need more than one gear. If the terrain is flat like Florida, a single-speed bicycle will work. If there are many hills along your route, like where I live, having more gears will be helpful.

Additional gears can ease your pedaling comfort and effort when riding uphill or downhill, and give you more speed on a flat road. For example, a 3-speed is perfect for mild to intermediate hills so you can get some assistance going up or down hills. An 8-speed is ideal for more challenging commutes to handle more difficult inclines and for greater power on downhill and flat gradients. I ride a 20-speed and it comes in handy near the end of my 10-mile commute when I'm riding up a mile-long hill with 5% to 9% grades.

3. FENDERS

Fenders aren't just for rain. Front and rear fenders protect your bike and your clothing from grit and grime when the roads are wet from irrigation run off and puddles. While you can add fenders to your bike, try to find a bike that comes with fenders that are factory installed. They tend to look and fit better.

4. RACKS (you need a gear-carrying strategy)

You may only need a purse or a messenger bag to carry your stuff around in. But if you plan to carry A LOT of things with you (like we women tend to do) and/or for distances longer than 3 miles, then you really need a bike with racks to support panniers or baskets. Unlike a car, there's not an extra seat or trunk on a bicycle to carry your stuff. You will need a way to bring the things you need with you on your bike.

On a given day, I have with me my bike lock, flat tire kit, lunch, rain jacket, tablet, books, wallet, keys, phone, etc. I may stop at the grocery store on the way home to pick up wine, fresh fruit and vegetables and boy am I glad to have a rack and pannier system instead of having to haul the goods home hanging off my arms or on my back.

5. OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

KICKSTAND: A kickstand helps your bike to stand up on its own so you can be hands-free to do other things like loading up the rack or getting things in and out of your tool bag without having to lay down your bike when you don't something to lean it up against.

CHAIN GUARD: It is not possible for all bikes to have a chain guard but it will protect your bike from grease marks or getting caught in the chainring. If your bike doesn't have a chain ring, you can always use a trouser strap like these Brooks Leather Trouser Straps, tuck your pant leg into your sock or boot., or fold and roll up the material.

SADDLE: Your seat (or saddle) should also be comfortable since you will not be wearing special cycling shorts with padding. A "comfortable" saddle does not necessarily mean lots of padding. Personally, I prefer a firm seat. Many women believe that a minimal saddle would hurt and it needs lots of padding to be comfortable but that is not true. If the saddle is the correct width and fits you well, it will perch you up and support you by your sit bones. I have picked out a few styles of Brooks Leather Saddles in the Cuter Commuter Shop for you!

For all of these reasons above, we chose to carry Papillionaire Bicycles in our Cuter Commuter shop because it has the features that make an ideal commuter bicycle and would be great for riding around town.

30 Ways to Wear a Scarf in 5 Minutes

Brrr...it is DEFINITELY fall season out there! And for me, it means all of my fun and colorful scarves come out.

I love neckwear and the many different ways I can style them. Below, you'll find 25 options to tie, knot and wrap them in a cool 4 1/2 minute video (no pun intended). And 5 more wears to wear them in a slideshow.

Certain ties and knots stay put better than others to keep them from unraveling while pedaling on the bike (:eek:). You can also tuck the ends underneath your blazer and keep your neck warm during the ride.

Part of enjoying the cooler weather is making it fun and staying comfortably warm while commuting. If you get too hot, just undo your scarf and slip it in your bike basket or pannier!

20 Reasons to Love Cycling

Cycling is a sport like no other because people cycle for many, many reasons. For fitness, for the social aspect, for transportation, and for competition to name a few.

I ride because:

  • IT MAKES ME HAPPY!! I arrive to the office in the best mood and mentally alert and ready to tackle my projects!
  • It allows me to balance all of the important things in my life while achieving my personal health and fitness goals at the same time.
  • Because I incorporate physical activity into my daily commute, I no longer go to the gym where I am stuck indoors "working out". I can enjoy lunch with my colleagues instead.
  • I feel connected to my community and my surroundings. As I pedal uphill and downhill, I feel the wind on my skin, my heart pumps blood through my body, I smell flowers blooming or the aroma of a BBQ from the backyards I pass by, I shift into a higher gear to put a little resistance training on my calves, legs, thighs and bum. And I get to greet people I pass along the way with a "hello!" or "good day!"
  • I can spend quality time with my family and friends while having fun and see new places.
Cycling allows me to have a balanced life while achieving my personal health and fitness goals.

Cycling allows me to have a balanced life while achieving my personal health and fitness goals.

I can go on and on about all the reasons why I love cycling!! So why do you ride?