December 30, 2009 Posted by Rebecca Jensen

Addressing Qualifications

I work in a bike shop.

The phrase I hear from customers the most is, "I don't race or anything, so I don't need a really fancy bike."

Then I explain that most of our customers say the same thing. Only a small fraction of people who walk in for a road bike are intending to race, and most of those people want to do their first triathlon but "not be really fast or anything, I just want to get in shape."

It is unfortunate that so many people see cycling as a competitive sport and little else. The diversity of cycling experiences out there is one of the reasons I love cycling so much! Sure, I've raced. But I also commute, tour, and ride my bike just for the heck of it-- because it's FUN!

Some customers walk in and say, "I'm not a real cyclist.." Oh, this drives me NUTS! I know that they are equating "cyclist" with "bright lycra," but baby-- if you ride a bike, I don't care what kind-- YOU. ARE. A. CYCLIST!! A cyclist on the bike path. A cyclist on the way to work. A cyclist around the neighborhood. A cyclist at the grocery store. You are a cyclist, a cyclist, a cyclist!

So now that we've established that you don't have to "race or anything" and that you are indeed a "real cyclist," let's address the idea about not needing a "fancy bike."

Substitute "fancy" for "performance, durability and comfort." Wouldn't any cyclist want those things? A lightweight bike will help you get up hills easier, it doesn't mean that you have to go charging up them. A bike that is built to last will save you grief and money on repairs, it isn't only the racers that need that. And comfort-- do I really need to twist your arm on this one?

If you're thinking about buying a new bike for the new year, and you're tempted to say any of the common customer phrases above, think again. I want you to walk in there tall and say, "I am a cyclist. And I want a beautiful, comfortable bicycle."

December 16, 2009 Posted by Rebecca Jensen

Thoughts on Training Plans

If you have spring or summer cycling goals, this is the time of year to develop a training plan.

Now, "training plan" doesn't have to mean that you're gearing up for a great big championship race (but it could!), it can also mean that you're working toward that fun charity century ride or bike tour. The real purpose of a training plan is to: chart progress, articulate goals big and small, and create a progressive riding schedule that puts you in peak condition for your target event.

CHART PROGRESS

You don't have to be on a training plan to have fun on a bike-- but if you are, you can keep track of how you have improved, which will encourage you to keep riding!

ARTICULATE GOALS

Goals are much less likely to be realized if they hide in a dark corner in the back of your brain. Write your goals down! Declare them! Share them! And if your goal is big, create a lot of little goals to meet it. That way you can reward and recognize your progress!

PROGRESSIVE RIDING SCHEDULE

If you ride medium fast here and there, ride hard once in a while and take it easy when you're tired-- you will certainly be a fit and healthy person! However, if you want to be in "peak condition" for a certain event or ride, a training plan will methodically build your fitness-- moving from endurance to strength to speed. 

If you have not been on a training plan before, try one! I recommend doing it with a coach's guidance (such as a coach from Chris Carmichael Training Systems). 

A training plan doesn't have to be rigid and BORING. You can go for playful rides with your friends, racing each other to the yellow sign down the street. For an endurance ride, ride to a faraway diner you've always wanted to try. If you need to recover from a tough ride, take it easy and spin down to the local cafe to meet a friend.

So if you have cycling goals that are swimming around in your brain-- give it a try!

December 10, 2009 Posted by Rebecca Jensen

Bicycle Parking!

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    One of the "inconveniences" of bicycle transportation just disappeared.

While visiting friends in Seattle, I discovered secure, indoor BICYCLE PARKING. The service will undergo re-branding soon, so I won't share the name-- but I can tell you what cool services they provide!

To start, anytime from 9am to 5pm, you can park your bike indoors for free. Yes, FREE. (And yes, I know any parking meter is FREE, but bare with me). If you'd like to park overnight, or anytime between 5pm and 9am, you can sign up for an annual, monthly or pay-per-use membership, upon which you will receive a swipe card to get in and out. After a $20 annual fee, the pay-per-use rate is $2. Sure beats spending $12 on parking a car! AFFORDABILITY? check.

So instead of parking at a random parking meter and taking all your bags off and lugging them around so they won't get stolen-- you can park at this staffed facility that's under video surveillance. The security of your bike and gear isn't guaranteed, but it's far better than parking it on the street. SECURITY? check.

And say that you had to ride a long way to get there and you wore cycling-specific clothing that you don't really want to wear to the movies-- there's a spacious changing room and lockers to stash your clothes! ULTRA-CONVENIENCE? check.

And say that you encountered a mechanical issue with your bike or your wet feet have inspired you to install fenders-- there is a full-service bike shop, a public work stand complete with tools and a vending machine full of bike parts to meet your needs. EXTRA PERKS? check.

This parking service came to Seattle under the branding of a Californian company and is currently being run by a local bicycle advocacy organization, the Bicycle Alliance of Washington. If there is no such service where you live-- perhaps you can be the instigator to start one!

December 2, 2009 Posted by Rebecca Jensen

Cozy up to your winter commute!

So I know that Mary is trying to warm up to winter cycling-- so this is for you, Mary!

While I lived in Walla Walla, there was rarely a need to bike more than 2 or 3 miles at a time. Now that I live north of Seattle and work east of it, I regularly bike commute an hour just to get to the bus transit station. For my purposes, this requires a bit different mode of dress and more planning ahead! Especially during the wet winter time in the grand Pacific Northwest. Fortunately, I find a longer bike commute to be fun and refreshing! I hate missing it.

Here are a few little things that will brighten your long, wet, cold and wonderful winter bicycle commute!

  •  Visor or cycling cap
    • Visors are traditionally worn on mountain bike helmets and cycling caps may be hip casual wear, but what they're both REALLY good for-- is keeping that rain out of your EYES!
  • Clear lense glasses
    • After your cap or visor, this is your last line of defense! Keeps both the wind and rain out of your eyes. Generally, you can pedal safer when you can SEE!
  • Booties!
    • Feet get cold easily on the bike. Help 'em out and keep them dry!
  • A snack
    • When you hit that snooze button one too many times, but can't bear the thought of missing your morning bike commute and you dash out the door sans breakfast-- you'll be happy you stashed that breakfast bar (or two, or three) in your bike bag. Hey, even if you DID eat breakfast-- you just may work up an appetite by the time you arrive at your destination.
  • A little extra light
    • The mornings and afternoons are dark in the winter. Any bike commuter should be using a powerful front light and crazy-pattern red rear light-- but a great addition is a ankle strap that lights up! Your pedaling legs make this light quite eye-catching as your legs move up-down-up-down-up-down.

Keep on pedalin'!

Rebecca

November 26, 2009 Posted by Rebecca Jensen

I did it!

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 I live almost an hour's drive north of Seattle and work just east of it, which has made biking to work a bit more of a puzzle than when I lived in Walla Walla, a town about 5 miles in breadth-- and FLAT. I am so pleased to announce that I finally FIGURED IT OUT!

First, I had to figure out the transit system. All I had to do was pick up a few schedule books and draw myself a map of connecting routes. Route maps are available, but I found it easier to understand the schedule if I narrowed it down to only the routes I was interested in and included extra data like "runs weekdays only" all in one place. Using this map, I quickly discovered that an "express" bus traveled the majority of my route! Perfect!

Next, I had to figure out how to ride my bike to the transit center. Fortunately, the local bus system has published a terrific bike map of my area. I did a "reconnaissance" mission on the weekend and was very glad I did. There is a direct, beautiful and interesting bike trail that travels beneath a major highway-- but you have to look past the "WRONG WAY!" "ONE WAY ONLY!!" signs to see the "oh, except for bikes and pedestrians who can use this path over here" sign. Ah-ha. I've found it. 

So now my commute to work involves an hour bike ride and an hour bus ride. In rush hour traffic, I would be in the car for 90 minutes; but riding my bike and reading a book-- those are things I would do in my FREE TIME-- driving a car in rush hour traffic.. is not. :)

November 14, 2009 Posted by Rebecca Jensen

Riding a Familiar Trail

Fall Riding on the Centennial Trail from Rebecca Jensen on Vimeo.

A video in appreciation of a local rails-to-trail that I now ride on a regular basis.

When I was a kid, we'd drive to this trail, unload the bikes, and ride ride ride alll the way to Snohomish, where we'd get ICE CREAM at that really cool antiquey-ice cream shop, then we'd ride ride ride back. BOY I thought that was cool. 

Now I'm cruising it on my carbon fiber Trek. Which is also-- VERY COOL.

November 13, 2009 Posted by Rebecca Jensen

"The Video" & Sharing

I must address some moonlighting: yes, I have another blog. I love blogging. When presented the opportunity to blog for Trek, to a wider, women-focused audience, my arm jolted straight up into the air, "YES, PLEASE!!" 

But I couldn't abandon my original blog, An Adventure Called Bicycling. It's where I've stored so many ride photos, videos, how-to posts, rants and raves and general inspiration regarding bicycling. I look at Google Analytics (site visit counter) in awe, imagining my collective audience sitting in an auditorium to hear what thoughts, discoveries and news I have to share about bicycling. Sometimes I find that I write not just for the audience-- but for myself. To hold myself accountable to never stop exploring.

The real driving force, though, is that sometimes I receive notes of thanks for particularly inspiring posts that encouraged people to do something they've been putting off, or didn't think they'd ever do. Wow. That feels just amazing.

I bring all this up, because never have I received so many thanks for a post, than for THIS VIDEO

What We Saw: TransAmerica Bicycle Tour 2009 from Rebecca Jensen on Vimeo.

While I may be applauding myself and my efforts right now, my point is to encourage ALL OF YOU, readers out there-- to think about how you can share YOUR adventure, whatever it may be. If you're bicycling through the winter for the first time, if you're going to train for a triathlon for the first time, if you're a mother, toting her children to school behind a bicycle instead of an SUV.. you are having a positive impact on your community, but don't stop there! Think about how you can SHARE your experience with more family and friends. Take snap shots of your new bicycling adventure (be it commuting, traveling or training) and make a simple slideshow on iMovie, then invite friends over for drinks and a show.

This is just to say-- you don't have to ride your bike for 3 months in order to be inspiring. Every little adventure-- across the country or to the grocery store-- is an adventure worth sharing.

Go share!!

November 11, 2009 Posted by Rebecca Jensen

Fit Your Bike

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You may or may not have noticed that my Madone-- is indeed not a Women's Specific Design (WSD).

That's because Trek-- is really, really cool. Let me explain.

When I showed up to Trek Headquarters in Waterloo, Wisconsin, we got sized to our carbon beauties-- because fit is OH SO IMPORTANT when buying (or winning!) a new bike. It doesn't matter how fancy your bike is-- if it doesn't fit you. A poor fit can cause discomfort, pain and reduce your efficiency. A good fit will cause comfort, elation and speed! 

So we got fit to our new bicycles and in the process of my fit, we discovered that the reach (how far I had to reach with my back and arms to reach the handlebars) on the WSD was actually too short for me, as were the width of the handlebars.

But Trek wasn't about to put me on a WSD bike JUST BECAUSE I represent their women's program.. instead, Trek said, "you know, WSD may fit a majority of women, but not all women. Let's get you on a regular 5.1 Madone," and I'm glad for it.

There is NO reason that your bike should hurt you. If you are experiencing discomfort on your bike-- be it bum, back, neck, wrists.. seek out a professional bike fit through a local bike shop or physical therapist. A full fit costs around $150, but it is worth so much more.

Keep ridin'!

RJ

November 6, 2009 Posted by Rebecca Jensen

The Only Downside

Perhaps the only "downside" of a Trek Madone..



Trek Madone Autumn Leaves
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..is that you'll want to stop and take pictures of it all the time. ;)

October 23, 2009 Posted by Rebecca Jensen

Faces of Cyclocross

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It seems that there are a few categories of facial postures in cyclocross. See if you can match the following categories to the faces above!

  1. WORRIED, fear for life.
  2. FIERCE, I will destroy you.
  3. DELICIOUS, my lips taste nice an' salty!
  4. CONSTIPATION, eeehhhhhh.
  5. ARE YOU FOR SERIOUS?! That run-up is ridiculous.
  6. TOTAL SURPRISE. (!!!!)
  7. Any others?
  8. What's YOURS?!


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