Saturday, July 20, 2013

How I Ride (So Far)

OK, so it's Saturday, but I think I've decided I'd like to try to post most Fridays, for any of you who stumble upon this and hope to guess when there might be new content. It's a new blog, and not my primary one, so I'm still figuring out how much content and how often to post.

Today, I thought I'd focus on some of the minutiae of my riding far.

I think a kickstand is a must. This single kickstand came with my Linus. It works well, but if the bike is carrying significant weight, it can easily tip over (such as when I attach a bag/pannier to the rear rack). Also, as you can see from the photo on the left, my front wheel is turned hard to the right. This is because the basket weight throws off the balance of the bike so significantly that the wheel has to be in this position for the kickstand to keep the bike up. This is fine for now, but I intend to upgrade to a double kickstand (like this one) soon. The double ("Copenhagen") kickstand makes the bike significantly more stable for loading and unloading. All for about $25. Just because it may generate questions, in my front rack, I have a bandanna and my helmet and bag. The bag is referenced below. The bandanna goes around my forehead and seems to help with "helmet forehead" (the attractive dent). It also seems to keep sweat from running into my eyes. This sucker will need to be laundered frequently in July in St. Louis. The helmet is a Yakkay Smart One (newer model, here). It's a much sleeker and simpler helmet than most on the market. It's just as cool as my vented Giro (which has a sportier look), because the padding keeps it up off and away from your head in spots and air can go through it. This helmet also comes with "hat" covers; the one I have came with the Paris herringbone cover, and I anticipate using it more in the fall/winter/spring, when the decreased ventilation won't be as much of an issue (cover here).

 Instrumental to my bike's friendliness toward daily use and "car-alternative"-ness are racks. Right now I just have my rear rack and front basket. I "permanently" use bungees on my rear rack, since they hold my lock more on that in a sec) and can be configured to hold packages or containers. I do want to get a couple of Wald folding rear baskets, which would hold more, and because bungees are great for some things, but I wouldn't want to use it to hold produce or bread, which it would squish. (For now, those smaller things work find in the front basket).

And here's how I hold my lock. I was keeping it in a bag that I attached to the rack, pannier style, but this is even nicer, and so easy. For short rides, I just slip the lock through the under side of the bungees, so it's flush between the bungees and the rack. For longer, bumpier rides, I run one of the bungees through the U of the lock, ensuring it cannot fall.

Comfort and convenience are key, and my mirror and gloves go a long way in that department. I have a big, dorky mirror on my bike that I use to see traffic approaching from behind. This is especially handy with heavy loads in the front basket, because that affects the handling of the bike and I can face forward more consistently. Just like in a car, the mirror doesn't eliminate your need to be aware and check your blind spots, but I can keep a closer eye on approaching cars (ensuring they see me) and have a better feel for traffic generally.

The gloves absorb shock from riding. The crochet backs keep my hands from feeling hot and sticky on July rides. I will probably try to wear them under mittens or gloves when it gets chilly, rather than buying a different pair. I wear them on my 6mi ride to work, but don't for the 2mi ride to church.

These are inexpensive items that improve my ride experience. Each is priced significantly under $10.

{Mirror. Gloves.}

Then there are the items I won't leave the house without. These live in my work bag, my backpack, or any pannier-type bag I use during the day. They include my wallet (similar here) and a little make-up bag (similar here, though mine was one of those freebees that came with a purchase of travel-sized Aveda stuff). I repurposed to hold random items, such as make-up, feminine products, my bike tools, and, when I'm locking up my bike, my lights. 

I keep the essentials in a purse or bag (mine is ancient; similar here), which I just flop in the front basket, generally. I also keep "permanent" bungees here, and in this case, snapped the purse around it so it was extra secure. I pop the purse out and go about my business when I reach my destination. Sometimes I prefer a backpack or other larger tote, so it will hold my helmet, if I don't feel like screaming "I rode my bike" with what I'm carrying.

Finally, lights. Mine are by Serfas. They were expensive, but when I ride at night, I don't want to wonder if I can see or be seen. I lost one of the straps to the rear light (they are secure when on the bike and terribly easy to drop and lose when removing from the bike; one casualty less than a month in...). They are very bright, have different brightness options, and can either be steady or blink. I generally opt for "blink" to increase my visibility; this also uses less battery power. They are rechargeable via USB cord, and have a red indicator light to suggest 30 minutes or less of battery power remaining at the current use level. I haven't had to reacharge them yet, and I've used them for about 3 rides over the month since I bought them. The front light is bright enough to use as a flashlight in a's brighter than my hubby's Maglite

So that, in a nutshell, is what I have with me when I ride. My bike came with fenders, but I also think they are key, for they keep the road dirt and debris off your clothing (especially your back). The chainguard helps, too, and reduces the risk of fabric getting caught in the chain, but I still wear skirts/shorts or roll up my right pant leg, just to be safe. Not worth the risk to body or trouser...

Until next time, cheers!


  1. I need to try your bandana trick (or something!) for my helmet forehead. How do you wear it?

    Sadly, my bike is not very kickstand friendly. The way the rear shifting cable runs means that the traditional kickstand won't work (and I think the one you linked to mounts the same way) and the trailer hitch interferes with a rear mount kickstand, so for now, it's leaning it and hoping for the best!

    1. Super-easy. I will post a little tutorial later today!


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