Friday, June 20, 2014

Semi-Bike-Related Miscellany for Summerrrrrr

New to biking? Awesome-sauce (if profanity-laden) tips for new cyclists for commuting harmony by Lorena Cupcake at TinyFix.

Earth-Friendliness. Do you ride because you want to be healthy and minimize your consumption/impact on the environment? Hey, me too, though I still rely on my car more than I'd like. (Womp.) Some other random things I do (hold on; it's about to get crunchy up in here):
  • Compost
  • Wash my hair with baking soda / rinse with vinegar
  • Make my own deodorant 
  • Buy second-hand clothing
Compost.  I compost for two reasons: (1) it means we send fewer refuse items to the landfill and (2) it's a cheap and easy way to feed my garden. I have a three-step system: counter-top container, back-stoop bucket, and a big container by the garden (on the other side of the yard). This makes composting easy; it's become second-nature. In the spring, when I'm ready to plant, I simply dump the contents of the bin in the garden, return the still-breaking down-bits to the bin (with a big shovel), and then mix the compost in with the soil. Et, voila. 
Countertop Compost
No 'Poo. I started this in March 2012 and haven't looked back since, because it works well for me, reduces my environmental footprint (fewer disposable containers), and reduces my exposure to chemicals like "fragrance" (often petroleum-based) and sulfates, which create the lather in your soaps, and suck the natural oils and life out of your skin and hair. Short version of the story: I wash my hair with 1 tbsp baking soda in 8 ozs hot water (shaken in a bottle, applied to wet scalp, massaged in with fingertips, left to sit for 2 minutes, and thoroughly rinsed), then condition it with 2 tbsp distilled white vinegar to 6 ozs cold water (in a spray bottle; applied mostly ears-to-ends, massaged or combed through, rinsed, and then a cold-water rinse of my head only under the bath tap to close my hair cuticles). The result, for me, is hair that is soft, manageable, and happy. Below is blow-dried straight with no additional product from December 2012, about 9 months after I gave up traditional shampoos.
This hair was washed with baking soda. No, really.
Homemade Deodorant. If you'll permit me to be human for a second, I sweat, and I'll bet you do, too. Antiperspirants helped a little, but I don't like the (petro-based) fragrance and aluminum in most commercial deodorants, and I was still sweating if I was really hot or nervous, so I thought I'd give natural deodorant a go. I could handle a little more sweating, and I liked the smell of the deodorant when first applied (like a field of lavender, I tell ya'), but the smell would morph into something really... off by the end of the day, so I looked up homemade recipes and in July 2012, made a batch with equal parts baking soda and starch (I used arrowroot powder, but organic corn starch works, too), mixed with enough coconut oil (unrefined, please - you can get it online or at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods) to make a thick paste. Through experimenting, I've decided I like to make about 8ozs at a time; I drizzle in a little olive oil to condition the skin and keep the stick from being too solid when it's cold, and I like a ratio of about ten drops of lavender oil, five of tea tree oil, and 2 of peppermint oil, though the plain mix smells nice on its own, if you like the smell of coconut (I do). I apply a pea-sized amount in the morning; it lasts all day, handles bike-to-work commutes and work-outs, and strong cases of the nerves (public speaking, anyone?) like a champ. 
Second-hand Shopping. I can afford "new" clothes just fine, but honestly? I often prefer to shop second-hand, for myriad reasons. Jeans are already broken in or hemmed. Retro florals are abundant (and those are fabulous for bike commuting, let me tell you). You can find items that don't look like what everyone else is wearing. And, after reading Elizabeth Cline's Overdressed, most of the manufacturing practices (ethical and environmental) of those big brands I'd come to rely on started to really bug me. Buying second-hand allows me to make someone else's shopping habits less disposable, and also saves money, because thrifty finds are a lot cheaper than what you'll get at the mall (and sometimes still have tags on). In 2014 so far (almost halfway through), a full third of my purchases have been second-hand items; another third of the items purchased have been through companies who practice ethical and/or environmentally-friendly manufacturing practices. My goal is to increase the percentage of my wardrobe that is purchased ethically (new through good practice or second-hand) and reduce my shopping in general. If thrift/charity shops aren't your thing, there are a number of for-profit resale shops focusing on youthful trends or high-end designers popping up throughout St. Louis (check out the shops on South Brentwood and in Warson Woods along Manchester, the designer section of Scholarshop, or Plato's Closet, or Rung in Rock Hill) that feel more like shopping at a boutique, but better for the earth and your wallet.

Bike Events. This weekend (weather-permitting, and with SO MUCH WATER), I'm going on the B Works tour of Calvary Cemetery. Links to other event calendars can be found here (including a link to Trailnet's bakery bike tour, also this Saturday).

As for future plans: 
  • I still need to pick up my two-footed kickstand for the Linus and have it installed, and I'm thinking about removing my Delano front basket (heavy; not as useful as I'd have thought, I lost a nut and bolt on a recent ride, and it scratches my car when it's on a car rack).
  • I'm thinking about swapping my drop bars on the ten-speed for swept ones, and getting a new saddle, but I may focus first on getting it professionally fitted to see if the shoulder/back pain I experience is avoidable with the present set-up.
  • I still need to have my MTB worked on, but the other two bikes have been good about meeting my needs. 
  • I kind of want to get an old-style bike rack for my basement. I kind of also want a walk-out (instead of up) basement. Right now, when bikes are downstairs, they are just leaned against the wall, which makes retrieving them difficult. Plus, if we someday do have a walk-out level or larger garage, it could be great there, too. I've thought about screwing hooks into our rafters, but lifting (She's a heavy girl.) This appeals much more.
  • I'm planning to visit my hometown (Topeka, Kansas) for July 4th, and I hope to explore a bit by bicycle. I follow some of the folks there on Twitter, and it's my understanding that they've installed some infrastructure (lanes, etc), and it'd be fun to just explore my hometown in a way I haven't done for nearly two decades. I expect it will surprise me how small it is; I mapped my childhood home to the mall (because the mall was the commercial edge of the western side of town for all intents and purposes when I was growing up), and it was a little more than half the distance of my (comparatively-short by St. Louis standards) work commute (3.7 mi vs 6.5 mi one way).
Any fun plans for you? Questions now that you know I'm a secret hippie?
Share or ask in the comments!

Cheers, and happy riding!


  1. Secret Hippie, Hah!

    I've alos found that second hand stores are goldmines. Manged to score a casual fit linen shirt that is awesome for bike rides on warmer days.

    As far as the road bike thing goes, a stop at a bike shop is a great idea. Also:
    1: Jack those handlebars up to at least the height of the seat. Go Grant Peterson on that thing. (
    2: Do exercises that strengthen your lower back (planks, push ups). Boring, but effective. This keeps you from depending on your shoulders to hold your body up on the bike.

    Screwing the bike hooks into the wall(instead of rafter) is a great storage method that doesn't involve lifting a bike over your shoulders, and works good for heavy city bikes. Mount the hooks just high enough to get the rear wheel to clear the ground.

    1. BRILLIANT! Thanks, Nathan! I have heart that about working core for drop-bar bikes. When I had the old bike fixed and I picked it up, we found the seat far too low, and raised it, but didn't move the handlebars. I only figured out once home that I don't have the right hex wrench for the headset. It's like a 9.5mm or something weird. Old French Bike: 1, Rebecca: 0


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