Visiting my spiritual home—A sojourn to Leadville

Posted: October 2nd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Cycling Shops | No Comments »

I love Leadville. I love the ramshackle nature of the place, the way that everything is a little worn, a bit askew, not exact. The weekend we were visiting (in September), the good people of Leadville were practicing for their St. Patrick’s Day parade they hold..in March. And that pretty much sums up Leadville—if you’re over two miles above sea level, surrounded by gorgeous mountain peaks and tailings of past mining efforts, you’ll look anywhere for an occasion to celebrate.

The weekend we went up the mountain sides flamed with colors.  You’d drive or walk past a huge swatch of evergreen, punctuated by the most amazing yellows and occasional oranges. The aim of the weekend was to do a little hiking, a little reading, some napping, repeat, which we more or less achieved with two active cattle dogs unimpressed with option 3 of the proceedings.

Burst of color

Burst of color

 

We grabbed coffee at the “City on the Hill” coffee shop mid-morning and wandered into the few shops off the main street Harrison. Melanzana is there and so is Cycles of Life bike shop, which is a pretty fabulous little shop. Most of their bikes for sale were mtn and that makes sense. They had a great assortment of gear and the guy helping me was really friendly. He said that the winters could be tough but on a clear, sunny February and the place is magical.  I picked up a jersey and a pair of socks for F. The shops was busy as was the street because not only was there a practice parade but also some sort of kids bike race.

One of things I most love about Leadville is its obvious history—you can just imagine people pulling up stakes on the east coast to come out West to try and strike, pan or make their fortune.  Leadville is not Vail or Breck or any of those more affluent, pretty, mountain ski towns. It wears its mining history on its sleeve—it’s a tough environment, even their bike race challenge the strongest and toughest with 100 miles of mountainous trails very little of it level or straight. But it has an enduring beauty and a special feel to it that is unique and warm.

Looks cosier outside than in

Looks cosier outside than in


End of Year Indulgences + Cycling Shorts = Shameful Chamois Experience

Posted: January 20th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Cycling, Cycling Shops | 1 Comment »

I went through an anti-lycra-clip-in-shoes-synthetic-jersey period. Here in Boulder it feels like rebellion when you aren’t lathered in lycra to go for a spin to the coffee shop. It felt good to spin

Hmm....maybe I should have worn other shoes

Hmm….maybe I should have worn other shoes

along and end up in places where neither the bike nor myself were appropriately attired. I still abide that handle bar tassels look good on a Trek Madone.   Of course, I ended up by just adopting the other extreme of Rivendell-wool-leather-high-heels to cycle up Canyon. So, late last year, I thought I’d try and swing a little more towards the center and actually wear clothing that made sense for the ride I. I hope to do some longer rides in 2014 and cute capris, with strappy sandals may not cut it.

The Horror of it all—Trying on Lycra

This meant looking at, trying on and ultimately buying cycling shorts.  I didn’t really have a strategy for my approach. Most people I know do research on the web, canvas friends, read up on what the pros are wearing.  I had no such strategy and it may have been because I liken to trying on cycling shorts to trying on a bikini right after lunch, on stage, in front of 1000s. I went to  University Bikes* and figured if I was going to subject myself to my own private humiliation, I  was going to go big, all in and damn the expense. This mean I made a b-line for the Rapha line. I wanted to love the Rapha shorts; just picking them up meant that I was preparing for big adventure:  big climbs, long rides in golden sun light and amazing European meals at lovely cafes after 100 mile spins in inspiring country side. What I saw reflected in the mirror was someone who had more than likely driven to that amazing little cafe, which turned out to be a truck stop to eat twice-fried chicken fried steak.  You always hear the term potato sack but it’s not until you’ve fastened a tourniquet around your own waist do you fully appreciate the site.

Most people would have been sufficiently cowed and humbled but I have an amazing ability to ignore the implications of my reality. Case in point, I hung the Rapha shorts back up and plunged myself back into anther pair. This time they were Sugoi. They were.very.short.Very.  I wasn’t entirely certain if they were full cycling shorts or cute liner shorts designed to be worn under other shorts. Finally, I tried on a pair of Specialized despite my initial reverse snobbery—if everyone likes it, it’s probably not for me. And I loved them. They were the RX Comp style. I have no idea what the style is meant for but they fit perfectly: no weird gape around the leg grippers, comfortable fit around the waist, not so long in the left that I felt like I was wearing bloomers and not so short I felt like I was wearing lingerie.

I've got my shorts on and nowhere to go

I’ve got my shorts on and nowhere to go

(Brief side note: I can’t remember the guy’s name at U Bikes, who helped me pick out and try on various shorts but he was awesome and is why U Bikes has remained in business for so long.)

Inaugural Lycra Short Ride

Has not happened. The weather, the cafes and general seasonal challenges have meant that the shorts still have their tags on them. I’ve still been riding but it’s been spotty and close to home.  Incidentally, the forecast for the weekend was supposed to be 1-3 inches and I think there’s closer to 8 inches of snow collected on my deck. It seems that both I and the forecasters are delusional when it comes to accumulation and it’s impact on sizing.

 


If you can’t own a bike shop…

Posted: October 8th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Cycling Shops | No Comments »

Have a seat

Then you may as well visit and hang out at bike shops like Huckleberry Bicycles in San Francisco.  F-man and I were in San Francisco a few weeks ago and wandered into Huckleberry bikes on a whim and were thoroughly jazzed to see a whole wall dedicated to Brooks saddles and gear, a folded Brompton and clothing to make a commuter’s journey a little more comfortable.

I’ve often played with the idea of opening a bike shop that catered primarily to commuters. A place where you could hang out for coffee while waiting  for a quick tune-up, get access to easy-riding commuter bikes and try out commuting gear.

 

In Boulder, where elite cycling and cyclists can sometimes take the lion share of attention in bike shops, it was encouraging to see a bike shop branching out and

Pedal Panties

catering to more than just one type of rider. I wonder if a similar concept could work in pace-line crazy Boulder.

Huckleberry Bikes had a pretty good range of women’s clothing, a full service shop and – ahem – pedal panties (how have I gone this long without them). More importantly, the whole vibe of the shop was about having fun on your bike.  The guys in the shop were really friendly and only the lack of room in my suitcase prevented me from taking some Chrome goodies home. Although, had they had a hoodie in my size, I would have stuffed that in hubby’s case.