Posted: October 31st, 2012 | Author: JenniferSRoberts | Filed under: Gear Review | No Comments »
First off, I readily admit that I’m a sucker for the Rapha ads. The sweeping vistas, the crazily steep switch backs, and the light patina of tradition that covers all their shots. They make me want to get into some splendid cycling gear and cycle straight up and finish my descent at a table full of amazing food prepared by someone’s Italian grandma. The cycling up anywhere is quite possible in Boulder, after all we sit at the foot of the Foothills. The getting clad in splendid cycling gear poses more of a challenge, which is why I saved up and with the addition of some birthday cash I splurged and bought a Rapha jersey. Online. In cream.
For many people, spending that type of money on a single-use type of clothing is ridiculous. Buying it online without trying it on adds another layer of stupidity. Purchasing workout gear in a cream-color and you may as well drop a maraschino cherry down the front of this particular decision.
But that’s what I did and here’s my story.
From a quality and packaging perspective, Rapha has it dialed. My jersey was folded into a musette bag along with other Rapha branded materials. It was an exciting experience just unfolding the package.
I could not wait – even til a day of sunshine and planned rides – to try it on. So I did. I pulled the delicious-feeling fabric over my head and thought ‘hmmm…this feels a little snug’ but I was still wearing a light wool top. My birthday is in March so here in Boulder we’re still layer dressing when the rest of the country it seems is wearing shorts and flip-flops. I also have to admit being lulled by the new fantasy-sizing that many companies use in order for us all to feel better about our expanding girths. Rapha does not deign to flatter; they want you to earn that rider’s physique so you don’t mess with the clean lines of their clothing.
There were two results from this hasty trying on event: 1) I didn’t realize that breathable meant thin and sheer – it’s not noticeable in other colors but very obvious when you wear cream (without an under layer) 2) maybe large would have been more comfortable.
But I still love it. I’ve been out riding in it a few times – generally wearing a light jacket over it – and it’s super comfortable and just feels good against the skin. The fabric is light but not flimsy. In other words, it’s rugged enough for any sort of cycling. The fit is aggressive but a) it’s not their fault I’m between a medium/large b) is probably meant for fitter, faster bike riders. The craftsmanship – this jersey is well made and I don’t expect to need another - sheer, cream-colored – one anytime soon. Nor really any other color.
But I will not buy online again. cream-colored. jerseys.
Posted: October 15th, 2012 | Author: JenniferSRoberts | Filed under: Cycling, Riding Trails | No Comments »
Without too much strong arming, I was able to persuade my husband to help me find the cycling-friendly route to Longmont instead of cycling to the Ward. It’s like substituting a climb up your nearest Fourteener with a stroll around the park. The two rides couldn’t be more different but I sweetened the deal with a promise of an Old Chub at Oskar Blues and my sparkling personality.
I had heard and even unintentionally cycled along parts of the LoBo trail but had failed
Sponsored by Vecchio's - Not Really
to find the connecting points from Niwot to Longmont. I had warned hubby before we started that my general knowledge and confidence of finding the route was slim at best. Armed with that knowledge, we decided to ride along and see what happened – so long as we ended up at Oskar’s.
The Boulder to Niwot route was fairly easy, picking up the LoBo trail just off of Jay Rd. heading East. You actually ride through Gunbarrel – hopping on and off the Twin Lakes/Niwot Rd trail – on the LoBo trail.
There were a couple of spots, where you could have lost the plot had you not been paying attention or in my case, brought someone along who was paying attention (i.e somewhere near 83rd/Glen Village Lefthand, you have to take a left). We did manage to find most of the connecting roads and trails to Longmont but most of the fun was in following a trail because we liked the look of it or it was pointing in the general direction. Using whim and luck we found all sorts of really lovely off-road trails that snaked and curled around creeks and green open space, and that, in places, made crunching sounds as we rode over fallen leaves. Even better they all more or less lead us in the same direction – at one point, we appeared to be riding parallel to the Diagonal Hwy and adjacent to farm land that still had the brittle remains of summer corn stalks standing upright in the field.
The ride was a great mix of off-road and on-road and come to find out you can ride the LoBo trail for many miles past Hover St (and Oskar Blues). Next riding plans are going to include a packed lunch and a few extra hours to allow for some aimless dawdling and new trail discovery.
A Leafy LoBo Experience
Put a little red here, right next to the fluffy cloud
Just a field
Wait for me!
Sponsored by Vecchio’s – Not Really
Really Farms, real cattle
Posted: October 12th, 2012 | Author: JenniferSRoberts | Filed under: Cycling, Sustainability | No Comments »
I’m reading this truly amazing book called Closer to the Ground – the story of a family that appreciates modern conveniences while enjoying the bounty they get from foraging, growing their own food and fishing. Dylan Tomine’s tale is not about rejecting modern life but about appreciating and nurturing the natural world around us. But it’s this line from the introduction that I think best defines his approach:
“People are baffled at having to choose between the gang plows of industrial farming and a two-man goat cheese operation.”
It does often seem like life’s choice are cast in extremes; the unappealing description of both sides is at best unflattering, at worst deceiving. And in most situations in life, the question is not really one of either or. Much the same can be said of cycling. It’s either portrayed as some sort of elite, exclusive, exhausting endeavor or as a completely unrealistic form of transportation.
Is there a middle way
There’s a time and place for both, I guess, except if you are one of the ducks. But I think cycling should be more like:
Fun with a friend
Posted: October 8th, 2012 | Author: JenniferSRoberts | 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
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.
Have a seat
Posted: October 4th, 2012 | Author: JenniferSRoberts | Filed under: Cycling | No Comments »
I’ve been neglecting this blog a bit because – well, I’d like to say I’ve been exclusively focused on writing my cycling guide but that would be only partially true. I’ve been traveling, got distracted by an amazing book about Fell running (Wild Running) and have been absorbed by the day-to-day activities that can so consume you, it’s October before you realize the year is coming to a close.
A Guide to Cycling for Coffee (and pie, and other yummy stuff)
In between the ebb and flow of ‘too much to do’ and ‘way too much to do’, I’ve been working on a cycling guide. Yes, there are tons of cycling guides out there already – what could someone have to say that could possible be new? Well, how about a cycling guide that emphasizes riding in heels instead of spandex and instead of pace line tempo the goal is coffee shops and restaurants? That’s what I’ve been working on most of the summer. I still have tons more to do: confirm directions (not my strongest of skills), capture a few more images and illustrations and edit (and edit and edit).
Still, I’m excited. I’m sending the draft out to a few friends, which is something I’ve never done before. But if I can’t handle a friend’s criticism then neither I nor this little project will move very far forward. Onward.
Posted: September 27th, 2012 | Author: JenniferSRoberts | Filed under: Cycling, Rides | No Comments »
Living in Colorado, we are spoiled by impressive, awe-inspiring natural scenery. But when I trundled across the Golden Gate Bridge on a fat-tire, aged rental, I was dazzled by the immensity of the bridge and the breathtaking coastal scenery below. It had to be one of the most scenic rides I have ever been on. We rented bikes at Pier 29 in San Francisco and rode over the bridge to Sausilito. We were having such an awesome time, fueled by yummy tacos and margaritas that we decided to keep riding to Tiburon and then catch the ferry back. It was a wonderful reminder that you don’t need special kit, even a decent bike to go exploring and be moved by the natural and man-made world around us.
Posted: August 22nd, 2012 | Author: JenniferSRoberts | Filed under: Cycling | No Comments »
A few weeks ago, I discovered this amazing hike up past Lyons called Ceran St. Vrain. It’s a great little hike: tree-lined, rushing water nearby and an elusive smell of Colorado conifers. After one hike, it quickly became my favorite hike of the summer. It’s pretty easy to get too, as well. Just take Left Hand Canyon up to Jamestown and keep driving until a sign says to take a right. The drive up is beautiful and you can watch the dusky mountains rise up in you rear view mirror as your car strains to take you up and over the mountain pass. The sound of the engine working hard to accelerate through some of the switch backs should have been an early warning that cycling up this behemoth would be no small undertaking and should only be attempted after months of training, appropriate snacks and beverages could be carried on the journey and an overnight stay arranged somewhere. With all that in mind, I decided to try it last weekend with a Kind bar, two water bottles and a change purse with money.
The ride up to Jamestown was pleasant, the weather was cool and I kept my eyes open for fall
changing leaves. I met my hubby up the near the Merc, where we organized our approach to the “Super James” portion of the ride. The agreement was that we would each ride our own pace, which really meant we would ride alone. But the idea was that he would ride to the trail head, turn round, meet me coming down and we would ride together back down. I didn’t know how long it would take me to do the whole ride and I didn’t want to spend all afternoon away from the furs.
Off Frase went and I settled into an easy pedaling rhythm that lasted for…oh…about 20 yards outside of Jamestown when the road kicked up like a rearing rodeo horse. And it never really leveled out, it just became less steep and then more steep.
I actually enjoyed most of the ride. It was obviously very challenging and I was on the edge in some parts, where I wasn’t certain I could actually keep turning the cranks. But it was quiet and serene, broken only by gunfire (I guess you can shoot up there so long as you’re not in a residential area). I made it within 3 miles of the peak-to-peak highway before hubby collected me as he came shooting down (no pun intended). It was actually a good place to turn-around as I was beginning to make square shapes with my pedal strokes and still had to get home. I didn’t make it to the off-road part but from what I understand the road kicks and twists, all with the added fun of loose gravel and sand.
I so badly wanted my pictures to capture the unexpected beauty of that ride but whether from vertigo, exhaustion or just plain bad composition none of them do the scenery any justice. I may have to go back up and retake a load of pictures but it may take me some time to recover.
Posted: August 12th, 2012 | Author: JenniferSRoberts | Filed under: Cycling | No Comments »
It doesn’t usually rain in Boulder. When it does it causes all sorts of panic on the roads as the same drivers that plow through snow storms with reckless delight, slow to a creep when there’s a hint of mist in the air. Which is why when I saw this floaty, misty stuff hanging around the Flatirons, I was not entirely convinced that a) it would actually rain down here in the flat lands b) if I did get caught how wet could I possibly get?
I rolled out towards Goose Creek path and cycled down past 55th, heading towards what looked like a sliver of blue. I figured if I could head out east quickly enough I might outpace the rain clouds and perhaps they’d peter out and lose interest in heading east.
But then the wind picked up and rain clouds stitched up the seam of blue and I thought, “hmmm…maybe I have some misplaced confidence and I should head home before I have to figure out how to ride in the rain”.
It came down fast and hard
I turned my bike around but it was already too late. The floaty, misty stuff I had dismissed earlier in my ride had blown hard, cold rain down the mountain. I had on high-summer clothing, sunglasses and sun block. The rain approached me sideways, bounced up off the pavement and drenched me within moments. It was the type of rain where it seemed like my wheel was kicking up as much moisture as the clouds were dumping. The water was pouring into my shoes. Fortunately, I hadn’t gone out too far so it didn’t take long for me to get home and peel my drenched clothes off of me. I did not outpace the rain but I did get some great pictures of the clouds rolling down and that delicious feeling of warmth after a cold, outdoorsy experience and it only took 15 minutes.
Posted: July 24th, 2012 | Author: JenniferSRoberts | Filed under: Cycling, Rides | No Comments »
For a time, when I rode I rode to train. Long rides on very hot summer days to get used to riding long on hot summer days for events, like the Elephant Rock ride or the Santa Fe Century. It was fun and exciting to be part of a large moving mass of cyclists, all riding towards a goal. My only regret from those times is that I never took any pictures. I was more focused on miles, RPMs and eating horrible-tasting GUs (the thought of eating one of those now, even makes me want to gag). So I missed out on taking pictures of some of the amazing places, people and scenes on those great rides.
Today, I always ride with a camera slung over my shoulders. It’s a little cumbersome on climbs and I’m a bit wary to take it on very steep climbs in case I’m moving too slowly to turn the cranks and end up landing on it. That’s one of my biggest fears. Hitting a super tough climb, barely turning the cranks and toppling into the path of a car coming up beside me. It’s irrational as the only time I’ve ever toppled off my bike is when I’ve come to a stop light or sign, forgotten I’m clicked in, and slowly flopped to the side.
Recently, my rides have been closer to home and it’s really amazing what you see.
Granted, the pictures may be a little out-of-focus and most likely framed a little off-angle as I attempt to keep balance. I am thinking of taking the extra time to dismount and get a decent shot and I’ve been doing that more lately. It’s just a little more difficult when the road shoots straight up, like the one taken just at the start of Flagstaff Road.
Posted: July 10th, 2012 | Author: JenniferSRoberts | Filed under: Cycling | No Comments »
Barely the start
On July 4th, hubby and I had the day off so we made loose plans the night before with a friend to tackle Ward. Here it should be noted that the decision to undertake one of the hardest local climbs was made at the Lucero concert at the Boulder Theater, when everyone was feeling strong, young and healthy. Needless to say, once the concert had ended many of us were feeling feeble, old and and a bit pukey; staying up really late sometimes gives me an upset stomach.
The goal was a 7am start to avoid the blistering, suffocating heat of the afternoon. Colorado NEVER used to get this hot, so this early so planning to avoid the heat of the day has become a priority. Considering how late we got in, we were only a half hour off schedule when I left the house at 7:30. I decided to leave a little before the guys and expected them to catch me towards the top.
But that never happened. At the turn-off to Ward from Left Hand Canyon, we each entered our own private world of woe. I know it has been a few years since my last ride up to Ward but I cannot believe how much cycling fitness I’ve lost in that time. That’s not to say, I have not been working out, I just haven’t been getting the miles in on the bike and it showed, I felt it and I’m sure casual observers noted my struggle. For each of us, the ride challenged us for every mile, especially the last 6 and particularly the tight, abrupt turn to the right where the road rose up and up and up.
First off, I couldn’t drink enough and was a bit concerned that I wouldn’t have enough water to get me to the Ward spigot, located randomly on the side of the road about a mile from the Ward general store. It may surprise you that you can hop off your bike, casually remove a hose from its rocky resting place and use it to fill up your water bottles without concern of some sort of flesh-eating bacteria. But you can and I have.
I have to admit that the first 10 or so miles, up Left Hand Canyon, were not bad. And
early in the morning, the weather was cool and it was relaxing to hear the creek splashing along just below the road. It was just the remaining 6 or so miles that left me feeling ragged and trashed. I also thought it would be pretty quiet once I got up there. Nope. It was like the entire cycling community of Boulder had had similar ideas and had left earlier, been faster and probably had not stayed up til 1am listening to Lucero (wouldn’t trade the concert experience tho’, they were superb!)
Once I arrived, exhausted and with a slight Elvis twitch to one of my legs, it began to rain. Initially, it felt wonderful and then enjoyment turned to concern when I realized I would have to ride down the steep hill I just climbed, in the rain, on a slick road. I stood under a few leaves to avoid the rain. I didn’t feel much like moving and waited for hubby to arrive. He did, saw me looking like pained and drenched, and intelligently made the choice to go inside the store, buy something and warm up a bit. Savvy man.
I waited for a bit and thought “I’m not getting any warmer, might as well start on down”. I made what I thought were very clear hand gestures to hubby and started my slow, water-spraying descent. It was raining pretty hard by this point and I wasn’t at all certain if descending was such a good idea, after all. But in time, we put enough distance between ourselves and the rain clouds, that the road became dry and we dried off, as well.
We threw complete caution, remaining strength and ego at getting over the back side of Old Stage. I hobbled over the remaining climb and coasted nearly all the way home. After inhaling a vast expanse of mexican food, I was supremely happy and impressed with ourselves. There were so many times where my internal, lazy-ass commentator almost had me convinced to turn back. But I didn’t. Now, I’m just trying to figure out a time to try it again.