Posted: April 16th, 2014 | Author: Jennifer Roberts | Filed under: Cycling, Cycling Flair, Sustainability | 2 Comments »
Spoke Lore: Boulder is live
A guide to cycling to great places to eat and drink in and around Boulder. No special gear is needed, just a bike, some buddies and a willingness to take directions from someone, who has only now mastered her right and left.
These illustrated guides are free to download; you just need to enter your email to receive a PDF (or eReader version). At some point, the whole guide—a series of 7 rides—will be available with I’m hoping discounts and specials for some of the restaurants, distilleries or coffee shops featured.
NEW! Brew Pub Cruise – easiest ride to some of the best brews in Colorado. Check out the classics Buff Gold or Single Track Copper Ale at Boulder Beer; coast on down for a Campfire Red Ale at my friends, Erin & Jake’s relatively new nano-brewery, Wild Woods Brewery.
Why Not Ride to Niwot – take the scenic route—mostly leafy-lined trails—all the way to Bootstrap Brewery and Niwot Tavern.
Canyons & Coffee – a ride from the center of town, up Canyon Rd. and along dirt paths that will convince you, you’ve left town for good. That is, until you turn your wheel around and head back down at a comfortable cruising speed for coffee and goodies on Pearl St.
The goal is get you out on your bike, looking fabulous, and enjoying the bike paths that will get you where you need to go.
Posted: April 1st, 2014 | Author: Jennifer Roberts | Filed under: Cycling | 1 Comment »
It’s been a long, cold, dark winter; maybe not as bad as the violence of the polar vortex the east coasts have huddled through but for Boulder, it has not been much fun. As a result, I have 8lbs of winter weight I’m carrying around on jelly legs. Not auspicious conditions for the first ride of the season. But the with sun shining, a gentle wind, I was excited and optimistic for the season’s first ride.
Ignorance. Maybe More Euphoria
I did a quick check of the bike: brake cable attached, tires pumped, nothing rattling too much before coasting down the driveway. I felt strong, turning the wheels was easy, I felt like I hadn’t take 4 months off to burrow beneath blankets, binge stream on Justified and House of Card and think about all the biking adventures to plan. I believed that a dramatic ascent of Ward was easily within my grasp. And then I came to a stop at the end of my road, turned right, coasted for a bit longer then hit my first hill and my spirit was crushed.
The goal was to ride along Cherryvale, cut through onto Marshall Rd and then onto the South Boulder Creek path. I love Marshall Road for its quiet, leafy calm and also for the fantastically quirky homes trimmed with character. Typically, I can keep a healthy pace up Cherryvale but not this first ride of Spring, once over the bridge that crosses Hwy36 and crawling past farmland, I felt like I was breathing through a straw. Passing an abandoned church, overlooking what might be the most beautiful view in Boulder, wondering—can a church really be abandoned—I breathed the sweet relief of a road turning downhill.
It was ugly and I realized that the 1st Spring ride each year is getting a little slower. I think I rode for about an hour and felt both happy and relieved to have my first ride of the season—regardless of its ugliness—behind me. I’m also making plans to ride lots more, so I can ride lots more with friends.
Posted: January 27th, 2014 | Author: Jennifer Roberts | Filed under: Cycling | No Comments »
(well not for long, at least)
“as if all habits were deeply routed traditions, instead of accumulated accidents” – Clay Shirky
This quote from Clay Shirky’s book Cognitive Surplus has stayed at the back of my mind since I read his book over a year ago. I began thinking about all the things I do regularly that are the result of making-do, performing a work-around or simply rote learning that no longer holds any value or is even necessary to keep doing. Clay gives the example of how a common practice, in the past, was to memorize your phone number. Today, I have no idea what anyone’s number is anymore. If I lose my smart phone then I’ll be the equivalent of a four-year old trying to remember how to call someone.
I wrote all that to write this. I recently read Wired magazine’s A 137-Mile ‘Cycling Utopia’ Floating Above London’s Rail Lines and thought what a brilliant idea. I am not against driving but think that having multiple ways of getting around makes sense as our cities become more dense. But there always seems to be this push and pull between different interests: some drivers asserting that cyclists take up too much room already and move too slowly; cyclists countering that they have rights to the road, as well.
And I wondered first why this bickering back-n-forth. Every time a new trend or technology takes hold, there’s often a backlash – “that’s not the way we do things today”. Here in Colorado there’s been a tremendous push to introduce faster ways of travel between the major cities: trains and buses that connect different areas so people have options to get around. Of course, there’s been the usual cry of lack of funds or people prefer to drive themselves and then I came across this old photo of an old train that serviced Golden and Boulder. And I thought WTH??!! Are our transportation plans of the future simply a reinterpretation of the past? Did people who rode horses, or walked or rode bicycles in the 1800s in Colorado think “no one will ever ride a train. I want to be able to leave on my horse anytime and not be tied to a train schedule.” Could it be that at one time, cyclists stood in defiance against progress and the introduction of new ways of getting around—demanded that trains adhere to all the traffic laws and share the road? I don’t know where I’m going with all this except to say that I think that in order to truly move forward, new ideas need to incorporate the best of what’s working today. We shouldn’t go back and rip all the tarmac up because we are building an elevated system for hover crafts as we did when cars began to dominate the road and remove the trolley tracks.
Our modes of getting around today haven’t been handed down to us by Axle the Gawd of Cruising but maybe are the happy results of lots of different accidents.
Posted: January 20th, 2014 | Author: Jennifer Roberts | 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
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
(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.
Posted: January 12th, 2014 | Author: Jennifer Roberts | Filed under: Cycling, Cycling Events | 2 Comments »
I woke up early Saturday morning—3am—to the sound of big, lusty gusts of winds. Actually, it was our dog Tex’s whimpering and howling that woke us up but it was the wind that scared him. My immediate thoughts did not turn to escorting Tex unceremoniously out of our bedroom but rather to the cyclists, who would be rolling up to the start line in just a handful of hours to begin racing. When you see pictures or watch these racers rolling and speeding into soft, muddy corners and alighting effortlessly upstairs while carrying their bike, I think I could do that. It’s only when the wind howls murderously outside my window that I begin to consider the outrageousness of that line of thinking and snuggle back under the blankets.
Because that’s the true essence of cyclecross: winter’s wet, windy weather, trails puddled with ice and leaves and slick, grimy mud. This is not road racing. It’s much more infectious and
Where there are mariachis, there’s generally fun being had
accessible; the ice and mud you nearly slipped in to climb to a better view of a particular corner is the same sloppy mess the riders are navigating. The steep drop and big climb that you muscled your way up to is flanked by riders trying to do the same. There are also mariachis. Well, at least, at this race there were and it made the whole event that much more fun.
I missed part of the master race yesterday but got to watch the groups scheduled to race later in the day do practice runs of the course. I guess these groups included people a little more new to the sport as there were some hesitations at some of the more intimidating obstacles. But they kicked in, sped up and gave them a try and for that I was incredibly impressed and think I have found a new sport to watch.
Women’s Cyclecross Racing is Hypnotizing
Today, we went specifically to watch the women’s elite race. It. Was. Fantastic. I always thought I preferred watching the amateurs more; more relatable, I can relate to the pause, mustering of courage before the descent and the wild fling to get over the lip of a hill. But watching the pros (I guess, they’re pros) was equally exciting, heart-pounding and inspiring. One gal, who was dead last, minutes behind the main pack, fist pumped the air and all but ‘yehawed’ as she came round the corner and made the quick descent down the mud slide. I think her number read 118 and I think she got more cheers from our section than any of the other riders as we, the crowd, tried to match her enthusiasm and spirit. She punched the air, hooped and hollered and sped away.
Now she may have ridden straight to the parking lot and cried her eyes out. But she put on an unforgettable show! Thanks #118
Posted: January 7th, 2014 | Author: Jennifer Roberts | Filed under: Cycling, Gear Review | 1 Comment »
Cycling’s biggest, most demanding adventures are not found on the physically demanding trails of Moab, nor the inspiring coast-to-coast road or at the top of heart-soaring vistas. Nope,
Great adventure is not found here
they’re found day-to-day, in the close-shave traffic flow, of a commuter cyclist. The jumped curbs, the abrasive repositioning of frame to bike rack, the slightly lopsided messenger bag that swings clunkily around when you try to access your phone, each of these challenges can overwhelm the frail and vulnerable. It’s the bags, over-stuffed with commuting adventure necessities: lunch, extra pair of shoes, cute scarf for the ride home later in the evening, that both takes and dishes out the brunt of commuter demands.
I have struggled to find a bag that can match the high-intensity, big adventure challenge of daily commuting. My messenger bag, straps loosened to their very tips, to accommodate everything I may need for my 15 minute commute: flair, change of clothing, whole foods bag, smashed my chest and created a rut in my right shoulder. I eventually questioned my packing system and applied a less is more approach and started using a slim line back pack, that forced me to limit what I carried to a lap top and single credit card, just not at the same time. This was not working as a long-term solution since I also wanted to pack a lunch. At this point, many smart, savvy people would have considered panniers but if there’s a more complicated, less successful method, I’ll try that first.
I’m not a Rapha acolyte—I just dress like one
Big adventures awaits
It may appear that I have a Rapha fetish but in reality I have a weakness for bags (just not panniers). Most times simply browsing and imaging how I might use a certain type of bag satisfies the deep need to gather up things and put them in a container. Mostly the desire is linked to traveling; I imagine where I would be or the types of amazing activities in which I would be engaged; as my line thinking progresses it naturally lands on the type of pack I would require to get there. In reality, my daily adventure is a swing and a swoop down the Boulder bike paths but an adventure all the same and one that requires a pack. Enter the Rapha back pack.
I’ve been using it for about a year and on the whole I really like it, despite the very pink, quite garish rain protector. There’s a pocket for everything and it expands to accommodate most commuter’s needs (read: male). This is not a criticism; it’s just it’s virtually impossible to stash a pair of heels in the expandable front packet when there’s a laptop in the main compartment. Although, most times I do wear my heels when I’m riding there are some days when it makes more sense to go with a closed-toe option and, so I would like to be able to take both my lunch and my shoes together—in the same bag. Minor quibbles aside, they have really thought of most things: organizing compartments for pens, key fob, built-in tube opening for reservoir, made with durable, reflected canvas. This pack should serve me well through my commuting adventures for a very long time.
Posted: January 2nd, 2014 | Author: Jennifer Roberts | Filed under: Cycling | 1 Comment »
Somehow I went from having my cycling/commuting routine dialed in: lunch prepared the night before, warm clothes laid out for the morning, bike tires pumped up, to waking up late,
There’s a bike under here
sprinting out the door with toast and coffee and sliding into the passenger seat of our car. I can point to a variety of reasons: ridiculous cold, flooding, followed by more cold, etc. but I’ve somehow managed in year’s past to just get on with it (exception was the flooding, tho’). I especially want to leap back into it as I am about finished up with my eBook called SpokeLore. It’s a guide for cruising around Boulder looking glamorous and finding fun places to eat and drink. And I can’t very well pound on the table to encourage people to ride and then cruise on up to various locales in town on four wheels.
I feel like I owe it to 2014 to get back into the swing of things. Any advice for getting back in the saddle?
Posted: June 10th, 2013 | Author: Jennifer Roberts | Filed under: Cycling, Rides | 1 Comment »
I woke up from an allergy-induced slumber that was less about rejuvenation of mind and body and more about providing a stationary object on which pollen could collect. I was due to meet a friend at 7am for an easy ride and breakfast out to Hygiene but woke feeling drugged, my thoughts sluggish and a bit blurry. Fortunately, I had prepared my things the night before and my husband had the forethought to have the bike loaded in the car so that there would be no last minute retreats back to bed.
After a couple cups of coffee, I was off if not fully energized then at least conversational. One thing about getting an early morning start to a ride is that there is really no one else on the road at 6:45. It doesn’t really need to be explained as to why this is the case but I think it might be a habit worth forming.
We cruised onto Hwy36 with a couple of other two-wheeled souls and headed north towards Lyons. That first, sharp descent that curves right always make me sit a little more attentively on my seat. The wide sweep of the road draws your eye both to the looming Flatirons in the west and the flat, sprawling plains towards the east. The view seems charged with the roar of passing cars and I have a tendency to hug a little more closely to the far right of the shoulder.
The first chance we got off of Hwy36 and headed east on Neva, which offers a lovely little descent through farm land and reservoirs; you might even catch a glimpse of a lama pack munching grass. There’s nothing inherently wrong with 36: nice shoulder, fairly courteous drivers, and a smooth ride. But if you don’t have to ride adjacent to a race track, why would you? East of 36, the farmland that immediately spills out and across the prairie is beautiful and full of unexpected animals, like lamas and goats. Of course, today, there were no lamas rather the more traditional herd of cows with lots of calves filled one of the fields. In hindsight, I should have stopped and taken better shots of the cute, little things trotting around the place.
But I didn’t and we flashed by them and on our way. A left on 63rd, a right on Nelson and then another left on 75th and we were coasting into Hygiene. By this time, the two cups of coffee and half an oat bar were nowhere to be found in my stomach. I’d been trying a newish energy drink form Skratch Labs and that had helped keep hunger at bay. That is until we hit Crane Hollow Cafe and the smell of green chili, eggs and bacon threatened to overwhelm my dietary goals with one rich and heady blast of aroma.
If you haven’t ridden out to Hygiene before, you are missing a solidly, fun ride. If you’ve ridden out to Hygiene and not eaten at Crane Hollow Cafe, you are missing the entire point of cycling. As it turns out, I’m weak and the Rancheros were delicious.
Like tying up your horse
Cafe de tierre Hygiene style
Posted: March 31st, 2013 | Author: Jennifer Roberts | Filed under: Rides | No Comments »
Old trees are being uprooted by the wind and drought.
I’d like to say that my coffee rides and book reading about cycling had prepared me for the de facto season ride opener. Nope. Jersey was snug, I felt clumsy clicking in and I was passed quickly and without a second glance by the AARP cycling team. I was prepared, though. I had my camera, Map Tracks started and a single Kind bar. The weather was absolutely perfect, a spring day lifted stealthily from Winter’s grasp and I woke up feeling cocky and ready. The goal was to ride into Lyons, maybe stop off into Stone Kitchen, if they were open, do Fruit Loops and head home. A gentle ease back into the riding scene. 10 minutes out onto HWY36 and about 2 miles out of town, I thought I was pressing down on the pedals with noodles. I told hubby to meet me in Lyons, I wanted to suffer in silence.
Once I slowed my pace and found a rhythm that allowed me to breathe without snorting, I settled into the ride. It wasn’t fast and I was passed relentlessly by Easter egg-colored cycling jerseys. The sky was blue and the grasses were bleached post-winter yellow, the ground hard from little snow. I’ve noticed many of the old, dead trees finally falling over along the bike path in Boulder so wasn’t surprised to see down trees out towards Lyons. This farm actually had an enormous tree on its side several months past; this one must have been a younger sibling. I jumped off my bike and tried to get a good view of the enormous trunk and brittle branches striking out into the air this way and that. I don’t know if the picture was worth the effort in the end. I had stopped on an incline and found myself unable to click in. I had this image of myself hobbling along into Lyons. Adding insult to the whole sorry scene were the number of people who offered to help me. I wasn’t sorry I was asked (cyclists, in general, are a super helpful bunch) , I was sorry I looked so pathetic. In the end I waited for a break in traffic, turned my bike downhill, clicked in and then turned back towards Lyons.
In the end, Stone Kitchen was closed, I was knackered and Frase, who had ridden up Old Stage, was open to doing one half of the apple. We headed north from town on Hwy 66 and towards Hall Ranch, where we waved to some mountain biker friends, and then took a left onto S. St Vrain drive. I love this quiet, winding road. It’s in a bit of a canyon, so the shady areas retained their winter cool but most of the road is wide open to sunlight and the occasional view of the river. This road provides a welcome reprieve from the summer heat because of those shady patches and I know in July I’ll be parked in one for several minutes to cool down.
Are you being served?
The Bears of Lyons
This horse was kicking his feet in the air like he just didn’t care
Posted: March 11th, 2013 | Author: Jennifer Roberts | Filed under: Cycling Events | No Comments »
Anyone who drives between Denver and Boulder on a regular basis knows that HWY36 is a gnarled cluster at the best of times. Throw in some significant construction requiring lane commitment and slower speeds and you have a cluster-squared. Add a snow storm and you have a cluster-squared & fucked. This combination of attributes came together on a fine Sunday morning and hijacked our trip down to Denver for the hand-made bike show. (Yes, people from Minnesota and those places north probably still made it down but there isn’t enough northern experience in our household to carry a Southern Brit and a Texan outside of our 65 degree comfort zone0)
Fortunately, we had made it down to Nobilette’s little show/get-together at the Marriott on Saturday night. We got to see some classic Rene Herse bicycles and a couple of newer looking Nobilette’s with some fancy down tube gear levers. I wonder if because they are so iconic and traditional looking if these classic gears won’t have their own hipster moment, like staches, flat caps and suspenders.
SOMA bike frame
sharp, distinct lug work
Of course, walking around, looking at the classy hand made bikes convinced me that really the only thing preventing me from more fully enjoying my riding experience was a custom built Nobilette. We’ll see. Birthday is coming up.