Thursday, February 27, 2014

Taking the Lane: Time to begin!!

To commute or not commute, that is the question. If you are now like I was about 12 years ago, you may be on the fence on whether commuting is a possibility for you or not. Time, commitments, distance, route....all these things can seem daunting, but I assure you the joy you get from commuting is worth any "bump" in the road that is thrown at you!

The first thing is to find that perfect route, not only one that gets you to work (that is the idea I guess) but also one that will really let you enjoy the commute! When you find a route I suggest a dress rehearsal or two on non work days. Ride the route and check out anything that might deter you from getting back on the bike to commute. The deterrent  may be too busy of street, a dog, a busy school area.......lot's of things can keep you off your bike so find a route that is as close to perfect as possible, and make it a fun route also! Riding through a park is a great way to witness the change of seasons and see some amazing sunrises or sunsets! :)

The Scenery of Bike Commuting
Preparedness is an important part of commuting also. Preparedness not only in what you need for the day, but also what you might need for the day! The weather channel will become your best friend and an extra set of shoes or apparel may be necessary many days.


The most important thing I have learned, and have to remind myself all the time, is that bike commuting is certainly not an "all or nothing" commitment. Everyone is busy but there is always a day here or there where a bike commute is possible. Once you get a couple of bike commute days in, you won't want to stop! And be sure to have your phone handy for some amazing photos - you see things on a bike you never notice in a car!


Take a chance and head to work on your bike!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sheclismo representing at the National Bike Summit


Next week, Sheclismo co-founder Elisabeth Reinkordt will be representing Lincoln and Nebraska at the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C. In addition to attending sessions and lobbying for bicycles on Capitol Hill in meetings with Nebraska’s Congressional delegation, Elisabeth will be presenting at the Women’s Forum on Monday.

Sheclismo_CX_School

Her session, entitled Cyclocross School: How Sheclismo Grew Women’s Cycling in Nebraska through Intensive Education Efforts and Community Building, will highlight the growth of women’s cycling in Lincoln, sharing stories from women taking the wheels in the 2013 CX season.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Taking the Lane: Winter commuting tips for snowy weather,

Winter Commuting in the Snow 
Since winter riding season is almost behind us I'm covering both riding in snow and dressing for it.

Many, maybe even most otherwise avid bicycle commuters and riders in general hang up their bikes or retreat to their basement trainers when winter sets in. Winter commuting and riding in general can be comfortable, fun, and relatively safe if you are well prepared and know the basics. When I began winter commuting I felt a little like I was re-inventing the wheel; so much trial and error. Coats that were too heavy or that didn't breathe, gloves that weren't warm enough, overdressing in general and underlayers that didn't wick well. Bit by bit I've gotten it figured out and now am quite comfortable in nearly all conditions.
The Layers
Dress for 10-15 minutes into your ride, unless that's all the longer your commute is, in which case you can throw another layer on. Always wear a wicking underlayer. It can be synthetic, wool or silk, but not cotton as that will keep dampness next to your skin and you can become chilled. You will probably need a light insulating layer, wool or fleece, but don't overdo it. Whether you wear a base layer under your pants is up to you. I prefer a wind shell, which I can get out of quickly upon arrival as I seldom have an opportunity to change clothes when arriving at work. This is useful for keeping road spray off as well. Fenders can't keep all of it off your lower legs and shoes, though they are a big help. Some commuters wouldn't go out without an underlayer on the legs, but I overheat in them. Your jacket should be a wind and moisture barrier, but also breathe. I paid more for mine than I imagined that I would, but it's been worth every penny.
The Hands
I have very cold sensitive hands. For me, this was what would keep me off my bike before anything else, until I figured it out. Bar Mitts have made all the difference for me, but others with less sensitive hands might do well with lobster claws or other serious mittens.I wear wool liners followed by some very insulated back-country gloves, all inside the Bar Mitts. That takes me into subzero temps with little problem.
The Feet
I live in wool socks in winter. Pair them with warm shoes, not too tight, until that's no longer enough, then add shoe covers, or go to insulated boots. Shoe covers run small, so get them larger than you think you should need, especially if you have to get them off or on in a hurry. What ever shoe or boot you use, it's essential that the soles grip the pedals well even in wet situations.
The Neck
The first thing you may notice as you get underway is cold air leakage around your wrists, neck, and ankles. Take a minute to make sure these crucial areas aren't making you lose any heat before you want to. You'll need to check that any scarf or zipper at your neck is easily loosened. I get quite heated up, If I'm snow plowing or have a lot of cargo on my heavy mountain bike with low inflation, I'm soon wanting to regulate my temperature.
The Face
For face comfort, I prefer a half-face mask with ample ventilation and a nose vent. Anything else is hard for me to breathe through freely, or gets so swampy it freezes to my face. At a certain point your eyes begin tearing or just get excessively cold, more so when the windchill gets down there.. I finally went to ski goggles, but you just need something that's not tinted for riding in dim light, and that doesn't fog.
The Head
Finally don't forget your brain bucket. Your helmet is even more crucial in winter conditions. I use a thin, fleecy liner cap that fits under my helmet and covers my ears, speaking of which, if your ears get too cold, save the earrings for after you get to work, as metal is very efficient at conducting cold.
Conditions
Riding on snow can be a lot of fun, I find it similar to gravel, but it requires extra attention and alertness. You will need to move more slowly as stopping, starting and turning takes more time. I have laid my bike down slamming on the brakes over a thin film of snow. Be especially aware of the loose gray-tan snow on side streets, it's similar to loose gravel and you will fishtail. When conditions are snowy or icy I take out my mountain bike with knobby tires at a low inflation, and so far I've not had too much trouble. I'm tempted by studded tires, but haven't gotten them yet. Do remember to clean that salty, slushy mess off of your bike, your chain will thank you.
Lights
If you are setting out or arriving in the dark or in dim light, make sure you have very bright front and tail lights, and that you have reflective additions to your gear and bike. Motorists may not be expecting you, so you have to work to be seen.  If you are one of the many cycling fashionistas, make safety beautiful.
Routes
Lincoln is generally good about keeping trails clear, though a weekend snowfall may not get cleared before Monday morning. If you are lucky enough to have a trail commute, enjoy. If you are forced to take streets, be choosy. Residential streets don't get cleared soon enough for some commuters and you may have to take sidewalks. In this case you'll learn who shovels their sidewalk and who doesn't. Almost no one clears curb cuts in a timely manner. (I've been tempted to carry a portable shovel) I have had to take major streets due to a lack of options, but it can be the least safe choice. Sometimes snow is piled on adjoining paths by snow removal equipment, so check alternate routes.

Don't let the idea that you will be too cold keep you from giving winter riding a try. I tell people it 's a little like shoveling snow, in terms of heat generated, and nothing like standing around or even walking. Keep an open mind, pay attention to the basics, and give it a try! You may wonder why you ever put the bike away.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Now the Vuelta a España is adding a women's race





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Vos delays road season opener to Fleche Wallonne

Taking the Lane: Night Time Visibility

As you start riding your bike more often for transportation, you will eventually have the opportunity to ride your bike at night. When I started commuting, I loved my first nighttime rides. The mechanics of night riding are the same as day riding, but you need to take a few extra steps to be seen. It is the responsibility of motorists to look out for us, but as courteous commuters, we should make this as easy as possible. I commute on unlit, narrow roads in rush hour traffic in a country where the sun can set as early as 4pm in the winter, so I have learned a few tricks to be seen at night. While bike laws vary from state to state and country to country, there is generally a requirement to have a front white headlight and rear red light. Your main bike should always be ready to out at night and should have these two lights installed. I will go through some of the visibility options to help you decide what is best for your ride. (I occasionally link to products that I use, but there are many more options and I do not endorse any particular brands.)

Rear Lights: Any bike that might be possibly outside between twilight and dawn should always have a red light on the back. In some countries, like Great Britain, this is the law. This is one of best and simplest ways to be visible at night. Rear lights can be obtained at any bike store, super store, or online. In my experience, I have found that LED rear lights work great and are usually nominally priced. I usually buy a nice one for main bike and a less expensive light for a secondary bike, if I have one. The best location for a rear light is under the seat on the seat post, however if it does not fit, anywhere on the back were it will not interfere with your rear wheel and be seen by drivers will work. To check this, turn your light on at night and stand a few feet behind your bike at night and see how well you can see the light. Red lights can also be purchased for the back of a helmet or a clip on light for a backpack or messenger bag. Since my route is particularly dark, I usually have two lights on the back of bike plus on one my bag. As a commuter, you will need to use your own discretion for the amount of rear lighting needed for your commute conditions, but it never hurts to be on the safe side. Rear lights also have a number of settings for blinking and a steady beam. There is some debate as to which setting is the most visible, so you can use any except a slow blink, as a slow blink has been shown to decrease visibility. I personally choose to use a quick blink on my rear lights.
Rear Lights on Bike and Bag
Headlights: Front lights serve two purposes: to help you see and to help you be seen.  Unlike rear lights, a little more consideration is required in choosing the best headlight for your commute. I ride on roads without streetlights and I do not use any bike/pedestrian paths so I have a very bright headlight. (A battery powered LED with around 3800 lumens). A bright light is ideal for dark commutes on roads. If you need a light this bright, it is always a good idea to travel with a back up headlight in case the main one goes out. I learned this the hard way as very bright lights often have low battery life. If you are commuting primarily through well lit roads and bike/pedestrian paths, a very bright headlight is not necessary and can be blinding to others on a path. In this case a standard LED bike headlight would be more than sufficient to help you see and be seen. Headlights should be on when traveling during the hours of twilight and dawn and in gray and rainy weather conditions. Basically, if the cars around you have their headlights one, you should too. Most headlights have the option to either have a steady beam or to strobe. If you are using your headlight to be seen, choose your favorite setting. However you should never strobe a headlight that you are using to see the road in front of you.

3800 Lumen Headlight
Reflective Options: Installing lights on your bike is one of the best ways to be seen at night, however if you feel you need extra visibility on your commute, there are a plethora of reflective options. Reflective clothing and reflectors are great inventions. They work by reflecting light, like car headlights back to the source and require no battery power. When I ride at night, I wear a reflective vest and helmet cover. Both of these options can be obtained very inexpensively and the vest can be worn over anything. Also, my gloves have a little bit of reflective material, which is great for hand signals. You can also choose to wear reflective ankle bands and/or arm bands. You also can attach extra bike reflectors to your bike or your bike bag. If you are not sure if you need to wear reflective clothing, I would offer the following advice: Extra visibility is always a good thing and if you are traveling on any higher speed roads I would highly recommend it as it gives cars more time to see you at speed. When I was commuting in primarily residential neighborhoods with streetlights, I relied on bike lights and a few additional reflectors. Now that I am on busier roads, I have found that additional reflective clothing has helped me be seen sooner by drivers on the roads.
Reflective Clothing in a Headlight

What do you do to be seen at night? Do you have additional comments or suggestions? Please do share in the comment section below.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Star City CX Survey

Help us make local grassroots cyclocross even better this fall! If you raced or spectated, please take a couple minutes to give us feedback so our 2014 series is best able to meet the needs of our clientele -- YOU!


https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1tMRGiwwxFEJw6M7zzgyxH092bPsz0uZvuYOnPoCS7_c/viewform

Also, if you don't already, find Star City CX on Facebook or Twitter to stay in the loop!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Taking the Lane: Meet the Team

Bike commuting is an activity that is slowly becoming a global trend, though this should come as no surprise for anyone from Lincoln, NE. This is wonderful for several reasons: it is better for the environment, it saves the commuter money on transport, and it improves the physical fitness of the commuter. Also, the more people use bikes as transportation, the safer the roads are for cyclists.

Despite the growing popularity of bike commuting, it can be intimidating for a beginner. Riding with traffic can admittedly be a scary experience until one acclimates to being so close to cars and trucks. There are also other issues that arise, like different types of weather, choosing appropriate attire, etc. The internet can be a wealth of commuter advice, but not all advice is worth taking and some advice out there is dangerous. It is not enough to simply have more people on the roads commuting, but to have more people on the roads commuting safely who are educated in both bike safety and road safety. Enter the idea for Taking the Lane, a weekly column written by a group of Sheclismo members.


Part of the Sheclismo mission is get people from all walks of life excited about riding bicycles, whether it be for transportation, pleasure, or sport. In our annual meeting this past January, one topic that came up was how we can impact global cycling commuting. Sheclismo presently is very involved and successful in growing the numbers of women who race. Team members are always available for commuting and transport cycling advice. This is excellent for local members, but we wanted to share our commuting knowledge to a larger audience, since it is a global issue. Our goal is to provide a source of regular educational articles for commuters, both new and seasoned, on safety, attire options, and having fun getting to work. New Taking the Lane columns will come out every Thursday.


We have a team of writers who come from different professions and commuting conditions. So meet your Sheclismo Taking the Lane editorial team:



Emily Grace - Physics PhD Student
Emily Grace (Lead Editor) is a 28-year-old physics PhD student at the Royal Holloway, University of London. She started commuting on a bike in fall of 2011 while she was living in Mishawaka, Indiana. She went car free while she was living in Lincoln, Nebraska in the summer of 2012.  Her current commute from Chertsey to Egham is anywhere between 5.5 and 10 miles one way, depending the rout she goes. She primarily cycles on narrow British roads in traffic. Her beloved Kona Jake cross bike is her choice for commuting, training and racing. When she is not riding her bike to commute, she enjoys long day bike trips and competing in cyclocross and gravel races. She is also training for her first duathlon. She can be contacted at emilygrace.k@gmail.com.

Andrea Cohen - Bike Shop Employee/School Bus Driver
Andrea Cohen (Correspondent) is a 24 year-old bike shop employee/school bus driver(yes, they even let her drive around kindergartners around). She became a commuter halfway through her college career in Iowa City when her car broke down, and she was also downright broke. Coming from a bicycle friendly family she easily secured a bike and began commuting out of necessity. Commuting quickly went from being a chore to something she looked forward to everyday. Once free from college she picked up a job delivering Jimmy John’s sandwiches on her bike integrating the commuting skills into money-making skills! Fast forward to 2014 Andrea still holds onto that first commuting bike and will probably keep it for life. Commuting is what started her cycling career which is now defining her life more than ever. You never know what’s around that next corner and it’s always better to tackle it on a bike!
Crystal Day - Scientist
Crystal Day (Correspondent) is a 40 year old scientist living, working, and raising a family in Lincoln, NE.  She began commuting to work a few times a week during the summer of 2013 in an effort to save gas, stay fit, and motivate others.  Her current commute round trip is 21 miles, and always into the wind.  The commute can be a little longer when she chooses to bike the kids to school before work, stops for ice cream on the way home, or bikes through a local spray park for a nice cool down.  Her favorite bike to commute on is her Giant mountain bike, but when she is running late and needs to push the pace a little more, she jumps on her cheap cross bike, and once in awhile rides the hilly sections of town to give her legs a good workout.  While in her mid 30’s, Crystal tried and became addicted to Adventure Racing, and more recently has added Triathlon, and CycloCross.


Laura Anderson - Data Specialist
Laura Anderson (Correspondent) is a fair weather commuter-she's cold blooded and only rides in the warmer months! she finds the calm of the bike path really squashes her road rage and gets her ready for the day ahead. She's always got a change of clothes in her bag, some water in her cages, and a smile on her face! She's a fairly new commuter, with only 1-2 seasons under her belt, and the ride is 5 miles each way-3 if she's in a hurry! 


Ann Ringlein  - Running Store Manager/Coach
Ann Ringlein (Correspondent) has been a bicycle commuter (almost 100%) for 12 years…after the last child left for college. As manager of the Lincoln Running Co., and assistant cross country and track coach at Nebraska Wesleyan University,  work attire lends itself to commuting! For 11.5 years her commute was on a mountain bike the latest being a lovely Klein. That changed this fall when she signed up to ride Gravel Worlds and went for a cyclo-cross bike – her new commute is a Jake the Snake (Jacinta the Snake is Ann's loving name for her). Her “school year” commute is 15 miles, and her summer commute is a measly 5-6 miles….so gravel roads are added for some fun and miles! Warmth is huge for her so she has learned the art of layering as a biker and has found some really sweet items that work great! She has never regretted a day of commuting and is usually sad if she must drive.


Janine Copple -Translator
Janine Copple (Correspondent) has been a bicycle commuter for some years now, but decided to try winter commuting several years ago when a friend offered that he commuted “just 12 months a year.”  Citing “if He can do it I can” another winter commuter hit the streets.  After a lot of trial and error she seems to have figured out how to arrive looking business casual whether 100º or 0º.  The opportunity to change clothes is rarely an option.  Her job as an interpreter has her riding all over the city, sometimes on short notice, up to 40 miles a day, though the mileage varies widely.  She considers the opportunity to ride around the city a big perk of her job.

Now that you have met us, we would like to hear from you. We want to feature commuting pictures of our readers. Upload your pictures to the Sheclismo Facebook page and include your first name, occupation, and other relevant information (e.g. this is snow commute, summer commute, etc.) and your picture may be featured in one of our articles. Also, please share these pieces on your page so that we can reach a greater number of commuters. Happy riding!