What this blog is about

Bicycle commuting, bicycle touring, bicycle racing; bicycle ADVENTURING.
To the grocery store, up a mountain, across the country or to the finish line--
it's all an adventure.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

That's it! A bell!

A Jelly Bell! 

During the holiday season, people seem to shop not only for friends and family, but for themselves and their pets as well. I decided that my BICYCLE needed a Christmas present just as much as your cat.

And I found the perfect Christmas gift to my bicycle: a bicycle bell, for cheerful greetings on the bike path.

Unfortunately, most bells only fit a very thin bar, like a children's handle bar. I had to do some 'hacking' to get it to fit. Yes, there are some other bells on the market that would fit.. and 'classier' ones at that.. but I wanted THIS bell. The Jelly Bell. It's just the right kind of bell for this bike. 

This is the end product, mounted at the end of my drop bars near my shifter. I have my mirror mounted here on the other side, so I know that I don't mind having an accessory take up space here.

This is what used to be there! I ended up totally dismembering the plastic band.

And how did I do it?

I melted it off (and melted a hole for the zip tie) by heating up a screwdriver on the stove.
My dad's idea.
Love my dad.

To you and your bicycles.

A Gift to my Bicycle!

When people are out buying holiday gifts, they shop for their family, their friends, themselves and even their pets!

So.. shouldn't I be Christmas Shopping for my.. BICYCLE(s)?! 

Ordinarily, new bar tape is the 'funnest' way to perk up your bicycle, but the '520 already has some awesome (zippy green) fresh tape.


I did buy some 'Epic' White Lightening wax lube, but that hardly counts as a present! That'd be like giving toilet paper for Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Draw a map to your goal.

Start at your goal, then work backwards.


Ride the Cape Epic.


Ride a 7-day MTB stage race.


Go on an off-road MTB summer tour.


Ride a 3-day MTB stage race.


Ride an epic MTB one-day race.


Get a few solid seasons of summer MTB racing under the belt.


Move to a place (in the greater Seattle area) with easy access to mountain biking.


Buy a mountain bike.


Work in a bike shop.


Move to Seattle.



*Various steps may be repeated, overlap, and even skipped-- though skipping is not advised, as that's less fun.

My real goal map would be a bit more complex than that-- it would include some classes, some cross-training, some friend-making, a lot of riding, and a belief that I can let myself do what I want to do. Because that's a funny thing I learned about people this summer while on my cross-country tour--

that too many people actually know what they want-- and yet, they're still afraid to go and get it.

I plan on getting mine. Do you?

Friday, December 11, 2009

My Blog Roll

  I'm in the mood for some shout-outs, since all these bike blog contests have me feeling all warm and fuzzy about bike bloggers. Of the blogs I read, very few see any real financial profit from their efforts. Most bloggers are blogging to blog. It is evident that while we write 'for others,' often we write for ourselves. 
  Posting about that EPIC ride may rouse your readers to discover their own adventure-- but it also, I feel, puts an onus on the blogger. An onus to revisit adventure, discovery, camaraderie-- over and over again. I find that when my blog is quiet, my bicycling life is quiet (or so intense that I haven't got 'round to a computer to talk about it!)-- and I feel that tug in my brain and my heart that says, "hey! You need an adventure to blog about! Go find one!" Not every adventure includes riding across the country, per se-- but certainly adventure can be found in something as simple as discovering full service bicycle parking or putting the bike on the bus for the first time. Or at least that's the way I feel about it.
  So without further ado-- I shout out to a few of my fellow bloggers!

I have to say-- Bike Hacks is just fun. It's about solving bike problems with zip ties, duct tape and things found in the trash. While I wouldn't do 95% of the ideas on there to my bike-- it sure is fun to read about the creativity people exude! 

You've gotta love Meli. She adores espresso (gold star), wears bright, colorful clothes (gold star) and takes bright, colorful photos (gold star) and she rides a 'town' bike AND a roadie (five gold stars from RJ!). And I like her cat.

A family guy, who rides in Eastern Wa (I spent 6 years there) and even being a bike nut-- tries to cut down on how much 'stuff' he has. And I like his cat.

Pretty much everybody reads EcoVelo, right? It's our source for commuter bike eye candy. And epic photo contests. Not sure if he has a cat, though.

Takes rad pictures, rides an Xtracycle, and awarded me a Sigg bottle for submitting the winning 'name' for his Xtracycle! ("Soots!")

A new discovery of mine-- this family rocks a Madsen (if an Xtra and a Bakfiets had a lovechild). Enough said.

These aren't ALL the bike blogs I read, of course-- but they are a few favorites. :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Two Contest Wins!

I have not one, but TWO online contest wins to announce! 

ONE is at Jerome's Bikes
Jerome rides bikes, owns an Xtra and takes photos that'll make you pause even while you're zooming around the internet like an antsy-nancy. Thus I subscribe to his blog and took note of his ("first-ever") contest! The goal was to name a new member to his family: an Xtracycle.

I was on it.

Besides, Jerome was giving away a SIGG bottle (scrub brush and tablets included!). I SO wanted to rock a Sigg on my commuter bike.

You can see all the entires, including my winning entry, at his blog HERE.

TWO is at EcoVelo. 
(And you ALL subscribe to EcoVelo, right??) Now, before you think that I'm hogging the podium for online bicycle-related contests (I did win a Trek 5.1 Madone after all!), it wasn't *I* that won this contest, but my riding buddy from this summer's bicycle tour across the country. I just happen to be the good-lookin' lady that's in the picture. [GRIN.]

Her photo of me dipping my bike in Atlantic waters (the conclusion of our trip) garnered honorable mention-- and because everybody loves EcoVelo, EVERYTHING on the prize list is awesome! 

The award is also a humorous punch line to an ongoing argument between the two of us. This summer, I took tons and tons of photos on our cross-country bike tour, as I am quite the shutter-bug-- but we'd be standing at the same spot on the side of the road taking photos of the same mountains, then she'd look over at me, I'd look at her, and we realized that it was a waste of memory cards to take the same photo on two cameras. Then she concluded that I "take better photos anyway" so I was left to take a majority of the photos on the trip! Then I would gripe about not being IN as many photos and our friendly argument would continue in circles. 

THEN. At the end of our trip.. she took just about the best photo of me ever, which apparently, is supposed to make up for the lack of quantity. 

And I think it does.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bicycle Parking in Downtown Seattle!

I have discovered something wonderful. 

In downtown Seattle, next to (and operated by) the Bicycle Alliance of Washington, is a cool place that I can't tell you the name of because they're re-branding soon. BUT! I can tell you how cool it is.

It's simple-- a parking service for bicycles. Yes, I know-- part of the convenience of bicycles is that you can park them just about anywhere and for free. However, one of the inconveniences of parking your bike anywhere is that your bike and everything on it is subject to theft, especially at night. And I really like my bike. And all of the stuff on it.

Enter the un-named bicycle parking service. Between the hours of 9am-5pm, you can park your bike inside a staffed building for FREE. Your bike is out of the elements and under the eye of video cameras and staff (though they do not guarantee security, you are still encouraged to lock your bike and take your valuables). The facility is locked from 5pm to 9am, but if you become a member, you gain 24-hour access by means of a swipe card. You can become an annual, monthly or pay-per-use member. Since I don't visit Seattle too often, I opted for the pay-per-use plan.

I paid a $20 annual fee, then purchased a $20 bundle of 10 overnight uses. So anytime I want to visit downtown Seattle, I pay TWO DOLLARS for parking ($4 if you include the annual fee) and that's only if I plan on staying past 5. If my destination is not in walking distance from the facility, I can just hop on one of the FREE downtown buses. Awesome.

Additional features include:
  • An in-house bike shop-- for parts, accessories and service
  • Lockers for monthly and annual members
  • A workstand and tools for member use
  • A vending machine with bike supplies for when the shop is closed
  • A warm and spacious changing room
I look forward to the day when these are more common than an ugly car parking garage!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

How to Wash Your Bicycle

For the quick-ZIP!-video, scroll to the bottom!

Seems like a simple thing: washing your bicycle. But there are a few nuances in bicycle washing worth knowing that can make your bike so fresh and so clean, clean.

  • Bucket filled with dish soap and hot water
  • Rubber gloves
  • Degreaser  ..chain-specific also available by Park Tool.
  • Rubbing alcohol  ..the United Bicycle Institute uses this as a general degreaser. I just use it on my rims.
  • Windex  ..for mirrors
  • Pine Sol (not pictured)  ..for bar tape. I used Windex.
  • Bike-specific lube  ..WD-40 is NOT lube!!
  • Sponge or rag
  • Scrubbing tools  
  • Medical rag  ..commonly used by mechanics. Does not leave lint behind!
  • Sandpaper, found in patch kit (oops! not initially pictured)  ..for buffing brake pads.


Using a rag/sponge, wash your bike frame with soapy water, top to bottom. Stay away from your drivetrain (chain, derailleurs, etc.) until the end because it will only muddy up your soap water in a jiffy. If you don't have a work stand or kick stand, propping your bike upside-down works well. Also, remove the wheels for better access. Places where dirt likes to collect around: 
  1. Brakes
  2. Underneath, near the bottom bracket (the axis that your cranks/pedals go 'round)
  3. Derailleurs (the do-dads that shift your gears, both front and rear).


Again, with a rag and soapy water-- wash your sidewalls (sides of tire), rim, whatever you can get at. For the cassette (cogs), you'll use degreaser. Mild soap is not strong enough. Spray degreaser on the edge of a shop/medical rag and "floss." A scrub tool helps here, too. Finish with a spongy rinse. For the rims, I prefer to use rubbing alcohol because it leaves no soapy residue (like degreaser or soap) which is no good for a braking surface. Degreaser is fine, though, so long as you take care to rinse it off.


Brake Pads
After moderate use, especially in wet conditions, brake pads can become "glazed" and lose that grippy rubber texture. Use the sandpaper from your patch kit to buff the brake pad, then wipe away the residue with alcohol. 


Remount your wheels (take care to re-engage your brakes!). If you don't have a rear-mount kickstand or a workstand, turn your bike upside-down so that you can freely pedal the bike backwards.
  1. Spray degreaser onto a shop/medical rag.
  2. Run the chain through the rag, holding both the top/bottom and sides of the chain.
  3. Use a scrubber for tough gunk.
  4. While you've got the scrubber out, scrub the jockey wheels (see rear derailleur) and chain rings (front cogs).
  5. Give a good rinse! You don't want degreaser hanging out on your chain, pushing off lube when you apply it.
  6. Lube! Bike-specific lube. WD-40 is NOT lube. You want the (bike) lube to get INSIDE the chain, not outside.. so after you give it a few spins..
  7. Wipe off the excess! Lube on the outside only collects dirt.


Give that mirror a shine. 

Bar Tape
Spray and scrub. I used Windex, but I have also heard that Pine Sol, blue Dawn dish soap and plain degreaser can brighten your bars.


Washing your bike is about more than looks, it keeps your bike functioning properly. In particular, your drivetrain and brakes/rims need regular attention in order to shift smoothly and brake quickly. Also, washing your bike is an opportunity to check-up. You might notice that your brake pad was misaligned or that your cassette is worn down. If you find any problems beyond your mechanical knowledge, it is also nice to hand your bike mechanic a CLEAN bicycle. They really appreciate that.

Now, in quick-ZIP!-video-form!

How to Wash Your Bicycle from Rebecca Jensen on Vimeo.

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