Thursday, April 30, 2009

spring sunshine

A group of happy riders climbs the final hill.

Twenty riders gathered for last night's ride on the Bike For Women course in Chugiak. The shoulder was recently swept, making for a ride that was fun, safe and flat-free! Thanks, Bonnie for leading the ride and to everyone who brought treats & tea for after the ride. It was good to feel the warmth of the sun. Even the wind was warm. Good luck at Sunday's event!
Gloria and Bonnie on the final hill.

Now, about that ride next week we call the "Spring Formal." The first ride in May is always a party ride. (Please make note of the 6:00 start time.) I'll try to answer your questions about the Spring Formal, AKA Prom:

What do I wear? Whatever you like! If that means you visit your favorite thrift shop to find a used prom dress or pull a bridesmaid dress from the back of your closet, go for it! Something shiny, sequins, feather boas? We've seen these too. There is no such thing as overdressed for the Formal. But if you feel too self-conscious or it's a little chilly, a pretty sweater and pearls with capris are always in style. Some people even dress up their bikes with flowers. You can't be too over-the-top for us. A word of caution: be sure your outfit is bike friendly (wouldn't want anything frilly tangled in your chain). And, of course, don't forget your helmet!

The ride: Meet at Elderberry Park, downtown, to ride the Coastal Trail to Earthquake Park and back. This ride looks like a parade to other trail users. Expect smiles and waves as you ride by in your finery. (Be sure to air up your tires and lube that squeaky chain before the ride.)

The potluck: You can drop things off before the ride between 5:30 and 5:45 at Muffin Man Cafe 817. Elizabeth, our gracious host, will meet you at the front door. Or, just show up there after the ride with your potluck dish. What should you bring? That's up to you. A favorite dish you like to share... Your pick.

Leave a comment here if I'm leaving anything out or if you have questions. We're looking forward to seeing everyone at the formal!

posted by Rose

Friday, April 10, 2009

sisterhood of the pedaling pants

What a great turnout this Wednesday for the Meet & Greet! It's nice to get together with all you Divas after what felt like a very long winter. I'm excited that more of you are interested in joining our weekly rides and getting in touch with your inner dirt-loving selves.

For those who didn't make it, we talked about helmet fit, about some rules of the trail & riding etiquette and gave a little information about the history of the group. People also shared their personal stories of how they came to join the Divas.

I didn't realize how many of our current members had thought about joining us but were nervous because they didn't think they could handle our rides. Some admitted they had even thought about it for a year before finally getting up the courage to join us on an outing. But they rode, they learned, they challenged themselves, they even suffered. Then, when the ride was done, they celebrated with cookies & tea. The next week, they came back for more.

For me, there's nothing like the sisterhood that develops when mountain biking with a group of positive women. We've all helped make each other better riders. Over the years, I've seen people tackle climbs they didn't know they could make, ride over roots that scared them and I've certainly become a much more confident descender, because of the members of this group. So thanks for your commitment, your support and encouragement. You've made a difference!

This is what dry singletrack looks like... remember?

Next week's ride will be on the road since the Coastal Trail (as of Wednesday) is still slushy and soft. You can still use your mountain bike, or you can use a road bike. Be sure to inflate your tires and please wear something that is high visibility. Show up early so that the ride can start on time (ahem, you know, relatively). Remember to not leave anything of value in your car at the trailhead. And, as always, don't forget your helmet!

posted by rose austin

Friday, April 3, 2009

Welcome to April

Here we are Divas and aspiring Divas, early April and still lots of snow on the ground and ice in the streets, mixed in with a little ash for traction, I suppose. For all you procrastinators who have yet to get your bikes tuned up for spring, may I suggest: take it in now before things really get melting. OK, you've been warned. For those whose bikes are tuned and you're wondering what to do before the season kicks off, here is a checklist. (This first one is a good one for before you take your bike in to a shop.)

Clean your bike!
If you put away your bike when it was still covered with mud (tsk, tsk!) use a dry cloth to slough off the dirt, then give your bike a wipe down with a wet cloth. Next, take a look at your chain. What color is it? Black, silver, orange? Use a repair stand or lean the bike so you can spin the cranks (where the pedals attach) all the way around. Now, take a cloth and grasp the chain, applying pressure with the rag as you pedal backward wiping off the black gunk. If the chain is orange, first drip some bike chain lubricant (fig#1) on the entire length of the chain and let it sit. Then run your chain through a cloth to wipe off the rust before applying a tiny bit more lube to the chain.
fig #1: choose your weapon!

Inflation isn't always bad!
Your tires have been losing air all winter. Before the first ride, pump them up to the recommended inflation - it's shown on the sidewall of your tires, as seen in fig#2. Use the higher number for pavement, so you'll go faster; and the lower number for off-road so you'll have more control and a less-jarring ride.
Road bikes have a much higher recommended inflation, up to 120 psi! Always check your pressure *with a gauge* before you show up for a ride. It will save lots of time as we prepare to ride and you'll be much happier to not be working too hard!
fig #2: 40-60 psi, but your results may vary...

It's in the bag!
Do an inventory of your repair kit. Do you remember how your pump works? Is it set up for the correct valve stem? Test it out to be sure. How about your spare inner tube... did you have a flat at the end of last season and leave the punctured tube tucked away in your seat bag all winter? Now is the time to make sure the tube is still good or to put on a patch so you can reuse it. Also be sure you have your folding multi-tool, tire levers, rag and patches in your repair kit: fig #3.
fig #3: what's missing from my repair kit?
We'll have a random drawing for a special
prize if you post the answer(s) here!

Saddle up!
Now think back to last summer. Was everything comfortable on your bike? Were you suffering with a bad saddle? Were your grips getting shredded from all the shifting and climbing and general fun you were having? Now's a good time to get those replaced so you can have a more comfortable riding season.

Use your head!
How old is your helmet? More than four years? Did you crash on it and not replace it? Helmets can take one impact. After that, the foam has been compacted and it doesn't offer the same protection as it did the moment before impact. Replace it and be sure to throw it away. It is not a good loaner for when you have company. Period.

What else?
Remember your gloves? Your snot-and-mud-covered gloves? If you forgot all about them after August, find them. Put them in a lingerie bag (assuming they have velcro closures) and wash them with your next load of laundry. You will be so happy you did the first time the cold nips your nose and you reach up to wipe!

Phew! So, who's coming to the Meet & Greet on the 8th @ Paramount? Bring your helmet so we can make sure it fits properly, bring a mug/cup for beverages, and bring a friend who is wondering what this Diva mountain biking group is all about.

posted by rose