Sunshowers

 Sunshowers

Sunshowers

Sunshowers, if you are not familiar, are typically when a dark grey cloud is fixed squarely just above your head blessing you with a brisk shower while crisp blue skies are ahead with the sun peering into your eyes just over yonder. The great thing about a sunshower is that it can make you feel special, as if this cloud is just for you. At the same time, you can see the hope of sunshine off in the distance. Things can only improve from here.

The other day I forgot to bring my raincape on my commute. I didn’t think much of it because the forecast called for clear skies. This was a mistake. Never leave home without some rain gear during a tumultuous Northwest spring. It was a bit windy sending the the clouds whizzing by high in the sky. So I thought I would be good for my ride home. Second mistake. As I committed to the beginning of my bike commute, an invasive cloud parked itself along the Burke-Gilman Trail and proceeded to shower cold prickly raindrops that penetrated through my jeans, gloves, and puffy coat. By the time I got home, I was drenched. The worst part was that I could see the yellowish sunbeams and blue skies in my periphery for the duration of my ride. A sunshower at its best.

While a Northwest spring can pose unexpected challenges, spring is a great time to think and plan for a summer of riding if you are dreaming of getting back into the saddle. You’re already on the couch with your soft pants, blanket, snacks, and laptop. Why not do a little research to prepare for the height of cycling season before it’s in full swing? If breathing in the summer air from your bike is circling through your mind then don’t wait until July when the bike shops are packed, and you don’t have a thing to wear or any idea of where to go.

Before you run out to REI for all of the bike things, a good place to start is to imagine what your cycling fantasy is for the summer. And you can do this from the comfort of your own couch. What sort of cycling interests you?

  1. Work commute,
  2. Scenic countryside holiday,
  3. Wednesday night brewery crawl,
  4. Beach cruising,
  5. Adventure camping,
  6. Crosscyling,
  7. Ego boosting STP,
  8. Leisurely family ride along the boardwalk,
  9. Tandem twinsies with the Bae,
  10. Pellaton team building with the partners,
  11. BMX the mountain, or
  12. The just-say-fuck-it: sell all of your shit, load up the bike, and travel the world!

Whatever your bike fancy, find your bike purpose and this will drive any bike purchase/updates, apparel, and trip planning required for your cycling excursion.

What is your summer cycling dream?

Head gear

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When I first started to ride one of my biggest challenges was my hair, notice that my self-portrait has a voluminous gravity-defying curly crown that definitely does not fit under a bike cap. I’ve already shared my experience on my cycling hair journey for Seattle Bike Blog. The posts are chock-full of hair care advice for cycling. For this post I will focus on alternatives to bike caps and maintaining a luscious mane while cycling.

My first solution was a short Halle Berry style haircut that fit neatly under the helmet, no cap necessary. But last year I took on the daunting task of growing out my hair. While I love my fro, it is considerably more work than a visit to the barbershop once a month. Even though I depict myself with a full pick-out while riding, I always ride with a helmet and a head wrap. In fact, I only express my full fro glory for special occasions like engagement parties, holiday shindigs, and kick-ass bands. Most days I’m sporting a bandana, headband or wrap, especially at work because I’m not flossing my royal crown for any old office rat sporting khakis and a PowerPoint.

Bandanas are an urban cyclist staple, great for catching sweat and wrapping helmet ready hair. I fold mine along the diagonal so that it forms a triangle then wrap around my hair (so that all of the hair is inside the bandana) and tie it at the top of my forehead.  It’s similar to the way you would wrap your hair at night. This keeps my hair intact all day long, while maintaining a colorful hipster flare.

Headbands are great for work days, but since typical headbands don’t hold my hair back, I use neck warmers. I know it sounds strange, but this headband challenge was a blessing because I discovered that neck warmers can double as both a headband and cycling cap alternative. My favorite is the Smartwool Neck Gaiter which is made from a nice stretch wool that’s breathable, warm, flexible, and firm enough to hold my hair back as a headband and in place as a cycling cap. While the neck warmers are a great functional solution, they don’t come in a variety of colors or any fun or fashionable patterns.

Headwraps for cycling is my latest experiment. I’m fortunate to have acquired some decent sewing skills, so I’m testing out a few more fashionable ideas. My first design is a stretch cotton twist wrap that can also fold into a headband. So far it’s working pretty well and I like the look. I’ll keep you posted on future headgear designs and developments. Maybe an Afro-friendly cycling cap with a bill (brim) perhaps?

Have no fear your bicycle is here

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When I first told my sister that I had decided to ride a bike to work she accusingly inquired, “are you gonna be one of those crazy bicyclists riding on the street, in the middle of the night, wearing all black, with no lights or helmet?” Offended by the lack of confidence in my adulting skills I defensively responded “No! What makes you think I would be so irresponsible? And it’s cyclist, not bicyclist!” Expectedly our conversation went down from there, and while we’ve made up since this minor spat, we haven’t discussed this topic since that day. Hence, I continue to scoot around town on two wheels and zero doors, and she sneaks in snide bicyclist comments at family gatherings. You know, the usual sisterly love of avoidance‍.

While my sister’s frank comments still sting after five years of riding, the sentiment behind her accusation is understandable. That sentiment is fear; fear that I will run into a tree, slip on the ice, or fall into a puddle and crack my head on the sidewalk. And, most of all, fear that I will be fatally smacked down by a car when I suddenly appear in the driver’s line of sight.

The scariest part of this fear is that it’s complete perception and not grounded in fact or substantive proof that riding a bike is any more life-threatening than walking, driving, or sitting on the couch. I don’t mean to imply that my sister is unreasonable. She’s not; my sis is a perfectly rational human who lives in an American car culture. A car culture that exaggerates bike danger and fatalities while simultaneously normalizing and minimizing the number of car incidents and deaths. These days I ride bikes more than I drive (or ride in) cars and the only time I’ve been hit by a car was when I was in a car.

I know, bleak stuff for a cheery Afro-headed stick figure like me, but fear is the biggest hurdle in getting on a bike. At least once a day I hear “you’re braver than me.” They call me brave because of their fear, not mine. It’s ironic because it’s not bravery, it’s just lack of an unrealistic fear. Not that I am a fearless rider, not at all. I take to my bike ride with caution, care, and attentiveness; just as I do with any other activity in my life such as cooking, listening, walking, working, loving, talking, and breathing. No fear, just here.

Top five reasons to ride a bike

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It’s no secret, my ulterior motive for this site is to get you all to ride bikes because I’m selfish, and I know that if everyone rode bikes rather than cruising around in misery tanks then we would all be better off.  So I present to you my top five reasons to ride bikes and why.

5. It’s good for planet Earth

Well, it might be good for other planets too, but let’s stick to this one for now. This should be the number one reason, but it’s the least persuasive because, let's face it, the planet's been here my entire life, and it's not going anywhere.  Bikes are good for the planet because more bikes mean fewer cars, fewer cars mean less pollution, and less pollution means a better environment for the planet where my lungs, skin and hair reside.  A healthier planet means a healthier me.

4. It’s good for my health

My doctor agrees with me and she knows many health things.  Riding a bike is good exercise where I get to breathe deeply and take in my surroundings every day.  Also, see reason number five.

3. It’s a non-drowsy solution to road rage

Driving in Seattle can be the most frustrating experience from bottlenecks at bridges that go up and down to the cluster fuck around freeway entrances, sitting in a car staring at stupid bumper stickers makes me want to scream.  While driving in traffic my mood often swings from seething rage to mind-numbing boredom; I can only listen to so many podcasts.  Seriously, there is no boredom, rage, texting or sleeping while riding a bike.

2. It’s super fun

It’s so gosh darn fun. Does anyone need any other reason to do something every day other than it’s fun?

1. It’s raining outside

Because when’s the last time you danced in the rain like in that old black and white movie with that white guy singing, what was it called?  Also, the rain is moist which is good for my hair and skin; I'm an old woman so I need all of the hydration I can get.

 

So here's why I ride bikes, why do you ride?

Blogging about bikes and rain

This blog is about rain and bikes, sort of, for the most part. I guess, like a painting, the purpose of this site will unfold as times goes on. But to start here’s my intent:

 Me on my bike in the dewy Pacific Northwest

Me on my bike in the dewy Pacific Northwest

I want everyone to ride bikes, or something analogous to bikes, like roller skates, skateboards, shoes on sidewalks, butts in public transport, unicycles, hover-boards, scooters, heelys, or the like.

I want every human to ride bikes because more bikes means less cars, car emissions, and road rage.  

I want every human to ride bikes because it makes for a happier, healthier, and safer society.  

However, I understand that there are significant hurdles to overcome so that we can incorporate a bikes in our everyday lives.

I’ve been pushing my bike pedals to work for the past five years and have overcome several of these hurdles that I will share with you in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. I ride my bike all year round in the dewy Pacific Northwest and every day I ride, I get at least one question on how I accomplished this sheroic feat.

The most common question being “but what about the rain?” I’ve already blogged on this rain bike conundrum for the Seattle Bike Blog, But it’s raining outside, and I have many more tidbits to share on the rain and other bike challenges.

I want to make this a conversation. I hope that these posts will encourage you to comment, question, and share your bike stories.  

aviva@bikingintherain.com