Archive for ‘Events’

May 27, 2012

Intro to Bike Commuting (in Style) for Women: Talk & Shop Event at Two Wheel Transit May 30

Mark your calendar with an easy date to remember: 5/30 at 5:30. That’s when I’ll be at Two Wheel Transit at the invitation of owner Geoff Forshag to give an informal talk on how women can get started in bike commuting.

Two Wheel Transit, Spokane WA--logo

I’ve lost track of the number of times people–women in particular–have started a discussion with me along the lines of, “I would bike to work but [insert concern or perceived barrier here].”

Some people carry on this conversation in a quasi-confessional mode, feeling guilty for not riding because I’m standing there demonstrating that it’s possible to show up at a business meeting in professional clothing.

Others who start with this line are looking for the actual answers to the questions or barriers. These range from “I don’t actually remember those hand signals I learned when I was 10” to “What do you do about sweat or hair or carrying stuff?” to “How do I pick the best route?“.

I can whip out a few fast tips but in the middle of a business meeting or networking event I can’t really cover all the nuances. Hence this talk (and if you can’t be there but want me to give it again, let me know with an email to bikestylespokane-at-gmail.com. I love talking about riding and helping more people get started!).

Along with giving the talk I’ll be bringing the cuteness: some of the Nuu-Muus/Ruu-Muus, skirts, bags, gloves, lace-trimmed padded liners and knickers, Pedal Panties, and other adorableness I carry through Bike Style. It’s a great mix to add to all the bikes, gear, and other accessories available from Two Wheel, since my goal is to supplement rather than compete with any of the local bike shops. We all share a common goal: To get you rolling!

Since those of you reading this blog are presumably already riding to some extent, whether for recreation or transportation or the sheer joy of it, you may not need all the tips. Consider this an opportunity to bring your “bike-curious” friend along to get some encouragement.

Tomorrow I’ll post your assigned reading for the class, should you choose to do some prep work: A blogspedition round-up of some of the posts I’ve written so far about how I got started and the clothes I wear and guest blogger posts about their beginnings.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • What questions do/did you have about starting out that I should be sure to answer in this type of talk?
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May 25, 2012

Bike to Work. Bike to Eat. Bike to Shop. Bike to Everything.

Spokane Bikes logoThe post title is a theme we’ve used on our posters the past few years for Bike to Work Week and reflects the reason we changed our name from Bike to Work Spokane to Spokane Bikes. The Spokane Bikes philosophy is that we want to encourage people to bike for all kinds of transportation purposes, not just to and from work.

In fact, those short utility trips on a weekend—say, a run to the hardware store, fabric store, or grocery store—can be a great warm-up for transitioning into work-related riding with its greater demands for timely arrival and appropriate appearance at the end of the ride.

Once you’ve gone through that evolution from cautious beginner to full-fledged commuter, riding your bike in various kinds of conditions for different trip purposes, you might get a great week like what I had for this year’s Bike to Work Week.

Monday: In our fifth year we continued the “tradition” of having somewhat (ahem) moistish atmospheric conditions for the Kickoff Breakfast. But we didn’t get rained on. Not really.

Mayor David Condon, City Council President, and City Council member Jon Snyder all spoke, Pedals2People ran the bike corral, Spokane Transit had a bus parked for people to practice putting a bike on the rack (first transit agency in the state to have racks on every bus, in fact!), we instituted composting for our paper and food throwaways, and we got the week rolling.

I got to chat with stalwart Marc Mims, who every year leads a contingent of Spokane Valley-ites all the way to downtown for Mountain Gear pancakes and Roast House “Ride the Edge” coffee. This year he rode downtown alone—blame those threatening skies at the hour he had to leave to be downtown before 7 a.m.—but Amy Biviano, candidate for the State House of Representatives in the 4th legislative district who had ridden in separately, rode back with him. Bike-commuting State Rep. Andy Billig, now a candidate for State Senate in the 3rd LD and a volunteer for the event in years past, also attended the festivities.

Tuesday: Incredibly windy! Strong enough that when Belles and Baskets founder Betsy and I met up to have coffee, I have to ‘fess up that we wrestled my bike into the trunk of her little Honda Civic and drove together rather than me fighting my way to our rendezvous.

It was probably an entertaining sight to watch us load up, as my Donkey Boxx—while uber-awesome for hauling stuff—adds to the challenge of working with the hatch configuration of the Civic.

Further confession: I missed the Belles and Baskets group ride on the Fish Lake Trail in the evening and the post-ride chat at the bike-friendly Elk Public House, having gone home early and gotten comfy while I worked on some deadline-driven projects. I know, ladies, I missed out. Another time!

Wednesday: Energizer Stations! My sweetheart and I biked down together and stopped at Rings & Things (designated a Bike-Friendly Business by the League of American Bicyclists), where Polly and Amy served up Roast House coffee and bananas with the help of young Zander. For a good laugh read Marc Mims’ tale of coffee delivery woe, and shed a little tear over the spilled elixir of life.

The forecast for the day had some rain in it and I had quite a few meetings out of the office, but I had one of those lucky days where every time it rained I was inside and by the time I needed to ride the streets were drying out again. Biking has definitely made me far more weather-conscious.

At the end of the day, riding home around 7:45 p.m. from a LaunchPad event at Mobius Science Center (I can’t wait ’til it opens! Our kids are gonna love it), I saw the kinds of sights I’m sure I often missed as a driver, including a young African-American kid with one of the glossiest and most beautiful sets of long braids I’ve ever seen spinning along on a small bike and stopping to talk with his friends, and a double rainbow to the south over the freeway.

Eastbound on Fourth at Stevens I rolled alongside a man on the sidewalk who spun his wheelchair rapidly past Lewis and Clark High School, wearing a crisp white shirt and black dress pants. At the stoplight I wasn’t sure if the driver waiting behind me to turn right saw my wheeled companion since I might be blocking the view, so when the light turned green I moved slowly into the intersection to ride interference for a few yards before accelerating.

Thursday: An early-morning breakfast meeting followed by yet another meeting at Atticus Coffee, a regular stop for me thanks to the bike rack out front and the Roast House coffee served inside. (Yes, this is a recurring theme. I ride caffeinated and Roast House totally rocks the support for local bike events.)

After another busy day at work—busy because I was taking Friday off and had to pound out quite a few things before leaving for a four-day weekend—I headed to the always-rewarding Bike to Work Wrap-Up Party at Steam Plant Grill, one of our founding sponsors who every years throws a bike party for us and pours the beer they brew in-house.

I love that party. There are the regulars who have been there since the beginning, the ones who started riding that first year and have become regulars, the long-time bike advocates who’ve been at this far longer than I like Spokane Bike Buddy Eileen Hyatt, and the newbies who are thrilled with their accomplishments in their first-ever week of riding.

Spokane Public Radio, another important sponsor for Bike to Work Week, gave us some goodie bags to give away at the event. We weren’t doing a full-on raffle so co-chair Erika Prins and I hatched an idea: We would give the bags to people who have founded or established something that is making a difference and expanding opportunities and motivation to ride. Our list (and there would have been more had we had more goodies):

  • Bill Bender, founder of SpokeFest, which grew from their first ride the same year we founded Bike to Work Spokane to add Spokane Summer Parkways.
  • Marc Mims, who organizes the Spokane Valley activities for Bike to Work Week, rallied “Spokane Valley Cyclists FOR the Broadway Safety Project” to protect a key bike lane project from the ax, and put together a “Pedal with the Politicians” ride to educate elected officials about the project and the need for infrastructure.
  • Jon Snyder, Spokane City Council member and candidate for the House in the 3rd legislative district, for his leadership in spearheading adoption of the Complete Streets ordinance and all he does as publisher of Out There Monthly to highlight biking in the region.
  • Betsy Lawrence, founder of Belles and Baskets, which now has over 450 fans on Facebook and turns out dozens of women twice a month to ride, chat, and support each other in informal and transportation riding.
  • John Speare, blogger at Cycling Spokane and former member of the Spokane Bicycle Advisory Board who has been a consistent voice for everyday riding and the all-important “bike hang” at various beverage-dispensing establishments.

Friday: Stayed home, attended to the Women’s Bike Blogs list so I can keep highlighting featured blogs and adding to the RSS feed on Twitter and Facebook (from a list that will number over 700 the next time I post an update!), and did other bike-related word work like this post. I wish I’d had time to ride since we had some nice sunshine, but reflecting back on the week is worth the time.

Work to eat. Eat to live. Live to bike. Bike to work (and everything else). Happy biking!

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Pretend we have unlimited goodie bags. What unsung sparkplugs (to mix a metaphor) would you give them to as a thank-you for what they’ve done for biking in Spokane?
  • How much riding did you get in during the week? What kinds of destinations?
  • Did you help anyone get started riding this month? If so, self-high-five! (raise hands over head and jump a little as you slap them together)
May 15, 2012

It’s Time to Bike to Work, Spokane! (Energizing Update)

Ahahahaha! That’s a funny joke Mother Nature played on us. Responding to pleas that we hold the Spokane Bike to Work Week later than the national week because our Kickoff Breakfast always gets rained on, we scheduled this year’s events for Sunday, May 20-Saturday, May 26.

And did you get a load of that weather forecast for this week, which is National Bike to Work Week? Sunny and beautiful. Every. Single. Day. Next week? A little partly cloudy heading our way.

But not on Monday, I hasten to add. We will have a nice morning for the Kickoff Breakfast. This is your warm-up week and next week is the real deal.

So here’s the deal: You need to sign up. We want everyone who bikes to count and be counted and that’s what your registration does.

It’s a simple little form–about 30 seconds of your time–at the Spokane Bikes website. While you’re there you can RSVP for our fun events so the good folks serving up the food know how many riders to expect.

Monday, May 21, 7-9am: Kickoff Breakfast, Riverfront Park Gondola Meadows. Founding sponsor Mountain Gear will be serving up those great pancakes, and Roast House Coffee will pour some Ride the Edge to get you properly caffeinated for the day!

Wednesday, May 23, 6:30-8:30am or thereabouts: Energizer Stations, various locations. Date/time may vary depending on the specific location/sponsor so check the map and plan your route to get a boost on your way to work or whatever your destination may be.

Thursday, May 25, 4:30-6:30pm: Wrap-Up Party, Steam Plant Grill (another founding sponsor and a great bike-friendly restaurant with that rack in their covered parking area). Pay attention, peeps–party is on Thursday! Usually we wrap up on Friday but since the change of date pointed us into Memorial Day Weekend, we thought we’d party early, encourage you to ride one more day in the week, and leave Friday for you and the family.

Commute Challenge: All month long! Use the form to share how many vehicle miles you’ve avoided by riding your bike and help add to the awesomeness.

And did I mention you should sign up?

April 11, 2012

30 Days of Biking: Hills and Miles and Darkness, Oh My!

Today’s easy-squeezy 8.4 miles, broken up into nice manageable chunks of 10 minutes or less, nonetheless provided plenty of reminders of yesterday’s butt-burner: over 27 miles total, with a huge chunk of that spent slogging slowly up a hill climb that I thought would never end.

But it was fun, honest!

The set-up: I did my usual quick little ride to work, sprinting because I was going to be late to a meeting and beating my “race time” by at least 30 seconds.

After work I dressed in one of my cute little Nuu-Muus, a pair of actual (gasp!) bike shorts (couldn’t find the adorable lace-trimmed Sheila Moon lingerie knickers, alas, and decided I’d ride with more padding than Pedal Panties provide), and a white Sheila Moon bolero, along with (another gasp, please) bike shoes that let me clip in.

Just the thing for a nice long ride out to Spokane County Raceway Park, where Sweet Hubs and his compatriots were pitted against each other in the first of the season’s Twilight Series Road Race put on by his club, Baddlands.

Google Maps results list for routes from Riverpoint Campus to Spokane County Raceway ParkRoute selection required some comparisons of Google Maps choices. They offered three, with the kind suggestion, “Or take Public Transit” linked below, in case the idea of a ride of 9-10 miles with hill climbs (no matter what) didn’t appeal.

Their first proposed bike route, West Trails road accessed through the West Central neighborhood and Riverside State Park, involved dropping clear down to the Spokane River Gorge and climbing back up out of it. Beautiful, sure, but can’t we stay on top of the grade?

Route 1: West Trails via West Central neighborhood and a lot of extra climbing.

Route 2, while a mile shorter, carries with it a more hostile traffic setting, taking Sunset Boulevard (not bad) to US-2 (not good, although I’ve ridden it before—the highway is the main route to a correctional facility, a casino, and Fairchild Air Force Base, making it busy and full of people who may or may not want to be making that particular trip). The one thing this route does get almost right is the section from downtown west to the decision point where you have to head toward West Trails or stay on Sunset Boulevard.

Route 3, Government Way and West Trails, again has part of it right. But someone needs to ask Google Maps programmers, “Pretty please could you take terrain into account, by which we mean grade?” This route, too, drops you down into the river gorge, this time via Peaceful Valley, then brings you back up out.

Getting closer, but still some unnecessary concessions to gravity.

The key to my route selection, since I’m not training for the Tour de France, sounds a lot like advice in drawing up battle lines: Hold the high ground for as long as possible.

As soon as you start enjoying one of those exhilarating “Wheeee!” moments down a long hill the back of your brain should remind you that riding a bike is like riding a roller coaster: A down is generally followed by an up that will be a lot slower and not nearly as fun.

So the route I chose is the Barb route, based on feeling comfortable enough to skip the Centennial Trail and stick to streets that are straighter, knowing neighborhoods to cut through to skip some of the streets with more traffic, and eliminating as much climbing as possible for as long as possible.

  • Spokane Falls Boulevard around to where it connects to the short stretch of bike lane on Riverside Avenue, then into Browne’s Addition onto Pacific.
  • Through the roundabout at Cannon by The Elk (a bike-friendly restaurant!) and down to Sunset Boulevard.
  • To Government Way and out past the turn to Spokane Falls Community College. Not long after that stoplight, Government Way becomes West Trails and you start to cliiiiiiiiiiimb.
  • West Trails becomes Hayford Road, you take a quick right on Sprague, and you’re practically there. Or if you’re me, you go past “there” and end up visiting the vicinity of the correctional facility before backtracking and wending in through the construction to the raceway exactly an hour after I set off.

Where—ta-da!—I arrived in time to give Sweet Hubs a good-luck kiss before sending him off with the rest of the B-pack for their criterium (several fast laps around a relatively short, flat track). He won with a nice sprint at the end, which is a great payoff for all those winter nights he spent on the trainer in front of a movie.

We then rode home together through the gathering darkness, shivering a bit (wish I’d had those knickers to cover my knees!) until the ride warmed us.

The downhill “Wheee!” was incredibly fast considering how long it took me to climb going the other way. I couldn’t believe it when we’d already reached the traffic light by SFCC and I knew we had just a few more miles and a bit more climbing, thankfully separated by some straight stretches and downhill rests, and we’d be home.

We heard frogs singing their hearts out, felt the difference in temperature as we entered the urban core and felt the day’s warmth radiating out, and made it home safe and sound with 27-1/2 miles on my cyclometer and 1,392 calories burned according to my heart monitor dealio.

And today, I felt every single mile in my legs when I climbed, whether it was climbing a hill on my bike or a set of stairs at work to help rack up the mileage on my pedometer. It will be a couple of days before I try anything like that long a ride again, but it felt great to be able to do it.

I want to build back up to the mileage I used to accumulate that made it easy to plan a 30-40-mile ride with Sweet Hubs and I have to start somewhere.

Just, maybe . . . somewhere flatter?

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Climbed any really long hills/mountains? (Lately or ever?)
  • What’s the hardest part of it for you and how do you deal with that?
April 8, 2012

30 Days of Biking: Why Week 1 Doesn’t Have 7 Days of Riding in It, and why that’s OK

The ride reports for 30 Days of Biking hold me accountable, but they can’t change what life throws at you, so I’m not going to ride 30 days in April. And you know what? I’m okay with that.

When I set a goal—for the first time ever—of riding a certain number of miles and a certain number of days this year, probably the wisest reaction I got was from Kent Peterson, who writes Kent’s Bike Blog. After providing a link to a mileage tracker that gives you medals, he said, “…in the past few years I’ve gone the complete opposite in terms of mileage and instrumentation. I haven’t had a mileage computer on my bike for a couple of years. I often take pictures and write down stories, however.”

Yes he does, and I enjoy reading those stories. He has chosen mindfulness (one of my three watchwords for 2012 riding) over record-keeping.

I have reflected on that wisdom several times as I’ve had various reasons for not riding. Being really sick was an obvious one, and it took a while to come back from that. While I’m pretty hardcore as far as the weather I’m willing to ride in, preferring fresh air and people-powered movement over other options, the winter that waited until early spring to show up has presented a few days when riding really would have represented misery, not joy. That’s not why I ride.

And then there was this week. After getting off to a start with two very different days I had a “normal” day—riding to work and back.

That was followed by a trainer day on which I chose to throw my bike on the trainer in the evening and pedal far longer than I would have on the road. I’d had to drive to Pullman and back that day in pretty blizzardy conditions—a freakish snowstorm pounded the Palouse so I had three hours of nerve-straining car mileage. All I would have managed on the street would have been another token loop around the block. Since I do ride for health benefits as well as joy and transportation, I decided to burn more calories and work on building endurance for longer rides with Sweet Hubs.

Friday and Saturday I didn’t ride.

I didn’t ride because one of my favorite uncles passed away very unexpectedly and I went to the funeral.

For a brief moment I flirted with the idea of breaking my bike down and packing it into the back of my sister’s car so I could do token rides around the block in Lewiston, Idaho, where we were born and where the service was held.

Really? I really would have put keeping on track with a self-imposed series of checkmarks on a list over and ahead of these things?

  • paying attention to my family
  • celebrating my uncle’s incredible life
  • laughing at funny stories compiled by my aunt about his shenanigans–he was always one for a good laugh and a practical joke
  • mourning his passing, which came just six days after they discovered he had the same kind of silent, insidious cancer that killed Steve Jobs
  • sitting and talking with my siblings and drinking wine
  • catching up with my cousins, including my cousin who looks so much like his now-gone dad that I cried every time I hugged him
  • visiting my parents and holding my mother’s hand while she told me long stories full of gibberish because she has vascular dementia but at least she still laughs and smiles
  • staying up late into the night talking with my younger sister in our shared hotel room and sharing a piece of chocolate cream pie for breakfast (hey, we were hungry and it has dairy, right?)

In another post I mentioned getting a lift home in my husband’s truck and why I don’t think of that as something for which I need to apologize, which I imagine comes as a surprise to people who think I’m “too hardcore” for that.

I’m not. And being with my family and realizing all over again how fragile and short life is, how important it is to make every moment count, for me reflects the reason I ride my bike—the reason I pay attention—at a far deeper level than a calendar ever could.

April 2, 2012

30 Days of Biking: Starting off with Very Different Days

30 Days of Biking has only one rule: Ride your bike every day.Signing up for 30 Days of Biking “forces” riding on you. That isn’t an issue when you love to ride–or it shouldn’t be. But sometimes the day sort of sneaks away from you….

As did Day #1! I spent the day working away at my computer, watching a typical early spring day for Spokane: Snow, rain, wind, sun, rain, snow, wind. May have been sleet, too.

I kept waiting for the break that would entice me out the door but the sunshine always peeked through the clouds right when I had “just one more thing to do and then I’ll ride.” Then the ominous greyness would close in again.

Over the course of the day I tweeted a couple of times about #30daysofbiking. I posted on Facebook. I highlighted the post I wrote on Saturday, which I considered “30 Days of Biking Eve.”

But it wasn’t until 10:30 at night that I said, “I’m doing this!”, pushed back from the dining room table where I had been jacked into my laptop all day, and headed out the door.

Like one of the rides I took last September, this was a “nothing” ride taken only to keep up with the schedule. All of .45 miles long and roughly 3 minutes, the route took me out to the street near our house that has a bike lane, then around a little quiet neighborhood loop and back to the house.

For a nothing ride, though, it had peace and quiet, stars and wind, and the always-joyous feeling of moving myself under my own power. I was reminded all over again that every day with a bike ride is a good day.

Now today was just the opposite: a long, planned ride. I took the day off work for the start of spring break even though the kids weren’t around (grown-ups deserve spring break too!).

Sweet Hubs and I checked the forecast, which predicted the warmest weather (51 degrees F) around 2 p.m. and only a slight chance of rain. We watched the skies and broke out the gear at around noon.

We had discussed a couple of options and settled on an old standby: Ride down to the Riverpoint Campus where I work and from there take the Centennial Trail along Upriver Drive to the Rocket Bakery on Argonne, around 9 miles one way.

Spokane experienced record-setting rain in March and the Spokane River rushed past us, swollen with rain and snowmelt, for most of the route. Parts of the trail where it runs closer to the river were actually underwater but the on-street bike lane on the shoulder was fine.

After a coffee and bagel at the Rocket we walked up to Argonne Cyclery to check out the stock, then took a different route home we’d planned with the help of my smartphone while we sipped.

One of the things I love about riding my bike is the freedom it gives me to take different routes. Something about being in a car puts us all on autopilot (tell me you haven’t found yourself taking the wrong freeway exit because it’s one you always take but this time you were supposed to be going somewhere else). I can’t be on autopilot on my bike because mindfulness matters, and that applies to route selection as well as riding tactics.

This was an awesome route and one we’ll take again. I’d highly recommend it as a way to get from Millwood back to the South Hill on some different streets.

From Argonne we took Empire/Euclid (conveniently located a block south of the Rocket Bakery) west; it’s a quiet residential street alongside the railroad tracks. Heading south on Park we were delighted to find a bike lane that took us almost all the way to Sprague, with just one pinch point under an overpass just north of Sprague.

We headed west again on Eighth, which at some point becomes Hartson. We passed a historical marker indicating we were on the original Captain John Mullan Trail and a creative scarecrow on a bike perched in a field, among other sights.

At Freya you have to take a righthand turn onto the one-way–a bit of traffic at this spot. We headed westbound again on Fifth to Liberty Park, and along the way we passed some little neighborhood businesses and the East Central Community Center

Here we had a choice. We could turn north and get through the weird stretch of Second Avenue at the Hamilton exit to take Arthur southbound. It’s doable but I wouldn’t send a newbie through there–lots of traffic, including encounters with people who have just exited the freeway and haven’t ditched all the speed yet despite the signage (including the fatality statistics sign).

Instead, we climbed a steep set of switchbacks on the paved Ben Burr Trail up out of Liberty Park (look for it at the east end of the park). This brought us out onto a steep gravel street–our old friend Hartson–and from there we hit Perry and rode south to home.

Tomorrow will have me back in the usual commuter routine–no problem getting a day of riding in there. We’ll see how the full 30 days go, but at least I’m off to a rolling start! (Including my second road test of my new Sheila Moon Lingerie Knickers with the lace trim–watch for a review post soon.)

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • How did Day 1 go?
  • Day 2?
  • You can start the 30 days April 3 and go through May 3, if you like–planning to jump in now?
March 31, 2012

Another 30 Days of Biking–Can We Do It? Heck Yeah!

Rosie the Riveter. You Can Do It!Last September I recorded my daily path through 30 Days of Biking, making it through the month riding (and blogging) every single day.

April is another 30-Day-er and I’m in again. Are you with me?

April can be the cruelest month, involving as it does a week’s worth of travel to Washington, DC, for me that will make bike time a little more challenging (that and other issues shot down my attempt in April 2011). Good thing DC has a bike share program! (Although it would be even cooler if I could find someone to borrow a bike from.)

I’m not promising 30 blog posts this time; that was tougher than the riding! I’ll do the weekly “accountability” posts because keeping track does make a difference.

Want to sign up? Register at 30 Days of Biking, check them out on Facebook, and if you’re on Twitter be sure to use #30daysofbiking to talk about your rides.

30 Days of Biking has only one rule: Ride your bike every day.And here’s an offer for you: If having a bike buddy to encourage you will help you complete the challenge and email encouragement will fill the bill, send me an email at bikestylespokane-at-gmail-dot-com (fooled you, spammers!).

I’ll send you all a daily email, and if fame is a further incentive and you have stories to share about your adventures I’ll feature them in blog posts here (with whatever identification you want me to use).

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Are you up for it?
  • What will represent the biggest barrier or issue for you (that you can foresee at this point)?
  • How do you plan to get past that?
March 22, 2012

Shop & Swap! Spokane Bike Swap Saturday-Sunday

Close-up of Nuu-Muu and Ruu-Muu fabricsC’mon down! Bike Style Spokane will hold our first shopping event of the season (it is the season, honest! Snow? What snow?) at this weekend’s Spokane Bike Swap.

The event offers plenty of reasons besides our bike stylin’ cuteness to head on out to the Spokane Fairgrounds, and with a forecast of 57 degrees for Saturday and 59 for Sunday you’ll be itching to think about bikes (and what you’ll wear riding, of course).

The deets–

Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Sunday, 9 a.m.-noon

Spokane Fairgrounds, Annex A

Entrance fee: $5 (kids 12/under free)

Proceeds benefit the Friends of the Centennial Trail, who have worked for decades to provide this great community amenity.

Once upon a time I was a volunteer for the North Idaho Centennial Trail Committee as we worked to construct the trail segment on that side of the state line, before I moved back to Spokane to a location that lets me ride along the Spokane River pretty often (but never often enough).

If you’re in the market for a bike for yourself or a kidlet in the family, you’ll have an array to choose from, both new and used–everything from mountain bikes to recumbents. If you’re ready to trade up or get rid of a spare you can sell your bike too ($10 fee to sell).

You’ll find bikes and gear both new and used, the chance to practice getting your bike on and off the bike rack on a Spokane Transit bus, helmet fitting, bike tour info, and more–and of course, the chance to hang out with Spokane’s friendly bike community and talk shop.

Bike Style will be there with a sampling of some of the cute products we carry and a new item or two you haven’t seen yet, with special pricing on a few items just for you.

Pop quiz: What’s one of the distinguishing features of the Spokane Transit system as it relates to bikes? Post your guesses in the comment section below and I’ll post the answer later.

Poster for Pedal Panties: Underwear for extra comfort on your bike saddle that fits under regular clothes. Made in US.

Pedal Panties. You know you want 'em. Or need 'em. More than underwear, less than a bike short.

November 27, 2011

Belles and Baskets: The Beginning

By guest blogger Betsy Lawrence, whose words you’ll see popping up here every so often

Belles and Baskets Spokane women's bike club on a ride in August 2011

A Belles ride, August 2011. Betsy Lawrence front/left, Wilma Flanagan next to her, in matching Ruu-Muus.

I am confident that I am not alone in this admission—I love women’s groups. Coffee groups, dessert groups, yoga groups, study groups—several years ago, when I was searching for the fabulous man who later became my husband, I even created a group with women who were dating on-line. I believe that if something is worth doing, I want my peeps doing it with me!

Therefore, it is no surprise that when I began actively biking, I didn’t want to do it alone. I knew there were cycling groups, but I was never going to become a bike racer or mountain biker. I am a big chicken who high-fives myself every time I get across a busy intersection; what biking group would want me?

I wished there was a group I could join and decided that since there wasn’t one, I would start one. I love alliteration, so I thought the name Belles and Baskets would capture the essence of the cyclists I would bring together.

I really had no idea how to begin, but one Friday morning, I started a Facebook page and registered a Yahoo email address. I sent the page to a few friends, and by that afternoon, it had thirty fans. By the end of the weekend, there were twice that many. I planned a ride a couple weeks later and several women met at The Scoop Ice Cream Shop. A couple were friends of mine, but several others came whom I had never met. We had a nice ride followed by ice cream, and new friendships and a cycling group were formed.

Our "Cranksgiving" ride the day after Thanksgiving 2011. Cold but sunny! Left to right: Michelle, Katherine, Betsy, Barb, Patty, Stephanie. Wilma is behind the camera in this shot.

For the past three years, we have had organized rides twice a month from about April to October (weather permitting), and our membership has grown into the hundreds. We have ridden around all areas of Spokane through neighborhoods, trails, and downtown and always meet where we can relax over treats afterwards. We have members of all ages, those who haven’t ridden a bike for decades, and those who are competitive athletes. Some of us are committed bike commuters and racers, while others have rarely ridden on a busy street. We are a no-drop group, meaning no woman is ever left behind. We will happily ride with slower members and enjoy chatting with newcomers.

With such diverse backgrounds and skills, the Belles come together with common goals: improving biking skills, exploring areas to ride, meeting new friends, and enjoying refreshments together. I am proud of what Belles and Baskets has become and hope to be surrounded by these athletic, courageous, kind women for years to come.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Do you usually ride alone?
  • If you’ve gone on group rides, how does that riding experience differ from solo rides?
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November 23, 2011

Cranksgiving Ride, Relax, Reward

I’m anti-Black Friday. For days I’ve been posting things on Facebook about buying local or staying home instead of mobbing the big-box retailers at oh-dark-thirty for whatever this year’s “must-have” gift items are. The whole notion of storming the gates of retail to get all the holiday shopping over with in one mad blur leaves me puzzled.

That’s because when I shop, I like to enjoy shopping.

I want to linger. I want to talk to someone. I want to get a good look at what I’m buying, for heaven’s sake. And if it’s a gift, I want to spend some time thinking about whether it’s just right for the person who will receive it. None of that happens on Black Friday as it now takes place.

I recently took a survey put together by one of the Washington State University interior design students. Among other questions, she asked for a description of what makes for an ideal shopping event. I wish I had saved what I wrote there because I came up with quite the list. I’ll do what I can to recreate it—

  • I want to feel as if the owner and/or people engaged in the transaction know and love the products they sell.
  • I want to feel welcome whether or not I look as if I will buy anything.
  • I want it to smell nice (which for me means not full of plastic-y off-gassing or mustiness–better yet, a nice smell that makes me think of something delicious or something beautiful).
  • I want to stumble on some little unexpected find I wasn’t looking for that is just right.
  • I want to enjoy time with friends and drink some good coffee as part of the experience.
  • Ideally the shopping is part of a process of discovery on my bike—I’ve never had so much fun shopping as I have on the Bikespeditions I hatched this summer.

And guess what? Along with the lovely ladies of Belles and Baskets, I’ve put together a little event for this Friday that accomplishes quite a few items on the list.

I didn’t manage to get the “funky discovery of some new shop I’ve never heard of that I fall in love with” element that was also on my list. But with a bike ride mid-morning, coffee and conversation at The Shop on South Perry after, then some light shopping at my house with all the Bike Style goodies from this summer on display—plus new fabrics in Po Campo bags and Nuu-Muus/Ruu-Muus—I’ve come as close as I can get without mounting a full Bikespedition.

I’ll put some Green Bluff cider in the Crockpot, make some hot, tasty Roast House Coffee, and set out a goodie or two for snacking. You can try on a Nuu-Muu (two new fabrics just in!), see if the new helmet covers from Hub and Bespoke in Seattle (available in black or cranberry cotton velveteen) look awesome on your helmet, and talk bikes with whoever’s there.

If you do head out into the shopping madness and burn out–or if it’s the family madness at home you need to escape–I hope you’ll come have fun with us!

The weather.com forecast for Friday, Nov. 25, 2011, as of Wednesday night.

11 a.m.: Meet at The Shop. The Belles and Baskets ride assumes the weather will cooperate, and at this point it looks as if it will be cold but sunny.

We’ll do a short loop with a long-loop option for those who want more of a hill climb.

Officially 2-6 p.m.: Stop by my house* for a drop-in Bike Style shopping event. I’ll have the usual product assortment I had at the various bike events in Spokane over the summer (on sale) plus some new jewelry, helmet covers, and ear covers. (I say “officially” at 2 p.m. because whoever comes on the Belles and Baskets ride is welcome to head on over to my house whenever we start breaking up.)

If you’re thinking, “Oh, I shouldn’t buy things for myself this time of year—I’m shopping for others,” I’ll offer up a special Shopping Helper service. Come shop, make notes about what you want, and tell me who to email the list to. I’ll take care of it and you’ll know that at least one important gift recipient—you—has been taken care of in the manner you deserve.

*Where’s my house? Call or text 509-869-2949, email bikestylespokane at gmail.com, become a Bike Style fan on Facebook, or DM @BikeStyleSpok on Twitter.

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