I've been riding a bike since just after I could walk. I vaguely remember
rickety training wheels on a pink bike, ridden up and down the trailer
park in Quebec. The training wheels where then moved to a bare bones red
one speed when we moved to BC. I feel off that red bike while I was just
learning to ride without training wheels (again in a trailer park, luckily
fell on pine needles and wood chips) and the bare metal bar end ripped up
the skin on my throat - this marked the first time that I recall seeing my
mom cry. I healed up without a scar, though I remember the 4 inch long red
mark hanging around for a couple of months at least. Around this time, my
younger sister got a three speed bike, and lo, I was envious. I think I
a 5 speed, and she got a 7 speed, then I got a 10 speed and she got a 12,
it was annoying. :)
We moved to Ontario and my bike became my primary mode of transportation,
especially when I hit grade 7 and my new school was just a bit too far to
walk to. The high school was even further away, and so were all my sources
of entertainment: the pool and the pool hall. :) This period is marked by
the reason I have a deep seated fear of high curbs: I rode too close to
one and tore most of the skin off my right ankle. Luckily, again, no scar.
The MPs were also rumoured to be stopping cyclists and warning them that
they had to have lights and bells on their bikes, so that's when I started
keeping those accessories as standard accoutrements. My dad had an 18
speed bike with panniers that I was envious of, and he'd occasionally let
me try to ride it (he's only about 2 inches taller than I am), and we'd
have a blast going out the rolling hills along the artillery range road to
Lisle - I remember him getting up to 60kph/38mph one time, and I was close
behind him, scared out of my socks that I'd hit a rock and go flying off
After high school, I moved into a dorm room at my university and didn't
take my bike with me. I eventually gave my parents permission to sell it
at a yard sale, after I got a shiny new one, but they ignored me and I'm
pretty sure it's still in their basement. :) I think I got a hand me down
bike when I moved downtown - I remember riding it to York *once*, it was
around 18km or 11miles, and I was exhausted by the time I got there
(granted, it was all uphill). It eventually got stolen, while chained up
on my front porch, one day when I was out at the Ontario Science Center. I
was heartbroken, and kept the pieces of cut chain to remind me to keep my
bikes safe thereafter. I moved to Brampton for a while, and a friend
loaned me a 10 speed to ride to work - the last bus left at 6, and I would
often work late, so the bike was perfect. The drivers, however, were not,
and I got a flat tire riding on a section of rare sidewalk while trying to
not get killed. The flat stymied me for quite a while, my bike repair
skillz were zero.
I joined a gym and part of the sign up package was a new mountain bike. I
had to get a friend to drive me into downtown Toronto to a sketchy
warehouse to pick it up, but I loved that bike. I lived on the 4th floor
of an apartment building, and I'd haul it up the stairs every day after
work. It came with me when I moved back to downtown Toronto (kept it safe
to avoid theft, but I was carpooling to work back in Brampton (and hating
the driving)) and then to Boston. I ended up getting a bike from a shorter
friend of mine and passing this one on to another friend who needed one. The
smaller bike had correspondingly smaller wheels and while it was comfortable
to ride (though it needed regular maintenance - at one point a brake cable
snapped), I was getting a bit annoyed at being passed by all the other cyclists. :)
Here are my most recent bikes, where I've got a bit more detail still embedded in my brain. :)
My first new bike in years, I bought a Trek 7300 hybrid from Ace
Wheelworks. I remember working out the cost for public transit over the
time I'd been riding to work in Boston and realising that $500 for a bike
was cheap at the cost, never mind comparing it to owning a car (I sold
mine when I moved, didn't need it, and wasn't allowed to import it
anyway). I rode this thing into the ground. I took my first bike
maintenance class through Bikes
Not Bombs and tore this thing apart and then put it back together
again. Found out that the front stem was worn and that caused the front
wheel to list to the side. Also found that the shocks it came with on the
front fork were useless - they wore out and became dead weight, as they're
I did a couple of long rides on this bike, taking it on the carriage roads
in Acadia National Park (awesome
place to go in the fall), and riding from
Rockport back to Boston with some friends (that was the ride that cemented
my need for a new bike - I just couldn't keep up with everyone).
I'm currently (2006+) riding a 2006
Marin Kentfield that I bought new at Broadway Bikes in Cambridge,
MA. I picked the frame because it fit my 5 foot 3 frame without undue
stretching to reach the handlebars, but swapped out some components:
I specificially got the version with no front shocks, but did get an in
seat post shock.
- Double wall rims, front and rear, XRims202 (need to verify name,
can't find a web listing)
- New gearing:
- Added fenders with mudflaps and a Blackburn rear rack - the first rack
they installed didn't fit my panniers, had to swap out to one with thinner
- Specialized Armadillo 700c
32mm wide tires (no flats in over a year of riding *knocks
- Specialized Body Geometry seat - I like having the cut out, it makes
me better about sitting properly on my sit bones
- Moved the kickstand and bell from the old bike
The picture is of my Marin all kitted out for the first ride to work. I
carry a change of clothes, my lunch, my purse, usually a book, and
emergeny repair tools in the panniers. My work laptop will also fit in
there, but it's heavy and I get really nervous riding in traffic with it.
My boyfriend built me a new front wheel with a generator hub after my bike got hit, and now I've got an electric headlight and tail light. Before he announced that, I had ordered handbuilt wheels from Tyler at Paramount, and am still running that rebuilt back wheel.
I had to buy a bike right quick when I had a collision,
and ended up getting a red Giant Boulder mountain bike off of Craigslist. It came with a rack, but I
ended up putting an old saved rack on, as the metal of the mount points was so thin,
the mounting bolts were hitting the rear cassette. The woman selling it had only ridden on the Minuteman bike path, it was pristine, and she threw in the rack,
nylon panniers, a lock, lights, and a floor pump.
I rode it for a month to work, but it's a bit too long for me, so I'm retiring it until I can go off roading on it and use my now repaired Marin.
Nov/09 got a shorter headset to go between the steering tube and the handle bars, swapped out less knobby tires for city riding.
I ride all year round, in all weather conditions. I've face planted on icy
concrete (vitamin E lotion kept me from scarring, and my teeth were only
loose for a little while :) ), and skidded around a corner due to wet
crosswalk paint (unfortunately, though the scar is almost gone 3 years
later, the ligament trauma is still plauging me - it's not torn, but my
right knee ACL is not a happy camper). The gear I was wearing probably
saved me some injury - full face balaclava for the winter riding, and
waterproof rain pants for the wet days. Here's my current gear list, honed
through the years.
Always wearing these:
If it's not too cold or hot:
- padded half finger riding gloves - I wear them out, and lost one of a
pair, so I don't stick with just one brand. I liked the full leather palm
cannondale ones that I had for a while, but anything that has padding on
the palm and the base of the thumb is great. Bonus is that they keep my
hands from slipping on the gears when I'm sweaty, and they've got a terry
cloth part useful for wiping my face.
- Sunglasses with replaceable lenses - dark for sunny days, white for
night riding, and amber for overcast days (or night). I lose and break
sunglasses on a regular basis, so I don't go for anything but the cheapest
ones that are comfy. I prefer the single lens over two, less to lose.
- Helmet. Duh. I got some reflective stickers at one point, threw those
on the brim. I have a Bell Bella one with a brim, the brim keeps the rain
out of my eyes and provides some shade during my regular commutes (I go
east in the morning, west at night *sigh*). I like the adjustable plastic
band inside, it sits up off my head and I can quickly adjust it depending
on how much I'm wearing under it (ear warmers and balaclava take up some
ankle band. I got the dog tags for Cris and decided to get one for myself
at the same time. It's reflective, so I also use it for night riding on
the curb side leg. It's got emergency contact info, and my blood type, drug allergies and health plan ID. Just In Case[tm].
- Title 9 Eureka
workout pants. Ankle zippers keep them from getting in the
chain, and they're roomy enough that I don't feel too self consscious
walking around in them. Worth every penny.
- Running shoes. I don't use toe clips or clipless pedals, due to foot
joint issues, so I just wear my regular running shoes. My newest pair (Brooks Addiction) are awesome because they don't have any vent panels so they keep the wind out and are comfortable to wear in cooler weather.
- T-shirt + sports bra + sports socks. Oddly enough the t-shirt has to
be just right.
A bit roomy for air circulation, not too short or it'll show flesh, not
too long or it will get caught on the bike seat. I prefer the sports bra
because most of my regular bras have underwires, and they're not generally
made for active use.
- Cycling jacket: I'm going to just list these in reverse order, it's getting to be a long list, current one is at the top
- After I shredded the arm of the O2 jacket (skidded out while mountain biking), I picked up a Canari Tour jacket where the arms zip off into a vest. I'm not happy with it, it's not waterproof despite a review praising it's merits, the zips let in the cold air now that fall's here, it's got a stupid strap in the rear pocket, and it doesn't sit over my hips well. I have a gift cert. for a bike shop, hope to go and get another Shower's Pass jacket.
- O2 3Flow jacket - purchased when I wore out the Showers Pass jacket, my only mistake was getting the men's style, it's a bit tight at the hips. Nice reflective piping for night riding, pit zips, soft collar liner and a mesh back pocket that's a bit flimsy but keeps my keys safe. Not quite as breathable as advertised, I need to keep the zippers down for air flow.
- Showers Pass women's century jacket
- Sugoi escher long sleeved jersey - perfect once it starts getting a
- Ibex wool long sleeved jersey - very light weight wool, good for when
it's just dropping toward freezing.
I can't wear a backpack or messenger bag, so the bike gets to carry
- Jando underseat bag - keep my tire irons and a cheap patch kit in
this, it never comes off, so nothing valueable stays in here. Clip the
rear red light to the reflective band.
- A matched pair of Vaude waterproof roll top panniers on my rear
rack. Love 'em. I bought replacement shoulder straps to get ones with
padding but other than that, I use them as is. Lasted me for years, just
need to use the patch kit on one corner where a crease has worn through.
I've been told that Ortlieb has bought Vaude, their stuff looks eerily
similar. Holds *everything*. One warning: I had to put in a special order for them and the Ortleib patch kit as I was shopping "out of season", aka winter when it was wet and I needed a waterproof pannier. Also, be prepared to shell out for the waterproof stuff, I paid $60 each for the panniers, and have honestly never regretted a penny of it.
- Arkel rack trunk. I got this for doing a 100km charity ride, and the
lack of wind resistance has made a huge difference when I use it. It has a
waterproof cover that pulls over it, and fairly well sealed zippers, and
will hold my mini pump, a spare tube plus the necessary contents of my
- Burley flat bed bike trailer. Love. :) Used for major dinner party
shopping, laundry and hopefully soon for hauling firewood. Holds up to
100lb, but it's balanced on two wheels so towing lots of weight has only
dropped me down a gear from my regular slot.
- Standard reflective strips on my jacket, Vaude
panniers, RoadID, and bike reflectors.
- Helmet mounted Petzl Zipka headlamp - I love this thing. Before
getting it, I'd break my front lights on a regular basis, due to dropping
them while taking them on and off the bike to avoid theft.
- REI white reflective ankle band
Rear red blinky light - these ones I break all the time, so it's
whatever one's still alive that I've got clipped to my underseat bag.
Cris built me a front wheel with an integrated generator hub, and I've got a front facing electrical white light and a rear facing electric red light +
reflectors now. One switch on the front light turns both on, and they stay on for a couple of minutes even after I stop moving. Love it so much! Peter White Cycles for lighting systems.
- Novara rain pants from REI. Reflective stripe down the long ankle
zipper is good for night riding. I used to have Showers Pass rain pants,
but the men's cut just didn't work for me.
- Seal Skinz waterproof socks - for when it's *really* wet
- Rubber rain boots - if all else fails, these keep my feet dry when
biking through deep puddles. Not comfy to walk in though, so I don't often
resort to them.
I hate the heat. No really. I get cranky and miserable. But I still ride.
- I've got a pair of Pearl Izumi Bliss mountain bike shorts that I wear
when it's too warm to have anything on my legs. The chamois doesn't feel
too much like a diaper, and it's got mad pockets. Also, not tight, though
I do look a bit like a bike police officer when wearing them + black
running shoes on my black bike.
- Gordini cap sleeve jersey - so light it's like wearing nothing.
- Sugoi racing bike shorts - got these for a long ride, and found that
the chamois hits right at the edge of my seat and it left a bruise. Should
try them with the new seat, but they're not as comfy as the mountain bike
I'll bike as long as it's -20C or above, I can't stay warm if it's colder
than that. If the roads are clear enough for cars to drive on them, I can
bike on them. Boston doesn't get enough snow to warrant studded tires, so
I just use "all season" non slicks and ride carefully. Only ice will make
me stop if it's over -20C, but I've ridden through blizzards and lived to
tell the tale. It's actually pretty fun once you get the hang of going
with the skids, but I hate getting snow flakes up my nose. Ice Bike has lots of great cold weather
tips, if I don't get pogies or moose
mitts to keep my hands warm, I'm thinking of investing in the Vulpine
Adaptive IceBike Mitt (crap, may not be available any more), as usually, it's my fingers getting cold that
makes a winter commute miserable. Also check out Bike Winter for more resources.
- Smartwool hiking socks + liner socks - warm and breathable, I tend to wear these
even when I'm not on my bike :)
- Woolskins long underwear (top and bottom) - I got these for a mountain trek and *love* them. Down to -10C I can wear the top under my winter jersey and rain jacket and am toasty warm.
- Salomon Avo winter boots - ankle high, with a cut out at the back,
waterproof and warm warm warm, they're rated down to -40.
- Polar fleece pants (with ankle zippers) under my waterproof rain pants
- the wind is cut and the insulation layer traps the heat, and slush is
kept at bay
- I've got some Pearl Izumi lobster claw gloves that mostly keep my
hands warm, I still wear liner gloves + padded gloves under them, but
when it's uber cold it's actually better to just wear the 'claws, as the
furry lining traps the heat and wicks moisture. I'll also fall back on my
old, much mended, standby pair of wool+thinsulate hunter gloves - the
mitten part folds back and exposes half finger gloves, I'll wear liner
gloves underneath, and it makes it a lot easier to lock and unlock the
bike. In Jan/09 I picked up a new pair of ski mitts with a removable fleece liner mitten and have been using them when it's around -10C, they block the wind much more reliably than the lobster claws, and my fingers prefer the mitten form factor over gloves.
- Pearl Izumi wool jersy - I *love* this thing, I even wear it skiing,
it's not scratchy due to the lining, and is so cuddly and warm. *bliss* (this is the newer model version of what I have, mine's grey)
- Avalanche polar fleece jacket - close fitting, zips up the front
Marmot ski jacket shell - sheds water and wind. I've started just using my rain jacket as a shell, it works perfectly fine and has enough room for layers.
- Polar fleece ear band
- Polar fleece balaclava - they sell ones for biking where the top is
less fuzzy so it fits under your helmet. Keeping my head and neck warm is
key to staying warm in sub zero temps. I'll sometimes double up the balaclavas when it's windy instead of doing ear band + balaclava. Tip: put the arms of your sunglasses between the fleece and the helmet straps so that the wind doesn't get funnelled right into your ears.
I'll most likely be updating this as I gather my thoughts about the
incident. If this happens to you, I'd recommend actually going to the
emergency room to get checked out - it'll probably be easier to do it
right then rather than waiting.
Update C+1month: the bike is finally back, two new wheels and a crank, and it feeels really funny to be riding a hybrid again after a month on a mountain bike. But bonus: no knee pain. Still no sign of a payout from the insurance co for the bike repair, though they've been quick enough to cover the medical bills. A minor hassle was that Ace couldn't do an insurance quote after Paramount tried to fix the wheels, so I had to bring it back to Paramount for the quote, then home while I waited for the parts to come in, and then back again for the installation of the new parts, and then again to go pick it up. Lots of time wasted due to that one instant of collision. :/
Update: the insurance company paid for the quoted bike repair 4 months after the collision. No long lasting injuries for me, but my replaced rear brake cable housing has been giving me trouble ever since. The bike's due for an overhaul before winter hits again, so that should take care of that.