Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Friday, January 27, 2012


Back when I was in high school, I did a week long backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail (AT). It was not terribly long, but a good challenge for me at the time. And it was just enough to whet my appetite for backpacking in the future.

I had never done anything like it before, and had to prepare from scratch. I used a large part of my allowance for the year to buy boots and pay for the trip. I borrowed a backpack from a friend, who had done the trip the year before. She had raved about how much fun it was, and encouraged me to go. I had my own sleeping bag - all kids do, right? In retrospect, I should have tried to borrow a proper one. The rest of my gear consisted of shorts, a pair of jeans and a couple of t-shirts, pretty simple.

Monday, January 23, 2012

At Least it's Not Raining

-Forbidden Topics of Conversation on Bike Rides-

As you may know from reading a previous blog entry, I like my bike rides to include lots of conversation. But there is one subject I just will not tolerate being discussed during any ride, and that's threatening weather. RAIN is a 4 letter word. There is simply no disputing that. And it is just imprudent to discuss rain out loud (or even think about it) during any bike ride.

Bring on discussions of politics and religion. By all means, we should get our heart rates elevated occasionally on a bike ride. The more controversial the better. And don't hold back when talking about your favorite sports team, especially if they aren't local.  Although don't expect me or Fear Rothar to have a clue whether the team you are talking about is in a sport with a large round ball, a small round ball, a large odd shaped ball, or a puck.

Friday, January 20, 2012

OK, for real this time...

Yes, I must live under a rock. I don't watch reality television - so I'm not terribly current on the whole public vote-for-me thing. I just signed up for facebook to get some photos from a friend last summer. But we have had the website for a while, and I would occasionally get a query from someone asking if we had a mailing list or a way to notify folks of updates. I finally realized that blogging would be the best way to 1) get me to post photos from trips and rides in a more timely manner and 2) allow folks to subscribe or get notified when we have something new. So we started the blog.

It was quite timely as the Rapha Festive 500 - Ride to Redemption came soon after, and gave me something to write about for a while, and provided some inspiration for using the new camera, as well as a chance to possibly win some swag.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Why I Love to Ride in the Winter

I do love crisp winter rides. Although I could have passed on the gale force winds today...

But once we got into more sheltered areas, and especially once we started heading home with that strong wind at our backs, we were better able to appreciate the deep blue sky and sunshine that makes winter rides so nice.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

35F and Sunny

We finally got some snow in eastern Massachusetts. There is still not enough to use the cross-country skis, but enough to prompt me to mount a studded tire on front of the Green Queen (aka my green Cielo by Chris King). It has been amazingly mild this year and this is definitely the latest I have have ridden into winter without studs.

The Green Queen is my nominal commuting bike. John calls it my 50 year old hammer - with two new handles and three new heads.  I've had the bike for 18 years, and over the years I have replaced almost everything except the Phil Wood Fixed hub.  Yes, even the frame has been replaced.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Social Riding

While the weather holds this winter, I will continue to lead what I call a social ride on Tuesdays out of Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington, MA. This is a ride that starts and ends with a coffee, covers some quiet scenic roads and usually includes a lunch stop. We ride at a Goldilocks pace - not too fast, not too slow, just right! (If you're in the area and have Tuesdays free, please come join us.)

So what exactly is a social ride? Recently a conversation erupted on the email list of my local recreational club about riding etiquette. I was rather surprised by some of the opinions expressed about what makes a good club/social ride. But I suppose more to the point is whether a recreational club ride is a social ride. In the case of this club, the word social is very much part of the club charter. When I go on club rides, I am looking for a social ride.

So I thought I'd share my thoughts on social riding here on my own little soapbox :-)

First and foremost, a social ride is not a race***. If you want to race, fill out the entry form, pay your fee, pin your number on, warm up, race, and then go stand on the podium, and collect your medal and prize money. This doesn't mean that you can't occasionally sprint for a town line on your social ride, but don't assume that the rest of the group will join you or be impressed by your athletic prowess as you raise your hands in victory. I have yet to see newspaper headlines proclaiming any winner of the Concord Town Line Sprint*. I do know of plenty of people who treat a weekly Tuesday evening club ride like the world championships, but I honestly don't know anyone who is impressed that someone else won it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Vote early and often

For those of you who do facebook...

Seeking support for our effort at Redemption - Rapha style. There will be a public vote to decide the top three for the Rapha Festive 500 on Rapha's facebook page on Friday 13th January, postponed to the 20th January.

Vote early and often!

And if you don't do facebook, here's a great excuse to start!

If you haven't seen the earlier blog entries and don't know what I'm talking about, check out our Festive 500 page.

My Love/Hate Relationship with Bib Tights

I must admit to having a love/hate relationship with bib shorts and tights. When I first starting cycling, I was thrilled to find women's bib shorts. I gave Dawn Urbanek lots of business back when she was making some lovely stylish women's bibs. One of the advantages of bibs is the lack of a binding waistband, which for me, seems to add pressure on a full bladder! The disadvantage, especially for women, is that they add a little hassle, when the bladder is full and in need of emptying.

OK, maybe if I didn't start out every ride with coffee...
Or if I kept my rides short...
Or if I only rode in temperatures where jackets aren't needed...
Or if I didn't want access to jersey pockets...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Knees and Elbows!

Yesterday I thought I'd need to apply some sunscreen to the backs of my calves today, figuring I would likely be in knee warmers. I guess I forgot what 70F feels like. Hopefully I didn't get sunburned on all that exposed flesh today. And hopefully no one was blinded by the glare off the snow white legs. Given what I heard about conditions in the Boston area today, I might have needed some sunscreen there too. So I shouldn't get too much hate mail for showing off pictures of knees from my ride today.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sunny and 65F

John was pulling a shot of espresso Tuesday night as I was reading aloud the forecast for the weekend: 65F and sunny. It didn't take him long to realize I made good on my threat to redeem some frequent flier miles and head off somewhere warm and sunny! My Dad's 83rd birthday is next Tuesday, so I decided to head down to NC to help him celebrate. Really it had nothing to do with the weather. Or the desire to ride without a neck warmer.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012


There are times that it seems I live under a rock. Credit the lack of television.  I seem to miss out on a bit of pop-culture. But thanks to the internet, I know there was a character on TV called Carrie Bradshaw, who seems to really like shoes. From what I can tell, I'm not in her league or anywhere close, but I will admit to being known in some cycling circles for my brown leather cycling shoes. I do love these shoes. They are from a company in the UK called Dromarti. I first saw them in a UK magazine several years ago and lusted after them. Then I saw them in person at NAHBS in Richmond a couple of years ago and had to have them. Sadly they didn't have any in my size at the show, so I couldn't get them on the spot, but I ordered a pair as soon as I got home. They are absolutely gorgeous, especially when freshly polished. And to confuse metaphors, they fit like a glove. They are the most comfortable pair of shoes I own - and given the amount of time I spend in them, that's a very good thing. I've abused them a bit with rain and sun and mud, and they handle it just fine, responding quite well to a little brown shoe polish. However, I have called the line at salt and snow. They are pretty well ventilated, so are great for summer, but I have a dedicated pair of winter cycling boots.

Racing up Mt Equinox with my Dromarti shoes

Monday, January 2, 2012

Dear Rapha,

John and I lost some weight doing the Festive 500. We need new, smaller clothes. Please send the following in size small for Pamela to replace the now too big and worn out items

before Redemption
after Redemption
  • ladies small shorts
  • ladies small winter tights
  • ladies small rain jacket

and for John

before Redemption
after Redemption
  • men's medium shorts
  • men's large tights
  • winter hat (he claims his head is smaller now)

Thank you for challenging us but now nothing fits!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

January 1 - Restrospective on Redemption

There will be a public vote to decide the top three for the Rapha Festive 500 on Rapha's facebook page on Friday the 20th January.  

Rapha ran this crazy challenge for the last week of 2011 called the Festive 500 - Ride to Redemption. The challenge was to ride 500 km between December 23 and December 31. We took the challenge quite literally and kicked it off by Riding to Redemption Rock on December 24, and tried to stick with a somewhat irreverent take on the redemption theme throughout the week. We invited others to join and had some company along the way. The challenge provided great motivation for Pamela to make use of her new camera. Here are a few highlights from the week. Click on the daily blog entries for complete stories and many more photos.

We had great company and help along the way. Our riding companions during the challenge logged 2740 kms at well, so maybe we should really get to count 4182 kilometers worth of redemption.

Grand Total - Pamela - 838 km,  John - 609 km