Dreaming in Green: Cheeky’s Route

3 months, 1 hurricane, 2 plane rides and a train ride later, I arrived at the Southwest Coast of Ireland ready for an epic adventure!

Cheeky Backs it up: I had planned my trip back in June, but when my departure date came I was watching Hurricane Harvey unfold around Houston. I was very lucky and came away with very little damage to my house. But there was some impact to my trip which would be cut 2 days short of the original plan. I had planned for 9 days of riding, but it was now cut to 7. Honestly, with the tragedies others suffered I can’t complain.

The tour company that planned the routes worked with me to help modify my new shorter schedule and we decided the best approach for my self-guided tour would be to combine two days of our routes into one longer day, and cut another day entirely. No problem! I was up for a little extra challenge. After all, I was feeling MEGA confident after my training for the AIDS Lifecycle just 3 months earlier, and I was excited to see as much of this incredible country as my legs would allow.

Okay! Now time for epic adventure!

I picked up my rented Fuji road bike in Killarney, changed out the saddle and pedals I had brought from my own bike at home, made a few more quick adjustments for size and fit and pedaled out the door. The sun was shining (awesome!) and the following day I would set off for an epic adventure riding the Irish coast, and a nice portion of the Ring of Kerry, through some gorgeous forests and up many mountains.

Quick view of the Itinerary, route, mileage, and expected climbing.

Day Route ~ Miles ridden / Elevation Climbed
Day 1 Killarney to Gougane Barra + an additional ride around Lough Allua 49 miles / + 3070 feet
Day 2 Combined two days into one —> 56 miles / + 3172 feet
Part 1: Gougane Barra to Glengarriff 20 miles / + 1010 feet
Part 2: Glengarriff to Kenmare 36 miles / + 2162 feet
Day 3 Kenmare to Waterville 38 miles / + 2454 feet
Day 4 Waterville to Killorglin 36 miles / + 2047 feet
Day 5 Killorglin to Dingle 35 miles / + 1624 feet
Day 6 Dingle Loop 0 miles, a rest day for my legs that felt like raw hamburger.
Day 7 Dingle to Tralee

Tralee to Dingle: happily took the train

30 miles / +1250 feet

Bikes on a train!

When it was all said and done, the route map looked like this:

Killarney-Tralee-GarminMap-2017

Wait, did you see that average speed?! I was clocking it in at a blazing 6.4 miles per hour average! When it was all said and done, the route map looked like this:

Honestly, I’m not a fast rider (after all, one of Cheeky’s core values is: If you can’t be fast, you still can look fast. So precautions were made and I wore my fastest looking socks throughout the trip). But 6.4 mph is significantly slower than my normal pace.

In fact 6.4 mph is darn-near fall off your bike slow!

There were a few occasions where I forgot to turn my Garmin computer off while stopped, so my little computer  logged a chunk of 0.0 mph speed while I was eating lunch, but it really doesn’t matter that much. I intended to take a slow pace on this trip. Why rush through this gorgeous landscape or pass up opportunities to meet some amazing Irish people along the way?!

Well all of that is true, but what I haven’t told you is this: because of my quick planning and because I’m a little bit of an idiot, there was A LOT more climbing than I expected.

Which brings us to our story for next time about a little phenomenon I like to call “Irish Flat.”

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Dreaming in Green: The beginning of a cycling adventure in Ireland!

One of the best things about riding a bicycle is that by your own power, you can get yourself to an entirely new place, it just takes the time to do it, and a will to keep moving your legs.

This past June, I rode my bicycle for 7 days in beautiful California, cycling 548 miles ( from San Francisco to Los Angeles. This experience that showed me how much I am capable of, even if slow. Like a good Sous Vide, I ride low and slow, but I keep moving! This challenge opened my eyes to the realization that if my legs could take me through the hills and valleys of California, my legs could take me anywhere!

I have always been enamored with the lush greenery of Ireland, or at least what I knew of Ireland from pictures or movies. And since I always enjoyed riding my bike, a friend in college once gave me a bicycle guide-book for Ireland. “Someday!” she encouraged.

But I never thought that riding a bicycle through Ireland was something I could do; it was something for those extreme adventurers, not a weekend rider like me. I was resigned that if I ever visited this beautiful country it would be seen through a car’s windshield. But after my experience riding the AIDS LifeCycle a seed was planted. I thought, I just road 548 miles through hilly California! Maybe I could ride my bike around the Southwest coast of Ireland too.

I immediately started researching companies that could help me do what I have for years thought to be an impossible dream. Now to be entirely clear, because this was a late-planned trip my research hit the level of “just enough to get it done.”

I was drawn to a company called IronDonkey bicycle touring company because their services included  setting up custom routes for a self-guided tour in the Southwest of Ireland. After some back and forth setting exchanging ideas and requirements I was sold on the possibility of gorgeous cycling vacation. They would provide the routes, some digital route maps for my Garmin 820 Edge Cycling Computer & GPS (this was the greatest tool for the trip, turn by turn instructions!), and IronDonkey set up cycle-friendly B&B’s along the way.

And just like that, the vacation was planned and the countdown began.

Shout out to all the procrastinators reading this – the silver lining of last-minute travel is that you don’t have to wait very long for your adventure!

Part 4. Bike buying tips – Where should I buy my bike?

On your bike buying journey, you may get tired and frustrated and be tempted to just say, “I’ll take this one” simply because that means the process is over. But trust me when I say, take your time and find the right bike, it will make all the difference!

You have multiple options of where to buy a bike, and only you can know what makes sense for your situation. But I’d like to share with you a few thoughts and suggestions before you spend your hard-earned dollars.

Options for buying a brand-spanking new bike: local bike shop vs. big-box-store / huge online retailer. Full disclosure, I am completely biased toward shopping at your local bike shop.

  1. Buying a bike from a local bike shop: Bike shops are full of people who are passionate about bikes and want you have a great experience!. You’ll get one on one attention and the opportunity to ask an expert all your questions and get detailed guidance.
    • Buying from a local shop also helps you develop a relationship with the folks at the shop. Your local bike shop is a wonderful resource for support, information, they often host local rides, can they tell you about local trails to check out, and all other things bike related!
    • This relationship will come in handy as you may utilize the shop’s maintenance services, or perhaps you’ll order parts through them if you are a do-it-yourself kinda person.
    • Personally, I love going to my bike shop! My shop is an important part of my biking community; they know me, my bike, and respond to my specific needs! It doesn’t get much better than that.
  2. Buying a bike in a big box store / huge online retailer: I mean, it is an option…
    • It’s convenient (until you have to ask someone a question).
    • It may be a little less expensive but this is mostly due to the brands that are carried. These brands are commonly less expensive because they are made with cheaper materials, or with craftsmanship that isn’t as concerned with quality. There is a market for this, but if you identified with any of these bike riding goals, these big-box-store bikes probably aren’t the right bikes for you.

Buying a New-to-Me bike (a used bike):

If you’re buying a used bike, start with a little research to make sure you’re getting the best value for your money.

You already know what type of bike you want, and you know what type of material/metal and the component group that sounds best for your budget, and the approximate size of bike you need. Your next step is to do some pricing research. Use a site like bicyclebluebook.com to look up a bike’s proposed value, then see which used bike offers look reasonable.

  1. Buying a used bike on consignment from your local bike shop: Not all bike shops may offer this great option, but it’s worth asking about if you’re looking to buy a used bike. As a broad example, a bike shop could sell a used bike on consignment from another personal seller, taking a percentage of the sales as a commission. In return, the bike shop will:
    • help validate the quality of the bike (look for major mechanical issues, and also look for major red flags like a defaced serial number which could indicate that the bike was stolen).
    • Service the bike so it’s ready to roll as soon as it is purchased.
    • Possibly offer a reasonable return policy if you end up needing to return the bike.
    • This may be more expensive than buying directly from a seller, but the upside may be worth it!
  1. Buying a used bike on Craigslist (or any other online exchange/sales platform): Full disclosure: I am a risk averse person and therefore am not a big fan of this option and would rather work through a local bike shop. But Craigslist can be a cost-effective option too, so here are some things to keep in mind while shopping Craigslist for your next bike.
    • Know that if you price range is less than a couple hundred dollars, you’re probably going to be buying a used box-store bike. These aren’t high quality to begin with, and it’s possible that this was a bike that sat outside in the elements for the past few years.
    • Was the bike stolen? Ask for the sellers name/information and ask about the serial number on the bike. If there is hesitancy or a scratched out serial number the odds are high that this is a stolen bike and you should move on.
    • Was the bike in a big crash before? In the last post we talked about one of the pitfalls of carbon fiber bikes. If this is a carbon bike, has it been in a crash resulting in fissures/cracks? I don’t want you to get a bike that literally falls apart while you’re riding it.
    • What kind of condition is the bike in? Visible rust? Tires are flat or have cracks in the rubber? These are things that will need to be replaced so keep in mind the cost of fixing the bike in addition to the selling price.

All in all, you have options and feel free to research bikes for yourself. A great way to learn about bikes is to read about them and then go try them out on a test ride! Only you get to decide what is right for you!

Next up in our Getting Started Series: What is a bike fit, and why do I need one?

Part 3. Bike buying tips – What is the right bike size for me?

You don’t want to rush into a long-term relationship with the bike that isn’t right for you, so finding the right size bike is key!

Bike size and bike fit aren’t the same thing, but you can only get the right bike fit (perfect tailoring to your body) if you start with the right size bike. A lovely analogy was once shared with me on this topic: It’s like a tailor working with your clothes, you may have something that generally fits, but a tailor (like a bike fit professional) can make it feel just right for your body. Proper bike fit is critically important if you are doing long distance riding, but may be less important for short rides. Either way, you’ll be more comfortable on a bike that is the right size!

Let’s get things started by dispelling myths and answering an age-old question among the female variety of cyclist. Can a woman ride a man’s bike? YES! Women shouldn’t feel limited to women’s style bikes only. A woman can ride a men’s style bicycle, which in fact, is a unisex bicycle. There are a handful of differences between a unisex bike and a women’s bike with the most significant being the length and angle of the top tube (not to be confused with a tube top).

A woman’s specific style bike also has:

  • more narrow handlebars to accommodate a woman’s typically smaller shoulder span
  • a women’s specific bike saddle to keep your lady bits more comfortable.

If you bought a unisex style bike, you can switch out many of these components to help tailor the fit of your bike to your body. Unfortunately, you cannot change the top tube length and angle as these are part of the frame design.

Cheeky Fun Fact: I found a unisex bike was a better fit for my body, but did switch out the saddle for a women’s specific. Don’t feel limited by “gendered” bikes, you should ride what’s comfortable to you!

How is a bike sized? What should I even look for? Bike sizes can be measured in inches, centimeters or as a Small, Medium, Large. And each brand of bicycle has its own specific sizing; a small bike in one brand may be the same as a medium bike in a different brand. So it is important to try out many brands of bicycles to find the best size bike for you.

To get you in the right ballpark, the foundation of bike sizing comes from three measurements:

  1. Inseam: start at the bottom of your shoes (or specific bike shoes if you have them) and measure to your the top of your inside leg.
  2. Total height: start at the bottom of your shoes (or specific bike shoes if you have them) and measure to your the top of your head.
  3. Arm Span: measure the distance of your arms when they are spread out. Measure from the fingertips of your left arm, across your body, and to the fingertips on your right arm.

Inseam_Height

With this foundational information you can use utilize generic bike sizing charts included below, or you can also use the stand over the frame measurement method + the arm span measurement to address your reach (holding your handlebars while sitting in the saddle).

The idea behind the stand over the frame measurement method is to have a few inches of clearance between the top of your inseam and the bike’s top tube. These few extra inches would allow you to get off the bike in a hurry by comfortably standing over the bike. However, this method only works with a bike that has a straight top tube; if you have an angled top tube, you will want to start with the generic sizing charts and work with your local bike shop experts to get narrowed down to the right size.

  1. Road bikes – When you stand over the frame, you should have approximately 1 to 2 inches of clearance between the top tube and the top of your inseam
  2. Mountain bikes and Commuter bikes – When you stand over the frame, you should have approximately 2 to 4 inches of clearance between the top tube and the top of your inseam.

If your inseam measurements put you between two different bike sizes, use your arm span measurement to help determine which bike size will ensure you have a comfortable reach:

  • If the length of your arm span is greater than your total height, you may want the larger of the two bike sizes.
  • If the length of your arm span is less than your total height, you may want the smaller of the two bike sizes.

Here are some generic Bike Sizing Charts that will help get you started:

Hybrid – Comfort & Commuter
Height Inseam Frame Size
4’10” + 26” – 28” 13”, 14”
5’0” + 27” – 29” 15”
5’2” + 28” – 30” 16”
5’4” + 29” – 31” 17”
5’6” + 30” – 32” 18”
5’8” + 31” – 33” 19”
5’10” + 32” -24” 21”
6’0” + 32” – 34” 22”

 

Road Bike
Height Inseam Frame Size
5’1” – 5’3” 27”-29” 48 cm
5’3” – 5’5” 28” – 30” 50 cm
5’5” – 5’7” 29” – 31” 52 cm
5’7” – 5’9” 30” – 32” 54 cm
5’9” – 5’11” 31” – 33” 56 cm
5’11” – 6’2” 32” – 34” 58 cm
6’1” – 6’3” 33” – 35” 60 cm
6’3” – 6’5” 34” – 36” 62 cm

 

Mountain Bike (Hardtail)
Height Inseam Frame Size
4’10” – 5’0” 26” – 28” 13”
5’0” – 5’3” 27” – 29” 14”, 15”
5’4” – 5’7” 28” – 30” 16”, 17”
5’8” – 5’9” 29” – 31” 18”, 19”
5’10” – 5’11” 30” – 32” 20”
6’0” – 6’2” 32” – 34” 21”
6’2” – 6’4” 33” – 35” 22”
Mountain Bike (Full Suspension)
Height Inseam Frame Size
5’4” – 5’7” 28” – 30” 14”, 15”
5’8” – 5’9” 29” – 31” 16”, 17”, 18”
5’10” – 5’11” 30” – 32” 19”, 20”, 21”

Getting the right size bike is going to make a huge difference in your riding. will take less effort while pedaling (especially up hills), feel more comfortable, and overall be a more enjoyable experience. It is normal that a bike off the shelf, even from a bike shop won’t be a perfect fit even if it is the right size. A bike shop can help you adjust the saddle height and positioning, and a more thorough professional bike fit will help you tailor your bike so it fits just right (we’ll talk more about this in a future post).

Once you have your target bike size you’ll want to start dating bikes! Try as many as you can!

  1. Visit your local bike shops and arrange to test ride multiple brands of bikes. Most bike shops carry a limited selection of brands, so you may need to visit different bike shops to test ride  bikes until you find a brand you like.
  2. You’ll find that some bikes just feel more comfortable than others and that is a start in the right direction. If it hurts or doesn’t feel right, it may not be a good size for you. What is right for someone else may not be right for you. Don’t feel pressured to make a quick decision. You’re the one who has to be comfortable on it!

So far you have sorted out:

The last step we’ll cover next in our Bike Buying Tips is to figure out: Where should I buy my bike?

Until next time,  Ride on!

Cheeky’s First Liebster Award!

Liebster 2017

Wow! Wow! Wow!

A huge thank you to fellow blogger Vesna for nominating me for my first Liebster award! I am so excited to receive this award and it is such a honor to be nominated by Vesna because I have just love soaking up her blog, Whisper, and learning about her life in Macedonia, and all of her travel adventures. She has inspired me to put Macedonia (and other surrounding areas) on my future travel list too! Be sure to check it out! Thank you, Vesna!

The Rules of Accepting The Liebster Award:

The Liebster Award is an award that dates back as early as 2011 and exists only on the internet and is given to bloggers by bloggers, whose work they find interesting, to motivate them, and to promote them. Liebster is a word with German origins and has several meanings: dearest, sweetest, kindest, nicest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

The instructions of accepting the award and passing it on:

  • Create a new blog post on your blog thanking the person that nominated you, link to their blog and put in a graphic of the award.
  • Answer the questions that were provided, and then share some facts about yourself.
  • Create a new set of your own questions for others to answer.
  • Nominate 5-11 others and share your blog post with them so they can accept their awards

Vesna’s Questions:

  1. Why did you start blogging? This year (2017) I completed a 7 day, 548 bike ride from San Francisco to LA, and it inspired a 7 day, 244 mile ride around the southwestern coast of Ireland. These trips made me realize that bike travel wasn’t reserved for elite athletes, but could be done by anyone! I want to share that message and hope to inspire others to get on a bike too!
  2. How has blogging affected your life? I have dedicated a lot of time to this blog by reflecting on my personal experiences as a cyclist and researching the information a new cyclist would want to know in order to get started. This has helped me get more creative, detail oriented, and thoughtful about finding pieces of inspiration that could help influence someone to start on their own adventure! I hope others will come back and share their adventures and stories on TheCheekyCyclist blog too!
  3. What is your favorite book or series and why? I’ve read some really lovely books lately and I would say my favorites currently stand as follows:
    • Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies, Ben MacIntyre. I loved this because truth is stranger than fiction, and who doesn’t love a good spy novel?!
    • The Marriage of Opposites, Alice Hoffman. I loved this book for its unexpected story. A historical fiction that follows three generations of characters and beautiful landscape, but describes hardship, sacrifice and love. It unexpectedly got under my skin in the best of ways.
  4. What kind of blogs do you like the most?I love a travel blog and blogs that tell stories of life outside of the places I know. I love to hop on my bike, go exploring and I love the dreams and ideas these blogs inspire!
  5. What is your philosophy in life? A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush. Don’t spend your life waiting for the ideal situation, go make the most of what you have today.
  6. What are you most grateful about? Friends and family. I wouldn’t be who I am without them and wouldn’t be where I am today without their support.
  7. If you have a time machine when and where would you go and why? I would go back to the first time I started pushing through some serious knee/calf pain while on a bike ride. I would slap myself upside the head and say “Stop! You don’t need to be a hero! If you are hurting while riding something is wrong and you need to get it fixed. Go get a proper bike fit and you’ll save yourself a lot of pain, money, and time off the bike.” I missed years of amazing rides because I didn’t know the importance of a proper bike fit.
  8. What 3 words describe you best?  How about 3 descriptors: An eternal optimist, lover of puns and wordplay, and coffee addict.
  9. What advice would you give your 18 years old self? Change is constant, exercise your soul-of-flexibility.
  10. What makes you happiest? Riding my bike, and drinking coffee. Best when they can happen together!

My questions:

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. How do you get inspiration to create your blog posts?
  3. What is your favorite dessert that everyone should try?
  4. What is your favorite memory?
  5. What is your favorite book or series and why?
  6. What is your favorite way to prepare an egg?
  7. Where do you want to travel most, but you’ve never been?
  8. What is your top blogging tip for others?
  9. What is your spirit animal?
  10. What is your favorite post that you have written? (Link please!)

As I’ve started getting more exposed to the blogging world I have come across some amazing blogs with great stories of life, poetry, travel and more. While it is difficult to narrow the list, I would like to nominate these great blogs for the Liebster award:

Thank you again to everyone for all your support in this journey!

Ride on!

Which bike should I buy? Part 2: Tips for bike buying – How do I find the right bike for my budget?

It can be overwhelming and expensive to try to get into a new hobby like biking, but it doesn’t have to be! In the last Cheeky post, we talked about finding the right type of bike to buy to help you meet your goalsLet’s go through a handy list of bike buying tips outlining options to help you make the right decision for your budget.

When you’re looking to buy a bike, it’s helpful to first be familiar with the different bike components. We’ll reference some of these terms throughout the post/ blog… (or maybe say that these are term they will hear out in the biking world, and that’s why they should be familiar with them?). 

What are the parts that make up a bike? 

 

Common bike parts
What parts make up a bicycle?

Biggest driver of cost of your bike can be bike frame material:  Different materials (metal types) will drive pricing, provide differentiation in bike performance:

Weight is the thing everyone talks about first. How much does the bike weigh?! A lighter bike means less mass to move up a hill, therefore less effort expended. Does it mean that you might climb up that hill faster? Probably, to the tune of a few seconds. You can spend a lot of money getting the lightest bike, with the lightest components. So many riders in the biking community are utterly obsessed with their bike’s weight.

Cheeky Fun Fact: My personal strategy is to try to lose a few pounds myself, which would give me the weight advantage, and would generally make me a healthier person which also improves my riding. It’s a win-win.

Stiffness of the bike’s material/metal which is important for optimum power transfer from the effort you put into your pedal stroke and how much it transfers to your forward motion.

Comfort, Cheeky’s most valued trait, which can also be related to the stiffness of your bike. A bicycle that is stiff will transfer power and will also make for a more bumpy ride because the material/metal doesn’t absorb the bumps as much as a softer metal would.

Let’s review some common materials you’ll see in the market:

  • Steel – Common on older bikes (90’s and prior). Steel is typically the heaviest option available, making it a great choice if you are looking for something very sturdy, and budget friendly. These beasts can take a beating: dings, dents, bad crashes, and small bends and still keep on rolling! This makes them popular for touring and commuting. Unlike aluminum and especially carbon bikes which “fail fast” after being damaged (sometimes immediately), a steel bike will stand up to wear and tear and will keep going for years. That’s why they remain so pervasive in the used-bike market. Steel bikes are a great option for beginning riders but can be found at yard sales, on consignment at bike shops, or on ebay.  Newer designed steel bikes can compete with aluminum and carbon fiber bike weight and performance, and while they are easier to find, they can be pricey.
  • Aluminum – is a lightweight material that can get you moving, widely available at most entry level price points for road bikes, mountain bikes and commuters. Aluminum is not quite as strong/durable as steel, but is typically lighter than steel and provides more rigidity which will make a difference for power transfer in your pedal stroke. Aluminum is more durable than a carbon fiber bike, or titanium bike, but may be a little heavier due to the way it’s constructed, or have less aerodynamic designs.

Cheeky Fun Fact: My first road bike was an aluminum 2001 Lemond, Nevada City, and it was a boss!

  • Carbon Fiber – Found in bikes that make up the higher end of the price range because they have an incredible strength to weight ratio which makes them ideal for cranking out speed and power in the toughest of races. Because of the reduced weight of the material, designers can create extremely aerodynamic designs that would otherwise not be possible with other metals (as it would add significantly more weight). This stiff metal is great for transferring your power in each pedal stroke. Stiffness can also reduce comfort, but most big brands of bikes have adapted their design to make their carbon bikes more comfortable (you’ll feel less of the uncomfortable bumps from a rough road).

But – and this is a big but (or butt if you’re Cheeky) – a bad crash, especially into a road sign, post or car can cause serious damage to the frame. That may feel obvious that crashing into things is bad, but Carbon fiber bikes won’t dent like another metal, they crack. And once a carbon bike gets a crack it is no longer safe to ride and should be replaced. And that can get be a blow to your budget! That in mind, carbon is a fantastic option for a high performance bike, especially for road riding/road racing, due to its versatility and general badassity.

  • Titanium – The most expensive of our biking options, it’s lighter and stiffer than steel but more responsive too. It won’t be as light as your carbon or aluminum options, but those purchasing a titanium bike may consider it a bike for life, or an investment, because titanium doesn’t rust or corrode like other metals.
  • Combination of metals – Some bikes will come with combination or metals, for example an aluminum frame and a carbon seat post. This may be a nice compromise for optimizing performance, comfort (potentially dampening road vibrations because of the thicker sidewall of the carbon seatpost than aluminum) and your budget. Keep this option in mind too!

Component quality is another cost driver: Components, also known as the groupset, are the parts of the bike that make you go (gears, derailleurs, crank sets) and make you stop (braking systems, etc.). All component sets will get the job done, but some will do it more smoothly (like shifting between gears). They can also be made with better quality parts and look flashier.

There are a lot details available on this topic, and I’ll be honest that components groups isn’t my passion. So for those who want all the nitty gritty detail of performance levels and product differentiation check out this lovely post from BikeRadar.com.

For a TL;DR view, I’ve listed out the general hierarchy of groupset quality for the 3 most common brands (Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo), and the name of the models for each quality level/pricing point.

Shimano – Very Common groupset brand:

  1. Entry level Shimano groupsets: Claris, Sora and Tiagra
  2. Performance Shimano groupsets: 105 and Ultegra
  3. Pro-level Shimano groupsets: Dura-Ace

SRAM – Newest brand on the block:

  1. Entry level SRAM groupsets: Apex
  2. Performance SRAM groupsets: Rival and Force
  3. Pro-level SRAM groupsets: Red
  4. SRAM eTap groupsets: electronic shifting and hydraulic disc brakes

Campagnolo – Found on higher end bikes, and not commonly found on entry level bikes:

  1. Entry level Campagnolo groupsets: Centaur
  2. Performance Campagnolo groupsets: Potenza and Chorus
  3. Pro-level Campagnolo groupsets: Record and Super Record

Now that you’ve gotten familiar with the top 2 price drivers, what else should you be asking?  Evaluate the bikes in your price range and then ask:

  1. What more am I getting in this price range than the one below it?
  2. What am I not getting in this price range, than the one above it?

Sometimes the features in the price range above will reduce weight, or improve the quality of components by a level. For example, you may get improved shifting by spending a little more, and the bike will be a few grams lighter. I might be willing to pay more for better shifting, but I would rather work on personally shedding a few of my own grams of weight, and keep that extra money in my pocket. That works for me, but you have to do what is right for you!

What kind of bike are you looking to buy? Leave your comments and thoughts below!

 Next up for bike buying tips: How do I know what bike size is right for me?

Which bike should I buy? Part 1: Cruisers, Hybrids, Mountain bikes, Road and Touring bikes.

Have you looked at the huge selection of bikes out there and wondered where to even start? What are the different bike options available? Which bike would help you might meet your goals? Cruisers, Hybrids, Mountain bikes, Road bikes, and Touring bikes, oh my!

Today we are going to talk about these different types of bikes, and which could help you meet your goals.

What type of bike is right for me?

Cruiser/City

Hybrid/ Cyclocross Mountain Road

Touring

Riding paved and smooth surfaces

Yes

Yes Yes, less efficient on roads Yes

Yes

Riding paved and unpaved trails, grass or gravel

Yes

Yes Yes No

No

Trail riding, obstacles

No

No Yes No

No

Mileage/Distance

Low

Medium Low High

High

Speed

Slow

Medium Medium Fast

Medium

Commuting

No

Yes Yes, but less efficient on roads No

Yes

Comfort

High

High Medium Low

Medium

Handlebar style

Upright/Flat

Upright/Flat Flat Drop

Flat/Drop

Weight

Heavy

Medium Medium Light

Medium

Carrying loads

No

Light loads Yes, with some modification

No

Heavy loads

Let’s explore each of these categories of bikes in more detail:

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image from Amazon via https://bikesreviewed.com/cruiser/best-cruiser-bikes/

Cruisers/City bikes are great for casual riding, cruising on paved or smooth paths, and comfort. These are typically large bikes with limited gears and wide tires and an upright geometry geared for comfort. They tend to be heavier bikes and are great for shorter distance riding. When you’re riding a cruiser, you’re riding to see and be seen on a boardwalk, a park, or around town.

 

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Image from Amazon via https://bikesreviewed.com/hybrid/best-hybrid-bikes-2017/

Hybrid/Cyclocross bikes are designed for comfort by providing a cushy saddle, somewhat wider tires with smooth tread appropriate for paved trails or very light off-trail riding. These have flat or even upright handlebars and some even include a slight front suspension to increase a rider’s comfort. These bikes aren’t as heavy duty as mountain bikes, and are not as fast or efficient as a road bike, but are great for short distance commuting, general purpose riding and especially if you want to carry some small loads with you.

Cheeky Fun Fact: A hybrid bike was the gateway that lead me to road cycling today!

The hybrid bike I purchased from my local sports store was very comfortable, to sit on with its cushy seat, upright geometry and flat handlebars. I rode it everywhere around town and often rode it on a paved path to get to work, at the time this was a 5 mile ride each way. A 25-30 minute ride was the best way to start and end my work day!

My hybrid bike handled great on the paved path and because it had slightly wider tires with more tread it also handled well when the path had washed over with gravel, dirt and debris. Great for my goals at the time!

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Cheeky’s very first mountain bike – Giant Yukon SE from 2001

Image from BicycleBlueBook.com

Mountain bikes are great for trails and mountains. They have wider knobby tires for increased traction and stability on the trails. Mountain bikes are heavier than a hybrid or road bike, and many include shocks/suspension for absorbing all the bumps off-roading provides.

  • “Hardtail” mountain bikes include only front wheel suspension
  • “Full Suspension” bikes include suspension on the front and rear
  • “Rigid” mountain bikes don’t have any suspension
  • If a Mountain bike is calling your name, bikesreviewed.com offers up reviews for the best in 2017 Mountain bikes

Mountain biking is a ton of fun and requires a different mental skill set than road riding. You have to be alert to every coming obstacle while planning your next power burst or executing a quick turn on a sharp corner of a trail. Very different from riding on a long stretch of a smooth road on a road bike. It is utterly satisfying to complete a great trail ride, and you just feel like you can conquer the world!

In the area I went to college I had easy access to fun-to-ride fire roads and some seriously technical mountain biking trails too. My first mountain bike was a Giant Yukon SE that I saved and saved for. It was a hardtail beauty with disc brakes for quick stops.  It was perfect for my mountain biking needs for a long time. But after a bad crash, having the options of a 10 foot drop off on my right filled with sharp rocks or a barbed wire fence on my left, in which leaning left was an easy decision considering the alternative. I have since decided that I would focus on road riding as my main biking pursuit in the future. That said, Mountain bikers are total badasses!

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Cheeky’s very first road bike: a used 2001 Lemond, Nevada City

Image from BicycleBlueBook.com

Road bike – If you have a need for speed and want to ride some longer distances on a paved surface a road bike will be the bike for you!  Drop handlebars for increased aero-efficiency, The design puts the rider’s body at a more aggressive geometry than a hybrid and typically includes drop handlebars to further increase the aerodynamics.

I started with a hybrid bike, but after about 6 months of commuting back and forth on that hybrid I found that I wanted to go farther, to explore more of the routes and roads in my town, and I wanted to go faster! My goals had changed and my hybrid was no longer the best option to help me meet my need for speed! Speed being relative.

I sold my bicycle on commision through my local bike shop and found a second-hand aluminum framed road bicycle with drop handlebars that promised improved efficiency and speed! It was a beautiful blue 2001 Lemond Nevada City, that I lovingly christened  “the Lemond.” I was less creative with names back then.

I still love this bike, but it has since been loaned to a family member to get them rolling on their cycling journey.

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Image from BikeRadar.com

Touring Bicycle – A road bike that is designed to be a road-riding, heavy load carrying beast! In addition to drop handlebars and a lower gear range (which my Cheeky friends lovingly refer to as the turkey platter of gears rather than the normal dinner plate of gears a road bike offers. A larger range of lower gears means you can spin/pedal at a faster cadence which is easier on your knees and makes climbing hills more pleasant!) this bike has mounting points that can fit panniers/cargo racks and fenders. It is the bike you need for lugging heavy loads of gear up hills for the ultimate long distance, self-supported rides. Because a rider will be on this bike for days and days at a time, it offers a more relaxed geometry than the design of a road bike to keep a rider comfortable for the long stretches of distance riding. I definitely see one of these bikes in my future!

There is a world full of lovely bikes options that will help you get rolling. Identifying what your bike riding goals are will help steer you toward the bike that will meet your needs.

Cheeky’s next post, Step 2. Which bike should I buy? Part 2: Tips for bike buying will cover important tips to keep in mind when you’re looking to buy a bicycle, questions you should ask, and some of the benefits of working with a local bicycle shop rather than Craigslist for your purchase.

 

Cheeky’s Guide to Getting Started on your Bike: Step 1. Identifying your Bike Riding Goals

Today I am excited to kick off a new series called “Cheeky’s Guide to Getting Started on your Bike!”  

This series of posts will apply to you whether you are a not-yet cyclist, a beginner cyclist, or someone who just wants to pick your bike up again after a long hiatus. I’ve been in all three of those buckets.

I will detail out the Cheeky’s 8 steps to help you get in the saddle!

  1. Figure out your motivation and identify your bike riding goals.
  2. Which bike should I buy?
    • Types of Bikes
    • Tips for bike buying.
  3. What is a bike fit, and why do I need one?
  4. Riding safely: you need somewhere to ride.
  5. Do I really need cycling shorts? 
  6. Avoid the BONK! 
  7. What should I bring along when I ride?
  8. Listen to your body.

Now, let’s get rolling (see what I did there?!)!

Step 1:  Figure out your motivation and identify your bike riding goals: What kind of riding do you want to do?

We all have different reasons for getting on a bike, and in my opinion, any reason is a good reason if it gets you on a bike! Understanding what kind of riding you want to do will help you get started in the right direction with the right bike and having some goals for yourself can keep you motivated!:

What kind of riding do you want to do?

  • Low-key cruising for short distances
    • I’m only going to ride a few miles at a time and I am just cruising around my neighborhood. I’m not riding for speed or distance, I’m just cruisin’!
  • Riding for exercise and health
    • I want to get outside and get healthy!
    • I want to improve my endurance, balance, flexibility, stamina, and overall cardiovascular health on a bike.
    • I want to build muscle, burn calories and let my mind feel the freedom that two wheels can offer!
  • Bike Commuting instead of driving
    • I want to get out of my car! I’m interested in commuting to work on my bike.
    • I want to improve my fitness and maybe become less dependent on my car. I would like to explore something that will help me have an efficient and comfortable bike ride.
  • Mountain biking in the great outdoors
    • I am a badass and want to ride my bike in the dirt! Trails sound awesome to me. Maybe I’ll start on some fire-access roads that are packed dirt, but later in life I want to dodge rocks and tree roots and generally show off my absolute badassery.
  • Riding for distance or speed (or both!)
    • I’m thinking about signing up for my first charity ride. I like the idea of longer rides, maybe 50 or 60 miles at a time or more! Someday I might consider riding a century ride (100 miles!), but for now I know I want to log some miles!
    • Even if you can’t ride 5 miles yet, you can ride for distance too! If Cheeky did it, so can you!

Riding a bicycle is great for mind, body and spirit! Each journey starts with mile at a time and every time you get on your bicycle you grow as a cyclist. Now that you have an idea of what kind of cycling you want to do, the next step is finding the right bike to get you riding. This can feel a bit overwhelming, but fear not dear reader, Cheeky’s got your covered in Step 2: Which bike should I buy?

Cheeky’s first 545! Riding my bicycle from San Fransisco to Los Angeles in the AIDS/LifeCycle

Do you remember June 3rd, 2007?

I do. It was the first year I volunteered for the AIDS/LifeCycle. I stood in the parking lot on a chilly San Francisco morning and watched rider after rider kickoff for a 7 day, 545 mile trek over the hills and valleys of California to ride to LA. All this to raise money to support the fight against AIDS. I thought, “These people are nuts! 545 miles is SO FAR.” And I immediately put it on my bucket list.

Since then I have moved away from California, but I had never forgotten the “Ride to End AIDS“. So, this past June, 10 years from that fateful day, I got on my bike at the San Francisco Cow Palace and started pedaling down the Golden state to raise funds that support the life-saving services offered by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

This ride, and the journey up to it, changed me for the better.

 

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Cheeky’s Ride down the Golden State, AIDS/LifeCycle 2017

It changed me physically

I trained for 8 months gradually adding mileage and hills to my riding regiment. I gained a lot of muscle, came to feel healthier than I’ve felt since my days as a kid, and I earned the most ridiculous tan line on my thighs you’ve ever seen. My bike shorts are about 3 or 4 inches longer than my normal shorts, so I’ve gotten to show off that tan line a lot!

I got stronger, I became faster and there were days where I felt like a well-oiled machine racing up steep hills (then stopping for pie afterward)!

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Cheeky at the top of no-name hill. I gave it plenty of colorful names.

It changed me mentally

There were so many good days! I saw beautiful scenery during the Winter, Spring and Summer. I came to appreciate how amazing a bit of shade feels from a passing cloud, and how refreshing a few drops of water from a rogue sprinkler feels on the hottest of days. These reminders helped revive my soul.

While riding my bicycle I got to see so much of my state that I would not have likely visited otherwise. Small towns, open fields and pastures. Places that cars see as a means to an end. But I got to really see these places, to smell the sweet scent of wildflowers on the breeze, and talk to dozens of cows as I coasted by. It was wonderful to let my mind quiet, to hear the gentle hum of my bicycle tire gliding across the road, and the birds chirping in the leaves overhead; a freedom that only two wheels can offer!

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Wild flowers blooming on the side of a country road.

But there were long days too.  Sometimes it would require a 1.5 hour drive to our training ride destination, 6 hours of active riding (like I said, I’m still not the fastest rider, but I keep moving!) plus more time for breaks and rest, plus another 1.5 hour car trip home. It was hard to get up at 4:30 in the morning for those training rides, but I had the support of my friends and loved ones so I got out of bed.

And there were hard days. When I first started riding again it was hard to sit on the saddle, because it is a hard saddle! And it was even harder to get back in the saddle the next day! Ouch Ouch Ouch! But the pain went away, and I got stronger.

But the hardest was my very last training weekend in May, 2 weeks before the big ride. I expected to ride at least 150 miles over Saturday and Sunday, one last training push before my bicycle was shipped to California. I had just come off a rest weekend and knew that if I could bust out this 80 and 70 mile day, I would be totally successful on those California hills! But it didn’t work out that way. Instead I eked out a mushy 40 miles that Saturday, and a painfully slow 30 miles on Sunday which felt even worse. I. Was. Devastated! I was supposed to be at my prime, but that was it, training was done. My confidence was absolutely shot. How was I possibly going to make it the 109 miles required on the Day 2 route?!

I got on the plane anyway. I went to California and I set my mind to do my best. I promised myself would go in my sous vide style: low and slow. After all, it’s a ride, not a race. And so I set off and kept pedaling, and pedaling, and pedaling. And I rode 109 miles on day 2!

The hard days have shown me how much I am capable of, even if it is a slow journey.

Most unexpected thing that happened: It changed my heart

The best part of my experience, over and over again I got to see the best of humanity. I was continually overwhelmed by the generosity of friends, family, and even strangers along the way.

People gave their support in so many ways: some were able to contribute to my fundraising goals, a few committed time and knowledge to help coach me, others volunteered to support training rides, and they were all joyous cheerleaders who encouraged me all through my training. There were even people came to cheer for all 2200 riders, every day, in big cities and in tiny towns during the AIDS/LifeCycle. People showed up with handmade signs, some waved and many yelled thank you for riding!

All of these people are the best of humanity. I feel so lucky and humbled to get to see these examples of people helping and supporting each other. We are all part of the AIDS/LifeCycle Love Bubble! And I can’t wait to do it all again in 2018!

Has riding changed you for the better? Share your story in the comments below!

Cheeky Rides with a Purpose – World AIDS Day

ALC_WorldAidsDay_Web_20178Today is World AIDS Day.  

Today I am asking for your help.

  • Help end the isolation and stigma of those who live with HIV.
  • Help increase the resources available for education, prevention and care.
  • Help end the transmission of HIV.

In June of this year I rode my bicycle 545 miles as part of the 7-day cycling event called the  AIDS/LifeCycle. It was one of the most impactful experiences I’ve ever had. It was physically challenging, mentally exhausting, and at times heartbreaking. But it was always inspiring!

Over this past year together we raised $14,333.98 to help those living with HIV and AIDS. That is INCREDIBLE! Throughout my entire AIDS/Lifecycle experience I was continually humbled by your support, kindness and generosity. And something else happened that I didn’t necessarily expect. Over and over again, so many of you shared your memories and stories about your friends and family who died from AIDS. I will always be grateful that you shared this part of your life with me.

One story, of many, that comes to mind occurred in April. While at a friend’s BBQ I talking about the upcoming ride and a man my near my age, someone who I had only met in passing, shared with me a story about his lifelong friend from who died of AIDS in college. He said “It’s 2017. I can’t believe this stupid disease is still here.” 

I couldn’t agree more. So I have signed up to ride 545 miles again in 2018, for the 25th anniversary of the AIDS/Lifecycle. I will ride with the stories and memories you’ve shared with me, and I will ride to honor all of those people who have died from AIDS.

My goal is to raise $10,000 to help fund the life-saving services offered by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center. But I can’t do it alone, so I’m asking for your help again.

$10,000 can make a HUGE difference! The services provided as a result of this event mean the world to those who receive them, and your support means the world to me!

Together, we can help end this stupid disease.

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