A Petite Retreat: Bike Getaway


As we head into fall, the leaves begin to change and the air starts to acquire a coolness to it, and there seems to me no better way to spend the day than in the saddle. But why not take that up a notch and spend a whole weekend on the bike relaxing with friends, family, or a loved one in a mini-vacation before school starts, the work days get long, and the weather turns south?

Why not?

That is exactly what I thought when I started planning my own petite bicycle retreat with my mom this past month.

Now you may be thinking that a mini vacation would be more of a hassle than it is worth, but a petite retreat doesn’t have to be too expensive or too time consuming to plan. In fact, it can be rather simple, easy, and fun!

Here are a few tips that I learned from planning my own petite retreat:

1. You don’t have to travel too far.

With many cities beginning to adapt their town to include more bike paths and bike friendly layouts a weekend bike getaway can be a fun way to explore nearby areas, a change of scenery, new food, and local shops, without spending too much money on traveling expenses.

The city I planned on going to, Dubuque, Iowa, intrigued me because of its historical background, closeness to the Mississippi River, and its interesting bike paths of course!

A simple Google search of either the best cities for a vacation or bike routes in your state or surrounding region can help you narrow down your options too.

2. Stay the night or plan for a day.

Staying a night or two and making it a whole weekend trip would make your mini-vacation actually feel like a true getaway, and with new online apps for cheaper hotel pricing you can keep it rather affordable (after all you just need a place to clean up and lay your head at night since there is so much to do!).

If you can’t stay the night you can still make it a full day by simply packing a change of clothes and something to freshen up with, so that after your ride you can explore the town.

3. Do a bit of research.

The Fenelon Elevator

The Fenelon Elevator

Since you only have the weekend, make sure to check out the town you are going to before you go. This way you will already know what trails are offered, the distance of each of them, and you can plan which you want to ride.

You can also check out what else the town has to offer before you go;  you can then make sure to see and do the highlights off your list. (Especially research the food, you can never go wrong with a highly-rated, local restaurant and after your bike ride you are going to be hungry!)

4. Pack what you already have.

Now in my case I felt it was necessary to get my mom some bike shorts, anyone who has experienced long distance biking with and without these wonderful padded shorts would know why, but really you don’t need to buy too much when heading out on your petite retreat (unless of course you don’t already have a bike… that could be an issue).

The trick is to use what you have and make it work.

If like us your bike rack isn’t on the vehicle you are taking or you don’t have one, you can simply remove the front tire and lay blankets between the bikes to prevent scratching. (This may require more maneuvering, but where there is a will…)

As far as clothing goes, wear what you normally wear when you bike, unless of course you see this as a good excuse to get that new kit you have been looking at all Summer (Not that I did that or anything… but there were owls on it and it supported breast cancer. How could I say no?).

5. Buy what you will need.

IMG_0555There are somethings that you may just need to buy if you don’t have them already.

I suggest first and foremost having some form of a water bottle to rehydrate you. If you haven’t experienced it, I cannot even begin to explain how awful dehydration can be and how quickly that can set in without you realizing it when you are biking.

I also would highly suggest bringing tools for your tires in case you should need to fix a flat. We are bringing a patch kit, a spare tire, and a frame pump, because I am not taking any chances!

You may also need snacks, sunscreen, or other items depending on where you are riding, how far you are going, and what your individual needs are. Check out our article Top Ten: Energizing Snacks for Those “Longer” Rides for a few snack tips.

So like a Boy Scout; be prepared!

6. Ready the bike!


Our attempt at a Sefie!

Finally, make sure that your bike is in good condition before you take it out on any ride. The tires should be inflated at the appropriate psi for the type of bike it is and be sure your brakes are in good working order.  Having a bike that is tuned up for your ride makes all the difference between a nice relaxing and enjoyable experience and one that is not so great, so don’t neglect to check!

With that, get out, explore your surrounding areas, relax a little, enjoy the September weather, HAVE FUN, and ride!

-Samantha C


Top Ten: Energizing Snacks for Those “Longer” Rides

20140820_190742**If you stick around to the end of this article you are in for a Schwinn Social Secret**

There is no way around it, when you are working hard and extending the distance of your bike ride you are going to need to refuel. Proper nutrition and healthy snacks  are the key to maintaining energy during and after your long bicycle rides.

Not all snacks are made the same though. A proper snack for a cyclist should be simple and easy to carry with you and eat by bike, should serve to refuel you with the proper carbohydrates and nutrients your body needs, and should be able to make it longer than 5 minutes in the heat or in a cramped location like your jersey pocket or draw string bag.

Some people recommend eating and having a sip or two of water every 15, 20, or 30 minutes, but that just means you should do what feels right for you!

The following are ten of our favorite items to pack for those longer rides.

1. Bananas – A banana is the super food for every person who works out! As most people know bananas are chalk full of potassium, but they are also full of easily digestible carbohydrates. This combination is a one to punch for nerve function, muscle function, reducing muscle cramps and quick releasing fuel.

The best time to eat a banana would be right before your or early on in the ride in order to maximize on the fruits power supply.

2. Nut Butter – Peanut butter, almond butter,  sunflower butter, you name it! The muscle building protein of a nut butter combined with the carbs from the banana or next two items on our list will help keep you at a nice balance between energizing carbs and the healthy fats and proteins of the nut butter. Nut butters can help to slow the release of the carbohydrate you pair it with, but try to keep it as natural and unprocessed as possible to optimize its effect. One our favorite natural butters is the Cranberry Coconut Peanut Butter from YumButter located in our home town Madison WI. Check them out! http://yumbutter.com/

nutsAlmond butters also offer an added bonus of iron and calcium, so if you haven’t tried it yet, give it a go!

Nut butters work best when paired with carbohydrates, but make sure you don’t overdo it. Nut butters are calorie dense so a little goes a long way!

3. Apple (with peanut butter) – For those who don’t like bananas, or are looking for something to put their peanut butter on an apple is the perfect fit. The apple may contain a sugar, but it also has filling fibers that slow the release of those sugars into the bloodstream for sustained energy. Plus it has antioxidants to fight off some of those free radicals!

The best time to crunch into this tasty snack is before or after a long ride when you have a little more time to enjoy this sweet treat.

4. Whole Grain Bagel – These portable morning carb loaded wonders are an excellent way to get your energy back up after a ride. Once again they are best when paired with a nut butter or even some lean meat for the added protein to carb balance.

Since whole grains take a bit longer to digest it is best to eat your bagel a half an hour before you go out or take your bagel with you for an end of the ride snack.

trail mix5. Trail Mix – Trail mix offers an easy and portable snack with a mix of dried fruits full and nuts packed with protein, carbohydrates, and good fats.

While trail mix can be a good option for those looking to gain a bit of muscle it also must be stressed that not all trail mixes are created equally so keep an eye out for mixes laden with candy and once again a little goes a long way. Nuts and dried fruit are extremely calorie dense so if you are looking to lose a little weight you may want to measure out a serving before diving in.

20140820_1904036. Energy bars – Energy bars such as Cliff, LUNA, Powerbar, and more offer a quick and easy way to fuel up on a lot of carbs and protein, and other necessary nutrients.

Always look at the package label to see how much sugar, protein and carbohydrates are actually in your energy or protein bar. Does it have at least 15 grams of protein? Keep in mind that an average adult is only recommended to have 25 grams of sugar a day some energy bars meet or exceed that number in one serving.

7. Sports Drink – One of the timeless questions for people who live an active lifestyle is whether water or a sports drink is the best option for those longer workout days. The fact of the matter is when we sweat and water is release from our body things such as sodium potassium and other electrolytes leave with it. Therefore it makes perfect sense to replace what was lost with a sports drink which offers the additional benefits that water cannot.

Remember whether you drink water or a sports drink it is important to keep hydrated before, during, and after a workout!

20140820_1904248. Energy Gels – Energy gels really fit into the same category as energy bars in my book and are something I would personally leave for the most intense or lengthy rides you have. Energy gels are meant to replace the glycogen that you use and can deplete in extra intense or long workouts while giving you a little extra boost of energy.

While you may receive that boost in energy mentally you may still run into basic muscle fatigue and soreness. Therefore these energy gels are really something that needs to be tried out on an individual basis to see if they work for you, when they will benefit you most during your workout, or if they are the best method to reenergize during your ride.

9. Granola – Granola bars or cereal mixed with some low-fat protein dense yogurt are especially great choices for after the ride. Granola offers protein, carbs and healthy fats to reenergize you and when paired with a yogurt the balance that we have seen before of carbohydrates to protein ratio will keep you moving for the rest of the day.

Check out the recipe at the end of this article for my go to post work out low calorie, nutrient dense snack.

10. Coffee – As a college once said to me, “nothing beats a cup of Joe after a long workout”. Which is why coffee made our list at number ten. While coffee may not seem like the most natural of choices coffee can serve a dual purpose of easing back into the day and catching up with a cycling buddy after a long and relaxing morning ride.

Do you have any go to snacks that we missed? Comment below and lets us know how you stay fueled on those longer bicycle rides!


Sam’s Post Workout Snack

This is one of my favorite post workout snacks because it is chalk full of protein, has potassium from the banana, some healthy fats, and a good dose of carbohydrates to keep me going.


1 Dannon’s Vanilla Greek Yogurt (12 grams of protein!)

1/8 cup of oats

1/2 Banana sliced

1 Tsp of Peanut Butter

A sprinkling of granola


Put the yogurt into a cereal bowl and mix in approximately 1/8 cup of whole oats and 1 tsp of peanut butter into the yogurt. Top with one half of a sliced banana and a sprinkling of granola for an added crunch.

Total Protein: Aprox 25 grams

Calories: Aprox 250

20140820_185217**As promised if you made it to the end of the article I would let you in on a Schwinn social secret. If you liked the Schwinn drawstring bag featured in some of the images seen throughout this post and think that you could make something just as cool if not better than get ready to step it up! In September Schwinn will be hosting a design contest for all of our fans to create a new design for our next Schwinn bag.

The top 5 designs will be awarded prizes with the Grand Prize winner, decided by our fans, receiving a Schwinn bicycle of their choosing on Schwinn Shop Now!

So get your design on and keep an eye out for the official announcement coming soon!

Get out and Ride!

Samantha C.

A Safe Summer with John Wayne Cancer Foundation

Looking for something fun to do with the kids this summer? Schwinn and the John Wayne Cancer Foundation Block the Blaze skin cancer education program have teamed up to host an exciting video contest. The contest makes learning about skin cancer prevention and self screening simple, easy and fun!John Wayne

Entering is easy!

Anyone age 9 (as of June 1st) and older can submit a 15 second video with sun safe tips for preventing skin cancer and up to 10 winners will receive a Schwinn Cruiser bike! Plus the top 10 ranked video submissions will be posted on John Wayne Cancer Foundation’s social channels and website. Talk about 15 seconds of fame!

Videos can be submitted until August 24th so start brainstorming now! Entries will be accepted on YouTube, Instagram and can be submitted here: http://bit.ly/SunSafe4Schwinn

Both Schwinn through its nonprofit foundation Helmet on Heads and John Wayne Cancer Foundation are committed to educate the public about staying safe while having fun outdoors. Safe habits are best learned when young and can be contagious when the youth get behind it. After all who better to communicate the importance of a healthy lifestyle to kids than kids themselves!

Need a bit of inspiration to get started? Think of the 5 sun safe tips: sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, cover with clothing and seek shade. Check out this video below that several junior lifeguards put together to remind people to say #sunsafe4schwinn this summer and every summer!

Beating the Summertime Blahhs: DIY Whimsical Picnic

Summer is a wonderful time when you are a kid. There is no school, just a few organized sports games or other activities in the evenings and ample amount of time to catch up on all that play time you have missed during the school year.

The first few weeks are always a blast! There are so many things to do and see, but inevitably the Summer boredom eventually kicks in.
So what do you do when the daytime blahhs occur and the kids are saying “I’m bored” every two minutes?

FacebookTwitterWell this is exactly the conversation I had with my friend Lizzy last week. I am expecting my two younger cousins, ages 12 and 9 to come over for a weekend and although I am excited to see them, I have been incredibly nervous about how to keep them entertained for a whole weekend and stay within my small budget (aka keeping it as free as possible).

Lizzy happens to be a babysitter for two children around the same age and had just recently taken the kids to what she told them would be an over-the-top picnic adventure at a local park that was just a short bike ride from the house. She let me in on a few of her strategies to create a whimsical picnic, keep the munchkins entertained, and your wallet happy.

Tips to create an affordable and whimsical picnic:

1. Utilize what you already have at home:

  • Lizzy took inventory the day before of everything the family already had, such as a bed sheet, several board games, a few crates and bungee cords to carry the items on the bicycles, and cake mix for a cupcake snack.
  • Using items that were already available made her shopping list short and also helped to rejuvenate items that the kids had grown bored of. After all Yahtzee at an outdoor picnic is much more entertaining than Yahtzee at a kitchen table.

2. Add a touch of whimsy:

  • Since Lizzy wanted the picnic to be extra special she went to pick up a few added decorations from Walmart the night before.
  • A few simple and affordable decorations such as lanterns, paper flowers, pillows, and candles help make the atmosphere that much more exciting and gives the picnic that over-the-top extravagant feeling.
  • The kids also like helping to decorate the picnic area with fun and colorful decorations!

3. Make travel simple, fun, and a healthy experience:

  • Lizzy thought it would be a great idea to get to the picnic by bicycle. The kids already had two Mongoose bicycles in the garage so all she had to do was ride her Schwinn Cruiser over that morning and strap the crates on to the bikes with bungee cords.
  • Biking to your destination gives it a secretive and fun feel reminiscent of the book The Secret Garden and adds to the whole experience.
  • Plus, bonus points, biking is great exercise and gets the kids moving!

4. Let them take control of setting up the picnic:

  • Once you get to your destination let the kids set up all the goodies that you have packed in the crate. This well help them feel like they helped create the picnic and makes it even more special!

5. Enjoy!

  • After all the setup is complete the possibilities are endless! Play games, eat cupcakes, watch the clouds, and enjoy the spontaneity of a whimsical picnic!

Kiss those blahh days away and Get Out and Ride!

– Samantha C.


Peddler’s Creamery: We All Bike for Ice Cream

peddlers6Schwinn: When did you first know that you wanted to open an ice cream shop?

Edward: My first job was at an ice cream shop in high school and I realized I may never have a job again where I was able to make all the customers happy! That and it had some delicious perks. So I knew I would someday like to run my own shop.

peddlers3Schwinn: Did biking play a part in your life before Peddler’s Creamery? How so?

Edward: Of course, since childhood bicycling has provided that exercise outlet, you get to travel and observe the world, but at the same time clear your mind, relax and just have smile on your face. I love commuting via bicycle or taking a ride in the local mountains or trails for amazing scenic vistas!

Schwinn: What was the inspiration for including bicycles as a means to producing the ice cream of Peddler’s Creamery?

Edward: I like to think of new creative ways to do things that will be sustainable, this idea came about by combining two things I loved, bicycling and ice cream.

Schwinn: How did you make your dream a reality? Were there any setbacks in the beginning?

Edward: I decided to go for it and haven’t looked back. It’s like riding a century, there are always bumps along on the road or flat tires to be overcome, but the views at the waypoints and the people you meet along the path make it worth it!

Schwinn: What sort of reaction did you receive from people when you told them you wanted to make ice cream with a bicycle as your means of energy?

Edward: They were pretty excited actually and I still love new customers coming in and enjoying the concept for the first time!

Schwinn: Not a lot of businesses have found success on Kickstarter. Why do you think people were inspired to help you?

Edward: I think for two reasons, one I was lucky to have many amazing friends, family and customers that supported us ; and two , I think the concept resonated with folks looking to support and business that was focused on making sure that people, and the planet were taken care  of and it was just a fun idea.

Schwinn: Why did you choose to use Schwinn bicycles for this project?

Edward: Because Schwinn is an American Icon, just like Ice Cream.

Schwinn: How has the bicycle been modified to turn ice cream?

Edward: We set up the bicycle on a stand and connected it to a kinetic sculpture and an old fashioned churner via chains.

Schwinn: How long does it take to turn a batch of ice cream?

Edward: 15-20 minutes

Schwinn: How do you think that Peddler’s has created such a loyal customer base and how have you been able to continue to grow within your community?

Edward: Peddlers has a great positive energy and we strive to make our customers happy. We are a fun place to stop in and a place where your tastebuds and your soul can both feel great!

Schwinn: Is all the ice cream sold at Peddler’s Creamery turned by bicycle?

Edward: You bet! That’s the fun part!

peddlers7Schwinn: What is the most unique flavor the Creamery currently offers? What is the most popular flavor?

Edward: Perhaps our raspberry poptart, a crowd favorite. Most popular would be salted caramel , Mexican chocolate , and mint chocolate cookie.

Schwinn: What is the biggest challenge to making ice cream by bike?

Edward: Telling folks that they are finished after churning out a batch, sometimes they want to keep on going.

Schwinn: Your ice cream and other deserts include fair trade, organic and locally sourced products. Why were you confident in picking the more expensive resources?

Edward: These premium ingredients  ensure we have amazing ice cream, but just as important our customers can enjoy the ice cream knowing that they are contributing to a better world one delicious scoop at a time!

Schwinn: Biking is pretty prevalent in your work life, but do you still bike on your own time?

Edward: Of course! I love to ride when I have free time. I just rode the LA River Ride Century in June!

peddlers4Schwinn: The creamery is also a Benefits Corporation; giving back 5% of their profits to environmental and social issues, how do you think this has affected your business? How do you envision Peddler’s Creamery inspiring other businesses to take these progressive steps?

Edward: We love supporting the greater community and the work that the groups around us do: from the National Forest Foundation, Los Angeles county Bicycling Coalition, Habitat for humanity, to the Downtown Women’s Center. By making this business a success I believe we can help pave the class one bike path for others.

Schwinn: Everyone loves ice cream, so we have to ask when is Peddler’s coming to Madison? What is in store for Peddler’s in the next few years; can we get a sneak peek at the future plans?

Edward: You never know, we might be out there sometime soon!

Thank you Edward for the scoop 😉

Get Out and Ride (anyone up for some ice cream?)


Behind the Design: Andrea Menchero

Schwinn: What are 3 fun facts about you?


  1. Just like people, I believe shoes have personalities too.
  2. You could call me a professional pattern-mixing, chunky sweater, accessorizing thrifter… no denying I have a love for shopping and putting outfits together.
  3. When you hear the rhythm of the music, it’s a guarantee you can find me on the dance floor.

Schwinn: What are you going to school for and what do you hope to do in the future?

This May I graduated from the University of Connecticut with a BFA in Communication Design. I am currently working as an intern in New York City for the design firm JKR. My passion for package design is relatively new but everyday I find it more and more interesting. The attraction between design and consumer really motivates and inspires my work. What I imagine my future will look like is a career that explores and pushes design into all aspects of life.

Schwinn: When did you know you wanted to pursue art as a greater level?

Andrea: Moving from France to the United States at the age of sixteen, I was more preoccupied with learning the English language and adapting to my new life than my career ambitions. It was not until my senior year of high school that my art teacher, Professor Pierce, reintroduced art into my world. I loved learning the basic drawing techniques, the playfulness of creation, and the authenticity of screen-printing. I furthered my learning in a graphic design course at a community college. This is when I realized that I wanted to become an artist.

Schwinn: What has been your most memorable project that you ever worked on?

Andrea1Andrea:  My most memorable project took place while I was studying abroad at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. The brief: Design and produce a sustainable bag for an identified situation and particular audience. The solution: “Brelly Bag” named after the English nickname for umbrellas. I was so excited to incorporate design thinking into a three dimensional object, so I chose to improve the bulky, unattractive, and heavy camera bag. I redesigned it to be more aesthetically beautiful and functional in the rain. I made many prototypes out of recycled materials found on the streets of London and for the first time learned how to hand sew. From idea to final product, this was a rewarding process that left me feeling accomplished.

Check it out here – http://www.andreamenchero.com/#/brelly-bag/!

Schwinn: What does art mean to you and where do you find inspiration for your own work?

Andrea:  Art can really be anything that you want it to be, but most importantly, I believe it is an idea made visual which is backed by emotion, wit, aesthetics, and information.
I find that observing the environments I am surrounded by is the best way to get inspired. Carrying a sketchbook around is essential to quickly jotting down an idea if it comes to me, doodling, collecting, or working through concepts. I also find conversing with others and listening to new perspectives has influenced my work.

Andrea3Schwinn: How did you come up with “its all about the journey?”

Andrea:  After doing research, I knew I wanted to reflect the long legacy of Schwinn and portray the classic American bike brand in a creative way. I started coming up with different phrases, but they just weren’t cutting it. So I came across your Instagram profile which read, “its all about the journey, not the destination,” and thought it was perfect for the shirt! I made a typographical piece, hand-drew a combination of vintage types and illustrated an original Schwinn model to give it a nostalgic feel.

Schwinn: What role does biking currently play in your life? And /or What was your first interesting memory with a bicycle?

Andrea:  Growing up in France, biking with friends was the best way to get around. More then one person would pile up on a bike, one would be on the handle bar, one would be sitting, while another one pedaling. We would cruise around on our bikes and have a great time, but occasionally would also have a great fall. Like that one time I was sitting behind the seat and I attempted to find my balance when my favorite pair of shoes got cut and chunked up by the wheel. Let’s say I can laugh about it now. Either way it was always a blast!

Schwinn: Can you share previous work you have done and describe it?

Andrea: You can check out my website at: www.andreamenchero.com.

Andrea4Thank you Andrea for sharing such wonderful work!

Now, as always, Get Out and Ride!



Earth to Echo: A Lesson in Friendship

Discovery. Adventure. Friendship.

10373849_321818194640461_5171572369054710151_nThese are just some of the tag lines that perfectly describe the new Earth to Echo movie about three inseparable friends whose lives undergo an incredible change.

Now being a twenty-three year old woman I have to admit I was not expecting to be entertained when I first sat down to a prescreening of Earth to Echo, but I dragged my friend Ben with me, popped some popcorn and decided to embrace my inner child.

…and were we surprised. Not only were we, two postgraduates, entertained; we were thoroughly engaged. We didn’t multitask, talk, or check our phones we were just watching. We were a part of the story.

Earth to Echo castEarth to Echo follows the story of Tuck, Munch, and Alex who are a trio of best friends that are being forced to move because a highway is being built through their community. Each boy has their own quirks which makes them both misfits and highly relatable to all kids (after all who didn’t grow up thinking they were a bit different?).  Yet, just as they are beginning to pack up and move away from each other something strange begins to happen to their cellphones. What occurs next is an adventure of a lifetime shot in first person point of view via GoPros, YouTube, smartphones, and even text messaging which is right up Gen Y’s alley and may have played a role in us putting our own phones down for a bit. Furthermore, the characters travel independently just like most kids (and some adults like me) do, by bike! What better way to show case the freedom and chance for adventure that both technologies offer kids.

Anyways, Ben and I are were thoroughly engrossed in the movie and reflected about it afterwards; we related to some of our own experiences, reflected on what we were like at that age, and also decided that we were due for a real spontaneous and crazy adventure too!S14_EarthToEcho_FBPost-1v2

We can’t all discover aliens though.

Which is why I am excited to announce Schwinn’s latest contest; “Explore Your World”! Here at Schwinn we partnered up with Earth to Echo, Delta Vacations, AND Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex in order to bring a chance for one lucky winner to go on an adventure that almost rivals Tuck, Munch and Alex’s.

On July 14th one lucky winner will receive a trip for them and three friends to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, travel courtesy of Delta Vacations AND a bike for them and three friends that they get to choose from the Schwinn Shop Now site AND four Schwinn Blutunes Speakers so that they can stay technologically ahead and play their Earth to Echo playlist on the go!

Unfortunately for us, Ben and I may not have an adventure that good anytime soon, but I think that everyone can learn a valuable lesson from the movie and characters in Earth to Echo. We discovered that same lesson just a few weeks later with a group of friends on an epic canoe trip down the Wisconsin River. It is also the lesson we learned last year when we had Christmas in July (see photo below). This lesson being that friendship is the greatest adventure of all!Christmas in July

Enter to win the Schwinn Explore Your World Sweepstakes here.

Get Out and Ride!

– Samantha

Learn 2 Ride: A ‘Push’ in the Right Direction

8Since working for a bike company I have begun to feel like I have a responsibility to encourage more people to get on bikes and enjoy riding. I also like to volunteer when I can, so with these interests in mind I signed up to be a volunteer at the annual Madison Recreation Learn 2 Ride event. This year Schwinn’s Helmets on Heads was a sponsor of the event so it was a great chance for me to see how kids in such a great bike town like Madison can learn to ride.

As I rode my bike to the event I reflected on my experience learning to ride a bike. I remembered the hand-me-down Schwinn that rattled with noisy training wheels and the inner frustration of seeing friends and siblings pedaling off while I was still wobbling behind them. Eventually I was able to master what seemed then unachievable and the open bike ride became mine.

It was a huge relief when my son didn’t have to learn the same way I had. When he was 4 one of the neighborhood kids about the same age had already learned to ride without training wheels. My son was immediately interested and our neighbors let him borrow the special training bike that their child had learned on. It was a balance bike or sometimes called a “strider bike” it had a small wheel size and no pedals or crank arms. My son spent the next two weeks gliding up and down the sidewalk sitting on the bike and pushing with his feet. Soon he could steer and balance the bike without his feet touching the ground for long lengths and then he was ready for his own bike with pedals. Amazing! What took me years took him only a few days! It was fantastic that he easily learned without the frustration I had remembered as a child.

When I arrived at the event I donned my volunteer t-shirt and then got my instructions. Everyone that volunteered was sourced from various groups around the city that had bike, helmet fitting, or bike mechanic experience. Cristine, the leader, reminded us that we were not just there to work, but we were also there to be positive and give encouragement to the kids in the form of high fives. The bright green volunteers’ shirt even said “I like high fives and I cannot lie”.

2Soon students and parents arrived for the class. Each of the parents had been asked to prep the child’s bike for the class by removing the training wheels and pedals from the student’s bike and lowering the seat on the bike so the child could put their feet flat on the ground while sitting on the seat. After the bikes were ready to go the students were each asked to sign the Helmets on Heads pledge; that they would wear their helmets each time they road their bike. Then they were treated to a helmet fitting and free helmet courtesy of Helmets on Heads.

10Helmet fitting was my station, so for the first part of the class we were very busy. Each student was shown the proper way to wear a helmet, how to adjust it for the right, secure fit. Many parents were unaware that the front brim of the helmet should be no more than two fingers (the child’s fingers) above the brow line. Only in this position is the helmet ready to do its job. When most bike crashes happen the rider falls to the front or the side so without the helmet in the correct position the front part of the head is unprotected and the helmet can’t function as it was designed. With the helmets fitted and in place and their bikes ready, the students were ready to hit the bike courses.

After finishing with my station I went out to the courses to see how the students were doing. Just as Christina had said there were some children that were easily getting the feel for gliding and balancing and others that looks like they would struggle for a while. In some cases you could tell by looking at the faces and body language of the student and parent that the child had been trying to learn for a long time and that this was almost a one last-ditch effort. What was clear was that no matter what brought the students and parents to the class that day each was there to face the problem head on. There was a real sense of purpose in the air.

The idea of the balance bike approach to learning is really not that new. Later, when I had time for a Google search, I learned that the idea of a balance bike was first invented by Karl Drais, a German inventor, in 1817, and was the first form of the two wheel bike we know today. The proponents of this method claim that children learn to ride faster since they first learn to balance and counter steer and then worry about pedaling later. This was the case with my son, and I was growing more convinced that it could work for others too.

Little by little as the class progressed around the bike course the length of the glides got bigger and bigger. As each student went by we encouraged them to lift their feet up a little bit more; glide just a little bit more. Some students were taking to it right away, in fact one that initially struggled when their parent was running next to them was now having success gliding and was already back at the mechanics station to get their pedals back on. Still there were some others that needed to continue with the push, push, glide, push, push, glide, technique.

One of the staff members working with a student who was getting very frustrated suggested that maybe they needed to take a 10 minute break. Looking defeated, the student headed over to a nearby curb to rest under one of the trees for a while. This gave me an opportunity to chat with the student and parent.

The parent was very appreciative of the event and said they felt they already made some great progress that day. They mentioned what a positive learning environment and relief it was to see so many other children of similar age that needed to learn to ride too. A class like this was very encouraging especially to older children that didn’t learn to ride as fast as their friends. I thought about my learning story and could see what she meant. Sometimes struggling to learn something means you feel like you are alone, struggling by yourself, and just knowing that others share your plight can be very encouraging in itself. The parent also mentioned that having other adults be the learning coach instead of the parent was also a nice change of pace. I could see her point; there was less pressure here and lots of high-fiving friendly faces. After the short break her son started making amazing progress with his gliding.

1Little by little students were growing more confident in balancing with each rotation around the course. It became clear that the reasons that a student would struggle were as varied as the students themselves. The variations of the apparent mental barriers ran the gamut; boy, girl, short, tall, older, younger, parents, no parents, athleticism, shy, fear of falling, fear of pedaling; each symptom started to erode away with each glide. Whatever the past inhibitor was, today they started to crumble and disintegrate as frustrated grimaces gave way to wide grins.

As successful gliding students got their pedals back they would come back to the course and do more laps as they got acquainted with pedaling, turning and braking. By the end of the day as students morphed into two wheeled riders the volunteers were ready to high five the world’s newest bike riders.

As an observer it was fantastic to see one of childhood’s most remembered moments and lifelong skills learned right before my eyes. It was an honor to help the students and parents conquer their learning demons. Witnessing the parents’ emotional responses felt a little like the magic of watching an infant taking their first steps.

6I would love to say that everyone that day left on two wheels, but there were still some that would need some more time and practice that the class time couldn’t allow. But those students were given a solid skill base that would have them riding when they were ready and an opportunity to come back to a future class if needed. For the many kids that did find success, they were given something priceless; the chance to feel the freedom of riding a bike. There is nothing else like it. I didn’t have to ask afterwards if the students enjoyed the class, the proud smiles on their faces said it all. I pedaled home feeling like I had done something good for the world.

Get Out and Ride!


Check out the video from last year’s event below!

A Preferred Mode: A Response to the “Slow Ride” Post

It has been several weeks now since I posted the article Slow Ride: Biking Doesn’t Have to Be a Race. Since that post I was amazed at the many different responses we received about the article, both here on SchwinnRed and across the internet. The variety of opinion really got me thinking about what it means to ride a bike, not only in the States, but anywhere and if there truly is a preferred mode.for blog

This week on another one of my 2 hour long road bike journeys (yes I was dressed in lycra and going fast) I stumbled upon a realization. I prefer speeding along on my road bike. It is my preferred mode. It is the way that I best enjoy bicycling and the way that brings me the most happiness. When I am flying down a smooth paved path for miles on end I feel truly alive and that is not only okay, that is a great thing! In an article on Momentum Magazine’s website, Can Everyday Bicycling Make You Happier?,  author Karin Olafson explains the same phenomena of improved mental wellness and euphoria that I experience each and every day I “race” to work and which I believe is why people continue to cycle.

That being said, I also want to address a comment I received about the Slow Ride Article being a “silly fluff piece” by stating that, having written it, I truly disagree. I have partially embraced the Slow Ride since writing about it on May 22 by learning how to enjoy my bike rides in a new way. There are things that you miss when speeding from place to place that you experience when bicycling leisurely. On one occasion I took my old Schwinn cruiser to the beach on a lazy Sunday and stopped at several local stores on the way. I had no set time to be anywhere and I just enjoyed the capability to be mobile and engaged with my surroundings. Several other times when I wanted to wear a dress I found that taking that same cruiser to the Terrace was a fun way to people watch, check out the flowers, and as an added plus I was able to look fairly stylish (aka less shrink wrapped in spandex).

Sam Polcner's latest photo!

Sam Polcner’s latest photo!

However, I also agree with that same comment which stated that a Slow Ride bicycling style is not for everyone or everywhere. But I would counter with something someone shared with us on Facebook last month. When asked what their favorite type of bike was they said all their bikes were their favorites, because each was like a tool, designed with its own purpose and value. Upon further reflection I think the same should hold true when we question what the best method of cycling is. The answer shouldn’t be one style or speed is better than the other, but rather that whether you call it biking, cycling, racing, bicycling, cruising, slow riding, or cat sixing, all forms of cycling have a purpose. I also thought about my favorite bike photographer, Sam Polcner and his many subjects, with their many different styles in both dress and bike. Each of these people in Sam’s photos shows us that bicycling doesn’t have one face, but rather is a layered culture of diversity.  That is awesome! That is huge! That is GLOBAL!

Slow Ride: Biking Doesn’t Have to Be a Race was an exercise in changing perceptions; personally it was a challenge for me to embrace another style of biking, rethink my “preferred mode”, and a learning experience about the definitions that can be held in the overarching bike cultures. Yet, what I took away was not a preference for one form of cycling or the other, but rather an ability to appreciate and embrace the best of both styles and I haven’t even explored mountain biking yet!

Honestly, I will still be seen spending most of my weekends decked out in lycra and pushing myself to cut my time and with a most beloved road bike designed for that use in mind it makes sense for me to be riding like that; yet, I promise you this if you see a girl looking cute on a cruiser Slow Riding her way down the street, well, now that girl could very well be me.

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Get Out and Ride!


Biking for Fitness: A 40-something Woman’s Journey

As a relatively new employee at Schwinn – I just celebrated my one year anniversary, I have decided to embark on a new journey with biking.  Since a child, my bicycling has consisted of casual riding with friends, my family, and the occasional ride at work with colleagues for a company outing.  I must say I love my Schwinn Cream (see pic below).  It is a fabulously, smooth-riding, classically-pretty bicycle with a basket, bell, and rack.

Me posing next to my Schwinn Cream

However, I have been inspired to try cycling this Summer for fitness. I have read that bicycling can be a great workout for my entire body and  I have been looking to develop better muscle tone in my legs, trim my waistline and increase my cardio heath.  Biking just made sense to me at this time in my life and career.

I am so committed to this journey that I have also agreed to blog about my experience as a novice over the course of the next few months.  I hope you enjoy the ride; perhaps you will also feel inspired and decide to join me!  We would love to hear about your journey too.

In preparation for this new adventure, I thought I would make use of the vast knowledge of my colleagues and interview one of my team members that I know bikes for fitness—Dave Duecker, Schwinn Brand Director.  Dave has been cycling his entire life; and has used bicycling as a way to maintain his health.  He has participated in many cycling events over the years, including the impressive Iron Man competition.  The following interview with Dave took place as I prepared to start my journey.

Milissa: How did you begin your journey with bicycling for fitness and why?

Dave: I was always fairly active with cycling growing up and all throughout school.  I have a history of heart disease in my family and cycling is a great way for me to stay fit.

10329199_642165735872697_7427979180040045537_nMilissa: What are the major health benefits of biking besides getting toned and reducing stress (two of the reasons why I am starting)?

Dave: Cycling will help improve your overall cardiovascular fitness, and there are studies out there that cite that cycling can help decrease the risk of coronary heart disease.  I think more importantly it is a great low-impact mode of exercise.   For anyone who has joint conditions or injuries in their legs or hips, which might keep them from being active; cycling is one of the best options to stay fit and active.

Milissa: What do you recommend as a cycling regimen for someone who is easing into biking like me?

Dave: I think the most important thing is to enjoy and embrace the total experience.  Just get out and ride and take in everything that nature has to offer.  Don’t be intimidated by spandex and shaved legs!  Don’t put pressure on yourself to finish in a time or maintain a certain speed.  Start slow, cycling uses different muscles than a lot of other type of exercises and it may take time for your body to get used to this type of activity.  That being said, make sure you have the proper equipment.

Milissa: What type of bike and equipment would you recommend; what items can you not live without on your bike?

Dave: Obviously you need a bike and the Schwinn Fastback if a great option!  However, any bike will do, just make sure it has been properly maintained, that the tires are inflated, the saddle is adjusted to the proper height, etc.  The most important thing is to have a helmet and it must pass CPSC and fit properly.   There are no exceptions on this one – you must wear a helmet!  You should also carry basic equipment like a bike repair kit and learn basic bike maintenance, such as how to change a tire, how to put your chain back on, and how to adjust your saddle.

Milissa: How can I expect to feel after riding?  In two weeks, two months, etc.

Dave: You should feel tired after a good ride, but not completely exhausted.  The first few weeks will be tough as your legs and lungs are getting used to the new activity.  After the initial few weeks, hopefully you will feel great and look forward to getting out on the next ride.

Milissa: What is the best time of the day to ride?

Dave: I love getting out early mornings.  I ride with a group every Tuesday and Thursday morning.  We meet at 5:30 am and ride for about 1-1/2 hours.    The sun is just coming up, there is very little traffic and all you hear is the wheels on the pavement.  After that ride, my head is clear and I have a ton of energy to get me through the day.  There is a group here at work that gets out for a lunch ride on a regular basis as well.  These rides are great as it breaks up the day.  We are fortunate to live in Madison as the cycling is great here.

Milissa: How should I track my progress?

Dave1Dave: There are a number of ways to track you progress.  I use Strava, but to be honest there are a many times I just go out and ride to see where the roads take me.  Last week my 14 year old daughter and I went out for a Sunday afternoon ride – we just went out on the road for about an hour and a half.  The cool thing is we saw a deer and its fawn run across a road.  How cool is that!  I was not worried about my rank on a segment, etc.  The one thing I do recommend is to set a personal goal.

Milissa: What is a good goal for me to set?

Dave: That depends on what you want to accomplish:  a 50 mile ride, a Century, ride three times a week, etc.  Charity rides are excellent.  They support wonderful causes, offer a ton of support on the ride, and the roads are managed by the event so traffic is typically reduced. A few events I have attended include the Birkebeinerrittet (The Birkebeiner Cycling Race in Norway), Kickapoo Kicker (local Wisconsin race), Ironman WI and a couple of the WORS MTB races (Wisconsin Off Road Series).

Milissa: Do you have any words of advice to a beginner?

Dave: Just go out and enjoy everything cycling has to offer!

Thanks Dave for all the advice.  I’m so excited to get out there and do it. 

Game on y’all.  This is going to be fun.

Get out and ride!