Cycling “Firsts”: What You Didn’t Expect When You Signed Up For This

Now that I have been riding regularly for a couple a weeks I thought it might be both fun and educational to share some of my top “first experiences” while riding.  These “firsts” would be experiences that I really hadn’t prepared for mentally or physically, didn’t really EVER think about, and once they happened I was like “wow, did that really just happen, deep breath, okay I’m good?!?”

Me with a squirrel... on my shoulder.

Me with a squirrel… on my shoulder.

Animals as obstacles. Yes, that is what I said…It was probably my 4th ride out on my new bike, and I was with a couple friends. We were riding along at a nice pace on a bike path in Madison, WI. The stretch of path was flanked on either side with tall grasses and trees. Out of no-where came a critter. It was actually kind of the like the game Frogger…with it scrambling and dodging in between all three of our tires. I, however, couldn’t do much to avoid dinging it slightly. Thankfully for my piece of mind and its well-being it was able to run off. Fingers crossed no permanent injuries occurred. This my friends was an entirely new experience for me, and one that shook me up a bit for the next several miles. You see I kind of LOVE animals; all animals even squirrels.  I couldn’t image being the cause of pain to one.  Since then I have had a few near misses, but I must say I am more on guard now to the possibility of animals crossing my path.

Mud slides. So I did a ride, again with friends, the morning after a night of non-stop rainfall. Again we were on a paved bike path, but this time it was in the open along a highway. The path was new and a section was covered with mud that had washed from the either side of the path and settled on the pavement. My friend, who was on a mountain bike, hit the mud first. She proceeds to scream out a warning. I was approximately six feet behind her and coming in fast. Too late to really affect the rate at which I hit the mud. Now this was not just a little mud. I am talking an inch and half or so of pudding like mud on a newly paved surface. For those of you haven’t experienced this…as soon as my front tire hit the mud it was like riding on an oil slick. I managed to maintain my balance, coming into the mud about 10 inches from the edge of the path, which had a grassy surface on the side. Call it skill, or luck; I prefer skill, but I was able to guide myself and my bike to the grass after sliding about 3 feet and not taking down my bike. Oh, and did I mention, I had another friend coming in hot right behind me? In the end, we all made it without falling, but man it was close. Just had to do some hosing off of the bikes when we got done with the ride.

Sore bum. After my first two long rides (15+ miles each) wearing only regular athletic shorts, I knew I was in trouble. Yes. My sit bones were screaming at me every time I sat in a chair. As I was sharing the details with a colleague, they asked if I was wearing padded bike shorts. Um no! Padded bike shorts are sheer perfection for the cyclist. Lesson learned big time, and number one priority for me now that I ride!

So those are my top three so far, but I thought it would be fun to also ask some other friends at Schwinn about their first experiences riding too.  Here are a few more firsts:

My first time forgetting to unclip at a stop sign. “I was still new to clipless pedals. But, it wasn’t my first time riding with them. I had been using them for a couple of weeks. Many can relate to this so the story may sound familiar. Luckily I was riding alone saving me from the embarrassment of an audience witnessing what I’m convinced was the slowest fall physically possible. Maybe it was the summer solstice, and gravity just wasn’t as strong as usual. I can’t say for sure. But, I slowly came to a stop at a stop sign forgetting that I was clipped in only realizing it when I casually tried to lift my foot straight up off the pedal as I was already starting to lean. Panic set in so instead of calmly twisting my foot to pop free from the pedal I spent the next couple of seconds (which felt like minutes) flinching and flopping around trying to free myself as the bike and I slowly tipped closer and closer to the pavement until `thud’ like a tree falling in the woods. But, when a Steve falls on his road bike and no one is around to hear him, he still makes noise. Son of a B@$#! D*&% It!  It happens to everyone, and it’s nothing to be afraid of. In the end, the only thing that hurt was my pride a little bit.” (Steve)

Don't even ask how...

Don’t even ask how…

Temporary tattoos. Starting out biking, and ok, even now, I have had issues with getting chain grease marks all over my self. The secret to removal… a little Dawn dish soap! (Sam)

King of the Hill. “I remember my first invitation to ride some singletrack. I had no idea what that was and needless to say with my one bike, a mountain bike that wasn’t what you would call `trail worthy’ I was quite out of my league! To read the full story about Mikes Rite of Passage into Mountain Biking, check back this Thursday!” (Mike)

Conquering the mountain!

Conquering the mountain!

I love that part of riding is the adventure.  Each ride is truly memorable in it’s own right. Please go ahead and share your first experiences cycling with our community.  We want to hear from you.  And check back because I and my friends will have plenty more firsts to share this Summer!

Get out and ride!

Milissa

 

 

Is My Bike Snow Proof?: Winterized Biking 101

snow

The Winter Ride

Last week we talked about the proper clothing to wear as we gear up to take our bikes out in the winter. However, preparing our bikes for the cold is just as important as preparing ourselves. Winterizing your bikes and proper maintenance will not only help ensure the lasting quality of the bikes, but will also provide a safer ride in the winter.

Winterizing Your Bike:

  •   Bike Type:
    Schwinn MESA Mountain Bike

    Schwinn MESA Mountain Bike

    • Mountain bikes, hybrids, or single speed bikes often are the preferred type of bike for winter riding.
  • Tires:
    • Although some cyclist do not find it is necessary many winter riders will exchange their normal tires with a pair of studded tires which provide excellent traction on ice.
    • Another great option is to use wide tires. The larger surface area increases traction.
    • In winter it is also a good idea to reduce the air pressure of your tires. This allows more tire to be in contact with road and greater traction. The deeper the snow the less pressure you want in your tires, but make sure to stay within the tires recommended pressure range. This is located on the sidewall of the tire.
  • Fenders:
    • If you want to stay dry and slush free this seasons, fenders are a must. Fenders or Mud Guards are designed to protect you and the drivetrain from the debris on the road and will make your winter experience much more enjoyable. However, snow can also build up within the fenders and may increase resistance if they are not cleaned out.
  • Pedals:
    • If you ride with clipless pedals or toe straps during the summer you may want to consider swapping them out for platform pedals. These will work well with boots and be safer in the event that you need to put a foot down.
  • Headlights and Reflectors:
    Schwinn Headlight

    Schwinn Headlight

    • Since the sun rises later and sets earlier in the winter visibility becomes more difficult. Therefore, having proper front and rear lights as well as reflectors is essential to safe biking.

Maintenance:

  • Time for a tune up:
    • If you are uncertain that your bike is ready for winter bring it into a local bike shop for a tune up before you ride. The months of riding in snow, salt, sand and all the other nasty stuff that gets put on the road during winter will take its toll on all the bike’s parts, so it is better to be prepared before you start riding.
  • Clean and Dry:
    • Cleaning your bike after each use will dramatically reduce the amount of wear and tear that your bike will go through in the winter. It is also important to wipe the bike and chain dry after each use.
  • The Drivetrain:
    • It is important to clean and lubricated the chain, derailleurs and cassette/freewheel regularly. This will decrease corrosion and wear on the gears while also extending the drivetrains life.

Making sure your bike is properly maintained is important throughout the entire year, but it is even more critical for winter riding. A well maintained and winterized bike will provide an excellent and safe experience for any cyclist.

Get out and ride!

Samantha & Steve

Steve's Winterized Bike

Steve’s Winterized Bike

Schwinn Love: Jimmy & Cathy

 

I first saw Cathy and Jimmy while browsing Pinterest for pictures of Schwinn bikes. While scrolling down an endless feed of pictures I couldn’t help, but pause when I saw a beaming bride and groom standing in front of a blue Schwinn. I had to know more! I quickly contacted the photographer, Jill Corona, from her blog, The Little Crown, and asked if she could get me in touch with Cathy and Jimmy.

A few weeks later I was on the phone with the energetic young couple.

Schwinn: I have to ask you guys my favorite question to ask all married couples! How did the two of you first meet?

Cathy: Do you want the long version or the short version?

Schwinn: Oh, definitely the long version!

Cathy: Jimmy and I had this mutual friend, Kim who had always wanted to set us up, but it never really worked out until a Halloween party in 2010. Jimmy had gotten really into it that year and had spent all day trying to create the most realistic zombie costume possible. He went all out, white contacts, gloves, everything.

Jimmy: Cathy was at the party with some of her friends and when our friend went to introduce us…

Cathy: I said, “I’m sure you’re a nice guy, but I can’t even look at you!”

It wasn’t until 6 months later when they would see each other again at another party hosted by a mutual friend.

Cathy: He came up to me and told me a joke and we both ended up knowing a bunch of them in the same genre. We spent the rest of the night laughing and sharing the ones we knew. At the end of the night Jimmy asked if he could call me and I told him he could get my number from his friend Kim, but really I thought that would be the end of it.

Cathy: But the next day I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I knew he was hanging out with our friend Kim, so I found a way to set up a time for us to walk our dogs together the next day. We haven’t been apart since.

JC2

Within a few months Jimmy’s dog moved in with Cathy, then Jimmy moved in, within a year they were engaged, and then married less than 10 months later on January 5th, 2013.

Schwinn: Did you ever have any worries about it moving so quickly?

Cathy: No, things moved quickly, because we both knew what we were looking for and we found that in each other. Even after being married for a year we still feel like we are in the honeymoon phase.

Schwinn: How important was biking to both of you before you met?

Jimmy: Less than a year before I met Cathy my good friend got me into bikes, I had Schwinn bikes growing up, but I treated them hard like any boy does. My friend had a garage full of vintage Schwinn bicycles. I bought one from him, and then I bought more on my own. I currently have about 7 vintage Schwinn bikes in my garage. The first bike I got Cathy was a 66′ Schwinn Starlet with a tank; she fell in love with it!

Cathy: When we first got together he had maybe three, and I liked them too, but I didn’t know what it was all about.

Jimmy: At one point when we had moved in together I had eleven!

Cathy: I have started to get into it too, when we went on our vacation in Tucson we found a copper tandem Schwinn, and this time I decided we needed to have it.

Cathy: The thing with Jimmy is that he has this strict philosophy that you should respect the original bike. He never replaces the paint of a bike instead he buffs it until it shines, because he loves the character of it. Sometimes I try to describe the pros and cons of each Schwinn bike, but I almost always refer to Jimmy.

Jimmy: Most of the bikes I’ve refurbished. I’ll buy them in really terrible condition, rusted, oxidized, and I’ll just slowly start cleaning it. Part by part, often times while on the floor watching TV. I would just use some coke a cola and aluminum foil and just start buffing it to fix the chrome and make it shine like new again.

Cathy: His favorite bike right now is his 57’ Schwinn Spitfire. When he first got it, it was brown; it was supposed to be red.

Jimmy: I just kept buffing it,  removing the rust with a deoxidizing compound, and re-waxed it until it finally came back to this really radiant red.

Cathy: Oh, before we got married Jimmy’s favorite was this Black American Tank Schwinn.

Jimmy:  (laughs) They’re both my favorites. I found the Black American Tank with a working light, I didn’t even chance the bulb! It is the original, and it actually still works. That doesn’t usually happen!

Schwinn: Why did you decide to incorporate biking and Schwinn in to your wedding?

Cathy:  We were really trying to find a way to put our personality into our wedding and biking is such a big part of our lives. We asked our wedding coordinator if bikes would even be allowed to be incorporated. Her first comment was that no one had ever asked her that before, but then she just said ‘what do you want to do?’

JC3

Schwinn: I saw picture of the wedding party with Schwinn bicycles as well. Was everyone on board?

Cathy: Kim was a bit nervous. She was Jimmy’s ‘best woman’ and was worried, because she was supposed to ride the bike in public while wearing her dress. Dresses and bikes don’t seem like the best combination. But we got her a long dress and it all worked out.

JC4Schwinn: There is a picture of Jimmy riding a Schwinn down the aisle. How did the crowd respond to that?

Jimmy: It actually wasn’t just me, but all the best people did.

Cathy: The crowd was really surprised. Before they came out the song, ‘Bike’ by Pink Floyd started playing. We chose it because there is this one line that goes…

Jimmy: (starts singing the song) ‘You’re the kind of girl that fits in with my world. I’ll give you anything, everything if you want things.’

Cathy: The rest of the words are a bit odd, but that line is perfect and it’s a great song to ride a bike down the aisle to.

Jimmy: It just fit the theme. The crowd didn’t know what was happening right away when they heard the song, but when the bikes came out it made sense and they loved it.

The bikes stayed parked outside the reception area which was held in a barn to complement the couples New England roots.

Schwinn: What role has biking played in your life post wedding?

Jimmy: We frequently ride especially if we want to get out of the house, check out the neighborhood and houses for sale, or go to the local farmers market. We were going to yard sales on bikes for a while.

Cathy: That ended up getting hysterical! We started with just buying small things that we could put in our baskets, but then Jimmy bought a Rototiller! He had to balance it on the bike all the way home, because he refused to go get the car. We have found ways to carry a lot of things on our bikes.

Cathy: A lot of our friends are getting bikes now too. Recently we went and checked out Christmas lights together. Jimmy also got one of our friends set up with a double basket in the back and she had to go to the grocery store right away to try it out!

Jimmy: There is also a bar just 3 miles away that we will often meet friends at.

Cathy: We go out bar hopping on the bikes, or we’ve gotten involved in events like the Tour de Fat.

Jimmy: It’s always something more fun than serious and often there is some kind of drinking component.

Cathy: This year at the Tour de Fat we wore Handlebar mustaches!

Schwinn: So you just celebrated your first anniversary; congratulations! What kind of advice would you offer other newlyweds?

Cathy: We weren’t expecting a question like that. Let me think…

Jimmy: Live together first!

Cathy: Jimmy!

Jimmy: You get to really know the person you will be with that way…

Cathy: Marry someone who makes you happy, while you’re dating. My mom always used to say that when you are dating is when you’ll be happiest, but we actually keep getting happier. The person you are with should make you happy, make you laugh, and always support you no matter what, they should be your best friends and your right hand.

JC5

Jimmy: Marry someone who is also not completely like you, but has different interest and likes different things then you. Like shouldn’t marry like, you need to find the balance of difference and similarities to keep things light, fun, and interesting.

To see more photos by Jill Corona head over to her blog at:

http://www.jillandthelittlecrown.blogspot.com/

Get out and ride!

Samantha

But Won’t I Freeze?: Winterized Biking 101

Can you be too prepared?

Can you be too prepared?

Most people store their bikes when the colder months of winter arrive and if you are anything like me the idea of leaving the house in the winter seems like a horrible idea. However, lately  the more I look outside my window and see the bike path that leads directly from my house to work the more I’ve wondered if taking my bike out of the shed a month or two early would be such a bad idea.

Whether you are biking for the joy of it, for exercise, or for commuting purposes riding your bike in winter does not have to be as difficult as many people assume it is. In fact, it can be a rather relaxing way to get out of the house, enjoy the brisk winter air, and increase your overall fitness and well-being.

In order to ensure a better winter biking experience this post will provide several tips and tricks on proper clothing, that will keep you comfortable and  help get all of us back on the bike before the snow melts.

Cycling in general causes a lot of heat to circulate throughout your body and the winter months are no exception. You can just as easily overheat in winter. That is why it is often more important to focus on preventing exposure of the skin to the wind, wet, and direct cold rather than focusing on the amount of layers you wear.

  1. Breathable Clothing
    • Light Weight Sugoi Icon Jacket

      Light Weight Sugoi Icon Jacket

      Materials like cotton tend to stay moist and can keep you too cold. Wool and synthetic materials are better to wear as an under layer, because they will keep your core both warm and dry. Fleece is also a great option, but is best saved for a particularly cold day when added warmth is needed.

    • Long underwear, leggings, and synthetic tights are great at keeping your legs warm.
  2. Outer Layers
    • Making sure your coat or outer most layers are waterproof and windproof will help keep heat contained while battling  the wind, snow, and rain.
  3. Footwear
    • A waterproof shoe or boot with enough room for thick socks is vital. Keeping your feet warm and dry is very important in the winter months, and again it is a great idea to avoid cotton which tends to keep your feet damp and cold.
  4. Gloves
    • Sugoi Subzero Lobster Gloves

      Sugoi Subzero Lobster Gloves

      Waterproof mittens or gloves will help keep your hands warm; however, many cyclists have found that lobster claw gloves, like the ones by Sugoi on the right, provide an excellent winter cycling option as well. The lobster claw splits your fingers in to two sections to provide better dexterity, but by keeping some fingers together they also provide the warmth of mittens.

  5. Headgear
    • Keeping your ears and head warm is incredibly important, if you do not have a winterized helmet that already covers your ears, be sure to wear either earmuffs or any other hat or headband under you helmet.
    • If you are wearing additional winter headgear underneath your helmet it is important to make sure that the helmet still fits properly. If the fit is an issue and you don’t want to buy a new helmet a helmet cover can also be a great option.
  6. Facemask
    • MidZero Balaclava by Sugoi

      MidZero Balaclava by Sugoi

      Some cyclists prefer to have their face and neck covered as well. There are many options to keep the winter chill off of these areas.

    • A balaclava (or ski mask) provides full head and face coverage, to keep out the cold and maintain heat. Some balaclavas have openings for the eyes; however, the one on the right by Sugoi is completely enclosed to better retain warmth.
    • Scarves are excellent ways to control the amount of wind that hits your face or neck and tinted goggles can keep your eyes both protected from the sun as well as the cold.

If you are looking to add some missing items to your winter biking outfit; Sugoi has an excellent clothing line for both male and female cyclist. They even have categorized their products into each season that the apparel is intended for.

http://www.sugoi.com/usa/bike.html

Finally, if jumping straight into winter cycling seems a bit daunting, don’t worry. You can get back into winter riding one step at a time with these quick tips:

  • Ride your bike just part of the way to your destination, then take the Metro Bus the rest of the way or park your car part of the way and ride your bike for the rest of the distance.
  • Don’t feel bad about leaving your bike at home for those especially cold, icy, or snowy days.
  • Keep in mind that getting on the bike even just once a week is a great step towards getting in shape for spring!
  • Most of all, remember to have fun. Enjoy the winter scenery and fresh air as we move into spring.

What has been your experience with winter biking? What tips and tricks have you learned?

Get out and ride!

Samantha

It’s As Easy As Riding a Bike: New Year! New Blog!

It’s as easy as riding a bike.

Man with a Penny Farthing

Man with a Penny Farthing

Well, in the eighteen hundreds that wasn’t so true. A cyclist in the nineteenth century had to climb atop a lofty, unstable, mobile structure, while carefully maintaining balance atop a giant thin wheel. It was no wonder that when these bicycles, now known as Penny-Farthings, originated in 1871 that very few people dared to master that feat. Plus it was impractical and expensive if your goal was quick mobility or just a bit of exercise.

Yet sheer innovation, skill, and motivation drove inventors to reimagine the Penny-Farthing in order to make what we now know to be the modern bicycle. Ignaz Schwinn and Adolph Frederick William Arnold first set up their company in Chicago in 1895 and quickly created bicycles that were accessible for everyone. Since then individuals and families alike have grown up knowing the bicycle to be a common part of life. Learning to ride a bike has become a staple in many childrens’ memories of growing up. It evokes that first sense of freedom and independence that comes with finally being able to leave the childhood yard and cruise the neighborhood with your own two wheels.

For me finally learning to ride my first bike meant that I could spend hours riding up and down the drive way singing Disney songs, and trying out new tricks with my friends. For others it meant even more. Still the time spent on a bike is more than memories of the past; it is a crisp sense of the now and a time to envision the goals of the future.

In the year of 2014, Schwinn is celebrating the passion and lifestyle that has always surrounded the bicycle. Along with our new Instagram and Pinterest accounts, this blog, SchwinnRed will actively explore the joy of the bicycle by celebrating the recreational rider, offering tips and tricks for the everyday cyclist and families, as well as promoting fitness and a casual outdoor lifestyle. It will also reveal real stories from both the past as well as today, while sharing new things that are to come both for Schwinn and cyclists in 2014 and beyond.Schwinn red bikes

The bicycle will continue to remain ever important in our lives. It is an intrinsic part of each stage of our life; from the moment a parent lets go of the handle bars and we take our first strides of independence, to the time that we laugh and say, “It’s as easy as riding a bike.”

Get out and ride!

Samantha