365 Days Commuting by Bike: Wait… You are going to bike in this?

Wait... You are going to bike in this- So you have decided to bike through winter. Your mind is made up and you are already getting everything in order to have a safe, warm, and successful winter ride. Everything should be dandy, right?

Unfortunately, I have begun to realize that the idea of biking through winter doesn’t seem to sit too well with my friends’, family members’, significant other’s, or volunteer acquaintances’ minds. Which leads me to believe that many of you who have decided to bike through winter may be receiving the same hesitant responses and questions that I have been receiving since announcing my intension to bike in the snow. Here is a list of some of the most popular questions, and comments I continuously here from the concerned parties mentioned above and my typical responses. I would love to hear the questions you receive and how you respond in the comments after this article as well!

1.       Isn’t it dangerous?

  • For this question I usually like to mention how all mode of transportation can be dangerous and when you are aware of the dangerous points you can make changes to avoid them or reduce the danger.
  • For me this means altering the path I take from summer to a safer and more bike path focused commute this winter.
  •  I also like a vehicle or snowmobile going out for the first time in the winter snow will make sure that my bike is tuned up for winter.
  • Like people who ride in cars but still wear their winter jackets;  I to will wear my winter biking apparel.
  • And finally like people who walk anywhere in the snow and ice, I too will keep an eye out for any potentially risky paths layered with ice.

2.       How will you manage to bike through all the snow and Ice?

  • The great thing about this question is I can talk about the wonderful amends Madison has made for its yearly bike commuters. In order to keep the paths open the City of Madison has to be sure that they are clear of snow for commuters. In fact, some fellow winter commuters in the office mentioned that the paths are sometimes cleared before the road!
  • As for the ice, once the weather hits the worse many winter cyclists, reduce air pressure, and increase the traction in their tires, perhaps even adding studs to their tires.

3.       Isn’t that bad for your bike?

  • Well actually, yes, it can be. That is why many cyclist have a winter bike, a “beater” or a bike specifically for commuting. You would never take you really nice sports car through a winter in Wisconsin and likewise I don’t plan on taking my prized road bike through the winter either. (More on this topic later 😉 )
  • Instead I will combat the cold and dirt with a bicycle that has fenders and is rough and ready.

4.       It gets dark in the winter…

  • Yes… it does. This is something that I realize I need to be prepared for even before it gets pitch black at 5:30 p.m. and it is the creeping reduction in daylight that I think should be all 365 day commuter’s concern. To combat this is as simple as beginning to make practice of riding with your lights on when commuting as early as the beginning of October. This way you will never run into that issue where you can see the road but the vehicles find it hard to see you.

5.       What if it is really cold?

  • I have to admit here I always hesitate a bit since the cold is really one thing I am dreading, but many people have commented here and on Facebook telling me that once you get going the cold really isn’t an issue anymore. They key seems to be keeping the core warm so that the blood can continue to circulate into your feet and hands. I have taken that to heart and often remind the questioners that biking is cardio exercise and that if I am not warm enough I just have to work a bit harder.

6.       Why don’t you just buy a car?

  • This is probably the most common question I run into when telling people about my winter commute. Apparently, it is very hard to understand why someone who could buy a car would decide not to in favor of biking in the cold.
  • Now I am pretty sure you cannot change people’s minds on this one, but I like to explain to them a few key elements that keep me on the bike such as:
  • When I bike I don’t feel obligated to get a gym membership. I torch an average of 300 calories a day just commuting.
  1. I don’t have to fill up on gas
  2. I don’t have to buy car insurance
  3. There is no need for a parking spot, which living in the city can get ridiculous or can be hard to find.
  4. I don’t have monthly car payments….
  5. And to top it all off my commute is on average 15 minutes shorter. It is hard to argue with the facts!

7.       Are you really biking in the winter?

  • Yup… I’m writing a mini blog series about it on SchwinnRed, so yeah it’s happening!

If you are or have ever ridden in the winter what questions do you receive and how do you respond to them? bundled up for winterKeep an eye out for an article about my hunt for the right Schwinn for winter and for a post that explores my preparation to stay warm this winter. (Hopefully I will find a more efficient way to stay warm then when I wore 4 layers in the picture to the right from when I went to visit the Ice Caves in Northern Wisconsin). Get out and Ride, Samantha C

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Restoring a Classic: Petr and the Jaguar

Recently Petr, of the Czech Republic, sent us some stunning pictures of his 1962 Schwinn Jaguar that took him almost five months to restore. Intrigued, we asked him to tell us a bit more about how he transformed an old frame he bought on ebay to a bicycle that is now truly a work of art!Jaguar9

In February of this year Petr unfortunately found himself without a driver’s license for three months… he may have been going a tad too fast. So faced with no means of auto transportation he thought about what alternatives he had to stay independently mobile. He quickly remembered his time spent in Maui, Hawaii, a few years back and about the abundance and convenience of the beach cruiser.

His solution, why not build one of his own?

He took to the Internet and quickly stumbled upon pictures of old classic Schwinn cruisers and fell in love with the style. After a few more clicks and Petr had purchased an old Jaguar frame on ebay!Jag

Once the frame finally arrived in the Czech Republic, the biggest difficulty in refurbishing the frame was painting the bicycle. Fortunately Petr currently works as a master at a powder coating company; in other words he has the skills necessary to give the Jaguar a paint job that would last and truly set this refurbishment apart.  He utilized three colors, a light blue, a dark blue, and a white for the stripes, painting it layer after layer and finally finishing with a pearlescent final paint to give the bike that glittery shine.

Another difficulty was in finding the right parts to fit the threads. The threads utilized currently in the Czech Republic are not the same threads that were used in 1962. This is a problem many classical Schwinn refurbishment enthusiasts run into and which Petr solved by patience. The waiting game and expense was just another part of the process and with most of the parts coming from the U.S. he slowly collected everything necessary to complete the Jaguar. Sometimes this patience was harder to come by as Petr explained to us; originally he had purchased white pedals for the bike, but because of problems with shipping they were delayed. Unable to wait to take his first ride he bought some black pedals and made new threads for them so that he could get on the bike and ride right away!

Jaguar2Finally, his last trial was putting the decals on the Jaguar. He had hoped to buy the original water decals online, but found that an original was too expensive. His solution was to simply make his own. Petr used his background in computer design to remake the stickers that he has seen posted on ebay to draw a copy of them. They are almost identical to the original, except for the one on the seat tube, which he said was because he just couldn’t print such tiny letters.

Ironically the total work on the 1962 Jaguar took Petr almost five months to complete, meaning he had his car back before the bicycle was even ready to go. Yet, with all that time and dedication poured into one bicycle it is easy to imagine Petr’s feelings when he finally got on the bike.

As soon as he took the first ride, he fell in love!Jaguar11

Check out the complete process in pictures of Petr’s Jaguar restoration below!

Get Out and Ride!

– Samantha C.

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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!
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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?)

-Samantha

Behind the Design: Andrea Menchero

Schwinn: What are 3 fun facts about you?

Andrea2Andrea:

  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!

-Samantha

 

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!

-Katie

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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Cruising!

Get Out and Ride!

-Samantha

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!

Milissa