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Guest post: 9 tips for a better rainy day bike ride

Guest post: 9 tips for a better rainy day bike ride

test- Uberhood Bicycle Umbrella-2

A bicycle umbrella (like this one we tested last year) isn’t necessary, but the great tips below are required reading.
(Photo: Juli Maus)

Note: This post was submitted by BikePortland Subscriber Kevin Schmidt from Pedal PT. Want to submit posts on behalf of yourself or your business? Become a subscriber today!

With the onset of the rain this week, it’s always good to review some ‘best practice’ tips for dealing with the weather, while still enjoying your ride.

Here are some tips/tricks we’ve learned in our 7+ years of car-free commuting in Portland:

1) Always have a spare pair of socks and underwear at the office

2) Use ziplock bags inside your waterproof bike bag for added rainproofing for phone, wallet, etc.

3) If you wear glasses, a short brimmed cycling cap works great to keep the rain out of your eyes/glasses.

4) Lights lights lights. (When in on roads with car, pedestrian traffic, we prefer to use the flashing setting. However, if riding on a protected bike path, use a solid beam, but be careful to not point your light up towards oncoming riders faces.







5) Fenders and/or rain pants are really a must-have in downpour weather. Get them soon before they all sell out in your size – it happens every year!

6) I personally always prefered the hood of my jacket over the helmet (if your jacket can stretch enough, and still allow you to zip up fully). However, in the last year I got a nice snug rain jacket that zips up the neck a bit. When worn with a cap and helmet, I really never really get too soaked. 


7) Layering is usually best, as rain tends to soak into your jacket if it’s on its second or third season. Start with a wool/wicking base layer, followed waterproof-ish jacket or vest, and then have a rainshell on top of all of it. (Yes, 100% not fun when you get sweaty!)

8) Waterproof socks (vs shoe covers) can keep feet and shoes dry, as rain pants will allow the water to drip into socks/shoes over time.

9) As many folks who have been year-round riders always say: “In the Pacific NW, there is no such thing as bad weather – only bad gear.” Invest in good quality waterproof jackets, rain pants, and bags – it will last 2-3 seasons before needing replacement.

Do you have other great tips for bicycling during the rainy months? Whatever you do… just embrace it!

BTA New Year's Day Ride-23

If you’re new to town and want more great tips and advice, browse the BikePortland archives for a treasure-trove of insights and expert rainy riding tips.

— Kevin Schmidt, PT, MSPT, CMP, Bike PT is Owner/Founder of Pedal PT in Portland, Oregon.

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

The post Guest post: 9 tips for a better rainy day bike ride appeared first on BikePortland.org.

New to biking? Been a while? These tips will comfort you

New to biking? Been a while? These tips will comfort you

smiles in the bike lane-1.jpg

A comfortable fit will keep you smiling.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

This post was written by Kevin Schmidt (MSPT, CMP, Bike PT), licensed Physical Therapist, bike fit specialist, and owner of Pedal PT on SE Clinton.

With the sunny spring weather thousands of new riders are taking to Portland streets. Although pedaling a bike can be a wonderful, empowering, and rewarding experience, more than 80 percent of riders* experience some form of cycling-related pain, numbness, and/or injury- even with short-distance commutes. The good news is a lot of these symptoms are preventable by looking at basic bike fit and pedaling techniques.

Here are some quick tips to help keep you riding more, and hurting less when getting back in the saddle for the first time of the year.

Pedal contact

Regardless of what type of cycling or bike that you ride, always aim to push with the ball of your foot, and centered on the pedal. Using this part of your foot provides the best mechanical advantage for pedaling. Riding self-check: If you find you’re pedaling with the ‘tippy-toes’, it often suggests that your saddle may too high, and that you’re “reaching” at the bottom of the pedal stroke. This can lead to lower back, knee, and/or ankle/calf complaints. Simply lower your saddle in 5mm increments until the ball of your foot naturally finds the center of the pedal.

Knee angle

Believe it or not, but your knees should NOT be completely straight at the bottom of the pedal stroke- a classic new rider misconception, and a great way to develop injury. For optimal comfort, endurance, and injury prevention, aim to have your knee bent roughly 30-35 degrees at the bottom of the pedal stroke, with your heel up slightly (10-20 degrees). A straighter knee can place more stress on the back of the knee and hamstrings, depending on flexibility. Never pedal “heel down” for a prolonged period of time, as this can lead to higher Achilles strain.







Cyclecide and Sprockettes show-25-25

No matter what you ride, knowing bike fit basics is a good idea.

Saddle

Generally speaking, the primary goal is to begin with a saddle that is level, as commonly riders will have it tilted a bit ‘nose down’, which dumps more weight on the wrists and hands, leading to numbness/tingling, increased upper arm/neck fatigue, and can also be a factor in knee pain. Self check: With your bike supported (on a trainer or with a partner steadying your bike), sit up on your saddle, hands off of the bars, and just let your body relax and go limp. If you feel you’re sliding forwards, tilt the nose little by little up until you feel level, and that you aren’t going to slide off.

Handlebars and reach

Ultimately, you never want your shoulders reaching farther than 90 degrees (i.e. a right angle from your trunk to shoulders) when you’re flexed over the bike. More upright riders usually don’t have to worry about this, but it’s especially important with road bikes, as anything greater than a 90 degree shoulder angle can lead to neck and mid-back stress, and can also place more pressure on shoulders and hands. Self Check: When starting out, a general rule is to start with your bars equal to (if not higher) that saddle height to bring you more upright to begin. And don’t neglect your posture: aim to keep the lower back flat, with chest elevated to help keep shoulders closer to 90 degrees, and get your head balancing over the shoulders a bit more.

*The statistic comes from a survey of people who did a charity/recreational ride.

— Have bike fit questions? Schmidt is giving a free talk on the topic this Wednesday (4/13).

The post New to biking? Been a while? These tips will comfort you appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Walking the Tilikum Crossing hill? These tips might help

Walking the Tilikum Crossing hill? These tips might help

how to climb

It’s a long way up, but you can do it if you want.
(Photo M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Tilikum Crossing is a hill.

Portland’s newest bridge is 77 feet above the water at the peak, and that means there’s a steady grade of just under 5 percent for hundreds of feet. That’s different than Portland’s other bridges, most of which rest a bit lower and focus their grade into shorter climbs on either end.

Does that make Tilikum easier or harder to cross than the others? It’s mostly just a matter of preference. But the one-month anniversary of the new bridge’s opening this week seemed like a good time to revisit some useful advice from Portlander Paul Souders, who mentioned on Twitter that he often sees people walking their bikes up Tilikum.

If that’s your preference, that’s fine. But Souders makes a solid case for why and how to stay in the saddle the whole way up.

Here’s my recipe for mastering hills:

1. Ride your bike up the hill, until you are absolutely unable to turn the pedals over again, or you are moving so slowly that you’re in danger of falling over. At that point:

2. Stop. Get off your bike. Take a drink of water and relax for a short period while you cool off and catch your breath. Don’t wait less than 15 seconds or more than five minutes, or you’ll get stiff and it’ll be hard to ride again.

3. Once you’ve got your wind back, remount and repeat.

4. If you’re on a portion of the hill so steep you don’t think you can start again, try turning your bike across the road. The fall line (i.e. slope) is less dramatic that way, and you can gain enough momentum to climb again.

(This all assumes you have a bike with low gears and you’re using those gears correctly.)

Remember: if you can drive a car up a hill, you can ride a bike up it.

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Advantages of this method:

1. As long as you have enough momentum to stay upright, the bike is more efficient than walking. Meaning: it’ll require less energy over the length of the climb if you climb it on your bike.

2. For the same reason, it’ll be faster, too.

3. Resting with your bike looks cooler than walking. Walking your bike looks and feels like “person defeated by a bicycle.” Leaning on your bike looks and feels like “person chilling out near a bicycle.” It sounds vain, but that feeling matters: it will affect your perception of the hill, and of climbing generally. And climbing is more a mental exercise than a physical one.

4. This method will build the muscles and cardiovascular capacity necessary to climb hills. Walking your bike won’t.

5. Riding your bike up a hill makes you feel like a goddamned HERO.

Biking is fun, and if leisurely walking your bike once in a while helps you skip the non-fun parts, there is zero shame in that. But if there’s a hill in your life that you want to be able to climb without complaining to yourself about it, give Paul’s advice a try.

This is the first of an occasional series of posts over the next month evaluating Tilikum Crossing and the network surrounding it.

— Michael Andersen
michael@bikeportland.org
@andersem


The post Walking the Tilikum Crossing hill? These tips might help appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Take the no-sweat challenge (and other tips to survive the heat)

Take the no-sweat challenge (and other tips to survive the heat)

Splash Dance Ride-5-4

If you see water, ride through it.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)


It’s hot out there and it doesn’t look like we’ve got much relief in sight.

weather

To cope with the high temps, I’ve started doing something new this year. I call it the no-sweat challenge. I figured now was a great time to share more about that and all the other tricks we know in hopes of keeping more of you — comfortably — on the bike. (Because there’s no reason to stop riding in the heat. And besides, MAX is unreliable over 90-degrees and auto traffic has been hellish in Portland lately.)

OK. Back to the no-sweat challenge: The challenge is to not break a sweat while riding or when you get to your destination. How? Simple! Just don’t pedal hard. Shift into a very easy gear and just spin easily as if you are dawdling through the park on a Sunday afternoon. Not only will you stay cooler, but you’ll find that by going slower you’ll have a much more enjoyable and safer experience overall (as will the people you share the road with). It’s a win-win of stay cool and creating a more courteous biking culture.

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Splash Dance Ride-11-10

Dan has the right idea.

Here are some other quick tips culled from my own experiences and reader comments over the years:

Ride through fountains and other water sources whenever possible: Portland has water in parks, in plazas, in rivers, and so on. Adjust your route to ride through water and get soaked!

Carry your bags on your bike, not your body: Wearing a backpack in the heat is the worst. If you can, plop your bags on a pannier rack or in a basket.

Adjust your schedule: If at all possible, try to ride early in the morning or later in the evening to miss peak scorching.

Freeze your bottles: Oldest trick in the book.

Soak your shirt or other items before heading out: Lots of folks swear by wrapping a wet bandanna around their neck or under their helmet. Other variations on this tip include wearing a wet t-shirt and/or wrapping a sock full of ice around your neck.

Chill out when you’re done: As you ride, the wind keeps you cool and evaporates your sweat. But don’t let your guard down when you get to your destination. Make sure you take several minutes to cool off and gather yourself or you could get dizzy and queasy from heat exposure.

Drink a lot of water: ‘Nuff said.

What are you best tips for riding in this heat?


The post Take the no-sweat challenge (and other tips to survive the heat) appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Take the no-sweat challenge (and other tips to survive the heat)

Take the no-sweat challenge (and other tips to survive the heat)

Splash Dance Ride-5-4

If you see water, ride through it.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)


It’s hot out there and it doesn’t look like we’ve got much relief in sight.

weather

To cope with the high temps, I’ve started doing something new this year. I call it the no-sweat challenge. I figured now was a great time to share more about that and all the other tricks we know in hopes of keeping more of you — comfortably — on the bike. (Because there’s no reason to stop riding in the heat. And besides, MAX is unreliable over 90-degrees and auto traffic has been hellish in Portland lately.)

OK. Back to the no-sweat challenge: The challenge is to not break a sweat while riding or when you get to your destination. How? Simple! Just don’t pedal hard. Shift into a very easy gear and just spin easily as if you are dawdling through the park on a Sunday afternoon. Not only will you stay cooler, but you’ll find that by going slower you’ll have a much more enjoyable and safer experience overall (as will the people you share the road with). It’s a win-win of stay cool and creating a more courteous biking culture.

– Advertisement –


Splash Dance Ride-11-10

Dan has the right idea.

Here are some other quick tips culled from my own experiences and reader comments over the years:

Ride through fountains and other water sources whenever possible: Portland has water in parks, in plazas, in rivers, and so on. Adjust your route to ride through water and get soaked!

Carry your bags on your bike, not your body: Wearing a backpack in the heat is the worst. If you can, plop your bags on a pannier rack or in a basket.

Adjust your schedule: If at all possible, try to ride early in the morning or later in the evening to miss peak scorching.

Freeze your bottles: Oldest trick in the book.

Soak your shirt or other items before heading out: Lots of folks swear by wrapping a wet bandanna around their neck or under their helmet. Other variations on this tip include wearing a wet t-shirt and/or wrapping a sock full of ice around your neck.

Chill out when you’re done: As you ride, the wind keeps you cool and evaporates your sweat. But don’t let your guard down when you get to your destination. Make sure you take several minutes to cool off and gather yourself or you could get dizzy and queasy from heat exposure.

Drink a lot of water: ‘Nuff said.

What are you best tips for riding in this heat?


The post Take the no-sweat challenge (and other tips to survive the heat) appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Broken glasses? Local shop owner grabs a bike chain link

Broken glasses? Local shop owner grabs a bike chain link

“Geeks use tape,” Fahrner wrote. “I use chain links.”
(Photo: Martina Fahrner.)

Martina Fahrner of Clever Cycles on Southeast Hawthorne lived up to her bike shop’s name Tuesday after the bridge of her glasses broke.

“They just snapped in the middle,” the shop owner and Bicycle Transportation Alliance board member said in a phone interview Wednesday. “The next morning I went to work, and they snapped again. So I had to find something to stabilize them.”

The problem was that, even glued together, the glasses didn’t pinch her nose properly. So she started looking around the shop for “something flat and decorative.”

The answer: an old piece of bike chain. She glued it to the bridge of the glasses to rest on her nose.

“Geeks use tape,” she wrote in a Facebook post about the trick. “I use chain links.”

Fahrner said the trick “definitely works when your glasses are broken, but I think you can also decorate your frames with the chain links when they’re not broken. The only problem is that it weighs a little bit more.”

Fahrner said she’s been surprised by the attention they’ve drawn.

“I probably will keep them just a bit longer,” she said. “‘Til I have new glasses.”

What are your best tips for staying warm and dry?

What are your best tips for staying warm and dry?

Rider in the storm.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)r

OK folks, it has begun. After an unnaturally long spell of dry and sunny weather, some wet and cold weather is here. This morning’s commute was probably the toughest one since the end of last winter. While I’d love to think that we all pay it no mind and continue on our merry biking ways, it does have an impact.

The bikeways are much less crowded than they were just a few weeks ago. Last week was the lowest count of trips on the Hawthorne Bridge recorded since the new counter went in back in August and Saturday’s 1,536 trips was the lowest ever recorded. But, as a photo shared by the BTA this morning shows, lots of folks are still riding!

For those of you who press on through the darkness, wetness, and the cold, what are your secrets?

I know there’s a group of you out there on the fence. You’ve gotten into riding and you’re committed; but without a bit of encouragement and gear advice, you might just hop on the bus, on the train, or — gasp! — get in your car.

I figure if we can share enough of the latest and greatest advice on gear and clothing, and share some encouraging words, we just might help a bunch of people keep on riding. One thing I’ve learned from doing this blog the past seven years is that well-timed information and inspiration can do great things. We had a bunch of great tips shared last time we did this back in January, but I figure it’s time for an update.

So, let’s have it.

Is wool still a rain rider’s best friend?
Poncho or jacket?
Do you prefer to get wet and stay warm or stay dry and overheat?
What about the kids? (Do bike trains still run in the rain?)
Where can I get a rain cover for my bakfiets?
Who makes the best fenders?

Thanks for sharing your tips and advice. If this works, we’ll see a lot more people smiling in the rain like our friend Joel…

BTA New Year's Day Ride-23

What are your best tips for staying warm and dry?

What are your best tips for staying warm and dry?

Rider in the storm.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)r

OK folks, it has begun. After an unnaturally long spell of dry and sunny weather, some wet and cold weather is here. This morning’s commute was probably the toughest one since the end of last winter. While I’d love to think that we all pay it no mind and continue on our merry biking ways, it does have an impact.

The bikeways are much less crowded than they were just a few weeks ago. Last week was the lowest count of trips on the Hawthorne Bridge recorded since the new counter went in back in August and Saturday’s 1,536 trips was the lowest ever recorded. But, as a photo shared by the BTA this morning shows, lots of folks are still riding!

For those of you who press on through the darkness, wetness, and the cold, what are your secrets?

I know there’s a group of you out there on the fence. You’ve gotten into riding and you’re committed; but without a bit of encouragement and gear advice, you might just hop on the bus, on the train, or — gasp! — get in your car.

I figure if we can share enough of the latest and greatest advice on gear and clothing, and share some encouraging words, we just might help a bunch of people keep on riding. One thing I’ve learned from doing this blog the past seven years is that well-timed information and inspiration can do great things. We had a bunch of great tips shared last time we did this back in January, but I figure it’s time for an update.

So, let’s have it.

Is wool still a rain rider’s best friend?
Poncho or jacket?
Do you prefer to get wet and stay warm or stay dry and overheat?
What about the kids? (Do bike trains still run in the rain?)
Where can I get a rain cover for my bakfiets?
Who makes the best fenders?

Thanks for sharing your tips and advice. If this works, we’ll see a lot more people smiling in the rain like our friend Joel…

BTA New Year's Day Ride-23