Utilitaire 12 Q&A

Wow! The Utilitaire 12 just went live this morning, and already people are planning their strategies for completion. Excellent, I say!

People asked quite a few questions as well so I’ve put together this post to address them.

Note: I will update this page as additional questions arise.

Continue reading Utilitaire 12 Q&A

Winter Cycling Challenge: The Utilitaire 12

If you regularly read this blog, you know that I use my bike as my main form of transportation. I’ve found it is the best way for me to travel around the city and get the things I need.

Riding to coffee on the Romulus

I know some of you like bicycling for those same reasons, which is why I’ve decided it’s time for a pre-spring bike challenge. Are you ready? Today I’m launching the Utilitaire 12, which will run from today through March 16.

What’s a utilitaire? Essentially, it’s utility cycling– a ride on your bike to do an errand, or to transport yourself some place for a specific purpose. Cycling to lunch, to the grocery store, your job… it all falls under utilitairing.

For purposes of this contest, riders can select from a full list of Utilitaire 12-eligible categories.

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Five Things Friday: Randonneuring Edition

The D.C. Randonneurs have their annual meeting this Saturday, and they’ve also arranged a pre-meeting 106 KM Populaire out of Glen Echo, Maryland. Are you going? If so, perhaps I’ll see you there.

My first brevet bike, the Rivendell Romulus

The upcoming meeting got me thinking about some of the things I enjoy about randonneuring. I decided to list five of them here. Why five? It makes the perfect number for a blog post!

Continue reading Five Things Friday: Randonneuring Edition

Building Community, Bicycle Style: #fridaycoffeeclub

Whenever I ride around town, I usually see a number of other cyclists out and about, but I seldom have the opportunty to interact with them, except for a wave or maybe a passing smile. We’re all managing the complexities that come with urban riding and trying to get somewhere.

On the Morning Commute

Thanks to Twitter, flickr, and the local bike-centric blogs, however, I’ve come to know several cyclists who are part of the #bikeDC scene. I read about where they’ve ridden or what their recent commutes were like. I see photos of their bikes. I know what kind of gear they’re using, or what cycling-related issues are on their mind.

Being in touch with people this way gives me a feeling of community, even though our primary space of interaction is virtual.

Continue reading Building Community, Bicycle Style: #fridaycoffeeclub

Bikes to Like: Dan B.’s P-38 Recumbent

It’s time for more Bikes to Like, and you know what’s not been getting any love in this series? The recumbent! To remedy that situation, I called on one of my favorite recument riders, Pittsburgh-based randonneur Dan B.

If you’ve ever met Dan, you know that he is one strong bike rider. Not only does he possess excellent endurance, his hill-climbing skills are amazing. Whenever I see him pedaling up a tough grade, I have to remind myself, “Dan is no ordinary recumbent rider.” He’s effortless!

Since he has put his steed through so many randonneuring and other endurance challenges, I asked him to share a little bit about his bicycle with me. He kindly agreed, and here is what he had to share about his bicycle.

Continue reading Bikes to Like: Dan B.’s P-38 Recumbent

Paris-Brest-Paris by Tandem

Have you heard enough about PBP yet? Well, hang on just a minute, because I’ve got one more story to share with you.

Felkerino and I co-wrote a short piece about what it meant for us to complete this past August’s Paris-Brest-Paris by tandem. It was published in the most recent edition of American Randonneur, the quarterly newsletter distributed by Randonneurs USA.

Felkerino and me, with Rob Hawks on PBP 2011 (c) Antoinette Galon

Randonneurs USA members may have already seen the article, but for those who have not, we decided to post it over at one of my favorite blogs, The Daily Randonneur. Click on over and check it out. It will make you immediately want to buy a tandem and start training for PBP. Kidding, though I do hope you like it!

See you on the road, everybody.

Link Love: Data, Photos, DIY, and Time Machine Edition

It’s already mid-January. How are your 2012 resolutions coming along? One of my resolutions is to read more in 2012, and while I originally intended that to refer to books, I am currently applying it more to blogs. Here’s what’s been on my screen of late.

The road's a callin'
  • Mining the Capital Bikeshare Data. Coffeeneur and local cyclist JDAntos is taking full advantage of the usage data Capital Bikeshare recently published on its site. I’m quite impressed with his distillation of the data into visual explanations of how people (“regular riders” and “casual users”) use the Bikeshare system. So far, JDAntos has assembled two posts, one that deals with various facets of Bikeshare use, and another that discusses CaBi in terms of trip duration. Thanks for helping us make sense of this information, JDAntos!
  • Around the World on a Bicycle.  In the late 1800s, Thomas Stevens became the first person to ride around the world on a bicycle– on a penny-farthing! Currently, you can read his tale for FREE via Project Gutenberg. Thanks to Vélocia for alerting me to this one.
  • Touring and Taking Photos. Go Bicycle Touring posted a list of some of their favorite touring blogs that also include beautiful photography. I like seeing how people capture their touring experiences and, as Go Bicycle Touring notes, seeing others’ photos gives me ideas for my own pictures, too.
  • Sew Your Own Bags. Errin, over at Frontage Roads, bought a sewing machine and has been making bags for himself as well as his cycling friends. His most recent post is about a frame bag he made for brevets.  It’s tailored to fit his Kogswell. I look forward to his report of how his self-sewn bag works out.

That’s a wrap on the links.

Are you riding this weekend? I’m hoping to do so, and trying not to obsess too much about the area forecast and terms like “wintry mix.” The weather people aren’t always right.

My Favorite Cycling Cap: Little Package Earflap Cap

Wearing the Little Package cap on the cold weekend ride

Randonneurs can get pretty attached to their bikes and gear, and I am no exception. While super special gear is not necessary to go out on a bike ride, there are certain pieces that I’ve acquired since I started cycling year round that make me feel good and also make my bike rides that much more comfortable.

Danger Panda and Little Package cycling cap

One of those pieces is a merino wool cycling cap I custom ordered last year from Little Package Cycling Caps. This cap is one of my favorites for several reasons:
Continue reading My Favorite Cycling Cap: Little Package Earflap Cap

Winter Cycling: Hardcore or Something Else Entirely?

Today, Felkerino and I ventured out for a 120-mile training ride from D.C. to Brunswick, Maryland, and back. Training for what? I don’t know. Training to be fitter for the spring brevets, I suppose. And to justify all my winter gear purchases over the years.

Felkerino, nice and layered up

About half of our ride was completed in freezing or sub-freezing temperatures. Days like this require my vanity to take a back seat, and instead I focus on what clothing and gear is mostly likely to keep me comfortable throughout the day.

Continue reading Winter Cycling: Hardcore or Something Else Entirely?

Link Love: Getting Reflective Edition

It’s been a great week out there in creative writing cyberspace, and I have some excellent content to share. What are you waiting for? Read on!

Alec rounds the bend on Last Train from Clarksville
  • Reflective Vests. Gypsy by Trade, who currently calls Alaska home, writes about the importance of the reflective vest. He even made his own. Reflective vests– so critical to wear, so hard on my vanity.  Gypsy by Trade put a new spin on it for me, though.
  • Reflections on a High Mileage Year. Mellow Yellow Bent rode over 14,000 miles in 2011 and logged more than 10,000 “official” kilometers through RUSA rides and his completion of Paris-Brest-Paris. Yowza! All amazing accomplishments. Mellow Yellow talks about the fun he had as well as what he missed while pedaling to complete his 2011 goals.
  • The Long Journey of Recovery. The first time I saw the Hudson Valley Randonneur, he was doing final preparations on his bike as we readied to start the Endless Mountains 1000K. The next time I saw him, he was being moved onto a stretcher and into an ambulance after a car rear-ended him and left him with 24 broken bones in his body while his bike lay crunched in the middle of the road. George wrote about his amazing journey of recovery from this horrific accident for the latest issue of American Randonneur, and has now published it on his blog. Thank you, George, for sharing your incredible story. PBP 2015– I’m in!
  • Police Officer, Cyclist, and Plaintiff. Remember when Girl on a Bike was struck from behind by an aggressive driver?  Girl finally had her day in court. You can read all about it, as well as the judge’s sentencing decision, here.
  • Rawland rSogn Eye Candy. Just for the record, I DESPISE the term “bike porn.” EWWWWWW, I hate it so. That said, flickr member bmenutti posted some lovely shots of his Rawland rSogn, some with an Ostrich front bag on the front, and some with an Acorn saddle bag on the rear and a Sackville bag on the front. Like!
  • My Friend’s Randonneur Bike. Rando-buddy Alec talks a bit about his VO Rando bike and the places he’s ridden it. Conclusion? Anywhere and everywhere is a good place to take your bicycle!

Thanks to everybody who took the time to write these fine posts. Now, make sure to turn off your computer and get out for a ride!

Bikes to Like: Christian M.’s Terraferma

This year I had the pleasure of meeting Christian, who completed his first Super Randonneur series in 2011. I came to know Christian through his bicycle. There was something about the creamy orange paint that caught my eye; it looked like a delicious orange pushup. Intrigued by the bike’s careful setup as well as the 650B tires, I asked to feature Christian’s bike and he kindly agreed. Here’s what he had to say about his bike.

1. What kind of bike do you have?

I have a Molteni Orange Terraferma 650B.

Continue reading Bikes to Like: Christian M.’s Terraferma

Rides for All Seasons

Or so it’s felt the last three days. From temperatures in the 60s, 40s, and today’s dip into the 30s with snow, it’s been quite the climate roller coaster here in the Mid Atlantic.

Alec rounds the bend on Last Train from Clarksville
  • Saturday – Last Train from Clarksville 201K Permanent

Saturday’s too-good-to-be-true weather had anybody who ever pedaled out and about. Felkerino and I, along with a few friends, decided to carry cards and ride Crista B.’s “Last Train from Clarksville” 201K permanent. The route took us through Maryland rollers, up to Fairfield, Pennsylvania, and back.

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Link Love: Happy New Year Edition

#CyclingCapTuesday Panda

It’s been a couple of weeks since I did a link love post, but the blogosphere has been busy in the meantime. People have posted some good stuff for us:

  • Bike FindSpokes of a Wheel writes about a lovely vintage child’s bike from the 1970’s that found  that found its way from Switzerland to his bike shop in Vienna, Virginia.
  • Disrespect in the Bike Lane. Pedal ‘n Purl‘s recent ride up the 15th Street Cycletrack was interrupted by a car that parked in the bike lane. Sigh. Turns out it was a member of the D.C. Council. Double sigh.
  • Bike Stories from 2011. The end of 2011 brought a lot of year-end posts. I read and enjoyed many of them, and found this rundown of stories from Artcrank worth a read.
  • Holiday Toys. Growing up a tomboy, I fondly remember playing with little cars and trucks. This holiday season, Carfree with Kids decided to balance out the car-centric gifts their kids received and discovered some toys featuring the bicycle. Well done!
  • Solo Bike Touring Around the World. I’m not sure that I would be up for it, but Chic Savvy Travels‘s feature of Loretta Henderson’s fearless solo bike tour travels inspires me.
  • New Year’s Resolutions. January’s just begun, and it’s not too late to add one to your list. Bike Style Spokane suggests writing down your bike mileage as well as the days you ride. Read more of her piece to find out why it’s a good idea.
  • Bicycle Art in Motion. Artist Katy Beveridge created cool bike wheel patterns based on phenakistoscopes and zoetropes. What does that mean? It makes your wheels in motion a mobile movie. See a short video of her work and read a little about how she does it at the Atlantic Wire.

And one final link for the road. This week the Washingtonian Well+Being blog posted an article titled “5 Local Cycling Blogs You Should Follow,” and featured Chasing Mailboxes as well as fellow blogger buddy Tales from the Sharrows. I felt honored to be featured, although obviously, five is not an exhaustive list of the fine cycling blogs in the District. Thanks to everybody who takes the time to read Chasing Mailboxes and to those who write about their rides.

Have a great weekend, all!

We Interrupt this Commute for a Spin Class

Welcome 2012! Brrr! If you’ve been out and about in D.C. the past couple of days you know that we’re being treated to some fine winter weather. Temperatures in the teens, and highs barely eking above freezing.

There should be a winter law where all the traffic lights in the city go to flashing red, and the person whose body temperature suffers the most by waiting for the traffic light to turn gets the right of way. People in cars would have to wait while the cyclists and pedestrians kept moving toward their destinations. Who’s with me?

Cold January Day Panda (c) Felkerino

On days like this, I find myself lollygagging on both the outbound and return legs of my commute. I meticulously slip into my layers, give my glove and cap selection a serious workover, and pull my socks on oh-so-carefully. Given that my commute is generally just over four miles, the time spent putting on my clothes is probably comparable to the time it takes me to actually bike to and from the office.

Often, I try to work in a few extra cycling miles work off the energy built up from sitting at my desk and to enjoy the outdoors. Today, though, I decided to not do any more miles outside than necessary. I also succeeded in procrastinating my commute home even more than normal by walking over to participate in a spin class at the nearby gym.

Continue reading We Interrupt this Commute for a Spin Class