Friday, December 12, 2014

Winter Riding in a Summer Dress

The winter season doesn't stop me from riding, especially in a skirt. Tights and boots are popular with younger women in Reno and although I like to wear tights with boots when I'm running errands during the weekends, it's not necessarily "appropriate attire" for the office.

This baby pink dress I am wearing is actually a sleeveless button front summer dress and is perfect for layering!

Asummer dress for winter riding with tights underneath
Under the dress, I wore a thin, long sleeve base layer with sweat-wicking properties. Then slipped a navy crew neck sweater over the dress and pulled on some soft, thick leggings in dark blue. Finally topped off with a light corduroy blazer and short brown boots but you can also wear taller boots if you like with knitted leg warmers if you tend to get cold.

I try to keep my layers to a minimum to avoid getting too hot (and subsequently sweaty) so that I start out a tad cold and then warm up a few minutes into my ride.

This outfit I wore on Tuesday morning did just fine in 34 degree weather, even with wind chill!! Nothing special, just ordinary pieces from my closet. Bicycling to work in regular clothing can be done. Even in a summer dress.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

My First Bicycle

My first bike as an adult was a mountain bike. And I'll bet many people would think of getting a mountain bike over say...a road bike when considering a purchase. With its knobby tires and front fork suspension, a mountain bike can be great for hitting potholes, going over large curbs and crossing gritty patches of dirt along your commute.

However, they can be heavier and take more effort to ride on the road because their wider, softer tire with less air pressure flattens more when rolling on the ground. I would pedal several miles on pavement and be out of breathe. I thought, was I really THAT out of shape? I didn't know then that the flattening was "rolling resistance" which kept me from coasting along like I would with less effort on a road bike (which have  narrower tires, less contact with the road = less rolling resistance like ice skates on ice). I didn't really need to go fast, I just wanted to ride a few miles without huffing and puffing and breaking into a sweaty mess. That was probably because I was trying to keep up with my husband on his road bike ;-)

If you really like going off-road on the weekends (because that's what it is designed for) then a mountain bike could make a tough commuting bike. My mountain bike and I went on a few fun rides together but it never saw a dirt trail or gravel road. Sadly we parted and I imagine it is somewhere eating up mud on the mountains!!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Women on Bicycles - Annie Londonderry

There is a throwback Thursday for you! Annie Londonderry successfully cycled around the world at age 25. She only had her bike, a change of clothing and a pistol.

Women on Bicycles Annie Londonderry
This excerpt is from "The Girls' Bicycle Handbook" by Caz Nicklin. Order from Cyclechic and get a signed copy by Caz herself. Sounds like a great gift for that lucky girl - for Christmas or any occassion!!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

MonkeyLectric M204 Bike Wheel Light Review

Since Daylight Saving Time ended, I found myself riding more and more often into the night. Naturally, safety is always a concern in the back of my mind when I'm bicycling in the dark. And I have felt that my front and rear lights were not quite enough, especially when it comes to being visible to cross traffic from the side.

So when I received the new Monkey Light M204 (released in mid November 2014) sample for review, I was very curious to try it out! I have been running the light during my commute home for about a week now and I am ready to share my thoughts and photos with you.
MonkeyLectric Monkey Light M204 Bike Wheel Light display

First, I must admit that I am NOT mechanically inclined. The only bike lights I've used are the plug-and-play kind. So when I initially saw the product package, and without a clue as to how the wheel light system worked, I was a little intimidated at the thought of having to "wire" together something.

Resisting the urge to ask my husband for his assistance, I waited until I had a full weekend without any distractions to focus on the installation.
Monkey Light M204 retail package

Once I finally sat down and opened the package, I realized how silly I had been to put off using it! The way the system goes together is INCREDIBLY simple, especially after watching the helpful video on installing the M204 Monkey Light. Basically, the Monkey Light straps to the spokes of the bike wheel, and the battery holder straps to the hub using cable ties. There are two buttons on the light piece labeled "POWER" and "COLOR". Once connected and powered by three AA batteries, turn it on and pedal away!

One thing I have learned from assembling furniture from IKEA is to unbox everything and make sure all the pieces I will need are there. The retail packaging comes with:
  • MonkeyLectric M204 Monkey Light bike wheel light (about 1 1/4" height x 2 1/2" length). The package says 4 LED but I only see 2 lights. Perhaps there are two lights clustered together?
  • MonkeyLectric Hub mounted battery holder (1 1/2" diameter and 2 3/4" length that straps to spokes with vibration proof mount). Here is a photo of the battery holder and core.
  • Stainless steel antitheft straps (are hard to cut once installed)
  • Plastic cable ties for mounting (there are more than the minimum needed in case of oopsies)
  • Soft rubber blocks to adjust the fit of the light
  • MonkeyLectric bike stickers ()
  • Instructions in 22 languages (how did they miss Laotian? )
Cat examines M204 Monkey Light
Havi inspects the pieces of the M204 Monkey Light
I also checked the light to see that it worked, that I understood how the pieces fit together and how the batteries fit into the holder. This way I can spend as little time as possible doing the installation while in the cold garage.

This particular Monkey Light has 5 themes. Depending on the light settings that you use, the lumen (amount of light emitted per second) varies from 10 lumens to 40 lumens which also impacts the lights' run time (50 hours to 12 hours).
All components have solid rubber construction and are waterproof for use in all weather
You will need to supply your own:
  • 3 AA batteries (which are not included, as stated on the package)
  • A pair of needle nose pliers to pull the cable ties tight in the hard to reach places near the hub 
  • A pair of wire cutters to cut the excess cable ties
A wire cutter (a/k/a dykes) and needle nose pliers
Super-excited, I gathered my supplies and went into the garage to put the lights on my bike! The installation went off without a hitch. Two cable ties attach the light piece to each spoke. Here I installed the light as far away from the hub as possible. I did use one of the rubber blocks to adjust the fit of the light to spokes. Two more cable ties attach the battery holder to the hub. Cut the extra length of the cable ties. Insert the battery core into the holder. Connect the wires, press the power button and ta-da!
Make sure to wrap the wire around the spoke so it doesn't interfere with the teeth of the cogset.
So I took the Monkey Light for a test ride around the neighborhood. But this is where things didn't go quite as I had expected as far as the "ring of light" I had hoped to see as pictured (below) on the packaging and on the website.

Looking at the M204 User Guide, it looks like the power button is controls whether the lights flash in a dash pattern or a solid pattern.
I tried pedaling at different speeds but still couldn't get the effect. I only saw a few dashes of light.

Then I had my husband ride my bike so that I could see what the Monkey Light looked like. He rode faster than I could and I think that's when the persistence of vision effect finally kicked in. At this point, I think if I changed the theme I might have seen the ring of light.

I definitely have to play around some more with the settings. I also sent my questions through Monkey Light's support form yesterday and am waiting for a response to how I can make the light work better. Since it is a holiday weekend, I will wait until next week for a response.

Overall, the M204 light does its job which is to help you "be seen". There are other Monkey Lights with more LEDs that you can have fun with on the website. Some display patterns and graphics! This particular set is:
  • Easy and quick to install five minutes or less.
  • Affordable at $25.99USD and can be purchased from any dealer.
  • Relatively easy to operate. The POWER and COLOR buttons are differentiated and separated so I can easily turn it on/off and change the colors even when it is dark outside.
  • Nice and bright. It can be blinding when trying to change the color settings but that is a good thing for visibility!
  • Quiet. I've notice no noise or rattling from the light on the spokes or hub battery pack.
  • Fun. It is like having a disco party under my seat!
  • Cool. As confirmed by two young boys with skateboards who shouted, "That's cool!" when I rode by them. Kid you not.
With the amount of hours that I ride in the evenings, I only wish it was a USB rechargeable system or the hub-mounted battery core was rechargeable. So we shall see how long the first set of batteries last. For now, I carry a few extra batteries with me and, doing the math, I think the 48-pack I purchased should last me quite a while!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Annual Member and Volunteer Appreciation and Potluck

Yesterday evening my husband and I attended the Reno Bike Project's Annual Member and Volunteer Appreciation and Potluck. The event was held at Under the Rose Brewing Company on East 4th Street near the community bicycle shop near downtown Reno.

Since the Reno Bike Project is a non-profit community bike shop, it relies heavily on volunteers to help with the success of the community outreach, educational programs and events. People give hours and hours of their personal time to repair bicycles donated from the community to give to kids in need during the holiday season. Others, like Rachel (who received one of the Volunteers of the Year Award) are at Ladies' (bike repair) night every Tuesday evening to offer a helping hand.
Each guest brought something to share. There was a large buffet table full of delicious food -- homemade quiche, cookies and breads, Brussels sprouts salads, chips and dips! Meanwhile, vegetarian burger patties and bratwurst were cooked on a grill. The brewery provided free beer on tap. The Saison and Pumpkin beer were my favorites.

Members and volunteers chatted with each other, our voices and laughter filled the cavernous warehouse of the brewery. We played games like Jenga and fooseball. I didn't say harmless games because, believe it or not, I actually sprained my hand playing team fooseball!! It's going to hurt to squeeze the brake levers during my bike commute to work this week.

Near the end of the night, the Executive Director and co-founder of Reno Bike Project stood on a table to  recognize the selected Volunteers of the Year and Members of the Year. One by one they walked up to receive their award while everyone in the room clapped and cheered, myself included with great joy because I appreciate so much all that they do!
I was completely surprised when he called my name to receive an award as one of the Board Members of the Year. It caught me off guard as I bashfully walked up to the front. Public recognition is just not something I have yet to learn to accept with grace. Because I was flustered, all I could hear the Director say was something about "not only does she talk the talk but she walks the walk commuting by bicycle from Sparks to Reno every day".

I am humbled to receive such recognition, as undeserving as I felt, among these volunteers who have done so much throughout the year! All I know is that I just LOVE to do what I do and help others get in to bicycling. Because I believe so much in what bicycling can do for our physical and mental well-being, and for us as an individual--and for our community.

Bicycling brought all of these people together. People who have their own life--their family, jobs, and personal commitments and obligations to give their precious time and put forth their best effort to make Reno and Sparks a better community for bicycling. At the end of the day, all we want is MORE BUTTS, ON MORE BIKES, MORE OFTEN!!
The wool cap I will wear proudly and motto I keep close to my heart.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Two weeks ago it was t-shirt weather...well summer dresses for me. Then this weekend we had a cold snap where the overnight temperatures dipped down to 18 degrees or so. We live in a town of four distinct seasons with dozens of ski resorts nearby on Mt. Rose and Lake Tahoe. But even teen-digits is unusually cold for Reno and Sparks, NV.

Monday morning when I rode to work, I was well-layered to stay warm. I wore tights and leg warmers with boots, a long-sleeve base layer underneath my one piece knit dress, a down vest...and of course, a chunky scarf! With the ear flaps of my RockiNoggins' helmet cover buttoned underneath my chin, I rolled down the street towards the office. Not too far into my ride I felt the burn of the wind chill licking at the tips of fingers - even through the winter cycling gloves I was wearing. Eeeek!!  It was clear and sunny yet dry ice cold.
Stylishly layering pieces of clothing for winter cycling
Warm but stylish via Po Campo
I made it to work indeed and warmed up once I pried my stiff fingers off the handlebars of my bike. I know there are bar mitts that can help keep my hands warm by blocking the wind but, man they are oh-so not cute. Unless you have a lobster fetish because they kind of look like giant lobster claws at the end of your bike's handlebars. Bar mitts may look ridiculous but I've heard that they work. And it's probably better to be comfortable than miserable. Fortunately I don't think I need something like that...yet. 

Now, if only the bar mitts were more of a furry muff handwarmer similar to this, I'd probably wear it!

Faux Fur Muff Handwarmers
Faux Fur Muff Handwarmers via Etsy
The temperature digits have warmed up since then and I'm loving it! Just cool enough where I can dress wintery and not be too cold or be too hot during my ride. The trick is in layering:

  • A base layer made of natural fiber like wool (or synthetic  material is also okay) to wick away moisture and keep your skin dry is the key to not shivering when you've stopped pedaling .
  • A vest can block the wind from cooling down your core and is easy to take off without needing to pull it over the helmet. A vest works better for me than a jacket because my forearms tend to get too warm mid-ride and I like having ventilation through the arm holes :-D 
  • Sometimes I'll wear arm warmers for when I start cold that I can pull off as I get warmer. The sportier ones are worn under my sleeves while the cuter knit ones are worn over my sleeves.
  • I can easily take off my scarf mid-ride. There are many ways to tie a scarf so that it is secure and stays out of the way, yet is easy to undo and pull off.
  • Depending on how warm it is before I start my ride home, I may take off my leg warmers and/or tights. I learned from a fellow Cuter Commuter that upcycling the arms from old sweaters also works for leg warmers or arm warmers (and finish with a stretchy lace at the top, or not)! I'll have to try it.

Do what works for you and it may take trial and error. But don't be afraid to explore combinations of clothing pieces you already have in your wardrobe -- and have fun!! Stay warm out there!

Truckee River and bike trail during winter
Happy on my bike, in the moment watching ducks swim by on the Truckee River.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

RockiNoggins Blake Helmet Cover Review

These days, the autumn mornings have been downright chilly on my poor little ears! I used to keep 'em toasty during my bike commutes to work by wearing ear muffs but they fit terribly under a helmet. "Like trying to put socks on a rooster" as my father-in-law would say! It's also one more thing to carry and it takes up room in my bag on the way home when I don't need it. Alas, RockiNoggins came to my rescue! Designed in Seattle, WA, they not only offer helmet covers for women, but also for men and children.
RockiNoggins "Blake" Helmet Cover, Stylish Helmet Cover
RockiNoggins "Blake" Helmet Cover
Is it a hat or is it a helmet? Well, the tweed fabric atop my head looks like a hat, but it is actually a stylish helmet cover. This RockiNoggins "Blake" helmet cover also has some nice functional features built-in.
  1.  RockiNoggins' helmet covers are designed to fit most helmets so there is no need to buy a proprietary helmet for the cover. The covers should fit whatever helmet you already have. Covers are available in Small/Medium and Large/Extra Large  in lightweight, heavyweight and water resistant materials. I'm wearing the small/medium size "Blake" Helmet Cover over a small size Giro Reverb helmet.
  1. Fleece-lined ear flaps unsnap at the top of the head and the straps snap under the chin to keep your ears warm! There are several points to secure them for adjustment. When the extra warmth is not needed, just snap the ear flaps back up at the top.

    I have used the ear flaps when it was 28 degrees in the mornings and they kept my ears protected from the wind chill while descending for a mile! So not only are the ear flaps cute but they're actually functional. They stayed snug to my ears instead of flopping around and letting the wind pass through.
  2. Light loop in the back to hang a rear taillight and help increase visibility through the dwindling daylight.
  1. Button snap to attach accessories such as a matching tweed bow with rhinestone-detail or a cute knit flower. In my opinion, this is a necessary functional feature, don't you agree?!? ;-)
The cover attaches to the helmet with removal Velcro strips which are included with each helmet cover. I was initially concerned with how secure the attachment system would be.

RockiNoggins stylish herringbone tweed "Blake" helmet cover
Stylish herringbone tweed "Blake" helmet cover by RockiNoggins
After flying downhill at over 35 m.p.h. and traveling over 20 miles during my commute, the cover stayed put! It did not rotate or lift and it will surely stay in place during future bicycle trips. As for ME, I can't say I won't fall apart after climbing the hill towards home.
Cuter Commuter wearing RockiNoggins Stylish Helmet Cover
My 'bikeyface' after coming up the mile long hill to our driveway.
I definitely recommend the RockiNoggins helmet cover for your chilly bicycle commutes. With a prices starting from $24.95 it is a great deal for my budget!

RockiNoggins Stylish Helmet Covers for Men, Women and Children
RockiNoggins Helmet Covers for men, women and children.
If you like this RockiNoggins "Blake" helmet cover,  you might also like their other selections of helmet covers to suit the seasons and your personality on the RockiNoggins website. Check out their video on YouTube!

Thank you RockiNoggins for making my commute more comfortable yet still stylish. With RockiNoggins on my head, there's no more ugly commutes!

Disclaimer: Helmet cover provided by RockiNoggins. Review is entirely from my findings and personal opinion.

Friday, October 24, 2014

30 Ways to Wear a Scarf in 5 minutes is DEFINITELY fall season out there! And for me, it means all of fun and colorful scarves come out.

I love neckwear and the many different ways I can style them. Below, you'll find 25 options to tie, knot and wrap them in a cool 4 1/2 minute video (no pun intended). And 5 more wears to wear them in photos.

I often wear my scarves these ways. Certain ties and knots stay put better than others to keep them from unraveling while pedaling on the bike (:eek:). You can also tuck the ends underneath your blazer and keep your neck warm during the ride.

How to tie a scarf in a boho tie

How to tie a scarf in a euro knot

How to tie a scarf in a pretzel knot

How to tie a scarf - the Uptight way

How to tie a scarf in a wrapped neck knot

Monday, October 20, 2014

Beating the Post-Travel Blues

My husband, John and I just returned from vacationing in The Keys. While in Key West we rode the bikes we rented EVERY DAY and went every where across the island! To Duval Street, Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, the Southermost Point, Smathers Beach and even to the Key West International Airport to hop on a seaplane to Fort Jefferson and the Dry Tortugas!!

Girl on bike in Key West
Bicycling in Key West
Bikes were everywhere and people on bikes were EVERYWHERE! Can you imagine? I was TRULY IN PARADISE!!
Bicycling in Key West, Bikes in Key West
In front of Kelly's Caribbean Bar Grill and Brewery in Key West.

I cannot wait to share more with you so please check back for the Cuter Commuter's Guide to a Bike-Friendly Vacation in Key West.

Bicycling in Key West
Bicycling in Key West
When we returned home I realized I had the post-travel blues. That's to be expected, right? But it wasn't because I was returning the office. We had a GREAT trip and I was happy to be home! I was eager to see our kitties and get back to work!

So why did I have the case of the doldrums? I realized that it was because the last part of our trip was spent in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, FL. But unlike in Key West, we did not ride bikes. Instead we drove from place to place on miles and miles of freeway and toll roads. And when I am off the bike, for even just ONE day, it makes me a very sad bicycle commuter. o_O Watch out!!

Fortunately, since we've been back in town our life once again started to revolve around bicycles. This past Friday evening, John's cycling team had a social gathering with food and drinks so the team can try on cycling kits. I met his teammates and it's always fun to chat with others about our shared interest in cycling.

Saturday was the Cuter Commuter Women's Bicycling Bar Crawl that I had organized on It didn't take long for that big goofy smile to return to my face after riding bikes all over town with girlfriends. Be sure to join us for the next one this Sunday, October 26th!

Then Sunday afternoon, we rode from home to my colleague's house for dinner. It was a wonderful evening filled with great company and the most amazing food!
Bike to Dinner
All I have to do is ride my bike to lift me up when I am down. How do you get out of the post-travel doldrums?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Conference Call in Real Life

I have to attend a conference call to attend this morning afternoon since it will be Eastern Standard Time. I hope it goes off without a hitch so I can get back to sipping mojitos on the beach! Well...more smoothly than in this video.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Women's Bicycling Meetup Group

I started a Women's Bicycling Group on to unite all women in Reno and Sparks who like to ride in the city. We ride whatever bike we want and wear whatever makes us feel comfortable. Our pace is determined by the group and we ride in town. I think it is good for our city to see every day women ride together.

Today was the maiden ride and the fall weather could not have been more perfect! We met at Java Jungle in downtown Reno and rode down Arlington Avenue.

I often feel like all I could talk about is bicycling and commuting and bikes and, and, and bike stuff!! Well, that and cats. So it was really nice to meetup and chat with other women who are just as passionate about casual city rides and who like cute bicycling apparel and accessories.
Others in the Meetup group had to work so we rolled out soon after 9AM.

Along the way we talked about anything that came to mind. And we got to know each other better.
I can't help the big smile on my face. Being on my bike and riding with friends in the gorgeous weather we are having has to be one of the best things!!

We rode Arlington Avenue to Plumas Street, cutting over on Urban Road. Plumas has bike lanes south of Plumb Lane to Lakeridge Drive.

We looped back on Lakeside Drive to Mount Rose Street to Holcomb Avenue.

Then we rode on the Truckee River Trail all the way to Greg Street and Sparks Boulevard. It was a long way for my friends who rode from Reno so it was time for them to turn back around.
I rode on the bike/ped path between the north and southbound lanes of Sparks Boulevard.

I had a BLAST and cannot wait until we ride together again!!
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