Cycling Savvy


The best time to ride is… N O W!

How to sign up and use Ride with GPS

With everything going on, it really is the best time to ride. I hope you are taking the COVID situation seriously. What does that mean: stay at home, go ride your bike, stay at least 6 ft away from anyone, only go to the grocery store once a week and don’t go anywhere else. But you can always ride your bike!

And the streets are basically empty. So it’s great riding conditions. N O W!!! Not confident? Take the online Cycling Savvy class. The online course is more than the classroom presentation since we are limited to a 3 hr format for the in person session. The online classroom material is expanded and you’ll have lifetime access to it. So when any updates are made or new material is added, you get that too. Plus, you can come to the on bike sessions and have fulfilled the classroom prerequisite. In addition, you can attend the in person classroom session since you’ve already taken the online. Why would you do that? Just in case you have some questions to ask or to make sure you comprehend all of it. It’s a lot of material. Even for me and I’ve taught the course about 30 times.

I’m ready to ride. Where to?

Use Ride With GPS. Charlotte Spokes People has a club account so you can use all the premium features for free. If we have enough members, we’ll continue to fund this. We just want to make sure it’s worth paying. Let us know what you think.

How?

Step 1: Sign up for Ride With GPS. You’ll need to set up an account for yourself.

Step 2: Join the Club account with this link. After you’ve joined, you should get this message.

Step 3: Choose a route. All the PMTNR (Plaza Midwood Tues Night Ride) and SSR (Sunday Slow Ride) routes are there. I’m not great at tagging them but some are. You can search by date or a name. I usually add the name of the Bike Benefit business we stop at in the description. So if you want to ride to Sabor, search for that. You can download the route and use voice navigation with the Club account. When you download the route, you can use it offline so you won’t use data. You only use GPS. It’s different. When using voice navigation, use a speaker or just one earbud so you can maintain your situational awareness.

The confusing thing is that the routes have to be on the Club account to use the voice navigation. All the recent routes (about 80 or so) are on both the Club account and the old Charlotte Spokes People non club account. (When you are on the Club account the background will be yellow.)

Click on the orange rectangle that says “Sign into the Club” on the right.
The yellow band at the top means you are on the Club account.

In the screenshot below, I searched for PMTNR.

From any route, you can click on Charlotte Spokes People to see all the routes. There are over 300 routes over 7 years.

From your account, you can copy any public route to the Club account. All the Charlotte Spokes People routes are there (from 2013 forward). There are more than 300 routes. And all are public.

I searhced on “Greensboro” using the top right Search bar. I don’t know whose route this is.

After you copy the route, choose Save.

The option to view the route will come up. View it then and then you can save to the Club account.

Step 4: Ride.


S240

As edited by: Anna Benton
Photos: Carl Wilson

 

A few years ago, I read about the S24O (sub 24 hour overnight bike camping) on the Rivendell Bicycles website.   However, the opportunity to embark on such a trip within the Charlotte area involved some difficult metrics. The closest campground is the McDowell Nature Preserve, a short 18 mile journey; yet the only plausible route involves 10-12 miles on South Tryon. South Tryon is predominantly a four lane highway with a 45 mph limit until it crosses I-485, at which point it transitions to a 55 mph limit.  Equipped with the skills learned in Cycling Savvy, I felt prepared to ride South Tryon all the way out to camp with my seven trusty companions.

Start of our trip

We convened on the little sugar Creek greenway at 3pm on a sunny Saturday. The weather was perfect.  The high was mid 80’s and the low was about 58F.  It was an impressive crew of  bikes to behold as we saddled up alongside the glimmering silver ball that abuts the Charlotte skyscape.   The group consisted of Matt, riding his carbon road bike with full Campy group, with whom we met near Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. Next, was Carl riding his handmade steel frame fully loaded with a tent, stove and provisions. Then Geoff atop camp2a Lemond road bike with his tent and gear in a messenger bag on his back.  Paul rode a Surly Big Dummy cargo bike, pulling a Burley trailer with his 2 year old son behind him, and fully loaded with tent, gear and provisions.  Anna rode her Bruce Gordon touring bike loaded with ortlieb panniers for the family.  I (Pam) was on my Rivendell Betty Foy, equipped with an Eno hammock, bug net and chair in my Green Guru Freerider Pannier and a wicker basket pannier. Amanda was on her Schwinn Varsity (called Rosalita) with panniers loaded with a hammock, home made sleepsack and down comforter.  Our bikes streamed down Charlotte streets in colors of red, black, green and blue.

 

In spite of our heavy loads, we made great time on the ride out and had mostly nice encounters with motorists, with the exception of a few SC drivers (SC KUD 298?).  Sure, we got an occasional honk but most people politely flowed around us. Also, by taking the lane we certainly increased our field of sight and our visibility to the drivers around us. We all commented on our relative comfort along the route and enjoyed the overall smooth journey.

 

We stopped around mile 16 at the Publix in Steele Creek, 3 miles away from the camp site.  Everyone picked up something for dinner and we refilled our water bottles. After that it was a quick ride to camp with Carowinds towering tall in the distance and an oasis of trees waiting for us after our journey on the pavement.

camp9

camp13 camp12

We set up camp in three large camping sites with a good mix of hammocks and tents. After that, Andrew met us with his Hobie Mirage tandem kayak (pedal driven) and took everyone out on the lake.  It was a beautiful sunset over Lake Wylie followed by a cool evening by the fire.

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Great weather, great company and all around a wonderful first S24O camping trip. Come join us next time. Until then, lets get out and ride!

 

 


Happy Chinese New Year

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Every year I review my past year on Chinese New Year.  The Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar so this year Chinese New Year is Feb. 19th. This is the year of the sheep.  I like to see how much I’ve ridden, to reflect, to see what I need to do better or differently.  Happy Chinese New Year!

 

 

 
Photo: Jeff Cravotta

 

 

tincanannie2

 

Tin Can Annie; Photo: Wesley Johnson

My Inspiration

Please allow me to introduce you to my inspiration.  This is a photo of Tin Can Annie.  By the wonder of facebook someone posted a picture one day.  This is the lady I used to see riding her bike everywhere all the time way back in the early1990s.  She was always around Central, Plaza….   Yes, I’ve lived in Plaza Midwood since that time.  She rode day, night, rain or shine.  And she was always dressed head to toe in orange.  She was my inspiration.  You never know when someone will see you as their inspiration.  Keep riding.

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Rides

Both of the rides –  PMTNR and Sunday Slow Ride are doing well.  I’m so glad people show up twice a week to ride.  We’ve had some great rides around town.  These are my 2 favorite days of the week.  Thanks for riding with me if you’ve been and if you haven’t, please join us sometime.  We have a 15 mile ride with a 10 mile stop then a 5 mile return.  A few times we’ll be a mile or two longer or shorter but that’s the idea.  I love that I meet some of the nicest, most interesting people on the rides.

 

Mileage

Bike Miles 4,669 (last year 4,294)

Car Miles 7,000

Long distance trips 4,500

Around town 2,500

I still haven’t met my goal of 5,000 miles/year on my bike.  Maybe next year.

Cumulative bike miles 20,394

My goal is to ride my bike everywhere.  This year I remembered to track trip miles for out of town drives so I can see how much I drive around town.  I’m surprised it’s still this much but I do drive to the farmer’s market on Yorkmont every weekend since I have to be there early and I’m pressed for time on Saturday.  That’s most of the mileage.  The rest are running the kids around to the doctor, dentist, birthday parties, etc.  I don’t like to drive my car nearly as much as I love to ride my bike.

 

National Bike Challenge Stats: (May-Sept 2014)

5,281 points

2,241 miles

152 days ridden

#7 rank locally

#1245 rank nationally

Monthly record 489 miles

Best day 42 miles

I don’t consider myself athletic.  I just like to ride my bike.  I’m surprised I was ranked #7 for the Bike Challenge.  A few miles here and there really do add up.  You don’t have to ride far or fast just consistently.  I think I missed one day during the 5 month challenge.  I even rode when I was out of town.

 

Bike Benefits

My goal for Charlotte Bike Benefits was to be the largest program this year but we didn’t quite make that goal this year.  We are #2 – behind Seattle, WA by about 17 businesses.  Let me know if you have suggestions for additions to the program.  And please ride your bike and support our participating businesses so they’ll continue to be engaged and supportive of bicycling in Charlotte.  Please let the participating businesses know that you support them because they are a part of the Bike Benefits program.  They need to know it’s a positive draw for them.

Cycling Savvy Charlotte

I taught my first Cycling Savvy class in December.  I’ll be scheduling classes regularly.  Let me know when you want to take a class and we’ll make it happen.  You can now sign up for notifications on the website so you’ll know when the next class is scheduled.  Here’s the link.  I like to keep the class sizes small (less than 8 people) so everyone can get the most out of the classes.  I know everyone says “I know how to ride a bike and don’t need to take a class.”  But if you learn one thing to make riding more enjoyable, less stressful and it could save your life, it’s worth it.  Just sign up and take the class and take my word for it.  You’ll learn a lot.  I promise.  Riding a bicycle is easy.  Riding a bicycle mindfully and courteously makes every ride more enjoyable.  Come learn how you can ride anywhere.

BikeFest

BikeFest is planned for Sunday May 3rd.  Mark your calendars and save the date.  And better yet, help me plan it and be on the inside.  Help me make this a great event to help share the joy of bike riding in Charlotte.  Planning starts now.  You can either help plan or on the day of the event or both.  There are lots of opportunities to help support bicycling in Charlotte.  Let’s get people on a bike so they can remember the joy they had riding just like the first time they learned to ride long ago.  Email me at pamlikestobike at gmail.com if you can help.  Thanks in advance.

 

Thanks!

Thanks for riding with me.  Keep inviting your friends to ride with us.  We’re filling up the calendar and have events most of the time now.  If you didn’t read it, here’s a link to the Year in Review newsletter.  As Rocky says, “Ride a Bike!”

 

 


As easy as riding a bike? Take a class.

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All I want to do is ride my bike.  A lot.  I want to ride every day to every place I need to go.  Why?  Because I like to and it’s fun.  But in order to ride every day, I have to be able to return safely every day.  I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a volunteer, a citizen.  In order to ride as safely as possible I took a class on bicycle safety called Cycling Savvy.  The class was so good that I think everyone should take it.  The class taught me how to read the road markings and decipher which lanes would be the safest to ride in and how to negotiate large intersections, etc.  As we all know there are many roads that have been designed with motor vehicles as the dominant user (in terms of # of vehicles).  That’s ok.  That’s life. Look at the road and figure it out.  Knowledge is power.

Sign up and register for a Cycling Savvy class with me.  See how much you can learn.  You’d be surprised how many strategies there are to keep yourself safe.  It’s defensive bike driving.  It’s covered in a 3 day workshop.  Day 1 is a classroom session where we discuss the rules, bike safety and strategies.  Day 2 is a closed course session where we practice bike skills and drills.  Day 3 is a ride around town to put everything together.

I know many long time riders will be hesitant to sign up for the class because they think they know everything.  I can guarantee everyone can learn valuable tips.  Even though I’ve only been riding for 8 years.  I’ve logged many miles before I took the class.  After the class, I felt like things I learned have saved my life many times over.  In addition, many crashes have been avoided and my rides have been more pleasant since confrontations have been reduced.  I hope to see you in class.

Update:  It’s been about a year since I started teaching Cycling Savvy classes.  I’ve had a full range of students from people who haven’t been on a bike in 20 years to competitive triathletes.  All my students and I have all learned from each other.  I’ve noticed some students make remarkable progress in bike skills, others master communication with motorists, others master the techniques.

Here are some comments from the class:

” I took a great 3 Day cycling class called Cycling Savvy. Anyone who bikes should really consider taking it.  I learned so much and will definitely be a safer cyclist because of the class.”  – BL

“You guys – this was the most fun, educational weekend I’ve had in a while. If you bike anywhere, take this class.” – PE

“3-day cycling workshop concluded today with a tour on some of Charlotte’s busiest roads in Plaza Midwood, where we had to complete individual drills and some group maneuvers.  And we met some great folks in the class. If you’re a cyclist, definitely check out the Cycling Savvy course, which is offered nationwide. And if you’re a motorist and want to understand why we ride where & how we do, the classroom section would be beneficial for everyone who shares the road.” – CC

“Before taking this class, I had been bike commuting 3-5 times a week for a few years, and felt quite confident about my abilities to ride on the road. But since taking it, my confidence has soared and I have learned a ton about different traffic situations and how to be communicate with motorists. I now have more space and far more positive interactions with motorists  I can’t recommend it enough!” – AR

“This class was great! My confidence on the road skyrocketed. If you ride or want to – you should look into this. I was in class with triathletes and daily bike commuters. Everyone learns something!!” – CW

“I have never felt such a sense equality biking in traffic. Thanks for keeping me and other students safe!” – GF

Here’s the link to sign up.

And here’s a link to the course outline.

Full disclosure:  I am a Cycling Savvy Instructor teaching the course offered through the American Bicycling Education Association.  Each instructor receives $30 per each student for the full 9 1/2 hour course. ABEA receives $35.  ABEA is a 501c3.