Yearly Archives: 2014

As easy as riding a bike? Take a class.


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.

Charlotte Bike Challenge Prize drawings

The final prize drawings for the Charlotte Bike Challenge has been completed.  Congratulations to the following winners.  I'll be contacting all winners to arrange getting the prizes to each person.  

Thanks for riding! 


Good Bottle t shirt and sticker Jeff Shafer
Crank Mafia coozie Bethany Meredith
Crank Mafia coozie Karie Kammerer
Crank Mafia coozie Brooke Smith
Crank Mafia coozie Kevin Thompson
Crank Mafia coozie, $25 QCB gift cert, sticker, water bottle Stella Thompson
Lube nadine ford
Letty's gift cert Mark Rascio
Dilworth Eye – comprehensive exam  john speight
Patch kit Chris Hughes
Patch kit Harry Wilson
Patch kit Jason Jiggetts
Chain Rachel Guillot
Chain Alice Hicks
Diamond Gift card Geoff Endlich
Speedier Lever Michael Hernandez
Bell Delia MacMillan
Buddha dashboard cat Davede Varner

Year round bike clothing

As the temperature drops, many people think it’s too cold to ride.  And then there’s the ones who thinks it’s too hot to ride in the summer or too wet in the spring.  Actually, as the German saying goes “there’s no such thing as bag weather, just bad clothes.”   Here’s the full list.



Hot up to 100 degrees F.

  1. Wicking top
  2. Wicking shorts
  3. Vibram Five Fingers (then I don’t even need socks and they’re considered closed toe shoes)
  4. Fingerless gloves
  5. Arm Warmers – wool is best.  It’s warm even when it’s wet.
  6. Windbreaker jacket
  7. Cropped pants or knickers
  8. Thin layered shirt with short sleeves over the tank top
  9. Pants – the best pants for women are from Outlier.  They are pricey but wear well and are very comfortable.
  10. Long sleeved shirt
  11. Full fingered gloves
  12. Windproof jacket
  13. Leg warmers over yoga pants  – I have thick wool ones from Lululemon.
  14. Thick wool sweater  -Ibex has really thick sweaters.
  15. Uggs boots
  16. Wool hat with ear flaps- Ibex has one that you can fold the flaps up or down.
  17. Down ski gloves
  18. Possum wool neck gaiter from Rivendell (yes, it really is possum wool.)
  19. Wool primaloft vest

Really cold down to 17 degrees F.

When it’s raining or snowing, I bring along my rain jacket.  When the snow melts, I want to stay dry as well as warm.

This is all modular so I can adjust as needed.  One time I tried out wool long johns but they’re too hot to wear.  I sweat after a while.  If I wear leg warmers, I can take those off or roll them down if I get hot.  Your legs stay pretty warm anyway. Keep riding.  Watch the seasons change from the seat of your bike.  Ride with me all year round.



Bike Challenge Prize Drawings 1

We'll draw for prizes at Birdsong at the stop for the Critical Mass ride.  Each rider who participated in the Challenge will get tickets based on miles, points, days miles were logged and leadership.  Choose which prize(s) you want to win and then we'll draw the winning ticket for each prize.

You can get your tickets before the ride or at Birdsong.  Please enter the prize drawings as soon as you get there so we can start drawing for prizes.  We should be at Birdsong around 9.  And drawings should start at 9:15.

Thanks to the Bike Benefits businesses who donated prizes.  We have a prize pool valued at $1800.  Thanks to Bart at Queen City Bicycles, Charlotte Bicycle Benefits, Davede Varner, Dilworth Eye Associates, Plaza Midwood Dentistry, Sir Edmond Halley's, Common Market, Birdsong Brewing, Letty's, BikeSource, Good Bottle, EcoLicious, Great Outdoor Provision Company, Dread's Mobile Bike Repair, VeloClean, The Diamond, Harry Johnson and Tony Cam.

Queen City Bicycles prize kit 1
Queen City Bicycles prize kit 2
Queen City Bicycles prize kit 3
Queen City Bicycles prize kit 4
Queen City Bicycles prize kit 5
Queen City Bicycles prize kit 6
Plaza Midwood Dentistry dental cleaning
Dilworth Eye – comprehensive exam 
Espada service gift certificate
Framed print
Davede Varner -Massage
Eagles Nest Doublenest hammock
Dread tune up
Dread tune up
Dread tune up
Sir Ed's gift cert
Brooks wrench
CM gift cert & Buddha dashboard cat
VeloClean gift cert
VeloClean gift cert
Growler w/free refill, pint glass,pint koozy
BikeSource gift card
Letty's gift cert
Good Bottle Hat, t shirt and sticker
EcoLicious gift cert
Floor Pump
Diamond Gift card
Diamond Gift Card
Speed lever
Speed lever
Speed lever
Speed lever

2014 Charlotte Bike Challenge Summary 1

The local challenge of the National Bike Challenge just ended midnight last night.  I've been tallying up the results and stats.  

  • 248 riders registered 
  • 160 active participants
  • 126 riders earned > 500 points
  • 23 riders rode > 100 days
  • Total miles logged 136,864
  • 850 miles/rider on average
  • 111 men
  • 62 women

The two main teams in town were the Charlotte Spokes People and the Queen City Bicycles / Crank Mafia.  The two teams made for some fierce competition and some smack talk.  But it was all in fun.  The two teams are ranked #4 (QCB/CM) and #14 (CSP) in the national challenge when you look at the teams in the 50-99 team size range.  Great job done by all riders!

Here's a chart of the Top 30 riders for the whole challenge through last night.  Top Men's rider was Rufioo and Top Women's rider was Bethanie.  

Thanks for riding.  See you out there.

Rank Name    Distance   Points    Active Days
1 Jacob "Rufio" Pilkerton   5,173     8,113   147
2 David Spranger     3,270     6,230   148
3 Stephen Gilbert     3,144     5,884   137
4 Tate Austin     2,853     5,833   149
5 Bethanie Johnson     2,799     5,579   139
6 Carrie Logan     4,169     5,349   59
7 john speight     3,321     5,181   93
8 Pamela Murray     2,126     5,066   147
9 Matt W     2,389     4,469   104
10 Joe Nestor     1,882     4,462   129
11 Kelly Aderholt     2,165     4,345   109
12 Dianna Ward     1,884     4,344   123
13 Pel Deal     1,835     4,275   122
14 Leisure McCorkle     1,789     4,269   124
15 Kyle Moen     2,404     4,164   88
16 Bryan Dubuc     1,816     4,136   116
17 J Miller     1,848     4,108   113
18 Kevin Thompson     1,916     4,096   109
19 Sara Nieft     2,100     3,960   93
20 ryan stachurski     1,582     3,942   118
21 Hernan Atencio     1,032     3,892   143
22 Nicholas Able     2,082     3,882   90
23 Rich Haag     1,833     3,853   101
24 Garry Wallace     2,869     3,829   48
25 Bart Stetler     1,288     3,668   119
26 Merrill Thierman     1,730     3,650   96
27 Liz Lovell     1,212     3,532   116
28 David Ponivas     1,551     3,531   99
29 Mark Herman     1,602     3,502   95
30 Jonathan grabants         942     3,402   123

Bicycle Benefits – Update

Please join me in welcoming the last 10 businesses who have signed up for Bicycle Benefits.

  • Tyber Creek Pub – a great Irish pub just off the trolley trail in South End
  • Healthy Home Market – the original home grown health food store
  • Pita Pit – great sandwiches on pitas with great vegan options
  • Kabob Grill – great kabobs and vegan options too
  • Tropical Smoothie Cafe – at Metropolitan on the greenway, lots of healthy options including vegan
  • VBGB – great outdoor space at NC Music factory
  • Cherry Berry – self serve frozen yogurt on the greenway at Metropolitan
  • Varji Varji Salon and Spa – great salon and spa in Morrison
  • Concrete and Lace Boutique – edgy clothing boutique in Area 51
  • The Daily Press – newest NoDa coffee shop at the Evening Muse

Check the new interactive map and pocket list on the website.

Local Bike Challenge Celebration

  • Local Bike Challenge Celebration
  • Birdsong Brewing Co.
  • Friday, September 26th
  • 9:00 pm

The Local Challenge ends midnight Thursday September 25th.  We'll be riding from Common Market at 8 pm with Critical Mass.  Come ride to Birdsong for the prize drawing and celebration.  We have over $1,000 worth of prizes.  Thanks to Charlotte Bike Benefits, Dr. Mikie Farmer of Plaza Midwood Dentistry, Espada (bike shop), Harry Johnson of Trips for Kids / The Recyclery, Davede Varner, Letty's, Dread's Mobile Bike Repair Service, Birdsong Brewing Co., Common Market, Sir Edmond Halley's Pub, Great Outdoor Provision Company, BikeSource, Good Bottle, VeloClean for their generous donations.  

The prizes will be awarded on Friday.  Be sure to log all your miles before the deadline.  Each rider participating will be given tickets to enter the drawing for the prizes they want to win.  The more points you've earned, the more chances you'll have to win.  Additional tickets will be awarded for various accomplishments.

The National Bike Challenge formally ends September 30th midnight.  You can ride and log more miles up to that date.  It's been fun!  Let me know what you thought about the Challenge.  Thanks for riding.

Charlotte is a Great Biking City 3

Best Cities

There are many important things a city can do to gain our consideration for this list: segregated bike lanes, municipal bike racks and bike boulevards, to name a few. If you have those things in your town, cyclists probably have the ear of the local government—another key factor. To make our Top 50, a city must also support a vibrant and diverse bike culture, and it must have smart, savvy bike shops.
Above is the first paragraph from the Bicycling article of the 50 best cities for biking.  I’m sure you’ve seen the article.   I take issue with the criteria and results.  Charlotte is a great place to ride your bike.  We may not have segregated bike lanes or bike boulevards but we do have buses and light rail trains equipped with bike racks.  We have the support of the city transportation department through the installation of bike detection signals at many intersections so bike can trigger the traffic signal and safely cross.  We have many municipal bike racks and building codes that require new buildings to provide both covered and uncovered bike parking.  Light rail park and ride stations have bike lockers where you can store your bike in a covered locker to secure your bike and all accessories.  Some buildings even provide bike lockers.  Bike culture in Charlotte is growing and diverse.  Not only does Charlotte have a variety of charity and race events such as 24 Hours of Booty and the Novant Criterium, we have great mountain biking, cross, and track events on local area trails, such as the Whitewater Center and the Rock Hill velodrome.  We have great local bike shops of all kinds.  We have a thriving Bike Benefits program that is the largest program in the country.  We have 190 businesses who support cyclists riding to their business by thanking them with an economic incentive.  We have bicycle events year round.  We have a great resource of Trips for Kids / The Recyclery that provides low income children a mountain bike experience they wouldn’t have otherwise.  TFK also has an earn a bike program and a shop that trains volunteers to work on bikes.  What a great community resource!  While some Charlotteans are intimidated by  changes in temperature and thus do not bike year round, Charlotte does have a temperate climate that enables one to bike all year.  I have biked year round for years.  I sometimes think the temperate climate decreases people’s likelihood to bike year round because small changes in temperature or weather seem to throw us.  But in places like Chicago, NYC or Madison where people are cooped up all winter, they burst outside to bike as soon as the daytime temperature hits 50 degrees or so.  It’s also similar in places like Seattle or Portland when it’s sunny.  Any time there’s a positive break in weather, people get outside.  I feel we in Charlotte often take for granted our pleasant climate.
Charlotte also has a thriving bike sharing system that has been a big hit.  We have a great tree canopy and a beautifully lush landscape.  Riding under the shade of the trees down streets full of unique homes is a daily treat in our hometown.  Neighborhoods are filled with beaming homeowners who take great pride in their homes.  Charlotte is a nice and clean city.   Cycling it is fairly straightforward.  For instance, while arterial roads do have to be used in some instances where creeks, rail road and utility rights of way cut through or where cul de sac neighborhoods were once built, most neighborhoods are connected.  We don’t have miles of bike lanes because they aren’t necessary.  Most of the streets are bike friendly.   I have a dislike for badly built bike lanes anyway even though that is part of the criteria for being rated in best cycling cities (See blog post).    My opinion on this is based on my riding experience with over 29,000 miles ridden in my career as a cyclist, as opposed to city planners who don’t usually ride bikes, but still make decisions for those of us who do.
Charlotte also has several signed bike routes to help you get from one part of town to another.  There is a growing multiuse path trail that will cross 30 miles through town when connected.  Many sections are complete and well-used.  In much of the city, it is possible to use your bicycle as your primary mode of transportation.  I live in Plaza Midwood and I can use my bike for everything. Some of the younger people moving into town often choose to cycle exclusively, never owning a car in the first place.  I believe cycling is part of the future of Charlotte.  
Through PMTNR we’re trying to help people get back on a bike, support local Bike Benefit businesses and share routes with them all while building road riding confidence.  Most people will ride on the greenway or around their neighborhood but wouldn’t otherwise be riding around on a Tuesday night. Our Tuesday group averages about 100 people each week during all but the coldest part of the year. Our stop almost always includes a bicycle benefits business.  This helps to familiarize new riders with all the places their bikes can take them in Charlotte.  It’s the highlight of my week.  It’s great to see so many smiling faces each week with flashing lights for blocks and blocks just riding around.  Come ride with us!

Live to the fullest

The one place I feel most fully engaged in life is on the seat of my bike.  I feel engaged in the community as I say hello to the walkers and runners as I ride down the street.  To the metal man pulling his grocery cart full of scavenged metal.  As I wave to the drivers of cars as they honk cheering me on.  As I see the Bike Benefits stickers on the businesses I pass.  I smell the honeysuckle.  I feel the cold front moving in on this September day.  I feel the wind.  I feel the pothole as I stand up on the pedals.  I see the squirrel dart across the road.  I see the hawk flying above.  And admire the skyline from afar.  And I see the various people riding their bikes around.  What a great sight to see more people riding more often.  And they are actually going somewhere.  They have racks and are carrying kids, dogs, groceries.  They have trailers.  They are at the grocery store.  Like the guy buying beer and ice to go to a music festival.  Just everyday things but on a bike.  Live life to the fullest.  Live life on the seat of your bike.  

Come ride with us.

New rider tips

Both of our rides, PMTNR and Sunday Slow Ride, are meant to be beginner rides.  And we have new people riding with us all the time.  Still, there's a few things I'd suggest.  

  • Any bike is usually ok to ride depending on your ability.  The best bike to bring is a bike with wider tires and a wide range of gears.
  • It is easier to ride a bike with at least 7 gears and you should know how to change gears.  
  • Make sure you can pedal for about 30 minutes without stopping.  That sounds harder than it is because you're sitting down the whole time and sometimes you're just coasting downhill.  
  • Make sure you can pedal at about the same speed as someone runs at (about 10 mph).  
  • Bring a buddy.  Stay together.  If you want to go home, go together.  
  • Pump up your tires before the ride.  Check them with a gauge and look at the tire sidewall.  You'll see a number followed by psi.
  • Bring a helmet, front white light and a red rear light.  Make sure they work.  
  • Adjust your seatpost for maximum power and to prevent your knees from hurting.
  • Show up at 30 minutes prior the meet time (this is 7:15 for PMTNR and 5:15 for Sunday Slow Ride) and make sure you don't get left.  This will give you time to check everything before we leave.
  • Review the rules before you come.
  • The ride lasts from 8 to 10:15 pm with a 15 minute break at the 10 mile mark.
  • Bring a positive attitude and have fun!