The Best GPS Systems

GPS units and phone apps are a great way to track all sorts of data, from heart rate to calories burned, and of course the route you’re riding.

How to Choose a GPS Unit

Choosing a GPS unit isn’t easy. A lot of brands and styles are available. Garmin has quickly risen as a bike-friendly company that makes a solid product that’s easy to use.

Tracking Your Route Online

If you’re using an online mapping service, like Ride with GPS, which ORbike recommends, the Garmin-brand GPS units will integrate nicely with this service. You can download the route you plan to ride and upload your just-completed route to analyze the data and share with others.

Using an App With the iPhone

Do you use a route-tracking app with your iPhone? What is your favorite? Are there any stripped down versions that don’t bother with heart rate and related data, but instead focus on the route?

Share Your Ideas

But what if you don’t want all the bells and whistles? Let’s say you only want to track your route. What systems are out there? This is where we come to you, our dedicated readers. Tell us your experience with simplistic and complex GPS systems. What do you like, what’s a hassle, what doesn’t work and what’s a must-have feature?

Share your ideas in the comments below.

National Women’s Bike Forum

Hundreds of women will descend upon the nation’s capital for the National Women’s Bicycling Forum, March 4, 2013.

This all-day event will showcase women leaders and entrepreneurs in the bicycle industry. The theme, “Women Mean Business,” highlights the economic impact and rising influence of women in the bicycle movement.

The Forum dovetails with the start of the National Bike Summit, ending just before the huge national summit.

Keynote speakers include New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and several other women prominent in cycling.

National Women’s Bicycling Forum

Hundreds of women will descend upon the nation’s capital for the National Women’s Bicycling Forum, March 4, 2013.

This all-day event will showcase women leaders and entrepreneurs in the bicycle industry. The theme, “Women Mean Business,” highlights the economic impact and rising influence of women in the bicycle movement.

The Forum dovetails with the start of the National Bike Summit, ending just before the huge national summit.

Keynote speakers include New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and several other women prominent in cycling.

Win a Nutcase Helmet

This week on Momentum Magazine’s Contests Blog, they are giving away a Nutcase helmet and bike bell.

“The helmet features a spin dial at the back for a snug and comfortable fit, reflectivity on all sides and the revolutionary Nutcase Magnetic Buckle, which allows for one-handed operation and no pinching! You can choose the helmet and bell designs that best suit your personal style. (Helmet value of $59.99 and Bicycle Bell value of $15.00)”

For your chance to win, Momentum wants you to tell them how you express your personal style while riding your bike. Share your ideas in the comments on their blog before the end of the day on Sunday, February 24, 2013. Be sure to include a valid email address in you’re the winner. | | @NutcaseHelmets

The Low-Down on Layers

It’s February in Oregon, a time when it could be lovely outside, especially if it’s the weekend of the Worst Day of the Year Ride. It could also be freezing cold, raining and nasty.

So how does a smart biker suit up for such flip-floppy weather? The answer is simple: Layers.

5 Minutes of Cold

Most of us warm up significantly in the first mile of even casual rides, so dress down slightly. You know you’ve got a good layering formula if you’re cold for the first five minutes and don’t need to peel off a layer right away.

Load Up, Peel Off: Upper Body

Start with the basic clothing you want to wear inside for the day. Add layers beyond that.

Layer 1: A base layer long sleeve or tank top that can be tucked in to retain heat.
Layer 2: The top clothing you want to wear for the day.
Layer 3: A sweater or sweatshirt, preferably tightly-woven wool.
Layer 4: A breathable rain jacket that’s 100% waterproof.

If it is lightly raining but warm out, you can peel off that rain jacket and the wool will fend off the rain with ease. Alternately, you can take off layer 3 but leave on your rain jacket – though that’s a bit of a hassle. You want to be able to easily remove layers in the amount of time it takes for the light to turn green.

Covered Legs Are Happy Legs

Your legs are pumping and moving, so chances are they’re not going to get too cold, but they do need to be covered.

Layer 1: Tall socks that reach your knees will help seal in your body heat.
Layer 2: Thick wool tights if you’re wearing a skirt, pants if not.
Layer 3: A skirt, or not.
Layer 4: Rain pants if it’s dumping outside.

Oh Those Toes!

While it seems tricky to keep feet warm and dry, it’s not as hard as you might think. It just takes diligence.

Layer 1: Tall wool socks that reach your knees.
Layer 2: Biking shoes, waterproof shoes or standard shoes that you like to wear.
Layer 3: Rain booties.

If you’ve got great waterproof shoes, you can skip the booties. If the rain is light, you can skip the booties. A solid pair of nicely polished cowboy (or other hard leather) boots will thwart the rain well enough. Booties are a goofy little hassle, but if you have a long ride and truly want to arrive dry, they’re the way to go. Neoprene booties will keep your feet warm and dry, and shell-style booties will keep your feet completely dry. They come in styles to fit cleats, but you can also cut a discrete hole in the bottom to accommodate biking shoes.

Keep It Thin

Thin layers of well-made fabrics are the way to go. You might spend more initially, but quality wools will last a long time (many years) and thin layers won’t make you feel bulky, allowing you to add extras under your top layer as needed. (Why wool? Read this.)

Magic Tricks

A lightweight, long sleeve, long torso, wool, base layer with a hood is a magic item to own. Tucking in helps retain heat. The thin hood will fit nicely under a helmet and seal in your body heat. Icebreaker makes a great one.

Finding pieces like this that work well for you are worth the investment, such as a solid pair of 3/4 length pants under which you can wear (men’s or women’s) tights.

How Do You?

Share your tips below.

Inflation Station

Again and again I hear from experienced riders who have trouble with their bike pumps, or have long-held (but ineffective) beliefs around the ritual of filling their tires.

The trail of bent nubbins, valve stems torn away from the tube and broken ride dreams is evidence that an intervention is in order. So I’ve put together a series of tips that can help any rider get better performance out of pumps and tubes.

Myth: You don’t really need a pump with a gauge. You can guess-timate how much air is in the tire.

Fact: Most of us are very bad at approximating how much air is in the tire, so we end up either over or under inflating — making the ride either harsh or slow. Either way, you’ll lose efficiency on the road. Gauge’s are very standard, so that’s the way to go.

Myth: Facing the valve stem up (at the six-o-clock position, closest to the floor) is the best place to get the pump head on and off.

Fact: You have more control the farther the valve stem is away from the floor. Using the floor as resistance is a bad idea because you’ll be inclined to wiggle the pump head forcing the stem into a compromised position.

Always make sure to start with the valve stem as close to the 12 o’clock on the wheel as possible. That means facing down towards the floor, not up towards the ceiling. Contrary to what most of our Dads showed us as kids, this gives you the best control over the wheel, stem and pump.

Myth: Holding the pump with one hand and the wheel or pump head with the other while you inflate is stable and efficient, especially using short pump strokes.

Fact: Both hands should be on the handle and both feet should be on the base for maximum stability and efficiency. Using the full stroke of the pump is the quickest and easiest way to inflate.

Many people are afraid to let go of the wheel (if it has been removed from the bike) or pump head while they are inflating, so they end up with only one hand (and no feet) on the pump. Lean the wheel against your leg or stand your bike up against a stable surface so you can use the pump properly.

Myth: The easiest way to remove the pump head is to release the clamp, wiggle it back and forth and pull hard down and to the side off the stem.


Myth: You’ll always lose air from the tube removing the pump, so add extra.

Fact: After inflating, place your hands on either side of the wheel, with your thumbs firmly up against the face of the pump head (the side with the hole in it). The outsides of your thumbs should be up against the valve, with the pad of your thumb against the head.

After flipping the hose clamp to the open position, push lightly straight down towards the hub. The air trapped in the hose will force the pump head off without damaging your valve or loosing any air from the tube. You’ll hear a very short burst of air, then the hose will be disconnected. If you hear more air (more than half a second’s worth) you either incorrectly removed the stem or your pump head is worn out.

Myth: The washer provided for presta valve stems helps hold the valve steady.

Fact: When you get a flat fixed at a bike shop, there’s a reason it rarely comes back with this washer. If you’re using proper technique (see above) you won’t need it. When you do use it, you either have to tighten it down so much for it to grab that it often tears the valve stem off the tube over time, or leave it loose and put up with the rickety-racket chatter of vibration your whole ride. Instead, just lose it completely.

Myth: The cap on my valve stem helps keep the air in and dirt out. It is essential and I have to be careful not to misplace it in the process!

Fact: Caps don’t help hold any air in, and even in the worst mud I’ve never seen a valve stem too dirty to take in more air. They are not functional, but aesthetic. If you think they look tight, keep them. Otherwise, they are unnecessary.

Tori Bortman is a bike mechanic, educator, consultant and the owner of Gracie’s Wrench.

10 Tips for Riding More Often

Let’s face it: When it rains, it can be hard to want to be on your bike. Fortunately most areas of Oregon have relatively mild winters, but the dampness surely can be a mental barrier to biking.

Try these tips for staying active through the winter.

1. Invest in Gear

Quality gear is a wise investment that will last you for many years to come, especially if you treat it well.

2. Keep Your Gear on the Ready

Designate a place to air and dry out your gear that makes it easy to grab when you’re headed out the door. Keep your lights charged/powered and on or near your bike. Keep your bike lock key on your master keychain.

3. Join a Club

Oregon is filled with riding clubs, and these groups offer a sense of camaraderie that’s sure to keep your wheels spinning. Whether you’re fast or slow, in Portland, Salem or Pendleton, there’s surely a club that’s right for you.

4. Sign Up for Supported Rides

Signing up and paying creates a sense of obligation like nobody’s business – even better if you rally a group of friends to join you.

If the registration fee is a barrier, check out the website early for volunteer positions that will allow you to ride for free. In most cases, the events are fundraisers for non-profits, so you can feel good about where your money is going.

5. Set Modest Goals

Life is full of challenges, so there’s no reason to make this a monstrous task. Set modest goals that you can feel be proud of conquering, and reward yourself for going the extra mile.

6. Rewards Rule

Did you bike through the rain 10 miles to work AND run grocery errands? Way to go – you’re a rockstar! Be sure to pick up some treats while you’re at the store.

7. Soak and Relax

You’ll make it though that rainy, chilly ride much more easily if you know the prospect of a hot bath or warm house awaits. Relax, read a book and warm up after your challenge rides.

8. Swap Stories

Conversing or commiserating with other riders does wonders for keeping you on your bike. Velo Cult (42nd and Sandy in Portland) has become the winterime go-to spot for bikers, and you’re sure to find a good drink and great company on any given day, especially during traditional after work hours. They feature pour-over fine coffees and a huge selection of craft beer.

9. Choose Your Routes Wisely

Taking the most direct route possible while being safe is generally a good way to go, unless it’s a lovely afternoon and you’re up for a meandering scenic tour. In the dark days of winter, it’s particularly important to ride on safe roads where you’re a comfortable and confident member of traffic.

10. Smile. We’re Serious.

Did you know that there mere act of smiling has been proven to brighten your mood? When biking, it has the added effect of rubbing off on other bikers and showcasing to drivers that biking isn’t all that bad. So even if the rain is beating down, whistle a little tune and pat yourself on the back for being a warrior.


Stationary Racing Comes to VeloCult

Speedy Racers and plain ole biking folks will go head to head in a stationary competition that pits two racers against each other to ride as fast as possible in the largest Goldsprints competition in PDX history.

Goldsprints races have long been popular in Portland, but they don’t happen that often. In the race, two bikes are fitted to rollers for fast paced fun and plenty of action. Goldsprints are known for their crowds of heckling, jeering and cheering bystanders and ridiculously entertaining antics.

VeloCult bike shop and bar is hosting this weekly showcase every Saturday at 7pm for six weeks, beginning on February 2.

There are prizes for spectators, including festival passes to the 11th Annual Filmed by Bike, and racers and anyone can compete. This event is the perfect excuse to hang out at VeloCult, known for their fine beers, pour-over coffee and walls lined with enticing bikes and vintage bike paraphernalia.

VeloCult is located at 1969 NW 42nd Ave, just off Sandy Blvd.

Open Bike Night

Check out this cool new event.

* Open Bike Night at VeloCult (1969 NE 42nd, off Sandy)
* Streams live on YouTube around the world
* Wednesday Jan 23 and 30 at 8pm.
* Free!
* Excellent beer selection and pour-over coffee
* Mechanics working on bikes
* Crowd of bikers
* A huge collection of live short 5 minute stage presentations

This cool event takes place within the expansive VeloCult bike shop and cultural hang-out. While watching presenters on stage, mechanics work on bikes, beer is served, people mix and mingle, and the whole affair streams live on YouTube. Open Bike Night offers people worldwide a glimpse at Portland bike culture.

This new event is not to be missed!

Bike Event Spawns New Running Event

For the past 12 years, hoards of cyclists have taken to the streets on a goofy winter ride that celebrates Portland’s resilient cycling spirit. The Worst Day of the Year Ride on February 10 coincides with what is historically known as the time of year with absolutely the worst weather in Oregon. But for the past 11 years, the weather on the day of the ride has surprisingly been rather pleasant.

At the finish line, you’ll be treated to hot soup and fresh bread feast served up at the Lucky Lab Brew Pub in SE Portland. Relax in the company of other costumed riders as you sip beer and kick back in Portland style.

You know a bike event has truly become a tradition when it spawns an all new event – one that doesn’t even take place on bikes.

The first-ever Worst Day of the Year Run on February 2 promises to be an equally fun spectacle with free beer for participants who come in costume, coffee and doughnuts at the start line, a gorgeous North Portland off-road paved course and an outlandishly whimsical day.

Worst Day of the Year Run benefits Sunshine Division, a non-profit organization that distributes food and clothing to people in need.

Sign up for both the ride and the run for a discount.

( Register for both events ) ( Register for the RIDE ) ( Register for the RUN ) ( RIDE info )( RUN info )

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