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The Ultimate Guide to Wool

wool

If you’ve spent any time around these parts, you probably already know that wool is a fantastic way to get through the winter on your bike. It’s toasty, keeps moisture away from your skin, and can be quite affordable. (Tip: wool lasts, so you can often find wool sweaters in fantastic condition at thrift stores!)

Probably the only downside is that unlike a cotton T-shirt, you can’t just toss a wool sweater in the wash with your jeans and towels. Don’t let that scare you away, though! Despite the fussy stigma, it’s actually rather easy to take care of your winter wool clothes.
HEre is your ultimate guide to washing your wool bike gear. Bookmark this page or print it out and tack it to your laundry room wall – it’s an essential keeper.

Read the Label

Read the label.

Unless you’re washing a technical garment with a label that indicates it’s safe to machine wash, don’t just toss your wool apparel in the laundry. And even then, make sure to use the gentle cycle and don’t put your garment in the dryer.

Machine washing can felt (or mat) wool, turning a perfectly good adult-sized sweater into something that will barely fit a two-year-old. If that happens, the only thing left to do is to use it for a craft project, like this purse, or for awkward doll clothes. (I have a very nice knitting bag made out of what used to be my favorite alpaca sweater. *Silent tear*)

Wash Less

It may sound like a hassle to have to be so cautious with your wool, but the good news is that you don’t need to wash wool very often*. As a natural fabric, wool fibers are more resistant to grime and stink. Pendleton Wool, heritage experts in the field of woolen products, says “Wool’s resilience, low static and hairy surface help to repel dirt. Just brush and air out between wearings.” If you want to keep your friends, though, you will eventually need to wash your woolen garments.

(*Sheep wool, at least. Cashmere and alpaca, as delightful as they are, will make you smell like the stables once you start sweating in them.)

How to Wash Wool Apparel

When a label says hand wash, you should wash your garment with your own two hands, not the gentle or “hand wash” cycle on a machine.

  • Fill your sink or a bucket with cold water, then add a small amount (1 tablespoon) of mild, bleach-free detergent. You can use something specifically formulated for wool, like Woolite or Kookaburra, or simply use a mild shampoo.
  • Submerge the garment and agitate it gently, then let it soak for 20-30 minutes.
  • Drain, then rinse gently in cold water.
  • Gently squeeze dry (don’t wring it out) and lay it on a bath towel. Don’t concern yourself with this step too much – it’s better to err on the side of being gentle.
  • Fold the towel lengthwise over the garment, then roll it up tightly. Step on it to get as much moisture out as possible. Repeat with another try towel if necessary.
  • Lay flat to dry on a dry towel.

How to store wool garmets

Moths think wool is yummy.

Moths are not a problem when you’re wearing your wool garments on a regular basis, but if you plan to store them away for the season you need to do it right. Keep in mind that pests that eat wool like warm, humid environments, so when storing your wool you need to take as many of those factors away as possible.

First, wash and dry your garment thoroughly – moths are especially attracted to wool clothes that smell like humans.

Then, store your garments in a cool, dry place, preferably in airtight plastic bins. You can also use old pillow cases to store woolens in, since moths won’t eat through cotton.

If you do find that your wool got hit by moths, put it in a plastic bag in the freezer for a day to kill any leftover moth eggs, then give it a good wash.

How to Repair Wool Apparel

Even if you take the best care of your wool cycling jersey, wool pants or wool sweater, at some point the fabric may develop a hole. Check out this article on two ways to mend holes in wool sweaters where I go into detail on how to stitch the holes shut or use matching wool to felt them.

Do You Wear Wool?

Do you wear wool for cycling in the winter? Do you wear a wool cycling jersey? Wool knickers? How do you take care of your wool biking gear (or regular clothes you bike in that are wool).


Jessie Kwak is a writer who loves to type about the good life: travel, outdoor adventures, food and drink, and (of course) cycling. You can find her at Bictoro: Bikes and Crafts.

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Fostering the Next Generation

Happy Kid in a Bike Trailer

You’re a bike fanatic who now has kids. How do you ensure your kid will love biking as much as you do? After all, you’ve got a biker’s duty to raise the next generation of cyclists.

  • Keep it fun and easy. Snacks en route go a long way.
  • Consult with other parents. There are plenty of enthusiastic cycling families in Oregon.
  • Plan ahead, be over prepared and have an exit strategy if things just aren’t working out.
  • When it comes time for the little one to break out on her own, try a scoot bike (no pedals), which is a natural way to learn to balance.
  • Stay in control and ride on low-traffic streets. Model safe cycling behavior at all times.
  • Maintain a great attitude and your new riding buddy will lear to, also.
  • Check our rides like Kidical Mass, which offer a chance for families to ride together.
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Librarian Matt Stefanik

matt2

Some people say librarians are the smartest people in the world because even if they don’t know the answer to a question, they can find it. So we thought we’d sit down with one smart cookie, librarian Matt Stefanik. When he’s not busy sorting through the stacks or helping library patrons with research projects at Multnomah County Library, Matt can be found zipping all over town on his bike or working on collage projects. He’s also the co-leader of the annual Bike Scout Scavenger Hunt.

He says his knowledge as a librarian definitely enhances his bike life.

So is it true? Are librarians the smartest people in the world?

Smartest, maybe not, but librarians are great at getting to the heart of a question without letting any judgement get in the way. There’s a certain mindset that’s required to be good at the job. For me it comes down to the approach to a question: Where else would the answer be? Who cares enough to collect this kind of information? It’s a job where you learn something new everyday.

How do your research skills come into play when planning a bike adventure?

Researching bike adventures comes back to the basic idea of finding a an appropriate source. The internet is great, but a fast answer is not always reliable. For instance, there’s a few go to books and organizations I like to use in planning. The same goes for people. You can ask multiple folks for a route and get three different answers, so before you take the advice think about where and who it’s coming from. Also, don’t forget paper maps (you can check them out at the library!).

What are some of the features of library that we may not know?

There’s so much the library has beyond books! Digital content is a huge segment of the library and is constantly growing. You can get magazines, ebooks, digital audiobooks, music and movies with a library card, a device and wifi. Some systems are lending cake pans, tools, even people you can talk with to learn about different cultures!

I think the most important feature of the library is that people can ask librarians anything. We don’t care why, we don’t judge, our job is simply to get you information.

What are some new trends in libraries?

Libraries are trying all sorts of new things to reinvent themselves. Some systems have vending machines ala Redbox, others are installing maker spaces, many libraries are hiring crisis/social workers for on site triage and referrals. There’s a growing trend of looking outside the traditional model of libraries and finding out what patrons want, instead of assuming the old order is working.

What has your life in Portland on a bike been like?

When I moved to Portland nine years ago, someone asked me if I was going to get a bike. Unsure, I shrugged. Now I can’t imagine my life without it (or the other four I own).

Matt says so far life has offered up interesting opportunities, some taken, others not, but he’s looking forward to what’s ahead.  You can check out some of Matt’s cool collage work at PDX Collage.


ASK THE EXPERT: We’re asking Oregon area experts who love bikes to tell us a thing or two about what they know best. Do you have someone in mind we should interview? Should we interview you? Get in touch! You can read the entire series HERE.

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Let’s Get Comfy

essentials

The rains are here so it’s time to get down to business and talk about gear for wet and cold weather riding.

Here at ORbike we are firm believers that you can ride your bike in whatever attire you feel most comfortable. There are no rules and nothing is out of the questions. But sometimes putting a little extra thought into your gear can make the ride more comfortable. And if you’re comfortable, you’re going to ride more often.

So let’s get comfy.

Gear is a big topic, and a highly personal one. So today we’re just going to cover some basics to get you started.

Layers

Within the first two miles of your ride on a cold day, you’ll warm up significantly. It’s nice to set out feeling good, but make it easy to cool down by layering up. Layers also make it easy to adjust your comfort as the temperature changes throughout the day.

A tank top on the bottom that tucks into your pants is a great way to keep a cool breeze of your skin, no matter what your other layers are doing, especially as you bend over on the bike. This simple little article of clothing can create an impressive amount of warmth. That’s why companies like Icebreaker even make lightweight wool tank tops.

Wooly Days

Synthetics might be smartly engineered for performance but they often lack style and often lack comfort. Nothing beats a traditional wool sweater on a misty day, Find one that fits you just right and it will become one of your best riding buddies.

A thick felted wool will go a long way toward keeping you try on drizzly days.

As a bonus, wool rarely needs to be washed and it breathes rather nicely.

Bring Extra Gear

Eventually you’ll dial in your preferred winter riding attire, but as you’re getting started it doesn’t hurt to bring a little extra gear. You never know what the weather might do later in the day (though it will probably rain) and having a spare dry shirt or pair of socks can be rather awesome.

Start Simple

Sure, you could go out and buy top-of-the-line everything, but you may discover that you don’t need it all. Better to start simply with what you have, buy what you really want, and learn through trial and error.

On those days when you miss the mark and come home cold and wet, chalk it up to a learning experience and reward yourself with a hot toddy.

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Vintage + Modern Bikes

velocirque

The new Velo Cirque, hosted by Velo Cult Bike Shop and Tavern, is the brainchild of owner Sky Boyer. For years Sky has been maintaining a vast collection of interesting bikes – lining the ceiling and walls of his bike shop with them. The former racer has a huge appreciation for unique bikes.

At most bike expos of various sorts, the large booths displaying multiple bikes get all the attention. Unless a booth has a flashy display, it can get lost in the shuffle. Sky aims to change all of that with Velo Cirque by restricting displays to only one bike. That means even the big wigs like Breadwinner or ardent collectors with a garage full of vintage love can still only display one bike. It also means the exhibitors are going to have to be very selective about which singular bike they decide to showcase.

Sky hopes this will level the playing field and make the event more interesting for both exhibitors and viewers alike.

The other aspect of this event that’s turning the traditional format upside down is that Velo Cirque welcomes both vintage and modern bikes. Saturday is reserved for the old bikes and Sunday will be a modern showcase.

Whether your a vintage lover, a modern handbuilt bike aficionado or are intrigued by both, Velo Cirque is the place to be this weekend. It’s only $5 to get in and food and beer will be available.

DETAILS

When: Saturday + Sunday, 3pm – 8pm
Vintage Bike Ride: 10am Saturday followed with coffee and beer.
Where:Velo Cult Bike Shop + Tavern
Cover: $5 for Attendees / Free if you are showcasing your bike!

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5 Basic Training Tips

training

Training seems intimidating – the motivation to begin can be daunting.

But with a little preparation and planning, you’ll find that it’s easy to stick with your routine, even if you are on vacation or engrossed in an All Slots casino session.

Train for the terrain, meaning if you’re training for a hilly ride, be sure to include hills in your training rides.

Write it down. Keep a training diary, log on your phone or use a spreadsheet. Include how the ride made you feel, how far you went and what you ate before the ride. Add in any other details that may help you plan for future rides.

Adjust. As you settle into longer distances, make adjustments. How’s the saddle, your padding in the shorts, shoe angle etc.? Find the comfort now so you can make the most of the ride you’re training for.

Take time to recover. Your muscles need time to rest and re-build. Anything you do on a recovery day should be light duty and under an hour. These rest weeks can do wonders for the body and mind.

Realistically assess.Sure, you want to push yourself. But you also want to be realistic. If you are continually setting lofty goals that you can’t meet, you will feel discouraged. Beating yourself up is not the right approach. It does not make you stronger or more eager to conquer your feats, though it’s tempting to go that route because it is how our society operates. Instead, check out your progress and goals, and set goals that you know will be JUST beyond your previous success. Push yourself a little harder. On days when you know you’re feeling under the weather or sore, go a little easier on yourself

This last point is so important because it’s about a LONG TERM approach. Ride day to day, but plan for the future. Over time is when you will see results and track success.

But when it really comes down to it, just getting out there and riding TODAY can make a huge difference, no matter the distance.

There are many ways to approach your training. Some are better than others, and really it comes down to personal preference and finding something that works for you, personally. But when it comes down to the format, these few key points will help you make the most of your time on the bike, so you can spend more time getting back to you All Slots casino session.

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