Citizens: we need your help

I’m working with the City of Stillwater to update the cycling information on the city’s website: bike lanes map, bicycle law document, helpful information, etc. 
To make an accurate map of Stillwater that includes bicycle lanes, sharrows and shared use paths, as well as bicycle parking, public restrooms for cyclists, water fountains, etc., the city needs to be able to collect accurate and useful data. To help with this issue, the city developed a cycling app for the iPhone (and very soon for Android and Windows), Cycle Stillwater. The app allows you to record your ride around town, with options to report traffic issues like not being noticed by a stoplight, road problems like potholes and dangerous conditions, as well as note water fountains, public restrooms, bicycle parking, bicycle shops, and a secret passageway. 

 

Cycle Stillwater app

Cycle Stillwater app

The city has already been able to gather a significant amount of information about which routes cyclists use around town, but not much on where cyclists go (which route they use to get where and why), where they park, and other input. 
In order to make the most accurate cycling map possible, it is imperative that we use the app to provide as much input as possible. 

Cycle Stillwater in App Store.

Cycle Stillwater in App Store.

SO. Here’s how you can help. Download the app, Cycle Stillwater, on the app store. (Sorry, Android and Windows folks, they’re working on a version for you but it won’t be out for another month or so.) Learn your way around the app and use it to record your rides. It’s got handy features like speed, distance, time, calories burned and how many pounds of C02 you saved by cycling!

Help us out by using the app and tracking your rides, routes and stops so we can make an accurate map for cyclists to use in Stillwater. The cycling revolution is clearly taking off (obviously – they made an app for it), so there’s no reason for avid and casual cyclists to participate! 

Keep riding! 

A Big Loser is riding to town to promote healthy living

Joe Ostaszewski, a finalist in NBC’s Biggest Loser season 14, is heading to Stillwater on Thursday to promote healthy living and exercise to youth across the country. 

Joe Ostaszewski is riding from Maryland to California, making 42 stops in nine states along the way.

Joe Ostaszewski is riding from Maryland to California, making 42 stops in nine states along the way.

Ostaszewski, who lost 147 pounds during his time on the show, says the Biggest Loser saved his life and has dedicated to ride 2,937 miles across the country to raise awareness for childhood obesity.
“Obesity is a serious, chronic disease that is threatening the lives of millions of Americans, and I am living proof that there is a cure,”Joe said in a Riding It Forward press release. “The focus of my Wear Your Soul Project is equipping today’s youth to live healthy, active lifestyles, which aligns perfectly with the mission of 4-H to empower young people to tackle urgent issues and Marucci Sports’ commitment to engaging youth in physical activity.”
Joe teamed up with the National 4-H Council, the largest youth development organization with chapters across the country, to encourage American youth to be more active and make healthy lifestyle choices. Marucci Sports joined as a national sponsor for the event. His Riding It Forward Tour on July 30 in Chevy Chase, MD, and will finish at the Biggest Loser Ranch in California on Sept. 26. 
Joe and his twin brother, Henry, founded the Wear Your Soul foundation in 2012 to encourage and enable youth to explore healthy living through lifestyle choices and alternative outdoor sports. 
What happens when he gets to Stillwater?
Joe will arrive in Stillwater on Thursday, Aug. 28, and participate in a celebrity bicycle ride at 5:30 p.m. from City Hall, 723 S. Lewis, to the Oklahoma State University Student Union. Due to the time and route of the ride, the ride can accommodate no more than 30 riders.
At 7 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom, Joe will speak about his experience as a college athlete, share his story of weight loss and his journey to where he is now. The event is free and open to the public. Afterward will be a meet and greet with Joe and the opportunity to sign his tour bus as a dedication to healthy living. 

Youth and students will have the opportunity to sign Joe's tour bus and dedicate with young people across the country to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Youth and students will have the opportunity to sign Joe’s tour bus and dedicate with young people across the country to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Joe's route across the US.

Joe’s route across the US.

Join us in welcoming Joe to town and showing him our Stillwater cycling community hospitality! See you there!

Keep riding! 

It’s that time again: students are back, so watch your back

They’re back.

From TutuMoi

From TutuMoi

Over the past week, students have descended in droves upon Stillwater, reminding us that we do, indeed, live in a college town. We tried to convince ourselves during the summer months that we lived in a quiet town where the drivers are (mostly) courteous and post-grad. 
Not any more. 
Stillwater, for all its effort, has become more cycling friendly in recent years, but with the constant ebb and flow of students, it’s hard to get the cycling friendly mindset to stick with some. 
We can try as hard as we can to produce more literature and spread awareness, which are good and necessary things, but the most surefire way to let drivers know we exist is to be on the road. 
Yup. 
Ride your bike. 
That being said, this first few weeks of the school year can be a little crazier on the road than usual – freshmen trying to figure out where they’re going and having no clue, students more interested in SnapChatting than watching the road, and free spirits celebrating life in Stillwater with too many spirits – so extra care is in order. 
Here are a few ways to increase your visibility and safety on the road, and how to not enrage drivers at the same time:
1. Invest in a white front and red rear blinking light for use during the day. They’re eye catching and are sure to attract attention. Remember, front white and red rear lights are a legal requirement during dark hours. 
2. Wear a helmet. I cannot stress this enough. Helmets save lives, and yours could be one. I seriously don’t care if it messes up your hair or doesn’t look cool. Helmets are cooler than brain damage. At this point in the cycling movement, not wearing a helmet on the road is ignorant and careless. 
3. Wear colorful clothing. There’s a reason construction workers wear high-visiblity vests in work zones – you always see them, right? I’m not saying you should go buy a high-vis jacket (but it will certainly get the job done), but at least wear something eye-catching on your bike. My winter jacket is a fantastic yellow-green, and it’s like a beacon of light going down the road. 
4. Be courteous. We all use the road, and we all have a right to it, even though some drivers may not know that. Instead of yelling and flipping the bird at uninformed drivers, wave and go on your way, or if you have a chance, politely inform them that cyclists are considered vehicles too, and have the same rights and responsibilities of the road that four-wheeled vehicles do. Invite them to look up cycling laws so they can be informed and tell their friends. 
Wave and smile when a driver is polite to you – use positive reinforcement. 
If you’re nice, they’ll probably remember you and think well of cyclists. If you’re rude, they’ll definitely remember you and think negatively of cyclists. We are all ambassadors for cycling in Stillwater, so let’s all be on our best behavior. 
5. Use bicycle lanes when they’re available. We have new bicycle lanes on University Avenue near campus, so let’s take advantage of them! There are also bike lanes on Hall of Fame Avenue along campus, Monroe Street, and Ninth and 12th streets.
6. Familiarize yourself with cycling laws. The best way to spread awareness of the law is to be informed yourself. Here’s my post about cycling laws in Oklahoma and Stillwater, and here’s something on cycling laws from the City of Stillwater and the Red Dirt Pedalers. 
7. In the event of an accident: Keep your cool – nothing will be gained by going berserk on someone. If you and the driver can come to an agreement as to who was at fault, trade insurance information and carry on. If not, call the police and file a report. If the driver leaves the scene, get the license plate and a description of the car. Seek medical attention if necessary, especially if you hit your head. Head injuries are no joke. Here’s some information on bicycle accidents/injuries and how to proceed. 
8. Be aware. Ride defensively. Sure, if someone hits you, it might be their fault, but wouldn’t you rather just avoid an accident all together? Be aware of your surroundings. Make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you. If it looks like they don’t see you, play it safe. It’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Share this post with your friends and coworkers – everyone can benefit from being aware of cyclists on the road. 

Keep riding! 

#IRide4Ainsley: the Gravel Grinder for a cause

Ainsley Peters, 5 years old, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on August 11, 2013.

Ainsley Peters, 5 years old, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on August 11, 2013.

Ainsley Peters has been fighting leukemia for a year. She is 5 years old.
Shortly after her diagnosis, the Stillwater cycling community banded together to support Ainsley and her family through creating awareness, performing acts of service and raising money. The hashtag, #IRide4Ainsley, was born and has made its way around the world.
Now the Stillwater cycling community, led by the Stillwater Gravel Grinders, is hosting an #IRide4Ainsley Gravel Grinder. The ride has 25-and 50-mile options, with water stops for both routes.
The ride starts at 8 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 28, in front of District Bicycles, 120 W. 7th Ave. in Stillwater.
There is no entry fee for this ride, but donations are welcome to help support Ainlsey and her family through this trial; 100 percent of donations will go to the Peters. Ainsley is in remission, but they aren’t out of the woods by a long shot, and every bit helps.

Ainsley is the bravest and toughest 5-year-old I have met, and she isn’t about to give up. Her family began noticing a few odd things last summer: body aches, limping, bruising and an enlarged spleen.
After a whirlwind visit to the Stillwater hospital, Ainsley was life-flighted to Oklahoma City for more tests and treatment, and diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on August. 11, 2013.
After her diagnosis, she was put into a 10-day medically induced coma, during which doctors pumped her with fluids and fought off infections that had taken advantage of her weak immune system.
Since then, she has undergone several rounds of chemo, oral and through a port, and is showing remarkable signs of recovery.

Learn more about the Peters’ journey on their blog, TeamPeters.
Visit Ainsley Jane’s Allies for updates on Ainsley.
Find out more about the #IRide4Ainsley Gravel Grinder.
Donate here to help Ainsley’s fight against leukemia.

We will see you on Sept. 28! Get your gravel tires on!

Keep riding!

Cycling: here’s the skinny

I know, it’s a bad pun or whatever. This post is really about skincare.
Skincare is something that we cyclists tend to forget about. We usually focus on making sure our bike fits us and eating/drinking enough on the road.
But what about the biggest organ in our bodies?
That’s the skin, if you weren’t sure.
We don’t really think about taking care of our skin, so here are a few problem areas and how to avoid them.

Lots of things can affect our skin when we are on the bike. Sweat, sun, tears, dirt, germs, bugs, wayward birds... you get the idea.

Lots of things can affect our skin when we are on the bike. Sweat, sun, tears, dirt, germs, bugs, wayward birds… you get the idea.

Cleanliness
We all know we should shower after a ride because we don’t want to be stinky. But that stink that manages to keep people outside a 5-foot radius around you isn’t just sweat – it’s a combination of sweat and bacteria, and whatever else you picked up on the road.
The bacteria part is what can get nasty. If left alone, the bacteria will fester and colonize wherever it wants to – in your pants, in your helmet, in your gloves, in your socks.
That’s fine… if you plan on never wearing any of that again. Otherwise, make sure you wash your gear.
Clothing like jerseys, shorts, socks, sports bras, etc. should be washed after every use, even if you just rode a quick 10 miles.
Helmets and gloves can go a little longer than that, but I wouldn’t wait longer than a week between washes, especially if you’re an avid rider.
I have started washing my helmet after every long ride because the sweat and grit and germs make for a nasty cocktail of facial rash called acne mechanica.

Acne mechanica, from Types of Acne.com

Acne mechanica, from Types of Acne.com

This is a bacterial skin infection that looks like bad acne, but it’s sore and itchy, and doesn’t go away with just topical antibiotics. Plus, it spreads if you don’t get it taken care of pretty quickly. I got it last summer and I ended up needing a serious antibiotic from the campus clinic.
The most common culprit of acne mechanica? A dirty helmet, but it can be pretty much any article of clothing or gear that is constantly against your skin. When you sweat, your pores open up and are more susceptible to getting filled up with nasties.
The doctor I saw for it said it’s a common athlete rash, and he sees it a lot in wrestlers when they get their faces or backs/shoulders ground into the wrestling mat.
The best way to avoid acne mechanica? Wash your helmet after long sweaty rides, or at least once a week. Routinely wash gloves and hats, and wash clothing like jerseys, shorts and sports bras after every use. Shower with antibacterial soap after every ride.
Here’s more information about acne mechanica.
Another skin rash that plagues cyclists is the dreaded saddle sore.
Saddle sores come from the same basis as acne mechanica – dirty clothing. Saddle sores take it a step further, though, by turning into nasty boils on your rear and crotch. Experts strongly advise against popping saddle sores, as it leads to a greater risk of infection – think saddle sores on crack. Instead, apply a wet warm cloth or soak in a hot bath for a while and apply antibiotic ointment until the sore goes away.
How do you prevent saddle sores? Stay clean. Just like its acne cousin, thoroughly wash your jersey and shorts after every ride, and clean yourself as well with a good antibacterial soap.
Note: Do not Google image search “saddle sore.” Unless you’re into that kind of thing.

Sun
I know I’ve forgotten sunscreen more often than I care to admit, and I’ve had the sunburns to pay for it. Special thanks to all the cyclists who shared photos of their burns and tans!

I’m so glad that we as a society are starting to move past the golden god/goddess phase and into “let’s actually take care of our skin.”
As a little white girl, I tried just about everything – laying out after soaking in lotion, self-tanning lotion (streaky legs, anyone?), and I would have probably gone to a tanning salon if my mother had let me.
After stumbling upon an article about a woman who died from skin cancer complications, 17-year-old me decided it wasn’t worth it, which solved the problem of actively trying to get several shades darker than I was. I didn’t start wearing sunscreen on a regular basis until recently, after my first serious burn of the cycling season earlier this year. I couldn’t sleep on my back and wearing anything on my shoulders hurt. I invested in some SPF 30 sunscreen and life has gotten better.
Skin cancer is on the rise.
Annually, 3.5 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer in the U.S. alone, and in the past 30 years, more people have gotten skin cancer than all other cancers combined, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
If that didn’t get your attention, try this: It is estimated that 9,710 people will die of melanoma this year, and the majority of people diagnosed with melanoma are white males over the age of 55.
Moral of the story: wear sunscreen and protective clothing when you ride – invest in a cycling cap to wear under your helmet, some sunglasses to protect your eyes and some sunscreen, at least SPF 30. There has been debate on whether anything stronger than SPF 30 is better, but I think 30 is probably a good medium.
Skin cancer isn’t pretty (don’t Google image search that, either).

Heat 
Heat rash usually only affects children, but adults doing lots of physical activity in hot muggy situations can contract it too.

Austin Turner got heat rash during his 200 miles on the Dirty Kanza 200 2014.

Austin Turner got heat rash during his 200 miles on the Dirty Kanza 200 2014.

Heat rash presents as raised red bumps, and occurs when you sweat so much your sweat ducts get blocked and the sweat builds up under the skin, causing the rash.
It will usually go away on its own, but if it sticks around and gets painful and hot, starts oozing puss and you get a fever, you should probably go see a doctor.

I feel like this post has been pretty serious so… Here’s some animals on bicycles!
dog bicycle kittens bicycleDo you have any bicycling-skin-related stories? Share them in the comments!

 

Women and cycling: we aren’t going away.

The American League of Bicyclists recently had an opening for a Women Bike Manager. I know, because I periodically check their employment listings and that one caught my eye a while ago. However, the job description was way out of my league so I forgot about it.
Now, it looks like they’ve hired someone, and from the quick bio, she is perfect.
Meet Liz Jones.

Liz Jones, Women Bike Manager.

Liz Jones, Women Bike Manager.

Liz started riding her bike, a “hot pink beach cruiser” she got at a flea market, in college, and she has been riding ever since. Her reason, she says in the quick interview posted on the League’s website, was parking in her tiny college town was too much trouble.
After that, she was hooked. Everywhere she lived, she biked to work because she didn’t want to deal with finding a parking spot.
“I also hate wasting time competing for things, so circling a parking lot searching for a space creates a lot of anxiety for me,” she says in the interview. “Biking is my way of saying no to things in our society I don’t want to buy into.”
Liz says that her work with Women Bike is mainly to find out what women need on the bike, and figuring out how to make it happen.
“What are we doing to ensure as many women who would like to have access to bicycling?” she says in the interview. “A lot of women cite fear as their biggest barrier to entering the sport. Fear of getting hurt, fear of looking foolish.”

She has some great points, but I won’t summarize her whole interview – you should read it yourself! Check it out and let me know what you think!

Now why is Liz’s new job and the existence of Women Bike such a big deal?
I’ve mentioned before that cycling has long been a male-dominated sport. Here’s some old photos of bicycling, and there’s one of a badass Swedish woman who was such a good racer that the League of American Wheelmen banned women from racing in 1902.
But that didn’t stop thousands of women from hopping on two wheels and riding around! Here’s another article about bicycling and women’s rights.
The point is, though, that women have been cycling for a while, even if just in small numbers, and we aren’t going away.
Why?
Because it’s fun. It makes us independent. It’s a good way to get fit. It saves the environment. It saves money (gas is expensive!). It brings us closer together as a community. It helps us make new friends.
It’s empowering.
Exercise your right to exercise! We don’t have to wear those billowy skirts anymore, so we don’t really have and excuse!

Get out there, and ride your ride.

Bicycle fun times!

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Photo by Indonesian photographer Tustel Ico. 

Here are a few fun bicycling things I ran across today!

What kind of cyclist are you? Here’s a quiz to find out who you are on two wheels from Metro UK.

French racing cyclist Léon Georget in 1909.

French racing cyclist Léon Georget in 1909.

Here’s one to test your bicycling knowledge from health and wellness website Netfit.
Share your results in the comments!

From Flickr.

From Flickr.

Here’s a video about a guy taking a cat on a bike ride!

And here’s Indiana Jones to guide you through learning to ride on two wheels.
indiana_jones_2Keep riding!