Madison CycloFemme Photo Dump

We had a fantastic time at the Madison CycloFemme ride. There were 35 riders at the event total. Not bad for our very first one! The event coinciding with Mother’s Day always seems to be a gamble as far as attendance, but we were glad to see over half of the actual RSVP’d women attend.

The weather was in the low to mid 40’s and a bit chilly, but we made it all 18 miles with no issues! Lots of riders were new to the group environment, but seemed to enjoy themselves. It puts smiles on our faces thinking that we have given these women a chance to experience cycling in a fun and social environment.

CycloFemme will hopefully open the door to more events like this and maybe even a recurring Sunday morning monthly ride. We want to thank all the women who came out to the event. It was a pleasure meeting all of you and we hope to see you in the future!

A HUGE thank you goes out to the Froth House and their staff for hosting us. We also want to thank Saris Cycling Group for donating a parking rack for us to use at the event as well as a Bones 3 rack for the raffle. Thank you’s go out to Hoo Ha Ride Glide, Team Luna Chix, and to everyone who helped promote the event.

Last, but not least, we have to thank CycloFemme and Girl Bike Love for creating such an amazing movement to try and get more women on bikes. We’re grateful for the effort and the inspiration.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the women (who are mamas) in our lives and go ride a bike!

Cap City Trail Recon

Madison often boasts that its bike paths are cleaner than the streets after a large snow storm. That’s usually the case when referring to the Southwest Commuter path, Madison’s most used bicycle path that runs through the isthmus (downtown).

We can’t really say that for the Capitol City Trail. For those not familiar with Madison’s route set up, the Capitol City Trail is a route that extends past the major SW Commuter Path and heads out to the South Eastern burbs and then back into Madison near the Alliant Energy Center. (You can then continue back into downtown or ride the lake loop through Monona.)

It’s not maintained as regularly as our beloved SW path, but is still a nice ride. Today I decided to take a journey on it to not only get a lunch ride in, but to also report on the conditions. Starting from the Verona frontage road the trail was hard packed snow and ice. Not terrible, but not amazing either.

Riding downhill was a little sketchy in some spots, but overall it was decent conditions. Hardpack is a lot of fun to cruise on with knobby or studded tires. The overall view was very beautiful. The path is surrounded by trees on either side, so it doesn’t melt as fast as some of the other  trails. The trees looked untouched and there is still significant snow on the ground around the trail.

capcity

I did happen to come across some ruts, skate ski tracks, loads of animal poo (seems folks think they don’t need to pick it up in the winter?), and even a frozen possum that seemed to have passed somehow on the path. (poor thing)

The new studded tire (I only use one on the front right now) performed amazingly on the hard pack. It cruises a lot faster and smoother than on dry road, that’s for sure! In areas that had deeper snow or a bit of slush, having a loaded back end helped greatly. I have a fairly heavy saddle, a rear rack, and a half loaded pannier when I ride. I treat snow commuting much like snow driving. Keep weight in the rear, take it slow around corners, keep eyes on the trail to pick the best line of riding, and if I start to fish tail or slide…just power through it and DON’T PANIC or hit the brakes!

stud

I rode about a 3 mile stretch of the trail before I had to take to the streets to hit my destination. From the point of where I started to ride the trail, all of the offshoots had been plowed or cleared to some capacity, but for some reason the junction I needed to ride up wasn’t. I had to hop off and do a minor amount of trudging before I could get back on the bike. I’m glad I had my Bogs on! (They make for great winter riding boots btw. Future review?)

roadblock

A minor annoyance in an overall pleasant ride. It seemed like the maintenance crew just kind of decided to call it good enough.

I’m considering checking out the trail conditions in a few days after the weather warms up. Forecasts are calling for up to 40 degree weather, so there may be some slushy conditions ahead for daily path riders.

On my way back to work I decided to ride on McKee, which was not as pleasant as the ride on the trail. I didn’t have much time to enjoy the scenery, but it’s a straight shot to the work place. There was a huge headwind and my studded tire made the bike ride like a slow moving tank. Cars were also not feeling very  generous when I was trying to avoid chunky snow debris in the road.

If you’re looking to hone your winter riding skills with a serene environment, I would highly suggest checking out the Cap City Trail in the next couple of days before the snow starts to turn into muck!

Side note: Today I decided to wear regular poly/cotton socks, Bogs, regular stretchy skinny jeans, a short sleeve Road Holland jersey, the new Surly long sleeved jersey, my Patagonia down jacket, Ibex balaclava, Pearl Izumi long finger gloves, and my helmet. In the morning when it was 19 out, my thighs were the only part of me that was cold.

During lunch and on the ride home I was pretty warm up top so I unzipped the top two layers and wore the balaclava as a neck gator. I probably could have dropped the down jacket, but I wasn’t in the mood to stop and take it off.

I’m happy to report the PDW fenders kick ass and I have no issues with interference like I do with full length fenders. I also removed my usual Crank Brothers Candy pedals and installed the VP Vice flat pedals. They have an awesome, wide platform with tons of grip. There will be full reviews as the season progresses.

Also, a BIG shout out to all the new followers. We’re happy to have the support. Please e-mail us with suggestions, comments, etc. We want to continue to improve upon the site 🙂

-Cassandra

 

Talking About Winter Commuting- Video

Here’s a short video of myself talking about riding in snowy/icy conditions. My regular commute one way is 5miles. My Surly has Vittoria Randonneur Hyper (700x38c I believe) tires on it currently, which have a really smooth tread. They were fine getting me through the conditions we had today for the most part, but I had to ride pretty slow. I also had to get off my bike and walk it over one of the commuter bridges that passes over the freeway.

I’m hopping once the holidays are over I can score a set of studded tires to try out and have some cheapish fenders from PDW on the way. I actually loath full length fenders. They weigh too much and I have toe overlap as it is, so I like the clip on route all the way. Maybe you feel differently…that’s just my opinion.

I’ve been continually experimenting with wearing different types of clothing for riding. Today I chose regular skinny jeans, a t-shirt with a tank top under, a Mountain Hardwear Butter hoodie/pullover thing, wool socks, DZR shoes (there will definitely be a write up on those), a Patagonia down jacket, wool hat, and actual winter ski gloves. The outfit worked alright. I still find it hard to ride in jeans in general rather than tights or athletic pants.

The trend is that I’m much warmer up top, sometimes too warm, than I am below. My legs have definitely suffered from the lack of insulation. I need to try some different things out on that front.

I’ll probably experiment with wearing Ski goggles as my Sunglasses are too dark most mornings and evenings on my way home. I actually wore a pair of safety glasses from work for the beginning of my ride, but they fogged up and froze over after a bit.

The lighting on my bike was pretty good, but I feel since I wore regular clothes my actual body didn’t have much reflective gear on it and I like to be seen, so I’ll probably include my riding vest back into my clothing choices in the future.

Overall the past couple days of riding has been awesome. I’m practically alone in the morning on the bike path which makes me both happy and sad at the same time. More people should ride when it’s cold! It’s FUN!

Like I said in the video, I’m going to try and keep them coming. I really enjoy watching vlogs and think they are more interesting than reading a bunch of articles. I’m hoping to do some coverage on Cross Nationals and some other fun bike events coming up here in the next few months.

I’m in desperate need of a video quality SD card for my DSLR as I’ve been just rocking the iPhone as a camera. It’s alright, but I want to produce some better footage. I have access to a Contour and Go Pro through work that I may play around with. Maybe we can write up a couple reviews on those if anyone is interested.

Stay tuned and please e-mail, comment on our Facebook (facebook.com/spokehaven), and LIKE US on Facebook. We usually update it with more stuff throughout the day as it’s easy to do with a phone and an internet connection.

Thanks guys!

-Cassandra