Summer Cycling Essentials I Can't Live Without

When it comes to summer cycling, I'm no stranger to long rides under the summer sun. I've spent way to many mornings along bikes paths with other early risers, riding relentlessly for the sake of riding before the high heat. When summer is here though, cyclists love to boast of razor sharp #prohours tan lines, long miles, and adventures in epic places but while we are out for miles in the sun, there are some things we should focus on: protecting ourselves against dehydration, sun and wind burn, and keeping cool. Knowing that I'll be outside riding till the temperature rises to unbearable degrees, I always prepare and pack my summer essentials to ensure I'm prepared for every hot situation. That said, here are my top essentials for cycling in the heat.
Handle Bar Bag - I'm not a fan of carrying things on my person if I could help it when it's hot out. Weightless bags for summer rides are essential since they can carry the basic necessities. Road Runner's Burrito Bag and Po Campo's Kinga handlebar bags can carry those summer essentials without adding much weight to your bike. I always keep a small bottle of sunscreen, spf lip balm, chamois packet, a zip lock of money, and handkerchief to wipe sweat off my face during rides. Plus you never know when you'll need to reapply any of these items or need a dry dollar bill.
SPF Kit - When it comes to kit, covering up with a UPF jersey and bibs or UPF arms sleeves can help protect you from sun damage. Machines For Freedom carries the Summerweight Long Sleeve Jersey providing UPF 50 to protect your skin from the sun. Made from a super lightweight fabric that keeps you cool, it's perfect for even the hottest days. Their Print Jersey's are made of the high performing European fabric for the best moisture wicking, breathability, and form fitting comfort. The Endurance Bib also carries sun protection and are made of high performing fabrics for moisture wicking with a top quality chamois sized for all sit bone widths and carbon micro fiber fabric to prevent bacterial build up. I personally am a huge fan of MFF's quality material, form fitting design, and comfort in their kits. I don't think I could survive a long warm days ride on the saddle without my endurance bibs, top quality kits here.
Sun Protection - Sunscreen should always be on whenever you step outside for long periods of time.  For body and face sunscreen I highly recommend a sunscreen that is environmentally friendly like Kiehl's Active Sunscreen or Daily UV Defense. Chemical sunscreens usually absorb UV radiation, allowing it to pass the surface of the skin but preventing it to reach the deeper layers, while mineral sunscreens reflect the UV radiation, blocking it from entering the skin at all. Products that block UVA and UVB radiation will be labeled as broad-spectrum (or full-spectrum) protection. I highly recommend a non-greasy broad-spectrum sunscreen with antioxidants to add another layer of protection too. You want to make sure you're getting the best protection while keeping your pores breathing to release sweat
Eye and Head Gear - Be aware that while being #outsideisfree it'll cost you your vision of you don't protect your eyes with riding specs. Also, getting bugs, dirt, and grit in your eyes can be both painful and dangerous on a bike, and the chances of that happening are greatly increased in summer when bugs are plenty and dirt roads are tempting for a wondering adventure. One way around the problem is to invest in some UV protective riding specs like Rapha's Pro Team Flyweight sunglasses

Cycling caps can go a long way in both protecting your eyes and absorbing sweat - preventing it from getting into your eyes with the stinging effect of sunscreen. If you have thick heavy hair like myself and don't like wearing caps in summer, wearing a headband will also help to keep sweat dripping down your face into your eyes while protecting your face from sweaty hair and hairlines from sun damage while letting your head breath under your helmet. 
Hydration - Staying hydrated seems like an obvious one, but let’s break it down. Not only do we get way sweatier while cycling out in summer weather but we’re generally losing more fluid throughout the day too, thanks to the heat and humidity. Sure, this makes us thirstier, but dehydration affects many processes within the body that we might not even be aware of, like brain function. 

Obviously hydrating and replacing electrolytes is key to keep our bodies from becoming dehydrated but in the heat we sweat more and lose more salt. Consider carrying one bidon with water and another mixed with electrolytes to help you avoid bunking and dehydration. I highly recommend OSMO Active Hydration that dissolves in your bottle. You can keep refilling your bidons with water and just drop one in.

What have I missed? What are your favorite summer riding essentials?


New York Times online shop, The Strategist, recently reached out to me to ask a few questions around helmets. With the multi types of bike commuters in mind I was able to make some recommendations of my top favorite commuter helmets for preventing helmet head. Feel free to read on The Strategist for the 9 Best Bike Helmets For Commuters, According to Cycling Experts. Read on for answers to The Strategists' questions about what helmets I'm currently lusting after this summer.

While The Strategist has shared some great recommendations around commuter helmets with some help of yours truly and other cyclists, I thought I would share with you my top recommendations for commuter helmets while hot summer weather is on all of our minds. While we all want to be safe on our rides, we also don't want to arrive to work or our social events looking like we just cycled the Tour de France.

Commuters don't need super aerodynamic helmets that make them extra speedy, but rather something lightweight and airy enough so they don't get to work with a sweaty head. Any favorites for that?
If you’re someone with thick hair who heats up quickly, it is very hard to find a stylish commuter helmet. I am a strong believer in safety before style and rather not have my head overheat. In hotter temperatures, I will usually opt for for a lightweight ventilated road cycling helmet such as Specialized Airnet Helmet because of the ventilation technology. While it is aerodynamic, it is a bit more stylish than an average road cycling helmet. Your health even on the bike should be something to consider too.While a commuter may not need an aerodynamic helmet to keep dry and fresh, opting for a stylish lightweight and ventilated helmet can help keep your head cool. Helmets such as Thousand Heritage helmet and Bern’s Brighton helmet are equipped to keep you fresh. Both are designed with ThinShell technology and ventilation vents to keep you sweat free and cool while you keep up with traffic.
Are there any helmets you think are best for preventing "helmet head"/messy hair?
Helmet hair and heating can be a major issue for female commuters. Some helmets brands I highly recommend to battle helmet head are, Sawako helmets and Bobbin’s helmets. Amongst the many commuter helmets, these brands keep the stylish commuters in mind - designed with breathability, lightweight tech, and fitted without compromising safety.

While helmet hair may be inevitable on hotter days, I always recommend trying a new “do” under your helmet. You can tie back hair or secure it further in a braid. I would also recommend carrying a comb or brush with you to revive your style when you reach your destination.

I've seen some folding helmets on the market recently, which would be great for commuters to just throw in their bag post-ride. Do you have any thoughts on those or recommendations for specific ones?
Folding helmets are convenient if you are also commuting by public transit, if you are worried about it being stolen, and just for the sake of being hands free of it. First generations of folding helmets were not attractive but Closca Design has come out with a new design, Fuga, that is stylish, safe, and collapsible. It’s smaller than most folding helmets, making it convenient to store in a bag. It also passed safety certification in the US, Europe, and Canada, so it’s about as safe as any other helmet on the market.

Do all helmets have to meet specific safety requirements? I just want to make sure that all the "stylish" helmets are still tested for safety. 
Most helmets on the market must be tested and certified for consumer use, even stylish helmets. There are standards by the mandatory Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for product approval for safety that will allow a brand to sell their product on the market. And there are higher safety standards that will earn a CE, Snell B-90, and EN1078 safety certification with a glowing recommendation by the CPSC. 

You can be sure that any helmet in a shop will at least claim to meet standards but some helmets will meet higher safety standards. You can usually look for the CE, EN 1078, or Snell B-90 sticker seal inside the helmet to ensure that it meets higher safety standards, however, if you are still skeptical, approved helmets usually have a thicker shell and do not use snaps because they are prone to becoming loose on popping open upon impact. 

Also, I'd definitely be interested in any brands/models you generally recommend to commuters or casual riders.
There are many brands that are reaching the commuter demographic and that are definitely stylish. Currently I’ve been obsessing over Thousand Bike Helmets for their retro look, functionality, and also sustainability practices. I have tested this helmet and it’s by far my favorite. I’ve also been lusting after Sawako’s Glitter Helmet’s, really stylish and ventilating. It’s definitely and eye catcher!

Commuter Tips: Summer Riding

Ladies, it's that time of the year when we want to look absolutely adorable on our bikes under the summer sun. This year I'm spending half of my time in LA where the sun is always shining. Luckily, I have the coastal breeze to keep me cool but on those hotter days, I'm wishing to jump into the ocean. To help you commute cute this summer, I've rounded up some of my favorite must-do-tricks to keep you cool and sweat proof under the summer sun.

Time Your Commute
Commute time is more predictable when you travel by bike, so you'll soon be able to gauge how long a journey will take. Be sure to check google maps for how long your commute or errands will take you. Also be sure to check your weather app so you can plan your outfit for the day.

Beauty Kit
Always carry a makeup kit with some wet wipes, a comb, and antiperspirant deodorant for a quick freshen up at your destination. More than likely, you’ll arrive at your destination with a beautiful healthy glow but you'll want to cool off and powder up before you arrive to work or your social event.

Sun Proof
Riding a bike is good for your overall health and all that fresh air is good for your skin. Just remember to lather some sunscreen and shade your eyes before you take off. I highly recommend a non-greasy broad-spectrum sunscreen with antioxidants to add another layer of protection too. You want to make sure you're getting the best protection while keeping your pores breathing to release sweat.

Helmet Proof Hair
Helmet hair and heating can be an issue. When wearing a helmet, you can tie back long hair, or secure further in a french plait. Since my hair is long and thick, I like to wear my hair in pig tails to keep my head breathing. When I get off my bike I pin them up a la Frida Kahlo style. If I overheat a bit, I always stop for a sweat pat and water break. Take a comb or brush with you to revive your style when you reach your destination.

Safe But Cool
While helmet hair isn't cool, keeping your head safe is. While a commuter may not need an aerodynamic helmet to keep dry and fresh, opting for a stylish lightweight and ventilated helmet can help keep your head cool. Helmets such as Thousand Heritage helmet and Bern’s Brighton helmet are equipped to keep you fresh. Both are designed with ThinShell technology and ventilation vents to keep you sweat free and safe while you keep up with traffic.

Pack Light
Using panniers and bike bags like Po Campo's, or a basket like Walden's than wearing a rucksack will stop you from getting a sweaty back. 

Dress Up
Sumer time means summer dresses, shorts, and tanks. Sundresses are my go-to summer cycle wear. While I proudly wear my girly side I am also worried about it being too breezy so I always add flash proof tights underneath. You can easily create your own by reusing your winter tights or one's that have gotten snags or holes by cutting them thigh high. I usually stock up on H&M's tights during winter and then reuse them for cycling. They are lightweight and breathable which you want to keep in mind if you opt to cycle in a dress. 

Give yourself time to cool down and hydrate with water when you arrive at your destination. remember to always carry a water bottle with you!

I hope these tips help you prepare for your summer adventures cycling. Happy summer riding!

Image @PublicBikes


Happy Bike To Work Week! While many of you are taking on two wheels to get you to work, you're probably also wondering how to be safe while cycling. When I started cycling in cities like SF, LA, and NYC, I learned quickly that drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists tend to ignore the rules of the road. Every man is out for himself and there are too many distractions but too many hazards to ignore, so when statistics of hit and run deaths are spouted, it's hard to ignore who bears the brunt of it all, cyclists. 

Safety tends to be the number one reason women don't cycle to work. It's rough out there, still it helps to know the rules of the road, to stay safe and sane. Knowing your role as a cyclist in the grand scheme of it all can help prevent an accident for all around you when you are able to be as predictable as possible. If you're wondering how to make your commute more safe, knowing the rules of road can help you get from A to B without an anxious sweat. Here are just a few things to bear in mind and make a habit of when you're heading out on two wheels.
Obey The Rules
Cyclists are required to follow the same rules as vehicles. When riding on the road, cyclists are required to travel in the same direction as the flow of traffic. For those of us living in the United States, this means always riding on the right side as well as utilizing the right side of the lane as much as possible unless it is unsafe to do so. Rolling through stop signs, proceeding through a red light or entering a crosswalk when pedestrians are present are all traffic violations whether you’re in a car or on a bike. To be safe and follow the rules of the road, you should always obey all traffic signals and other signs on the roadway just as you would when operating any other vehicle. There are times when you will need to move to the left side of the lane to avoid an obstacle or to make a left-handed turn. When doing so, it’s important to always yield to approaching vehicles moving at a higher rate of travel to avoid a collision.

Hold your lane
As a cyclist, you have the same rights to the lane as someone driving a car but you also have to follow the same rules as a motor vehicle. If there’s a bike lane, get in it. If not, you have the exact same right to a full traffic lane as a car (although most people ride to the side). Hold a straight line and proceed to claim your space on the road once it is safe. I take advantage of this on narrow one-way streets where it’s hard to stay far enough away from parked cars or narrow curbs. In fact, most cities even allow you to ride side-by-side with another biker in one lane, but most people avoid this.Where you can’t ride
As for sidewalks, if your bike is on one, your feet should be planted firmly on the ground, walking alongside it. And you also can’t ride on highways, so scratch those dreams of weaving in and out of traffic.

Is your bike up to code?
You’re required to have brakes, reflectors, lights, and a bell. If you ride between dusk and dawn, you also need a white headlight and a red taillight. Only children under 14 are required to wear helmets, but do it anyway. Here are some cute ones.

Texting while riding
You want to be as present as possible in the streets, not only as a matter of safety but as a matter of just enjoying the ride. Chatting on your cell or texting is really not a good idea, since it makes you unstable, distracted, and therefore vulnerable. Similarly, when it comes to headphones, one headphone is permitted, but most say better to let the city be your soundtrack.

Learn to communicate
There are basic principles to cycle safety made up of predictable signals. Whether you're turning, stopping, or pointing out a hazard, everyone has their own take on how to execute them. Once you get to know the basics, it makes riding with a group a lot easier once you know how to communicate verbally or with gestures affectively. Always assume someone is behind you and never rely on others to communicate for you. Check out these cycling hand signals that are pretty universal for most clubs, commuters, and group rides. If you're not comfortable taking your hands off the handle bars, calling "right turn" 'slowing" "stopping" "hole left" "on your wheel" "passing left" "car back" is helpful too. Being able to loudly communicate and control your movement will help everyone.

Overall, it’s important to follow the laws first and use common sense and etiquette to making commuting less dangerous and more pleasant for everyone. If you ever feel uncomfortable or see something that’s uncomfortable, get off the bike. You don’t have to gut it out. Get up on the sidewalk, walk the bike, get past the obstacle, and then get back on when you feel comfortable. Sounds simple, but it’s something that never actually occurred to me when fretting about construction zones or navigating through tunnel traffic. There are always going to be distractions and challenges while commuting but keeping vigilant and safe is your first priority when setting out on two wheels.

Images: The Wheel House

Cyclo Femme 2018 + Ride Tips

CycloFemme annually celebrates women by honoring the past and celebrating the present to empower the future of women's cycling everywhere. This year CycloFemme will once again unite women around the world with call to action: Empower the Girl, Ignite the Woman. By joining forces with CycloFemme, donated funds will be raised for World Bicycle Relief to deliver bicycles to female students in Kenya. The goal of this partnerships is to get a bicycle in the hands of a girl to provide options, independence, and access to education. 

If you would like to join a ride in your area, please visit CycloFemme's Ride List.

To help empower girls and women with bicycles, please visit World Bicycle Relief and CycloFemme's  community page. Participation in Cyclofemme is open and free to all while participation in fundraising is optional. I hope you'll consider contributing to World Bicycle Relief or raise awareness of this effort on the day of your CycloFemme ride.
While group rides can be a lot of fun you may not be sure what to do, bring, or wear. Here are just a few tips to guide you on prepping for a ride with CycloFemme.

Prep your bike - to make sure you're bike is ride ready give it a little TLC. Check your brakes, tire pressure, chain, gears, and for any loose parts like your hub, headset, and brackets. You may also want to put on your lights and pack any other fix it items in your saddle bag. Don't wait till the last minute to take your bike in for repairs.

Ride Etiquette - riding with a group can be fun but it can also be dangerous. Knowing the rules of the road and group will keep you and others safe. Hand signals, pace riding, passing, and communication is all part of knowing how to ride safely in a group. Here are videos by Global Cycling Network with a few tips on road etiquette and how to ride in a group. If this is out of your comfort, do know that most rides on CycloFemme will be more social and laid back on trails.

Ride Day Essentials - snacks, water, helmet, saddle bag (tool kit, patches, pump, tire levers, spare tubes), phone, ID, cash, credit cards, insurance card, sunscreen, arm/leg warmers, jersey, gloves, sunglasses, cycling cap, cycling shorts/tights, shoes, plastic bags (water protection for money and phone), socks, wind/rain jacket. Did I miss anything?

Nutrition and Hydration - hydrate well the day before, drink plenty during and after your ride. Eating a solid carb meal hours before a ride will give your body the proper energy it needs. I personally love a good oatmeal with nuts and fruit before a ride and will definitely be packing fruit bars and peanut butter jelly sandwiches. If your ride starts early, best to prepare these the night before so they properly fit in your jersey pockets.

Safety - be visible and stay visible. Watch, listen, obey traffic rules, and communicate. Always keep pedaling. If you fear being dropped ask another rider to stay with you, it's always nice having others looking out for each other.

Make Friends - this is a ride to empower each other, not a competition on who can get the QOM at the top. I think the best things about cycling with other women is that rides are more social, fun, and there is a sense of looking after each other with great care, cheering eachother on the climb and making sure you don't bonk, snacks anyone?

This is a great way to celebrate Mothers Day, make new riding buddies, and bring along any curious or new riders interested in cycling. I'll be leading CycloFemme ride in Mahopac with our local women's cycling group En Route - Hudson Valley Women's Cycling on Saturday. I'm hoping to meet new people and followers I've known over social media for some time, it's always nice to do so. Happy CycloFemme!

Photo courtesy: CycloFemme, Bicyclists

Bike To Work Challenge Without Breaking A Sweat

With Spring full on TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATIVES is bringing back the annual Bike to Work Challenge  for Bike Month starting May 1! This year TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATIVES will also be hosting a Bike To Work weekly hashtag challenge. The staff pick of the week will be featured on their social accounts and win a free year of Individual-level TransAlt membership, plus a TransAlt cycling cap! While most of you know that biking to work is the most noble way to get yourself to work, it's not always so easy to look your best when you arrive to the office so I've put together a couple of tips to help you get your Bike To Work Challenge without breaking a sweat on so you can win this!

To compete, tag TRANSPORATION ALTERNATIVES in your photo on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook with the week’s hashtag*. Winners will be announced Tuesday evenings starting May 15. The schedule for the challenge is as follows:

May 7 - 13: #ThisIsWhyIBike — Show us why you bike to work.
May 14 - 20: #WhatsInMyBag — What are your on-the-road essentials?
May 21 - 27: #BikeCommuterProblems — Encounter any roadblocks on your way to work?
May 28 - June 1: #BestBikeView — Share your favorite scenic sight from your commute

Without further ado, here are some tips for you to cycle to work without worrying about arriving sweaty and gross. Enjoy now that you have some tips to help you stop making excuses.
Pack Smart
This one's a no-brainer, but there's a smart way to pack the right stuff for work: Get a good pannier like Po Campo's Bergen Pannier or basket to hold your stuff so you don't break a sweat or hurt your shoulders while hauling your goods on your back. Speaking of backs, you also don't want to wear a backpack where you may soak your clothes. Some items to cary are cleaning wipes, deodorant, a brush and some makeup to freshen up before you change.

Keep a low-maintenance hairstyle
Helmet head and a sweaty hairline will bust your hair do, but if you keep your hair in a sleek ponytail or bun, and bring some dry shampoo to keep it from looking greasy, you don't have to look like you just rolled out of bed. Ask your stylist to give you a cut that's easy to pull back or wear straightened for when you bike. Brit & Co also has 19 ways to style your hair under a helmet. Also carry a comb or brush with you to revive your style when you reach your destination

Pedal slower: 
Your commuting time is more predictable by bike. If you can, choose a route that is slower, less congested, and shaded with trees to help keep you cool and on time. Allow enough time to take it easy while you ride; going slower means sweating less, and you'll thank your slowpoke pace for a cleaner day at work. Make sure though that you give yourself some time before work to cool down and drink plenty of water!

Sign up for a gym close to work 
If you're an early riser and like to work out before work (like I used to be!) Use the showers and locker rooms at the gym closest to your work, and you can look as if you never rode your bike at all. The bonus is that your bike ride counts as your morning workout, too. 

Take the bus to work and bike home 
If you need to look your absolute best at 7 a.m., then just bring your bike to work on the bus or subway and ride home. Most public transportation allows passengers to bring bikes on board (or put them on the front of the bus).

Biking to work doesn't have to be a full work out if you do it smart. Hopefully these tips will give you the tools to start commuting by bike and hopefully having you winning TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATIVES Bike To Work Challenge!

Images 1. Pinterest / 2. Po Campo
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