Month: September 2014

The Revival of The New Woman and The Bicycle Revolution

dbe8117b6cdea0ce4d479a8779397865The Tweed Ride is happening next month, where Kansas Citians dress up in late 19th century style clothing and ride bicycles through historical neighborhoods around the city. As a woman cyclist, I feel a sense of affinity with the suffragettes of this time period, the bicycle being such a powerful tool in the emancipation of women. “The New Woman” was a term used in that era to describe the modern female who broke free from convention and played a more active role in society and the workforce.

Susan B Anthony, wrote:  “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world.”  These words are just as relevant today.

With so many issues on the horizon regarding health, social and environmental concerns, cycling is a sure way to help mitigate these societal shortcomings. When we ride, not only are we enjoying ourselves in the outdoors with the wind in our hair, but we are setting an example and creating change.

arts-graphics-2008_1185915a-2The bicycle was a symbol of women’s independence in a male dominated society. It provided freedom from the Victorian Era restrictive style of clothing. The physical demand of riding a bike was cause to cast off the corset and shorten the length of dresses. The bicycle released her from the confinements of extreme modesty. The traditional forced hourglass image became passé and dress options evolved to allow for breathing and leg movement became more pragmatic and ideal. This physical freedom inevitably liberated the female spirit.

“Success in life depends as much upon a vigorous and healthy body as upon a clear and active mind.” ~ Elsa von Blumen, 1880’s American bike racer

There’s definitely something beautiful and empowering being witness to a woman on a bicycle, its no wonder I get the most compliments when I’m riding. Of course, like every situation, along with the good, comes the bad. Careful with those choice of words guys because strong independent women won’t stand to be degraded and will put you in your place.

Check out the women’s bicycling workshop tonight at UMKC.

Here’s a fun clip to bring out the feminist in us all.

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BikeMS: As told by Disney

On Sept. 13-14, I and thousands of my newest bikey friends completed BikeMS, the annual, national  fundraiser for the National MS Society. Being the child of the 90s that I am, I thought the best way to relate my ride to you would be through Disney songs.

Mile 0: “Be Prepared” (The Lion King). Ok, so the song talks about being prepared for the Hamlet-esque overthrow of a lion’s kingdom, but the title is nothing to snub your nose at. Before you ride 140 miles, you should be prepared. A lot goes into that: putting the miles on your bike, getting a proper tune-up, figuring out what food you need to eat before, during and after a long ride, making sure you have sunscreen.

Mile 1: “You Can Fly” (Peter Pan). The first miles are beautiful. You’re happy! Your muscles are ready! Those hills are nothing! The wind is in your hair!

Mile 35: “Just Keep Swimming” (Finding Nemo). There are, after all, more than 100 miles to go. At some point you have to knuckle down and just keep pedaling. You’ll make it up the hills, and you’ll have lots of fun on the way down, too!

Mile 70: “Fixer-Upper” (Frozen). It’s possible that my chain hadn’t been oiled in a while. Thank goodness that each rest stop of the ride has mechanics from local bike shops ready and able to care for your bike’s needs. Fix a flat, tighten a screw or ask anything else. They’ll be willing to help.

Mile 110: “Just Around the Riverbend” (Pocahontas). The middle part of each day’s ride wound up being lots of hills. I would think it’s the last one, but the next one would be waiting for me at the bottom. I came upon a turn which I was sure was hiding a big climb around it. But it wasn’t, and I laughed a little because if that isn’t a metaphor for life, I don’t know what is. You can’t tell what’s around the riverbend, so don’t worry about it.

Mile 120: “Bibbidi-Bobbidy-Boo” (Cinderella). Because Biofreeze is MAGIC I TELL YOU.

Mile 140: “I Can Go the Distance” (Hercules). The whole point of BikeMS can be summed up with the line from this song, “I know every mile / will be worth my while.” Every person involved with making BikeMS a success is grateful for every rider. Anytime I would thank volunteers for being awake at some ungodly hour, just to serve me trail mix and PB&Js, they wouldn’t miss a beat in thanking me back. They know better than I do what a difference the donations to the National MS Society make in the lives of people with MS.

Skin care for Cyclists and Gearing Up for the Cold

As healing as it is to be out riding in the natural world, as an esthetician I am aware of how the elements can effect the skin of a cyclist. I’m definitely not one to condone indoor cycling so I’m going to address some of those skin care needs so you can keep your largest organ happy on the saddle all year ‘round in the great outdoors.

1. Moisturize. The wind and cold a cyclist comes into contact with can cause the skin to become dry, dehydrated, and cracked, so it’s important to keep the skin extremely moisturized.

  • The first step to keeping the skin hydrated is to drink lots of water.
  • You’ll want a good moisturizer to put on the skin as well. Oils for the face and body are quite popular right now and are great for winter since skin has a tendency to get dry in the colder months. However if your skin is feeling particularly oily, water base moisturizers are the way to go.
  • Silicone based products are really great for areas exposed to the wind because they create a protective barrier over the skin to seal in moisture and prevent water loss, perfect for the winter winds.
  • Chamois cream, a rich moisturizer for the bum prevents chaffing and saddle sores.

IMG_5270In the colder months I like to protect the skin on my face with this UA balaclava. It’s nice because it has a drop chin so you can easily pull it down below the chin or around the neck when in and out of places.  You’ll also want to protect the eyes with goggles or non-prescription big lens glasses.

2.  Get your wax on. Forgo razor burn, bumps, and breakouts that make chaffing worse and give me a call to get those hair-ridden body parts waxed. Hair that is waxed grows in much slower, as opposed to shaving, which means less maintenance in your shower regimen. Waxing regularly also thins and softens hair, resulting in silky smooth skin, making your rides oh, so aero.  Just remember to exfoliate, which brings me to my next point.

3. Exfoliate. This is going to remove dead surface cells that can trap hair under the skin causing ingrown hairs i.e., saddle sores. Exfoliating is important everywhere on the body but especially in the groin area where the skin is sensitive, hair is dense and the friction is in full swing whilst pedaling a bicycle. Removing dead surface cells also keeps your skin looking young and healthy. Its best to use physical exfoliants, such as sugar and salt scrubs as well as chemical exfoliants, using acids and enzymes that will continue to work for you throughout the day.

4. Benzoyl Peroxide.  If you should happen to develop a saddle sore, treat it right away. Keep it clean and dry and apply 10% Benzoyl Peroxide/Acne treatment twice daily until it has subsided.

5. Embrocation.  This is a liniament that includes warming agents such as capsicum from peppers to increase circulation and warm the skin.  I haven’t tried this yet, but it’s on the list. Check it out.  Embrocation works better on hairless skin, yet another reason to get your wax on.

6. Clean skin. This seems obvious enough. Keep the skin clean to prevent infection and irritation. Always have wet wipes on hand to freshen up.  Also, soaking 10 minutes in a warm bath will soothe muscles and detoxify the body.

7. Massage oils.  This will help soften the muscles and work out any knots while simultaneously rehydrating the skin, making it feel better.

8. Sun Protection.  Get your vitamin D but don’t get burned. The sun is something fierce and in large amounts it can wreak havoc on your skin, causing skin cancer and premature aging of the skin

  • Eating a diet rich in colorful whole foods will help give your skin natural skin protection from the sun’s rays. Click here for more info.
  • Clothing is going to be your best form of external protection against UV radiation. Check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.
  • Sunscreen. Wear at least a SPF 15 on exposed skin and reapply every 2 hours. For ladies, SPF cosmetics are a double win.
  • If a sunburn gets the best of you, get out the aloe vera.

All the Cool Kids Ride Bikes

IMG_0523I have two children ages 6 and 12 that I’ve watched grow into expert cyclists,  so I’ve made a list of
reasons bicycle commuting is good for the kiddos.

1. It’s fun.

2.  Cycling can teach a young child coordination and balance

3. Bicycle ownership teaches kids how to care for something, including maintenance and mechanics.

4. Heart disease is the leading killer of Americans. The recent epidemic of childhood obesity means that kids are more likely to become a statistic later on in life. A fun form of exercise, biking keeps kids moving and prevents the early onset of unnecessary weight gain. For those who think cycling is too dangerous for children, the health risks of not riding a bike could be just as deadly. Safety in numbers!

IMG_0727 5. Cycling teaches children independence. For older children a bicycle is a freedom machine, getting them to the library, ceramics studio, violin lessons, the grocery store to grab a snack (or some needed ingredients for dinner) all by themselves.

6. Being outside and learning to properly dress for the elements tunes children into the seasonal changes. This creates an appreciation of the natural world and an awareness of our environmental responsibility.

7. Cycling the streets teaches kids about road safety and prepares them if or when they start driving, plus they’ll be more aware of other pedestrians and cyclists once they’re operating a vehicle.

 

Here is some recommended gear for the young cyclist:

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  • Child Trailers. I cannot speak highly enough about Burley trailers. You need something safe and durable and Burley is the best. For the infant or young child that isn’t ready to hold on, the Burley bee is the place to start. You can usually find a good Burley trailer on craigslist.
  • Helmet. Personally, I prefer the Bern Unlimited helmets with their patented Zip Mold technology. The company makes all sport head protection so the helmets not only meet bicycle helmet standards but skate and ski standards as well. The Nino / Nina helmet for children meet the CPSC and European CEN bicycle helmet standards.
  • Bicycle with training wheels. Any small 12 inch wheel bicycle will do. There are bicycles without pedals (or training wheels) too, these are really helpful so that children can kick along and learn how to balance. However you can opt to just simply take off the pedals until they’re ready to put them back on.

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  • Trailercycle. This is a one wheel bicycle tandem piece that attaches to an adult bicycle so that young cyclists can ride along safely behind at your speed. Again, I’ve found Burley to be the best in bicycle trailers. The Burley Kazoo attaches to their rear rack instead of the seat post (like their counterparts) which makes for a more stable ride. The Kazoo also weighs less than other models making your job easier and more enjoyable.