Author: Sara Arendale

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.

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.

Keeping Your Cool Under the Sun

Summer is in full swing and it’s been delightfully mild so far, which has made for really enjoyable bike rides. But with a heat wave approaching it’s a good time to revisit sun and heat safety tips and precautions.

Being car-less with a busy schedule, I rely on my bicycle to get me from point A to B to C— a 35 mile roundtrip commute, during which the prevention of heat exhaustion is crucial. In the days when I was an aspiring farmer, I learned a lot about regulating body temperature and have since utilized that knowledge whilst cycling in the elements. The most important lesson was the more skin exposed to the sun, the greater the risk of heat exhaustion. Although it seems counter intuitive at first, this extensive study (Walsberg, Campbell, & King, 1978. J. Comp. Physiol. 126B: 211-222) explains why wearing dark colored long-sleeved clothing is going to keep the body cooler while riding a bike. Dark colored clothing not only offers better protection from harmful UV rays, but also absorbs the radiation of heat, yes, from the sun but from your exercising body as well! The most important factor here however, is windspeed, because even the most modest wind (anything over 7 m.p.h.) will convect absorbed heat away faster than it can be transmitted to the skin.  The fabric must be breathable and loose fitting though, otherwise that refreshing breeze produced when cycling (via air circulation) is negated and the physics of using dark clothing doesn’t work. Personally, I wear classic all black because it’s my uniform for work and school. A loose fitting shirt cools my core, but I opt for the “sweat-wicking, breathable” tights for their pedaling mobility. Snug athletic pants are ideal since loose fabric can easily get caught in a bike chain. Here are more tips for keeping your cool while riding under the summer sun:

  • Wear loose fitting, breathable, long-sleeved shirts (explained above)
  • Wear sun glasses and a hat
  • Take the shady route whenever possible
  • Drink copious amounts of water and eat salty foods (electrolytes)
  • Go hybrid: bike half and bus the rest
  • Make frequent stops to refuel on water and cool off in the AC
  • Apply skin protectant with at least a SPF 15, reapply every two hours to areas exposed to sun

All of this talk of keeping cool reminds me of yet another reason I love riding the forest trails. Not only is it cooler under the canopy, these wooded trails provide ample shade, so I’m less bothered with sunscreen (and forget the bug spray— the mosquitos can’t keep up!). More interestingly though, is that nature trails have the potential to keep our cities cooler in the heat of the summer. Studies show that our climate is in flux and metropolitan areas in particular have higher temperatures than surrounding rural areas. The phenomena is referred to as the Heat Island Effect (HIE) and it’s caused from lack of vegetation coupled with vast areas of materials that store heat from the sun, such as concrete and asphalt. You can feel the intense heat when you’re on the streets and even more so as the hot cars pass by. These wooded bike trails are one way to help lower temperatures and remedy HIE.

Therefore, biking to work is a means to actively participate in the conservation of our woodlands and environment all while cooling our city and us at the same time. The trails won’t beget themselves though, it will take revolutionary cyclists opting to ride rather than drive. The forests are beckoning, so let’s mount up and go for a ride!

Roanoke Park Conservancy is doing a lot of ecological restoration with these wooded trails within Kansas City, check out this map for detailed information.

Calling All Modern-Day Centaurs: Trail-Riding to Overland Park

While asphalt roads are ablaze with heat, I’m astride my bicycle under dappled green canopies, gliding through treelined trails and passages beneath the bustling streets. There’s a creek cascading over rocks, it races alongside, and we interlace as the stream snakes under the planks of wooden bridges. Mentally merging with my surroundings, I entertain the fairy-tale illusion of the speeding bicycle morphing into my galloping (Sagittarian) centaur self. Making my way along the covert course within the enchanted forest, it’s dark and cool, the breeze encircles my body, flowing through my mane as I inhale the rich earthly aroma. My innate biophilial instincts satiated, the mind silenced by the melodious birdsong, I drift away with the current of the creek…


 

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Indian Creek Trail beneath College Boulevard Bridge

This is my commute and more importantly imagination at play.  I avoid many of the exhaust ridden streets and travel 15 miles to work by bicycle via the parks and recreation trails from Midtown to Town Center.

I link together the trails of Mill Creek Park to the Trolley Track, and my favorite, Indian Creek Trail. On days I want a break from my zealous expedition however, whether it be extreme weather conditions or that I’m just wanting to read, I’ll take the KCATA bus #57 from the Country Club Plaza to 103rd and Wornall where I can access Indian Creek Trail behind the posh QT.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of riding this wooded trail, I highly suggest making a trip, there’s a mystical beauty to the forest that stirs the soul.

Check out this map of the Indian Creek Trail for more detailed information.