Bike Camping – Should I Be Scared?

I ended up in an Aerosoles shoe store today, someplace I haven’t been in years, and was pleased to discover their luscious fall collection. Merrell needs to take lessons for their bike heels from these!

Aerosoles Sweet Escape – not only are these luscious, the gold piping reminds me of my lovely reflective dress.

Aerosoles Role-By – love the two tone design with the snakeskin. So office perfect!

Aerosoles Temahawk – A flat I can actually wear, with a mini wedge heel. At last!

But I should be getting ready for my first ever bike camping weekend – am I in denial that this is what I’m actually doing this weekend? Am I so worried about it that I’ve completely blocked it from my mind?! Or maybe I’m too clueless to realize that I should be more concerned? (Or maybe just obsessed with shoes…)

This weekend is The Mechanic’s birthday, and he wants to bike the C&O Canal. We are going to start in Shepherdstown, WV, about 75 miles away from DC. We did the CASA River Ride in that area this spring, and have been looking for a chance to go back, so this is it. A small group of us will meet at the Bavarian Inn for lunch, then stroll around town, have an early dinner, then the kind friend who is loading our bikes in his truck will drop us off on the Canal, and abandon leave us.

Shepherdstown, WV, in May

We’ll camp the first night, bike about 50 miles the next day, then camp again and bike the remaining miles. It’s an easy ride, but I haven’t been camping in a few decades, and I have no idea how I will do. Cooking on a camp stove, baby wipes for a shower, unknown noises in the middle of the night… This will be a true test of our relationship.


Now this could be fun! Or scary.

I have no idea what to take, and don’t want to take too much. At least we won’t be out in the total wilds, so we can swing into towns along the way, if we need to. And I guess I’ll be off the grid for a while – I still haven’t found the perfect battery operated phone charger (why does everyone assume that you’ll be charging your phone in a car or from a laptop?! I guess I need one of those fancy solar-powered chargers). I’m taking the real camera though, so I should get some great pictures. And I’m taking my super huge bicycle poncho, just in case Hurricane Isaac makes his way here this weekend…

Ha ha ha – yep, I’ll feel like a dork in this! But if it keeps the water off me, I’m not complaining.

Anyone have any last minute suggestions or advice? If not, wish me luck, and look forward to stories later!

Looking downstream from Shepherdstown







Don’t Give Me a Girlie Bike!

To celebrate my 40th birthday this year (ulp!) and to set new cycling goals, I decided that I will aim for a century in late summer.  (For those of you who don’t know, a century is a 100-mile bike race.)  That means, of course, that not only do I need to train, a lot, I need a proper road bike.  And I can’t lie – doing the 30-mile group ride last summer made me lust for a bike with some speed, power, and is much lighter in weight that my current comfort bike!  So, The Mechanic and I have been doing some bicycle shopping over the last few weekends, and when we aren’t looking at the bikes in person, we are analyzing every possible option on assorted bicycle websites.

My first stop was the Revolution Cycles in Georgetown.  I wanted to go there specifically because of Katie, the general manager.  Katie is great – I first met her when I attended a “Ladies Night” at the Revolution Cycles in Clarendon, an evening of cycling information for women.  She also saw me ride during the Sunday morning group ride, and I was pleased when she complimented me on my ability to keep up with the beginner group on my heavy bike.  So I wanted her opinion on a bike.

The Mechanic and I already decided that I have a long torso, which will affect how I fit on a bicycle.  It’s all about geometry, but Katie pointed out that women have a different center of gravity than men, which has a lot to do with the way women’s bikes are constructed.  She had me try a Trek Lexa SLX in a 58cm size, pretty much the tallest bike size made for women.

The Trek Lexa SLX at Rev Cycles

Apparently there are only a few bicycle manufacturers who make women’s bikes bigger than a 56 – guess they assume taller women will buy a men’s? I did like the Lexa, and its matte white and gray paint job, but its $1349 price tag is really out of my $1000 estimated budget, not including pedals and shoes.

So then The Mechanic and I decided to look at REI for bikes, plus REI was having a big winter clearance, although not on the bikes.  I didn’t honestly expect to find a bike there a liked, but I did!  It’s a men’s bike, and I admit, it caught my eye because of its cool matte black finish.  (What’s with women’s bikes all being pastel and girlie?  I mean, I love my pink and silver comfort bike, but on a bike race, I want to feel aggressive and strong, and ice blue or lavender does not work for me!)  The bike is a Cannondale Synapse 6 Tiagra, and it’s only $1099.  I did look at some of the Cannondale women’s bikes, but I keep returning to this one.

The Cannondale Synapse 6 at REI

At REI one was set up on one of those indoor bike trainers so I could sit on it, click through the gears, and see how it felt, so although I haven’t done an actual test ride yet, I can say that it felt pretty comfortable.

Testing the Cannondale at REI

When we got home, we pulled up the Cannondale website and analyzed the geometry and specs – thankfully, luckily, The Mechanic is a pro and knows what to look at, or I would have bought it on the spot.  We also compared it to the women’s model, which, despite the girlie flourish on the paint job, comes in black and “berserker green” – I admit I find that appealing!

The Women's Cannondale Synapse with "Berseker" Green Detailing

By comparing 56cm on both the men’s and women’s, we determined that the men’s 56 should be fine for me, but I’ll see if I can test ride them both.  But I want the matte black one because it’s just COOL!  And the frame has these cool curves and swoops that just seem really unique, and since I love tailoring and unusual lines in clothing, there’s something about the lines of the frame that appeal to me as well. I think I will name it Donner, or Donnerwetter, which means thunder, or thunder weather, in German. After all, The Mechanic just bought a 2002 bright yellow Cannondale that he’s named Blitzen – lightening.

The Mechanic's New Bike Blitzen

Okay, maybe it’s schmaltzy, but I like the idea of Donner and Blitzen bikes!

Although I’m in love with Donner (I mean, the matte black men’s Cannondale), I want to shop around a bit more.  We already checked out a Scott at Big Wheel Bikes, and plan on checking out Hudson Trail Outfitters soon to see what they have.  I’d happily buy the Cannondale but feel that if I’m going to plop down $1000 or more, I need to really shop around.  So stay tuned to see what I come up with!

Here are some examples of women’s road bikes in “girlie” colors:

Scott Contessa in Pink

Novara Carema Bike in "Ice Blue"

Raleigh Capri, in white and blue

White seems to be a prevalent theme in women’s bikes.  Don’t they get dirtier faster?!  Then again, I also really love the Cannondale Bad Girl! But I”m probably not a good enough bike rider to look bad ass on this, so I’m probably safe from ever getting it!

The Cannondale Bad Girl