Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Electrified Part 2

     After several months of pedal assist riding, I have realized that there are several things to consider when purchasing one.  Just like a traditional bike, the proper choice of bike and accessories is very important to the enjoyment of your bike.

     There are quite a few manufactures of electric bikes at this time, and probably many more about to enter the market.  This many choices makes decision making difficult, but when you realize that the starting point for a quality electric bike should be at least $1500 (in my opinion), quite a few bikes can be eliminated from consideration.  It sounds like a lot, but a good quality bike will start at about $500. (again, my opinion).  A pedal assist bike also has a battery, motor, and charger, all adding to the cost.  The bike should have a stronger frame, wheelset, and better brakes than a regular bike. The extra weight and power of the bike makes these essential.

     Another consideration is service.  Any good mechanic can work on the bike.  But who can work on the battery or motor if issues arise?  Major brands will have parts and service availability; bikes bought from Amazon or big box retailers will not.   It is frustrating for both the customer and Orange Cycle when we are unable to work on a bike due to lack of support from the company.

     So you have a good quality bike.  Now comes the accessories to make it safer and more enjoyable.  First, a helmet should always be worn.  I believe that a helmet is essential for riding any bike., Second, a good lock is essential.  U locks are much more secure than cable locks, however they are heavier.. With a pedal assist bike I do not have a problem with the extra weight.  My bike has a rack and bag to load up on stuff when I am running errands.  My lock is always with me, and my bike is always there after I leave it outside a store or restaurant.  Third is a bike rack.  Not everyone realizes that the bike rack you use for your regular bike is probably not strong enough for the extra weight of an electric bike (or two).  A trunk mount rack or receiver style mast rack is not designed for that much weight,, and a lot of receiver hitch wheel tray racks are often rated at 40 lbs. per bike.  Check the weight capacity of your current rack before loading electric bikes.

     Orange Cycle carries several models of Specialized and Raleigh pedal assist bikes.  We have knowledgeable sales staff and incredible repair staff to help you.  Stop  in for a test ride.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Electrified Part 1

      I admit, one year ago I did not really believe in pedal assist bikes.   It took a ride on one while on vacation to change my ideas about these bikes.

      While on a trip, my wife (an admitted non-cyclist) and some friends rented some pedal assist bikes to explore the local paved trails of Hood River, Oregon.  Some of us were on regular bikes, but the ones on the electric bikes were having a blast going up the hills.   Sheila was hooked on riding.  I still had my doubts.

     Last fall we invested in a pedal assist bike for her.  After a lot of research and test rides, she found the bike she enjoyed the most.   Since then she rides on a regular basis, both just riding for exercise and also running local errands.   My problem was keeping up with her.  While I am a decent cyclist, it was frustrating to try to match her consistent 15 MPH over hills and into head winds.

     About 2 months ago I purchased a Specialized Como 3.0.  I am now a firm believer in pedal assist bikes.  Not only is it fun to just ride, it has taken the place of my car on many local trips. In the summer I do not run local errands on my bike-  by the time I get somewhere I am too sweaty to be presentable in public.  On an electric bike I cruise at 18 MPH (or more) with minimal effort, with a nice breeze cooling me.  I really feel that with some planning my wife and I could become a one car family. 

     I have had some cyclist friends give me grief about my new bike.  Everyone of them has a smile on their face after testing it- it makes you feel like Superman on a bike.  As Specialized says- It's you, only faster.  There are many advantages of the pedal assist bike.  One is it opens up cycling to a lot of people who would not otherwise ride.  Another is that is fantastic for commuting or local trips.  I can get from College Park to downtown Orlando or Winter Park in about the same time as in my car, and parking is never an issue.  The new bike is not replacing my regular rides; it is supplementing them.  

     If you have not ridden a pedal assist bike, stop by Orange Cycle and check out our selection of Specialized and Raleigh electric bikes.  You'll love the ride. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Orange Cycle: Hydration and Hindsight

Orange Cycle: Hydration and Hindsight: Several years ago while I was still living in the Show Me state a friend sent a text asking if I was going to participate in the Red Ribbon ...

Hydration and Hindsight

Several years ago while I was still living in the Show Me state a friend sent a text asking if I was going to participate in the Red Ribbon Ride.  I had been out of town, had literally just flown back the day I received the text and the ride was the next day.  Why not?  I hopped in my car, drove over to the APO (AIDS Project of the Ozarks) office, registered for 35 miles and even drove the route to make sure I wasn't getting in over my head.  It didn't appear to be a difficult course - rolling hills and one steep hill that might pose a challenge - but overall I felt confident.

Did I mention I had just gotten back into cycling?  Did I mention I forgot A LOT about what one needs for a long hilly ride?  Essential needs like, for instance, proper hydration?

I went home, aired my tires, checked over my bike, made sure I had a tube, filled up two bottles of water to take with me the next morning and went about my evening.

That night one of my best friends came over with a big bottle of wine.  I was decorating her son's wedding cake and she wanted to spend time with me and help.  Well . . . that bottle of wine went down pretty smoothly.  We laughed a lot, listened to music, talked and as it got later I insisted she stay in my guest room.

Early the next morning, RIDE morning, I rolled out of bed with a fuzzy head, got dressed, ate part of a peanut butter sandwich, drank a little water and headed out the door.  I heard my friend say "You're not going on that ride are you?" to which I replied, "Hell yeah!  I paid for it and I'm going!".

Oh.  Believe me.  Boy did I pay for it!

This was my very first organized ride and I had no clue what to do.  I never did see the person who had invited me to the ride.  Someone was nice enough to pin my number on the back of my jersey.  I didn't know any cyclists and didn't have a relationship with a local bike shop so I was there on my own.  Feeling a little nauseous.  Nerves I figured.

I knew enough to stay away from the front and stick to the rear.  Everyone rolled out and I waited until I was almost the very last one to leave.  As I turned to head up the first hill there was a pile up of cyclists who had crashed.  At least I wasn't one of them.  I pedaled up that hill and rode with a couple of gals for about 8 miles.  They were faster than me and soon took off.  No matter.  As long as I knew where to turn.

The first SAG stop was about 15 miles out.  I was beginning to feel the after effects of the wine from the night before.  At that point it was 15 miles back or 20 miles to finish the ride.  I decided to finish the ride.  I ate a banana and a spoonful of peanut butter, drank a little water and headed out again.

To make a long story short because I wasn't hydrating regularly throughout the ride I became more and more fatigued, my head hurt, I walked four hills, huffed, puffed, thought one of my lungs was going to collapse, cried and cursed myself for drinking wine the night before the ride and for not getting enough rest.  I was so under prepared and I didn't even know it until I was out on those roads, people passing me, some offering encouragement, some making light of a small incline that might as well have been a mountain.

Determined not to walk all the hills I took it slow, dropping into my granny gear to ride up one of the easier inclines, turned onto a farm road finally picking up speed, then had to slow down to round a corner and BAM!  The hill from hell.  I got halfway up, thought I was going to fall over, jerked my left foot off the pedal, managed to get off the bike, banged the pedal against my shin, cussed up a storm, cried a little more, pushed that bike to a driveway where I stopped to catch my breath and take a long drink of water.  I was thirstier than I could ever remember.  My legs were shaking and I felt alone, stupid and drained.

Finally I caught my second wind, got back on the bike, topped that hill and made it back to my car.  I leaned the bike against the trunk, opened the cap on my one of the water bottles and guzzled warm liquid.  Then my stomach cramped and I thought I was going to hurl.  I poured water on my neck, the insides of my wrists and elbows.  I felt like hell.  Finally I popped open the trunk, tucked my bike inside the car and walked over to get a BBQ sandwich and a beer.

As soon as I had my food and beer I walked over to a picnic table.  A guy who was sitting there looked me over and said "You know, cycling isn't a contact sport."  I took a look at my arms and legs.  I was dirty, battered and bruised.  My left shin had a gash that was bleeding (probably from the pedal ramming into it) and I have no idea where the bruises came from.  I ate half the sandwich, took a sip of the beer and ended chucking everything into the trash and going home.

I went home, napped, drank a ton of water, went to the wedding and cut out right after the couple cut the cake.

Where did things go wrong?  Let's see.  A. I had flown the day before and was dehydrated.  I didn't know how to properly hydrate after the flight.  B.  I drank wine the same night after flying - causing further dehydration and, to boot, before an event I had never done before. C.  I didn't get a good night's rest. D.  I didn't hydrate before the ride and waited until I was thirsty during the ride before I began drinking rather than drinking regularly throughout the ride to prevent further dehydration.  E.  I carried only water - no electrolytes and I didn't fill up on Gatorade, oranges or pickle juice at the SAG stop.  F.  I didn't carry nutrition and didn't eat enough before starting the ride (I thought that half PBJ would get me through the ride).

Hindsight is 20-20.  I learned from my mistakes.  I never wanted to feel like that again.  I researched hydration, natural electrolytes, how to properly prepare for a ride - the Do's and Don'ts.  How to PRE hydrate, how often to drink DURING (every 15-20 minutes you should be drinking) the ride and how much AFTER the ride.  Hydrate the day before, even TWO days before.  How not to OVER hydrate.  I also acquainted myself with a local bike shop where I quizzed those guys brains for information.  A good bike shop will have employees who not only offer awesome services (bike sales, parts, maintenance, clothing and nutrition) but offer advice and expertise.  ASK for help! 

We are entering into 6 months of summer in Central Florida.  Beginners have trouble balancing hydration and nutrition as they begin to extend the time, distance and pace of their rides.  Even more experienced cyclists have problems in our humid, searing heat. The best piece of advice I can offer is to prepare.  Train for those long rides.  Ask fellow cyclists for advice and information.  Try different things BEFORE you ride to make sure something new agrees with your stomach.  The day of a long ride is not the time to try something new.

I like to prepare the day before a long ride by drinking a mix of coconut water mixed with filtered water, a squeeze of an entire lemon or lime, a little magnesium and a dash of salt.  Sometimes I carry this mix with me while I'm riding or I use EFS (Electrolyte Fuel System) or Hammer HEED (Hydrating Energy Electrolyte Drink).  I carry one bottle with electrolytes and one bottle of water.  I also carry energy gels like GU, or Hammer, Clif Blocks or Honey Stinger chews & waffles.  I usually carry a few extra gels and a little electrolyte powder for the newbies who think they don't need anything special for longer rides.  They do.

If you're not drinking every 15-20 minutes (for most people - I know some people who don't drink very often and I don't know how they do it) chances are you are going to dehydrate and lose energy quickly.  Plan your rides and your drinks accordingly.

It's important to remember to continue to hydrate after your ride.  Whether it's more EFS, Hammer Recovery or coconut water, your body needs to replenish electrolytes so make sure you treat yourself kindly.  You won't regret it.  Trust me on this.  ;-)  Oh.  And do yourself a favor and skip that bottle of wine with a friend until after the ride.  In retrospect I can laugh at that experience but it could have turned into a serious situation.  I realized that and educated myself.

'Til next time!
Keep riding!


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Rolling Down West Orange Trail - Part I

Recently I was supposed to meet up with a new gal in my ladies bike group who also moved here from my hometown of Springfield, MO.  As luck would have it she got stuck in marathon foot traffic in Celebration (seriously and literally) and couldn't make it in time for our scheduled 9:00AM ride.  I was in route and at a stop light when I saw her message.  No problem.  I love riding solo and decided to continue out to the West Orange Trailhead behind the Buddhist Temple to log a few miles.

Sometimes the mind messes with a person.  At first I planned to ride 25 miles, then thought, maybe 10 or 15 miles.  It had been a long time since I had been on my road bike and though I had a good breakfast, a little coffee, was well rested and felt great, I began to sabotage myself.  So I decided to shoot for Chapin Station.  And so began my ride.

First of all, West Orange Trail is one of my favorite Trails in Central Florida.  One can ride a few miles or a lot of miles.  I planned on taking it slow and easy since I was on my time and didn't have any particular place to go.  Enjoy the scenery, check out a new neighborhood and take some pictures.  If I felt like riding past Chapin Station then I would ride on to Winter Garden.  If I felt like riding past Winter Garden I would ride to Oakland and check out the Watusi at Briley Farm.  Once you make it to Briley Farm, whether or not you get to see the watusi, ostriches, zebras, peacocks and so many other animals, it's a given to head on to Killarney Station.  Here's link to Briley Farm:

After deciding to leave the jacket behind I dropped my water bottles into the cages, checked to make sure I had energy chews and a couple of gels, put my ID and funds into my cell phone case and rolled out of the park.  There was a nice breeze, the temperature was perfect, my lungs filled with fresh air, my attitude was stellar and stretching my legs as I pedaled felt fantastic.

The following day my oldest daughter was scheduled to have her labor induced.  My thoughts were charged with anticipation.  She was scared and I was feeling a little anxious wondering how to soothe her.  She was the first person to introduce me to West Orange Trail.  Back in 2003 or 2004, when running was wrecking my knees it was my oldest daughter who brought me back to cycling.  I recalled that first 10 miles.  5 miles out and back.  Going down hill was great!  Not knowing how to shift gears sucked and so did the minor ascents that left me feeling out of breath.

I detoured into a new neighborhood, rolling from one end to the other, then went back to the trail and crossed Ingram Outpost (parking area), deciding to go on to Chapin Station.  Just past Ingram you'll curve along a golf course, a wooded area, a cemetery, down a fairly steep hill (remember - you have to climb back up it but the trip down going fast is exhilarating!).  There's a water station just before the cross walk so you can stop and fill up your water bottle if needed.  You'll pass a school that has cattle and a garden, cross a wooden bridge, climb a slight hill, cross a street and BOOM!  You'll arrive at Chapin Station!

I love the little park there and the sculpture of two kids riding their bikes and a little dog running beside the older girl.  You can park your bike outside the brick footpath, walk back to a little man made pond, sit under the gazebo if you like, listen to water spilling into the pond from one of the egret sculptures and enjoy the foliage.  It's peaceful.  Enlightening.  Path of Light.

There is also a restroom at Chapin Station, a place to lock your bike in front of the building, I have no idea what's inside the building - I don't believe it has ever been open when I'm there.  It's a nice place to take a break and take pictures though as well as chat with fellow cyclists if you're so inclined.

I walked down the path, snapped some photos, strategically placed Rosie (my ride) for photo opportunities, waved at four cyclists as they pulled up to park and talk, having already decided as I pedaled that my next stop would be Winter Garden.

West Orange Trail is such a pleasant ride.  I couldn't help but smile and as I rode past a little industrial area I flashed back to my daughter and I riding together, darting past chickens that clucked and took over the path, laughing at the fact there were even chickens there!  They're gone now, but the memory of them lives on.

Onward to Winter Garden.  I LOVE Winter Garden!  Down a hill, cross the road with care, up a hill that runs behind another neighborhood, crossing another wood bridge (danger alert on foggy mornings or rain!) and onto Winter Garden Station. Winter Garden Station had signs up that the path was blocked (I presumed from fallen trees thanks to Hurricane Irma) so I rolled cautiously past the signs but no downed trees or danger.  The bike rental shop was open, there's plenty of parking, a beautiful playground, restrooms and water fountains.

Plant Street is the hub of Winter Garden.  The bike path runs down the middle, there are coffee shops, restaurants, an ice cream shop, a bike shop, a theatre and a brewery connected to an artisan market.  Plus piped in music along the path.  Super cool area.  On Saturday they have a farmer's market.  Beware if you're riding through on a Saturday though as you can't ride your bike on the trail or Plant Street due to the tents and customers perusing the wares.

If you want to know more about the bright yellow caboose and the Heritage Museum click this link or stop by and check it out in person!

By now it's a given I'm going to continue to Oakland to see the watusi and on to Killarney Station.  Oakland is about 2. 5 miles from Winter Garden and from there another 2.5 miles to Killarney.  Riding along the trail, which now has a new housing development marking the path, I check out the houses, stop to take a photo of the gator carved into a tree stump, look for the gator that used to live in the area, and pedal on to see if the watusi are grazing.

SCORE!  To this day it still blows me away that there is a cool farm that has watusi, ostriches, zebras and peacocks.  I don't care who I'm riding with, if any of the above named animals are out, I will stop and take pictures.  I'll either catch up with the group or enjoy the rest of the ride solo.  On this day there was one lone watusi grazing.  I didn't get very good pictures but if you look closely you can see him.

The sight of the watusi had me grinning ear to ear.  I hopped back on my bike, pleased with myself for deciding to ride and snap photos along the way and at my own pace on my own time.  No particular place to go and no particular time that I had to be anywhere.  Bike rides like that are some of the best and most relaxing.

There's a water fountain at Oakland station and a metal bike sculpture.  It's a quiet little park and unlike many other areas of the trail, hasn't been blown up by development.  I snapped a photo of the sculpture and continued to my final destination where I would turn around for the return ride.

I thought back to the first couple of times I rode this trail, huffing and puffing up the incline that runs along the backside of a neighborhood that leads to crossing the bridge to Killarney Station.  My daughter would stop at the top and cheer me on, other cyclists would ride alongside and encourage me, sometimes I cursed that hill.  I always got to the top, never walked it and rode across that bridge feeling like a kid again and that I had accomplished something.  Thinking about these things make me smile.  :-)

As I rolled into Killarney Station a family of five or six were getting ready to roll out on their rented bikes.  A grandma, mom and three or four teens.  I love when families turn cycling into time together on a bike adventure.  I snapped another photo of Rosie, looked for people I might know, people watched for a few minutes and back in the far stretches of my mind recalled one time riding clipped in and forgot to unclip when I came to a stop.  I fell over into the grass in front of a group of women.  I wasn't hurt but my ego was bruised.  haha!

If you're new to the area, or want to take visitors or family on West Orange Trail you have two choices for rentals.  Killarney Station rents bikes and Winter Garden Station also has a bike rental shop which is run by Winter Garden Wheel Works.  Bottled water and nutrition is available inside both buildings and restroom facilities are available on the exterior of both buildings. 

There is so much more to share from my return and this blog has gotten a bit lengthy so I'll save the return travel for Part II.  Stay tuned!

'Til next time - Keep Riding! 

- Dottie

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


Like anyone else sometimes I do a lot of thinking when on a bike ride and sometimes I dump a lot of clutter out of my head.  Most mornings I hook up my dog Max to his leash, push my mountain bike out the door, I walk him to the end of the driveway and then we head off on a 2 or 3 mile run (he runs and I ride).

A couple of days ago on our morning outing I started thinking about the sense of freedom bike riding gives me.  I don't remember learning how to ride a bike, I just remember being in 3rd grade and sharing a bike with my older siblings.  Sometimes my brother would be the captain sitting on the banana seat, I'd sit on the handlebars and my sister would sit on the sissy seat on the rear, or she and I would swap places.  I'm still not sure how we survived those days, three kids on a bike, no helmets, flying down the hill from our house in Belton, MO going as fast as that bike would take us.

I don't remember anyone helping me balance myself on the bike, learning how to pedal or use the brake.  If anyone it would have been my brother.  What I do remember is the first time I cruised in front of our house, going just a few houses in either direction, riding in circles.  And I recall sitting on the bike at the top of our hill, surmising making that run down the hill by myself and riding back up.  With three of us on the bike my sister and I would have to get off and walk up the hill while our brother rode the bike free of the extra weight.  Oh how I envied him!  I pushed off and rolled faster and faster and faster, the wind cooling my face and blowing my short curly hair into impossible tangles and I didn't care.  I pedaled as hard and fast as I could go, down the hill and halfway up the next hill.  I had just experienced my first taste of freedom, escaped from our hill, nobody bossing me around or telling me to get off the bike or change seats.  I triumphantly turned around and rode back, slowing almost to a dead stop as I huffed and puffed back up our street.  Still - I did it and even though I gasped for air, made it to the top and back into our drive.

Fast forward several years later to the summer before my senior year in high school.  I saved my money and bought a 10 speed Schwinn from K-Mart.  My parents had moved from 5 acres outside a small farm town in Southwest Missouri into an apartment in Springfield.  Mom worked early shifts at a nursing home and Dad had retired.  I had to have a means of transportation otherwise I would have to walk a couple of miles to school.  Buying a bike solved the problem.  I rode that bike all summer long and I rode everywhere.  Once again I had regained my freedom and it was deliciously exhilarating.  The same feeling that embraced me in 3rd grade was back and it was better than ever!  I rode my bike to and from school every day.  It was an icebreaker for conversation with a fellow named Bruce who was in my business math class.  And when a chick who decided to duck out of school for the day backed into me as she pulled out of her spot in the parking lot, leaving me banged up and bruised, it was Bruce who carried my books to classes for the week following while I carried a pillow for my bruised caboose.

I'm not sure what happened to that bike after my mid 20's.  I rode it around town a few times with my long locks flowing behind me, usually gasping to catch my breath and suddenly more than aware of an uncomfortable seat.

Years went by, I had three children, worked a stressful job, had gained a lot of weight and I had taken up running.  It was killing me.  After an incident with my new rescue dog wrapping his leash around my legs as he lunged after my black kitty who decided to go on a midnight walk with us, sending me crashing to the ground on my knees I could no longer run without intense pain and swelling.

My oldest daughter who was now married suggested I go bike riding with her.  I could ride her mountain bike and she would ride her road bike.  By the way, she is 5'6" and I barely hit 5'2".  You see where this is going, right???

Our first time out, me being a complete novice, we rode 10 miles.  Me on Honorable Daughter #1's mountain bike and she whizzing along on her road bike.  It was tough.  I grumbled.  I huffed.  I puffed.  I worked HARD!  My butt hurt and I wanted to cry.  But I was proud of myself for riding 10 miles so I agreed to go again.  I wasn't feeling the love and the freedom I felt in 3rd grade and 12th grade. This was much harder work than I remembered.  Somehow my daughter convinced me to keep trying.

Finally I decided to buy my own bike.  I wasn't sure what I wanted.  I just knew I didn't want a mountain bike.  I wanted to be fast like my daughter but I wasn't sure I wanted to commit to the price of a road bike (and it looked daunting) so I settled on a hybrid with front suspension.  I rode it a couple of times then took it to a friend's house and asked him to swap out the heavy tires and put road tires on it.  I rode it, took it to Cady Way Trail and would meet my daughter at her house near West Orange Trail in Apopka where I became a weekend warrior.  I was rediscovering that sense of freedom and relishing the rides.

About six months into riding the hybrid I had a particularly trying weekend.  Personal issues that left me with a sense of betrayal and emotional upheaval.  My daughter and her husband came over late Saturday afternoon, she told me to close my eyes, and when she told me to open them there before me was the new love of my life.  A beautiful purple Specialized Dolce!  I couldn't believe it!  I couldn't believe they would give me such a wonderful, splendid, gorgeous and expensive gift.  I burst into tears.  Tears of joy, gratitude and release of the huge frustration that had been weighing heavily on me.

That bike saved my life and that is no joke.  I found freedom again only I didn't let the wind blow through my hair because I now wore a helmet.  My bum no longer hurt because in addition to being gifted this amazing bike I was also given a couple pair of chamois shorts and cute jerseys.  There was no choice of going with flat pedals.  My son-in-law put his SPD pedals on the bike so off we went to a bike shop to purchase shoes.  He even gave me his CatEye computer.  I was set to go!

On the bike I could declutter my mind, push myself harder to overcome stresses and challenges.  Sure I crashed with the new pedals and it made me a more mindful cyclist.

Three years after receiving the bike I took a job in Missouri, packed up my house and left on a new journey.  Both bikes hung in the garage for a couple of years.  Once in awhile I took one down and rode, but not with the passion I had previously enjoyed.

When winter settled in I hung up the bikes again.  A few years later after meeting someone I pulled the hybrid out and started riding it.  Then I started riding it with gusto.  Then with determination.  10 miles, 12 miles, 18 miles, 22 miles and the first time I hit 30 miles, Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

A few months later I was invited to join a "secret" bike group.  By this time I had pulled Stevie, my Specialized Dolce, started riding her again, taught myself to climb hills, rode solo for hundreds of miles on country farm roads.  I even got lost a few times and thanks to a somewhat good sense of direction found my way back to my starting point.  The bike group though.  Wow!  I loved them (I STILL love them) as we began new adventures and journeys together.

Funny how you can think about so much while out on a bike ride.  I won't lie - I thought about these things over the course of several hours and more so when putting it to written word.  Tomorrow while running Max I'll probably think of more things.  Typical.

'Til next time ~  get on your bike and ride!  Find your self, your freedom, your inner kid.

~ Dottie