Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday Tradition

I usually try to go mountain biking on Christmas. It was much easier to do when I lived on the west coast (friendlier weather, fewer family obligations). This year, I wasn't near any good single track, and had a bunch of family obligations, but I still managed to get out for a bit. I grew up near Acadia National Park. There isn't any 'mountain biking' there but there are 'carriage roads'. I wouldn't say the carriage roads are fun, if you're expecting single track. They're dirt roads. Unless they're covered in snow... Oh man. Definitely challenging. And fun. And totally deserted. Which is perfect if you need a little break from all of the holiday cheer.

Eagle Lake



Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Redundant? I know. I'm trying to be thorough. Too much?

Long short story

I often get asked how I got into this. Bike shops. It's a long short story.

It all started in 1996...

At Southwest Cycle- I was the shop kid, during summers and school vacations. I fixed a lot of flat tires, built a lot of bikes, inspected a lot of rental bikes, and installed bike racks on rental cars.

I graduated college, got a 'real job' and hated it. I went to UBI as a fun, nerdy break from working (I think it's called a 'vacation'), and knew I wanted back in.

Next was a summer at Cycle Mania- I worked as a mechanic, spent some time working with the shop's road racing team (cat 1, 2). Then the summer was up and so was that job.

I was lured to Eugene, OR for a full-time, year-round job at Paul's Bicycle Way of Life (PBWOL, or "peeb-wall")- Lead wrenching there, I worked on lots of mountain bikes, commuter bikes, burning man bikes, Oregon Country Fair bikes and more commuter bikes. I was also given the opportunity to teach bike maintenance classes at the University of Oregon (go Ducks!). That was wicked fun.

Then a move to Portland, OR to manage Veloshop- cyclocross, cyclocross, cyclocross, and commuter bikes, and lots of fixed gears. And good coffee.

Then a jump across town for a couple of months at Bike n' Hike, for an education about how a hugely successful, multi-million dollar bike shop works. Somewhere between Veloshop and Bike n' Hike the idea for Hub Bicycle Co was born. My desire to return to the east coast, and to Boston in particular, finally overcame my love for food carts and bird art.

Hub Bicycle was born on paper in the fall of 2009 and the doors opened February 1, 2010.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hanging it up for the season?


Is this weather making you finally think about putting your bike away for the season? It's ok. I won't judge. I promised I write a little something about this very subject. So here you go.

Here are my recommendations:

Mrs. Gilmore was right. I would use 7th grade math in real life one day.

Storing your bike is much more simple than storing your yacht. Really you only need to do one thing- protect it from the weather. The chain has the potential to suffer the most, so I like to hit it with some chain lube, just to provide one more barrier between all of those moving parts and the weather. If your bike's inside you don't need to use anything heavy, but it's still good policy to give it a little love, so things move more easily in the spring. Cover the chain and cover the bike. If it's inside then you're covering it with a building, so that's good. If it's outside, cover it with a tarp or one of these babies (don't worry about the ridiculous name...):

It's bike shaped!

ALL bikes will have soft tires if left for a couple of months. Don't worry, they're (probably) not flat, just pump them back up. Here's a note about bringing your bike in to the shop in the spring. Your bike might not need anything. It might it in perfect shape (if you've taken care to store it with love) or it might have really suffered in the elements (if you don't have climate controlled bike storage you have to park it where you can park it with love). If you're a home mechanic, and you like to maintain your bike, you know what to look for. If not, bring it in for a check up. A lot can happen in a couple of months- chains and cables corrode, water sneaks in and rusts bearings, things get creaky. I'm only advocating for a complete overhaul if you actually need it. It's important to do at least a little regular maintenance to keep your bike rolling.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bundle up.

The weather's been great for bike riding! Ok... it depends on how you define great. I say the roads are clear, and the sun's out, so that's pretty great. Yes, it's been super cold, but that's what clothes are for. Boston Biker has a great write up of winter wear.

In my humble opinion, layers are key. You're going to create enough heat just by riding. You're the engine. The trick is to hang on to some of that heat. Your two main enemies are wind and water- each are going to try their best to steal that heat. Layers are good because you can adjust how much protection as the weather changes. And it does, often.

I had an extended (ten mile) commute from work on Tuesday night (I was supposed to have a ten mile commute into work on Weds, but I had a flat and nothing to fix it with... it's a long story). Remember tuesday? It was super cold, but I was A-ok. Here's what I wore head to toe: Helmet, hat, scarf, rain coat (wind and water protection), hoodie, long sleeve, short sleeve, wool gloves, lobster mitts, pants, long johns, socks, plastic baggies*, shoes. And a backpack to carry all that gear. It should be noted that none of my stuff is fancy. Don't let the thought of acquiring gear scare you away from winter riding. Other than my lobster mitts, I didn't get any of it specifically for winter cycling. Just dig out all of those wools and synthetics you already have in your New England closet.

*Plastic baggies work well for me for a few of reasons. 1) My bikes shoes aren't roomy enough to fit two pairs of socks. 2) Plastic is water/wind proof. 3) Good use for those bags you had to take that time you forgot your reusables. 4) They're light, cheap, and have multiple uses (seat cover, soggy sock carrier, etc.).

And be sure to check this out.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hub Hiatus

We're taking a winter break. The shop will be closed at 3pm on Friday, December 24, and will return for regular shop hours on Monday, January 24.

Why the long break? Well, the first couple of weeks will be spent hanging out with family (see fig. A), and going on cold bike rides. You know, relaxing, recharging, etc. The next couple of weeks (Jan 8-22) will be spent on shop improvements. Expect to see a cleaner, more efficient Hub interior in 2011. We'll be available by appointment during that time. Need a repair? Contact us by email

fig. A- family member/future helmet model

Bikes on the Radio

We listen to a lot of NPR in here. WBUR to be exact. I like the variety of topics- I feel like if I ever form a Hub Bicycle Pub Quiz Team, I'll be better prepared. I also like when bikes find their way into the programs. I like that Radio Boston host Sacha Pfeiffer talks about being a bicycle commuter, for example. Well much to my pleasant surprise, this past Friday part of the show was dedicated to bike issues around Boston. As much as I disagree with some of the opposing viewpoints (roads were not designed for cars, Boston is not a city for cars) it's good to hear it. I'm grateful that Shane Jordan (of spoke very well on behalf of Boston's bikers.

Take a listen for yourself here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Where was I?

Last week Charlie was holding it down here at Hub without me. Where was I? At the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. No joke. See?

That's a Huey Lewis and the News button in the upper left. Also not a joke.

I was there to become a USA Cycling Licensed Race Mechanic. And boy, oh boy, did I. Four days of intense bicycle knowledge and nerdiness. I learned a bunch about bicycle race support, and about the racing industry in general. What does this mean for Hub Bicycle Company? Well, first I've padded out my mechanic bag of tricks with some new skills. In addition to the 11(ish) instructors, all captains of the bicycle industry, there were 59 other students, who all had experience to share. I really believe that we, in bike shops, become that terrible bike shop stereotype (you know the one... snobby, rude, condescending, mustachioed) when we think we know it all. We don't. It's important to check that ego at the door and see if someone has a better way of doing things. I learned a more efficient way of gluing tubular tires, and how to do pro-style wheel changes, and about the latest and greatest in bike tech, among many other things. A great (extra) long weekend for a lady who loves bikes and learning, but now it's time to put those new skills to work.

Oh, and I got to go on a tour of the velodrome. If you get a chance to visit a track, you should. I'm always startled to see how steep the banks really are. They look scarier in real life. Also, it's nice to know that some track bikes actually do get used on a track.

7-Eleven Velodrome

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Holiday gift giving

You have a bike nerdy friend/family member/sig. other/frenemy/boss/secret gift giving recipient who needs some stuff. Bike folks can be hard to find a gift for, because there are lots of different types (commuters, recreational roadies, charity riders, randonneurs, competitive roadies XC mountain bikers, all-mountain mountain bikers, cyclocrossers, vintage aficionados, and so on...), so how do you know what to get them? Don't worry, here are a few suggestions, broken down by category, that are reasonably priced, practical (two of my favorite things) and are good for all types:

Cleaning and fixing:

All bikes get dirty and need some maintenance. If your cyclist is particular about the cleanliness of his/her bike, you know, a type-A type (I'm talking about roadies...) then bike cleaning brushes would be an especially thoughtful gift. We've got a few sets here, each with different brushes for getting at different greasy parts, gears and whatnot. $20-ish.

If you've ever gotten a phone call that goes something like, "Oh hey, are you busy? I was out on a ride and I got a flat. I was wondering if you'd come pick me up..." You might think about gifting a flat fix bottle. It's everything you (or someone else) needs to fix a flat out on the road- patch kit, tire levers, presta adapter, CO2 inflator and cartriges all in a water bottle! Then you can say, "No, I'm not busy. But remember that present I got you?" $20

Multi tools are always a fine choice for folks who like to make their own adjustments. From the basic allen wrench set, to a super set complete with torx wrench and chain tool $14 to 35-ish

Lava soap is always a nice stocking stuffer for any hands-on bike cleaner, flat fixer, or home mechanic. Your regular soap just won't cut it for bike grease. You can pick it up at almost any grocery store for a couple of bucks.

Beverage accessories:

I worked with a guy (a real surly mechanic type) who claimed he only drank 3 liquids: coffee, water and beer. That's a theme you see run through the world of bicycles.

Coffee- I like the PDW Bar-ista. It attaches to your (or someone elses) handle bar, and holds a standard coffee-shop-coffee-cup steady with a little layer of foam rubbery stuff. Simple and slick. $20

Water- Most cyclists can never have too many H2O bottles. Just like they can never have too many pairs of cycling socks. Both of these humble cycling necessities take a beating, get neglected, and end up smelling like feet. Get 'em a fresh one. $5

Beer- If you want to drink a beer from a bottle, you (or someone else) needs to open it. There are approximately 8,293 different bicycle related bottle openers available. You could open your beer with this little guy, made locally from 100% recycled stuff- even the packaging. $7

Gift Certificates:

When in doubt, a gift certificate always works. Available in what ever amount coincides with how much you like your gift receiver. Now through December 24th all gift certificates come with a free(!) Hub Bicycle Co. water bottle (see above: Beverage accessories> Water), for creative gift delivery.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Angry Skeletons

The most frequently asked question I get this time of year is "What should I do to get my bike ready for winter?" To which I usually respond, "Are you going to ride through the winter?" Let's pretend you just answered, "Yes." (Check here about tucking your bike in for a long winter's nap). Cool, so you're going to brave the winter. Good choice. What you need is chain lube.

A neglected chain sounds to me like an angry metal skeleton chasing you down the road. That sound hurts my heart. Not only does it sound angry, it also wears out faster. What causes a chain to sound like that? The short answer is winter. With it's rain/sleet/slush/snow/salt/sand and whatnot.

Lubing your chain is the best and easiest maintenance you can perform to keep your ride rolling through the winter. You have to think moderation here- too little is not good, and too much is not good. Here's how I do it:

1. Drip chain lube along the inside of the chain as you backpedal the crank with your other hand to coat the whole chain.

2. After you've coated the chain, continue to backpedal for a while (20 seconds-ish?) to let the lube work its way into the chain.

3. Wipe off the extra with a rag. You just want it on the inside of the parts where the friction happens. Lube on the outside will attract dirt, which wears things out faster, which defeats one of the points of this exercise.

See that junk on the rag? Not only did you lubricate, but you also cleaned it. A twofer!

What kind of lube should you use? Good question. There are plenty of choices, and I bet if you asked 10 bike mechanics what their favorite is, you'd get 10 different answers. My favorite is Boeshield T-9 (or just "T-9" to its friends...). I like it because it's light, and clean so it doesn't attract a bunch of junk. It's also good for lubing cables/housing, and flushing out various moving parts (shifters, derailleurs, whathaveyou...). It's even good for non-bike things. Like this little guy I fixed today:

I also like Tri Flow. It's a little heavier, but still pretty clean. The original stuff smells vaguely of bananas. It's the smell of my first real job...oh, the good ol' days. The thing about these lighter chain lubes is that you need to apply them more often. Hear those angry birds again? Get caught in a rain/sleet/snow storm? Time to reapply!

Alright folks, Charlie and I are off on adventures next week, so we'll see you on the 27th. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I've been able to ride my bike! I mean, between the cool weather slowing things down in the shop, and Charlie helping out, I've had a little room in my schedule for mountain biking. And because bike mechanics are like swimming sharks- if we don't have a bike project going, we'll die, I've put together another bike for my newly acquired trail time. It's not a new bike, per se, it's been re-purposed from other bikes and parts. You know, like recycling. I'm being very green about my project bikes.

Big wheels. Tiny, adorable dog.

Why didn't I set up this bike for off road riding in the first place? Oh, I don't know... I had a bunch of dumb excuses. I wasn't sure that a 29er would be a good fit for a short-ish gal (although, technically I'm taller than the average woman). 29ers are getting to be popular, and I'm anti-popular (scarring left over from being named in the top three of the middle school 'dork list'). The frame I had is on the heavy side (and in my humble opinion, on the ugly side). I'm trying really hard to eliminate bike purpose overlap in my collection- I already have a single speed mountain bike. You know, excuses, excuses. I really like riding a single speed off road, but my 26" rigid bike, is a little rough to ride on my favorite trails around here. Well, it was one of those really rough rides that motivated me to try out the 29er.

So what's the verdict? I really, really like it! All of the things in the 29er 'pro' column are true. Better traction? Yes. Better at tackling obstacles? Definitely, even without suspension, I noticed this right away. Higher bottom bracket? Yes, very enjoyable. What you find in the 29er 'con' column (like increased rotating mass of the larger wheels slowing things down) has to do mostly with speed and weight of the bike. I'm not fast, and the frame/fork aren't light to begin with, so those drawbacks don't bother me. I haven't taken it out to any super technical trails yet, but so far I don't have any complaints about how it handles in tight, twisty stuff. Overall- two thumbs up. It looks like I'm going to have to re-purpose my other SS MTB... Oh well, it's good to have a project going.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Fells are for everyone.

The Middlesex Fells are used by all types of folks. Walkers, hikers, bikers, dog walkers... It's a great resource for all kinds of activities. Mountain bikers have gotten the shorter end of the stick here- fire roads are alright, but single track would be more fun. There are plenty of trails for sharing, but groups like the Friends of the Fells have kept the good stuff for themselves. They falsely believe that biking on trails has a different (worse) impact on the environment. So for a bazillion years things have been unequal and unfair. Now the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has a new draft trail plan that brings things closer to fair. Closer to fair and equal rights, responsiblities, and expectations for all user groups.

The plan calls for better signage, more shared use trails, and a different winter closure plan among other changes. If you'd like to read the full draft plan you can get the PDF here.

The draft plan is a draft, that can and will be changed based on public comments. It's important that the DCR receives comments in support of the plan.

Want to show your support for the pro-mountain bike/pro-equal access parts of the current plan for the Fells? The fine folks at the Greater Boston chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association (GB NEMBA) have made it sooo easy for you (the public comment period ends on Nov 19th, so get on it!):

I could go on about how important it is to make sure all users have equal access and participate equally in responsible trail maintenance... If you want to learn more about the good work being done by GB NEMBA in the Fells, and elsewhere check the website. It's a great resource. And, finally, here is a picture of a turtle I met in the Fells last fall:

She/He's pro-MTB.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's dark out there.

I've mentioned a bit about lights before. They're important, and they're about to get more important as we sink into the darkness as Daylight Savings is over (remember to 'fall back' this weekend). Let's talk about rear blinky lights today.

Why is it important to have a rear light? The shortest answer is, so that you don't get run over. If drivers know where you are, they know not to be driving in that spot (I would hope). The longer answer includes that it's the law and it's your responsibility. There are lots of blinky options out there. Rear lights are red, just like in motor vehicles.

The Planet Bike Superflash has been the gold standard in rear blinkies, in my humble opinion. That 1/2 watt strobe is retina searing (in a good way), even in the day time. I've had one clipped to my backpack for a good long time now.

Despite my love for the Superflash I'm pretty excited about the Danger Zone, from the fine fellows at Portland Design Works. It's not your average blinky. Here, watch this video(pay no attention to the man without(!) a helmet). The idea is that a constant blinking pattern gets lost in a light heavy environment, like a city, and that by making the blinking pattern crazier (slow/pulsing & fast/strobe-y) it'll catch human (drivers, peds, other cyclists) attention better.

Want something a little sneakier? The Planet Bike Spok is just a little guy that attaches to your bike (or helmet, even) via velcro strap. Here's where Charlie likes to put his:

When it's not turned on, you don't even know it's there. It's a nice way to have a light on your bike when you don't want to take it with you, but you also don't want it stolen. It's a single LED, so it won't knock your socks off, like the other two, but it gets the job done. All three of these a solid mode, but I only ever use the blinking modes, so they won't get lost in the city landscape.

Pretty soon some (many?) of you will leave for and return from work in the dark. I'm sorry about that. It is kind of a bummer, but it's no reason to stop riding your bike. Just grab some lights. No matter which blinky you choose, it's just important that you use one.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Too many bikes -or- This bike is for sale.

Oh man. I just realized that my last post was also about selling stuff. Sorry. Next one will be about not being a bike ninja/ bike lights, I promise (Timely, because of daylight savings. Get it?).

On to the bike for sale... I have too many bikes. There I said it. And like a parent who's just realized she has too many kids, I've been really struggling with the idea of removing one from the collection (No. I know it's nothing like that...). People often ask me 'why have more than one bike?' My short answer is that bikes are like shoes. You can't wear ballet shoes hiking, and you can't dance ballet in hiking boots. If you want to do both, you probably should have two pairs of shoes. And there's no ultimate shoe- one you can wear for work, hiking, playing basketball, white water kayaking, clogging, and black tie parties. Sometimes you make one pair work in a couple different situations (hiking and playing basketball?), but sometimes you just need the right shoe for the job. And sometimes you realize you have too many shoes for the same job. Or just too many shoes. So enough about me trying to justify too many bikes...

I have more than one commuter bike. So it's time I set one free to find a new home. Here he/she/it is:

It's a 17" (or medium, if you prefer) Specialized Hardrock frame, in weathered red. The highlights include, but are not limited to, a new Sturmey Archer S2C (C is for coaster brake) 2 speed kickback hub(!) hand built rear wheel, street tires, a red/black color scheme, front brake & coaster brake for safety, and cool BMX pedals that have a great back story (story is free with purchase).

Actually the story is really about the guy I got them from...

And if you've never tried a 2 speed, come check it out. It keeps the bike nice and simple for around riding around town, just like a single speed (it even looks like a single speed to the untrained eye), but gives you a nice bail out gear for hills.

All this can be yours for $275. Stop in, call, or email if you have any questions.

I only hope I can find a good home for it soon, before I convince myself to keep it.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mountain Bike Tire SALE!

Tires are priced to compete with the *ahem* internet AND you get an extra 20% off if you buy a pair (they don't even have to match).

Some of these tires were caught in a little springtime flood, so their packaging got damaged. And their price reflects that. Thankfully the tires themselves are made of rubber and not cardboard, so they're still good.
Some of them were not in the flood, and they're still on sale.

Maxxis, WTB, Hutchinson, Ritchey. Good stuff. Oh, and they're all 26" (sorry 29ers...). Come in and check them out.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I know it's early, but I wanted to give you plenty of warning. Hub Bicycle will be closed on Saturday, November 22 and will re-open on Saturday, November 27.

We (No longer the corporate we! If you haven't had a chance stop in and meet Charlie, he works here now and he's a good guy) are going to be on some Thanksgiving adventures.

I'll remind you again as it gets closer.

Monday, October 25, 2010


I got my best result of the season in Washington DC this weekend! 39 out of 46 finishers. If I can continue the trend of moving up 2-3 places each race, I'll only need 4-5 more months of 'cross to win one...

Why would I travel all the way to DC when there were some really decent races happening in New England? I like a good road trip. And it gave me a chance to visit my dear friend Seeb*. I took the overnight train down (it's the only Northeast Regional train that has a bike-carrying baggage car). I don't want to brag, but I'm pretty good at sleeping, so I had no trouble resting up even though the train was packed. When I got to DC the sun was rising. Here's the scene outside Union Station:

That's the Capital Building way in the back. I've seen that place on TV.

The race itself was great. Fun course, friendly people. In fact, I added two people to my support/heckling team just moments before the race (thanks Mckenzie and Chris!). I didn't want to burden Seeb with having to do all of the heckling. It also happened to be beautiful weather, I stayed in and raced in the nice part of town, I had all kinds of wonderful food, I rode around on the ridiculously clean Metro, I saw a LEGO architecture exhibit... so as far as I can tell DC is like Disneyland.

To top off the weekend, on the train ride back I happened to find a seat in the quiet car that was 'broken'. The seats in front hadn't been able to switch around so I was the only person on the train able to do this:

And therefore the only person on the train sleeping like a very comfortable baby. Oh man, such a good weekend for racing bikes...

*Not her real name (depending on who you ask).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Well, dear web log readers, I'm on the mend, and I learned that the right-hooking driver did, in fact, get a ticket. I wouldn't say I have complete closure on this unfortunate incident (there's still the issue of my bike to deal with), but I think it's time for us to move on here. So how about a nice observation I've made in the last couple of weeks?

Cyclists following traffic laws. It's been happening, and I'm really happy about it. I like having company at the red lights. It gives me a chance to admire other people's bikes (like I don't get enough of that at the shop...) and chat with other bike nerds. Why does this seem to be happening?

Is it the Same Roads Same Rules campaign catching on?

Is it because the colder weather is leaving the die hard velonauts standing? I've noticed that there are fewer folks traveling in the bike lanes as the weather gets more fall like (that's not the nice observation... I'm getting to it). Despite the fact that the weather is still reasonably fair it seems that the fair weather bikers are starting to hang it up for the year. Which is totally fine. I'm not judging. I'd rather that someone commute by bike for one month (or week, or day or on every 4th Thursday) than not at all. The one thing I'd rather that folks not do is blow through stop lights/signs, bike ninja it, or bike salmon it. I don't want to stereotype fair weather cyclists, but it seems to me that folks that ride less are less involved/connected with the cycling community and therefore are less exposed to their rights and responsibilities on the road.

Could it somehow be the influence of the new bike lanes and sharrows?

Could it be that I'm seeing what I want to see? I hope not.

So, I really I don't know why, but I hope it keeps up. More respect can only get more respect. Oh, and to all the cyclists out there, there's still plenty of great, if slightly cooler, riding left to be had!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I got hit by a car.

I did. I'm fine. A little banged up, but I checked out A-ok. My bike, eh... not so good.

I think it looks like it's giving a hug.

A woman right hooked me on one of the residential streets near the shop. Here's a tip for drivers- the first thing you should say to someone after you hit them with your car is "Are you Ok? Can I call you an ambulance?" NOT "I had my blinker on. You ran into me." She kept saying I came out of nowhere, which I know is not true- I was in front of her on the road for the full block before she hit me. How do I know that? When you're on a bike you're 1,000,000,000 times more aware of the traffic around you (accurate to +/- 1,000,000). Thankfully, four police folks had showed up before I was even able to lift myself off the pavement, a) so they could make sure I was Ok, and b) so I didn't have to talk to that woman. The paramedic was great (a mountain biker), and the nurse was almost as upset as I was about my bike ("That SRAM stuff is great... I've got it on my Tarmac.").

I hate that it feels like it was inevitable. I've been a bike commuter my whole adult life, so I was bound to get hit sometime, right? That seems like a terrible thought to have. I'm a responsible cyclist and road user. I wait at lights, yield for pedestrians, stop at stop signs, and so on. It's not inevitable. There's plenty of road for everybody. Everyone has rights and responsibilities on the road and if we all watch out for each other then no one will have to sit in the emergency room waiting to see if her elbow is broken. If that woman had just been aware and had seen me on the road I would have been fixing bikes, instead of making friends in the ER.

On the upside, I got this:

if only...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall Hours!

The light is definitely changing. It's getting (pleasantly) colder. I know fall technically started a little while ago, but it actually feels like fall now.

Here are new Fall Hours:

Monday-Friday: 11a-7p
Saturday: 12n-5p
Sunday: Still Closed (cyclocross!)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

DFL: better than DNF

Day One of the Green Mountain Cyclo-Cross weekend was rough. There are just some times when a single speed is a poor choice. Like when this is the course:

That's a hill.

I got a terrible start, as it was uphill, the gearing on the Brown Machine was too steep and I'm in less than race-shape. I ended up in the back of the pack 8-10 seconds into the race, and that's where I stayed. It was a little discouraging. I can't say I didn't think about how I could get a mechanical and drop out. But really, my bike was dialed, as that is my profession, so a mechanical failure was unlikely, and probably more embarrassing than just straight up quitting, which I was not going to do. Long story short, someone has to come in last place. Right? So you're welcome Cat3/4 Women. You're welcome.

Day Two was a little better, thanks to the 20t cog I picked up in Burlington. Desperate times call for desperate measures- so I paid retail.

Those two extra teeth bumped me up two places, from DFL to third from DFL! I also think the course on Day Two was a little more fun, so that helped, too. All in all, I had fun. Really. The weather was great. The spectators did an appropriate amount of encouraging/heckling. Vermont is easy on the eyes. And I finished. It sounds a little 'after school special', but it's important to put forth your best effort, even if there's no chance in hell that you're going to win.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Slow up.

I love fall. Not too warm, not too cold. The unpredictable weather makes the nice days seem that much nicer in comparison. Today is one of those nice days.

A lovely little three speed was dropped off early in the afternoon for some shift cable attention. Beautiful weather, nice upright handle bars, comfy seat- I was pretty excited for test ride time. As I got rolling down Willow St I realized I needed to make the most of being outside, so I rode my usual test ride route very slowly. Sunday drive style. I found it to be surprisingly enjoyable. Most of the riding I do is purpose driven. I don't ride fast, but I'm usually riding with a mission- to get from A to B. One reason I choose cycling for transportation is that it's faster than walking, so what would be the point of riding at a walking pace?

There was something very satisfying about riding deliberately slow. It gave me extra time to pay attention to the details of the bike, the road, and the neighborhood. It was like bike meditation. I think it really helped set the tone for the rest of my day.

While I was writing this post I looked up "slow bicycling" and found this. Although, it's not always possible to take a nice slow ride, I'm really looking forward to incorporating more slow rides into my life.

Monday, September 6, 2010

It's September. And then October.

Here are a few shop closures I'd like to tell you about:

Sept. 11- CLOSED for the Maine Lighthouse Ride... conveniently combining my love for bikes and nautical architecture.

Sept. 18- CLOSED for cyclo-crossing.

Oct. 16- CLOSED for more cyclo-cross.

Oct. 24- CLOSED... and more cyclo-cross.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Big 3

Hey, college students. I'm glad you're back, this town is quiet without you. I'm also glad you've decided to use your bike for transportation. It really is the best way to get around the city. You need some stuff to go with that bike, though.

1. Helmet
Please, just get one. I know you're good at riding your bike, but there are a lot of obstacles out there- drivers, cabs, buses, feral pedestrians, cabs, potholes, other cyclists, cabs. It's like Frogger, without the extra lives. Your friends and family would be heartbroken if something happened to your noggin. If that's not enough to convince you- how much are you spending on school? You will only get a return on that investment if you keep your brain intact. Think about it, your brain is getting expensive.

I can keep going... There are 100,00 good reasons to wear a helmet.

2. Lock
You can't buy a new bike for $40, but you can buy a U lock and keep the bike you already have. I know the cable locks are tempting (they are light and cheap), but don't do it (because they're light and cheap). No one can claim that a lock is "theft-proof". You can't promise something like that. But I can say that I had a heart to heart with a guy yesterday about his stolen bike. He had been using a cable lock, and now his bike is gone. He wanted me to be sure and tell everyone to use a u lock. True story.

3. Lights
If you're going to ride at night (or dusk, or dawn), you need to get some. It's the right thing to do. Nobody likes a bike ninja. Without lights people don't know where you are, and if they don't know where you are they have a harder time not running you over, or walking out in front of you. Reflectors aren't enough because pedestrians don't have headlights. You have to watch out for all types of travelers.

There are definitely other objects out there that could make your bike traveling life easier (pump, rack, fenders, rain pants, xtracycle, gloves, clipless pedals... I can keep going...), but start with these three to keep you riding, and safe.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tubular Technique -or- Why do I have a raging headache?

To start I need to give credit where credit is due. I first learned about techniques for gluing tubular tires from Eddie at Cycle Mania. His method involved something about taking one shoe off to use your foot to hold the valve in place. Or something like that. It was a long time ago. I learned the method I currently use from Molly Cameron, Pro 'crosser, and Pro vegan (although that has nothing to do with this). As far as I know Molly learned from other Pros and added a healthy dose of trial-and-error. So it's time-tested and all that...

Reasons for using tubies vs. clinchers aisde, today we're just talking about sticking a tubie to the rim. This method requires lots of time, lots of glue, and lots of ventilation. I like a nice thin glue- Panaracer Pana Cement to be exact.

Here are the steps (more or less):

1. Stretch out the tire by mounting it on the rim DRY and inflating it to the recommended max. Let it hang out like this for a while. Don't skip this, you'll thank yourself later.

2. Cut off a finger from a nitrile glove and put it on your finger. Use this protected finger to begin spreading on thin layers of glue on the tire's base tape and on the rim- 4-6 layers on each. You could use a brush, I suppose, but I think it's messier. Just use your finger. It helps to inflate the tire so it holds some shape. Wait for each layer to fully dry before applying the next layer (this is where the lots of time comes in), so that the solvent from the glue can fully evaporate (this is where the lots of ventilation come in). Take time with this- you don't want to start with a mess. The glue should only be on the base tape and in the 'trough' of the rim.

2a. Did I mention that you should be in a well ventilated area? Do it for your brain.

You can use your index finger. I cut mine with a pair of IKEA scissors a couple of years ago, and it hasn't been the same since...

3. When your tire and rim are both fully layered but dry you want to do one last wet layer on the rim. It should be slightly thicker than the other layers. Keep this layer nice and neat, too.

Spread the glue around the spoke holes, try not to get glue inside the holes.

4. All of this next step needs to be done while that last layer of rim glue is still wet. Let the air out of the tire. Put the rim on the ground and support it on both sides with your feet. You should so this with shoes you don't mind getting glue on. Start by inserting the valve, and applying pressure equally with both hands, stick the base tape to the goopy rim. As you get to the opposite side it'll get tight. This is where you benefit from stretching the tire and keeping the glue job neat. Keep pushing the base tape up and over into the glue on the rim, without dragging the tire sidewall through the glue.

Those are the very same rain boots I use to wade around in the shop basement.

5. When the base tape is fully stuck to the rim, inflate the tire to not quite the max, and stick it in a truing stand to see that the tread is on straight. The base tape and tread might not line up exactly, especially if the tire is old. That slightly thicker layer of glue should still pretty wet so you can push the tire around on the rim with your hands to get the tread straight.

6. Now here's a cool little trick- after the tread is straight, deflate the tire and roll it on a broom handle. Why? This helps to push the base tape down into the lowest point in the 'trough' of the rim. If you don't do this, you'll find that sometimes the tire hasn't made contact with the center part of the rim, and you've wasted all of that glue you very carefully applied.

7. Inflate it back up and let it sit. Seriously, for 24 hours, or more, in a well ventilated place. That allows all of those nasty solvents to evaporate.

I know there's more than one way to glue up tubies. Some people like using a thicker glue, some people like tape, but this how I do it and it's served me well. If you want to know more about it, I'd be happy to geek out... er, answer questions for you.

Monday, August 16, 2010


It's almost 'cross season. If you're unfamiliar with cyclo-cross (or 'cross, or CX, or CCX, or cyclocross), you're not alone. It's a tiny, crazy, sometimes muddy, wicked fun niche in the world of competitive cycling. If you want to learn a little more before we continue, you can read the wiki article or check out Cyclocross Mag.

Ready? Ok. I love 'cross. It's fast, difficult, there are tons of variables (weather, the course, the crowd of spectators) that keep it interesting. I started racing just a few years ago out in Eugene, OR. I started out on a single speed mountain bike (which drew uncreative, but accurate, taunts of "Mountain biiiiiike!" from spectator/hecklers). Here's a pic from my very first race. Look at how fast it looks like I'm going.

Since that first season I've gotten a real deal 'cross bike. It's the one I rode to Maine. It's been stripped down to it's single speed race weight now. I've even acquired a set of used tubies (more about tubular tires in a future post. Stay tuned.).

I completely missed out on last year's season because A) I just moved and hadn't fully unpacked my bike stuff by 'cross season... and B) I hadn't ridden my bike very much last summer so I felt pretty out of shape. I mean, if you're going to compete, you should do some training, right? Excuses, excuses.

This year: A) All of my stuff is unpacked, and B) I probably have ridden my bike less than I did last year, but... No excuses this time. During the time I've spent NOT riding, I've been mentally preparing to not attach any ego to my race results. And it's still early. There's time to fit some riding in. Right? Right. It'll be kind of an experiment- can I be totally out of shape for racing and still have fun? I think so. But there's only one way to tell for sure. Let the experiment begin!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Six months

If Hub were a baby, she would be rolling over and able to sit in a high chair.

It's been busy here. There's been a nice variety of bikes- from a couple of high performance full carbon TT bikes to hi-ten steel "I found this bike in the basement of my building" bikes.

I like fixing them all. Every bike presents a problem solving challenge that keeps my brain happily occupied. I've also really enjoyed talking with all of those various bikes' owners. Good people ride bikes. (I'm sure good people drive and take the T, too, but I don't talk to them while I'm working...) I'm very grateful to be doing the work I'm doing. So if you've brought your bike in, Thank You! for a great first 6 months. And if you haven't yet there's still time- maybe by the time you bring it in Hub will be crawling and eating Cheerios.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Mind over matter

Portland, ME is one of my favorite spots on the planet (so far). At 115-120ish miles from Cambridge/Somerville, it seemed doable in a day by bicycle. The thing is with how much time I've been putting in at the shop I haven't had much time for riding/training. I usually get in at least 50 miles a week commuting, so there's that, but as far as actually blocking out time to get in shape, I've got nothin. In fact, the longest ride I'd done in 2010 was 32 miles (Tour de Cure! Check back next week for more about bikes and diabetes...). Details, details. Plus this was kind of an impulsive idea, so I didn't have weeks to prepare. This is where mind over matter comes in. I figured if I got on my bike and kept pedaling eventually I would get there. And to be fair, I do commute by bicycle, and it's not like I sit in a cube all day, so I'm probably more active than the average American-Canadian. So that was the plan: 1) Get on bike. 2) Pedal. 3) Don't worry about it.

I packed up the ol' cross bike with the one pannier I have. I can now say with confidence two would be much better for balance, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

I fueled up for/ on the trip with a highly effective cocktail of fruit snacks, peanut butter M&Ms and mate. Pretty much the food of the gods. I had a full set of travel tools, but no mechanicals (natch). Although I did get to help a guy with a flat in Ogunquit. One thing I forgot was sunscreen. I'm pretty sure the burn on my shoulders goes down to the muscle. I printed out directions from Google, but I scrapped them right away. The directions were pretty easy- get to 1A, take 1A to 1, arrive in the Greater Portland Area.

A few highlights:

-I saw a squirrel eating/smoking a cigarette. Stay classy, Medford.

-Speaking of smoking, I totally smoked this lady:

But I think it was the flag in her jersey pocket that was holding her back. Patriotism is not good for aerodynamics. (She caught back up with me during a re-fueling stop.)

-New Hampshire is very serious about their state motto.

-I talked to a couple of motorcyclists at stop lights on Route 1. Super friendly. Much more friendly than the drivers in Ipswich.

-Based on my field observations, the only vehicle available in Quebec is the Dodge Minivan. One such minivan pulled over to ask me directions to Old Orchard Beach. Way to play into the stereotype, lady.

11 hours and 123.4 miles after leaving my front door I arrived at my final destination. Not bad, I think. Another nice thing about traveling to Portland is taking the train back into Boston. Other than the sunburn and a couple of detours (why is it so hard to leave the Greater Boston Area by bicycle?), it was a (relatively) easy and wicked fun trip.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

July July

Despite the fact that July is not a fall month, it happens to be one of my favorites.

This July I'm going to be closing up the shop for a couple of weekends to take care of some bikey stuff. For example:

Hub will be closed July 3, 4 and 5. I will be celebrating the birth of this nation by riding my bike to Portland ME. I'm going to shoot for getting there in one day. I'll let you know how that goes...

Hub will be closed at 5pm on Friday July 9, and closed on July 10. I'm going to go lend a wrench to the New England Classic. Super epic.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


My first memory of feeling truly independent came courtesy of a bicycle. I was sent out to pick up some lunch while hanging out at my dad's office for the day (i.e.- get out of his hair so he could get some work done...). I was probably 10, and while I was cruising the mean streets (or, sidewalks) of Pinardville, NH it occurred to me that 'I don't need anybody to go get lunch'. I DON'T NEED ANYBODY! I'M GETTING MY OWN LUNCH! I CAN GO ANYWHERE! A very cool realization to have. I rode my bike a bunch as a kid, mostly for fun, but when I lived close enough I'd ride it to school. There was always something extra awesome about biking with a purpose- getting lunch, going to school or the post office- it made me aware of my status as an independent human being exercising her freewill (or at least as much freewill as you can exercise as a kid).

So fast forward to last weekend. I had a few bike parts to bring from home to the shop, and a quick stop at the farmer's market. As I was carting parts and groceries on my bike I thought I DON'T NEED ANYBODY! I'M RIDING MY BIKE TO WORK! I CAN GO ANYWHERE! I'm legitimately an adult so, I really can go anywhere. I even have a motor vehicle that I could drive to work or the farmer's market or any number of places. But I never feel like an independent human being when I do that- I just feel like an adult running errands.

Friday, June 4, 2010

What Hub is doing to not hate on Mother Nature

Green is the new black. It's pretty trendy right now, right? Unlike other trends, not burning up the planet is actually important. Bicycles have always been ahead of the curve on this trend. I mean, it's the most efficient way to get around! And as we all know 'efficient' means, "adj. 1. performing or functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste" So there you go- a bicycle shop is inherently more ecologically responsible than, say oil drilling or drag car racing, but there's always room for improvement. Maybe you're sick of hearing about what companies are doing (or at least what they say they're doing...) to improve their greeny-ness, but I want to tell you about some stuff going on here at the shop.

Recycling (obvi)

Paper. plastic, your totally hosed chain and cassette (and other metal parts), tubes!, tires all get recycled here, natch.


I'll admit, I'm very excited and this news was the motivation for this post- Hub now has tubes in bulk! Flat tires are one of the most common bike problems, so at the end of the day the ol' recycling bin looks like this:

And while recycling is great- not creating the waste in the first place is even better. You can now get tubes they way hippies get their granola and nutritional yeast. They're the very same tubes you know and love, but without the packaging. The most common road and mountain sizes are available in bulk, and if you want your tube to come in a package you still can. I won't judge.


There's a bunch of this stuff that goes into tuning a bicycle. It gets a little tricky here, because it's hard to find straight forward information about all of this stuff, as most of what I can find comes from the companies themselves. I'm not a chemist, so I have to take the company's word for it. So far, I've been pretty happy with Pedro's and Finishline. They seem to have a good balance of effectiveness and biodegradability. If any one has suggestions on how I can find more (objective) information on this, I'm all ears.

Other little things

Compact fluorescent bulbs. Check. Choosing 'Ground' for shipping product. Check. Choosing products packaged in paper/cardboard over PVC clamshell packaging. Check (that was the deciding factor between two great options for bike multi-tools). Fans over A/C. Check. Printing work orders on scrap paper before recycling. Check.

Thanks for reading. If you have any suggestions or recommendations on how Hub can be even eco-friendlier drop a note to: (I promise I won't print out the email...)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bay State Bike Week!

Happy bike week. Check out all of the happenings here. The calendar is packed, and I'm pretty sure if you were willing to travel around the Greater Boston Area a bit you could get free breakfast all week...

Also don't forget to register for the Mass Commuter Challenge. We (that's the corporate 'we') will be out and about celebrating and supporting various events, so the shop hours will be a little wonky. The shop will open at 2pm on Weds May 19, and will be closing early on Weds May 26 for the Bike Bash. Annnnndddd.... the shop will also be closed on Saturday May 22 to lend a mechanic hand to the North Shore Tour de Cure. If you ride your bike, they will cure diabetes.

Oh man, fun events (all month... and this, too), safety summits, bike traffic (see fig. 1), new bike lanes, nice weather, same roads same rules... now is a wicked good time to be riding bikes!

fig. 1- bikepool!

To summarize: ride your bike, get free breakfast, the shop is opening late Weds, and closed Sat.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


In addition to cranking out pro-style tune ups for the good people of the Greater Boston Area, I occasionally like to work on a bike or two for myself. I've just put the finishing touches on a commuter/off road/fire road ripper/monster cross trainer/ninja rider/etc. bike. It might be ugly, but maybe in an adorable way (uglorable?)? You know, for a bike made up of parts from other bikes:

Ta Da!

The details, in case you're into that kinda thing: Unit 2-9 frame, disc brakes, 32/13 fixed gear (shh... don't tell anybody) *cough*, ahem- single speed, 700 x 42 tires, 40 degree sweep handle bars!, because I've never said, "wow, I wish these bars had less sweep"

Comfy for your hands

It took a little tweaking to get this baby ready for bombing around town, mainly in the stem/handle bar zone, I mean it is a 29er mountain bike frame and therefore a little upright and mountain-bikey. So, why wouldn't I just get an appropriate townie bike? Well, I don't need to see the ocean everyday, but I need to know that if I did need to see the ocean I could. Which is why I can't live in the midwest. Similarly, I don't necessarily need to ride this bike off road everyday, but I need to know that I can when the mood strikes me. That's why all of the bikes I'm fortunate to own can be trail ride ready in 15min or less. Sorry road bikes, we just aren't meant to be.

Plus, with this frame there's no chance of a slow-motion-toe-overlap-in-traffic-while-I'm-trying-to-track-stand crash. There's metric tons of clearance. See:

There's still plenty of room with shoes on, too.

It's super fun. I don't ride fast (and I have no plans to start, it takes sooo much effort...) so, the fixed gear adds a little challenge to my favorite not-so-technical trails/fire roads. And riding bikes with one gear always makes me feel like a kid. True story.

Thanks for letting me geek out a little bit here.