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