Pride, Rides, and the Bicycle Film Festival!

First and foremost, let me say to everyone – HAPPY PRIDE! While the focus of this blog is primarily, well, chubby cycling, I cannot let Pride go by without giving a shout out to the LGBTQ community and their allies. You guys are rock stars!

This weekend was also part of the annual Bicycle Film Festival in NYC. It’s over for this year but it’s their 17th straight year, and it’s a great, affordable time out. I went to see Program 2 on Saturday, 6/24, so I’ll be reviewing that one. But before we get to that that biking – my biking!

We started off by biking down to my regular shop, Toga Bike Shop on the UWS. If anyone is looking for a bike shop in NYC I highly recommend them. They are professional, their bike selection is great, and if you buy your bike with them you get free basic tune ups for life, and reduced rates on other services (I swear I’m not endorsed by them – I just like the shop). There are some bike shops with cheaper and second hand inventory, and staff that are just as helpful, but I definitely felt that as a first-tim bike buyer a couple years ago, Toga was the place for me.

Anyway, we had them look at my squeaky brakes, and the other issues, and a decent tune-up definitely helped the bike, and made it a heck of a lot more pleasant to ride. I still want to get a new bike eventually. I’m looking into a hybrid, because the folder isn’t fantastic on hills, and also I like to go on longer rides upstate and folding bikes aren’t exactly great for long, multi-terrain rides. I think I’ll be looking into a hybrid next year.

After that we biked down to Anthology Film Archives, so overall the journey was about ten miles.If you’ve never been to the archives, they’re pretty darn cool. It’s an old building that usually has some neat things showing.

The BFF is great because it has free valet bike parking, as well as Clif bars (they’re a sponsor)! They also usually have some useful messenger bags, hats, and/or other merch up for grabs (all for free). Tickets run at $14 a pop per program, which isn’t too bad, and they also sell passes for the whole week. Here’s a pic of me and Tim (the boyfriend), at the BFF after the ride:

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We went last year too, were we saw Sven: The Final Year, a documentary about Sven Nys, a competitive cyclocross racer with two world championship titles, seven World Cup series titles, and over 140 competitive victories to his name. It’s a touching film about his last competitive season, and I highly recommend it.

Now on to the program I saw yesterday. The BFF usually shows a few short films before the main title, so I’ll give a brief overview of those as well:

Cycologic is about a young woman in Uganda who is determined to bring cycling to her resistant city. Overall, it was interesting. I would have loved if the film were a little longer, as it left me feeling a unsatisfied, and wanting more story. It was overall a good film considering it was a just a few minutes long – and gratifying to see that it’s not just NYC where people hate cyclists, haha.

The next short film was a 25 minute piece, with the lofty title of Tall Bikes Will Save the World. It was a pretty light-hearted and funny piece about a group of brothers who build tall bikes , as well as other kinds of Franken-bikes. It was fun to see they way these bikes were made, but I definitely cringed watching these guys perform crazy tricks. One of them even got doored. It was definitely interesting. Will tall bike save the world? Likely no, but it made for an entertaining film. I’ve included a pic of the tall bikes from the film below.

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The last film, The Bullit’s Burden, was a 50 minute documentary , and the main event of the program. The Bullit is a cargo bike developed by Hans Bullitt Fogh, and sold in the shop Larry vs. Harry in Denmark, although they are owned by people all over the world. The film started out a little slowly, mostly talking about this unique bike and the equally unique fandom – for example a hardened bike messenger from the UK and a strangely happy Danish family, who seem far too well-rested for the number of children they have, in my humble opinion. Everyone who encounters one seems to love the Bullit, however the film took a sharp turn half way through, and focused on a  tragedy within the Bullit community, and the way the community rallied in response.

It could have been a very inspiring story, and it still was, for the most part, but the film lost direction and didn’t always make it clear who was talking to whom, and about whom people were speaking. I think it’s worth a watch, but the makers of the documentary could have done with a little more focus and explanation. Both my friend and I left a tad confused, and we had to check in with each other and my boyfriend to ask things like, “Wait, what was that one part about? Who was that one guy talking about in that one interview?” Honestly, with just a few more subtitles the film could have been more cohesive. However, I’m now super into Bullits. So it worked that way. They’re just cool! Look at them!

After the film festival, my boyfriend and his best friend had a surprise for me, so we walked our bikes a few blocks (our friend did not bike there), and my surprise was –

A CAT CAFE!

I love cats. I love cats so much. I’m a crazy cat lady without the cats. They’re perfect little arseholes and I won’t hear otherwise. Anyway, here are some pics from the cat cafe (not bike-related, but I can’t help but share).

So I had a beautiful day of cycling, and then I got to see bike films, and play with kitties! We biked back after dinner, which made Saturday just about a 20 mile day. Not bad at all!

Today, I biked about 15 miles, 7.5 miles each way to a potluck that my improv group was hosting. I made bread, drank a beer, a mint julep, and a vodka cranberry, and then switched to water for a couple hours so I could bike home!

We biked over Randall’s Island, which is a gorgeous ride if you ever have the time. It’s the strange little slice of quiet green in a big, loud city. I almost regret putting it in this blog in case it becomes more crowded – but luckily about three people read this, so I think my serenity spot is safe ;).

So I’m home, having biked 35 miles over the weekend. Not too bad considering I’ve only just started to leap back into it!

That being said, I’m pooped. See you all next time!

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Um. Hi.

So, it’s been a while.

Hello Internet. I feel like I’m running into a bad ex except the bad ex is me and this blog has every right to be reproachful.

I had a bit of a downward turn with my cycling, and with my fitness journey in general. It was like nothing was sticking, and as the weather got colder and we headed into a New York winter I found more and more reasons to sleep in later and get on the subway, rather than be up and bright-eyed and bushy tailed about cycling. I kept telling myself that I was going to bike again when the weather got better, and it just never totally happened.

To be fair to myself, I haven’t not biked at all. I rode to the Redhook Crit and back, and went on some smaller rides. I haven’t ceased biking entirely, but it definitely hasn’t been my primary mode of commuting. So, I’m determined to get back into the swing of things this year.

At the risk of sounding like I’m making excuses, my bike has also become increasingly difficult to ride. I own a montecci folding bike, and while it worked relatively well when I got it two years ago, it’s become increasingly finicky and difficult to ride since. I’ll be posting the link to montecci website at the bottom of this blog post. The brakes are now continually sticking, which makes rising it an absolute (literal) drag because my wheels are constantly fighting to…move. I’m not good with the technical terms. I some how lost a screw from the hinge on the steering neck (or long front bar thingy, if you’re me), so there’s a definite wobble when I ride. My brakes squeal, and I’ve had to replace five of the back spokes. It’s terrible on potholes and hills too, which if you ride in New York…forget about it. You have to be able to handle those two things.

I initially got a folding bike because I worked two jobs and it was totally convenient. I’d ride to one, zip crosstown on lunch, and then I’d fold it up in the back of a car (I was a nanny). Now that I work a 9-5 though, I’m not sure that the foldability of the bike is outweighing the…suckiness of it.

It’s possible that I rode it a little harder than intended. I’m not sure that these bikes are necessarily made for 16 mile round trip commutes every day, or long trips to upstate New York. Basically, I really need a new bike. Unfortunately, I’m somewhat lacking the funds at the moment. I think what I need is a good hybrid bike, something that works for commuting and longer trips, but those run a pretty penny.

My boyfriend is trying to convince me to buy one secondhand, just find one of craigslist, but I’m nervous. I don’t feel like I know enough about bikes to do that. He says he’ll help me, of course, but wandering into a bike shop I already know and trust and just having them recommend me a bike seems so much easier. What if I buy a total lemon? What if I’m riding it home after I buy it and it collapses under my chubby butt and I’ve wasted all that money? Why are bikes so damned expensive anyway? Sure, they save you money commuting in the long run but damn, it would be nice if they weren’t quite so much to begin with.

Anyway that’s really just one excuse in a long line of excuses. The fact of the matter comes down to me really just not trying hard enough. So I guess it’s time to pick myself up, dust myself off…and get back on the bike.

Sorry, couldn’t resist. Anyway, keep your eyes peeled for my next post. I’m seeing a couple things at the Bicycle Film Festival this weekend, and I’ll post reviews for all (4) of you. Or like, whoever stumbles on this darn thing.

Thank for reading.

** This is the bike I have:

http://www.montecci.com/folding/

30 Miles in My Body

hastingsonhudsonThis weekend I rode 30 miles, a little over actually. Not all in one stretch, like my last long ride, the one which inspired my first blog entry, but in two stretches. My boyfriend and I rode from our home up to Hastings-On-Hudson (pictured above), parked out a tavern for a bit, and then rode back.

I’d definitely recommend the ride to anyone who’s interested. We took the South County Trailway up, which is gorgeous and definitely a nice way to spend a sunny day, although the sun got pretty tiring after a while. And we took the Old Croton Aqueduct Trailway back. It was a little rough for my tastes, but I also started out tired, since it was the second leg of our journey.

I rode my boyfriend’s second bike this time, instead of my own folder, and I have to say I think some of my struggles have been due to the type of bike I’ve been riding. For city riding, the folding bikes truly are amazing and can’t be matched in terms of convenience, but they suck for getting up hills! I had a much easier time on a longer ride on a more standard bike, which of course has now got me thinking about my next one. My boyfriend has a saying, and it’s one I’m finding more and more appealing:

“How many bikes do you need? One more than you already have – up until the point that your significant other threatens to leave you.”

Lucky for me, my significant other is a bigger bike junkie than I am. So we took a beautiful ride at a strolling pace, and then stopped at Hastings-On-Hudson to look a the view and grab a beer. It’s funny, but I had no idea until I started how much cycling and beer go together! I’m not kidding. All the organized rides my boyfriend goes on seem to end at a brewery, and I have to say there isn’t much that’s as satisfying as a crisp, cold beer after a long ride. stellahastings

As you can see, I take cycling culture very seriously.

The ride back was a little harder. For some reason I was in a bad mood. Maybe it was the adrenaline crash from resting after biking 15 miles, or maybe it was the beer or the heat, or maybe it was the picture.

The picture at the top of this entry almost didn’t get posted. I asked the SO to take a victory shot for me, and yeah, I pretty eagerly grabbed his phone to look at the picture after it was done.

And I saw a chubby girl. I saw belly and fat arms and a round face. That girl didn’t look like a cyclist, and it didn’t matter that she was one. She may have ridden 15 miles, but she was fat. All my preachy feel-good stuff went out the window as I silently made a cropped version of the picture, cutting out my lower half and going from the shoulders up, and then cheerfully agreed to go and get a beer, even though the blood was pounding in my ears at the thought of how fat it might make me. Who cares that I had burned enough calories to drink that beer? I was already in the downward spiral of hating myself because of one unflattering picture.

I got over it eventually, and we sat outside in the sun and shared food and drinks, until the sky started to dim a little, and we decided we wanted to head out before it got too dark. It was about an hour and a half home, after all. So I changed back into my cycling clothes, and we started home.

The journey home was harder almost immediately, because my legs were already tired and slow from the ride there, and the route back was tougher. Instead of a nice smooth Greenway it was a muddy single-file path, which was broken up by a few different roads along the way. It was pretty tough, and I did my best to push through the aching legs, knowing I was sweating far more than I usually did.

We got lost at precisely the wrong time. We had just passed Yonkers, and we were so, so close to home. I think I actually whooped when we made it into the Bronx, knowing that we were finally back in New York City. But when we got back into Inwood I hit a wall, and somehow we got lost trying to get onto the Hudson Greenway. We hit a dead end, and then had to turn around, and then we were by the side of a highway and I stopped, my lungs pulsing as I started to cry, taking big, panicking gulps of air and babbling about how I couldn’t do it, I can’t do it, I’m so fat I’m so useless I can’t do it –

I’m going to live on the side of this road now. There’s no bus, no subway, and no cab can get me here. I’m going to live by the side of this road because I’m not moving anymore. I can’t get back on that bike.

My boyfriend came to comfort me immediately, of course. He took my shaking shoulders and told me it was okay, but also promised me I could do it.

We were three miles from home. On a normal day, I barely notice three miles, but after twenty-seven it seemed like the most impossible thing in the world.

And of course, my first thought was not that I was tired, and not that I had ridden further that day than I ever had before, it was that my bad, terrible body couldn’t do this thing. I was too fat and if I were thinner, I’d be a better cyclist, a better girlfriend, a better actress and comedian, a better person.

And then I started to breathe, and I listened to my boyfriend’s soothing words, and I remembered something a friend of mine – a badass sexy and totally fit soul cycle instructor and dancer – had said to me only the day before, when I mentioned I wanted to take one of her classes.

“Before you take any Soul Cycle classes, you’ve got to love that body you have now, because it is incredible.”

My poor body. Here I was berating it when it had taken me twenty-seven miles on a bicycle! No bad body could do that. It tensed up and made me cry and panic because it knew that I needed to rest. My body takes care of me, and I take care of it.

All of this racing thought took maybe five minutes, and then I got back on my bike and I rode home. My body took me home. I took my body home.

So I decided to put the photo I hated right at the top of this page, because I love the body I have now, and there’s not a damn thing wrong with it.