January 29, 2014

Make a Bike Touring Journal

When out on a bike tour, it's nice to have a place for notes on your route, where you stop along the way, your pace, observations, and for a general record of your journey.
Peter and I have gotten into the habit of keeping detailed journals while bike touring. It's fun to refer back to when taking the same route later, as well as simply to reflect back on a fun trip. Still, I never had a specific journal for this, rather, I'd just grab some small notebook I had lying around.

This year I decided to make a touring-specific journal. I chose a light, thin Moleskine notebook that would be easy to personalize.
I used the photo scraps left over from an earlier project, letter stamps, a potato stamp, gel medium, and my trusty X-Acto knife to decorate the cover.
Now I just have to wait for spring to take my first tour of the year!

January 27, 2014

Hot Drink & A Bike Book

To quell the longing for bike tours and adventures that begins to pop up about mid-winter, I enjoy a hot drink and a book. I received the book, Fifty Places to Bike Before You Die, as a Christmas gift and it's been fun to flip through and muse about could-be journeys.
Only a few more months until Peter and I take our first bike camping trip of the year to Devil's Lake State Park!

January 24, 2014

Madison-Specific Bike Art

Leslie of Off the Map Art makes paintings with the maps of a variety of different cities. I found her Etsy shop earlier and really liked her prints, but she hadn't made a piece with a map of Madison.

I kept tabs on the shop in hopes I'd see a Madison print become available and it did! Hooray for pretty bike art!

January 20, 2014

Winter Wardrobe - Most Worn

When it comes to biking in the cold, I always go back to the same favorite pieces:
1. These boots are three winters old and holding up great. Warm, dry feet are critical to comfort, but having cute footwear is also important (right?!).

2. Wool socks are super warm, moisture-wicking, and don't get smelly.

3. This grey cashmere sweater is warm by itself, but is also loose enough that I can put it on over another layer. Its neutral color makes it easy to incorporate in many outfits. This sweater was thrifted by my mom, who has found many other second-hand wool and cashmere sweaters for me.

4. This skirt has been worn for many, many miles. I found this vintage Dolce & Gabbana gem at a thrift store in Rockford, IL about a decade ago. I'll probably still be wearing it in another 10 years!

5. Fleece leggings are warm, cozy and keep me in skirts throughout the winter. For very cold days, I double them up, which works well to block the wind.

6. This scarf was given to me as a souvenir from Scotland by my mother-in-law. After wrapping the soft cashmere around my neck for the first time, I was hooked on this pretty scarf.

January 16, 2014

Display Bike Photos with a DIY Banner

If you have a smartphone, you probably have more photos than you know what to do with. I've accumulated a bunch of photos from bike trips or rides with friends that would be nice to display, instead of just taking up space on my hard drive. After seeing cute pennants around the Web, I got the idea for this project.
The supplies you'll need are cardboard pennants (you can make your own or buy them pre-made from a craft store), gel medium to use as glue, a brush for applying the gel medium, an X-Acto knife for cutting out your photos, and some string or twine for hanging the banner.

First, pick out the photos you want to use and print them out. Use a pennant to create a template to help you decide how you want to cut out the photos.
After using the template to frame your photo, cut it out with an X-Acto knife.
Put a coat of gel medium on your pennant and carefully mount the photo. Start by lining up the bottom point and then work up from there. Once it's dry, cut out the holes with an X-Acto knife.
Decide how you want the photos to be arranged and then string them up. I simply tied a couple of knots on the ends to hook around nails. Enjoy seeing and sharing your bike photos!

January 13, 2014

Choose Your Bike Bag Wisely

A bike bag should not only feel great on the bike, it should also be suited for a variety of destinations: work, a hike in the woods, errands, the gym, or a beer stop.
I prefer a backpack to carrying a bag in my hands and I find messenger bags uncomfortable when weighted down. A Fjallraven Kanken is a comfortable backpack to carry that has served me well for over a year now. Here are the features that enable it to fit seamlessly into my lifestyle:
1. Plain and classic-looking design. I think this bag looks nice and works well with my wardrobe.

2. Water-resistant, tough fabric. I don't need to make extra preparations for snow or light rain, because the interior of the bag stays dry. Also, I don't have to worry about snagging or ripping the exterior.

3. Pockets! The side pockets are perfect for stashing my sunglasses and phone, making it easy to pull them out and put them away. The front pocket is where I keep all my daily essentials within reach.

4. The main compartment is large enough to give me the option of carrying a 13" laptop, gym bag, some groceries, picnic supplies, or typically whatever else my ride requires. Yet, the Fjallraven Kanken backpack is small enough to be practical and unobtrusive.

January 3, 2014

Personalize a Bike Bell

 Create a design you'll love on your bike bell! I'm obsessed with triangles, so it's no surprise the design I created consists of that shape.
The supplies you'll need are a plain bike bell, acrylic paint, a paint brush or two, painter's tape, X-Acto knife, and clear enamel.
1. Cut shapes out of the painter's tape with an X-Acto knife.
2. Place the tape on the bell in the pattern you desire. Be sure it's securely adhered to avoid the paint seeping under the tape.
3. Cover the bell with paint and wait for it to completely dry. I used two coats.
4. Carefully peel off the tape. Then take the bell outside and spray it with enamel per the instructions on the canister. 
Enjoy your new bell!

January 1, 2014

Goals for 2014

1. I've bike camped at Blue Mound State Park many times, but haven't continued along the Military Ridge Trail to Governor Dodge. It's high time I check it out!
2. There are many State Parks on the lake that would make cool camping destinations, or we could even take a long tour up to Door County.
3. I'm slowly building up my skills as a mechanic as problems come up with my bike. I'm not sure what, but I will learn something new this year!