Packing And Shipping Your Bike with

17 March, 2018

This winter I planned my great escape from the North East winter and I brought my bike along with me. Being four months away from home, I couldn't imagine living without my ride, especially where the sun is shining. On my search for the most affordable way to ship a bike, I came to a conclusion that learning how to pack and ship my own bike will give me more confidence in knowing it's secure and will save me hundreds of dollars in the future. 

While this post is about the know-how-to's of packing a bike, I also want to share with you a review of the company I prefer shipping my bike with, Bike Flights. Their platform for bike shipping is really easy to use, all you need are addresses, a few tools, packing material, a printer, and the rest is up to you to DIY pack for it's pickup at your convenience. So if you are intimidated by the thought of taking your bike apart to pack but would like to learn how to pack and ship your bike off to your next travel destination, this post is for you.

To start, if you're more of a visual learner, my favorite bike boxing tutorial is GNC's video on How To Pack A Cardboard Bike Box. It covers all you need to know and has good commentary on the little things to remember.

-Bike Box. Usually you can pick one up from your local bike shop, just make sure it's in good shape, no holes, thinned out material or open parts. Or you can purchase material on
- Foam padding or bubble wrap. These will help keep your bike in place and help protect your bike from shipping travel.
- Masking tape, electric tape, rubber bands, or zip ties. These will help secure padding in place.
- Extra cardboard
- Bike Multi-tool
- Small bag for acessories, parts, tubes, pedals etc.
- Packing Tape
- Pedal Wrench or 6mm or 8mm Allen Key for removing your pedals.
-Shipping Label


Wrap each tube with dense foam padding and secure it into place to prevent scratches, dings and dents with zip ties, rubber bands or tape. For bikes with external cables, add a layer of soft, smooth cloth between the frame and cables to keep cables from scratching the finish. For bikes with thin tubes, add an outer layer of foam, cardboard or hard plastic to areas likely to contact a wheel or other components. To protect your rear derailleur and hanger, shift the rear derailleur to the easiest gear and cover in bubble wrap to protect them from damaging the box.
Remove front wheel and protect axle and cassette from damaging the box or other contents. Remove skewer and thru-axles whenever possible and place in a designated parts bag to secure them. If your wheels have rotors, remove them to prevent bending. Install plastic end caps over axle ends on either side of the hubs and cover cassette with dense padding or felt secured into place. Pad wheel with  cardboard or foam or slide wheels.
Install spacers between frame and fork dropouts to protect ends from damaging the box and to prevent frame and fork compression. Spacer options include the following: Plastic spacers - like those used by manufacturers . Secure in place with tape. Threaded axles with nuts. ½" diameter PVC pipe cut to length and secured into place with skewer or thru-axle. Old hubs.
With a multi-tool, remove stem and/or handlebars as necessary and prevent them from contacting the sides of the box. Wrap all parts in dense foam and secure it into place with tape, zip ties, or rubber bands. Position handlebars so that all shift and brake levers face inward, away from the sides of the box or case. 
5. Seat and SeatpostRemove, pad with foam or cardboard and secure to keep the seatpost from damaging the box or other contents.
6. Remove PEDALSBefore you remove your pedals, be sure that you have the right size Allen Key and pedal wrench. Remove pedals and place in small parts bag. Reminder: Right pedal has a regular thread (counter-clockwise to loosen), while the left pedal is reverse threaded (clockwise to loosen).
Remove bottle cages, fenders and racks to protect them from contacting the side of the box or other contents and damaging themselves or the frame’s bosses. Stow all small pieces and hardware together in a sealed small parts bag and tape into box where space is available.
8. SHAKE and box
Your bike should look like this in the end. Place bike and all contents into the box, close up the box and shake it. If you hear rattling or the clinging of loose items, re-open the box and pad accordingly. You are ready to ship when shaking the box is silent. Be sure to add padding on the side of your hanger and derailleur so that it doesn't puncture the box. 
On, you will see that it's a full service packing and shipping service. They have various bike boxes available depending on your bike to purchase, packing products, and their website calculates shipping with the best rates with Fedex and UPS. While the price may seem big at first, it's definitely cheaper than having your bike shop pack and ship or taking it in for shipping from Fedex or UPS. Their online services are easy to use and they offer free changes to your shipping itinerary along with full refunds if you cancel. In all, I paid $64 for one way from NY to CA ($60 from CA to FL) and $40 from FL to NY (including insurance).

All you really need to know is the weight and dimensions of the package, your shipping from and to address, and credit card details. Once you make your order and date for pickup, you'll be able to print your labels right away. I also recommend paying the little extra for insurance, just in case something goes terribly wrong. Here's what to do with your labels.

Affix and place three labels: 2 outside and 1 inside.
  1. Firmly affix two copies of the shipping label to opposite sides of box using self-adhesive pouches or packing tape. If using packing tape, cover all four edges of the label with the tape but not the barcode itself.
  2. If shipping in a bike travel case, attach your labels using shipping luggage tags, and then zip tie the tags to your case.
  3. Place a backup copy of the label inside the box or case in the event that external labels get accidentally damaged or removed.
  4. Make sure there are no other tracking labels on the outside of the box or case.
I hope this gives you a better idea about shipping your bike and using a service such as Bike Flights to put your mind at ease about the next cycling holiday you will be making. While we are all waiting for Spring riding to hurry, it's a good time to learn more about your bike and options for traveling with your bike. While I was first worried I would make a mistake, I was more at ease when I got the basics down. It's a lot easier and cheaper in reality when you know what you're doing and have the right equipment and service to make it all possible. 

Image Courtesy:  Bike Flights 

Embracing The Strange Campaign By Machines For Freedom and Storytelling

14 March, 2018

For many cycling industries, Spring has sprung to release the latest in kit, gear and bikes and for womens cycling kit, it's sweet and thorny. Just recently, Machines For Freedom launched a new campaign to celebrate the release of their new kit. To my excitement, MFF did something the cycling kit industry has never done and it's gives me all the good vibes. To celebrate their new print, they have embraced their community of female cyclists to share their stories and have gorgeous unconventional women model their newest jersey and gilet, The All Weather Vest and The Fruits Print.
On their website they share..."With The Fruits Print, we are celebrating the parts of ourselves that are strange. The unexpected bits, the prickly spine, the rough rind that protects us. These are the parts that make us who we are. These are the parts that are special.

And we can celebrate those parts of ourselves, we can love them, even as they embody a challenge to those traditional views of what's feminine. The thing about femininity - about strength and bravery and fearlessness - is that it's always going to be up to you. You can embrace the feminine, shun it, completely ignore it. You can be both and neither. 

Find your thorns. Embrace your roughness. Love your strangeness. 

We do."

What excites me most about this print, is not is it only creatively driven by the founder of MFF as an expression of her own embracement of "the strange", it also embraces women of different ages, sizes, and backgrounds to share their stories. With MFF Fruit Print social media campaign, they asked women of their community to answer "What is something you love about yourself that might be viewed as contrary to traditional femininity?" Founder of MFF Jenn Kriske has shown her own sweet and thorny strength as a leader in the cycling industry with her boldness to support women's cycling, from community building, a race team, and women's specific kit, she has empowered and shown that women in cycling are badass and she's not afraid to show it with her community beside her.
With all the stories they have been sharing, it got me thinking about story telling and why it's so relevant to women's cycling.

It turns out that when we give women a voice, they are empowered and empower others. We all know that the stories of women's strengths, achievements, and impact is something we are now celebrating as a culture, however, the cycling industry is still "a mans world" that tends to marginalize women, you really only have to walk into a bike shop to see this. With women stepping into the women's cycling market, women are no longer following the traditional "feminine" ideas of "being a woman" but rather creating their own identities outside of cultural norms. It also turns out that facts don't tell a story to make a real impact (hello election 2016) so creating compelling content that shares these strengths, achievement, and impacts is one to really move girls and women into a sport such as cycling. These stories about being sweet and thorny and struggling to overcoming barriers to embrace your unique abilities and identity are definitely worth checking out on #machinesforfreedom on Instagram.

Have you thought about something that you love about yourself that is viewed as contrary to femininity?

Bike Talk: Will #METOO Shake Up Women's Cycling?

15 February, 2018

It's no surprise that sexism is endemic in cycling. It's one of the reason's I started this segment Bike Talk. When I first started commuting by bike in San Francisco, I didn't realize I would enter a lifestyle that would leave me with daily tales of being bullied, harassed, and mansplained about what I should wear when riding my bike. The more I got into cycling, the more I started seeing sexism in all areas of cycling, especially pro cycling. After some time, it started making sense to me that my experiences as a female cyclist was a reflection of the male dominated sport of cycling but no way was I going along with it. So much of my content is specifically created to appeal to women for that exact reason but while I've grown with women's cycling I have also seen cycling's growing pains, only now we are in the most interesting time of the #METOO movement, and I'm wondering how all this is going to shake up the cycling industry and sport in 2018. 

Before I go on, I do want to make clear that this is an opinion peace and this blog is monitored to give women a safe space to express their thoughts and ideas. The #MeToo movement has done the same in giving women a voice. We all have been collectively hit with stories that's make us reflect on our own uncomfortable experiences. Women are angry and hungry to break down sexism and cycling is going to have it's moment. 

We have seen it, there have been countless horrendous examples of misconduct by male pro-cyclists with podium girls, coaches, doctors and others abusing female athletes in their care. A handful of brave athletes have gone on the record about harassment, discrimination and abuse: Jess Varnish, Nicole Cooke, Marijn de Vries, Petra de Bruin, Tammy Thomas, Genevieve Jeanson, and, more recently, American track sprinter Missy Erickson, who shared her story of abuse as a junior to Bicycling Magazine. 

Pro women's cyclists, like Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead (now Deignan), have spoken out about the differences at the top, noting how male cyclists are paid far more and given far more support and media exposure than their female counterparts. British Cycling has pointed to the lack of female representation on its own board, pledging to recruit women board members to help even the playing field. But with years of male domination to contend with, despite the overwhelming success of female cyclists at a top level, it seems that women's moment in cycling could take some time before sexism is stamped out through all levels of the sport but I believe cycling is about to have it's own reckoning within the #MeToo movement.

Thanks to social media and fans, the industry has not been able to ignore allegations of sexism, sexual misconduct and abuse against women in pro-cycling. Over years, pro-cycling has generated it's own backlash of sexual misconduct, abuse, and exploitation of female athletes and podium girls. The 2008 Olympic road race champion Nicole Cooke has repeatedly talked about female riders being treated far less well than their male counterparts. Pro-cycling's Lizzie Armitstead writes in her biography of sexism in the sport. Sprinter Jess Varnish alleged that the former British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton told her to “go away and have a baby” – claims he denies – after she was released from the elite program. He was suspended but is now back to the track at British Cycling. Where is the justice?
Still, women in sports aren’t the first to feel powerless in the face of their male superiors. Before #METOO, we have seen women in cycling band together to bring out allegations within the sport. We have seen women write about sexism in sport, being paid less, and above all, not having support to showcase women's cycling by the sports governing body, the UCI.  While social media has ramped up support for women in cycling, I hope that pro-cycling will have it's moment of systemic change that will trickle down.

While pro cycling will have it's moment in the spotlight, the industry and community will be impacted. Already, we see women's cycling groups ramping up in support of one another and while our small community has a way to grow, we speak often about which brands, shops, and websites don't have women's specific kit, content, gear and bikes. We share what social media outlets and accounts to avoid and call out, what men to avoid in our clubs, which men are overly and uncomfortably “affectionate,” and which men go out of their way to make women’s lives hell. I also believe, it's only time that will tell how the women's cycling community will rock the boat with #METOO to change the industry and market.

A few women have told me they believe pro-cycling, industry and the community will have its #MeToo moment too and soon. A few other women tell me that they have stopped supporting brands, IG accounts, and bike shops that only sell mens products or market with sexist ads. Some think the hostile sexist environment is so endemic to the industry there is no way to dislodge. Others believe women can’t come forward about harassment until more women are in positions of power in cycling sports and media. So while the #MeToo movement continues to topple powerful men in a multitude of industries, the women in cycling will watch, bide their time, and wait. Only this time, the language is strong and women are more empowered and united more than ever.

Is this the beginning of a long-overdue shake-up in the male-dominated UCI boardrooms, cycling industries, and back offices of pro cycling? “They’re coming,” says Michael Kimmel, founder of the Center for The Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook University, who predicts that a wave of accusations against sports figures will emerge. “One big difference in 2017 is that women are being believed. Women are not on trial. Their credibility is not the issue. Men’s behavior is the issue. That is the biggest change right now.” 

I am hopeful that the broader #METOO movement will improve the culture of cycling. “There’s finally a feeling among women that it’s OK to talk about their experiences,” says Kimmel. “Watching the movement, the bravery of women coming forward, it emboldens others. The whole point is that the new generations shouldn’t have to deal with this.” As pro-cycling's road season comes to a start this Spring, I believe this will be the year we see big changes for women in cycling, hopefully in communities and industry too. Already, we've seen cycling ads include women,  some women's road media exposure, and equal prize money to it's winners, thanks Tour Down Under. Surely, this step will open the door for more women's participation in women's cycling. And if the Future Is Female, then pro-cycling has one hell of a reckoning to contend with in 2018.

Images: Sarah Reed/SATC 

Caring For Cycling Kit

12 February, 2018

Kits are an investment made to last through our most epic adventures and plenty of miles. If your legs can handle it, your kit should be able to handle it too. Keeping up your favorite jersey with just the right amount of pockets, bibs with leg bands that do not squeeze too tightly, and gloves to match with a comfortable grip – the perfect cycling apparel, is priceless. While cycling kit can be pricey, just like your favorite pair of jeans or shoes, cycling kit comes with plenty of rules when it comes to caring for it. Follow these tips to ensure your kit looks sleek forever.
Check the labels first -  Read washing instructions on the labels in cycling clothing as each brand has a different set of instructions depending on the type of material they have. If you follow the directions given with the garment, it will have the best chance of living a long and productive life. 

Detergents - Do not use heavy detergents, fabric softners, dryer sheets with heavy perfumes or dyes when washing kit. Residue's from detergents or softener's can interfere with the fabric technology from doing their job like wicking moisture away or repelling rain. I tend to lean on cleaning my kit with Dr. Bronner's so that detergents on kit don't irritate my skin.

Machine Wash - I actually recommend machine washing kit since nothing gets rid of trail grime and sweat, and sanitizes like machine washing. Wash all your kits together. Bulky items like jeans, velcro, towels can destroy delicate fabrics like mesh. To keep the color and fabric in good shape, zip up kit and turn inside out to wash with delicates in cold or lukewarm water. In the long run, machine washing will actually help your apparel function better.

Hand Wash - If you can't get to machine cleaning your kit right away, hand wash or rinse and hang them inside out to dry when you get home. Even kit with great anti-bacterial material will stay damp with sweat if not able to breath and the longer cycling shorts and jerseys stay damp with sweat, the more likely, they are to grow odor-causing bacteria.
Drying - Again be sure to check your kits labels. Synthetic fiber garments and durable water repellent finishes on your kit have a “memory” that shapes to your body. Drying them in low heat will bring them back to their original state and may damage some of the material. Always best to air dry, especially items like gloves or shoe covers that have velcro and other material that may damage jersey's or shorts.
What if I'm touring? - Do not re-wear your bike clothes the next ride without a good wash. It may be tempting to throw on the same kit without a wash for a second day if you only have a few kit items. Even some high performing fabrics designed to transfer moisture away from the body and dry quickly can turn rancid on the surface if not washed after each use. Even worse, wearing the same bibs or shorts for a second day could result in rashes, chafing, and even infections in extreme cases. Always best to wash by hand with a natural soap and air dry overnight.
Other Tips: Check your pockets for extra money, snacks, or gels. Mesh lingerie bags also come in handy for washing cycling gear if they have delicate fabrics.

When you purchase good quality kit you're already one step ahead. Once you consider the garment specifications when checking out new cycling gear, keeping in mind the type of material and care of your kit to keep it in good shape and always looking like new.

Image Courtesy: 1. @andcarmelasays

No Off Season

31 January, 2018

It's been a while coming but HAPPY 2018! While it's been quiet on the blog, I've been occasionally Instagramming my adventures and enjoyment of Californian sunshine and cycling. Even though micro-blogging on social media allows me to post a photo and snippet of the content, it doesn't necessarily allow me to share the story behind them which is why I love coming back to blogging after a stint of being "off-line" during the "off-season". However, it's not been much of an off-season while cycling in California. While there is so much I want to share about my adventures cycling in the West Coast, not all can be captured in a social media post or tweet. 

Once again, I'm spending another winter escaping New York winter in California. While I'm here for the next month, I am planning my wedding and cycling as much as my heart desires. Being that CA is my home state, there are family and friends to meet and catch up with, only this time, it's been all about meeting cycling Instagram friends IRL (in real life). Being a blogger, I've always loved meeting followers and people I follow since online life is so different from real life. Meeting online friends in real life has been a practice of making real connections with like minded women in cycling which I have found that there is something to be said about in real life meetings.
Call me naive, but meeting online cycling friends has been far from being the bottomless repository of oddballs and potential serial killers! The internet is full of lively minded, like-minded engaging people – for the first time in history I believe we're lucky enough to choose friends not by location or luck, but by pinpointing people with amazingly similar interests, lifestyles, matching politics, senses of humor, and passionate feelings about the most infinitesimally tiny thing we call our cycling community. The online cycling friends I have now might be spread wide, geographically, but I'm closer to them than anyone I went to school with, by about a million miles.

For me, and people like me who might be a little shy or socially awkward – moving conversations and friendships from the net to a coffee shop table is a much more organic, normal process than people who spend less time online might expect.
Depending on the root of the friendship, on where the conversation started, the benefit is clear – you cut out the tedium of small talk. What could be better? The nice thing is that there's no trying to slowly work out whether you think similarly or have the same kinds of life experience, or whether you really do have enough in common to sustain the conversation – all that is done by the time you meet because you've read their comments or their emails or their blog. You know where they stand on certain things, what they care about and just who they are – and so when you actually meet them, it's like you've known them a year or your whole life already because all the small stuff is already out of the way, months of small talk replaced by the fact that online friendships are, essentially, self-selecting.
Whenever this topic of meeting Instagram friends IRL crops up in conversation, I have seen people express these types of encounters with an air of disdain. The sense of shock surprises me, as if people on the internet were not "real" at all. Certainly, people play a character online quite often – they'll be more confident, more erudite, or, depending on the site, more argumentative version of their real selves – but what's the alternative? What's the thing that's so much better than making friends in a virtual world? Meeting people at work? Yes perhaps, but for many, a professional distance between their work selves and their social selves is necessary, and they just don't want to spend that much time with people they work with – especially with their guard down. Is it better to meet friends in pubs? While drunk? Are they really much more themselves in that state than in the words through which they present themselves online?
There are always stories buzzing around about "man runs off with the woman he met on Second Life" or people who meet their soulmate online and end up with their head in someone's freezer – but affairs are affairs. People are people are people – by making friends online, you're simply speeding through the whole process, bypassing shyness and getting rid of the social awkwardness that comes with trying to make a friend out of a stranger.

Is it really that odd that we're increasingly converting virtual cycling friends to real, physically pokable ones as well as the other way around? Frankly, I now think it's weird to do much else. Call me naive, call me a social misfit, I don't care. Virtual cycling friends make the best real friends. 

Being that I live a life of travel and work from home, meeting online friends in real life is a great way to getting out and letting the world teach me a little bit. From these online cycling ladies I've recently met, I've learned so much about their views on women's cycling and community than I have online that the rest of the world does not get to hear. One other thing I've learned is that while sharing our stories online is important to inspire more women to cycle, it's also important that we make time to connect with each other in real life. 

Thank you Alex of Jane and Her Joe, Melissa Planner at LBSU, Ginger of Machines For Freedom, and Yuliana of Bike California for making the time to meet up for a ride and chat about the cycling world.

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