In Celebration of Women on Bikes

Today is March 8, International Women's Day. Scrolling through my social media feeds, I've been overwhelmed by posts celebrating women from all walks of life: girls fighting the odds to go to school in war zones, a huge list of women who have won the Nobel Prize and their accomplishments, and an acknowledgement from the New York Times of all the women that didn't get proper honor at the end of their lives. 


In the spirit of celebrating women in our lives, this post is all about women on bikes who are changing the world. This list is totally subjective and is colored by my outlook on the "bike world." I know I left people off and might have a second edition soon. 

I encourage you to support these businesses, join their rides, and help promote their causes. Together, we will help reach gender equality in our day.

Leah Benson - Owner of Gladys Bikes in Portland

Leah Benson.jpg

 Leah is the brains behind the With These Thighs movement. She runs Gladys Bikes in northeast Portland, which has an innovative saddle library, and is a beacon of light for bike shops. Check out this article from Bicycling for more from Leah, and go visit her when you're in Portland!

Anna Brones - Author, Creator, Cook, Advocate

Coffee Self Portait

I met Anna a few summers ago while on the Komorebi Olympic Adventure Route Trip. She graciously planned and brought all of the food for a trip of 7 women (and it was delicious!) She is a prolific author, penning works including "Hello, Bicycle", "Best Served Wild" and "The Culinary Cyclist." Check out her website for all of the projects she's currently working on. 

Kathleen Emry - Owner of Free Range Cycles in Seattle


Whenever I meet a small person who is looking for a good quality bike, I direct them to Kathleen at Free Range Cycles. Her shop consistently stocks small bicycles, which for anybody outside of the average size range knows, can be a challenge to find. She's also a badass explorer and adventurer, last year riding the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

Madi Carlson - Family Biker Extrodianaire


Madi has been an inspiration to me since I started riding bikes as an adult. She is the mom of two boys and proudly lives a car-free lifestyle, with frequent updates on Instagram and Facebook of their daily adventures. She wrote "Urban Cycling", a go-to book for all things bikes and currently contributes to Portland Bike Blog for their Family Biking column. 

Jess Cutler - Founder of Northwest Women's Cyclocross Project


Jess is a lawyer, advocate, champion, and former bike racer. She works for Washington Bike Law and in her spare time runs the Northwest Women's Cyclocross Project, a development team for young cyclocross racers. The project seeks to assist talented female junior and U23 cyclocross racers make the transition from local success to national and international competition. Jess is an inspiration to me to continue to do good work and get more people out on bikes. 

Monica Gallagher - Founder of Menstrual Monday (now Moxie Monday)


Monica will probably be super embarrassed to be put out to the world like this, but she deserves all the recognition in the world. Monica founded Menstrual Monday (now called Moxie Monday) over 8 years ago, as a monthly women's social bike ride. She is also the brains behind Girls of Summer, an annual women/trans/femme alleycat race in Seattle. Last year, the race had over 140 participants.  Monica also rode the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route from Canada to New Mexico last summer- SOLO. Seriously, check her out and get inspired:


A Leap of Faith...and a crash

I read one time that life is all about bold moves. Asking out the person you have a crush on, saying yes to skinny dipping at midnight, chasing that dream job. Well, I just made a really bold move and am seriously wondering if I was massively wrong.


I worked at the same company for 9 years.  A very steady, decently paying (not amazing), kind of boring job. This company has billions in the bank (in cash), a generous vacation policy, and phenomenal insurance. We’re talking 100% company sponsored insurance. But I was bored, frustrated for working for the man, and felt like I was crashing into a glass ceiling. So three weeks ago I quit.

I was lured away to a company with a mission of “creating fun.” In my interview, the CEO and Vice President gushed on about their great culture and low tolerance for bullshit. After being in Corporate America for basically my entire adult life in a job where I couldn’t wear short sleeves (because ice cream tattoos are not part of the dress code), the chance to wear jeans to work, bring a dog into the office, and work a flexible schedule was music to my ears.

I took the bold move, quit my cushy job, and took on this new role.

The position was sold to me as a “Director of Communications and Sales” primarily responsible for communicating with our participants, selling leagues and growing revenue for the company. I was also to be in charge of social media, newsletters, and customer relationship building.

This all seemed like a great fit for the social side of my personality, and I was excited to try sales.

Fast forward two weeks.

I have come home from work crying 4 days out of the last 10. I feel like the world’s biggest idiot. While I know that it’s not true, I still feel like I’ve made the biggest mistake in the world.

Airing dirty laundry does nobody any good, so I’m not going to put them on blast with everything that I’m unhappy with. But there is a list, and due to the company culture, I don’t foresee any of it changing.

So, I’m done. I quit late last week.  I've never done anything like this and it honestly feels a bit crazy. 

I don’t know what is next in the long term. For now, I’m going to work a few part time jobs, join the gig economy and live as frugally as possible. After that, I have dreams of traveling- possible a long distance hike or bike tour.

A large part of me is really excited because I’ve never had freedom like this, but it also scares the living daylight out of me. Here’s to bold moves.



I Rode an E-Bike and Fell in Love

The other day I was walking around Capitol Hill taking photos with my new-to-me DSLR camera and happened upon the following scene outside the Link Light Rail Station.


Now, a line of free floating bike share bikes outside of a transit station isn’t something new in Seattle. In fact, since Spin, Ofo, and LimeBike came to town, there are seemingly hundreds of colorful bikes around town. This lineup was different – there were e-bikes.

I had heard rumors about both Lime and Spin releasing electric bikes into their fleets, but here they were! Without fanfare or a Twitter marketing promotion, the bikes had been released into the wild! And for $1 I could ride one! (Technically, it’s $1 to unlock, and then $1 every 10 minutes.)

And I haven’t smiled like that on a bicycle in years. Within the first pedal stroke I could feel the difference. It wasn’t huge, but it was just enough juice to boost my start and get me up to speed pretty quickly.

Since that first day, I’ve ridden the Lime e-bikes two more times, both for my commute. And overall, I am very impressed. Here is my take on the Good, the Bad, and some general thoughts.


The Good

These bikes are easy to ride. They use the same step-through, upright geometry that the other bike share bikes use. They’ve also got a front basket and cell phone holder installed, which make carrying things a breeze. Because of the battery in the back, they are quite a bit heavier than the non-electric bikes, but the weight didn’t seem to impact the handling at all.

(True confession- I normally ride a stupidly heavy Surly Straggler that has fenders and two racks, so I might not be the best judge of bike weight.)

There are no gears to shift. I have no idea what sort of technical magic they have in those bikes, but it’s a one gear system. Super simple.

You still have to pedal. The bikes are pedal assist e-bikes, which means you can’t just throttle out the power. This makes me feel like I’m still getting in some physical activity, it just makes those hills that I normally dread much more approachable.

The Bad

 They’re a bit pricey. At $1 to unlock, and then $1 for each subsequent ten minutes, the costs add up fast. This is especially true if you plan to use the bikes for commuting and taking into account traffic. Similar to the Car2Go model where you pay by the minute, I felt like I needed to ride to my destination as fast as I could to avoid more charges.

They’re a bit sluggish on flats. This isn’t a huge problem, as let’s be honest, how many flat roads do we have around Seattle? Because the electric assist tops out at 14 miles per hour, riding these on flat ground makes them feel a bit slow and heavy.

Recharging is a manual and clunky process. The batteries in the bikes are replaceable and Lime has their fleet operations continually going out to the e-bikes to replace and recharge batteries that need it. This is cool, however, it means that as a user, the bike you found on the map and planned to use might have a low battery. Or, it might get picked up by the Operations Team while you’re on your way to go use it. (True story, I watched this happened and talked to the technician who picked up the bike I was about to ride.)

General Thoughts

I didn’t want to like e-bikes, but I think I might be a convert. I loved the upright position but still having power to get up hills. It was a convenient alternative to taking the bus (or my own bike.) And it was FUN.

I genuinely think that bike share e-bikes could dramatically impact the biking landscape in Seattle. Just as free floating bike share has made riding a bike in Seattle accessible to more people, these e-bikes will continue to expand the market.

Now, someone who is curious about an e-bike can ride one for less than the cost of a latte. If they have anything like my positive first experience, I could easily see this being a boom for the e-bike world.


Stoked Spoke Adventure Series

Tomorrow is the January edition of the 4th Annual Stoked Spoke Adventure Series, hosted by Swift Industries. For the 3rd year in a row, I’ll be presenting on one of my favorite routes from the previous year.



This year I’ll be talking about the bikepacking route I did in Montana. If you want a sneak peak of what I’ll be sharing, take a look at my trip write up

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I’m eternally grateful to Jason and Martina from Swift for hosting this series, which has been instrumental in getting me out on my bike for rad adventures and in this blog. It was at Stoked Spoke that I first realized I like telling stories about my bike adventures and that people are interested in hearing about them.

Hope to see you all out at the Rhino Room tomorrow at 7pm!

Biking While Fat – Four Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started Riding

As a fat woman that rides a bike who is vocal about my adventures, body acceptance and good times on a bicycle, I’m often asked for advice. From picking a bike to my favorite routes to dealing with chub-rub, I get asked all sorts of things. And turns out, I know things!


So I've decided to share it with all of you. Bike advice for fellow fatties. Chubby people. Plus size cyclists.

Whatever you want to call yourself, there are some specific things to keep in mind when it comes to two-wheeled adventure, including picking a bike, figuring out what clothes to wear, and finding your people.

So, without further ado, Things I Wish I had Known When I Started Riding Bikes.

p.s. These are helpful tips for anyone, if you’re fat or not. 

p.p.s. I don’t ride to lose weight. Full stop. I ride for fun, transportation, adventure, and exercise. So if you’re reading this looking for advice on how to lose weight by riding a bike, I can’t help you. In fact, if you go on a ride with me, I will likely make sure you’re well fed and in no danger of bonking mid-ride. That means stopping for snacks, listening to our bodies, and checking in. Also eating ice cream.

1. Find a bike that works for you.

Ask yourself the following questions (before you go to the bike shop):

What kind of riding do you plan on doing?

  • Commuting to from/work
  • Carrying groceries or running other errands
  • Riding for exercise every now and again
  • Going on adventures, such as touring or camping
  • Racing/serious fitness riding

Sure there are bikes that could in theory do all of the above, but you’ll be a lot happier with a purpose-built bike.

What surfaces do you plan on riding?

  • Road only
  • Mixed road, trail, gravel
  • Anything and everything!

Does bike material matter to you?

Modern bikes are primarily made out of three materials – steel, aluminum, and carbon (some really expensive bikes are made out of titanium too.)

Most entry-level bikes are aluminum, but I would caution heavier riders to do their research and perhaps look into steel, as they tend to have higher weight limits. This especially becomes a factor if you plan on carrying cargo.

If you are shy about how much you weigh, do this research before you go to the bike shop. Most manufacturers have their weight limits listed online, and in my experience, many bike shop employees are not experienced at working with bigger people and won’t know the weight limits for the bikes.

 Bike weight limit diagram from Specialized's Manual

Bike weight limit diagram from Specialized's Manual

Other things to think about when choosing a bike:

Wheel Strength – All wheels are created equally, right? I thought so too and for a long time, couldn’t figure out why I kept breaking spokes on my road bike. Finally, a bike mechanic that I trust dearly told me that I needed stronger wheels for the type of riding and stress I was putting my bike under. Talk to an experienced wheel building (oh hey Sugar Wheel Works) or your at your local shop about what kind of wheels you need to support your weight.

Tire width – Take a look at the tires on the bike you plan on buying. The wider the tire, the more cushion-y the ride will be (in most cases.) Wider tires also give you more flexibility to run them at lower pressures, without risking a pinch flat. As a heavier rider, I urge you to invest in a good pump for your house and check your tires before every ride. Fill your tires to the recommended PSI on the tire and you’ll run less risk of flatting out.

E-bike? - A great option if you want to get on a bike, but maybe have a longer commute in mind. 

REI has a really good, in-depth article about the different types of bikes, materials, wheel sizes, handle-bar styles, and other technical mumbo-jumbo that I didn’t cover.

p.s. Don’t forget that you can change things on your bike after you buy it, such as the saddle, pedals, handle bars, etc. A little change can make a big difference in comfort!

TLDR: Figure out what kind of riding you want to do, research before you go into a bike store, and try out lots of bikes before you buy.

2. Wear clothes that make you feel good!

When I first started riding, I thought to be taken seriously I needed to wear the right clothes including spandex, clip in shoes, and the tiny little bike hats. Not only did that get expensive fast, but it became an exercise in frustration as I was constantly searching for “bike clothing” in my size.  

(To be fully transparent, I usually wear between a 16-18 dress size, size 18 jeans, and an XL in women’s tops. I can squeeze into an XXL yoga pant from Target or Old Navy, but most standard size athletic brands are off the table.)

Now that I’ve logged a few thousand more miles, I’ve come to realize that I can ride my bike in anything, but the key factor is comfort. If I don’t feel confident and comfortable, I’m not going to want to ride no matter the distance.

This is not to say that bike clothes don’t work for bigger people. Many people swear by them for the sports performance factor, and I will often wear cycling bibs for my longer rides as I love the built in chamois. But for everyday riding, I stick to wool layers in the winter, dresses and leggings in the spring/fall, and tank tops in the summer. My absolute saving grace has been a rain cape– it keeps me dry but not too sweaty, and it fits no matter what size I am!

Some athletic brands are getting better about expanded size ranges, and both times I've asked bike specific lines about XXL, they've sent me product samples to try. Great work Redfrog Athletics and Wild Rye for working on this! (Any other brands looking for people to test out your gear, I'm here!! I'll try it and tell you honest reviews!)

So wear what makes you feel good. End of story.

3.  Find your people. They are out there.

No matter what kind of riding you want to do, there is somebody else who is looking for it too or who is already doing it. From organized group rides at your local bicycle club to training rides to get in shape for a charity ride to Kidical Mass rides, there are literally cycling groups for every single interest out there.

Recommended places to start include, your local bike club, and Facebook. And while it might be intimidating to go for your first ride, remember that we all started somewhere.

 Wheel Women Australia have been riding together since 2012!

Wheel Women Australia have been riding together since 2012!

4.  You don’t owe anybody anything

As a larger bodied person riding a bicycle, you might find yourself subject to stares and comments from people on the street. If your life is anything like mine, this is nothing outside the normal.

Just remember that you don’t owe them a response, you don’t owe them acknowledgment, you do not owe them anything.

You have every right to enjoy your time on your bicycle and they can just mind their own damn business.

So, there you have it. What else would you add to this list?