Bikes & Lighting in Las Vegas

This is a very delayed follow-up to my trip to Interbike in Las Vegas, the week of September 9 – 12th. This is somewhat about the event and somewhat about Las Vegas in general. You can read my Day 1 and Day 2 product reviews. 

medsI had a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers. . . also a bottle of pain relievers, handful of anxiety pills and an epinephrin shot. Not that I needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious polypharmacology dependency, the tendency is to pack for any scenario.*

The plan was to get from Portland to Las Vegas non-stop. And my adventure began before I even arrived at the airport. Because I have a vagal nerve stimulator and I hadn’t flown with it; I wanted to do my research. I mean, I’m not going to use the word, but. . . I have a titanium battery with wires coming out of it embedded in my chest. I was a little curious about how TSA would react to it.

Upon research, metal detectors are a potential issue to those with VNS devices. There are official websites dedicated to epilepsy advocacy; to VNS information and doctor’s referral that said that it is perfectly safe to go through the metal detector. Then there were others, as well as personal stories that said that metal detectors could possibly turn my device up, down or reset it. If my settings were to change, I could possibly go into status epilepticus right there and then on the terminal floor.

Yeah. No.

So I did what any over-reacting person would do. Instead of just gathering paperwork of support and dealing with it day of; I called the airport. The Port of Portland is great. The lady that I talked to arranged for me to call a customer service rep after I checked in that would escort my boyfriend and I through security. She said that she made a notation on my ticket in the computer. I don’t know what kind of notation. VIP? Trouble maker? Pain in the ass?

I also checked in with my rep from Cyberonics to ensure that my card with my generator and lead ID number were all that I needed. So I’m solid there. My rep ended up sending me a new card with all the info filled out – and instead of just mailing me an envelope with the card, she sent me a new set of magnets with the cards filled out. She informed me that if I ever need new magnets to let her or my neurologists know. Good to know! I’ll stop swiping myself in the hardware store to see if expensive nail bowl magnets are strong enough.

When I called Las Vegas airport, they didn’t care so much. The ADA guy left a voicemail referring me to another number. When I called that it was the emergency line at the airport. I don’t really want to alert them! I’m going to be difficult enough, what with my meds, electronics, magnets, luggage – I would hate to deal with me. . . the emergency line referred me to the customer service info kiosk, who brusquely told me that I just tell the security at the gate that I need to be patted down.

No special treatment in Las Vegas.

Our flight out was insanely early. We got up at about 4am. Had no checked luggage, had checked in the morning before online and so when we arrived at the airport were good to go. I called the phone number I was provided and sure enough a wonderfully polite lady from TSA showed up and escorted us through the security line. I put my items on the conveyor belt and went through the full-body scanner. After a brief conversation with the TSA security, we decided that I would be able to do that as an alternative to the old-fashioned x-ray machine. I don’t care if my junk is on display for the TSA operators. I was going to let them feel me up. I just don’t want my chest to explode. The body scanners are safe to use for people with VNS devices, pace makers, etc. What was super interesting is that the first time in Portland, I forgot to take off my belt which had a metal clasp and that pinged. On the way back in Las Vegas, my medic alert bracelet pinged, which it didn’t even show up on the screen in PDX. My giant titanium (about the size of a watch-face) medical device didn’t show up on either machines. So, I guess if you’re smuggling things into the country, make sure it’s titanium and embedded under your skin.

When we arrived in Las Vegas at 8 in the morning it was already warm. What was cool was that we got to share the shuttle to our hotel with two ladies who started Sweet Spot Skirts. The company started in Vancouver, WA and they’ve been around for a few years. For those of you that have never heard of them, they started their company with short wrap around skirts that cover up cycling or running shorts. For many women it can be a deterrent to exercising because of that awkward material. Personally, I really like wearing skirts over my shorts because it allows me to go straight from riding to restaurant in moments. They have really expanded their business and now sell nationwide; even now offering a man’s more “kilt” style wrap. These are great for after racing when you want to change out of that sweaty kit in public. They unfortunately weren’t showing at Interbike, but they were going to talk about their product and network with other retailers; which was the point of the whole thing. I mean, I’m talking about them now! There’s a couple cycling hats on their site I want. Check them out. They’re pretty swank.

Tuesday was our free day to get settled in to Las Vegas. Our first mission was to see if we could check into our hotel room early. Thankfully, that worked. Which was awesome, because neither of us wanted to carry around bags all day long.

Photo Sep 09, 12 05 03 PMThe first observation Brad made was that Las Vegas smells. And it’s true. There’s a very lenient smoking policy there. Basically as long as it’s not in a restaurant, it’s fair game. People were lighting up in the airport, walking around the casinos. It was like living in the 1950s. Worse than that, to cover up the smell of cigarettes, the hotels and casinos would pipe in artificial vanilla or cinnamon; resulting in this very stale, old folk’s home aroma. Not bad, not good – just very recognizable. And recirculated by the industrial A/C that every building was sporting.

 We decided to explore as much as we could this first day and ended up walking from the Mandalay Bay all the way to the Venetian and then back. That equates to about 5 miles. Strangely enough, we were able to do the majority of that inside the casinos. Most of the hotels are connected by shops, sky walks or casinos and discourage people from going outside. Honestly, we just went outside so that we could see something other than slot machines and so that we could get some sun instead of the dim casino lights.

One of the things that we discovered while walking outside was this cool stop sign. You may have one in your town, but we don’t (at least for the most part) in Portland. Both Brad and I thought that they were great attention grabbers. *WARNING* Slow pulsing light. 

So yeah, I was in this crazy city that doesn’t sleep, where there is always noise, and I’m taking little videos of flashing stop signs and checking out the transportation infrastructure. Here’s my thought on this; this town is made a lot for tourists. Many of them choose not to rent cars and so are reliant on other modes of transportation, whether that is walking, taking the tram, the bus, charter bus, taxi or whatever. What this town needs, if there were some bad asses that could cope with the blistering heat, would be some pedicabbers. And to tighten up that main thoroughfare that all the casinos are on. It’s like a 5 lane road that people are constantly crossing, cars are zig-zagging across. I heard or saw accidents on it every day I was there. It’s easy to say, “Not my town, not my problem.” But when it comes to people’s lives; it’s everyone’s problem to improve their quality of life standards.

Walking was exhausting. It was nice and warm in the sun, cold in the casinos. In addition to the lenient smoking laws, they also have an almost non-existent drinking policy. And while I am super careful about my drinking as it is a huge trigger for seizures; viva Las Vegas! Vegas seems to be famous for selling over-priced, under-boozed slushies; and there’s nothing that I love more than snowcones! So, I was toting around a cup of sugar-ice with a splash of booze for half the day.

I felt like such a small town gal, having never rightfully been to Vegas. I mean, I’ve driven through a number of times when I lived in Salt Lake City and we’d go to San Diego and I’ve had layovers there. I even had to pick up something in the suburbs once. This is like going to Disneyland for the first time. Super overwhelming with so much stimuli coming at you all at once.

2014-09-11 20.09.09I have a lot of dietary concerns and I’m vegan. The Vegas strip doesn’t really seem the ideal place to be eating, what with all their fancy Food Network chefs and chain restaurants. However, we ended up at a delicious restaurant called Slice of Vegas, coincidentally at the same time as Brad’s co-worker Mary was there (who is also vegan) where I came across a note at the bottom of the their menu advertising a book on vegan eating in the City of Sin. You can view a few of the restaurants without having to buy the book.

I did have to dip into my stock of enzymes; specifically Enzymaid to assist with gluten. But I mean, come on! Vegan bbq pizza! I only have a little luck with it, but it’s still worth it. (The giant 32oz beer was Brad’s. I’m not that foolhardy!)

But back to the noise. I like background noise. I like playing music in the background or watching TV. However, this is just noise. I don’t know if it’s the A/C or air recirculating, the slot machines, the incredible din of so many people and bodies or what. It was just a constant buzz of sound driving my ears crazy. Even when we went to our room, which was a nice room and I regret that I didn’t get any photos there was still noise. (It was just a standard room, but I’m easily impressed.)

It’s also wicked cold there. This is counter-intuitive since it’s a desert and if you check the weather it’s like 90 degrees and super dry. But the air conditioning systems are cranked up to 11. I feel sorry for people like, well. . . me who require a little extra warmth. If you look through the slideshow, you might notice I’m wearing a long-sleeve sweater in a couple of the shots. My mother told me that places like LV were why the “summer scarf” was invented. I resisted the urge to bring one of my gazillion scarves.

I also gambled for the first time! However, I didn’t spend any of my own money. I did something that is probably something really uncouth. People will leave change on the machines; 15 cents, 8 cents, things like that which you can’t actually use. I walked around and collected it for a few minutes until I had enough to feed into one machine so I could have a turn. How cheap, yes. I did borrow a couple dollars from my friends. It was just for fun and I don’t know how to do any of those card games. I watched some of the tables for a minute or too as well. Way too complicated.

We didn’t make it to any shows because we were so busy with Interbike, however that weekend they were doing a weigh in and big fight for Mayweather vs Maidana at the MGM Grand. We talked to the maintenance crew for a moment and Brad was able to peek in and look at the stadium; something that the security officer said was not allowed. (Not actually walk in and all that like you see in the movies. Just peek in the door.) We then stumbled into a pretty stellar display of all of Mayweather’s old boxing costumes and belts. They were going to be showing up at any moment and have a press conference and all that. We got a photo with the ring girls but ended up leaving as it was a complete madhouse.

Another hidden gem while walking in the Venetian was a place called Nectar. It looks like a bakery with little tarts and donuts in the front windows. It’s actually a soap and natural oil shop! You can even do customizable scents. I got hooked up with an apple spice/pumpkin blend roll-on for fall! Wish there was one of them here. Almost want to ask them about franchising options!!

All in all, it was an interesting trip. No terrible experiences with lighting.Some weird experiences with food ordering, but most of them were from me not reading the menu correctly. Exhausting. Smelly. Loud. I hugged a lot of strangers in costumes, so there’s that.

*Adapted from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (the movie version directed by Terry Gilliam; 1998) of the book by Hunter S. Thompon, 1971

Event Report: ARTCRANK Portland 2014

artcrankEvery fall I look forward to attending ARTCRANK. For those of you unfamiliar with this event, it is a poster art show and sale for bikey people. Each year it happens in over a dozen different cities in the United States and Europe, and in each city about 30 different local artists contribute their art to the event.

So that’s the thing; going to the Portland event, we’re going to see local Portland artists. And many of these pieces are special run that you can only get at the event. There was one piece last year out of San Francisco that I happened to see on the “Sneak Preview” images and loved the preview shots so much that I tracked down the artist in the Bay area and was able to order a print and have it shipped up to me. . .

But that’s not how it’s supposed to work.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of good things to say about this evening. This year the event was held at Velocult, which has been undergoing a lot of remodeling. It was really cool to see all the improvements they’ve been making on the interior, what with their new shelving and such. However, even with their substantial floor space, and moving their merchandise out of the way, where the poster viewing was set up, was over-crowded, cramped and shoved to the side. I feel that if they had run the posters all along the back of the shop, it would have made it much more open and allowed for more flow to the space, allowing the vendors to remain in the middle where they were and in the midst of all the activity.

The posters themselves? I can definitely appreciate the professionalism that went into them. These people were definitely artists that created them. And of course this is all opinion and objective; but I felt like the pieces were completely uninspired. There was a couple pieces that I thought were OK but there was nothing there that jumped out that I wanted to actually buy. And the thing is that I went there, out of my way, to actually buy something! I was planning on buying a poster! So it was really disappointing that not only was there nothing there, but it was really an uninviting environment to view the pieces and we ended up leaving after about 10 minutes.

I realized that environment can only be controlled so much, however, I am very familiar with event planning and layout of space. And it was just wrong. The only saving grace was that it was at a bar so the people that were planning this year’s program didn’t have to obtain an alcohol permit or get kegs like last year. But you couldn’t get to the bar to even order anything because it was so crowded.

Hell, I even have a souvenir pint glass that I got from a previous year and had to pay for. This year, their swag wasn’t anything new or special. Same shirts. Same clif bars. Same keychains. They need new sponsors and shit, too.

Like I said, there was nothing inherently wrong with the art, I just couldn’t be inspired by these pieces. I still can respect the time the artists took on them, the energy and skill. For that reason I’m including a list of the artist because there were some really excellent local artists represented there tonight and I wish them the best of luck.

Poster Preview of Doug Merritt's 2014 piece

Preview of Doug Merritt’s 2014 piece

  • Andrea Capp
  • Andrew Lockhart
  • Blaine Fontana
  • Cat Cheng
  • daria tessler
  • Darren Cools
  • David Rice
  • Doug Merritt
  • Elizabeth Bisegna
  • Epiphany Couch
  • Eric R. Mortenson
  • Ethan Allan Smith
  • Glitschka Studios
  • Iron Canvas Studios
  • Jason Miranda
  • jenn levo
  • Jennifer Parks
  • Jeremy Pettis
  • Juliana Nagan
  • Kevin M. Fitzgerald
  • Leo Zarozinski
  • Mairwen Eslinger
  • Mandy Grotie
  • Oscar Woodruff
  • Paste In Place
  • Pete Ellison
  • Scott Agrimson
  • The Make House
  • Zach Minard

Interbike 2014 – Day 2

If you didn’t catch it, check out “Interbike 2014 – Day 1” – I was given the opportunity to go to Las Vegas for 4 days to go to Interbike. This is an annual bike industry experience to preview the 2015 innovations, network with other people in the cycling industry and more. This blog entry is part of a series. Be sure to check in for them all!

Apparently even though Interbike was happening at the Mandalay Bay, that’s too classy to party in and everyone seemed to naturally congregate to the big, giant pyramid. Somehow we found ourselves there – and do you know how surreal it is to run into people that you know from Portland at 2:30 in the morning? So weird. Like half of Portland was partying at the Luxor, and from what I understand the other half was riding the Oregon Outback. Whole city must have been vacated this last week.

What I was really excited about for Day 2 of the event, despite already being exhausted and sore, was that Mary and I got to walk it together with Jordan and Brad – three retail sales managers. Bleary-eyed we stumbled into the show and while Mikey had some meetings to attend we were free to see what we wanted to. Mary had the same objectives in mind that I did, which was amazing and made it great for viewing things more effectively.

KODAK Digital Still CameraThe night before I accosted a man walking through the Shoppes wearing a shirt with a hedgehog on it. He gave me a a business card and told me his booth number so I made an effort to go visit him in the morning. Cleary Bikes out of Sausalito, CA! I love them! They are scoot bikes and kid bikes that are real, light weight bikes. What I loved in his pitch; Andy said “If you get a 19 lb kid riding a 19 lb bike, that’s like me a 250 lb man riding a 250 lb bike.” The colors of these bikes are in non-gender specific, they have a sloping down-tube so that the kiddos can grow with them a bit. They have hand brakes and coaster brakes which makes to easy transition to adult bikes; come in 12″ balance bikes, singlespeed in 12″, 16″ and 20″.  I kinda want one to bmx on! They’re freaking adorable.

KODAK Digital Still CameraI had seen these the day before, but wanted to talk about them with Mary. Detours Panniers. You have a lot of choice with your bike bags, these days. There are local makers, large companies and all that. They serve their purpose. I absolutely adore Detours. Apparently Mary does too, because she pre-empted me and said that there is already an order put in at work. I am always striving for a bike bag that I can bring into an office environment and not have it look, you know. . . like a bike bag. These are beautiful. Most of their line are waterproof, all of them are at least water-resistant (there are exposed seams and zippers on some models). They’re out of Seattle so these people know rain and weather. They have some more flowery models and some more neutral models that would be great for either guys or gals. I could totally see a couple of my guy friends carrying the Pike Place Pannier or the Rack Trunk around. I love the zipper flap that covers up the rack clips. All around, a great sturdy product!

The star of the show for all of us was really Moxie Cycling Co. This is cycling clothing made for women, by women. . . and it is gorgeous and unique. What I really hate about athletic gear is that it looks like athletic gear. Yup. This stuff is great. It looks fabulous, it’s breathable, movable. I can’t say enough about this stuff. I love the color combinations. I love the cut of all the jerseys. They have several different styles of necklines and sleeves. They don’t carry a short, but they do have a skirt and a beautiful bolero. I don’t care what anyone says – I love my shrug; and this one is 100x better. Check them out. They won’t disappoint!

KODAK Digital Still CameraThis company has been around for a few years, but I like reminding people about them since they were presenting there. Spirit Cyclewear. They not only sell shorts that have this great integrated light weight skirt  that you can pull down when you get done with your ride and or run but a gorgeous bamboo top with a built-in panel so you can lean forward and don’t have to worry about the girls falling out. I really want to get myself a couple of those tops. Honestly, I’m so glad that I didn’t have any money at this event or extra luggage space or else I would have come back with soooooo much extra stuff. It was hard enough with the swag that I collected for free. But these tops, I could totally see cruising into work and then going straight to my desk. Professional, but breathable, comfy – I really like the bottoms as well and have wanted to get a pair for a while now. The skirts come in a couple different lengths so if you want a mid or a knee length, you’re good to go!

KODAK Digital Still CameraI’m stoked about Tonik Cycling! Their motto is ‘Real jerseys for real women.’ I love them. Their tank tops have a really nice neckline and a great ruching that hides the tummy for those that are a little rumple conscious. I love the colors, the backside of the tank jerseys have a great scalloped reflective tape that is a nice touch without getting too lacey or girly. Matching arm warmers for all their t-shirts, a thicker fabric that is looser fit. They are so comfy and the ladies are so nice that run the company. I even scored a tank top and Mary got a jersey while talking to them! I am definitely going to be talking about them more because I wear tank tops all the time in the summer and I really needed one with jersey pockets. Check these ladies out! They’re from Whidbey Island, a mere 10 miles from my home town, I just realized, so I have an even bigger soft spot for them!

KODAK Digital Still CameraLet’s take a break from clothes for a moment and talk about bikes again. I mean it’s hard not to when we were looking at bike stuff all day. Juliana Bicycles are the cream of the crop of women’s mountain bikes. I don’t know the exact phrase; if they’re the “woman’s line” of Santa Cruz or if they just get help with the jigs or whatever, but somehow they are connected – so if they look similar, that is why. These are really, really nice bikes. If I wasn’t so terrified of uneven surfaces I’d love them more. But they’re pretty. I’d be like those people that buy jeeps or off-road utility vehicles and just drive them around town.

KODAK Digital Still CameraTerry Bicycles is a pretty well known brand for women in cycling. Some women love Terry and swear by the company and some women (like me) don’t really care for them. However, coming to Interbike and being able to see the entire product line stretched out before me. . . you changed my stubborn little Aries mind. And that’s a hard thing to do. The saddles are the the thing that I hate the most about Terry, but guess what? They have listened to complaints! Their new saddle is a more narrower, sporty cut, but still has cushion – but not like you’re gellin’ it. My major complaint is that when I am wearing a chamois and riding a super soft saddle it’s like I’m doubling up on chamois. And that’s just silly. So this firmer, narrower saddle is amazing! I never understood the wide saddles for women anyways. They always rub on the inside of my thighs causing awkward chafing (and that was both now that I am thinner and also when I weighed 100 lbs more.) Also, their clothing line. It’s very adult-like, yet fun. There are some hoodies and long-sleeve jerseys I’m in love with. I love the very modern, almost Asian cut of the collar and color palate. They have a great jacket that I WILL OWN. (Because of this week, I’m going to be re-vamping my entire winter wear by the way.) Also, their casual wear tops – love. Terry, you changed my mind. I used to hate you. I said a lot of mean things about your company and your saddles were literally the butt of many of my jokes – but you have redeemed yourself.

KODAK Digital Still CameraMary and I had never heard of this company before, but we really loved them. Ligne 8 is an online commuter apparel shop. This is a full line of men and women’s clothing that look like real clothing that you can walk around town in or go to work, but is fully integrated for cycling. It is movable, breathable, has hidden zippered pockets and others with flaps so you don’t lose your contents. There is pleating in all right places. This is classy clothing and stuff that you don’t want to grease up in the shop. I’m mentioning them, because affordable means a lot to different people. While $100 for a skirt isn’t affordable to me, I shop at Ross and Goodwill, so. . . I’m not the best judge. For clothing that has these kinds of features and you’re going to look professional and be able to go from riding to lifestyle to riding without any difficulty; people pay for that. Of course, I have friends that wear crinolines and high heels on a daily basis too. I like these people and am keeping them in my bookmarks.

KODAK Digital Still CameraIf you haven’t heard of Shebeest, you should! This company was developed by women, for women, and they have a great line of funky and unique patterns. They have some great cuts and patterns. I love the bright colors. They have a full line of plus-size women’s cycling clothing that you should check out. They have a riding halter top!! Great cut on their tank tops and a riding dress. Yes. They have a full line of bottoms, long, 3/4, shorts, mtn bike shorts, all sorts of stuff like that. I like the colors on their arm warmers. If you like t-shirts, they have some fun little sayings on their casual wear as well. They do sell it at Universal Cycles if you’re looking for it locally to try on. I don’t know why this stuff isn’t more popular. It’s really fun and regardless if you are a bright color person or a drab, you can find something you will like.

2014-09-12 12.26.41 - CopyKMC Chains are top of the line. All of my bikes run them and if they don’t when the current chain dies you better believe that when it gets replaced it will be a KMC. And these people are smart. Unlike Shimano, Campy or the other components companies that will just shrug and say “It works with a 10 speed chain.” KMC does so much product testing that they often know more about other company’s products than the company knows themselves. They need to know what will be compatible with what parts, how it will function, what will fail, how long it will run before it will wear out. They have different models depending if you’re racing off or on-road, if you’re a daily commuter, track bike, fixie color matching, etc. I am super excited about this new Eco Chain they’re rolling out. This is the main carbon footprint certified of their line with an output of 614g of carbon offsets or something. I don’t know. That could be totally wrong. There are words where the shiny plastic is under the numbers, but I can’t read them and I didn’t take notes when the guy was talking to me. Also, they had salt-spray protection on some of their chains, which is super great in some of their wintery conditions where they spray the roads or even on the coast for that rust. The eco thing is big and they’re doing it to a bunch of their chains. Way to be on top of it KMC.

Photo Sep 11, 11 55 42 AMWhat about security? Abus Security Tech is coming out with some really cool stuff for 2015. When it comes to keeping your bike safe from thieves we don’t like to mess around. Well, neither does Abus. Our concerns it seems is safety first, price and weight. And Abus paid attention to that. They’re coming out with new locks! The ones with the red heads that you see, the Us go all the way through the cross bar and there are two points of contact on each side so no way to twist and break! Their chains have a magnet assist, so just sticking them together, they stick so you can lock them in awkward situations easier. There’s also another lock (not pictured) that just by putting the U into the cross-bar it partially connects with the first 2 clip points so no more fumbling to get the two pieces together. (These are my official engineering terms.) And their quality to price range makes them, dare I say, better than Kryptonite?! Plus, Abus was giving out these amazing roll-top bags, so. . . they win.

I went up to the Shower’s Pass suite and was shown something amazing. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos of it because I misunderstood. I was told that if they take you behind a closed door it’s secret. Apparently if it’s in a hotel suite with snacks it’s ok. But, you know what?! Shower’s Pass is coming out with base layers! Beautiful soft base layers. Two different styles. I will wear the hell out of those things. They have different stitching in the elbows, armpits and spine where you sweat the most for max breathability. I also want a rogue jacket. They’re also making breathable waterproof socks. I don’t understand them, but I want them. . . .

There was just so much there that was great and some that was meh. I wish I could talk about everything that I saw, but that would just be so many, long entries! I’m going to leave you with this photo, though. If you don’t know who these guys are, they are pretty much the fathers of mountain biking. I’ve hung out with Gary Fisher before (right), Charlie Kelly, Joe Breeze and Tom Ritchey (R-L). Photo Sep 11, 3 50 40 PM

Interbike 2014 – Day 1

I was given the opportunity to go to Las Vegas for 4 days to go to Interbike. This is an annual bike industry experience to preview the 2015 innovations, network with other people in the cycling industry and more. This blog entry is part of a series. Be sure to check in for them all!

I set my alarm for 8am just in case but ended up waking about an hour earlier. Time is fluid in the casinos. Sometimes it goes very fast and sometimes it creeps by at a snail’s pace. When you are inside with no windows and air conditioning it is impossible to tell. Even walking across a sky bridge I noted the heavy tinting tricking you as to the time of day.

After throwing on some clothes, we wandered downstairs from the 15th floor and were immediately greeted coincidentally by a couple industry folks that we knew from Portland who let us know that House of Blues was relatively empty. This was refreshing considering the text I had received from another friend saying that they were in the “four-mile Starbucks line” and the similar one we passed at the buffet. Despite the menu being designed by famous chef Aaron Sanchez, both Brad and I found the food bland. My assumption is that they don’t overly season food in Las Vegas due to the wide variety of dietary restrictions that visit the city; high cholesterol, low sodium, diabetes, etc. Whatever the reason, even Brad who never salts/peppers had to use the shakers.

KODAK Digital Still CameraAnd then I walked around Interbike Day 1 for about 6 hours straight.

You probably want to hear more deets right?

The six of us discussed later that if we were to all come back again, we would do it differently. We’d actually check out the map and plan how we would traverse the event. We’d set up our day to meet with our reps and dealers more efficiently, set aside time for meals, and avoid running back and forth across the building. Needless to say that is not how we planned it out this year.

I walked in with Brad and made it about ten feet into the convention before the overwhelming swell of anxiety began rising within me. The absolute vast sea of exhibitors was crushing.

But no time for panic, my child-like wonder took over and I quickly remembered my objective. As you are probably aware, bicycle industry is predominantly male dominated and the bikes are often advertised as a luxury sports item for a wide variety of companies. “Ride Harder!” “Pedal Faster!” Photos of sweaty lanky dudes clad in lycra hammering it down winding European hillsides. There’s a place for racing and that stuff is shiny and pretty, but what I was focused on is transportation. Specifically women and children. I am all about making cycling accessible to everyone and right now, especially in this economy the $10k+ bikes aren’t really practical or in my spotlight.

Furthermore, Interbike has had a reputation in the past of being a little bit of a chauvinistic sausage-fest to say it in the crassest way possible. This year there was a big push to have a larger women’s selection and seminars regarding marketing to women, etc. It seemed as if the organizers were at least making an effort at least.

I personally experienced that while walking around by myself that first morning. I would get pushed out of the way of products so that men could get better views. I even got asked very pointedly by one exhibitor if I had gotten my entry comped by a spouse. (I did, but that’s not the point. If I had been a business owner that would have been a slap in the face, and regardless it was.) On the 2nd day, while walking around with Mary, I overheard two guys gushing about us while we were obsessing over the Phil Wood hubs comment to each other that; “Chicks that are into bikes are hot.” While I agree, not professional or appropriate.

So what did I like? I am going to break this into a couple entries. Day 1 I walked around some by myself and Day 2 we walked around as a big ol’ team so I want to talk about those days separately.

State Bicycle CoKODAK Digital Still Camera out of Arizona. I am in love with their new ‘cross bike. Their motto is ‘quality, affordable fixed-gear bikes’ – and let me tell you; they are gorgeous! I’m seriously thinking of one for a new single speed. One of the things that I was focused on was the sizing, and these start at 46cm, and the pricing for some of their commuter bikes is as low as $400 and none of their bikes go over $1k. You don’t have to get the pink model. But I highly recommend it.

KODAK Digital Still CameraI had a lovely conversation with the guys from Virtue Bike out of California. They were showing their e-assist “school bus,” a cycle truck and even a concept design for a velomobile. Their concept is lifestyle. They also have a whole fleet of other bikes. A lot of step-throughs, commuters – every day riding. . . and a freaking faux pedersen. That’s right. These guys sell a commercial pedersen with a normal saddle instead of the sling seat. I love them for that alone.

KODAK Digital Still CameraThere was a video running while I was talking to the exhibitor, and let me tell you, these Weehoo kid haulers are pretty amazing. The video was taking the kiddos downhilling. Seriously. I don’t even like doing that alone and the kids were going over the wooden ramps and shit. The trailer has handles and holds up to 100 lbs which means you can tote a kid up to like 6 or 7 years old. There’s pedals so the kid can be involved in riding and can help out. There’s single, doubles, there’s this new one they’re coming out with that is a single, with saddle bags over the wheels AND a little grocery-getter bag so you can just grab and go. I don’t even have kids and I’m sold.

KODAK Digital Still CameraBy far my favorite item at the event was the Warbird carbon fiber handlebar by a company out of California called BP4 Design. This goes into my “there’s a time and place” category, because I generally don’t like drop bars, but I gotta tell you, these are comfy as hell. They had a bike on a trainer set up and while Brad hopped up, I think the guys were surprised when I popped up there and checked them out myself. But these guys are great. We chatted with them for quite a while, found out about their product design, how they came up with the concept, etc. One of the designers, a professional trainer actually suffered from childhood epilepsy. Just mentioning that because it came up in conversation. He also does a weekly podcast on people improving their lives and seizing the day. But going back to the handlebar, it’s got a ton of hand positions, reduces fatigue, great for smaller frames like myself, so female-friendly but that doesn’t mean that it’s meant for smaller people – Mikey who’s over 6′ tried it out and was loving it. It’s all-around really comfy. And that’s coming from someone that doesn’t like drop bars!

KODAK Digital Still CameraFarrier Bikes based out of Fort Collins, CO are adorable! They are great quality, affordable – and they’re actual, real bikes for kids or those that are short of statue. 24″, 650 and 700 models. I could totally sport that 650. Or the 700. It’s hard to be an inbetweener. This was also one of the coolest booths to hang out at, because All Hail the Black Market was chilling here. I wish I could have gotten a cap. Instead I got a t-shirt from Swobo who was also chilling there. Speaking of Swobo, they have a wicked cool line as well. A fat bike, 29er, cross, step-thru, fixie, etc. You know, like a full line. . . And they want to sell their line for under $1k.  I was digging this Colorado crew quite a bit. 

KODAK Digital Still CameraI didn’t stop and talk to this company, but I did grab a flyer for Bobike.These are some really cool bicycle safety seats for your wee ones coming out of Portugal. I really like the windshield on the front, kid handlebar grab holds for safety and the high back rest on the back with helmet recess. There are several different models of the seats and they even have a line of helmets. They have integrated foot protection, different colors and all sorts of features. There is even a seat that has a high head rest that wraps around to the sides and 3-point adjustable seat belt that keeps the child upright as well as the foot rests which looks like it could be a great option for a family with a kiddo who is living with a developmental or learning disability.

KODAK Digital Still CameraMost of you are probably familiar with the company, SpeedplayI don’t use them, but Brad does. They came out with a couple of really great new designs. One, the Syzr is their new mountain bike cleat/pedal system. The pedal totally looks like an SPD, but it’s not. It’s really tiny, lighter and supposed to have a longer life-span. It’s not ready to ship out yet, and they don’t even have a price set for it, but they’ve insisted that it’s the most stable design they’ve tested yet. Maybe it’s because it looks just like an SPD. . . They’re not getting rid of the Frog. It’s just going to be another option. Another one they’re rolling out is the Pave - and is designed for racing – specifically to handle the unpredictable environment of the cobbles. That’s cool. Though I think better than locking in your feet to pedals in slippery bumpy conditions, training wheels would be better to handle those shitty unimproved roads. I don’t know. I freak out when I can’t pull my foot out of my cleat. I don’t want something that locks me in moreso! To each their own. There are people that are really excited about this. They both looked cool, but I’m not running out and switching my system.

Speaking of syzring. . . I mean mountain biking. Really. . . anyway. I present you Bern’s first mountain inspired bike helmet for women; the Prescott. There are several different colors and designs – but the great thing about Bern helmets is that their women’s line is actually created for women; it’s not just smaller sizes. They talk all about it on their website. All the man vs woman sizing; what makes their helmets different than their competitors; all that good stuff. They really have a really great line of not only bike helmets but protective gear for all variety of sports for any time of year. They have a couple different cuts for the visors which are very flattering; difficult since helmets are just ugly in general and their color line all around for their 2015 men, women and children all look great. I am really excited to see what else is going to be coming out from these east coasters from Massachusetts.

2014-09-10 12.09.29 - CopySo we wandered over to hung out with our good friends over at Twin Six. We’ve always been huge fans of T6; Brad probably owns more of their product line than the owners do. We’ve been doubly excited the last couple of months because T6 is releasing a line of frames! Four different styles: fat bike, 29er, cross and rando. They’re big into metal and are rocking steel and titanium. Check out their press release for all the stats. I would totally love one, but unfortunately their sizing starts at 51cm. This wasn’t an issue that was insular to this company. Many cycling companies don’t begin their bikes until 50cm as their smalls, but a lot of women ride frames that are 46 – 50cm – this creates a highly exclusionary market. I understand how small businesses work and that they often don’t have the finances to create such diverse sizing in their line, however women and shorter men speak with their money. Double the sizing; double the money.

KODAK Digital Still CameraThen I saw Gama Bikes. That was also when I got yelled at by the only security officer at the event that cared. There were literally thousands of people taking photos but apparently this little company from Chile was a target to industrial espionage. What I liked about them is that the guy said that they market their bikes for people about 16 – 40 year olds. They’re not trying to push $4k bikes, but rather about $300 range. The exhibitor said that they are really focused on making bikes for everyone. He said that they do a lot of market research to ensure that the styles and colors perform well and if they don’t they’ll swap it out with something better next year. I really like that. I’m not a huge fan of step-through frames, but they have a wide variety of styles, full matching vendors, baskets and back racks – all that good stuff. For the rider looking for an affordable option or a beginning rider wanting to get a nice bike but not wanting to break the bank these are beautiful options.

KODAK Digital Still CameraI had to make it over to Va-Giant. . .  or rather Liv. If you’re not familiar with Liv Cycling, they are the women’s line of Giant Bicycle. I don’t have a lot to say about them. They claim their line is made specifically with women’s needs in mind. What that means is that they’re built with a short top tube and some awful colors. I don’t know. These bikes are probably pretty awesome, expensive racing bikes. They just don’t really look like they’re trying and some really obvious lip service.

KODAK Digital Still CameraThen you have a company like Leader from San Diego. They have some pretty swanky frames and usually I would consider them out of my price range; however they have a couple (the ones in red and blue below) that are part of their new entry level line. Sizing starting at 46cm and up. Not that I’m in the market for a track frame, but still; they can be ridden on the street if you’re wanting a stellar fixie or single speed. Nice eye candy to be sure. I’d be afraid to ride it, it’s so pretty.

You’d think we’d be done by then, but we weren’t by far. My feet were tired and I was exhausted. I still hadn’t eaten since breakfast and it was after 4pm. Had to spin by the Jelly Belly booth another time for more sports beans or the Clif Bar juice and granola-bar bar. Surly was starting to roll out the kegs about 3:30 and the band was beginning to crank up at the Chrome station. But the day was far from over.

KODAK Digital Still CameraAt the beginning of the day, I had tweeted that I wanted a chillout corner. And guess what? I found it! In the form of Nutcase Helmets! Surrounded by Portland-love, I could rest a moment on comfy chairs and chat with some of my good friends. Also, they had artists painting some of their new helmet styles on huge canvases right there at the event which was amazing to watch. They also have a really cool new motor bike helmet, lots of new colors styles, a new slatted ventilation system variation from the star ventilation. . . and my favorite of all, the sliding chin clasp. No more pinching chin hickies! And their helmets all have the spin dial back – even the wee one models.

This was a great corner to be in, by the way. Interbike has a “Little China” and a “Little Italy” – it’s like they tried to make a “Little Portland” because there was Nutcase, PDW, Chrome (which I know is SF, but there’s a lot of Portland peeps there), Arkel was a little down the way with Joe Kurmaskie, the Metal Cowboy working as a exhibitor.

Finally made it out about 6:30ish. Completely exhausted, though knowing my night was far from over. There were five in our group and our sixth, Mary, was coming in later that night.

Ckeck out the Day 2 update of Interbike and photo slide show!

UPCOMING EVENT: Ride to the Light Sanctuary Century

September is my favorite month for cycling. What with the BTA Bike Commute Challenge rolling out the entire month, cyclocross right around the corner and my annual fundraising century! 2013’s “Pedaling for the Pasture” fundraising ride was a huge success. I learned a lot in the process of organizing  and riding my first event like that. After participating in 2012’s “Sanctuary Century,” my first organized century, I was determined to provide support to the animal sanctuary even though the original organizers decided to no longer host the ride.

I can understand why. It’s a lot of work to throw this thing together. It’s not just planning a bike ride. If that’s all it was, that’s easy. You plan a route, advertise what day it’s going to be and hope people show up. But it’s first and foremost a fundraiser.

IMG_4895We’re raising money for Out to Pasture Sanctuary in Estacada, Oregon just 35 miles outside of Portland. I had the opportunity of visiting the sanctuary for the first time during the ride last year. The work that they do is really fantastic. OTP began in 1988 and since then has evolved and grown, but their dedication to providing for abused, neglected and abandoned animals has stayed the same. They work and network with other agencies to name just a few: Northwest Miniature Pig Association, NW In Defense of Animals, Oregon Animal Rescue, Friends of Shelter Animals and area feral cat groups. And if you come on the ride this year with us, you too may get the chance to snuggle a pig or skritch a resident cat.

This year, I have the pleasure of working with my great friends in Monkeywrench Bicycle Club. During 2013’s century, several members of MWBC participated, which ended with some stellar friendships and later membership to their club. Now we’re working together to bring you this year’s fundraiser! I can’t even tell you how excited I am to be working with such a group of dedicated, passionate cyclists and advocates.

If you are want to donate to the cause every dollar helps and goes directly to OTP. Last year I was informed the money went to ensure that the pigs had better coverage for the winter due to our funds. Don’t let piggie feet (they’re actually called trotters which is wicked cute) freeze!

If you want to ride, check out our official website for more details.
You can also keep up to date there as well as show support by following us on, you guessed it; Facebook!

Event Recap: Salsa Demo Day

KODAK Digital Still CameraFriday (8/1/14) morning I had to work. Which would have been a pretty bummer waste of a gorgeous day if not for a speedy “Bonnie & Clyde” style get-away staged by my boyfriend, Brad, followed by an hour and a half drive due east into the depths of weekend camping traffic and the looming Mt Hood.

We were headed to the Sandy Ridge Trail System  on Highway 26 just 40ish miles outside of Portland, Oregon for a day of playing with Salsa’s 2015 fat bikes and mountain bikes line-up.

I’m pretty good friends with one of the Salsa reps, Chuck and had just met the other rep the night before; Ben – so was pretty excited to hang with these guys for the day. The demo was also held in association with Universal Cycles, which had a strong presence of at least four employees either spending their day off enjoying the rides or helping out with the demo. Some people from Mountain Shop were also in presence displaying their rental Salsas all decked out in frame bags. Fat Tire Farm also had their hands in this. They’re really great good folks and I’ve worked with them personally during some jump jams when I used to work at Lumberyard.

Let’s talk about the bikes and the ride. The bikes that they had that they for demoing were the Mukluk, Spearfish, Blackborow, Beargrease, Buzzsaw and Horsethief. I am going to be talking about just the Buzzsaw, Horsethief and Beargrease.

We arrived on-site a little after 1:30 after picking up burritos for ourselves and the reps, ice for the cases of water and our cooler (gotta keep everyone hydrated!), and gassing up the car. After shoving food in our face, it was go time. Which was a little slower than expected because there were so many people there for the demo! Had to wait my turn for a free bike.

Before I begin with my reviews and all, let me give you some background on myself. I don’t mountain bike. I don’t downhill. I don’t even really like riding on gravel. Unimproved roads kind of piss me off a little bit. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I am terrified of heights. Because I’m not. I could stare out of windows from a 60-story building all day long. I am terrified of plummeting to my death from a narrow ledge with unsteady footing. I have short track and cyclocross experience. Hell, I even have slick-rocking experience. But as far as really off-roading; my old mountain bike was a heavy Mavic. I loved it and it was great 10+ years ago when I was using it. Had amazing control of it. But recent experience has been pretty minimal.

That being said, the first bike I hopped on was the 2015 Buzzsaw. This is a full-suspension aluminum frame and was sporting fat 26″ Surly Nate tires. It also had the new Rockshox Bluto fork on it, which I’m not a mountain biker and even in short track or at the Lumberyard use rigid forks because I hate my wrists so couldn’te tell you how amazing it is.

What I can tell you is that even though the first run I did was the “Homestead Loop” which everyone was calling the “Parking Lot Loop” and is only 0.75 miles, I perhaps should have brought my personal short track bike from home (such as my friend Dave did do to a test run), or at least do a walk to see what to expect. Because I was expecting trail riding. I was also expecting people to follow directions and enter from one side and exit from the other. But you know, you can’t even get fuckers to do that on the city bus.

That part was stressful. Never having ridden a fat bike before, focusing on unexpected berms and pavers (thanks for telling me guys!), and then having people coming at me from the opposite direction and negotiating which person is supposed to stop to let the other person pass. (HINT – it’s you, you salmoning ass.)

And then there was the bike itself. The Buzzsaw to say the least SCARED THE FUCK OUT OF ME. I rode the 15″ which felt like a really comfortable frame size. Maybe the tire pressure was too high for someone of my weight class. I don’t know. I’ve talked to a couple people after the fact and we’ve ruminated on different things. It’s impossible to fine tune these things for every person demoing bikes. However, when I first started riding on the trail, I felt the bike was really “floaty.” Like I wasn’t getting that tacky grip on the dirt and it was too bouncy. Like riding a clown bike. Which was pretty scary when I would pick up too much speed, go to brake and would then feel those finely tuned hydraulic disc SRAM Guide RS (coming out in 2015) pull my rear wheel to the left. This was only slightly concerning when the trail abruptly sheered off to the left of me. I just took it slow and focused. Remembered to breath and not panic. It was super helpful when Brad reminded me of something that was in the back of that muscle memory. “Lean into it!” He called out to me. About halfway through that loop I was able to find that balance point on the bike and really enjoyed it. Carefully.

I was ready to be done by the end of the loop, though. Even 0.75 miles was too far for me on that fat bike. I really wish I could take it on a cute little kid’s pump track that’s you know, like 100′ long. That’s a much more achievable goal for me. And then I would do it many times to get the hang of it.

After abandoning the fat bike, I snagged the 2015 Horsethief 29er carbon with split pivot. It’s got that bouncy full-suspension with a couple different fork options. I rode the Rockshox with those SRAM Guide RS. 1×11 drivetrain. I plopped on an available 18″ and with the seat tube pushed down all the way it was a very similar sitting position as a commute bike. Such as the life of demo bikes. I usually prefer between 15 – 17″ so that I can get that bum-wiggle room on this type of bikes (while road & commuter bikes are 48 – 50cm [18-19"] so I was right at the upper end of my extension.)

I went up with three of my friends to “Laura’s Trail” and did pretty well for the most part. Again, I had some issues with braking. I think it was my lack of experience with disc brakes in general. And good brakes all around. (I prefer the toe-dragging technique) – there was some salmoners; especially on some pretty crucial switchbacks. I started off super strong, but towards the end I spooked myself. Especially when I braked too hard on a hillside and endoed the bike. Not myself, but the bike. It was then really hard to get back on the bike to get the rest of the way down the hill.

Both the Buzzsaw and Horsethief had the Thomson Elite Covert dropper post. I was too focused on being safe with the Buzzsaw to actually push the little button on the handlebar and see how it worked. That would have been the bike to test it on. Unfortunately when I was riding the Horsethief the seat was already at the lowest point and when you push the button to lower it and it’s already low, it shoots the seat strait up your crotch. Just putting it out there. It can be pretty awkward to get the seat back down if you’ve never messed it with before. Especially if you’re mid-down hill.

But I had a lot of fun. And when I remembered to sit properly and had a clear window to enjoy myself without S-curves or anything it was great. I actually really like rollers so those weren’t the problem so much as the berms for an inexperienced rider. But I still had a lot of fun.

I didn’t get a chance to ride the Beargrease, but Brad did. He has over 20 years of mountain biking experience and works in the bike industry. He took this bike on a couple runs on Laura as well as Homestead so got a great feel for it. It’s a rigid construction carbon fiber fat bike that was running 26″ 45North Dillinger tires. He has never ridden a fat bike before so had nothing to compare it to, but said that he had a lot of fun riding around that day.

  • “Adapted easily, not too much of a learning curve.
  • Definitely something that makes you want a fat bike. I’d have fun with one.

And to make a day of mountain biking complete, my friend Brennan ended up with 14 stitches in his knee. Dave biffed it right after he got there on his own bike and got a little trail rash on his knee and elbow. There was another guy that bumped his jaw a bit but for the most part and for the amount of people that went through over the course of the 6 hours, I saw a lot of smiling kids, women and men.

Event Recap: XIII Dreams: Atir Cycles Art Bikes & More

atir_artFriday, August 1st, 2014 – after we came home and washed the dust off from our afternoon of demoing fat and mountain bikes we made our way to the recently former trophy shop turned sporadic art space; One Grand Gallery for the ATIR Cycles pop-up art show.

Not to make light of real and serious mental health conditions and trauma, but I feel that I now suffer from PTHSD. You know, post traumatic hipster stress disorder.

For an event that was highlighting bikes, bike art and benefiting Community Cycling Center there was a huge lack of, ummm bikes parked around the event. Not only did we have to fight through a smog of cigarette smoke at the entrance that was in no way in compliance with Oregon’s 10′ rule, after they checked our ID, but didn’t bracelet or hand stamp us (was not aware this was a 21+ event) we made it into the hot, overly crowded gallery for the pop-up art show.

I’m no Fire Marshall, but having been on both sides of the event permitting and the building violating, I had my concerns.

Regardless, once we were able to elbow our way past handlebar mustaches and oversized plastic sunglasses the bikes were pretty cool. What was the most interesting part was that behind most of the bikes, they had corresponding art pieces that matched the bikes. Pretty awesome and a great juxtaposition.

I also really liked seeing Paul Sykes’ wood fenders there. I had never seen them before or associated him with them and they’re really quite lovely.

We didn’t hang around long enough for the raffle or see what beer was going around. A friend of mine apparently won a voucher for $150 off a bike. At $600 to begin with these art bikes were already pretty affordable. I really hope they all got sold. Especially for such a great benefactor.

EVENT Recap: Oregon Manifest Reveal Party

KODAK Digital Still CameraA couple of months ago a friend put out a question asking if someone would be willing to volunteer at the Oregon Manifest for bar service. Actually now that I think about it, I believe this is the same friend that I did the recent podcast with. I owe her cookies or skeptical glances or something. She’s a tricky one.

What I didn’t realize for about two seconds was that my: “Sure, why not? I’m free and have an OLCC card!” equated to a self-proclaimed title of “Bar Czar.” I’m claiming it. I want a pin, sash and/or tiara that says as much.

Before I begin writing about the event itself, I want to say this: thank you so much to the people that made it happen. In case you weren’t really in the loop with what was going on with this year’s Bike Design Project; while we were having our reveal party in Portland there were four other parties simultaneously happening in Seattle, San Francisco, New York and Chicago. (Adjustments for timezones applied.) So, I lied. They weren’t exactly simultaneous. But still. That’s a huge undertaking!

We were collaborating with our event coordinators from Oregon Manifest, the amazing folks at Deschutes Brewery, the already busy Industry peeps and the ever wonderful Community Cycling Center. And who am I? I got that question a lot on Friday night? “Oh, are you a volunteer with CCC?” I guess technically you could have called me that. I was volunteering in benefit of CCC. But in all actuality, I was just me. I was there to coordinate and train beer servers and alcohol monitors to be in compliance with OLCC regulations. In addition my job included assuring both the indoor and outdoor bar functioned efficiently and ensured the volunteers were happy, safe, well-informed and weren’t in need of anything. (Because when you’re the server, who serves you?)

Continue reading

Article: Guest Speaker on BikePortland Podcast: The Great Blinking Light Debate

If you’ve been following along with my blog the last week, you may have read my two very lengthy articles; “All Lit Up Redux” and “Seizures & Epilepsy – Dispelling Myths” regarding epilepsy and bike light research. You may also be familiar with the original BikePortland article which spurred my interest to compile this data all into one spot. It was something that I wanted to do for a long time, and at one time I had a file cabinet full of amazing stats, figures and studies on lights, helmets, bike lane and all those kinds of bicycle transportation planning goodies. If this cabinet still exists, it’s about 800 miles away and no longer accessible to me.

Such is life.

bp_podcastAfter some tweets (seriously, don’t quote me on this, but I’m pretty certain the topic came to fruition through Twitter) an email came through asking if I would be available to be a guest on BikePortland’s July podcast.

Umm yeah.

Even though I felt uber prepared after all the recent research, it’s still nerve-wracking and anxiety-inducing to be recorded for me. So of course it’s something that I want to push myself to do. I do really well in written interviews or highly edited format and have a history of sounding like an idiot on badly edited or unedited footage. (Not going to provide you direct fodder, but there’s some interesting stuff over at my Article archive if you want to peruse that.)

So it happened. I felt that it went pretty well. What I liked about the experience is that it didn’t feel like I was at a job interview or doing a presentation. It was three people that I have been friends with for years and we were all sitting around talking about things that we talk about pretty much every day all the time.

I mean, yes – there was structure to it. And thankfully some of my flubs were edited out.

To all the fans of my vagal nerve stimulator: (I know you’re out there!) If you listen at 17:47, it’s hardly noticeable unless you’re used to hearing it, but there’s a warble to my voice. THAT IS MY VNS DEVICE ACTIVATING! Kind of sounds like I need water or am talking into a fan, doesn’t it? If I hadn’t pointed it out, no one would notice, I’m sure. But this is the kind of blog where it makes sense to mention it.

I did say something in error at about 16:24 in the podcast. I corrected my mistake in the comments, but I want to apologize and correct it again. I said that 10% of people in the United States are afflicted with epilepsy. That would majorly suck and the already long waits to see neurologists (sometimes 6 – 8 weeks even for established patients) would quadruple. What I meant to say was that 10% of people in the United States will experience a seizure sometime during their lives. I apologize for bungling terms when I just wrote an article differentiating them!

Doh!

Then I went on to say 2 – 4% of those with epilepsy have photosensitive epilepsy. That number is actually 3 – 5%! I really botched the most important part of my guest appearance! No one called me out on that point.

Maybe because no one cares to point out when the stats are actually higher and more detrimental to safety. 

Also in the last week while I was writing the other articles and doing the podcast, I have received several personal emails and comments through my Contact Page from other cyclists with epilepsy or that have family members and friends with photosensitive disorders. Thank you for sharing your personal stories with me and I look forward to speaking more with you in the future. Maybe a guest profile feature in the future!?

More tidbits I found but wasn’t able to fit anywhere in other articles, though seems topical here:

  • Epilepsy accounts for 0.5% of the global burden of disease, a time-based measure that combines years of life lost due to premature mortality and time lived in states of less than full health. Epilepsy has significant economic implications in terms of health-care needs, premature death and lost work productivity. (source)
  • At any one point in time, between 2.2 and 3 million people are treated for epilepsy and it’s the 4th most common neurological condition that affects more than 65 million people worldwide. (source)

brain_tshirtNot only did the podcast launch yesterday, but when I got home from work, in the mail was a stellar package waiting for me!

A twofer!

The day after the BikePortland article on July 8th, one of my favorite websites, woot! offered a daily t-shirt and tank top deal. I didn’t even have a choice but to purchase it. “Enlightenment,” a glow-in-the-dark design available in both men and women’s sizes and shipping is free.

Unfortunately the tank tops are unisex (t-shirts come in male & female sizing though and fit great!) so even purchasing a small; my small frame is inundated by shirt. Conveniently I am in need of a bathing suit cover next month and this fits the bill in length and looseness. I could always run it through the sewing machine or alter it into a skirt this fall or some other bright idea, I’m sure.

Download BikePortland’s Art & Science of Bike Lights @ iTunes

Download the Podcast at Stitcher 

Seizures & Epilepsy – Dispelling Myths

lights1

NW Quimby & 16th, Twitter tedder42

Last week in the earliest fingers of the falsest of dawns, on what did we decide? Monday, July 7th? There once was a man. This man was equipped with a lovely shade of salmon and mango (you know, to match the dawn, or ironically. . . my website layout) rattle cans and very emphatically wrote a clear statement on a sharrow and in the bike lane between NW 16th – NW 20th and NW Quimby – Raleigh. This declaration, whether in rage at the lack of equal rights afforded to certain individuals with invisible disabilities, outrage at cyclist indifference or senseless hooliganism, we will never know. The words he etched: “FUCK YOU AND YOUR EPILEPTIC LIGHTS.”

People noticed. A few commuters took photos of it and tweeted to Jonathan Maus who subsequently wrote about it on his very popular Portland area bike news and online resource site: BikePortland. You can read the original article here. And as with any internet or news article, there came the comments. . . and the commentators. I generally stay away from such things, but I was called out in the article specifically for my article that I wrote back in January 2013 called “All Lit Up” regarding this very subject. If this paragraph sounds familiar, that’s because it should. You’re not going senile and there’s not a glitch in the Matrix. I stole it almost directly from an article I wrote a few days ago called, “All Lit Up: Redux” which is a twinsie article to this one. Speaking of the Matrix, Hugo Weaving has epilepsy!

What really stood out to me is the misinformation and judgement that people were throwing around in the BikePortland comments – I really, really hate to use this word, but it was a kind of NIMBYism that I was kind of shocked to see. When it comes to people with visible and intellectual disabilities such as wheel chair users, amputees, low-visibility, or perhaps someone on the Autism spectrum; the public will generally attempt to make considerations for their condition to make facilities more accessible. But sitting disabilities and invisible disabilities tend to be open to dismissive and sometimes angry resentment.

So what about those invisible disabilities? Bare with me because this is old, but a ‘1994-1995 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) found that 26 million Americans (almost 1 in 10) were considered to have a severe disability, while only 1.8 million used a wheelchair and 5.2 million used a cane, crutches or walker (Americans with Disabilities 94-95). In other words, 74% of Americans who live with a severe disability do not use such devices. Therefore, a disability cannot be determined solely on whether or not a person uses assistive equipment.‘ (source)

And that’s just talking about severely disabled. Disability is defined by the ADA as ‘a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual.’ (source) According to the ADA, to be considered disabled: ‘impairment that substantially limits one major life activity need not limit other major life activities in order to be considered a disability. . .an impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.‘ Thus people who are HIV+, suffering from PTSD, dyslexia or from drug/alcohol addiction can be considered disabled.

But enough about defining disability in general. Let’s talk about epilepsy!

SCIENCE!

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