So You Want a Gravel Bike …

nobody asked me for my opinion but you’re getting it anyway

Hey Laura, I’m interested in getting a gravel bike. What do you think I should get?
Well … what do you want to do with that gravel bike?

I spent a lot of time reading about gravel bikes before pulling the trigger and getting one: various frame materials, geometries, gearing, and tires. It’s a lot. But it all comes down to what you are looking to do with your gravel bike.

Are you racing? Don’t buy a bike made for bikepacking.
Prefer smoother hardpack to logging roads? You probably don’t need tire clearance for 2″+ tires. 38mm might be just fine.
Want to load up your bike and disappear for a while? You need a bike that is in it for the long-haul too.

There’s other searches you can do to learn more about gravel specific bikes but here’s my recommendations based on my own research. Think about what’s important to you now and what you think you might want to try and get yourself a bike that will meet those needs and aspirations.

A word about bike brands: You will not see a Big Three bike on this list nor will you see Lynskey. Lots of people ride and love them. I have no beef with them (cue my girlfriends laughing hilariously about a certain brand I believe rides dead). If you have one and love it, keep riding it. More important than anything is the bike works for YOU and you WANT to ride it.

I prefer the “boutique” brands that cater to specific types of riders. All of the brands below are one I’ve ridden and loved because the bikes are spunky and fun. They WANT to be ridden and make it fun to explore. I subscribe to the Salsa ethos of Adventure by Bike and it remains my #1 brand.

Think about … Drivetrain (1x or 2x)

It’s a tradeoff – do you want lower gears or higher gears?

1x are good for general gravel riding and racing and yes, they do provide a similar range of gears as a compact road setup. If that works well for you, amazing. Get yourself a 1x set up. Enjoy!

For my purposes, DON’T BELIEVE THE 1x HYPE. Yes it’s lower maintenance and yes, it’s a cleaner aesthetic, but if you plan to do any bikepacking or major climbing, do yourself a favor and get a 2x and the biggest cassette you can MacGuyver onto your bike. You’ll thank me when you spin up steep hills like it’s Sunday morning while your riding pals grind it out and are ready for the post-ride beer well before you’re legs start complaining.

WHY DOES THIS MATTER? Read more about Gear Ratios here

Talk about … Tires

In the early days of my gravel riding, I mounted 26mm Panaracer GravelKing SKs to my titanium road bike and hit the dirt. This is the only gravel-specific tire I’ve found that comes in sub-30mm widths. GravelKing SKs are my go-to gravel tire for the low rolling resistance on pavement and just enough bite to handle most hardpack and light gravel roads in the Northeast. I like them so much I bought 38mm GK SKs for everyday gravel uses.

For bikepacking and mixed terrain that includes trails, I’ve been using the stock 2.2″ Teravail Sparwood that came with my gravel bike. When riding unladen, the wider tires are smooth rolling and P L U S H. Like riding in a La-Z-Boy down the road. When laden, the extra width provides stability, traction, and additional support as terrain changes.

In terms of width, wider tires generally have more rolling resistance so if you aren’t looking to ride in a place where width makes the ride safer and more comfortable, you don’t need the widest tires out there. Everyone has their preference for width, but generally 35-38mm works for a wide variety of situations. If you want the extra traction and stability in uneven terrain, look for clearance for 50mm or more.

WHY DOES THIS MATTER? Tires can be swapped to reflect the ride you’re doing or your preferences – but tire clearance on the bike can’t be changed.

When I took my Cutthroat out for the first few rides, I kept the stock 2.2″ tires on. The bike felt incredible on flats and descents – but sluggish as I pushed through the extra rubber on the ground when ascending. I started to question if I even liked the bike because I had done so much research but wasn’t able to test ride and omg what if I made a really expensive bad decision …..

Then I put on some 38mm GravelKing SKs and the entire ride feel changed. The bike was no longer sluggish on the uphill and I still felt confident screaming down descents, something I never did on my road bike with the narrow SKs. Swapping the tires aligned my lived experience with my research and the Cutthroat is now my favorite bike to ride.

My Recommendations

Salsa Cutthroat


Best for: mountain bikers, anyone looking for a swiss army bike that can tackle anything you throw at it, bikepackers

Pros: Confidence and stability come standard. The GRX hoods are much (thicker? wider?) than road hoods but that comes in handy when bombing down a chunky descent and you want something that helps you feel in control.

Cons: Overkill if you only ride manicured dirt roads and have zero interest in bikepacking. It looks like a mountain bike too so if you want that clean road-bike look, this isn’t for you.

Comments: This is what I ride. I bought this bike because I wanted to keep riding gnarly logging roads – just not with narrow tires. I also wanted to do more bikepacking (which I also started doing on my road bike) so a bike that can take me and my stuff anywhere I wanted to go was vital. I wanted ultra-low gears so I can climb every mountain and not get obliterated by the grind so I swapped in an 11-40 cassette. Paired with the subcompact 30-46 up front, my gear-inches are as low as 20. (calculate your gear-inches here – bikepacking/touring should be sub-23 with preference for sub 20)

Salsa Warbird


Best for: roadies looking to go fast on dirt, gravel originalists, anyone looking for a sexy bike to take on dirty adventures

Pros: Look at this sexy bike! The first bike designed for riding on gnarly Midwest gravel roads before gravel riding was cool. The Warbird is a perennial favorite for good reason- it’s an awesome bike that will get you stoked on riding all kinds of dirt.

Cons: Definitely more road-end of the gravel bike spectrum although it looks like with the 2020 models Salsa updated the spec to be more bikepacking friendly (30-46 subcompact up front, 11-34 in the back).

Santa Cruz Stigmata / Juliana Quincy



Best for: Anyone looking for a really lightweight machine that crushes dirt and gravel for breakfast

Pros: Santa Cruz makes bikes that are just really stupid fun to ride. The Stigmata is no exception. Built around their deep background in mountain biking, the Stigmata and sister bike Quincy are for those who are looking for a lightweight bike that rips.

Cons: Only fits up to 47mm for a standard 700c. You can squeeze in a 2.1 if you get a new 650b wheelset … so not a pick for seriously-loaded bikepacking.


Kona Sutra LTD


Best for: multi surface touring and those looking for a more traditional road bike aesthetic. To quote their marketing materials, it’s as if a mountain bike and a road bike got together …

Pros: STEEL IS REAL. and bombproof. This bike is going to take you places and still love you when it accidentally get dented by a wayward flying rock. 2″ tires are standard, which will make for a plush ride feel.

Cons: The standard gearing really only gets you down to 24 gear-inches, which is nowhere close to what a touring machine should come with. But it does split the difference of speed vs climbing. Steel can be heavier than carbon, if you care about that.

Hope this helps! If not, there’s plenty of publications that have Best Gravel Bike of <Year> on the web. You can also comment and I’ll do my best to help you figure out what to take a look at.

See you out there!

What’s so great about Kingdom Trails?

I asked this question at 4:30 in the afternoon as my friends and I took a trailside break,  nibbling on yet another ClifBar to fuel the climb back out from the river. I’ve never been to Kingdom Trails before, and have heard nothing but amazing things. We’d been riding their favorite trails all day, and I was curious. My friends looked at me like I was crazy but after a long pause said … “I don’t know. It just is.”

But that’s where Kingdom Trails gets you. The trails are sublime. And I’m once again late to the party on this.

Here are my Top 5 reasons Kingdom Trails are basically The Best:

1. The trails are purpose-built. This is probably the most significant factor in why the trails are so great: Kingdom Trails are built to maximize your fun and have opportunities to dial in the experience to your skill level. Love railing berms? Getting some sick air off jumps? Screaming across narrow bridges? KT lets you do that. Just want to relax on singletrack that pops out of the woods into a field straight from a Dirt Rag photo shoot? KT has that too. The trails I rode were not too technical despite the Black Diamond Rating – but I attribute that more to skill-building by riding locally on hiking/biking trails full of natural features. Stand-out trails from the weekend were Kitchel, Troll Stroll, Pines, Coronary Bypass, Farm Junk, and Skydive.


2. The trails exist because of a collaboration between Advocates and Land Owners. Your day or season pass doesn’t fund some corporate entity out to make money on mountain bikers – the trails exist because of an agreement between a charitable conservation organization and landowners. This brings an important distinction that encourages everyone to be on their best behavior. Riders respect the trails more because who wants to be That Guy who ruined the fun for everyone.


3. KT doesn’t engage in price gouging. A day pass is $15 and a season pass is $75 – only 5 visits to make it worth your hard-earned money for a season pass. My friends and I rode for 3 days and barely scratched the surface of the volume of trails available to ride. If KT is within a 3-hour drive or you can plan more than one long weekend devoted to riding, a season pass is the way to go.

4. KT helps fuel the economic engine of Burke, Vermont. The trails are usable can be used year-round, weather permitting – and outdoor recreationalists need a place to stay. We booked a campsite at Burke Cottages & Campground, which has several large sites to choose from and a brand new shower house. Only a short drive into town for passes, bike rentals, or a hearty meal at the end of a long day on the trails. And the warm shower felt great after a long day on the trails. Also a convenient opportunity for tick checks.


5. There is a lunch shack in the middle of the woods. Probably the most brilliant business concept is the lunch shack in the woods. We had been riding hard all morning and getting hungry. No need to leave the trails to refuel or gnaw on bars and goos all day (although you totally can and the Country Store has ridiculously good breakfast and lunch options). We joined the throngs of riders at the lunch shack for a quick wrap, chips, and a refreshing beverage. Stone benches under huge pine trees dot the area around the shed, providing respite and shade.


Bonus Reason: The Views. The trails and the views are some of the most beautiful I’ve had the privilege to experience. Do yourself a favor and climb to Heaven’s Bench. Take a minute to look around when you pop out of the woods into a field.

I had the privilege of renting a Santa Cruz 5010 C XE for the weekend and I can’t speak highly enough of this bike. Nimble, playful, and spry, the bike climbed and descended with ease. A mere 27 pounds, the bike felt light yet stable. There were a few places on Kitchel, in particular, where the bike certainly wanted to get some air. The wingspan of the handlebars felt wide but over the three days, I got used to it. I forgot to ask for a women’s saddle (or to bring my own) so let’s just say downtown wasn’t terribly happy after 3 days of riding.


But I will say – I think this trip solidified the bike I plan to buy once I’m fully employed again. This bike just made me happy.

Do yourself a favor and book a vacation up to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and hit the Kingdom Trails. You will not regret it.


See you out there!


REVIEW: Pactimo Alpine RT Thermal Bibs

Full Disclosure: As you saw in my last post, I’m a Pactimo Brand Ambassador! But I bought these with my own cash and no consideration has been given to review this product. The views are my own!

Spring is a tough time of year. It’s gradually getting warmer – but mornings can still be very much below freezing with afternoons not getting really all that warm. And if the sun isn’t out, it can feel a lot colder than it is. It can be tough to get layering just right.

I’ve always suffered through spring with the suboptimal cycling bottoms until this year.

Enter the Pactimo Alpine Thermal RT bibs.



Fellow women, if you haven’t made the switch from shorts to bibs – don’t wait. Bibs are a game-changer. They aren’t just for pros or people on race teams or people who ride faster than you. Bibs are for you! Bibs slim the midsection and avoid the dreaded muffin top that even wide-band shorts can impart. Bibs mean I don’t have undue pressure on my belly while riding. In short, they are more comfortable and let you focus on the ride, not your apparel.

After three solid gravel rides in these, here are four reasons why these bib shorts are revolutionizing my bike life right now:

  1. They are super warm and cozy – yet breathable. The thermal fabric is soft against the skin – even the straps are thermal – but I don’t overheat while grinding up gnarly hills. No more red belly or thighs at the end of a ride!
  2. They provide gentle compression, hugging your muscles to support them as you go one more mile or climb one more hill.
  3. Reflective Technology (RT). The cuffs of the shorts have reflective threads woven into the fabric. This is a subtle yet effective way to stay visible but it doesn’t look obnoxious.
  4. The chamois is so comfortable I forget I’m wearing bike shorts. Maybe that’s an exaggeration – but I also think that when something works for you, it’s easy to not think about it and just focus on the experience. It’s the same chamois as in the Apex short liner from Pactimo’s mountain biking line.

(I got into Pactimo through their mountain biking line. I wanted a pair of baggies that weren’t too baggy and a jersey that was understated but also, totally rad. Pactimo delivered! I recently picked up another pair of baggies and liners for the upcoming season.)

Invest in yourself! Don’t suffer another chilly ride during shoulder season with sub-optimal bottoms and get on the thermal bib train.

See you on the road!


me (left) and my friend at the Deep Hollow Furnaces in Wassaic, NY




Muddy Onion Spring Classic 2017

Let’s talk about Vermont, gravel grinding, and the truly great weekend I had with my dear women friends (and Matt) at the Muddy Onion Spring Classic.

I am blessed to have friends who don’t hesitate to text me “Hey, wanna do this ride?” The answer is usually “YES.” So we secured a cheap hotel room and made our plans for a weekend of gravel magic.

at the starting line, fresh as daisies

The Muddy Onion Spring Classic is a ridiculously fun ride on lightly traveled dirt and gravel roads in north-central Vermont, hosted by Onion River Sports. Starting in the state capitol, Montpelier, the ride has more elevation gain than linear distance which is made abundantly clear over the first 5 miles. Several climbs topped out in the upper-teens for grade percentage.

gorgeous scenery along quiet dirt roads

The weather couldn’t have been more perfect – mid-to-upper 60s, partly sunny, and fast dirt. Very few sloppy spots on the road made for quick riding.

still smiling, even though we’re climbing


The first rest stop was about 13 miles (and 1500′ of gain)  in and well stocked with chocolate-covered bacon, shots of local maple syrup, pickles, protein bars … and PBR. Water for your bottles was courtesy of the spigot on the side of the house.

It’s like being a kid again, out exploring dirt roads and having a blast.

The second rest stop was 26 miles (and 3200′ of gain) in – more maple syrup shots, more pickles, more chocolate-covered bacon, water from a hose … and fried PB& J sandwiches. We loaded up on electrolytes – only 4 more miles of climbing before the 4 mile descent into town.

8 miles to go, only 4 more miles of climbing! 


just keep spinning … 

We finished in a little over 4 hours of total time, around 3.25 hours of actual riding time, and 3900′ of climbing over 35 miles. Partook of the post-ride BBQ (veggie burgers or grilled chicken; potato chips; local craft beer, soda, and seltzer) before riding our bikes back up the hill to the hotel to get cleaned up.


Grabbed a coffee at Capitol Grounds Cafe and then a case of local craft beer at the state store before heading home.



If you enjoy riding bikes with really cool people, along quiet dirt roads with spectacular views, and you don’t mind a little climbing along the way … the Muddy Onion is a great choice for a challenging event!


See you on the road!

TD Five Boro Bike Tour Recap

I want to tell you I had an amazing weekend and this event was SO MUCH FUN. I really do.

For many people, I’m sure today was awesome. For me, today was very disappointing.


* * * * *

The TD Five Boro Bike Tour is a 40 mile car-free bicycling event put on by Bike New York. 32,000 bicyclists. $90 entry fee. Packet pick-up must be in person at the Expo. A great way to see The Big Apple! My friends and I managed to get signed up and planned a whole weekend around this.


Saturday we drove up to Staten Island to check in to our hotels. We then biked over to the ferry to Manhattan. If there is anyone that can make Philly drivers look like fine, upstanding ladies and gentlemen – it’s Staten Island drivers. Of course, we were on a more direct route … but when we crested the second hill, the sun setting behind us and casting a golden glow on the City before us … the view was spectacular and made the ride over worth it.

Biking to the Expo in Manhattan was a joy because of the absolutely lovely cycle track along the river with amazing views of Brooklyn.

Bikeway by the Brooklyn Bridge
Bikeway by the Brooklyn Bridge


On the way back it started to rain. Agreeing there’s no one to pick our butts up, we saddled up and rode back to the hotel. Did I mention we were in street clothes? Cotton is rotten in the rain. Acquired a hot shower and clean clothes before we got some dinner. We all agreed the tour would be super fun – lots of people and no speed records but a nice conversational ride with friends.


This morning we were assigned to the last wave of riders for the tour. We had initially rejoiced in this stroke of good fortune to be able to sleep in – until we missed the last ferry to make the official start time. No matter, there were lots of others still waiting for the ferry. We got to the start line about 20 min late, which we figured we could make up without issue. Until we hit the first wall of people. They aren’t kidding when they say 32,000 people sign up for this.


this was our view all day.
this was our view all day.



The parts of the ride that were awesome:

* rolling through the streets of Manhattan and Harlem. The Bronx and Queens were a bit rougher on the edges and Brooklyn lived up to its reputation as a hipster mecca.

* riding down the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Seriously – have you ever ridden your bike on a major highway?

* Bridges!

* Local musicians along the route keeping the vibe pleasant.

* fresh NY bagels at the rest stop we visited.

* Riding bikes! With Friends! in New York!


The parts of the ride I was incredibly disappointed about:

* Being Assigned the Third Wave. Dominated by cruiser bikes and folks who generally do not know how to ride in a group, much less a very large group. I don’t recall asking for the third wave or being told waves are assigned by expected average speed … or really anything. You’re just assigned a group.

* Walking. Entirely too much walking happened because of the rider volume, medicals (more people went down than I’ve ever seen in an organized event), and any sort of incline in the road. At one point we were stopped for somewhere around 30-45min just to get over a bridge. Due to volume.

* Being forced to take the mandatory shortcut because we failed to meet the cutoff time. Lopped 10 miles off our ride. See above for why. So sad because my friend was volunteering at the aid station on the cut miles.

* Other Rider Fatigue. My brain was fried from having to be hyper-vigilant in avoiding other riders that stop in the middle of the road, stop suddenly/without warning, walk their bikes across the road without checking to make sure no one is riding on the road, weaving, taking selfies while riding, etc.

(Some guy called me an asshole when I was passing and he drifted into me, touching my hip with his handlebar.)


* * * * *

I really feel like a heel for saying I’m disappointed in the event because I was riding with slower riders. There’s nothing wrong with being a weekend fitness cyclist or a cruiser cyclist or someone who only rides sometimes. Honest – I really feel this way.

But the truth is, had we been seeded with other cyclists at our similar abilities (but not the hammerheads) the day would have been completely different. Instead of trying to find clear passing lanes and walking entirely too much for a bike ride (i.e., at all), we would have had what we had looked forward to – a conversational speed bike ride.

It became a running joke to us that anytime we had to stop and walk was because there was a hill. Which is so sad but true – we walked so many hills towards the end because there was no room to ride. Everyone was walking because a few people weren’t able to cycle up the hill.

Eric, Phil and I during one of the "why are we stopped?" moments.
Eric, Phil and I during one of the “why are we stopped?” moments.


Based on my experience today, I can’t recommend this ride to anyone just yet. One of my friends did the ride last year and was in the first wave. She said the experience was so much better last year – she had no issues with walking or being stopped or having her ride cut short.  So I’d be willing to give it another try but only if I knew I would be in the first or second wave of riders.


See you on the road.

Saturday Mountain Biking and Valley Forge Revolutionary 5mi Run Recap

Saturday morning, too early for my taste, I went mountain biking with my friend John. John’s roughly old enough to be my dad and has a couple of kids and grand-kids. This blows my mind. Mountain biking does not conjure up images of your granddad ripping down a gnarly, knotty, rocky descent. And yet, he’s the club mountain biking coordinator … and I like learning how to be more confident off-road. We didn’t do anything super crazy – but the morning was excellent. Good conversation flowed and before we knew it we had tackled almost 20 miles and it was time to head home.


John and I enjoying a beautiful morning in the woods.
John and I enjoying a beautiful morning in the woods.


The next morning I got up (again, too early for my tastes) to run the Valley Forge Revolutionary 5 mi Run.

You may recall I signed up last year but wimped out (allergies, too tired, temps in the mid-30s and no cold-weather running gear).

You may also recall my marathon-running sister visiting me and getting me to earn my shirt (a wrong turn and an extra two miles in unbearable heat and humidity).

I am so glad I signed up this year.


I started running back in February to get into some semblance of running shape. Like it or not, cycling and running use muscles differently and being awesome at one only gives you a leg up on being decent doing the other. And running is actually somewhat enjoyable when I can find my groove and get lost in my music.

The air was crisp, the sun shining, wind blowing and temps in the mid-forties. I grabbed a long sleeve shirt at the last-minute before leaving the house and I’m so glad I did. The wind was blowing straight through me. I hadn’t picked up my race packet yet so I left the house early to make sure I had enough time to stand in line for my bib and shirt.

Let me tell you – this is probably the best run event I’ve been to. Parking was off-site so I had to take a shuttle bus to the event.

  • I assumed I’d have to wait for a shuttle bus – nope. They had a continuous cycle of buses loading up and driving participants to the site. Virtually no wait.
  • I assumed there would be a long line to pick up my bib and shirt – nope. I had both and a tag in case I wanted to leave stuff in the gear drop within five minutes of being dropped off by the shuttle.
  • I assumed there would be long lines for the port-o-potties – nope. There were several port-o-potty locations, plus the usual park restrooms: from the parking lot, on the way to the start line, at the start line. No lines.


I checked my phone – 7:32am. Race starts at 8:30am.


*stretches* *twiddles thumbs* *finds a good starting song* *take a few selfies* *hit the port-o-potty* *shiver in the wind*

Legs crossed, reaching for my toes. S-T-R-E-T-C-H!
Legs crossed, reaching for my toes. S-T-R-E-T-C-H!


The course is challenging. It starts with a gentle incline and then just keeps going up, with a few downhills to keep things interesting, until about a half-mile from the end. A glorious deep downhill followed immediately by a sharp uphill to the finish line. We passed so many monuments and markers of the historical significance of Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War. One water station at the half-way point.

I loved it. Last year I would have been eaten alive. This year I wasn’t nervous. I wasn’t anxious. I was ready. I had this. It was mine to own.

…and I did. I put my iPod on shuffle and the playlist couldn’t have been more accurate for what I needed in any given moment. Behold the playlist of Whoa Really? You Listen To All That Stuff?

Mile 1:

Rise Against – Satellite

All That Remains – Two Weeks

Eve 6 – Victoria


Mile 2:

Prodigy – Voodoo People

Capitol Cities – Safe and Sound (first big hill)

Poni Hoax – Antibodies

Survivor – Eye of the Tiger (right as I turned up a very steep hill – so perfect in that moment)


Mile 3:

Fall Out Boy – My Songs Know What You Did

T-Pain: Church

Gaslight Anthem – 45


Mile 4:

All That Remains – Days Without

David Guetta & Akon – Sexy Chick

Jimmy Eat World – My Best Theory


Mile 5:

LMAFO – Sexy and I Know It

Lady Gaga – Edge of Glory

Jamiroquai – Canned Heat


I channeled my marathon-running sister when I saw others walking all around me at the first sign of the second hill. She can do this for 4+ hours – I can do it for one.


I finished in the top 2/3 of the field (haha):

  • 625 out of 838 runners
  • 235 out of 364 women
  • 52 out of 71 in my age bracket (awesome girls between 35 and 39)


Friends – if you are looking for a well-coordinated challenging five-miler, look no further than the Valley Forge Revolutionary Run. I was so pleased with the entire experience from parking to racing, to getting post-race snacks and back to the car. I can’t recommend this enough.


Now that my race is over I can get back to my first love, riding my bike. I have neglected training for my four-day epic cycling adventure and it’s about a month away. I need to get crackin’!


See you on the road!

Review: Philly Bike Tour Co

Friends, today is my husband and I’s sixteenth wedding anniversary. Traditionally we took the day off so we could go to lunch together before splitting up between handing out candy and taking the little ones around trick or treating. Our children are now old enough to go out with their friends or stay home and hand out candy – so doing other things for our anniversary is a total option now.

Yesterday I saw a Twitter contest from Philly Bike Tour Co. to win passes on their bicycle tour of Philadelphia today. Of course I re-tweeted and *then* let the husband know there’s a chance we would be going on a bike tour. That’s just how things go with bicycles and myself, really. So late last night when I got the tweet that we had won, I was totally excited.

Philly Bike Tour Co. started fairly recently because there is a distinct void in how to tour Philadelphia by bicycle. With so many beautiful neighborhoods and historic sites in a dense urban area, the best way to get around the city is on two wheels. There are several options for tours such as a classic tour, northern neighborhoods, movie and tv sites, outdoor art, food & beer, and a tour of Fairmount Park. Each tour is rated for difficulty from Super Easy to Advanced – to you can pick the right tour for yourself and your guests. Most of the tours are rated Easy.

Philly Bike Tour Co. is in partnership with Fairmount Bicycles, a woman-owned bicycle shop that specializes in new and refurbished bikes for commuting, touring, and entry-level road riding. Each tour includes a rental bicycle, helmet, and keepsake water bottle. If you bring your own bike, there is a $5 discount.

My husband and I arrived a few minutes early to sign the usual waivers and get situated on our rental bikes. The rentals were perfect for urban riding – the 7 speed Jamis Hudson Sport. The saddle was extremely comfortable, the upright riding position felt confident, and the wide tires rolled over everything we threw at it, including an entire block of cobblestones. Philadelphia is a fairly flat city – we didn’t have to use the gears much at all.

snapshot of us at the Water Works stop
snapshot of us at the Water Works stop

The tour itself was very good. Our knowledgeable guide, Thom, keep the group together and had just enough history behind each stop on the tour to keep it interesting and not like a crazy-long history lesson. We were predominately on streets with bike lanes or on bike paths with a few sections necessary to be either on the sidewalk or taking the lane. Our friendly sweep, Josh, had more tidbits and was a wonderful conversationalist as we pedaled down the street. The pace was excellent – not too fast, not too slow.

There was a mid-tour break for food in the famous Italian Market. Thom had been talking about taco trucks all morning so naturally we gravitated to the Tacos El Rodeo truck at 10th & Washington. We were not disappointed. I had chicken and my husband had carnitas – both were fresh, authentic, and supremely delicious. $4 for two tacos is a great price.

On our tour we covered about 12 miles in a little less than 3 hours and saw many Philadelphia institutions: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Water Works, Fitler Square, Rittenhouse Square, Italian Market, Washington Square, Independence Mall, Penn’s Landing, Race St Pier, Elfreth Alley, Betsy Ross House, and the Edgar Allan Poe House. It was a wonderful time – one that I wish was around when my in-laws had visited this past summer. The tour took me to so many great gems in Philadelphia that we don’t usually get to because we don’t live in the city. I genuinely look forward to taking visiting family and friends on these tours.

Overall, if you are in the Philadelphia area – live, work, or visiting – take a tour through Philly Bike Tours Co. The bike shop is top-notch, the staff friendly, the tour guide and sweep helpful and knowledgeable. Prices range from $45 to $65 per person, including bike rental, helmet, lock (if needed), water bottle (to take home) and a sense of happiness in the City of Brotherly Love.

**Disclaimer: This review was in no way influenced by the prize passes for the tour. I was so thrilled with the tour I asked if I could review it on my blog. **

Review: Hoo Ha Ride Glide

Friends, it was only last summer that I took the bold move of heading out on my bicycle sans-unders. For guys this may have been a no-brainer but for girls, it seems to be more of a concern to be out and about without proper undergarments.

Since then I have stuck to the first brand I purchased, which was also the only brand that the local bike shop had in stock that didn’t make me feel more than slightly awkward plunking down in front of the guy at the counter.

Until recently.

When I was preparing for the Elephant Rock Ride in Colorado, the shop had trial sizes of my usual brand … and Hoo Ha Ride Glide. Intrigued, I picked up a few for the long ride. I ended up using the first packet the following day on 10 mile mountain bike ride and immediately noticed the cooling sensation, which told me it was working. I also noticed the exceptionally pleasant smell.

I didn’t bother to ask my companions if they could also smell it because there really isn’t an easy way to ask if your booty cream smells nice.

The first ride was fine, nothing special … but it was enough to prompt me to pick up a full-size bottle. Anymore, it’s my go-to ride cream. It’s not too thick, lasts quite a while, and smells nice. I like that it’s formulated for women and the trial sizes come in environmentally-friendly packaging. Plus it’s quite a conversation piece when the conversation inevitably turns to chamois creams (what, you don’t talk about that stuff on your group rides?).


Hoo Ha Ride Glide
Hoo Ha Ride Glide


From their website:

Reflect Sports feminine chafing cream, Hoo Ha Ride Glide® protects your Hoo Ha from saddles sores, chafing, friction burns, irritation and inflammation. Our chafing cream provides healing and prevents saddle sores and chafing from exercise. Focused on the sensitivities of the vaginal area our product is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. In addition to having healing agents, our chafing cream is enriched with barely extract, lavender, eucalyptus leaf, tea tree and peppermint oil. These specialized ingredients provide a lasting cool feeling so you enjoy your ride, run or spin class.

Hoo Ha Ride Glide retailed for $21.95 on Reflect Sports’ websiteAmazon and More Awesome Bike Shops nationwide.

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