Wool Ewe’ll Love

As far as I’m concerned, the sheep have it all figured out when it comes to their attire. Merino wool is an active fiber which means it reacts to your body temperature, cooling you when you’re hot, and warming you when you’re cold. As with many quality items, that smart performance comes with a price tag. With winter wrapping up (fingers-crossed!), now is a great time to find season-end sales.

Below are 4 pieces that have made it into my closet and drawers in multiples (often thanks to nice sales or great gifts). You’ll see this list is heavy on the Ibex and Smartwool. This is a personal list of what I love — my tried and true go-tos, with bias included.

Ibex Balance Brief
Regularly $30
Current count in my drawer: 6 + 1 pair of boyshorts that I’m not a superfan of

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Does the thought of wool underwear conjure up pictures of great-granny stirring stew over the wood fire? Well, these ain’t your great-granny’s unders! Soft and thin, they’re also breathable and machine-washable. And if you’re prefer, they come in a boyshort-cut too. They were previously offered in a thong-cut, but it appears those have been discontinued for now.

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Ibex Woolies 150 Crew
Regularly $80
Current count in my closet: 7 Hmm, that sounds excessive. Don’t worry, I’m pretty sure it’s not.

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A woolies crew is the first thing I reach for when getting ready in the morning. In the winter, they go under anything else I wear, as they’re breathable, odor-resistant, and light-weight but warm. Because they’re thin, they’re a little see-through but can still be worn on their own.

Sign up for Ibex’s email list for specials or check out the sale section on their website for some good deals.

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Smartwool 250 Neck Gaiter
Regularly $28
Current count in my closet: 2, if you count the one my main squeeze borrowed and never returned

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Once the temp starts to drop, I pretty much take this off only to wash it and immediately put it back on. It’s like a toasty hug from one of those Australian sheep.

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Smartwool Women’s PhD Outdoor Medium Crew Socks
Regularly $23.95
Current count in my drawer: 4 pairs of varying thicknesses and heights

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The patches of thicker or thinner material in these socks are strategically placed — thicker areas in the heel and toe add cushion and don’t wear out as quickly, while the thinner areas on the top and sides increase breathability and keep the socks in place.

I find most Smartwool deals at my local outdoor store, or Santa brings them for me at X-mas. I must have been very good!

Image credits: Ibex and Smartwool

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Bike-Portable Thanksgiving Fare

You’ve been invited to share a holiday meal with friends and family. If you’re planning biking there to work off some of that pecan pie, but can’t figure out a dish that will fit in your bike bag, here are 5 perfectly packable Thanksgiving offerings.

Roasted Winter Squash and Onion Turnovers
What’s more cozy than a warm pocket of savory goodness? These cute turnovers pack up nicely in a plastic container. Pad them with a little paper towel so they don’t shake around too much, and you’re ready to ride over the river and through the woods.

image Foodandwine.com

Prosciutto-Wrapped Parmesan-Pecan Dates
Prosciutto and dates. Salty and sweet. Heaven and, well…. honey-roasted heaven! Be sure to get dates on the larger side, pack them up in the compartments of an egg carton, secure with rubber band, and be on your way.

image Delish.com

Roasted Butternut Pumpkin Soup w/ Crunchy Maple Croutons
The delectable croutons might be the showstopper of this bowl of autumnal goodness. Pack the soup in a thermos, large Mason jar, or tall plastic container. Croutons pack up separately to assemble in pretty bowls at your feast.

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Pie
The traditionalists among you will certainly not be willing to give up Thanksgiving Day pie. If you’re looking for an elegant presentation, make your favorite pie recipe and transport it in one of these beautiful Pieboxes. Stack up your apple, pumpkin, and pecan! Handmade in Chicago.

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Can o’ Cran
Of course, what’s easier to transport than a can of gelatinous cranberry sauce?  Mmmmmm, doesn’t that look gourmet?

Guide: Find your style, then find your bike bell

Your bike bell can say a lot about you—making it even harder to choose one.  Here’s a little guidance from the Bird Industries science (fiction) lab.

1)  Your loft is impeccable, and your fridge full of farmer’s market fare.
Your bell should be the PDW Alexander Graham Bell – $25
Clean lines.  Classic.  Elegant.

image credit:  Portland Design Works

2)  You love brightly colored pants, dangly earrings, and belting out Journey at karaoke.
Your bell should be the Incredibell Jellibell $10
Candy-colored bright pops for your bike.

image credit:  Mirrycle

3)  You have all the latest gadgets—this one included.
The Belll €16,95
Funded by Kickstarter. Concepted and produced in Holland.


image credit:  Belll

4)  You are nothing if not practical. Your scout uniform/sash is full of badges.
Your bell should be the Electra Compass Bell $9

image credit: Electra

5)  You are one of a kind, and a little crafty. Did you knit that hat yourself?
You’re bell should be the DringDring Rotary Dial Bike Bell $20
Hand-painted. Often adorable. Occasionally irreverent.

image credit: Kikkerland

6)  Sophisticated but understated.  Every detail of your wardrobe has been thought through, but looks effortless.
Your bell should be the Spurcycle Bell $35
Modern yet minimalist (so modern, in fact, that it’s still in the pre-order phase).

image credit: Spurcycle

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The Little Black Dress of Bike Helmets: 7 helmets that won’t cramp your style

With all of the colorful and thematic helmets available now, it’s not hard to stand out from the crowd. But if you’re more interested in a subtle, go-to helmet that won’t detract from your cycle chic, here are 7 great options.

Sahn Classic
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image credit: Sahn Helmets
The name Classic says it all.  This initial design from the newer Canadian company offers clean lines with a slightly equestrian look.

Giro Atmos
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image credit: Giro
The Atmos is one of the less flashy of the race style helmets.  It’s harder to find this type of helmet without all of the logos and graphics that manufacturers think make you look faster. We’re fast enough.  Save the flash for your kit.

Yakkay Milano
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image credit: Yakkay
Sometimes a “basic black” turns out to be denim.  With their interchangeable helmet covers, Yakkay offers options for any taste.  This dark blue denim is a great everyday choice.

Specialized Covert
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image credit: Specialized
It doesn’t get much more basic than the Covert.  True to its name, this helmet certainly wouldn’t draw attention away from what you’re wearing.  Covert is the most basic of the basics.

Belle Helmets Solar System
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image credit: Belle Helmets
If you want something a little more out there, Belle’s gorgeous hand-painted helmets will blow you away.  Each helmet is truly a work of art.

Bern Lenox
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image credit: Bern Unlimited
Bern makes an array of helmets for skaters, snowboarders, skiers, bikers and wakeboarders.  Because of the snow sports, they also have many options for cold-weather biking.  The Lenox has clean lines with a touch of understated style.

Hövding Airbag
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image credit: Hövding
The subtlest helmet is one that isn’t even worn on your head.  Originally developed in Sweden as a thesis project by the founders, the Hövding has won numerous design and innovation awards since its 2005 launch.  Unlike other options, this revolutionary “helmet” is worn as a collar around your neck. The collar contains an airbag that will inflate and protect the head in the event of an accident.

Special note:  just in time to go with your new black helmet, black skirt garters are once again available.

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Boulder Cup Cyclocross—not-at-all-a-recap

In Boulder for a girls weekend, imagine our excitement when we heard about the largest cyclocross race in the Rockies.  The weather had been blustery and chilling for the 3 days we were there.  But on the day we were to head back to Minneapolis, the sun broke through and shined brightly on the Valmont Bike Park.

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This was a tough race for many people, and not just physically.  There were a lot of shout-outs for rising cyclocross star and Boulder resident Amy Dombrowski, who was killed in a training run in Belgium just 2 weeks earlier.  There was an honorary lap for Amy, and a junior cyclist was riding one of her training bikes in recognition.  It’s a tight community, made all the more apparent by the show of support.

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As this was my first cyclocross viewing, we positioned ourselves where the action was sure to be—the stairs.  Or was it just where the action was because it happened to be the beer garden?

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Either way, we saw determination, tired faces, indomitable spirit, and bright sunshine.  What a great view and the perfect way to wrap up our trip.

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