Product Review: Chrome SPD Shoes

Chrome SPD compatible bike shoes in the wild.

Chrome SPD compatible bike shoes in the wild.

Last year, we talked about some SPD compatible shoes that you can wear around town without looking like you just finished taking part in the Spring Classics. After many months of wearing our DZRs around, we began to look for other options for stylish clipless shoes, and Chrome Industries has delivered with a redesigned urban shoe line. Featuring two distinct models, the Kursk Pro and Truk Pro, the Chrome shoes emulate classic styles (Chuck Taylor lowtops and Vans Classics, respectively) which you should find suitable for most casual attire. So how do they hold up on and off the bike?  Skip past the break for some short reviews from several of our contributors, going over their experiences!

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Activate 14 : Alternative Transportation

Oaks & Spokes in action!

We have some really AWESOME events happening this weekend and we want YOU to be there!

Saturday August 9th 2pm-7pm : Activate14 – Alternative Transportation Design Summit 

Saturday August 9th 6pm- 10pm : Cranks Arms One Year Anniversary Celebration

Activate 14 is an initiative by the AIANC to educate the public on the benefits of good design and sustainability through a series of summer events and design competitions. These multi-component events will activate the building and grounds of the AIANC Center for Architecture and Design (CfAD) located at 14 E Peace Street in Raleigh, North Carolina. The events will feature speakers and workshops, vendors, food trucks, a beer tent, live music, children’s activities, and exhibitions. Oaks & Spokes will have a booth set up with a living board of the City of Raleigh detailing various routes members of the community take daily. Tricks of the trade and personal testimonies are welcomed! We will also have details of our upcoming fundraising project and goals for Fall 2014! A little birdie told me it had to do with Bike Repair Stations installed downtown and on the greenway with the help of the CIty of Raleigh… :)

Crank Arm Brewery is a great local spot located at 319 W Davie Street! Founded with cycling pride, Crank Arm is a craft brewery with tasting room located in the warehouse district. Our mission is to provide fresh artisan beer while utilizing green transportation methods. Come celebrate with Oaks & Spokes while we support some of the raddest dudes and best craft brew in the heart of downtown. We also will have more information about this amazing (not-so) secret Bike Repair Station initiative and fundraising project!

And always remember… Ride ya bike!

How to Bike Commute in the Summer without Sweating on Your Coworkers

Even horse ladies rock the bike shorts and dress combo

Rockin’ the cotton shorts and dress combo…horse masks are optional

It’s that time of year again, when you step out of the shower and are immediately drenched in sweat. July feels like an oven set to 350 degrees on broil. So what’s a bike commuter to do? Look no further; these Raleigh women have a few tips on how to stay dry, stylish and comfortable while riding despite the summer heat.  While your specific situation will depend on your office and the distance and terrain on your commute, these ladies will get you thinking about how to stay dry and comfortable at work.

Keep a Few Outfits in Your Cube

Kristy, researcher at North Carolina State University, bikes to work each day with the peace of mind that she has several backup outfits at her office. Kristy keeps a few pairs of heels, several belts, about five dresses, and a couple of cardigans on hand so she can change into them when she gets to the office. She has solid colors on hand that are easy to mix and match and keeps a towel on hand. Though she rarely uses it, she is fortunate to have access to a shower for those really hot days.   Over the door hooks with 4-5 hanger spots work great.

“At first I thought I would have to hide the fact that my office doubles as a dressing room, but I think my colleagues respect my decision to bike to work and have better things to worry about than how I get presentable,” says Kristy.

Underpants! How to Stay Dry…Everywhere

Tired of sweaty underwear after your ride? Willamina O’Keefe kissed sweaty undergarments goodbye by opting for quick-drying shirts with built-in-bras and cycling tights. Her clothes sometimes get a bit sweaty so if she does need to hang up any clothes in her cubicle to air out, she takes advantage of her coworker’s curiosity by encouraging them to try biking to work if they inqure about her garments.

The One-Outfit Wonder

You’ve lucked out if you have a shower in the office, but many bike commuters aren’t that fortunate. Or, it might feel like too big of a step to keep your work outfits to the office. Michelle Wilcox, software developer with Ipreo, doesn’t want the hassle of swapping outfits so she picks clothes that are flexible and breathable.

“Jeans can get sticky with all the humidity, and I frequently find myself biking in a summer rain shower so I invested in some Outlier pants,” says Michelle. “It’s hard to avoid wearing cotton, but the Giro New Road line has some nice shirt options that are made of mostly Merino Wool.”

Michelle also wears Chrome City SPD shoes almost every day. She says that DZR offers a few more casual SPD shoe options, and Oak City Cycling Project is a dealer for Giro, Chrome, and DZR.

For the Post-Work Bike Ride

For some folks, it’s tough to bike to work due to the lack of safe routes, busy roads or long commutes out to Research Triangle Park and beyond. Julia Garland, marketing coordinator at WSP USA Corp, says her office is too far to bike (17 miles!) but she has functional and fashionable cycling fashion down to a tee for the post-work hours riding to and around downtown Raleigh. Julia enjoys biking after work and on the weekends in bandanas or a cute cycling hat to hide sweaty helmet hair. You can always find her biking in cotton dresses year round since they offer room for movement.  She’s stocked up on $5 shorts from Forever 21 which work well as biking shorts she can wear under her summer dresses.  In the colder months she opts for leggings and a cardigan.

Keep a spare change of clothes at the office!

Keep a spare change of clothes at the office!

Beat helmet hair with a hat or bandana!

Beat helmet hair with a hat or bandana!

Friday Fun on the 4th

Nancy McFarlane bicycle mayor

Nancy McFarlane welcomes you to Raleigh from the back of this here rickshaw.  Getting downtown to the fireworks by bike is an excellent option.

Oaks and Spokes wants you to ride responsibly tonight, whatever your destination or mode may be!   Have fun out there.

Summer 2014: Raleigh’s Weekly Social Rides!

Let’s face it.  Club rides can be a bit of a turn-off for a lot of folks but Raleigh now has a growing number of alternatives.  It’s becoming ever-more popular to roll Raleigh’s city streets with a large group of folks and cruise through historic neighborhoods, city parks, and commercial nodes stopping at a destination or two along the way.  The atmosphere of these rides is markedly different and that’s what is appealing.  The pace is slower, there’s more to look at, and much more chatting.  Not surprisingly, there is always an opportunity to grab a beer and keep socializing post ride.  Let the weekend warriors troll the suburban and rural back roads of the Triangle in a lycra-induced daze and join in on one of these weekly rambles:!

[This post is an update from September 2013]

Monday: Tasty Beverage Weekly Group Ride

Tasty Beverage now has a casual Monday bike ride!

Tasty Beverage now has a casual Monday bike ride!

  • Tasty Beverage Company @ 327 W. Davie St
  • Meet at 6:00PM, Rolls out at 6:30PM
  • More Info

As the folks at Tasty say, “Come ride you bike and be awesome!”  I haven’t yet  been on this ride  but it appears just about as fun as the rest.  If you’re not about having fun, this is probably not the ride for you.  The “Tasty Ride” rings in at somewhere between 8 and 10 miles, with three routes that hit neighborhoods, greenways, or low traffic areas like Centennial Campus and Dorothea Dix. New Belgium has partnered to provide giveaways, snacks, and special New Belgium beers before and after rides. Also, the tap beers rotate regularly and are typically delicious here.

Tuesday: Benelux Cafe Social Ride 

Benelux Cafe Social Ride Tuesday Raleigh Bike

The Benelux Cafe ride often takes some gorgeous photo stops.  This one is  at the Museum of Natural Sciences globe courtesy of Sam B.

  • Blake Street at City Market
  • Meet at 6:00PM, Rolls out promptly at 6:30PM.
  • More Info

This weekly original been a standing event for a few years now and has become somewhat of a downtown Raleigh institution.  Larger groups of fifty or more can appear in the summer months but the ride is sustained through enthusiasm all winter long.   If it’s warm, the group will likely go out rain or shine.  The ride currently rotates between three routes of 10-12 miles all within Raleigh’s belt: Centennial, Lions Park, and Churchills.  Expect a diverse mix of riders and skill levels.  If you want some experience riding in larger groups without the speed of traditional club rides, Benelux is a great way to get more confidence.  There are always pumps and a limited amount of tools available for public use.

Wednesday: Crank Arm FUN Ride

Oak City Third Thursday Cruiser Bike Ride Raleigh

Crank it up at Crank Arm Brewery on Wednesday, a craft brewery that is located in the Warehouse District of downtown Raleigh.

  • Crank Arm Brewery @ 319 W Davie St
  • Meet at 6:30, Rolls out at 7:00.
  • More Info

This ride is a social jaunt around the city, hence the “cruising” in the name.  If the Benelux Ride has gotten too serious for you, there’s an ample amount of opportunity to socialize on this ride.  There is often a “guest mechanic” who works on Wednesday nights that is eager to help with minor bike issues.  The brewery keeps an extensive set of  bike tools behind the counter and also offers a truing stand for public use.  Also, the ride departs from a Brewery for those seeking a rewarding pint afterward.  This ride usually comes in around 10 miles.  Keep your eye out for special events from these folks!

Third Thursday: Summertime Cruiser

Oak City Cycling Project Third Thursday Summer Raleigh Cruiser Ride

Cruise with Oak City on the Third Thursday of every month. This photo in the cemetery courtesy of Julia G.

  • Oak City Cycling Project @ 212 E Franklin St
  • Meet at 7:00, Rolls out at 7:30 
  • Dates:  June 19th, July 17th, August 21st, September 18th
  • More Info

This ride is for those seeking a very casual crowd.  The pace is that which the title implies: a cruise.  The roving cyclists have been known to stop for a quick frisbee toss, to see a Volkswagen junkyard, grab some ice cream, or meander up to Dix Hill to take in the Raleigh skyline.   If you’re looking for some heart pumping, you may not find it here.   This ride usually comes in under 10 miles and explores parks, graveyards, alley ways and parking decks and ends at the Person Street Bar around sunset.  This ride is a fantastic way to get more comfortable biking in the city due to the leisurely pace.

Saturday: Crank Arm Weekly Fun Ride

Crank Arm Brewing and Oaks and Spokes

If you want to do double duty at Crank Arm, just hit up the rides on both Wednesday AND Saturday.

  • Crank Arm Brewery @ 319 W Davie St
  • Rolls out at high noon
  • More Info

On Saturday, you can choose your own adventure.  A leisurely group goes for a 10 mile ride. A portion of the ride typically goes through the city’s greenways which means that if you attend, you should be cautious and respectful of people on the path since Saturdays can be busy for recreating. Guest mechanic services are offered afterwards.  If it’s hard for you to find time after work or if you prefer the daylight hours, this ride might be for you.