Recommended Bike Commuting Gear for Rookies

The Wausau area just got a little bike friendlier with the recent introduction of a community-wide system of 622 bicycle route signs. Finally!  Perhaps you’re thinking that a bike could replace some of the miles you log in a car each day.  So do you need any special gear to make commuting a genuine part of your routine?  There are a few pieces of equipment that are absolute necessities.  And a few more to up the convenience and comfort factor.

The necessities

Bike – Obviously.  While there are some seriously cool commuter-specific bikes available it doesn’t really matter what kind of bike you have as long as you’re comfortable. You want to ride a titanium frame racer? Great! A dual-suspension downhill mountain bike? Good for you. A beach cruiser? Cool! As long as you are comfortable riding the bike, ride what you want. Just make sure the bike fits you well, is comfortable and in good working order.  If shopping for  a new bike makes sense, proceed with caution with regard to department store bikes. Some brands you will find at department stores use lower level components which are not easily exchanged or upgraded. Other brands, however, can be upgraded with new parts and easily customized to make your commute comfy and efficient.

The Diamondback Insight is a hybrid with a host of features that commuters really appreciate. Shep’s price is $ 449.99

Find a reputable bike shop (preferably locally owned and operated by someone who rides where you do) and speak to someone who can explain the benefits of different bicycles.

Helmet – This is a non-negotiable item. Consider this a very inexpensive insurance policy against head injuries. A helmet is not a magic wand that will keep you from sustaining any injuries, but it can protect you from potentially serious injury that will ruin your day, commute, and possibly much more. Shepherd & Schaller’s adult helmets start at only $35.  The investment is worth the price.

Lights –  Lights are a must in twilight hours, not to mention in the dark. Unless you are able to commute both directions in daylight, and the weather is never dark or stormy where you live, you need lights.  You should have a good bright white light for the front, and at least one red light in the back (preferably one that can be set to flash to be better noticed). Some commuters swear by two lights up front; one bright fixed beam and one flashing LED. The flashing lights are supposed to draw a driver’s attention to the fact that you exist. Some communities, including Wausau, WI, even require lights between dawn and dusk, or longer.

Basic Repair Tools – A patch kit, spare tube, tire irons and an air pump (make sure it’s appropriate for the valves on your particular tubes – Presta or Schroeder ). Having these things with you, and knowing how to use them, will allow you to get yourself going again quickly after a breakdown. Forget them, and you may find yourself hoofing it.

Something to carry your stuff – Backpack, messenger bag, rack and panniers, basket on the front or back of the bike, trailer. Really, it doesn’t matter. There are many, many options out there.

A rack with panniers is a great way to carry gear while keeping your weight balanced.

Many backpacks, panniers and messenger bags are made to be truly waterproof, which could be important as well as convenient.  Be aware that how you carry your gear may affect your balance and the overall ride. If you can test options out with your typical load it will help you decide how to best carry your things.

Lock – Unless you have a place that provides secure storage for your bike, you’ll want a good lock.  Cable locks and light chains come in different weights and will make a thief’s task difficult.  Invest in a heavy-duty (and heavy) U-lock such as those made by Kryptonite if your bike is especially attractive to thieves to further reduce risk.

Knowledge of traffic laws applicable to cycling – Most are the same as the rules that apply to motorists, but there are some differences. Know them and follow them. You can be given a ticket for breaking them.

Optional Items

Special clothing – You can ride in your work clothes. In fact, if it’s a short ride, it may be preferable. If you have a longer ride, bike specific clothing will add comfort and performance, and doesn’t always fit like a glove or glow in the dark (although reflective features are a really good idea, if only on your shoes.)  Padded bike shorts are often the first thing commuters add to their shopping bag.

Rain Gear – Something to keep you dry from the outside, and preferably something that vents well to keep you dry on the inside as well.  Most rain jackets and pants roll-up or stuff into a self-pocket for storage that doesn’t take up much room.  Again, reflective hits on rain gear make you visible to motorists.

Fenders – These are great to keep the road muck off your clothing in the rain. If you choose to commute in your street clothes these may move into the necessity category if you hope to avoid going into that business meeting or classroom with a stripe of mud up your back.

Water bottle or “hydration system” – A ride of just a few blocks probably won’t require this, but it’s always good to have something to satisfy your thirst as you ride. For longer commutes, it will become more of a necessity.

Bell – Or a horn.  It’s not only polite to let pedestrians and other riders know you’re coming up behind them, your bell can improve your safety.

With so many resources at your fingertips, bike commuting may be the easiest new habit you adopt.  If you have more commuting questions or concerns, commutebybike.com is your next stop.

Shepherd & Schaller’s professional bike shop specializes in customization and will install your bike new accessories for free. (those you buy from us) Plus, meet with Pete for fit adjustments and one-on-one advise to plan your commute in all the weather that Wisconsin offers.

Stop Bugging Me

Warm temps and standing water mean insects are hatching at your favorite parks, campsites and back yards.  Great.  You know that protection from insect-born illnesses is smart and itchy bites are not just annoying but risk infection.  So what’s an outdoor lover like you to do?  Read what our friends at the CDC recommend (below) and stop in for products that get the job done.  Shepherd & Schaller stocks professional grade repellents.  Which one is for you?

Q. Why should I use insect repellent?

A. Insect repellents can help reduce exposure to mosquito bites that may carry viruses such as West Nile virus that can cause serious illness and even death. Using insect repellent allows you to continue to play and work outdoors with a reduced risk of mosquito bites.

Q. When should I use mosquito repellent?
A. Apply repellent when you are going to be outdoors. Even if you don’t notice mosquitoes there is a good chance that they are around. Many of the mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus bite between dusk and dawn. If you are outdoors around these times of the day, it is especially important to apply repellent. In many parts of the country, there are mosquitoes that also bite during the day, and some of these mosquitoes have also been found to carry West Nile virus.

Q. How often should repellent be reapplied?
A. In general you should re-apply repellent if you are being bitten by mosquitoes. Always follow the directions on the product you are using. Sweating, perspiration or getting wet may mean that you need to re-apply repellent more frequently.

Repellents containing a higher concentration (higher percentage) of active ingredient typically provide longer-lasting protection.

Q. How does mosquito repellent work?
A.
 Female mosquitoes bite people and animals because they need the protein found in blood to help develop their eggs. Mosquitoes are attracted to people by skin odors and carbon dioxide from breath. The active ingredients in repellents make the person unattractive for feeding. Repellents do not kill mosquitoes. Repellents are effective only at short distances from the treated surface, so you may still see mosquitoes flying nearby.

Active Ingredients (Types of Insect Repellent)

Q. Which mosquito repellents work best?
A.
 CDC recommends using products that have been shown to work in scientific trials and that contain active ingredients which have been registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use as insect repellents on skin or clothing. When EPA registers a repellent, they evaluate the product for efficacy and potential effects on human beings and the environment. EPA registration means that EPA does not expect a product, when used according to the instructions on the label, to cause unreasonable adverse effects to human health or the environment.

In 2000, the World Health Organization proclaimed that, due to its safety and effectiveness, Picaridin was their recommended product for repelling Malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

Of the active ingredients registered with the EPA, CDC believes that two have demonstrated a higher degree of efficacy in the peer-reviewed, scientific literature . Products containing these active ingredients typically provide longer-lasting protection than others:

• DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide)
• Picaridin (KBR 3023)

Oil of lemon eucalyptus [active ingredient: p-menthane 3,8-diol (PMD)], a plant- based repellent, is also registered with EPA. In two recent scientific publications, when oil of lemon eucalyptus was tested against mosquitoes found in the US it provided protection similar to repellents with low concentrations of DEET.

Plant based repellents are skin-friendly and perform well.

Q. How does the percentage of active ingredient in a product relate to the amount of protection it gives?
A. 
Typically, the more active ingredient a product contains the longer it provides protection from mosquito bites. The concentration of different active ingredients cannot be directly compared (that is, 10% concentration of one product doesn’t mean it works exactly the same as 10% concentration of another product.)

DEET is an effective active ingredient found in many repellent products and in a variety of formulations. Based on a 2002 study (Fradin and Day, 2002.)

• A product containing 23.8% DEET provided an average of 5 hours of protection from mosquito bites.
• A product containing 20% DEET provided almost 4 hours of protection
• A product with 6.65% DEET provided almost 2 hours of protection
• Products with 4.75% DEET were both able to provide roughly 1 and a half hour of protection.

Deet Repellent wipes are easy to keep on hand for surprise mosquito attacks

These examples represent results from only one study and are only included to provide a general idea of how such products may work. Actual protection will vary widely based on conditions such as temperature, perspiration, and water exposure.

Choose a repellent that provides protection for the amount of time that you will be outdoors. A product with a higher percentage of active ingredient is a good choice if you will be outdoors for several hours while a product with a lower concentration can be used if time outdoors will be limited. Simply re-apply repellent (following label instructions) if you are outdoors for a longer time than expected and start to be bitten by mosquitoes.

Q. Why does CDC recommend certain types of insect repellent?
A.
 CDC recommends products containing active ingredients which have been registered with US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use as insect repellents on skin or clothing.

All of the EPA-registered active ingredients have demonstrated repellency however some provide more longerlasting protection than others. Additional research reviewed by CDC suggests that repellents containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) or picaridin (KBR 3023) typically provide longer-lasting protection than the other products and oil of lemon eucalyptus (p-menthane-3,8-diol) provides longer lasting protection than other plant-based repellents. Permethrin is another long-lasting repellent that is intended for application to clothing and gear, but not directly to skin. In general, the more active ingredient (higher concentration) a repellent contains, the longer time it protects against mosquito bites.

People who are concerned about using repellents may wish to consult their health care provider for advice. The National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) can also provide information through a toll-free number, 1-800-858-7378 or npic.orst.edu

Permethrin based repellents are applied to clothing, shoes and gear (not skin) and last up to two weeks. Because it bonds with fabric, it survives repeated washings. Professionals who work outdoors rely on these products.

Q. How can you know which active ingredient a product contains?
A
. Check the product label if you have questions-–repellents must specify their active ingredients. In some cases you will note the chemical name in addition to/instead of the “common” name:

• DEET is N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide
• Picaridin is KBR 3023, sometimes known as “Bayrepel” outside the US
• The active ingredient in oil of lemon eucalyptus is p-menthane 3,8-diol (PMD)

Q. What is permethrin?
A.
 Certain products which contain permethrin are recommended for use on clothing, shoes, bed nets, and camping gear, and are registered with EPA for this use. Permethrin is highly effective as an insecticide and as a repellent. Permethrin-treated clothing repels and kills ticks, mosquitoes, and other arthropods and retains this effect after repeated laundering. The permethrin insecticide should be reapplied following the label instructions. Some commercial products are available pretreated with permethrin.

Protect yourself from Lymes disease and the horror of finding one of these guys attached to your skin by treating your clothing, shoes and gear (not skin) with Permethrin based repellents.

Q. Where can I find these repellents?
A.
 Shepherd & Schaller Sporting Goods has Deet, Permethrin and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus  repellents in stock in Downtown Wausau, Wisconsin and online at www.shepssports.com.

Q. Where can I find more information about picaridin?
A. More information is available from EPA (Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Using Repellents Properly

Q. What are some general considerations to remember when using insect repellents?
A.
 Always follow the recommendations appearing on the product label.

• Use enough repellent to cover exposed skin or clothing. Don’t apply repellent to skin that is under clothing. Heavy application is not necessary to achieve protection.
• Do not apply repellent to cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
• After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water. (This may vary depending on the product. Check the label.)
• Do not spray aerosol or pump products in enclosed areas.
• Do not spray aerosol or pump products directly to your face. Spray your hands and then rub them carefully over the face, avoiding eyes and mouth.

Q. What are some reactions to be aware of when using insect repellents?
A.
 Use of repellents products may cause skin reactions in rare cases. Most products also note that eye irritation can occur if product gets in the eye. If you suspect a reaction to a product, discontinue use, wash the treated skin, and call a poison control center. If product gets in the eyes flush with water and consult health care provider or poison control center. If you go to a doctor, take the product with you.

There is a national number to reach a Poison Control Center near you: 1-800-222-1222.

Children

Q. Can insect repellents be used on children?
A.
 Repellent products must state any age restriction. If there is none, EPA has not required a restriction on the use of the product.

According to the label, oil of lemon eucalyptus products should NOT be used on CHILDREN UNDER 3 YEARS.

In addition to EPA’s decisions about use of products on children, many consumers also look to the opinion of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The AAP does have an opinion on the use of DEET in children (see below). AAP has not yet issued specific recommendations or opinion concerning the use of picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus for children. CDC will post a link to such information from the Academy when/if it becomes available.

Since it is the most widely available repellent, many people ask about the use of products containing DEET on children. No definitive studies exist in the scientific literature about what concentration of DEET is safe for children. No serious illness has been linked to the use of DEET in children when used according to manufacturer’s recommendations.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Environmental Health has updated their recommendation for use of DEET products on children in 2003, citing: “Insect repellents containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide, also known as N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) with a concentration of 10% appear to be as safe as products with a concentration of 30% when used according to the directions on the product labels.” AAP recommends that repellents with DEET should not be used on infants less than 2 months old. Parents should choose the type and concentration of repellent to be used by taking into account the amount of time that a child will be outdoors, exposure to mosquitoes, and the risk of mosquito-transmitted disease in the area.

If you are concerned about using repellent products on children you may wish to consult a health care provider for advice or contact the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) through their toll-free number, 1-800-858-7378 or npic.orst.edu

Q. What guidelines are available for using a repellent on children?
A.
 Always follow the recommendations appearing on the product label when using repellent:

• When using repellent on a child, apply it to your own hands and then rub them on your child. Avoid children’s eyes and mouth and use it sparingly around their ears.
• Do not apply repellent to children’s hands. (Children may tend to put their hands in their mouths.)
• Do not allow young children to apply insect repellent to themselves; have an adult do it for them.
• Keep repellents out of reach of children.
• Do not apply repellent under clothing. If repellent is applied to clothing, wash treated clothing before wearing again. (May vary by product, check label for specific instructions.)

Q. How else can I protect children from mosquito bites?
A.
 Using repellents on the skin is not the only way to avoid mosquito bites. Children (and adults) can wear clothing with long pants and long sleeves while outdoors. DEET or other repellents such as permethrin can also be applied to clothing (but is not registered for use on skin), as mosquitoes may bite through thin fabric. Mosquito netting can be used over infant carriers. Finally, it may be possible to reduce the number of mosquitoes in the area by getting rid of containers with standing water that provide breeding places for mosquitoes.

Q. Can insect repellents be used by pregnant or nursing women?
A.
 Other than the routine precautions noted earlier, EPA does not recommend any additional precautions for using registered repellents on pregnant or lactating women. Consult your health care provider if you have questions.

Insect Repellents containing DEET and Sunscreen

Q. Can I use an insect repellent and a product containing sunscreen at the same time? What are the recomendations for combination sunscreen/insect repellent products ?
A.
 Yes. People can, and should, use both a sunscreen and an insect repellent when they are outdoors. Follow the instructions on the package for proper application of each product. In general, the recommendation is to apply sunscreen first, followed by repellent.

It is recommended NOT to use a single product that combines insect repellent containing DEET and sunscreen, because the instructions for use of insect repellents and use of sunscreen are different. In most situations, insect repellent does not need to be reapplied as frequently as sunscreen. While no recommendations are available at this time regarding products that combine other active ingredients and sunscreen, it is important to always follow the label on whatever product you are using.

To protect from sun exposure and insect bites, you can also wear long sleeves and long pants. You can also apply insect repellent to your clothing, rather than directly to your skin.

More Information

Q. Where can I get more information about repellents?
A.
 For more information about using repellents, please consult the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Web site or consult the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), which is cooperatively sponsored by Oregon State University and the U.S. EPA. NPIC can be reached at: npic.orst.eduor 1-800-858-7378.

Is That Sunshine in Your Pocket Disc?

Hand-made Pocket Discs are family friendly, colorful, safe and fun.  Indoor disc golf is just one way to play, but there are all kinds of games to try.  Use them at Wausau’s 400 Block Park, at your favorite disc golf course, your yard or even indoors.  Just be prepared for the attention they draw!

The Pocket Disc Story

Savanna Groft, a third grader at the time, was assigned a project at school. Her teacher asked her to crochet a round placemat as part of her handwork studies. Savanna’s initial efforts yielded a round disk, but because she had not added enough stitches, the disc curled under forming a small lip. This placemat of sorts sat on a table for over a year until a family friend, Chris Larsen, came over, and threw it. The placemat sailed across the living room and the Pocket Disc was born.

Phd Productions (P-H-D = Perfectly Harmless Device) was formed with the intention of making more flying discs. Because co-founders Chris Larsen and Patrick Groft wanted not only to make Pocket Discs but also to make a difference, they searched for a fair trade women’s cooperative to begin production of the discs. They found what they were looking for in the impoverished country of Guatemala.

The Mayas of Guatemala have been weaving and crocheting bright patterns for centuries

Fair Trade is good for everyone. These artists in Guatemala make beautiful Pocket Discs.

and bring a deep cultural talent for handwork to the Pocket Discs. Each village specializes in a few patterns. The patterns of a village are passed down with the generations. Through a veteran importer, Phd Productions found cooperatives of Guatemalan women to produce Pocket Discs.

In return for the amazing artistry that these women add to the Pocket Disc, the women are paid fairly and work under good conditions. Phd Productions is a member of the Fair Trade Federation and follows the Federation’s guidelines to ensure proper treatment of its workers. 

The money they make crocheting Pocket Discs and other hand-made products enables their children to go to school and helps keeps them out of poverty in a country in which 56% of people now live below the poverty level. The village of San Pablo, where many of our artisans live, has one of the highest rates of malnutrition in Guatemala, which as a country has the second highest rate of malnutrition in the western hemisphere, after Haiti.

Due to its versatility, the Pocket Disc has universal appeal from professional disc golfers to elementary school PE teachers. And they’re pretty! 

Here’s a list of parks to try out your new Pocket Disc in Marathon County, WI:

 

Staying Hydrated Matters

Are you an athlete who likes to push your body to its limits? Spend a lot of time outdoors, working hard, or on summer adventures? Check out this blog post taken from CamelBak about the importance of hydrating – something most of us could do better. There are some startling facts below!

We stock Nalgene & CamelBak water bottles as well as CamelBak’s hydration packs. Take this part of your health seriously and get the gear & water you need before you head out on adventures this summer.

Hydrating for Sport Performance

Water is the most abundant (and overlooked) element in the body. In fact, experts rank water second only to oxygen as essential for life and say most of us aren’t getting enough water. Whether you’re just starting out with an exercise plan or you’re a highly trained athlete, we’ve got some quick tips to help you understand the importance of hydration on your performance.

The importance of pre-hydration before your workout or event:

  • The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking 14-20 ounces of fluid 2 hours before exercise to make sure you’re adequately hydrated.
  • Athletes who are dehydrated when they start competing don’t perform as well. Why? Starting your workout dehydrated reduces the amount of fluid circulating in your bloodstream and bathing your body’s cells. Less circulating fluid makes your heart work harder during exercise, drives up your heat production, and limits your body’s ability to cool itself. Increased body temperature also affects your mental performance.
  • According to the ACSM, being dehydrated by more than 2% of body weight can significantly affect performance.
  • Drinking water regulates your body temperature. That means you’ll feel more energetic when exercising. Water also helps fuel your muscles.

Why you need to stay hydrated during exercise:

  • In a dehydrated state, your muscles fatigue and may develop cramps.
  • Hydration keeps your heart rate lower, longer.
  • Both aerobic and endurance activities are affected, performance worsens in a hot environment and as dehydration increases.
  • Hydration keeps you from overheating. As you exercise, your muscles generate heat. The body dissipates this heat through sweat, and as the sweat evaporates, it cools the tissues beneath. Since sweat is made up of about 95% water, you need water in order to sweat normally.
  • Water acts as a lubricant for muscles and joints and it helps cushion joints to keep muscles working properly.
  • Approximately 70-75% of muscle is made up of water, so maintaining the right water balance is necessary for peak muscle performance.
  • Athlete studies show a 1% loss in body fluid will slow you down 2%.

Don’t stop there! Be sure to stay hydrated after, too!

  • Proper hydration has been shown to relieve back and joint pain for as many as 80% of sufferers.
  • Wake up! Dehydration is the #1 cause for afternoon fatigue.
  • By the time you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
  • Hydrated skin looks younger: Your skin is the first place to lose water.
  • Water delivers the nutrients your body needs – never run on empty.

It’s Personal

Since 1949, it’s been personal.

1949, Our first storefront at 212 Scott Street.
1970’s store front, 324 Scott Street

With competition at every turn, an economy we all struggle in, an historic building to keep healthy, and only 24 hours in a day, running a mom and pop outdoor store is hard.  Is it worth it?    We can’t answer for anyone else, but because ours is basically a toy store for grown-ups in a community that values integrity, family and the environment, the answer is Yes! We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Our home. Historic rennovation completed in 1989.

Who wouldn’t love our job?  We offer the coolest gear for outdoor enthusiasts, the manufacturers we work with believe in the things that matter, the events we host and support make a difference, the community we work in appreciates the effort, and most importantly the customers we serve are our friends.

The presidents and CEOs of the most respected manufacturers in sport are our friends, not just names on a database. These relationships help us to know the ins and outs of the industry like no one else you might shop with.

Robb and Steve Poulin, President and CEO of Swix Sport USA
Theresa and Klaus Obermeyer, founder of Obermeyer Sports.

We don’t just sell, we shop. We personally select the products we offer, compare them, test them, inspect them and help you choose them. It’s a difference we enjoy when we shop locally ourselves and we’re told it’s meaningful to you here at Sheps. Even if it is old fashioned, it’s been personal to us since 1949.

Our Ski Demo at Granite Peak. Our entire staff gets out on the gear you see on our shelves before they recommend it to you.

The best part of what we do is watch excited customers head out with new gear that is just what they wanted, knowing we took care of all the steps necessary to bring those products to them.  We love hearing stories of adventure and family when folks come back to share.  (Join us during Christmas break – Shep’s is a gathering place for friends who can’t wait to reconnect!)

Hanging with coaches and ski patrol during a break in the action at a high school alpine race at Granite Peak. These folks make it happen.

When dad, Allen Shepherd, coined the shop tag line “It pays to play” he didn’t mean we’d get rich working this hard. He meant it is critical to invest in exercise and plan relaxation. We agree, and we feel fortunate to have 69 years of experience to guide us. So while there are moments of craziness in every day, we’re not crazy. We honestly enjoy being an independent retailer.