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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Day One as a Free Woman

I slowly savored my first day of unemployment. I slept in, took care of a few business details, then met my friend Katie for lunch and finished the afternoon with a little Christmas shopping. Like me, Katie was let go as marketing director after a corporate buyout, so we had plenty of common experiences to chat about.

Katie has been dog sitting at her brother’s house in Old Palo Alto, so I rode up from Mountain View to her brother’s place, then we rode downtown together for lunch. Katie grabbed her nephew’s Electra Townie, which worked OK for her after she adjusted for the Townie’s flat foot slack geometry. She also grabbed her nephew’s skater-style helmet, which looked more stylish than it fit.

Our destination: Oren’s Hummus Shop, billed as “an authentic Israeli Restaurant in Silicon Valley.” I can’t attest to the restaurant being authentically Israeli, but it was truly Silicon Valley, with a disclaimer that the store was in beta and an internet passcode right on the wall menu.

My six item sampler had two kinds of eggplant, beets, carrots, a yogurt sauce that would be good on anything and something else that I can’t remember. All good. Katie’s hummus and falafel combo left her too full to finish the bowl. Could have been those thick and soft pita breads that went with everything.

After lunch, Katie ran off to meet some former colleagues, but suggested I check out Live Greene, a new “green” gift shop down the block. So I did. Among all the recycled paper and plastic items were a surprising number of recycled items recreated from bike parts, mainly chains and tubes. I may not ride my bike to be green per se, but it’s cool to see how the bicycle has become an icon for green, which makes sense of course.

Do you recycle any of your used bicycle parts for anything interesting? Is being green a factor in why you ride?

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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Around Town

 

Fashion Special Edition: Black Monday

When the grim reaper visits your workplace, etiquette dictates black attire out of respect for those whose time has passed. RIP to my small software company.

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Posted by on December 19, 2011 in Cycle Fashions

 

A Saturday Afternoon Trip to San Francisco

Who needs an official “staycation” when you’ve got a free afternoon and you live only 35 miles from a world-class tourist destination? On Saturday, Dick and I grabbed our bikes and hopped on the Caltrain’s “baby bullet” weekend service and headed to San Francisco. One of my favorite bike manufacturers, Public Bikes, was having its holiday party and I was curious to see what new bikes and accessories they might have in stock.

What we found was a delectable new assortment of colors for their highly approachable city bikes, some new bike panniers inspired by the Clarjis ones I bought in Amsterdam, and some really interesting books. I came out of there with an iPhone mounting bracket that has a few kinks I wasn’t able to work out in the five minutes I spent installing it on the sidewalk.

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After the party, the plan was to shop at bit at Union Square, or at least check out the window displays. It is the Christmas season after all. But once we started rolling down the Embarcadero we didn’t want to stop. We cruised past the Bay Bridge, the Ferry Building, Fisherman’s Wharf and the Marina, and ended up at Fort Ross underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. I brought my little GoPro helmet camera, which created a bit of a stir among the tourists and natives alike, including a “thumbs up” from a limo passenger.

But the only interesting footage I got was a short piece down Lombard Street, the “world’s crookedest street.” We were disappointed to find the tourists were out in force even in the off season, so we had to share the narrow, twisty street with too many cars to be fun. It was hardly worth the steep climb to get up to the top, especially when you’re grunting up a 20% grade next to a pickup truck belching diesel-fumes. Blech!

Still, it was a great and inexpensive to spend the day as tourists in what’s practically our own back yard.

What’s your favorite tourist activity near your home? Are you saving money by taking a “staycation” this year?

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2011 in Travel

 

Fashion Friday: A Gray Day with a Threat of Storm

On a day that’s not clear, with situations neither black nor white, I go with the flow in a gray print knit dress, gray tights and basic black boots. And carry a raincoat for when the storm rolls in.

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Posted by on December 16, 2011 in Cycle Fashions

 

I Ride My Bike Because My City Believes in Bikes

I googled my name today. For professional reasons, of course. On Monday, my company was acquired by a company with a different market strategy. So I’ll probably be looking for a new job soon, and I was wondering what a prospective employer might uncover in an internet search for my name. The good news is that (a) I am mayor of my own name, with 7 of the top 10 search results referring to me and (b) the results make me look like more of an industry expert than I truly am.

Just for fun I also searched for my name + bike, which led to some old race results, a video from Monitor Pass that I took from the back of a Goldwing motorcycle, and blog posts about the Low-Key Hill Climb that I coordinated in October. Then there was a “Share My Story” that I had submitted to the People for Bikes web site last July, something I had forgotten about. It even had a photo.

The story I submitted was more or less a letter I had sent to my congressional members when funding for bike infrastructure, and in particular, bike paths was are risk of being cut. It sums up why I ride rather than drive around town these days:

My Bike Makes My Neighborhood “Walkable”
I live in Mountain View, California, in the heart of suburban Silicon Valley. My neighborhood was built during the 1950s and 1960s, when cars were assumed to be the only means of transportation.

  • I live five miles from my workplace, my doctor, my dentist, and a top-tier shopping mall.
  • I live two miles from my pharmacy, the hardware store, the garden center, and a movie theater.
  • I live one mile from the library, the post office, trendy restaurants, and a weekend farmers market.
  • I live 1/2 mile from the grocery store.

When I moved here 25 years ago, I drove my car to all these places. But because my city invested in bicycle infrastructure, I now ride my bicycle instead.

Each year, my city has used a small fraction of their transportation dollars to build bike lanes, to adjust traffic signal sensors for bikes, to install bike racks, and calm traffic in my neighborhood. My city has also built a 5 mile “recreation” trail that doubles as a car-free route for children attending four elementary schools, and as an alternative to a bumper-to-bumper freeway commute for employees at companies like Google and Microsoft.

Because my city and its neighbors believed in bicycles as transportation, I save money on gas, reduce wear-and-tear on my car, and get exercise everyday. If more people used bikes instead of cars for their daily errands, our air would be cleaner, our neighborhoods quieter, and our businesses could use their valuable real estate for creating or selling products or services instead of housing parked cars.

Surveys show that people would ride bicycles more if our streets were made safer for bicycles. I know it made a difference for me.

The transportation bill managed to get out of congress with bike funding intact. Whew! But I know that bicycle and pedestrian programs are often the first parts cut. The reason? Many lawmakers and their constituents have never lived somewhere where bicycling was an easy, safe, pleasant alternative to driving a car. So sad.

What could your town or city could do to be more bike-friendly? Have you told your elected officials?

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2011 in Around Town, Issues & Infrastructure

 

Bike Date Friday: Shokolaat and Christmas Lights

When the going gets tough, the tough reach for chocolate. So when an unexpected announcement at work late last week signaled a BIG UNKNOWN, it was only natural that our dinner choice for Bike Date Friday be Shokolaat, a restaurant known more for their desserts than their meals.

If you haven’t sounded out the name yet, Shokolaat is phonetic spelling for chocolate in French. We had a nice dinner followed by much nicer chocolate desserts and waited for the endorphins to kick in.

The endorphins did kick in, but I think it was more due to the relaxing ambiance of the intimate restaurant than the chocolate. Or maybe it was due to our cruise on our way home through the Old Palo Alto neighborhoods all lit up for Christmas. Outdoor lights are one of my favorite things about the holidays, more special to me than Christmas sweets and gifts.

This year, Christmas Tree Lane on Fulton Street was a disappointment since their official opening was Saturday, but their neighbors on surrounding streets made up for it with a good show. And yet, my favorites of the night were around the corner from our home in Mountain View, as Dorothy would say, in our very own backyard.

At the end of our little tour, I rolled into the garage with a small smile on my face, peace in my heart, and a feeling that everything would work out just fine.

When you’ve heard some unsettling news, what do you do to pick your mood up?

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About Bike Date Friday: Since September 2010, my husband and I have had a standing date every Friday night. We eat at a different place every week and arrive by bike. There’s no better way to end the work week.

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2011 in Bike Date

 

Fashion Friday: Frosty Mornings

Brrr. Frost on the ground means a cozy sweater dress, tights and ankle booties for the office, and a belted wool coat, fleece beanie, fluffy scarf and tall boots for the ride, on Juliett.

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OK, I admit this was a bit of overkill for 38 degree weather. What do you wear when it’s frosty?

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Posted by on December 9, 2011 in Cycle Fashions

 
 
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