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Monthly Archives: January 2013

It’s January: Looking Back, Moving Forward

In Roman mythology, Janus is the god of beginnings and transitions, a two-faced god that looks both into the future and back to the past. January was named in his honor, a month when people reflect on the previous year while looking forward to the next. I don’t know about you, but that’s what I’ve been reflecting a lot on this month.

Looking back at 2012, the most significant event was starting a new job with a new train+bike commute. I had lost my job with a perfect commute on tree-lined streets in Palo Alto and was disappointed that my new job was in a more car-centric area of San Jose. But I discovered that riding Caltrain and pedaling the Guadalupe River Trail was far better than expected. My commute went from a solo activity to a social ride on the train and trail.

Plus, it gave us new Bike Date Friday options, from Cirque du Soliel to Oktoberfest at Teske’s. San Jose has much to offer, if you look for its hidden charms and don’t expect it to be like San Francisco or even Palo Alto. I don’t miss my old commute at all, although I still miss my old job and our small and mighty team. We rocked.

In 2011, I made a commitment to stop complaining and start writing letters. In 2012, I not only wrote letters, I spoke up at at City Hall and in the local newspaper. I was really nervous at first and I admit I still get nervous when I speak, but it gets easier each time. I also volunteered on several committees for the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, including a winter party that drew our local bike community together in greater numbers.

In 2012, I launched new short features that lowered the stress of writing longer stories. I kicked off National Bike Month in May with Bike Commute Diaries, 31 days of short posts exploring things I’ve discovered as an everyday bicyclist. In its wake came the Bike Lane FAIL series, the Bike Spotting and A Closer Look bike galleries, a Tumblr called Where’s My Bike Today and a Dear City site for advocacy letters. Phew!

In 2012, I started using Twitter to meet and communicate with other bicycle advocates and enthusiasts. Twitter makes it easy to share news and ideas and get community support when facing bike-related challenges.

Through Twitter I now have new friends, both locally and worldwide. Richard of Cyclelicious was kind enough to model for a Fashion Friday shoot. Emily the Bakfiets Babe invited me to hang with her Portland friends at the fashion show at the Women’s Bicycling Summit. What a RIOT! I really value the mommy biking friends I’ve made. They let me vicariously experience parenthood on bikes, without all the tantrums and spit up.

In 2012, I moved forward with my “car-lite” lifestyle, riding my bike to places I had only driven to before, like San Jose airport (and San Francisco airport too). Reducing my driving wasn’t a goal per se, but by the end of the year I racked up only 2,000 miles on my car. I called my insurance company and they reduced my rates.

My friends and I trained for and completed the Solvang Century, the first 100 mile ride I’d done in four years. We followed it with a new challenge: the Peak of the Month Club. We climbed four Bay Area peaks (Diablo, Tamalpais, Twin Peaks, San Bruno) in four counties and still have a few more to finish up in 2013.

Looking back at 2012, I’m glad that some things didn’t change. I made three trips back home to visit family and got to ride all over town with my dad who’s now 82. He hasn’t slowed down much and he rocks the pasture trail with ease. My husband and I still managed to find new restaurants for our long-running Bike Date Friday tradition. I don’t write about it much anymore, but you can follow me on Instagram to catch the food photos.

Moving forward into 2013, I’m not really sure the year will bring. I want to travel overseas again, like we did in 2011 with trips to Amsterdam, Paris and London. I want to do more long road rides and gain back some technical skills I’ve lost on the dirt. I want to do a longer, multi-day bike+train tour.

I want to push myself to write to a broader audience than this blog. Last year several people nudge me that direction, but I haven’t put myself out there. I also see myself speaking out more for women’s issues in cycling. I’ve written about it some and gotten into a few Twitter fights. But I’ve been biting my tongue a lot.

It’s scary to write this. I don’t like the pressure that comes with setting goals. Besides, the most significant things I’ve done in life were not planned. I’ve always believed in the Third Commandment of Frisbee: Never precede any maneuver by a comment more predictive than “Watch this.” So all I will say now is “Watch this!”

Are there things you achieved in 2012 that you never expected? Do you have any goals for 2013?

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2013 in Other Stuff

 

Fashion Friday: Snakeskin & Suede

Who says winter boots can’t be flashy AND practical? These fair beauties in snakeskin and suede bring cheer to a grey winter morning. They mix with a variety of palettes–browns, blacks, tans, bolds–but today it’s cream and gray all the way with a velveteen jacket and a double knit skirt. These boots will go far, just not in the rain.

Buff & Grey for Winter BIG
Flashy new boots brought new excitement to an skirt and jacket purchased seasons ago.

About Fashion Friday: Inspired by a 2011 Bike to Work Day challenge sponsored by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, this series highlights the broad range of “dress for the destination” bicycling fashions.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2013 in Cycle Fashions

 

Think Snow! (and Mountain Biking)

A cold front came down from Alaska today. The weather forecasters gave a warning of midday rain and snowfall as low as 1500 feet. So I bundled up a little more than usual, grabbed my raincoat, left my new suede boots safely at home, and made a little “think snow” wish as I rolled in to work.

I was hoping for big fat snowfall in our local hills, like the one that gave Katie and me our first snow biking experience two years ago. We were planning a road ride and no sooner than I said to Katie, “We need to stay out of the hills so we don’t hit ice,” I realized that on our mountain bikes the snow might be really fun.

Snow on Bella Vista Trail

We threw our bikes on my car and drove up Page Mill Road to Montebello Preserve and had a blast. The snow was much easier to ride in than I expected and certainly a lot easier than riding icy roads on skinny road tires.

So the sun is setting now and it didn’t rain here today. The camera on top of Mt Hamilton (elev. 4360′) shows only a trace of snow and there’s no rain in the forecast. So I don’t think we’ll be snow biking this weekend. :(

Do you ride regularly in the snow? Are there any special skills you need to handle all conditions?

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Posted by on January 10, 2013 in Dirt Trails

 

Bike Rack FAIL: Bad Rack Redux at Hobee’s

First I complained about the rickety, useless bike rack at Hobee’s in Mountain View. Then I was (mostly) pleased to see they had installed a new rack. On Sunday, we discovered an ill-placed, immovable garbage can that blocks the walkway when bikes are parked. A complete FAIL that makes bikes look like the problem.

Hobees Rack 1
There’s barely room between the bikes and the garbage can for walkers, and no room for the family with a child in a wheelchair that walked up just as we finished locking the bikes. We slid the bikes over to let them pass.

The good news is that when I reported it to the manager, she came out and looked carefully at the situation and agreed it was a problem. Anyone willing to guess what their solution will be? Will they move the garbage can, move the bike rack or removed the rack completely?

Location: Hobbee’s on Central Expressway at Rengstorff Avenue, Mountain View, California, USA.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

Bicycle Getaways: The San Francisco Riviera

When most people think of traveling by bike they think of bicycle touring, where you carry everything you need to be self-sufficient for long distances: clothing, sleeping bag, tent, cookware. Like backpacking on wheels. Or perhaps “credit card” touring, where you skip the camping and stay in motels or hostels. Or supported tours, where guides plan your route and vehicles carry your gear (and you too, if you don’t want to ride that day).

Strawberry

When Dick and I bought our touring bikes last year, we didn’t really have a plan. I suspected we’d set out for credit card type tours, and we still may. But so far, our overnight bike trips don’t fit any of these models. I would call them “bicycle getaways”: 2-4 day trips, more urban than most touring trips, using transit to increase our travel ranges, and with luxury accommodations. Ideally a hotel with a fuzzy robes and great restaurants nearby.

Breakfast in Bed

So far, we’ve done four bicycle getaways: two to Sacramento, one to San Francisco, and one I planned recently for Dick’s birthday. Instead of giving birthday gifts, we have a tradition of going away for a short trips. Dick’s birthday being close to Thanksgiving makes things challenging. Airports and highways are full of holiday travelers and after nine years together we’d already visited all the closer spots. I was running out of ideas.

Then I thought of Tiburon, a small town on the north end of San Francisco Bay that along with neighboring Sausalito and Belvedere Island make up what’s affectionately called the San Francisco Riviera. I was sold.

Like our other bike getaways, the train made it easy to ride from home. Caltrain got us to San Francisco, then it was less than 30 miles across the Golden Gate Bridge and around the bay to Tiburon. We had our bikes available for a Marin day trip the next day, then home was just a ferry ride and train ride away. No holiday traffic like a driving trip would be, and more luxury than a full-on touring trip. Why didn’t I think of this sooner?

Where have you ever done loaded toured with your bike? Did you go hardcore with fully-loaded touring or did you “credit card” it for a lighter load?

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Trip Details: Starting from home in Mountain View, we traveled this route for a total 165 miles: 80 miles by train, 75 by bike, 10 by ferry. Transportation costs: $29 ($11 for Dick’s train pass, $18 for ferry, free bike parking at hotel). Hotel: Water’s Edge. Restaurants: Capurro’s (SF), Caprice, Sam’s Cafe and Boathouse (Tiburon).

Tiburon Trip Map

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2013 in Backroads, Travel

 

Fashion Weekend Edition: Tunic Sweater Touring

Behold the tunic: too short to be a dress, too long to be a standard sweater. It’s my go-to sweater when I want the warmth of a sweater dress but I’m riding all over town on my diamond frame touring bike. Add leggings, tall boots and a wool cap (and a scarf) and I’m set to run errands or tour the city on a chilly Saturday.

Tunic & Tights
The shawl collar on this sweater was what caught my eye in the store. I liked the buckles too.

About Fashion Friday: Inspired by a 2011 Bike to Work Day challenge sponsored by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, this series highlights the broad range of “dress for the destination” bicycling fashions.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on January 5, 2013 in Cycle Fashions

 

Bike Commute Diaries: A Cock Crows in San Jose

For months I’ve heard crowing on my morning commute through downtown San Jose and wondered. Then, the rooster appeared in my friend’s helmet cam video. I changed my route and behold! there’s the rooster standing outside a lonely old house nestled in an industrial area. He posed for the camera, then crowed as I rolled away.

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About the Bike Commute Diaries: Launched in May 2012 for National Bike Month, this series explores the unexpected and surprising things I’ve learned about bicycling for transportation.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on January 3, 2013 in Commute Diaries

 
 
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