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Monthly Archives: April 2013

A New Road Less Traveled, Courtesy of Giro

I’ve been bicycling long enough and am curious enough that I’ve ridden most of the backroads in the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains. I know which roads are beautifully quiet and I know which are prone to heavy traffic. I know which roll along or climb gently and I know which will brutally punish you with steep 15%+ grades.

So when Katie and I found ourselves riding with a strong group on Summit Road and she said, “They’re turning on Loma Prieta Road. What’s it like?” I was surprised I didn’t know. I knew that Loma Prieta ran parallel to Summit, but that was it. “They say it turns to gravel,” she said. I said, “Let’s do it” and surprised myself.

Loma Prieta Road

We had joined up with a ride sponsored by Giro to promote the launch of their New Road clothing. Santa Cruz-based riding club Steel Wül had planned an all day route in the hills, but details were thin. All we knew was they were starting at Giro headquarters in Scotts Valley and climbing the painfully steep Mountain Charlie Road.

Katie works for Giro as their marketing director and wanted to ride with the group, but she wasn’t looking forward to driving over the hill to Scotts Valley like she does every weekday morning. And I wasn’t looking forward to starting a long ride with climb up Mountain Charlie, much less riding with a pack of fast bike industry riders. Our plan: climb up the other side of the hill from Los Gatos, take a few photos and play it by ear.

We ended up climbing into the unknown on Loma Prieta Road, dropping down the dirt on Mt Bache and then riding along the delightfully remote, but potholed Highland Road to a lunch stop in the redwoods at Buzzard’s Lagoon. I quickly snapped some shots and got a better look at the Giro New Road line.

Giro New Road Apparel

The bicycling world often divides riders by discipline: roadies, mountain bikers, commuters, urban hipsters and more. Each requires a specific uniform: lycra kits for roadies, baggie shorts for mountain bikers, hi-viz for commuters and skinny jeans for hipsters. Giro New Road goes beyond the tribal distinctions with a line of bike wear that can take a rider from road to trail to cafe in comfort and style. The secret is merino wool, the original technical fabric, carefully tailored cuts and performance features, and a healthy dose of relaxed California style.

As someone who belongs to several bike tribes, New Road appeals to me. I can see myself wearing it for weekend trail and road rides and on my longer commutes. What’s currently available is cut to fit men, but inside sources tell me there’s a women’s line in the works. You can get a glimpse of a prototype in the slideshow.

Katie and I left the group after lunch. They rolled down to the coast while we headed back over to the bay side of the hills. Not an easy day in the saddle for me, but my curiosity was satisfied by a New Road from Giro.

What bicycle tribe(s) do you belong to? Does each require its own uniform? Does each have its own style?

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Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Backroads

 

Faber’s Cyclery: A Bike Shop Burns in San Jose

I was busy writing on my blog last Thursday night when I noticed something odd. The story I wrote about Faber’s Cyclery in San Jose last September suddenly popped toward the top of my “Today’s Top Posts” list. The answer came shortly on the nightly news: the historic Faber’s Cyclery building, built in 1884, was burning.

A few murky details have trickled in. No one was injured in the fire, although some people may have been living upstairs. Could they have accidentally started the fire? Shop owner Alex LaRiviere had moved his inventory his out a few weeks ago. The landlord trying to sell the property had little to say. The property is on the edge of the Martha Gardens historic district, making redevelopment more difficult. Could that have been a factor?

Fabers After Fire 1

All we’re left with is a smoldering Victorian-era building, listing to the side and at the verge of collapse. It will most likely be razed for a non-descript who-knows-what development. It’s right against a noisy freeway on the wrong side of downtown, hardly a place for luxury apartments or Class A office space.

A campaign to save the building is underway, but I’m not hopeful. A little bit of San Jose bike history left when Faber’s moved out, and a little bit of San Jose architecture history is now gone with the burning of the building.

What are the unsung buildings in your city that tell its history? Which ones have you lost? Do you miss them?

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2013 in Local History

 

Fashion Friday: Pretty in Pink & Cool in Cream

Full-skirted and full of fun, Corinne’s ladylike 1950s-style summer dress helps her beat the heat riding around downtown San Jose on her lovely mixte. Classic dresses and classic bikes never go out of style for a reason.

Corinne Winter

Corinne can been seen riding all over the valley as the Executive Director of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition.

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 April 26, 2013 in Cycle Fashions

 

Bike Commute Diaries: One Giant Step for My Mixte

Forgetting to look before you leap can get your day off on the wrong track. In a mad dash to catch an early bullet train I jumped on the local by mistake. “Easy fix,” I thought. “I’ll hop off at College Park and make up time on the bike.” Good thing I looked before I leaped off the train. The platform didn’t reach the last bike car.

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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.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2013 in Commute Diaries

 

Anything Goes Challenge: Painful Learning Curves

I got up a few minutes early this morning so I could take my little scooter to the VTA. Now that I have two trips under my belt, I left my helmet at home and cruised down the sidewalk with confidence. My husband got up early too, so he could try a Caltrain + bike commute as part of his entry to the Anything Goes Commute Challenge. So when I crashed right outside my home on my scooter, he was awake to see the damage fresh.

Today’s lesson #1: Don’t brake while turning on wet pavement. Maybe don’t turn on wet pavement at all.

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Other lessons I’ve learned on my scooter + VTA commute: The street is smoother than the sidewalk, so take the street if it’s wide or low traffic. Rubber soled flats work as well as sneakers, skirts that are a little short on the bike are fine on the scooter, and that little handlebar bag is much easier to access than the messenger bag.

Today’s lesson #2: The VTA smartphone app really helps when you get on the wrong train and end up in East San Jose. That’s what happens when you get engrossed in writing and don’t pay attention.

Whenever you try something new there are learning curves. If a skinned knee and coming home 45 minutes late are the worst of it there’s no reason to write off riding my scooter and taking VTA. Besides, how often do you get to see East Valley hills from a vantage point over a Chevron gas station and a McDonald’s parking lot?

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The other big lesson I continue to learn is that assumptions we make often turn out false. When I started bike commuting in dresses I assumed I’d have to carry my heels. When I started working in San Jose I assumed I wouldn’t be able to grocery shop easily on my way home. When I started this challenge I assumed I couldn’t ride the 14 miles to work comfortably in street clothes on my city bike. All false assumptions.

I assumed that light rail would be too inefficient to be useful except as an emergency backup. With WiFi it isn’t, provided you get on the right train and you don’t get motion sickness reading while riding backwards.

Quick Update on the Anything Goes Commute Challenge: We’re just under a week from the deadline of April 30 and the entries have already started to come in. Margaret from Los Angeles sent me hers today, and I know Pep and Dick are working on theirs. So send your stories to me at ladyfleur500@gmail.com!

What about you? Have you tried anything new on your commute? What have you learned?

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Posted by on April 25, 2013 in Anything Goes

 

Bike Commute Diaries: Footloose and Fancy-Free

On a clear and warm spring morning like today, why take the train when I can ride for miles along the quiet Guadalupe River Trail with the breeze blowing through my hair? My little mixte was up for the 14 miles and so was I. With a water bottle in the basket we were good to go. Who says city bikes can’t do longer commutes?

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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.

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2013 in Commute Diaries

 

Fashion Friday: Cowgirl Denim and Ruffles

Whoopee ti yi yo, git along little dogies! There’s a little cowgirl in me, from my heavy cotton twill jacket, ruffled shirt and gored denim skirt down to my fancy cowgirl boots. Feels just right as I keep rolling along the trails in San Jose, drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds. (yes, San Jose has tumbleweeds)

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The denim skirt was a size too big but I bought it anyway. Good ones are hard to find.

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 April 19, 2013 in Cycle Fashions

 
 
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