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Author Archives: ladyfleur

About ladyfleur

One woman. Many bicycles.

The Flood of the Decade on the Guadalupe River

We were barely halfway through December when the weather service declared it our wettest in 60 years. I wasn’t surprised. After two weeks of near-daily rain I don’t bother checking the weather forecast anymore. On my way out the door I put on my full-coverage raincoat and rain boots, double bagged my laptop and stow it in my hardiest Dutch panniers along with heels and a second pair of tights. Is this what it’s like to live in Portland?

While 7.43 inches in a month may not sound exceptional, in our semi-arid climate it’s about half our yearly total of 15 inches, and almost twice the meager 3.8 inches we got during last year’s drought. In a normal year, the Guadalupe’s trickle is more creek than river, but last week the Guadalupe lived up to its river name. Add a few bateaux or pirogues and it would look like a respectable bayou back home in Louisiana.

Airport Blvd Bridge

When the “storm of the decade” was forecast for last Thursday with 35 mph winds and heavy rain, there was a brief moment when I considered working from home or driving to work instead. Curiosity got the better of me, though, and I’m glad I went for it. The tailwind was 20 mph at best, the rain was steady, but not blinding, and I got to see the river go from normal to flooded to normal again within 24 hours. It was worth getting a little wet.

What’s your bad weather limit on the bike? At what point do you decide it’s not worth it and drive or take transit instead? How heavy a rain, how low a temperature or how much snow on the ground does it take?

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Posted by on December 19, 2014 in Around Town

 

Fashion Weekend Edition: Holiday Party Pizzazz

The little black dress wins again. Why search for a new party dress when you can gussy up an old favorite with festive accessories? A peacock blue cropped jacket, a multi-strand jewel necklace and lace stockings turn basic black into a holiday delight. While you’re at it, gussy up your bike with some festive colored lights too.

Party Portrait

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 December 14, 2014 in Cycle Fashions

 

Bike Commute Diaries: An Up Close & Personal Look

For over two years I’m shared snippets of my everyday life in the Bike Commute Diaries series. Now, thanks to a local reporter writing a story on the future of bikes on Caltrain, you can follow me on a typical morning commute, hyperlapsed from about 60 minutes into four fast minutes. The video captures everything I love about my commute: relaxing on the train, popping into a coffee shop for a latte to go, cruising down the banks of the Guadalupe River, and chatting with friends I’ve met along the way. Thank you, Caltrain, for making it possible.

For more on the future of bikes on Caltrain, read the full story from the Peninsula Press.

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

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2014 in Commute Diaries

 

Bike Commute Diaries: Soggy Gloves No More

My bike clothing for rain falls into two categories: ones that repel water and ones that stay warm even when soaked. My heavy-duty raincoat and knee-high boots do a stellar job keeping things dry underneath. But I couldn’t find any comfortable water-repelling gloves, so I settled for fleece-lined gloves with a synthetic shell.

How do I avoid putting on clammy, damp gloves at the end of the day? Newspaper. Good old newspaper.

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If I cram wadded up balls of newspaper tightly into my gloves, shoes or anything else I want to dry out, within an hour the moisture is wicked away. Then my hands will be dry and warm for the ride home, at least until the rain comes down again. So when the rain starts coming down, I head for the newspaper rack.

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

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2014 in Commute Diaries

 

A Pedal-Powered Christmas Tree Delivery

Sigh. Why can’t the people who make money on car loans resist putting down bikes? A few years ago, General Motors got an earful for their college discount campaign featuring a guy so embarrassed to be seen on his bike he shields his face from a pretty girl. The slogan was “Reality Sucks. Stop pedaling…start driving.” But before long, the reality of angry public sentiment sucked for GM and they quickly backpedaled to apologize and removed the ad. Now, easyfinancial is promoting car loans with a sad guy dragging a Christmas tree by bike.

easyfinancial Services banner

After I rolled my eyes, I had to chuckle. My husband is nothing like the guy in the ad. On Saturday, when we were getting ready to hop on our bikes to buy our Christmas tree I asked if I could pull the tree this year. After all, he had done it the last two years. It was my turn. “No.” he said, “It’s my thing.” Greedy, isn’t he?

Dick Pulling Tree

I’ll admit that the first year I bike commuted, we didn’t see how we could carry a tree with our bikes so we drove. It didn’t help that the tree lot was on busy El Camino, which isn’t a comfortable place to ride. We only drove two miles to buy the tree, and probably spent more time lashing it on top of the car than we did driving.

By the next year we were better prepared. We had bought a bike trailer and had found a tree lot run by the Sea Scouts that’s further away in Palo Alto, but accessible by quieter streets. Now buying a tree is as simple as pulling up to the front of the lot, picking a tree, paying for it, and having a scout drop it in our trailer and tie it down. Super quick and easy, with no fear that the tree will fly off your car at 35 miles an hour.

I love seeing the surprise on the scout’s face when you say you have a bike, not a car, and the reactions you get on the ride home are just as predictable. From the “Wow!” from a bunch of kids walking to the library, to “Happy Christmas” from a mom pushing a stroller, to a simple smile and nod from an older gent, everyone looks happy to see you roll by. We only get to do it once a year, so no wonder my husband doesn’t want to share.

Have you tried bringing a Christmas tree home by bike? Did you take a photo of your bike in action? If so, share it with the world by emailing it to Chris at Modacity to add to his Pedal Powered Christmas collection.

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8 Comments

Posted by on December 8, 2014 in Around Town

 

Fashion Weekend Edition: Between the Rain Showers

A weekly forecast with a chance of rain every day doesn’t have to mean dressing in head-to-toe rain gear or putting away the bike until the sun comes back out. Between the showers is the perfect time to get a quick ride in, for errands or for fun, as long as you prepare for puddles and occasional sprinkles. A short trench coat covers the sprinkles, and tall boots and cropped pants protect from the puddles of dirty water. The sunny attitude about risking getting a little damp is completely up to you.

Between Rainstorms Portrait

My bright yellow panniers, purse and helmet remind me of the yellow rain slickers popular when I was a kid.

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.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 30, 2014 in Cycle Fashions

 

Bike Commute Diaries: How to Show You Care

It’s the little things you do that show you care about someone. Like cooking a favorite meal when your sweetie has had a rough day or texting a photo to your sister to make her smile. Or a city installing a wide ramp and wayfinding signs for a path that’s been around at least 30 years. Thank you, City of Mountain View, for showing you care about people who ride bikes (and use wheelchairs and push strollers). It made my morning.

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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 seen and learned while bicycling for transportation.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 10, 2014 in Commute Diaries

 
 
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