Author Archives: ladyfleur

About ladyfleur

One woman. Many bicycles.

A Big Easy King Cake for Mardi Gras in California

After my family, what I miss most about Louisiana is the food and the rich traditions behind it. Like making pralines after picking pecans in the fall, or boiling a sack of crawfish for a backyard party in the spring, or making gumbo the day after Thanksgiving with the turkey carcass. For me, these are all family traditions.

But there’s one Louisiana food tradition that I associate with the workplace, not home: the King Cake. In the Louisiana French tradition, Carnival season begins at the Feast of Epiphany (aka Three Kings Day) and runs through Mardi Gras (aka Fat Tuesday, the last day before Lenten fasting begins). During Carnival season, no party was considered complete without a King Cake, a sweet bread sprinkled with sugar with a bean hidden inside. The lucky party-goer who was served the slice of cake with the bean was tasked with throwing the next Carnival party. Are you still with me? I realize this is not a mainstream American tradition.

King Cake

This tradition continues today among circles of friends and in workplaces, although the bean has evolved into a tiny plastic baby. When I was a student working on the LSU campus, our boss brought a King Cake the Friday after Epiphany, then whoever got the baby brought the cake the next Friday and so on until Mardi Gras.

The good news for the person who drew the baby is that King Cakes are easy to buy at bakeries back home. The bad news for me is that I’ve only found one place that sells them in the Bay Area and it’s in San Francisco, and they’re by special order only. A long way to go for a cake plus the challenge of carrying it home on a bike.

For years I’ve toyed with the idea of baking my own, but the traditional recipes sounded like too much work and the easy recipes using place-and-bake cinnamon rolls sounded too sweet. This year I tried again, googling “easy king cake” and behold! An easy recipe with a cream cheese filling and a touch of lemon that passed my discriminating standards. Start to finish, including rising, was about 90 minutes.

Even though I knew my co-workers wouldn’t know what it was, I baked a King Cake and on Mardi Gras last week I brought it to work on my bike. A dish draining rack tied down to my bike’s rear rack made the perfect King Cake basket. All that was missing was the toy baby. For that, there’s always next year.

Do you have traditional holiday foods from back home that aren’t common where you’re living today? Do you cook them yourself or drive far or mail order to get them?

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Posted by on February 22, 2015 in Bike Crafts, Recipes


Make It Your Own: Kinn Cascade Flyer by Tim

Good things come to those who wait, and when you have tough requirements that can take a while. Tim knew exactly what he wanted in his family’s newest bike: big and sturdy enough to carry his 3 year old son, small enough to fit on a bus rack, with sizing to fit both his tall frame and his wife’s petite one. And he wanted to buy American. After detailed research he found the perfect bike: a midtail from Kinn Bikes of Portland, Oregon.

Tim Portrait 3

As the name suggests, midtail bicycles fit in the space between a standard bike and the extended-frame cargo bikes made popular by Xtracycle, aka “longtails.” While midtails can’t carry two kids as comfortably or carry as much cargo as longtails, many, like Tim’s Kinn Cascade Flyer, come with a twist: turn the front wheel 180 degrees and the bike length shortens by 4 inches, just enough to slide into a bus or train’s bike rack.

While the Kinn may have been perfect for Tim, his wife wasn’t so keen on its frame color and it was to be her bike too. Tim’s easy fix was having the frame re-painting and while they were at it, using Rhino Lining for a durable finish. Never heard of Rhino Lining? It’s a nubby coating that’s commonly sprayed on truck beds to protect from scrapes. Perfect for a bike that gets some abuse on the mean streets of San Francisco.

Location: Old Del Monte Dried Fruit Plant 51, near Diridon Station, San Jose.


Posted by on February 20, 2015 in Bike Gallery, Make It Your Own


Fashion Weekend Edition: Springlike Garden Party

When you host a party in February in Northern California you never know what kind of weather you’ll get. Last year’s Wine, Women & Chocolate barely espcaped a winter rain storm, while this year it was sunny and unseasonably warm. A new knit dress in a spicy coral print was a perfect way to enjoy the springlike day.

Coral Dress Portrait 1

I already have so many dresses, but I loved this one from Boutique 4, a Bike to Shop Day participating shop.


I was too busy at the party to take many photos, but here’s a panorama of the group that rode together from the Caltrain station through downtown San Jose to the party in historic Naglee Park. If you have photos from the party, please send them to me at For higher resolution of the photo, Click here.

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.


Posted by on February 16, 2015 in Cycle Fashions


Breaking Away in Baton Rouge

When I was a little girl, my father taught me to ride a bike. He bolted training wheels on a bike passed down from one or more of my four older sisters and set me loose to ride circles in the driveway. When he decided it was time, he took off the training wheels, then held the back of my saddle while I climbed aboard. I pedaled, he ran, he let go, I fell. We tried again and again until I pedaled down the street into freedom.

Well, as much freedom that living in a subdivision isolated by a busy, shoulderless highway allows.

The subdivision wasn’t small, but it was street after street of ranch style homes with manicured lawns proudly owned by friendly people with lots of kids, and creeks to explore on its fringes. If we asked Mom nicely, she would let us ride down a long gravel road to a 7-11 to buy candy. But that was about it. We couldn’t ride to school or to sports practice or to a friend’s house on the other side of the highway. We were trapped riding in circles, just like my dad does today on his “ride every street” subdivision tour.

Pollard map

I’m sure many kids didn’t mind being cut off from the rest of the city, and I knew others who were willing to sneak through Ford’s pasture. But not a goody-two-shoes like me. I didn’t ride through the pasture until a few years ago, after it was sold to a developer who cut a trail through it where they will eventually build a street.

Pasture Path

This little trail, not even 2/10 of a mile, has become our bike connection to the rest of the city. Now we can ride all the places that we never could before: to the elementary school and church (1.25 miles), to high school (5 miles) and to college (4 miles), plus grocery stores, parks, restaurants and homes of friends and family.

The map tells it all. That small gold shape around my parents’ home was my childhood cruising range. Now, much of the southern half of the city can be reached by bike. What a big difference a tiny connection can make.

BTR Map 4

We haven’t ridden all the way from home to downtown yet, nor to the Mississippi River where a bald eagle nest is. (That would be a bit long for dad) But we did ride to LSU during our last visit, and I did ride to Baton Rouge High a few years ago for a high school reunion party. Next trip I want to ride downtown for a bike date lunch and to my sister’s house to see the latest fabric arts she’s created. So many new places to go and things to do.

How far from your childhood home could you safely ride a bike? What about where you live now?

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Posted by on February 10, 2015 in Around Town, Travel


You’re Invited: Wine, Women & Chocolate Returns!

You are cordially invited to Women, Wine & Chocolate, a gathering for women who love bikes, on Sunday, February 15, 2015 at 1:30 pm at 245 S 12th Street, in the historic Naglee Park district of San Jose, California.

The party that took Silicon Valley by storm last year returns for a second year of fun and friendship just for the ladies! Space is limited and last year was a sell-out, so please RSVP early.

If you’re in the throes of a grand love affair with your bike and want to meet other women with that same fiery passion, pedal over to San Jose’s historic Naglee Park district on Sunday, February 15, 2015. There will be wine, chocolate, cheese and fruit, plus an afternoon of stories, laughter, and tips on gear and secret bike routes. And of course, a chance to show off our two-wheeled babies. You may want to bring your bike family photos.

Bike Statue

If the weather is fine, we’ll be in Candice’s lovely garden. If not, we’ll cozy up around the fireplace and mingle in her turn-of-the-century home. So grab your favorite wine glass and something to share: chocolate, cheese or a bottle of wine or your preferred party drink. We’ll take care of the rest.

Those arriving by bike can join our pre-party ride crossing downtown San Jose on the new green lanes on San Fernando Street followed by a short spin through the historic Naglee Park. Our route will be less than four miles one way along lower-stress streets. Meet in front of San Jose Diridon Station at 1:00 pm. (Train arrivals: Caltrain local 12:51, baby bullet 1:03; VTA 902 NB 12:38, SB 12:59) We’ll roll shortly after the last train arrives.

San Fernando Green Lane

Where: 245 South 12th Street, San Jose. A private home in the historic Naglee Park district. (map)
When: Sunday, February 15, 2015. 1:30-4:00 pm. Note that sunset won’t be until 5:46 pm that day.
Please bring: Your favorite wine glass, plus chocolate, cheese or bottle of wine or other drink to share.
RSVP: Please RSVP and indicate what you’ll be bringing through SVBC, our event sponsor .

Pre-Party Bike Ride: Meet at San Jose Diridon Station at 1:00 PM for a short, flat ride on lower-stress streets.
Transit: Party location is well-served by VTA transit lines (22,23,72). Santa Clara Street is 2.5 blocks away.
Parking: Bike parking will be provided on racks in the backyard (with tarps in case of rain). On-street car parking is available with no weekend restrictions.

Please RSVP so we can make sure we’re ready for what’s sure to be a fun group, and so we send you any last minute details about the party. We hope to see you there!


Posted by on January 29, 2015 in Around Town, Events


Bike Commute Diaries: Tumbling Tumbleweeds

It’s easy to forget that where I live was once the Old West. The cowboys and stagecoaches are gone, and few saloons remain. But there I was on the trail today, drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.


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 about bicycling for transportation.


Posted by on January 27, 2015 in Commute Diaries


Bike Lane FAIL: Halfway Job at Central Expressway

Update: A few weeks after this story was posted, the Santa Clara County Roads & Airports department lengthened the signal timing so it’s much easier to ride across before the light turns red. Thank you!

Two years after I first wrote the city about problems with bicycling to the San Antonio Caltrain station and tunnel, there it was: a bike lane. No longer would I have to ride around the corner to push the pedestrian button and use a crosswalk that’s not particularly visible to drivers turning right on Central Expressway.

Bike Lane FAIL Mayfield

It doesn’t do anything to fix the reverse direction, but it’s an improvement, right? Guess again. It fails in two dangerous ways. First, it forces you to merge with the adjacent lane’s traffic to get around an oversized median. More seriously, the green light is so short that you’re likely to still be in the intersection when the light turns red. That puts you in the path of expressway-speed traffic just as you’re slowing to exit onto the sidewalk.

This is the fourth intersection within two miles of my home that has been “improved” since I started this series. All are critical connections across high-speed roads and all are more, not less, dangerous now. They include: a vanishing bike lane at San Antonio Road, a painful squeeze on Rengstorff Avenue, and a take-the-lane situation on Moffett Blvd that I only ride when I’m sure there won’t be vehicles barreling up behind me. Here’s a map.

At this point, I’m losing patience. Why does this keep happening? Don’t the engineers have the skill to design something that doesn’t set people up to be injured? Isn’t ensuring the crossing is safe a priority? Do they ever get on a bike and test these “improvements” when they’re complete? I’m tired of being their guinea pig.

Location: Mayfield Avenue at Central Expressway, Mountain View


Posted by on January 22, 2015 in Bike Lane FAIL

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