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Category Archives: Around Town

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.

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2014 in Commute Diaries

 

Extreme Bike Shopping: John & Jenny at Costco

Grocery shopping by bike can be as simple as a college student slipping mac ‘n cheese and instant ramen into a backpack or a retired couple picking up bike baskets full of fruits and veggies at the farmers market. Then there are the heavy-duty bike shoppers, filling grocery carts and big panniers to feed a whole family. You can find them at any grocery store, but to catch the superstars in action, head to big box stores like Costco.

Meet Jenny and John. She’s a C-level executive at a global tech company. He’s CEO of a commercial real estate company. Together they have four hungry children, from school-aged to teenagers. All six work up an appetite riding bikes to school or work every day, so weekly grocery shopping is not a lightweight job. But for John and Jenny all it takes is a trailer and overstuffed panniers to bring their SUV-sized load five miles home.

John & Jenny Portrait 2

Truth in reporting here: In June, John rode 3020 miles in 11 days, 21 hours in Race Across America (RAAM) so he’s not your average hardcore rider. He’s an animal. And Jenny? She’s riding the electric-assist Specialized Turbo that she rides every day up the hill to Stanford Research Park so she doesn’t sweat in her work clothes.

But don’t take my word for it when I say you don’t need to be superhuman to be an extreme bike shopper. Check out the bikes in the slideshow, and keep an eye on the bike rack at your local warehouse store.

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Posted by on October 28, 2014 in Around Town

 

Commute Diaries: Hang on Tights Season

In between the two Bay Area seasons loosely divided as “warm and dry” and “cool and damp,” there are days divided by “chilly and overcast” in the morning and “warm and sunny” in the evening. That’s when I turn to tights.

Tights Season

Easy on in the morning, easy off in the evening, and I can keep both goosebumps and sweat out of my day.

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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.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2014 in Commute Diaries

 

Cowgirls & LadyCats: A New Face for Bike Couriers

If you’ve you ever hopped on a bike after a rough work day and had your bad mood roll away, you’ve probably wondered: “If only I could get paid to ride my bike.” The good news is that you don’t have to be a pro racer to make a living on two wheels. You can coach or instruct like my friend Lorri. You can write about bicycling like my friend Elly. You can work in bike advocacy like my friends at SVBC and CalBike. Or you can work in the bike industry, either at a manufacturer or at your local bike shop like my dear husband did when I met him.

But the purest way to get paid to ride a bike is as a messenger, something I could never see myself doing. Bike messengers are thrill-seeking guys careening around the city on brakeless fixies, hopping curbs and running red lights. You know, like in Premium Rush. But now I have a friend Cain who has launched a new kind of bike delivery service earlier this month called Cowgirl Bike Couriers. They’re not your typical messengers.

Cowgirls 2Photo courtesy of Cowgirl Bike Couriers.

Like other bike courier services, the Cowgirls specialize in delivering legal documents, but that doesn’t stop them from delivering packages, flowers, groceries, and even medical supplies. But what makes Cowgirls stand out is their focus on recruiting women as couriers to help bridge the gender gap in American cycling.

I love their mission and the name Cowgirl, which reminds me of the strong women of Old West who had the daring and strength to ride hard and get sweaty in what’s seen as a man’s job. Cowgirls are ready for anything, and I think their new service is too. Ten women and men have been recruited, some key accounts have been signed, and the Cowgirls are riding from Milpitas to Los Gatos, from Santa Clara to East and South San Jose.

Cowgirls 1cropPhoto courtesy of Cowgirl Bike Couriers.

I’m not in the market to become a courier, but it’s fun to pretend. So when my friend Lorri asked me to race with her in an alley cat the Cowgirls hosted last month, I went for it. I wanted to support Cowgirls in their launch, and their LadyCat race was a fund-raiser for the Silicon Valley Roller Girls who lost their home rink at the last remaining roller skating rink in the South Bay. Besides, how could LadyFleur not race the LadyCat?

Lorri and I made a good team. I arrived early, giving me time to study the manifest and map out a route using my iPhone. Lorri rushed over from another event so she didn’t know the route, but she could read the map without pulling out reading glasses. That led to a couple of “who’s on first” conversations and an overshot checkpoint on Hamilton Ave that gave us the (dis)pleasure of crossing the Hwy 17 freeway interchange twice.

LadyCat Map

We survived, though, and 24 miles and two hours later we had hit all nine checkpoints and were sharing drinks and stories with the other racers. We were far from the first to come in, but not the last either. Best of all, we got to pretend to be bike couriers for a day, something I’ll surely never do in real life.

Have you ever been paid for riding a bike or working in a bike-affiliated job? If not, what job would you want?

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Posted by on October 9, 2014 in Around Town, Women & Bikes

 

Bike Commute Diaries: Taxi to the Rescue

When asked what I’d do if I had a problem with my bike I couldn’t fix, I’ve always said if desperate I’d call a taxi. In four years, I’ve walked home once and taken light rail twice for flats, and called Dick for a ride once when my headlight was stolen. Last night on our bike date, I locked both our bikes to the rack without having the key. Four miles from home, in a city with no nighttime transit, and I had locked up my rescuer too. Taxi time!

Taxi Rescue

Getting a taxi at night in the suburbs isn’t easy. I called five companies that came up in an internet search, but they were set up for airport shuttle runs, not cross-town trips. So I went back into the restaurant and asked the hostess. She called and a taxi arrived in 10 minutes. The driver was a madman behind the wheel, but since he said he specifically works in Mountain View, his number is now saved in my phone contacts.

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 October 4, 2014 in Commute Diaries

 

Bike Commute Diaries: After the Cock Crows

A rooster no longer crows in downtown San Jose. The chickens have been evicted and their home demolished. A run-down house at the dead end of Old West Julian Street is gone and so is my simple pleasure of rolling past country life in a hard-times corner of the city. So long, my feathered friends. It’s been good to know you.

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Yesterday morning they were tearing down the shed in the back and by evening the house in front was gone. This morning they were hauling away the remains. The Autumn Street road extension is being built two doors down and this light industrial area is slated to become an “innovation district” in San Jose’s plan.

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

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2014 in Commute Diaries

 

Bike Commute Diaries: Keep On Keeping On

It’s Monday and I’m off to an earlier-than-usual start to a busier-than-usual week for me: product deadlines at work, advocacy meetings after work, a ladies tea to prepare for, and writing projects to complete. Sometimes you need a little inspiration to soldier on and push through. Then it appears, right there on the trail before you.

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

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in Commute Diaries

 
 
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