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Category Archives: 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

 

You’re Invited: 2nd Annual Ladies Tea & Bike Social

You are cordially invited to our second annual Ladies Tea & Bike Social on Saturday the sixteenth of August, twenty-fourteen at eleven o’clock in the morning at the Elizabeth Gamble Garden in Palo Alto, California.

It’s back! Our garden party was such a success last year, we’re repeating it this year. What can you expect at a ladies tea and bike social? Twenty or so bicycle-loving ladies, gathered to share “laughter, stories, advice and new friends. Cucumber sandwiches, macaroons, cookies and fruit. Nicely hot tea poured from real tea pots into tea cups of all shapes, sizes and styles, just like the women.” That’s what I wrote after last year’s party.

Ladies Tea Table
We’ll host our garden party once again at the Elizabeth Gamble Gardens, where you can stroll the historic estate of the heir to the Proctor & Gamble fortune. Bequeathed to the city of Palo Alto with Elizabeth’s death in 1981, the impeccably maintained grounds include a cut flower garden, vegetable plots, fruit trees and a shade garden between the main house and the carriage and tea houses. Our ladies tea is timed to catch the dahlias and zinnias in bloom, apples ripening in the orchard and pumpkins in the vegetable garden. The weather will likely be warm in the sun, but comfortable under the old oak trees where we’ll have our tea.

We’ll bring the tea, we ask you to bring your favorite tea cup and cookies or a tea time snack to share. Hats and gloves are encouraged, but not required. What’s important is bringing a desire to meet other women who ride in our area to share stories, to swap advice and to relax with other women who have a passion for bikes.

Gamble Garden Gazebo

For those riding up from the south or arriving by Caltrain, I’ll also be leading a pre-party ride starting at Caltrain’s San Antonio Station in Mountain View at 10:25, timed for the arrivals of the #427 train from San Jose & #424 train from San Francisco. The route is about four flat miles one-way along low traffic, mostly shady residential streets. I’ll be pulling a trailer full of tea, teapots and tablecloths, so the pace will be city cruise easy.

Will you join us? Please RSVP here so we’ll know to bring enough tea for everyone, and don’t forget your tea cup or mug. I’d love to meet some of you ladies that I only know in the virtual world.

Ride to Palo Alto

Ladies Tea & Bike Social at the Elizabeth Gamble Garden
1431 Waverly Street, Palo Alto, California
Saturday, August 16, 2014, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm.
Space is limited, so RSVP is required.
Questions? Contact ladyfleur500 at gmail.com

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2014 in Around Town, Women & Bikes

 

Bike Commute Diaries: Midsummer Morning Rain

Take off the cardigan or leave it on? If you don’t live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you may not realize that we don’t get measurable rain for months every summer. So when a freak July rain blew in this morning and I was wearing super-absorbent cotton, I had to decide. Pull over to stow the sweater and be cold on the ride, or wear it and risk sitting for hours in a wet sweater over a wet dress in an air-conditioned office?

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I tucked the cardigan in my pannier and rode off, shivering just a bit as the rain speckles darkened my dress. This being California, though, the rain stopped in five minutes. By the time I pulled up to my office building the breeze had blown my dress dry, and left this Louisiana girl warmly nostalgic for a warm summer rain.

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 July 22, 2014 in Commute Diaries

 
 
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