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Fashion Friday: Hanging Loose in a T-Shirt Dress

Summer casual gets even cooler when you skip the shorts and let your t-shirt go long. Nothing snug, nothing belted on this unassuming V-neck in marine blue that has just enough contour for a feminine silhouette. Toss on a pair of woven leather sandals, grab a poplin jacket and this easy ensemble can take you from after-work errands downtown to happy hour with friends outdoors on the patio on a long summer evening.

T-Shirt Dress

Called the Tomboy Dress because of its no-fuss styling and wearability, it comes in new colors every year.

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 August 9, 2014 in Cycle Fashions

 

The Now and Not-So-Zen of Car Maintenance

I drove my car to work Tuesday even though I didn’t want to. My vehicle registration was overdue and required a smog inspection, and I need to do it quickly to avoid additional charges. That’s what happens when you don’t drive your car much, you don’t think about it much. While I was at it, I checked the mileage: 3500 miles since my last oil change…two and a half years ago. So it was Jiffy Lube before work, Smog Hut after work.

As much I never liked paying to fill my gas tank (every other week when I drove every day), I hated paying for maintenance more. A minor 15,000 mile service that should cost a few hundred dollars can easily mushroom into eight hundred dollars of charges. And you have little assurance that the repairs are actually necessary.

Smog Test

At Jiffy Lube I turned down an engine flush and air filter replacement. That’s far less than the over $500 in questionable services I turned down at the full-service shop 3500 miles ago. Smog Hut was a flat fee so no issue there. Total cost: $134 or about the cost of a month’s worth of gas when I drove daily.

You might wonder: if we don’t drive it much, why do we keep the car? Well, we are selling a car, just not this one. If you know someone in the San Francisco Bay Area who want a quality 2007 Mazda 3 hatchback, let me know. At 31,000 miles in seven years it’s obvious we aren’t driving it much either.

For those who commute to work or do errands by bike: have you calculated how much less you drive because of it? Or do you end up driving more on the weekends to go somewhere new and fun to ride?

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Posted by on August 7, 2014 in Issues & Infrastructure

 

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

 

Fashion Weekend Edition: Romance in Red

Roses are red, vintage bikes are too. Lace dresses are sweet, how about you? Like flowers in a bouquet, Lorri layers shades of red for a boldly feminine effect: cherry shoes, a coral lace dress, a deep ruby Schwinn. With an ample-sized bag in her front basket, she’s ready for anything on the San Jose Bike Party Ladies Ride.

Lorri Portrait

“Though we met later in life, that only makes our love stronger. I will love you forever,” reads a dedication message from Bob to his Honey in the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden. Very fitting for Lorri and bicycling too.

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 August 3, 2014 in Cycle Fashions

 

Bike Date Profile: Playground Fun in San Carlos

If you see a mother pedaling two towhead toddlers in a Dutch-style bakfiets in San Carlos, it’s probably Tyra. Tyra’s husband was itching to buy this classic cargo bike when her daughter was born, but until they moved to London she had no interest. After dragging kids and a stroller on the underground and on buses to get around the city, Tyra decided to give a bakfiets a chance. They all loved the bakfiets so much they shipped it here when they moved back to the US, where they find it just as useful as was in London.

Tyra and her kids ride everywhere within a 2-3 mile distance from home: to stores, to the post office, to her daughter’s preschool. But their favorite destination is a playground that’s nearly a mile away. It’s a bit far for preschoolers to walk, but no sweat for the three of them on a cargo bike. No hot cars to hop into, no squeezing in and bending over to latch car seats, and the fun starts as soon as they roll down the driveway.

Bakfiets Portrait 2

The cargo box is big enough for two kids and toys for the playground, plus any purchases on the way home.

The venue: Burton Park Playground, San Carlos, California, USA

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2014 in Bike Date

 

Bike Spotting: Fat Free and Electric by NTS Works

My buddy Richard and I often bump into each other commuting on the Guadalupe River Trail, but this encounter was planned. Richard was test riding the NTS Works Fat Free electric-assist bike and I wanted a closer look. I happened to be riding my road bike that day, so I wasn’t wheezing to keep up with him on his beefed-up bike.

As more and more people are turning to bicycles for their daily transportation needs, electric bikes (also known as e-bikes) are getting more and more attention. E-bikes give a boost of power that can take the bite out of steep hills, make carrying kids or cargo less of a grind, and take the sweat out of going faster or further. For some, it means changing a sufferface into a happy face. But not Richard, he smiles all the time regardless.

NTS e-bike portrait

Unlike some e-bikes that operate by throttle, the Fat Free is a pedal-assist e-bike. That means that when you pedal, the motor automatically kicks in, and when you stop pedaling the motor stops too. How big a boost you get is based on which of the 5 levels of assist you choose from the handlebar control. Richard says he can comfortably maintain 18-20 mph, but he kept it at 15-16 mph while riding the trail with me. Lucky me.

I rode alongside Richard for four miles and forgot to ask to test it for myself, but did get a quick ride at an e-bike event at the Los Altos History Museum. It felt powerful, like having an instant tailwind adding to my efforts. Richard gave it the full run down with a ride from his home in Scotts Valley 30+ miles up and over the Santa Cruz Mountains to his job in San Jose. Check out his video review on the NTS Works web site.

What do you think of e-bikes? Would you consider owning one? Why or why not?

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2014 in Gear Talk

 

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?

20140722-092047-33647772.jpg

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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