Dick and I are proud to introduce the latest addition to our growing bike family. Her name is Susie Q Public and she’s an American girl with the soul of vintage French mixte cruising the banks of the Seine. Together Susie Q and I will ride all over town and catch the train for adventures in the big city.
Monthly Archives: March 2012
When you ride 100 miles over rolling terrain there are bound to be ups and downs. At mile 12, in fog so cold you can’t feel your fingers, you wonder why you paid good money for this. At mile 65, with the sun bearing down, you wonder if there’s room in your jersey pockets for your jacket, arm warmers, knee warmers and headband. At mile 24, a peanut butter sandwich is an elixir from the gods. At mile 82, you swear you’ll never eat it again.
At mile 54, there are seven flats amongst 10 riders and you wonder if the group has enough spare tubes for the remaining 36 miles. Yet no one flats for the rest of the day. At mile 60 a rider struggles to hang in the pace line, then gets a second wind and flies up the last 1000 foot climb starting at mile 80. This is how our group of 10 hardy women rolled at the Solvang Century.
A century bicycle ride is like a cross-country trip condensed into a single day. Comedy and tragedy, pain and joy, and long stretches of sheer boredom, all begun and finished between sunrise and sunset. You don’t doubt that you’ll finish, but you know not to look too far ahead ’cause it’s a freaking long way and it won’t be all sunshine and tailwinds.
But when it is, it’s a amazing, beautiful experience. And when it’s over and you and your friends have achieved your goal, you really don’t even care that the clouds have rolled back in. We met the challenge of the Solvang Century and we emerged victorious.
How do you handle the ups and downs of life? What helps you keep calm and carry on?
Dick may be drawn to the old port town of Alviso, but I have an unexplained attraction to Sacramento. Maybe it’s because it’s a state capital along a big river, just like my home town of Baton Rouge. Or maybe it’s because they’re both overshadowed by more glamorous sister cities–San Francisco and New Orleans.
What I do know is that when I heard that the North American Handmade Bicycle Show was coming to Sac, I didn’t hesitate to put it on the calendar even though we visited Sacramento less than a year ago.
Like last year, we took the Amtrak Capital Corridor train, riding our bikes from home to the station and bringing the bikes with us on the train. Like last year, we stayed downtown at the historic Citizen Hotel, went to dinner on a bike date that included a night cruise around the city, rode out to Folsom on the American River Bike Trail, and saw California citizens speaking up by marching on the capitol. But I enjoyed every minute of it. Some things never get old, even in Old Sacramento. (And the bikes at the NAHBS were gorgeous!)
What city or place do you like to visit that never gets old no matter how many times you visit? What makes it so special?
We came, we saw, we ate, we rode. I’m still recovering from our long weekend trek to Sacramento for the North American Handmade Bicycle Show. I’ll write more later, but here are photos to give you a taste of the “bicycle porn” that makes the show so popular. For the builders, the devil is in the details, but the result is heavenly.
Lugs All but abandoned in stock bikes, lugged bicycles live on in the handmade bike world, where their intricate designs are unmistakable handcrafted. There were plenty of lugged bikes this year, but not as broad a range as what I saw last year in Austin.
Lights As the naughty girl who doesn’t ride home until after dark, I love bikes with integrated lights (even though none of mine have them). Here are some bikes with lights that are part of the design, not an afterthought.
Racks What good is a city, touring or randonneur bike without a rack? If you can’t carry stuff, you might as well drive. One builder confided that building a rack is harder than building a frame. Too many curving parts and the jigs are sized for building frames, not racks.
Fenders Fenders are what keeps me riding even in the rain. Like past years, there were many with shiny aluminum fenders similar to the ones Dick installed on Ginger, my touring bike, but there were also some fenders made of unique materials, like wood and rubber from inner tubes.
Just Plain Weird What can I say? NAHBS never ceases to surprise me.
The good news came while we were in Southern California–I got an offer for a full-time job! The company is top notch, the people I’d met were cool, the compensation outstanding and their location in San Jose is within biking distance from home. I didn’t have to think long before I accepted.
To celebrate, Dick and I splurged on dinner at Sir Winston’s on the Queen Mary. Restaurants in tourist destinations usually don’t have the best in food and are often pricey, but Sir Winston’s got great ratings on Yelp. Plus we wanted to tour the ship anyway. So I made dinner reservations on OpenTable and rushed down to the Queen Mary ticket office and booked passage on the Twilight Tour later that evening.
As darkness fell, we slapped lights on our rental bikes and cruised a short half mile down the waterfront path. The air and water were surprisingly still–all the better for reflecting the lights from the city. We found the well-hidden bike rack and took the elevator up to the promenade deck to start our tour.
With her maiden voyage at the height of the Great Depression, the Queen Mary symbolized the grand life and sleek sophistication at a time when few could afford such luxury. During World War II she served her country ferrying troops across the ocean to fight for the Allied forces, carrying to up to 16,000 people in a trip–more than six times greater capacity than in her peacetime voyages.
After oohing and aahing the beautiful wood paneling, furniture and fixtures and watching children’s eyes grow wide during the ghost stories, we headed up a metal flight of stairs to an upper deck for dinner at Sir Winston’s. It was old school elegant with a glorious view and utterly divine. The perfect way to celebrate.
How do you like to celebrate the big days and happy occasions in your life? A fancy dinner, an expensive trip, a big party or simply a quiet evening with friends?
About Bike Date Friday: Since September 2010, my husband and I have had a standing date every Friday night. We eat at a different place every week and arrive by bike. There’s no better way to end the work week.