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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Fashion Friday: Dress Down for Work Day

When a late season heat wave has the boss suspending the dress code, knee-length cargo shorts and a modest tank top play it cool, especially paired with snappy heels, on Zella Mae.

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Posted by on September 30, 2011 in Cycle Fashions

 

Gear Talk: Bike Bling for After Dark

The hot weather may still feel like summer, but the early sunsets don’t lie. I’ve already flipped my lights on for my commute home twice this week. Years ago, when I first started commuting to work, the dark drove me off the bike, but not anymore. I have awesome bike lights that I almost look forward to using.

I’ve gathered quite a number of lights over the years, but I’m going to let you in on my favorites. First, and most important is the front light. My top pick: the NiteRider MiNewt USB. At 150 lumens, it’s bright enough for unlit bike paths, and the O-ring attachment for the headlamp and velcro for the battery make it easy to move the headlamp from bike to bike. It cost me about $90, but it’s worth every penny.

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I recharge the MiNewt at work with a simple USB connection, but since it runs for 6 hours on low intensity, I’m not left in the dark if I forget to top it off.

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Red rear lights are important too. For Zella, I wanted one that mounted permanently under my saddle so it would always be there. Once again, Cateye came through with this wide one that fits her perfectly.

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But my favorite lights are amber spoke lights from Cateye. These lights project in the most overlooked direction–from the side. I’m a lot more comfortable rolling through an intersection knowing I’m visible from all directions. They attach directly to the spokes, and turn off and on with a simple thumb-press.

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Finally, since you can never be too visible, I also have front, rear, wheel and pedal reflectors on my transportation bikes. And Zella Mae even has reflective sidewalls in her tires. Isn’t she sharp?

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Check out the video below to see how it all works together.

Are you and your bikes ready for fall’s early sunsets? What are your go-to night riding accessories?

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2011 in Gear Talk

 

Cyclocross: Dismounts, Remounts and Other Antics

The other day, Facebook reminded me of a status I posted two years ago: “Wondering if I’ll get any cool footage at tonight’s cyclocross skills practice. The holy grail: a perfectly executed, perfectly captured, no-hop remount.” I had just purchased my iPhone 3GS and was anxious to test out the video camera. In fact, I think I was more excited about the video camera than practicing cyclocross skills that night.

My friends and my iPhone came through that night, and I did capture the holy grail. With a little help from YouTube I added a soundtrack with absolutely no video editing skills. The finished product:

Fast forward two years. The video camera on my iPhone 4 is much better and I’m no longer racing cyclocross. Why not? When it comes down to it, I’m just not that competitive. I found the skills aspect of cyclocross fun and challenging: dismounting without breaking stride, throwing the bike on my shoulder to run up a hill, and jumping back on without losing momentum or hurting my delicate parts. That was fun. But busting a gut to catch the woman in front of me? Meh, not important.

What I miss most is the vibrant, crazy race scene, which is totally my style. Where else do elite bike racers dress in costume? Cyclocross racers are serious bike racers that don’t take themselves too seriously. What’s not to love about that? And I love a race that’s actually just a rolling costume party.

Surf City Cyclocross 2008 Photo credit Lynne Lamoureux

Especially a race where a wrestling match breaks out between some of the top local men and women’s Masters racers, dressed as Mexican luchadores. Yep, Masters racers means grown-ups. In this case, the 50+ age group variety. That’s me rolling by unphased by the fight at around 0:18.

What do you think: do serious sports have room for this sort of goofy antics? Or does this kind of behavior relegate the sport to the level of professional wrestling?

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2011 in Dirt Trails

 

Cycling from Eight to Eighty

Have you heard slogan “from eight to eighty” from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition? Their mission is to build safe, comfortable, continuous bikeways, fit for cyclists of all ages. I’m sure many people find the idea of 80 year olds riding bikes far fetched, but I don’t have to look any farther than my very own family.

Meet Mom and Dad. They’re 80, and they’re still pedaling strong. It was hard to get ahead of them to take these photos on our vacation in Florida this summer. I had to ask Dad to slow down so I could snap the photo.

Both have been riding since their childhood in the 1930′s in small town Louisiana. Dad and his brother were paperboys, delivering the nightly news to everyone in town. During WWII, they became experts at bike repair when parts were scarce and even a simple innertube impossible to buy. Mom has never been an athlete. She kept score rather than play on her high school’s girls basketball team. With only 13 in their graduating class, I’m surprised they didn’t need her to field a team.

Growing up, bicycling around the neighborhood was an all-family activity, which Mom and Dad continued after we all moved out. Dad still zips around pushing a big gear while Mom rolls along at her own pace. Still, Mom managed to put 3500 miles on her bike in her mid-70s, averaging 13 miles a week on her four mile loop.

Aren’t they cute? In Florida I even convinced them to let me take their bike portraits. Mom was more than willing to take a glamour shot in her sundress and thong heels. And it only seemed fitting that I catch Dad on the way to the courts, because tennis, not bicycling is his real passion.

I’m really proud of my parents and how they’ve taken care of themselves. They’re cute together, aren’t they?

Can you imagine riding when you’re 80? What about 90 or even 100?

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2011 in Issues & Infrastructure

 

Where Buena Vista Doesn’t Mean Good View

A few weeks ago I wrote a letter complaining about “Keep Right” signs on downhill Page Mill Road near Moody Road. I had assumed the signs were prompted by drivers who wanted cyclists to “stay in their place” so they could pass more quickly, without regard for cyclist safety. The County Traffic Engineer responded that the signs were installed because residents on Buena Vista Drive complained they couldn’t see cyclists descending Page Mill when they turn left onto Buena Vista. Somehow, they believe that cyclists who keep right are more visible.

But the signs may come down soon, and not because cyclists like me complained. In their place, the residents now want a stop sign installed on Page Mill for the downhill travel lane only! Does this sound like a good idea to you? Not me. So I wrote back saying I thought a downhill only stop sign would be confusing and merely shifts the burden of safely yielding the right of way from the uphill traffic to the downhill traffic.

Today, I went up Page Mill to check the intersection out again. I took this series of photos as I walked up Page Mill Road toward the Buena Vista and Moody Rd intersections. The photos were taken from the vantage point of a car driver, at approximately 20 feet intervals.

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My take: Downhill traffic is visible to uphill traffic at the Buena Vista intersection if the uphill traffic slows to nearly a stop before turning, something I guess the residents of the eight homes on Buena Vista don’t want to do. After all, it’s far easier for them if all other traffic stops just for them. If they want a stop sign, I think it should be four-way stop, like the traffic consultants recommended in their report.

What do you think? Does a downhill-only stop sign make sense? What about a four-way stop?

If you care about this issue, let the county supervisors know about it! You can attend the meeting on Tuesday, September 27 or write a letter. Details on how are courtesy of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition.

Speaking of passing without regard for safety, while I was taking photos I also videotaped a driver passing a cyclist on this blind turn. What was the driver thinking? It’s a good thing that the white SUV that appears around 0:12 wasn’t there 10 seconds earlier!

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2011 in Backroads, Issues & Infrastructure

 

Walk Date: Up 5th Avenue for New York Steaks

For our last night in New York City, my boss told me “treat yourself and your husband to a nice dinner on the company.” So there was no guilt when I made reservations at Uncle Jack’s, where the steaks are thick, juicy, and quite expensive, and the side dishes are a la carte. Since I had been trapped inside at a conference all day, I convinced Dick to walk the 22 short blocks and 3 long blocks to the restaurant (1.6 miles).

Fifth Avenue is literally the heart of Manhattan and it was thumping on this warm night. The sidewalks were so crowded, what should have been a leisurely stroll past some of New York’s most notable landmarks and famous stores felt like rush hour on a freeway. By the time we got to Uncle Jack’s, Dick was hot and cranky and my feet were starting to complain in my strappy heels. But all was forgotten when our cocktails arrived, and we enjoyed our thick and juicy steaks, steamed asparagus and mashed potatoes, and the requisite New York cheesecake.

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Not wanting to spoil the mood with another long walk back, we hailed a pedicab to take us back to the hotel. With the wind in our faces, a cushy bench seat, and unobstructed views upward, we had the best seats on Broadway for our ride home. Pull over, yellow cabs. Trot aside, horse drawn carriages through Central Park. Pedicabs rides are the best way to see the Big Apple.

Have you ever taken a pedicab ride? Was it a fun ride or a stupid tourist trap?

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.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2011 in Bike Date, Travel

 

New York City: Sweet Sweet Adeline Adeline

When Dick and I travel we love to check out the local bike shops. We used to seek out the high-profile traditional bike shops selling everything from kids bikes to high-end racing machines. But more and more, we’re gravitating toward shops featuring city bikes, like Clever Cycles in Portland, My Dutch Bike in San Francisco and WorkCycles in Amsterdam. Before we arrived in New York I already knew I wanted to visit Adeline Adeline.

Founded as an alternative to traditional sport bicycle shops, Adeline Adeline offers a boutique experience with stylish bicycles and accessories that are as artful in design as they are functional to ride. After reading glowing reviews about them and browsing their online catalog, I had to see Adeline Adeline in person.

I was not disappointed. Their selection of European city bikes is extensive and their bags alone will keep me coming back again and again after I’m home. ‘Cause you know, there’s always room for another bicycle bag even when there’s not room for another bicycle.

Have you stumbled upon shops while traveling that you wish you had back home? Where were they and why?

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Posted by on September 24, 2011 in Travel

 

Fashion Friday: Little Black Dress

Paired with a cardigan and flats by day and strappy heels and bold jewelry by night, this little black dress took me all over the Big Apple, with a Pashley Poppy from Adeline Adeline.

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Dress: Chaka dress by Horny Toad
Bag: Truckette bag by Queen Bee
Shoes 1: Mesh and Leather flats by Privo << the most comfortable and versatile walking/travel shoes ever!
Shoes 2: Strappy beweled heels by Nine West.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2011 in Cycle Fashions

 

New York City: Subway vs Bike

You can’t say you’ve experienced New York City until you’ve ridden the subway. Besides, between the $30 per day cost of renting bikes in NYC and how intense our ride was yesterday, we opted to take the subway to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was also curious to compare taking the subway to taking the bike.

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The Google Maps transit option recommended we take the A-C blue line from Penn Station to 86th, then walk across Central Park to the museum at 82nd and 5th Avenue. Buying subway tickets was fast, easy and not too expensive at $2.50. But Dick’s ticket wouldn’t open the turnstile, so he had to ask the ticket agent for help. Twice. Also, we had a hard time figuring out whether we should take the A and C lines. The fact that the subway didn’t having a system map posted in the station didn’t help.

But we made it to 86th Street and walked a pleasant 3/4 mile in light rain across Central Park to the museum. For the route back we walked to the East Side’s 77th St station and took the 6 line subway to 33rd and walked about a mile back to the hotel. Total walking: 2 miles.

Thinking back over our trip and comparing to our ride yesterday, which happened to take us past the museum, here’s my take on subway vs bike.

Time: Factoring out the lost time in the station it took us about 30 minutes on the subway. On the bike, the 3.2 miles would have taken about 15-20 minutes. Bike wins.

Comfort: On a bike with fenders, riding in light rain and walking are about the same. Sitting on a bike is more comfortable than standing on a crowded subway. Bike wins.

Mental stress: Riding a bike in city traffic, especially in the rain, is much more mentally stressful than the riding the subway. But the subway is LOUD. Not that the street is quiet either. Subway wins.

Physical stress: If you have foot problems that make walking difficult, note that the subway route requires significant walking, including stairs, so I had to wear comfortable walking shoes. On a bike I can wear heels, and on a bike I can comfortably carry more stuff: laptop, shopping bags, groceries, etc. Bike wins.

Reliability: Due to the number of riders it supports, the subway in NYC is very reliable. But if something halts the line, like a water main break, it can be long walk to an alternate line. On a bike on the street grid, there are almost always adjacent streets available if there’s a street closure. Bike wins.

Given the pros and cons above, which would you take: subway or bike? Does one factor trump all others?

Speaking of water main breaks, here’s my video of the break that almost kept us from using the subway.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Issues & Infrastructure, Travel

 

New York City in 30 Intense Miles

With sunny skies and rain forecasted for later in the week, we hit the ground rolling on our first day in NYC. Not wanting our first pedal strokes to be in the heart of Midtown Manhattan during rush hour, we walked up 8th Avenue and rented bikes near Central Park. I’ve rented bikes in enough cities to keep expectations low, but I must say my “Mt Pocono” bike was the sorriest nag I ever swung a leg over. Nonetheless, Mt Pocono took me on an epic journey across 30 miles of noisy urban landscape.

The route took us through Central Park, up to the Upper West Side, down the Hudson River, through the Meat Packing, Greenwich Village and Financial Districts, across the Brooklyn Bridge to Brooklyn Heights, back across the Manhattan Bridge, through Chinatown, past Ground Zero and then back up the Hudson. We survived!

Of all the challenges we faced–cars, taxis, buses, pedestrians, double parked vehicles, navigation and bad pavement–you may be surprised at how we ranked them. The biggest challenge? Pedestrians. They stood, walked and ran in bike lanes, crossed streets against the light, and were willing to step right in front of not only bikes, but oncoming vehicle traffic. A close second was stopped vehicles, from taxis unloading passengers to delivery trucks to city vehicles. That video of the guy crashing in the bike lane was very accurate.

The surprising positive note were the cars, buses and even taxis–as long as they were moving. In general, they anticipated what you needed to do and would adjust accordingly. And they were cool when you wove through standing traffic or needed to take the lane to get around the all-to-common double parked vehicles. Another positive note was the way-finding signage the city has installed. It got us through almost everywhere, except the difficult Manhattan Bridge detour that dumps you onto the Bowery. That said, we’re not renting bikes again today. We need a mental break. Riding in NYC is INTENSE.

Where’s the most intense place you’re ever ridden?

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Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Around Town, Issues & Infrastructure, Travel

 
 
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