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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Bike Path FAIL: Oh, Bollards!

They stand like sentries at trail entrances, guarding paths dedicated to people on foot or on bikes from the intrusion of motor vehicles. But bollards can be a hazard to more than cars when placed improperly, like this one that mysteriously appeared on the Guadalupe River Trail at the Hwy 880 undercrossing. Woe to the unsuspecting bicyclist rolling along at full speed who hits this iron guard standing in his or her path!

Guadalupe Bollards

Location: Guadalupe River Trail at Hwy 880, San Jose, California, USA.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2013 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

Bike Commute Diaries: [No] Reading Railroad

Two weeks ago I bought Bike Snob’s second book to read on the train and I’m not halfway yet. I blame Eugene the climate scientist, Claire the writing instructor, John the transportation planner, Tim, Ashok, Nathan and others who ride Caltrain with me. It’s easy to put a good book down when Caltrain is full of interesting people.

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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 learned about bicycling for transportation.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Commute Diaries

 

Taking Liberty on a Busy Weekend

The weekend started with a flurry of activities: a haircut and wedding gift to buy on Saturday morning, which led to an afternoon of clothes shopping (successful!), followed by a rolicking night out with the girls. I woke up late the next day and wanted to go for a ride–a real ride, not an around town shopping kind of ride. But I also wanted to buy a gift for friends with a new baby, deliver it and take time to hold the little guy. And I needed groceries.

But I really really wanted to get out to the trails now that they’re finally lush and green after the winter rains.

Arastradero View with Bike

On days I do long road or trail rides, it’s hard to do errands too. Once I get home all tired and sweaty the last thing I want to do is hop on another bike for a grocery run, especially after I’ve relaxed in the shower. The only thing less appealing is driving my car to the trailhead or ride start just so I can do errands on the way home.

To get it all done in an afternoon I turned to Liberty, my cyclocross bike turned off-road touring machine. She has knobby tires and low gears for trails in the foothills, a road bike geometry for efficient cross-town riding and a lightweight rack and small panniers for shopping. Liberty gives me freedom to do it all.

A gift was bought, a baby was held, and groceries was checked off my list. In between it all was a refreshing 27 mile road + trail ride with views across the bay on a clear spring-like day. I love having Liberty.

When you’re pinched for time, how do you squeeze in time for a good long ride AND get your errands done?

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Posted by on February 24, 2013 in Around Town, Dirt Trails

 

Fashion Weekend Edition: Country Lane Sportswear

It’s the weekend, time for the gentry to shed the confines of the city centre and escape to countryside retreats. Off with the tailored suits, on with the argyle sweaters and casual trousers. Topped with a flatcap from Goorin Bros, he’s ready to roll down the lane for a little fresh air or to meet a lady friend for boating on the lake.

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It’s a classic look made contemporary by celebrities like Justin Timberlake and Brad Pitt.

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 February 22, 2013 in Cycle Fashions

 

Bike Lane FAIL: Hack of a Bike Bridge in Sunnyvale

Little known fact: I have a degree in Computer Science and worked as a software developer for 12 years. It’s why I moved to Silicon Valley right after I graduated. As a software developer, I aspired to only create elegant solutions where the code flows naturally to meet the requirements for the software’s necessary functions.

As often as not, new requirements were thrown in after release that didn’t fit the existing structure. With no time to change the structure, I was forced to make a workaround, a kludge, a hack. It killed me every time because I knew that a kludge that solves the problem at hand has the potential to create bigger problems down the line.

Like this bike bridge, which provides a critical connection between Yahoo!, NetApp, Juniper Networks and Lockheed-Martin offices and their employees’ homes. A great idea, but it’s a hack in so many ways.

Moffett Park Bike Bridge FAIL 2
Yes, that’s a guard rail in the bike lane forcing you into traffic with a stop sign that drivers often blow through.

What bothers me most about this bridge is the wide, unused lawn on the other side of the road. If this were a freeway project, that land would have been appropriated to make a better interchange. Sadly, cities often shoe-horn bike projects to save money and everyone–on bikes, on foot, and in cars–are stuck with a hack.

Location: Borregas Bike Bridge at Moffett Park Drive, Sunnyvale, California, USA.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2013 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

Bike Commute Diaries: Look Ma, No Hands!

Commuting to work on a lightly used bike path means I can play like a kid again, like seeing how long I can ride no-handed. It’s more challenging as a grown-up with a heavy laptop bag hanging on one side of my rear rack.

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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 learned about bicycling for transportation.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2013 in Commute Diaries

 

Yours, Mine and Ours: Bicycling in Tandem

Two-wheeled romance or divorce machine? The tandem bicycle’s paradoxical reputation is well-deserved. As the popular adage goes “Whatever way your relationship is going, a tandem will get you there faster.” How a couple rides a tandem together both reflects and intensifies their relationship, for better or for worse.

My husband and I bought a tandem as a wedding gift to ourselves. Our plan to ride it away from our wedding was far from unique, even trite, albeit the post-wedding procession plan was a 2800′ descent down Mt Hamilton.

Alviso Marina Tandem

An epic windstorm kept us from riding that day, but we do take the big beast out from time to time and have mastered the necessary skills: how to start, how to turn at slow speeds, how to stand to get over a rise, and most importantly, how to communicate and work effectively as a team. Well, 97% of the time anyway.

The usual advice on tandem success tells the stoker (rear rider) to “trust the captain” and tells the captain (front rider) that “the stoker is always right.” To me, that advice falls short. The truth is that it’s all about consideration. The captain has to earn the confidence of the stoker to be an effective leader, and that only happens when the stoker believes his or her requests will be respected by the captain. Both partners need to be willing to follow.

In short, successful tandem teams are successful partnerships, which is what successful marriages are.

Panda Duo

Now I’m not an expert on tandems or marriages or even partnerships, but I’ve done 50+ mile rides in both the captain’s and stoker’s seat, “raced” tandem cyclocross, and finished the rides on good terms with my partners.

Here are a few things I’ve learned so far as a captain:

  • Talk, talk, talk, especially with a new stoker. “I’m shifting”, “Coasting,” “Bump,” “Turning left,” “Standing.”
  • Encourage feedback from your stoker. “Is this gear comfortable?” “Was the speed OK on that descent?”
  • Apologize if you make a mistake or do something your stoker isn’t comfortable with.
  • The turning radius and stopping distance required are much larger than you might expect.

Here are a few things I’ve learned so far as a stoker:

  • Be patient when the captain does something you don’t like. He or she wasn’t doing it to piss you off.
  • Be gentle when you ask the captain to do something differently. Lighthearted humor goes a long way.
  • Not having to steer gives you freedom to take photos, eat, stretch, etc. Just don’t wiggle too much.
  • For an easy power boost, you can stand and pump while the captain stays seated. Just don’t rock the bike.

These tips are just a start. There’s a lot more specific advice on riding a tandem out there, but honestly the best way is to hop on, give it a whirl and work out the rough spots on the street. You’ll definitely learn a thing or two about yourself, your partner and your relationship, for better or for worse. And you can always ditch the bike.

Have you ever ridden a tandem? If so, what were the biggest challenges? If not, would you consider it?

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Posted by on February 20, 2013 in Backroads

 

Fashion Friday: Euro Style in the City by the Bay

Whether you’re cast as an extra in a video set across the Atlantic or nostalgic for that trip you took abroad, the answer starts with classic pieces in a neutral palette. Accent the look with sleek boots, wrap it all up with a big big scarf and hop on a Euro-style city bike and you’re there. Oh, and don’t forget the umbrella.

Euro Office Worker
Before I chose this outfit, I reviewed my video of a busy street in Amsterdam to get the look down.

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 February 15, 2013 in Cycle Fashions

 

A Closer Look: 2011 Viva Juliett Dutch Bike

I’ve never believed in love at first sight. Interest, yes. Attraction, yes. But head-over-heels love? I think not. But sometimes the interest is so great and the attraction so strong that you can’t shake it, even if you aren’t looking for love. That’s how it was with my husband; interest and attraction turned quickly into a crush I couldn’t deny.

And that’s how it was my Viva Juliett. I first saw Juliett at the San Francisco Bike Coalition‘s Winterfest where Mike’s Bikes had donated her for the benefit auction. She was cherry red and luscious cream and shiny chrome and I was smitten. But I certainly didn’t need a beautiful but impractical bike so I didn’t bid on her.

Still, I couldn’t forget her. After two test rides and much consternation, I took the plunge and brought her home. Now, two years later, I can’t imagine how I didn’t see her practicality along with her beauty. I love this bike.

Viva Juliett 2011
Juliett came equipped with almost everything I needed for my short commute and for errands all over town.

It’s been two years and I’m still in love. Do you have a bike that you’re head over heels in love with?

Viva Juliett Rear View

Location: Gamble Gardens, Palo Alto, California, USA

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2013 in Bike Gallery

 

My Little Runaway Bicycle

It’s another sunny clear day here in San Jose, and I’m stuck at work in a windowless office trying to work on something I don’t particularly feel like doing. I wish I could hop on my bike and ride away to a carefree, beautiful place with the breeze on my face and the sun on my back. Somewhere where I can be free like a kid again.

I want to run away to the beach town of Santa Cruz like my mixte did last weekend, sadly without me.

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My friend Richard borrowed my bike for the Bike Snob NYC video shoot, and kept her for the weekend at his home in Scott’s Valley, just up the hill from Santa Cruz. When we met for the handoff I said, “If you ride her anywhere interesting, please take a photo for my Where’s My Bike Today? series.”

Little did I know that he would take dozens of amazing photos of my Susie Q PUBLIC all over town, including a few favorites below. Quite an adventure for a sweet little bike, one that I know I could do with a short ride to the Diridon station and a bus ride over the hill. If only I didn’t have to do this adult thing called work.

If you could run away for the day–today–where would you go?

All photos in this post were taken by Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious and are used with his permission.

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2013 in Around Town, Travel

 
 
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