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Author Archives: ladyfleur

About ladyfleur

One woman. Many bicycles.

Bike Commute Diaries: A Stitch in Time

Transit time is not wasted time. I check email, post to social media, read the news, and chat with train buddies. Today I grabbed a needle and thread as I ran out of the house, and had just enough time to quickly tack down the flower that’s been dangling on my leg warmer far too long. What’s next for me, knitting?

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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 February 5, 2014 in Commute Diaries

 

Bike Travel: The People’s Republic of Berkeley

It was just a weekend trip to a city only 50 miles away, but I was as excited as a 10 year old, bouncing up and down in my seat on the Amtrak Capitol Corridor train. Dick and I were headed to Berkeley, where I lived one summer for an internship between my junior and senior years in college. That was my first time flying in an airplane, my first time living anywhere except my parents’ home, and my first time living without a car.

It was also my first time in California, a trendy place I vaguely knew from TV and movies. I was thrust into a new world and into an apartment shared with two girls I’d never met in the student ghetto on Berkeley’s Southside. Before there was “Keep Austin (or Portland) Weird” there was Berzerkeley, and Southside was its ground zero.

Amoeba Music

Our apartment was five blocks from UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza, where the Free Speech Movement began, three blocks from People’s Park, where activists occupied university land and one was killed by police, and two blocks from Telegraph Avenue, where the spirit of the era was still very present in that summer of 1985.

Walking down Telegraph Avenue in my preppy clothes I felt completely out of place and and a little uneasy, but completely intrigued. By the end of the summer, I didn’t want to go home. My boyfriend derisively said I was “enchanted” by California. It made me angry at the time, but he was right. When I landed a job in Silicon Valley after I graduated, I bought my first car and on my long drive west I stopped in Dallas to tell him goodbye.

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I needed the car because suburban Silicon Valley was hardly the walking paradise that Berkeley was then and still is today. Which is why Berkeley is such a great place to visit, especially since it’s also home to the Gourmet Ghetto, the birthplace of California Cuisine. And who better to lead the innovation than Alice Waters, a former Free Speech Movement activist more commonly known for her famed restaurant Chez Panisse.

We didn’t score a table at Chez Panisse on our quick trip, but we did sample some of Berkeley’s finest, based on recommendations crowdsourced from friends via social media. With so many great restaurants around the Bay, I was skeptical that Berkeley would stand out, but it did: unusual ingredients and unexpected combinations with a healthy emphasis on organic, sustainable and fresh, local products. From Michelin-starred Lalime’s to crowd-favorite Cheese Board Coop to newer spots like Gather and Build, we ate our way across the city and did our best to burn it all off riding around the city. Despite the hills, I don’t think we did.

Nettle scramble for him, poached egg and pork belly over sprouted farro for me.

There’s another movement afoot in Berkeley (or should I say on a roll?). Look out, Long Beach, Portland, Minneapolis and Boulder, Mayor Tom Bates has thrown Berkeley’s hat in the ring as the “Most Bike-Friendly City in America.” At 5,000 bike commuters a day in a city of 115,000, Berkeley is currently ranked #4 in the nation.

After riding Berkeley’s elaborate network of bike boulevards and traffic-calmed streets, and seeing the abundance of bike racks and bike-friendly businesses, I’d say the city is poised to propel to the top. When a movement takes hold in Berkeley, there’s no telling where it will go, and how far it might take us.

Have you ever lived or visited somewhere that changed your perception of the world? What impact did it have?

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Getting there: Starting in Mountain View, we biked 8 miles to Santa Clara/Great America Station, took the Amtrak Capitol Corridor train to Berkeley. We toured approximately 25 miles around the city by bike, and a bit on foot. Trip total bike mileage: 41 miles. Other transportation options include: Amtrak Coast Starlight & San Joachim trains, BART from San Francisco and other Bay Area locations, plus ferries via Oakland six miles away.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Travel

 

Make It Your Own: Soma Double Cross Commuter

When I saw this Soma Double Cross I did a double take, and not just because of its flashy orange accents. Soma designed the Double Cross for cyclocross racing, trail rides, commuting and light touring. That usually means drop bars and a rigid fork, so when I saw swept-back bars and a suspension fork I knew it was special.

As we pedaled from Caltrain to his office at San Jose’s Martin Luther King Library, Jon filled me in on his bike’s story. Born a traditional cyclocross-style commuter in 2006, its transformation began with when couple of broken spokes led to a bent rim and new wheels with bright orange rims. Why not add a little pizzazz?

John with SOMA Double Cross Portrait

From there it spiraled: a hard-to-find suspension fork for 700c wheels; bullhorn bars first, then swept-back bars with flame grips; downtube shifters; a springy new Brooks saddle for the more upright stance; a cable to secure the saddle; bright orange Ortlieb panniers and a helmet to match. No need for a high-viz jacket here.

And no need for Jon to hold back on making his Soma Double Cross his own. What customizations have you made to your commuter bike? Did you make them all at once or did your bike’s style evolve over time?

Location: Martin Luther King Library, San Jose, California, USA.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2014 in Bike Gallery

 

Fashion Friday: Fancy Dark Chocolates

Layers of deep, rich chocolate paired with caramel and cherry. Can you tell I’m looking forward to Valentine’s Day? An empire-waist peplum herringbone jacket tops a winter-weight knit dress and tights, all in deep chocolate. Soft leather gloves in caramel and boulevard heels in cherry make the outfit a special treat.

Chocolate Brown Portrait 2

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 January 25, 2014 in Cycle Fashions

 

Bike Commute Diaries: Bike & Coffee Klatch

I never expected I’d make friends on my bike commute. Weekend rides, yes. But commuting? Um, no. I assumed people weren’t looking to socialize during their rush to work or rush home for dinner. But when you combine an easy-to-chat river trail (or a train ride) with social media, before long you’re meeting for coffee on your way in to work. The caffè latte at Bel Bacio in San Jose’s Little Italy is divine, and it’s right by the trail.

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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 January 22, 2014 in Commute Diaries

 

Bike Date: Candice & Carmen at La Lune Sucrée

They met 26 years ago country line dancing in a bar on St John Street. Carmen was in a relationship, Candice wasn’t looking. After 10 years of mutual friends nudging them: “You two would be good together” and changes in status, they got together. Now, 16 years later, they’ve tightened the knot with a legal ceremony.

From their home in Naglee Park, it’s just a short roll across San Jose State University to La Lune Sucrée for a taste of Europe on a weekend morning: coffee, crepes, quiche and the finest pastries. All baked fresh by chef-owner Bettina, who learned first from her German mother, then honed her skills in Paris and England.

Candice & Carmen Portrait Wide

Outdoor seating on the Paseo de San Antonio means easy bike parking and plenty of opportunity to run into friends from the neighborhood. It’s not hard to see why Candice and Carmen are regulars.

The venue: La Lune Sucrée at 116 Paseo de San Antonio, San José, California, USA

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2014 in Bike Date

 

You’re Invited: Wine & Chocolate Ladies’ Bike Social

You are cordially invited to Women, Wine & Chocolate, a gathering for women who love bikes, on Sunday, February 9, 2014 at 1:30 pm at 245 S 12th Street, in the historic Naglee Park district of San Jose, California.

“When will you do another ladies’ tea again?” That was the #1 question I got after our Ladies’ Tea & Bike Social last summer, both from those who attended and those who couldn’t make it. Well, it may still be too chilly for a garden tea party, but it’s the perfect time to celebrate our bike love with a little Valentine’s Day decadence. This one’s for the chocoholics, fruit and cheese lovers, and the ladies who aren’t teetotalers.

If you’re in the throes of a grand love affair with your bike and want to meet other women with that same fiery passion, pedal over to San Jose’s historic Naglee Park district on Sunday, February 9. There will be wine, chocolate, cheese and fruit, plus an afternoon of stories, laughter, and tips on gear and secret bike routes. And of course, a chance to show off our two-wheeled babies. You may want to bring your bike family photos.

Wine Women & Chocolate

If the weather is fine, we’ll be in Candice’ lovely garden. If not, we’ll cozy up around the fireplace and mingle in her turn-of-the-century home. So grab your favorite wine glass and something to share: chocolate, cheese or a bottle of wine or your preferred party drink. We’ll take care of the rest.

Those arriving by bike can join our pre-party ride crossing downtown San Jose on the new green lanes on San Fernando Street followed by a short tour through the historic homes of Naglee Park. Our route will be about four miles one way along lower-stress streets. Meet in front of San Jose Diridon Station at 1:00 pm. (Train arrivals: Caltrain local 12:51, baby bullet 1:03; VTA 902 NB 12:38, SB 12:59) We’ll roll shortly after the last train arrives.

Where: 245 South 12th Street, San Jose. A private home in the historic Naglee Park district. (map)
When: Sunday, February 9, 2014. 1:30-4:00 pm. Note that sunset won’t be until 5:40 pm that day.
Please bring: Your favorite wine glass, plus chocolate, cheese or bottle of wine or other drink to share.
RSVP: Please RSVP and indicate what you’ll be bringing through SVBC, our event sponsor .

Pre-Party Bike Ride: Meet at the San Jose Diridon Station at 1:00 PM for a four mile tour on lower-stress streets with no hills. A route will be posted here at least one week before the event.
Transit: Party location is well-served by VTA transit lines (22,23,72). Santa Clara Street is 2.5 blocks away.
Parking: Bike parking will be provided in the backyard or basement in case of rain. On-street car parking is available with no weekend restrictions.

Please RSVP so we can make sure we’re ready for what’s sure to be a fun group, and so we send you any last minute details about the party. We hope to see you there!

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2014 in Women & Bikes

 

Fashion Weekend Edition: Sunshine, Rain Dream

Hey, Portland, can you spare us some sprinkles? Over a month ago Deanna bought a new city bike with fenders and a new hooded raincoat, and has warm leather boots to boot. She’s all ready for an every-single-day bike commute to a new job conveniently located close to home. All she needs is a little drizzle to test it all out.

Portrait

Deanna and I visited five shops before she found the city bike of her dreams, a Linus mixte in sage green.

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 January 11, 2014 in Cycle Fashions

 

Bike Commute Diaries: Change is Good

I missed the train today. After years of doing the “same old, same old” you think you have it all dialed in. Then something screws up your routine and you react like the grumpy curmudgeons that you roll your eyes at during City Council meetings. Change is good. This change is good. I just need to tweak my routine.

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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 January 10, 2014 in Commute Diaries

 

Bike Lane FAIL: The Case of the Vanishing Bike Lane

The young woman pedaled slowly across town, the sun warming her back and offsetting the morning chill of a California winter day. She stops at the signal and waits in the bike lane, counting the seconds until she can cross the dreaded San Antonio Road. Little does she know the danger awaiting her on the other side.

Crossing San Antonio Road

The signal changes to green and she pushes hard on the pedals to cross the intersection as quickly as possible. First she’s riding alongside a vintage Chevy, then a sedan. As she reaches the center line she discovers the lane ahead has room for either her, or the pickup that’s now beside her. What will she do?

Normally I’d be excited by this newly painted bike lane on my former commute route. But when a bike lane vanishes without warning and forces people to merge in an intersection, it’s a bike lane FAIL.

Location: W Middlefield Road at San Antonio Road, Palo Alto, California, USA

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2014 in Bike Lane FAIL

 
 
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