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Bike Commute Diaries: Skunked on the Trail

I love the wildlife on the Guadalupe River Trail, really I do. Great blue herons, snowy egrets, mallards, coots, crows, squirrels, and even the feral cats. But that black and white “feral cat” I saw tonight just didn’t look right as I rolled up. Fortunately, he was in a good mood, I was duly respectful and we both escaped without incident.

Skunk

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.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on March 24, 2014 in Commute Diaries

 

Fashions for Fifty: Fifty is Flowers with Flair

Spring has sprung and the flowers are in bloom, not just in the garden but all over spring dresses and purses. Time to pull out the big straw hats and head outside for a picnic or a tea. With a lightweight periwinkle cardigan, ballet pink tights and little white gloves to ward off winter’s last gasp, you’ll stay comfy in sun or in shade.

Red Straw Hat Portrait

Inspired by the poem by Jenny Joseph that begins “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple with a red hat which doesn’t go,” Fashions for Fifty is a month-long celebration of my fiftieth birthday in March 2014.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2014 in Cycle Fashions

 

Bike Crafts: Panniers from Reusable Grocery Bags

When you want answers, go to a librarian. They don’t know everything, but they know how to find out about everything. Even in the internet age, librarians have the Google-fu to get the information to get the job done, quickly and accurately. So I shouldn’t have been surprised that librarian Emily already had project plans for making bike panniers when she asked me to help at a Shop by Bike program at the Mountain View Library.

After Dick & I lead a discussion on how to get started shopping by bike (with our bikes as assistants), Emily launched into the craft portion of the workshop. By taking two standard reusable grocery bags and doing some snipping, stitching, gluing and tying, the crafty folks in the group went home with a pair of inexpensive but effective panniers. They turned out pretty impressive for about $5 in materials and 30 minutes of work.

A small tie or ponytail band can be used hold the outer handles in place for security.

Emily shared her instructions with me so that I could share them with you. The finished result will fit almost any bike with a standard rear rack with a platform top and a supporting frame on both sides of the wheel.

Materials & Equipment

  • 2 reusable fabric grocery bags
  • 2 pieces of flexible but sturdy plastic, cut to fit upright inside the bags
  • Scissors, straight pins, tape measure or ruler (optional)
  • Sewing machine
  • Hot glue gun
  • 1 or 2 small bungee cords

Step by Step Instructions (click on photos for close-ups)

There are lots of suggestions for modifying or improving this project on this bike forum.

Have you ever crafted your own bike panniers or bags? If so, how did you do it? What would you change in your next iteration of the design?

 
5 Comments

Posted by on March 21, 2014 in Bike Crafts

 

Fashion Holiday Edition: Irish Spring Blessing

The luck of the Irish has not been with us this season. Paltry winter rains couldn’t turn our California golden hills into their usual emerald green, so it’s up to my green knit dress to add some color for St Patrick’s Day.

May the wind be always at your back and the road be always downhill. May the sunshine warm you, and the breezes gently cool you. Any may life be full of good rides. (And may this spring bring us rain!)

St Patricks Portrait

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.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on March 15, 2014 in Cycle Fashions

 

Fashions for Fifty: Fifty is Fascinating and Flirty

One person’s frivolous is another person’s fascinating. A small hat embellished with tall fluffy feathers may seem frivolous, but to a women of a certain age a fascinator hat can be quite flirty, especially when combined with a flouncy petticoat, skyscraper heels and just enough cleavage to make the church ladies tsk-tsk.

Fascinating Portrait

Inspired by the poem by Jenny Joseph that begins “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple with a red hat which doesn’t go,” Fashions for Fifty is a month-long celebration of my fiftieth birthday in March 2014.

 
8 Comments

Posted by on March 14, 2014 in Cycle Fashions

 

Gear Talk: An Upstanding Kickstand for Roadies

The lowly kickstand is the Rodney Dangerfield of bike parts. It don’t get no respect. And honestly, on road bikes designed for performance, not carrying gear, the benefit is outweighed by the cost of carrying the extra weight, the risk of frame damage on bikes with lightweight tubing, and the social stigma in roadie bike culture.

But there are times where a kickstand on a road bike is pretty darn handy, like when my friend Lorri Lown teaches her Savvy Bike bike clinics. In outdoor sessions she found herself hopping on and off the bike as she explained things, and it was awkward to lay her bike down just to pick it up again. So she got an Upstand.

I thought it was so cool so I got one and installed it on Dick’s Phil Wood road bike before its photo shoot.

Upstand in Action Wide

In the up position, it looks similar to the chainstay mounted kickstand I have on my touring bike. But you don’t kick the upstand to start rolling. Instead, you remove the carbon-fiber upstand from its tiny attachment tab installed on the rear wheel’s skewer, gently tugging to release the tiny magnet that holds it in place.

Upstand Mount Wide

The upstand is shock-corded like a backpacking tent pole, so you can fold it and put it in your jersey pocket for the ride. The attachment tab is a mere 15 grams and the upstand is only 25 grams, so even the biggest weight weenie can’t complain. How stable is is? Align the tab correctly and I’d say it’s pretty darn stable.

Upstand in Jersey Pocket

The Upstand is perfect for photo shoots on bikes without kickstands. But as for real-world use, I’ll have to switch it to my road bike to test it out and let you know how it goes.

Do you have a kickstand on your bikes? If so, which ones and why? If not, would you consider an Upstand?

 
5 Comments

Posted by on March 13, 2014 in Gear Talk

 

Bike Rack FAIL: Stinky Situation in Mountain View

You can tell at a quick glance how much a business values its customers that arrive by bike. When there’s a sturdy bike rack next to the main door it says, “Welcome, we love you!” When the bike rack is far from the door, falling apart or hidden away it says, “You’re not important customers.” And when the bike rack tucked in an back alley or next to smelly garbage dumpsters the message is clear, “Our customers don’t ride bikes.”

Dumpster Bike Rack

To that I say, “Your attitude stinks, just like your garbage.” Time for me to find a new noodle shop.

Location: Luu Noodle at San Antonio Shopping Center, Mountain View, California, USA

 
12 Comments

Posted by on March 12, 2014 in Bike Lane FAIL

 
 
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