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Monthly Archives: December 2012

Southern Comfort, South Louisiana Style

As someone who left her native state right after college graduation and never considered moving back, going home for Christmas is as much about returning to Louisiana culture as it is visiting family.

Louisiana culture is the way the grocery cashiers smile and chat effortlessly with you, and not because it’s company policy. It’s the respect children give adults that only starts with “yes, m’am” and “no, sir.” It’s the diverse range of southern accents you hear in the capital city, the ones you never hear in the movies.

It’s as comforting as the favorite dishes your momma cooks because you’re coming all the way from California.

Chickens

I was born and bred in the big city of Baton Rouge, but my cousins live upriver in rural Pointe Coupee parish where our family has lived for almost 300 years. A land of sugar cane and pecan trees, oxbow lakes and heavy-limbed oak trees, sudden oil wealth and chronic poverty. We came for pecans and to visit family. We left with pecans, fresh eggs and a closer connection to cousins and to my heritage. And lots of pictures of course.

What does going home mean to you? What re-connections or new connections did you make this holiday season?

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Posted by on December 31, 2012 in Travel

 

Fashion Friday: Menswear Extraordinaire

Where a jacket falls short, the car coat finishes the job with coverage down to the mid-thigh without the weight of a full length coat. Dick’s suit-weight worsted wool coat is perfect for California winters, and more perfect when paired with a lightweight merino wool sweater, button-down shirt, dark jeans and easy loafers.

Wool Coat

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 December 21, 2012 in Cycle Fashions

 

Bike Commute Diaries: Frosty the Californian

OK, kids. It was 34 degrees this morning. That’s about as cold as it gets here along San Francisco Bay. No need for goggles or balaclavas or studded tires. It’s not even freezing. A heavy coat, warm boots, a wool beanie and a fuzzy scarf keep me toasty warm and humming Christmas songs as I roll down the trail to work.

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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 December 19, 2012 in Commute Diaries

 

Law Enforcement FAIL: Red Light, Green Light

An incident this weekend reminded me of this letter I drafted last year but never sent. I really wish I had.

Dear City of Palo Alto,

I am angry that a Palo Alto police officer did not cite the driver who ran a red light and nearly hit me on my bike. I appreciate that the officer lectured her, but that’s not enough. We need law enforcement to crack down on careless drivers that threaten others, especially vulnerable people who are walking or bicycling.

I was on West Bayshore waiting to cross Oregon Expressway in the left traffic lane. When the signal turned green, I starting crossing. I saw that a driver approaching from my left was rolling through slowly instead of stopping, so I put a foot down and yelled: “What are you doing!! You have a red light!” and pointed at the signal.

She was halfway into the intersection and less than five feet from me when she stopped. As I rolled away, I saw a police car behind her and thought: “For once they’re here to see it.” I smiled when I saw his lights come on.

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From the bottom of the bike bridge I saw that the cop had pulled her over. She gave him something, probably her license and registration. He talked to her. I waited and watched for almost 10 minutes. He didn’t write a citation or warning, and she drove away. I shook my head and pedaled to work.

What’s your experience with your local law enforcement as a bicycle rider? Have they been helpful in protecting you from aggressive or careless drivers? Or do they seem to have more sympathy for the drivers?

Location: Oregon Expressway at West Bayshore Road, Palo Alto, California. Streetview from my vantage point.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2012 in Bike Lane FAIL, Issues & Infrastructure

 

Fashion Friday: Elf Myself

This wool sweater dress is warm and wintery and as nostalgic as a Norman Rockwell painting. Add heels and it’s VSFW (very suitable for work). Add a fleece beanie and I’m one of Santa’s elves. Fun fun winter fun.

Winter Wool Dress
The dress was cute on the hanger but it was the fit and the deep purple color that sold me.

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 December 14, 2012 in Cycle Fashions

 

A Closer Look: 1951? Världsmästarcykel Crescent

Hidden away in garages all over the world are beautiful bikes, barely used back in the day and never ridden today. Like my ex’s 1986 Pro Miyata that hung unused in my garage for years. Fortunately, many of these bikes find new lives in new homes with riders that cherish them. Like Erik, who I met one morning on Caltrain.

Erik’s bike caught my eye immediately with its classic lines and svelte steel tubing. It was his great-uncle’s bike from back in Sweden that he brought with him to San Francisco. Now set up for everyday use as a single speed with new handlebars, rear rack and fenders, I had to get a closer look.

Crescent Side View

Erik said this Världsmästarcykel Crescent was a 1951, but it doesn’t quite match the bike in that year’s catalog. Unlike the 1951, Erik’s bike’s fork and rear stays aren’t chrome and his has a nifty wheel lock that’s welded on. I searched the internet in vain for clues to its heritage and failed.

Can you help me solve this mystery? Is it likely to be before or after 1951? Did it originally have drop bars?

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2012 in Bike Gallery

 

Bike Commute Diaries: Limousine Rail Service

Occasionally, your day-after-day commute will surprise you. This morning, after the usual group of tech workers got off at Lawrence Station, I found myself riding alone for the first time. As the empty car clattered down the track, I settled deeper into my seat, imagining I was in my own private rail car on my 1st class commute.

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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 December 11, 2012 in Commute Diaries

 

Those Awkward [Bike] Moments

As people who ride bikes, we often stand out from the mainstream. If we’re not wearing lycra or hi-viz or funny cleated shoes, we’re riding around places where most people drive by incognito. On a bike it’s easy to feel conspicuous, which amplifies those awkward moments that most of us have shared.

Like forgetting to unclip and falling over in front of people you want to impress. Or yelling at a driver who cuts you off and realizing it’s a co-worker. Or looking down at your pants leg at work at lunch and seeing it’s still tied back. I’ve done all these, plus getting my skirt caught in my saddle in front of Toys R Us today.

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But the good thing is that we’re all in it together, whether we’re Cat 1 racers, hardcore mountain bikers, dedicated commuters or simply ride around town with our kids. We’ve all looked foolish because of our bikes.

At the Silicon Vally Bicycle Coalition Winter Party last week, we played a little party game where we shared our favorite personal awkward moments. Here are some of my favorites:

Loss of Coordination

I was riding in Belgium, using clipless pedals for the first time with a new boyfriend. I fell over in slow motion and couldn’t get unclipped. I was flapping around like a fish in front of him, plus a busload of tourists. – Helena

Wardrobe Malfunction

I was riding with friends from San Francisco to San Jose when I hit a patch of dirt, slid and crashed. I tore open my lycra shorts and spent the rest of the long ride mooning 30 riders. -Mike

Equipment Failure

When I was 16 I assembled a coaster brake bike with the ashtabula crank backward. I jumped on for a test ride, pushed down on the pedals and went flying over the bars at 2-3 mph. – Dave

Foot in the Mouth

I yelled “Hi” and waved at my mom on the sidewalk. Except it wasn’t my mom. -Ann

Distracted Riding

I was a teenager and thought I was hot sh** tooling around on my new bike. I noticed a cute girl across the street. I let my gaze linger a bit too long and hit a parked car. I slide up the back window, over the roof and down the windshield. She didn’t even give me first aid. – Chuck

I was riding with a big group for the World Naked Bike ride and wasn’t paying attention, missed a turn and found myself alone–and very naked. -Anonymous

Spanked by the Competition

I rode through a flock of geese thinking they would fly away when I got close. But they were too busy eating so when they finally noticed me, instead of flying away five or six of them kept trying to bite me. I had to get off and run away. – Ian

Just Riding Along

I was riding with a big group for the World Naked Bike ride and wasn’t paying attention, missed a turn and found myself alone–and very naked. – Anonymous

Thank you to everyone else who shared their That Awkward [Bike] Moment: Mike H, Jane L, Charles, James, Colin, Amos, Jack, Sue, Megan, Rachelle, Katie, Monica, Anonymous(2), and “More Careful Now.”

What’s your most awkward bike moment? How have you embarrassed yourself on a bike?

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Posted by on December 9, 2012 in Around Town

 

Fashion Friday: Vintage Touches for a Party Dress

When you come home empty handed after shopping for a new party dress, it’s time to get creative from your closet. This 8-year-old little black dress gets accessorized for a completely new look with a paisley shawl from my sister, a flea-market-find vintage pin, and a satin car coat, lace stockings and shoes straight from my closet. Add a new inexpensive necklace and I’m ready for Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition holiday party.

Little Black Dress & Shawl
This dress is so versatile. See how accessories make the difference here and here and here.

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 December 8, 2012 in Cycle Fashions

 

Bike Commute Diaries: Come Hell or High Water

Monsoon-worthy rain gear won’t help at all if your route isn’t equally storm-proof. The beauty and serenity that a creek trail route provides becomes a liability as the waters rise. And when the trail’s underpass is the only low-stress way to cross a freeway or major highway, your morning Zen will have come after you get to work.

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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 December 3, 2012 in Commute Diaries

 
 
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