Monthly Archives: November 2013

Farm to Table to Happy Belly in Napa Valley

It’s Thanksgiving morning here in the US, and Dick and I will be celebrating with a fine feast like every red-blooded American. Since we’re up in Napa Valley celebrating Dick’s birthday, I’ll be spared the cooking and we’ll go out for our feast. Dick will certainly have the traditional turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. I may vary from the traditional script, who knows?

What I do know is that our dinner can’t possible top the “farm to table” dining experience we had at JoLē in Calistoga for Dick’s birthday the other night. Three courses chosen from a list of about a dozen plus dessert, with wine pairings for each course carefully selected by their sommelier. It was divine decadence.

Dick Birthday

With four courses of wine, thank goodness it wasn’t a bike date. We only had to stumble upstairs to our room.

Of course, a meal expertly prepared with quality local ingredients and paired with exceptional wines doesn’t come cheap. It was the most expensive dinner we’ve shared and we aren’t particularly frugal on our weekly bike dates. But why not, birthdays only come once a year and none of us is getting any younger.

What was the best meal you’ve ever shared? What made it exceptional?


Posted by on November 28, 2013 in Bike Date, Other Stuff


Bike Commute Diaries: One Step Forward

One day you’re flying high seeing bold green lanes installed on a major east-west bike route. The next you discover a bike lane on a high-speed north-south boulevard is being quietly rubbed out. You ride the green lane and you’re bullied by a bus into the coned-off area before the paint is dry. Where the paint is dry, there’s a car stopped and waiting in the green lane for no obvious reason and you have to merge back with the buses.

One step forward, how many steps back? It’s hard not to get discouraged sometimes.

San Fernando Green Lane

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.


Posted by on November 26, 2013 in Commute Diaries


Fashion Friday: Preserving the Planet in Style

For most of us, it’s the little things we do to tread lightly on the environment: installing low-flow shower heads, turning down the thermostat, bringing a reusable cup to the coffee shop and buying locally grown fruits and vegetables. Then there are the dedicated few who take it to the highest level as professionals, guiding the public, industry and businesses on sustainable practices. But who knew environmentalists had such style?

Juliana Wide
Her skirt is narrow and her boot heels are tall, but that didn’t get in the way of Julie’s bike + train business travel to San Jose to the speak at the Trash Summit. We met in the bike car on her Caltrain ride down from San Francisco. Julie needed some help navigating the fare system, and then navigating her way across downtown to the convention center. What she didn’t need was any style tips from anyone. I want that plaid blazer!

Fast forward a week and it’s déjà vu all over again on Caltrain where I met Rebecca who works for San Jose’s Department of Environmental Services. With a commute that goes from foggy San Francisco to sunny San Jose, layers work well. A bold print scarf over a long-sleeved knit top, over a wrap dress, over yoga pants and she’s ready for anything, including stretching out with a downward-facing dog pose on her train ride home.

Rebecca Wide

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 November 22, 2013 in Cycle Fashions


Make It Your Own: Jessica’s Custom Trike Crate

Jessica’s grandfather must be proud of her. A German immigrant who made his living as a cabinet maker, he knows the satisfaction of sawing, nailing and sanding to build something practical and attractive using his own two hands. I know I was impressed by the cargo crate she built for her trike. It seems the basket that came with her trike didn’t meet the standards of a craftsman’s granddaughter so she hand-built herself a new one.


Jessica built the custom crate because the original basket wasn’t big enough or sturdy enough for everything she wanted to carry, like groceries, gardening supplies, and most importantly hay and feed for her bunnies.

Location: Horace Mann neighborhood, Downtown San Jose, California, USA.

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Posted by on November 20, 2013 in Bike Gallery, Gear Talk


Bike Lane FAIL: Bike Lanes That Stink in San Jose

There’s something rotten about the bike lanes in San Jose’s Hensley district. Every Monday morning the hard-won, lovely wide bike lanes are taken over by garbage bins. City of San Jose, please clean up your act! The comfort and safety of people riding bikes should rate higher than what you send off to the dump.

Stream of Traffic Wide

Location: N 3rd Street near E Empire Street, San Jose, California, USA.


Posted by on November 19, 2013 in Bike Lane FAIL


Fashion Friday: Little Black Dress Once Again

A girl can never have too many little black dresses, can she? This long-sleeved lovely is the cool-weather complement to my sleeveless summer favorite. Dress it up, dress it down and accessorize for the occasion. That’s what makes the little black dress a classic in any season.

Knit Dress

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 November 13, 2013 in Cycle Fashions


A Ride 2 Recovery, a Ride to Transformation

For most of us, the challenges of bicycling lead to growth as cyclists: climbing that long and steep grade to bag a peak, staying balanced and pedaling on through a technical section of trail, taking a deep breath and merging into traffic on a busy road. But for some, bicycling takes them beyond growth and into transformation.

For the men and women who serve in armed forces, being strong and capable–physically, mentally and emotionally–to meet the challenges of battle is core to not only their job, but to their identity. To be wounded and permanently lose capabilities is a life crisis for anyone. For warriors, the wounds can run much deeper.

Through cycling, Ride 2 Recovery “makes a difference in the lives of healing heroes by providing life changing experiences that can help speed up the recovery and rehabilitation process.” A few weeks ago, one of their challenge rides came through my area. I rolled out early to see them off on their 450 mile ride from the Bay Area to Los Angeles County. It was awe-inspiring to see these wounded warriors on their amazing adaptive bicycles.

Wounded Warrior 2 short

Ride 2 Recovery designs and builds custom adaptive bikes that it make it possible for almost any injured veteran to participate in the program, including para- and quadriplegics and multiple-limb amputees. The bikes allow them to move under their own power to challenge themselves physically. The ride challenge program allows them to set individual goals while working in a group, and also helps them accept help when needed.

Low Rider Curb Drop

Out of respect for their privacy, I didn’t talk to any of the injured veterans about their challenges: why they decided to do it, what were the biggest hurdles, how it’s changed them so far, what’s next for them. But we don’t need to know the details, do we? Even as outsiders we can imagine it was physically and emotionally hard every step of the way, and that the rewards are boundless, and that the experience is transformative.

I cannot imagine that these wounded warriors see themselves in quite the same way after learning to ride a bike again as a double above-the-knee amputee or after being blinded–or both.

I was honored to have the opportunity to see them gather for the start of their 7-day challenge, and was humbled as I struggled to catch the group after it sped down Foothill Expressway. After seven miles I finally caught them, only to silently bid them adieu and wish them farewell on their long journey south.

What were your biggest challenges in bicycling? Has bicycling fundamentally changed your understanding of self, your beliefs, your life? Has bicycling been transformative for you?

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Posted by on November 12, 2013 in Backroads


Bike Commute Diaries: Gear Check for Fall Riding

Leather gloves, check. Full-length coat, check. Warm scarf, check. High-powered headlight, check. Backup headlight, check. I’ve made a few adjustments for morning temperatures in the 40s and 5 o’clock sunsets. What about you? Does your work commute change at all with the change in season?

Really, I’d like you to tell me. I’m opening up a “Fall Edition” of the Anything Goes Challenge that focuses on how darkness, snow, ice and rain also affect your commute choices. How to enter is below, but you can read stories from our Spring participants to see how it works. Leah has already started on hers. Who’s next?


To enter the Anything Goes Challenge: Take two or more distinct transportation modes to a specific destination you visit regularly (work, school, store, etc). Take the same mode a least twice in different conditions to give it a fair shake. Collect data, tabulate your scorecard, and assess each mode according to your own value equation. Explain which mode works best for you and why.

Send your summary to by November 22. Please include one or more photos that I can include in a post about you, as well as your scorecard data and your personal value equation. Selected stories will be featured on this blog as they come in. If you’re private about things, just let me know and I’ll use your first name only or an alias of your choosing. I can’t wait to hear from you!

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.


Posted by on November 5, 2013 in Commute Diaries

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