Saturday, November 22, 2014

Participant prize

I'm reluctant to ever say anything negative about the cycling community, we're small and usually under fire already, so saying anything negative feels like betraying "my people," but today I realized that isn't the case.
They aren't my people.

Let me explain, you see the cycling community here is really two communities; the first simply owns a bike, loves to do cycle, knowledge level varies, and is really on their bike because that's their preferred mode, the second community is a horse of a different color. The latest model? The most high end accessories? All of them are necessary to the second group or why don't you just walk you pleb? If you explain you are happy where you are there is subsequent snubbing. Show up in anything less than a $1,000 bike and you might as well be invisible.

 I'm a member of the first community. Speed isn't a priority, seeing the world around me is, the hills take time to go, but so what? You get there. Want to wave? Go for it. Want to stop and say hi to someone? You're going slow enough to have a conversation. I like where I'm at in the community, and its why I'm going to be taking a prolonged break from any cycling events.

No more Mass rides, no more charity events, no more participating for the sake of it. I'm not the sort of person who is welcome, nor would I want to be welcome by that second group.

Two Seattle events later and you know what I see? Cyclists flagrantly discarding signaling, no one using a bell or voice to pass. Oh, and no wonder people hate cyclists, if you blew through lights, neglected to signal in a car, or barreled past vulnerable users in a car you'd be a danger. You know what? Doing that on a bike makes you a danger too. There is an arrogance to the cycling community that I can live without and apparently a lot of others can too.

On my way home from the Cranksgiving event the bus driver, an Austrian man from his accent, though I don't know, commented on how clear it was that I loved my bike. How obvious it was that I was more dedicated than a casual rider, and how much he too loved to just ride. I asked him what he thought of my ride, "oh people will tell you its no good," he said, "but they don't get it. They don't realize you'd have to drive that bike off a cliff to really break it," I laughed, but he continued, "you will run into people here who need to be fast, but they won't be happy even on a bike, they aren't in love with the bike, a bike like yours shows you love to bike more than machine,"

He was right. I do love to bike "more than machine" I don't love the mechanics, I love the sensation. I don't love the gears, I love knowing I'm the engine. I ended up ditched and snubbed by Seattle, but I found something much more important. I found my actual people. I'm so glad to meet them and not be alone.

Update: Just to be clear, even though I didn't finish the ride I did donate to Rainier Valley Food Bank anyway. You can do it too on their website just click on the "Donate" button in orange to give funds. Happy Thanksgiving

Friday, November 7, 2014

Fresh eyes

My dad was a cabbie and he had this weird expression, "Keep fresh eyes on the road," by which he meant, "Look at the road like you've never seen it," It sounded weird, I mean, I know 'x' road, I've been down it a million times. I can take this turn like a champ, I always look both ways, why do I need "fresh eyes" when I have this area down pat?
     He nagged the worst in familiar places, even if you didn't make a mistake driving, he repeated the phrase ad nausem so many times I will hear it long after he dies. As an adult I know now why he said it so many times. He was trying to keep us and everyone else on the road alive. Because your brain wants to kill you. No really. Look up how many accidents occur within the driver's residential radius. Too lazy? I don't blame you, here: A government study. Too lazy to read another link. No worries, let me sum it up: More drivers are in accidents in suburban areas, they are less likely to be wearing a seat belt, and further, are more likely to be involved in a fatal crash. And another study which shows you're more likely to die by car than by firearm or poisoning, Also, and old person is more likely to do it.
      Why would you be more likely to be in an accident in the area you live? Why is it more likely to be a car? Well, to answer the second question, because its the easiest, its because we don't think of cars as a loaded gun. While they are a tool of transportation they've been used in murder case, intentionally, (you can look that up on your own, I seriously do not have the heart), and unintentionally (again, your own imputes to look up the cases, but if you do, don't be surprised at how many are recent). I'm not going to decry the usefulness of motorized transportation, but we rarely treat it as seriously as it merits, and a gun is useful as a metaphor because anyone who is really serious about being responsible never looses the respect for its profound damage and fatal impact.
     Now the first question is a little more tricky, it gets back to what I said about your brain wanting you dead. You see our brain is an incredibly lazy organ, its much easier to project the memory of a place to your optic nerves, than take in new input, I mean, why would you need to? You've seen this place before. However, your lazy brain is going to get you or someone else killed. Let's start with inattention blindness which can be hilarious in a study, but not so much when you didn't see a kid and you're in a car. Or when you a hit a neon lit cyclist. This is caused, in some cases, by an overload on your brain which can happen due to accident, age, or because your brain is tired and isn't in the mood. This is part of why learning new things is harder as you get old because it's literally harder, you didn't get dumber, you got old. Happens to everyone if they're lucky.
      This is why my dad said, "fresh eyes on the road," and no, he's never read any study on traffic, (that I know of), and his literary taste are more toward Tom Clancy if I'm to be honest.  He's a literal road scholar because he figured out on his own that his brain was trying to kill him. He realized when he thought the way was clear, that other car or person didn't pop out of nowhere, his brain had deleted them. I know because its happened to me, that person wasn't speed, they weren't breaking the law, my brain was trying to kill me.
     As we move about in our world, no matter what form of transportation we use, we need to have fresh eyes on the road. When you get to a stop sign you've been to a million times, when you stop at a light you've stopped at a million times more, blink. Look at that road like you've never seen it before. Just for an instant. It's kept me safe for a long time. How many times have you heard, just in the news, the phrase, "I didn't see them," or "They came out of nowhere," and bystanders aghast because how could you not see that person?
     The solution is each of us keeping fresh eyes on the road. No matter the hurry, no matter how late. You will not get there faster in a hearse or after a police report. You need to see that road as if you've never been down it, blink, if only for a second. That second could be the one that saves a life. There is of course, the added bonus of seeing things you never saw before, which is how I try to do it, to look for something new every time, because it keeps it interesting and it challenges my brain on what it does know.
    Stay safe out there, and keep fresh eyes on the road.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Coffeeneuring Trip #7 and yes, more news!

     Sorry this update is late, the last trip fell on a holiday and I ended up partying, then working, and due to unforeseen circumstances my work has needed more help, and head cold has not cleared. Hooray.
     Anyway! Sunday, November 2nd, I set off on my final coffeeneuring trip. I was sad because it was the last trip, and scattered pumpkin bits still littered the suburban streets. It was however, in good company, as Ben had the day free to join me in my quest for a 'cuppa. After a late start and grey skies we set off. We reached the Interurban Trail letting the natural southern route carry us rather than aiming for speed. 
     I was sad to discover at the end of the Interurban Trail on the Shoreline side, a broken bollard
Fix it any time soon?
 Which is still broken, by the way. Continuing on, I wondered how cycling conditions were holding up. After the joy of Linden Ave. N., a greenway that is a must visit for any city wondering how to do it, I surreptitiously rejoined the trail. Sadly, the Seattle side was less than friendly. Phoenix Security was driving down the trial. I didn't get their plates because at first I thought it was the police, who have every right, I suppose. However, I was enraged that as I passed it was just a rent-a-cop. No doubt there to move along the homeless who frequent the trail.
     Honestly, I cannot feel this is a good solution. I do not currently have a solution, and the city of Seattle is "working on it" which visibly drives the homeless into the outlaying areas instead, and makes it even harder for them to find jobs, and be close to the resources they need. As cyclists we often see the homeless encampments more, and while we often worry about safety and theft, we forget they are people too.
Featured: Imitation bacon
After the trail, however, we turned onto the street calmed 110th street, to Dayton, then Greenwood. Diva Espresso is just past G&O Family Cyclery, which carries beautiful cargo bikes that I stare at, knowing I don't really need a cargo bike, but I think its how car owners look at SUVs. Only without the guilt associated with consuming that much fuel. And really, Diva Espresso is just next to the Greenwood Library, but I don't really register it as its not my own local library. Diva Espresso doesn't really have dedicated bike parking, though there is a rack available. 

Yep, that's adequate parking. 
     I guess they don't feel they get enough bike traffic to justify a rack for their customers in their parking lot. And hey, at least its a bike rail instead of a post. Sadly, humility is not one of my virtues. I honestly felt a bit indigent, I mean, one rail? There were other bikes squeezed around it, in spite of the rain finally splashing down, there was even a parent and kid riding, enjoying the Sunday afternoon. It was, as I said, afternoon, and I couldn't have anymore caffeine since I wake up at 4am for work. So I had a caramel steamer while Ben enjoyed a latte.
It was awesome
    It felt somehow appropriate to end my coffeeneuring with something non-caffeinated, sort of touching my past childhood days where I had a cup of hot chocolate after riding in what constituted an Alaskan fall.

Consumption: the second best part of coffeeneuring
Riding with friends is the best part
The rain started to really come down as we cupped our drinks, we went back inside, deciding that if the weather continued like this we would need serious fuel.

Its a very nice patio though
  Serious fuel acquired, we sat at the quasi-bar at the window, watching people and talking about the podcast we had listened to on our ride. The place was nice, not crowded, the decor a mix of feminine representation.

A cyclist's diet is "oh that looks good"
     Then the conversation moved to what I'd do after coffeeneuring. I told him I didn't really have any challenges coming up, I mean, there's events like Cranksgiving, but nothing else really. Its events like coffeeneuring that remind us cyclists that we're never really alone. Somewhere, be it in England or Mexico, Seattle, or Dubai, there is another cyclist out there. Maybe they're running errands too, or just riding with friends, riding home from work. Its not just in your town that people expect to see a cyclist, its in every town, all over the world. While we only went 10.2 miles (5.1 each way) I sort of got to cycle all over the world. I saw places few have seen, because cyclists make amazing photographers.
     For more on coffeeneuring, stay tuned to Mary's blog and connect to cyclists all over the world. 

Now for news! Alright folks, if you haven't gotten tickets to this Saturday's spectacular, amazing, fun event you are out of luck! Those lucky ticket holders are bidding on some of the most amazing gear, clothes, getaways, and oh-my-gosh! You got tickets, right? Right? Oh you're volunteering? Or want to? There's still time. Maybe. Go, go, go!

And don't forget, Saturday morning you can start the day with a Kidical Mass Candy buy back

Okay, now, in more local news, the Planning Committee will review development regulations for the 185th St. Station, TOMORROW! The meeting is 7-9 at Shoreline City Hall. Light rail. In Shoreline. Let's make this happen! 

Lastly, for all those who followed this blog just for the coffeeneuring challenge, thank you. It was a real pleasure to share my adventure with you and to show you a little bit of my world. Leave the light on steady and ride safe. 

For those sticking around for Shoreline cycling news, and events, I say thank you and officially, welcome! See you at the Gala! 


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Coffeeneuring Trip #6

    The day after Halloween always seems a little bit of a let down for me. I'm never quite ready for it to be over, and waking up this morning was no exception. I was feeling a little North nostalgic after last night's adventures, and generally from riding around. I set out to find coffee, not by searching the internet or planning, but just by riding. Splattered pumpkins littered the suburban path, with a true feast for crows, who took to cleaning the streets with alacrity.
     I decided to see if there was any coffee shops near Central Market on Aurora in the set of strip mall type shops there. There didn't seem to be any shops that specifically sold coffee. Still, listening to NPR, I decided to keep riding south, not on the Interurban Trail, following the road behind Marshall's, and then onto Aurora, to see what shops were there up close and to generally just be about on my bike, sure I would eventually find coffee. 
       However, coming dangerously close to the end of my podcast I decided to just stop at the first place that sold place I could get a latte. My headcold hasn't dissipated and noting the lack of bike parking along Aurora made me feel sour and annoyed. At 145th I saw a little espresso stand, purple, and a barely a stand at all. The windows were somewhat frosted and only a florescent sign indicated it was open. 
      The shop didn't seem to have a name, just "Espresso" advertised in bold across the top, its address however, is searchable on Google Maps and you can get a street view: 14507 Aurora Ave N, Shoreline, WA 98133, and the girl behind the counter was in the familiar costume of the street vending coffee girl in Seattle. By that I mean, she was dressed in a bikini, though tasteful, which seems a rather cruel thing to do to a server in the winter months. We chatted over our Halloween night and she asked where I was going. I explained I was heading to the store after and she asked how I planned on managing. I laughed and pointed at my basket, and explained it was only a light trip, or I'd have my trailer too. She marveled at my 'determination' which I always find odd, especially when I think the other person is facing far greater extremes. I'd rather bike in the rain than serve coffee in a bikini. 
      When asked how I was going to carry it, I again laughed, and again, pointed at my basket. She expressed doubt, but I assured her that it was a sound method, and practiced many times. 
Many, many times
The pumpkin spice latte was good, if overpriced, and I set down 145th to the Interurban Trail. I had planned at stopping at the trail head, but the benches were all occupied by groups of people, so I headed a little further down stopping at the nearest bench. It was nice to sit outside without feeling obligated to be inside and locking up, or outside because that's where my bike was, but just to be outside, enjoying the blue sky. A coffee shop without walls.
The sky is way more blue than shown
     Combining my coffeeneuring trip with a grocery run meant that my little dog stayed at home, which he didn't mind in the least, but sitting in the sun, finally peeking out from the clouds, I missed his company. 
Pictured: Not my dog
What my dog was doing when I left, and when I came back
    There was the usual Saturday thoroughfare, a guy with his friend announcing "Their are no life forms detected," before screaming out imaginary coordinates. Marching back and forth down the trail, before heading back south. I felt amused, like I had wandered, unknown, into a Philip K. Dick novel. Though, there is nothing light-hearted about deets. There were other cyclists, one guy, who looked like he was on a folding bike saw me and said hello, and another guy walking his shepherds admired my wheels.
Sun on my saddle
The particular bench I stopped at
     I sipped my drink, enjoying the early afternoon, and flipping over to listen to Sparks Nevada (another Thrilling Adventure Hour production that I enjoy), and mused on the passing October. There's been a lot of exciting bike announcements, and I'm very much looking forward to the Gala, Saturday, Nov. 8th (hope you already have your tickets), and I'm hoping to go to a Dia de Muertos celebration this Sunday It looks like a lot of fun, and you can find more information about it here. On the whole my coffeeneuring trip, after hitting the grocery store on the way home, was 3 miles, a good mile of that made in wandering the streets behind Marshall's and Central Market and just cruising. 
    After this weekend, most of the upcoming events will of course, be Christmas themed, and given it'll be my first year not in retail in...over seven years, and not living next to/in North Pole, Alaska, in four, I might actually enjoy Christmas. I mean, don't bet money on that or anything, but its possible. 
   There's only one more coffeeneuring trip left, and this next one I hope is more sanguine, or at least, more social. 


Oh, almost forgot, my mother sent me this video which highlights a reason to wear your helmet other than cars.