Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Last Coffeeneuring Trip of 2015

Well, the last in the official challenge anyway. On November 8th, Sunday, we set out for the final coffeeneuring trip for the challenge. For the last of the funky socks I picked a pair my family gave me before I left Alaska:

     The weather had cleared so I didn't bother wearing my galoshes, but I still wore my cape since it makes a rather nice wind breaker. The trip there was only 4.5 miles (a round trip total of 9 miles), and while it had been raining earlier, the late afternoon glow gave the air a magical quality. We opted to take the south bound 1st Ave over Meridian Ave as it is a more direct path to the 3rd Ave drop to 116th, which, of course, leads to Roosevelt Way. You would think with a retirement complex, two parks, two churches, & two schools, 1st Ave would be a very calm street. And you would be hilariously wrong. In spite of #VisionZero signage, such as "20 is Plenty" and evidence of residential structures it is consistently treated like a speedway.
     After a Handy Andy truck nearly ran me down (the driver decided if he stopped at the stop sign he wouldn't be able to pass me on the bridge, which was very important since he might have to go slower so I could make the turn, for like maybe two whole minutes), I had thought he was going to stop like I had, as he was not at the sign when I had begun my way across, but, haha, nope. Looking back if I had run the stop sign I probably wouldn't have had such a close call. Maybe not, maybe he wouldn't have seen me at all. In any case, my husband and I made it across the treacherous 1st ave cross. It was the same route we used to go to Bark Espresso, only this time we kept going down Roosevelt.
      The new cycle path had been installed, and south bound it was quite nice, then evaporates at about 103rd st., whereupon you end up back in the dooring zone. I've described what its like to climb Mt. Roosevelt before as part of my commute, this time we went all the way up to the Maple Leaf area to Cloud City Coffee . At first we thought there was no bike rack, but lo and behold, once you got around the crammed parking lot, there was a railing.  

    We went inside and was warm and well lit, though the tables were a little too close together for me. I got us both eggnog steamers since it seemed the perfect drink to go with my socks

    Sadly, my husband didn't realize steamers were caffeine and would later fall asleep ridiculously early in the evening. I saw a Bike Benefits sticker by the register, which I though odd for a place that just had one railing. We enjoyed our drinks, and the fading day light. I was sad to have the challenge come to an end, but this year was a successes in that I found a truly local coffee shop with a bike rack. As we unlocked to leave we noticed a sticker which made me smile

      Riding back down Roosevelt was a treat, for the north bound side the protected cycle track doesn't begin until the bottom of the hill and there's on street parking just before it, making maneuvering into it awkward, and a little nerve racking as you wonder if you're about to get doored. We stopped at the grocery store on the way back, and honestly the protected cycleway makes it difficult to turn left.
    Fortunately, I won't have to keep describing this all to you anymore. I'll be able to show you with actual video. You see, I usually spend my Saturday nights after Ben falls asleep, debating different cameras. I have been, for some months, doing this pretty consistently, and have finally bit the bullet and purchased one. Now, it will be some time before I upload anything, (mostly because I haven't ordered it, and partly because this is the first time I'm giving into the impulse to record and upload anything), but I doubt it will be anything like a real channel for some months yet. Ben suggested I run an assassination counter on my rides like a CinemaSins movie counter, but I haven't decided if that's more depressing than funny yet.
     Well my friends, another challenge complete. If you haven't checked out this year's patch, you'll be freshly impressed, if you've already seen it, you can admire it again. This year, Doug, also a cofeeneuring rider, designed the patch, and I can't wait to put on my kit. 
    I had a lot of fun with my funky sock theme, and plan on brainstorming a new theme for next year, maybe coffee stands only, or one flavor across a lot of different kinds of drinks. If you haven't completed the challenge, this weekend is your last shot, good luck! 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Coffeeneuring Ride 6

     The final rides are upon us Coffeeneuring riders, and while I'd hoped to squeeze in a trip on Halloween, I just wasn't able to do it and all the other Halloween stuff going on. However, I went on Sunday, still wearing the socks I'd planned. 

     October is National Bat Appreciation Month, and yes, that's a thing. Bats are very cool, and in spite of an awesome book series and cartoon , still very under-appreciated. Snug in my socks we set off for the Richmond Beach Coffee Co, only 3 miles and a bit, away. It was a cloudy day, with rain on and off. However, in my Cleverhood cape I didn't have a care for the soggy weather. The path we chose had bike lanes, but they were unprotected and very unkempt, and ending in car heavy two lane traffic. Not ideal. The rain had tapered off by the time we arrived, creating a dramatic sun splashed moment worthy of its discovery, for I had found a locally owned coffee shop with a bike rack! For real.

pics or it didn't happen
     Right there, in Shoreline, a coffee shop, with a bike rack. The interior was pleasant, and the staff friendly. I had a Mighty Leaf African Nectar tea and bagel while Ben had the coffee. When I posted about it on social media, a fellow local rider let me know that it was probably a new improvement by the new owners. So awesome.

     I was feeling elated on the ride back, however an incident happened which I've honestly debated writing about. You see, we got pulled over for not wearing helmets. Its the law here because in spite of a lot of evidence that I've written about before, King County operates under antiqued laws. Shoreline doesn't specifically have laws about it, but because its in King County those laws apply. Now we didn't get ticketed, but here's the thing, if I hadn't been with my husband I might've actually tried to engage the cops in a discussion of the laws they were enforcing because they are the non-violent and nanny state oriented kind of law that is worth discussing. 

I didn't. 

First, it wouldn't have changed any minds that day, and second, the other things said make me furious enough that I don't feel its right to put this incident under a coffeeneuring post. I will say thanks to certain sidewalk comments I will probably be voting for whoever runs opposing for King County Sheriff, since this department has time to do this, but not get back the four bikes that have been stolen from me. Also, the cop made it sound like we had biked SUPER far from home and

    We rode the rest of the way home together exchanging sarcastic quips. The whole ride was 6 miles and some change, but the experience is just another reminder that we're a very different kind of people. We're bike people.

Bike party!

     Those not native to Seattle might not know of The Bikery, but in the short time its been around its become a fixture to its local community, and an inspiration to others. On October 24th there was a huge fundraising bash to help build a better Bikery, and with an unofficial Critical Lass ride to get there I was totally down for this bike party.
     We started at the Freemont Brewing Co., which is one of those super bike friendly businesses

    One of my fellow riders recognized my coffeeneuring patch, and we got to chatting about our own trips around town. The ride itself was quite lovely, and I took advantage of the flat and downward nature of the bridge to do one of my longest dragonfly stands on Scamper. Riding under the I-5 was a real treat for myself and Ben as we usually take the Freemont to Dexter than the Eastlake way toward downtown. We promised each other we'd come back and explore it. 
    The party itself was a blast, and if you check out the photo booth pics, you might see a cyclist you recognize. The track stand contest was a hilarious good time, and each bike parked there was clearly loved by its rider. 
    Right now there's just six days left to help the Bikery reach its fundraising goal. While the party helped it obviously couldn't go all the way, so if you can, kick a little something toward something great, well, by the basic laws of exchange that would make you great. 

Next up is the 6th coffeeneuring write up, its getting close to the end of this year's challenge, but it looks like I really will be finish again, and I know just the funky socks for the finish. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

On the road to nowhere... again

    This post is late due to a lot of riding interfering with writing. 
    I guess its going to be a yearly tradition, wherein I pick coffee places and do not go to them either due to them not existing or because reasons. In my defense, it was hard to establish whether or not I'd be again riding to another non existent place. Also, in dragging someone else with me I had to compromise distance, which meant picking a closer place. However, there are some things I won't compromise on, like whimsy.

     Yeah, not only am I small enough to wear children's knee high socks, but I rock the Twilight socks. Also, wings. 

Now 20% more awesome
     Fun fact, ladies who are into My Little Pony are called Pega-sistas. Much like, bronies, only we're inherently magical. And yes, that's a child's zip-up hoodie. Somethings never change. Like my height and tastes. The weather made it perfect to at last give a decent initial test of my new Cleverhood.

Pinkie, Blinkie, and Brownie
Corduroy isn't just for teddy bears

     I had hoped to do this year without hitting a single Starbucks, not because I have a specific bean to grind, its just as a corporate entity they've created a world where its a fun challenge to find a place they don't own and support it. I'm not saying a corporate coffee shop can't also be a local one, I've just found a boring uniformity that comes with it, along with other reasons that have, frankly, nothing to do with cycling. However, they are a corporation with roots in my location, so going there for coffee is my own way of showing local spirit, since I don't care about the football team that is so adored and equally corporate.
     I recalled seeing a shop on my old commute, I never stopped there since there was a coffee shop literally in the parking lot of the previous employer, and stopping on the way there was less convenient than stopping there. Though really, since I've had issues with drive-up stands before I don't know why this didn't occur to me as a solution other than, I really hate stopping in the middle of a ride. So we tried stopping at the Coffee Shack on 15th instead, only they were closed on Sundays. Opting for expediency, we settled on the Starbucks on 15th and 145th. It hadn't changed at all since the last time I'd been there, still no bike rack. However, Barry and Scamper were quite glad to get in out of the wet.

    I opted for a hot chocolate and a pumpkin cream-cheese. As we sat down and I felt a bit morose about it all. It was the fifth coffeeneuring trip I'd made this run, and yet, that made it all the sad for me. Its the stretch of finishing, not beginning. Sure, there'll be posts throughout the year on the Facebook Coffeeneuring page, but I debated whether or not I'd even count this trip, not because it wasn't worthy, but because I could use another weekend.  On our way back we stopped at the grocery store across the street, I was out of tea, and yeah, I love the new packaging:

complete with the quote by H.G. Wells cyclist splatoon everywhere
   In the end, I counted this trip, because there is something comforting about the familiar, even if, for myself, it breeds contempt, there is something of the symmetry of the fifth one that wasn't a part of the others. The sense of going down 155th and knowing exactly where to lean in the lane to avoid huge bumps and dips (like the one near the Anglican church) that make it more dangerous to ride in the lane than the street. 
  Also, the fact I got to wear my cape at last, I mean, the weather has been super cooperative lately but, you notice how you get new gear and then the conditions refuse to line up? Ugh. Anyway, the cape actually took some getting used to, as you might've noticed from the pictures, its a little big on me, which made the initial gripping of my handle bars a bit weird, and the magnetic clasps were a bit hard to get while riding, if you don't get them at the right angle water just pours into the open spot. However, once I got the knack of it I was pretty well set. I ended the ride mildly damp, mostly my legs from the gap between the wellies and the cape, and my hair and face since the hood is made for a helmet, not for someone who puts their hair in a pony tail (pro tip, no hoodie is ever made with the idea you will wear a pony tail, because perky warriors don't wear hoods) so next time I'm probably going to say I'll put my hair in a half tail, but then I'm going to forget and wonder why my hood won't stay up.
   The sixth and final coffeeneuring ride will have to wait, since this next post will be covering the Bikery party. I will be doing at least one coffeeneuring this weekend, but I'm not sure if I'll be finishing this weekend or next. But *knock on wood* I will be finishing.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Pack ride to Bark Espresso

     I have to admit I'd been hoping it'd be nice enough out today by standard standards to go for a ride. While I enjoy the rain, neither of my usual riding buddies care for a sky full of water, and I picked this spot especially to go to with my buddies. Fortunately the sky had cleared, but not so much as to be cloud free. Since we were going to Bark Espresso I figured these would be the best funky socks, and Mac seemed to agree.

     Putting the basket on Scamper got Mac into an immediate frenzy. It was pretty warm out, but I decided on the flannel blanket, just in case, and it is a bit chilly going downhill. 

the jaunty kerchief is just because
    We actually went the way I usually go on my new commute. Cutting down 155th, going up 1st, heading down the turn off into the suburban neighborhood near Roosevelt and Northgate. Its sad because through the whole neighborhood there's signs telling people to slow down for various reasons. The ones near my home are all Vision Zero signs, proclaiming 20 is plenty! Which is largely ignored by everyone capable of going over 20 mph, In the area near Roosevelt and Northgate are remind drivers its a deaf child area, and that they love their pets and children, who by the way, play here. There's all kinds of traffic calming ideas, round-abouts, inset curbs. It doesn't matter, people not only ignore it, they will drive as close as possible to me to pass. Usually having a dog in the back gets people go blink and go "oh hey another person" but today was one of those days where I wondered if my whole little family was going to be wiped out by someone's idiot miscalculation. The three dead squirrels we passed didn't add to my confidence.
     We hit Roosevelt and to our surprise there was work being done for the bike lane there. We rolled up to the coffee shop, and yeah, because it was on Roosevelt, I sort of expected there to be a bike rack somewhere. To my surprise there was no rack to be found. At all. There was a handicap railing, but I wasn't going to lock up to that (it would block the ramp).

We elected to lean them against the outside walk railing. Well, after I got a nice shot of Barry on his first coffeeneauring ride. Pinkie sat this one out, but even with Mac strapped to Scamper, I had to moderate my pace so I didn't drop him. The coffee place is actually a set of shops, sort of a pet center of sorts. We only went into the coffee side. As you can see in the above left picture there's a second door, that's the Hound Lounge, where you can go in with your dog. It was nice, with dog art on the walls, prints stacked on the side, and a few tables. It would've been a lovely place to sit, but we decided it was too nice outside to bother with bringing the bikes in, preferring to make use of the outside tables.

    While Ben got coffee, I got a pumpkin steamer, and we shared a couple of breakfast sandwiches, making it a sort of brunch. Mac had a peanut doggy latte.  We watched the other people and dogs come and go. I have to say my steamer was a bit watery (oh goddess I sound like a snob, but if you don't use whole milk it ends up that way), but nicely spiced. We stopped by another shop on the way back, and at the intersection, both bike and dog were admired greatly. A group of nice folks wanted to know why I rode a folding bike, how old was my dog, and did I know how just amazingly cute he is with that kerchief? (I totally do know and that's why). The usual, out biking with my dog stuff, except when they told me they didn't see many people out with there dogs. I feel I see a lot of people out biking with there dogs, maybe that's because of all the bike blogs I read. It does tend to make me feel like the things I do are totally normal. Making our way back we decided to stop at the Doughnut Plains, its a nice place to take a break.

All and all the trip was about 6.5 miles, Not bad. We might've added a bit of blacktop to our ride since we took a hook from 1st to Meridian.  It was such a lovely ride, Aside from the cars and the road kill, and the sharrows that did absolutely nothing for traffic calming. Although we did have a funny moment when the car next to me at one intersection had a little dog too. Ben thought it was funny I've gone to 4 shops and only 1 had a bike rack, and that one was kind of an anit rack at that. Still, I've got three shops left so my odds are good one of them will have bike parking. Right? Next stop is Chickalatte, no matter the weather. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A sunny ride to Kaffeklatsch

     The sun came back out this Sunday, shining bright upon bike lanes filled with storm debris. Feeling up to snuff today, I set out on a much further route, this one 7.6 miles, to Kaffeklatsch Seattle in Lake City. I  don't enjoy riding to Lake City, and lately I've had no call to venture to the northern most aspects of Seattle. The bike lanes there are sketchy at best and confusing at worst. Also, the south bound sidewalk along Lake City Way contains some of the worst pavement you'll find. I would've taken pictures, but unfortunately didn't have the opportunity to do so without putting a pedestrian out. 
         Getting ahead of myself a bit, first, I donned this ride's funky socks, my Hemmingway Kitty Socks 

Because five toes. Get it? 

     Anyway! Ben came with me this time, riding Pinkie Pie. The bike lanes were still full of Seattle tumbleweeds, and there was a dead squirrel on the sidewalk along 155th. Nothing like a reminder of life's fleeting nature to add a bit of zest to your early morning ride. The ride itself was the usual amount of suburban streets and bike lanes, until hitting the main thoroughfares like 15th ave NE and Lake City way NE. Frankly Lake City way was so harrowing to ride in the street we attempted to ride on the sidewalks. This was a horrible error as the sidewalks formed platforms that, while as a child I would've loved to jump, created a horrible situation in terms of passage.   
       Arriving at Kaffeeklatsch Seattle we were pleased to note they had a bike rack installed. Then Ben went to lock Pinkie Pie to it, and things got hilarious. I did park Scamper outside, but retrospectively I wonder if it wasn't less a bike rack and more a memorial rack.

Antithetical to its creation 

      Kaffeeklatsch was very much part bakery part coffee shop, with decor that seemed fairly normal until you noticed the evil carnival monkey staring at you, absorbing your soul as you wait in line.

     I got an incredibly-bitter-for-some-reason decaf caramel frappachino with a slice of banana bread. Ben had the apple turnover with the German name, and a very sweet and delicious drip coffee.

    It was a nice little place, very open, with a kids corner wisely placed near the bathrooms. Over all not a bad place to stop for a cup if you're in Lake City, but I don't recommend what they have outside for a bike rack. 
    We stopped for groceries on the way back, having put it off yesterday because of the stormy weather. One of the nicest things about fall is the variety of apples it brings, you go from having a selection of say, four or five different kinds, to six to eight. Right now I'm favoring the ambrosia, its like how I always wanted a green apple to taste like. 
    Well coffeeneuring ride number 3 is done. Next stop is Bark Espresso, which I have to admit I'm looking forward to since it means riding to a place I know my dog will be welcome. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Coffeeneuring trip #2 - Return to Cafe Aroma

     On a stormy Saturday, when really I wasn't at my best, I set out, undaunted by the rain, though somewhat dismayed by other happenstance, to return to Cafe Aroma. It was a good choice because it is the closest of all the challenge spots, just a cruise down Meridian, a jaunt up 155th, and a meander further north on 5th. Though it is the closest of all the coffeeneuring locations I've picked, I haven't gone again because well.. parking. But I wanted someplace close because I hadn't been feeling well and the rain and wind had created some soggy circumstances.
     The rain had somewhat abated when I set out on my sojourn, socks for the theme matching my earrings put me in a spooky mood.

    The weather made it a perfect opportunity to test my new boots. Previously, I had awesome zebra stripped knee high galoshes, though visually appealing they were rather standard fare. Neither particularly warm, nor particularly sturdy, and frankly annoying to ride in, owing to the movement of my calf muscles. I have mighty calves that yield not to the flimsy rubber of man! Wanting, however, one pair of boots that would function both on and off the bike I debated at length the solution that works best for myself. Deciding I needed something that gave adequate coverage, would not hinder my movement, yet would keep my toes snug against the biting gale winds. And, if possible, not terribly ugly. Behold!

olive masterpiece right there

    They come only halfway up my comically short shins, and on a walk with the dog, proved adequate for puddle muddling. Now came the real test, if I could use them in the majority of my mobility. I'm pleased to say that it worked out rather well, the faux fur made it quite warm. With Alistair Mook strumming in my headphones, I slowly made my sojourn.
     Cafe Aroma still had the same vibe as last year, the neighborhood coffee shop. I sat across from the window, occasionally looking up from my book as families passed on their way to the Crest Cinema.

    I sipped my pumpkin pie steamer, content to let the storm drip out what seemed the worst before starting back. A slight miscalculation, the rain had stopped, but the wind chose to pick up. The ride back became a battle against the elements that I did not feel up to fighting, though a slight tail wind on the Meridian turn around did give some cheer. 
   All in all not a bad ride, just a typical damp and windy one. Well, ride two is down, and next is Kaffeeklatsch Seattle, which is really in Lake City, which I haven't figured out yet if its like Shoreline and technically not Seattle. Besides, I included Lake City last year and it'd be a shame to leave them out. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

And so it begins!

     Its the first weekend of coffeeneuring and the clear blue skies call every cyclist, participating or not, to sample the asphalt one last time before it becomes part river, part roadway. At least, here in the Pacific Northwest. I recall the same sweet call back North, before the snow completely  buried the pavement.
     For my first cofffeeneuring trip I put on the socks I'd been eager to don, I think every female cyclist has this pair at this point:

   Theme firmly beneath my personal firmament, we began our ride. As Barry is still down for repairs, Ben rode Pinkie Pie, not his favorite ride, but sill nice she got to come along again for the first trip since she was my ride last year.  One Cup is close to our home, making the whole trip 2.2 miles, though we probably could've extended it, or made it even shorter, but we went through the residential streets instead of doing a straight shot to Aurora. Besides, I love riding down 165th and riding the gap  between speed humps. Its fun because cars will try to speed up to pass you, but then they have to break on the hump while you cruise through. Exceedingly satisfying.
    Sadly, we did have to go down Aurora eventually, and I denote it as sadly because Ben always points out that "they ruined the Main Street of this town by making it a highway," and he's right, but its sad, and seeing it sad. Ugh. On the curious side, the Uber garage is right next to the Uhaul, which is right next to a car dealership, which is right by a motorcycle shop. The insane level of car-centric shops right next to homes is just... Well I digress, but its just so symptomatic of the street, and that shapes Aurora into the sort of place that encourages it into the sort of place that every store along it requires a key for the bathroom. Where I'm from that's just the prerogative of gas stations.
    We arrived at One Cup and I have to admit I was hopeful, I mean it did appear to be a very coffeeesque place
note the car dealership nearby
But alas, it had no bike rack. In spite of clearly catering to the college crowd it had a fucking railing as an excuse for a parking spot. Naturally I just folding Scamper and took him inside as Ben lashed Pinkie to the railing at the end of the handicap ramp of the church. Because its Shoreline, so of course its a coffee shop connected to a church.
        The set up inside was the perfect storm of Northwest awkward. Lots of bar stool seats and communal tables, big leather chairs all set close to each other, and a kids table off in a corner away from anyone trying to study, but without a spot for their adult to hover nearby. We ordered our drinks, coffee for him, hot chocolate for me, and after picking a suitable spot, placed Scamper by the table.

     There was wifi, but it wasn't issued with the receipt, which seriously, who doesn't give you your change and tell you the wifi password? Places that have it posted by the drink pickup, right? Not here. No parking, no wifi. How was the hot coco?

     Meh. I mean it wasn't bad  but foam for a hot coco? I uh, I guess I'm used to whip cream or such. It was quite creamy, so I'll classify it as "okay," or at least something warm to sip while I looked around. 

      Finding neither the drink nor the decor had much to offer I debated whether or not I would come back. I supposed perhaps, if I was with other people who were stopping there, but not of my own volition. Overall, I'd rate the place a C- if you're a cyclist. I mean, don't get me wrong, its Shoreline, so its not like they'll put in a rack. I bet, much like the Coffee & Pub place the Bounty, they'll be satisfied with people locking up on railings. Bully for them, but I'll take my business elsewhere. While its a pretty nice ride, the ride does not the destination make.
     Speaking of elsewheres and destinations, I'll be snarkily sipping at Cafe Aroma next. Cheers! 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Coffeeneuring 2015!

   Its that time again! Wow, the year has flown by, and already its time to get that fall maintenance over and done with so coffeeneuring can begin. For those of you who've never heard of it it goes something like this; you bike a total of two miles, consume a warm drink, write about/take a picture of it, and you do it at least once a weekend for seven weekends. That's the basic gist of it. There is, of course, a bit more to it, so check out the Official 2015 page to learn about it and get started.
    Of course I've already picked out which spots I'll be heading to this year, as well as back-up-places in case a grand fail like last year's spectacular laughable case, wherein I hunted down two shops before I settled on one without walls. I picked out the spots back in September because, in spite of factors that limit my own caffeine consumption, its just so much fun. Don't worry, if you have caffeine limits too there's plenty of other options, (tea, cider, hot coco, etc). As for myself, its probably going to be a lot of decaf tea and steamers, but really, its about continuing my quest.
    I still haven't found a coffee place like the ones I had back North. I was, though by no means monogamous, fond of the places where I partook of the sweet black nectar. In spite of seven attempts last year I was unable to find that special place for me. That one shop that I'd go to at least two time a month, not because I can't make my own coffee, but because that's where I enjoy going. Though to be fair, I have found my favorite yogurt stand, which is pretty good, but I digress.
    This year I continue my quest! That noble pursuit of any writer worth her salt. Not the completion of some grand work, no, the true core of any writer is seeking a coffee house where they both add a certain atmosphere, and really take up that one sweet table spot for like, way to long. On top of which, as a cyclist, I really ought to be ashamed I haven't found a good spot. I mean, honestly, I ride all over the place, I'm pretty sure I've been down most of the streets of Seattle on Scamper. I just rarely ever stop. I mean, yes I stop to rest myself on occasion, but I've been far to focused on forests to be hunting any haunts.
    Though speaking of Scamper, this will be his first year as a coffeeneuring bike. Pinkie Pie is actually back in use by my husband since Barry is down for repairs. Therefore, its up to scrappy little Scamper to pick flag.
Without further ado, here are the coffeeneuring shops I've picked:

*10/3 or 10/4
One Cup Coffee Co
16743 Aurora ave N Seattle

10/10 or 10/11
Cafe Aroma
509 NE 165th St Seattle

10/17 or 10/18
Kaffeeklatsch Seattle
12513 Lake City Way NE Seattle

10/24 or 10/25
Bark Espresso 
11335 Roosevelt Way NE Seattle

10/31 or 11/1
Chickalatte Aurora
10733 Aurora ave N Seattle

11/7 or 11/8
Lylas Family Espresso
8958 Aurora ave N Seattle

11/14 or 11/15
Cloud City Coffee
8801 Roosevelt Way NE 

Now you may have noticed there is one place that's a repeat from last year, Cafe Aroma, while it was an okay shop, not certainly that special place I was looking for, it is probably the closest shop. That's pretty much the only reason it gets an encore. Since I haven't been to the shop since last year I feel I ought to see if at least one of the places I went last year installed a bike rack. And, no, Bridgewater Coffee House, as far as I know, never fulfilled their word on getting a rack put in. 
    This weekend I'll be hitting the One Cup Coffee place, which is pretty new. Hopefully one of the seven places will have a bike rack some should since they're in Seattle and not Shoreline, I've cruised past Bark Espresso a few times and it seems quite promising, if a bit far for me to pick as a regular place. 
   Lastly, since themes are the thing this year I've decided to be as bold as I'm capable of being in terms of themes (college made me very wary of any event involving a "theme") and decided with the theme of.....

Funky Socks! 

Yeah, look at that, you know those socks will... knock yours off? Actually, I'm not entirely sure I have seven different pairs of weird socks, but I know I have more than 3 and I can always steal a pair of my husbands mustache socks (sorry love, but I mustache you to let me!) to make it work. Huh... I'm going to go count my socks...

*I may hit two shops in one weekend, I may skip a weekend, these times aren't a pledge, just a rough idea. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Such a thing as seasons

     With the end of summer most people consider this the end of the cycling season. Personally, this summer emphasized how much I really dislike riding in the warmer season. No helmet is really comfortable, and as such I pretty much discarded mine for an indefinite time. In fact, I've gotten so used to riding sans helmet that I'm not sure I'll go back. You have no idea how much more space cars give you until you do, in fact my husband now refuses to wear a helmet because he feels safer without one.
     As a disclaimer however, a friend of mine recently fell of her bike and got a concussion. I don't know if she was wearing a helmet or not, but just a reminder head injuries do happen.
     The seasons change, I recently changed jobs so theoretically I'll be able to balance time better. Its a closer commute for one, no more downtown riding on a daily basis, no more near death experiences trying to cross on foot on 3rd and Union (that crosswalk is a death trap). Now my daily commute is for the most part on slow residential streets. Though, unfortunately I have to climb Mt. Roosevelt St., you know, the part of Roosevelt that's just a straight fucking 180 degree angle, for some reason, lacking a Trondheim lift, and a bike lane right in the dooring lane. Oh, and going northbound downhill at night, beware of a huge bump in the pavement that will knock you off your bike, there's no street light in that spot and if you aren't careful you will crash. Not that the manhole covers are a joy either, and you have to bike on those if you aren't brave enough to risk "taking the lane," The last time I did that someone kept flashing their headlights, creating an effective deadly blinding effect.
     Aside from that one horrible section, its not bad as a commute goes. Though I'll admit I sometime cheat and ride the bus up the hill, folding Scamper and stowing him inside with me.
    It was on one such day, recently, that a gentleman and I struck up a conversation. I noticed he was the rider of the rusty well loved upright on the front rack, and he admired the utility of Scamper. He remarked mournfully that it was "the end of the cycling season," to which I couldn't help but express disbelief such a thing as there being one season for cycling. I mean, yes, it is the end of the Summer Cycling Season, but that just means its the beginning of the Autumn Cycling Season. And seriously, aren't we lucky to live in a place that HAS an autumn?
      Summer cycling for me is just utterly depressing. It wasn't just time constraints, and unmentioned health issues, that forced fewer posts, it was the awful torture that is summer cycling that made me fall silent. The principle of if you don't have something nice to say and all. But I'm going to make a defense against the so called "joy of the summer" and all that it brings:

Seven Reasons Summer Cycling Sucks
1) The lack of parking. This is a first and foremost complaint, if people cycling just a few months longer after summer, shops would give in and install cycle parking. All the year long cyclist bemoan this sad state, but for some reason we're stuck in the this cycle. Maybe if we pointed summer cycling is the worst people would want to give cycling in other seasons a try.

2) Bugs. Bugs in your teeth, bugs in your bag, flying around you. Ever hit a bee going downhill? That's a no win for both parties.

3)  A more personal note, I despise warmer temperatures. Any degree above 73 Fahrenheit and my body starts rejecting clothes like a bad transplant. I don't retain body heat well due to blood flow issues so you'd think warmer temperatures would be great. The truth is I'd rather put on a sweater than bike in just my bra and short shorts, but the heat makes this impossible.

4) On a further personal note, I have UV sensitivity issues, not only does this limit my rides in the summer because I've stripped down because of the heat, I'm super fucking blind on cloudless days. Oh sure with my sunglasses I can see, but if I break or loose them (and people, they are sunglasses, that shit is made to get lost and broken) I'm stuck.

5) Summer is nice, but it makes the scenery rather uniform. Especially in Seattle. Green, green, and oh hey, more green. But, in the fall, its all reds, oranges, yellows, in vibrant contrast to the ever present green. Sure, the summer is nice, but autumn is really the time to bike and get close to all the colors.

6) Spiders. Spiders everywhere. You notice how fall brings out the spiders around here? You can't outrun them. Get on your bike, escape Shelob.

7) Coffee rides anyone? Sure summer is the time for lots of group rides, but that doesn't end with the summer. Autumn is just as full of social rides. As kids go back to school and meet up with friends, social rides are just the thing to catch up on what's been happening all summer. Coffeeneuring kicks off the first of the autumn ride challenges, and the events never stop.

     So if you didn't enjoy cycling this summer, don't worry, for whatever reason, you weren't alone. I'd recommend cycling in the fall, you don't have to keep going into winter, even I go through cycling pauses in the winter, and rarely do flakes of frost fall upon this part of the Pacific Northwest. Just try cycling through the autumn, say, late August through the last bit of November. Its just like riding in Spring, only less bugs, less heat, and more colors,

Friday, June 19, 2015

Taking my business elsewhere

It took me a day to calm down enough to write this. To be honest, I'm still not entirely calm about it, but here it is:

My husband got kicked out of McDonalds for bringing his bike inside with him. 

Let's rewind this to a couple weeks ago, when my husband's ride, Mute, gave up the ghost, rolled up the choir invisible, or in terms cyclists get; the pedal shafts were stripped, the gear-sprocket shot, & it was declared unfit for riding (safely). Ben got Mute the same time I got Pinkie Pie, and Mute certainly did put in his time, though short. Mute hauled groceries, Christmas purchases, surprise delights, and most importantly, my husband's finely sculpted butt, all over. But time and tide got the best of the big boned Magna, and, beyond repair, it was time to get him another set of wheels. 

He bucked the notion of a folding bike at first, it was fine for me, and my needs, but he liked to break out the trailer. (If we had kept on driving, I'm pretty sure my husband would've bought a minivan by now) While he favors using a back pack for daily use, he wasn't keen of having a bike that lacked a trailer capacity. Unfortunately, most folding bikes do not have the capacity to have a trailer attached, and he hates using Pinkie because "its hauling a tank" though he does like the upright.
However, after a lot of discussion he ended up purchasing a spanking sparkly Citizen Miami. Which he named Barry. 
After Dave Barry. Yep. I still love him. 

Within two weeks he's become a folding fool, and strangely, he's able to keep up with me a lot better on a bike with smaller wheels than his previous one.  Barry's wheels are only two inches bigger than Scamper, my beloved ride, making him equally portable, but more easy to load on a bus. Ben takes pride in Barry like no other bike he's owned, I caught a glimmer of love in his eyes as he pulls it onto the driveway and asks, "Ready?" before each ride. 

So yesterday he took his bike to the McDonald's I went to after a fellow folding bike rider got the cops called on him for bringing a folding bike into, last year. You see, I found the story so upsetting last year I promptly took my own in to a local McD's to see if the same would happen. 

 I didn't get funny looks, and I most certainly didn't get kicked out. 

Ben, in his enthusiasm, went to do the same, and was promptly kicked out. He tried showing them how small Barry folded, but no dice. They didn't let him order, didn't offer to let him go through the drive through instead.

Oh, did I mention this particular McD's is off the Interurban Trail and has NO BIKE RACK?  Yeah, they apparently, even in the face of plummeting sales, aggressively, turn away business.

Now maybe I didn't get kicked out because my skin tone is that of a saltine cracker and he is swarthy (those handsome Mediterranean looks have gotten him mistaken for all kinds of different ethnicities). But I can tell you it had NOTHING to do with his personality without even having been there myself. You know why?

My husband is possibly the kindest man who has ever walked the face of the earth. Like maybe he's Saint Francis reincarnated. He is ridiculously genteel and absurdly understanding. His empathy rivals that of Diane on StarTrek-TNG. He is soft-spoken, with an even emotional keel. Oh, and before you chalk it up to how he was dressed, he's no middle aged man in lycra, nor does he dress like a "punk" or whatever we're calling young miscreants these days.

So why could they have possibly kicked him out? Was it his race? Was it his gender? Because if you let a woman-who-can-totally-pass-as-white bring in her folding bike do it, you have to let everyone bring their bike in. Or install a rack. Like anyone in Shoreline does that!

Meanwhile, if you're looking for a place to grab a bite, as a cyclist, if go just a little further down the trail, past the Sears, there's a Shake N'Go, the owner WANTS you to bring your bike inside. Went there last week and our bikes were just as welcome as our bodies. In fact, we were going to park outside, but he insisted we bring our rides in, fearing they'd get stolen, or just that we wouldn't enjoy our meal if we were worrying about our bikes.

In telling me about getting kicked out of a McDonalds for bringing his bike inside, my husband expressed confusion, "They're on Main Street, right next to the trail," he grumbled, "why didn't they put up shop on a highway if they didn't want bikes?"
"Main Street?" I asked, "Aurora isn't main street, its a highway!"
"No baby," he patiently explained, "The I-5 is a highway,"  he pointed, "the I-90 is a highway," he pointed again, "and the," I stop him before he starts listing every interstate route Washington contains.
"My Love," I tell him, "Aurora IS a highway, its the George Washington Highway, the I-99, its not a main street like we know main streets, its a honest to goodness... Like expressway," I finish.
"What? No, it runs right through the middle of town. That's a main street. It should have people walking on it, and store fronts that,"
"But they voted on it," I interrupt. I have no idea why he puts up with me just doing that, "They decided before we got here that they didn't want a street, they wanted a corridor,"
"That's stupid, it cuts right through the middle of town!" he grumbled. I sighed. We both stared down the stretch of Aurora.

Aurora is a nice street... if you're a car. Or a motel. Or a fast food joint. Or if you want to buy or wash a car. But it isn't good for anything else. Especially its community.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Healthy Attitude

I'm not what you'd call a "healthy" cyclist. I've touched a bit on this in the past, but I'm pretty well hobbled for those of you just joining. I have a myriad of health difficulties that will forever keep me from being at the front of any racing pack, and some difficulties which keep me from cycling regularly. That has never diminished my love of cycling, however, I still grin at getting in the saddle, even on bad days when I really shouldn't be riding anywhere, and I still cheer on random folks who are confused by the sudden appearance of a personal cheerleader. What can I say? I come from a small town and I'm still not used to seeing someone and then never seeing them again. Besides, sometimes, like today, I'll shout "GO PRONTO!" to a rider and get a "WHOO!" back so I count it as totally worth it.

But being a less than healthy cyclist gives me a perspective few in the saddle get until they reach old age. The shame that comes with being a less than healthy cyclist is real, and palpable. Its easy to forget about, or even ignore, because the cycling community longs to see its members in the saddle again; casual commuters are bolstered like Lycra clad heroes, wounded racers are sent well wishes like grizzled war veterans (some actually are), and of course, the ever palpable joy of seeing old friends on group rides who you haven't seen in ages. If you remark you're unable to ride, dozens of riders will offer to add a mile or two to their ride, for you. Truly, people on bikes tend to be some of the most supportive and outgoing individuals you'll meet across the world, from the Philippines to Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Alas, there is a very real stigma to being a less than healthy cyclist, and sadly, this stigma comes from within.

You see others riding and want to be with them, you walk down the sidewalk, but your heart remembers what its like to sail along, and the mournful glance you cast at others cycling could be easily misinterpreted as the look of someone who lost a family member. The hills that once reminded you of roller coasters now resembles mountains, and you look around for a Sherpa.  You feel the urge to get back in the saddle, and your heart breaks when your body betrays you. The grip that was once so firm on the handlebars has become shaky, the legs that pumped away hills and miles becomes a millstone, and the breath that once filled you is exhaled in shaky gasps of pain. You look in the mirror and no longer see a champion of the wind and rain, but a defeated warrior against the perils of asphalt.

The stigma is internal yes, but no less real. It feels not just like a fall from grace, but a resonating disconnect between yourself and your community. Its like becoming having your voter I.D. changed to a different party without your consent. Its like...

Okay, let me tell you a story; you see once upon a time I lived in Alaska and I longed for spring each year, and, each year, I marked the arrival of spring by the blossoming of soft, downy, sweet scented pussy willows. This is how I knew I could ride again during winters when the snow was too deep for me. One day, in a craft store, I saw fake ones, and my heart leaped, if I could have that softness every day of the year... I grasped it, rubbing it to my face.

Only to be rewarded with a scratched cheek. I flung the faux willow away in disgust.

So I get on my bike, with hope in my heart, only to feel my body perform like a fake pussy willow.

Its not Scamper's fault. Its not Pinkie Pie's fault. Its not even really my own fault. There is only so much I'll ever be able to cycle, and I have to accept it. I have to accept that some days I will have to take the bus. I will have to accept that some days I won't be able to bike and that's okay. But I doubt it will ever feel okay, I think it will always break my heart just a little. I think there's a part of me that will never accept the defeat my body offers. Someday the pain will outweigh the joy, its not today, and probably not tomorrow, but it will happen someday.

And on that day I will sadly relinquish my stable to another rider, forcing them to promise to keep all the stickers on Scamper and all the bells on Pinkie. I'll give each one a gentle caress as they ride away without me, though the tears will be bittersweet.

Afterwards, I'll go back into my home and look at all the pictures of me and my stable, running my finger over the smile that once graced my face, remembering how the air felt in spring in those days, reminiscing over how fall smelt so sweet. Then, with a heavy heart, I'll board the bus, taking my husbands hand, the hand that helped me up after so many crashes, strengthened by the arms that held me through so many fits of despair.

Together we'll go, and speaking of our past adventures to each other, laughing at days past, we'll purchase e-assist bikes.

Because in the end I know I'll only stop when die for the third time. Its not a habit I can break, its my life. I breathe it in the saddle, and will only exhale it with my last breath.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My big beef with Seattle's Sacred Cow

Seattle holds its hills to be sacred. Read some of the cycling blogs surrounding Seattle and you might mistake our hills to be some religious experience. Whether its how the hills here build character and calves or how the hills here "cull" the "less dedicated" (paraphrasing), how much our hills add to the wonder of the ride, etc... You'd think that just going up Roosevelt Ave. would raise you to a guru status among those slow steel riders.
If you so happen to suggest that the hills could be made accessible in a variety of ways to the less physically able, or the less financially-able-to-buy-ebikes you'll hear a chorus of shouts that the hills are just fine how they are, its the responsibility of the rider to make the hill accessible to them.

And that's fucking bullshit.

We don't tell people they all need to buy 4 wheel drive to go on the road, we don't even tell people they need to buy cars that pollute less. But its the responsibility of the person on the bike to shape the roads to them.

That's a load of malarkey.  Trondheim is the number 1 bicycle city in the world [citation needed] and, don't you know, its got some hills that would make a San Franciscan shudder. But that didn't stop them from becoming number 1, instead they did this:

There's a toll, but I would rather pay a toll than try to save up enough to buy an eBike, or watch some old lady push her bike up Densmore. You know what's really heartbreaking? Knowing that there's people who'd love to cycle (I talk to them ALL THE TIME) but can't because the hills of Seattle are that big of a barrier. And no one listens to them.

You can say you have all kinds of barriers to cycling, but if you bring up hills you'd better be prepared to suck that up. Cyclist here don't care if you have shrapnel buried in your leg and you still want to ride, suck it up buttercup, because they'd rather see you give up than do what it takes to make the city accessible for you. After all, you'd just be another one of those slow riders and anyone who rides here knows that you'll get as much scorn for riding under 15 mph as you did for riding with training wheels. 

But until Seattle lets go of its ridiculous pride, its hilarious sanctity for endurance, and its petty love of being better than others, it will never be a bicycle town

Because everyone who says our hills are a barrier to that is RIGHT and we need to stop telling them that they are wrong. Because we can do better, Trampe lifts are A solution, but there's many solutions we can look at without putting the onus first on the cyclist. 

Because the onus should never be there first. Its always on us, as a society, to make cycling accessible for all. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Challenge...declined actually

Another week has flown by and I (and other cyclists) only have 7 days left in our 30 Days of Biking Challenge. Most cyclists are already looking ahead to the next celebration/challenge/group event at this point are either planning their routes or plotting their courses. After all May is Bike Month and I'd be remiss not to mention Cascade's Bike Month Challenge in conjunction with Unlock Your City and anyone with two wheels and a saddle are welcome.
But I have to admit, myself, I'm a bit burned out already. Don't get me wrong, its been a joyful month of cycling, and I've had nothing but positive interactions with other 30DOB riders, whether on Twitter or in the frightening dimensions of the Real World. However, I sort of feel I've lost my spark, and riding just isn't helping that.

You would think all of these challenges and group rides would make me feel better, but they don't. In fact, they make me feel worse. Most of the events or challenges coming up have prizes for most miles logged, etc.. and that sort of thing has always made me feel like a failure before I've even tried. I only ever voluntarily participated in things growing up that gave out participant ribbons, so at least you could feel like a part of the event. My parents had me participate in sports, like most children, and I hated it, like many children. My team would always loose and have nothing to show for it. Before you tell me that I gained character or muscle or whatever, please keep in mind that shit means precisely zero to an undersized girl who was always being told various bullshit she put up with gave her character too, so why sweat for it? I hated grew to hate anything competitive because it would require me to be "mean" or at the very least less compassionate than I am naturally. Put it this way, back north the girls and I would have a night where we played cards and gossiped, and we all took turns winning. That meant we would often purposely 'throw' the game, but the point of the get together was not to show which of us was the best at cards, week after week, but to have fun with each other. If this meant the zombies occasionally ate me, I was fine with it.

Its why I loved the Coffeeneuring Challenge and the 30DOB challenge so much, the reward for both of these is the same for everyone who bikes. For Coffeeneurs its a patch, you don't get a special patch for being the most special cyclists, you get the same one as everyone else who participated that year, and instead of becoming a trophy it becomes a badge of inclusive honor. For 30DOB challengers they know that they got a child a bike, each one of us is just as important to 30DOB as the next. There is no special pledge for recumbent or uprights, each of us have equal value to the cause. 30DOB takes droplets and turns them into a storm.

I'm not the sort who goes in for random drawings either if you're wondering. I've never walked away from one feeling good about it, although because my name is never called in those cases I think that's an issue of behavioral training more than anything. At least in a video game I don't have to care how the drawing might affect someone else's feelings, at this point if I ever won a drawing I'd be upset because surely someone else more deserving should get it. And yes, I know drawings are not based on that. I think it perhaps harps on that particular mental thrum that is tuned to fairness.

I have NOTHING against organizations that award prizes, nor should anyone despise someone(s) trying out and giving it their best shot. In fact, if I could, I'd be on the sideline of every race, but of course, I'd be cheering on everyone. Like even the other fans. I'm just not competitive myself. I don't ride for the miles or to prove anything. At this point in my life, after over twenty years of cycling, I'm pretty sure I've cycled to the moon and back, and since that's the nearest celestial body I was done counting miles years ago. As to proving that I'm the best or just proving anything, well.... I don't need proof, I'm far from the best at like, literally anything, I already have proof of that. The last possible reason, is for fun, and I get my kicks other ways.

May is a great month to bike, to see the place you live, but you don't need a challenge to do it. I was riding my bike pretty much every day before 30DOB so I can assure you the only challenge you need to accept is your own. Though I encourage you to unlock your city, ride all month, and tackle whatever challenge comes your way, don't feel like you have to do every biking event. In fact, I think I may very much enjoy being a bystander this May, because sometimes its not about the challenge at all, sometimes, its just about how much you love what you love.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Its about the joy not the miles

Here we are, halfway through #30DaysofBiking and I'm just now getting to really post about it. That's probably because one of the challenges of bike challenges is getting out of the saddle long enough to actually write about what's happened/happening, and its easier to reflect on the saddle when you're in it rather than when you're out of it.

For someone like myself 30 Days of Biking could easily become "30 days of Frustration" or "30 days that I'd rather not" even though everyone* was shocked that I would sign up, "don't you bike every day already?" I was asked no less than fifty times. The answer to that is a simple "no, actually, I don't usually bike every day," because I'm not required to leave my home on my days off. In fact, most days off I prefer to be AT home, not that I'm a homebody at all, but I miss my cats and its only been recently that my dog has been willing to get back on the bike himself. Not to mention my husband bikes to work and back everyday, which means he's not at all enthused about another ride later so I have to do any rides before he makes it back. Moreover, sometimes my job means I'll be at a different site that it might not be practical to bike to (one site, I can't even find the bike parking, another is just too far even for me), so that means after taking the bus home I have to construct some reason to ride my bike, which I want to point out cuts into the time I spend with my beloved cats.

I was aware there would be issues going into the challenge, so I girded myself with a personal challenge: Make Every Ride Joyful. It didn't matter if I went a mile or just up and down the driveway (which I've done quite a bit because have you seen how darn cute my cats are?) or if I went to the mailbox, or down the street to buy some goods from my favorite medical dispensary. All that matters is that I am in the saddle and happy to be there. If I can just be, I can be happy. For a lot of cyclists the posts about miles rode, or obstacles cleared, can be daunting, but not me, I'm not in it to prove anything more than I really like cycling. As a result, I've been in the saddle at least once these past fifteen days, and I believe I'll be able to complete it.

I'm probably not the only one thinking of the kid who got a bike because I signed up. Is she short like me? Does she chafe at constraints and long for independence as I did? Does she like to stand on her saddle and ride the dragonfly like I did? (okay, still do) Or is she a racer, born and bred to fly with the wind? I wonder how old she is, if she had poor parents like mine, lots of siblings she takes by bike to places, or few siblings and many friends. I hope lots of friends.

But throughout this tread of thought I always smile, even if the girl has different hair, different skin, different background, it doesn't even matter if the hypothetical she is actually a he. That kid was just like me at that age. Any kid I see on a bike I think, "just like me," as I pedal onward, "just like me, they hate headwinds," or "just like me, longing for two wheels instead of four," even those kids on saddled scooters, a.k.a balance bikes, I think, "just like me, can't wait to be free,"

There aren't a lot of activities that make me feel that way about my fellow humans. I often feel disconnected to strangers ever since leaving my small-but-amazingly-cool hometown. Other people's kids are just that, Other People, emphasis on their disconnection to me and connection to others. But when I see a kid on a bike that changes. Suddenly, they could not be any more like me if they had been created from a 3-D printer. Suddenly, they are just like me, complete with a need for warriors to stand up for them. Okay, warrior is hyperbolic in terms of writing to your local representative about transit options, going to meetings, etc.. but you get my meaning I'm sure.

When its somebody else on a bike, recumbent, fixie, foldie, roadie, upright, fatbike, bakfist/cargo, or hybrid, they are like you. Even if they ride differently, they are like you. In the community of cyclist we run the gambit of the Kilometer Queens and Lycra Kings, to the box store biker who got their ride with their last hundred bucks. We don't always agree on things like lights, to what gear to wear, and oh my gosh you want to see a community turn on itself like piranhas? Bring up helmets. I dare you. I mean respectfully bring it up, the crazy will happen on its own. Or headphones. Now that debate will spark some ire everywhere (I'm on the pro-headphones-at-a-volume-you-can-hear-others-at camp, which is very small and scrappy). The same cyclist who cries in vehement agreement when you bring up bike racks will turn into a troll when you bring up shedding that reflective vest. Yet, all of us, from the handkerchief-on-the-ankles to the gel gobbling racer are really and truly the same folks. We may vary in how we ride, or why we ride, frequency, models, shape, age, and gender, but we are a community unlike the motorist.

We are the same because we made that choice. We didn't get into our cars today (if we had them), we didn't walk if we were able, we didn't bus though that was, and always should be an option. We bought a vehicle, deliberately, and the vehicle needs us to be its engine. You chose to be a cyclist, which is a conscious choice in this country.

Perhaps someday biking will be as ubiquitous as car ownership, perhaps someday motorists will have to hold 30 days of driving. Perhaps, one day, 30 days of biking will turn into another challenge, driven by the common nature of biking. I'd like to live in that world. Where ever kid is just like me at that age, where biking is the norm, where we are all just the same and find joy at last in our differences (probably the only way I'll ever look forward to a lumin debate). Until we are all cyclists you'll just have to accept that when I see you on the street I'll smile, and attempt to wave or ring my bell to say 'hello friend!' because we are so few I that would not have even one of us discouraged.

Ride how you want to ride, my friend, whether that means the wind in your hair and stories in your ears, or all lights on and, yes orange! on your chest. Don't let someone else's opinion keep you from what makes you a confident cyclist. Sure I say orange is for convicts not cyclist, but what does your heart and mind tell you? Ride how you want to ride my friend, but don't discourage your other riders. Let them proclaim their love, discuss respectfully if you disagree, and in the end if you can't agree on the topic, at least finish it by agreeing on the fact you both love to cycle.      

Study after study concludes the more cyclists there are, the safer all cyclists are, so please, do me, and yourself a favor; don't forget the joy in your ride, don't take the joy away from others. And, above all, get on your bike and ride, because that, if nothing else, will make a safer world for a child.

Isn't that alone worth riding for?

*everyone being every person I know who doesn't have a bike or doesn't bike as often.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Riding like we did when we were kids

     Oh my, so much to catch up on! First cycling with my childhood friend on the streets of Shoreline, and my time in the human cage known as a car, then the wedding (pictures! Eventually!), and of course, beginning my first year of 30 Days of Biking. No more news on the LINK rail yet, but if you've attended one of the recent meetings in Shoreline I'd love to link to your post about it.
    When we were kids my friend Susie was just a kid I babysat, then a cooler-than-average-kid I baby sat. When we became adults we found we had so much in common, and continue to this day. She flew down, which shows just how much she cares since flying ranks higher than going to the dentist in things Susie hates. Of course I had to push the limit by getting her back on a bike. We used to bike as kids, we biked everywhere, because there was no way I was going to walk with all of those kids, and also I wasn't going to carry anyone older than three.
   She was so nervous, probably because I made her wear a helmet. We didn't grow up wearing helmets in Alaska, and it sort of gave her the impression that it might be dangerous, after all they wouldn't tell us to wear helmets here unless it was dangerous here, right? She giggled when I went over signaling, and proper strap wear. I set her on Pinkie Pie, who is a stable upright stead, the equivalent of a gentle mare to help her get back in the swing. I pointed out they wouldn't have the expression "like riding a bicycle," if it was something you could forget. We set off for the mall and before we got to the next street she was terrified. I turned us off Meridian N to 162nd, it leads to 1st eventually, but through a suburban neighborhood rather than the main road.
    She explained she really couldn't go any further, biking next to cars was terrifying for her, she was a mom and couldn't risk her life like that. She couldn't see how I did it. I begged her not to give up, and picked a closer destination, the Dollar Store (this is a novel treat for Alaskans) and turned her toward the Interurban trail. She had to push her bike up Densmore, complaining all the while how out of shape she was, I had to resist the urge to mock her for using a truck. Its not fair, but it biking in Alaska is not for the faint of heart. Furthermore, as a mom she had limited time, but she spoke with real desire to bike with her son over the summer. She flinched every time a car passed until we got to the trail.

 The first shot is her on the streets, the second and last on the trail 
I look and I can barely tell its her and not myself. There's a few differences, but it looks a lot like I did years ago. Helps she's wearing my flannel, helmet, and kerchiefs, but that grimace? Yep, that was my own bike-face years ago. Really not even that long ago. I was not a confident cyclist when I came here, and it took a lot for me to have the courage to take the lane. I'm not really all that confident either, but I feel that way with a real beginner to 'vehicular cycling,' which is bike speak for 'riding next to cars with no protection like you are a car' and is not for those with poor nerves. Susie felt better on the trail, but not much better on the greenway. When I asked why she pointed, "The cars are still right there!" and that there was nothing to stop them from entering the greenway. Nothing, but the law.
I assured her we were fine, and we rode onward, completing our journey, shopping, and of course, gossiping. We had a cigarette before we took off, snickering that while we were dumb for smoking we weren't as dumb as the guy smoking next to the propane tanks. On our way back she marveled I hadn't given up the habit. I wish I could turn up one eyebrow like my grandfather, because I totally would have as I replied, "lung resistance training,*" and waited for her at the top of the hill leading back to the trail. At the top I assured her I would seek healthier habits if she did, and we laughed hard enough to need to catch our breath.
I wished we had more time, that the ride was longer. That we still rode together. Compared to other cyclists I'm practically a fair-weather type. If I'm not feeling physically up for it due to a myriad of conditions, I don't (this has presented a challenge in feeling the 'joy' in 30 days of cycling, but more on that later). But in the eyes of my friends, my family, and my coworkers, I'm so hard core I could do the Tour de France. This is because many of my friends don't cycle at all, my family that does bike uses motorcycles, and my coworkers can only vaguely recall the last time they rode. Moreover, I look fairly healthy enough, so to them I'm perpetuating a stereotypical cyclist; young, fit, white, and a "special" bike, and confident in her abilities.
But I'm not a stereotypical cyclist. For one thing, I'm only half white at best. I'm not that confident. At least, not when I ride alone. When I'm with someone else I'm totally confident, the more people, the more confident I am. I'm practically Wonder Woman on a group ride. I sound confident, but when I'm alone, I'm not. I'm so scared I'll get hit and there will be no one to call for help. I'm scared the person who hit me won't even know they did so, and I'll be a ghost bike. I'm scared I'll die in the saddle and Ben will never ride again because he won't be able to look at a bike again. That he'll buy a car and forget it ever made him happy too. I'm afraid of others, who, if I died biking, would never take it back up, or begin at all because it is too dangerous.
My bike isn't special. Okay, no that's a lie, my bike is special, its so special it had to be in my wedding somehow because I love it so much, but that's all that really makes it special. There are hundreds of folding bikes out there (hopefully not a hyperbole) and many that I know have more gears than Scamper, many made with carbon or titanium, many can carry more pounds and many are built to be faster. And most cost far far more than Scamper. A basic model of folding bike, with the basic number of gears. It is in fact a rather humble appearing bike if you know techs and specs, and let's face it, not even that many in the cycling community would know offhand Scamper wasn't a top teir kind of folding bike.
Its these things that make me the truly stereotypical cyclist; young, nervous, cheap bike, This is what the cycling community sees as the typical cyclist. The middle aged men in lycra, and the young racers? That's what the outside sees as the typical cyclist.
The only thing that makes me really stand out is not owning a car or having a licence, which most cyclist do, even the ones you can't peel out of their spandex.
A lot of progress has been made in changing how we cyclists are seen, even as we cyclists change. We move from being children just gaining independence, to adults who bike for so many reasons. I've gone from a traffic avoiding rider to someone who rides beside cars with no more protection that a stripe of paint, if that at all. Am I scared? Yes. Do I want better? Absolutely. Because I know now that I should have never changed, I should have stayed scared like Susie and the infrastructure should have been built with us in mind, instead of forever putting us in some subgroup whose needs must be "special interest" instead of perhaps the most non-partisan issue ever.
I hope Susie rides more, but I'm not going back North anytime soon to ride with her. But the Interurban is just a little more special for me in the meantime, its a place we rode together, and, just for old time's sake, I did the 'ol drangonfly maneuver, where we laughed, and, just for a moment, I could feel the girls we were riding with us.

That's all for now (surely you didn't think I'd be able to cram all that in the intro into one post? Dude, tl; dr) In the meantime, if you're going to make the pledge do so now, its closing soon!!!!

*a quote from Sister Sprocket from the Kickstand Comics