Monday, January 31, 2011

Letters From Singapore!

Our first reader contribution of 2011!! Sent to us, with much gratitude by Cheryl! This is the way to start the year- learn how to ride so you can take long rides with your friends! Thank you so much for thinking of us Cheryl and Min and make sure to send us some updates about your riding exploits in the months to come!

Christmas was just a couple of months back and I was thinking hard on what I could possibly get for my best girlfriend – Min! We aren’t the typical girls who dig shopping and cosmetics but love exploring everything adventurous and new!

Singapore, being the tiny country it is, has left us with nothing much else to do. We have traveled in and out of Singapore, gone running, windsurfing and just about any and everything. Then, I remembered…there’s something Min has always wanted to learn to do – that’s to cycle! I tried putting her on the bike and though she didn’t really get the hang of it, that didn’t stop us from being part of our new adventure – the Singapore Duathlon 2011! That was my Christmas gift for her!

Back in school, Min was a runner while I was somewhat the opposite, always coming in last during our sports class. Taking part in the duathlon relay has put us closer together as a team. It was my first time on a 20K ride and I was nervous! But I’m thankful for Min, who constantly motivated me. Both of us are also grateful for our beautiful friends, who woke up early on a Sunday morning, and gave us all the encouragement we needed!

It was a wonderful experience that enabled me to see that there really isn’t something you cannot do if you put your heart, mind and soul into it!er
e re

Friday, January 28, 2011

It's Getting Critical

Today is the last Friday of the month, which in San Francisco means Critical Mass. Unless you have experienced Critical Mass, and really, unless you have experienced it a couple of times, you can't have a clear idea of what CM is. Even though I live here in the City it started in and know people who have been in it since the beginning and have ridden in it and watched it pass from behind the windshield of my car I can not say what Critical Mass is, and isn't. There are days when I love it and there are days when I hate it and there are many times when I am indifferent.


Those who love Critical Mass and have been with it since the beginning are asking us to answer some questions of what our "visions of ... Critical Mass is and can become".

Contra Flow Cyclist

To this end, a discussion forum has been called and we are all invited to talk about what we think of Critical Mass and its future. We are asked to "Bring your ideas, bring your open ears and minds", which is a good idea in all aspects of life if you want my opinion.

Feather Face

If you are interested in the future of urban cycling, how groups work to find consensus, what happens when you try to define a movement or how to start framing your own (informed) ideas of what Critical Mass is and is not for you, I encourage you to join in on this discussion. If you live in the area and are interested in having a voice in the future of CM visit the SFCM website for details of the forum time, location and to RSVP (I imagine there will be a limit on the number of people able to physically be in the space that will be used for this event).

Should the sum total of your opinion be "it sucks", may I suggest commenting over at SF Gate instead.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

One kind word can warm three winter months.

One kind word can warm three winter months.     -Japanese proverb

Not to show off that we are having +60°F weather days this week here in San Francisco or anything, just don't be throwing your high 80°F weather at our faces when we are flooded with heavy fog and chilly days in the coldest of SF's summer time -- DEAL?!!

Here are some beautiful shots that prove nothing really stops us worldwide from getting on our machines and roaming our very own cities, all over this planet. We cycling people are unstoppable!!

i bike krakow
 i bike krakow by marcin wojcik - efeb
From Krakow, Poland: "despite a slight recurrence of the winter the number of cyclists on the streets of Krakow'sgrowing ." -thx google translate

Let it snow
Let it snow by Dream Dottie
Chicago, IL: Self-portrait taken with a Nikon FM2 and Kodak Portra 400NC film.

At the Halfway Point
At the Halfway Point by papahazama
Pebble Beach, Washington

The Winter River Ride
The Winter River Ride by SaddleUpBike
Alberta, Canada

Winter Pashley and Gazelle
Winter Pashley and Gazelle by Lovely Bicycle!

Winter Bike Parking
Winter Bike Parking by spiderleggreen
Whittier, Minneapolis: Outside the Spyhouse Coffee Shop.

Winston Churchill Park
Winston Churchill Park by happy d,
Toronto, Canada
Looking good
Looking good by Iam sterdam
Amsterdan, Netherlands

Snow Topped
Snow Topped by Georgie_grrl
Toronto, Canada

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Winter Cycling

For those of you out there who are reading this from the snow bound regions, I am truly sorry. It is January and by all measures I should be cold and miserable and battling mold in my window sills. Fact is, this is how I dressed to run errands around town this week-

Look Ma!  No Socks!

A little mid-winter Vitamin D is good for the soul. And if this post makes you green with envy, despair not as Summer will soon be here and I will be dressed as I was last year for the first day of the "warm" season-

Wooly Butter

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Park It In The Street!

The other day I posted this picture of the new Metrofiets parked in an on street parking spot.

.New Face Of Parking

I was surprised by the number of people who expressed fear (both here and on my Flickr account) about being harassed by either drivers or police.

More Street Parking!

So here I am challenging the status quo, again. I could have insisted on parking both of these sizable machines on the crowded, narrow sidewalk thus making it impassable for man or beast. There were already a dozen bikes littered around the store entrance, not to mention parked dogs and sun worshiping coffee addicts. But why? There is a perfectly good, open and available spot right there in front of my destination. While drinking my coffee I watched several people pull up with bicycles (with kickstands) who chose to leave due to the lack of sidewalk parking instead of utilizing this lovely large spot. It's even a free parking day (Sunday)!

If this guy can sunbathe in my space,

Bike Parking

then I can park my bike in the street (it is as long as a Smart car!). Sometime this week I will post the law that says I can, tonight I am too lazy.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Relaxed Saturday

Two people enjoying one bicycle,


a sunny Saturday ride to a California Farmers Market.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Day 2 With The Whale

Holy cow! What a day! I thought it would be a quiet ride out to West Portal to get some coffee and a little sunshine (we are having what seems to be an annual false Spring this week). Boy, was I wrong! I have never been yelled at so much while riding a bicycle in my life! Thankfully, it was all super positive! Because lane splitting at lights is almost impossible with the Whale I end up waiting in line with the cars. Every time, at least one driver opens a window and starts firing questions at me. People yell as they pass- Hey! What are you riding?!!! It was a little overwhelming. Not unpleasant but a bit like entering a room full of people you haven't seen since losing 100 pounds.

Look Over There!

After coffee and errands I went and picked up Declan and his friend from school. The boys acted like they were on a carnival ride! It was funny listening to them. This is a picture of them pointing at the people driving by who were pointing at us.


So I guess now that I can take pandas with or without a full load on the front I am going to have to get used to answering a whole lot of questions. I wonder how long that will last?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"That's A Big Bike!"

I make no secret of not liking to ride light weight sport bicycles. I am enormously uncomfortable on twitchy, skinny tired, racy bicycles. The bigger the better for me. A huge, heavy monster of a bicycle is right up my alley.

Back in September, I got to ride the biggest, heaviest bicycle I have been on yet- the cargo bicycle designed for the 2009 Oregon Manifest show by Metrofiets. While it may have been light weight by the standards of many 7 foot long steel cargo bicycles, it is not a feather weight.

My Couch Rolls With Me

After deliberating about our upcoming transportation needs, James and I decided that if we were going to put this much money into a new cargo bicycle (Cameron has been gifted the xtracycle) that we felt best about giving that money to someone we knew in exchange for something one of a kind, a rolling work of art.

So with the addition of a wooden box (also handmade and removable so we can use the basic platform should we chose) this gorgeous machine is now ours!

First Glimpse

Because I am too busy just enjoying our new ride, I have not come up with anything technical about my land based cruise ship. There are some lovely details I want to photograph that all of you bike geeks out there will drool over. In the mean time, I have a couple pictures of my first San Francisco day with my movable conversation piece.

SF Crossing

Because I am fascinated by the front of my bike being four feet ahead of me I tend to notice the space right in front of me more than usual. Of course this also because I have to remember not to bump things with my front wheel. I think that the world would be a very different place if people noticed things like this more often.

New Face Of Parking

Parking something this big takes a little creativity. Or a nice standard parking space in front of the bakery. The law does not say you have to park a car in a parking space, only that you must pay for it and observe the time limits, so in I went. I love how the guy in the black car waited for me to move as soon as I got in it. There were ten minutes left on the meter and I was feeling a need to use all of them. I usually only do this if there are multiple bicycles that need parking, but this thing is as big as three bikes so it works. Anyway, the space was already being taken over by alternate users.

What Is That

At many points, people were unable to resist looking at my lovely bicycle. A couple of them nearly crashed while riding by because they were so distracted. Several pulled out the smart phones to take pictures. This guy used his to find info about the bicycle while he walked around it!

There will be more info in the days to come. I am going to have Hubby The Bikeman write up the technical stuff (he is a huge bike geek, so it will make him happy. I just like to ride!). At some point I will get comfortable enough on it to take some pandas.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Get a hold of me

When it comes to carrying and strapping things, there is no doubt that us as a cycling bunch, are extremely creative by nature. What has been the latest repurpose or holding-down method you have tried? When I was in college, my biggest challenges were carrying tubes, rulers (think 60+in.) and odd objects art students are known to get creative with. On wheels. I didn't have a basket in the beast I used to ride while in school many years ago, but I did have a little rear rack for a short time that came super handy. Bungee cords did the trick. Somehow I made it work.

Ade the other day showed us how she makes the most use of those belts.
I don't recall if she had blogged this photo yet or not, but here it is. That belt is quite handsome.


The other day, trolling around Etsy I found this beautiful corset-like bottle holder [link]

Last year I invested in a little velcro-attached cage (the one holding the white water bottle) for my road bike, which I hardly ride. When I take my road bike I miss my basket tremendously, but it is nice to just carry the minumum. Coffee still needs to be with me, so here this photo (below). This is in Marin near Pt. Reyes shows the velcro-attached cage which is used for water, the other is for my insulated coffee kanteen. Prioritize.

Meanwhile, on Frenchie, the basket accomodates to all kinds of cargo. I keep bungee cords in my bag or sometimes around the basket, making sure they are on TIGHT. Those bungee cords could get lose, and when you least know it, could be a pretty bad situation in your wheels. Eeek. They also come in handy when holding down bigger grocery bags or other larger things when running errands. I bought an unexpensive pack of about 8 of them in various lengths and color/sizes or so at a local mom+pop hardware store.

Bike beer basket y bag of nonnoms

Our friend Patrick in Portland has extreme precious cargo here:
Grocery panda
Grocery Panda by Patrick B.
Asides the adorable view of AnaBee reading her book while running errands, I found very clever the small details around it all. Note the old inner tube wrapped around the handlebars, working as a sunglass holder. Patrick says: "i originally wrapped this inner tube around the handlebars so I'd have a tube handy for tying things down. but i mostly use it to hold sunglasses or my gloves-- very convenient!" Super! =)

Steady steel steeds
 "Steady steel steeds"
And here these beautiful bikes which belong to the local pretty ladies, our own Calitexican and LMG (orange rivendell) roaming all over the Bay, keep everything nicely kept in their baskets for any cargo, work and play.

It is known, that us city ladies here at CYLRAB are huge fans of belts, bungee cords and nets in our baskets. 
What do you use to hold your stuff around your bike? Baskets, racks, panniers, or in a backpack or messenger bag? And what has been the most DIY or creative tie-down methods. Do tell =)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bye, Bye Blue!

Remember Blue? The 1963 Columbia Roadster I rehabbed for Úna awhile back.


In the short time they have been together, Úna has made quite a connection with her old Columbia.

Period Piece

Unfortunately, Úna is way too tall to ride Blue any longer. Our poor mid-60's Roadster has been hanging from the garage ceiling wondering when the next time it would see the open road would be.

So while Blue started off like this-

Blue's Front Fender

and ended like this-

Shiny Fin

it is time to let Blue back out on the street. We are selling her.

I hope she finds a home with someone who does not want her as a beater. She has way too much dignity for that.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

High five

Late last year I got a new camera for my birthday (Lumix LX5). The adventures of a new camera have certainly begun, and I'm having tremendous fun. I'm patiently waiting for the point where it takes me a quick click+turn to get it to the right setting, 'til then, the learning process is curving. Luckily I am very patient.

I hadn't even bothered to look down at the camera to see the outcome because I was caught enjoying the moment.
And seeing this moment made me smile and feel very happy inside. I saw what I assumed was a young couple and more than likely the parents, biking with their son (in a kid-seat behind the dad) out on a fantastic 63°F January weather. Seconds after I had attempted to capture the photo, I saw the mom +dad high-fived each other.
It was a such a sweet sighting.

The future is looking good.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Thwarted Again!

Parking & Potato

This is a picture of S.A.M. nicely locked to a parking meter. In this case there is a potato sharing the space with me. This particular bike/potato parking spot is outside of Four Barrel Cafe where I went for coffee and company with friends. It was a lovely hour spent in good company with fellow bikey folks who were locked to other meters near by.

A Little Bovine Snarl With Your Sumatra
The inside of Four Barrel

Flickr Friends
My friends in Four Barrel

Being able to lock up your bicycle outside of where you are going is way more important than finding out where people are via Facebook or Twitter.

Bike Parking

This is the parking I was hoping to place S.A.M. this evening so that I could see a movie with my friend Kristin. We have been trying to see this movie for weeks. We ran into each other on the way there on Market St. Other friends awaited us at the theater and I hurried to put my cable through both wheels and my seat. I reached for my u-lock, pleased that I would most likely come back to a bicycle with all of its parts still present...

I forgot my keys!

No movie for me.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Zip Ties vs Snowpocalypse?

It's all ice and snow for the United States these days. Last night on the news they reported that every state except Florida has snow! So what is a cyclist to do when the frost was a surprise and studded tires are way expensive? Zip ties!!!!

Dutch Bike Company put up a post last November about this DIY solution to slipping and sliding through a winter wonderland. Makes me want to take the Bat up to Tahoe and give it a try!

Has anybody out there tried this? Did it work for you?

We Have Arrived

In certain parts of Europe they have problems disposing of all of the abandoned bicycles that get left lying about. It indicates a certain level of bicycle saturation when enough bikes can be left to rot that it becomes a disposal problem.

No Longer Loved

Perhaps San Francisco is starting to enter that phase.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Bike's Bigger Than Your Bike!

James towed my Batcyclegentleman for me when I couldn't ride two bicycles at a time (even I have my limits).

Tow Truck

The Xtracycle is a large bicycle (James is 6'3" after all) that can carry 250lbs plus the rider. Yet, my Dutch monster makes the F.U.B. look downright dainty! Heehee!

Wait until my new bicycle comes (later this week, I hope!!!!!!!!!). It will dwarf all that come near it. Mwahhhhaaahaaaaaa!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

sf bike party: fun foto

SF Bike Party 1
SF Bike Party 1 by prawnpie

more fun photos are in the SFBP flickr group. go on and take a look.

We Have Nothing To Fear, But We Do It Anyway

I noticed today on the blog "Road Gap" that friend to the blog Mikael Colville-Andersen's speech at TED was up and ready for sharing! It is always fun to hear his thoughts on all things bicycle. This speech is about one of my favorite topics to ponder- the Culture of Fear. In this case he relates it to bicycle helmets, but it could really be about any number of things. When we do things for our "safety" without really finding out if it is indeed "safe" we become less.

The post below is one I wrote in 2009 and is from my more personal blog. More fear, less thinking as something we can teach our children seems to have become the norm. Even when the intentions are good the damage is the same.


Today was 'Bike Rodeo' day at my daughter's elementary school. The YMCA brought out a ton of bikes and helmets for the kids to ride, and spent a couple of hours teaching the kids riding skills they can use on the streets- looking over your shoulder without swerving, sudden stops, right of way... Overall, perhaps one of the more potentially useful lessons these kids will learn this week. I was so happy to see them learning something practical and basic, something kids learned just by being on the block when I was a kid.

Traffic Can Be Fun

Despite my joy at seeing the kids riding around, there were more than a few moments in the morning where the kids were being fed fear rather than knowledge. Right at the beginning, the helmets went on. While I do not wear a helmet (please don't write me to tell me I am crazy- I have my reasons and they are fine for me), I have no problem with others wearing them and insist that my children do, if for nothing else than to keep them from scraping up their faces when they stack- I do not think they will provide any protection in the case of major collisions (again, I have my opinion on this, you have yours- leave it at that). As the instructors fitted the kids with various helmets, I heard one of them telling the kids "this helmet will save your life". Not 'could save your life' or 'will keep you from scraping your face if you fall'- the kids were told, with absolute conviction, that their lives would absolutely be saved. By implication, the instructors sounded as though they knew that today would be the day that death came to visit my daughter's class and that these plastic buckets would fend off the scythe of the Grim Reaper.


So right off the bat, the kids are being conditioned to accept other people limiting their choices and ability to reason through situations by instilling fear as the basis for decision making. As my presence in this class was to take pictures of the kids learning how to ride, I was not in a position to say anything about it, nor was it an appropriate forum for that discussion. But it got me to thinking about how often our kids are controlled by fear, mostly because the adults are all living in fear. Fear of pedophiles and trans fats and lead paint and underachievement and delayed speech and public schools... have turned parents and teachers into peddlers of fear and anxiety. Children who are never allowed out of eyeshot of an adult grow up to be teenagers who can not be off the electronic leash of phones and computers with everyone they know for fear of not being connected to everything at all times.

The worst part is we have marketed this as cool. Fear of the world has become fashionable! Instead of facing our demons we have made them the fodder for talk shows, the basis of indoor play spaces with monitors at the ready with antibacterial wipes, the warning label on matchboxes telling us the contents are flammable. We have made being weak and frightened the epitome of 'fitting in'. We have allowed something as simple and basic as riding a childhood bike to become an activity that calls into question our parenting if we do something as radical as let kids just get on with it and have fun.

Singing Makes The Ride Even More Fun!

How do we turn back the clock on this? Is there a way to teach others the joy of simply allowing the moment to be what it is without catastrophizing it? To 'go with the flow', so to speak. Can we stop this before we paralyze our children's future, a future where they will need to be creative and fearless and brazen on a level most of us have never known? My goodness, I hope so, because we have fallen off and we need to get back on the bike of life without fear for the sake of our kids and ourselves.


I leave you with this terribly funny video introduced to me by Todd of Clever Cycles.