Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Bike Parties - Inclusive or Uncomfortable?

Photo credit: 

I have a love hate relationship with bike party events. I hear about them in list serves, Facebook pages, etc. and promptly forget about when each event occurs until I stumble upon on a party in progress. Usually, it's when I'm riding around and encounter a mass of cyclists, ringing bells and yelling, approaching from a cross street. You can't miss their arm waving, funny hats, lack of helmets, rolling group 50-100 strong, taking the entire lane, pedaling through stop signs, traffic lights—otherwise known as a bike party.

And yet, people are riding bicycles en mass, attracting attention, enjoying fine weather, encouraging others to join their crowd. And, I must admit, there is something admirable about a group using two wheels to get to a destination after a tour around the city, and I am momentarily swept along with their enthusiasm, riding for a block or two if we're traveling in the same direction.

But, inevitably I break away from the group. I'm practically their grandma's age, uncomfortable with hooting and hollering, and frankly they end up at someone's home or apartment, drinking beer—the premise after all of bike party. Plus, riders break all the rules of the road—the very etiquette I've taught our children to abide by for safe cycling. More than anything, it's the unlawful bike conduct that grates on me.

Don't get me wrong. This age group tend toward radical antics anyway, staging sleep-ins on public property, holding protests, or more mild gatherings like car washes to support local charities. They have enthusiasm and gumption in spades. And the more I think about it, while I may not condone their cycling habits, at least young people are congregating, cycling to the beach, to friend's houses, to the store, and have left the car behind. Or, maybe youngsters can't afford a vehicle and have finally accepted the bicycle as viable transportation. Whatever the reason, perhaps bike party suits this age group just fine, and if they end up drunk, riding a bike home or walking because they are too inebriated to stay upright, well, isn't that safer than getting behind the wheel of an automobile?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Riding in a Dress Saves Time for Other Things

I wound a hair tie around dress bottom for a worry-free, grease-free ride.
I discovered a way to wear a dress at work with minimal changing time* (switch to lightweight tights in office bathroom then slip into shoes stored in my cubicle), particularly helpful in the afternoon when I was pressed for time to get to a meeting directly after work. Transitioning to bike attire was simple, taking a mere 10 minutes from computer shutdown to pedaling away from the office. This planning tip allowed me to leave the car at home and add one more bike commute to my work week. Win, win all around!

*There are blogs devoted to stylish biking so I'm not an authority on this subject. And while I don't usually wear a dress to work, this particular instance saved me from driving a car.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Ice Out! Good Riding Times Ahead

Spring is slow to reveal itself this year. One week of 60F temperatures teases, then another week of snow flurries and highs of 50F brings us back to reality. But hyacinths are blooming, daffodils are emerging, and the grass is slowly turning green.

I've kept my eye on the lakeshore too. High winds broke up the lake ice about two weeks ago, then beautiful cup-like ice structures hugged the shoreline. Now, the water is clear, turning multiple shades of blue.

The waterfront path is full of runners, walkers, and people of all ages, enjoying what Spring has chosen to provide. And as the Canadian geese are squawking overhead, we take what nature has to give, when she's ready. I'm thankful for blue scilla peeking above the ground, for sunshine, water views, and one day at a time, as Spring unfolds.

Good riding times ahead.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Panaracer Pasela Tires

It's not often that I sing the praises of tires, but I'm smitten with Panaracer Paselas. They provide a smooth, shock absorbing ride on the Peugeot UO 14 and now that I've tested the 2" variety on the Ross for several weeks, I'm sold. I rolled on lower pressure in early commuting days, gingerly testing snow covered bike paths, then pumped full 65 psi once weather improved. I feel grounded, for want of a better term, yet the ride is nimble—not like the 1.25" gracing the Peugeot, of course—yet lively enough for wide tires.

Tread pattern is another key, providing grip on asphalt, especially on narrower tires. But, as much as I like traction on dirt trails, for example when I roll through the Intervale, I'm less enamored with the narrow gaps in the 2" tread when rolling on gravel and salt encrusted city paths and streets. The tire picks up pebbles like you wouldn't believe! Whatever debris goes in, is stuck there. However, I roll well and the tires are primarily quiet, even with embedded grit. I suppose only long term use will tell whether this will be a major problem down the road.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Hauling Car Parts, Oh the Irony!

The beauty of transportation cycling is two-fold: ride to work plus have the ability to do errands on the way home. It's not unusual for me to stop for a gallon of milk, pet supplies, a birthday card, bottle of wine, and chocolate—heaven forbid I run out of chocolate—but not necessarily all in the same trip. However, I'm amazed at what I can haul home with the help of a long bungee cord, which has become a permanent fixture on my rear rack (and if I can coordinate bungee color with bicycle, all the better!).

Recently, I stuffed a bag of pet hay inside my floral pannier, then because both of our cars desperately needed replacement wiper blades, I decided to buy those also (the auto parts store is next to the pet store). I believe it's the first time I hauled a car part on my bicycle, and of course, the irony wasn't lost on me.

Have you ever lugged auto parts on a bicycle?