Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category
First let me say, Happy New Year. I hope your 2016 is full of good health, happiness and many good rides.
When your year has been as busy as mine, all you have to do is blink and then it’s all over. Here is a quick recap of some of the highlights. As I’ve posted already, there were some big bike events for me this year, this included going to Cyclists in Suits, taking part in a trail cleanup day, my city was awarded a Bronze Bike Friendly Community Status and we hosted our annual Bike To Work Day Recharge Station. That was all before the summer.
In addition to helping out with Bike To Work Day, my son and I volunteered to help out at one of the stations at the Mesquite charity ride. It was nice to give back, after being supported on many Richardson Wild Rides.
During the summer, we took our first family vacation in 5 years – a much needed break. This time, we went to New Orleans – close enough to drive, but far enough to feel like we went somewhere.
Once we were back much of my free time was spent actually riding and bike commuting. I even managed to get some challenging grocery rides in.
All summer long, we were able to teach a few Adult Learn To Ride classes. Those are always rewarding.
This year’s Black Friday Ride got rained out. I’m still looking for a makeup date. We did have a great time at the Richardson Christmas Parade.
It looks like I rode more this year, than I have in previous years. I reached a new goal of 2,400 miles (riding and walking).
Finally, to cap off my year, my wife talked me into getting a new SUV. Let me introduce you to my Kona Ute, Melba Davis.
I started this as part of a recap for 2015, but as I started writing, I realized there was more to say about New Orleans.
During this past summer, we took our first family vacation in 5 years – a much needed break. This time, we went to New Orleans – close enough to drive, but far enough to feel like we went somewhere. We stayed in an Airbnb in the north side of town, outside of the touristy French Quarter. I discovered that the locals weren’t fans of out-of-town folks staying in their neighborhoods. I overheard one woman in a coffee shop say, “I don’t like them…They’re not invested in the neighborhood…They just park anywhere (parking was awful and extremely limited)…They’re just using it like a hotel room.” As a homeowner, I completely understand how they feel and would probably think the same way if there were some Airbnbs in my neighborhood. However, as a visitor, I highly recommend an Airbnb stay. It’s much better than a hotel room, where we felt like out-of-town guests, instead of tourists. Just try to be respectful and treat each neighborhood as if it were your own.
I brought my bike and I’ll discuss that in a bit. First, I want to give my overall view of New Orleans. Although I’ve been there a few times, it’s always been in the tourist areas, eating lots of touristy foods, drinking lots of touristy booze. Going as a family, we wanted to get a taste of how a local would experience the city – with a little bit of sightseeing in the mix. We drove a lot, and now I have a love/hate relationship with the Google GPS App. Since the streets are extremely confusing to a non-local, the GPS was helpful, until it took us 10 blocks out of our way to get to a place just down the street. Once we were more familiar with the area, we only used it for pre-trip mapping and going the last mile(s). It was funny listening to the voice prompt attempting to pronounce some of the French street names. Dupre was referred to as “Dupper.”
As expected, New Orleans is truly different than my north Texas suburb. If you’ve ever coveted the idea of living in a more dense city infrastructure, you should visit a city like New Orleans. At first, you’ll find yourself complaining about how crowded and overlapped the buildings are, as well as how narrow the streets get with limited parking. But when you settle in, you start to notice how well the people exist around each other, how well transportations syncs and how nearby destinations are actually more of a convenience—because they are actually nearby. I started to view the wide-open space of my suburban sprawled neighborhood as less of a luxury and more of a burden. There is something really nice about and old, dense neighborhood with local coffee shops, grocery stores, restaurants within walking distance. It makes you hate those drive-thru Starbucks and mega-marts even more.
Riding a bike in the city of New Orleans is much different than in my city. My first impression of a cyclist in the Big Easy was more of a shock, than a familiar comfort. As we were driving back from dinner, our first night, I saw a cyclist queue-jumping and running red lights. It was late, she didn’t have any lights or helmet and she was weaving all over the road. We saw a few cyclist who rode like this, so I started to equate all New Orleans cyclists as scofflaws. As it turns out, everybody is like this in New Orleans—cyclist, drivers AND pedestrians. Transportation was an awkward, clumsy ballet of wrong, where everybody was making up their own rules—but somehow, it all synchronized well.
I was able to sneak in a few morning rides around town. I even managed to ride down to the French Quarter. I discovered, even riding my slowest, I was still one of the fastest cyclists around. Slow and easy was the pace in New Orleans, and I was ok with that. I was also one of the few wearing a helmet. For a while, I was worried that it would give me away as a tourist, but I think having air in my tires was already doing that (see pic above). In the end I realized that nobody cared about me, my full tires or my helmet head and I was able to enjoy some really nice rides around town. There were also some nice bike lanes, with more on the way, which made the slow pace easier around the not-so-slow traffic. Riding early in the morning helped as well. Overall, if I lived in that area and with parking as bad as it was, I would definitely ride my bike much more often.
We loved visiting New Orleans. It was good to get a new perspective of an old city. Although the city is known more for it’s tourist attractions, and less about it’s strong neighborhoods communities, I can see how folks are proud to call it home.
Being safety minded, I’m always on the lookout for high visibility and reflective gear—especially for the longer, dark days of winter. One of my favorite finds is a set of gloves that aren’t actually designed as bike gear.
I picked these up, earlier this previous winter, at Home Depot for about $13. The day-glow orange and yellow caught my eye, but what sold me were the reflective tips. They are perfect for communicating my hand signals, when riding in the dark.
The gloves aren’t very warm, so there were some mornings when I was cursing the cold and wind. For $13, I don’t expect them to last more than a couple of seasons – long enough to find the right pair of safety bike gloves that are winter worthy.
Here they are, reflecting light:
I shared this on Facebook, but wanted to record it here for future reference as well as for those who are not friends with me on my social network.
Let me set the stage first. Today was a rare snow day in north Texas, but I usually try to get out and get a little bit of exercise before going to work – no matter what the conditions are. It was still dark and the sidewalk was covered in snow, ice and sleet.
I was walking out of my neighborhood to do my morning loop around it’s perimeter. Because it was dark and cold, I was sporting my reflective vest and full head coverage (now that I think of it, I can see how the head covering might have looked suspicious). As I was walking I crossed paths with some guy. Folks usually ignore each other this early in the morning, but this guy begged me for my help. He had a bike, so – at first – I thought he might have had a flat or some other mechanical issue. Instead, he said he needed help rolling both of his bikes to the next corner. He then pointed to his other bike a few feet over. The snow was so thick, that he was having trouble rolling both bikes.
The absolute first thing I asked was, “why do you have two bikes?” Without missing a beat, his immediate response was that it belonged to his old roommate and that it was left for him. At this point, I’m still suspicious, but I also started reasoning in my head. If he were a bike thief, he picked a hell of a time to steal bikes. He didn’t seem nervous, so perhaps, I should take him at face value.
My other reluctance to help was that I was heading the other way and I was on a time limit. However, I didn’t want him to just get away, so I tried to test/bluff him. I said I would help him roll is bikes a few feet, but only if he let me take a picture of him and his bikes. Without hesitation, he said yes.
He called my bluff.
I took the pics and he actually posed for his. He even offered me a few bucks to buy my breakfast, for helping. I declined. Keeping my word, I helped this stranger roll one of his bikes a few feet. Before we got too far, I sensed that he was having second thoughts. He immediately, turned and said that he could get it from there. Worried that he might try to grab my camera, I agreed, handed him the second bike and then walked the other direction. My goal share the pics online once I finished my walk. I thought about calling 911, but figured it was horrible out and emergency services are probably busy, dealing with actual emergencies.
As I was continuing my walk, a man in a truck pulled over (down the street where I had come out of my neighborhood). He got out and started following me. He was in plain clothes, but he flashed me his badge, stating that he was a police officer.
He saw me with one of the bikes, so he immediately started questioning me about the other guy, the bikes, who I was, where I lived, why I was out there, etc. We walked back to his truck as I explained the situation. I also tried to explain who I was, my involvement with the local bike community, and how I had taken pics of the guy and his bikes. Still suspicious of me, he asked if he could take a pic of my drivers license (not being in his squad car, he had no way to run my ID). Not having anything to hide, I agreed. He then stated that he would ‘destroy’ the photo, once they were done.
During this time, another police officer, in a Richardson Police Department squad SUV, pulled the guy with the bikes over. He radioed over to the officer with me, to inquire about me. My officer replied with, “he’s just a concerned citizen.” I took a sigh of relief, since I feared that I could be considered an accomplice. This was something I didn’t think about, when I agreed to interact with this guy.
After that, I continued on my walk, where I was able to reflect on a few things. First, in a situation like this, even though I was suspicious and took precautions, it’s hard to judge a person’s true intentions. Because of my lack of better judgement, I actually assisted this guy for a few feet. Next, I am grateful that we have such a great system of police, who actually catch people in the act. Finally, all being said, I still cannot say with certainty, that this guy was actually stealing bikes. I’m am not a police officer, prosecutor or judge, and I do not have any proof that this person is an actual bike thief. All I have is speculation.
My wife says that I’m too trusting with people. Perhaps, in this situation, she is right.
I’m curious as to how other people would have reacted in this situation. What would you have done?
Update: Because I can’t say for certain if this guy was actually stealing bikes, I decided it was only fair to distort his face in the image.
Riding on a trainer – spinning your wheels for the purpose of exercise and burning calories – is boring. In my younger, more easily metabolized days, I would avoid doing such activities. My mind has to be constantly stimulated while exercising, or I just get too bored and quit. That’s one of the reasons I love riding my bike around town. The scenery is always changing and I’m experiencing new things, almost every time I get out there. I really don’t know how those folks, in a gym environment, keep it up.
There is only one thing I hate more than riding a trainer: riding in the winter, with freezing, windy and rainy weather. Pick any two of those conditions and I’m out. I’m a summer boy, enjoying moderate to hot temperatures. I also love the longer days of summer and not having to layer up.
What’s your preference?
I want to wish everybody a Happy New Year. I hope your 2015 is filled with great rides and awesome discoveries.
My 2014 goal of doing more active transportation was pretty successful. I did ride my bike quite a bit. My walking started off well, but for health reasons, I had to taper down a bit. I still love to walk as much as possible.
Do you have any New Years resolutions for 2015? Mine is to simplify my life by reducing the amount of useless stuff that I own. My mother-in-law has had to make some lifestyle changes and move into a much smaller place. After watching my wife go through the daunting task of downsizing her mother’s home, and it’s many years of content, I decided it was time for me to start reducing my clutter.
I’m starting with baby steps. For every non-essential purchase this year (anything that isn’t food or necessary for daily survival), I will need to get rid of 3-5 items that I haven’t used in years.
I love supporting my local bike community.
A couple of local, Oak Cliff advocates and BFOC board members have a start up company manufacturing cargo bicycles right here in north Texas! Please help support them by checking out their rewards, many from other local businesses like Oil and Cotton and Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters! We’d love to see them reach their funding goal so they can design and build a new, scratch built cargo bicycle frame to compliment the recycled frames they’re currently building. Go to http://oakcliffcargobicycles.com/kickstarter or launch the campaign from the link below.
Originally posted on Oak Cliff Cargo Bicycles: