Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Although it wasn't my intention I ended up riding 20+ miles today kind of without even trying,  all unfortunately during the hottest part of the day, on a very hot (97 degree) day.

My day started early with a 7am meeting in the suburbs (via Zipcar, although I may look into taking the T in the future)  By the time I got back into the city at 10, it was probably in the mid 80's.  I took the bike path, and rode slowly and helmetless until I had to get back on the streets for the last miles through the city.

As I was shutting down at 3:30, I remembered that I had forgotten to mail in my architectural license renewal. The late fee is pretty steep, and they don't accept a "postmarked by" date.  More painfully, although the state office that manages such things is only a mile from my office, the form was at home, 6 miles from work. and they couldn't accept the fee without the paperwork.

So I rode home, picked up the papers,  changed into a floaty skirt (had worn pants to the jobsite in case I had to climb up on anything)  and headed back into the city.  Because I was a bit pressed for time, I took the shortcut  (5 miles) directly through the city,  but tried to ride as slowly as I felt comfortable doing in traffic.

Back to my office to pick up something I needed to work on tonight,  and then back to Cambridge,  by the river again so I could dawdle, and stop at Trader Joe's for some well deserved lemonaide.
The bike parked next to mine was secured in an interesting way:

2 bottles of wine, a bottle of seltzer and a bottle of lemonaide in the pannier, I decided to stop and get a lobster at the funny little lobster pound stuck in a residential neighborhood.  I'd seen it on my way home f a couple of times, but never stopped.  It was nice, the lobsters were reasonably priced, and according to the owner, had been in the ocean 24 hours ago.  For my final errand, we had bought a new carpet for the basement floor, but it was a floor sample, and we couldn't have it until they changed the display today.  Rolled it up, and on the back of Gilbert it went!  Although it was only a couple of blocks, I thought it was too unwieldy, so I walked it home, and cracked open the lemonaide

WHOA! Scary

Universal Hub,  a local news aggregator here, is reporting that the Cambridge police arrested a man last night for "Armed Assault with Intent to Murder " for trying to run down a biker with his car.
Anyone know where or what happened?

On one hand, I am very happy that the Cambridge police are taking this extremely seriously,  as anyone on the street knows that a car can be a lethal weapon.

On the other, it's terrifying that someone could be so crazy with (presumably) road rage that they would actually try to run someone over with their car.  While I'm very careful with my middle finger, and am not going to try to get into arguments or fights, I've been known to use my vocal cords as a horn and yell at people who aren't respecting my space on the road. This is my worst nightmare, about riding vehicularly, that someone controlling a huge steel vehicle is riding behind you, and if they go crazy and act sociopathically, there's not a lot of protection.  It is at least a relief that the police in Cambridge are treating it with gravity.  Makes me even more curious what happened.

If anyone knows any details, or sees them reported, please share, and I'll post any updates I find.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Happy Monday

I guess that's one way to lock your bike

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bike the Hub

Anyone interested in doing the Hub on Wheels?
I've done it twice, once with the Scientist, and once, mainly alone.  Again this year the Scientist is at a "retreat" that weekend,  but it's much more fun to do it with someone to talk to.
It's a fun ride through parts of Boston that I don't see very often (Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, Southie).

When I've done it  in the past, I've always thought it was kind of odd that so many people, even those signed up for the shortest ride, and those obviously not really sport riders did it in full lycra "kit".
I'd love to do it with a group of "citizen cyclists"  dressed in normal clothes.  Not a tweed ride or anything fancy, just whatever you might normally wear on the weekend, on whatever bike you happen to be riding that day..

Anyone interested, please comment or drop me a line at bikinginheels@yahoo.com, and we'll set up a time and place to meet, and figure out which length ride to do!

In which I play MacGyver

After all that rain, Thursday was a lovely early fall day,   78 and dry and breezy.
I celebrated by taking Minerva to enjoy the nice dry pavement!

I had the unexpected pleasure of not only biking TO work, but biking FOR work, as I had to meet a subcontractor at a client's house in Beacon hill.  I biked there, let him in,  went back to the office,  and he called me when he was done.  It took less than 10 minutes each way- would have taken 25 or more each way on the T.   I didn't complain at all about an excuse to ride around in the lovely weather.

I also picked up the CSA share at lunch- and it was enormous- my big pannier was overfilled in such a way that I didn't think it would stay closed on the way home.  I realized that I was going to need additional storage, so I went to Boston Adventours,  the bike rental/ tour place that runs a small shop in the North End (the only bike shop in downtown) and bought a cheapo flat rack strap set.  Unfortunately the hooks didn't have anywhere to attach on the drive side (they hooked around the left chainstay OK)  So I played my first round of  MacGyver for the day-  I figured that the SA indicator nut stuck out enough to hold the strap, so I removed the spindle and the nut and looped the strap over the axle end,  then put the nut and spindle back on.  Worked OK, but I really need a rack strap like the one I have on Gilbert that attaches on the axle for real. 

When I got back to the office, I found a leftover basket that Christmas goodies had come in, and cut a pair of holes in the bottom to allow the strap to pass through and hold it on the rack.

At the end of the day I transferred enough veggies into the basket that I could close the pannier,  and headed off, only to find that my skirt was really blowing up pretty badly.  It had been a bit frisky earlier, but now I had 20 pounds of stuff on the back in rush hour traffic.  I needed a solution.
Luckily I saw a couple of giant rubber bands on the side of the road- big enough to fit more or less comfortably on my upper thigh.  How to attach them to my skirt however?  I unbuttoned the lowest button on my dress, and slid the rubber band through, and buttoned it back up.  It worked great!
I was still showing a good deal of leg, but it prevented flashimus maximus.

Over the Longfellow I ran into the owner of the lovely and mysterious Cecil Mixtie.  We had a nice chat heading across the bridge!

Had to stop at the grocery on the way home to get whole milk for the visiting kiddo, and of course my eyes were bigger than my basket, and I ended up with a 6 pack of beer, two bottles of wine, grapes, bread, almond butter, yogurt and olives.  When I told the bagger that it needed to all fit in one bag, he was very skeptical.    I was close to home, so I managed to put the "surplus" veggies back into the big pannier, removed the basket and strapped the brown bag onto the rack.  I think I probably had 35+ pounds of stuff on the back by this point.  I continue to be amazed at what I've managed to carry home on a bike- even if I have to be a bit innovative to make it work out OK.
I didn't move very fast (had a bit of a scare with just the 20 pounds going fast downhill where I thought the rod brakes weren't up to the task) , but I got home fine, and all was well.  It's so good to see far away family, even for a brief evening!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Slipping towards fall

Boy, you go away for a couple of days, and when you come back it's fall!
Not many bikes on my vacation- saw a cool pedal powered pontoon thingee, but didn't have my camera in the canoe to document it- sorry!  Have also been hosting houseguests, and preparing for more houseguests (including semi- babyproofing things for my 2 YO nephew)  so haven't had much to post.

It's funny how sometimes after a couple of days off my legs are full of stored energy, and sometimes I feel completely out of shape.  Today unfortunately was one of the latter, and coupled with the headwind and cool mist trying to become rain, it wasn't much fun riding.   And unfortunately my commute was one of the better parts of the day.

On a happier note,  my generator hub is in, and I hope to go pick it up and start thinking about a new wheel for Minerva.
Steve A, since you're being nosy about money :) the hub was $85,  and I'm going to get a consult about re-using the rim, and I expect spokes to be about $30......  I'm going to build a truing stand out of Robert's old fork,  and need to buy a spoke wrench....

Before I get too far on that, I need to give Gilbert a bit of love and a tune up before the winter really sets in!

I'm going to edit it this to add:
1) Steve, you know I'm only teasing, and it's a SA hub- only combo generator/ hub on the market AFAIK.
2) The mist had made up its mind by the time I left work, and was really coming down.  I discovered that a normal plastic grocery bag makes a pretty darn good pannier cover for my leather pannier bag.

3)  I saw another person doing "pass me once" coming down Cambridge street.  It was coming down pretty good, and we were both taking the whole right lane (of 2 going downhill).  He was waiting patiently 2 cars ahead of me in a queue at a light, and a girl in a red mini was honking at him and yelling at him.  There was of course no one in the left lane.  As soon as the light changed, she zoomed around him, and immediately had to stop at the next light.  The other car between us turned right, and I pulled up next to him and we discussed whether the Massholes come out more in the rain, or if it just drives more of the normal people inside, and therefore skews the sample.

4) While my jeans got pretty soaked the rest of me was fine, and walking around the grocery store, I was not the wettest person there.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Minerva in the garden

It's been a while since Minerva was out and about.  The Scientist are semi-on vacation (finishing up some house projects), and we went for a little spin out for breakfast.  She really does ride like a dream.

My current plan (still pretty unformed) is to rebuild a front wheel for her with a generator hub/hub brake to get some better braking.  Although,  after carefully adjusting these brakes, they're working WAY better than the Dawn Tourists' are.  Need to do more on her, but that's another post.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

one, two

Noticed this guy in a tie across the intersection

And then there were two

And then they were off!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

summer dress, little brick schoolhouse

For non-Boston  readers,  "little brick schoolhouse" is a euphanism for Harvard, where most of the dorms and many of the campus buildings are brick.

A bag of groceries, a summer dress over leggings.  Getting where she needs to go.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Temporary bike facilities

I saw the ramp being poured a couple of days ago and it piqued my interest

Today I discovered temporary bike path/ sidewalk.

I suppose they could have just put a temp sidewalk in,  but I appreciate the ramp for bikers!

Friday, August 13, 2010

No stupid questions

You know the truisim "there's no such thing as a stupid question?"
But a question, actually the SAME question, can be condescending, or really seeking answers.  My day yesterday was bracketed by the question "How do you bike in those heels"?

The first asker,  a mid 40's looking guy in spandex kit and clipless pedals, pulled up next to me at a light and said 
"How do you manage to bike in those heels- it looks really hard"  Kind of like the famous "..like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."

I turned, a bit flummoxed, and retorted, "well, I keep the balls of my feet over the pedals, which, last time I checked is how it should be done.  "Besides, it's easier than dealing with  clipless, pedals,  believe me, I've tried them both," and I rode off.

At the end of the day I was making a second visit to the farmer's market (forgot the egg share!) and a young lady asked "How do you manage to ride in a dress and heels?- I feel like I can only ride my bike to work when I'm wearing pants"  Same question,  vastly different attitude.  
So I gave her a better answer.  I told her that it helps to have a step through frame bike because the skirt can lay flatter, and it's easier to get on and off gracefully (I know it's not technically necessary- see Charlotte's great tutorial on ladylike dismounts from a diamond frame).  I shared that I don't ride in super fancy heels, because I don't want to care if damage them, but mostly if you're in the right foot position, the heels aren't really an issue. Sometimes I use them to "catch" the pedal and pull it into position at stops.  She said she'd considered using bike shorts under her skirt. I told her that that I find it helpful to test ride skirts, and if they seem too billowy, try a lightweight pair of cotton workout shorts.

Same words, completely different question being asked.  And completely different answer.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Groceries Pillion

I wonder what the story behind this is- did he carry her all the way to the store and back? Did they meet somewhere and he offered a lift?    She's sitting so nonchalantly, ankles crossed demurely.

Sorry for the lousy picture- I was hustling to pull even with them on the other side of the street and two moving objects and low light were too much for my autofocus.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Close Encounters

Was biking home, and pulled up behind another rider stopped at a light near MIT.
I was admiring his seat stays- they were fetchingly curved,  and I was wondering if that was some kind of "aero" fad, or just decorative.  As I was thinking of pulling out my camera, and a bit worried about taking a picture of some random guy's tush,  I realized-

It was the Scientist!

I suppose he wouldn't have minded if I took a picture.
But instead we rode home together.
It was a  lovely night,  much cooler than this morning- perfect for riding with someone you love!

French Find

I passed this woman on the Longfellow, and loved her bike so much that I stopped further on, and got my camera ready so that I could lie in wait and get some pictures at the next light.

She said that she got it at Bikes not Bombs.  I'm not a mixtie expert, but this one looks like a step above your average Peugeot.  The tube says Cyril Guimard (in pristine letters).

 Look at that fantastic  front light!  And the fork crown lugs!
I could have taken a lot of pictures, but as they were stopped in the street, I didn't want to test her patience.  What a lovely find!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

red lights

The Scientist and I were walking back from a wonderful dinner at the Russell House Tavern last weekend, when a bike passed  us in the bike lane next to the sidewalk.  As is my habit, I noticed.  BSO-ish mountain bike, no lights, guy in baseball cap.  Moments later, without slowing, he sped into an intersection against the red.  I have to admit I shrieked- I was sure he was going to get killed.  The driver with the green either had good brakes, or good reflexes, or both.  The biker wobbled a little and headed on.

The Scientist has been riding to work a lot more lately.  I don't know if it's hanging out with me, or being older and wiser,  but he said to me that now he's much more likely to just sit and wait for a red, where back in his grad school days he was more likely to stop and then run it.  He noted that  if you're in that mentality that you don't really have to stop, every intersection becomes a judgement call.  Last week he made a judgement call that was a little close-  OK but too close for comfort.  What's riding on a quick look and a quick decision is an awful lot.  The consequences are asymmetric for the rider in any sort of car-bike collision.  He's beginning to realize that stopping is just so much simpler.

There was a tragic death yesterday in Boston.  When the biker dies, no one will ever completely know what happened,  but several eyewitness accounts say that she ran a light at speed, and was hit hard.
The driver with the green got the green while they were approaching the intersection instead of being stopped, and so they proceeded normally.  It's possible that the biker checked the stop line and didn't see anyone, and made a judgement call.  If she did, she was wrong in judging the speed of the oncoming car.
If the facts are as presented in several accounts are true,  she will be the 2nd cyclist killed while running a red light this year in the Boston area.

This young woman by all accounts was bright and had a great future ahead of her, and will be missed by many. It is a great tragedy for her friends and family, and for the driver who will always wonder what they could have done differently.
 But like the guy on the BSO, I see so many people running lights, usually slowing or stopping, but sometimes just charging ahead.

You could lose 60 seconds of your life waiting for the light.  Or you could make a bad call and lose your life.
Isn't the 60 seconds worth it?

On the bike path

It's been super humid and pretty warm (87 when I left work last night, 79 when I was biking in).  My co-worker described it as biking through clam chowder- the air so thick you can see it. To beat the heat, I've been riding a lot on the bike path along the river.  I go slow enough to not heat up so much, and take off my helmet.

I saw this pair of tourists taking in the sights by bike.  I think that I overheard some Italian,  and they "looked Italian".  I hope that the bike share makes more tourists decide to explore Boston by bike, because it seems like a nice way to take in the city.


So this is the reason I haven't been posting much lately- When you live in 1500 sf,  and suddenly 300 SF of that "disappears"  things get crowded.
All the basement furniture that could be moved is up in the living room, such that there is no room for living (although the Scientist tried)

Everything else (too heavy to move upstairs, too fragile to be left out under a tarp ended up in the basement hall) Including the 1938 Lady's Tourist.  I blew a fuse, and had to literally crawl over everything to get back into the furnace room way back there.

But, everything is done being finished now,  just have to put in and paint the baseboards,  then we'll be ready to move things back down!  OH, am I ready to have the basement 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Graduates of the Ma$$hole school of driving

Was stopped at a light (one way street, two lanes of traffic, fairly busy cross street)
All of a sudden the livery driver (big black SUV)  who was stopped in the left lane,  pulls up, first into the crosswalk, and then into the intersection (on a full red)  and turns right across the lane I'm in to make an illegal right turn on red, from the left lane.

The driver behind me in the right lane and I exchanged a look, rolled our eyes and shrugged.
What else can you do?  I suppose it's better to do it on a red than just merging willy nilly once traffic starts.

It happened (sort of) again a mile later, when someone at Charles Circle again turned right from the left lane across two other traffic lanes,the middle one which I was in.  Come ON!
This actually happens a lot in this intersection, so I expect this, take the middle lane very aggressively for a full block before the intersection and watch the cars (and their wheels) on my left like a hawk

I don't wanna hear it about scofflaw cyclists.

On the other hand, when I got into cambridge I had a couple of the "I'm too timid to pass" squad tailing me for blocks.  Better that than aggressive passers, but I feel awkward with someone right on my heels like that.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Before there was GPS

There was the compass.
  Could actually be quite useful in exploring Boston where the "grid" was laid out by livestock.  Drunken livestock with no sense of direction.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Voyage of the Dawn Tourist

 Last night, at 9pm, after putting a coat of poly on the basement floor, instead of eating dinner and going to bed like a sane person, I decided I couldn't wait to get my paws on the Dawn Tourist.  I removed the supremely uncomfortable "mattress" saddle that was on it,  and put on the Brooks B66S I had taken off of Robert.  I also took out some of the slack in the front brakes, and took it for a quick test ride.  Still needs work but good enough to get to work and back I think, if I keep it reasonably slow.

 I backed it down the  front stairs this morning and admired it in the front yard.  It has been staying in the front entry while the floor is being finished (my house is like one of those "shift a piece"slider puzzles at the moment,  with everything out of the basement moved to the first floor).

I headed out into the humid morning.   After complaining last week about how much I hate a bag slung on my shoulder, I had to use my Freitag for my lunch.  I'm starting the search for a saddlebag- am hoping to go to Harris this weekend to check out the options.  I think a black one would look best, but most of the "modern" ones seem to look best in green.  Am contemplating one of the Brooks retro ones if they're functional.

 The shifting on this bike is very accurate! By far better than I've gotten Minerva to be, and the gearing feels spot on for me.  I haven't checked the cog size yet, but the low gear is low enough, and the high gear is enough to give resistance down the hill of the Longfellow.

About halfway to work,  the saddle suddenly shifted to point up- guess I didn't tighten it enough last night. So I thought, no problem, I put a 13mm wrench in my bag this morning just for this purpose!  D'oh,  I'd put it in my normal pannier instead of the Freitag.
I stopped at a firestation (firemen have tools right?)  and asked them to take pity on me.  They did have the right wrench, and I tightened it up enough to get up the rest of the hill to work.  I think I'm also going to lower the saddle a smidge, but mostly it was a lovely ride.

Every time I leave my cubicle I pass it, and admire what fantastic shape it's in.  I can hardly wait  until it's really cleaned up and shining

Rode home and it was so lovely- a bit of wind, but lots of sun, not too hot, perfect day to be on a bike.
Stopped a bit to smell the flowers.

There are a couple of interesting markings:
Someone scratched an ID number into the chainstay (note the oil port on the BB)
There's also some kind of serial number on the seat tube.  The lugs don't have the excitement of later raleigh race frames, but the pinstriping is in great shape

All in all, a VERY successful maiden voyage!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Things I did today

Got up,  read a couple of chapters of American Gods by Neil Gaiman.  I can't believe I've never heard of this book,  it's fantastic, was up waaaay too late reading it last night, and now that the Scientist has picked it up, there may be a tussle about who gets to read it tonight.
Went to the grocery store,  in the Scientist's car  because there were bags of dog food and lots of other bulky-heavy dry goods that needed replenishing.

Had a picnic lunch with the Scientist of "clean out the fridge" bruschetta and some yummy dutch cheese.

Made blueberry preserves (haven't done any canning since the flood).  We had a lot of blueberries that weren't really spoiled, but a bit dessicated and unattractive.  Added cardamom and ginger. Yum.  It's almost not worth canning 2 jars-  we could probably use them up before they spoiled if they were stored in the fridge,  except for the fact that there's already fig conserve, and strawberry jam, and apple butter open.

Put dinner in the crockpot.

Spent 4 hours finishing up one room of the basement cork floor.

Bought not one, but TWO 70 year old bicycles.

Yes, yes I know,  it's totally crazy and unexpected,  but I think that the 1938 Lady Tourist may be the bike of my dreams.  When we got them home, I had to take her for another ride around the block,  and then another block- might have kept going except for not having lights.
Much more to come, but for now here's a teaser photo.  (please note the lovely cork floor too!)