Sunday, June 27, 2010

Beep Beep

So,  For the LGRAB Summer Games,  I really really wanted to ride a fixie.  We got home late Saturday from NYC,  and spent most of the morning Sunday installing the Scientist's birthday present- a replacement min-fridge for the one in the basement mini-bar that crapped out a month after we moved in.  Unfortunately the new one was ever so slightly larger than the old one, and it turned into a PROJECT.

So it took a bit longer than expected before it was installed and happily filled with diet Pepsi. I headed out to Harris to pick up the honey B66S saddle that I'd ordered for Gilbert.  While I was there, I thought I'd try to ride something fun.  My first choice was a Betty Foy.  I wonder sometimes just how fast I could be if I weren't riding a 40 pound bike.  I thought that I might take a spin on something a bit more nimble and see if that was something I could get excited about.  Unfortunately no Betty Foys on the floor this late Sunday just before closing.
I eyed the fixies, but was just too intimidated to do a rushed test.  Then, out of a corner of my eye, I espied the perfect thing- a Brompton!
Every time I see Elton's tricked out Brompton parked at Harris, I flirt with the idea of a folding bike.  Unfortunately necessity hasn't driven me that direction,  and the price tag ($1,300 to start) has put me off,  but I'm definitely curious about them,  and I decided to check one out just to see what it was like.

One of the guys I don't know there (maybe he's new,  maybe I just haven't had a chance to meet him before) unfolded one, and pointed me to the test helmets.  Unfortunately it was too close to closing, and since I wasn't really buying, I didn't make him help me adjust the handlebars, and I felt like I was having to reach WAY out in front of me to reach them.
I took a quick spin down a couple of blocks and back, and, ummm, I don't think I need a Brompton,  at least not at this point in my life.

It could have been the handlebars, but the steering was WAY more responsive than I am used to, and I felt like I was going to tip over at the least provocation.  And yes,  I rode a road bike all through college and high school and it seemed much more aggressive than that.   Again, I think it was partly the mis-adjusted handlebars, but still- very aggressive steering.
Otherwise,  it was fine.  It had a surprising amount of get up and go for such small wheels, and the gear shifting was smooth and controlled ( I rode the 3 speed IGH,  there is also a derailleur model).   Brakes seemed fine, although I didn't challenge them.   Overall I did have a bit of top-heaviness in the balance, which is to be expected, as the small wheels bring the center of gravity way down.  It felt like a solid, well built bicycle.

After I brought it "home"  I spent a while trying to figure out the folding mechanism on my own.  I had had the interesting experience of watching a Brompton rep do it (at Harris) in English the week before I went to Spain, and then watching another Brompton rep do it in Spanish while I was in a shop in Barcelona.   I managed to figure it mostly out on the 2nd try, and it is a pretty marvelous piece of engineering!  Like mechanical origami.

If I had no bike storage at home,  no bike storage at work, or had to take the train as part of my commute (was coming in from the far burbs for example)  I would definitely consider a folder,  but as an everyday bike I'm not convinced.  Admittedly my test ride was far from perfect, and I'd love to give it a better run,  but so far, my need for a tiny bike is not enough to overcome the obstacles.

Book report(s)

I had a good amount of time to read on the train.
I finished up two bike-y books that I've been reading for a while.

The first is Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne, which I bought at his Boston talk a couple of months ago. Aside from the last chapter, this is less a book about bicycling per se, than a series of anecdotes and meditations linked to stories about bicycling in various cities.
The links between the stories and the cities and each other is a bit tenuous and impressionistic. Sometimes it worked for me, in that it reminded me of how my senses and ideas are sometimes stimulated in seemingly random directions when I'm biking. Other times though (especially the Manilla and Buenos Aires chapters) it just felt random and disjointed, with some esoteric music and art world name dropping thrown in.

My favorite was the  NYC chapter, mainly because it was less of an exotic travelogue than a more densely textured observation of his everyday biking. I'm still processing my experience of biking in NYC, which was probably part of the appeal.  It was more of a meditation on urban quality of life issues and how bicycles are and can be part of how we live.  From his talk, and the character of this book, I would say that David Byrne is a reluctant advocate. He seems to say, "This is kind of crazy, but because people liked "Burning Down The House"  they for some reason are interested in what I have to say." "so I'll say Hey there's this thing I really like to do- it's fun and cool and not as scary as you think it is, and can be done by everyday people in their normal clothes.   Try it,  you might like it!"   I agree with him that it's kind of crazy,  but I'm glad he's using his "power" for "good"  and if it encourages others,  more power to him!

The second book which I finished on this trip was Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt.
As an architect with an interest in urban planning and a techie bent, I found the densely researched  (20 pages or more of footnotes) but conversational style of this book very engaging.  It's a bit like Freakonomics in style and tone- the blend of the personal and human with the experimental data.

Even before I finished it, it was one of those books I was constantly wanting to share with others, emailing bits to my brother, buying a copy to my Dad, constantly interrupting the Scientist's reading to share interesting tidbits with him.  Although not explicitly a bicycling book, I found that there was a lot of information which related to complete streets theories and many of my own observations of traffic culture. Vanderbilt is clearly a proponent of the new wave of traffic planning and urban design which is less auto-centric, and against the kind of highwayization and "safety" optimization that in the name of improving traffic flow and protecting pedestrians has turned so many suburban spaces into no-man's lands where drivers were encouraged to speed beyond the limits of their perceptions and reflexes, and pedestrians and bicyclists were discouraged.  There was a lot of scary stuff about how bad so many drivers are,  how limited our human perceptions are, and how little we do here to govern and improve the human side of the traffic equation, choosing instead to focus on improving road infrastructure and auto crumple zones.
What made this book engaging for me, was its concentration on the human element, through changing times and technologies, with all our foibles and mode-bias and inattentional blindness.   I think that a lot of Robert Moses old school traffic engineers missed this human element, and our roads and public spaces have suffered for it.    I know that this kind of thought is more completely understood by the traffic engineers who are coming out of school now,  but unfortunately they're still not necessarily the ones making the decisions in many jurisdictions.  It leaves me hopeful however for the future of American traffic planning.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Train blogging

On the train to NYC and I'm reminded how pleasant it is to travel this way.
There's a wave if strong thunderstorms passing through this afternoon and I would be a nervous wreck on a plane. Driving would be frustrating and fatiguing.
I love the little glimpses of backyards and smalll towns as we rumble by. It doesn't hurt that the acela high speed train has free wireless.
I put my tunes on shuffle and am enjoying the trip

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

silly shoes

This is kind of silly-

I know that some people would say that I don't wear appropriate footwear for the serious exercise of bicycling.
This evening I went for a pedicure, and forgot the flip flops I'd brought for the day under my desk at work.
Hence, rather than ruin the fresh paint with the grotty toes of my danskos,  I just kept the toes on top of the shoes, and biked home like that!

Ok, it looked really silly, and it probably wasn't terribly efficient, but it was just fine for a short trip on a hot summer night!  And my pink nail polish arrived unscathed!

NYC bound

The Scientist and I are going to NYC soon.

Does anyone have any suggestions about a good place to rent bicycles?
We're going to be staying in midtown near MOMA.
I heard good things about the West Village Waterfront bike shop and bad things about Central Park Bicycle shop,  but the West village is a long way away from where we'll mostly be.

Any suggestions or warnings of places to avoid?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Polo Bike

What drew my eye to this bike is the front wheel disks.  Unlike a true Aero disk, I'm sure that these home-made ones cause a lot of turbulence, and I bet they make a lot of noise too- but they look cool.

After I got a bit closer, I realized that this was probably a track bike onto which someone had grafted a rear derailleur and turned effectively into a 5 speed.  Anyone with more knowledge of such things have any idea?  It looks a bit like a grafted solution to me, but I'm not an expert.  It didn't have a front derailleur,  although it did have double front chainrings (I'm guessing it was cheaper/ easier just to abandon one chainring).

From the spoke card and multiple stickers, I gather that this rider is an avid bike polo fan.  I thought that was generally a fixed gear thing.  Anyone know if this kind of modification is common?

And Steve A,  No, no new camera yet,  just iphone photos.

Friday, June 18, 2010

What I carried, omnibus edition

Did a lot of schlepping on the bike this week- thought I'd just combine pictures in one post.  I do most of our grocery shopping, and although every couple of weeks I'll borrow the car for a big run of heavy stuff,  by necessity, I carry most of our food home on the bike.

Indian Food on Tuesday:  The Scientist had a tough day, so I stopped and got his favorite- takeout Indian food.

I had to carry the Mango Lassi in my hand and ride one-handed- the lid just wasn't going to stay on if I put it in a basket or bag.  I need a coffee holder!
I also stopped and got a quart of milk and some sundries at the grocery store next to the Indian place.

Thursday was the second pickup for our CSA-and I brought home a pannier bulging with (mostly) green things .  The Haul this week:

From top left:  Napa Cabbage (destined to be KimChee) two heads of Romaine (Caeser Salad anyone?) fresh eggs (Caesar salad)  Two Kolrabi (Kim chee?)  two carrots,  green onions, Dinosaur Kale,  Beets, Oregano and garlic scapes.

Friday  at lunch,  I went to the North End,  the Italian district of Boston,   mainly because there's a hardware store there with a lot of canning supplies.  They didn't have the Bell Elite jars I was looking for, but I bought these short jars that will work fine.  

On the way home from work, I went to the Haymarket wholesale produce market with my co-worker E.  with the intention of buying only a giant bag of lemons.  It's starting to get hot, and nothing is as cooling as a giant glass of lemonade.   As always happens, instead I ended up getting a pannier full of bargains.

Canning jars (to be filled with Strawberry Jam tomorrow).  Pita bread and sweet paprika from the Halal market next to the haymarket.  Three packages of Blackberries (slightly beat up from the trip home, but 3 for $2, can't be beat).  Sugar free pectin for the strawberry jam.  A pound of Cherries, 18 Lemons (6 for a dollar) and a pound of Okra.  Oh, and a box of envelopes I picked up at the hardware store while I was buying canning jars.

That's a lot of stuff, and my fridge is full to bursting with all the good stuff.    To the point that things leap out at you when you open the door incautiously.  Maybe I should make a policy, that if it jumps out at you, you need to eat it immediately.  Might not work so well if the butter escapes its box. 

I love doing the CSA,  but it can be a lot of food, and it takes some discipline to use it all.  I've developed a strategy that is to immediately process it as much as possible instead of pushing it into the back of the fridge where it has a chance to be forgotten.  I spend a couple of hours every summer weekend "turning vegetables into food." For example: if the spinach/ beet greens/ turnip greens  are already wilted with garlic and olive oil,  I can easily take them to work, toss them in a pasta,  serve them alongside grilled sausages etc. etc.
If I peel and grate the carrots, I have a better chance of making them into Moroccan carrot salad (carrots, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, cumin, paprika- oh MY it was tasty!) instead of leaving them to languish in the crisper drawer.
I think I need to not bring anything more edible home though until we get a handle on the stuff we have!

Boston Retro Wheelemen

If you ride an older bike,  love older bikes,  or just want to check some out,  please join the Boston Retro Wheelmen Sunday morning for a brief fun ride, and a tutorial on wheel truing.
I've always been a bit afraid to tackle wheel truing,  because it seems like one of those simple things that could go horribly wrong.  It's like the guy who trimmed one leg of the kitchen table so it wouldn't wobble,  and ended up with a very large coffee table.  However, it's a very useful skill for improving the ride and prolonging the life of your wheels, so hopefully I won't feel that way after the session on Sunday.

Meet up at Peets on JFK and Mt Auburn in Harvard square at 9:30.
Details here 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Scaring drivers

I had two incidents recently where I scared a driver, and had a brief and positive conversation with them afterwards.

 I was on the new connection from Mass Ave to Main street.  The beige SUV in front of me turned right onto Main street, completely cutting through the bike lane (which I expected, everyone does that there- and had consequently not put myself in that space where I could be squished).  What I wasn't expecting was for her to slam on the brakes right after she turned (still in the bike lane).
I  slammed on my brakes (fortunately wasn't going very fast)  yelled HEY! at the top of my lungs,  and after a moment to collect myself, rode up alongside the driver's side window, where the passenger was busy consulting a map and the driver was looking around apprehensively.  I said- hey there-  you really scared me when you stopped short like that.   She said-  You really scared me when you yelled- I thought I'd hit someone!  I grumbled something more about not parking in the bike lane,  and she started to apologize,  she was lost, she was from out of town,  she was just trying to pull over so that she could look at the map safely, and that she'd be happy to move, and she was sorry she had scared me.  I told her I was sorry I had scared her too,  but she should be a little more careful, there are lots of bikes here.

The other incident was on Harvard Ave.  There's one cross street, that's a bit of a blind corner,  and cars inch out so that they can see whether they have a space to cross.  I'm coming down a hill here, and I try to always be pretty far left in the lane so that they won't push me into traffic, or so that I can take evasive action if they don't see me (or if they see me, but don't register me, or how fast I'm coming).
I was coming down the hill the other morning when a big garbage truck comes to that intersection.  I'm not sure if he was just inching out to see, or rolling the stop,  but his wheels were still moving, so I yelled HEY!  HEY!  HEY!   The driver threw up his hands and yelled "I see you", in kind of an annoyed tone.

At the light (he'd pulled out behind me)  he yelled in a not-unfriendly tone- "you really scared me back there!"  I pulled my bike closer so he could hear me,  and said,   "I wasn't sure you saw me, and the consequences are so awful if you didn't that I thought I'd make sure.  I'm sorry I scared you."
He smiled and waved back, the light changed, and we were on our way.

There are a lot of these  "almost"  accidents- things that scare us, leave  both parties' hearts pumping and adreniline coursing through our veins, but ultimately no harm done.  The problem is that the consequences for  a bike if an accident actually happens are asymmetric with the consequences to the car.
Tom Vanderbilt, in his book Traffic,  has an interesting passage about how the best way to reduce industrial fatalities is to look at the pyramid of accidents- for every 100 near accidents, there is 1 minor accidents, for every 100 minor accidents 1 major accident etc.  Industrial safety engineers find that the best way to reduce fatalities is to concentrate on reducing the near accidents,  and the more severe accidents reduce proportionally.  It seems too logical to be true, but it's evidently quite effective.

I wonder if the increase in automobile safety features (airbags, crumple zones etc) makes drivers a little more careless about near accidents,  and I wonder what could be done to help them be a little more scared, and hence more careful of the unarmored among them?

Sorry for the wordy and imageless posts lately.  I lost my camera riding in the rain last week- put it in my pocket to "protect it"  and it wasn't there when I reached home. New one (and hopefully better pictures) coming soon!

Barbie Pillion

A pillion seat, added DIY style.

This bike was in pretty rough shape,  and the angles don't make it look like a particularly comfortable ride, but someone has customized it to make it practical for them. And whomever they choose to come along.

Monday, June 14, 2010


I've been thinking a lot lately about  Empathy.
A lot of the rules that we use to order society:  Fairness,  Sharing, The Golden rule,  rely on an underpinning of empathy, which I define as the ability to imagine yourself in the situation of another.

You may have learned the Golden Rule, or to share your toys, in kindergarten,  but if you can't really imagine the impact your actions have on others,  if you can't put yourself in the position of the kid whose toy has been stolen,  it's kind of an empty form,  that you learn "because I say so."

Fortunately, or unfortunately, most kids have the experience of getting a toy stolen, or being pushed by a bigger kid, etc etc, so you don't have to imagine so much as remember how it felt as an encouragement to "do to others".

I read a really disturbing article in the NY Times this weekend about animal abuse, and how it's being increasingly investigated and prosecuted as a marker of lack of empathy, and a forewarning (or correlation) with child abuse or spousal abuse.

The Scientist and I have had a lot of interesting discussions ( or as I think of it, one conversation that has gone on for years)  about experience, and how that builds empathy,  and how there are some kinds of things that are beyond reasonable arguments, which come down to visceral experience.   Religion is one of those things-  you either feel lifted up by emotion when you hear "Amazing Grace, or you don't. Discrimination is another- it's hard to understand the subtleties of how it feels to be a minority until you've experienced it in some sense.

To relate it to bicycling, most failures of sharing the road seem related to lack of empathy.
Drivers can't imagine what it would feel like to have a multi-ton steel box whiz by a foot from your elbow. They don't think about the person on two wheels, they see an obstacle to forward progress.
In turn, bikers don't  think about someone who carefully waited for an opening to pass carefully, and then sits at a red light as the biker they carefully passed squeezes between parked cars and runs a light,  making the driver wait for another chance in the next block to pass them safely. A  biker might experience righteous indignation at someone risking the bikers life for a few second's gain.   A driver might think "that's not fair"  I obey the rules, why shouldn't that biker"
 Empathy underlies our sense of fairness,  and we get unusually angry and upset when someone (a scofflaw cyclist,  a reckless driver, an investment banker) flagrantly violates the rules of fairness.  I think that we often seem to over-react to these disregards to empathetic behaviour because we're personally invested in notions of fairness that underpin civil society.

The best solution for increasing road empathy in drivers, and the good behaviors that spring from empathy (fairness, sharing etc)  of course is to get more people on bikes.  
Even if people don't become regular cyclists,  I think that the visceral experience of riding in traffic (like the experiences gained at the playground) will allow drivers to remember, rather than having to imagine a biker's perspective  from scratch.  Since most bikers are also drivers, I'm not sure what the solution is.   I wonder if bikers felt less like a persecuted and endangered minority, they would feel less rebellious and less like vigilantes, disregarding the laws that are inconvenient to obey.

Infrastructure helps encourage people to get out there on bikes.  So does positive media- especially media that suggests riding is a practical and enjoyable way to get from point A to point B, something that can be enjoyed by anyone.   This is one of the reasons that I like to ride in normal clothes  (the main reason of course is that it's so much easier).  If people see a normal person, not a super athlete,  riding in work clothes,  maybe they can more easily imagine themselves on two wheels.  I invite them to try,  and hope that it will help them have more empathy for everyone on the road.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Double the fun

Saw this parked on the street near my house recently.
It's a bit rusty around the edges,  but I love the idea of a vintage tandem like this.
If only I had room in the bike shed,  because I love the idea of touring with the Scientist on a tandem..
The wire baskets have plenty of space for a lovely picnic!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Cargo Mixte

I was waiting to meet someone in Kendall, and spotted this bike.

It's a Globe,  and it had serious carrying capactiy, and interesting geometry-  really long chainstays (I guess for larger pannier capacity.  it was sort of a mixtie, although it has three downtubes, but had extra seatstays too.  Looks like it could haul a lot of stuff.

Serious front rack!

I like the tomato red color too.

While I was taking pictures, a woman walked up and said- "do you like that bike?" 
I said yes, and then was a bit chagrined when she unlocked it and rode off.  

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Summer Whites

After Memorial day, the summer whites come out!

A sunny day shot to brighten a grey and rainy day

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Flower delivery

I was so excited this year when my peony bush, despite getting minimal sun delivered 5 whole blossoms.
Peonies are such exuberant, extravagant flowers, and they're among my favorites.Shockingly, someone came up into my yard and picked three of the 5 blooms,  ripping whole branches off the plant.  Sigh- the hazards of living in a very urban area.

After a tough day at work, and the Scientist away at Princeton,   I bought myself flowers- peonies like the ones that were despoiled.
There's something almost cliched about carrying a bunch of flowers on a bike (kind of like carrying a baguette)  but on the other hand, it's so lovely to have a nice bike and a nice bunch of flowers!
I'm finding the "fish hatch"  on the creel basket to have all kinds of non-fishing applications.  Sunglass port,  key drop,  hankie depository.  And now flower carrier!  I was worried that it wouldn't be stable, but I put my balled up sweater, a package of heat and eat saag paneer, and a quart of half and half in the basket wedged up against the base of the flowers, and they stayed put perfectly the whole trip.
Although this is pretty tame in the annals of the things I've carried on a bike (see this, this and this),  I'm going to submit it as an entry in the LGRAB summer games, which I hope you all are playing along with at home!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bike Geeks of the world Unite!

It is with interest that I have read about the successful bike boycott of a Trader Joe's in LA.
The Trader Joe's in my neighborhood has a primary bike rack of 10 or so staple racks, and a backup bike rack that's one of those wheel only jobbies.   The racks are always crowded, and I have seen some pretty cool bikes there.  Today as I was locking up, I not only noticed a dramatically different bike,  I noticed a guy seriously examining it in the kind of way only a bike geek like me would do.

The two of us checked it out for a couple of minutes, and then it's owner arrived.  It's a little awkward to be slobbering all over someone's bike when they show up to claim it, but she was good natured about it.
It's a dutch bike, and the owner won it as a door prize at a work event when she was in the netherlands.
To be perfectly honest,  I think it's the Dutch equivalent of a Bike Shaped Object.  It has this kind of odd rear rack integrated with the frame, and kind of silly flourishes.  The important difference between a Dutch BSO and a US BSO is that the dutch bike comes equipped with heavy duty "pickup" front rack,  full fenders,  dynamo lighting and a chainguard.  And it will probably last 20 years.
Cool fender mounted dynamo powered light.

The other bike geek and I chatted a bit more about bikes.  I admired his DIY rear rack and he admired Gilbert's creel basket, and we chatted a bit about IGH hubs.  After I came back out of the store, I took a couple of pictures of his setup- a classic home brew customization job that fits him perfectly using off the shelf parts.  It has no aesthetic pretensions, but it does exactly what he needs it to do.

Front and rear disk brakes, "to be seen" and "to see" dual light setup with battery pack and planet bike blinkie.

DIY rear rack-  you could carry 75 pounds on this rack easy.  Looks like a handmade fender as well, although we didn't discuss it.  Gilbert is jealous about how dead level this rack is..

I don't know exactly how to describe the stem-  it looks like it was put in backwards on purpose to achieve a more upright riding style with the straight mountain style handlebars.

Oh,  I also saw the same bike I blogged yesterday in the TJ's rack this evening. Small world!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Suspension fork?

I was walking down the sidewalk in Downtown crossing, when I realized that there was something very odd about this bike.  I dragged my friend who I was shopping with across the road, and took some pictures.

I think it's supposed to be a shock absorbing fork....
It's a weird amalgam of BSO (replete with useless "features")  and cruiser.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gilbert pretends to be a truck

Went to Home Depot today, mid fence install (the ever-lasting fence install that will not end...)  to get longer screws.  This is a pretty short ride, about 2 1/2 miles, and I often make it by bike if I'm not planning on carrying something bulky.

However when I got there, I discovered that they had a lot of their common perennials on sale really cheap.  I decided what the hey,  it's such a good deal, I bet I can get them home...

I scrounged up three of the plastic trays that the plants were shipped in, and nested them so they'd be a bit stiffer.  Then I used my handy rack straps to fasten the trays down.  Stuck in the plants, twisting them to get them as stuck in there as possible.
Three Autumn Joy Sedums (three varigated hostas on the other side..)

There were a couple of incidents on the way home where I hit a bump, and a plant did a header, but they all survived more or less intact.  I went really slowly and tried not to hit any bumps.  All in all a successful trip!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Veggie Roadkill

Q: Why did the cucumber cross the road?
A:  Because he was in a real pickle.

Riding home across the Longfellow, I saw a cucumber in the bike lane- one of those fancy schmancy English cucumbers that have a little plastic jacket.  Hmm, I thought, someone overstuffed their pannier at Haymarket.

It was only when I saw the 2nd cucumber two hundred yards along that I realized I had to stop and take a picture.  One of the odder things I've seen lying in a bike lane.....

The good with the bad

There must have been a wave of jerky driving out there Wednesday  (Maybe it's like wearing white, you do it after Memorial day!)
Dottie, from Let's Go Ride a Bike, got harassed by a Land Rover driving overgrown frat boy, and I got harassed by a grey haired lady driving a  Prius.  I was in the left lane, about half a block before making a left turn, when the prius squeezed through the space between me and a bus in order to get to the red light 10 seconds before I did.  When I politely pointed out to her at the light that she had really scared me, she yelled at me that I needed to stay on the right.  I pointed out that I was about to turn left, and she accused me of holding up traffic ( I was moving at the same speed as the bus was..)  Anyway things deteriorated, and things got heated, and although it didn't end up in profanity, I was upset and rattled.  Things like that tend to stick with me for longer than they should.

Thursday morning though, I observed an anomoly- a polite and bike respecting cabbie!  I was taking the lane through a complicated intersection, and kept it,  as I headed up Cambridge street.   A cabbie started to pass me, moving into the 2nd lane and giving me a good 5 feet of space.  All of a sudden a fare steps out and hails him ahead on the right.  He starts to move over,  and I saw him check his mirror and decide he didn't have space to pass me.  So he hit his brakes in the middle of both lanes, and stopped and waited for me to pass him before he swooped in to collect the fare.  About a block later, I thought - I should have said something to acknowledge his good behavior.  There is so much animosity between bikers and cabbies, that it would be nice to give positive feedback when it's deserved.

Last night, the Scientist and I met up with Charlotte  from Chic Cyclists and her husband A.  We're doing some "research" for a potential Cocktail ride (stay posted for details).  The service was awful, but the drinks were good, and we were having such a good time chatting, that it was hard to mind too much that we never got to order food.
Although it feels like we've known each other for years through the blogosphere, we've not spent much time actually sitting and chatting, so it was great to have an extended time to get to know each other.

On the way over I was running a bit early (for once), and took a different route to Back Bay from my work.
There was this cool information kiosk that was about the reclamation of the back bay- how it was turned from a marsh to an urban center through the importation of thousands of tons of gravel.  You'd never see it if you were whizzing by in a car.

Next, I stopped off at Trinity Church.  H.H. Richardson is probably my favorite Architect, and I consider myself lucky to live in a place where there are so many of his works.   I love the contrast of the muscular proportions of the massing, and the delicate carving of the details.

One of the major perks of biking in Boston is that it's so much easier to park your bike than your car.  We actually had a bit of a problem finding parking at the Pru,  but all we had to do was walk a half a block to find an un-occupied signpost.  Much better than paying $20 or circling for 20 minutes to find a car parking spot!

I so much enjoyed my French "77"  (kind of like a French 75)  that I decided to try to make my own tonight.  I had some sparkling lemonade left over from the tweed ride picnic.  I mixed that with some gewurtztramener, and added a tiny dash of gin for some bitterness.  Tasty!

Finally, I accidentally broke one of the connectors on my lighting wires.  On Wednesday night I was a ninja!  I felt so vulnerable- it was awful- I can't imagine why people would do it on purpose.
I rode home along the bike path to avoid as much traffic as possible- unfortunately that meant riding in the deep dark for most of the way- full of roots and potholes.  I really continue to love my Edeluxe, and how much it works "to see" not just "to be seen".

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tweedy Fun

I'm a bit late in getting to my summary of Monday's tweed ride.
As has been widely reported, the weather was lovely (if a bit smoky) and fabulous bicycles and costumes were in abundance.

I spent WAY too much time looking for the perfect outfit.  I hit 4 vintage and used clothing shops, H&M (twice) and a variety of discount stores.  I bought lots of options, and finally put together a combination that I liked a lot.  I wanted it to be tweedy but not hot and heavy wool,  and I was going for something Gibson Girl-ish.  Technically earlier than the heydey of 3 speed clubs, but definitely associated with bicycles.   I found some great information on the "Society for Rational Dress"  who advocated split skirts and "Tailored Suits" that would allow women to bicycle and exercise while providing modest coverage.  I also learned more than I wanted to about what corsets did to women's skeletons and organs.

So, corsetless, in a long linen tweedy skirt (used, Eileen Fisher), a puffed sleeve blouse and cinched belt (H&M) elbow length gloves (vintage) and a straw hat (used, added the feathers that I got at a fabric store)
I met up with E from work, and Somervillan from Boston Retro Wheelmen at my house, and we rode along the river to the meeting point, drawing curious glances from passersby.  Once we arrived, there was plenty of time to chat with others, admire their costumes and bikes and generally killed time waiting for things to start.

Once we got on the road though things were generally fine.  We observed all the lights, so we got chopped up into several groups fairly quickly, but Vin and Ed from Cambridge Used Bicycles were kind enough to be the sweepers, carrying many pounds of tools just in case of mechanical  complications, and making sure that no-one got lost or left behind.  Vin even brought a floor pump!

The route went through Harvard square,  along Mt. Auburn/ Mass Ave/ Main st, across the Longfellow, up and around the pedestrian overpass,  stop for pictures at the Hatch Shell,  across another Ped overpass,  around the public garden and down Comm Ave (on the new bike lanes!)

We stopped for refreshments at Old Sully's on Comm Ave and Harvard Street.  Fortunately we were practically the only ones there, because despite people peeling off, we were still 30-40 people.
After that, we headed mostly straight back to the starting place. We met a 20 person fixie gang who wanted us to come and take some pictures for a photo project they were doing- but since we were the sweep group, we didn't feel like we should be too delayed.  We encouraged them to join us, but they had somewhere they had to be too.  Could have been fun though.

Back at the starting point, I was joined by the Scientist with a full picnic hamper.  The Cucumber sandwiches were pretty lousy (they needed better bread)  but the hamburgers were tasty, and it was great to unwind with a beer and some more bike conversation.  A good time had by all!