Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Nutcase Arrives in Flagstaff!

My friend and neighbor Angie just bought her first "big-girl" bike (more on that later) but joked that she liked my Nutcase helmet so much she bought one for herself before she even invested in the bike!

"Where?" I had to ask. I have been to every bike shop in Flagstaff and have yet to see a Nutcase helmet anywhere.

Angie found her helmet right in the heart of downtown Flagstaff at Rainbow's End, located 12 E. Rt. 66, a bike friendly little pedestrian courtyard with boutiques, pubs, restaurants, and cafes. Miranda, the proprietor, carries breezy, romantic women's clothes and accessories that could have come straight out of Stevie Nicks' closet. Rainbow's End celebrates being a girl; there is nothing really unisex about Miranda's selections. I shouldn't be surprised then to find Nutcase bike helmets on display. Mine is so pretty.

If you are like me and ordinarily couldn't bear to wear a regular bike helmet but worry about life with a closed head injury, I can't recommend the Nutcase helmet strongly enough. It's the only helmet I feel totally at home in. And boy, are they tough. I've dropped mine more times than I could count and never found a crack or a scratch. My brain feels pretty protected. Like most helmets on the market, Nutcase helmets come with changeable interior pads for just the right fit. I wear a medium/large. At least for the first Nutcase helmet, I recommend trying one on over simply purchasing over the Internet. Miranda, pictured here, wears the Star Bright helmet.

Bikes of Summer

I saw these happy summer bikes parked around downtown today at lunch.

If this were Copenhagen, no doubt, nobody would ever pass judgement . . . still, it was probably the kind of nice father and son moment both will recall fondly in twenty years. And, hey, maybe they are on their way to Rainbow's End to order a kids 8-ball helmet (yeah, they make kids helmets, too)!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The End of Week Ritual by Bicycle

Although we try to avoid the predictable, the Planner Guy and I have a tradition we find hard to break - Friday night at Sushi Fuji. Located at Woodlands Village Center on the West side near our home, Sushi Fuji is a quick detour off our usual bike route. Our detour required a short ride up a rather steep hill and I was relieved that I had no trouble pedaling while standing up in my favorite wedge heels, purchased at Banana Republic 5 years ago. Unfortunately, the little shopping center lacks a bike rack so we always end up locking our bikes to a Chokecherry tree, something I always feel a bit guilty over. Sushi Fuji had not yet opened for dinner so we decided to share a bottle of wine at Wine Styles. We chose a bottle of Naked Snoqualmie from Washington State. Although the proprietor was preparing for a private party a bit later he welcomed us to have a seat and chilled our selection for us. The wine was delicious os we had no trouble finishing the bottle. We hadn't been to Wine Styles before and found it a cozy little spot that could turn into Part I of our Sushi Fuji tradition. A bottle of wine after a bike ride couldn't be more fitting or romantic.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Flagstaff's Version of Audrey Hepburn on a Bianchi!

Yesterday, I met Jamie while she was preparing to depart City Hall on this lovely Bianchi road bike. This lovely young lady was suprised to learn that she is a model of Flagstaff mountain cycle chic, admitting that she has always been a bit of a tomboy. Hmm, not a big surprise to me as I imagine many women who bike commute have a bit of the daring tomboy in their DNA. Regardless, I love the cardigan and pedal pushers she is wearing. If Audrey Hepburn had lived in the mountain southwest, this would have been her outfit of choice - tonal, minimalist, elegant, no self-conscious fussy details. Jamie asked me if I wanted to get a close up of the necklace she recently found at the Art in the Park in Wheeler Park. Mais, oui!
Jamie, who works in mental health, and her boyfriend went down to one car this year, deciding they can rough it with one vehicle. And who is really roughing it when your alternate form of transport is a Bianchi? Thanks, Jamie for being a good sport and not running away from the crazy woman with the camera!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Diamond in the Landfill!

I learned recently that my coworker April also commutes to work by bike several times a week. In fact, she takes the Mountain Line part of the way and stores her bike on the bike rack on the front of the bus. I must confess that I am still intimidated by the bus bike rack.

April proudly shared with me that she pulled her old cruiser out of a landfill and fell in love with it. She took it too a bike shop and had them install a new saddle and handlebars and was good to go. April doesn't have any information about the make and model of her bike so if any old-bike junkies out have any ideas please give me some knowledge.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Meanwhile, Down in Sedona

Bob wanted to get out of town for a bit Saturday so we traveled down the hill through Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona for breakfast and to look at triathlon bikes. We stopped for a hearty breakfast at one of our favorite spots, The Coffee Pot. Despite the high morning heat we decided to sit on the patio and were quite comfortable. A pergola shades the patio and we were entertained throughout our breakfast by a red dragonfly. If you are ever in Sedona stop by The Coffee Pot. They have over 100 breakfast items and so far nothing has disappointed us. My favorite is the short stack of buckwheat-blueberry pancakes with sausage and hashbrowns. Just the meal to have before heading off to . . . .

Sedona Bike and Bean in the Village of Oak Creek on Hwy 179. Undeterred by a recent infection and put him on the sidelines for theMountain Man Triathlon at Lake Mary in Flagstaff, The Running Bob decided his recovery time could be well spent checking out entry level tri-bikes and had heard he could purchase a quality rental at Sedona Bike and Bean (they serve coffee and tasty looking muffins, scones and bagels). Although Bob likes to bike commute at a leisurely pace he has a competitive spirit, and he has had such a good time with marathons and smaller local races his interest in triathlons has grown.

Bob tested this Titus Modena and liked the feel. Still, as with our other bikes, a lot of research goes into a bike purchase.

Bob was further encouraged in his goal to do triathlons when we went to cheer on our friend Dave at the Mountain Man. Bob and Dave did some training together, and it was very encouraging for Bob to see Dave finish in under 3 hours in his first tri. If you are a triathloner, check out The Running Bob post on today's Mountain Man Triathlon. It was terrific fun, and I have to admit, despite vowing after Bob's recent gift of the long coveted ruby red Breezer Uptown 8, I find myself now fighting back thoughts of lovely road bikes (heavy sigh).

Friday, July 17, 2009

Lady-like on a Bike

Why do we do it? Why do we buy dresses that we have doubts about only to have them hang in our closet unworn?? Well, isn't obvious? To give them to our girlfriends who then adore us forever for the gift of a really great hand-me-down! Thanks, Stephanie, for another beautiful second-hand dress. This one is from The Limited. It is stretchy but not clingly and has a thin lining preventing any see-through or unattractive bulges or bumps in all the wrong places. Pink sweater is about 4 years old and from Ann Taylor Loft. One of the best fashion buys I've ever made. The kiwi pumps from Bandolino are never been worn from My Sister's Closet in Phoenix. The vintage faux pearls are another hand-me-down from my late Grandmother Edith. I think she'd love this outfit.

Week two of the Breezer Uptown 8. Am I crazy or is it inspiring me to dress up just a little bit more?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Evil Plan to Put People on Bikes

My diabolical plan to put more American women on bikes continued as I exercised my evil powers of mind control over Flagstaff's young mayor. Earlier in the week forces beyond her control compelled her to buy a Wald basket at Arizona Bikes for the front of her Specialized Crossroads. She pedaled to a downtown restaurant wearing this dress and pink shoes for lunch with her family. Mayor reported amazement at the functionality of her new basket. Not only is it really cute and retro but she effortlessly carried her bag and other items on her journey to lunch. Despite being on a bike, in a dress, and wearing girly shoes, the Mayor sustained no injuries on her way to or from lunch.

A Bike, A Dress and Chunky Boots!

I have long sought a pair of boots but can't seem to find any that fit my short little legs because the calf always seems to reach past my knee, making me look like a little girl in her mother's clothes. As I mentioned in my last post, my love of Teva motivated me to visit the Internet sales office of their parent Company Decker Outdoor Corporation where lo and behold they gifted me with a pair of their new Montecito boots!

I adore them. They zip up a little over mid-calf on my legs (I am 5'1") and have a little cork/wedge heal to give me a little extra height. They are a nice buttery leather and super comfy. They are a nice combination of rugged and feminine.

I couldn't wait for the fall to wear them. My friend Stephanie leant me a few skirt and dresses to wade through over the weekend and mentioned that she was looking to thin out her stock. I found the one I'm wearing in this picture and it fit perfectly. Happily for me, this long wrap dress isn't Steph's cup of tea so she said I could have it. Yes! I love it with this dress.

Bob and I bike up to the Flagstaff Airport Sunday for a couple of newspapers. We only live about half a mile from the little airport and we recently discovered we could pedal up to the cafe on the weekend to pick up our weekend editions. Plus, the route is really spectacular right now, with plenty of blooming wildflowers, tiny, feeding hummingbirds, and a beautiful view of the San Francisco Peaks. Nothing unusual about putting on a Sunday dress so I slipped into my hand-me-down on, along with my new boots, for our short trip to the airport. I think both boots and dress look great with the rudy red Breezer, which I can't say enough about. The rear spring rack carried my Coach bag and our newspapers just fine.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

SRAB Visits Flagstaff’s Decker Outdoor Corporation: Mountain Chic for Your Feet

I love high-heels and girly pointy-toed pumps as much as the next well-dressed bike commuter and recently have been experimenting with pedaling to work in them. However, in the mountain southwest super high heels aren’t always practical. The Flagstaff woman who demands style and function for rough terrain has at least a couple of pairs of Teva shoes and sandals in her closet.

The original Teva (pronounced Teh-vah; Hebrew for “nature”) sports sandal was developed by a Grand Canyon river guide. The line has expanded to include trail running shoes, flip flops and casual street shoes. Today, Teva is owned by Decker Outdoor Corporation, makers of UGG Australia, Simple Shoes, and TSUBO. Flagstaff is the home of Decker’s Internet sales operation located in downtown Flagstaff, as I discovered on an afternoon stroll last year. Since then, the idea of featuring them on my blog has been brewing in my mind. With the encouragement of a friend who knows Dietrich, the Decker HR manager, I took the initiative and made it happen.

I entered the Decker reception are off Leroux two weeks ago to interview a few of their bike commuting staff. The Decker offices are virtually a footwear nirvana. My day, which I arranged to have off from work, started out on a downer note when my supervisor called and asked me to come in later in the day to resolve a minor emergency. Yes, I stewed a bit on my journey downtown. However, upon entering Decker’s reception area the dark clouds lifted as I took in the hundreds of shoes, scuffs, boots, sandals and flip flops arranged on the walls. Merchandising racks displayed Simple Shoes’ sneakers in patterned hemp and neutral and pastels. UGG boots and scuffs in bright colors that I forgot existed hung over the receptionist's’s desk. I wondered if they sold shoes to people drawn in right off the street (they do not). As I tried to regulate my breathing, it occurred to me my husband would be alarmed if he knew I had been left alone with so much footwear.

Soon, Josh and Nick, two buyers for Decker, ushered me to their desks for their interview. A momentary pang of anxiety came over me as I realized that I had neglected to bring my interview forms and that an on-the-ball blogger would have brought along a tape recorder. Oh, well. Muddle through.

Josh has been living in Flagstaff for 17 years and with Decker for about one and a half years, having previously worked in retail at Dillards. He described Decker as committed to comfort, the outdoors and diversity. Josh told me he has been bike commuting since Bike to Work Week 2008. Josh decided to bike to work because of the “parking situation, to save gas, and (laughing) I was getting chubby and needed more exercise.” As one of Outdoor Magazine’s 10 Best Places to Work, Josh told me Decker supports bike commuting since it is consistent with Decker’s emphasis on the outdoor life style and sustainable practices. He added that Decker provides all their employees with a one-year Mountain Line bus pass, which relieves him of the hassle of trying to find and/or pay for parking.

Josh hasn’t encountered any major problems as a bike commuter with the exception of a recent bike wreck on some new paving going down Cedar Avenue hill. His scars were still visible and he appeared to wear them proudly. He thinks Flagstaff is a fairly bike friendly community and uses the bike lanes.

Nick is from Phoenix and has lived in Flag for 10 years; he’s been with Decker for one year. Nick started to bike commute for four months because he and his girlfriend own one car only. He described his bike commuting experience as “addicting” and “better than a cup of coffee.” Nick’s bike was a donation from a friend.

Josh and Nick wear Decker brands at work and on their bike commutes. Nick typically rides in his GNAR water shoes, an off-shoot of their wake boarding shoe. I confessed to having no idea what wake boarding was but from the picture he showed me it appeared to be a variation of surfing. In any case, the GNAR is a good looking shoe and Nick appears happy wearing them.

Josh told me that Teva traditionally has been Decker’s technical sport shoes. He showed me a new Teva sports sandal, the Omnium, pictured here. He said that although Teva does not make shoes specific to biking or bike commuting, the gripping rubber on the soles do an excellent job of holding on to the bike pedal, a big concern for bike commuters, especially in wet weather.The Toachi is pictured here and features toe-guards, especially beneficial for commutes over rough, rocky terrains so common in mountain communities like Flagstaff.
Josh showed me several shoes from the Simple Shoes brand. He said that Simple Shoes has been an industry pioneer in sustainable footwear, using recycled and/or sustainable materials such as bike tires, inner tubes, plastic bottles cork and hemp in the creation their products.

Nick told me he works with the TSUBO brand, an urban casual shoe. We looked at the TSUBO website, which features sports casual, casual, and dress casual lines. TSUBO designs shoes that marry ergonomics with style. I was the most interested in the dress casual lines which featured several high heeled versions of what appeared to be Mary Janes meets the Jetsons. I loved them. I wondered how I would navigate the FUTS between University Heights and Walmart in the high-heeled, TSUBOB Woman's Anush Shoe. I decided it could be done.

Since I had reviewed the Teva website the evening before, I was especially curious about a new fall boot, the Montecito, which comes in leather and suede, in both brown and black. The Montecito in particular caught my attention because the calf looked just the right size for my short little calves, usually swallowed by very high boots that come up to and even over my knee. I asked Josh if he had a pair in the office for me to photograph for my blog and also try on for size. Of course they did. Nick found a pair for me in black leather. Yes! They are the buttery kind of leather I love. I slipped each on. They fit perfectly and hit my calf just about 1.5 inches from my top of my shin bone. The boot zipped up the calf and has a hemp band strap and wooden button as a zen-like flourish. I walked around a bit. Very comfortable. Just enough of a squish yet supportive. The cork heel gave me just enough lift. My search had ended. Oh, why couldn’t I just buy them right off the floor? “Just take them,” said Josh, “let us know what you think.” Was he kidding? I’d probably never take these boots off! Suddenly, I felt tired of warm weather and couldn’t wait for fall. I thought things like this only happened to Kate Moss.

The following Monday afternoon, I met up again with Josh and Nick to photograph them on their bikes. They invited their coworker Denise, whose first bike commute to work was last week, to join us. Denise is stunningly beautiful and, amazingly, also the mother of four. I made a mental note to never stand next to her in a photograph. Denise decided to give bike commuting a try because she lives close to downtown, to get added exercise and to save money on gas. Her biggest anticipated difficulty with bike commuting is when it interferes with transporting her children to where they need to go. Because Decker’s work atmosphere is casual, she feels comfortable biking to work dressed in her work clothes. Denise rides a Huffy mountain bike and wears her Teva Omnium shoes while doing so.

Given the fact that Flagstaff and Teva are both associated with adventure sports, it is not surprising that Denise's coworkers also favor mountain bikes. While this blog usually features city, comfort and commuter bikes many American bike commuters start out commuting on bikes originally purchased for sports. In fact, my friend Martin told me last week that Joe Breezer started out making mountain bikes before moving strictly to commuter and range bikes.

Josh bikes in on a Schwinn SX2000 from Target he received as a gift, and it has a great commuter bike.Josh also wears Men's Omnium shoe.

Nick spends a lot of time on bike trails and comes to work on a Moho by Ha Mountain Cycle, a mountain bike brand that only the true hard core mountain bikers know about - I was completely ignorant of it. Perhaps some of my readers are familiar with it.Nick rode in his Teva Hurricane 3 sandals.
I'd like to thank all the staff at Decker Outdoor Corporation for making this fun project of mine possible during the last couple of weeks. It was fun learning about one of my favorite shoe's roots here in Flagstaff and getting to know the other Decker brands. Later this week I'll post about my new Montecito boots. I simply couldn't wait until the fall to check them out. I am pretty sure that as the weather chills in September, SRAB readers will be seeing a lot of them!