Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Flagstaff Tweed Ride Moves Forward!!

I threatened some months ago to organize a Tweed ride and it is indeed moving forward as a "soft" fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity Flagstaff, whose Board I am a member. Our first planning meeting is schedule for Monday, March 8 at 5:30 p.m. at The Green Room. There, I've written it so I must follow through. Isn't putting it in writing half the battle?

As I await the meeting, I'll be reviewing other blogs researching Tweed rides. I am particularly interested in first-time events and any Tweed rides tied to fundraising. I've never organized a fundraiser before so I need ideas and inspiration. Asking people for money during economically challenging times isn't easy so first I want to invite people to have fun.

My husband worries that my Tweed ride "audience" might be very particular, already bike commuting enthusiasts like me but I wonder if other Tweed rider organizers or participants have found that to be the case?

So, three short paragraphs begging my readers to PLEASE SEND ME YOUR COLLECTIVE WISDOM to make the first Flagstaff Tweed ride and Habitat fundraiser a pedaling success. The future of bike commuting in Flagstaff, Arizona could depend on it. Speedy progress toward the next Habitat home could, as well.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

He Rides a Kestrel - A Different Kinda Bike Love

After much editing and deleting, I'll just get to the point. My husband registered some time ago for the Louisville Ironman this coming August. He just dropped some major cash on a Kestrel Airfoil Pro SL, a triathlon bike. Since many of us loose sleep over the question of how much is too much to pay for a bike, I will freely admit the price tag alarmed me, although I will give him credit for paying roughly half the retail price and doing 8 months of research in finding his new love.

Selfishly, I would have preferred if he had purchased a Workcycles Opa or the men's Breezer Uptown 8. I bike commute and pedal to places I want to go. I love it when Bob accompanies me. I highly value our time spent together, especially if it involves our bikes, the Breezer and his Schwinn Jet Star. Biking couples are so romantic. Well, I don't do triathlons . . . yet. I have nothing against them but at the moment they aren't on my plate and I'd prefer to concentrate on skiing and running. A triathlon is tempting since it would involve a new bike but I have already determined it would have to be a classic road bike with drop bars and a handsome Brooks saddle. Maybe a Raleigh.

Anyway, the Kestrel arrived, not quite fully assembled, on our front porch last night. Bob morphed into an 8-year-old boy on Christmas Day. My price tag anxiety instantly melted away as I regarded his excitement. Is it just me or is the inner 8-year-old of the 43-year-old husband just so, so charming and adorable? Yes, he will admonish me for writing these words in this forum but that's just how I feel.

Bob assures me he has not abandoned the Jet Star. One bike is for going places (avec moi), and the other bike is for triathlons. He pointed out that "both look like rockets". Somehow, that one comment calmed me. Yes, it still really is all about style - well partly. Bob says his Kestrel is quite sexy and sleek. Je suppose, in a gearhead kind of way. He enthusiastically pointed out the aerodynamic features like the flat spokes, the "fluid design" of the saddle stem, and the feather light weight of the carbon frame.

What's a girl to do? I awoke at 3 a.m. and heard him assembling his new bike in the living room. He's just so happy.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Of Snow and Bike Lanes . . . Can't We Just All Get Along?

Every city loves a headline grabbing lane dispute. Flagstaff's latest lane dispute generated a lot of on-line comments, most of which seem to hold a grain of truth (except for those who opined that bicyclists have no business on the road). This one involved a city bus, a video camera and bike lanes particially covered in snow.

I'll be honest, one reason I don't bike as much during snow season is that bike lanes are often covered in snow and this year we have had a lot of snow. So much snow that that regular traffic lanes have been significantly narrowed for days. Along many roads little space is available on the shoulder to hold plowed snow so it gets piled in the bike lane. Not fun for bike commuters but I don't know what the answer is. Most cities are cutting budgets, laying off staff (aka your fellow taxpayers) and don't have extra funds for haul snow off bike lanes. Really, folks, snow plowing is expensive and when lots of snow is coming down in a short period of time finding a place put it is very challenging.

Anyway, I'll leave further comments to you the reader.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Louisville Correspondent Sushi-K Gets a Bakfiet!

Not one to let the winter weather get the best of her SRAB's Louisville correspondent Sushi-K continues to pedal rain or shine, in weather fair or foul. Happily for her she has a new bakfiet to keep her motivated and help carry larger loads from work or the grocer. Sushi-K promises to send a full report on her experience and some photo details but sent me the above shot as a sneak preview. As you can see, Sushi-K decorated her bakfiet during the holiday season and took advantage of the cargo container to make well packed haul. Knowing Louisville as I do, I am pretty sure you won't see many cargo bikes like this on even the Highlands streets where Sushi-K resides but this could be the start of a new trend.

Congratulations Sushi-K! We can't wait for the follow up.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Another Townie Bike, Skiing from Work, and Kinda Like a Ski Resort For Under $30

Eventually, one reaches a point of acceptance. I have reached that point. I accept that I will likely not be on my Breezer Uptown 8 for quite some time. The snow covering the bike lanes and multi use paths is likely to be with us for a bit longer. The drivers of unnecessarily large SUVs will continue to drive a high rates of speed over icy patches while text messaging. Due to a $700 vet bill today and a likely pay cut to close the budget gap, this public employee cannot afford studded tires and will continue to only dream about navigating the snow covered streets in the elegant but functional Oma Workcycle.

Several weeks ago in between the December blizzard of the decade and the 4-day January snow offering (54 inches deposited, I believe), the snow receded well enough on the bike lanes and paths for me to take an excursion to New Frontiers for bread and cheese. Upon arriving, I found this nifty townie bike locked characteristically to one of the generous bike racks under the New Frontier covered porch. I say "characteristically" because New Frontiers is one of the few establishments in town where I am likely to see other shoppers roaming the aisles with their bikes helmets and panniers under one arm and a loaf of artisan bread and a copy of Utne under the other. Anyway, I found the slightly rusty finish and the faded paint of the town bike utterly charming and wondered if it was indeed a vintage bike pulled out of the landfill or extracted from gramma's old woodshed. Not that it matters. Other than my preference for step-through frames and an upright seating position, I am really not a bike snob.

Snow was predicted today but never came. It is predicted tonight and tomorrow. If it looks do-able, I'll attempt to navigate the Breezer down the steep and slippery driveway tomorrow. If its snowing I'll just pack my skis and ski home, as I did this afternoon. Those skis were definitely one of the best Christmas gifts ever. No, it is not bike commuting but it proves an acceptable substitute for the car. Today's skiing conditions were perfect. The snow deep, well packed, and just slick enough for a good glide. I spent 30 minutes extra practicing hills, which still challenge my courage.

I referenced ski resorts in my title. Given the economic times, the Planner Guy and I can't really afford ski resorts, even the sort-of ski resort in Flagstaff. Happily for us, our friend Dave built a house in Mountainaire that, for me, is like his own private ski resort. He invited a pack of people, including us, out to his house this past Sunday afternoon for 5 hours of skiing in the Coconino National Forest to which he has access literally in his back yard. His house is rustic, warm and welcoming. We packed beer and snacks for the outing and stopped a few times to rest and partake. Three trusty canine companions joined our group, one of which circled me whenever I appeared to be having trouble. At the end of the trip we gathered in David's kitchen for a pot luck of warm and hearty fare of which we all enjoyed several helpings, and of course, beer and wine. The day and the people kept all thoughts of the recession far, far away.