Thursday, April 29, 2010

Flagstaff Street Chic - Spring 2010

On my way to a Tweed ride organizing meeting after work today, I had the good fortune to happen upon these two street-chic young ladies unlocking their mountain town bikes just outside the historic Hotel Weatherford. I love funky, art school street fashion but have never been very good at carrying it off. This pair does it just right, though. I love the bell shaped coats and the spontaneous mix of color, pattern and texture. And though we might be a step away from May, both women are dressed for warmth as well as style. Given their carefree fashion sense, is their choice of transportation a surprise?

A few blocks over, I spotted this townie bike parked behind a local restaurant. I imagine the baskets are perfect for carting home pizza and a couple of six packs of New Belgium after work. I don't know if you can tell from this photo but the saddle was covered with snow. Yes, it snowed on April 29.

Cold mountains overlooking downtown.

I was grateful to be meeting Ray at Flagstaff Coffee Company (16 E. Route 66), where I sipped the best damn latte I've had in ages. Topped with a generous helping of cinnamon for piping hot perfection.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Spring Riding . . . I Mean Winter - Yeah, I Mean Spring Riding . . .

Though according to the calendar we have edged past mid-April, the feeling of winter returned with Flagstaff with a snow storm that obscured the view of the San Francisco Peaks that I normally enjoy. I'm not bitter but I would have appreciated the snow had it fallen in sufficient amounts to provide good cross country skiing at 7000 feet (although it is still aplenty at 8300). Alas, it was hardly an inch of coverage, cold, wet and windy.

Would things warm up enough to soak up some vitamin D on the back patio this weekend?

Regardless, I've been back to pedaling into work regularly for several weeks and decided now was not the time to fall victim to a little snow. Not one to intentionally venture out on a bicycle in inclimate weather, I decided to throw caution to the wind, forget that I don't have studded tires, and bike up to work anyway. Baby steps. One can successfully overcome mental barriers in small increments. By next winter I should be a pro at pedaling through in snow who doesn't flinch with less than a foot covering the path.

Naturally, appropriate footwear was in order. Tevas.

My morning commute sparkled bright and a crisp light breeze blew snow crystals through my hair . Other than the frozen slush cracking and crunching beneath my tires all seemed peaceful and quiet. I noticed black ice on Pulliam Drive and decided the passing autos were in more danger of skidding out than me so my attention focused on a mallard ducking his head beneath the water in the small pond just off the path. I would not have noticed the little guy had a been in the Element and decided it was indeed a Happy Friday, despite the winter weather.

Tomorrow's weather prediction? A high of 59.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

He Finally Gets to Ride His Bike . . . . Sort of.

Is this not the look of determination or what?

IronmanBob brought his bike home from Absolute Bikes this evening, where it's been sitting for weeks waiting for the arrival of the elusive (specially designed by Kestrel engineers) seat post screw. Seat post securely in place, Bob now debates whether or not it is still a bit high.

As you can see, it is indeed a very sexy bike and full happiness is restored to Caravona home.

My facial expression belies just how much in pain I really am. Sexy bike or not, this is one hell of an uncomfortable seat.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Bike Date with a Visible Difference

The Planner Guy and I went on our first bike date since November and I was all excitement that he would be wearing the new, intensely yellow and extra noticeable jacket I found for him at Red Thread Sewing last week. Bob remarked earlier that week that he needed something more visible to wear in to work in the morning, especially that the route includes stretches of heavily traveled road without bike lanes. Jason Hughes, the creator of this MTI Adventurewear jacket, runs the Wet Dreams Sewing and River Supply side of the studio. Although originally designed for keeping warm and dry on the river, I noticed the school bus yellow jacket immediately upon arriving to pick up my alternations. The jacket is almost completely impervious to wind and water, making it perfect for the upcoming monsoon season when an unprotected bike commuter can be completely soaked in minutes. Bob will be able to wear it year round.

Here I am in my equally bright, red, suede car coat. And, yes, I am wearing pearls, which do nothing to enhance visibility on the road but go with everything, including bicycles.

Here is Bob (you can't miss him in that jacket), locking up our bikes at Woodlands Village Center. We always have to find a free rail because no bike racks have been installed. Bob and I are frequent diners to both Teppan Fuji and Taverna Greek Grill, both located at Woodlands Village Center so I suppose I can request that they speak with the building management company about installing some racks.

Bob and I have been visiting Teppan Fuji, originally Sushi Fuji, once or twice a week for about 3 years. Recently, we've been ordering Yakisoba noodles and Garden Vegetable maki rolls. Delicious and pretty enough to photograph. I intended to take a photo of it but got too excited and before I knew what happened it was all gone.

As a consolation prize though, I'm ending this post with a shot of tonight's dinner, created at home by Chef Bob - vegetable stuffed chicken breast with black beans and Mexican rice.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Product Review: The Detours Toocan Urban Utility Pannier

Tooling around on my bicycle this afternoon, I made my mandatory stop at Absolute Bikes to both stare at the Globe Live2 and check out the accessories section. The Globe Live2 and the Globe Haul recently moved to the front window display and after paying them their due honor I strolled over to accessories, where things appeared delightfully amiss. It seems someone has been weighing style equally with function, with many, many new and attractive messenger bags and pannier displayed, most of them clearly targeting the female shopper. Without hesitation I marched to the checkout counter and made my purchase. Here's why:

My eyes and hands were instantly drawn to the Toocan Urban Utility Pannier by Detours. This pannier is from the Expresso Collection. The product information tag indicates that the Toocan has a "carbo factor" of 10 baguettes so I'm guessing that the folks at Detours both have a sense of humor and understand this customer, for Bob and I have entered baguette-and-cheese-on-the-front porch-season. More objectively though, the bags dimensions are 15"x13"x7", also large enough to carry my Dell Studio laptop. Since it could be carrying my computer, my pannier needs to be sturdy. The Toocan is indeed pretty tough. It features a heavy-duty, quilted, nylon exterior and a thick, rubberized, flat bottom, which stands up easily without falling over when placed on the ground or another surface. The handles have rubberized grips making it comfortable to tote when weighed down with a computer or numerous loaves of French bread. The pannier also comes with a detachable, padded shoulder strap for additional convenience off the bike.

The exterior hooks that secure the pannier to the rear rack fitted the racks on both my Specialized and the Breezer perfectly. They are placed close to the middle of the pannier making it sit fairly high behind the saddle. I like this because I can now easily reach in to the zipper opening for my camera or an extra water bottle.

I really appreciated the interior of the Toocan. The pannier has a nylon lining in a floral pattern that matches the center floral panel on the exterior. Incorporated into the lining are several pockets making it easier to keep items organized, a helpful feature for me since I'll be taking this bag with me to work most days.

Finally, I was relieved to find hidden in the interior zip pocket a bright yellow rain cover. It doesn't rain that often in Flagstaff but we are prone to short but sudden monsoons during the summer and early fall. I believe that the pannier alone is probably very adequate to keep things safe and dry but the bright yellow cover will both protect the pretty exterior from mud but also add to visibility.

I couldn't be more pleased with my find. The Toocan is modern and attractive. It will draw less unwanted attention than my strictly utilitarian boxy, black panniers, be easier to carry when stopping at a boutique or restaurant, and somehow make me feel a little more professional when I arrive at work. Unlike the black panniers I been using for the last few years (and will keep for trips to the grocer or Home Depot)I can easily carry two of them while shopping without worrying them knocking things off shelves or the having the contents spill out. The Toocan Urban Utility Pannier retails for $60, which for me was not inexpensive, but given the quality I did not hesitate.

Flagstaff Tweed Website is Up!

The Flagstaff Tweed website is up and running. Over the next few weeks details regarding the May 16 and June 18 rides will be added, as well as exciting art to market the event. Here is the link. Anyone planning to visit Flagstaff for either event should not hesitate to contact me about places to stay and things to do. The weather should be great!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Aaaack!! My First Bike Commuting Nightmare!

Yes, I very literally had a bike commuting nightmare last night. I don't know what precipitated it. The looming threat of lay-offs at work? Feeling overwhelmed by Tweed ride planning? A second day of Intermediate Excel training? Probably all three.

Anyway, in my nightmare I am pedaling down Milton Avenue (a nightmare in and off itself), the wind is blowing very, very hard, and I feel like I am being wedged into an unusually narrow bike lane. Any bike lane on Milton would be welcome but in this case, a hoard of bicyclists come pedaling up my lane in the wrong direction, forcing me back into speeding traffic.

I've awakened from nightmares about all the expected themes: not knowing my lines on opening night; not attending any of my classes all semester; and arriving to work naked. A nightmare about bike commuting strikes me as all time crazy. Has anyone else ever had a bike-themed nightmare? If so, I'd like to hear about it . . . .Yikes!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Whose Bike Is This?

The Running Bob and I strolled downtown Flagstaff last night for the Friday Night Art Walk and came upon this curious bicycle. Once again, we've both seen this furry bike locked to various racks and signs downtown but never caught sight of the owner. Maybe he or she is at the Orpheum across the street for the Paula Poundstone show . . .

With Bike to Work Week coming up in mid-May there is a good chance I'll finally see the owner. Hopefully I'll be able to work up the courage to ask where the inspiration for the purple faux fur.