Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bike Packing and an Unexpected Journey

Bob and I were unexpectedly called home to see his father, who has been living with MS for many years and unfortunately is experiencing a poor turn in health.  Great physical distance from aging parent is almost always accompanied by worry, guilt and regret, especially so when a parent is in ill-health.  I am relieved that our supervisors have been supportive of the need to leave work with little advance notice in order to support our family. I am likewise grateful that I have close friends in Louisville, who have already completed this journey with aging parents and other family members, and can counsel me on how to be the most help to my husband.  My inclination is to want to jump in with wisdom that I imagine I have but don't, only succeeding in smothering and adding unneeded emotional pressure.

The Eco 3 and the Airporter, ready for flight!
Depending on how the visit goes and the immediate needs of Bob's parents, we will continue on after a week to our previously scheduled trip to San Francisco.  In the event we are able to travel on, I went ahead and packed up the Dahon Eco 3 in the Airporter Luggage the Bob gave me for Christmas.  I purchased a folding bike precisely because I wanted to be able to have a bike with me when we travel since we generally don't rent cars when we visit other cities.  Our plan is, once in San Francisco, to do our sightseeing by bike.  The hilly streets of San Francisco will definitely be a challenge, but didn't we just do 2 half marathons in less than a month?

Packed right and light - just under 50 lbs!
Anyway, the Airporter was a perfect fit for the Eco 3 and I'm happy to report the case has wheels and is very maneuverable.   I'm not going to get into further details in this post but instead save those for an upcoming guest post on the Dahon Dispatch Blog, along with some thoughts about my first experience traveling with a folding bike.  Until then, I'm not sure if I'll be able to post for the next couple of weeks.

What a view!
Before I go back to packing and getting the house ready for our house sitters, I'll leave you with a couple of snaps of my recent solo ski, right near in a part of the Coconino National Forest that sits very near our house.  An otherwise spring-like February, finally gave way to 18 inches of snowfall over the weekend.  We're expecting more this coming weekend and Bob and I both hope it will hang around for a while so we can enjoy some early spring cross country skiing.

Bright white snow; dark, dark glasses.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bikey Uses for Non-Bikey Things

The Planner Guy chastised me for not posting in several days.  "There's nothing there," he scolds.  On the defense, I snap back that I live in the suburbs and work at the airport, where I stay all day.  There's nothing to look at but airplanes and parked cars.  Whaaaa!  I've been on my bike but the weather has mostly been very windy and bitterly cold so there haven't been in good bike adventures.  The pedal on my Eco was restored on to the crank shaft without having to replace the whole crankset so I am very grateful for only a $15 repair at Single Track. 

One new bike related discovery though, courtesy of Dahon Bicycles.  I contacted them asking how to get some touch up paint to cover a few chipped areas.  Customer Service contacted me back and said the paint won't work because it has to be baked on.  Don't have a bike oven yet.  He told me instead to match the color of my bike with nail polish, and that's exactly what I did.  Looked around for a few weeks to find just the right color of red to match "brick" the color of the Eco 3.  Sally Hanson's Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear in Cherry Red (07) is a perfect, perfect match (really!).  And very durable.  I've been on and off the Eco all week and it hasn't chipped off; in fact I can't even tell where I applied it.

I thought how lucky I am to have a red bike that I can find nail polish to match and how glad I am that I purchased the Eco 3 instead of the Speed 7, which comes in two shades of blue.  Then I remembered that it's not hard to find nail polish in just about any color you can imagine.  Immediately, my mind went to what other color my next bike would be.  I'm thinking pale aqua would look really nice on my nails, especially during the summer months.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Is Bike Parking at Airports a Threat or Just Threatened?

Airport bike infrastructure a threat or just threatened?
Commenting on politics and the questionable representation I receive on that state and federal level is something I try to avoid in this blog but someone forwarded me this link from Streetsblog over Facebook and I decided to go ahead and share it with SRAB readers since it is a bicycle issue.  And a headscratcher. 

The Streetsblog post refers to a stipulation inserted in an FAA appropriations bill by Sen. John McCain (R - AZ).  Yes, my senator.  Yes, the not-yet-seceded state of Arizona.  I guess the senator is going all mavericky on us again.  (Heavy sigh!)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pedal Over to Commute by Bike

The Buff Seamless Headband
Flagstaff e-retailer and bike trailer manufacturer Bike Shop Hub recently invited me to write a product review on the very excellent blog Commute by Bike.  The product, the Buff Seamless Headband, arrived just in time for some really frigid weather so testing was a pleasure.  Here's a link to my review below.  Check it out as well as the rest of Commute by Bike.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

If First You Run, Then You Bike

I've been a runner longer than I've been a bicyclist and on January 16 the Planner Guy and I headed down to Phoenix to participate in the PF Chang's Rock and Roll Half Marathon/Marathon.  I ran the half and Bob did the full marathon.  It was a big deal for me because I haven't registered for a race in over 2 years due to a slow and cautious recovery from a herniated disk, an experience I don't recommend for anyone.  To my surprise, I was able to complete the race in 2:35:25; though certainly no PR, I ran much better than I expected since most of my training since Thanksgiving has been cross country skiing.  Regardless, because I've been running at much higher elevation I never felt out of breath.  As I always say, the hardest run at low elevation is easier than the easiest run at 7000 feet.  In other words, there really aren't any easy runs in Flagstaff.

 Last month's race was not our first experience with the PF Chang race.  We both ran the full marathon shortly after we moved to Flagstaff.  I spent more than a month prior to the race unable to properly train due to a severe case of strep throat.  By the finish line in Tempe, I could barely walk back to our car, my legs sore from the lactate buildup.  To my great fortune, a pedicab pulled up along beside us and asked if we needed a lift.  Post marathon, the pedicab is the greatest invention known to man.   Evidently, other runners felt the same way because they were in no short supply after this year's race.

Bob and I had other plans.  We packed our bikes in the Element for our trip so that we could pedal around Tempe a bit after the race before stopping for lunch at a Mill Avenue restaurant.  Tempe is pretty well equipped with bike lanes  but certainly remains well contaminated by cars - large ones, actually.  Most of the cyclists that we saw were pedaling on the sidewalks rather than in the bike lanes or on the road.

My first bib in two years!

Bob with bagel pre-race.

So here we are pre-race.  It was chilly, I needed coffee and my fingers were getting numb but the temperatures were predicted to rise into the low 70's.  Bob's marathon started first and mine about an hour later.  I was in corral 18 and we walked over 30 minutes to actually get to the starting line and begin running.  By mile 3 I decided that I would finish the half and even though I wouldn't PR I was excited to have follow throughed with a race after a few years absence.  Walking through the water stations, I completed my race in 2:35:25!  Bob finished the full marathon about 40 minutes after I came in, and like me no PR, but neither us needed the assistance of the pedicab.

Sore feet need a pedicab post race.
Evidently, a few runners did.  Now this is post-race luxury!

And a few other pedicabs and their passengers, now enjoying spring-like weather in January.  One way to truly feel the wind through your hair.

Bob and I collected our bikes from the rear of the Element.  Seems stupid to load your bike in a car to go pedal someplace else, I know.  We stayed at my cousin's house in Glendale and had hoped to just take light rail from the station near her place to the finish line and then bus it to the start, but the station was closed for the morning due to the race but this was the best could do.  And pedal we did, through Arizona State University campus and back around to Mill Avenue, where we stopped for lunch at My Big Fat Greek Restaurant.  It was our second time eating there and the food is great.  If you ever visit Tempe, give it a try.  Their hummus is  the best I've ever had.

We locked up on the fence separating the alfresco dining from the sidewalk.  We took an empty table on the opposite side of our bikes and sat down just in time to see a couple stop to admire the Dahon.  I smiled inwardly, resisting the temptation to interrupt as the guy explained to his girlfriend how the folding hinge worked. 

Me, holding my badge of honor. 
Two glasses of Riesling and a gyro sandwich later, we were late to return to my cousin's and hustled to unlock our bikes.  Unfortunately, Bob's U-lock wouldn't open.  We both worked on it for several minutes before moving to Plan B - an emergency can of Tef-Lube!  Would Tempe Bicycles even be open this late on a Sunday?  I pedaled down to University as fast as I could, worried that we'd have to call a locksmith and spend $85 to have the lock cut off.  Whoo-hoo!  Tempe Bicycles was open and very familiar with the problem.  Seems the Arizona dust dirties up the inside of the lock.  Yes, WD40 will work but Tef-Lube is much better.  I returned with the Tef-Lube.  Worked like a charm.  We pedaled back to the (heavy sigh) parking garage and returned our bikes to the (heavy sigh) Element.