Monday, March 19, 2012

When pedaling around Downton Abbey: The Kaufmann Mercantile Canvas Saddle Bag

Stolen from the back of Matthew Crawley's bicycle, perhaps?
I'm coming off a seasons I and II Downton Abbey marathon on my laptop while at the same time reviewing a saddle bag for commute by bike.  It struck me how ever so romantic was the Kaufmann Mercantile Canvas Saddle Bag and couldn't help but imagine the future Earl of Grantham, Matthew Crawley, pedaling around the manor property with the ruggedly regal bag mounted on his bicycle.  Did any of you get hooked into Downton Abbey?  I tried to resist but Maggie Smith's will overcame me.  Can't you just picture the young solicitor transporting an engagement ring to his love and distant cousin Mary (one has to keep the money and titles in the family, you know) within the depths of the bag, along with a take-out carton of fish and chips?

Works on a 21st century Dahon or at a 16th century English manor house.
Please check out my review over at Commute by Bike and tell me what you think.  I think it's no coincidence that the founder of Kaufmann Mercantile previously worked in film production.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

An old bike hidden in an old garage

While in Louisville earlier this week, Bob and I dropped in on our friends Winn and Vivian at their Highlands brownstone they are rehabbing.  Not much had been done to the old place since the 1930s or 40s so they really have their work cut out for them and it's nice to see that in the year since we first saw the place they've made quite a bit of progress, installing new plumbing, repairing the roof, insulating everything and building a new kitchen with modern conveniences while preserving important architectural features of the original structure.  The fact that he is reusing and repurposing as much of the tear down materials as possible is also pretty impressive.  The slate from the original roof will used for tile in one of the bathrooms.  Nice!

Wonder what stories this vintage Schwinn has to tell?
Winn took us out to the ancient two-story detached garage to show us a few of his side projects, drawing my attention to a cool, vintage Schwinn leaning on the back wall directly across from the front door.  Due to the nature of the very narrow stairwell currently without a hand rail, I decided not to climb to the second floor where the bike was housed for a closer look but did manage to snap the above photo for your viewing pleasure.  I wonder if Winn will ever decide to restore it?  Do any of you recognize this model or know anything about it?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Nordic sweater for a chilly spring bike ride

Mine warm, Nordic cardigan is perfect for a late winter/early spring bike trip in Northern Arizona.  Thanks, Mom!
I mentioned in a previous post that my crafty mother-in-law (crafty in the talented sense), knitted a Nordic cardigan sweater for me.  Her handmade Nordic sweaters are a family tradition and all the kids and their spouses have them, so I, being the latest addition to the clan, was excited to receive mine last week.

Ribbed tights from JCrew and tall, suede boots help make cold weather pedaling comfortable.
Winter often lasts well May here in Northern Arizona so, it being only March, I can expect to get lots of wear out of this for quite some time.  

On a bike, everyone get a great view of my new favorite cardigan.
Mom used a nice thick, wool yarn that kept me snugly warm all by itself the other day when the temperatures were in the high 50's.  Just enough warmth for my bike ride to and from work.

Heading into March but prepared for continued cold weather riding.
Bob got a bit nostalgic for his sweater after seeing me looking so pleased with mine and wondered if he still had his.  Of course, I said, I know exactly where to find it and quickly retrieved it from our closet.  Also nice and thick.  I don't know how he has not worn it while pedaling in to work on our more frigid winter days.  Except for some pilling that can be easily shaved off, it's still in great condition.

Nordic warriers??

Here Bob and I are in our backyard in what could become a family heirlooms.  I'm not passing mine down anytime soon, though.  Looking forward to many chilly night rides in cozy warmth.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Stuff I am ashamed to admit that I think when driving a car

Someday, the recession will end for the rest of us, I will no longer live in a bone crushingly expensive town and my salary will return to it previously acceptable level.  Until then, I might not be able to afford the perfect bike trailer for hauling my 30 lbs Schnauzer-Petit Bassett mix to and from Petsmart for grooming.  As that was the primary mission of our morning, I had to drive the car today in order to accomplish that very task.  Upon returning to the house with the freshly shorn Ashby, I pulled on to my street and immediately found myself behind two "recreational cyclists" of the sunny weekend variety.  Neither style nor speed, I'm afraid.  Just meandering about the street in a lazy S-pattern, confident in their safety as their heads were both securely encased in the latest protective headgear.  They both glanced behind me but made no move to one definitive side of the road so that I could politely and safely pass them.  Heavy sigh. . . . I felt irritation growing within me.  For the love of god, will you both please decide which side of road you want to be on!?  Is this what it is like to be a driver?  Surely, I am never responsible for such thoughts in full-time drivers?  I am certain that I always pedal in a responsible, considerate manner. . . . I hope. 
Just trying to relax and exercise patience with other cyclists.
Suddenly, the pair make a u-turn in the middle of road and head out of the neighborhood.  Not even a simple hand single warning me of their next move!  "Losers!", I scream in my mind.  "Learn to ride a bike or stay off the road, nimrods!", I silently yell.  Yeah, I'll bet they stop in the middle of single track trails to adjust their Ipods during foot races, too.   Where is this hostility and impatience coming from I wonder as I pull into the garage?  Does the automobile bring it out or are my feelings the natural result of being behind two clueless people who rarely take their bikes out of the garage?  Perhaps, I'm just being unreasonable in my haste to get home with Ashby and be out of the car?

Much later, I am out on the multi-use path, taking Ashby and Daisy on a much needed walk.  Hurridly, I  pull in Ashby's fully extended retractable leash as a cyclists heads in our direction on the path.   Hurry, Ashby, hurry!  Whoo!  Just in time.  The cyclist passes unhindered but she doesn't smile at us.  I wonder if she thinks I'm just another dog walking idiot.  From elitist snob to thoughtless rube in less than one day.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bicyclists as perceived by a bicyclist driving a car

Clutching that wheel in fear?
Does this ever happen to you?  Do you, as dedicated transportation cyclist, find yourself driving a car and feeling desperately frightened that you will kill or otherwise maim one of your own?  I do not ask this question in jest.  I really do worry about hitting a cyclist. I don't worry that much about getting hit by a car myself.  I'm a cautious kind of cyclist who tends to follow the rules of the road and assume that drivers simply do not see me.  And that last part is where I fall down as an anxious driver.  I fear that I'm not going to see a cyclist, and I'm really, really looking.  Hmmmm. . . . . I find this the most disconcerting when I'm behind the wheel and I have to cross the bike lane in order to enter the right turn lane.  Is it just me or does anyone else experience this concern?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bike fashion interlude . . . a return of cold to Flagstaff

Dressed for a cold morning commute.
It's cold outside but the cold can't keep me off my bike, mostly.  Freezing temps certainly won't prevent me from neglecting my commitment to cycle chic during 2012.  Cream puffy jacket and cable turtle neck from Eddie Bauer and Boden look-a-like pencil skirt from Target.  Yes, you can wear a pencil skirt on a bike!  Tights and tall boots for warm legs.

My favorite new bike accessory!
And some faux pearls from JCrew for feeling extra girly on my bike.  Just doing my part to rebrand bike commuting for the mainstream.

My Nordic cardigan, handmade by my multi-talented mother-in-law.
And here's a sneak preview of the cozy Nordic cardigan that my wonderful mother-in-law made for me.  All her kids and their spouses have one now.  The joke among the siblings is that they are extremely itchy but Bob assured me that I didn't have to wear it.  Well, the only thing that gets between me and a Nordic sweater is a shirt.  I wore the cardigan Tuesday and was itch-free all day.  And very warm.  With a fresh, thick snow on the ground this morning, I didn't get to bike to work as planned so I'll post a better photo soon as I can't wait to wear it again.