Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bike parking inequity in Sunnyside?

My most awesome hair stylist, Paul, and his partner, John, just reopened their salon, Shear Irony, (2708 N. 4th St., 928.699.4315), at a new location on Fouth Street in the Sunnyside neighborhood on the east side of Flagstaff.  I had a haircut with Paul (aka "Flagstaff's best hairstylist according to me and several people I know") yesterday and I, undaunted by the 7- 8 mile trek, pedaled to my appointment, stopping at City Hall to pay our water bill and schedule termination of service.  I also stopped at a new pastry shop, A Touch of Sugar Bakery, as a reward for the 14 mile round trip, and purchased an ecstacy-inducing chocolate chip, oatmeal-raisin cookie for me and some chocolate chip cookies for Paul (I wish I were rich so I could just fly him to Phoenix one a month to do my hair).  I'd have taken a picture of my sorta healthy oatmeal cookie but, as you might have guessed, I ate it before the idea occurred to me.  I'll do better next time, as I'll definitely find a reason to go back.  That was a damn good cookie!

Anyway, I almost didn't stop at A Touch of Sugar Bakery because I couldn't find a place to lock up my bike close by.  Not a single bike corral was in sight.  Not even the crappy kinds that I'm forever complaining about.  And I really looked around.  But I really wanted a good cookie, baked by loving local hands.  So, I pedaled around and eventually found this sign  several yards behind the bakery: 

Greenlaw Village Shopping Center could use some bike corrals, ya'll.
Heavy sigh!  I think it's important to stress that I would not have stopped for cookies had I not been on my bike since, once again, the cookie was a reward for a 14 mile, round trip, bike ride.  I was burning off those calories, and I needed that oatmeal cookie as a nutritional supplement for the extra energy needed to bike home in a headwind!  Had I been traveling by car, Catholic guilt (the kind that continues to plague many of the similarly godless) would have totally prevented me from indulging my sweet tooth.

So I, with cookies in my basket, pedaled over to Shear Irony.  Luckily, I had time to spare because Knoles Village Center where the salon is located also had no bike parking, not even a sign post that I could lock my Dahon on to.  Paul later told me one of his clients actually hauled his bike up the the stairs to the second floor where the salon is located.  I thought about that but I'm a short little lady and just don't like lifting a 30 lbs bike up a flight of stairs.  I pedaled around the building a few times and, finding nothing, cut through a mostly empty rear parking lot to the Coconino County building on King Street where I fully expected to find a bike corral.

Bike corrals are located, if you can find them, behind the County building on King Street.  Some urban planner guy or gal probably had to beg, borrow and steal to get them installed.
Well, it was a search to find bike corrals but they were there, hidden close to an employee entry at the rear of the building.  Although small, it is one of my favorite styles of bike corrals.  I thought it was strange though that there weren't any bike corrals for the general public in the front of the building or in a place more easily to spot.  I'm not saying this out of  loyalty to my former employer, but the City of Flagstaff does provide a lot of bike corrals on both sides of City Hall, and bikes are always attached to them, especially when City Council is in session.  A lot of citizens use them, as do staff.  And, to be quite honest, many people who rely on County services use a bike as their primary method of transportation and could probably use a place to lock up.  I'm grateful for the bike corral that I eventually found but  if a larger corral, located in a place more accessible to the public, would be just a tiny bit better.

Also better would be if the property owners up and down Fourth Street could help out a bit by installing some bike corrals in their parking areas that would be great too.  Gub-ment can't do it all.  Fourth Street is getting some long, long, LONG awaited corridor improvements so hopefully bike corrals are included - and don't the people who live and work in Sunnyside deserve the same kind of really nice bike corrals that the people who live and work downtown have?  I think they do, and I'm pretty sure those corrals will be full.  People like me will stop for cookies or a cut and color or slices of pizza or a plate of Pad Thai.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

An unexpected bicycle sighting. . .

Bob and I took a short walk downtown on Saturday following our lunch at Diablo Burger and saw this:

a bicycle, wrapped in holiday lights, tucked under the gable of this little ramshackled house. Interesting.  Unique.  I wondered at the inspiration of the decorator.  Does he or she just really want to celebrate an intense love of bicycles or was the placement simply an act of artistic whimsy?  If you are a Flagstaff reader with the inside scoop on this display, please fill me in within the comments sections.  No matter though.  It made me smile and look forward to our move to a similar old urban neighborhood.  I'd never be able to get away with this in Ponderosa Trails.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Will bike for a Diablo Burger!

Straddling two cities before we make the big move to Phoenix, Bob drove back to Flagstaff late last night after spending a productive week at his new job, taking up residence at a downtown hotel and dining at the restaurants located in our new neighborhood.  Yes, confirms Bob, we're going to like living in the city.  Lots to bike and walk to and he just learned on that the rail line will be extended to Dunlap Avenue near his office by 2015.
Locked up on Heritage Square in front of Diablo Burger.

We've still got plenty of packing to do here but all Bob wanted to do this morning was enjoy a leisurely bike ride to downtown Flagstaff and have lunch.  Fine by me, I knew exactly where I wanted to go.

The Blake Burger

We hadn't been to Diablo Burger in many months.

The Vitamin B Burger

The obvious question is WHY?

There are no words, but Bob's face says it all.

Words and images cannot begin to adquately convey the unearthly deliciousness of a Diablo Burger, to say nothing of the rosemary French fries.  We are selling our refrigerator and convection oven tomorrow.  I plan to eat a lot of peanut butter sandwiches and microwave dinners but I just might have to pedal back down to Diablo Burger a time or two before we're gone for good.

Let me be perfectly clear - this is a damn good burger.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Product Review: The Detours Phinney Handlebar and Rack Bag

Finding my keys on the Phinney key fob.
My review of the Detours Phinney Handlebar and Rack Bag is live on Commute by Bike.  Hop on over and give it a read. 

The Phinney, as a rack trunk.
It's a nice little handbag you can attach to your handlebars or carry as a rack trunk.  If you've enjoyed other Detours offerings, you won't be disappointed  in the Phinney.  The Madison Bag seems to be a larger version.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A chance meeting with a very stylish SRAB reader

Oh, sure, it was over 100 degrees today in Phoenix but I'm not there yet and 89 felt like a scorcher in Flagstaff.  On my bike I climbed though.  I had to run down to Bike Shop Hub to pick up perhaps the weirdest product ever (that's for a later post) to review on Commute by Bike and then on to Avis to get a rental car in order to drive Daisy out to Second Chance to have her spayed.

Cori, Flagstaff bike commuter and SRAB reader.
Moments after I left BSH, what did I see but a vision of bikey fashionableness (yes, I think that is a made up word) on a striking, powder blue commuter.  Under normal conditions, I never would have caught up with her - I will not stoop to frightening other cyclists by pursuing them like a rabid paparazzi - but as I turned north on San Francisco I discovered the BNSF train was just beginning it's crossing.  The guard rail would be down for a few minutes; just enough time to introduce myself and take a couple of pictures.

Turns out Cori reads SRAB and recognized me, which was a little funny because I could not have looked less like a bicycle fashionista today!  I had on the bare minimum of makeup and under my helmet my hair still unwashed.   I was perspiring in the uncommonly hot June heat, and was dressed for comfort only, something I usually can't bring myself to do!  Cori, on the other hand, looked stunning, cool and comfortable! 

A rack and mesh basket adds utility to a stylish city bike.

And as you can see, her cute  outfit coordinated perfectly with her bicycle, a Felt Café 3!  I hadn't seen one of Felt's Café series before so this was a real treat.  You can just barely see the coffee cup holder on the handlebar in this photo.  Cori also added rear rack, mesh basket, a double pronged kickstand, and lighting for a truly working commuter bike.  Couldn't ask for much more than that but the robin's egg blue frame is just the icing on top.  I couldn't have been more flattered when she said that she loved reading SRAB.  Cori told me that she knew about my blog since her husband, Robert, works for Bike Shop Hub.  Cori works at Northern Arizona University and is a graduate student in Sustainable Communities.  By bike commuting she's certainly walking the walk and living proof that you don't have to give up style to be committing to green.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A visit to Flagstaff's Bici Mundo: bike shop or work of art?

One of Flagstaff's most friendly looking doorways.

During bike to work week, I paid a visit to Flagstaff's Bici-Mundo, hidden within the city's Southside.  I hadn't been by in a couple of years and, as usual, wondered what took me so long to get back.  Owned and operated by Elson Miles, Bici Mundo is a bike shop that sells used bikes, rebuilds, bike parts and bike repair.   

Bicycle as yard art.
Everytime I visit though, I feel more like I'm at a bike museum or art gallery.   This time was not different, and armed with my ever present Canon Powershot, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to practice setting up better shots within the camera frame.  You can be the judge of whether I not I was successful.

A welcoming display greets the visitor to Bici Mundo.

As if waiting for her next owner.
Cranks and rims, artfully displayed.

Another thoughtful rim display.

A sensitive placement of forks and handlebars?

Everywhere one turns, one finds a bike.

Yet another red folding bike - that is not mine.

There is always a place for flowers.

Susan, everyone's favorite bike-shop girl, assists a customer in her quest for a commuter bike.
Susan insisted the near museum-like placement of bikes and parts was merely the result of some tidying up she did earlier in the day. 
Perhaps it is all my art school sensibilities but Bici Mundo is an hommage to deep, deep bike love.  If you live in Flag and have never stopped by or plan to visit the community, I highly recommend putting Bici Mundo on your list of must-see cultural attractions.

If you'd like to hear the full story of Bici Mundo check out this link to Mary Tolan's short film on the subject.  Elson has some pretty smart thoughts to share about the effects of bicycling on social interaction, stuff you probably already know but articulated quite well.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Valley Metro Light Rail and Brompton Love. . .

Bob and I traveled down to the Valley last Wednesday so that I could register for classes at Arizona State University, and he could begin his new job.  Registration and orientation was Wednesday night so on Thursday while Bob was at work I hopped on Valley Metro Light Rail and took care of some errands.
Outside the Central Phoenix Transit Center at Central and Van Buren.  Oh, so many palm trees.
When we first moved to Arizona 5 years ago, the naysayers predicted that nobody would ride the rail and that it wasn't needed.  Indeed, change can be difficult but  not surprisingly, ridership has far outpaced the original estimates.  I rode on and off shortly after rush hour through about 3 p.m., having purchased an all-day pass, and saw no shortage of passengers. 

One of the many sophisticated looking rail stations in Phoenix and the Valley.
Many, like this young woman at the Osborn and Central Station, combined bicycle and rail to get to their destination.

Rail riders and their bikes. 
And these two gentlemen, brought their bikes on board.  The cars are equipped with space to hang bikes but if they are full one can simply stand next to one's bike for the trip as long as access in and out of the car or through the seating area isn't blocked.  My cousin Angie found hanging her Electra too difficult to manage on her own and is looking forward to buying my Dahon this fall.  She looks so cute on it.

The perfect fold in pink and Turkish green, M-model.
A snazzy Mouton folding bike.
Speaking of folding bikes, among my destinations was Portapedal in Tempe.  I've been planning a trip for Portapedal for months in order to test ride a Brompton.  Owner Al and Donna Cappello's bike shop specializes in "high performance folding, travel and commuting bikes", and on Wednesday morning they seemed to enjoying brisk foot traffic through their store.  Besides Bromptons, they carry several other folding bike brands including Moulton and Tern, along with pretty much every accessory or upgrade you could imagine.  Very soon they will also carry Pashley bikes, which I look forward to testing.

Many colored Bromptons lined up in a neat, tight row.
Al and Donna delivered very personal service while I was there.  I tested two versions of the Brompton, the M and H models and discussed specs for my future bike (in Turkish Green).  I was surprised at what a difference the H model made in the upright positioning.  Other than the traditional Dutch bike to rode in Portland a few years ago, I've never ridden in a more upright position.  I certainly did not expect that in a folding bike.  I also felt absolutely no stress on my forearms during my test.  Perhaps what I like almost as much was how easily the Brompton can be rolled while in the folding position with the handlebar left extended. Yah, I will be able to roll it directly on to the rail car instead of lifting, a little tougher for a little short lady.

Me with the Brompton Commemorative Diamond Jubilee Bike!  Long live the Queen.
A treat before I left was a chance to see one of the limited edition Brompton Jubilee bikes, accessorized with a Union Jack S-Bag!  Brompton only made about 500 of these commemorative bicycles for Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee, and they were scooped up rapidly by bike shops.  I even got to wear a Union Jack helmet for this picture, taken outside of Portapedal.  Nice.

I couldn't leave Portapedal without Al and Donna's wisdom on biking in the Valley's scorching heat.  And it was hot that day, reaching a high of about 104 by the end of the day.  Al pretty much bikes through it all and Donna said that drinking plenty of water with an occasional Gator-Aide type drink is the key.  Water.  Seems nobody can stress that enough when it comes to biking in the high (but dry) heat.  They actually made sure I drank a bottle of water before I left, since I was walking to the shuttle stop for the ride back to the transit center where I'd pick up the rail back to Central Phoenix.  I will continue to gratefully accept water and advise from all seasoned Valley cyclists.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

They came, they pedaled, they drank beer. . . the June Flagstaff Tweed Ride!

Quick, before you miss him!
In the great tradition of Tweed Rides world-wide, the bicyclists of Flagstaff will not be outdone. 

Style council.
We are not New York or Boston or San Francisco but we DO do fashion, and we do it our way. 

The definition of jaunty, 21st century style.
Organized by local bicycling guru (as recognized by Flagstaff Live) Ray Walker, we met up last Wednesday at 6 p.m. for coffee and beer, according to preference, at Flagstaff Bike Revolution and Mother Road Brewing Company at Mike's Pike on the Southside.

And he took it on his bike!
Where there is beer, of course, there is a man with an accordion.  One doesn't plan for such things at a proper Flagstaff Tweed Ride.  We love organic, don't ya know!

Very knickerbocker of them.

And oh, the fashions! 

Tweedy mountain-cycle-chic.
Well-dressed ladies . . . .

In Flagstaff, we call this formal attire.

Green bike, green shirt

Three men, three bikes.

and gentlemen.

Could it really be him?
And a potential sighting of The Most Interesting Man in the World.  I guess he also drinks Mother Road brew.  Shockingly, he was not on a bicycle so I have my doubts.

I am not worthy.
Do not judge the gas tank; the hills and the wind can be a mighty tough combination.

Ray Walker and a stylish bicycle.

And we cannot forget the bikes.

Then we pedaled.
We own Beaver Street!  But we still share the road.

Planner Guy on a bike. 
En mass.

Sometimes we stopped for traffic lights.  Well, actually, we always stopped for traffic lights.

At San Francisco and Rt. 66.

Our route took us through NAU campus, a flat route consisting of bike lanes and bike paths.

On an NAU bike path.
In rare shadows.
Definitely among the Tweedy set.

Another gratuitous shot of the Planner Guy.
 We couldn't forget the Tweed group photo, could we?

Riders of the Flagstaff June Tweed Ride 2012

Thank you, Ray, for another successful Tweed Ride. 

And thank you, Stella, our official Tweed mascot for the evening.  She's such a good girl.