Friday, November 23, 2012

It's the neighborhood

Outside the patio of The Main Ingredient.
I feel so lucky to that we found a house to rent Coronado Historical District.  We have at least a dozen really good restaurant within biking and walking distance to our place and we probably visit them two or three times a week.  Between Bob's work schedule and my time spent studying, we're just not doing quite as much cooking as we normally would so having dining options close by is a huge ammenity for us. 

Just a fudged night shot that turned out to be kind of cool.
Walking and bike to them really helps us unwind and lends a bit of playfulness to our evening.  The Main Ingredient is a favorite neighborhood destination and seems to be especially so for people who like to get around by bike. 

Another bike date?
We always see lots of bike locked to the fence surrounding their front patio. If you are in the area and want to pedal over for a bite, the quesadilla is the best I've ever had.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Brommy rides the rail

At Encanto Station.
I've tested my Brompton on Metro Rail the last two Saturdays with visits to the northern end of Central Phoenix where my cousin lives.  I enlisted her help with a couple of class projects I was assigned this semester so the trips were perfect opportunities to practice the not-yet 15 second fold at the rail station and rolling my bike on the train using the Eazy Wheels.

About the fold - I am getting better but it might be a while until I am agile enough for the quick, Youtube worth fold as I'm hobbling due to a torn miniscus (surgery next month!) and a pulled muscle in my lower back due to knee giving out on me a few weeks ago.  Bicycling is much more comfortable than walking but the fold is still a bit tricky at the moment.

For now I leave the handlebars up after the fold so that my Carradice bag regains attached and I don't have to carry it.  Leaving the handlebars up also allows for me to easily roll the Brompton on the train so there's no bending or lifting.

Note the Eazy Wheels attached to the bke rack.
With the Brompton folded, I'm less self-conscious about taking up more than my share of space and, I don't hinder other riders in moving through the car. 

Still better, I get to sit down the newspaper during my trip.  I cannot  describe how much I enjoy reading the New York Times while riding public tranist. 

Ride, read and relax.
Last week, I sipped a hot coffee in a travel mug that I slipped into the back pocket of the Carradice bag and perrused the Times. Pure luxury.  My Brompton doesn't have a coffee or water bottle holder attached to the frame, and I'm not even sure if it's possible but the two back pockets of the Carradice bag are perfectly sized for both.

Naturally, the best part of the Brompton and rail experience is getting to answer questions about my bike.  Last week a gentleman with his wife and child at Encanto station chatted with me about my experience  and said he was considering getting a bike to combine with public transit but wondered about having adequate space in their small downtown apartment.  I told him that a folding bike would be a perfect answer to that concern because, folded, it slips easily into a corner, behind a chair or under a desk.  For a city dweller with little or no storage space a folding bike is the ideal urban bicycle.  A number of people inquired about the cost, and it's a legitimate question that I don't mind answering.  It's a pricey bike but not when compared to the cost of car ownership.  I always explain that my bicycle is my  mode of transport 85% of the time (I've only driven the car one in the last two weeks).  I also told them the Portapedal, where I purchased my Brompton, has all the top folding bikes, some of which are considerably less expensive than Bromtpon (and a few considerably more so).   Most people, however, simply have no experience with folding bikes.  On this mornings ride, a little girl's eyes grew large in puzzlement when I rolled on board with it.  Her grandmother and I exhanged smiles and I listened as she explained what it was.  The little girl appeared to have her doubts.

Bicycles + Los Suns makes a fun date

Bob in front of U.S. Airways Center.
Bob and I took in two Phoenix Suns games in the last couple of weeks.  The first was last Friday when  the Suns (minus Steve Nash who is now with the Lakers I say with bitterness in my voice) played the Cleveland Cavaliers.  We were Cavs fans that night because loyalty is simply what one does if you are any kind of decent person. My husband is a Cleveland native so to those of you who are from Cleveland or love someone who is, I think you know where I am headed. . . .but actually, I won't go there. I will instead only say that it was a close, close game, we had a great time, and because we locked our bikes to a conveniently placed bike corral across from U.S. Airways Center we could easily afford sushi after dinner (it also helped that Bob found a great deal on tickets on-line). 
Surprisingly good seat for only $8 each!
The following Monday, Veteran's Day, we cheered for the Suns who were up against the Denver Nuggets. 
Lots of good moments during the game dedicated to our servicemen and women.
This was struggle for me personally since last year my plan was to be a Nuggets fan since I had been accepted at University of Denver for grad school.  Bob's job offer however was in Phoenix so here we are, and I am nothing if not flexible.  Another very close game, and out team won.  Again, on our bikes, we decided to forgo dinner out and instead pedaled home, congratulating ourselves for living in a city with a pro-basketball team and for finding a neighborhood within easy biking distance to the arena.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Do I really need to go there? A question for the transportation cyclist.

I was chatting with a classmate today about the fact that both of us are pretty content to stay within the bike friendly confines of Central Phoenix or Tempe.  No, it's not as easy to traverse as either Portland or Flagstaff but there are bike routes to most of our destinations and when combined with public transit being car-free or car-light is pretty do-able.  If I can't get there by bicycle, more and more I find myself not just questioning whether or not I need to go at all.  The answer I keep arriving at is no, I don't need to go that much.  Rather than feeling deprived, I think I'm experiencing a greater sense of calm.  I find myself wanting stuff a little bit less.  My love of JCrew and the Banana hasn't necessarily gone away, I just don't experience it as something I can't live without - better for me mentally, better for me financially.

Instead of shopping, I've been exploring Phoenix's plethora of downtown murals.  Here are just a few.

The artists are quite diverse, some long-time muralists, others former taggers.  From what I understand many are self-taught.  I'm finding them all over downtown and, being on my bike so much, it's easy for me to stop and take them all in.  You see more of them here from time to time.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A most welcome bike corral for a scuff free bike finish

This cable lock will only be used when I have my eye on the Brompton.
Blogging has been hit or miss these days since starting school.  Lots of reading, papers due and several group projects have dominated my days since the end of August.  Now November, I continue to struggle with time management.  Nonetheless, I get it all done and and still make a little time for cyber outreach. There's always something to report, especially if you like the coffee at Lola's at 3rd Avenue and Roosevelt where I enjoyed a delicious iced latte earlier this week.

A crafty bike corral at Lola's on 3rd and Roosevelt.
A nifty little bike corral wearing a crocheted sweater. Not quite sweater weather yet here in the Valley but it certainly protects my Brompton's currently pristine finish.  How thoughtful!

Love the shadow against the pavers.
A cool shadow lying against a pavered sidewalk.

My Brommy making friends with an elegant single-speed, just parked by a very tall young hipster.  I'm not sure what they talked about.

Friday, November 2, 2012

My little Brompton; some gratuitous shots. . .

My Brompton, loaded for a morning of studying at a coffee shop.
I've been out and about on my little Turkish Green Brompton - H6R model for those who are curious.  The gearing is adjusted -12% for out next jaunt to San Francisco (not on the schedule but we hope . . .).
A view of the black Carradice City Folder.
I've been taking it to my internship, my Carradice bag bursting with school materials, and parking it in my office.

Brompton, mid-fold.
Still haven't mastered the 15 second fold but I'm getting better.  So far, I'm enjoying the ride.  Lot of little things to get used to after the Breezer but I'm a quick learner.  The gear shifters have probably proved the most difficult to get used to but like anything else, the more I do it the easier it becomes.  One thing that I know I want to change is to add a rear view mirror to the handlebar - I refuse to wear one on a bike helmet.  I don't depend on the mirror 100% but it just gives me a little extra look-see of what's going on around me.  If any Brompton owners out there use a mirror that attaches to the handlebar that won't interfere with the fold, please share your wisdom.