it’s all fun and games until someone gets to work

I loved this reading perspective from the Urban Phoenix on how cycling is seen so often as just a recreational activity or a last resort means of transportation. Most of what the author says has also been my own experience.

For example, the four main responses he summarizes:

screen-shot-2017-05-28-at-8-51-43-am.png

 

#1 is typically from other people who currently or previously commuted.

Living in South Carolina, I probably get #2 the most (a combination of that and “how do you get groceries/how far are you from work”/other logistical and often incredulously intoned questions)

I rarely hear #3, and when I do it’s typically from the teenage boys in my mentoring group. Once I turned 16 I felt the same way, driving was new and exciting and way cooler than riding a bike. But I also lived in suburbia and that feeling wore off after a few years.

And #4 is often phrased after I myself mention that I don’t have a car, and get the response “… Like, by choice?”.

 

This attitude of “if she doesn’t have a car, something must be terribly wrong” is why I named this blog “Rebel Without a Car” instead of something like “Maniac Behind Bars”. Sadly, in the current cityscape you do have to be a little crazy to bike for practical purposes, since most of our roads where I live are built only for cars. I certainly wish I wasn’t some pedaling pioneer or workplace anomaly, but that my interactions could be more run-of-the-mill “oh cool, you ride too”.

 

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This isn’t just a problem with getting local council members on board with the vision for complete streets (although you should definitely go talk to your city and county council members); living in car culture is something we all participate in, one way or another.

Which for me is what makes it so fun to ride around in non-cycling clothes, hauling my groceries or going to a meeting with some mild helmet hair (which is hard to suss out from what my hair would look like otherwise, #curlyhairperks). Because when we have visible, diverse bike commuting in our communities, we fight stereotypes and challenge the ‘my way is the highway’ mindset. Every single bike ride you take is a part of that.

 

 

The only asterisk I want to stick in this article is where the author refers to bikes as “like cars, only slower”. In urban locations, bikes are actually the most efficient means of getting around; when I studied abroad, I would always beat public transit (even the really nice European kind) and cars within the city thanks to the cycle paths, bike lanes and ease of parking. This phenomenon was also wonderfully demonstrated locally in Greenville last month for an Earth Day event:

 

The cyclist wins once again

 

 

Yep, that guy with the helmet beat out the driver (on the left) and the public transit user (on the right).

And when the results were announced on social media, the snarky comments weren’t far behind. “Did the cyclist obey all traffic laws?”* “I don’t see his bike.” ** “The city doesn’t provide enough parking for cars.”***

* Yes, or he would have been disqualified. And no one asked, but the driver did too

** It’s parked and locked at the rack that can be seen in the left side of the photo above, per rules of the contest

*** Just… no.

 

So in summation, I would argue that not only do we need to communicate that bikes are a viable means of transportation, but we need to realize that they also just make sense.

 

And that starts with a bike ride. So I’m off to log Day #148 for the year! (yep, still going strong).

it’s all fun and games until someone gets to work

pet peeve

Pedal

[…]
verb (used without object), pedaled, pedaling or (especiallyBritish) pedalled, pedalling.
4.

to work or use the pedals, as in playing an organ or propelling a bicycle.
verb (used with object), pedaled, pedaling or (especially British) pedalled, pedalling.
5.

to work the pedals of (an organ, bicycle, etc.).

Peddle

verb (used with object), peddled, peddling.
1.

to carry (small articles, goods, wares, etc.) from place to place for saleat retail; hawk.
2.

to deal out, distribute, or dispense, especially in small quantities:

to peddle radical ideas.
3.

to sell (drugs) illicitly.
verb (used without object), peddled, peddling.
4.

to go from place to place with goods, wares, etc., for sale at retail.
5.

to occupy oneself with trifles; trifle.
Something tells me that although you can certainly peddle radical ideas (2) while pedaling, when people misuse “peddle” for “pedal”, that’s probably not what they’re going for.
pet peeve

Happy Bike to Work Week!

Abus recently sent me my new favorite Tshirt (that’s saying a lot, given my bike Tshirt collection). While I may not be wearing it to work, it will get some good wear, especially during bike month. 

I’m also testing out the Abus Bordo lock and pretty happy with it so far. I really only go for this security level when in a bigger city (I also lock my bike to a rack that’s properly bolted into the ground..), but it’s comforting to be able to leave your bike outside and not have that vaguely worried feeling in the back of your mind. My only gripes are that I’m not great with keys and would prefer a combination version, and I’m used to threading a coil lock through a wheel as well as through the frame. But neither are a very big deal (locking skewers are a good idea in higher theft areas so your wheels don’t walk off). 
Ride on and prosper 🖖
(That would also make a good Tshirt) 

Happy Bike to Work Week!

Riding the Natchez Trace

Once again, I did a bike tour and then took forever to post pictures and details (sorry Don!). I squeezed in an 8 day bike trip over my spring break this April and had to hit the ground running once school got back into session (IEP season, for anyone familiar with special education!).

The Natchez Trace is one of two National Parks in the US known as parkways, that runs 444 miles from Natchez, Mississippi to just south of Nashville, Tennessee. The two-lane parkway roughly follows the Old Natchez Trace, a north-south corridor packed with history, from prehistoric geology and animal migrations to Native American cultural sites to war of 1812 and Civil War battle history; Elvis and Oprah were also born in towns along the Trace. Many people opt to drive the length of the trace; compared to biking it that seems absolutely miserable to me. There are ample camping spots to hang a hammock, interesting historical and informational markers about every 5-10 miles, long stretches where you hardly see any cars, butterflies and wildflowers to keep you company, and an oxygen chamber of trees to keep you pedaling asthma free (which sadly can’t be said for my commute back home).

Want to ride the Natchez Trace? Follow these simple steps:

1. Ask your dad to do the ride with you, because your friends all have children or normal jobs, and your friendships will only survive up to 48 hours around each other with no shower, but family is forever.


(Besides, you inherited your love of breaking rules from somewhere.)

2. Plan your route, or at least request/download maps from this website, and then have your dad plan the route because if he figures out the mileage per day, he can’t blame you when his legs hurt by dinnertime.

3. (optional) Laminate the long and pretty awesome park map that comes in your information packet, because you’ll be looking at it every 5 miles to remember which historical marker is next (there are so many). 

4. Figure out if you’re going North to South or vice versa, then change your mind fifteen times as you sort through the logistics of getting to/from Natchez/Nashville. We finally settled on a one way rental car from Greenville to Natchez and having a very wonderful person drive from Greenville to Nashville to pick us up. This put us going from mile 0 to mile 444, with lots of scenic vistas and rolling hills the last few days. In shoulder seasons you have more RV migration traffic, but there’s no way I’d do this in the summer (in April, our highs were around 90 every day).

5. Make sure you have road bikes, panniers, camping supplies, and comfy saddles. We brought our eno hammocks because we had them already; I had an eno rain tarp which we used the one night of our trip that it rained very lightly (we really lucked out on weather); the first two nights it was cold enough to skip the bug net but after that the lows were around 50-55 and I needed mine (mosquitos love me). Other camping items on our packing list were a compression sack sleeping bags, inflatable sleeping pads for insulation, a couple changes of clothes (washed clothes most nights), bike repair items, bandanas, stove, fuel, mess kit, and a ton of food. All of this fit into 2 waterproof ortlieb panniers and 2 water resistant axiom panniers, as well as 2 trunk bags on rear racks of our bikes. Front panniers help distribute the weight better, but we didn’t bother with front racks so we made just the rear racks work. I never weighed our equipment but if I had to guess, we were probably around 45-50 lbs of baggage per bike.

6. Make sure you’re comfortable putting in a lot of miles per day, and practice setting up camp; we averaged around 55-60 miles per day with some shorter and some longer days (shortest was 36, longest was 74). It’s possible to go inn to inn, but you’ll have to go off the trace to find lodging. Camping is easy and accessible (we stayed at Rocky Springs the night before we dropped off the car and after the first day of riding from Natchez, Jackson (hotel), Kosciusko, Witch Dance, Tupelo (hotel), Colbert Ferry, and Meriwether Lewis. All the campsites had restrooms with running water, grill areas and picnic tables. Unlike when driving an RV or car, we didn’t have to worry too much about finding an official spot with a parking space – as long as it had a picnic table and was reasonably close to the facilities, we just wheeled our bikes over and set up camp. Several campsites we had all to ourselves anyway, since there are a number that don’t have RV facilities and are intended to be biker/hiker sites.

7. After you ride, keeping making your bike-it list, but also make a plan. Don’t say someday. Go forth and ride!

Riding the Natchez Trace