I feel good

This article was sent to me by a friend and really does help explain my insistence on riding 99.9% of the time for transportation, even when I have the option of hitching a ride, taking the bus or skipping out altogether. Towards the end of my car ownership, I would always regret it when I drove, but I would feel pressured into driving at times by “bad” weather, running late, or feeling like I had a lot to carry.

 

Now that the option to drive is removed (barring the offers I get from friends, family and coworkers – and even sometimes offers from strangers!), it’s simply a matter of planning. Which sometimes I fail at. Especially that ‘on time’ part, but I was still late to things when I had a car. Anyway, leading up to and since selling my car, the perception of what I can do on a bike has shifted and I hardly think twice about it now. It’s raining? Pack a poncho and a change of clothes in case I need them. Going shopping? Make sure my panniers are empty, or hook on a cargo trailer if we’re getting serious. Now when giving directions I automatically calculate the time and route for biking, and have to adjust when I have to give driving directions (don’t ask me for the nearest parking garage or which highway exit to take!).

 

At any rate, there is a lot that we sacrifice, perhaps without realizing it, when we choose the apparent convenience* of driving a car. And there’s a heck of a lot of joy to be found when you slow your roll. Don’t believe me? Try it yourself!

 

* wouldn’t it be more convenient to skip the gym, save $9k a year, and avoid oil changes and other expensive maintenance? #justsaying

I feel good

Cycling in (part of) Puerto Rico

Well I’m really glad I downloaded the Relive add on for Strava, because this video summary of my one short ride I did on my trip to Puerto Rico last month means I can easily post about the experience (I really will do a post on my Midwest trip, the amount of photos and details to sift through is just still really daunting and extreme-procrastination-inducing).

prsj

 

This was much more of a chill beach vacation versus a bike trip, but thankfully I was able to borrow a bike from the Marriott where we stayed the last 2 nights and get a quick ride in around Old San Juan (and of course I visited the cat sanctuary. More pictures in the aforementioned ride video and on my instagram).

 

While there was evidence of last year’s catastrophic hit from Hurricane Maria, tourism is quickly returning to the island. It was my first visit but I already want to return, but next time I’ll be signing up for or doing something like this trip with Adventure Cycling. While shuttling out to day excursions on the east coast for snorkeling and hiking in the rain forest, we saw many road and mountain bikes on the roads, and while the roads were narrow and certainly more for riders who are comfortable around cars, drivers appeared to be fairly used to and tolerant of sharing the road with cyclists.

 

We ended up following a lot of the pointers in this post from some of my favorite bloggers, although since we were in the busier season we opted for an Airbnb in Condado for most of the trip and didn’t go for Mosquito Bay since it was a full moon and the best time to see the bioluminescence is during a new moon. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing Old San Juan on foot, our day trips out to El Yunque and snorkeling in Culebra, and trying out all the wonderful food (#allthemofongo). If you go, let me know your favorite parts, because I definitely want to return!

 

Cycling in (part of) Puerto Rico

Slap happy

I’m not super into Black Friday shopping, but I did notice that Slap Bag is having a promo and it’s something I happen to use daily on my commuter bike, so I thought I’d give them a mention. If you’re looking for a gift for a cyclist friend/family member, or need something simple and well made to keep essentials at hand on your commute, it’s pretty darn useful.

Such as, for transporting flowers..

But most days I stash my keys, sunglasses, headphones, or whatever else I might want to keep handy vs. lose somewhere in the bottom of my pannier.

 

… Turns out I tend to take pictures of it when it happens to be full of flowers.

 

Other favored features: they’re super durable, easy to open/close with one hand, fit on various handlebars/frames, washable, made by a startup out of Colorado, and they now come in multiple colors.

You can get 20% off of 1, 25% off of 2-3, or 30% off of 4 with code BF2017.

 

* This post is not sponsored content; I’m just a big fan of stuff that makes bike commuting that much more enjoyable!

Slap happy

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”.

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 9.07.16 AM

 

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