Friday, January 30, 2009

Admiring Amsterdam

As if the bike lanes alone weren't enough to make me want to move to Amsterdam, here are a few more reasons:

Amsterdams new climate from Bosch Film on Vimeo.

Well, at least my town has upgraded to single-stream recycling. It's a start.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Minnesota and Miyazaki

I’ve been feeling like a fraud lately. The gist of this blog is to encourage people to add a little bit of biking to their life, yet I’ve only been on my bike three times this month. Not exactly leading by example, am I? Sure, I have some reasonable excuses: high temperatures that are mostly below freezing, a sinus infection for the past two weeks, and a daughter that insists on riding the bus to school because “it’s too cold” to go by bike. But then I think of the people in places like Minnesota who are commuting to work and school in much worse weather conditions and realize that my excuses are pretty lame. I love to ride my bike, I love to bundle up with hats and scarves, so what’s stopping me?

When my daughter was invited to a friend’s house this afternoon, I decided it was the perfect chance for another bike ride. The temperature was right at the freezing mark, but surprisingly, my daughter gave no resistance and actually admitted that she missed riding her bike. It didn’t hurt that her friend was impressed by her arrival on bike and the sparkly letter stickers my daughter used to personalize her new helmet. Positive comments from someone other than her bike-crazy mother always make the ride more fun.

After the slightly colder ride home later in the afternoon, we treated ourselves to some movie time and watched Spirited Away by the wonderful Japanese filmmaker, Hayao Miyazaki. Sadly, no bikes were involved in that story, but there's a great scene involving a bike in one of his previous movies, Kiki's Delivery Service:

We are big fans of Hayao Miyazaki's work, and look forward to this summer's US release of his latest movie, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, which is based on the story of The Little Mermaid:
Daughter is especially interested since hearing that two of the voice actors include Frankie Jonas, little brother of the Jonas Brothers, and Noah Cyrus, little sister of Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana).

In the meantime, we will try to expand our definition of "good biking weather" a little closer to Minnesota standards and maybe next time bring along one of our Miyazaki DVDs to lend to a friend.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

More to Explore

If you enjoyed the videos in my last post, be sure to check out this group of videos on Vimeo:
Traveling the world on a bicycle / Wereldfietser
The group was started by Blanche and includes videos shot by many cyclists in locations from Alaska to Uzbekistan and beyond.
Thanks for sharing, Blanche!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'll Follow the Sun

As another arctic blast blows into town tonight and the cold virus attacks our family again, I will be warming up in front of the computer with a cup of tea, following the adventures of cyclists in warmer parts of the world. Through them, I can see places and cultures that I will probably never get to experience first-hand. I’m sure there are thousands of travel blogs and videos floating around the internet, but I’m only interested in the ones that document travels on a bike. Here are some of my favorites:

WORLDTRAVELLERS.DK - “A Danish Solo Expedition 2006-2010 Around the World by Bicycle”

Nicolai Bangsgaard and his friend Martin Amor left Denmark on their bikes in April 2006 to see the world. Unfortunately, Martin had to return home in the first month, but Nicolai decided to continue alone. He is now in his 3rd year on the road and is currently heading north through South America (Colombia, at last check). I’m glad I caught up with him in time to follow his last year on the road. I spent a few long nights over the holidays reading his most recent posts (from August to December 2008) and viewing slideshows of his gorgeous, National Geographic-worthy photos. I still have so much more to view in his archives that it will probably take me until spring. Here is the video of his recent travels through Chile and Argentina that he uploaded to Vimeo:

Around the World by Bicycle 2006-2010 from Nicolai Bangsgaard on Vimeo.

Revolution Cycle - “first irish circumnavigation of the world by bicycle”

In November 2008, best friends Simon Evans and Fearghal O’Nuallain left Ireland to begin their bicycle journey around the world. Their mission is “promoting the positive contribution that cycling can make to mental health and the environment, raising funds for Aware and highlighting climate change.” So far, they have ridden from County Wicklow in Ireland to Madrid, Spain, and then boarded a flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where they were joined by their friend Marina. They recently visited the Iguazu Falls near the border of Argentina and Paraguay. It’s exciting to be following their progress from the very start, and I must thank John in Dublin for bringing it to our attention on his blog, Le Vie en Velo. Here is the video highlighting their European leg (highlights from Argentina will be on their site soon):

Europe Cherbourg to Madrid from revolutioncycle on Vimeo.

Travelling the world on a bicycle

Blanche is a Dutch woman who has taken many cycling vacations over the years. Her videos and photos are so beautiful and inspiring, and her website includes much information to help plan your own cycling trip. My sister is hoping to visit Cuba in a few months, so I suggested she check out Blanche’s site and video from Cuba (with wonderful music):

Salsa en la Calle from Blanche on Vimeo.

TOUR.TK – “What a Wonderful World Tour”

Sonya Spry and Aaldrik Mulder are an Australian woman and Dutch man who sold all of their belongings to travel the world by bike in search of a new place to call home. They left the Netherlands in July 2006 on a five year tour of the globe. Sonya’s journal entries are full of colorful stories and details that make the accompanying photo slideshows and video clips really come alive. Highly recommended reading. (Oh, my burning eyes, though!)

A Wayward Journey – “A Family Travels the Roads Less Traveled from the Arctic to Patagonia

In June 2008, the Vogel family (John, Nancy and 10-year-old twins Daryl and Davy) left their home in Idaho to travel the Pan-American Highway from Alaska to Argentina on a tandem and two single bikes. If they are successful in finishing their journey, the boys will both be able to claim the title of “Youngest Person to Cycle the Pan-American Highway” in the Guinness Book of World Records. Their blog has entries from each family member, giving their own perspective on the events of the day. They are currently in Texas preparing to cross into Mexico. I will definitely be sharing this family’s story with my 10-year-old daughter.

Thanks to Nicolai, Simon and Fearghal, and Blanche for allowing me to add their videos to this post.

I wish all of these cyclists success in their journeys and a safe return home. Don’t forget to write!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Home(town) Improvement

2009 is off to a good start in our town.

January 1 was the official start of single-stream recycling here, with the first collection on January 2. We can now put all of our recyclables into one container for collection once a week. Previously, we had separate pickups for four different items on alternating weeks. You needed a calendar to know when to put out what, and multiple containers to store it all. Naturally, many people didn't bother. Now one container does it all and gets emptied weekly. Best of all, we can now recycle all plastics numbered 1 through 7 (previously only 1 and 2), which means I can recycle the tower of wonton soup containers that have been stacking up in the basement!

A very small but encouraging item appeared in a seasonal publication by our township's recreation department, mailed last week to all residents:
"Bicycle Friendly Town
A group of bicycle enthusiasts is attempting to make our township more bicycle friendly. If you would like to take part, email ..."

I emailed my contact info but haven't had a reply yet. I wonder if someone from our township attended the Jan Gehl presentation in Philadelphia last month? (Hm, I coulda-woulda-shoulda.) After the little bit of progress made this summer, I'm anxious to see what else is in the suggestion box.

The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New York Giants by a score of 23-11. They will now advance to the NFC title game in Arizona next Sunday. Go Eagles!

It's looking like a very green year here.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Warm Ears and Warm Pretzels

A brief flash of snow flurries inspired my daughter and I to go for a bike ride to test out our new bike helmets with winter lining (removable for summer). The cold weather affects my daughter more than me, since she is legally required to wear a helmet (full of head-cooling vents), while I may opt for a thick knit cap to pull down over my ears. But when there is the threat of icy patches, I'd feel much safer with a helmet. So we found some Bern Berkeley helmets with a removable, faux-shearling lining to keep our ears warm and our skulls dent-free.

Our destination was Pretzel Boy's for some fresh, warm Philadelphia-style soft pretzels.The helmets passed the test, and the pretzels hit the spot.I feel like Penelope Pitstop in my new helmet. (Hmm, where's my other glove?)

Back at home, we transformed into Princess Peach and Baby Peach and hopped onto our motor bikes for some wild rides on Mario Kart Wii. Wii bike, do you?