Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Sweet Ride

On Saturday we took our first trip by bike to the Italian bakery just a half mile down the road. That is, it's a half mile as the crow flies or the car drives, but on a bike (especially with a child), the safest route is twice the distance. We certainly didn't mind taking the long way round through the neighborhood streets behind the busy main road, but most people would choose to take the car, and here's why:

This crosstown street has one lane of traffic in each direction with a center lane for turning and absolutely no shoulder. Only the most experienced cyclists take the road here. The sidewalk starts at the edge of the road, with not even a grass buffer zone between the curb and sidewalk. One false move and you are in the direct path of traffic. On the other side of the sidewalk is a series of parking lots for the businesses that line both sides of the road. Approximately every ten feet, the curb is cut out and the sidewalk slants as a driveway to the parking areas. To continue on a level path, a pedestrian or cyclist (as children and their parents are permitted to ride on sidewalks), must constantly zigzag from sidewalk to parking lot, avoiding parking space bumpers, raised planters and property dividers, while keeping an eye out for vehicles entering and exiting the road. No wonder there are rarely pedestrians on these sidewalks, despite the number of businesses. We have taken this sidewalk route by bike once or twice before, but it is not a pleasant ride nor much faster, due to the obstacles and changing surface.

The township is currently working on a plan to improve the appearance and traffic flow of this area, but is running into opposition from business owners who fear that any change to their parking areas could mean a substantial loss of business. I hope they can find a compromise soon and get working on it. We need more green here in every sense of the word. (Looks like a job for Jan Gehl!)

At this point, I have taken the long way round to report that we rode our bikes to the bakery on Saturday, so I will finish quickly.

Decisions, decisions.
I'll have a snickerdoodle, please.

The goodies went into my basket, and we took the long way home.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mixte Results

Those lovely mixte frames are everywhere lately:
There's also an entire Flickr group devoted to mixte bikes if you need more of a mixte fix (including many mixte fixies, no doubt).

Monday, February 9, 2009

Watch out, the world's behind you!

It's been a few months since I last made a video while riding my bike, so I thought I'd give it another try on Sunday morning. This time I used the tiny Nikon Coolpix L18 instead of our large, heavy Canon PowerShot S5 IS.

Sunday Morning from BIKE Lite on Vimeo.

I didn't feel quite as comfortable this time, due to the new camera (trying to find the right buttons on the fly), more cars passing us than usual on these normally quiet streets, and trying to maneuver around the melting ice patches and pedestrians. But it did add a little thrill to the ride and made me look forward to trying it again.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Are you traveling for business or pleasure?

It’s been a weekend of weather extremes here. On Friday evening we headed over to our favorite hill for some long overdue sledding fun.

Most of the six inches of powdery snow still remained since temperatures had stayed near the freezing mark all week. By Saturday morning, the mud was beginning to peek through the snow as some kids tried to squeeze in a few last rides before the warmer afternoon arrived. The big meltdown must have started late Saturday night, as the temperature had already reached 59°F by 9:00 a.m. Sunday. Since I had a lunch date in the afternoon, we took our bikes out after breakfast for a ride through a nearby neighborhood. My daughter took a few photos of some of the beautiful houses there.

The streets were streaming with water from the rapidly melting snow, and my daughter quickly acquired a spatter stripe up her back, thanks to her missing rear fender. Good thing she wasn’t wearing her cycle-chic-best, since we had rushed out the door. After I returned from lunch, the weather was still beautiful and warm, and I needed to make amends for ordering the more-dessert-than-lunch Pineapple Rum French Toast with Crème Anglaise. So we decided to take care of some business by bike and deliver an order of Girl Scout cookies to my sister less than a mile away.

I may need to make a few more business-paced rides to work off that plateful of pleasure, and it looks like the weather might help out by staying in the 40s and 50s all week.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Escape Route

We had 6 inches of snow earlier this week, but the weather forecast says more temperatures in the 50s will be here on Saturday and Sunday. Good thing I shoveled a path to the bikes. Hmm, where shall we go this time?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Seize the day and shoot the ducks

When Mother Nature treats you to 53°F on the first day of February, it’s only polite to get outside and enjoy it. My husband decided to take his bike to scenic Kelly Drive in Philadelphia for a ride on the Schuylkill River Trail, and although it’s one of our favorite places to ride, my daughter and I didn’t join him since he intended to go at a much faster pace for a real workout. In fact, my daughter didn’t want to go anywhere at all on the bikes. I pleaded, prodded, poked, tried the carrot-and-stick approach (library? pretzels? bakery??), all to no avail. Just as I was about to give up, she begrudgingly picked up her helmet and muttered one word – “Ducks.” She was willing to ride down to the park to visit the ducks that gather next to the creek, a favorite stopping-off point on our ride home from school. Not exactly the distance I was hoping for, but at that point I would have been happy just to roll up and down the driveway on my bike.
We arrived to find the creek rushing like a river due to the melting snow and more ducks than usual on the slush-covered banks. One duck walked over to greet us while the other ducks stayed a safe distance away.

Most likely she was hoping we had come to feed them (as we’ve seen the nearby homeowners doing), but it was surprising how she continued to waddle around us even after it was clear that we had no food for her. Maybe it was our bikes that intrigued her. My daughter was thrilled to be so close and made the most of the opportunity by taking more than 40 photos.

As I uploaded them to our computer, I discovered she had also been practicing her video skills.

One Lone Duck from BIKE Lite on Vimeo.
(Titles added by me. Used with permission.)

I think I may put the filming duties on her in future. She's got much more dramatic flair than I.