So now, hubby and I are enjoying our quiet home and trying to figure out if there are any good movies out (there aren't). I am hoping to attempt a solo bike overnight ride but there's also so much that I could do to catch up at home and for work, it may not happen.
For the first time this year, we drove. We borrowed my parents' car and made our way to the Bay Area to celebrate our nephew's birthday. It took $22 to fill up the tank at Arco and $5 in tolls for each direction. It was awesome to be able to visit with family without feeling guilty about the long drive because this $32 has been our only car costs in the last 4.5 months! We also got to leave our boys with their grandparents for a week of being spoiled and immersed in Spanish. We get to enjoy a week of kid-free bliss, knowing they are having a great time (although I miss them like crazy).
We remembered that driving is boring and nerve-wracking--an odd combination. Jose and I argued about how fast he should be driving, he complained that steering made his arms hurt, and we got cut off by some crazy who thought we had been driving too slowly so he downshifted in front of us and started driving 45 mph on the freeway--sure showed us! Driving brings out the worst in people and I hate it. I'm so happy that we don't have to do it very often. We were all grumpy and tired after just a few hours in the car. Still, it was well worth the effort.
It is nice to be able to use a car when we need to but it's even nicer to know how little we really need a car.
So now, hubby and I are enjoying our quiet home and trying to figure out if there are any good movies out (there aren't). I am hoping to attempt a solo bike overnight ride but there's also so much that I could do to catch up at home and for work, it may not happen.
Tonight, I am especially missing my boys after an emotionally taxing day. The sadness in Boston is heart-breaking and I am so grateful to live in a country where attacks like these are so infrequent. I think of the many who deal with threats of danger on a daily basis and wonder how they can manage to stay strong. I try to focus on all the good and all the kindness tragedies like this bring out, but it's hard. I was especially thankful for my bike ride home, a fantastic way to burn off some of my tension--I even managed to chase a roadie, she had a head start because I stopped for the stop sign instead of gaining momentum, up a hill and pass her by (although my lungs haven't burned that much for a long time). I couldn't imagine compounding my sadness with an exhausting and frustrating car trip. Biking keeps me sane in this crazy world.
I used to run stop signs, roll red lights--all the time. I was never that biker who dangerously blew through intersections without looking, however. I thought I was being safe and sneaky--Idaho stopping in California. I am a biker, not a car. I need to move!
I don't do that anymore. I stop. All. The. Time. Every light, I wait patiently. Every stop sign, I come to a stop and look both ways (although I don't always put my foot down, that's not required by law). I choose to ride predictably because that's the best way to keep myself and my kids, when they're onboard, as safe as we could possibly be.
I don't want anyone to be able to place blame on me if I'm ever in an accident. Insurance companies are chomping at the bit to find the biker at fault. If I'm cruising through stop signs and disobeying traffic laws, they're more likely to come after me and say "look, you did that wrong, you probably did this wrong, too." I will be able to go to every red light camera and show that I am calmly waiting for the light to turn green just like everyone else. I will have eye witnesses to attest to my niceness. It's not going to be my fault in an accident.
I don't want to do anything that I wouldn't want my children (or my students) doing. My kids watch every move I make. One day, they're going to be on their own bikes, barreling down the street (properly), and I don't want them to think it's acceptable for a biker to ride through intersections or ignore right-of-way rules. For one thing, children don't have the distance-judging abilities that adults do. They also don't have the same reasoning skills, either. Their eye-brain connection hasn't figured these things out yet. My flippant actions could put my children in danger down the road. Biking is dangerous and it takes serious concentration and decision-making, just like driving a car. If I can instill these behaviors in my kids now, I will feel better about them being on their own, both on a bike and in a car.
I don't want to be a jerk. It's bad enough that there is too much cyclist-hatred out in the world, I don't want to be contributing to it. Every time a biker disobeys the law, drivers around them say "see, that's why bikers are so horrible." I make a conscious effort to be courteous and generous. I always try to stop for pedestrians and say hello as they pass by. I smile but politely refuse when a car driver tries to wave me through and it's not my turn (also because that can turn into a dangerous situation very quickly if other drivers aren't paying attention). I ride as if I am a legal driver of the road--which, surprise, I am! I want the same rights and recognition as car drivers. With those rights come the same responsibility. I wish that drivers would see me following the rules and think to themselves "wow, I guess all bikers aren't terrible" but in reality, they will usually only see what they want to see--bikers misbehaving. Let's try and cut that down, please, to give us all a better reputation.
I can understand why bike drivers would want to keep moving. It's hard to start rolling again from a dead stop (try that with 80 lbs of kid, too). It's also not as fun. It takes work and balance, something that car drivers don't understand since they just push their foot a little to stop and go. It can also be scary. Oftentimes, you'll have car drivers squeezing in behind you and, most of the time, expect you to keep going. This is usually where I use my stop/slow arm signal. Not everyone still remembers what it means but it does draw attention that I'm about to do something. If there is a car really encroaching in my space, I might actually take a minute to put my foot down and really check the intersection before I go (yes, this is a little bit of passive-aggressive behavior, I'm sorry). Shifting down before you stop can really help you regain your momentum after stopping, which I'm getting better at remembering these days.
Sadly, everywhere I go, bike and car drivers are disobeying the laws set in place to keep us safe. Twice last week, I watched cars stop at a red light then drive through as if it were a stop sign. I watch bikers riding down the wrong side of the road and plow through stop lights and stop signs without even touching the brakes or turning their heads. These people are dangerous for everyone on the road, especially the more vulnerable users like pedestrians and other bikers. I would like to see them all ticketed and required to go to traffic school. Car drivers, of course, should be held at an even higher standard as they are also driving a deadly 2,000 pound machine.
I was thinking that if bikers start using stopping as "interval training," we might be able to get more riders to do it. Man, it sure works them glutes!
Today at the farmer's market, a notorious high bike-theft location, there were four bikes locked up at the rack we were at. This is also the location that my mom had her previous bike (before the Bike Friday) stolen.
A few years ago, my parents had locked their bikes (mom had a Specialized hybrid, dad had his Bike Friday) to the fence, along with about 20 other bikes. When they came back with their veggies, every bike was gone except for my day's Bike Friday. Again, the cable lock was left, cleanly cut. We assumed that my day's bike was too custom and unique to profit from easily.
Coming back to these four bikes today, I noticed that two of the bikes were locked with crappy $20 cable locks. Remember that my mom's $50 cable lock had been sliced like butter. The lock companies even rate these locks as a 2/10. My mom's was about a 6 or 7.
Both of these bikes could be gone in seconds.
The bike below is the one that really caught my eye.
Notice that they have a u-lock that is in no way even touching the bicycle. Instead, it is merely holding the cheap cable lock closed. This is almost as bad as using a u-lock to "secure" something releasable like your seat post and being surprised that your bike gets stolen. Rule #1--get a u-lock and use it properly!
***I'd like to impose a little edit here***
While this final bike is MUCH more secure than the first there, Cyclicious has brought up a great point: the rear wheel is easier to steal and more expensive to replace. Check out his video here (thanks, @schwankytown for the head's up!): http://www.cyclelicio.us/2013/lock-rear-bicycle-wheel/
*Original post starts here: This final bike, a pretty Linus with Velo Orange accessories, had actually been locked by someone who wants it to still be there when they return. They have both their front wheel and the frame u-locked to the bike rack.
Of course, if a thief has enough determination and time, they can get through just about anything. Don't be the one with the crappiest lock that is the easiest to steal.
It was, thankfully, a pretty quiet weekend. This week had been exhausting! After my two days at Practical Cycle, I was looking forward to starting my new adventure of working with the Safe Routes To School program in Natomas. This is going to help me finish my LCI training and also get me started putting this training to good use--teaching these youngsters to love bikes and learn how to drive them properly. I am always surprised that people don't always think the way I do when it comes to biking. I watched a family on bikes ride down the wrong side of the road while the kids rode on the sidewalk next to the adults in the street. These were huge, quiet, fully-bike-laned neighborhood streets. I could barely keep myself from catching up to them and telling them that they were teaching their kids improper and DANGEROUS bike use.
The school that we are working with already has a great base of kiddy bike riders. I was shocked the first time I rode up to see 20+ bikes and scooters locked up in their own dedicated bike parking (I'll have to get a photo when I can get it and not look like i'm taking pictures of the children) AND that was a rainy day where most kids melt if they get caught in a sprinkle. The NNTMA has been working with this school for the past 3 years and helps implement "Walking Wednesdays" for kids to get prizes for walking to school.
I love watching these kids absorb this bikey knowledge and am amazed at some of the poignant questions they ask. They are open minds and ready to find the freedom of biking. I love to imagine these little people riding bikes and growing up to be more conscientious drivers of both bicycles and cars, making the streets safer for everyone.
The only difficulty with this new venture is that this school is exactly one BionX battery's worth of miles. It is a 24 mile round-trip, often in windy condition and I'm usually crunched for time (because that's just how I roll--late). I rode on level 3 this week, each direction, for Wednesday and Thursday. I was really excited for Friday but the boys finally got too sick to go to daycare and my sore back went out completely. I had to decide that going another 24 miles that day, BionX or not, was probably not the best idea. I took Friday off, went to the Chiropractor, and nursed my back and two little boys. I was pretty happy to have a quiet weekend after that. I even took a couple of days off riding, just because I had no reason to go anywhere. It was pretty awesome.
Next week, a few more days at the grind (actually, Practical Cycle is my respite from my crazy home) and then an awesome BONUS day there because Elly Blue is coming to town on Wednesday! I am so excited for the evening of Dinner and Bikes and to finally meet one of my favorite Bikey Heroes! It's not too late to RSVP and join us!
I'm going to make it to another couple of classes at the school, next week, too. I need to practice my teaching skills, especially before we get out onto the bikes! I think I might even try bringing my charger with me so I can top up during class and zip home on level 4...
During our trip to Chico, I made a pit stop and happened to glance at my bike computer. Total miles had just hit exactly 3000 miles since we got it last March!
Since the rear flat was one of the many culprits that ended our bike trip early, the Mundo went straight into the shop the following Monday. I had thought that the incredibly thick, self-sealing tube would hold for the 5 mile commute to Practical Cycle but while I was having coffee with my mama, the tire lost the battle. My mom graciously went back to my house to get the bike rack we had used earlier and helped me load up the bike again. I'm getting to be such a pro! I just take off anything that can be removed, including the seatpost and its stoker bars. The bike sticks up quite a bit on one side but with enough tie-downs, it is very stable.
Tim got right to work pulling out the tube. It was easy to find the hole from the leaking slime. One good thing to note is that you cannot patch a slime tube--I hadn't had a spare tube with me on the trip so I would have been in deep doodoo if that had been what I needed/wanted to do.
My demise had been caused by a chunk of glass. Common enough to find in any bike "path." I remember running over a good-sized chunk and hoping that the thick tube and liner would do the trick. That was also probably the sound I heard as I was pedaling. The glass was working its way deeper and deeper into my tire. Had I had the foresight to really take a thorough look at my wheel early on, I might have noticed it and saved myself one ginormous headache. But I didn't. I know that the thick tube did give me enough protection to allow me to continue riding far longer than I would have with a regular one. I will not put anything less on the Mundo from now on (unless it's just a temporary spare).
Next came the hard part. Tim and I decided it was time to retire the original Mundo wheel, a basic tire that still had enough tread left but a large divot from the glass, and upgrade to something better with more protection. However, 3000 miles with one flat is nothing short of amazing but anything I can do to avoid changing that back wheel, especially since there would be a good chance of the kids being on the back, I'm onboard!
I knew that Schwalbes were the way to go--Big Apples and Fat Franks were among the most popular among fellow cargo bikers. With tires you tend to "get what you pay for." FFs hold up to 130kg whereas BA active models are just up to 115kg. BA were about $20 cheaper but not enough protection in my opinion. We didn't have the performance model of the BA which is technically 100% comparable to FF. The FF, although they come in different color options(!), were just too fat for my liking at a whopping 2.35".
Tim recommended, without a doubt, what he has on his bike--the Mondial! A 140kg capacity, 2", plenty of tread, lighter than either the FF or BA but at about twice the cost. I quickly texted Jose who didn't hesitate--get quality, he replied. Mondial it was, along with another thick, self-sealing tube, and my original tire liner.
I had been worried that I would feel a drag from the heavier treaded tire but as I rode home at 12-15mph, I had to admit that it actually felt better than before.
And I LOVE the reflective sidewall!
Now I have to wait for my front tire to go out. With the amount of tread still left that might not be until next year! Enough time to save up for anothe Mondial. I figure that the small amount of money that I put into this bike, relative to a car, it's worth it to make sure that the parts are quality and will last.
Can't wait to see where the next 3000 miles takes us!
It always surprises me when people are surprised that I do almost all my errands by bike. I take it for granted that not everyone is comfortable riding their bikes in traffic. I've had people tell me how they used to ride to work but stopped because it was "too dangerous," only to find out that their "too dangerous" is a route I take daily, with my kids, and find it to be quite simple. Studies keep coming out showing how bikers actually spend more money than car drivers because it is so easy for us to make a quick stop when we see something we like. We don't have to worry about parking and we see all the interesting things as we ride along, stopping at will.
Unfortunately, in our car-driven culture, places are aghast at the thought of imposing on their more important car customers, refusing to give up "valuable" parking spaces in lieu of bike racks or bike lanes. Unless we come into their place of business wearing spandex and clomping around in clip shoes, they'd probably never know we had arrived by bike--skewing their perception of what their paying customers drive.
Here are two examples that I came across today. These places are both fantastically easy to get to by bike but once you're there, it gets harder. The first is a Kaiser Permanente medical office. They love to tell you to get active, use your bike and walk, but I notice that they haven't taken the time to encourage the practices they preach.
It is especially disappointing because this is such an easy fix. By putting out a nicely visible bike rack, they are showing that biking is a valued form of transportation and encouraging others to do so.
The second location has a different problem. Trader Joe's on Folsom Blvd. has a bike rack. That's good, right? Nope! They have a bike rack that is so poorly placed that it is almost useless. They are making it so difficult to use the bike rack that it actually discourages people from biking because of the hassles and dangers of using it.
Notice how shallow the space is provided. When we used to use the trailer, this was a nightmare. We would actually have to unhook the trailer and park it next to the bike, not easy if you're toting children and/or a full load of groceries. Our Mundo barely fits, and only if one of the side spaces is empty. However, that's not even my biggest beef with this situation. Do you see the giant CURB you have to pull your bike over to get to the rack? Without a curb cut, you're just asking for trouble. Easing a fully-loaded bike off that curb is really difficult, children or no children, and you're backing into traffic! They're basically saying: "yes, we have a bike rack but we don't really want you to use it."
This is what I have to do to load my bike up because of the curb and the brick wall surrounding the bike rack. I have to go into the street, all the way around, park the cart next to my bike--in the parking lot with traffic zipping by, and then bring the cart back around. Try doing that while wrangling small children. I have to drag them into the parking lot multiple times because there is no sidewalk connecting the bike rack.
Combine this terribly designed "bike rack" with their terribly designed parking lot and you have a recipe for disaster. Traffic is often backed up into the street and around the corner. People are stopping in the middle of the lot to wait for an open space while others get impatient and try to pass dangerously around them. Because there are so few parking spaces, one would think that Trader Joe's would be happy to be a bike friendly business, easing up the congestion already in the lot. I guarantee most of their shoppers come from a 2-mile radius, the majority being less than that. They are smack dab in the middle of two very bike friendly routes and they are missing out on a brilliant opportunity to help bikes and cars alike.
Putting the effort to encourage bicyclist customers is a simple yet effective way to get more people on bikes for everyday errands. In just a single parking space, Insight Coffee has welcomed about 10 bikes. This is the way to become a bike friendly business and they are certainly benefitting from it. We want to welcome everyone into the world of cycling and we need businesses' help. Show us that you care and we will be incredibly loyal customers for life.
This weekend, I took the Traffic Skills 101 course offered through the League Of American Bicyclists. This is the prerequisite for their League Certified Instructor training. With this certification, I can go on and teach others about cycling safely with traffic. There is an especially high need in Sacramento for LCIs to teach school-aged children. Brainwash them young! Get them on bikes early and often. Indoctrinate them to the freedom and joy of pedaling along on your own. There is a lot of misinformation about what a cyclist should do and where they should be on the road. Parents don't do their children any favors by trying to keep them on the sidewalk, or even worse, in their car. I am so excited about this opportunity to work with children and watch them light up as they learn how to handle a bike with confidence and skill.
The class was in Roseville on Friday night and all day today. I was bummed, at first, thinking that I would have to drive all the way out to Roseville (~50 miles roundtrip) but I put a message out to the class asking if there were any carpool options. I ended up arranging a ride for Saturday but since she was leaving straight from work, I was going to still have to find a way in for Friday. Luckily, I realized that by taking the bus and my folding bike in, I would still be able to get a ride back! It took a fair amount of maneuvering, especially after getting to the stop and realizing that I didn't have enough cash, then I didn't have enough change, then I got on the wrong bus, then I had to bike around Roseville (yikes!) in the dark and over some of the most poorly designed roadways. Anyway, I got there! I was proud of myself and I have still not had to drive since last year. In fact, this was the first time I had even been in a car since before New Year's. We are definitely learning how to minimize car trips.
Today's class was mostly about bike handling skills. We did some drills in the parking lot: scanning, emergency stops, shifting, etc. It always seems much harder when you're trying to focus on the actual technicalities instead of just riding. The only part that I had real trouble with was the quick turn--an essential skill to avoid a right- or left-hook. It takes counter-intuitive steering to lean into a sharp turn, safely sweeping you out of harm's way. I am going to keep working on that one until it's second nature. Although many of the topics covered and general lessons were pretty familiar to me, it's always great to relearn and remind myself of what/why I am doing certain things. Also, it's always good to realize the skills you are lacking or slipping on so you can be a better driver on the road.
I really think this is a class that everyone should take--bikers and (especially) car-drivers alike. Did you know that the number one cause of bike accidents are bikers riding the wrong way down the street? Did you know that the fault of bike accidents is almost a 50-50 split between bikers and car drivers? Doorings and being hit from behind are actually pretty low on the list of causes, although the resulting damage tends to be much more extreme.
As the League says "cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles." This is a message that we all need to be reminded again and again.
I especially enjoyed meeting other cyclists and the instructors of the class who all had the same passion for bicycling and making the roads safer for everyone. I certainly feel safer on my bike now and reenergized my confidence in taking the correct and safest position in the flow of traffic. Please take this class as soon as you get the opportunity!
Today started with a drive to the dentist. I went back and forth and back and forth and back again about biking. We had driven there once, decided it was, in fact, bikeable but today I second-guessed myself. It was raining, but about to stop. It was far, but not super far. Big Brother was getting cavities filled, I didn't know how he was going to react afterwards. I had another bike ride trip in the evening as well. I hinged.
The boys and I rode the Mundo over to my folks, dropped Little Brother off and drove to the dentist. I watched that bike lane the whole trip and vowed never to drive there again. It's fine except for a little sidewalk (actually signed as the "bike route") riding. I don't think I'd try taking the trailer with the kids since the lane is narrow and speed limit is 50 mph. Therefore, BionX without kids, Mundo with.
Waiting for the dentist, the receptionist casually said "I hope no one has to go on highway 80, they just shut it down on both sides. Massive accident." No. More. Driving... cars are so dangerous!
By the way, my kid is the most awesome dental patient in the world! No wiggles, no screams, no whining, ended with a smile and a thank you. I love that boy! Three cavities, no pain killer. More brushing, I promise.
Since I had driven this morning, I promised myself I would make my evening trip a bike ride. To be sure I didn't talk myself out of it, we rode back from my parent's house without the car. I mapped out the route, eight miles even. The BionX Breezer was fully charged, extra set of lights, warm jacket plus extra layers, neon pannier cover, and reflective vest to top it all off.
The way there was surprisingly easy. I planned for about 45 minutes going about 15-17 mph on level three. I tend to get lost easily so that would give me extra time and not feel rushed or get too sweaty. I had scheduled the visit so that it would at least be light for the way there since I hadn't ridden there before.
Rode to Sacramento State, onto the American River Parkway. While I was taking an awesome picture of my bike on the bridge, a roadie passed me up wearing full spandex and carrying nothing but a pump in his back jersey pocket. After I got a few photos in, I starting thinking that it would be fun to catch him. I'm competitive. Off I go! Go, go, go! Even with the BionX, it's not easy. I was working hard to keep it up at 19 mph but it was awesome! Flying down the bike path, I caught up to my roadie, drafted off him, even had to coast a bit to stay behind. Once the path was clear, I dropped him! Woot! "On your left!" never sounded so awesome. I watched him fall back through my mirror.
A short while later, I exited the trail at Watt Ave. Up Watt for a bit, the last two blocks riding on the sidewalk as instructed by my common sense and the sign that said "bikes use sidewalk." Another mile in residential neighborhoods and I was there.
By the time I left, it was pitch black so I donned my stylish reflective vest, turned on all the lights to the obnoxious setting, cranked up my tunes, and backtracked to the trail. The ride down Watt Ave. had been my only concern but by that point, I felt comfortable enough to take it on. Being extra careful, I used the crosswalks to get across, sidewalk where the crazy merges happened, extra caution at the onramps, then it was over and I was back on the ARP.
I love riding in the dark more than any other time. There is something so empowering about cruising along, little light shining your way, silence, peaceful, beautiful. The bike trail was amazing. There was the occasional Bike Blinder with their highbeams on and a few Bike Ninjas without any lights, wearing black. Other than them, I was perfectly alone. Of course my brain had to interrupt my calm thoughts with zombie meth-addict scenarios. Luckily, my BionX power was a nice comfort. I can outrun anyone, especially chainsaw wielding roadies! No worries for me!
I love being able to break through my mental barriers of riding alone, in the dark, longer distances, for work... I can do it all, by bike, even! I love this feeling! Thank you BionX night-ride!
Tomorrow is the Appetite Enhancement Ride, 25th annual! Fill up on Two River's hard cider and let the thankfulness begin! On Saturday, join us for an "unofficial" Kidical Mass ride. Meet at Old Soul on Broadway at 9:30am to ride over to Southside Park, stopping at Doughbot on the way.
Also, although I am totally against Black Friday, you should still come down to Practical Cycle and spend your money. Support your local bike shop, rent a bike and burn off some of those gravy calories, and find a new bike that you totally love and will use. You don't even have to spend the night in front of the store or get trampled on the way in. Score!
The last few days in Italy were a whirlwind. I was certainly travel-weary and ready to head home to see my babies and use my own saddle. Riding back from Villasimius wasn't nearly as difficult as I had imagined with my luggage but with the heat and the hills, it still kicked my butt. Ending the ride in Cagliari had its own issues, too. I wasn't prepared for the onslaught of cars and traffic, one-way streets, and my lack of directional skills. By the time I finally found Ichnusa Bikes again, I was more than ready to dump Ol' Orangy and crash at my hostel.
At the hostel, a guy rolled up with a fully loaded bike. I was super jealous and finally asked him where he had been. Turns out, Jason had just ridden through Sardinia for the last 10 days and was heading to Rome via ferry that evening, eventually making his way back to Switzerland for work. What a life! He travels all over the place, only restricted by his resolve to only travel on the ground (no planes for him). He has been to so many amazing places. You can read more about his adventures here.
I tried to get to bed early but in a six-person dorm, it's not very possible. After a rough night's sleep, I was out the door at 5am to catch my Ryan Air flight to Rome. Ryan Air is a crazy cheap airline with a cattle-call type feel. Again, bare bones travel. After the flight, having not slept much, not eaten well, and feeling totally overwhelmed, I grumpily headed over to my bed and breakfast. I promptly got lost. The 20 minute walk turned into an hour long trek up a hill (three times, no less) that I didn't have to go up. Once I finally arrived, my host demanded that I see the Vatican and I "must go now!" I bought my ticket and headed right back over when all I really wanted to do was nap.
After a stop to the Sistine Chapel cafe, and some amazing Vatican art (except for the giant tapestries depicting the Slaughter Of The Innocents), I was really glad I had gone. I was reenergized and ready to head across the city and eventually make my way to the Colosseum where I was going to meet the tour guide for The Red Bicycle.
Since I only had two days in Rome, I didn't know my way around, and many people warned me about the crazy driving, I had decided to book a guided bike tour instead of fumbling around on my own. I connected with Glenn, owner of The Red Bicycle, and he helped me choose the evening tour and the all-day Rome tour. Since I was rushed getting to the Colosseum metro bike rack (where the tour groups meet), I was happy that I hadn't overbooked myself, even though I had wanted to do all the trips they offered. Andrew and Hannah happened to be in Rome the day I arrived and decided to join me for the evening trip. After meeting Glenn at the bike rack, I was disappointed to learn he wasn't going to be guiding us. i had wanted to pick his brain about starting a bike touring business but since he's been swamped with work and has a wee little one at home, I understood that he needed to delegate as much as he could. We got our bikes ready and rode off with Victor around Rome.
Despite a few Dynamo light issues, the trip was fantastic! I would have been too nervous riding around on my own but Victor led the way safely, stopping regularly to explain the history and artifacts as we went along. The trip was about two hours long and we managed to see more in that amount of time then the whole five hours I had spent wandering around on my own. The city was beautiful at night and we were able to check out the view at a few different vistas. We also got a chance to ride part of the bike path along the riverbank. It was just the perfect way to end my otherwise hectic day.
The next day, I set off early to catch the bus for the all-day Rome adventure. I was really thrilled to find out that Glenn would actually be leading our trip. We were joined by a lovely young couple on their honeymoon. I was happy that they had some real questions about the history and ruins of Rome because I probably would have taken up the whole time asking bike questions.
First, we rode along the Appian Way, even on a few sections of the original stone pathways! We headed out to the countryside, through some quiet parks, and over to the ancient aqueducts, learning about it all as we rode. We got a chance to tour the first Catacombs and ate a picnic lunch Glenn had packed, full of local and seasonal foods. Glenn knew about the best spots to checkout, away from the hoards of tourists, like the natural mineral springs were we filled up our bottles and picked up some local wine for the picnic.
The second half of the tour was the city sights. I had been worried that this would overlap the evening tour's spots, but that wasn't the case. Between the historical stops, we also had some time for local goodies. I would have missed all this new knowledge and the yummy deliciousness had I not been kindly led there by The Red Bicycle. It was the perfect balance for the short amount of time I had.
By the end of the two weeks, I was so ready to come home. My amazing friend, Bekah-the-flight-attendant, managed to help me fly home on standby (magically, as each leg looked full but somehow managed to squeeze me on). It was a harrowing experience, not knowing where or when I would be getting home but after 26 hours of travel, I was back. I didn't get a chance to ride a bike that day and I'm okay with that. So far, I've missed two days of my 365-day challenge but I've managed to pack in so many new experiences, I'm not concerned. Seeing a new place by bike is truly the best way to go and if you are unsure about managing on your own, find an awesome local guide to lead you. It really is worth every Euro!
Just a final note (if you've made it this far). One aspect of riding in new cities/countries that I gained was my newfound appreciation of our biking infrastructure in Sacramento. In these cities, London, Caligari, Villasimius, and Rome, I was shocked by the lack of delegated bike-space on the roads. Even in London, where they have made the effort to create a bike-able system, the lanes felt cramped and lead nowhere. Everything was a haphazard second thought, nothing like the clearly marked routes that we have (and even what we have is nowhere near the infrastructure needed). I'm sure that if I was in the know, I would have found more than I saw, but the fact that it was so difficult to access surprised me. I realized that bikes are often treated as a road nuisance, even internationally. The global biking community really needs some attention and love. I was saddened by the two ghost bikes I saw (in London and Rome) but they are a necessary reminder that bikers are vulnerable users of the road and need special consideration. Sacramento has our own ghost bikes, too. It's not about getting angry or scared but getting more people on bikes. Understanding what it is like to be on a bike makes drivers more aware and compassionate.
In recent news, California Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed our three-foot passing law, SB 1464. A shocking move that has no plausible explanation. Instead of helping drivers become more responsible for their actions and role in cyclists' safety, this once again proves that we are second-class citizens on the road. I have just sent my message to Gov. Brown stating my disappointment in his choosing the liability of drivers over the safety of cyclists. It is not enough that we have to deal with the contempt of drivers who don't like to share "their" space, we also have to deal with politicians who make it legal to put us at greater risk.
This morning, a group of us met up at Practical Cycle to ride to the Davis Farmer's Market. It's a 16 mile ride from there, plus another 5 for us from home. The boys and I thought we were bundled enough for the brisk morning but about two miles into it, I ended up losing my sweatshirt to Big Brother's chilly hands. Our Mundo was the perfect vehicle for the job.
I moved him to the Peanut Shell for the long ride, gave him a blanket and zipped up Little Brother.
Our friends showed up--11 of us total!
Half of our riders had never ridden to Davis by bike. We headed through the Gold Rush Days, over the J st bridge, through West Sacramento, and on to the bike path to te Yolo Causeway. Many people don't realize there is a bike path along the highway 80 bridge. Besides the noisy traffic and the occasional crop dusters, it's quite a fun ride. We stopped for a quick diaper change and continued on.
There was a scraped knee after a brush with a curb but the Ikea first aid kit helped
patch our rider up. Always an important tool to have on board.
We got to Davis shortly after, taking a little over two hours to get there. Ate delicious tamales and Indian food, picked up fresh produce, and the young'uns ran out their yayas on the playground.
Davis, being one of the original (if not THE original) biking towns, is always a great bike-spotting hub.
There was a quick stop at REDRUM Burger for a few milkshakes. At one point, both my guys were fast asleep but that didn't last long.
Jen and her Mundo hit 100 miles durin this trip! We took a quick breather and I happened to look down and see this on our odometer...
We hit 2000 miles! It's actually a bit more because Little brother has a habit of spinning the computer around and keeping it from logging miles. It's still an exciting number to see. I've never had a bike that logged so many miles, especially so quickly!
The boys and I got home around 4pm after Parting ways with the rest of our crew. It was an amazing trip, perfect weather, and the greatest company. It was certainly a very long day for everyone but I was so impressed at everyone's ability to keep riding, even through some difficult times--babies crying, crashes, bum knees, etc. Biking is not the easiest way to go but I really think it is one of the most satisfying. We all chose to be self-powered and have an adventure--which it definitely turned out to be.
Thank you all, Davis Crew! I can't wait for our next ride!