Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Errandonnee 2016 - Having a Good Time

March 12th errand, visiting family.
Even with the great spring weather this time around I just squeaked by the Errandonnee finish line, completing 12 errands by the deadline. I was surprised to find someone other than myself, listing a long bike ride in the Personal Care category—nothing wrong with that! Another interesting observation: I never anticipated filling up the Social Call column, but because of pleasant temperatures, I took the opportunity to pedal further to visit family and friends. 

Errandonnee Scorecard, Errands 7-12

March 11
Category: Work
Observation: My poncho works well in the rain.
Miles: 10

March 12 (first photo in post)
Category: Social Call, visiting my mom and brother, plus helping out at their home
Observation: Riding there and back was a good workout.
Miles: 23

March 13
Category: Non-store Errand, returning a library book
Observation: The library has evening hours to accommodate and suit 8-5 workers like myself.
Miles: 1

March 13
Category: Social Call, trying to visit a friend
Observation: It was lovely being out with my husband even though our friend wasn't home when we stopped by. We socialized en route!
Miles: 13

Left: All my bike related paraphernalia in my cubicle. Right: I monopolize bike rack parking, because I can.
March 14
Category: Work
Observation: Due to a family emergency at home I was able to mobilize and ride home in a skirt and tights. (All was well.)
Miles: 10
Love those Pound Plus chocolate bars.
March 15
Category: Personal Care, Trader Joes
Observation: A crisis: I had to resupply wine, chocolate and salsa—3 items I can't live without!
Miles: 2

Thanks, MG, for inspiring me to do something different.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Red Riding Hood - Charles River Poncho

Last fall I returned an old LL Bean rain jacket for store credit. In it's place I bought a Charles River Poncho, ready to try more breathable and more affordable rain-wear. There are, of course, bike specific models available - some are even quite fashionable - but I was seeking versatility, something that would provide protection whether I was hiking, walking, and/or riding a bike.

The Charles River Poncho comes in various traditional and trendy colors, has a nice curved cut, and ranges from 20.00-35.00 on Amazon, complete with matching storage pouch. The garment is rubberized on the outside with a soft fabric-like internal lining that feels good against the skin. The hood is generous, adequately covering the head (beneath helmet) with snaps securing the neck line, plus a snap along each side for sticking arms through. This is a basic poncho, one size fits all, so arm coverage comes just below the elbow while hunched over a bicycle. If rain is steady, I remedy that situation by holding the front panel over my handlebars, that way my arms and hands remain dry.

I hadn't fully tested the poncho's foul weather protection until last week. In a steady rain, I remained dry during my 5 mile commute home. My legs were damp - a poncho doesn't prevent windy rain from possibly soaking the lower half of your body. For better protection one might add rain pants or gaiters, but for breathability and basic rain-wear at a reasonable cost, a poncho has it's appeal.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Errandonnee 2016 - Confidence this Time Around

For Louise Penny fans, locating not one but two copies of desired book  in local library
 is a major coup. March 4 errand.

There's something about the longer daylight and geese migrating north that proves perfect timing for the Errandonnee, motivating participants to try something new and jump-start spring riding and/or kicking others out of a commuting rut.

Unlike the first Errandonnee where I attempted and failed, (10 of 12 errands complete, so rather a near miss), because the challenge was held in February then, thus it was difficult to stay warm plus I was afraid to ride in the dark (another 2013 prerequisite). However, this time around I'm well equipped for cold weather and have a rockin' headlight, just in case, which proves that you can teach an old dog new tricks!

Errandonnee Scorecard, Errands 1-6

March 4 (photo above)
Category: Arts & Entertainment, visiting my local library
Observation: I was pleased to find two copies of the book I was searching for.
Miles: 2

Ice along the shoreline, but it's melting fast.
March 6
Category: Personal Care, Riding along lakefront path to Winooski River
Observation: I had spring fever and needed a longer bike ride. There were still icy patches to be careful of.
Miles: 15

Errandonnee or not, twice monthly, I stop on my way home from work for more pet food.
March 7
Category: Store, Pet Store
Observation: This business badly needs a bike rack within view of the storefront. 
Miles: 2

Shifting around cargo so I can strap the bag on my back rack.
March 8
Category: Store, City Market
Observation: Riding home after dark is easy peasy now. 
Miles: 2

March 9
Category: Wildcard, Scavenging compost bins
Observation: Lots of good pickings: garlic bulb, tomatoes, lettuce for pets, broccoli
Miles: 2

This art gallery seems to change names like the wind, but it will always be the Firehouse Gallery
to me because the old firehouse was converted to multi-floor arts center.
March 11
Category: Arts & Entertainment, Firehouse Gallery
Observation: Gallery is open later on Friday evenings. Enjoyed the pottery exhibit.
Miles: 2

Saturday, March 5, 2016

A Surge in Winter Commuters

Nothing beats a balaclava, down parka, and winter boots, in my opinion, turning a
cold weather commute into a pleasant affair.  

Is it the fat biking explosion, better education, studded tires, or something I can't quite put my finger on that has contributed to more winter bike riders? Or is it a natural extension from an uptick in fair weather cyclists? As an avid bike commuter, it took a job change and a route that is safe, for me to ever consider riding in the dark, not to mention becoming comfortable commuting in sub freezing temperatures. I still haven't tackled snowy conditions, nor do I plan to, but there are a growing number of cyclists who refuse to let mother nature get in the way, like Freezing Saddles participants, Bri at Bike Like Crazy, and Doug at Four Season Cycling, all proving that it can be done.

What is driving the winter riding craze?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Fighting for a Complete Streets Pilot Project

Karen Rowell and supporters divide the populace on North Avenue. Photo credit: Burlington Free Press

A pilot project to renovate a major artery through a growing residential and commercial region of Burlington, already resoundingly supported by city council, came up before Burlington voters as an non-binding issue on Tuesday, fortunately solidifying that voters really want to see four lanes turned into three for the spring/summer trial period.

The whole debacle is mystifying to me. One resident who lives in the region solicited 500 votes on a petition, opposed to letting the trial happen, which put the issue on the ballot. Neighbors were pitted against neighbors. "4 Lanes 4 North Avenue" signs appeared everywhere. Many constituents who signed the petition later came forward to the press, claiming they were misinformed. Mayhem ensued. Council members in the aforementioned region went back and forth on the issue, while outspoken bike and pedestrian advocates took to the streets, wrote editorials, contacted their council people, handed out fliers, and posted their own signs "People for a Safer North Avenue".

Photo credit: Liam Griffin on Twitter

I quietly kept my opinions to myself during the past month, but followed the conversations floating on paper and online, all the while shaking my head at the insanity of the situation. I still can't quite understand how and why it all happened, how a plan to create safer streets in a high crash area, backed by numerous studies, where city government held neighborhood meetings, could back fire. Or more importantly, that the rising angst of so few could put a choke hold on city government.

I'm all for freedom of speech, but sometimes it goes too far. Thank goodness many residents weighed in with their vote, speaking up for the pilot project. But I'm still shaking my head.