Although I am tempted to rant about our local grocery store choices (or more accurately, lack of choices…), and the disappointing assortment of over-processed, over-packaged convenience foods within our horrid chain stores – we have no Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, EarthFare or anything remotely decent within a 25 mile radius – I will spare you my whining. My family is weary enough of my complaints. But I like to cook – and I like to cook real food. Food “from scratch” as we used to say, rather than out of a box or a freezer case.
And today as I was heading to the grocery store on my bike thinking about all of this, wishing I had a decent grocery store/market within riding distance, I was reminded of a wonderful 3-minute video I had seen earlier in the week by the amazing people at Streetfilms: Moving Beyond the Automobile (Vimeo).
Of course it features the incredible cycling infrastructure improvements of the Big Bicycle Cities (NYC, Portland, SF, etc.), but what really struck a chord with me were some of the statistics about the exponential increases in ridership when safe, protected cycling infrastructure is provided to the public. The old, “if you build it, they will come …” idea. Tenfold. One-hundredfold. Exponentially.
As (my hero) Rep. Earl Blumenauer so perfectly states:
“People shouldn’t have to burn a gallon of gas to get a gallon of milk … “
He goes on to talk about the need to give people safe and accessible transportation choices of all types – choices that will reduce the demand for using the automobile, which can ultimately save people time and money, while improving their health and “ultimately enriching their daily experience.” I couldn’t agree more.
So I cycled to my poor-excuse-for-a-grocery-store and got the gallon of milk. And a few other items of “real” food. And I dreamed about how wonderful it would be to have a bike lane, or even a little bit of road shoulder, to easily cycle to some Real Foods store … Maybe someday.
Today I reached day 300 of #330daysofbiking … and I am still wondering how I actually got here? (Don’t even say “by bicycle”.)
I will be honest – I am sighing a big sigh of relief and happiness that I’ve managed to stay on target and am on the final stretch to meet this ridiculous goal. For some reason, I was feeling … well, ridiculous. A little giddy, a little goofy, and considerably nerdy for some reason.
I wanted to ride out to get a cupcake (but didn’t). I didn’t want a “serious” ride today. For other reasons unknown, the famous bicycle scene from Napolean Dynamite was on my brain today – as well as the Napolean Dynamite soundtrack song, Music for a Found Harmonium from Penguin Cafe Orchestra. Ok, well that was on my iPod. (But please listen and watch, for it is the only way you can appreciate my peculiar mindset.)
Dressed in skirt, tights and a sweater with ruffles (and I would’ve added a hat with feathers if I owned one) – rather than “cycling clothes” – I took Elisabetta out for a purely leisurely and fun ride through a local abandoned golf course (more about this place will come in a future post), riding on the golf cart paths. No traffic, no people, no chasing dogs. It was relaxing, it was fun, and it was probably a little bit silly and pointless basically riding around in a series of circles. But I think it was what I needed. To just let loose, to let my inner Napolean come out – to feel like a kid on a sweet bike. Without the sweet jumps, of course.
So … I have until April 1 to finish the last 30 days of biking (for #330daysofbiking). Hard to believe that nearly a year has passed by, and even more baffling to realize that I may actually see it happen. We’re heading to the mountains and going to be doing some spring skiing in March, and I was (am) afraid of not having access to a bike for several days. But if all goes as planned, I still have enough “buffer” days to finish. Fingers crossed.
Meanwhile, here are a few pics from the last few days of #330daysofbiking. A little more serious, a little less my inner “Napolean”. 😉
Do you ever have days when a tiny voice inside says something along the lines of … “today is not the day”? The planets are not aligned, there is a feeling of bad karma, an inner hesitation, clouds overhead. And of course I completely ignore that little voice. Serves me right.
Rest assured – nothing truly bad happened. No crash/collision, no flat tire, no mechanical issue. Just a multitude of basic annoyances that began with getting rained on (and having no rain gear, of course), continued with wasting energy (Staples no longer carries the type of photo canvas I went to buy), and included a superabundance of discourteous Friday motorists (the left-hand turn cut-off, the texting-while-driving twenty-something passing too close for comfort, and the barreling log-truck driver apparently late with his delivery to the pulp mill).
There are not many days I am happy to get off of my bike and off of the road, but today was one of them. I should have listened to the little voice.
Exquisite riding weather today … sunny and temps near 70’F. So I set my to-do list aside and took a nice long road ride into the neighboring county. And although I had my eye out for some Holsteins for my friend @bikerly, they were apparently out grazing in distant pastures. Instead, it was a day for Longhorns.
I figured it was about time for an update on the #330daysofbiking tally. The official numbers as of today: have ridden 287 of the past 317 days.
And I am happy to report that my legs haven’t fallen off. Yet. 😉
While I never really find it a problem to be motivated to keep riding and ticking off the days for this #330daysofbiking business, I will admit that my daily mileage has taken a bit of a nose-dive lately. It’s been more commuting trips and riding close to home over the past week or so, rather than some nice long road rides. I will blame it in part on some crappy weather (cold and rainy), and in part on yarn. Yes, yarn.
I’ve suffered from a recent bout of knititis, and when it’s rainy and grey outside, I find that I’d rather be inside with some alpaca-merino “comfort yarn” and a cup of tea by the fire than outside with frozen fingers and a wet camera on my bike. It’s just how I am.
But this is not to say that there hasn’t been some nice riding lately – because we have had a few beautiful days. And when the sun pops out and the skies turn blue, not even a tempting skein of pink yarn can keep me inside.
It’s been a grey week. Yesterday, I had an appointment in town – and I’m always glad to have the stretch of greenway to ride. It’s not that I mind riding in traffic, but having a stretch of traffic-free – and stoplight free – pavement makes the trip much that much easier.
While I was at my optometrist’s office, I had a brief conversation with his assistant about cycling. She told me that she and her husband and finally unearthed their old bicycles out of the back of their garage, had them tuned up, and had started to do a little riding – but “not on the street!”
And the usual comments followed … too many crazy drivers out there, too scary to ride on the road, the fear of being hit by a car. While I was so happy to find out that she and her husband were re-discovering the joy of cycling, it also made me a little sad. It’s so unfortunate that people who really want to try to ride about town, past the constraints of bike paths and greenways, have reasonably legitimate fear of doing so.
This morning I read an insightful blog post by one of my favorite twitter pals and cycling bloggers in Austin, TX – Tim Starry, aka An Old Guy On 2 Wheels. Tim is a really great guy, an enthusiastic cyclist and cycling advocate, a devoted family man, and I feel honored to call him a friend (and you must check out his blog). He just attended a cycling transportation lecture highlighting a Canadian group called 8-80 Cities, who pose a really interesting question: (basically) is your local pedestrian/cycling infrastructure adequate for an 8-year old and an 80-year old to use safely?
In our case, I’d have to say yes to our local Greenway for the most part … but a resounding no to too many other places throughout town.
Tim also cited an excellent and revealing article (definnitely worth a read) by the Portland Bureau of Transportation that discusses the large demographic of people who are curious about cycling and might like try cycling for transportation, but are fearful about the traffic interaction component. Just like the woman I talked with at my optometrist’s office, and likely the majority of the people using our local greenway.
I know that progress along these lines will be slow to come in our area. We are not an Austin, TX, or a Portland, OR, or even a Steamboat Springs, CO, as far as cycling rideshare or political will. I am grateful for the stretch of greenway we have, as well as the outlook for its future expansion.
And yes, it’s always a good kick in the pants for me to read these things and think about them – and hopefully, to get more involved.