Posts from the ‘around town’ Category
Lucy is proving to be a perfect commuter bike for me – functional, comfortable, versatile. And appropriately red enough for my trips into the Red Cross office (I swear this never even crossed my mind when I was choosing her paint color).
On a national level, the Red Cross is making preparations for the possible landfall of Isaac. It’s fascinating to see the process unfold, the planning, the deployment of material and human resources – and the ways that numerous local Chapters contribute to the response. While I have chosen not to be available for deployment at this time due to some personal scheduling conflicts, I continue to stay busy locally with our DAT team and working with new volunteers – work that I enjoy very much.
The continuing reorganizational changes surrounding our local Chapter can be frustrating at times. While many of the changes to our service model make sense, and should ultimately provide more efficient delivery, the plan for implementation (internally) has not always been so well thought out – and this can be very difficult for a workforce of volunteers.
At the end of the day, I often have to step back and ask myself: are we helping to the people who need our assistance? The answer, thankfully, is yes. Ultimately, this is all that really matters – whether it involves responding to house and apartment fires here at home, or providing relief to our clients after a hurricane. At the end of the day, I know we have helped.
I get on my bike and ride home, thankful for the chance to unwind and mentally re-evaluate the day to the soothing rhythm of my pedals strokes … and hope that storms, near and far, change course.
The essence of the reddest of red-heads … I am calling her Lucy.
Six months of collaborative creating which began with my bike fitter, Eddie at Cycology, to the actual fabrication of her bones by Natalie Ramsland at SweetPea … and finally home for the final build and “dressing up” by my most awesome local bike guy, Charles at Trailhead – who knew exactly what she needed to become the thing of my dreams. There was considerable tweaking along the way, a few hiccups, several re-do’s (some easy, and some not-so), but in the end I have to think she is my perfect bike. She fits me like a hand tailored Little Black Dress, for sure. And yeah – she loves me back as much as I love her.
I love that she is a perfect mixture of function and aesthetics. She rides like a dream, she is lovely to look at (and photograph, of course), she is a little sassy and a lot of serious; she will go the distance, yet has enough practicality for commuting and camera-toting adventures.
Each piece of her was thoughtfully and deliberately chosen, and I am very proud that most things were chosen from smaller and US-based independent designers – Chris King, Paul Components, White Industries, Bike Thomson, Velo Orange, Sugar Wheel Works, and of course SweetPea.
Drivetrain selection ended up being one of the biggest headaches, and the biggest challenge in trying to put together a bike from across the country without seeing it. Aesthetically, the Shimano group I originally had chosen ended up looking wrong. In the end, at home, we stripped the Ultegra group and dressed her up with some divine Campagnolo – which is exactly what she needed (and will always take me back to the bike I rode in Italy).
We topped things off a Brooks Ladies saddle, a set of Pitlock locking skewers, a Light and Motion pairing of lights, and a very sweet Tubus Titanium rack which will will hold my wonderful custom designed and hand-sewn North St. convertible pannier (thank-you Curtis), the perfect custom home for my camera gear and other “stuffs” I schlepp around. More about that bag to come; it’s amazing. Still doing some decision-making on fenders (or not) … we’ll see.
So these are some of the first of what I am sure will be many, many glamour shots of Lucy – some of her beautiful details, and her charming RED personality. She certainly won’t get lost in the landscape.
And speaking of Lucys … for any of you old enough to remember, did you know that there was an old episode of the original I Love Lucy (i.e., Lucille Ball), where she convinces Ricky, Ethel and Fred to ride bikes from Italy to France? I kid you not. Lol. The best part is the comedy of mishaps at the border crossing – and, of course, seeing Fred and Ethel on a tandem. If you’re up for a dose of 50’s sitcom humor, it’s worth a watch (heheh) – viewable for streaming online here, or this clip on YouTube.
There are some days where all you have to do is look up, and you know you are in for it.
I remind myself that the rain is a good thing, washing the pollen from the air, making spring things grow bright and beautiful – even as I stand beneath a storefront awning, trying to wait out another thunderstorm before riding home. Oh well.
Yesterday I had to be out in it; today I really didn’t need to be anywhere, but despite the rainy forecast, I wanted to take a quick ride to a nearby field I had passed yesterday. Red clover and wildflowers were out in abundance, my time was my own, and I wanted to play with my camera. But before I was even a mile down the road, the rain began to fall again.
No fields of red clover today … only a few dandelions in my yard. I’ll have to wait out the rain once again. Sigh.
It’s almost unfathomable that we could experience another nightmarish day of tornados again after last April – that catastrophic weather could be spawned across the country once again. First Illinois, then Alabama, Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee again, and I don’t even know the continuing scope of today’s damage. But locally, our fears have become reality. Again.
A tornado (tornados?) tore through our county again today, hitting almost yards from some locations that had been devastated last spring. Our home was spared, yet again other nearby neighbors not so lucky. Again. My friend Jenn’s neighborhood was hard hit, and my heart goes out to them. A neighborhood next to our middle school sustained major damage, homes destroyed. Injuries. Reports of people pinned and trapped in collapsed buildings eastward in the county. The news is heartbreaking – from here to surrounding states. And the night is not yet over.
Our Red Cross disaster assessment team go out as quickly as we could, and before we could even get assessment numbers on one neighborhood, we were called back in because of a second round of tornado warnings being issued. I’ve seen one very small neighborhood, a few streets, and I don’t even want to imagine what else lays out there, judging from reports I have heard.
When we got the call to come in, take shelter, we headed over to the local EOC, watching radar, listening to reports being radioed in from various sources. We ran out of daylight, and now the only responders are emergency fire and rescue personell. I know it will be an around-the-clock for these people, along with our Red Cross Disaster Director and the shelter staff.
The Red Cross has opened a shelter, the calls from local residents are coming in at a steady pace. As I write this, we are under another tornado warning. I am home with my family, and our hand-crank radio is at hand.
So, not unlike last spring, I am signing off for a period of time unknown. I think it will be Utilitaire #fail … as there is work to be done, and not only locally. I suspect I may be deployed within the coming days, weeks, depending on how we can manage locally. We’ll see. But I am ready to go.
Please support your communities if they have been hit; please support your relief agencies who will be working to serve across the country. Families are in need. Donate your time, donate supplies, donate your dollars if possible – they will be greatly needed.
And please … have a plan, make a kit, be prepared. Godspeed.
the Red Phone at the EOC … can’t help thinking we need a BatPhone
Riding across the Riverside Drive glass bridge in Chattanooga always gives me an imaginary sense of victory(?) over cars. I love standing on that bridge with my bike and looking down at the cars driving underneath; I am looming over them for a change (even it it’s only in my mind…).
Today’s destination was number 12 on the Utilitaire control card: to get my hair cut. My once-a-month-or-so trip to Chattanooga to visit my stylist, Chris, at Hair-A-Go-Go gives me a chance to ride into the city on the Riverwalk.
I will confess, I have to drive (shame on me!) to the northern terminus of the Riverwalk from home; but living about 40+ mi outisde of the city, an 80-mile round trip would be a big stretch for a reasonable commuter distance for me. Sorry. This way, anyway, I cut a little off of my driving distance, and get to ride the “scenic route” into downtown, and have some time to enjoy the destination. I think the approximate distance from the north end of the path to the Bluff View Art District downtown is about 8 miles one way, so the round trip makes for a relaxing and comfortable ride which I almost always make on Elisabetta.
Got my haircut, stopped into the downtown art supply store for a new pen, and then lingered around Coolidge Park for a little while enjoying the incredible sunshine and the balmy temperatures. I think we reached the mid-70’s. Lots and lots of people were out, walking, biking, sitting on benches on the Walnut Street Bridge, enjoying picnics in the park.
Before heading back, I stopped to treat myself at Rembrand’s Coffee House in the Art District. I was in the mood for one of their blackberry Italian Cream Sodas … it was heavenly, especially on the warm day. I am not exactly sure what makes it “Italian” (because I don’t remember ever seeing anything like this in Italy), but it is basically blackberry syrup, soda water, and some cream – yes, real cream – over ice. Not something to indulge in on a regular basis, but for an occasional treat, I shall have no guilt over it(!).
My hair is back to it’s short and trimmed state, my journal enjoyed the sun and the park (if not my attempts with the new pen), and I am still imagining the sweetness of blackberries and cream. A few scenes from the day … and a big thank you to the very kind new friends who have visited these pages from today’s Freshly Pressed; it was an unexpected surprise, and I am quite bowled over by the kind words and responses. Many thanks.
playing with new pens
Chattanooga has a thriving hipster population … Riverwalk
Scenic City bridges … Coolidge Park
Another day in town of trip-chaining by bike. Stop for coffee, pop into the bike shop, visit our local history museum, drop by the library (and more coffee), hit the grocery store for dinner-to-go, and home again; a bit of a list, and I again apologize for a rather lengthy post. Despite multiple destinations, I will log today’s Utilitaire checkpoint as #9 – museum visit.
In the section of town known as Five Points, we have a very nice regional history museum – the Museum Center at Five Points (and I am sorry to say that the above photo is not the museum, just an old building on the Five Points Corner ). The museum is one of those places I don’t make time to visit often enough, so I am grateful for the Utilitaire challenge and the reminder to make the visit. In addition to the permanent collection of local history and artifacts, the current temporary exhibit features an impressive collection of vintage and modern quilts. As much as I loved viewing the quilts, I was really more interested in taking some time to explore the permanent collection more thoroughly than I have had time to in the past. I learned a few things – including (according to the docent I spoke with) the fact that the industry responsible for “growing” and placing our little town on the TN map was kitchen stove manufacturing. Not only was there a Hardwick Woolen Mill, but also a Hardwick Stove Company, among others.
Since my time was my own today, I was able to read, look and explore a little more. Other things that caught my eye (in addition to the quilts, of course) were a vintage camera and an old grocery bike, along with a interesting collection of daily household items.
Coming to the museum in late March will be a new photograph exhibit that I am definitely looking forward to – a collection of black and white photographs from Knoxville photographer Don Dudenbostel on aspects of Appalachian culture that are fading from existence. From roadside culture to moonshine distilleries to snake handling (yeah, snake handling) … this should be exceptional. I’ve admired some of his other work (x-ray imaging) in the Bluff View Art District in Chattanooga, and it is pretty incredible.
As I was leaving the museum, I discovered I had just missed seeing my friend Jenn, who is an education director for the museum and had been there for a meeting. Sorry Jenn. But I definitely need to ask her for a favor — any chance we can get the museum facilities people to install a bike rack?? (hint, hint) 😉
I left the museum and stopped at the library where I ran into one of my “other” sons, Tim, who had finished his college classes for the day and spotted me parking my bike. We had a cup of coffee and did some catching up in the library coffee shop before he headed off. With all of the boys at schools here, there and everywhere, I don’t get to see these guys as often as I used to – and I was so touched that he was kind enough to take some time to re-connect. My boys have the most amazing friends.
library bike rack
Winding through neighborhoods, with spring colors reminding me of the some of the quilts from earlier in the day. On to the grocery store for a assorted salads for a simple supper, and then home. A very good day.
pansies, reminding me of quilts …
Everyone is going separate ways today, but my beloved and I managed to take a little time out to ride for coffee before he heads out of town later today. Utilitaire checkpoint #2: coffeeneuring. Once again a traverse through town on the Greenway, and for whatever reason, I am always compelled to stop on this bridge. I want to start keeping a tally. There are other bridges, other underpasses, other places I ride through and across as often, or more frequently, than this bridge… but I always consciously think about this location, this bridge, whenever I cross it. I have no idea why.
As for coffee – I know that Starbucks often gets a bad rap. Yeah, it’s not some trendy local roaster, I can’t get a latte with a picture created in the froth, but it’s really about the only game in town. I tend to avoid the Inman Street Coffee House run by the Salvation Army, because I have a personal aversion to the big screen tv’s they have hanging on the walls playing Fox News, and I take issue with some of the national organization’s position statements. Sorry, Tim (and the other kids who work there). At Starbucks, I am always greeted with a smile and treated very well by the barristas I have come to know, I’d rather listen to music than blaring tv’s, I’ve made a few friends here (both cyclists and non-) and truthfully, they manage to make the best skinny vanilla latte in the neighborhood. Not to mention, it’s a convenient ride off of the Greenway.
Rode back, no time for trip-chaining today unfortunately. Time to get on with the other stuff. Sigh.
coffee on the go
Utilitaire 6.12: it began as a trip to the bike shop, #8 on the control card (for the second time). And then transformed into a fun family-friendly community ride on the Greenway, and finally a quick stop for dinner – along with picking up a few boxes of girl scout cookies. Mmmm. 🙂
Dillon is home from school for a quick weekend visit, and we took a ride to the bike shop. Our shop owner, Charles, had also gotten a small group of us together at the end of the day for what is hopefully the first of many more family fun rides on our local Greenway. The idea is to bring families together for some easy and kid-friendly rides, promoting a little more bike friendliness within our community, and working on building/strengthening an advocacy network. I think there is also a leaning toward trying to fill the rides with “bicycle variety” – fixies, cargo bikes, and other non-typical bicycle”oddities”. As the weather warms up and the days grow longer, we hope to include other activities like themed rides, bike picnics, frozen yoghurt stops, maybe even a wine-and-cheese type of stop for the adults. Who knows? We’ve also talked about incorporating some of the Utilitaire-type destinations and goals into the mix, but ultimately to appeal to a wide range of cycling abilities and interests, and get more people out on their bikes.
We left from the shop, rode the Greenway from end to end, and stopped to a few minutes of discussion and planning within our fledgling start-up group. I think we all had fun; I know I did. Mostly, I hope we can grow the group and the idea … I would love to see more of my local friends join in the fun. I took a lot of photos and am posting a few – hope these friends don’t mind, as I didn’t really get permission.
After the group ride, Mark, Dillon and I headed back, stopping for a quick bite on the way. I didn’t manage to get a full-fledged night ride in as I had hoped … but we did get home before it started to rain. Night rides will have to wait for another day.
After giving myself a few days off – no biking, swimming or much of anything else – I got back out today, thankfully feeling more like myself. I rarely get sick, or injured, and typically try to push through it if I can. But taking a few days to rest and lay back was a good thing, I think; I feel so much better than I did on Friday.
It was raining all morning, but the clouds began to break up shortly after noon, so I decided to make a grocery run – #5 on my Ultilitaire control card. Two bags of groceries, a gallon of milk, a quiet ride through dripping trees, cows in damp fields, and the smell of springtime in the air. Zig-zagging a route on back roads and out of traffic, feeling my legs again after several days off of the pedals. Mileage guestimate: 7 miles. Daffodils emerging: gazillions.
yin & yang storm clouds
back roads home