Sunday, July 29, 2012

Don't Mess with Texas (Cyclists)

So about two weeks ago, I wiped out.

It was thoroughly embarrassing, and messy, and ultimately rather expensive as I ended up at the ER despite the fact that I thought I was just fine (which I basically was, I just now get to pay $1300 for the pleasure of them telling me that I was right).

Yesterday I took my first ride back through the area where I had my accident, and it became abundantly clear why I might've fallen in to the road for no apparent reason.

As you can see, the bike lane is strewn with debris.

Now, I don't remember a ton about the bike ride that day & subsequent crash (I blame adrenaline), but I do remember my handlebars turning suddenly and depositing me in to the path of a Suburban who, thankfully, stopped.

Corpus Christi isn't the greatest with planning, and so obviously they plunked a bike lane in to the shoulder of a road without figuring out that the road was originally designed to shuttle debris over there on those rare occasions that it rains. Nor did they plan to ever clean out the bike lanes, because they can barely maintain the roads (No, seriously).

So I've submitted a street maintenance request and now try to give this area a wide berth--which is tough because it's the most convenient of the few bike lanes in town.

Or maybe I'll just watch a little better.

...or maybe I'll become a vigilante street sweeper.  Like Batman, but with a broom!  And, of course, a bike. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bicycle Renaissance

Obviously I'm not so great with updating.

Which doesn't mean I haven't been biking; it's just that I often can't think of a single thing to write about my favorite hobby.  I biked to the store yesterday; it was hot and windy. Who cares?

That, of course, is apparently the point of blogging, so here I go again.

I've had a bicycle Renaissance, and it's all San Francisco's fault.

In July, I visited a friend in San Francisco.  It's a glorious town for biking (aside from those monstrous hills for which the city is so famous), and so every day I would take the BART in to town, rent a bike, and spend the next eight hours or so (until my friend got off work) biking around town.  I biked the Golden Gate Bridge, I biked the Presidio, I biked every bloody thing in between.

It was a beautiful week for it--highs around 80 degrees, sunny & very little wind.  I got sunburned down to the knuckles simply because, unlike in South Texas, it didn't feel like I was going to spontaneously combust when I stepped outside.

And when I returned home, despite the heat advisories, I found I still wanted to be on my bike.

...and hopefully update this blog a little more often...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Planning for Bikes

This week I had the opportunity to attend a meeting to discuss the future of hike & bike trails and bike lanes in Corpus Christi.  It was a surprisingly large crowd, around 200 people, and we learned a lot about what the city is planning.

Of course, having watched the city "plan" things for a number of years, I'm not exactly holding my breath.  But it does look promising!

The sustainability report we worked off of can be found here; the planned hike & bike trails connecting Wooldridge & Holly to Ennis Joslin & beyond (which have technically been a part of the Corpus Christi Master Mobility Plan for nearly a decade) certainly played a part in my home purchase.  And if they can manage to restore the old railroad trestle across the Oso, bikers, runners, and walkers would have a route to Flour Bluff that doesn't involve crossing a six-lane, 65-mph traffic nightmare.

The real beauty of the plan, however, is the way they've couched the proposals.  When a street is resurfaced (which should happen every couple of years, though we've got notoriously bad roads), add a bike lane, swap a stop light for a roundabout, revamp the sidewalks.  It doesn't cost all that much more than the simple resurfacing, but can provide enormous benefit.

The main point of the meeting, honestly, was just getting the word out.  And thank heavens for Tom Neagli from Bay Area Bicycles for doing so!  I, for instance, had no idea that a hike & bike trail had recently been opened just a few streets over from me.  Or that there are mountain biking trails in the city now, the work performed completely by volunteers!

From the first Corpus FrankenBike to the Ride-In Theater to this talk of hike & bike trails, it's a great time to be a cyclist.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Cold" Front

Despite the fact that the vast majority of Texas is on fire, here it's actually gotten cooler.

This is, of course, relative. It's amazing how much cooler 91 degrees feels after 107.  I set my mind to commuting Wednesday, and was delighted to find that the temperature as I left the house was in the 60s.

Have I mentioned that it's been in the 80s overnight for the last three months or so?

Like a kid on Christmas morning, I actually woke up early.  Made myself a good breakfast, and hit the road.

I rode quickly through town, smiled at the first shades of sunrise making their way across the bay, and even better: arrived at work, for the first time in recent memory, without being bathed in sweat.

And it seems to have kicked off a new health consciousness.  At the very least, I'm drinking water again instead of downing a 20 oz. Dr. Pepper whenever I feel the urge.  And I'm using my work breaks to walk around the block instead of surfing the 'Net.

The heat's creeping up a bit again, but my plan is to ride again Friday.  Perhaps fall back in to my routine.

And definitely hoping for another cold front!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Technical Difficulties

Well, a vacation (Europe for two whole weeks with Grandma & little cousin) and some technical difficulties (my computer absolutely DIED), but: I'm up and blogging once more. What's more: I have had a religious experience.

On a bike.

Barcelona Bike Share
Barcelona is a city of bicyclists, but it's a city gone mad with bicycles. There are bikes in the street, bikes in the bike lanes, bikes on the sidewalks, bikes on the Metro. It was a perfect example of "why all bicyclists should ride in the street" instead of on sidewalks packed with pedestrians of all speeds, abilities, and powers of observation. Aside from the packed thoroughfares, Barcelona also has a beautiful bike share (which I couldn't use because I don't have a chip-and-pin credit card) and numerous bike rentals (though the sign we followed led to a store whose single employee said they didn't rent bikes).

Next we ventured to Narbonne, which was MUCH smaller and had an amazingly well staffed Tourist Information Center. While my companions took off for the Narbonne Plage, I plunked down 10 Euro and hit the road on two wheels. After cruising the city center for a bit, I happened across the "trail" along the canal--a lovely, idyllic little ride that produced a plethora of pictures--before coming to the end/beginning of my adventure. The paved path ended, but an obviously well traveled dirt path remained.

Fork in the Road
I've got hours before they're back, I reasoned, I might as well keep going! I rode along the canal, occasionally passing walkers, runners, or fellow bicyclists, but more often alone. The path was pleasantly shaded by huge trees, and as I got further outside of town I was riding along beside vineyards and terra-cotta-tile roofed cottages. I could see mountains in the distance. I was passed by a boat heading in to town, everyone waving merrily.

I came upon a large farmhouse that looked like it'd been there forever, and finally a map to help me get my bearings. A sign post proclaimed that Narbonne was 6,5 km back the way I'd come while Gruissan was 7,5 km from the fork. I left the dirt path for the first time and took to tiny roads surrounded by fields. I rode over a rickety little bridge, paused to snap a picture of a fairy tale tower rising from the trees, and felt utterly at peace. This is what a bike ride should be like, I thought; no glances over my shoulder in paranoia because I'm riding with texting drivers....just the breeze and the sun and the steady whirr of wheels over the road.

And now I have a new goal: to bike across France. Not, perhaps, the entire country. But starting with a trip through the Loire Valley. Or the Cote d'Azur. Regardless of what path I choose, I'm sure it'll be wonderful--though I don't know if anything can surpass my surprise Narbonnaise ride this summer.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Spokespeople Weekly Wednesday Ride

Wednesday night I managed to make a Spokespeople ride for the first time, and it was just as fun as I thought it would be!

Around 20 of us started the ride at Seawall Food & Spirits, hauling our bikes down the seawall to the cafe and enjoying the breeze and minimal shade. We made introductions over giant (and apparently delicious) sandwiches and icy beverages, and banded together in keeping the seagulls from stealing each others' food. I had an ice pop in deference to the heat, folding and unfolding my Dahon for interested parties while in turn admiring their cutely painted cruisers.

The Spokespeople Wednesday crew
We then had a nice, leisurely ride down the bayfront (we paused at the loading dock for the group photograph seen here), around the museums, and through the Watergardens to one of the Spokespeoples' gracious sponsors, Brewster Street Ice House. We sat out on the patio eating, drinking, talking, and laughing as the sun went down and it finally started to cool off. We also picked up a couple of latecomers, including the gal with shirts; of course I had to buy one to fit in!

The lights came on for our after-dark ride from Brewster's back across downtown. Our motley crew of well-lit cruisers, road, mountain, and BMX bikes wound its way to the House of Rock, where they even let us bring our bikes inside! We got free water and sodas to sip on while we chatted, and listened to a drum competition being held that evening before finally heading back out.

Since our next (and final) destination was just down the street, we took a much longer route: back through downtown, back along the bayfront, out on to the T-Head, and finally to Cassidy's Irish Pub.

By this time it was 10:30 so I headed home, but I'll probably become a fixture on at least the Wednesday rides. It is a fun, different kind of ride...more social than a lot of group rides are. And it definitely helps remind people in Corpus Christi that cyclists are here, which is always a good thing. PLUS it brings attention to downtown and is helping encourage activity there, too.

I expect the group will grow, and I hope it does! Everyone involved is so enthusiastic! Maybe one day we can take over downtown a la Sunday Streets!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Car Free Weekend

Had a lovely weekend by bike, despite the absurd heat.

Friday night I took a spin around the neighborhood, simply because I haven't yet since my move. I can bike straight down the main road to the bay, cruise along the parkway for a few miles, then turn around and come back. Part of the ride is even on a nice little hike & bike trail which (bless them) has water fountains here and there.

Saturday morning I slept late, then got up and biked to the bank. I also shopped a bit, but didn't find anything I couldn't live without (I'm searching for a dress for the upcoming trip to Europe), so headed home. I was then supposed to head out with the SpokesPeople at 2pm, but I (to my eternal shame) fell asleep in front of the TV. What a waste of a Saturday! I made up for it by biking to Target and Camille's for an ice cream bar, dropped by Lowe's for a bike mount, then home again to wrestle with getting the bike mount installed.

Sunday morning I biked to lunch with my mom & sister, went BACK to Lowe's for a longer drill bit, and finally got that darned bike mount installed! It definitely frees up a bit of floor space in the garage, which I'm slowly but surely getting organized.

According to MyTracks on my phone, I biked 25 miles this weekend. AND I didn't even get a sunburn!