Archive for August, 2011

August 30, 2011

Where to Shop Bike Style in September

Barb Chamberlain, Bike Style Spokane, wearing a Nuu-Muu and a hat by Old Man's Pants at the 2011 South Perry Street FairWe’ll have our usual great line-up and some new things at a couple of events in September. Come say hi and get a little something to wear to Spokefest, a Belles and Basket ride, or tooling around town, for yourself or for the biking friend you love.

First Friday, Sept. 2: Noon-7pm at the LaunchPadINW Co-working Space, 120 N. Stevens.

You’ll find us right next to Nectar Tasting Room, which means you’ll definitely want one of the “wine socks” we offer from Save Our Soles. Buffer that bottle in your pannier to keep it intact on the ride home.

What, no pannier, you say? Then you’ll want a Donkey Boxx (room for lots of bottles!) or a Po Campo bag.

And if you’re heading out on the Belles and Baskets Riverside State Park Ride Sept. 4 (Men’s Auxiliary welcome) this is your chance to rock a Nuu-Muu or Ruu-Muu on the ride!

 

 

SpokeFair at SpokeFest, Sunday Sept. 11: 8am-2pm at the Gondola Meadows in Riverfront Park.

Before or after you get rolling with around 2,000 other happy people on a beautiful ride through the Spokane River Gorge, get your cute on with a Nuu-Muu, some socks, or some reflective stickers to dress up your bike, fenders, helmet, and panniers.

What We Carry: Here’s the line-up of Bike Style Spokane products. No, we don’t have e-commerce yet so you need to catch up with us at one of our events or send an email to info-AT-bikestylespokane.com and we’ll find a way to connect.

Please hit “forward” or “share” and tell your biking friends where they can find some style!

August 28, 2011

On a Roll with Rachel Scrudder

Rachel Scrudder and her Surly Cross-Check

Rachel and her Surly Cross-Check, decked out for commuting.

Name: Rachel Scrudder

Location: Spokane

Things Rachel does:

  • Bicycle commuter
  • Member of the Spokane Bicycle Advisory Board
  • Software tester

Who or what made a difference in your life that got you on a bike?

Initially I wanted to be more green, and to save money because I couldn’t continue to afford gas at the rate its prices were climbing. Bike to Work Week helped me get my big start riding my bike around town for errands, since I didn’t have a job at the time. Several months later I started working downtown, so the free parking and being able to get there faster than by car or bus were additional motivators.

Tell us about your bike(s) and accessories.

I started commuting on an early 90’s Yokota road bike that I picked up for $80 on Craigslist. It was a great, zippy little bike, but I couldn’t put a rack, a front fender, or snow tires on it. I also picked up a yellow windbreaker on sale at REI, and a set of battery-powered lights.

Rachel Scrudder in profile showing her hat by Old Man's Pants.

Rachel with the very cute hat from Old Man's Pants that she got at Sun People Dry Goods on Bikespedition #2.

That winter I used an old rigid-fork Diamondback someone had given me and added some snow tires I also got from Craigslist, and some new fenders and a seat-post-mounted rack. It was nice to have fenders and a rack, but I preferred the positioning my road bike offered. Not to mention, the derailleur was a low-end, old piece of junk (an unmaintained, early 90’s Shimano SIS) and the drivetrain was old, so the gears were always skipping.

Once spring arrived, I took my tax return and bought a new bike: A black Surly Cross Check. Initially I started with the “Complete” bike straight from Surly’s website, but I’ve gradually made small improvements, including adding a rack and panniers, fenders, black reflective tape, a dynamo hub with LED lights, a Monkey-Lectric wheel light, pedals that are clipless on one side and platform on the other, a leather saddle and handlebar tape.

Last fall I picked up a Showers Pass jacket, and this spring a pair of their rain pants, because I wanted to be waterproof and reflective. I also have two pairs of shoes with recessed cleats: a pair of tennis shoes and a pair of Keen sandals. And this spring I snagged a Po Campo purse from Bike Style that I absolutely love and take everywhere with me.

What type(s) of riding do you do? How often, what destinations, and how far?

I primarily commute around town. My ride to work is 2 miles each way, but I take my bike to other places such as coffee shops, the grocery store, the park with my daughter, and meetings. I usually don’t bike commute more than 5 miles in one direction. When I don’t, it’s because I have a need for my car like hauling lots of stuff along with my family, and/or I don’t have the time to spend riding 10 miles each way so I take the car.

However, I have planned my life so that I rarely have to travel that far. When I was searching for jobs, I actually looked for one based on if I could commute there by bike or not. Liberty Lake was out, and even a company on East Third seemed pretty impractical because there are very few good ways to get there by bike.

I also enjoy joining some of the local bike events, like the FBC’s monthly fiasco, Summer Parkways, SpokeFest, and the Belles and Baskets group. Occasionally I ride recreationally, between 20 and 50 miles, usually on paved trails. I would like to do this kind of riding more often, but I’m so busy I rarely have the time.

Commuting is the primary way I stay in shape. I love it because it’s so easy. I’ve never been the athletic type, and this way I don’t have to find time to go and exercise. I’m just getting from point A to point B and staying in shape along the way.

What’s the most common question you get asked when you bike somewhere?

Summer: How far do you have to ride? Good for you!

Spring and Fall: Aren’t you soaked? You’re very dedicated.

Winter: Isn’t it slippery? Wow, you’re brave.

What do you usually wear when you ride?

For commuting, I wear my normal clothes. I most often wear jeans and a t-shirt with my SPD shoes, but on hot summer days I like to wear big flowy skirts (that I tie up around my knees on the bike) with cute sandals. Sometimes I even wear slacks and dress shoes on the bike. If I have to go extra far, I will change into my bike shorts (if it’s chilly they’ll just go on under my regular clothes), but I just picked up a pair of Pedal Panties and I’m looking forward to trying those out for longer trips.

When I ride recreationally, I wear a pair of bike shorts or knickers, a normal-looking wool shirt, and my SPD shoes.

What things do you wish were different about your bike and gear or women’s clothing or both that would make it easier to bike and look good, if this is something you give any thought to? Or at least bike and be comfortable.

I am lucky that I’m 5’10” so I was easily able to find a bike that fit properly. On the other hand, all of the ladies’ bike gloves out there seem to be far too small, so I’m stuck with boring, masculine-looking gloves.

I wish that there were more stylish-yet-functional clothing options for women to ride in–especially in the cold weather. With the hipster biking craze, choices for “normal looking” bike clothes are increasing for men, but they’re still hard to find for women. I don’t care for the way women’s bike jerseys look, and I don’t want to wear Lycra off of the bike.

More companies are starting to offer an option for women bikers (for example, my shoes and jacket), but at this point you’re mostly stuck with hunting around online to find anything. And the price is also often an issue. I have come across some amazing designer-made garments for women to ride in, but I can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars on one or two items of clothing. Spending more than $50 is difficult for me, but if I know the item is made from good fabric and stitched to last, I’m more likely to hand over my cash.

What does Spokane need to make it an even better place for women to ride their bikes?

Spokane needs more bicycle infrastructure. Paths and cycle tracks would be the best way to draw women out, but even additional bike lanes would help. So many women I talk to say things like, “I want to ride my bike more, but I’m too scared of being hit by a car.” One of the reasons I’m on the Bicycle Advisory Board is to be a voice for women bicyclists and to try to get more bike lanes installed.

I think the other thing that would encourage more women to ride is seeing other women out there riding, demonstrating how easy it is to get around on your bike. The more people who are out on their bikes, the more aware cars become of us and the safer it is for everyone.

What’s your proudest biking accomplishment?

Every time I ride up a big hill I’m pretty proud of myself. I was shocked at how effortlessly my legs got into shape just by riding to and from work for a month. I used to go out of my way to avoid even the tiniest incline, but after doing that kind of riding, I hopped on my bike and went for a 40-mile bike ride with a friend and it was easy and pain-free!

I’m also pretty proud that I rode my bike to work for 97% of my work days last year, and my butt looks the best it ever has!

What one word describes the way you feel most often when you ride?

Free.

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August 26, 2011

Bikespedition #2 Part II: Exploring SoDo Some More

SoDo could use more bike racks. Meanwhile, lock your bike to a street sign and appreciate the ease of navigating a bike through the construction zone.

I went to shake CP’s hand. We looked at each other. Opening her arms wide, she smiled and said, “Give me a hug.”

“Oh, good, that’s how I felt too!” I responded. We hugged goodbye. Thus ended Bikespedition #2—with a hug from a new friend I’d just met thanks to my bicycle.

How do I credit this to my bike? Well, okay, for starters it was a bikespedition.

But really, it’s because after I thought we’d finished exploring the treasures along Second Avenue and I’d unlocked my bike preparing to head home, I happened to glance south on Bernard and spotted a sign I’d never seen before. An irresistible sign: “Neat Old Stuff.”

Had I been in my car I couldn’t have seen the sign because cars can never park at a corner, whereas I had hitched my bike to a sign pole right at the corner of Second and Bernard. Nor would I have been so quick to change my departure plans and make one more stop.

I know myself as a driver: I’m efficiency-minded and goal-oriented. Once I’m in the car and moving I tend to stay in motion. Stopping is a chore, a hassle, and I don’t like hassles.

SoDo business owners we talked to want to see bike racks installed on 2nd Ave. Until then, you can lock to the railing in front of Lolo Boutique.

A series of errands run in the car? A series of chores. The same series of errands on my bike? A pleasant bike ride with stops along the way.

A sudden decision to check out one more shop on a little side street? Looking for a parking spot is a chore. Looking for another parking spot right after pulling out of one, especially when I’d have to deal with one-way streets? A chore I wouldn’t bother to undertake—in my car. Yet so easy on my bike I didn’t hesitate for a second—just locked it up again to another pole and popped in.

Backing up a bit: Just across the street and down the block from the Spokane Public MarketSun People Dry Goods, and Market Place Wine Bar—the delightful beginning to Bikespedition #2—you’ll find a stretch of boutiques well worth the lingering.

Red chair and red table. Outside Ronan's Door, Spokane, WA

A red furniture ensemble invited us into Ronan's Door at the corner of Second and Bernard.

Ronan’s Door: Brand-new—only opened its doors the week before we stopped by—the shop offers an eclectic mix of antique and upscale furnishings and home décor. Co-owner Martha Cunningham told us the other owner, Wendy Jones-Ross, was off on a buying trip that will stock the shop even more, but there’s already plenty to look at.

SerendipityOwner Jodi Hoffman told us she welcomes bikes into her shop, which offers up cute clothes for you, intriguing décor for home and garden, and greeting cards (I’m always glad to find places to find non-mainstream cards).

We found plenty of cute and comfortable clothing here and had a great time talking bikes and fashion.

Skirts at Serendipity Boutique: Great for biking!

(The shop is for sale, by the way, if you’re interested in running a great shop in a great location.)

Eclectic Gifts: Accessible through a door inside Serendipity that makes the two shops feel like one, this shop holds all the ingredients for you to make gift baskets or they can design and deliver themed baskets for you with names like Tuscany Dinner, Wild Huckleberry Morning, and Pamper Her.

Treat: If you’re looking for cosmetic tattoos you’ll find them here. We didn’t stop; I’ve never wanted to commit quite that much to a particular make-up look since fads are subject to change and I tend to avoid needles unless I’m donating blood, getting a flu shot, or knitting.

Metal wine bottle holders. Eclectic Gifts, Spokane, WA

Eclectic Gifts offers wine, bottle holders, and lots of other goods for the goody basket.

Lolo Boutique: Seriously cute outfits with more bikeable wear, jewelry, shoes, and home and garden items. You’ll want to linger in the tiny courtyard that opens out from the shop and they have lots of great looks in their clothing selection.

Finders Keepers: Well-known must-stop for jewelry, especially if you simply have to find the perfect color of accessories to go with that prom gown or special outfit. The jewelry displays here boggle the mind in their color assortment and sparkle and they always have some kind of sale running. The array of Inlander Best-Of awards on the walls provides evidence of their enduring appeal.

aNeMonE Paper Flowers: We didn’t stop this time around; they’re dealing with a change to their operations as they close their River Park Square location and consolidate everything at this store. Just know that these are beautiful handmade flowers and you’ll want some!

Vintage Hill CellarsWe got a gracious welcome and wonderful education in wine from Paul and Mark George, whose son Cody is one of the founders of the winery.

Sure is handy having all the jewelry sorted by color. Pink and blue finds at Finders Keepers.

We learned the difference between filtered and unfiltered wine (an Old World approach that leaves in more wineskin bits, unlike the clarity that Ernst and Julio Gallo foisted on an unsuspecting America).

Another takeaway—the secret of food/wine pairings. It’s in the seasonings, really, so if you focus on those you can forget red wine/red meat and white wine/fish-chicken and choose wines that go with dominant spices, an approach that works for vegans or vegetarians as well as for omnivores.

I’m heading back for one of their palate training sessions that can help you and your dining partner learn where your wine preferences converge or diverge so you can agree on something to drink together (or decide that you should buy wine by the glass for separate choices).

The seasoned tasting biscuits at Vintage Hill help you understand how different wines bring out the effects of different spices.

Neat Old StuffThat final stop? Behind a locked door and a sign that asks you to ring the bell (just do it!) a wonderland awaits. Lamps glow behind and beside frills and lace, bibelots and whatnots.

Much to my amazement the shop has been at its current location for four years and I’d never once noticed the sign. It’s on a tiny stretch of Bernard between Second and Third and Bernard isn’t a through street in that part of town.

Economic development/transportation policy note: Connectivity and a dense street grid really matter to retail visibility. If I don’t know you’re there I can’t stop and spend. Drivers tend to focus on through routes, not side streets, and thus miss all the good stuff.

The fairyland of vintage wonder behind the locked door on a quiet side street that takes you into Neat Old Stuff, 222 S. Bernard.

Back to Neat Old Stuff—

Turns out owner CP Phare rides a vintage bike to work three days a week; her son and web developer also commute by bike. Riding a bike creates instant connection in a way that ordinary driving simply can’t, and my discovery of a killer pair of silver stilettos deepened the bond.

We discussed everything from her “endless supply of vintage underwear” with real bone stays that draws in burlesque and theater customers and the custom upholstery and furniture restoration services she runs from the shop to the utter adoration my 17-year-old daughter would feel for the abundance of princess-pink items in the shop. Hence that parting hug.

These killer heels now reside in the closet of yours truly awaiting a special event. Neat Old Stuff, you'll see me again soon!

After all that shopping and nibbling, we didn’t even make it to Taste Cafe, Vino, Saunders Cheese, Dutch Bros. Coffee, or the Rocket Bakery on Howard, let alone get a massage at 2nd Avenue Healing Arts, go climbing at Wild Walls, play tag at Laser Quest, or take in a play at Interplayers.

And that isn’t an exhaustive list of the businesses in the neighborhood.

SoDo, you’re so divine. I’ll be back.

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August 24, 2011

Reality Check

Lest you think my bike commuting life always proceeds smoothly with never a hitch in my getalong, let me describe my ride the other morning.

I made the last day of my vacation a Monday to extend the sweet sleeping-in sensation one more day and give myself a shorter work week for the re-entry. Betsy Lawrence, founder of Belles and Baskets, suggested we bike to a downtown yoga studio for a sweaty 90-minute class, then get coffee—a perfect day-off activity.

The first hitch was that I couldn’t find sunglasses I knew I had been holding in my hand just seconds before we left my house. I searched a bit, then grabbed my back-up pair and we were off.

We weren’t more than three yards out of my driveway when I realized I needed to adjust the saddle height. Second Daughter had used the bike to make an emergency run for coffee and scones during the August 14 Spokane Summer Parkways event and it was far too low. I’d forgotten all about that because it happened a week ago before we went on vacation.

Betsy held the bike while I made an adjustment (I get a little thrill when I actually get to use the multitool I carry in my toolkit), then got on to test it. Too high.

She held the bike again and I adjusted it. Just right—or so I thought.

I rode another three yards and said, “We have to stop again. I didn’t center the nose.” When I fixed the height I totally ignored saddle placement and the nose was canted to the left, so out came the multitool again and I got the “Baby Bear” (just right) results for real.

After the left turn from my street into the bike lane on Southeast Boulevard we headed downhill. Within a few more yards I said, “Wait, the bike is making weird sounds.”

I could hear a steady plbplbplbplb sound—a little bit like a quieter version of a spoke card tapping—and a swiish-swiish-swiish on a regular beat that told me it was something on the wheel brushing with each revolution.

We got to a good stopping place another block down and pulled over so I could look for things that might be rubbing or ticking. I messed semi-randomly with various things like the fender attachments and placement, cyclometer, and brakes, checked that neither tire was losing air, and got back on.

The noises were still there but we decided to ignore them and proceed. About two blocks farther Betsy, who was riding behind me, suddenly exclaimed, “I’m riding without my helmet, aren’t I?!”

I looked back and sure enough, her hair blew freely in the breeze. I could visualize her helmet right where she’d left it: on my sofa in the front room while I looked for my sunglasses.

We briefly contemplated heading back since we still had time but decided to keep going. In case you’ve lost track, we had already had five hold-ups (counting the sunglasses). Rather than go for the even half-dozen we took the chance since we were already a third of the way to the studio and it was mid-morning so the traffic wasn’t too heavy. (Don’t tell anyone we violated the city helmet ordinance.)

We made it safely to yoga, sweated our way through, and had our coffee after. Riding back the plbplbplb had disappeared but the swiish-swiish-swiish was still there. When I got home Sweetheart identified a spot where the fender was rubbing the tire and fixed it for me with the tiniest of adjustments.

Bike commuting—always a breeze, right?

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August 22, 2011

The Quest: A Google Search Story about Bike Style

The quest I’ve been on for some time now isn’t nearly as neat and tidy as this Google Search Story suggests. (They only let you put in 6 or 7 search terms and I used a lot more!)

It all started innocently enough: I just wanted to find some good-looking pants suitable for Chamber of Commerce meetings with design that enabled me to be genuinely comfortable on a bike and (the and is a big piece of this) bike-specific features in fabric selection, leg width, design of the place where the lady meets the saddle, and all the rest. I didn’t want the pants to look like bike pants but I sure wanted them to feel like bike pants.

Since our family watches lots of movies but few movies hold my attention completely I spent quite a bit of laptop time running various search parameters and clicking through results.

Turns out Google isn’t always my best friend even after all the time we spent together on this quest. I couldn’t come up with the right search terms, perhaps because this is a relatively small but emerging market and the few clothing designers trying to meet this need use different terms to describe what they provide.

“Tailored bike clothing for women”? Not necessarily, but perhaps–found one pair that way.

Not “professional clothing for cycling,” that’s for sure–you end up with lots of Spandex sausage-squeezers (aka bike shorts) for professional racers.

“Cute clothes for biking”? Pink flowered jerseys or gear for motorcycle mamas.

I spent some time playing with various permutations of “cycling,” “biking,” and “bike riding” since I read different things into the labels we apply to the two-wheeled tribe.

On the other end of the spectrum, I wanted to wear things for recreational rides that also worked well for my frequent coffee-shop refueling stops. Sure, I can walk in wearing a padded butt and fitted jersey, but this says “in training,” not “cute and comfy.”

The few things I found whetted my appetite for more clothes and gear that don’t scream “I go shopping with Lance Armstrong!” so I could get dressed for biking and get dressed for work and be wearing only one outfit.

I wanted bike bags that don’t look like bike bags–turned out I could find those.

How about a jacket or raincoat with a cut that protects my lap yet won’t get caught in the spokes? I think I’m onto a line of those.

Pretty helmets? Found them but they’re kinda spendy so I haven’t ordered yet. (If a bunch of you are willing to pay $175 for an adorable helmet with a cover that makes it look like you’re wearing a hat, just say so and the Yakkay helmets are on their way for the next Bike Style shopping event.)

I have a whole spreadsheet of the results of the quality time Google and I spent together. Meanwhile, the quest continues. Good thing my family adores watching movies–it creates lots of search opportunities.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • What articles of clothing do you really wish you could find with bike-specific design that doesn’t show as such?

P.S.

Since I’ve written about my shopping/purchasing philosophy and values you may well wonder at all this online shopping. I’ve looked locally and the items I want just aren’t here, which led to the beginnings of my business to bring them to town so Spokane can ride in style–filling the gap between Nordstrom and your local bike shop.

August 20, 2011

Hassle Factor: Biking vs. Driving

I’m pretty much a 100% bike commuter till it’s too slippery-scary in winter, then I switch to Spokane Transit. I didn’t get here overnight—the transition took place over a couple of years or so.
Dressed for the commute: Periwinkle blue dress, bike, Po Campo bags.

Dressed for the zero-hassle commute: Periwinkle blue dress, heels, bike, Po Campo bags.

I regularly talk to people who sound incredulous that I manage all the “hassles” of bike commuting. In biking as in life, hassles are what you make them.

When I drove most of the time and commuted occasionally, the change back and forth between systems of organizing and carrying things created hassles. Being 100% bike eliminates barriers to biking and raises barriers to driving. I’m not anti-driving–I just don’t like hassles.

Sidebar first: If you have small kids and you’re hauling them from school to Scouts to ballet, my sympathies and you can skip the rest of the post or we can talk bike carts and serious workouts.

I’ll put in one plug for raising free-range kids with less complicated schedules, suggest that you bike to school with them a few times so they know the way and get them a bus pass when they’re older, and leave you to your duties as Mom or Dad Taxi Driver.

My daughters (20 and 17 as of this writing) no longer need my assistance to get to school—and I put them on the city bus a long time ago for all those trips you “have” to drive them for, such as trips to the mall to hang out with friends.

Bike Day
  • Fill panniers with my stuff (laptop, lunch, phone, etc.; some rain gear if the forecast is ominous).
  • Bike to work, usually in regular work clothes and shoes (2.5 miles/approximately 9 minutes, mostly downhill with some traffic sprints).
  • Lock bike to rack, remove panniers, go into office.
  • If it’s cold or wet: Remove outerwear.

Total elapsed time: 12-15 minutes. Slightly longer if I take the bike into our indoor sheltered bike parking due to weather conditions, because I have to get through the locked door and put the bike on a wall rack; add five minutes if I do a full clothing change but that gets more and more rare all the time as I figure out how to shop; “forgetfulness time” (“I forgot I need that file!”) applies no matter what form of transportation I choose.

Car Day
  • Fill panniers with my stuff. Because I now have beautiful Po Campo bags I no longer have to do as much switching as I did back when I had the Black Uglies so this step got faster unless I’m making a fashion choice to use a different purse, in which case I’ll have to spend time deciding.
  • Remember that I need a parking pass for the day. If I don’t have one on hand, I’ll have to factor in time to go to the campus parking office to purchase one. Add 5 minutes to hunt for the pass, another 10 if I didn’t find one.
  • Drive to work. This may include extra wait time because I don’t have a dedicated lane that lets me bypass left-turning vehicles. On my bike I can keep going past the lefties because my route has a bike lane for about half its length.
  • Park somewhere in the lot, which involves circling to find a spot. If the lot is full I will have a longer walk.
  • Walk to building (guaranteed to be a longer walk than bike rack, since that’s right next to the building entrance).
  • Remove outerwear if it’s cold (might include a footwear change).

Total elapsed time: 20 minutes, plus up to another 15 to address the parking permit question. I no longer purchase a year-round parking pass because I don’t need one. This saves me $288.06 per year at current prices. Cha-ching.

Bike Day: Additional effort to go to meetings in downtown core
  • Hang pannier on bike with my stuff for meeting.
  • If I wear pants, use binder clip or rubber band to contain right pant leg so it won’t catch in the chain.
  • Put on helmet.
  • Ride to meeting 1/2 mile away (my pedals are clip-in one side, regular on the other, so I don’t have to change shoes).
  • Lock bike to rack or sign pole in front of destination; drop helmet into my Donkey Boxx.
  • Remove pannier (purse), although I often use my Po Campo Loop Pannier as a messenger bag and just sling it over my back for a five-minute ride.
  • Arrive at meeting.

Total elapsed time: Approximately seven minutes.

Car Day: Additional effort to go to meetings in downtown core
  • Remember where I parked my car in the lot.
  • Walk to car.
  • Drive to meeting 1/2 mile away.
  • Circle until I find a parking spot—and Spokane has lots of one-way streets in the downtown core, so a circle can be up to eight blocks.
  • Realize I don’t usually carry parking meter change because I don’t need it on my bike.
  • Sprint into meeting destination, beg change from others in the meeting, sprint back to car.
  • Plug meter.
  • Walk at brisk pace back to meeting, avoiding sprint because I now need to cool down. Yes, it’s possible to get sweatier using a car than using a bike and one of the reasons I bike is because I’m lazy.

Total elapsed time: Completely variable depending on location of parking spot and availability of spare change (which I admittedly do try to carry in the car, but I use it so seldom there’s no guarantee). ALWAYS, always longer than 7 minutes.

Additional variable cost: $15 parking ticket donation to street maintenance fund.

Hassles? I’ll take my bike, thank you very much.

Caffeine molecule with caption, "You say caffeine, I say elixir of life."

I didn’t even mention that the price of a gallon of gas currently comes in at about the price of a 16-oz. latte with flavoring. I’d rather be fueled by caffeine than by fossil fuel, and I like my “calories per mile” equation.

Oh, and my transit alternative? My employer subsidizes the pass because that’s cheaper than paving more parking lots; there’s a stop on the street that goes past my building; and the central transit plaza is in the heart of downtown, right across the street from one of my main destinations for meetings. Seven minutes start to finish—same as the bike and no parking ticket.

Latte, anyone?

This post inspired by Design Impact blog post in which someone else did a similar comparison.
August 18, 2011

SoDo Is So Terrific! Bikespedition #2 a Must-Shop (Part I)

Bike rack made of bike parts at Sun People Dry Goods/Spokane Public Market.

This bike rack awaits you at the corner of 2nd Ave. and Browne at the entrance to Sun People Dry Goods, Market Place Wine Bar, and the Spokane Public Market.

The Second Avenue stretch of SoDo offers so much for the bikespeditioning* shopper that I’m writing a two-parter.

We started by parking our bikes in the rack made of bike frames by the west entrance of the Spokane Public Market, a destination at the corner of Second Avenue and Browne for people interested in talking to those who actually grow or make the things they sell.

Food first, since treats constitute an essential element of every bikespedition: Here you’ll find veggies, fruits, organically raised meat (I’m a vegetarian but the Susie & David sausage dogs were a hit with the carnivores I love), preserves, and pastries—oh, the pastries, including gluten-free options.

Just some of the goodies you’ll find:

  • Sands Trail Farm cilantro pesto and honey maple dressing/marinade.
  • Woman holding scones at The Scone Ranger, Spokane Public Market

    In case of a scone emergency, call The Scone Ranger.

    Maple walnut treat from The Scone Ranger—moist, delicious, and a manageable size, not one of those monstrous dry biscuits some places serve up. (And he offers a gluten-free blueberry/huckleberry)

  • Organic veggies and fruits but you have to ask—not all growers are organic. Some are pesticide-free without being certified; some vendors are all-organic.
  • Gourmet Foragables: Mushrooms and wild berries.
  • Toddy or latte from Natural Start Bakery, which offers several gluten-free/dairy-free pastries (not vegan—they use eggs).
  • If I were a fan of flavored popcorn I’d stop at Apple Crisp Farm and the Popcorn Patch every time. They’ll catch you if you enter through the wide opening on Second and offer you tastes of everything from popcorn to cherry juice.  They had striking Fourth of July heirloom tomatoes that look like fireworks bursting and chocolate/yogurt-covered cherries.
  • Pastries in case at Modern Tart, Spokane Public Market

    Just some of the goodies available from Modern Tart.

    Next trip for sure I’m scoring something amazing from Monica at Modern Tart—you should have seen the size of the brownies with fresh macadamia nuts.

  • If it’s lunchtime you have your choice of the Taza Truck (Mediterranean) or Tuscan Sun wood-fired pizza oven out back.

Other vendors offer up jewelry, handspun yarn, felt hats, soaps, knives and sharpening, eco-friendly Man Pans cookware made right here in Spokane by Lloyd Industries (we have two of the pans—love ‘em), and more.

Particularly striking: Sculptures and wall art by Lyn’s Custom Metal Art, including large-scale lighted pieces wired for outdoor use that would look incredible in your yard (or mine).

Many of these vendors are just now getting their websites up on OurTownZip.com, another Spokane business, and you’ll find a list of all vendors on the Spokane Public Market website.

Still Waters Jewelry display at Spokane Public Market

Some of the beauties at Still Waters Jewelry.

But wait—you’re just getting started. The first space occupied in this renovated warehouse belongs to Sun People Dry Goods, established by Juliet Sinisterra and staffed by a dedicated group of people who know the products inside and out. You’ll find candles, canning supplies, kitchen items for made-from-scratch cooks, refillable cleaning products, baby stuff galore, bedding, and other down-home products for living an eco-smart, non-toxic and highly enjoyable life, along with classes on everything from urban chickens to canning and composting.

Best of all, she carries hats by Old Man’s Pants! These nifty and adorable lids of recycled fabrics are made in Newport, WA, and available in Spokane here and at Tangerine Boutique (Betsy scored one there on Bikespedition #1 to Carnegie Square).

Each hat is unique so if you try it and like it and it’s the right size buy it—buy it now. Rachel, Betsy, and I each scored one on this outing. Perfect for hiding helmet hair or just looking cute; they really frame the face and bring out your eyes.

Rachel Scrudder, Barb Chamberlain, and Betsy Lawrence model hats made of recycled fabric by Old Man's Pants, available at Sun People Dry Goods, Spokane.

Rachel Scrudder, Barb Chamberlain, and Betsy Lawrence model hats made of recycled fabric by Old Man's Pants, available at Sun People Dry Goods. Barb and Betsy are wearing Ruu-Muus available from Bike Style; Rachel, in true Bike Style fashion, wore a skirt for the bikespedition.

Also in this building, a 1918 warehouse on the Spokane Register of Historic Places, the perfect place for a date getaway: Market Place Wine Bar.

Glass art by Sharon Davidson and giant art photography by Dean Davis adorn the walls and you’ll see one of the Custom Metal Art lighting pieces on display. They feature wines by EMVY and Bridgepress (produced at Mountain Dome at Green Bluff) and live music Friday nights. They’re currently in the running for a KREM “Best of” competition in case you want to cast a vote.

This one building provided plenty of things to look at, taste, and buy—and we were just getting started. Watch for more on SoDo in Part II, coming up.

*A linguistic footnote: One of my friends on Facebook borrowed the “bikespedition” term to talk about going on a bike ride with his son. A spread in its usage would be an awesome continuation of the line, since it has its roots in the leafspeditions and bugspeditions I used to take with my daughters when they were little and still easily fascinated by outings that didn’t involve the expenditure of hard-earned cash.

A large metal sculpture by Lyn's Metal Arts adorns the entrance to Market Place Wine Bar, Spokane, WA.

A large metal sculpture by Lyn's Metal Arts (available at Spokane Public Market) adorns the entrance to Market Place Wine Bar.

When to Go

  • Spokane Public Market: Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Sun People Dry Goods: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Market Place Wine Bar: Thursday noon- p.m., Friday-Saturday, noon-9 p.m.; opening Wednesday nights starting this fall.

Related Reading

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August 16, 2011

On a Roll with Angela Brown

Angela Brown of Spokane rode Seattle to Portland in 2009

Angela Brown at the 2009 STP (Seattle to Portland) ride.

Name: Angela Brown

Location: Spokane

Things Angela does:  Roots and Wings International Board member, WSU Alumni Board and African American Chapter President, Fundraising Volunteer for Act Six Spokane, Partner of Higher Level Consulting, Co-founder Sistahpedia.com, Director of Employment Services for Spokane Public Schools

Who or what made a difference in your life that got you on a bike?

I had a child late in life, which was a catalyst to stay healthy.  I’ve always been athletic, but my weight has always gone up and down.  Along with that, I have a family history of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer. With a bum knee (from athletics!), my orthopedic surgeon encouraged me to try swimming or cycling.

And with my personality, I couldn’t just “try it”–I plunged in and decided to sign up for the STP (Seattle to Portland ride).  With such a large goal in mind, and the fact that I’m too cheap to pay for registration and not use it, I started training with a good friend of mine.  That was in 2007 and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Tell me about your bike(s) and accessories. 

I love my bike!  It’s a Specialized Dolce.  Everything on it and my accessories are black and pink…including my Camelbak!  My uncle ordered my shoes for me from Specialized and they were actually made to match the bike.  He hadn’t seen my bike at the time, so it was a crazy fluke.

I actually purchased my newest bike accessory from Bike Style Spokane, which is the little square wallet by Po Campo I can carry my ID in when I cycle.  I’ve been using a Coach wallet and it’s too bulky and not waterproof.

What type(s) of riding do you do? How often, what destinations, and how far? 

I try to ride every week and the distance just depends on how much time I have.  If it’s during lunch, it’s a quick 10-mile ride on the Centennial Trail.  I’ve been training for a sprint triathlon, so I’ve been riding between 10-16 miles on the Fish Lake Trail and then doing a 2-3 mile run.  (Ugh.)  If I’m training for the STP or MS Idaho Ride, I’ll do 25-70 miles depending on how close it is to ride day.  I try to ride to work sometimes, but it’s difficult to manage for me.  That’s 5 miles roundtrip.

What’s the most common question you get asked when you bike somewhere? 

“How can you ride with your feet clipped in?  Don’t you fall?”  I’ve fallen twice.  The first time was the very first day that I tried them out and I clipped in with my weak leg and immediately crashed to the ground.  It was 5 am and no one was around…and yes I did check. The second time was during the Loreen Miller Classic and the directional sign had fallen down in the rain.  As I slowed to figure out which way to go, I didn’t pay attention and rode into gravel and kaboom!  Quite funny actually.

What do you usually wear when you ride? 

Bike shorts, jersey, sunglasses, helmet and gloves are my mainstays.

What things do you wish were different about your bike and gear or women’s clothing or both that would make it easier to bike and look good, if this is something you give any thought to?

I think your new company is helping with that!  I need to get one of the dresses!  A prettier helmet would be nice though.  No one looks cute in a helmet!

What does Spokane need to make it an even better place for women to ride their bikes?

Drivers who want to share the road.  Better bike lanes throughout the entire city.  I don’t feel very safe riding on our roads.  I’ve almost been hit twice.  At one point, I had even dismounted to walk my bike across a crosswalk and a driver still came through and almost hit me.  It was a matter of seconds and me paying attention.

What’s your proudest biking accomplishment? 

Finishing my first STP! 202.2 miles in 2 days!

What one word describes the way you feel most often when you ride?  Free.

What question didn’t I ask that you really want to answer? 

“What goal do you have for the cycling community?”  To get more people of color out on bikes.  I get excited when I see other cyclists of color because there aren’t many of us here in Spokane.  I ran into a group of about 6 African American cyclists at the STP in 2009 and asked them to stand in their group for a minute so I could see what it feels like!

Related Reading

Your Turn

On a Roll with… features interviews with women who engage in all kinds of riding on all kinds of bikes for all kinds of reasons. Check out the list of women we hope to interview and add your suggestions, or email info at bikestylespokane.com with names (including your own, if you’d like to answer these questions!).

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August 14, 2011

A Trunk for Your Bike: Donkey Boxx Review

That moment where you buy more than you can carry and go stow your purchases in the trunk of the car? You can have something similar on your bike with the Donkey Boxx.

Hauling a load on a bike is easy with the Donkey Boxx.

A typical bike shopping load of groceries fits beautifully into the Donkey Boxx. (Yes, those are my pretty Po Campo bags: Six-Corner Wristlet inside the Donkey Boxx ready to move to the handlebars if I need more room, and the Loop Pannier on the other side of the rack.)

I’ve had one on my bike for over three months and now I can’t imagine being without it on a utility/transportation bike. It gives me stow-and-go simplicity: Pop open the lid, drop in a bag of groceries and you’re on your way. At your destination, pull out the bag, leave the box on the bike—it’s zip-tied on—drop your helmet and gloves into the Boxx if you’re the trusting type like me, and go inside.

At the Spokane Farmers’ Market, Spokane Public Market, or South Perry Farmers’ Market, all favorite stops of mine, I carry my cloth grocery bag with me to shop. When it’s full I know I have a little more capacity in the Donkey Boxx to top off the load.

If I had two I’d have some serious hauling capacity. They’re rated for up to 30 pounds apiece and I wouldn’t want to haul more than 60 most days anyway.

The “definitely unprecious” design—made of 80% recycled milk jugs at a  Minnesota facility that employs people with disabilities—provides something of an esthetic balance to the beautiful Po Campo Loop Pannier I carry on the other side for my laptop, cell phone, files, and other work whatnot.

I love it so much I’m selling them at my shopping events. The only thing I’d change would be to swap out the regular zip ties for the reusable kind in case you do want to take it off.

Installation: About five minutes. It comes with a handy heel-strike tool to help you position it correctly, along with reflective stickers for the back and a couple of reinforcement disks for the zip-tie holes.

Cool features that might not strike you at first glance: I customized mine with help from my friends at Hydra Creations; love the space the Boxx provides for self-expression. The flat lid gives me a handy place to write a note or set down a latte for a minute while I organize my things.

Issues? None. Over the three-plus months I’ve ridden with it loaded daily one zip tie has broken, and I completely own up to hauling more than the rated capacity on multiple occasions.

The one thing I’m guessing I might run into is that it could be tricky to load into the inside (toward the bus) spot on a STA bike rack. That’s where the reusable zip ties could come in handy.

Load balance: Riding empty it doesn’t add weight to the bike—probably weighs less than the typical black bike bag with all its metal hardware attachments. Sure, if I load heavy on one side I need to manage it carefully, but that’s true with any bag. I always have a pannier on the other side and that provides a counterweight.

Funniest remark so far: Someone at the South Perry Street Fair looked at it and remarked, “That wouldn’t be very aero” (aerodynamic, that is). Well, no—no it wouldn’t. It’s not as if I have it mounted on a tri bike with flat racing bars. I’m okay with my non-aero configuration; it allows me to shop freely.

August 11, 2011

Balancing Act

You’ve seen them at stoplights: those guys (always guys so far in my own experience) doing a track stand. They’re standing up on their pedals and the bike is basically standing still without falling over. Or they’re doing little hops to keep it upright while accomplishing the really essential task of never setting a foot to the ground.

I have no idea how to do this and won’t bother to learn any time soon. I feel no shame in coming to an actual stop. That gives me time to look—really look, mindfully—for oncoming vehicles, pedestrians, and other bike folks.

Every so often, though, I experience my own moment of grace when everything comes into balance.

Everything has to align just so. Most often it happens when I’m on a slight uphill, coasting gently toward a red light and glancing every so often at the cross street’s flashing “Don’t Walk” indicator in hopes that it will go solid, the light will change to yellow and then red, and I’ll be able to proceed through the now-green light without ever having to come to a full stop.

Something magical happens sometimes as I lose momentum. I reach the exact moment of equipoise: weight evenly distributed, no apparent forward motion, no tilting, and I float, weightless. These moments come more and more often, which I attribute to greater experience on the bike.

Life has these moments if we allow ourselves to recognize them. We pedal, pedal frantically sometimes, just to stay upright and keep moving forward, believing that if we stop we will fall.

We can find that moment of grace if we pay attention, pause, and stay balanced: watchful for the things that would stop us, ready to keep going, floating free as a bird.

Your Turn

  • What things do you strive to balance in your life?
  • Do they get in the way of riding your bike, or does riding your bike help you keep your life in balance?
  • Can you believe these women in the video?!
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