Archive for ‘Bikespeditions’

May 13, 2012

The Ultimate Bikespedition: Support the US Bicycle Route System

May is National Bicycle Month and it’s also the third annual Build It. Bike It. Be a Part of It. fundraising campaign for the U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS). The campaign kicked off May 1, 2012 and runs through May 31. What better way to celebrate Bike Month than by supporting the creation of a national system of cycling routes?

Last year, this effort raised more than $32,000 for the project—the goal this year is $50,000.

Here are the details:

The U.S. Bicycle Route System is a visionary project similar to the national and international cycling systems blossoming across the globe. Adventure Cycling is working with dozens of state agencies, national organizations, nonprofits, volunteers, and the US Congress to realize this vision.

 Can you give $10 to help build the largest bike route network in the world, encompassing more than 50,000 miles?

You can already see the effects of last year’s USBRS campaign:

  • 6 new routes approved by AASHTO — the first new U.S. Bicycle Routes approved in over 30 years!
  • 11 new states coming on to develop routes. 41 states are now actively working to implement US Bike Routes. In my state of Washington the Bicycle Alliance of Washington is coordinating with Washington State Department of Transportation so you can join “Team Washington” with your donation.
  • The re-release of a Technical Advisory from the Federal Highway Association that advises DOTs on how to implement rumble strips without putting cyclists at risk.
  • 5,000 new fans of the USBRS on Facebook since last year’s campaign, now at more than 19,000 supporters.
  • Adventure Cycling now has a closer relationship with the National Park Service, aimed at improving bike travel and tourism in national parks as well as facilitating designation of US Bike Routes through parks as appropriate.

I have yet to go on any long bike travel but the lure of the open road does beckon. I’d sure love to take that ride on a route that’s signed, supported, and serviced to make it a better experience!

And imagine the benefits for small towns that will get stops from bike visitors who wouldn’t bother with those towns if they were burning carbon instead of calories zipping past on the interstate.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Have you done any touring around the United States?
  • What route(s) did you use?
  • Where would you like to see a bike route for travel?
  • Have you had a small-town experience as a bike tourist you’d like to share?
April 11, 2012

30 Days of Biking: Hills and Miles and Darkness, Oh My!

Today’s easy-squeezy 8.4 miles, broken up into nice manageable chunks of 10 minutes or less, nonetheless provided plenty of reminders of yesterday’s butt-burner: over 27 miles total, with a huge chunk of that spent slogging slowly up a hill climb that I thought would never end.

But it was fun, honest!

The set-up: I did my usual quick little ride to work, sprinting because I was going to be late to a meeting and beating my “race time” by at least 30 seconds.

After work I dressed in one of my cute little Nuu-Muus, a pair of actual (gasp!) bike shorts (couldn’t find the adorable lace-trimmed Sheila Moon lingerie knickers, alas, and decided I’d ride with more padding than Pedal Panties provide), and a white Sheila Moon bolero, along with (another gasp, please) bike shoes that let me clip in.

Just the thing for a nice long ride out to Spokane County Raceway Park, where Sweet Hubs and his compatriots were pitted against each other in the first of the season’s Twilight Series Road Race put on by his club, Baddlands.

Google Maps results list for routes from Riverpoint Campus to Spokane County Raceway ParkRoute selection required some comparisons of Google Maps choices. They offered three, with the kind suggestion, “Or take Public Transit” linked below, in case the idea of a ride of 9-10 miles with hill climbs (no matter what) didn’t appeal.

Their first proposed bike route, West Trails road accessed through the West Central neighborhood and Riverside State Park, involved dropping clear down to the Spokane River Gorge and climbing back up out of it. Beautiful, sure, but can’t we stay on top of the grade?

Route 1: West Trails via West Central neighborhood and a lot of extra climbing.

Route 2, while a mile shorter, carries with it a more hostile traffic setting, taking Sunset Boulevard (not bad) to US-2 (not good, although I’ve ridden it before—the highway is the main route to a correctional facility, a casino, and Fairchild Air Force Base, making it busy and full of people who may or may not want to be making that particular trip). The one thing this route does get almost right is the section from downtown west to the decision point where you have to head toward West Trails or stay on Sunset Boulevard.

Route 3, Government Way and West Trails, again has part of it right. But someone needs to ask Google Maps programmers, “Pretty please could you take terrain into account, by which we mean grade?” This route, too, drops you down into the river gorge, this time via Peaceful Valley, then brings you back up out.

Getting closer, but still some unnecessary concessions to gravity.

The key to my route selection, since I’m not training for the Tour de France, sounds a lot like advice in drawing up battle lines: Hold the high ground for as long as possible.

As soon as you start enjoying one of those exhilarating “Wheeee!” moments down a long hill the back of your brain should remind you that riding a bike is like riding a roller coaster: A down is generally followed by an up that will be a lot slower and not nearly as fun.

So the route I chose is the Barb route, based on feeling comfortable enough to skip the Centennial Trail and stick to streets that are straighter, knowing neighborhoods to cut through to skip some of the streets with more traffic, and eliminating as much climbing as possible for as long as possible.

  • Spokane Falls Boulevard around to where it connects to the short stretch of bike lane on Riverside Avenue, then into Browne’s Addition onto Pacific.
  • Through the roundabout at Cannon by The Elk (a bike-friendly restaurant!) and down to Sunset Boulevard.
  • To Government Way and out past the turn to Spokane Falls Community College. Not long after that stoplight, Government Way becomes West Trails and you start to cliiiiiiiiiiimb.
  • West Trails becomes Hayford Road, you take a quick right on Sprague, and you’re practically there. Or if you’re me, you go past “there” and end up visiting the vicinity of the correctional facility before backtracking and wending in through the construction to the raceway exactly an hour after I set off.

Where—ta-da!—I arrived in time to give Sweet Hubs a good-luck kiss before sending him off with the rest of the B-pack for their criterium (several fast laps around a relatively short, flat track). He won with a nice sprint at the end, which is a great payoff for all those winter nights he spent on the trainer in front of a movie.

We then rode home together through the gathering darkness, shivering a bit (wish I’d had those knickers to cover my knees!) until the ride warmed us.

The downhill “Wheee!” was incredibly fast considering how long it took me to climb going the other way. I couldn’t believe it when we’d already reached the traffic light by SFCC and I knew we had just a few more miles and a bit more climbing, thankfully separated by some straight stretches and downhill rests, and we’d be home.

We heard frogs singing their hearts out, felt the difference in temperature as we entered the urban core and felt the day’s warmth radiating out, and made it home safe and sound with 27-1/2 miles on my cyclometer and 1,392 calories burned according to my heart monitor dealio.

And today, I felt every single mile in my legs when I climbed, whether it was climbing a hill on my bike or a set of stairs at work to help rack up the mileage on my pedometer. It will be a couple of days before I try anything like that long a ride again, but it felt great to be able to do it.

I want to build back up to the mileage I used to accumulate that made it easy to plan a 30-40-mile ride with Sweet Hubs and I have to start somewhere.

Just, maybe . . . somewhere flatter?

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Climbed any really long hills/mountains? (Lately or ever?)
  • What’s the hardest part of it for you and how do you deal with that?
February 2, 2012

Pedestrian Tourist Impressions of New York Biking

Cycle Cafe, New York City

It's exactly what the name suggests: Food in the front, bikes in the bike (sales and rentals). This is one door away from the hotel we picked booking online--it's karma!

My first view of biking in New York City came through the window of the SuperShuttle from LaGuardia: A young white guy in tan shorts wearing a helmet, clipped in on a road bike, blinky on his backpack, taking the lane and cheating the red to anticipate the green light that was about to change in his favor but hadn’t yet when he wove his way through a sea of drivers in a way I would never do even in lil old Spokane, let alone New York.

The second guy, dark-skinned, rode against the one-way on his low-slung bike wearing a ball cap and a hoodie pulled up over it, no helmet.

#3 was a guy on the sidewalk with a flashing headlight. Number four was on a separated bikepath on what I think was the Hudson bridge.

And finally, number five, actually spotted by Second Daughter for me: a woman wearing a helmet standing with her bike at a stoplight.

Number six powering up a hill on a side street, number seven a kid ducking up onto a sidewalk and then popping into the crosswalk—I stopped counting them as individuals as we got farther and farther into Manhattan.

We chose our hotel based on three factors: location (proximity to the studios where my younger daughter is auditioning for several musical theater college programs), price, and my daughter’s love of the French toile wallpaper in the pictures.

When we got here, we found out that not only are we literally next door to the Eugene O’Neill Theater (where “Book of Mormon” is currently showing), but we have a wonderful amenity right on the other side, as shown in the picture above.

On the High Line next to an intriguing wire and wood sculpture. This elevated pedestrian walkway is a converted freight rail line. No bikes allowed but when you're on it you understand. It's peaceful and leisurely up there and not the least bit touristy.

So far I haven’t ridden a bike here yet. But I’ve gotten to see special green-painted bike lanes and a bike-specific traffic signal (so cute! A little picture of a bike) and we walked on the High Line, a converted freight rail line that makes a wonderful urban pathway in a neighborhood near the Hudson River.

Bikes are everywhere. Bike racks abound. Lots of people here need to grease their chains—I hear them coming as they chirp-chirp-chirp down the street. Some wear helmets but most don’t, which gives me anxious little flutters on their behalf as I watch taxis veering around them with a beep of the horn. I have yet to see any seriously fashionable high-heeled women on bikes but I keep looking.

I mentioned on Twitter that I’m here and got advice from some of the women’s bike bloggers I highlighted in my NYC blogspedition. Bicycle Habitat, one of the great shops that was recommended, was on top of their social media game and tweeted that I should stop by, along with a recommendation for a tourist bike ride I’m hoping to get to take sometime in the next couple of days.

We’re walking like crazy, of course, and taking the subways. It is so amazingly easy to get around without a car in a metro area that has transit service.

I ❤ New York!

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • When you’re a pedestrian tourist in another city what do you notice about people on bikes?
January 29, 2012

Looking for a Bite/Bike of the Big Apple: The Bikespedition Heads to New York City

Thanks to the talents of Second Daughter, I head to New York City this week. She will audition for several performing arts programs at the colleges she has targeted through diligent research. I will sit and knit in Stage Mom mode while she sings, dances, and delivers the monologues she’s been practicing upstairs.

I also hope to get out on the street and check out a few bike-related destinations. It will be co-o-o-old February,  and the New York bike share system isn’t yet up and running so I think I’m talking about taking transit, walking and looking. It should still be inspiring.

I plan to take some pictures while I’m there and post my fuzzy-cell-phone-images impressions of biking in New York to share the experience with you–a bikespedition of a different sort.

Here’s a partial list of things I hope to see and do and a few New York bike resources. If you’ve biked New York I’d love your recommendations for the must-see elements.

  • NYC Bike Share: I don’t get to do this! It’s launching summer 2012. I’m just noting it here as a future bike attraction. If I get to ride at all in New York it will be because some kind person lends me a bike and a helmet.
  • The High Line: A public park built on an elevated freight line that was transformed into a linear park.
  • Times Square: Sort of a “well, of course” for a trip to New York that revolves around theater, but my reason for being excited is that this will be my first trip to New York since they closed Times Square to vehicular traffic. (Can you say “transportation geek”?)
  • Adeline Adeline: Eldest Daughter gave me a way-cool ringy-dingy bike bell for Christmas that came from this shop. I’ve followed them on Twitter for quite a while thanks to discovering them through my compilation of the Women Bike Blogs list. I have a feeling they’re like the shop I would open if Bike Style Spokane ever became a storefront.
  • Bike New York: General resource site I’ll try to read through since I can only imagine how much hairier biking is in a city the size of New York compared to tame little Spokane!
  • New York City Bike Maps: Looking at the bike map of Manhattan they have the exact same situation as Spokane does: Bike lanes that stop and start. But seeing them installed in a major metro area with far more traffic than Spokane should reinforce my belief that we can have an outstanding bike network here at home. If they can make room for bike lanes in NYC, with some of the world’s priciest real estate underfoot, surely Spokane can!
  • Riding in general: We’ll be staying in the Theater District. Everything in New York feels close together to me—it’s either a walk or a subway ride away with no parking hassle or expense—and I’d love it if I could find a way to ride a bike through Central Park or Greenwich Village.
  • Celebrity spotting: Since lots of famous actors and actresses live in New York City, and quite a few have been known to ride bikes, I may spot someone famous on two wheels. Not quite as exciting as meeting Mia Birk, but still.

Back to the talents of Second Daughter, I just have to share a taste. I wish the sound were really true to her voice but I just appreciate having any kind of video record at all.

Your Turn

  • Have you biked in New York, or another major metro? What was it like?
January 15, 2012

Spending the Day Running Around Downtown: Bikespedition #4

My original definition of a bikespedition included the idea that I would target a particular neighborhood and explore it pretty thoroughly.

Saturday, though, I spent the day on a bikespedition of a different sort: just running around on my bike from place to place for a fun day of activities.

I thought I’d catalog it to show how easy—truly easy—it can be to use your bike for a day of friend time and errands. Even if you never venture into rush hour traffic on a bike, you might spend some weekend days pedaling around.

It also turned out to be a 100% “buy local” experience (counting one larger retailer that is headquartered in Washington state). Spokane’s greater downtown area is fortunate to be home to many one-of-a-kind businesses, which makes this pretty easy.

Letters below correspond to spots on the map.

A–Scout: My monthly girl gang get-together assembled at this new restaurant at First and Monroe next to the Montvale Hotel to check them out. Our crowd of a dozen or so was probably a bit much for the servers, but they were cheerful and the food was decent. This is in the same block as the tail end of Bikespedition #1 to Carnegie Square.

B–REI: To get to the north bank I headed east to Wall, then doubled back to take the Post Street Bridge up to Boone and west to REI—a slightly quieter route than Monroe. This was a quick errand; I’d been carrying around a receipt thinking I’d been overcharged but turns out I read the sale price wrong.

C–Rocket Bakery: Next I had a shopping date with a couple of girlfriends (Megan and of course Betsy of Belles and Baskets) back at Carnegie Square.

From REI I took the straight shot across the Monroe Street Bridge, although I could have backtracked via Boone to Post if I wanted to avoid the heavier traffic entirely. From Monroe it’s a nice ride along Riverside Avenue to Cedar, and I parked my bike in the rack in front of Carousel Vintage.

Fringe and Fray: In the same building as the Rocket—they don’t have a lot of dressy things but it was worth checking.

Carousel Vintage: Right across from the Rocket and Fringe and Fray. Owner Jenny Stabile knows from vintage and brought some great knit suits (perfect for riding) up from downstairs for me to check out—too bad they didn’t fit, but I’ll be back!

Megan was hoping to find a vintage dressy dress for an upcoming gala. This was the fun kind of shopping: open to possibilities but no “must find it today!” pressure.

D–Finders Keepers II: Staying in the dressy-dress hunt, we headed to the block of West Main between Browne and Division. They have bunches of special-occasion dresses–not vintage, but some things made to look vintage. Megan still didn’t score a dress but I got a great wool hat.

E–Nectar Tasting Room: Owner Josh was holding a couple of bottles for me (a Washington wine from a vintage that was about to sell out) so I swung by the corner of Main and Stevens to pick those up.

Because I was on the bike I could skip some of the one-way messing about by walking my bike for a block, although it wouldn’t have been more than another couple of blocks out of my way if I had ridden. Biking is often more directionally efficient than driving because of the flexibility to switch modes and become a pedestrian.

F–Neat Old Stuff: We came here specifically because of my SoDo bikespedition, without which I never would have found this place. We got to taste some amazing fudge owner CP shared with us, Betsy got a way-cool piece for a Halloween costume that I won’t describe because that would spoil the surprise, and Megan tried on more dresses. Still no luck, but this was one fun time.

I thought about making a couple more stops at Sun People Dry Goods and the Spokane Public Market because they were only a block away, but decided to head home to Sweet Hubs and cook something delicious for dinner.

Basically I spent time with friends, shopped, ate, and had fun: the definition of a successful bikespedition!

I’d also add that if I had done all this running around in a car, I know from experience that a day with eight stops in it would have felt more like a series of chores because of the constant parking/reparking. Because all I have to do is hitch to the nearest tall signpost, I’m inside and shopping in a flash.

Oh, in case you think I can’t count when you look at the titles of the bikespedition posts below, there’s a missing #3 that I need to write about. Betsy and I explored South Perry back in October and I keep meaning to write it up. One of these days! Meanwhile, you should just go there and check it out for yourself.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • What is the biggest number of stops you’ve made in a single day running around on your bike?
January 8, 2012

A Training Ride–to the Fabric Store

My dear Sweet Hubs trains seriously for the racing season. He measures things like watts, wishes he could test his VOmax regularly, talks eagerly about having his leg core-sampled to know his exact proportion of fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers, and does intervals in our front room, watching a movie and using some software he wrote so he can make sure to ride like crazy and make it hurt.

I, on the other hand, do not.

But living with a guy who reads books like Bicycling Science and The Advanced Cyclist’s Training Manual (which he doesn’t find sufficiently advanced) for fun does have its effects.

For example, I know about the concept of training stimulus. If you ask your body to do the same thing day after day–like, say, ride the same basic route to work and home again–it gets very good at doing just that, but not much more.

If, on the other hand, you challenge it in a new way–by riding farther, or faster, or with more challenging hills in the route–the body responds to the training stimulus.

I think of it like this. Day after day, I ask my leg muscles, heart, lungs, and arms (you do use your arms in biking) to do roughly the same amount of work. The “team” I have on hand is plenty to do that job. If I ask a lot more of my team, the existing muscle cells say to each other, “Whoa–I do not want to work that hard again! We need some friends.” So they literally recruit new muscle fibers to be ready for the next time.

Saturday’s ride, therefore, was a “training ride.”

I rode up to the northside Jo Ann’s for a fun shopping expedition with Eldest Daughter that involved lots of time in the yarn aisles (to come: future soft baby pink afghan for Second Daughter’s high school graduation, a very pretty shrug for me in an ocean blue, a pair of long fingerless gloves in ivory for me I’ve been wanting forever for my computer time at home because we keep the heat turned down pretty low, and a slouchy beanie-type hat for Eldest Daughter in a gorgeous teal that matches a scarf I gave her for Christmas. What can I say? They had a sale.). It also involved lots of time looking at scrapbooking and card-making materials; one of these days she’s going to start making bike-themed cards for me to sell.

What made this a training ride? Well, for one thing it was a fair amount longer than my usual route to work and back and the miles were accumulated in big chunks instead of the piecemeal approach that makes up a typical work day with meetings out of the office. So I rode steadily for about 35 minutes just to get to the store–that’s different.

It also involved a stiff hill climb up the Post Street hill, which Spokane riders will know as a nice challenge (or as, “that hill heading to Garland where there’s no sidewalk northbound but I can walk in the tiny grass strip if I have to and push my bike because it’s so freakin’ steep!”). It definitely makes my heart pound in a different way than my sprints through rush-hour traffic.

On the way home I broke my ride into two chunks–we stopped in the Garland District for a snack at the Rocket Bakery–and I got to whiz down the same hill I had climbed with heart pounding on the way north. So it certainly felt like an easier ride, although I always like to point out that I finish my southbound route home with a hill climb because downtown Spokane sits in a bowl.

And again, it was a longer ride than my typical little 7-minute dash from campus to downtown. I’ve mentioned more than once that the reason bike commuting is easy is specifically because most of the mileage comes in these small, sweat-free doses, but that means I’m not challenging myself.

For me to get serious benefit from this particular ride’s training impulse, I would need to keep taking on different types of rides that mix up the demands I place on my body for riding. I’m not proposing to do intervals every few days or monitor my training stress score like Sweet Hubs, but I do want to challenge myself. A few more hill climbs and long rides this year, I think.

Ride Report

  • Days ridden in 2012: 6 of 7 (as of Saturday, Jan. 7; goal is 250 or more)
  • Miles: 45.3 (goal: 1,200 or more)

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Do you do things that actually involve training for your rides?
  • On purpose?
January 3, 2012

Starting the New Year off Right: On my Bike!

I know, I know--the green ear covers don't match the red, black and white outfit--but they DO go with the spiffy new handlebar tape Sweet Hubs put on my bike over the holidays!

This has been an amazing year for riding through the winter, at least so far! I rode the bus two days in November right before Thanksgiving because the snow looked like a little bit more than I’m comfortable riding in when the drivers are still remembering how to stop in snow. (Hint: Locking up your four-wheel-drive doesn’t work. We call that a “skid.”)

Beyond that, it’s been bike-bike-bike! Barely any extra layers or protection from the wet needed, either.

Monday’s outfit is pretty typical of what I was wearing back in October-November that I continued to wear in December and now January.

  • SmartWool tights
  • Wool socks
  • Boots: These have nice Vibram soles for pedal grip.
  • Cut-off long johns to create “bloomers” for under my skirt. (If I had been just a titch smarter I would have cut them off below the knee for riding, then folded them up shorter than skirt length for the office.)
  • Base sweater: Today’s is so thick and toasty I didn’t wear a base layer–I knew I didn’t need it.
  • Top sweater: A touch of red for some color in my typical fairly monochrome wardrobe. This is cotton so it doesn’t add much by way of warmth, but it zings up the black and white.
  • Skirt: Thanks, Goodwill, for this $4 vital basic! Cut is flippy enough at the bottom that it’s easy to jump on the bike and go.
  • Outerwear for the morning and evening ride: Ski jacket minus the liner (not shown in this pic because it was midday and I didn’t need it, and honestly I could downgrade to a lighter jacket and be fine); neck cover and face mask for morning but not evening; black velvet scarf shown here is more for pretty but does add some warmth around the neck; lobster-claw gloves; strap/ear covers and a thin skullcap under the helmet; cute black velvet helmet cover from Hub and Bespoke in Seattle.

Feet and hands are the biggies for me, followed closely by my neck and ears. If those are reasonably warm and the wind is blocked, I’m okay. The torso warms up with pedaling, the legs won’t freeze and fall off in my relatively short rides, and my arms seem to be just fine if the rest of me is.

I’m a big base-layer girl–was one even back before I biked to work because I just like to feel snuggly. If I have to watch for anything it’s for being too warm rather than too cold; I often leave whatever jacket I plan to wear in the office in the Donkey Boxx and just wear my wind-blocking outer layer because otherwise I’ll end up sweaty.

My biking goals for 2012 are to ride 1,200 miles or more and–more important to me–to ride 250 days of the year or more. Since knowing that I had to report to all of you on the 30 Days of Biking challenge in September kept me accountable, I’ll do an occasional ride report throughout the year to show you how I’m doing and to remind myself to stay on track.

  • Days ridden in 2012: 1
  • Miles: 6.68

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Are you a winter rider?
  • If not, what temperature or weather conditions do you look for as your signal to get rolling?
October 24, 2011

Capturing Bike Beauty and Inspiration: Adventure Cycling’s Bike Travel Photo Contest

Eric Abbott and Barb Chamberlain on a bike ride.

On a local bike adventure with my sweetheart: a ride of around 84 miles to Coeur d'Alene and back summer 2010. Stopped at the Liberty Lake Starbucks to say hi to the Belles and Baskets ladies and friend Angie Feser took this photo.

I have yet to venture forth for any “adventure cycling” beyond Tour des Lacs a few years ago and the adventure that awaits when we go bikespeditioning for treats and shopping, but I can’t wait to see the beautiful photos that will be submitted to the upcoming 3rd Annual Bicycle Travel Photo Contest from Adventure Cycling.

They’re looking for beautiful photography representing the beauty, inspiration, and spirit of bike touring. Original images in digital format, capturing all aspects of bike travel, are eligible for the competition. Deadline is November 30.

Adventure Cycling is especially interested in images that showcase the wide range of bike-touring experiences: road and dirt riding, rural and urban settings, scenery, people, and their emotions. For some examples, check out the “Adventure Cyclist” feature (PDF format) on last year’s winners.

The winner’s image will be printed in the February 2012 issue of Adventure Cyclist magazine, reaching over 50,000 people worldwide. The image will also be featured on Adventure Cycling’s Website, which is visited by more than a million people annually. The first-place winner will also receive a two-year membership with Adventure Cycling and a $100 gift certificate for the Cyclosource store.

Enter the contest today. Katherine Widing, a bike travel writer who lives in Spokane, and Wilma Flanagan of Belles and Baskets who went to The Netherlands this summer, how about it?

Your Turn

  • Have you done any bike touring? Where did you go and what was it like? Going again?
Tags: ,
October 8, 2011

Coffeeneuring: Fueled by Caffeine

Many awesome excuses abound for riding your bike. I keep threatening to organize a Cupcake Ride, for example, although we’re starting to lose the kind of weather that makes people happy to get out and spend the better part of a day on the bike chasing frosting. (I will put one together, I promise!)

I just encountered another great idea I’ll share in case we can get this rolling: coffeeneuring, courtesy of bike blogger Chasing Mailboxes in the other Washington.

If you’re not familiar with randonneuring the term may sound pretty funny; that’s a long-distance ride form with required check-ins.

Shrink the distance considerably, make the check-ins seven (that’s right–seven) of your favorite coffee shops over the course of the next few weekends, and you have coffeeneuring!

This is not for the over-achiever who wants to pound out the miles and hit seven in one weekend, mind you–this is a leisurely deal. Chasing Mailboxes launched it in September with the idea that you could easily ride to a different coffee shop every weekend through September and October, so her rule is that only one coffee stop per weekend counts.

Since we’re coming to this a bit late, I’ll give full credit if you want to ride to two in a weekend because heaven knows, I do!

For the ladies, this Sunday’s Belles and Baskets ride gives you an easy way to get in a stop, since we always, always have a treat stop on these rides.

Post here, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter using the #coffeeneuring hashtag to share your caffeinated pedaling destinations.

Ideas for Destinations to Get You Started

  • Our friends at Roast House Coffee sell their awesome Ride the Edge blend and other great brews online, so you’ll never have to run out of coffee! (You still have coffeeneuring as the excuse to head to local coffee shops) This stop is a roasting facility, not a true coffee shop, but if you come by during business hours you can meet the roasters and buy direct.
  • Chairs Coffee serves Roast House and has some incredibly luscious latte flavor combinations. Try First Love, then Second Love, and you’ll be in love forever.
  • Main Market Co-op doesn’t have full latte service but they do have Roast House iced toddy and a really wonderful deli case–great place to hit on the west end of downtown for a fast and yummy lunch.
  • How about Rocket Bakery on West First as part of a Carnegie Square Bikespedition?
  • Look for bike-friendly restaurants like Sante, Madeleine’s, The Elk, and others that have a bike rack.
  • Spokane SoDo District offers a number of caffeinated fuel stops; we hit only one in our two-part Bikespedition there at the Spokane Public Market, but there are more.
  • For a longer ride, take the Old Palouse Highway out to On Sacred Grounds in Valleyford, which makes a great halfway point.
  • Atticus is another fun stop that serves Roast House and other local coffees. They have a great gift shop and a bike rack right out front.
  • Heaven knows I love Rockwood Bakery and their awesome quiche!

Your Turn

  • What are your favorite coffee-shop destinations for a bike ride?
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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