Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Time down, feet up

I'm laid up for a little while, won't be cycling for at least a week. I feel like most Americans wouldn't mind being told to sit still for a few days, but it's already driving me crazy. I took a bad spill (more accurately, a bad landing) climbing earlier this week and I'm hobbling pretty bad. Wanna see? Of course you do!

Attractive, huh?

I'm essentially smuggling a grapefruit in my left ankle. A bright purple grapefruit. So a genetically-modified grapefruit, I suppose. Jumped from about 15 feet and that one rolled under me, but I'm lucky there was a good mat or I probably woulda snapped the damn thing off. So yeah, my foot barely fits in a shoe and I can just about shuffle my way around the office, but I'm resting up before I get back on the bike—though you can bet the bike is the first place I'm gonna be. Stationary bike, then regular bike, then elliptical, then running. And then I'll get back to climbing.

It's even prettier today. A true work of art.

Monday, August 29, 2011

This is why women don't ride the DART

"Saw you on the train a few times, thought you might want to talk."

Go away you mental fucking midget do I look like I want to talk.

"Uh, not this early in the morning."

"Haha yeah I'm only half here myself ... Gotta say, your voice sounds more mature than I expected."

That's because this is my deep, threatening go-the-fuck-away voice.


Keeps talking at me. Will neither shut the fuck up or go the fuck away. That's when I finished checking my tires and started writing this post. And I'll keep writing till the train comes. I look like a teenager, but I am not a teenager. I am a grown-ass woman with a grown-ass job, and I'm probably the only people on this train who can claim salary and benefits. That's why people don't use public transportation here. In most cities, everyone rides - it's the most convenient way to get around town.
In Dallas, you only ride if you can't afford otherwise. That stigma is going to keep ridership where it is, no matter how many nice new stops the city puts in.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tips for starting cyclists

1. Don't let a helmet scare you. Yes, you should wear a helmet. Yes, you'd be stupid to not wear a helmet because despite what your parents told you, you're not as hard-headed as you think you are. But if needing a helmet is gonna keep you off a bike, well ... just try to be smart about it. Cause you should wear a helmet. But I don't (always).

2. Ride paranoid. Keep both eyes and ears on the road and on the drivers. Ride like at any moment any driver is going to do something stupid and illegal that will kill you, because that's the only way you'll see it coming. Especially if you're not going to wear a helmet.

3. Look out for pebbles. Cause they're littler than your little toe but they can fuck your shit up. You hit one and your tire scoots to the side and your heart is in your throat and that just doesn't get fun. So watch out.

4. Inflate your tires every day. If you have a road bike. If you've got a mountain bike, you can get away with less. But make a habit of it and keep a small pump on your bike because that 60 seconds it takes to check the tires is easier than changing them.

6. Keep a flat kit. That same pump applies here. Also, a wrench, tire levers and a spare tube. Trust me, it's an easy set to dump in and out of your bag and you don't want to be caught without it. On your own, you're screwed and with a group, you kind of feel like a mooch-y dirtbag.

7. Learn to change a flat. Guilty, sarge. I've got the kit and I've been shown how to do it and I've watched several people do it, but, uh, I've never changed my own flat. I'm like 89% certain I could do it on my own, but that's never been put to the test. But learn to change a flat.

8. Ride everywhere. Because really, you don't need a car to get where you're going. Cycling isn't just about exercise, it's about transportation and getting places with a little wind in your hair (wait, no, put that helmet on). The more time you spend on your bike, the more time you'll want to spend on your bike.

9. Get a set of lights. Front and rear. If you're going to skip a helmet, you need lights. Seriously. I've seen dumbshits ride at night with no lights, no helmet and headphones in. Would you drive without headlights? No, because it's a step beyond stupid. So get some goddamn lights.

10. Love your bike. Otherwise, what's the point?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hills and metaphors and single speeds

Every day on my ride to work I encounter a hill. I have yet to find a way around this hill. I have approached from several different routes and the hill is always there. My office is more or less on top of the hill—less on top, more just on the other side, but close enough. Part of riding to work is convincing myself at that bright AM hour that this hill is going to be okay. I don't always succeed.

Admittedly, the hill doesn't look all that bad. Actually, the picture is kind of embarrassing. I think it's one of those things that's more painful in retrospect than it is in real life. But this hill always feels like a demon. It's a very gradual pickup, and it's not so much the incline as the distance (and the single speed I ride). What looks like the top up there isn't the top, it's where the road curves and the hill keeps going up.

Okay, that looks a little meaner and now I feel like I have some of my dignity back. When you reach what looks like the crest of the hill from the first photo, the road curves and you're faced with this. Instead of being done, things go metaphorically downhill and literally uphill. I don't stand up on my pedals because I'm terrified they'll snap off under my weight, but this is where I start cursing the day.

And this is where my eyes get to play a fun little joke on me because after staring that bastard in the face, this looks like and flat. It ain't. It's a minimal uphill, but after the last two battles my legs are starting to beg for a little relief and even this is just taunting me. Like, c'mon, pretty please? Just a bit? Cause really, at the very end of my ride, this is what you're giving me? This is a guarantee that I'm going to show up at the office smelling like the underside of a foot. Continues more or less like this for another half mile before I arrive at the top of the highway.

Yeah. Top of the motherloving highway. I took this picture from the middle of the bridge over 121 (George Bush Tollway, I believe?) Because I work in the middle of suburb nowheresville, where all there is is highway. I do get to coast down this, though, because that tall(ish) building on the right is my office and the road does smile at me for about 400 feet. And yeah, that is how early I get to work.

So now maybe I've embarrassed myself into riding this more often, because it definitely doesn't look as bad in photos as it does in my head. But there's a storm drain and a signpost and a fire hydrant that I use as markers along the way because if I can make it to those, I can make it up the rest of the way. And if I can make it up the hill, I can handle anything the day can throw at me.

I guess that was the whole point of this. Once I make it up the hill, the worst part of my day is over (well, that, or once I make it out of bed ... waking up is awful). And if the worst part of your day is over first thing, the whole day looks brighter because of it. Plus, I conquered something awesome, got my blood pumping and showed up to the office with a smile on my face instead of the frown and high blood pressure traffic gives me so ... win-win. Win-win-win. Not sure how many wins, but it's enough.

Critical Mass tonight! Last month devolved pretty quickly into a cycling pub crawl, and that was a heckuva lot of fun.

And the hill makes for an awesome end to the day. Mile-long coast ...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

DARTing around Dallas

The DART is always an adventure. Dallas Area Rapid Transit. It will take you on very select routes through Dallas, Carrollton, Garland, and Plano, but not through very much of any of them. There is one underground stop (Cityplace). The machines give you your change in gold Sacajawea dollars, but very few of the machines accept gold Sacajawea dollars as processable currency. The trains are usually quite reliable, but sometimes not. Sometimes the train runs 6 minutes early and the car is nearly early and you get to hang your bike up

 The main reason the DART is awesome: It's one of the few public transit lines I've encountered that not only allows bikes, it's purposely bike-accessible. That poster behind my bike? That's a diagram on how to hang your bike because that space was designed specifically for bikes. How awesome is that?! Dallas just recently incorporated urban design into her city government, I'm going to give them credit for this one.

My basket is still attached because I latched that bad boy on with zip ties, it's not removable like my old basket. Which, when you've got a couple of things flopping around in that basket, could be a pain in the ass because pobre cesta is suddenly less well suited to her purpose. She's now a dumper, instead of a holder (sob! what did my things ever do to her!)

Bungee to the rescue!

Aw heck yes I love me some bungee. That this is tough enough to hold all my shit in and flexible enough to let me shove said shit in without having to remove it (and it's older than me to boot!) And I love that helmet. I don't wear it as often as I should, but that slogan makes me oh so happy because, yes, now that you mention it, I do love my brain! Fancy that! Thank you, Nutcase!

Another reason to love the DART?

Aww yeah ...

Where the hell else would I have seen this bad boy? That thing is only a few pistons short of a motorcycle. Look at how reclined that front fork is! And the huge fenders? IT EVEN HAS FLAME DECALS. Harley, eat your heart how. This is how the real tough guys roll.

And I got more bike grease! Whether this is from yesterday or today I have no idea because while showers clean you in theory, I'm not so sure about the applications in real life. Kind of like communism. Plus, after that hour ride through the pitch dark, I wouldn't be surprised if those were actually very clever claw marks by some beast. Stranger things have happened. And yes, I know those shoes suck for cycling.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Deep breath

Good ride. Pretty clouds. Feeling better.

Why Rick Perry Should Never Be President: A Comprehensive (and Heavily Biased) Analysis of Governor Goodhair

Heavily political post ahead. More reasons why I don't belong in Texas.

Texas school children probably wouldn't know the truth about Texas secession rights, actually, seeing as how we have one of the worst education systems and graduation rates in the states. Our sex education also blows—required abstinence-only education in 96% of schools means that Texas is 47th in teen pregnancy, 50th in teen birth rates and 50th in repeat teen pregnancy. He thinks evolution is a "theory that's out there" and is trying to put creationism in public schools, defying a Supreme Court ruling as old as I am. He's defunded Planned Parenthood and his idea of "emergency legislation" is a required, invasive sonogram and forcing a doctor to describe the fetus's heartbeat to a pregnant woman seeking an abortion. He's denied all rights to gay couples. He doesn't legislate social policy—his god does. He's also a climate change denier. As Texas experiences one of the worst droughts in her history and fire has taken more than a million acres this year alone, he wants to pray weather difficulties away. He refuses federal help, and then bitches about the fact that he didn't get enough money to deal with it from Obama. Speaking of prayer, we all heard about the Response—where he aligned himself with a group called the New Apostolic Reformation who believe Oprah to be a harbinger of the Antichrist and that they are actual prophets, with a direct link to god.

And there is no "Texas Miracle". The increase has been in government jobs. Private sector jobs have actually fallen—a loss of 0.6%. Perry has added half the new government jobs in the country. And 40% of the jobs created are at or below minimum wage, that's why Texas has one of the largest percentages of uninsured people and uninsured children. We're also 50th when it comes to pre-natal care. It's true that we didn't have a housing bubble—but that's because we learned our lesson in the 80s and have some of the strictest REGULATIONS in the country. See also, the millions that Perry has taken in stimulus money. The 2nd most in the country. Granted, we're the second largest state in the country, but for an anti-government governor he's sure happy to take the government handouts.

And people want him to run the country? Excuse me while I go be sick.

(This morning, a friend of mine in New York sent me an email with an article regarding Perry's recent statements on Ben Bernanke and "treason"—in regards to Perry's own infamous words on the possibility of the secession of Texas. Perry makes me angry. Very very angry. I wrote this as an email response. I've posted it here now so that I can cite everything I reference. Looks like I was pretty much right on the money)

Yes, crazy man on the train, I like my bike too. And I definitely hope "nobody don't steal it" either.

Last week I read this post from over at One Speed: Go! and I felt like kind of a doofus. Because I was using a cable lock. Pretty much the exact cable lock in that picture. Obviously not the same one because mine hasn't been cut (yet) but uh, a little too close for comfort considering the fate that particular lock met.

Because yeah, that happens. And it can happen pretty easily. (witness, exhibit a) (and you probably won't have some SuperAwesome co-worker who runs out and tackles the bastard who just sliced through your bike lock so quick he looked legit) So. Thanks to you, Phoenix bike blogger, I have changed my ways.

witness, exhibit b

No longer do I rely on a wimpy little cable lock. Now I fight with POWER, and a U Lock, hooked through the wheel and the frame and then secured to the best excuse for a bike rack I was able to track down at my supremely bike un-friendly company. Ain't nobody taking my baby from me. Granted, there are so few bikes in Dallas that bike theft isn't a huge problem. There aren't enough bikes for anyone to get any real practice at it. I guess nobody quite knows how to do it right, so (so far, totally jinxing myself) I haven't had any real problems.

I have the advantage of some pretty stellar places to lock up. At my apartment, the base of the staircase acts as bike rack, so all bikes are locked up within a locked building. I have a parking garage to hide the bike in at work, so no one but my co-workers sees her. When I go downtown, I take her down to a garage instead of locking up on the street. (surface racks in downtown are the only place I've seen bike carcases) I try to be smart about it.

So people, don't be stupid. Lock your shit up legit.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

When people ask me why I bike ...

"Gas prices blow."

"It's like going to the gym, but it gets me places."

"I have an irrational fear of driving."

"You see the greatest people on the DART."

"I like the way I see the city."

"It's really not as hard as it looks, I swear."

"It feels good. I like the way I feel when I get where I'm going and I got there under my own power."

"It's like sailing on land."

"A beer has never tasted better."

"I really don't see the need for a car."

"The best people in Dallas ride bikes."

"Reducing my carbon footprint by, like, half. Why do you drive a Hummer?"

"Remember that bit about the beer?"

"I'm just crazy, okay?"

Friday, August 19, 2011

I think I used up my weekend's supply of stupid

I am not smart in the mornings. My brain doesn't start to function for at least a few hours. I almost typed "grain" there. See? It's bad news bears for all parties involved (me) and really, I should not be making decisions of any kind first thing in the morning because it's more or less guaranteed to go poorly. And I am so glad Blogger has an automatic spellcheck.

I got a bit of an earlier start this morning. Maybe I got dressed faster or took a faster shower but somehow, I got to the station way early and saw the early train come through. I looked at it, saw that it stopped two stops short of where I needed to be, weighed my options and got on anyway. I could always wait it out at the next station, or I could whip out my handy dandy smart phone (Evo! Android! Love it!) and plot a new route. Weighed the options on that one and somehow decided that this was going to be a fantastic idea. Cause, uh, the Bachman Lake station lets off at Harry Hines and Northwest Highway and that's always a great place for a tiny white chick on a pricey bike to be before the sun comes up. This is what I said about decision-making.

See: Me. Pedaling down Northwest Highway. Brilliant.

I survived the whole mile and a half that was expected of me, seriously going up on-ramps and the works with angry cars screaming past at 50 miles an hour and probably none of them any more awake than I was. Then it was a quick jaunt onto a supershady side road. Super shady. Pitch dark, (thankfully) light traffic, and a shitty shitty road that wasn't so much road as a long series of potholes someone was nice enough to cover with a new layer of pavement. Twenty years ago. I think the look of utter panic is going to be etched into my face for a while. This was definitely not my brightest move.

The payoff was that more than half the total ride was going to be on a trail. This wasn't the best trail in the Dallas area, but it was a trail. No cars. Fairly recently paved. It clearly thought very highly of itself, advertising "river views" every few feet—forgetting the seriously major road that ran on the other side, disrupting what it felt was a very idyllic journey. Every quarter mile or so there were also resistance weight machines? Really odd. I wonder who keeps them up, and makes sure no parts get jacked. And the whole thing runs right behind the stables out here so signs are posted everywhere as a warning for "Equestrian Crossing"

And then there was an armadillo. Like, right there beside the path an armadillo and I'd have a picture but my darn cameraphone has ceased to function and I'm taking it in today because I have missed way too many shots. This was an honest to christ, hand to god live armadillo! Not a roadkill armadillo!

Why did the armadillo cross the road?
Because the chicken told him it could be done!

Not my picture, but essentially what I saw.
Just earlier in the morning.

Um, yeah, so that kind of made the whole thing worth it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

More bike news

Sometimes a Bike is Just a Bike: On the symbolism—and politics—of bicycling in D.C.

"You don’t have to be a cultural-studies professor to see why the dichotomy appealed to pundits. The political significance of bikes can’t be fully understood without a nod to their supposed opposite: cars. Anyone with access to a Bruce Springsteen album knows there are deep veins of American culture where four wheels signify freedom, adulthood, and maybe even America itself. Those who shun automobiles, by extension, shun all of those things. Like grown-ups playing kickball or attending Twitter-fed snowball fights, such a rejection of traditional adulthood seems like the realm of the privileged."

I did not take this picture. Rather, I didn't photograph it.
I did take it. From the article.

 Most of the article deals specifically with D.C. and parts of the city that even I, as a D.C.-aficionado, don't recognize but that paragraph can be applied anywhere. Because cyclists do get written off as Lance Armstrongs and ungrateful privileged hipsters. Either you're in spandex or you're in a ragged vintage t-shirt mommy and daddy shelled out fifty buckaroonies for. Not to mention the language in that paragraph just sings. It's true that the car is America, the freedom and everything else it symbolizes.

But being anti-car isn't being anti-America. Hell, not all cyclists are anti-car! I drive. Sometimes. When I can't avoid it and slash or I'm feeling really lazy, or I'm in a huge rush. Full disclosure, I have this irrational fear that the engine is going to explode and kill me so yeah, I guess I am anti-car. Necessary evil and all. But that doesn't make me anti-America. I get angry and kind of start to froth at the mouth about some of the politics around here—but it's because I think they're anti-America! I love this country and what it stands for and what it can be and all the opportunities it's given me.

Including the opportunity to ride a bike.

Suck on that, bike-hating car people.

Plus, you can't paint all cyclists with the same brush. The article details it out for D.C., but here in Dallas cyclists are a huge range of people. There's the people like me, young, white, relatively affluent, who bike because they can and also have a car. Call me a hipster if you want (but I don't rely on my parents for the cash monies). But I'm the only white cyclist on the DART. Where I work in Irving/Las Colinas, I'm the only white cyclist. Maybe people can't afford a car. Maybe people can't get a license. Maybe people are just cutting down on the cost of living. Or, like the guy trying to chat me up on the train, maybe people owe tens of thousands of dollars in court fees so they trashed their license and haven't gotten behind the wheel in the better part of a decade.

Different strokes, people.

Didn't ride today. Feel like a lamebrain.

Can I use the heat as an excuse? Cause it'll be 106 when I go to head home and all appearances to the contrary, that is pretty rough. And I've got this weird pain in my left knee. I'm still a little skittish from back-to-back IT band issues and tendonitis last winter, so I'm way cued in to what my body tells me, but cycling is supposed to not hurt knees, no? Am I totally wrong? Definitely don't want to have to go to the damn podiatrist again, not for biking problems. I haven't run more than 6 miles at a time in over a month (oh, yuck, need to fix that) so ... what's my problem, eh.

Anyway, articles of this nature have been making the rounds, and they put the smile back on my face. The Bicing program in Barcelona was the first bike share I'd seen, and the first time cycling appeared on my radar as a mode of transportation rather than just another form of exercise. You saw those little red bikes everywhere, and I so wished I could have joined in (unfortunately, they were only for Spanish citizens. Americans living in Barcelona for two months were outta luck)

It's obvious that getting out of the car and onto a bike is good for your health—less passive sitting, more exercise, more sunshine, yadda yadda yadda. But I'd always worried that any healthcare related savings would be cancelled out by accident-related deaths. Turns out that's not the case! Granted, 12 is a little number, but just barely 11% of the population has opted in. The more people participate, the more lives are saved (and actually that number might go up faster than linear—more people on bikes means fewer people in cars means fewer car vs bike accidents)

There are a few bike-share programs here in the states, mainly up north where all those damn hippies live. Down here in cowboy country, we're target targets, not aspirational targets. This study won't make the rounds too far because a lot of people just don't want to hear about it, most drivers seem pretty married to their engines and don't want to hear that it's killing them. But with all the studies out recently about how a sedentary lifestyle takes away years, I'm excited to see something positive and reaffirming.

I wonder what the air pollution is like, here versus there.

Update: Another bike safety story: Do the health benefits of cycling outweigh the safety risks? In Europe, yes. In Canada, maybe. In the U.S. ... hey, check it out, Pinhead Starlet is up baby creek! You were saying?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Heat wave burnin up my heart

Yeah, seems like a nice day for a ride to me. Nice and sunny. Bit of a breeze. It's 14 miles to the bar, not too bad with the promise of a cold beer. Should be a good one, get some good sun, a good workout. Good good good. What could possibly be wrong with this?

Oh. That.

Update: Not as bad as expected. Perhaps triple-digits are not my kryptonite. Also, can't bitch about bad road conditions and bitch about construction. Pick one.

Bike lanes don't stop motorists from being dicks

A few weeks (months?) ago, Dallas passed a bike plan. Now I don't full understand the bike plan and I haven't looked all that deeply into it but apparently they're extending all the existing trails, connecting a lot of them together and adding several (hundred?) miles of bike lanes all across Dallas.

This is pretty darn exciting. It's almost like we're turning into a real city. Special areas for bikes crisscrossing everywhere, especially downtown, apparently even with extra specialty lanes for crossing roads and whatnot. Again, I'm not totally clear on it. I just know that some people are pretty excited about it. Some are ambivalent. Probably what drivers who know about it are livid, seeing as how some of their precious car space is about to go away.

I'm not totally won over. As this guy proved so well, bike lanes don't stop drivers from being dicks. Kinda like how some studies show that motorists drive more closely to a cyclist wearing a helmet, some studies also show that motorists figure bike lanes are a cure-all that totally clears them of any and all responsibility to keep an eye out for two-wheelers (you know, other vehicles). So while I'm glad that the city is taking steps to recognize cyclists as legitimate users of the road and I hope that this will encourage more people to get some quality time in the saddle, I'm a little hesitant to give it both thumbs up.

In part, though, also because I wish some of that money could first address the heinous state of our roads. My trip down Royal is a ka-thunk ka-thunk ka-thunk the whole way because none of the concrete slabs are level with each other, it's like riding down shallow stairs. The cracks and potholes make for an absolute minefield out there and the piss-poor lighting in the M Streets just adds to the fun. So yes, Dallas, I am proud of you for passing this bike plan. But fixing the roads does everybody good.

And last night I went to this amazing (free!) lecture at the DMA with Dallas CityDesign and a few other urban design studios (Vancouver, Seattle, Los Angeles). I got seriously hooked and I won't bore you with all the details but the greatest point they made was this: Somewhere just after WWII, cities stripped themselves of urban design and handed city planning over to the traffic engineers.

And now it all makes sense. That's why the U.S. is such a car-based society—we let the car people build our cities. But cars don't live in cities. People live in cities. And our cities have ceased to be people-friendly. I fell absolutely in love with their green streets and walking parks (a la the High Line, which is utterly spectacular). So come on, America! Let's take our cities back from our fascist car oppressors!

Because really? When was the last time a car enjoyed this?

The sunrise, not the highway.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

YOUR MOM KNOWS THE LAW (or why I don't cycle on the bleeding edge of the far right lane)

Quick question: which came first, the phrase "bleeding edge" or the printer's term "bleed"?

Okay, so, technically I suppose cyclists are meant to ride on the right side of the righthand lane. You know. In the gutter. I get yelled at a lot to get on the sidewalk but I'm not totally sure that's even legal in Dallas. Plus, I don't have a BMX bike. I ride nice and smooth across nice and smooth pavement—things like roads. That's why it's called a road bike. Not an alternating-road-now-whoops-curb-and-sidewalk-damn-pothole-pothole-pothole bike.

But trust me: it's safer for all of us if I don't ride where asphalt meets concrete. Far on the right side of the road, I'm trying to ride in the path your tires take, where the weight of the car rests—also known as the part of the road that takes all the wear and tear from your multi-ton death machines. The right side of the righthand lane is an unholy mess. It's a minotaur's maze of cracks and potholes and everything that would really really like to tump me out on my ass right in front of your bumper. I ride on the right side of the righthand lane and I ride erratically, I jerk my handlebars from side to side trying to avoid the landmines determined to trip me up.

Biking through Dallas is like playing Mario Kart, except nothing you run over is good and the chances of hitting another vehicle skyrocket.

Anyway, I'm skittering around the road like a one-eyed cat with its tail on fire and that's pretty damn not safe. If, however, I ride down the center of the righthand lane ... that's a whole different kettle of fish. It means that there aren't nearly as many potholes in my path. It means that if I do hit a pothole, I can avoid it by ducking my bike to the right—away from the traffic. And it means that there are still two more lanes for you to choose from.

Because if I ride down the center of the righthand lane, you won't try to ride behind me. If I hug the edge, you try to drive down my lane and smack me upside the head with your sideview mirror. If I hug the edge, you suddenly see that lane as free. But if I right down the center, I keep the lane—and my life—to myself.

And this is the beautiful Sidney that carries me safely from place to place!

That's right. I ride Sidney all night long.

Friday, August 12, 2011

You're not in traffic, you ARE traffic

We didn't break the record. 40 days into a heat streak and on Day 41 Oklahoma sent us clouds. Oklahoma is such a killjoy. Who needs them anyway. I say Texas annexes Oklahoma. It'll be fine. That, or, Oklahoma was protesting Rick Perry's candidacy for president, because in that case I wholeheartedly approve.

But broken or no, the heatwave has put a huge dent in my cycling. There's not a lot of motivation to be moving outdoors at all when it's 108°. My utterly irrational fear of driving does boost me into the saddle but sometimes sheer laziness takes over. This new haircut is not helping either. It has to be blowdried which means I have to get up earlier to shower and there's just something so unbearable easy about that extra 30 minutes of sleep I get if I get behind the wheel instead.

So yeah, more often than not now, I'm in traffic and I am traffic. Quit your bitchin, Dallas. Get out of the car and onto a bike. You'll be happier, your blood pressure will be happier, the pollution levels will be happier. It's a win-win-win. Plus, don't you know what the studies say: riding your bike is good for the economy!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Things I've learned

• Don't blow dry your hair when you're wearing a big metal necklace or you'll end up like the Nazi in Raiders

• Short hair is higher maintenance than long hair. Anyone who says differently is selling hair products.

• Short skirts are cuter when your legs aren't bruises stitched together with skin

• When getting a thorn out of a tire, an earring works better than pliers

• You know you're long-term single when your bed becomes a place to put books and bike tools

• A honkytonk is better people-watching than the airport

• The DART is better people-watching than a honkytonk

• I bet they call BART "BART" because "San Francisco" would make it "S FART"

• Sometimes you fall asleep instead of taking a shower and that's o.k.

• Don't put coffee in your oatmeal

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Uh, haha, full disclosure ...

I know jack all about bikes.

Like, for reals. I doubt I could fix a flat on my own. I can barely identify a fixed vs single speed (and I only know a multiple-speed or whatever you call them because of the gear shifter on the handle bars). I hardly know any of the names for bike parts, the only tools I own are for said flat and I sure as shit don't have a bike stand. I just like to tool around on two wheels and see what happens. Hopefully I'll learn a little something (or a lot something) but it's going to be a bigtime learn-as-I-go and I come to this with zero brainage on the issue.

So no pictures of fancy-schmancy bikes and all the tech talk specs and carbon this and steel that just easy, simple, basic I ride a beaut of a Schwinn and she's bright red and she makes me smile. Her name's Sidney. I'll introduce yall shortly. But really folks, I'm just a simple girl from Texas who really really hates to drive.

Green green

A few weeks ago Groupon had a deal for Reusies, these little reusable sandwiched bags. I've been looking for these for a while so I was pretty stoked. I mean, I was tossing two little ziplock plastic baggies a day, where'd that get smart? Add in shipping and the deal came down to a buy one, get one free on the two-pack, sandwiched and snack size.

They're pretty darn big, but thankfully they've got two spots with velcro. Kinda like built-in fat pants that let you size up without needing a new pair. I tend to hand wash them and just set them to dry, so I had to explain them to my very confused, not so very green roommate.

So far I'm a big fan. They're adorable, and I'm gonna give a thumbs up to anything that means I'm chucking less plastic

The green dudes are so very green

Also, I have the greatest reusable bag ever. It rolls up teeny tiny so I don't have to grab it on my way out the door, I can just toss it in my purse, like, always. Greatness is neon orange and fist-sized.

I'm a real bag!

Cyclist harassment

I am so glad that Los Angeles passed the bill to make harassing a cyclist illegal (and The Onion's telling response: "It was legal before? I've missed out on so much!"). Beyond the obviously egregious attempts on the life of a fellow human being—chucking trash, running 'em off the road—just honking at a cyclist is harassment. Like, seriously. Hear me out.

Imagine you're pedaling along, minding your own business. Getting from point A to point B, easy peasy, focusing on the road ahead of you because lord knows these things haven't been kept up and you're avoiding pebbles and potholes because you're not looking for a pinch flat before the sun's even all the way up. That wouldn't be fun. You've got all the tools and the know-how but you've never actually had to change a tube yourself, much less abandoned on your lonesome in a less-than-savory part of town, so your attention is on the pavement. And, you know, not dying.


Stupid fucker. Just scared the ever-loving beejesus outta me. There's no one else on the road so that jackass zipping on past definitely just honked at me. I heard him coming up behind me and hell there's two other empty lanes so why the hell is he honking at me? Now I've turned to see what the holy crapola is going on and JESUS FREAKING CHRIST POTHOLE SHITSHITSHIT and now I'm jerking the bike all across the lane so I don't slip in a crack that'll send me flying over the handlebars or, worse, into the next lane over. Congratulations, jerkwad, you just made the road that much more dangerous for all of us. I hope you die in a fire.

And now I know you're angry at me. You, in your 3,000 pound steel gorilla, is pissed at me on my 30 pounds of pygmy marmoset. I've got a royally steamed motorist on my ass—upset for no reason beyond my mere existence, sorry for breathing, asshole—who outweighs me by multiple freaking powers of ten. Because that's not threatening at all. You suck serious monkey balls, señor.

Me, with the single-finger salute

Monday, August 8, 2011


I've just resigned myself to being sweaty and disgusting. It's kind of awesome. Sorry for not being a lazy asshole. Sorry I'm using my body the way it was intended. Sorry I'm a badass road demon stinking my way through the burning heat of Hades.

I've also accepted that I will always be beat to hell. Cuts and scrapes and bruises are a part of the being-awesome gig. Occasionally you crash and it all breaks loose but even when you aren't going ass over teakettle into the pavement you're still scraping past trees, catching your flesh on a pedal, getting sunburned (sunburnt?), and lord knows why my ankle looks like a chewtoy - though, to be fair, did have a little too much fun Saturday night.

My coworkers say I should get a chain guard, but I kind of like the grease marks on my calf. I don't even feel my skin hit the chain but apparently it does on a regular basis because every time I get off the bike I've got another set of marks.

Maybe I should just get a bike grease tattoo.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Yuck. Ouch.

Crashed again. Stupid trolley ... Tracks are just wide enough to make a fabulous tire trap. Kaboom. Knocked my handlebars out of alignment which was wooooonderful :(

Almost wiped out again in Highlands Park. How is it that I'm fine riding through shady shady Irving but eat dirt in the nicest parts of town. The roads are utter baloney - and that's when you know rich people don't pay taxes.

Friday, August 5, 2011





Okay, but in all seriousness, it is damn hot. If god is pre-heating America, we are gonna be cooked through, probably rendered utterly inedible unless god likes his meat well done. I'm a medium-rare girl myself but whatever floats your boat, oh invisible one. Cycling is the one thing Perry doesn't have to try to ruin around here—the weather does that for him. April, May, June and into July, it was beautiful. Perfect. But now ...

I'm soldiering on. A good old-fashioned heat wave won't get me (too far) down. Dallas is five weeks in to what looks to be a record-breaking summer. People with the "I survived the 1980 heatwave" t-shirts may have to update. The record stands at 42 days of consecutive triple-digit heat and the forecast has us poised to surpass that, which is kind of exciting. Unless day 41 craps out on us—it's only set to be 102°, which is a little too close for comfort. If we're gonna go this hot, we gotta go all the way.

And that was a very long setup for this: if you're going to set up a blog chronicling bike commuting in the big D, it might as well be smack in the middle of the hottest summer on record. I have, admittedly, been taking shelter in my car more than I would like, but heat stroke isn't a toy I like to play with. Two-wheeling it through one of the most bike un-friendly cities in one of the most bike-unfriendly states, though, leaves me with a lot of material and it's starting to annoy my friends. The vast void of the internet, though, I am free to annoy to my heart's content.

Annoy, tiny brunette one, annoy like the WIND!

So be prepared for an endless barrage of tales of the road, stories of life and the various anecdotes that come with being a little spot of blue in a bright red state. Ride with me as I dodge potholes (both literally and metaphorical) and yell back at the cabbies who refuse to recognize my right to the road. Boldly going where just a couple have gone before.

Bike Friendly DALLAS!