Archive for July, 2011

Taco Tuesday

In my quest to get more folks riding bikes I really need to keep on finding fun things for folks to bike to.  This includes coming up with gimmicky rides that I find on Google or just pop into my head.  Google gets most of the credit though.  It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it.  Well a friend of mine recently posted on Facebook a picture of their fun time at a local Mexican restaurant.  In the post she mentioned that they were partaking in Taco Tuesday with a happy hour special of $2 for 2 tacos and $3 margaritas.  Well, thank you friend for a  great ride idea.  Who wouldn’t want to ride their bike to get cheap tacos and cheap margaritas?  So last Tuesday the premier of Mobilians on Bikes’ Taco Tuesday Ride began.  We’re going to make it happen the fourth Tuesday of the month.  Even in the heat of July several of us biked across town while cruising at an uber casual pace so as to not show up sweating too profusely.  It was  a blast and the ride was very easy even considering it took place during rush hour.  We primarily took the neighborhood streets to get to our destination, Fuego.  When we got there we realized there really was not a good spot to park our bikes so we took an up front car spot.  Let me correct that, we took a vehicle spot.  You see we were able to fit 8 bikes easy (could have fit more) into 1 car (vehicle) spot.  And you know what, the staff at Fuego were very cool about it.  As they should be because I don’t think many cars are showing up with 8 people in them.  I bet the average is maybe 2 passengers per car with a lot of cars just having one occupant.

Front row parking for the bikes

As we walked up to the door we saw this sign in the window….

Future bike friendly business!

Wow, I like this place already.  So these folks are catching on and they are in a good spot to attract casual cyclists because they are close to neighborhoods.  Well we had a blast eating our tacos and drinking our margaritas.  It was a fun time with some good company.  We even got a chance to speak with the owner and he wanted suggestions for his bike rack.  Very cool, we will be back.  I’m already looking forward to these again…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Frugality

So I’ve been thinking of ways to be frugal lately.  Part of it has to do with the general bad economy but another part of it is simply just a recent interest in finding ways to save money or be efficient.  Commuting on my bike into work each day was a start, finishing leftovers and cleaning out the fridge before stuff goes bad is another.  Well just the other day I noticed my sandals were wearing through at the heel.  The sole was gone in small areas and the bed of the shoe was exposed.  “Damn, I don’t want to pay another $90 for a pair of sandals”, I thought.  They are Chaco brand and very comfortable; I’ve had them for 5 years and they get worn a lot.  When I was young my father would take his shoes into a cobbler to get refinished or have them resoled.  Generally I have not followed suit; I’ll simply buy new shoes when they get ratty or the sole goes.  But this time around I decided to investigate getting these shoes repaired.  I ride by the Dauphine Shoeteria on Conti in downtown very often, so I decided to stop by and give the local shoe repair shop a try.

Dauphine Shoeteria is conveniently located in downtown Mobile.

So I went in and asked the owner Brand how much it would cost to repair the heel.  Since the front two-thirds of the sole were in good shape he suggested he simply repair the back third heel section.  “Ok, how much?”, I asked.  “Eleven bucks”, he said.  Wow!  That’s it to get another couple of years of use out of some great shoes.  Now that is frugal!  So now I am going to ride back and take him some of my old work shoes that I was simply going to replace.  Why buy new?  So maybe in this new economy we should all start bragging about frugal deals or creative money-saving ideas they have.  Next up for me is looking into a thrift store for “new to me” jeans.  What are your frugal ideas?

The back heel was replaced with a Vibram sole on both sandals.

But wait, I forgot to introduce myself…

For those who don’t know me, guess it would be nice to give you a little background before I start posting blogs. Hi there, I’m Debbie Clolinger! Born and raised pretty much in the south, I was a military brat…Dad was a fighter pilot in the USMC and we lived in NC, VA, and CA. I’ve lived in Mobile, Alabama for …hmmm…. can it really be 35 years now? Wow. Anyway, I’m happily divorced, happily employed, and in a healthy, happy relationship. My daughter, who recently graduated college, and is the light of my life, is doing a 1-yr. internship with a law firm in Atlanta before going on to law school. She’s happy too.

Fitness has always been a part of my adult life. I figured God designed our bodies to move, and I have a lot of respect for HIs design. I do cardio and I weight train, I jog (well not in June – September), I snow ski. And I bike!

Ben the Boyfriend and I were introduced to Mobilians on Bikes earlier this year when we were invited to join a group on a casual ride through historic neighborhoods in Mobile, ending at a lovely convent where we toured the chapel and enjoyed a picnic lunch on the grounds. Since then we’ve become much more involved. More about that later.

There are several things that I love about this group. First and foremost, it offers something for everyone. It’s not a “ride 42 miles at 20 mph before we go to work” group, although I can imagine if some of our members want to form a group to do that they could. There are organized rides for everyone…families with small children, the Fairly Fits, like me, and the more serious riders. There are marrieds, singles, young and old! Secondly, this group is very active in the Mobile community by advocating safe biking, supporting and promoting safer streets, safer laws, and friendlier attitudes towards “sharing the road” (the Silent Ride a couple of months ago in memory of those who have been injured or killed was very well attended…yay, Mobile!) So the MOBsters, while pusing for safety, and bike lanes and racks in future city planning, also endorse FUN for it’s members!!

Ben and I really enjoyed the theme rides, like the Urban Farming ride, and other Sunday Strolls. Then, as more and more people started joining our group, things seem to become much more organized. FaceBook has become the major communication thread, and we pretty much depend on this social network to promote and inform folks what’s coming up, what’s in the works, and to just voice opinions and thoughts.

Not only am I active on our groups FaceBook site, but I try to post pictures as often as I can. And once I get a little more used to posting things in the SouthernSpokes blog, then I hope to post cool pictures like Nik and Lynn do!

OK, I think I’ve bored you enough. I do want to share my experiences with the last two Sunday Morning Breakfast Club Rides. Hadn’t done any distance riding until joining this group 2 weeks ago, and I’m so glad I did. Amazing the sights and sounds and visual perspectives you get when you’re breezing along Brookley and Mobile Bay. But again… more on this later!

Cathedral Square Market, 7-9-11

I thought I would beat the heat by heading out at 8:00 a.m.   Gonna tell ya, folks, no matter what time you get up during the summer months in Mobile, Alabama you just aren’t going to beat the heat!  Actually, it’s more of a humidity factor.  Nevertheless, headed down my usual route…from my house on Demouy, up Conti (following the “bike route”), through the Monterey area, across Catherine and Anne, Broad and down Dauphin.  Traffic was light.  Got to the Square, chained by bike, and strolled around.

The crowd was light, I guess it was fairly early for most Mobilians.  One advantage of getting to The Cathedral Square Market early is you get the choicest of the choice.  My FAV seafood vendor, J & J Seafood, usually runs out of oysters first, and then folks start snapping up the lump crabmeat.  Jerome, the owner, knows I visit him first, then stroll around, so he packs my goodies on ice and sticks them back in the cooler for me to pick up after my shopping.  Picked up by goat cheese, and then bought “gourmet” pickle slices from a new vendor.  Always good to support new businesses!  Ben and I will be feasting tonight.

Anyway, sorry I missed the C & S ride this morning, but plan to do it tomorrow with the Sunday Morning Breakfast Ride.  I did my first one last week…and it was definitely d0-able, even on my ancient Schwinn.  Told Ben at least he should do the Sunday Stroll tomorrow afternoon.  We’ll see.

Later folks, I’m headed down to Fowl River where I will pop a cold one, and plop into some sort of inflatable, and let the past week float away.

Clips

I have received lots of feedback on my choice to try out clips on my new bike.  As I said in my previous post, I would not have chosen them, but since they are on the bike I thought I should give them a try.  I have had many people tell me that once I get used to them I will LOVE them.  I will say that most of the people with that view are people that bike longer distances or use them in triathalons or other races.  Some bikers feel the cons outweigh the benefits for my purposes since I have to make so many stops riding through neighborhoods and city traffic.  Having to wear special shoes with the metal clip on them is somewhat bothersome –  it requires bringing another pair of shoes to change into whether you are taking a quick trip to the store or going to work.  For work, I always change into dress shoes anyway – I ride a long enough distance that I can’t wear my work clothes on my bike – especially in this heat.    So, thus far, that hasn’t been a real problem.  No, the real problem has been just getting used to using them and remembering that I have them.   So far, 3 falls in 3 days.  On the bright side, I now know that my bones are not yet thin and brittle, as I would surely have broken a bone in my hand this morning if they were.  Luckily my bike has also been protected each time by my body.   I am not sold on them yet – but each time my falls have been caused by me doing something stupid or just not paying attention.  This morning I was concentrating on hitting the scored line in the road coming out of my neighborhood so that I could make the traffic light change – I hit it just right as I came to a stop… yay!, then fell right over.  Yesterday, I was coming up to a 4 way stop and there was a car stopped on the cross road, I thought the car would go and I wouldn’t have to stop long enough to put my foot down, but the car didn’t move (Kudos to the car who was probably being extra careful because of me on my bike – that or he was on his cell phone), and so I had to stop completely, my foot didn’t come right out, and down I went.  I should have taken it out in anticipation that I might have to stop.  I’ll get better at this, hopefully.  If nothing else I will become an expert on falling.

A New Bike!

It’s been about 2 ½ months now since I first started to bike to work and I am ready to upgrade my bike.  I have stuck it out in temperatures that have reached 100 degrees and have withstood many many comments from friends and family that think I am crazy or that I’m going to get myself killed.  I can’t do anything about the weather – except maybe leave before the sun is up in the morning and after it goes down in the evening – but riding in the dark or at dusk would be more dangerous and would mean more time at work and less time at home with my family.  So, I’m not willing to change my leave times enough to make any significant difference in temperature.  I have found that afternoon rain storms make for a delightful ride home.  Although others have called me crazy, I rather enjoy riding in the rain – it cools off the temperature considerably and I’d rather arrive dripping with rain water than with sweat.  Don’t knock it till you try it – talk about anti-aging, I promise you will feel like a kid when you get caught in the rain on your bike.  As for risking my life,  I am extra careful and take mostly low traffic neighborhood streets during daylight hours.  When the days start getting shorter I may have to start riding in the dark – but I will be certain to use enough lights and reflectors to blind everyone that comes near me.  Driving a car is certainly not a risk free mode of transportation either – I have read that auto crashes are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 6-27.  And the health benefits of cycling is said to outweigh the risks by a factor of 20 to 1 (measured in years of life expectancy lost from collisions to years of life expectancy gained by biking).

Sweetskinz scorch tires

            So, now that I am confident that I can stick with my plan to bike to work, I am ready to step it up and buy a new bike.  The question is what bike?  I have paid great attention to what others ride down the road on and listened intently to bike enthusiasts’ comments about bike brands, styles and features, but I was still a little overwhelmed with the vast variety of bikes that are available as well as the vast differences in prices.  You can spend a small fortune on a bike!  Luckily, I have met several bikers of late with a great wealth of knowledge about bikes and who are very generous in offering to help those with low bike IQs like me.   I have found that the biking community is like an open club that wants,  more than anything else, to increase their membership.  If you ride a bike, you are immediately a member and welcomed with open arms.  So, I asked a biker friend on facebook for help and immediately got helpful suggestions and several others I didn’t even know chimed in with their 2 cents.  One of my new biker friends, Rudy, suggested I try out one of his bikes that he would let me have at a good price –  a Trek hybrid bike he said.  Hmmm, I’ve heard the brand Trek mentioned before and understood  that the brand got considerably high marks from my biker friends, but I figured the price would also be considerably high.  But, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try it out, I don’t think I’ve ever ridden anything other than a mountain bike.  So, try it out I did and I loved it right away!  He offered it to me at a great price — a real steal!!   After testing it out on my normal route to work and back I decided to buy it – a Trek 7.3 FX.  It has 700 x 37c tires (which I have learned are much faster than my smaller, wider, mountain bike tires), it has an extender added to the handlebars so that I ride more upright to alleviate the crick in my neck, it is MUCH lighter (I think he told me 26 lbs), it shifts MUCH smoother, the seat is very comfortable, it is already decked out with a headlight, a small bag, a little computer, and a water bottle holder, AND it is GATOR blue with orangish reflective tires with a flame like design on them (yes, I am a Florida Gator fan).  I think this bike was made for me!!  It does have one feature though that is taking some getting used to – clips.  I had never tried clips before and didn’t think I wanted them.  They require you to wear special shoes with a metal piece on the bottom that clips into the pedal.  Using the clips keeps your foot from slipping off and allows you to more efficiently pedal – using the full rotation by pulling up on the pedal as well as pushing down.  However, when you are making frequent stops they can be a pain, especially when you are not used to them and forget you have them.  Yes, I fell over yesterday morning into my neighbors’ raised planter when I stupidly took a short cut and came upon some boards that had been laid out across the path because of  some construction they had going on.  I went to stop, forgetting about the clips and when my feet did not come off the pedals as expected, I ended up leaning over and laying in their planter.  Thankfully, I was going VERY slow since I was on a narrow off-road pedestrian path between houses and I knew there was construction ahead (yes, I knew this and I still took the path – attempting to save maybe a whole 30 sec. on my trip since I left late).  I managed to just bruise my right shin, (which now matches the bruise on my left shin).  The bicycle was unharmed (thank God!!) and I was thankful that no one was around to see my fall.  If you’ve read my accounts of my first couple weeks riding, then you know this is par for the course as I am somewhat prone to minor bike mishaps.  (See my earlier blog entries at: http://bikingmobile.wordpress.com/).  Another lesson learned, shaving 30 seconds is not worth risking my shins or my bike (especially my NEW bike!)

July 4th and Bikes

For the July 4th holiday my family and I traveled to Virginia for our annual pilgrimage to visit family.  We go to Cape Charles, VA where my family has a house on the Chesapeake and where Megan and I taught highschool math for a year.  It’s a small town that gets busy in the summer, especially around the 4th.  The town puts on a good show and is very typical of small town Independence Day Americana with horseshoe contests, beach volleyball, funnel cake, a parade, and lots of bikes.  I think I saw more bikes here this year than in previous years and one of the reasons may be that the town has been taking small measures to promote bicycling and make it feel safe for riders of all ages.  During the festivities the busy sections of town are closed off to auto traffic.  This is a cue Mobile could take for many of its public events, especially during Mardi Gras where the city doesn’t seem to mind mixing alcohol, lots of pedestrians, children, parades and auto traffic.  In Cape Charles the business owners have placed a lot of bike parking at the restaurants, shops and town destinations such as the fishing pier and public gazebo.  The town sponsored parade included a bicycle contingent with kids and adults.  There was even a girl selling ice cream from a specially configured tricycle.  Wow, bikes everywhere.  And you know what else I noticed?  From my own unscientific observations the obesity levels were substantially less than what you would find in Alabama.  Maybe the promotion of casual riding is one ingredient in a greater recipe to fight problems with obesity and make places more livable.

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Bike styles were dominated by cruisers and folding bikes.  I probably saw over a dozen folding bikes.  I asked some owners about this and all of them were boaters who traveled to Cape Charles by sea and liked the folders for the small amount of space they took up on the boats.  Clever!  I know folding bikes are pretty solid these days and are also used for touring as well as casual riding.  There were bike baskets for the shoppers and toters en masse.  The boutiques were plenty busy selling t-shirts, sunscreen, trinkets, etc. and the customers were tossing their purchases in front and/or rear baskets.  Citizens going about their day on bicycles.  It was an awesome sight that should and could be promoted at the neighborhood level and beyond in larger cities.