Locavore Locomotion

My family has been eating produce from Grow Alabama for about 7 months now.  Grow Alabama is a non-profit organization that is promoting the consumption and production of Alabama grown crops.  Here is a little blurb from their website….

“The purpose of Grow Alabama is reversing the ratio of foods consumed in Alabama to the foods grown in Alabama, thereby increasing the production and profitability of all Alabama farmers, enhancing the economic viability of all Rural Alabama and bringing economic and environmental sustainability to the state as a whole, while providing the people of Alabama the highest quality foods available.”

We have really enjoyed the variety of foods we’ve been getting.   Every week we receive a box of goods that reflect what is grown in the state for that time of year.  Our diets are much more diversified because when we open up the produce box we get what is in season and what grows well in Alabama.   Items such as field peas, okra, turnips, muscadine, etc. are the types of foods we are eating regularly now but weren’t eating much of when we shopped for vegetables at the local grocer.  So it’s been good and I like the mission of the organization.

The "gold" box is good for a weeks worth of vegetables for a small family.

Well our pickup point for the boxes changed a couple of weeks ago and the new location is very close to my work.  I was actually very excited about this because I love testing out new utility tasks I can do with my bike.   This morning I brought along some extra bungee cords to strap the box to my back rack.  The Dutch bike I ride is really made so well for performing many tasks such are running errands in a city.  The rear rack is real beefy and can hold a small adult.  I gave my wife a ride on it for about a half a mile through downtown a while back.  Anyhow, the bike performed very well for hauling our box of goodies and I’m very pleased to have accomplished a task like this without using a car.

I’m going to try to do this every Wednesday (pickup day) from now on.

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Nice Rack Ride

So last weekend Mobilians on Bikes, the local bicycle users’ group, hosted the Nice Rack Ride.  The Nice Rack Ride was a bike crawl to 4 pubs that provide bike racks for its customers.  Not many businesses in Mobile provide customer parking for those who choose to arrive by bike.  The lack of safe, secure bike parking comes up regularly in surveys that reveal the inhibitors to cycling.  No one wants to get their bike stolen or ruined and good bike parking can be a big encouragement for folks to visit a place via bike.

The ride was also a fun way to show that a person can do a lot of social stuff using bike transportation.  It’s a fun way to get around and the riders that night certainly found that out.  I was pleasantly surprised we had several newbies in the group.  The new folks were very energetic and had great attitudes, a wonderful addition to the veterans in the group.  Here are some pictures as we get ready to leave from a neighborhood coffee shop that, of course, has a bike rack.  There were 26 people in total.

Several members got dressed up and showed that you can look good on a bike in the middle of summer here in Mobile.  Yeah, everyone was perspiring a little bit but nothing 10 minutes in air condition couldn’t handle.

Heels and bikes, no problem.

 

The group hit up a diversity of bars, one mexican bar, one corporate bar, one gay bar, and one irish bar.  I bet most people had never been to all of these bars and so at least one was new to them.  Most folks got food and drinks at the first stop, the Ok Bicycle Shop and Taqueria.  The Taqueria has a very nice back patio that exudes a cool atmosphere once the sun goes down.  The margaritas and mojitos are great there.

After the Taqueria, we cruised down to the Royal Street Tavern.  I had never been to this spot before and I was thoroughly impressed.  The piano player was good and the drinks were well priced.  And best of all is that the bar is attached to a hotel so bar guests can go up to an 8th floor balcony to chill out outside and get some great views.  This bar/lounge will definitely be on my radar the next time I’m going out.

After the Royal St. Tavern we rode to Gabriel’s which is a local gay bar that offers a bike rack for its guests.  The folks at Gabriel’s were very nice and we had a blast there.  They allow smoking inside so I was a bit worried I wouldn’t like it.  But luckily there were hardly any smoking guests so the air was fine.  Most folks stayed inside but they do have a nice back deck.

After Gabriel’s we hit up my neighborhood favorite, Callaghan’s Irish Pub.  A customer recently purchased a bike rack for Callaghan’s so luckily we were able to add them to the list.  It’s a great local watering hole truly deserving of a bike rack.

It was  great night on bikes and we will do it again.  Everyone in the group imbibed responsibly and so the night was a fun and safe one.  A big thanks goes out to the bars that provide customers a bike rack.  Way to go!

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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.