gurdymonkey: (Default)
The weather gods looked down upon San Francisco and said, "So, you think you're going to wear wool today? I think we stall our low pressure system out at sea so you silly mortals can sweat."

It's been decades since I've ridden a bike in a skirt. What was decorously modest when I measured and hemmed it to skim just above the knee was guaranteed to make me spend the festivities yanking it down countless times. Yes, I snagged this in the hallway before I left, because I knew I was not going to have enough hands to attempt to take pictures this trip.
On the way out of Alameda, I got an "I LOVE YOUR RIDE" from a young woman sitting in front of her house with one of those Spuds McKenzie red and white classic English Bull Terriers and shouted back "I LOVE YOUR DOG!"

There was clearly a Giants' game going on at AT&T park judging from the hats and tees on the train. It was my first time attempting a bike trip into the city. For reasons only known to the BART system and their designers, if you want to use the elevator to the street in the Embarcadero station, you have to go out the turnstile, then go back INSIDE through the turnstile to get to the elevator. Bad design, bad, BAD design. The only plus was that the station agent who helped me was extremely kind about it.

Wended my way around the corner to Justin Herman Plaza to meet up with the rest of the group. Final count was maybe a dozen people, but apparently lack of planning and last-minute announcements of rides is traditional. We stood around admiring each other's bikes/outfits (both all over the map ranging from vintage to cushy Dutch bikes, two bamboo bikes and a fixie. BTW, the hipster take on tweed is to throw a men's vest over your tee shirt, roll your pants to below your knees and go.)

Introductions over, the guy running things announced we'd head up Market to Geary, take a lap or two around Union Square ("People really get into it!" he said), then head over to the Mission District where they were doing Sunday Streets with several blocks closed to traffic. Those who know SF know that the Powell Street side of Union Square is uphill. Compounding matters were rough pavement, road construction barriers and oblivous pedestrians getting their Sunday morning tourism on. So picture me in a very, very short skirt, trying to stop, start and get up the Powell Street side of the square while debating whether it's even worth dealing with the gear shifters on a short block. If anyone was getting into it, I was too busy navigating to notice.

We made it unscathed across Market Street in a big, tweedy clump of bikes, then headed west on Mission Street for a bit. The planned stop for drinks/lunch turned out to be at a bar that was closed on Sundays, so we backtracked a few blocks to another place. I think it was called the Sycamore, doubt I'd ever find it again. I had a mimosa and three huge glasses of water for lunch - I'd made myself a good, big breakfast this morning and really wasn't hungry.

And then we hit the Sunday Streets and I was Not A Happy Biker.   See that? That's nowhere near what we hit on Valencia Street. I spent most of the rest of the route riding at slower-than-walking-speeds trying (a) not to lose the rest of the group and (b) trying not to run down the oblivious. Sorry, that's not fun. Particularly when I got rammed by a toddler on something with training wheels who shot into me at right angles out of nowhere. Wasn't going fast enough for it to be a problem, but it was a near thing. 

Total route was less than 5 miles one way and ended with Yet Another Divey Bar, so Gary and I rode back to the 24th and Mission BART together, he headed south to the Peninsula and I came back across the East Bay.

I did meet some nice enough folks, but I don't know if I'll do it again.
gurdymonkey: (Default)
Dust off the cobwebs,
Wobble down the driveway
Then pedal away.
I had not realized how
Many months I'd been off my bike.
gurdymonkey: (Default)
Last time I went it was before the summer season ferries were available directly - or should I say indirectly - from Alameda and Oakland. This time I decided wisely or unwisely to bike to the ferry. The Peralta picked us up promptly at 9:10 and I racked Mimi at her stern.  Cut for copious photos )
gurdymonkey: (thought)
(That really, REALLY needs to be the name of a bike blog. Maybe I need to set one up. In my copious spare time. Right.)

This morning, I got up a half hour earlier than I normally do because I had to leave a half hour earlier than I normally do when I drive to work.

Taking the bike to work - PROS:
It's good for me. (OK, right now it doesn't FEEL good for me, but we'll go with the conventional wisdom and try not to think about inhaled bus exhaust, or the skills of the average California driver.  My conditioning should improve if I continue doing this, as should my confidence about riding off-island.)

It's good for the planet in a drop in a bucket kind of way. Supposedly. See Cons below regarding laundry.

The route from home to the Fruitvale BART doesn't have a lot of traffic at 6:15-6:30 AM. While it's busy at 4:15-4:30 PM, it was fairly manageable.

The route between San Leandro BART and work is flat all the way. It's practically deserted on the morning leg. The afternoon leg requires keeping an eye out for heavy trucking between my office and the north side of the intersection of Alvarado and Marina Boulevard, but once I'm across Marina, it's fine.

Taking the bike to work - CONS:
I have to get up at 5:45 AM. I have to be out the door at 6:15 to arrive at work by 7 AM. It takes longer: 45 minutes instead of 12, each way. If the drawbridge is up or a train is late, it will take even longer.

The light with the motion detector in the alley is not well placed in terms of the railing where I lock up. Locking/unlocking the bike before dawn/after dark has to be done by feel.

Weather will dictate whether I plan to ride on a given day. I know how hard it is to see a cyclist through rain and windshield wipers, never mind the fact it's not fun to ride in a cold rain. I've mentioned the curse of head winds in previous posts about biking out to Alameda Point. My PM ride time could be adversely affected on summer days with heat advisories (yes, we do occasionally get those).

Sweat is an inevitable byproduct of biking and will continue to be so as we come into summer. There are no shower facilities where I work. I'll have to carry an extra top to change into at work, plus some Wet Ones. I have just upped the amount of dirty laundry I generate.  So much for my carbon foot print.

The approach to the bridge on Fruitvale Avenue is uphill in both directions. Now, it's not a big hill by any means, but it's a momentum sucker just the same, particularly if I hit a red light at the corner of Fruitvale and Alameda Avenue on the way home.

The elevators at the Fruitvale BART work, the one on the southbound platform in the San Leandro station did not, requiring me to portage a vintage bike with an all steel frame down a long flight of stairs. I could manage, but she's heavy.

Round trip BART fare is $3.50. Gas was $4.09/gal plus 0.50 ATM fee when I filled up on Monday, so round that up to about $4.15. Round trip by truck is 16 miles. Blanche gets about 25 mpg on the highway, so let's pick an average of 23 for this trip. $4.13 / 23 = $0.18/mile. Estimated fuel cost if I drive is about $2.88 - and that's with high gas prices, so it's actually costing me $0.62 more per trip to ride BART.  On the other hand, it's less miles on 'Tite Blanche, my '99 Tacoma, currently at 155k on the odometer.

The BART car I was on this morning stank. I don't know why, but it did. There was the weird guy who hooted at me in some language not of any planet I'm from. Then on the way home there was this elderly guy in Oakland A's event staff cap and jacket who started reminiscing about his 18 speed and how awesome it was that I was biking and somehow got onto the blessings of Jesus before getting off at the Coliseum.

I have to channel Samuel L. Jackson, Toshiro Mifune, Kate Hepburn, Clint Eastwood, Sigourney Weaver and [ profile] baronalejandro  and TAKE THE LANE several times on the return trip, which has more left turns in it, and more traffic. With a semi behind me at the light on Marina.

Cycle chic? Are you kidding? The dress code at work is fairly casual and I never know if my day is going to involve dumpster diving for packaging materials or crawling under desks to plug or unplug electronics, so I tend towards casual pants, sweaters/long sleeved tees/polo shirts. It makes for practical biking clothing at least, even if it's not glamorous.
gurdymonkey: (Default)
That should be the name of a bike blog. I could make fun of cycle chic, rant at grown men who have to ride on the sidewalk, map routes to all the places in town where one can get things to eat/drink that are bad for one.....

Anyway, at the risk of death threats from [ profile] baronalejandro , who at least has someone to make him French Toast during snow emergencies, this writer must report that the current temperature on My Island (Gawd, I sound like that Irish nutbag from Braveheart), is a pleasant  72 degrees. Thus I got up this morning, looked at the Estrella to-do list and decided it could get to-done later. I grabbed my helmet and backpack and pedaled up to the shopping center to hit an ATM and buy a bottle of water, then threaded my way through bumper to bumper traffic out to Alameda Point. Yeah, it was bumper to bumper at nearly 10 AM from Webster Street most of the way out because it was a nice day and because someone put an article in the Things To Do section of the Chronicle, 'cause they were all streaming out of the tube from the Oakland side of the world.

It's the schmucks in the SUVs who will NOT move over. There's no bike lane on that stretch of Main Street, and there's no sidewalk either. My choices were hair curling games of thread the needle, slam into roadside shrubbery, ride into a ditch or defiantly take a lane behind some entitled yuppie's bumper and eat exhaust while trying not to come to a complete and utter stop. However, I eventually got to the gate, peeled off to the far right of the old runway away from the crawling mob of cars and cruised up to the front gates. There was still plenty of space at the bike rack. A young man in one of the market's parking/security vests complimented Two Tone Mimi as I was locking her up.

Thanks to reality TV, Antiques Roadshow and The Internet, it's getting a lot harder to find treasures at bargain prices. Most dealers not only know what they've got, they tend not to budge on prices. Yeah, You from Pawn Stars, I blame you. There are some dealers I just admire something and move on 'cause I know they're not going to give me a break.  I priced a lovely lacquer plate and hastily put it down again - and walked away when he offered me a sky high price on a pair of laquer bowls, one of which had a huge burn mark across the decoration on the bottom. 

I did, however, find a very nice guy who had two whole racks full of polyester and crimpilene dresses from the 60s and 70s, all in excellent condition (no pills, sweat stains, cigarette burns, and some even with original tags in place).  He even had a couple pieces in bigger sizes. I came home with this. $40 bucks, but it's like it's brand new. I may actually have to take it in and bring the hem up!

I also scored a very pretty vase from a guy's $5 table. I must have that kind of face, either honest or at least I look like I'll frown a potential shoplifter to death, because he asked me to watch his spot while he ran to the bank of porta-johns by the fence for five minutes.

Had some interesting conversations with the cowboy boot guy and the lady with the central Asian textiles and textile books. More pictures are up at

Took the long way home by way of the Foster's Freeze on Central Avenue for a well earned root beer float, detoured down to the Office Max at the South Shore for something I forgot to get yesterday, then cranked home. I heard a cry of "I LOVE YOUR RIDE" as I passed the Calvary Christian Center. I yelled "I LOVE MY RIDE TOO" back at the black kid in pigtails coming out the door, even though I was exhausted on the last leg coming up Grand Street., but I didn't fall off the bike on the front lawn like I did that one time.

It's been a couple months since I've had a leg over that bike. I've missed it. I'm gonna feel this tomorrow though....

EDIT: Hell, I'm feeling it now. That vintage Murray seat isn't any softer than it was when I bought that bike last fall. At least my "bad" knee feels OK.
gurdymonkey: (Default)
1. No bike-o to taiko, not with a heat advisory yesterday evening (and another today). New Phrase Of The Week: "crazy choices."
The new piece is still an ass kicker, though I now mostly have the section we're working on memorized. Sort of. We spent the last 15 minutes of class trying it paired up two to a set of drums, fraught with the challenge of having to pass between the drums while turning and playing to get to the opposite side and then come back again!  (Yikes!!!) Made plenty of mistakes but at least Bob and I didn't crash, or worse, hit each other.

2. So, just how much fun is taiko? THIS MUCH!
[ profile] sasha_khan  caught this one of me on Friday at GWW, red faced, sweaty as a racehorse glowing joyously and rockin' my Plaid Rags. Oh, and yeah, happy to see him, while we're at it.

3. Posted to the Tousando yesterday by JAF: "It was so nice to finally meet you and participate in your sake tasting YUM! You are a great hostess and the other members of my camp couldnt stop talking about you and the time we shared. Hope to see you again soon!!!"

Clearly!  someone!! is enamored of exclamation! points!!! Which does not mean this wasn't equal parts gratifying and humbling. Inside the hostess is the painfully shy teenager who was still sufficiently uncomfortable about having chosen to camp with a bunch of people she hadn't met before. Who needs games when you role play to get through your day?

3. a. I should keep a sake "diary".  I forgot to crib names from bottle labels before recycling the empties, however, several were known quantities and I at least remember where I bought the one I hadn't tried before and should be able to recognize the bottle, as it was definitely yum-worthy. Things to think on while planning for Estrella....

4. Now THAT'S what I call observing Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Found a letter in the mail from Kaiser when I got home from war, saying it's time to save myself from neoplasms by blasting my chest with electromagnetic radiation. (Yes, I DO find this ironic.)  On Saturday morning. Depending on how long that ends up taking and what sort of mood it puts me in, I may or may not day trip Coronet.

5.  Got an email from on Sunday night, announcing a "tweed ride" for this Sunday afternoon. When I inquired as to the route, it was obvious the gent at the other keyboard hadn't figured that bit out yet, but the round trip would be about ten miles. In San Francisco. With it being dark by the time the after party at Rickshaw Bagworks got done and not knowing which streets are one way only back to the BART station. It would be different if I had someone to buddy up with, particularly on the way home, but I'm not so sure I'm ready to attempt city streets, even on a Sunday. And with a bunch of strangers - see item 3 above. Must think on it further.

gurdymonkey: (Default)
Lamps brighten windows,
A dog barks behind a fence
As I pedal by.
The quiet streets are all mine
Mine and the bright autumn moon.

In fact, the ride home completely made up for the momentum-sapping head wind I fought all the way out to the Point on my way to taiko class. (Current wind speeds according to are 20-25 mph and expected to get even gustier through the night.) [ profile] baronalejandro  will laugh at me, but I actually shifted gears (!) in a vain attempt to keep a reasonable cadence riding into that wind.  My tee shirt was soaked through before I started playing.

The new piece continues to kick my butt, even as bits of it are starting to stick. It's great stuff, but it's a lot to remember.

Plaid kosode is most of the way assembled: just need to hem the bottom and put a collar on it, but not tonight. I should give my hands a break.

Reason # 37 why The Royal Navy is cooler than pie rats:

gurdymonkey: (Default)
Senator Mark Leno counters with a proposed bill to make PG&E shareholders responsible for costs due to negligence b y PG&E.

It's September. Once again, two hours before the eye exam which has been on the books for a year, I get a phone call from the nitwit at Dr. T's office telling me she has to reschedule. Now this ridiculous ritual is going to eat a couple hours of my Saturday afternoon, which pisses me off. If I'm told I need new lenses, I will demand they be fit into the older of the two sets of old frames I will be carrying with me. They pulled the you're-covered-so-we're-going-to-sell-you-new-glasses routine on me last year, refused to mount lenses in my old pair, insisting I HAD to have a spare, then tried to bill me for more than I was quoted because The Nitwit didn't know the lenses wouldn't fit the frames I picked and more expensive lenses would be needed. This racket is wasteful, stupid and costly to both me and my insurance company. I actually take care of my glasses, I'm not vain about them. I do NOT need three pairs of prescription readers.

Taiko kicked my ass last night, but in a good way. The new piece we've started work in is challenging, I don't have all the bits memorized yet and Sean-sensei is pushing us through a lot of it at a time.

Thanks to prevailing wind direction and the subtle change in elevation that only appears to be noticeable to Old Slow Me,  the ride home is always easier than the ride out. You'd think I'd be more tired than less, but it feels good. I actually kind of like riding after dark too. Traffic is fairly light most of the way, the streets are decently lit, there are traffic lights to cross with at the busier intersections and I like the atmosphere of the neighborhoods I ride through, even at night. I've been waved at by folks watering lawns, nodded at by other bikers, waved through intersections by motorists with eyes. Even the knot of teenagers hanging out in front of an apartment building or by the 7/11 is likely to wave or call "Hi."

Finished reading Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried at lunch today. If it didn't say right on the cover that it was nonfiction, I'd believe it was true. Maybe it is in its way. Read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, (another Dad recommendation, because "the protagonist lived in your old dorm!") before that. Actually it's got a great deal more merit than the Rutgers connection and it's a terrific novel, but I'm due for something light. Yeah, like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Oy.
gurdymonkey: (pretties)

This is something I'd been meaning to do for ages since I've moved here. Alameda weathered the 1906 earthquake better than San Francisco did. As a result, we have a lot of interesting architecture from a number of periods. Doing it by bike is perfect too: don't have to worry about trying to park, just roll over to the curb, pull out the camera and shoot. I will probably continue to add to this album over time.

Anyway, I was up and thought it would be nice to get out on my bike as that muscle in my left leg didn't appear to be bothering me. Went out around 9:30 and pulled out my camera when I got to the old Spanish revival firehouse on Grand Street. It's a great old building to begin with, but they also still had a bunch of flags dotting the lawn and a lovely flower arrangement sitting in front of the door for. Shot some of the Victorians on Grand Street. (There are lots of huge houses down there, but some may be better photographed in late afternoon light, being on that side of the street.)

Was really glad I'd put on a fleece jacket as I got close to the beach. Stopped at the Panera at Alameda Towne Centre for breakfast and got stuck behind two female workout buddies who had to dither over what to order and make life difficult for the girl behind the counter. Had I known the cinnamon bun was going to be so disappointing, I'd've ridden over to Webster Street and gotten a plate of eggs at Albert's Cafe instead. At least the chai was pretty good. I sat outside in the sun and read the first chapter of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and drank my chai.

Picked up some fruit at the Safeway (also at Towne Centre), which fit nicely in the new backpack. Clearly designed as a school bag, it's got lots of pockets that zip shut and it was more than roomy enough for what I bought. The s-curved shoulder straps are a nice touch too. So I took my two pounds of grapes and my bag of Granny Smith apples and my cheese and cruised back across town by way of Broadway as it has a nice wide bike lane and Park Street does not. Shot a few houses on the way back, which really works best if there is a bike lane to pull way over in, stop and compose a shot.
gurdymonkey: (Default)
I see by the ol' kingdom e-list that the unfortunately named "Booze For Boobs" will be back at Crown. says a lot of what I'm thinking better than I can.  Except for the part where booze increases the risk of breast cancer.

Uh, thanks. I'm sticking with the food bank. A meal is an immediate tangible good.  Besides, I could stand to start skipping lunches once a week again.


New taiko course session started tonight and we started work on a new piece with what promises to be harder choreography and a swingy beat that will be fun once we get it down. The usual suspects - Bob, Tracy, Josh, Clint, Ryan and myself - all returned. Looks like a fresh crop for the 7:30 beginner class, all looking rather big eyed as we trashed our way through new parts on a rather complicated drum set-up.

Bike developed a new squeak on the ride home, probably because I brought her into the "dojo," parked her in the corner with the kick stand and she fell over as soon as I was half a dozen paces away. I righted her and leaned her against the wall instead, but there was a new noise which got faster and increased in pitch as my wheels spun faster. Might be a loose spoke light or a brake pad rubbing a tire or something. Too dark when I got home to tinker, so I'll give her a look tomorrow. And WD-40 the springs on the bike seat  'cause they creak.

And it was dark, the marine layer having rolled in and local sunset at 7:27 PM.  Traffic is light in town between 7:30 and 8 PM, which is about when I rolled into the alley to lock up. Not a bad ride., t
gurdymonkey: (Default)
Got Lindsay to press buttons on my camera Tuesday night, so some grainy video of the taiko recital exists. Two out of three files loaded to my website and the third (which is about 15 minutes long in real time) was spinning its wheels when I left the house this morning: the file size seems to be the problem. I'd prefer not to have to put 'em up on Youtube, but that may ultimately be the only viable option.

Checked fares today and got tickets on Southwest to Phoenix for Dustin and Ri's wedding Halloween weekend. $79 each way is not too shabby.

It was pretty warm when I went out at lunch time. Weather Channel says it's 85 at home and I can see from the trees across the lot that there's a brisk breeze. On the other hand, I suppose I could take JAF's box to the PO via bike, especially since the main branch is down by the beach.

Need to get pics of what I did to my helmet thanks to three packets of reflective decals.
Please go here and don't give them the satisfaction.

Continuing not to feed the troll.

Was reminded today by a post on the sca-jml Yahoo Group of the Japanese Twelfth Night in the Outlands that I went to a few years ago. Good times. 

EDIT THE SECOND: Discovered just how much my ample fundament protrudes over the rear edge of my bike seat after I bungee'd that package to the rack. It wasn't unrideable, but I was sitting forward of where I normally do. The Payless sneakers (sort of a Keds knockoff in a floral print) slipped around annoyingly on the pedals and I will not ride in them again, but what do you want for $5 on clearance?

The central branch Alameda Post Office has no bike rack: I had to lock up against a stop sign. (There are, however, racks in several spots around the Alameda Towne Center Mall proper.) My package was small enough that I could use the auto-kiosk in the hallway. Foolishly I decided it would be nice to spring for Priority Mail, especially since the machine asked if I'd put a Priority Mail sticker on the package and I chose "No." Did the machine dispense a sticker to go with my paid postage? Would that not make sense and add to the convenience of the kiosk? Of course not. So I had to go BACK down the hall into the room where everyone has to stand in line to be waited on, rummage through a box, beg the use of a pen from a lady in line and re-address my package. Honestly, I could have stood in line, debated shipping prices with The Dragon Lady who always pretends Parcel Post doesn't exist and tries to trick you into using Express Mail instead of Priority Mail, had HER put stickers all over my box, bought some stamps and still gotten out faster.

At least a breeze was coming in off the bay. I decided that dinner would be a small Peppermint milk shake from Loards. That and the breeze cooled me down nicely. I picked up a salad for tomorrow's lunch and a couple other things at Trader Joe's, then biked back home. Now I have all the windows open and it's starting to cool down in here beautifully.

gurdymonkey: (Default)
It's like ten thousand spoons, when all you need is a knife and all that. I was sitting in court with the Tosenin kosode draped over my head for shade, when a handsome fellow in eboshi, yellow kataginu, olive kosode and brown hakama sat down on the grass directly across the "aisle" from me. Formerly from Aethelmearc, Dafydd joined the Tousando board about a month ago and has been working with Pallidus on getting some Japanese kit together. I had invited them both to have lunch with [ profile] layla_lilah  and me at Purgatorio. Pallidus apparently stayed home to work on armor, the poopyhead. We had onigiri with umeboshi filling, plus Asian pear from one of my co-worker's trees, dried squid and some mochi that we never got to at A&S and, being packaged with the obsessiveness of Japanese food packagers, was still eminently edible. The toasted sesame mochidango were particularly nice.

He later introduced me to his lovely and very pregnant lady and their toddler son who was being a bit shy. Well, actually, I'm kicking myself that it didn't occur to me to drag him off and take pictures of his first Japanese garb for Samurai Eye, more than anything else, but I won't lie, the view was very nice. He's an attractive guy and he looked good in what he'd put together.

We might attempt to get together along with Pallidus and storm the Ghengis Khan exhibit at the Tech some weekend.

Got to get a little face time in with friends as well as finally meet [ profile] mamapduck 's daughter and [ profile] hunrvogt 's new dog. It was a nice event.

EDIT: Spotted in the cheap seats by Miyake Nobuhiro, digital ninja sniper. The rest of the set has some nice event photos.

It's official: I still prefer hand sewing to working on the machine. With the last 8 inches of the last hakama tie to go, the bobbin ran out. So I refilled it. Then proceeded to break the thread four times, necessitating my putting my reading glasses on for each re-thread. And then, somehow - probably because I was exasperated and hit the gas too hard, I managed to bend the needle. In linen. On a machine that's more or less fresh out of the shop!

I just need to hand sew the ornamental knot thingies and ties on, starch and iron everything, and then I can FINALLY ship JAF's stuff to him.  We never specified a deadline, he has insisted there was no hurry, but since he's been so patient, I'm comping him the shipping charges with a thank-you-for-letting-me-play-hooky note. Which is what I've been doing. It's summer, it's too nice to sit inside listening to the sewing machine. 

Downloaded a bunch of old British Invasion stuff off iTunes to listen to while I was breaking sewing machine needles, Troggs, Yardbirds, early Rolling Stones and Who, that sort of thing. Can't imagine why....
Good stuff, though.
Took a break from sewing to go to Hell as their Labor Day sale started this weekend and they had Cateye bike lights at 25% off. The Cateye spoke lights are not nearly as cool as the Monkeylectric Seizure Inducing Spoke Lights of Doom, but are infinitely less expensive even at full price. The place was jammed and clearance areas were being picked over with a vengeance, but they had at least staffed for it. One of the floor minions asked if I needed assistance as I was fumbling with reading glasses and comparing the fine print on a couple of bike pumps. (I ended up with a very compact, lightweight one by Planet Bike.)  Further, the Register Minion I dealt with was conscious, helpful and discovered that I had, in fact, registered with them for a membership wayyyy the hell back when Gaius and I were still living up in Concord, updated my info and whittled down my total expenditure accordingly. I still think they're pricier than they need to be on certain things, but occasionally even Hell has its uses.
gurdymonkey: (bradshaw)
So I thought about it and signed up for email announcements from the San Francisco iteration of tweed riding. Despite the fact it doesn't appear they've done anything in months. And I looked around at their silly silent film signage (which would do well to be punctuated correctly) and some of their photos and thought, "Crikey." And "Bloody f****ng hell." 

Cut for photos )
gurdymonkey: (Default)
Note to self: just 'cause you have a waterproof cover for the bike that's securely velcroed into place when said bike is not in use does not mean a daddy longlegs will not think your helmet is a nice place for a nap.

By the time I left work at 4PM, there was a noticeable breeze coming in off the bay, so I got in a four mile jaunt down to the south shore. The paved path on the beach side of the road is a bit uneven, but not bad to ride on as long as one keeps an eye out for oblivious pedestrians, of which there were a fair number, going out or in from the beach. I used my bell a lot.

Think I'm gonna just day-trip Purgatorio. Can't really think of a good reason not to. There's stuff I could be doing on Sunday that needs to be finished.
gurdymonkey: (bradshaw)
Since [ profile] baronalejandro  brought it up, and since the air quality this afternoon has been such that getting a couple miles in on the bike is probably worth skipping, let's devote a moment to the concept of "cycle chic." is supposedly the site that coined the term.

Basically it's supposed to refer to people who ride their bikes in regular clothes, as opposed to riding their bikes in cycling clothes. "Chic," I guess,  is a relative term, because none of the women's outfits made me think, "Hey, I'd like to wear that," and none of the men's pictured made me think, "Hey, I'd like to wear him." Just everyday folks, wearing what they'd wear anyway. On their bikes going wherever it is they have to go.

It would appear that in Copenhagen, nobody above the age of two wears helmets. And there's the woman sprouting ear buds. Maybe Denmark has a low rate of bicycle fatalities, but I don't ride in Denmark. I ride here. Among people who drive while Californian. I'll take the helmet hair if it means I get to keep my marbles more or less operational.

So I Googled "cycle chic san francisco" and I found Riding Pretty,  where no one is old (except the some of the bicycles), or fat, or slow. Where wrapping the existing strap of a handbag you found in the back of your closet around your handlebars constitutes DIY. And where nobody wears a helmet unless it's got a fake fur tea cozy on it. 

Then there's the Tweed Rides, which sounds like a bunch of people pretending to be British, and protesting spandex with Good English Wool!. (I'm looking at YOU, [ profile] kass_rants .)  No weirder than the SCA and actually makes sense for San Francisco. Sacramento, not so much.

(Which reminds me, I saw a sweet 3 speed ladies' bike locked in the rack at Alameda Towne Centre on Friday night, British racing green, original Sturmey Archer gear shifter, original Brooks leather saddle, Raleigh logo on the rear fender, probably around Mimi's age, if I had to guess....)

So I guess whatever I end up biking to class in tomorrow night is "cycle chic." Where's a papparazzo when I need one?
gurdymonkey: (easy)
I am not one of the neonlimespandexroadbikingmutantquadriceps people.  I'm not racing the Tour De Anything. I'm an Old, Slow, Fat Woman riding around a smallish island in San Francisco Bay. I don't need special clothes and shoes for this activity.  Even Grant says so.

I need to be comfortable. I need to be safe.  I do not need to look like an Old, Slow, Fat Lightning Bug.

Taiko finishes up at 7:30 PM. By the time I rode home from class the other night, it was starting to get dark. (The Weather Channel says local sunset tonight is 7:53 PM PDT and it's only going to get earlier. Hence the immediate purchase and installation of LED head- and tail-lights and a bell when I acquired Two-Tone Mimi. I chose a white bike helmet (both times), but I realized that like a lot of Old, Slow, Fat Women that I appear to own an awful lot of dark colored sweat shirts, sweaters, fleeces and jackets.

A lot of modern "activewear" tends to be made of synthetics that feel like they're designed to cling to your body like Saran Wrap, make you sweat like the entire cast of Rashomon and Cool Hand Luke combined, and retain your stink no matter how often you launder it. OK, this may not be entirely true and I freely admit the prejudices of a historical costumer with a love for natural fibers when I reach for a garment on a hanger and find myself shuddering and letting go of that nasty, icky, we-hates-it nylon sleeve. If it feels icky, I'm not going to want to wear it.  If it makes me look like a fluorescent tennis ball, it's not going to make me feel good about wearing it.

To make a long story short, I've recently felt up an awful lot of eww-factor zip front jackets, or walked in and walked right out again when I couldn't find a single jacket-like garment in white or a light color on the racks at the outlet center near where I work or the mall on Alameda's South Shore. Add to that the Gurdymonkey Don't Do Hoodies Factor, which rules out 90% of the cotton-poly sweat shirts out there, and the one windbreaker I saw at the Eddie Bauer outlet on payday. They're putting hoods on perfectly nice cardigans anymore. And ruffles. Jaysus Mary And Joseph, hoods on Aran fishermen's sweaters. Someone somewhere is probably sticking ruffles on  British commando sweaters in the name of fashion.

I seemed to recall that there was a Columbia outlet up in Vacaville, checked its existence via the internet, and headed up there this afternoon. Behold, they had women's jackets in lots of styles -  and the color range included plenty of options in white or near-white shades. Zip fronts. Pullovers. Vests. Windbreakers with hoods and without. Fleece. Waterproof shells ranging from unlined to survival-on-Everest-in-a-white-out. Synthetic fabrics of all sorts, but they didn't feel quite so cheesy. I ended up with a boxy fleece zip-front and a jacket in a waterproof fabric with some nice vertical seam details, both cream colored. Neither of which were required for this afternoon's ride when I got home, because it was actually warm and summery today.

Now, the question remains: do I need a set of these? Nah. Maybe just a couple of wooden clothespins and some playing cards. That'll do.
gurdymonkey: (Default)
The new Bern helmet was sitting on the porch in front of Steve's apartment when I got home last night. 

I actually had to shorten the chin harness, unlike the Bell "Bellisima," which was let out as far as it would go. Fit is comfortably secure and did not produce a headache on the 8 mile jaunt I took this afternoon out to Alameda Point and back.

The padding is a huge improvement. In addition to a thin Cross-of-Lorraine arrangement (jpg courtesy of inside the top of the helmet, there's a relatively cushy ring of padding all the way around. All of it attaches to the polystyrene inner shell with patches of Velcro and a couple of snaps, so you can pull it all out, wash it with a mild soap and water when it inevitably gets stanky, and re-insert it. I was riding into the sun beginning at about 4:40 PM PDT without sunglasses. The narrow visor is low enough on my head that it actually did what a visor is for and protected my eyes from the glare. A glance at my reflection as I passed a shop window on Lincoln confirms that it's very Big And White and Shiny: the vents are mostly in the top, so there's a lot of unbroken surface.
    Big and Black and Dull.              Big and White and Shiny!

Given [ profile] horsefriend2 's warning about incompatible paints and plastics, I wasn't surprised to find a warning in the little booklet in half a dozen languages that came with it that boiled down to Do Not Modify This Helmet!  Yet, the hang tag on the chin harness included a decal with Bern's logo on it that practically begged to be stuck to the exterior (even though there's a smaller Bern logo already on the thing) and there are several labels affixed to the interior shell. Clearly some adhesives are more equal than other. Bike-helmet-compatible reflective decals seem the best option if I want to gussy it up at all.

(Note to self: I need to find a white or light colored jacket for those occasions when I'm likely to be out on the bike near dark.)

Anyway, I put the Bell in my backpack and rode out to Cycles of Change at the Point and donated that sucker. It'll fit someone else. Came home a slightly different route than usual, just 'cause. Felt good. Still haven't taken her out of first gear.

James had been promising to send me "some books" he doesn't have room to keep. Four of the five boxes arrived this afternoon. There was a fifth box, but it was addressed to one of my neighbors. I walked down and left it on their porch. I did not see my fifth box at their house, so I emailed James with the tracking numbers of the ones I did get and hopefully the USPS will get the last box here in the next few days.

Holy bibliomania! Only one title duplicated anything I already own, and that's on the Unicorn Tapestries. Mostly Japanese-interest stuff, with some other things mixed in. I need to sit down and go through them at some point, but wow, what a haul.


gurdymonkey: (pretties)
I was actually kind of glad that when I went to the one over in Berkeley that they were completely out of Bern helmets in women's styles and only had one style of the men's in a couple sizes, black only, which may be all Joe Cool, gents, but isn't going to help make you more visible on the road.

I tried them anyway, as well as a Bell multisport helmet (also black only!) and one of the Nutcase multi-sports, to get an idea of sizing, weight and padding. I liked the fit and weight of both the Bern and the Nutcase (which are notable for coming in a variety of wonderfully fun colors and patterns), but I preferred the profile of the Bern, wrote down the size that fit me and will ordered one in gloss white from somewhere that does have what I want in stock at a fair price and reasonable shipping after I get paid this week. EDIT: Life is short, get the damn thing already.  Further research reveals that there are two versions of this helmet, one which is a "hard hat" version not approved for cycling, the other lined with the sort of polystyrene goodness the certifiers of such things deem safe. I made sure I searched with all the correct info, found a site that had the right thing and free shipping and ordered it tonight before I forgot which specs are which, 'cause I remember a fair amount of back-and-forthing of white helmet boxes from Mom's tack shop when the AHSA first mandated ASTM/SEI approved helmets for riders under 18 in the 80's. 

White will be more visible if I get caught out after sunset and I can add my own custom paint-work if I like. Sawako Furuno, eat your heart out.

After years of riding horses in some sort of helmet or another, I like the Bern because (a) it just feels like it fits me properly, with better placed and more numerous pads than the Bell Bellisima helmet I bought a week or so ago, (b) it covers more of the back of my skull, (c) it has fewer vent holes, my theory being that fewer holes mean greater structural integrity should the worst happen, and (d) even with more padding, does not make me look as hydrocephalic as the Bell did.

One of the sales minions - the same fellow who helpfully snagged a helmet off an upper shelf for me to try on - caught me browsing through their rack of bike bags and panniers (more for ideas as to where and where not to put straps and hooks) and asked if I needed assistance. I sighed and said, "They're all so (big huffy sigh) UGLY. And clunky. And they'll look all wrong on my vintage bike.* I think I'm just gonna have to sew my own."  To my intense delight, Minion #1 said, "I know. I want a small handlebar bag to pack my lunch in and I can't find anything I like. I should probably just get some canvas or something." I recommended Discount Fabrics on San Pablo and Ashby and sailed out of there without buying a damn thing and avoiding any Sales Associate Demons who wanted to sell me a membership.

On a whim, and because it was STILL freezing ass cold on this side of the hills, and because I still wasn't hungry and thought it might get my mind off the rather fascinating back cramps I was experiencing this morning, I figured I'd tool up to Concord and see what The Devil had in stock at the store up there. Even less, it turns out. However, I also stopped at a place that sells discount upholstery and drapery fabric and found THIS:
THAT'S going to be my bike bags. Hell, if I was built the way I was back in my teens, I'd make a mini dress out of it and get me some white go go boots....

*Speaking of which, if you look at the frames on most new bikes, they're frigging enormous! Mimi was made of steel tubing by a company that catered to a budget market via companies like Sears Roebuck and Western Auto, but you park her next to a new cruiser or hybrid with fat tubular aluminum and she looks positively dainty.  So pissed I feel too awful to ride today.

I think I need a bike icon....

So there!

Aug. 12th, 2010 10:21 pm
gurdymonkey: (Default)
No, I was NOT responsible for the company server behaving weirdly, but I did not appreciate having to delete 20 reports manually from the system AND stand over the printer individually cancelling jobs all afternoon. Thanks to some yutz in Vacaville, I now have to run some 40 reports tomorrow morning.

All this while battling a headache that would not quit or succumb to Advil.

Got home, installed Mimi's new rack on the back with the bits I got at the hardware store, checked the answering machine, found that Dad had not called, left a note on the door for him to let himself in and relax because I was going to ride my bike, dammit.

The other night I had mapped the route from my house to where I take taiko out on the old Naval Air Station. Google Maps optimistically estimated travel time at 22 minutes to cover four miles.

I did the round trip door to door in 55 minutes.  Not bad for an old slow fat chick. It was actually slower going out than coming back, because I hit something resembling a head-wind, coupled with moderately rough pavement on Atlantic Avenue just west of Main Street. I told myself I could get off and take a break once I made it to the O Club. Then I blew past the O Club and told myself I could get off and take a break at the dog park by the ferry terminal if I went out the old base gate and back out Main. Somehow that didn't happen either. Despite having to stop at intersections all over town, I more or less managed a fairly consistent cadence, never shifted out of first, and while I was rubber legged, sweaty and breathing hard when I dismounted in front of the house, my heart rate dropped rewardingly quickly.

Maybe the headache didn't help, but it felt like my helmet was getting tighter as the ride went on. If this becomes a recurring sensation, I may have to trade up. If I do, I'll donate this one to Cycles for Change or something.

I had enough time for a fast shower and a change of clothes before Dad showed up to take me to Kamakura for dinner.
He squinted at the menu, then suggested I pick something I thought he would like. I chose the chicken shogayaki for him, a sizzling plate of ginger marinated white and dark meat with shredded vegetables, a round of edamame for both of us, and I had the chirashi. We both had beer. Mmmmmmmmmm. As usual, the hostess brought complimentary plum liqueur before the check.

Came home and giggled through The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie on IFC.  Dad flies back to NJ tomorrow morning, so we're both calling it an early night.


gurdymonkey: (Default)

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