Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in Review

2011 was a great year. I can only hope 2012 gets even better.


I started off the year sick (as I am apparently repeating that pattern this year!). I began the Capital Bikeshare Winter Weather Warrior Contest. It snowed like crazy. I Resolved to Ride Responsibly with WABA.


Still going strong with the Winter Weather Warrior Contest! I was absolutely sick of winter. I had the worst bike ride ever (HAIL OW OW OW OW). The Superb Owl happened (with special guest Question Mark Suit Guy), and I watched some Roller Derby. Oh, and that guy hit me with his car. (Speaking of, there is an ending to that story, and I will tell it all after the 9th, when the judge hands down her sentencing decision and I can finally breathe).


Achieved perfect attendance with the Winter Weather Warrior Contest! Rode the Vasa Ride with a few friends. Well, most of it (work schedules interfered).  It was a cold, rainy ride, but I had a great time. I attempted my first (and only) cupcake experiment--must do more in 2012!  Rode the CCT with some friends. Experienced awesome bike karma when some random strangers helped fix Betty. I was getting excited for Spring to arrive.


30 days of biking! Lots of bars & brunches. I lost my beloved kitty, Indiana Jones. The Governator & Kevin Spacey decided I was a role model, and did some biking around DC. Ok, maybe it wasn't because of me, but how do you know? Spring was springing.


Bike month! Betty found her soul mate. I convinced my out of town guests that Bikeshare was the way to go. I celebrated the death of Bin Laden at the White House with hundreds of other people. I did a Coffee Crawl and was way too caffeinated.  I Biked to Work. I Biked DC!


I posted the full details of what happened when That Guy Hit Me With His Car. I went to Bike Fest and "won" the Weekend Along the Canal Package (a prize that led me to discover my now favorite Get-Away location: the Canal Lockhouses). I reviewed a bunch of products.


It was ridiculously hot.  I got to ride with the Mt. Pleasant Cruiser peeps.  It was ridiculously hot.


I got to ride with the I Street Social peeps. Betty got her first flat. I rode around a bit.


I went to yet another hearing for That Guy That Hit Me With His Car.  I didn't get to do the 50 States Ride (boo!).  The Boy and I rode to and stayed in a Lock House for the first time and had an awesome time!


The Boy and I rode to Alexandria for a date at Bilbo Baggins and had some awesome beer & terrible food. Then we took the Metro back. The parents came to visit and I did some sight-seeing & coffeeneuring.  The Boy and I went to another Lock House and Betty had some serious bike issues.


I wrapped up my coffeeneuring. I joined DCLAW and arm-wrestled for charity.


I talked about bike parking.

The biggest thing that happened in 2011 was when I was assaulted on my bike. Thankfully that saga is almost at an end. It's all over except for the judge's decision, which will be read on January 9th, 2012. I fully intend to post my victim impact statement on this blog, and also explain why this took so long and why I haven't spoken much about it. I will be really glad when its all behind me.

Things I'm looking forward to in 2012:

-The Big Event I'm looking forward to is The Police Unity Tour. I registered for it a few weeks ago. It's a 3 day ride in May, approx. 230 miles. The Tour is a fundraiser for the National Law Enforcement Memorial. I will post more details in a separate post, but suffice it to say I am Super Excited!

-A new bike! I was already planning on getting a new bicycle, but now that I'm doing this Tour, it's become a necessity :-)

-Lots of rides to train for this Tour! I'm going to set a goal of riding at least 100 miles each month, for a total of 1200 miles in 2012.

-The Vasa Ride, Bike DC and the 50 States Ride. Also, The Seersucker Social & Tweed Ride!

-Bike Camping!

-More Lock Houses! (The Boy and I already have Valentine's Day weekend reserved).

So long 2011, hello 2012!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Let's talk about bike parking... parking ettiquette that is.

We already know that bike parking is inadequate (or maybe that's just me that thinks that). There's never enough bike racks, and if there are racks, there's never enough room for your bike.

I am convinced there is a billion dollar idea out there for the perfect bike rack that is simple, sturdy & will accommodate any size/shape bike. Cruisers, track bikes, Cargo bikes...they all fit easily & happily. If someone comes up with that idea, I will pay a billion dollars (no I won't, I don't have that kind of money).

Currently, the most common bike rack is the upside down "U". It's simple, sturdy--and sucks. At most it can accommodate two bikes, and even then its a bit of squeeze.

On-street U-racks

If you are like me and ride a gigantic cruiser bike w/ basket & possibly panniers, it's almost impossible to fit your bike next to someone else's at these racks. That is, unless they are positioned in such a way that you can park perpendicular at the racks, rather than parallel:

bikes parked parallel to each other-SMOOSH SMOOSH SMASH SCRATCHY FRAME!

bike parked perpendicular to the rack-YAY BREATHING ROOM (p.s. handcuffs are not a recommended method of locking a bike)

This is not always feasible due to sidewalk width, positioning of the racks, etc. There have been plenty of times where I've simply given up and parked my bike at a sign or another rack in the next block, simply because there was no way I could squeeze Betty onto a rack that was already taken. No big deal. It's annoying, but I'd rather do that than risk damaging someone else's bike (or someone damaging mine) by trying to force her into a space she doesn't fit.

Don't even get me started with the ridiculous "art" bike racks that so many cities seem to be in love with. ABSOLUTELY USELESS. Yes, its cute to have a bike rack shaped like a cup of coffee--BUT I CAN'T LOCK MY BIKE TO IT BECAUSE IT IS PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE.

Source. You say Tomato, I say AAAAAARGH.

Of course, it should go without saying that you shouldn't lock your bike to a tree. Not only is it illegal (at a tree less than 12" in diameter), but its just not very nice. A good rule of thumb is that if you can get your U-lock around it, you shouldn't lock to it.

This tree is crying. please don't lock to me, it hurts. *tear*

Of course I realize that public bike parking means that my bike can get a little scratched. Betty has plenty of scratches from racks & other bikes. It's no big deal. It happens. It's minor and doesn't interfere with the ability to ride my bike.

A few weeks ago, you may recall that we all celebrated a fun little holiday called Native American Persecution Day Thanksgiving. My method of celebrating this holiday, besides reenacting that scene from Addams Family Values  where Wednesday and the little geeky kid ruin the summer camp's Pilgrim Play, was to run the SOME (So Others Might Eat) Turkey Trot 5k. I figured this would be a fun way to do something Good for the Community, and also burn some of those holiday calories off.

The Boy even decided to tag along to cheer me along. He grabbed Jamie (my Jamis hybrid) and I grabbed Betty and we biked down to Freedom Plaza together to join in the fun. We were there pretty early, which was good since about 10 million people (this maybe be inaccurate) decided to participate as well. I couldn't find any bike racks (grrrrr) so we locked up to a couple of street signs along Penn Ave.

The Turkey Trot was pretty awesome. It was my first organized race in quite a few years. I am definitely not a runner (duh. otherwise this would be a running blog, and not a cycling blog) but I can put one foot in front of the other in a vaguely runnerish manner for a few miles. This is exactly what I did. I will say this: there are quite a few super-fast 3 year olds. One of them paced me, and he was in a stroller.

I would put up photos, but I can't seem to find any. I do remember photographers along the race course, but I can't find any info on how to obtain these mysterious photos.

Anyway, I crossed the finish line eventually. It was a perfect way to start the morning. The sun was shining, there were blue skies, my blood was flowing and I was high on endorphins (or still drunk from the wine the night before, kinda hard to tell). I was eager to get on with the rest of my Thanksgiving holiday by going to work and serving the wonderful people of the District of Columbia. Ok, maybe I wasn't looking forward so much to that, but I was still feeling good.

So imagine my chagrin, my rage, my crushed spirits & my dismay to find that whomever locked their bike next to The Boy's (my Jamis) had managed to do some pretty serious damage.

The handlebars & stem were turned almost completely 180 degrees. This was quite a feat, because Jamie has fenders, which makes it almost impossible to do that--but they managed it. Not only did they manage it, but they snapped the front brake cable in the process.

What. The. Eff.

This wasn't some scratch on the frame. This was some pretty serious damage that rendered the bike unsafe to ride. There is no possible scenario in which this person could not have known they seriously effed up this bike

Did they leave a note? An apology? Anything? No.

I was so angry. I fantasized about slashing the offending bike's tires (which I would NEVER do, not only because that's a crappy thing to do, but also I can't be 100% positive the bike that was locked up next to The Boy's was the offender since its possible, but not likely, someone else locked up before them and did the damage).

Now I have to pay out of pocket to fix the damage they caused. Happy Thanksgiving, right?

Guys, don't be that person. If you damage someone else's bike to the point where it's probably not safe to ride (such as snapping a cable)--LEAVE A NOTE.

Even better, DON'T LOCK THERE. If you have to lock your bike next to someone else's by jamming & forcing it there in such a way that you know you messed up the other bike--don't. Find somewhere else to lock, even if it means the next block over, or even *gasp*, across the street (there were plenty of OPEN street signs for this person to lock to directly across the street).

We all make mistakes or suffer from bad judgement. It happens. But when it does, don't be an ass. Take responsibility and own up.

Here are some bike parking guidelines:

-Thou shall not lock your bike to another bike, unless thou knowest the person to whom the bike belong-est.

-Thou shalt not turn any bike's handlebars more than 45 degrees to accommodate your bicycle.

-Thou shalt not lift any bike that is not thine own.

-Thou shall, whenever possible, lock thy bike perpendicular to the U-rack, unless to do so will interfere with pedestrian or vehicular traffic.

-If thou must lock parallel, thou shall do so in such a manner as to not damage any bikes that are already present.

-Thou shalt not lock to any tree that is less than 12" in diameter.

-Thou shalt not lock to any private property that does not belongeth to you or family/friends.

-Thou shalt not lock your bicycle to any *public* bike rack for more than 24 hours.

-Thous shalt not lock your bicycle to moving gates/fences.

-If thou accidentally cause significant damage (interferes with functionality of bike) to another's bicycle, thou shalt leave a note with thy name & phone number and offer to make amends for said damage.

-Thou, if feasible, will remove panniers from bicycle so as to allow others to park at bike rack as well. If it is not feasible to remove panniers, thou shall be considerate to other cyclists and make sure there is room for they as well.


Coming soon to this blog:

-Epic adventures in bicycling: The 2011 DC Tweed Ride

-Even MORE EPIC adventures in bicycling: My debut as  DC Lady Arm Wrestler

-The sentencing hearing is back on! It is scheduled for December 21st. I swear I am going to post details about why I haven't talked much about it very soon.

THINGS YOU NEED TO DO RIGHT NOW: You need to purchase these awesome buttons from this awesome blog because it benefits this awesome organization. I bought two. I might buy more. I like buttons. Every time you wear one, a cyclist gets his/her wings.