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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rain Barrel Workshop

I am constantly challenging myself to expand the range and use of the bicycle as transportation. I sometimes feel like riding a bike around is like a puzzle. The pieces are not automatically there like they are with cars. instead, it can be a matter of independent putting together those pieces in order to make riding a bike feasible. When people tell me of the reasons why they don't ride bikes, what  they are telling me is that a piece of the puzzle that is missing. Until the infrastructure is put into place as it has been done in many places in Europe, there will not be immense numbers of riders in any given place.

    I think I was an early adopter of bike riding because I love to bike and I enjoy puzzles. Every new application requires a figuring out. Its fun, interesting and beneficial, if not always easy.

    An area of biking that Q is working on is how to haul things around. He has ordered a trailer and is eyeing the possibilities of riding to his construction jobs. Unfortunately, his trailer was not here for us to try it out when we went to a rain barrel workshop. This was at the Chattanooga Food Bank on Amnicola and can be reached so easily and beautifully by bike on the River Walk had so of course we had toride our bikes.

    But with no way to get them home on our bikes, Q went later in the car to pick them up. But soon we will be looking to do that sort of thing by bike. I think...or at least Q is...these hills with a loaded trailer? A piece of the puzzle that will keep us busy for a while!
Rain Barrel Workshop

Q, master rain barrel maker

Mollie, wonderful pilates teacher, was also at the workshop

An Amazing Biking Artist

  Chattanooga has many amazing people in its biking community.  And some people have found amzing inspirations bybeing in the bike community.  Celeste Sneed is both. She is an artist that started biking a few years ago and has been inspired by her biking experiences to once again to pick up her brush and put that into her art.
  She had done the art work for both the 3 State 3 Mountain ride and the 3 Rides 3 Hoods Ride.

  I first became aware of Celeste's talent when she did henna art on my wrist during Culture Fest last year.  I was impressed with her abilites then but I have to say I have been blown away by her artwork that she has been coming out with the past few months.  Check her out to find out more about her and see more biking art.

   Now, I just have to decide which print I want to get for myself.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

3 Rides 3 Hoods Ride Trial

  This past Sunday was a fun day of riding around town.  A group of us were trying out the 3 Rides 3 Hoods ride for this coming Sunday, May 2.  This ride, with three parts through three different urban neighborhoods, is part of Jane's Walk

  Here are Cortney Mild, our BBB (beautiful Biking Ballerina)  and Jim Johnson of Bike Tours Direct,the planners of this event looking over the route.
Riding the Circle at the Hunter!
No tour of Chattanooga would be complete without a nod to our Civil War history.  Jeremy is inspecting the monument at Orchard Knob
Close up of the monument
It was opening day at the Chattanooga Market.
Jeremy and the Lady J during our lunch break at the Market

The ride goes through North Chattanooga and Downtown,  Southside into Highland Park and Orchard Knob  and then finally into St. Elmo.  I wasn't able to do the trial ride into St. Elmo but I will be doing the official ride next Sunday.  This trial was fun.  There will be speakers at different points on each of the ride to talk about the history of the area.  The pace was easy, the terrain was mostly easy-although going up Orchard Knob might be tough for newbie riders.  But it is short so nobody will be left behind.

    This will be the day after the 3 State 3 Mountain ride.  If that ride was too much for you or looking for a sociable recovery ride, come join us for one ride, two rides or all three rides at the 3 Rides 3 Hoods Ride.  This is a new ride for our ever growing biking scene in Chattanooga.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chattanoooga, Bike Friendly?

  The question comes up frequently, "Is Chattanooga a bike friendly city?"  Bicycling Magazine has included Chattanooga in their top 50 American Bike Friendly Cities.(see here)  Pretty neat to be recognized.  But are we really a bike friendly city?  My answer is, compared to whom?  I could name a dozen ways just on the top of my head on how biking is better supported in other cities. Oh, to live in one of those places!

   But, in comparing us to other southeast cities, I guess we are pretty well biking advanced.  If you look at the map of where the cities are located, you will see the southeast if not well represented.  Chattanooga is the only bike friendly town in the 4 state area of Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.  The south had a deeply ingrained auto culture that has been hard to break through to give bicycles a fighting chance.  I am proud that Chattanooga is breaking through that barrier to make headway and to have our efforts noted is a great achievement.  So yes, on a southern scale, we are very bike friendly.

  My reaction to hearing the news was similiar to the Lady J's reaction that she wrote for the Chattarati  We are not there yet, but we are trying.

  Now, if we truly want to be a bike friendly city, following the example of Copenhagen would be moving in the right direction.

Friday, April 16, 2010

  While the bridge opening was the exciting part of Breakfast on the Bridge today, I couldn't let the event go by without mentioning some of the interesting people we had today.  We had a good crowd, and with the bridge opening (how did they all find out about it so so?) had some new faces just show up.  We love that!

This is Mark.  I first met Mark last week on the Tour De Brews (which I will blog about soon)  On his commute to work, he discovered the bridge opening and then breakfast!

Officer Mansell (no relation to Q)  We love it when the bike police come by.  I know them all and are always glad to see them.

A bike tourist from Florida.  He goes around biking different cities and had high accolades for Chattanooga as a biking city.  He said the people are especially friendly. I wonder if having a bunch of strangers inviting him to breakfast  contributed to that impression?

Encouraged by our interest in what kind a gear an experienced tourer carries, he brings out packable sling.

Which the Lady J had to try out. She looks as though she was a born slinger!
Phil, Chattanooga's Bike Director and
Ruthie,  with Outdoor Chattanooga came across us while checking out the bridge.

  It was one of those mornings that just makes me glad to be alive and living in Chattanooga.  Life on a bike is good!

Whooie! The Bridge is Open!

  The Bridge is open and we, the Breakfast on the Bridge Crowd was there to witness it!

  This is Gary Ball, owner of Tower Construction (and erstwhile crime fighter).  When he showed up on the end of the bridge dangling keys, I knew something was up.  I also knew he would be the best source of information about the bridge opening.  How exciting it was when the answer to my question was"right now!"

  Andy, a fellow breakfaster, and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to accompany Gary on his mission.  We were the first ones over the Market Street Bridge when it reopened and thought it was cool we were here to be the first over the Walnut Street Bridge.

Blythe was already waiting on the other side of the fence.  It amazed me how people discovered the opening so fast.  We have been sniffing around the bridge so long waiting for it to open, there was no way for it to open without some of us being there, ready. 

The actual moving of the fence and...

off I was-on the newly redone side.  Don't the planks look so nice?  They now run all the way to the end of the bridge.

   Let's give a hand to Tower Construction for getting done ahead of schedule.  We could tell the hard work that was going on whenever we looked.  You did a great job.

   So here it is- wonderful.  The bridge opening is wonderful, the weather is wonderful, Chattanooga is wonderful.  Let's go ride a bike!

Friday, April 9, 2010

What a Stubborn Man

Q is a stubborn man.  He wanted to start Breakfast on the Bridge today.  

Wait till the bridge opens. I told him .

No, he didn't want to wait.  He was tired of waiting for the bridge to open

It is going to be cold tomorrow.  Wait until it warms up, I told him. 

No, he didn't care about the cold. Hot coffee should banish any chill 

 Nobody will find you, you will be by yourself, I told him.  No, he didn't care if no one came by, he wanted to be there, just in case. And I was going to show up, wasn't I?

   So Q started the Breakfast on the Bridge season.

It was cold and lonely.

  Then the sun came out, warmed things up, and people started coming...

And coming...

Q was right after all.  What a stubborn man.  I'm glad he went ahead and had breakfast.

Come on out every Friday morning (except Bike2Work mornings) between 7 and 9 and join this stubborn man for breakfast.  You won't be sorry.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Shout out from Streetsblog

 My blog is listed on Streetsblog, the blog gathering place for all things alternative transportation.  In their regular synopsis post, I was given a shout out.  What fun!  I am not aware of any other mention.  Check out the blog, Streetsblog

Local biker sees more commuters on the road -

Take a look-an article of me in the Chattanooga Timesfreepress

Local biker sees more commuters on the road -

Another Railroad Fix

As I mentioned a couple of blogs ago, it is hard riding anywhere in Chattanooga without encountering train tracks. It isn't called the Choo Choo town for nothing.   I just wrote about running across the smoothed out rails on my ride to St. Elmo. It must be on somebody's agenda to smooth out some of these crossings as  I came across another fixing. Here is a picture of the tracks on the intersection of McCallie and Holtzclaw being worked on. I have to ride over these coming and going everyday and they can be very rough going.
My ride home that evening was just a little bit less rough. Thanks, guys!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Another reason to bike

    I read in the paper today about how the rates for parking at the Republic parking lots are going up. Expect to pay $9 if parking for over two hours in the lots in the center of downtown.
Tourists will pay that. I go to other cities and find myself paying what, to a Chattanoogan, is totally outrageous rates. But I do it.

   But I do wonder about the locals deciding to go out to eat whether that will influence their choice. It does me. If Q and I are thinking about going out to eat, whether we are on our bikes or in a car greatly influences our choice. The parking of the car is troublesome so we tend to go to places where that problem is easily solved.

   But it always reminds me how troublesome a car can be.  Think about how much baggage we take around in the form of a vehicle and we expect to be provided a convenient and hopefully cheap place to put it.  Most of our parking is subsidized and we get put out when we have to pay the true cost of parking.  I know I do-I am the queen of lets find the cheap (or even better the free) parking place.But then I get impatient if the hunt for such a space has me circling around and around, getting furthur and furthur away from my target.  I often start wishing I was on my bike to avoid all that and of course a bike to ride the sometimes far distances I have to walk from my car.  Bikes can be a wonder for the lazy, cheap, and impatient parkers!

Broadening My Biking Horizons

      I recently had a need to be out on Lee Hwy and Vance Road.  I had never ridden my bike out there and wanted to give it a try.  First, finding a route.  There is no direct obvious route.  So I checked Google Maps to see what it suggests.  Hmm-go out McCallie and out Brainerd Rd.  Lots of traffic, dealing with up to six lanes of traffic and a tunnel.  The tunnel does have a bike warning light. I have ridden Brainerd Rd but is not my idea of a good time.

Bike Warning Flashers on a couple of tunnels in Chattanooga

  I wanted to ride the RiverWalk to the end and slide up next to Hwy 153 along the Access Road.  Unfortunately, that will only get me as far as Bonnie Oaks and then I must detour a good bit out of my way to get up to Lee Hwy.  It would double my riding distant.  No good.

   So I split the difference.  A little ways up the River Walk, crossing Amnicola to go up Willow, the Shallowford then Airport Road.  I did have trouble crossing Amnicola becasuse the stop light does not recognize bikes and the traffic is heavy, and it  did take me through the Wilcox Blvd Tunnel-a long tunnel with no warning lights.  Shallowford Rd was totally torn up in front of Vulcan from the big trucks.  But Airport Road was wonderful-flat, country atmosphere with practically no traffic.

Wilcox Blvd Tunnel

   Was it a good ride?  Well, it won't become a favorite.  It is doable even though it has its moments.  Surprisingly, since this is not a route that gets many bikes, I did not have one driver honking or in anyway being disrespectful to me.  But neither did I receive any thumbs up or extra courtesies.  I think drivers were so stunned to see a cyclist there were no reactions.  I had more negative reactions going out to St Elmo yesterday on an established bike route.  Go figure.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Springtime Bike2Work

     Another month, another Bike2Work.  What a difference a month makes.  How do people stand to get in their cars to drive to work in this weather?

Neon is the fashion of the day at Bike2Work today. Its good to be seen!

Also seen at Bike2Work: the ever enthusiastic Sergio and his son, Marcos.

As I was leaving Coolidge Park, I stopped to enjoy the view of the bridge in springtime.

Ride to St. Elmo

     It was a beautiful day and closing in Easter weekend, cancellations were coming in fast. Suddenly I had an afternoon free. What to do? Hop on the bike of course.

    So out to St Elmo I go to check out the Collective Clothing, a fellow sponsor of the Collective Commute, Chic Cycling in Chattanooga Show. Got me a new outfit and Cameron was on hand to photograph it. Wow! I am on his The Chattanoogan fashion blog.  I am not sure I truly make it to his fashion standard, but it is to put out another notice about the Bike Fashion Show.

    And now I am enjoying an iced latte at Pasha Coffee shop.

    The ride out here is an official bike route which turns into actual bike lanes in St. Elmo. On the route the bikes are taken over railroad tracks. It is hard to go anywhere in Chattanooga without going over tracks. Just getting to St. Elmo from my studio I crossed railroad tracks about a half dozen times.

    The most treacherous ones were always the one on the street that runs parallel to South Broad. These were wicked, wicked and I have been severely jarred and almost thrown many times over those tracks.

But look! They have been fixed and all set for smooth sailing. Ahh! It takes a cyclist to fully appreciate what wonders that smooth asphalt can render.