The garden, bicycle-cars on the trail, a new Jamis, the Dirty Kanza, and a butterfly helmet…

Can I really call this a blog if I don’t actually do much web logging? Ah well…So what’s new on the commute? Well first of all, I was wonderfully wrong about the new garden in front of the museum (aka, the Christmas tree farm). Once all those green plants bloomed their vibrant flowers, it turned into a beautiful array of color and dimension.

Gorgeous:

If you haven’t encountered them yet, beware of the bicycle-cars for rent on the Schuylkill River Trail. They look like fun for the family, and probably are, but not for the bicycle commuter trying to safely pass! Geeze! I’m not sure if two can even pass each other on the trail, they are so giant. Luckily, I haven’t seen too many out and about during rush hour. I will not be surprised, however, when I hear of or see a crash involving these things. Be careful! You can’t tell from the picture very well, but these things have three rows of seats!

My husband finally got a new bike, hooray! (But now I really won’t be able to keep up…) I’ve been pushing him to do so, but I swear I didn’t hire the guy who crept into our backyard and stole his old bike a few weeks ago. Anyway, he’s now the proud owner of a Jamis as well! His is the Jamis Bosanova and so pretty:

In family biking news elsewhere, my brother finished the the Dirty Kanza 200 two weekends ago (yep, he flew to Kansas to ride 200 miles in the dirt!), placing 14th in his age group. Congratulations, Andrew!

As for me, I still have the same bicycle and still only ride a maximum of 20 miles a day, and usually only on nicely paved trails, but I did buy a new helmet: a white Bern Berkeley with a summer visor, and I love it. It is so comfortable! I was so excited when I bought it…until I came home, and my husband told me I looked like a storm trooper from Star Wars:

White Bern Helmet

And well, he was sort of right…So with a few wall art stickers, I fixed that (and was able to decorate my daughter’s room with the left overs!). And they’re removable so I can have a new look for every season!  (My Dirty Kanza brother would not approve, but I like it!)

Spruced up helmet!

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The crazy things people do, another alternative while the trail is still closed, and views from the train…

The trouble with nice weather is that it brings out the crowds, and with the crowds come the crazies. Here’s one example: On Tuesday I was biking home from work, enjoying the beautiful weather when I found myself behind two cyclists and a blind corner up ahead. I fell in slowly behind them, waiting for a safe place to pass. When we got around the corner, I saw ahead of them a small child on his bicycle, weaving back and forth haphazardly, and his mother, several steps behind…on her cell phone. On an open trail with few people around? Maybe. But this was not the place for negligent parenting (and yes,  there are good–or at least better…Ok, fine, acceptable?–places for negligent parenting). The three of us on the bikes slowed down almost to a standstill to allow the child and mother to pass. At that point, apparently, there were some words exchanged by the mother and the cyclist in front of me, and the next thing I know I see the mother, still on her cell phone, start yelling obscenities at the cyclist and sticking her foot out repeatedly at her wheel (to kick it? get run over? not sure…). Now, I’m a mother, and I would love to stick up for the mom here. I take my kids on trails a lot, and I have run across some real jerks on bicycles who seem to think that children should be locked up away from all trails. But the cyclist in front of me was certainly not one of them. I can only feel for the child..If only I could force people like that (the mother, I mean) to read my trail etiquette post!

In other exciting news, my bicycle is out of the shop and running great. Thank you so much to the guys at Wisshickon Cyclery I think the improvements have probably cut 5 minutes or so off my commute. See Jane ride. See Jane be happy.

There were a couple days where my bike was in the shop, and I hadn’t yet broken down and pulled out my monster Trek and therefore rode the train. And let me tell you, I do NOT want to go back to commuting by train. In the span of two days I missed the train by a hair and had to call a friend to pick up my kids from school. (Meanwhile, the second train was late.) I was squeezed between two unfriendly men, one who smelled of alcohol and one who insisted on sitting with his knees nearly three feet apart. And, of course, I shelled out nearly $16 for these privileges. I am so grateful that the option to commute by train is there when I need it, but so happy I can usually take advantage of the two wheeled option instead.

The third day without my bicycle was an absolutely gorgeous, beg-to-ride-your-bike kind of day so I pulled out my old Trek Hybrid from 2001. Certainly not the worst bike in the world, but after sitting in the basement neglected for a couple years, and after becoming accustomed to a bicycle that I love, it almost felt tortuous. I don’t know if it was the bike or just my psychological state when on the bike, but I felt like I was riding a beach cruisers while everyone else was on Madones. The only bike I managed to pass was one of those fold-up deals. (Why do people ride those on trails? Aren’t they for riding five blocks from the train to the office?…)

And lastly, should anyone be looking for another alternative while the trail work along Lincoln Drive is going on, to the side of the guard rail along Lincoln Drive there is a narrow but passable path. A bit tough to ride the whole thing without dismounting for those of us with side panniers, but at least it is an alternative.

My husband took this picture on the way home one night. This guardrail is on the northwest side of Lincoln Drive, paralleling the trail that is closed.

 

This alternative may not be there for long, however, as I got an email tonight from WMAN stating:

“Beginning Friday, March 2, a single lane will be closed on southbound Lincoln Drive from Wissahickon Drive to Forbidden Drive.  The closure is needed for the continuing repairs to the supporting retaining wall.

The closures will be scheduled at 9:00 am after the morning rush starting Friday, March 2 and daily through the next two weeks. Advanced warning signs will be placed to channel a single lane of inbound traffic around the work area. During construction, the parking area along southbound Lincoln Drive is closed.”
I’m not sure how having both the trail and the road closed will affect the option next to the guardrail. However, Ken also reports that continuing along Ridge into Manayunk to Henry to the Walnut Lane Bridge is a good alternative. And, of course, one can also turn up Midvale off of Kelly Drive and go through East Falls and Germantown.

Lesson Learned

Thursday evening I was so excited to be riding home in the dark for the first time with my new super bright light (Valentine gift from hubby), the Cygolite Expilion (I love it!) Things couldn’t have been going better. Great weather, very few crazies on the trails…Happily I’m riding along the Lincoln Drive trail, mid-way between Ridge Avenue and Forbidden Drive, when my chain snapped. Ugh. I nearly fell off my bicycle! Since it was pitch black it took me a second to even figure out what happened. (And the first thing my husband wanted to know is if I brought home the chain. Really?) I quickly went from feeling like a super hero to feeling like a scared sitting duck. So, when I get around to writing that “how to be safe on the trails” post, I’ll make sure to add “be sure your chain is in good shape”. Add this one to stuff I should have paid more attention to: When to Replace Your Chain

The good news is that hubby was easily reached by phone and did a rescue pick-up. Bad news is that my bike is in the shop until Wednesday. Since I was so late in replacing my chain, I also need a new rear cassette.

Lesson learned. Take better care of my bicycle!

After I endured a 45 minute lecture/ridicule session from my “real cyclist” brother after this incident, he sent me these fun videos:

http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/12674956/cycling-explained
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMCkuqL9IcM&feature=youtu.be