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Archive for the ‘Bicycles’ Category

Stopping to smell the roses, I guess. I get to ride through some lovely landscapes between work and home.

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Like a lovely green tunnel. I love the bike trails in the spring!

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In honor of Bike Commute Week, I made some extra-special cookies for my office. The thing that made them extra-special was the guilt they were designed to strike into the heart of everyone who had driven to work that day. Hahaha! Just kidding! I would never, ever be that arrogant.

Ok, so can you see the spokes? And the chains? Yeah, they’re ridiculously charming. Here’s the recipe, which is just a basic sugar cookie recipe that I undoubtedly stole from someone else:

Cream together:
3/4 c shortening
1 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Combine:
2.25 c flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Stir flour mixture into sugar mixture. Chill one hour, roll ’em out, and then bake on ungreased sheets for 8-10 mins at 375 degrees. Let cool and then transfer to a rack. When they’re completely cool, you can decorate them.

Frosting recipe:
1/2 c shortening (or use half butter)
2 c powdered sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1.5 oz cream
food coloring

For the record, I tried to make a little stencil in the shape of a whole bicycle, but that didn’t go too well. They do make cookie cutters in the shape of bicycles, but I didn’t have one, so I figured I could cut a bike shape out of cardboard and just cut each cookie around that. Well, I was mistaken. The dough did not hold together at all. So I went with just the wheel, because those are conveniently cookie-shaped.

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This week is Bike Commute week, an annual event that I decided to get a little more involved in this year. This has gotten me thinking a lot about bicycles and why I love them. In fact, I spent most of my ride home a week or two ago counting all the reasons I love bikes. 

Bicycles are such elegant little machines. When you’re on a bike, you just hum along so quickly and quietly, and the only energy you use is from your own body. It seems almost ridiculous to mention the environmental benefit of bike-riding, because that’s such an obvious reason to ride a bike. But hey! It’s serious stuff.

You can actually carry a lot of stuff on a bike.

Riding a bike is a good opportunity to examine the countryside- you see things you would never catch in your car. Last year I saw a family of bobcats while I was riding through Hatfield. Bobcats!

Bike-riding is so, so fun. Is there anything more delightful than spinning down the road on a warmish spring day, with the sun and the wind on your face? There’s no reason that only kids should get to enjoy that feeling. And even in the dead of winter, when it’s so cold that everything is completely still, there something special about moving quietly through the freezing air on your bike. And that’s something that doesn’t happen when you’re trudging along on foot or cranking the heat in your car.

Bikes are for everyone. You don’t need any special equipment (except a helmet), or spandex, or to be part of a club.

I guess the real reason I love my bike is that feeling when you see the light turn green ahead, and you decide (responsibly!) that you’re going for it, and you crank away (carefully!) and you make it, and you just sail through the intersection (while looking both ways!) and you just think, “YES!!”

So, back to the environmental piece for a minute. Michael Pollan wrote an article for the New York Times sunday magazine a few weeks ago called “Why Bother?” which, like a lot of his writing, was mostly about gardening and food. But in it, he writes about Wendell Berry’s concept of the “cheap energy mind,” which basically is the mindset that most Americans have that takes cheap fuel as a given when making decisions, which I’ve been thinking about in terms of transportation. Most people don’t think of their bikes, or their feet, as a primary means of transportation, because fuel has been so cheap for so long. Well, why can’t we be a little more deliberate in our decisions about how we get around? Why do our cars have to be the only way we can think of to transport ourselves? Why should bicycling be this segmented activity that we only participate in during designated leisure or exercise time? When did anything other than driving become something like a novelty to so many people, when bicycling is actually so practical? I hope that Bike Commute Week will connect the dots for some people here in the Valley, and get some more people out of their cars and (safely!) onto their bikes.

If you live here and feel all inspired and fired up about bikes now, take advantage of the events being offered this week all around the Valley. Find out more about MassBike and get involved. And, at the risk of quoting Queen, get on your bikes and ride!

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Problem-solving

Runners like to say that they do their best thinking while out for a jog. Ok, so here’s the challenge I rolled around in my brain while out for a morning run: how to bring enough water to douse my little plot to the community garden (since the community garden water won’t be turned on until next week), keeping in mind that I left my car at work and apparently don’t have any large jug-like items in my home.

To the left is the solution I came up with. It involved like twelve ziplock bags, two buckets, four straps, and two bungees. Perhaps it wasn’t the most elegant solution, and it took probably half a hour to get everything affixed securely to the trailer. But success! Obviously I should try to solve global problems while running and see where that gets us.

And then when I got to the garden, it became clear that the water had, in fact, been turned on already. I had been misled. Well! Didn’t my little rigged-up system of bags and buckets look silly all of a sudden. And, pretty much as soon as I got home, it started to rain, and it proceeded to rain for quite some time.

I imagine there’s some poignant lesson in this story. Think about it.

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my very first load!

This is my bike trailer with its very first load. I don’t think I’ve ever been so eager to do my laundry! Not to overstate the glory of the bicycle trailer or anything, but so far, it is exceeding all expectations and fulfilling all hopes. I mean, all bicycle-trailer related hopes, at least.

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Bike trailer day!

My bike trailer arrived in the mail this Saturday! I was thinking to myself, “I should leave a note for the fed-ex person since I’ll be at breakfast when they get here,” when I looked out my window and spied the truck. I ran/fell down the stairs and, drooling with excitement, scooped up the box they had left behind… and then put it in my room, still in the box, so I could go out to breakfast as planned. Ah, the glorious agony of having to decide between trying out your awesome new bike trailer and going to a sugar house for breakfast.

Anyway, I spent a while poking around online before deciding which one to buy. I got a Burley Flatbed, which I chose because I wanted the stability of two wheels, and because it seemed like a reasonable size for my needs. I think that having a two-wheeled trailer reduces the leaning capacity of your bike and makes it more likely that your trailer will get flipped, but I don’t take corners that fast anyway. (more…)

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