Saturday, May 21, 2011

Green Options

Like many cities, Buffalo has a number of reuse organizations and a few which concentrate on alternative forms of transportation; alternatives to driving, that is.
Green Options is the main one of which I am aware and it includes kind of a sub organization called Buffalo Blue Bikes. BBB's function is to take donated bikes and place them in densely populated areas where members can borrow them.
Today was a beer centered fundraiser. I volunteered to pour beer, which is maybe like putting me in charge of the M&Ms. But I don't really drink much; it just makes me less efficient. Here is a picture of the bike valet parking, which was increasingly popular as the day progressed. Yummy beer: Flying Bison.

Here is an image from a nearby commercial area called Elmwood Village. Note the mostly full bike racks.

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Training 3

It is always refreshing to discuss bicycling with other cyclists. As much as I enjoy telling non-cyclist, roadies and commuters about the joys of touring, it is simply unusual for me to find other touring cyclists.
The knot challenge. Don't let go of someone's hands, but untie the group.

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Training Day 2

Even though this is is an Adventure cycling training, since it focuses on leadership there is very little cycling involved, of course.
We did go out for a quick jaunt in late afternoon. The purpose was to model what a group shopping trip might be like. Not quite an accurate picture, since there are 24 of us and a normal tour usually maxes out at around 12. In addition, since there is a fridge and we don't have to carry the extra, we shopped for the rest of the week as well and sent it all back to camp in a car. Normally there would be just 2 people in the store, but we all went in, because all are responsible for the cooking.
All ranges of bikes were represented, from folders, to old school to mountain and carbon fibre racing.

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Adventure Cycling Leadership Training

Six months ago I decided to sign up for this leadership training and that is pretty much what it takes to reserve a spot. The motivation comes from an epiphany I had after coming back from Portland last year. The best way to advocate for cyclists is to get more cyclists on the road. Currently commuting is my basic advocacy. I took an online survey last week for a cycling advocacy group and one of the questions was: to about how many curious people do you talk about beginning cycling (in other words, "how do you handle the logistics of cycling"? After some thought, the math astonished me: about 300 people a year. I end up advocating almost once a day. And these are people asking me for information, I didn't necessarily bring it up.
So how did I handle the logistics of this trip?
I bought the trailer conversion kit for the suitcase my Bike Friday packs into, put it together and gave the whole deal a 20 mile test run. This suitcase is able to be checked as regular luggage. My gear went into a duffle and I used my handlebar bag as a purse. It was imperative to remember to pack my first aid scissors and nail clippers in the suicase.
This training takes place 57 miles from Richmond, VA. I met up with friends from the Trans Am trip from last summer and one of them rode to the training me, while the other drove the car.

You know you have cool cycling friends when the driver wishes she could ride instead of driving the car.
A beauttiful day to ride, especially since the spring has been so long in coming and great company to boot.
We relied on printed directions from Google Maps for bikes. Pretty excellent until the last 10 miles when the directions became confusing and were reduced to "turn right in 365ft" and there was a bend in the road, but nothing else. Google maps on the phone was also not useful,since there was no signal. A VA map might not have helped either, since we were off the beaten path. 57 miles turned into 77 miles and we got to the training with 15 sqeeky minutes to spare.
We crossed the James River,

saw hog farms, a Cyprus swamp and generally enjoyed the day.

The evening was consumed by the training meet and great and initial scheduling.
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Sunday, May 01, 2011

Google Maps, cycling directions and MyMaps

Missing from Google Maps cycling directions is a way to save those directions to the MyMaps application (available if you have a Google account only).  A save option is available if you use the driving directions, but not if you want to route using no tolls, walking or cycling.
This site does a pretty good job of hinting at the fix for saving cycling directions to MyMaps. The missing piece is this:

Paste the "link" email results in the address bar of a new tab, then add &output=kml part to the end of the address; hit return- this will cause google to ask if you want to save the file, which can be imported.

One warning- the directions format differently after you import them to MyMaps.  If you like them the original way, you should print or convert them to a pdf.

Becoming more normal

Doing most things, including errands, shopping and commuting has been mostly my domain in Buffalo, especially in the winter.
Things are changing, however. There were more cyclists out this winter than ever before, some even pretty hard core. Shopping has continued to be where I stand alone. Some people do run for small things or emergency items, but doing a family's shopping is unusual.

Today I parked next to this very unusual bike and thought "Wow".
It made my little trailer and milk bottles look wimpy. In addition to the huge box on the back, there was a small hard case box on the front. Both the yellow rear box and front had padlocks on them.

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