Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Biking from A to Z

On my most recent adventure, I headed to Phoenix, AZ with 28,000 others for the Greenbuild Conference and Expo. As soon I arrived, I was greeted by a plethora of public transporation options. I hopped onto an airport shuttle and caught the light rail, which was easier than I expected. With ticket in hand (unecessary I later realized), I settled in with my pack and watched as the warm golden and brassy colors of the desert blurred past, with metal roofs, and cactii providing breaks in the dusty landscape. Soon I found myself in the heart of Phoenix, a city that has blossumed in the sun and slowly crept further out into the hills, sprawling like a weed.

The conference was a blur of classes, workshops, and a variety of green building products. I learned a few new things and met new people, but I have to admit, the conference was not the best part of the trip. I had chosen to stay at the local hostel instead of one of the hotels next to the convention center. It was a cute house nestled on the outskirts of the city in a mixed use neighborhood that had been taken over by young couples and artists. On my walk home one night I noticed a sign for vegan donuts that caught my eye and I before I knew it, I was standing on the front porch of Derrick Pancheco talking about his biking store/shop/co-op called Hood Ride. Located inside of a house, surrounded by a bike wheel fence, the space came complete with a bike shop and ramps out back. Check out the pics below:

When I returned home that night, I settled in and told some of my new hostel mates about my discovery. As it turns out, I was not the only avid biker present. Also crashing at the hostel was Jason Williams originally from Baltimore. He was on a cross country ride from Atlanta to San Diego on his single speed road bike. The idea for the trip had been one he had considered before, but when he realized his lease was ending on September 30th and he had no intentions of going back the life of an accountant to pay bills, he hit the road. After a bike wreck, discovering the mysterious hills of Alabama, and earning a serious tan he managed to get in the grove. He spends his days thinking about his friends, missing the coffee from San Francisco Coffee Roasters in Atlanta, and eating fluff & nutter sandwiches. When I asked him for some advice for other bikers he said "Don't do this" and laughed and then told me that you have to be able to handle it physically but more important is the mental aspect of being in your own head everyday. He obviously is able to handle the physical part with his peak days coming in at 134 miles. I just checked his blog and it sounds like he has made it the whole way! Right on :-)And finally, on the last night, I ended up at a street festival that included a shopping cart float parade, a drum line, a night bike ride, and street wide dance party. Needless to say, I had a good time.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween Scare

As my scarce blog posts indicate, life has been pretty busy lately. I have been working hard to adjust to my second job and apparent lack of free time. So when my mom asked me if she could come in town for Halloween weekend I looked forward to having an excuse to take some time off to hang out with family. When she arrived, she had brought a surprise early birthday present! A new bike!

We pulled it out of the car, but alas, we had no time to test ride because as soon as she arrived she had to come to work with me then joined me on a babysitting adventure, went with me to turn in a job application, took me shopping and for her birthday we spent an hour playing with clay on a wheel at Spark studios. Finally on Friday night we got all decked out for the monthly Midnight Mystery Ride (she was a gypsy and I was cookie monster) and I got to take my maiden voyage on my new (used) custom Cannondale road bike. You can check out a few sweet pics below:

Mom the gypsy and me as cookie monster.

A few of the riders including "Elliot" w/ET on the right :-)
Mom holding my old bike on the left and my new bike on the right

The ride was going gloriously… the weather was perfect, my mom was socializing with my friends, and there was a spark of excitement in the air. Bystanders cheered us on, gave us high fives, and honked their horns. Then, just as the ride was winding down, we passed by a group of drunken guys, one of which was standing in the street. As I approached him, he put up his hand for a high-five and I went for it. Before I knew it, he had grabbed a hold of my hand and I was thrown off of my bike. I heard him curse an apology before he faded into the crowd. I landed on my left side, sliding with my bike. Of course, the first time I fall of my bike, my mom is there to see it.

I had hit my elbow, head, hip, and both knees. I was not wearing a helmet but luckily I went down sideways and did not get knocked out. The funny part was that my guy friends adamantly wanted to know which guy had done it and were irritatedly pacing back and forth …dressed as a pregnant man and max from where the wild things are :-). But the last thing I wanted was for a fight to break out so I asked them to just keep going. My mom and I broke off from the group and went home to inventory and treat my injuries. And of course, I wanted to make sure my bike was okay ;-).

I got lucky that I did not break or tear anything… my biggest injury was a contusion on my right knee which is currently making it hard for me to walk, but I got an okay from the doctor. Looking back, I obviously should have been wearing a helmet, especially on an unfamiliar bike. And of course, even though I had done it three or four times already that night, I should not have of high fived that guy because he was waaaay too wobbly to be trusted and I was definitely too unsure on my new ride. Lesson learned. My punishment is that I cannot ride for at least a week and will not be able to participate in the Pedal Art Parade this weekend, but I consider myself very luck to walk away from this.