High On Bike

A Bellinghamster On Wheels


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A Bicycle Activist is Born

Every Bicycle CountsIt’s another rainy morning so I’m sitting in my living room with a cup of coffee alternately typing on my iPad, watching the hummingbirds tussle over the feeder outside our window, and contemplating this past week’s events which primarily consisted of me hacking my lungs up. As with all things, this cough is coming to an end and I’m hoping for some nicer weather tomorrow so I can get back on my bike. One if the few things I did accomplish this week was to send a letter to the editor of the Bellingham Herald in response to the guy who urged people to empty their dog poo bags into bike lanes as a protest to the city’s plastic bag ban that goes into effect in July. My letter was very similar to my blog post and I hope they print it. I’m not trying to change the mind of the jackass who urged the protest (He’s probably beyond help!) but perhaps it will resonate with other people. If they print my letter and it spurs just one other person to think, then I will consider it successful.
As a result of my nascent activist mindset, I also just joined—The League of American Bicyclistsa group promoting a bike friendly country through education and advocacy and I’m looking into something more local as well. Through this process, I did learn that my state, Washington, is ranked by the League as the most bicycle-friendlystate in the country. (Sweet!) But there’s always room for improvement. You can never eliminate all the whack jobs out there, but the friendlier our streets are the more bicyclists will be on them and that would be a great thing.


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Letter Writer Poops on Cyclists

There was a letter to the editor in today’s Bellingham Herald protesting the upcoming plastic bag ban, blasting the city council for “trying to shove the green agenda down our throats.” In a rant that rambles from the bag ban to coal trains, he ends his tirade by asking all pet owners to empty doggie poo bags into the “special” bicycle lanes that run through our city as a show of protest, saying that “The greenies ought to appreciate a little fertilizer.”
Sheesh! I’m just riding my bike because it’s fun. I’m not trying to make any sort of political statement. And if I can use my car less because of it, that’s just icing on an already delicious cupcake. But in this guy’s fevered mind, all cyclists are “greenies” and therefore, somehow deserve to bear the brunt of the anti-plastic bag ban crowd’s wrath. Really? His reasoning gives me a brain cramp. And it’s that mindset that makes me leery of biking on the roads, “special” lane or no, and extremely cautious when I do end up riding the streets.
The ranting lunacy of this letter almost makes you want to relegate the author to the rank of complete whack job, which he very well might be, and simply write him off. Nonetheless, it is simply another example of the irrational loathing many people have for bicyclists who share roads and trails. (See my earlier post, “Biker Has a Bell”.)

If these folks just took a minute to think beyond their own selfishness, they’d realize that the more people take to the roads with their bikes, the less traffic there is for those who don’t. It doesn’t even matter whether they’re doing it for “green” reasons or not. Personally, I don’t consider myself a greenie even though I believe in being environmentally responsible. I think the bag ban is a good idea. I also strongly believe that not everyone can or should ride a bike but those of us who do deserve a safe environment to do so. Do I deserve to ride through streets of dog crap because of it? I hardly think so.


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Junuary and A Cough

We woke up this morning to another Junuary day—heavily overcast, threatening rain, and chilly. It would definitely be a fleece pullover kind of day except that I’ve been waylaid by a nasty cough probably brought on by allergies. The good news is I’m not sick. The bad news is I feel like I’m sick. So instead being in a fleece, I’m tucked in under several blankets, surrounded by my cats, my knitting, and a good book. Except for the cough, I can’t really complain (even though I’m probably vying for the Most Pathetic Award as it is). It could be a lot worse. We could be having a gorgeous summer day (summer is never a sure thing here until after July 4th) where I’d feel even more pathetic because I’d want to be on my bike.


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Pedaling Groceries

Happy Cats
Yesterday I decided to run all my errands by bike. After I rode to the gym and worked out, I went to Walker’s Healthy Pets to pick up a package of Greenies for our cats (because if kitties aren’t happy ain’t nobody happy), dropped off Ira’s library book, and went to the grocery store to pick up a few things since friends were coming to dinner that night. Excited to use my trunk bag at full capacity hauling groceries home, I failed to keep in mind that the “few things” mentioned above were the operative words. But in my defense, few is a relative term. I passed on getting a jar of salsa because of the weight but should have given more thought to the bananas and oranges. Still I left the store with fewer than 12 items and even though my panniers were full, it didn’t seem like that much…until I started pedaling home.

GroceriesOnce I hit the slow grade going up, I felt like I was cycling through molasses. Then came the steeper inclines where I used all my lower gears, wishing I had more. Slowly I made my way home, exhausted but psyched about my first shopping expedition by bike. Ira was waiting for me and took the trunk bag off my bike. Shocked by the weight, he laughed and said, “I can’t believe you made it up the hill with that!” I was a little surprised myself and took a badly needed recovery nap. Next time, I’ll be a little more circumspect about loading up the panniers, but there will definitely be a next time.


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Car vs. Bike

 
I'd have never seen this in my car!

I’d have never seen this in my car!

As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I want to use my bike more and car less. Fortunately, living in Bellingham makes this relatively easy. Most places I like to go are on or very near the trail system and those that aren’t have wonderful, quiet neighborhood streets to travel through. I’ve already used my bike five times this week instead of my car! As an added plus, this is a very bike (and pedestrian)-friendly city. Of course, there are exceptions and I’m always on the lookout for the hoser who doesn’t want to share the road. Overall, though, I’m really comfortable commuting using pedal power. I can’t take my bike everywhere, but whenever I can, I do. And just because I’m into useless pieces of information, I’ve decided to keep track of the number of times I bike instead of drive here on my blog. It’s over in the side bar under “Bike vs. Car with a snapshot taken along the way.How often do you use your bike instead I’d your car?


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Then the Sun Came Out

I hadn’t gone for a ride in three days for one reason and one reason and one reason only…rain. I’m no wimp. I don’t mind getting a little wet while riding through a gentle rain or mist, which is the predominant kind of rain we get here. But these last few days we’ve had the kind of driving rain that keeps all but the hardiest (or craziest) people inside. So yesterday morning with thick, gray clouds threatening another deluge, I threw caution to the wind, jumped on my bike, and ran some errands. As ominous as the clouds were, nary a raindrop fell. I was so energized to be on my bike once more that I came home via a beast of a hill to climb just to see if I could do it without dying or (almost as bad) walking my bike up the steep grade. I managed to both survive and stay in the saddle. My quads were a little cranky but they’re whiners anyway. Once home and inside, the sun came out. You win some and then sometimes you don’t but it’s all good!

 


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Starting the Day Right

Steel Cut Oats

Five years ago, if you’d asked me if oatmeal would be a morning staple, I would have wrinkled my nose and rather impolitely exclaimed, “Yuck.” Childhood memories of being force-fed Cream of Wheat (a perennial favorite of my mother’s) still gives me the “herks” some four decades later. (Yes, I know that Cream of Wheat is not oatmeal but it’s that whole instant hot cereal texture thing.) Then when oatmeal became a cholesterol-lowering super food, I tried the flavored instant variety and all it did was make me absolutely ravenous about 30 minutes later due to the high sugar content.
Three or four years ago, though, my stepson, Dan, turned me on to steel-cut oats and it’s been a different story ever since. I love the chewy texture and the way it sticks with me all morning. It’s a great fiber source and when I add some chopped apple, toasted almonds, and raisins, I don’t need a lot of sugar. If I use any at all, it’s only about half of a teaspoon or less. It’s a very healthy, delicious start to the day. Ira and I enjoy it so much we eat three times a week. It’s almost a ritual now.
As an added plus, it’s super easy to make: bring 1 1/2 cups liquid (I use 1 cup organic soy milk and a half cup water) to a boil, add a half cup of steel-cut oats and some raisins, and simmer on low for 20 minutes. I add the chopped apple and almonds after I’ve dished up.