High On Bike

A Bellinghamster On Wheels


The Road ID App for iPhone: Be Still My Fredly Heart

bike gadgetsI like gadgety things. I really do. Just ask my husband or my cat about my iPad. My husband will tell you it’s attached at my hip. My cat will tell you he wished the damn thing had never been invented. He gets thoroughly disgusted when he’s on my lap and I’m on my iPad and often claws at my hands as I’m using it. He has sharing issues. You can also take one look at my bike and make a very well-educated guess that its owner likes gadgets. So when I read the All Seasons Cyclist’s Post about the Road ID iPhone app, I squealed like a prepubescent girl at a boy band concert. Being the safety conscious Fred that I am, it immediately stirred my desire for feeling safe while out riding—and for cool gadgety stuff.

Road ID is an online company that offers identification tags for runners, bicyclists, walkers, and hikers. Their app was designed to work with the tags (I haven’t gotten around to purchasing those yet) by allowing you to set up your iPhone’s home screen with pertinent ID information and emergency contacts. But the really cool thing the app does is allow you to send an e-mail to family or friends when you head out for a ride, and your contact can follow you live using eCrumb—an electronic bread crumb feature that provides a detailed map of where you are. If you stop moving for five minutes, eCrumb will send an alert to your contact. So, lets say that dickweed’s harassing behavior takes a darker turn and he clips me or runs me down (see dickweed post here) and I am unable to call 911. eCrumb will send my husband an alert and he’ll be able to notify first responders. And of course, my lock screen will give them valuable information as would the tags, which I really need to get to feel complete.

But let’s say I’ve just stopped for a cup of coffee on my way home and have forgotten all about eCrumb. After four minutes, the app will sound an alarm reminding me to pause eCrumb thereby avoiding the embarrassing moment the paramedics storm Starbucks looking for a downed cyclist. What the app won’t do is track your miles but it does run side-by-side with apps that do without too much of a drain on your battery.

My husband lECrumboves this app almost as much as I do. Not only does he feel better about me being out and about on my bike, if I make a random stop at the grocery store he sometimes calls me and asks me to bring home something good (a euphemism for Italian sub ingredients) for lunch. He also enjoys watching where my rides take me. He says watching me ride via eCrumb is like watching a video game. Just when he thinks I’m on a set route home, I make a turn and off I go in a completely different direction.

I really can’t recommend the Road ID app highly enough. Chances are you’ll never need it but it can literally be a lifesaver if you do. Oh…did I mention the app is free?



Riding Out of a Black Cloud

Do you ever have one of those days where you wake up under a Little Black Cloud— grumpy, morose, and apathetic for no discernible reason? For me, those days are so rare that when they do happen I take an almost perverse pleasure in wallowing in my bad mood. So when I got out of bed the other day and realized this ill-tempered fugue was upon me I pointed a figurative middle finger at all the people who have “complained” about my “perennially sunny” disposition over the years and felt a certain smugness in the fact that I can actually have a crappy day now and then. I know you’re wondering why anyone would complain about someone else being upbeat and happy 99.75% of the time, but trust me… misery loves company and detests anything else.

I fumbled through my morning routine: lapping the cat, coffee, breakfast, lapping the cat yet again until I needed to make a decision about what to do with the rest of my day. Little Black Cloud followed me around like a stalker and suggested that since the rest of said day looked dreary and bleak why bother doing anything? My cat was in full accord and suggested a full day of sitting on my lap. I finally settled on riding my bike, hoping that would dispel my foul mood. Fortunately, I had library book to return and, no, it wasn’t a Sylvia Plath novel. Riding down to the library did nothing to dislodge Little Black Cloud, however, so I was stuck with it as I headed home.

There weren’t many people on the trail but those that were immediately on my main nerve—like the guy walking his dog who roughly jerked the leash each time his poor dog stopped to sniff. I mean seriously… if you don’t have the patience to allow your dog some sniff time, don’t walk him on a trail where a million other dogs have recently peed. How mean is that? Then there were the two moms with strollers taking up the entire width of the trail and who regarded my desire to get around them as an affront to their motherhood. It was like they believed that having babies with them exempted them from all common courtesy and allowed them unfettered access to the trail, others be damned. I’m not sure whether they expected me to ride in the little creek that runs along the trail, plod slowly behind them, or pull a machete out of my ass and whack a trail through the blackberry bushes on the other side. All I know that they copped a huge attitude having to make a little space for me—you know, the kind that only self-righteous, entitled moms can carry off with such assurance that they are right. The kind where you actually begin to ask yourself, Am I an asshole for wanting to use this trail?

By the time I made Whatcom Falls, Little Black Cloud was still actively stalking me and sniggering along the way. I grumped my way across the bridge, up to the parking lot, and over to the fish hatchery where I discovered that all the pools were empty, barren of any life, making me feel as if I were the lead actor in an Ingmar Bergman movie. The desolation was thick and heavy in the air so I wallowed in that for a while. Then, as I tried to move on, a group of 6-7 year olds out on a field trip swarmed around me trying to find a pool that actually had fish in it. It took me several curmudgeonly minutes to disentangle myself from them and head on my way. As I passed Derby Pond I finally felt a small chink in Little Back Cloud as I watched a dog that had just come back from a swim shake water all over its owner. But just as I felt my mood begin to lighten, I rode past a little girl on a bike. She looked exactly like I felt, probably because her father was riding behind her nagging her to pick up the pace. I thought whatever remaining joy there might be left to feel in my day was instantly sucked out of the air. Could this ride get any worse? Oh yeah!

My ride through this emotional hell continued up to Electric Avenue where I came across a dead kitten crumpled in the grass just beyond the shoulder of the road. Little Black Cloud literally laughed out loud as it punched me in the gut. That’s when, in Nietzschean moment, I declared, “There is no god!” I would have thrown my hands up in the air in defeat but swerving into traffic and getting creamed would have given Little Black Cloud way too much pleasure. That dead kitten had put me in a fighting mood. I wasn’t going to let my entire ride be grim because of Little Black Cloud. But it still had one punch left to throw. Just to prove it also had a sense of humor (albeit a dark one) as I rode along Northshore Drive a balloon tied to a mailbox was blowing across the bike lane. Now it was my turn to laugh. I’m pretty sure I even said out loud, “You have got to be kidding me!” Traffic was heavy and I couldn’t safely ride into the road to avoid it, so I had two choices. I could either continue pedaling and become the first cyclist to be garroted by an inflated piece of rubber with “Happy Birthday” written on it, or I could stop and wait for traffic to clear. Little Black Cloud was gleefully cheering for strangulation but I wisely chose to stop, wait, and ride around that ridiculous balloon. That seemed to deflate Little Black Cloud enough that it finally stopped messing with me and I managed to ride the remaining mile home without further incident to my tortured psyche. By the time I pulled up to our garage, I actually felt some of my perkiness return. After all, Little Black Cloud threw everything it had at me that day and I survived the onslaught. If that alone didn’t inject some joy back in my day, nothing would. Now it was my turn to laugh at which point Little Black Cloud, who is a very sore loser, completely dissipated in a puff of frustration. Take that sucker!

Anyway, the abundance of bonhomie I’m known and sometimes resented for made a complete comeback by dinnertime and the only thing following me around the rest of the day was my cat looking for another lap.

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Cycling Sojourner: A Guide to the Best Multi-Day Bike Tours in Washington

CyclingSojournerWA_BookCover_July2013For the sixth year in a row, Washington tops the list for the being the most bike-friendly state in the Union. We have a lot of beautiful places to ride and soon there will be a guidebook called the Cycling Sojourner: A Guide to the Best Multi-Day Bike Tours in Washington by Ellee Thalheimer to showcase some of them. The Bicycle Alliance of Washington, the voice of bicycling statewide, is heading the fundraising drive for this book of 9-10 multi-day rides. Royalties from the book will support the efforts of the Bicycle Alliance to increase investments in bike infrastructure for everyday riders as well as bike travelers through its policy work on the state level. Click here for more information on this worthwhile project.


Biking Santa Rosa

I was down in Santa Rosa, CA visiting family a couple of weeks ago and I had the opportunity to borrow my stepson’s bike—a Litespeed—and take it for a couple of rides. I hadn’t been on a road bike in over a decade and I had forgotten how light and fast they were and how you felt absolutely every bump. The juxtaposition between my bike and his was amazing. I could pick the Litespeed up with one finger, ride it like a bat out of hell, and at the end of the ride, had a more than just a few tender spots. It didn’t help that he had probably the hardest saddle in the world.

Riding in Santa Rosa was very different as well. There are a lot of bike lanes but there is also a ton of traffic and not the friendly traffic I have here in Bellingham. I wouldn’t say it was hostile exactly, just more indifferent and less polite. Fortunately, I only had to ride two miles in traffic to get to the Joe Rodota Trail — 8.47 miles of paved trail between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol. Running along a creek, the trail winds its way through Santa Rosa and out into a beautiful rural setting that includes some vineyards, ending at Petaluma Avenue where you can then take the road into Sebastopol or on to Petaluma. Unlike here at home, it was a completely flat ride and I wallowed in every glorious, fast mile of it. But I wasn’t going so fast that I couldn’t enjoy riding under the eucalyptus trees, enjoy the heady aroma of wild fennel that grows along the creek, and the occasional sighting of different types of birds. On the downside, it was much warmer and drier than I’m used to and my second ride was downright hot and saliva-sucking dry. Heat and I don’t coexist well but I pushed through and managed to crank out 20 miles on both rides.

Heat (and traffic) aside, it was an awesome experience—one I plan to repeat next time I’m there. But I have to say when I got home and took my big 29-er out on a cool overcast day I had the same feeling as when I slept in my own bed after a week. In a word, “Ahhhhhhh!”


All The Way Home

Today was a perfect day for a ride. Indian summer is here with warm days that aren’t too warm, cool breezes, and chilly nights. The leaves are just starting to turn and the light is different…cozier. I rode about 10 miles and was giddy for most of them.
It’s just this sort of ride that inspired my husband to design a big button to put on the back of my trunk bag. Take a look.

In essence that’s me—a happy little piggy. Don’t worry, the piggy thing isn’t derogatory. I am a self-described snork, sometimes to my own detriment, (take a look at my new blog, “Taming the Young Wildebeest”). My ringtone on Ira’s phone is the “Wee, Wee, Weeeeeee” of Maxwell the Geico piggy. Basically, Ira and I think pigs are cute. And I love my big button