When I moved to Boston, I noticed that ladies seem to wear ballet flats at all times. There would be snow on the ground and I’d see someone in ballet flats. It would be below freezing and some girl would be walking around with no stockings and her bare toes shoved in a ballet flat.
I thought I was on top of things because I moved from a Chaco-and-Keen wearing college town and purchased a practical and professional looking ankle boot, but no. I was wrong. I needed tiny ballet flats. However, I’m no tough New Englander, and I couldn’t wear them until recently, due to my toes turning blue when travelling sans-wool-socks.
I’ve come to realize that I probably wasn’t meant to wear delicate looking ballet flats, because they make me look incompetent on my bicycle. I’ll continue to wear these forever, but I have to remember to limit myself to Mary Janes for future purchases. I use a large pannier attached to a standard size rear-rack on a touring-ish bicycle made for short people. I wear a standard size shoe, but my feet are above the 50% size for my height. I’ve brushed my ankle on my panniers multiple times before, but never understood the potential negative consequences because my usual shoes (Merrell or Keen urban types) are sturdy and fairly unattractive. My delicate little ballet flats are not up to the challenge.
In terms of transferrable lessons: if your bicycle is more panther than kitten, and you use obscenely large panniers, your delicate-stretchy-cloth slip-on-style shoe will come off your foot and fly into traffic at least once a week. This will only occurs at high stakes intersections, in rush-hour traffic, and other situations where you are more concerned with matters of life-and-not-life, rather than the millimeter-scale positioning of your foot. so you have to be ready to ride barefoot. The solution would be to: ride a bike with longer chainstays, find a narrow pannier, get an extra long rear rack, or stop wearing pretty shoes that are impractical for your lifestyle. I may consider getting a longer rack at some point in the future when I feel wealthier than I currently do. I already find my chainstays to be plenty long (440 mm!), and have no desire for a more relaxed frame.
I was super happy to come across these spectacular silver flats on clearance at Sudo Shoes, but their practicality extends to the fact that they’ve been run over multiple times and still look great. That will be my new test for all of my new clothing items: ”how well do they survive when a bread truck rolls over them in the middle of Mass Ave?”
I was waiting to make a left hand turn this morning, and a car passed to the right. I could smell that they were driving with the emergency brake on…
This is not the first time that I’ve been able to diagnose a problem that a car had from my bicycle. The people next to vehicles probably notice the noisy bearings and other loud or odiferous maintenance issues before the people inside high-end-hermetically-sealed-sound-proof-vehicles notice. Perhaps bicyclists and over-stressed drivers would get along better if we could actually communicate these things in a helpful and kind way? I don’t really know how to do it without yelling or pointing and waving like some kind of freak, so I mostly don’t share.
Last weekend I cheered on participants in the Christina Clarke Genco memorial ride, trying to coerce strangers to eat some of the insane amount of peanut butter sandwiches available for riders at a rest stop. This weekend I originally vowed not to do anything that was helpful for anyone, but got a last minute email request to help out with MassBike’s valet parking at Earthfest, an event for which I did not fully appreciate the scope/size.
My major plan for Saturday had been to ride my bicycle, come home and eat a leisurely lunch, and then go downtown to help out. The internet told me about a 60 mile loop that sounded really pleasant. I later realized that my husband had told the internet about this loop, which is why it so conveniently started and stopped in my neighborhood. However, while I appreciate the people who use GPS on their bicycles and then tell me (via the semi-anonymous internet) about all the places I should be riding, I do not have GPS on my bike. Instead, I write cryptic instructions on a post-it note, and then attempt to memorize them. I attach the post-it to the back of my smart cellphone with poor battery life, and then place both in a ziplock bag my pocket.
This method works exactly as well as you would think. I constantly miss turns and make all kinds of mistakes. Sometimes, this is fortuitous, but it is not helpful when I need to get home within a tight time schedule.
When I approached Westford, there were cars parked everywhere, and big electronic “DETOUR-Road Closed” signs. I was going to turn with the rest of the cars, but the helpful police officer told me that I could go down the closed road on my bike.
I rounded the corner, and immediately ran into a giant parade. I had been sent down the parade route. Apparently, the Apple Blossom Festival is a big deal. Navigating parade traffic lead me to miss a turn, and eventually I used my phone to come up with a plan B. I then missed another turn and the net effect was that my 60 mile ride became a 72 mile ride with a section in the middle that involved waiting for marching baton twirlers, a sunglass wearing dog in a convertible (passenger, not driving, this time), and several fire-fighting vehicles to pass.
This means I missed my window of opportunity for lunch. At home, I had exactly enough time to take a 45 second shower and make and choke down a mediocre sandwich like a prizing winning competitive eater and then had to bike downtown to the Hatch (about 7ish miles).
Parking bikes was actually a lot more fun than I would have imagined. It was at the end of the day, so it was really busy and I didn’t get too much of a chance to chat with the other folks there. Also, after finally catching my breath from too much running (well, biking) around, I realized I was starving and couldn’t think about anything other than my next meal. During my hunger-exhaustion-nexus-type stupor, I did get to admire a really nice Mercian and one that I believe was a DBC creation, but most of the details of the afternoon elude me. I’m just glad I didn’t drop any bicycles or cause damage to anyone/thing while walking around like some kind of drunken zombie.
Today was the day of everything! I didn’t check out anything at Earthfest other than bike parking, but it seemed like there were all kinds of organizations and displays and free swag and food vendors. Earlier, on the way home from the long ride, I rode through Lexington to discover that there was some kind of BBQ festival, which had I known about, I may have elected to gorge myself on seasoned meat instead of riding too much and then helping others. I stopped at Ferns in Carlisle to refill a water bottle, and they were doing a free tasting of all kinds of tasty looking stuff and coffee. Unfortunately I have a very strict (and smart) “only eat what you know” rule for more strenuous rides, and couldn’t partake. Porchfest was today, and I missed the whole thing. There was some kind of open studio thing in Cambridge about which I know nothing. There was a giant event at Harpoon’s Brewery, too. I need to stay better informed about fun events , as they seem to all happen on the same day.
I forgot my keys. I knew it would happen one day, and it finally did.
I was going to wear a jacket to work yesterday, but stepped outside and realized it was already pretty warm. So the jacket got thrown back in the house. With my keys in my pocket.
I only keep two keys on key ring. One is for my front door. The other is for my bicycle lock. All of my work entry-stuff lives on fancy swipe cards or keypads that were probably high tech security in the late 70s.
So, when I got to work and realized I had no keys, the only thing I could do was carry my bicycle into the office.
This was not okay. Four flights of stairs exist between the sidewalk and my office. My building does have an elevator, but it’s just for freight (not people), was probably constructed in 1829 and it is kept locked. So, I would have had to
It was less tiring to just suck it up and carry it.
Mixtes don’t like stairs. While I would love to be proved wrong on this one: I don’t think there will ever be a trend where people try to race cyclocross on Mixtes as they are both extra awkward and slightly heavier than an equivalent diamond frame. As I was crouching to put almost 28,000 lbs of bicycle on my shoulder, I remember thinking: “I wish I was hip enough for a single-speed.”
It’s the end of the semester for the college kids, so my building is quiet and the people in my office have been doing more telecommuting, so I was able to just park the Buena Vista in the cubicle farm (2 of the desks are for part-timers) and hang out with it all day. If it had been really busy: I’m not sure where I could have put the bike. There’s really no space for it. I would have had to rearrange my own cubicle and block a non-essential walkway.
I used to carry a thin combo cable lock for two purposes: 1) forgetting keys and b) locking wheels in sketchy scenarios. But it got old and crappy, then I moved so I never needed to park my bicycle near Sullivan Station for extended periods of time (it was like a bike part graveyard over there), and I put locking skewers on my not-worth-stealing wheels. My mixte also weighs 8000 lbs, so the extra couple of ounces might make carrying it into my apartment at night that much more impossible of a task.
I’m considering returning to the crappy-bonus-lock, but haven’t decided yet. My bike budget for the month is almost empty already, so I think I should wait.
My entire point here is to share some things that I didn’t really think about prior to mixte ownership. My pre-ownership thoughts were limited to: “skirts! pretty! Touring in a pretty skirt!”
Mixte Reality Check
I don’t want to disparage the mixte. I really love it. If I could just shrink the frame a little and magically have a smaller front wheel, we probably could be best friends for a long, long time. As it is, we’ll probably be friends for at least 5 more years, which is okay with me, because over all it’s pretty versitile, looks good, and is comfortable for long, easy rides and can still keep up with me when I am late to work.