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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Memories of bicycling for bacon

On a recent bike ride with my younger sister Jeune Gal, she and I were reflecting on our memories of biking to our hometown's Main Street every morning for a few summers in a row to get coffee, bagels, bacon, and to simply enjoy the weather without any responsibility. Those were the days!

As we talked more about how much we missed those summers, we discussed how our bicycles really were our modes for freedom from home those days since neither she nor I had our licenses at that time. I was probably old enough to have one during those summers, but I didn't get my license until after going away to college. I believe I was 19 and had had two learners permits by then... I've still never owned a car, and I'm hoping I can continue to say that for many years to come.

By biking in those days, we were able to learn the contours of our hometown's streets, find the quiet streets with less traffic, visit little stores we came across, and enjoy the weather by being out in it when we rode from place to place.

One place we often visited was Coffee Beans & Bistro (or Coffee Beans & Things as my dad called it). It was located on a corner in downtown that is near a little plaza with a coffee shop, burrito place, and ice cream parlor, so it's near the part of town where people tend to gather. It's across the road from the Farmers' Market that happens every Saturday, as well. It's a bustling place on Saturday and Sunday mornings and after school.

When we used to visit this restaurant (which has since become a different restaurant called Café Main), there was a cook there named Felipe who always made our  bacon. We know because whenever we'd order, the cashier would tell us "Felipe will get you your bacon." And sure enough, Felipe always brought us our plate of bacon, right to our table. Knowing the name of the cook, becoming a recognized set of faces each morning, and enjoying that freshly cooked bacon brought us back quite often, always by bike. We'd get coffee and maybe a bagel on the way downtown and then without fail, we'd order bacon when we went into the little café.

In thinking about this pattern, I realized it was a real-life example of bicycling supporting the local economy in a particular way. I'm currently working on a research paper about how increasing support for bicycling in a community or business area can support the local economy because of how bicyclists spend money, where they tend to visit, and how people on bikes interact with communities differently than people in cars. I'll post the final version on this blog, and I'll likely continue to reflect on it throughout the next quarter of school.

I realized that the combination of our bicycles (which limited how far we really felt like traveling for food), the friendly faces that greeted us each time we visited (knowing Felipe was taking care of us and making our bacon), and the sense of our smalltown-feeling hometown community all worked together to bring us back to that café time and time again.

As I write this, I'm sitting in the same building, which is now a restaurant serving a wider variety of food--but they still have bacon and coffee. They still have large front windows right on the main street in town, and I still feel better spending my money here rather than at a non-local chain restaurant. I feel at home in this place, able to observe my town while enjoying delicious food and remembering all those mornings in summers past when my sister and I were free to bike as far as our legs could pedal and our wheels could roam.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Break has begun... with lots of bikes!

My Spring Break began last Thursday, and I have until Sunday to enjoy time at home. I am studying and preparing for the class on Friedrich Nietzsche that I'm teaching through the Literature Department at UC Santa Cruz next quarter, but in between reading, I've been biking around with Green Guy and my sister. Take a look!

Friday night, I bicycled around town with Green Guy and Jeune Gal for the second night of my Spring Break from college--my last spring break of my undergraduate career!
While visiting Sonoma State with Jeune Gal yesterday, we saw her exact same bike parked in a rack, only a larger size. It was like a sign from the Bicycling Gods that she is meant to go there--and to bring a bike! She did decide to go there after visiting--I'm so proud of her and excited for this new chapter in her life. Go Seawolves!

Jeune Gal showed her bicycling style on Sunday night before a party around the block in back jeans, black boots, and a lacy black top. Her black helmet with silver flames totally matched, and her pink bike added some color to the whole ensemble!

I biked with her to her friend's house, two blocks away. She doesn't have a back light, so I decked my bike in lights and wore my bright yellow jacket to escort her there safely. I'm working on convincing her to get a new bike before she goes away to college. I think we're making progress, especially after the three bike rides we've done since I've been home. She still needs lights, a new bike with gears, a bike rack, some panniers... Sonoma State is flat, so she should have no trouble getting around by bike!
I ordered some bike stickers from Taking The Lane, and they arrived in the mail!

The new sticker on my bike rack.

Jeune Gal and I biked to Starbucks to do some homework together. We took the route that I used to take to bike to high school... so many bicycling morning memories!

We biked home just as the sun was setting. It's only Monday, so who knows how many more bicycle adventures we'll have in the coming days!
Happy Spring, my friends!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ditching Class to Ride Bikes... Kinda.

Yesterday, my Bicycle Transit Planning Team (BTPT) partner Aly and I left IDEASS class early to bike down the rollercoaster ride that is the UCSC Bike Path.

No, we weren't ditching class just to ride bikes. Though I guess we kind of were... We did have permission from our instructors, though!

We were on our way to our first People Power Bike Commuting Workshop that we're helping design and facilitate. They happen every third Monday at the People Power Office at 703 Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz.

I'll post more about the workshop once finals are over. I will say that eight community members showed up for the first one last night.

The conversation and sharing of stories and tips was awesome. I hope to see you at a future community workshop, or if you work for a business in Santa Cruz County and want us to bring the workshop to your business for a free lunch hour workshop, send me an email!
Learn more about the BTPT here.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Santa Cruz Pi(e) Day Pajama Ride Bike Party

Pi(e) Day Pajama Ride Bike Party required pajamas, of course! We picked up some pie at New Leaf on the way.

Santa Cruz Bike Party happens every second Friday of the month around 7 PM. Learn more here.

Yes, that's a couch, specifically The Happening Couch (you can become friends with it on Facebook). I rode a tandem bike with my friend Greg (of Moved By Bikes). He owns this couch, which is equipped with speakers and attached to a trailer attached to the bike. Random folks jumped on it during the ride, and we had two riders get flats and ride the couch so they wouldn't get left behind. We pulled Green Guy up Walnut Avenue (a pretty steep road) after he got a flat... Serious bike party awesomeness right there.

What's a bike party without a dance party?

Green Gal and Green Guy! We rode up the hill to campus after the evening's festivities, having our own bike party along the way.

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