Sunday, September 27, 2009

One Year Anniversary of Bicycling

Cement horse planter on E. St. John

This month marks the one year anniversary of riding my bike to work. The decision to commute by bike became so much more than I anticipated.  I didn't expect to enjoy riding so much or ride so many places other than work.  I didn't expect to see so much more of the city and I didn't expect to rethink so many things that I just did by habit. I didn't think I'd be getting a new bike but I did.  I quit riding the cruiser in favor of a very lightweight custom re-built 1986 Schwinn Traveler that I can lift onto the light rail bike racks with ease. Here is the break-down of my year of riding:

4 flat tires
2 accidents
1 tiny facial scar
2 very scarred knees
6 pound weight loss (without trying)
207 gallons of gas saved
many new bike-related friendships

Cement horse on E. St. John St.

I was expecting to save money by not buying gas to commute but when I calculated the cost of my light rail passes and subtracted that amount from the money saved in gas, it was about a wash. Still, a year on the road in my opinion: priceless.

Spirit of Japantown - A Festival Just Made for Parasols

Besides the liquid refreshments, the beautiful Japanese sun parasols had to be the biggest sellers yesterday at this very hot and colorful fall festival.  The food was freshly cooked and irresistible, there were talented musicians and artists everywhere you looked and there was even a booth just for bicyclists where anyone who rode their bike to the festival got a prize and was entered in a special raffle.  Yeah for us!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bark in the Park - A Dog Lover's Paradise

Bark in the Park is the annual carnival for dogs held at William Street Park.  I felt a little guilty attending the event without my dog (I've taken him in the past and he got way over-excited) but I just love watching dogs with their people.  The event includes an Owner/Dog Look Alike contest, herding demonstrations, Silly Dog Tricks and a Canine Costume contest.  A friend of mine said that there was much excitement and chasing about when the sheep escaped during the herding demonstration.  Sorry I missed that.  Bark in the Park is a fundraiser for the Humane Society and other charities.  

Monday, September 21, 2009

Coastal Clean-Up - The Never-ending Story

I try to stay away from negative stuff on my blog but I have to say that sometimes I get discouraged by the amount of litter I see as I walk and ride about the city.  Recently my sister-in-law was visiting here from Woodland and as I drove her to her hotel on 1st Street she commented on the appalling amount of trash on the side of the road.  But I try not to get discouraged and events like the one on Saturday that brought out 40 volunteers to clean our little section of Coyote Creek really give me hope.  Somehow all the young people and the neighborhood faithfuls managed to make cleaning up the creek seem like fun.  We were participating in an international event and here are the statistics from Santa Clara County: 1,486 volunteers came out to clean up 35 sites (approximately 58.68 miles of creek) and removed 23,173 pounds of trash and 7,499 pounds of recyclables from our waterways! 

Saturday, September 19, 2009

San Jose Bike Party - 25 Miles of Non-Stop Fun

I can't believe I did this! The ride, at 25 miles, was the longest in Bike Party history and 11 miles further than I had ever ridden my bike in one day. San Jose Bike Party occurs every third Friday night of the month and my usual approach is to plan on going and then at the last minute come up with some excuse not to go.  Well this month I had no intention of going, in fact I had other plans (which got rescheduled). So here it was Friday night and I was really tired and it was really hot and I was just sitting around trying not to be miserable.  Then I read a comment on my blog that said "Maybe I'll see you at the Bike Party tonight" and I decided to just do it. The pre-ride started at Woz Way in downtown San Jose but the real start was over at Mission College in Santa Clara.  Once I got to the start of the ride I couldn't believe my eyes.  There was a vast sea of bike riders, thousands they say, and everyone totally amped up and ready to roll.  Some riders pulled sound systems so there was plenty of music and the theme was "Gender Bender" so there were plenty of colorful people cross-dressing to entertain us and the atmosphere was exhilarating. For one night a month bicyclists rule the rode.  They fill the streets, make tons of noise, go a little crazy (but stay safe) and just have fun. And I have to say I amazed myself. One of the stops was at a four story parking garage and just about everybody rode to the top floor.  I don't do hills and I was just going to wait it out but it sounded like so much fun up there on the roof that with some encouragement from a fellow rider, I rode to the top.  It was FANTASTIC! I hooked up with the good people from Bicycle Express who embraced the Bike Party rule of "No one left behind." They stopped and fixed a broken chain for a guy and stopped again to repair a flat tire for someone.  It was 1:30 a.m. when they dropped me back home.  What a night.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Early Bird Gets...His Picture Taken

It seems I always find the time to get my garden work done but I'm not so good at finding the time to sit and enjoy the fruits of my labor.  So on this labor day it was a pleasure to sit back and watch the visitors to my garden.

So Much Happening in San Jose, I Can't Keep Up!

Last weekend I blogged about the opening of Safeway and the re-opening of Carnegie Library but there were at least two other special events I attended that I just can't ignore here.  For a period of nine days, San Jose State University played host to a series of free open-air concerts by Symphony Silicon Valley.  I really dropped the ball on this one because I didn't get to one until the last day but it was a delight!  The theme was Brass Band and Ice Cream Social with Tony Clements conducting.  There was free ice cream (from Treat) and free bottled water and a very laid-back atmosphere.  Nobody telling you "Don't sit there, don't do that, you can't ride your bike here."  None of that.  Just relaxing fun.
And then there was the Bicycle Express 25th anniversary celebration and bar-b-que.  They really went all out with free food and drinks, a live band and a raffle with fabulous prizes (I was one of the winners!) Congratulations and thank you Bicycle Express for serving the bicycling community for 25 years.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

How Sweet the Sound

I woke up this morning with an intense craving for a good old fashioned breakfast pastry,  you know, like a bear claw.  So I headed downtown to see if I could scare one up.  After navigating my way through the temporary metal fences set up for the Tapestry and Talent Festival, I ended up at Bijan where I had a flakey, tender raspberry swirl pastry drizzled with icing and a shot of espresso (it never ceases to amaze me how much pleasure can be purchased for under five dollars).  But that is not where I was going with this post.  On my way back from the bakery I passed a gentleman out in front of St. Joseph's Cathedral who was playing the hymn "Amazing Grace" on his flute as people were filing into the church. I sat on the steps and listened for awhile.  Now anyone who has heard me sing or hum or do anything that requires carrying a tune knows that I am not a great judge of music but to me this man's rendition of "Amazing Grace" was beautiful.  Since I am pressed for time this morning as I'm getting ready for a little dinner party, I'm going to call this moving experience "church" for today.