Smallness

CONQUERING YOURSELF

It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.   -Sir Edmund Hillary

Climbing mountains, whether on two feet or two wheels, is a feat of endurance and strength and pain and mental fortitude nearly incomparable to any other experience. When you take yourself, under your own power, to the top of something that looms over landscape and dominates skylines, it feels surreal. In fact, beyond a kind of intense happy, it doesn’t feel like anything until I’ve returned to earth and processed hours or days of trekking, memories now inextricably amalgamated.

In this quest for adventure in its highest form, many turn their thoughts to the mountain – a target they have overtaken, a landscape they have beaten in some self-imagined conquest.

After hiking the indescribably beautiful Kalalau trail on Kauai’i, I still remember the comment from my AirBnb host the morning after sleeping off the last 11 miles of up-and-overs. After commenting on a planned noodly-legged waterfall hike for the afternoon, he raised his hands and pulled his chin back in a hold-your-horses kind of way. “Well, don’t overdo it. I know how coming back from that trail you feel like superman, ya know, like the big man who conquered the Island.” No, you know, I didn’t know what he meant. If anything, hiking that trail left me in awe of the immensity and rawness of the Island and my comparative smallness in this world and this life. If rain had hit earlier in the day or while I was on exposed landslide areas, if the lightning that night had come ashore, if I had misplaced one step I might not have been standing on this guy’s stoop, sipping from a fresh coconut he had generously drilled open. Nature is a force we can never match – think otherwise and she stands to show you how wrong you are.

Hikes and summits like that, where you’re given moments of intimate exposure to the untouched wildness of this world and your own tenuous existence, they’ve never left me with the arrogance of domination – they’ve left me humbled. I overcome my own mental and physical resistance, I push beyond what I’ve known I could, I MacGyver oh-shit mountaineering and weather scenarios (and improvise upon realizing I’ve yet again forgotten to pack toilet paper), but all of these breakthroughs and accomplishments had more to do with me getting out of my own way – nature was just kind enough to hold off life-ending conditions until I could exit to civilization. It’s those moments where you realize you have absolutely no control… the weather or a downed tree or a dry water source or a bear could easily destroy best laid plans. All you can control are your movements and your focus, one moment at a time, particularly in places and slopes less conducive to survival. You have to live entirely and fully right now or living may no longer be an option.

This kind of mindfulness, as I was once told, is like being a duck in the vastness of the ocean – you cannot truly see anything but the crest of the nearest wave, you cannot feel anything but the rhythm of where you currently are, and who knows the immensity of what’s passing beneath you. Happiness comes from letting go of what you cannot see, paddling in whatever direction you wish, and learning to enjoy the ride. When I’ve crested the top of a mountain, much like most summits in life, all I can do is breathe it in and remind myself I’m only half way.

The quote from Sir Edmund Hillary is succinct and true – getting lost and getting high bring you face to face with the mountainous unexplored-self. Tallying peaks and elevation give you nothing but lists on paper that fade with time, but letting go and cracking yourself open can let in the beauty of this imperfect life in the very imperfect moment.

So what’s your mountain and what do you have to let go of to find the summit?

Keep climbing, climbing, climbing, Ladies :)

XOXO

mountain bike oregon

ADVENTURE AT MOUNTAIN BIKE OREGON

Hello Ladies & Lady-Lovers! I’m back and refreshed after tagging along on Mountain Bike Oregon this past weekend.

An aside: As someone relatively new to mountain biking, I have to encourage Ladies a little hesitant to ride off-road to push past fear and give it a try. Meandering through the forest on two wheels feels like moving meditation, and the sights you’d otherwise not see, and animals that cross your path, make the experience magical. Handling comes with time and miles, and till you’re ready for root drops and rougher terrain, there are tons of beginner and intermediate trails to choose from.

So as I sit sipping my morning caffeinated beverage (these guys are some of the best coffee roasters in PDX) reflecting on three days of camping and beautiful riding in the mountains around Oakridge, OR, I find I’m left with three lessons:

1) To improve handling, LET GO

2) Talk to strangers

2) Gin is not an appropriate sports beverage

As a Lady only recently dipping a toe into the MTB world, I was excited to expand my skill set on some of the gorgeous central Oregon trails I’ve heard so much about. I watched videos, read reviews, and made a mental list of which rides I’d be giving a go. I’m currently training for an amazing adventure tentatively scheduled for next spring (stay tuned…) for which I not only need to hone my off-roading skills, but need to purchase a well-fitting, trek-specific mountain bike.

Mountain Bike Oregon includes shuttles to the top of trails, a beer (& hopped cider!) garden, meals included, and what I needed most: access to demo bikes. I’ve only ridden an older steel Schwinn mtb named Bumblebee, who handles quite wonderfully, but I needed to get a feel for rides beyond what I’ve tried. Gearing? Wheel size? Never-ending, not-necessarily-needed accoutrements? I had no clue what worked for me, and I hoped this trip would give me a better idea. Oh, and the ability to improve my steeper, cliff-edged, curving, root-dropping, sketchier descents which I heretofore tended to hike-a-bike through.

The trip was phenomenal, it was an adventure, and all but one goal was attained. I feel fulfilled, and I can’t wait to head back out there to ride some more.

LET GO

Having been lucky enough to have raced a wee bit of Portland cyclocross (thanks to the urging of a phenomenal friend and a group of absolutely wonderful people. I suck, by the way, but it’s really fun!), I had previously learned, with eyes wide and stomach in mouth, that the sketchiest of descents requires release – you have to stare down impending-maiming, take a deep breath, go relatively limp, shift your weight back, and just go for it. The slower you go, the more you try to brake, the more you hold on, the more likely you are to flip head-over-handlebars or crash in other equally damaging ways. Trust your bike, it will ride over most rocks and roots and mud if you keep your speed. Slow down and you’ll fail to gain needed momentum to overtake obstacles. It feels similar to technique for effectively skiing moguls.

This technique was never more apparent than on my trips through North Fork, an intermediate Oakridge trail, where the let-go approach sort of reversed itself. This lesson on descents is now ingrained in my muscle fibers, but I never knew that CLIMBING applied the same concept until I rode parts of this trail. Overtaking a bolder on an uphill? Relax and keep pedaling, and for gods sake, follow through. You’ve grunted your front tire up and over – good for you! But you have an entire second tire that needs to clear the rock. This is where the gearing on the Niner bike I demoed became essential. Keep the gearing low, release your fear and hesitation, and just keep pedaling. NO MATTER WHAT. My only crashes this weekend? T-tipping over (and down a small cliff) as I failed to get my back tire up and over something large, all because I hesitated out of fear that I wouldn’t make it.

And so the lesson that applies not only to riding, but to almost everything in life – relax, believe in yourself, and move towards what makes you afraid. You’ll never know what you’re capable of if you don’t try, and you’ll never expand your world and yourself if you don’t loosen your grip.

TALK TO STRANGERS

Stranger danger! We’re molded by our culture to be afraid of, well, everything outside of our immediate family and friends and gated neighborhoods. But this is a large part of the beauty of traveling and exploring by yourself – you’re FORCED to interact with people you don’t know. And guess what was reinforced for me this weekend? Most people are good and respond to openness and kindness. This opening to the unknown is what I like to call “adventure”, whether it’s in the kitchen, on a trail, or in social interaction. This is what makes life fascinating and engaging and growth-producing throughout the years you’re lucky enough to have. If you were raised in a bubble-wrap-suburban childhood like myself, openness takes time and mindful practice to cultivate. But it’s worth it – it will change nearly everything about your life.

I encountered some absolutely lovely people that made this trip for me. Some from Oakridge (make sure to check out the amazing Ladies working over at Lion Mountain Bakery if you’re in town), some from California, some from Portland, some originally from New Zealand & the UK, some from Australia (and yes, the rivalry between the two is more than Flight of The Concords fodder), and all from varied backgrounds and age groups.

I owe it all to volunteering (the Nossa Familia coffee family is molto bene – check out their brews if you get the chance) and to accidentally hanging my hammock within the camp of a group of guys that welcomed me into their chats and beer garden jaunts when I wasn’t being anti-social with my reading and napping (the latter mostly due to gin…). They made me laugh, their personalities and guitar collections blew me away, and I truly hope to stay in touch with them. My weekend wouldn’t have been the greatness it was without all of these people, and I wouldn’t have met any of them if I hadn’t exited my comfort zone of solitude to talk to people I didn’t know.

GIN IS NOT AN APPROPRIATE SPORTS BEVERAGE 

And finally, to the lesson of re-learning lessons. I spent most of my college years as a partier (and high school for that matter). I got great grades, I overachieved, and I got completely blitzed most nights of the week. Life, as it turns out, is more of an un-doing than a becoming – you have to work diligently to un-become the person your hometown, your family, and everyone but yourself has shaped you into. To really know yourself, to really be yourself, you have to figure that shit out on your own by forcing yourself outside of situations and places you’re comfortable in.

The process is particularly challenging if you grew up contorted – creating a habit out of forcing yourself into boxes that were ill-fitting at best. Long ago I acknowledged that I don’t like getting wasted – I’m so much happier taking all of that in moderation, waking up with the sunrise, and getting out to do something physical in the outdoors. Occasional partying? Sure. But on the whole, it’s just not who I am anymore – it was never who I was.

And so I reminded myself of that with gin and delicious cider this past weekend, as did many other painfully hung over riders. Chatting and hanging out with people was amazing! Drinking far too much was not, and was entirely my fault. I should know my limits by now… but once you’ve had a drink it seems like more and more of a good idea to keep on drinking, and old patterns reappear. If I had paced myself and been an adult, I wouldn’t have had the worst hangover I’ve had in a long time (I also could have avoided nearly falling asleep on a bathroom floor and being helped back to my campsite, which in my drunkenness I couldn’t find, by a good Lady Samaritan).

Yah, I embarrassed myself. But I had a great time with my campmates, reminded myself of my priorities, and ensured that I will never again forget the late-onset-drunkenness of gin. Next time I’ll make the same decisions – minus a handful of drinks.

Riding is magical, Oakridge trails are glorious, and people are pretty awesome. This experience was great and I’m on my way to getting a great mountain bike so I can continue to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors in new and sometimes-challenging ways. More than anything, this trip reinforced my gratitude. Gratitude for a working body, the experiences I’ve been lucky enough to have, and the adventures I have yet to experience.

So get out there, Ladies & Lady-lovers! Adventure awaits, and nobody can find it but you :)

XOXO

PS- The links above have more about the trails in Oakridge. If you missed MBO, head out on your own! The West Fir Lodge is a great B&B at the trail head, or you can head 30 miles down the road to Waldo Lake for camping and a 22 mile, easy-intermediate mtb loop with gorgeous views (plus kayaking!).

LADYGYVER: HOW TO RIDE A BIKE IN A SKIRT

Don’t have a bicycle garter? No worries, Ladies!

Here’s a great how-to for keep your skirt down and Lady-parts concealed whilst wheeling through town. All you need is a penny, a rubber-band, and a fabulous skirt.

Some additional tips from my experiences:

*Sporting a mini, flyaway skirt? Sit your underweared behind directly on the seat, allowing the skirt to flow around you. Trying to tuck limited fabric beneath you often creates a cheeky street show.

*Long skirt or maxi? Tie the base in a knot (not too tight – make sure you can still pedal!) to keep it out of your rear wheel.

*Pencil skirt? Unzip or unbutton at the waist and wiggle the skirt down a bit for added coverage. And wear tights, leggings, or adorable undies, since this skirt is the biggest flashing culprit I’ve donned.

Do you have any tips from your fabulously frocked rides? Share them in the comments below :)

Keep riding and looking lovely, Ladies!

XOXO

LADY EDITORIAL: 3 WISHES FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Wreaths tacked upon doors, grills, and fenders. Lights stranded meticulously… or haphazardly. Seasonal dustings of warmth atop tops of trees and bushes; neighboring properties swallowed in blizzards of night-time fluorescence (and unfathomable utility bills).

Torrential breezes muffled-yet-audible near globes and larger-than-life-size rotund men in red suits, made more roly-poly in appearance with seams stretched taut, rhythmically rocking with each gust. These inflatable totems contain the “holiday spirit” much like our belts contain our widening ham/tofu/cookie-filled bellies – limits tested and eager to explode.

Walking and riding past each individual display, I can’t help but notice the variations on “holiday” each presents, and how they speak to the lives of the people within.

*A single strand thrown lopsidedly across an overgrown tree: 20-somethings sharing a home, “hey, we decorated!” attempt at creating a more adult home.

*A cascade of perfectly positioned lights from corner-to-corner and back again: wealthier couple with children whose father or mother has made this able-to-enact-whilst-watching-the-kids hobby a yearly tradition, expanding in exorbitance from year to year.

*A modest, imperfect wrapping of several trees and shrubs: 30-somethings, likely a couple, expressing their nostalgic holiday memories while creating new traditions of their own.

Of course this is assumption, but it’s fun to imagine. And all of this nuance, this imagining, these lovely displays soak in more fully when passing atop two-wheels (or two-feet). Taking time to notice. Taking time to absorb all the life, in all its displays, around us. Taking time… it’s something I do too rarely, and something we all need a bit more of.

I feel blessed to live in a place where I can walk (mostly) safely and ride (mostly) without fear, and to live surrounded by so many people who are so different, yet so open, so non-judgmental of the idiosynchronicity of others. Where you can embrace your quirks and uniqueness fully, and where you’re not only free of the pressures to be-as-you-should, you’re more respected for fully being whoever you really are.

There is so much to be grateful for so much of the time. And from this foundation of gratitude, I’d like to share 3 wishes I have this holiday season. Feel free to leave a comment with wishes of your own.

1) I wish our streets were safer. For everyone.

Morgan Maynard CookJoseph “Joey” Randall Ransly StoneViJay Dalton-Gibson. The list of victims goes on, and on, and on, and on. Every time it breaks my heart. Every time I think about the families left without loved ones during the holidays, left with empty chairs at the dinner table, and empty spots in circles gathered round roaring fires and festooned trees. Spots that will remain empty forever. A void that never stops feeling… empty.

My parents were nearly left with that void a year and a half ago when a careless driver ran a stop sign into a neighborhood greenway… into me.

We’ve learned to just accept this carnage and tragedy, at a rate of over 88 people killed per day (that’s about 4 deaths per minute), not to mention the enormous numbers of serious, life-long injuries. Why? Because we want to be able to travel when we want to, and most importantly, because we want to drive ourselves to the places we need to go (and in many places, because that is our only option). Equity in access to transit and safe biking and walking facilities is abominable, and more and more the ability to walk near your home is becoming a privilege.

Enrique Penalosa, the former mayor of Bogotá, Columbia, came to speak in Portland a little while ago, and I remember being taken aback by one particular statement he made: “cars kill people”.  “That’s a bit inflammatory,” I remember thinking. But overtime, the statement sunk in, and it became apparent that the sentiment wasn’t radical. It was truth.

If you are riding a bike, if you are walking, if you take a bus, if you take a train – all of these options contain a chance of death and injury to yourself and others (so does living). But walk into someone on a sidewalk, accidentally run into someone on your bike… the consequences of inevitable human error are far less disastrous when not backed by thousands of pounds of environment-muffling steel. 

We will always fail. We are human. But when we fail at 40mph, even at 20mph, in steel, people are far more likely to die, including people just engaging their legs as they’re intended (or those playing, as children often do, in their own front yard).

I still drive occasionally, and I grew up driving for nearly all of my trips. I know how hard it is to see the realities of something considered a touchstone of American life. An essential. The truth is uncomfortable, and it implicates us all: Every time we drive our car, we put other people and ourselves at risk. Not only due to crashes, but due to the pollution we cannot see that gives us and everyone living around us cancer, breathing ailments, and more.

We can do so much better, and we owe it to ourselves, our neighbors, and our communities to try. Just try. What if we drove less? What if we spent less on roads for steel-boxes and more on education? What if more people could live longer and better because they added activity to their day during their commute? What if you could save your own life, your mother’s life, you friend’s life, a stranger’s life by taking an extra 5, 10, 20, 30 minutes to get to where you’re going? Wouldn’t that be time well spent? And what if our city policy prioritized equitable transit for all, with preference for expenditures based on greatest benefit to surrounding communities (walking first, transit second, bike facilities third, high-speed rail fourth, driving last)? It’s a lot of change, which is not and will not ever be well received at first, but more importantly it’s progress. For our health, our budgets, our happiness.

This holiday season, all I wish for are representatives WITH VISION, the kind who see the damage of a freeway running through downtown and stop saying “we have to account for SOV driving demand” and start asking “how can we eliminate the demand in the first place?”.

Most importantly, I wish for streets that unite us, where we can gather and see one another, and where we can live and commute without the daily reality of wondering whether or not we’ll make it home alive.

2) I wish I could remember how lucky I am. Everyday.

In the words of the venerable Kanye West, “time is the only luxury.”

My family. They’ve supported me through the hardest year of my life, they’ve frustrated me to no end, and they’ve given me love for being exactly as I am. How often do I forget how many people do not share this luxury? How many people wish they’d had the opportunities, support, and care that I have taken for granted?

How many people have no families to even have the option of going home to? And my dearest friends who have become my family out west… we all like to feel we could do it alone, but the reality is we can’t. I forget to open my eyes and see all the goodness in my life from time to time, and all I wish for this holiday season is to remember to see it more often.

Legs that (luckily) still work and take me where I’d like to go. A roof over my head and lovely people to share it with. The opportunity to educate myself everyday. Access to warm showers and heated rooms. Sidewalks and neighborhood greenways and transit that free me from the constraints of car travel. Amazing and not-so-amazing neighbors and strangers who smile at me for no reason, or say “hello” as they pass me by. There are so many things everyday that make life worth living and bring me happiness. Much as I savor my surroundings when pedaling past, it’s time I savored my living as it passes me by.

3) I wish that I could do more and be a more active part of improving the lives of everyone in my community.

Finding the time to volunteer, to push for change, to shape the world in my backyard. That time is there, and I often find a way to be involved. As I once heard a young poet say, “your observation becomes an obligation.” If I know it is wrong and I know it can change, then it is my duty to refuse to be silent. All I wish for this year is to continue that drive, not to give up because I am frustrated, and to keep trying to be the change I wish to see. I hope more of you will join me, and I hope we can all work together to create a better future for ourselves and future generations.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and as always, Ladies (and Lady-lovers): Remember to enjoy the ride.

XOXO

ANOTHER TRAGEDY IN OUR STREETS – A PLEA FOR CHANGE

Share, Ladies (& Lady-lovers). No one should ever fear for their life, or lose their child, just because they’re walking or riding a bicycle.

An emotional plea from the parents of Allison Liao, a 3 year-old who was recently run over and killed in a NYC cross-walk. This video is hard to watch, leading this Lady to tears. It is also a moving argument for why our streets need to change.

Streets are for people. It’s time we took them back.

FROM THE VIDEO:

The police know the driver was in the wrong, they issued him two traffic tickets… Ali paid the death penalty for crossing the street. It is unbelievable that the driver’s penalty is two tickets, and our daughter is gone…

So, our message to all drivers is simple. Please, before you get behind the wheel, and realize that the machine you are about to operate can kill people. We may drive everyday, but we need to be conscious of the enormous responsibility we have when we get behind the wheel. We urge drivers to pay attention to the road, and to SLOW DOWN. YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS, they have the RIGHT OF WAY and it’s the right thing to do. Your vehicles weigh one ton of steel, the average human body weighs a fraction of the vehicle and is made up of fragile flesh and bones. New Yorkers are always in a  hurry, but we challenge drivers to pause and ask: IS IT WORTH IT?

Is it worth RUNNING OVER A CHILD because you are running late? Is it worth picking up the phone when it could mean a family must pick out a grave for their child? Is it worth texting a friend when that message could force a father to text a date and time of their child’s funeral? Is it worth looking at the phone when it causes a mother to look at their daughter in the ER as they try to resuscitate her daughter?

We ask you to pause, because if the driver who killed our happy daughter on that fateful day had PAUSED, perhaps I would not have to stand before you today. Where did he need to go in such a hurry that he couldn’t stop for a few seconds to let an elderly lady and her granddaughter cross the street? We challenge drivers to pause and ask, is it worth it? Because the next person killed by a reckless driver may be someone you love.

LADY OWNED, FOCUSED, AND RUN BIKE SHOP OPENS IN PORTLAND, OR

More Women riding bikes more often.

Gladys Bike Shop in N Portland, OR

Gladys Bike Shop in N Portland, OR

That’s precisely the goal of Gladys Bikes, a new bike shop located inside the HUB building along the heavily ridden Williams corridor in Portland, OR (2905 NE Alberta Street, Portland, OR). If you’re a Lady riding Vancouver/Williams, you need to check this place out.

Owner Leah Benson has stocked her shelves with essentials for a comfortable and fabulous ride, from reflective flower pins and helmet bows, to rain jackets, saddles, helmets, and more. Also offering Lady-run maintenance, classes, and bike fittings from an oh-so-accessible $50, Gladys is exactly the kind of shop that makes entering the realm of riding feel approachable for Women of all ages and abilities.

And did I mention free cookies?

Lovely reflective pins!

Reflective pins… and cookies

While the face of two-wheeled travel is still predominantly male, shops like Gladys are tapping into what happens to be the fastest growing segment of the two-wheeled world: Ladies! From the League of American Bicyclists:

Looking at the gender breakdown, the data shows the total number of women bike commuters in 2012 grew to 236,067, which is an almost 11% increase from 2011. More broadly, women commuting by bike has grown by 58.8% since 2006. What’s more, the ACS data shows that the growth in bike commuting by women is outpacing that of men. Between 2011 and 2012, the growth in bike commuting by women was 10.9%, compared to 8.4% for men.

The lovely Leah Benson, owner of Gladys

The lovely Leah Benson, owner of Gladys

Gladys Bikes is a lovely shop in a great location with a wonderful owner and mission worth supporting. Check out the accessories and awesomeness in the space just behind Ristretto next time you’re riding by, and in the meantime, you can check out and LIKE Leah’s shop on facebook, and attend her clinic “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Your Bike (But Were Afraid to Ask) on 10/17 @6:30pm at the shop.

Keep pedaling, supporting local Lady-run businesses, and enjoying the ride, Ladies!

XOXO

“THE SUMMER BIKES TOOK CONTROL”: THE BICYCLIZATION OF URBAN AMERICA

Citibike rolls out 10,000 bikes, launching bikeshare for Ladies (and Lady-lovers) of the Big Apple. Chicago is slated for 4,000 in their initial bikeshare launch, and have already installed miles of new bike lanes. Indianapolis opens the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, a physically separated cycletrack and pedestrian walkway connecting five major cultural districts in the city center. The mayor of San Diego, Bob Filner, vocally advocates for increased biking and pushes through the conversion of Balboa Park, a former parking lot, into a car-free plaza.

Ladies (and Lady-lovers) are reshaping the urban landscape across the USA. And they're here to stay.

Ladies (and Lady-lovers) are reshaping the urban landscape across the USA. And they’re here to stay.

Two-wheels are ushering in a wave of livability and sensibility to an urban landscape typically dominated and divided by automobile-centric design, and the sea-change in cities across the US is now undeniable.

The rise of the bicycle through bikeshare and infrastructure implementation, against all odds and detractors, has taken hold, and it isn’t stopping anytime soon.

On Citibike in NYC:

The bottom line is that one contentious month since the launch of New York’s program — with riders as bad as they’ll ever be, and the blue paint without any sun-fading to tone down the gaudiness — the actual majority of New Yorkers love the bikes. Numbers released yesterday from Quinnipiac University showed overwhelming approval…

See also Copenhagenzine‘s graph of the typical timeline of “whining” around the launch of bike-share programs worldwide: a steady rise during the months preceding, followed by a precipitous drop to almost zero shortly after launch. The dissenting New Yorkers are not an original phenomenon. If precedent holds, they will fade…

No transport system is perfect, but bike-sharing is promising, and among the best we have.

And from the NYTimes article, The End of Car Culture:

…recent studies suggest that Americans are buying fewer cars, driving less and getting fewer licenses as each year goes by.

…things are converging which suggest that we are witnessing a long-term cultural shift…

Part of the explanation certainly lies in the recession, because cash-strapped Americans could not afford new cars, and the unemployed weren’t going to work anyway. But by many measures the decrease in driving preceded the downturn and appears to be persisting now that recovery is under way…

Demographic shifts in the driving population suggest that the trend may accelerate. There has been a large drop in the percentage of 16- to 39-year-olds getting a license, while older people are likely to retain their licenses as they age, Mr. Sivak’s research has found…

A study last year found that driving by young people decreased 23 percent between 2001 and 2009. The millennials don’t value cars and car ownership, they value technology…

[BILL FORD of Ford Motor Company proposed] partnering with the telecommunications industry to create cities in which ‘pedestrian, bicycle, private cars, commercial and public transportation traffic are woven into a connected network to save time, conserve resources, lower emissions and improve safety.’

The landscape is changing, Ladies, and this time of momentum (pun intended) for the joy of two-wheeled transport is an opportunity for inspiring projects and creation/extension of bike networks that are not only the best in the USA, but can set an example for what is possible to the rest of the world.

The first car-free downtown in the US? Uninterrupted bike thoroughfares connecting people to places they want to be and/or need to go? What if Broadway, a major route through the heart of Portland, was converted into a cycletrack and pedestrian plaza lined with shops, offices, and greenery? What all could this do for the city and its people?

So much is possible, and finally, the tides have turned in favor of Ladies and Lady-lovers all over the USA.

What do you want to see in your city?

Keep thinking big, riding, and changing the world, Ladies!

XOXO

BIKE SHARE THE LOVE

Monday in NYC, Ladies (and Lady-lovers) had reason to rejoice, smile, and feel the rush of fresh breeze through their hair. Citibikes, the newest in a series of blossoming bike shares greenlit from coast to coast, was partially launched today. Joyful riders around the big apple took to the facebooks, twitterverse, and instagrams with praise for the bikes, the ride, and the ubiquitous enthusiasm around the often individually-distanced city.

Two wheels anywhere, anytime. Lovely :)

Two wheels anywhere, anytime. Lovely :)

Cab drivers honking and waving, the “citi nod”, as one tweet called it, from rider to rider, acknowledging the shared experience.

Stats for the first day partial roll-out?

Trips on 5/27 as of 5 pm: 6050

Avg Duration: 20.48 minutes
Miles traveled: 13,768 miles

Most popular starting stations
E 17 St & Broadway: 113
Broadway & W 57: 109
Broadway & E 14 St: 98

Most popular ending stations
E 17 St & Broadway: 108
Broadway & W 57: 103
University Pl & E 14 St: 78

Annual Members: 772 new members, 16463 total Annual Members

Almost 14,000 miles traveled by New Yorkers atop two wheels just through bike share alone.

THIS, dear Ladies, is the future of transportation. And this, dear Ladies, is what city streets should feel like: a temporary community, created and united by our need to get from place to place, and lasting till we turn off towards each destination.

The freedom many associate with steel boxes is misplaced: true freedom is walking around a corner, swiping a fob, and pedaling into the sunset (ideally on separated, low-stress lanes that encourage leisurely travel and enjoyed commuting).

Did you check out citibikes today? If so, we’d love to hear your stories and see your photos! Check us out on Twitter to share!

Ladies in NYC and beyond: keeping riding and enjoying the beauty of life and living in all experiences, especially in your daily travels :)

XOXO

LADY EDITORIAL: SUNSHINEY GOODNESS & THE DISSERVICE OF “GEAR”

Sunshine and skirts and bikes, hooray!   (image courtesy of carrelle.wordpress.com)

Sunshine and skirts and bikes, hooray! (image courtesy of carrelle.wordpress.com)

Poised pedaling, lovely locks of all lengths billowing in the breeze, wafts of wildness and blooming and pot, the sensation of sunshine warmly embracing cool, wintry-white skin that has longed for sheer exposure: nothing compares to the loveliness of summer riding!

As the skies clear and temperatures finally rise to a heat conducive to unbuffered flesh-air contact, shared city spaces and streets bud and burst with life of all kinds. Seeing people gathering, walking, biking, and just generally grasping the opportunity to experience the world beyond interiors makes this Lady’s heart well-up and ‘splode all over its wonky self.

Summertime means a public realm packed to the brim with citizens enjoying and living in shared space, not to mention an overflowing and wonderfully expanded community of active commuters just enjoying the ride.

Seeing more fair-weather Ladies (and Lady-lovers) take to the streets atop two-wheels provides a glimpse of what our neighborhoods and streets COULD be, of how much more enjoyable, useful, connecting, and beautiful streets and city centers have the potential to be. It also reminds me of what, besides the fabulous forecast, makes summer riding more enticing to those who forgo the enjoyment of riding year-round: casual accessibility.

No new-fangled, neon-yellow jackets (which ultimately don’t make a big difference in visibility, anyhoo), no waterproof glorified-trash-bag outwear, no elasticized booties or so-many-rear-lights-you’ve-become-a-land-bound-lighthouse. The temperature and physical activity dictate lighter layering, and for most people that means riding in average daily attire. For shorter, slower jaunts to the store, that often means the provocative exposure of scalps, too.

When average people look out on the streetscape, they see something they can relate to; something they could actually be comfortable becoming a part of. The gear-attire mentality does a huge disservice to us Lady’s (and Lady-lovers) trying to expand the joy of riding to more people, by making it feel like a club you need an obnoxiously bright card to be a part of. It also makes cycling seem incredibly uncool. And honestly, what young Lady-in-training wants to be lumped in with predominantly male baby-boomers in bright spandex on flagged recumbents?

All riders are welcome on the roads, and I have a special place in my heart for the geared commuter kind (my bikey heart has space for EVERYONE!), and you should wear whatever the hell you want when you ride. But when the landscape is monochromatic and aesthetically dismal, it becomes harder for average people used to wearing what they’d like and driving a steel-box they’ve customized to their liking to place themselves alongside their two-wheeled neighbors. We become more and more “other”, and less and less understood.

What can every Lady do to support her fellow riders and neighbors in their pursuit of happier, healthier streets? Ride like you’re living, not like you’re “cycling”. Increase your “picnic riding”, or slow, leisurely, helmet-free (whenever possible) jaunts to the neighborhood market, school, and other short daily trips. Encourage your friends to come along, no special-attire required.

Keep smiling, riding, rocking skirts & dresses, and loving the sunshine, Ladies!

XOXO