Tag Archives: biking

February #WATWB: Bicycling for the Climate

We are the World LogoI’ve written about adventure cycling for the We are the World Blogfest before, when I wrote about my friend Jasmine Reese, who is cycling across the country and around the world with her dog and her violin.

This month I want to call attention to another adventure cyclist, local resident Tim Oye, who is riding for Climate Ride, a nonprofit that organizes events to raise awareness and support for “active transportation” and environmental causes. Tim’s ride will take him through Death Valley this coming week.  Tim will also be giving a presentation at my church on Saturday night.

Environmental advocate and Sunnyvale resident, Tim Oye, is biking across the US to talk with adults and kids about Oceans, Plastic, and Climate Change. While bicycling 4500 miles from San Francisco to Boston, he will stop to give a talk about bicycling across the continent, how day-to-day human activities affect our oceans, and what we all can do to save our environment for our kids. With a degree in Chemistry from Harvard and after more than 30 years in high tech doing product development at Apple, Sun, and Adobe, Tim switched careers to pursue environmental advocacy and public service. He is a certified bicycling instructor with the League of American Bicyclists, a coach instructor for the American Youth Soccer Organization, a 4-H leader, and on the cutting edge of going zero waste.

I worked on “Anything But a Car Day” at my son’s school last year. It is an initiative to promote kids biking to school safely. My son biked to middle school. Now, in high school, he lives close enough that he can walk.

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I like to bicycle and I used to ride my bike to work when I had a shorter commute, but I am not as hard-core as these adventure cyclists. We can’t all do everything but we all can do something!

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The “We Are the World Blogfest” (#WATWB) shares positive news on social media. Cohosts for this month are: Inderpreet Uppal Shilpa GargSylvia McGrath , Peter Nena, and Belinda WitzenHausenPlease check out their WATWB posts and say hello!

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The Fiji Quartet

Back in 2006 when my kids were relatively small, I joined a website called violinist.com. My daughter, then 7 years old, was struggling to learn Suzuki violin from a teacher she didn’t get along with. I wasn’t playing at all at the time, but I was interested in helping my daughter. I had no idea back then what my little internet search for German folk songs was going to lead to. It introduced me to blogging. And blogging eventually brought me back to playing the violin myself, and the viola.

Continue reading The Fiji Quartet

The Walmart Parking Lot

My husband is getting a bit restless to go on a bigger caching trip, but I like these small ones that help me explore our new surroundings. We went out to shop for a new bicycle for our 12-yo son. He has been biking to school, periodically but not totally enthusiastically. It didn’t help that the bike he was riding was too small and was inherited from his older sister.

We drove out to a Walmart several miles away. My husband picked this Walmart because of its proximity to some caches. If you looked up, it seemed to be on the edge of civilization.

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But the first store we tried didn’t have a bike we wanted. They had mostly bikes with cheap-looking components, even the tip of the kickstand of the one we tried was falling off. So we had to drive to the other side of town. Before we left, we went to find the caches. One, down by the river:

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Another, concealed in a birdhouse (no spoilers here, though).

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Trips to Walmart in Boston weren’t like this.

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Since moving to California, we have been trying to interest our middle-school-aged son in riding his bike to school. In Massachusetts, I’d been the Walk to School coordinator for years while my kids were in elementary school. I became familiar with International Walk to School Day in early October, when we would have major events. One year I guest-blogged on Free Range Kids about it: Non-Sanctimonious Blog about Today: WALK TO SCHOOL DAY!  Even on regular days, I would walk with my kids, drop them off, and then catch the bus to work.

But biking has been another story. It’s been an uphill battle, metaphorically, if not literally (our area is quite flat). When we lived in Massachusetts, our kids never really took to cycling either, for various reasons. We lived on a hill, the streets around us weren’t all that quiet or car-free, it was cold and/or snowy a lot of the year, you had to find your helmet, and, most distressing to me, the culture around biking had changed.

As a kid growing up in the 1970s and 1980s I remember riding my bike alone or with friends at a surprisingly young age. For example, when I was in elementary school, my next-door neighbor and I rode our bikes alone, without adults or helmets, to Carrols, a fast food restaurant a little less than a mile away and collected the Looney Tunes glasses that you could get with the purchase of a large Pepsi. Today’s eBay listings for these glasses say they were made and sold in 1973, which would have made me 7 or 8 years old when this was happening. Yes, at age 8, I helmetlessly rode my bike almost a mile each way with only a similar-aged friend for company, in order to purchase and consume a large sugary beverage in a commercial tie-in glass. The horror!

Even more horrifying to me is the fact that neither of my children, born in 1999 and 2003, respectively, have ever done anything like this.

When we first got here I had high hopes. California culture seems a lot more conducive to biking in many ways: there are bike lanes all over the place, the weather is always good, and the school district heavily promotes biking to school. In fact, just last Tuesday, I spent a half hour handing out raffle tickets to all the bikers, walkers, and skateboarders for “ABC: Anything But a Car” day at my son’s middle school. But that school is too far for our son to walk, and he was not enthusiastic about biking, at all.

He finally did it for the first time a few weeks ago when he had to get to school early and I had to go to work even earlier, so I couldn’t drive him. But it was not without a lot of foot-dragging and whining. He biked for ABC day last week, and now he has a new bike to replace the old one that he might have felt was too small and embarrassing to ride to 7th grade. At least the helmet is a non-issue: everyone wears them and he wouldn’t even be interested in trying to go without. The latest challenge is that it’s now so dark in the morning that the sun has barely risen by 7:20 when he has to leave for school. If we can just get through this week to the fall back, he’ll have some daylight again for biking.

I am trying to get used to using my own bike for errands too. Here we are in the land of the endless freeways, hopefully riding our bikes!

Biking to an Earth Cache

This past weekend got me outside and into the California lifestyle in a couple of ways. First, it was International EarthCache Day, which meant that if I found an EarthCache, I would get a souvenir on my geocaching profile.Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 1.35.36 PM

EarthCaches are slightly different from regular geocaches, in that there are no containers to find. You go to a location and answer some questions about that location to the cache owner. Sometimes you have to take a picture of yourself at the location and post that. Often there are EarthCaches around interesting geological sites. And you can learn a lot from answering the questions. Sometimes the kids think it’s a little too much like school, but the teacher in me thinks I will probably be setting up an EarthCache of my own someday, if all the good sites aren’t already taken.

I don’t have alerts for new caches set up on my phone, the way my husband does, but some of our new area geocaching friends had already chosen a suitable Earth Cache to go after: Santa Clara Sub-basin. I loaded my bike in the car and went over.

It was an easy ride, and then we had to answer some questions about water. The subbasin is a recharge zone, where water pools in recharge ponds and then gradually seeps back through rock into the aquifer to recharge the ground water. There was still a surprising amount of water in the recharge ponds. Enough for a turtle to swim in!

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Swimming turtle. You could see it from the bridge.

I’m glad to be getting back in the swing of cycling, too. I used to ride my bike to work 5 miles each way, when I worked in Cambridge MA. The Boston winters were hard on the bike. I realized the rear brake was almost completely frozen, and got it fixed this week.

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The four of us at the Earth Cache, I’m in the back on the left.

And, it was another day in paradise: gorgeous fall weather. It’s not New England foliage, but it’s pretty all the same.IMG_3339