Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Traveling light and City Cycling

We just got home from buying two bikes for some city cycling. I'm excited about that! We cycle daily on our little island, of course, but the entire circumference of the dirt road is only 4 kilometres, and our biking there mainly limited to riding to the ferry.
I've been a bit anxious about city cycling, but we've done a bit more each year in Bordeaux, even once or twice on those Sundays in Paris when streets are closed to cars. Vancouver, meanwhile, has been adding more and more cycle paths, and our condo is right on a route that takes us over a bridge via dedicated bike lane, then all along the city beaches for a decent distance on safe paths. Can't wait to get out and try them out. In fact, if the meeting Paul had to rush off to finishes early, we may even take the bikes for a spin tonight, nifty new baskets and all.
Otherwise, we're leaving them behind and heading back to the island in the morning, hoping this fabulous weather lasts long enough for at least one more good swim before the rains set in. No complaining, though, as the gardens need a good watering and forest fire season is in full swing. . .

I'll leave you with this inspirational photo of my son and daughter-in-law, last featured in this post, cooking up a sumptuous feast for the family. Why inspirational? this is how these two showed up for our drive back to Bari after a week in Peschici. Those backpacks they're wearing? Contain everything they brought for a ten-day stay in Italy! That included looking decent for dinners at the wine estates they visited. Impressive, no? As light as Pater and I travel with our carry-on cases, I couldn't help envy this freedom.
Do you cycle in the city? If not, did you once? Do you cycle at all? Did you when you were young? Or answer any question about cycling or backpacking that you can imagine I might have asked....I always like to hear from you, truly!


18 comments:

  1. Great idea to ride your bikes in the city. I was once a cycling fiend. I rode everywhere. My advice? This is all common sense but I need to pass it along anyway. Stick to the cycling paths as much as possible. Always ride with bright front and rear lights when it starts to get dark. Don't feel bad to use your bell liberally. Wear a helmet, yes, even when it's hot, and fasten it securely. Try to keep your bike within sight if you go into a cafe, etc. Just because it's locked doesn't mean it's protected. Don't assume you're safe all the time. Finally, try to avoid riding if you are running late for an appointment - it's too easy to make mistakes or let down your guard. That's about it. ENJOY!

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    1. We rode into twilight (well, maybe just past!) last night, and quickly we realized that we have to go back to get lights. But yes, we're riding mainly on cycling paths. Sounds as if you've had some corrective experience. . . .we'll take your advice seriously!

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  2. Yes, cycling is fun! (Provided it doesn't rain.) I try to ride my bike to school as often as possible. Which means I don't when I have lessons at eight and would have to get up extra early, nor do I use the bike when the weather doesn't permit it (see above) or when I have too much load to carry that mustn't suffer any damage (like test papers, borrowed books etc.) Which leaves me with two to three rides per week, 6 km either way. I always wear a helmet. I bought my fist helmet in Oxford, some 25 years ago, when wearing one was looked at as something weird in Germany. But in Oxferd every other cyclist was wearing one so it was easy to blend in and adopt the habit. Nowadays riding the bike without it is like driving without safety belt, I just feel that something is missing.
    In fact, one of my plans for retirement is to get rid of my car and get around on foot or bike. At some moment an electric bike may be indicated - time will show....

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    1. Good inspiration from you, Eleonore, Thanks!
      We've had our car for 13 or 14 years now, and it still hasn't clocked 80,000kms, but even so, I'd like to see if we can use it less in the city. I don't think we'll ride when the weather's poor though (in fact, we bought the bikes without fenders, so I won't be going out in the rain).
      Some of those electric bikes look pretty cool!

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  3. Hi Mater - those backpacks are amazing. 10 days?!
    I'm planning to get a bike again after we move. I've had one in the past and do enjoy riding around, although I've never lived anywhere with a really good cycle path system. We are planning a trip to the UK and Germany for October and would like to take a guided bike tour, I'm sure that will be fun.

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    1. I know! Isn't that amazing?! Remember the youth that let us manage that way? (of course, I had 3 little ones by the time I was their age, but still. . . )
      A guided bike tour in Europe would be great -- nice not to have to worry about the logistics.

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  4. It must be so liberating tone able to travel like that. The bike is a great form of transportation. I would like to be car free by 65 but M. is not on the same page with that goal. I used to cycle all the time in my early 30's because I didn't drive.

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    1. I think so too -- liberating in a way that I think you could bring back to daily life!
      You could enjoy cycling in lovely flat Richmond and Steveston, except that those roads so favour cars, don't they?!

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  5. I love my bike. We don't cycle from home because we live on a busy, narrow, country road with no shoulder. It's no fun to cycle and can be dangerous...one too many close calls, so we called it quits. Now at least twice a week (that's retirement for you!) we throw our bikes into the back of the truck and, after a short drive, we hit the trails. There are a ton of trails in and around Ottawa. We like to plan our route on mapmyride.com. We also love to go father out into the country and cycle the old roads admiring the fields and stone farm houses. These days we pretend to be in the Tour de France...albeit with a very small peleton!
    And you got a NEW bike...congrats. The coolest and easiest way to feel like a kid again is to get a new bike!

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    1. I love that area around Ottawa (my husband worked there for 5 or so years, about 10-ish years ago, and I visited regularly). So pretty. Do you ever get out to a little restaurant called L'Agaric? not so far from Ottawa?
      Isn't it silly how good a new bike can feel? Ours our not exactly new as they're ones that were rented out since March, so nicely broken in, still shiny!

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  6. I like cycling, but I hate hills. There are a lot of hills around us. Ergo, I don't cycle very much any more. But I should. I would like to. I tell myself this. Will I? Doubtful.
    Around the sea wall is a lovely ride. Our daughter and son-in-law live very near the Laughing Men statues and enjoy riding there.

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    1. On today's bikes, I have to say, hills are really nothing! Once you get comfortable with the gears, these bikes are generally lighter and easier to peddle than what we used to ride. Either that or I have got prodigiously stronger in my old age and what are the chances?
      We're only about 15 minutes from those Laughing Men ourselves and probably pass your daughter and son-in-law occasionally. Cities. . . ;-)

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  7. Can't ride a bike - gave up in childhood when I saw the shadow silhouette of the person teaching me who swore he was holding on actually let go, and I promptly fell over. Tried again in adulthood with little luck. I admire cyclists (and, of course, as a driver am exasperated by many of them), but I think I won't make any more efforts in this direction. But it seems I will be in Vancouver later this year, so I will be using your blog as a reference for interesting things to see and do - just not on the back of a bike.

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    1. Oh, those childhood traumas! They exercise such long dark shadows, don't they?! I think that's a great part of mid-life (and then some!) maturity -- we can decide that we "won't make any more efforts in this direction," and it can feel good!
      Oh, I hope Vancouver can put on some good weather for your visit -- it's such a brilliant spot in the sunshine. . .

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  8. I love to walk and miss my long walks as my foot continues to heal from the joint placement. One of the issues for me is that I grew up in a traditional southern US family where girls/women were not supposed to "glow" much less sweat even in 100 degree weather. Exercise of any kind, especially outdoors, was considered very strange after childhood with the possible exception of a civilized round of golf or tennis. I think I am the first to actually go to a gym. I know I need to reconsider types of locomotion in my life, especially if I ever get to live somewhere where it is not hot all the time! Lynn

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    1. That's a different upbringing than my own, although I remember a little saying my grandmother used to recite about pigs sweating, men perspiring, and ladies "glowing."
      Did you feel constrained by these expectations or did they seem natural at the time?

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  9. I wish I loved cycling more but I like the idea if it more than the practice. My lovely bikes sit unused for years and most of the time I would rather walk. Cycling the seawall would be nice but cycling city streets worries me. In the past couple of years a good friend's 35 year-old daughter was killed cycling, my brother broke his collar bone, my daughter's 65 year-old mother-in -law was hospitalized with a serious concussion and another friend broke her pelvis falling off her bike. Probably being older I'm more risk adverse. Paranoid? But it doesn't seem to be in my nature to be happy ambling along, and now I'm too chicken to go all out.

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    1. I'm not keen on cycling city streets either (or highways, for that matter!). I'm so sorry about your friend's daughter and the other injuries your friends and relatives suffered on bikes. I might counter that my personal statistics for injured friends have been weighted towards automobiles, but that mode of transportation seems less optional somehow, doesn't it?
      I'm risk averse from the get-go, though. Didn't need to age for that one, so I'm pretty happy ambling. . . I can see why you'd give it up if you're one of those who hurtled madly along! ;-)

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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