Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category
Hear Davis bike author Matt Biers-Ariel give his hilarious and poignant book reading/slide show at the Sacramento REI on Wednesday, August 29 at 7:00 PM. The Bar Mitzvah and The Beast: One Family’s Cross-Country Ride of Passage by Bike documents his family’s 3,804 mile ride from San Francisco to Washington DC that they undertook when his atheist son refused to have a traditional Jewish rite of passage. Matt’s insights into family dynamics, bicycling, and global climate change is continuing to entertain readers all over America.
By Enrique Fernandes
Returning to Woodland unemployed, underwater in student debt and unaccomplished in almost every sense of the word, I didn’t imagine it would be so tough transitioning to the post-graduate life of leisure. Since no job offers with great pay, great benefits and minimal amounts of work required were presented to me after finishing school, I had planned on embarking on an extended break from pretty much everything.
Now, despite having longed for a reprieve from the stress and anxiety that accompanies the life of a student, I found it quite difficult acclimating to the aimless life of languid monotony. Though it was languid monotony I sought after four years of university work, having once achieved it, it wasn’t the panacea I had hoped it to be.
With the disappearance of all deadlines, projects and assignments, which had filled my daily schedule, I assumed all stress would fade along with it. Fade the stress did, but my mind remained unsettled. This relaxation thing didn’t sit as well as I thought it would sit with me.
After spending some time reflecting, I discovered it was recreation I wanted, not relaxation. It was adventure, I concluded, not inactivity that would provide me the tranquility and peace of mind I sought.
So, I decided to completely refigure the laidback plans I had devised for how I would spend my prolonged vacation, but I didn’t have much money to turn those plans into reality. With my ambitions soaring in a direction my savings balance was not, I didn’t have much to work with to obtain recreation or adventure. I was too broke to travel anywhere exotic and too unimaginative to devise some reasonably inexpensive local excursion.
I reached the point of almost giving up on the hope of achieving the excitement and adventure I desired, but then taking up the sport of cycling crossed my mind. It seemed like the perfect activity to supply me with what I was after. The thought of pedaling along miles of country roads and examining territory unfamiliar to me seemed pretty adventurous. It would be a way to get outside the city limits — away from the daily clamor — and reconnect with the countryside I had missed so much.
Solidifying my desire to take up cycling was the relatively light financial burden required to begin. I was able to find a fairly inexpensive road bike at Foy’s Bike Shop, and staying away from any spandex gear helped me trim not only cost, but potential embarrassment.
Within a day of purchasing my road bike, I took my first journey. Heading south on County Road 102, I ended up making a nice 20-mile trip around Woodland. As I began to get more comfortable on the bike, I began myself using it more than just as a recreational toy. I found myself regularly riding my bike to the job I eventually found in Woodland. With the price of gas climbing and carbon emissions growing, it felt good commuting to work in a vehicle other than a car.
The investment I made in purchasing a road bike has paid more than the obvious financial dividends. Cycling has provided me with an avenue to not only escape the quotidian occurrences of daily life, but it has supplied me with an outlet for acquiring adventure and achieving mental clarity.
Having taken numerous rides around Woodland and the Capay Valley, I’ve come to realize that you really don’t need to travel outside of Woodland or Yolo County to experience excitement or thrills. We are surrounded by such incredible natural beauty that I am often reminded of how spoiled we are, as Woodlanders, to be entrenched in the heart of an agriculture epicenter.
By just venturing out around the landscape farmers are constantly cultivating, you’ll find so much uncultivated splendor.
Hamlet’s famous soliloquey deals with the ultimate question: should I stay or depart from this world. This isn’t a question I ever ponder because for all its problems, I love life. Yet I am assailed with environmental questions on a daily basis, the main one being: how do I shrink my ginormous Bigfoot carbon footprint into a petite Lotus Foot?
Hamlet pondered whether or not to plunge his bare bodkin into his gut. My existential question boils down to: To drive or not to drive. Driving is fast, convenient, and relatively cheap when compared to public transportation. You don’t have to plan your trip with schedules, transfers, and correct change. You aren’t beholden to listening to the jerk behind you singing Van Morrison in the key of loud. You don’t stew at the station waiting for a delayed train. Rather, you simply jump in the car, put your favorite beverage in its holder, and accelerate. It is a no-brainer. A no-brainer but for the fact that every mile driven is a pound of carbon dioxide spewed into the atmosphere.
For an entire week, I went back and forth about whether I should drive my car to my friend Frank’s house in San Mateo or take public transportation. It is a relatively easy public transportation foray. Bike to Amtrak and train to Richmond, switch to BART, ride to Milpitas, and bike to Frank’s house. 3 hours, 30 minutes door to door. Roundtrip ticket, $50. Or I could drive. 1 hour, 30 minutes and $25 gas and tolls.
Extenuating circumstances included: Djina was on-call over the 24 hours I would be away, and I felt a bit guilty about leaving Solly on his own because that meant an awful lot of The Simpsons reruns. I could save both time and money if I drove, and I wouldn’t be chained to the train times. But the carbon footprint, Matt. What about that?
For five days I was on the fence, handcuffed by indecision. I started feeling the best way would be to stay home. Save money, save gas, play football with Solly. In the end, I rationalized that I’d make up the 200-mile round trip to San Mateo in eight days of bicycle commuting to work.
So I guiltily drove off.
30 miles into the trip, the engine made a new kind of sound. I pulled over and discovered a spark plug was not in its usual place. $270 and three hours later I was back on the road. Clearly, a lesson was to be learned. But what was it? It depends on whom you ask. If you ask me, the universe/God/karma/whatever was speaking slowly in simple sentences as if explaining to a small child: whenever you have a choice, don’t drive. To Djina, the lesson was also abundantly clear: take the car in for routine maintenance, and spark plugs won’t fly out of engines. Solly’s take home was: you should have stayed home and watched The Simpsons. They had a new episode which was way better than going to San Mateo and there’s no carbon footprint.
If I am ever going to be serious about arresting global warming, I will need to learn this lesson. I suppose that goes for us all.
— Matt Biers-Ariel and Mont Hubbard are co-editors of the Davis Bicycles! column, published every other week in The Davis Enterprise. To offer a Davis Bicycles! column, write to them at firstname.lastname@example.org or log on to www.bikedavis.info to see instructions for authors.
These are some opportunities for distance riding challenges and group training rides described in the DB! column in the Enterprise on Friday, March 2.
The Davis Bike Club offers these mileage challenges:
The Hill Climbing ride series is also among the many rides organized by DBC.
Susan Ashdown’s Davis Cinderella Training Group is on Facebook. If you’re not on Facebook, contact Susan via e-mail:
There are many cycling machines wandering our fair burg. We’ve all seen tandems on our roads, and even the occasional triplet. Those interested in historical cycling machines have seen bicycles that even seat up to six or eight people in a line.
Now, a human powered vehicle that seats 15 has been plying the streets of Davis on occasion. The Busycle has come toDavis.
Constructed on the chassis of a 1989 Dodge 15-passenger bus, the Busycle is no lightweight. It was brought to life by a consortium of MIT engineers, students, fabricators and artists. Using recycled, donated and scavenged parts, they created a vehicle to move by human power alone, despite a weight of just over 1,500 pounds. The good news is that the Mack Truck transmission is unlikely to fail, though difficult to operate. There is also no fear of rolling over.
Technically, only 14people can actually pedal. The 15th steers, brakes and shifts after a fashion. Considering the nature of the transmission, this is not a plum job aboard the Busycle. All those pedaling the Busycle face outward, making for a very naturally friendly mode of transport. The low speeds at which it travels allows people to engage in conversation and wonderment.
How it came to Davis is a matter of serendipity. It was one of those bizarre cycling-related stories that can only happen in a tight, off-kilter community of both like-minded and apparently weak-minded aficionados of human-powered vehicles. The plan was to return it to Boston after its five-year stint in the Bay Area. Yours truly had ridden it several times in Palo Alto to various gatherings, celebrations and music venues. It had served a valuable purpose, and was a hit for young and old alike.
Now, it was time for it to return to the place where it was created. A bus to tow the Busycle was procured, along with a trailer upon which to transport the Busycle. Goodbyes were said, preparations completed and a commercial driver for the bus recruited. The Busycle was off across the country once again.
But a desperate call came late one fall week. On Day 1 of the trans-American journey, the bus had overheated severely. The hitch had failed. The trailer had disappeared. The Busycle was left at the side of the road in the EastBay. A journey of nearly 3,000 miles had ended in disaster 43 miles from the start.
At least a rental yard pulled the Buscyle into its fenced in area to keep it from being vandalized. The organizer of the whole affair was headed to the airport to fly back to Ireland. The one remaining originator of the Busycle was in India. Was there anything the Davis cycling community could do to help?
Google worked with UC Davis so that Google Street View (part of Google Maps) now has data on the car-free campus. Look for it in Google Maps soon.
- John Whitehead
The Davis Bike Club gets a little crazy during the month of March. As if competing for the most miles cycled in a month is not enough (a few people have exceeded 4,000 miles each in past years), there is a tradition of posting poetry on the club’s email list. Below is a recent limerick, inspired by the annual pancake breakfast at the West Plainfield fire station, 6 miles from Davis. This rural volunteer fire department hosts a rest stop at mile 190 of the Davis Double Century, and is also a beneficiary of the DBC philanthropy department. For March Bicycle Madness riders, the breakfast is an excuse to start riding early on the first Sunday in March.
Eating pancakes, surrounded by voices
Discussing more rides – many choices
Out of five Sunday spins
The smoothest one wins
It’s better than driving Rolls Royces