The scent of chain lube, rubber and oranges lingers on my fingers. This is the sweet smell of bike repair and gender justice.
It’s 5 p.m. on a Tuesday at Bike Forth, Davis’ do-it-yourself bike repair shop. The garage door rolls up with a satisfying clang. Tonight is Women Trans Friends night. Women, transgender individuals and our friends gather to fix bikes and share stories of our pleasures and troubled times in the world of bicycle repair. My story of bike repair begins with blood and ends with orange-scented soap.
Before I moved to Davis, I mountain-biked in Laramie, Wyo. And I fell. A lot. I bled and broke my bike with alarming regularity. Fortunately, the local bike shop, The Pedal House, kept my bike in working order, while I repaired my cuts. Many afternoons, I would chat with the men (for all the mechanics were men) and watch with vague interest as their skilled hands mended the derailleur I bent in my latest crash. Continue reading ‘WTF? What’s up with gender and bikes?’
To celebrate the end of March Madness and get a jump on reducing the calorie deficit incurred this month, I am sponsoring an epic stage race to selected bakeries in Yolo and Solano Counties. The first annual Tour de Fritter, a grueling one-day, four-stage race, will be held next Wednesday, March 31 (Cesar Chavez Day, a state holiday). After each stage, riders will be required to consume at least one deep-fried pastry of their choice, though time bonuses will be awarded for eating fritters. The exception is Stage 4, where riders may choose to drink a litre of beer in lieu of eating a fritter. Riders refusing to eat a whole pastry or drink a litre of beer will be relegated or disqualified. Continue reading ‘Announcing Le Tour de Fritter’
I can't recommend learning how to ride (or riding) a bike in a living room.
I learned how to ride a bike using training wheels. When the training wheels came off, down I went, and this cycle repeated until I somehow managed to stay upright. Looking back on the experience, it is a testament to the resilience of children, and my stubbornness, that I ever rode a bike again.
Last summer a friend in her 20′s mentioned that she had never learned how to ride a bike, and living in a bike-centric area, would like to learn. Since she was clearly too tall to learn on a bike with training wheels, and I wanted her to enjoy riding a bike, I set off to find some alternative teaching method. What I found makes perfect sense, but is apparently not very widely known. Continue reading ‘Learn to Ride’
Davis is a wonderful place to get into cycling. It has better infrastructure for cycling than many other towns of its size and it is extraordinarily flat. There is also a resident population of bike users, ranging from people who use their bike for weekend recreation to those who use bikes for everything. How you want to interact with the city and your bike is up to you, but here are basic starting tips and advice.
First off, you’ll need some sort of bike. Davis is flat, so the type of the bike is less important than how it fits you and how comfortable you feel on it. Of course, if you aren’t going to be riding off-road, changing out big chunky mountain bike tires for some slick pavement tires will make the on-road ride easier. If you lack a bike, see if a friend who is about your size will let you borrow one or stop into a bike shop and see what they suggest. Continue reading ‘Just Ride’
I wrote the following in late January in response to a Handlebar post asking if Davis Bicycles! should consider lending its support to any state legislation that would, if passed, allow cyclists to treat “Stop” signs as “Yield” signs as is currently the law in Idaho. State Senator Lowenthal was reportedly thinking of authoring such a bill. Although the deadline for introducing new bills this session has since passed, such a provision could be amended later into an existing bill.
At the time I wrote this post, I was not aware that Sen. Lowenthal was not considering including the other major provision of the Idaho law that allows cyclists to treat red lights as stop signs. I have left my critique of this law in my comments below because someone would likely ask about it, and there’s certainly the possibility that any attempt to enact similar legislation in California might include both provisions. To read the complete text of the Idaho law, visit
This column was originally published in the Davis Enterprise on Feb. 16, 2009, while the Tour of California was in progress and Davis had just hosted Stage 1.
Russell Reagan riding Hwy. 128 near Lake Berryessa in March 2008
As we watch the Tour of California, we in Davis know that bicycling is for everyone who is able-bodied, not just the athletes. But it takes motivation to ride.
A bicyclist I met who had ridden many 200-mile rides once described how on some days she found it hard to motivate herself to get on her bike just to ride across Davis for an errand. We may recognize the many health benefits of bicycling, not to mention the benefits for the planet. Yet even for the athletically inclined, sometimes that’s still not sufficient motivation to get on our bikes.
Encouragement is an important element in the Bike Plan of the City of Davis and other communities. In the broader challenge of switching to more sustainable transportation modes, activities of groups like the Davis Bike Club have a role to play in encouraging more people to get on their bikes. (DBC is a different group from Davis Bicycles!, the two-year-old advocacy group that organizes this column.) Continue reading ‘March Bicycle Madness: motivation to ride, ride, ride’
As I have gotten more involved in my UC Davis Transportation masters program, I have been thinking more and more about how biking has been declining in mode share (specifically related to Davis) over the years. While the establishment of Unitrans may have helped this trend, certainly a lack of consistent investment in bike infrastructure, external commuting, and cultural shifts (see “[intlink id="6" type="post"]Earbud Citation: Is it necessary?[/intlink]”) have not been positive contributors. In 2008, I put together a campaign piece called the “Three Point Plan to Bring the Bike Back,” as a way to raise awareness as to some options available to the City to help reverse this trend- it is included below (and some bullet points may have become antiquated by the passage of time); but if you have ideas on how your local government can step up, I would love to hear about them. As you can see below, bike safety is very important to me (I was hit while on my bike in downtown Davis, when a car blew through a stop sign- always wear your helmet, kids!)- so other paradigms welcome! Continue reading ‘Bringing the Bike Back!’
Charlie and the Rabbit is a recently released film about a young boy who goes hunting for a rabbit. It was filmed in Davis by two locals and just showed at the Sundance Film Festival this year. There are some beautiful scenes of Charlie bicycling around the streets and paths of the city. UC Davis News wrote a nice article about the film and its authors and they’ve made it to the front page of UC Davis website. You will have to watch to see if he gets the wabbit…
On my way to school this morning I passed Officer Ralph Nuno (bicycle campus police officer) stopping folks on bicycle at the north side of the Outdoor Adventures traffic circle. He was primarily looking for people who were listening to there mp3 players while riding their bicycle. I found this a bit outrageous, so I stopped to talk with him about what was going on. It turns out that he is the only bicycle cop on campus and is fairly new. He was very nice and gave me lots of great information on the situation. Continue reading ‘Earbud Citation: Is it necessary?’