Archive for the 'Bicycle' Category

Shopping

Posted by laura on Sep 10 2010 | Bicycle, Tasty

We swung by the new Whole Foods on the way home from school the other day. I’m particularly fond of this WF because right in front of the store,¬†they installed a whole line of bike racks and a handy tool station for bikers – it’s thoughtful and convenient. When we rolled in that afternoon, I was particularly happy to see that every rack was taken and we had to double up with other bikes. As you know, I’m pretty keen on people using their bikes whenever possible, and not only for bombing down the roads head to toe in spandex.

Now here’s the funny thing we saw when we came out of the grocery store – it’s a little hard to see because of my rushed shot, but Don’t Worry. I’ll explain.

So let me set this up – we’re directly outside the store. Just past those green umbrellas on the left is the cart return place. To our immediate left, literally a foot away, is the parking lot. You can just see the row of bike racks in the back there, which extend off to the right behind the post. Here’s the kicker – in the foreground are the shopping carts that people have deserted, just feet away from both the cars and the cart return, and completely blocking the bike racks. You couldn’t pull the bikes out without having to move the carts.

Honey felt a little blue about it all, as you can see, but it was pretty funny. Occasionally it seems as though we drift around in our lives, not really seeing each other at all.

The huge bonus from that shopping trip, though, was figs. To me, figs are the airline tickets of the produce world – you watch them and wait for the price to drop a bit, and then suddenly they’re all gone. They know I need them, too, so they’re disinclined to drop in price. Well they finally budged a bit, and that was enough for me – here’s what we had for dinner that night.

And last night? Pork chops with roasted balsamic fig glaze… happiness.

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What a Weekend!!

Posted by laura on Sep 06 2010 | Awesome, Bicycle, Fun, Uncategorized

FRIDAY

Every Friday afternoon, Honey’s soccer team has a practice. I’ve mentioned it before, because we’ve had it this way for three years now – Friday soccer practice ends at 5pm and we all know that’s cocktail time. So we usually bring some snacks and drinks to the practice and kick off the weekend in style. Everyone lingers at the field for a little while before we all head off to our evening plans. It has to be one of the most civilized moments of the week, and I always look forward to it.

This past Friday, I was late for the practice for perhaps the first time, as I was looking after some extra kids that afternoon and one of them experienced an unfortunate convergence of hill, wide turn and speeding cyclist. Ouch. It all could have been much, much worse, but thanks to that, and this,

and another mother who happened to come along at the perfect moment to help with all the calls and details, we were able to keep it all together until the injured party’s mum could scoop him up and take him in for some stitches. He was exceptionally brave, and we were all pretty lucky.

[BTW I thought I'd already posted something on my sweet retro first aid kit, but it looks like I forgot. You can buy the reproduction kit right from the American Red Cross site and support the organization. It comes with basic supplies, but there's still space to trick it out with some extra items like large non-stick pads, which I can now tell you are quite nice to have if you need them!]

When the rest of us finally arrived at soccer practice (I thankfully didn’t lose or maim the other extra child along the way), my terrific friends had thrown a surprise birthday celebration for me. I’m so glad I didn’t miss it!

They were ridiculous – champagne, prosecco, delicious snacks… all organized by my extravagant friend Jill. Unbelievable. This is the life, I tell you. I am now spoiled beyond recognition.

This is how I arrived home that night. Lucky ducky.

That evening we had a relaxing, delicious meal at our friends’ house – and were there when our hero arrived with stitches in his hand. He was feeling much better and just beginning to experience the warm recognition that rightfully follows injury, so he was in a good spot. I heard one of the dads ask him how it happened, and he said, “Well, I was riding out of the school and I took the turn pretty wide and … lesson learned!” So darn great.

SATURDAY

A beautiful day here. Honey’s soccer team won their first game and even passed the ball to each other – a marked departure from their traditional strategy, which was give the ball immediately to the best player and watch her score. She still did half the scoring, but it was much more evenly played overall.

In the evening we drove down to Palo Alto for dinner with Needham friends, and that was tasty and quite fun. We loved catching up with our friends, and the area is really quite beautiful.

SUNDAY

Honey and I started out bright and early, with a trip to the Alameda Flea Market with Joan and the girls. It’s been nearly a year since our last trip and I was beginning to doubt the possibility of finding good items there at a reasonable price. We ended up having a terrific time and coming home with some treasures. Our timing was perfect – we waltzed right in the entry (when we left, the line had to be 45 minutes long) and started strolling through the booths sometime around 8am. Joan and the girls actually found some items they were looking for, which is a coup considering how hectic the market is. Honey found this ridiculously lovely jacket that honestly could have been made for her – the color and cut suited her perfectly.

She wore it the rest of the morning, she was so pleased. It had no size or materials tag inside – just one label:

I remember Mum mentioning “Princess Ann” clothes years ago, but I was surprised that I couldn’t find anything out about them online. Not that I spent a huge amount of time, but I was curious to see if I could figure out approximately when the coat was made, and I couldn’t find a thing about the label online. If anyone knows anything more about it, I’d love to hear.

Check out what I found:

Oh yes. We are Dance Masters of America.

And how about this?

Your eyes do not deceive you – a handbag with a watch built in. Wanna see it again?

Mm hm. That’s right. It still works, too.

As if that weren’t enough, Honey and and her friends scored four perfect, gorgeous velvet doll capes for $3 each. What a morning. And then, that night… we went to watch a professional women’s soccer game.

Our local team, SC Gold Pride, was playing the Boston Breakers. Talk about a dilemma! Who to cheer for? Both I guess. Although the Pride sure held their spot at the top of the league last night and played well and won. One of the most popular Bay Area players is named Marta – she’s from Brazil originally and played for the LA Sol last year before they dissolved the team this season. She just danced around the ball like you wouldn’t believe, and them BAM! Right into the corner of the goal. Yipes.

Fortunately/unfortunately the stadium isn’t huge and the game wasn’t too crowded, so we had great seats and a close view of the field. It was fun to walk up higher to see the patterns of play, and then sit close so you could really see the women’s footwork. We were all blown away.

On top of all that, there were contests to win shirts and signed balls and all the people in the stands were having such a great time. After the game, the players came out to give autographs, and Honey and Hot Wheels had never done that before. They lined up with all the other kids and held their programs out hopefully. Hot Wheels was so much shorter than the other kids, the players couldn’t even see his face – just a small hand stuck through a sea of legs and the gate. But these women were ridiculously nice. They took their time and smiled at all the kids, and some of them even chatted a bit.

When they got signatures, our kids turned back towards us, and I swear I will never, ever forget the looks on their faces. I simply wasn’t prepared for it – I thought it was terrific that the players would come out, but I totally underestimated the impact on our kids. They were radiant, all the way home. Hot Wheels fell asleep in the car, and as I carried him into the house, he stirred, then shot awake in a panic. “Do you have my program??!” This morning he wrapped it carefully in a plastic bag and hid it behind the shelves in his room. Maybe he’s afraid it will get stolen.

MONDAY

Thankfully our friend Amy decided that for her birthday this year, we should all get the day off. Wasn’t that nice of her? I thought so. We decided to do very little today. It was deliciously hot, and we took a walk and went over to Soccerfest, which is a soccer fundraiser/party they throw here in town each year. They usually try to have a professional player there to give a brief demonstration and talk to the kids, so Hot Wheels went over with his precious program from last night, just in case one of the Pride players was there. No such luck, but he had a great time on all the bouncy castles instead. We all got a little fried in the sun, just like we do each year, but it was fun nonetheless.

Now I have to go to bed. I hope you all had a great weekend!! Happy birthday Amy!

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Not Just the Clothes Make the (Wo)Man

Posted by laura on Aug 30 2010 | Awesome, Bicycle, Uncategorized

I’m going to fess up front here – this one’s about clothes. You’ve been warned.

Around this time every year I tend to look in the old closet and cringe a bit. Shopping is not on my top ten list of favorite activities – at least not for myself. I get itchy and self conscious and flustered and desperate to be outside. But sometimes I have to face facts and realize that when the sweaters have vents in the elbows and the shirts are faded and the dresses are drooping, it’s time to grow up already and get myself out and buy a few new things.

This is the moment when my natural disinclination for shopping runs headlong into my miserable memory and creates a disaster because when will I ever learn that shopping is a team sport? I grumble my way around the mall all by myself, tsking like an old lady at the prices and recoiling at my reflection under the fluorescent dressing room lighting. The last time I tried it, I confirmed that all dressing rooms should come equipped with business card dispensers for local therapists. On-call.

Last week, I was feeling both brave and desperate, so I headed up to the shops with one major plan – Anthropologie. I might still groan about the prices, but at least I’d get to revel in the store design, and the fabrics, and the way their dressing room lighting actually murmurs soft compliments the whole time you’re in there. (Which can be a bit misleading, but I’ll take it.) I really did try that day, but I walked out with just one black turtleneck top that was on sale and somewhat predictable. It’s actually quite nice. I have it on right now.

Right after that, though, I had the unbelievable good fortune to bump into my friends Nuran and Jill, and everything changed. They wanted to see what I bought. I showed them. “It’s black!” Nuran said.

“Well…”

“Come with me.”

And with that, Nuran grabbed me by the arm and dragged me back into the store. She started throwing clothes at me. “You’re going to try this on, and we have to see that. THIS is a great color for you.”

“Really?!”

“Don’t argue with me. Just try it on.”

Talk about pushy. But Nuran is always right. Jill was also giving me ideas and trying to protect me a bit. They grabbed clothes that I’d just walked by and never even considered. I thought they were a bit crazy but it seemed safer to just ride the current and see what happened. Can I also say they still only took things from the sale racks? That’s important.

They hauled me into the dressing room, checked everything out and told me what they thought. They said charming things like, “I hate you – look at those legs.” God love them.

In the end, I had too many choices. I couldn’t decide, so they suggested that I put it all on hold and stroll around to mull it over, which I did. We said good bye and I thanked them for the rescue. Shortly afterwards, I got a text from Nuran – ‘Where are u? I have somthng to show u.’ They turned up a few minutes later with a box – they’d bought me one of the skirts I was looking at, for my birthday. I am not making this up. Like a total attitude overhaul wasn’t enough.

The next day, I wore one of my new outfits around town. It has a great 50s feeling to it – one of the other mums at school said I was “channeling my inner Betty Draper.”

You don’t have to tell me – I know the bike helmet really completes the look. Mmm.

(I had a great string of vintage beads from my friend Lori that had the exact same green as the skirt. Sweet!)

Ok listen up, fellow shopping detesters – I’ve seen the light. You need teammates. The kind who will, through gentle guidance or outright bullying, get you to expand your image of yourself. They’ll tell you what looks good and give confidence to wear what you truly like. Yes, it is frivolous. Yes, your confidence should come from within and your clothes shouldn’t make a difference, except for the fact that they do because we make visual decisions and judgements incessantly, subconsciously, and we can’t stop it.

On Friday, I rode my bike around town with a grin on my face because I felt terrific, and it wasn’t just the cut of my new skirt, or the lovely compliments I received that gave me such a boost. It was camaraderie.

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All In A Day

Posted by laura on Mar 02 2010 | Bicycle, Uncategorized

This morning

This afternoon

This morning was more than grey and rainy. This morning was downright surly. The rain sheeted down and gusts slapped at our legs. It wasn’t pretty. This afternoon, the day was all, “I’m so, so sorry! I just – I don’t know what got into me. Honest, I didn’t mean it – here, I made this bright sparkly for you.” And just like that, we forgave it, like it won’t do the same thing again tomorrow. We’re such suckers sometimes.

My bike had a new first today – check it out!

As I rolled away from school, a dad called out, “Hey, is it legal to have a volcano on your bike?”

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Another Bike Post

Posted by laura on Dec 11 2009 | Awesome, Bicycle, Fun, School

Here are three fun biking events from the past two weeks:

1. Family Ride to Tiburon

Over Thanksgiving weekend, we finally took a great ride that we’d been planning forever with our friends Rik and Sherri and their two awesome kids. We went from Mill Valley to Tiburon on a clear and windy Saturday afternoon. The ride was amazing; only one challenging hill and mostly beautiful bike path, tons of people out enjoying the day, stunning views of the bay and the city to the south. Everything went smoothly and the kids all had a fantastic time. We stopped at Waypoint pizza and got the back room all to ourselves – the food was made even more tasty by our ride beforehand. After we ate, we admired the view for a bit before heading back home.

tiburon

Tom has this great app called Runkeeper on his iPhone which tracks all the stats on your adventures – distance, time, pace and even elevation – using the phone’s gps. Here’s the screen for our return ride from Tiburon:

runkeeper

How awesome is that?! The kids loved checking out the route and looking at the elevation chart – speed certainly is variable when your riders range from six to, well, you know, more than six. I love the information design on these screens – they’re easy to read and beautiful to look at. So satisfying. All in all, it was an incredible day.

2. Walk and Wheel Wednesdays

As I’ve mentioned here before, I put in a small amount of time for the Safe Routes to School committee at our kids’ elementary school. One of the ways we’re trying to build participation in the program is to encourage a weekly walk/wheel/carpool to school day. We try to drum up enthusiasm for the whole idea by putting up posters and a table at the school entrance on the first Wednesday of each month. Whole Foods was good enough to give us some bags of granola to hand out to the students, and we’ve been stamping hands to show they participated. However, we’ve been struggling to come up with other ways to get the message out without printing up hundreds of flyers that will just be tossed when the kids go home after school.

Last week, I started thinking about edible advertising. So I bought a couple bags of cuties and some food markers and put the message right on the clementines.

cuties1

They had faces on one side, and “Walk & Wheel Wednesdays” on the other. It was fun watching the kids trying to decide which face to choose, and I think they worked pretty well. Anyone out there have other ideas? I’d love to hear them.

cuties2

3. Xtra Clean

I’ve carried lots of fun things with my xtracycle.

vacuumbike

I love having a bike that can carry my vacuum cleaner.

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iWalk 2009

Posted by laura on Oct 07 2009 | Bicycle, School

We participated in International Walk to School Day here in our town today. Over the past few weeks, the Safe Routes to School committee at our elementary school has prepped for this event; we worked with students to make posters, promoted the event all over the school and arranged for healthy snacks and Safe Routes patches to hand out as walkers, bikers and carpoolers rocked up to school.

iwalk3

Here’s a shot from the path to school. That lady on my xtracycle? Not me. It’s one of our fantastic PE teachers. I rode to school early this morning with my bike completely loaded up with a box of granola samples kindly donated by our local Whole Foods, a huge tupperware of orange slices, serving trays, you name it. The minute I arrived, I saw our PE teacher, who commandeered my bike to chase down the principal, who was heading up the bike path to meet the crowd of walkers heading in from the community center. I didn’t get to see the path when things were going full tilt, but I heard it was mayhem. Woohoo!

ridingtoschool

Look who’s got new wheels! He finally has hand brakes and gears, thanks to a lucky garage sale find. He’s beyond happy.

iwalk2

Here are some riders filling in one section of our bike racks. It’s tricky to take shots without any faces in them – thanks for this one, Tom!

iwalk4

The bike racks filled up pretty quickly…

iwalk31

Check out that sweet minty green bike! The black one behind it doesn’t look that fancy in this shot, but it’s got a very cool industrial rear rack. Having good equipment sure makes the decision to ride an easier one.

In the end, we handed out 270 badges to students who walked, rolled and carpooled to school this morning. Not a bad turnout!

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TGIF. And I’m Not Kidding About That

Posted by laura on Oct 05 2009 | Bicycle, Fun

[HA! I know it's Monday now. Honest. But it's just too funny that after the whole crazy week last week, I sat down Friday night to write a more upbeat post, and guess what? It didn't upload for some reason, and I didn't know it. A fitting end to a crazy week. So I've decided to post this anyway, just as I wrote it late Friday night. Here ya go.]

After a week of strep throat, the death of our neighbor and a suite of home, school and office issues too annoying to even go into, I’m glad it’s Friday. Really, really glad. I’ve decided I can’t let this week end on a sad note – so here are some good things that have happened lately:

Dogs

I called the animal shelter on Wednesday and found out that the dogs we took in briefly last week were claimed by their owners that afternoon. That’s one point for good news!

Quiche

quiche

There’s really nothing wrong with quiche. Hot Wheels did a little dance when he saw this one.

Help in the Kitchen

kitchenhelp1kitchenhelp2

The very best kind.

Soccer Practice

soccer

Some of you might recall that Honey has a Friday afternoon soccer practice that runs till 5pm – last year we parents decided that it was a perfect setting to kick off the weekend, so we started bringing drinks and snacks to practice. Nothing too fancy. This year I bought a sweet new soft cooler for my xtracycle, ready for Friday afternoons. It’s been wonderful – each week we have more and more parents joining us, and it’s a terrific group of families. Look at this afternoon! Not too shabby.

Candy Corn

candycorn

It’s October, everybody, and that means I get to buy candy corn. I know that to some people, candy corn isn’t even an A list candy. To those people I say, it’s ok! Just send me your candy corn and I will dispose of it responsibly.

Cloche Hats

I recently bought the most spectacular hat. It was so spectacular that I actually paid full price for it. Inconceivable. I thought I’d just take a shot of myself wearing this new hat of mine so you could see it.

Easier said than done, it turns out. I stood on the back deck, held out the camera and took a shot. Holy smokes that didn’t look so good. I took another. Yikes! I tried again. And again. And again. It got painful. I think my mirror must have vaseline on it because I’m sure I don’t remember all those lines and droopy bits and freckles. It was a horror show. So after about 654 shots, I quit. Here’s the damn hat.

cloche5cloche2

cloche3cloche6

When I bought it, the woman ringing me up asked me, “And did anyone help you with your purchase today?”

Why, yes – my grandmother and my great aunt Alice, as a matter of fact.

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Midweek Miscellanea

Posted by laura on Sep 10 2009 | Bicycle

This morning I had my first meeting for the Safe Routes to School group for our district. I was a lightweight participant with this group last year – actually I was more accurately a featherweight last year, but I think with my newly rediscovered love of chocolate croissants I’m fixing that little glitch. Even though I was involved at the school, however, I never attended real meetings (horror) and so this morning I was in for a real surprise. It was both well attended and well run. What a treat.

There were coordinators from every public school in our town, as well as two private schools. We also had representatives from the district office and the CHP. (I know! CHiPs!!) Before this meeting, I hadn’t realized exactly how many organizations were working together to secure funding, educate the public and implement road & traffic improvements for safe routes in our county. They’re planning programs to encourage “green routes” to school, they’re building an online matching service for families to line up carpools and bike/walk groups so more kids can participate without having to travel alone, they’re making changes to sidewalks and crossings to raise driver awareness. It’s fantastic. Here’s a photo of some of the new bike racks our school has, thanks to one smart parent and a grant:

bikeracks

The big push right now is for International Walk to School Day, coming up on October 7. We’ve also been asked to implement a weekly table at school to acknowledge students who use green routes – bike, scooter, walk, carpool, camel, whatever. Like a “Walking Wednesdays” program. I’m trying to think of non-material incentives to get kids excited about participating. One of the local schools reported that their students just liked having their hands stamped when they got to school – I thought that was a great idea. If anyone out there has ideas, let me know!! We’re just trying to avoid sending the kids home with tchotchkes this year…

On a completely different note – literally – I recently saw this link on reddit to an old Washington Post†article about an experiment they ran where they asked Joshua Bell to play in a DC metro station. If you didn’t get to see it, it’s worth a read – the article, Pearls Before Breakfast, has stuck with me for three days now. I just found it fascinating – what they thought would happen, what actually happened, the descriptions of the pieces Bell chose and even the history of the violin he plays. Amazing to picture a thousand commuters streaming past a world class violinist sawing away on a three and a half million dollar violin and not really noticing. The video isn’t that great, but the discussion about art and appreciation is compelling. See what you think.

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Comedy of Errors

Posted by laura on May 11 2009 | Bicycle, Fun

One day last week, I was riding along on my way to pick the kids up from school on Wednesday, when I saw someone open up their driver side door about a block ahead of me. It’s a pretty busy street so I gave a quick glance over my shoulder and moved my bike out into the road so I’d be out of door range. As I looked back, the door of a pickup parked right in front of me flung open – if it hadn’t been for the car up ahead, I would have become one with the pickup truck. Lucky break!

Riding with the kids later on, we heard the unmistakable chiming song of an ice cream truck idling on one of the streets we cross. Our kids are pretty careful on their bikes, but I swear they were like sailers to sirens and completely lost all sense of direction and purpose. I wasn’t very lyre-like, though, as I hollered them through the intersection – “Cross now! Don’t stop riding! People are waiting for you! Watch out for the stroller!” They didn’t lose the glaze in their eyes till we were about a block from home. It really is a wonder that they didn’t crash or get run over.

Then Thursday morning, Tom had an early meeting so the kids and I rode out to school after he left. I pulled out my bike and loaded it up with the bags. I went back into the garage to take the kids’ bikes out for them and I heard the door close behind me. We have a regular door on the side of our garage – the roll up door had been replaced with windows before we bought the house. Our garage door is like the cellar door at Mum and Dad’s house that just naturally swings shut, and I seem to have a thing about not propping it open. It probably stems from being a kid and daring myself to make it to the bottom of the cellar stairs before the door closed behind me – those kinds of tests can die hard. Now it’s morphed into an awkward garage dance where I try to get a bike wheel into the closing gap in the door each morning. Too lazy or stubborn to prop the dang thing open. Well yesterday, it closed, the nerve of it, and when I grabbed the doorknob, it popped right off. A second later, I heard the knob on the other side hit the cement.

There I was, staring at the closed door with no knob – kids in the house, phone in my bike in the driveway. I had visions of my neighbors discovering me waving pitifully at them with my face pressed against the garage windows. Fortunately I discovered that the doorknob spindle was inside with me, and after working on it for a few minutes, I was able to work the tab back and get the door open. When I relayed the story to Tom later, he laughed so hard he had to pause to catch his breath. I muttered something ungraceful about being happy to have provided his entertainment for the day, and he said, “The day? I’m going to be entertained by this for weeks!”

Or how about this? In the middle of the night on Wednesday, Honey got up, went to the bathroom and washed her hands, then came into our room to tell me something. No problem there – except for one thing. She was operating in stealth mode and I didn’t hear any of this. I was woken up from the black of a deep sleep by a small, cold, wet hand on my knee. Did I have an appropriate reaction to this psycho horror movie situation? Thankfully, no and oddly, yes. Thankfully no in that I didn’t wind anyone up in the emergency room. What I did do was shoot straight up in bed and shout, “Jeepers Creepers!!!” Oddly yes in that it turns out that there’s a series of horror movies called – you guessed it, Jeepers Creepers. But I was unaware of that until about 3 minutes ago, which begs the question – which decade am I from, anyway? Who says Jeepers Creepers anymore? When I told my friend Lori, she laughed,”That’s a real ‘whoopsie daisies’ moment!”

This run of situations (and I’m not even going into the one about very nearly walking into a meeting with a major piece of spinach in my teeth) did flash a scene in my mind of a guardian angel dispatch office, looking like the set from the old show Taxi, with the dispatcher barking, “Murphy! You’re gettin’ ‘er this week and I don’t wanna hear another *%# word outa ya!”

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Greedy Wheels

Posted by laura on Jan 29 2009 | Bicycle

Last weekend I decided it was time for a little bike spa. Hot Wheels and I ride down to my dance class together twice a week, and in the mornings around the full moon the path is often completely flooded in places. It’s usually quite an adventure with some off-roading through the scrub grasses to catch the path again. That part is fun, but it leaves our bikes pretty muddy and gunky. So after some sloppy rides over the last couple weeks, it was time for a chain cleaning and general demudification.¬†

These pictures would be a lot more impressive if I’d had the presence of mind to take the ‘before’ shots. Anyway – we had some fun cleaning them up and fixing the lights and attaching the new basket to Hot Wheels’ bike. He was super excited about the whole project. Now I’m debating whether I should get the fenders for his bike or wait till he grows into a 20″ bike. Poor thing – it really shouldn’t be a question. I finally figured out his basic weekly (Monday – Friday) mileage, and it’s 18 miles. That’s just the school and dance class riding, so I suppose the guy has earned himself some fenders!¬†

You might think that all this cleaning would leave my bike chain feeling light and content. I certainly did. Perhaps it just made it hungry, though, because yesterday on my way to work, it took a bite out of my pant leg. Check it out:

How’s that for gratitude? Hmpf. And it was the left cuff – I’d pinned the right one, since that’s closest to the chain, but it still managed to get a chomp in there. My nice Anthropologie pants, too. Good thing they were on sale, because otherwise my bike would be in the doghouse.

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