Becky Jo’s Carfree Life

Becky Jo’s Carfree Life: Traveler Seeks Cyclists

Becky Jo (Columnist) by on March 3rd, 2020 at 9:20 am

biking around El Ángel

Biking around El Ángel
(Photos: Robert Wagner)

Our Pacific Northwest Fake-out February sure was glorious. There were a few days I ditched the coat and I’m missing it already. Looking ahead to summer, I’m so excited about this Pedalpalooza stuff. I’ve never heard of these things in my own city, and after last week’s talk about arm signals and bike camps for kids, all of this got me thinking about travel and vacations. Due to our payment plan, we will not be taking any extravagant vacations this year, but we do have an inexpensive and short trip to the Southwest planned.

I’m curious: Do you seek out bike adventures when you travel? Do you look for organized rides? Are you an adventure seeker and travel just for biking new places? If so, do you look for bikes to rent? Or do you ship your own bike? I only know of this last option because there are vans parked within a couple miles of me that advertise a service that will pack your bike for you and ship it. I had no idea that was a thing.
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Becky Jo’s Carfree Life: Teach The Children Well

Becky Jo (Columnist) by on February 25th, 2020 at 10:23 am

A confident rider these days.
(Photos by Becky Jo)

Humans are so weird. We pop out all clean and looking like fresh, blank slates, but really, there’s a lot already going on in there. I love when humans are surprising, and that’s probably the best thing about being a parent. Just watching them become whatever seed was already planted inside.

Let’s take the youngest here. She’s that kid that while you teach her things, you might think, “This isn’t ever going to take.” Then one day she decides that she’s got it completely down. One day she decided she was potty trained, and she was. That was that. Same with swimming, reading, and now biking. It took me four years and one day to teach her to ride a bike. Alternatively, it was four years of me confused and trying to re-word and explain the same concepts over and over — then a single day of her deciding she was a bike rider.[Read more…]

Becky Jo’s Carfree Life: Getting deeper into community activism

Becky Jo (Columnist) by on February 18th, 2020 at 10:37 am

Parental unit on school drop-off duty.
(Photos by Becky Jo)

Communities revolving around shared interests are a funny thing, aren’t they? Online communities more so.

I come to you, wide-eyed, and with the joy of learning something new. You know that feeling. It’s almost like a teen-spring crush. It’s thrilling, exciting, full of awkward moments, triumphs, and failures. I have that annoying energy and “whywhywhy” of a toddler. You are an established community with well-worn hats. Many of you have seen it all, and have seen people like me come and go. People like me haven’t yet proven our mettle, and some of you may be wary of sharing your precious good energy. I get you. I do. I’m a more seasoned person in sewing communities, and while I love nothing more than to bring new people to the fold, it can be exhausting, and at times even soul-crushing.

So I just want to say:

I owe you a thank you. Thank you for giving me your time, energy, and kindness. Thank you to those of you that have reached out and invited me to be social. Time is your most precious resource and I am grateful on behalf of both myself and any other new cyclists lurking in here with me
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Becky Jo’s Carfree Life: Locking Habits and Etiquette

Becky Jo (Columnist) by on February 11th, 2020 at 9:20 am

“I chose safety and my burrito.”

I was sitting outside a taqueria, waiting for my to-go order as we do, and I saw, or rather mostly heard, a kerfuffle over bike locks. I wasn’t quite close enough to see exactly what the scenario was for myself, and as it was two people getting a bit heated, I wasn’t about to physically insert myself to get details, but the scene was:

Guy One comes out. Goes to get his bike, and finds another bike is locked to it. Stands confused.

Guy Two comes out, says something about Guy One being a jackass and not leaving any space on the rack for anyone else, so he locked his bike to Guy One’s bike.

Guy One says things.

Guy Two says things back.

They part ways grumbling.[Read more…]

Becky Jo’s Carfree Life: Strava Struggles and Stats

Becky Jo (Columnist) by on February 4th, 2020 at 9:59 am

north portland bike ride

Data is fun.

A couple summers ago, our family would go on big bike outings down and around the Smith & Bybee Wetlands area (it’s fun, you should try it!). My tweens and husbeast would go speeding up ahead of me, while I struggled behind, pulling the hard-bottom Burley trailer, our picnic stuff, and our kindergartner. It was easily over a hundred pounds.

I’d get home afterwards and my husbeast and I would compare notes and it would just irk me that Strava recorded me having a leisurely bike ride with minimal effort while it recorded him, half as sweaty, as having a vigorous one. I looked all over the app trying to find a way to change some sort of effort or cargo-pulling settings, but there was no such thing.

I have no plans on going pro. I realize I am privileged to say I don’t diet or track much of anything health-related in any earnest effort, but data sure is fun. Why is it that just because the data is there to observe, we need it? Or we need it to be correct? It’s not like I was going to change anything in my life if the data was accurate. I just wanted my little gold star, dammit
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Becky Jo’s Carfree Life: Seats and Undercarriage Issues

Becky Jo (Columnist) by on January 28th, 2020 at 11:30 am

After riding 10 miles on my stock seat it was like bad teen sex. I had to walk around doing the cowboy-waddle.

I got my bike in February 2016; it was a 2015 close-out. I had no idea what I was buying. It was deeply discounted, in my size, and I wanted something modern and light weight.

A friend, Em, also got a road bike at the same time, and we both starting chatting about it. Em, whose kids have all grown, was investing way more time into her rides, and was swapping out gear and putting on miles. I commented one day that after riding 10 miles on my stock seat it was like bad teen sex. I had to walk around doing the cowboy-waddle. Em said she had done this thing where you can check out seats, like at a library, and see which ones you like. Em ended up choosing a $300 seat she was so excited about.

That was a bit above my tax bracket. Instead, I went to the sporting big box store and got some gel-seat-cover-thing. It’s like someone took gummy worms, smooshed them together, and covered them with leftover 70s velour. After a couple years, it started to look like the seats of my Zipcar, so I took it off. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I really just couldn’t look at it anymore.[Read more…]

Becky Jo’s Carfree Life: WTF Apple? (and other route questions)

Becky Jo (Columnist) by on January 21st, 2020 at 10:46 am

Becky Jo’s bicycle phone mount sans phone.

Let’s stop for a second.

During this adventure, I’m going to be reconciling a lot of my previous car-driving lifestyle with my current carfree lifestyle. I’m excited to have a new world to learn about, and while I’m not technologically or mechanically inept, this is a whole new world of application. Also, yes, some of you will really want to send me to LMGTFY. Normally I would too – but there’s so much out there, and a lot of it is completely contradictory. There’s some serious analysis paralysis happening in my melon. I realize I’m in over my head, and if I’m coming up with these questions, there’s likely a hundred more out here too scared to ask, not to mention among yourselves it can’t hurt to info-share. I’m just the one with a keyboard and zero shame. OK. Let’s get going…
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Becky Jo’s Carfree Life: Deep Dive 1 – Gears and Tires

Becky Jo (Columnist) by on January 14th, 2020 at 10:52 am

dirty road bike

My bike as it’s currently ridden with new tires and fenders.
(Photos: Becky Jo)

I’ve posted some questions related to gear, but mostly it’s been how to carry groceries and how to feel more chill. If you don’t mind, I’d also like to ask you, the more experienced collective, more nuts-and-bolts type stuff as I go along on this journey.

I am fairly mechanically inclined. I realize that requires some spatial reasoning ability and we are all at different points on that spectrum. I certainly don’t judge anyone who cannot, but for the purposes of today’s asks and answers, I do pretty well. I’m user-manual friendly and I even create technical illustrations on occasion, which in my lifetime has included a range from freight trains to sewing. All of that is to say, I am capable of learning how to take care of my bike…but how far do I really need to go? As I get older, the amount of brain capacity I want to commit to things that aren’t necessary diminishes.[Read more…]

Becky Jo’s Carfree Life: We Have Hourly Rates

Becky Jo (Columnist) by on January 7th, 2020 at 6:35 am

TFW you’re carfree but you need a car.
(Photo: Becky Jo)

Here’s the thing: I’m new to cycling as my main mode of transportation; but like each of you, there are things I am proficient at, and the sewing world is one of those things. So, when two weeks after getting rid of my car, I had to go to Tualatin to transport 54 bolts of fabric back to North Portland (about 20 miles, with hills), this presented a conundrum.

No worries, I said. We have a contingency plan for this, I said.

Our budget is set up to handle a Zipcar rental every now and again, and if used efficiently we figured should only be needed one or two times a month, tops. I researched it and set it up after the CarMax/Lyft revelation in the first post. I live by University of Portland, so I have three or four close Zipcars as easy options. This time around, I figured I’d get it for a full 24 hours, that way I could pick up the 54 bolts, drop off 54 bolts, drop off college kid’s really heavy dumbbell set at PSU, go to IKEA (because the standing desk I’ve been wanting is on sale), and get cat food/cat litter. No problem.[Read more…]

Becky Jo’s Carfree Life: Gear Me Up

Becky Jo (Columnist) by on January 1st, 2020 at 8:16 am

female cyclist standing in wet weather gear with bike

All set for a grocery run.

We’ve established my Ready, Fire, Aim personality and the caveats that may entail. Don’t worry. We are just getting started.

For this one, we have to go back in time. Back when I commuted a very long time to work in a sea of cubicles and wanted a bike for weekend fun. This is five or six years ago, and I got a “road bike.” At the time I didn’t have any beef with REI and didn’t really know what “road bike” meant; it was a previous year’s clearance so price was nice, it would fit my frame, and it was aesthetically pleasing to me. That was truly the extent of my needs at the time.[Read more…]