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(that’s me above in my new Anchor Steam jersey)

I love riding a bike to work. In a city of sky-rocketing rents, questionable folks on MUNI, and a constant IPO measuring contest, the fact that it takes less time and two less buses to ride in to work astonishes / delights me.

I’m a cautious bike rider, with a relative fear of speed that’s evolved from my 11 year-old ski racing days  (you see, you’re not a very good racer if you don’t particularly care to go fast – but that’s another story for another time). I tend to stop at stoplights, signal when I turn, and stay in the bike line as much as I can. My caution, however, doesn’t preempt reckless behavior of others, whether they be drivers, pedestrians, or other cyclists.

The first time I rode to work 3 years ago, I took Ben’s Mountain Bike, not knowing at the time that the tires were nearly empty. The bike didn’t fit me, so I was hunched over, with no shoes for the clips, just huffing and puffing and trying not to fall down. On the Embarcadero, a car turned into the bike lane and nearly hit me. I was spooked to all hell.

After that, I purchased the cadillac of cruiser bicycles – a beheamoth more suited to the boardwalks of Santa Cruz than to the quick roads of San Francisco, but I didn’t care. I sat higher than most cars, could wear a skirt to work, and kind of looked cute and stylish (got a couple of whistles from messengers, no joke.) Problem was, I tended to huff and puff as much as the under-pumped mountain bike, got just as sweaty (and boy howdy, I sweat), and my 3 speeds were no match for even the slightest San Francisco hill. Which is, as you know, 95% of them. Also, I lacked a quick response time, so when a car door nearly opened into me, I had to swerve into traffic.

When I got my road bike recently, I was so skittish and afraid of the damn thing, I thought I’d never ride it. It was small, stupidly light. I had to clip my feet into it, and I had flashbacks of tumbling down the mountain on a snowboard firmly attached to my feet. Cyclists were tough, fast, intimidating. “I’m not a road cyclist” I’d think, “everyone’s going to look at me and know I’m an interloper. A fraud”. The first ride was shaky, as I figured out the rhythms and balance and power and OH MY GOD I’M GOING SO FAST. After that, I gave my brakes a crazy workout on the epic downhill in the Headlands, after falling and scraping my knee on the way up.  I had cried like a baby, but I was addicted.

I love my road bike. She’s zippy and responsive and I feel powerful when I’m on it. For someone who never thought she could be a cyclist, I’m the one getting the shakes if I’m not on the road by 9 AM on a Saturday. I’ve seen so much more of Northern California as a result (Santa Cruz, Wine Country, Marin, East Bay) and I’ve been outside more. Which, as you know, is the freaking point of living in this part of the world.

I lost a friend in a hit and run in 2005. She wasn’t on a bike, the guy was drunk, it pretty much has nothing to do with Bike to Work Day, but I have been thinking about her today for some reason. With everything that’s happened recently, it’s just a reminder that we share the road, and it’s on everyone including cyclists to ride safely.

Protect yourself, respect the road, and get in to work safely today. I sold the bike Cadillac, so I’ll be riding my road bike in for the first time. I’ve been looking forward to it all week.

Favorite time of year in San Francisco: when days are hot enough for a sundress, but evenings require a down comforter.

Dear Mum,

You taught me…

strength and patience,

kindness and endurance,

wisdom and faith,

confidence and questioning,

humor and humility,

how to learn, and how to teach

how to be a great woman, and how to be an even better human,

that it’s OK to cry, and that it’s even better to kick ass and take names,

and that a cup of tea and a bath can heal everything

from a broken leg to a broken heart.

Dear Mummy, on your Birthday

thank you. If I can become half the woman you are, I’ll be head and shoulders above many.

Rock on, honey badger. I love you.

Notes from the Universe

What exactly is my coffee trying to tell me?

During my time in Calgary after I returned from New York, we decided one day that we REALLY needed to hike to the top of the the mountain that looms over the TransCanada Highway on the way into Banff.

Mount Rundle is a BEAST; a huge, hulking mass of a hike that ends with a practical scramble on bare rock. When we got to the top, my legs were shaking and we were staring down an incoming rainstorm racing down the Bow Valley.

We did a day trip to Banff a few weeks ago and I was able to stare the stupid thing down.

SO THERE, mountain, I OWN YOU.

alberta3661 More shots can be found in my Banff 2011 set on Flickr.

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