Archive for May, 2011
I’m back in the desert, but recovering from an awful case of
pneumonia valley fever — which is not good at all.
Nonetheless, I saw this lovely Palo Verde (Parkinsonia florida), which is Arizona’s state tree, while riding to pick-up my Honda from the dealership over on 22nd St.
These trees have green branches and trunks to help with photosynthesis, which comes in handy during droughts when the Palo Verde drops its leaves.
I ran into two issues while using the system:
- persistent shortages of open docks at the 21st and C St. station.
I would often snag the last remaining dock, then observe other riders pedaling away to look for another station to return their bike. I also observed an abandoned bike on the sidewalk because there were no spaces to dock it. Clearly, CaBi needs to add another docking module at this location.
- the kiosk’s touch screen failed me when I needed it most.
It was critical to be at work by 9am Friday morning. I finished my breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien in Dupont Circle (oatmeal, with fresh berries, OJ, and a cappuccino). I left myself 15-20 minutes to get down to C Street. I was a bit worried about the destination (since the Bixou app was telling me there were no docks available). But when I attempted to check-out a bike, the touch screen at the Dupont kiosk would not respond. Nothing. I was locked out…….TAXI!
The upshot: A great system, with some implementation issues. I unnecessarily spent $9 on taxi fare — not a big deal — but it did raise the cost of relying on CaBi by more than 50% (a 5-day CaBi membership is $15).
I spent five days using the CaBi system to make a simple, 3-mile, round trip commute while working in DC this past week. It was great. I loved not having to ride the metro or take the bus (or have to travel with my own bike).
As much as I enjoyed the system, I did experience a couple snafus that caused me to lose some confidence in the system (more on that in Part 2).
But I had no major complaints about the bike itself. I’m a big, big fan of the front rack and bungee cord. The system worked great for holding my satchel securely in place. The quibbles below are all relatively minor and somewhat subjective:
- the fenders are too short (as Dave pointed out in the previous post’s comments);
- the high gear (on the 3-speed hub) could be spaced a tad higher; and,
- the shift lag — on the bikes I rode — was quite noticeable.
There’s also an amazing (and in my opinion, indispensable) mobile phone app, Bixou, which lets you locate nearby stations and display live updates of both the number of bicycles and the number of open docks at any location.
This post is a bit of a non sequitar since (in my previous post) I was in the middle of describing my ride up Mt. Lemmon. But I’ve been sent to DC for a week of work-related training giving me the opportunity to try out the Capital Bikeshare program and I thought I would post some images now, rather than wait.
How is the bike share program, you ask?
So far so good, although the persistent thunderstorms have made me keep a keen eye on the sky since I don’t have proper rain gear with me.
I’m staying in Dupont Circle (where I’ve been picking up a bike each morning) and riding to the Department of State (where the bike gets dropped off). The main streets along the way don’t have any designated bike lanes, but I’ve found some smaller, quieter streets that work well. Plus, drivers seem surprisingly tolerant of my existence — so far.
My Mt. Lemmon ride was rather ill-planned, meant only as an exploratory trip to see what this mountain is all about.
It began on a Sunday afternoon, fueled by a morning capuchino and cinnamon roll from Cartel Coffee Lab (which was excellent and made me wish I had snapped a picture for an espresso review — click here for the review archives…but I digress).
Getting off to a late start (about 12:30 with the sun already directly above), I parked at the Safeway on Tanque Verde and Catalina Highway, 2-3 miles away from where the road begins to steepen. I wore wool shorts, some puma shot-putting shoes, a cotton tank-top with a lightweight, long-sleeve polyester shirt over that, a scarf-like buff around my neck, and zinc oxide sun protection on my face. I put a vietnamese-style baguette sandwich in my handlebar bag and a full water bottle in my downtube cage.
I felt great the first 7 miles as I climbed the initial few thousand feet. With each switchback the valley began fading away. I remarked to myself that this was the most comfortable I’ve felt on a bike since coming to Tucson: few cars, scenic views, and to me, the satisfying rhythm of a long, hard hill climb (which is what I was used to in California).
Just after making the above picture of this prickly pear cactus, the sound of rapid gunshots rang out from a pickup truck directly across the road. I quickly ascertained the pistoleros were not aiming their bullets at me, but I still felt vulnerable. I didn’t linger.
As I covered this initial ground, I guzzled water at a rate that naively assumed I could fill-up at the numerous official campgrounds en-route (e.g. at mile 6, 12, 18 etc.). So I rolled into the Molino Basin Campground — at around 1:30pm and well into the heat of the day — with a nearly empty water bottle. It was only then that I learned there would be no more water until the Palisades ranger station (more than 14 miles ahead and 4,000 feet above me).
I gamely rode another mile or so, but began to tire. The hot and extremely windy conditions made for tough riding. At times, it felt as though I was barely moving at all as I hammered my lowest gear into 30-mph gusting headwinds.
The opportunity to take a rest and eat something arrived in the form of the Gordon Hirabayashi recreation site. My energy was mostly spent and I was out of H2O. I ate half a sandwich and thought that this would be the end of my climb….
…TO BE CONTINUED in PART II
This past Sunday I decided to head toward the top of Mt. Lemmon to see how far I could get. It’s a tough 20+ mile ride going from the desert floor (at around 2,000′ of elevation) all the way up to a subalpine forest (around 9,000′).
I hope to have a detailed report and more pictures soon. Suffice it to say: I only made it about half way (around 6,000′ just below Windy Point).
Q: do you notice anything wrong with the picture above?
A: the single water bottle (and lack of water along the route), which proved to be my critical undoing!
FOR SALE…$25…FIRM, which begs the question: the mattress or the asking price? Or both?