Archive for May, 2014
Wow it’s been four years since I posted this other Memorial Day image. It’s one of my favorites, but as is typical with the “Random Images” category, it’s just a pleasing photo with nothing to do with bicycles.
Bata Bikers are to classic, steel-framed, bike-loving cyclotourists:
+ what the Cape Buffalo is to Hemingway;
+ what the Grail is to the Arthurian knights;
+ what his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal (and the Taj Mahal) is to Emperor Shah Jahan.
That is: Part obsession. Part devotion. Part unrequited longing.
Well…the elusive Bata Biker has finally arrived at The Friday Cyclotouriste world headquarters.
According to the analytics of this site, my posts on bicycling shoes are all in the top 10 of the most searched and the most viewed. In my first of these posts I mentioned the fabled Bata Biker shoe.
My most recent cycling shoe discovery was the ASICS Keirin, which I wrote about here.
Still, the classic Batas seemed like a perfect low-profile, lightweight, canvas bike touring shoe with semi-rigid soles for either flat pedals or pedals with toe-clips.
Yet they are impossible to find — anywhere. Bata ceased production sometime in the early 80s, I think.
Given this, when I recently saw a pair of unworn Bata Biker factory seconds in my size on eBay, I scooped them up.
Steps from Cady’s Alley and a little pocket park named after Francis Scott Key, there’s access to the C & O canal bike path.
The picture above is the view east standing on the pedestrian bridge connecting the two sides. Below is the view toward the west.
The C & O towpath is a 184 mile trail connecting DC to Cumberland, MD. The towpath is one and the same as the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT) for the first few miles. Then the CCT veers east toward Silver Spring, MD.
I want to explore these bike ways while I’m still here!
Wherever I go alleys draw me in. I’m not talking about creepy, dirty alleys.
No, the visceral appeal of certain alleys or small streets comes from their aesthetically correct, pedestrian-friendly, human-scale. The lack of powerful gasoline motors constantly churning is a big part of it.
Cady’s Alley is a little street in DC that I love from an architectural and urban design perspective. The emphasis is because I’m not sure how I feel about it from a community development perspective.
The space feels geared to a very exclusive, corporate, brand name, retail shopping experience. Urban revitalization and planning can expose many thorny issues relating to social equity and civic participation. So I want to be clear that what I’m singling out for praise about Cady’s Alley is something very particular: the actual feeling of the physical space.
In short, if we compare the feeling of Cady’s Alley to that of M Street (running parallel one block away) it passes the Mirror-of-the-Self Test outlined by the visionary architect, Christopher Alexander in his book The Phenomenon of Life:
“Comparing A and B, which one makes me feel the most wholeness in myself, which allows me to come closest to my own life, which makes me experience life most deeply?”. That is, when architecture is functioning properly “its space is awakened to a very high degree. It becomes alive. The space itself becomes alive.”
Note: DC recently released a comprehensive survey that maps all the historic alley ways in the city. Click on The DC Historic Alley Buildings Survey if you’re curious.