📄Wednesday, December 11th
Inspired by Laura Kling, an organizer at Grease Rag, here’s a bike_commute report:
First, some context: A month ago, I started work at Minnesota Public Radio. Because I’ve lacked a solid bike commute for a year_plus, that excited me. Getting to MPR requires I bicycle between the downtowns every day, Minneapolis to St. Paul. Though at one time I’d pedaled 17 miles a day, living across the street from work meant I’d been bicycling a lot less (I excel at expending as little energy as possible). When bikes are essential to your conception of yourself, that’s troubling.
MPR provided a fix. Booya.
Second, some prep: I eased myself in. The first two weeks, I adjusted to my job and reacquainted myself with the beauties of Metro Transit, while ever so slowly readying my bike. Piecemeal, I bought new studded tires from 45NRTH (the Xerxes model), a badass USB_rechargeable headlight from Lights & Motion, a brightly colored saddle with matching bar tape (very important), a new freewheel, and some Merino_based bicycling duds, including two base layers, plus a burgundy soft shell and wool socks. You gotta stay warm.
I began riding into work in week three, mixing it up between bicycling and bussing, while gradually finding a route that worked for me. I’d bike in one morning, then bike home the next night, with bus rides in between. The more I rode, the more I craved riding. And yesterday, for the first time, I biked into MPR and then home at night, 24 miles total amidst a pretty rough beginning to winter. But fuck it, I say. It’s difficult, and I’ve fallen a few times — on snow and ice and snow_covered ice — but with each ride I get more confident. And I’m having fun.
It’s important to remember that winter bike commuting is not so much about the pedaling as the routine. I’ve learned to pile my (surprisingly un_malodorous) bike clothes again, so everything I need is there when I wake up. I’ve learned to pack my bag the night before, including clean clothes for work, a bottle of water, non_bikey shoes, granola bars, etc. If an element isn’t in place in the morning, I’ll get frustrated and take the bus instead. Because as soon as I’ve woken up, I’m totally unwilling to, for example, try to find my balaclava or choose what I’m going to wear once I get into work. It’s all gotta be ready when I wake up.
12 miles is the longest commute I’ve had, but it’s still very doable. Yesterday morn, I took the Como route into work. That’s West River Road to the Dinkytown Greenway (have you been on this one yet? it’s awesome!) to the U of M Transit Way to Como Ave. To home, I took Summit Avenue — actually, I took Portland, which parallels Summit, because Summit’s bike lane is hidden under a bunch of shitty snow right now, which forces me into a narrow lane of rush_hour traffic ballz to that — to East River Road to Bridge #9 and West River Road.
The first route took me 1 hour and 15 mins, the second an hour 30. Route 2 took longer because roaming a side street means running into intersections filled with slow_moving cars that don’t want to let you through.
No bike ride yet has been what I’d call “perfect.” Something small_ish has gone wrong on every ride. Either my bike light has died — last night, the low_battery indicator flashed ominously in the cold, but the light still lasted till home — or I’ve gone sideways on some ice, or my eyeballs have threatened to freeze and my vision has gotten blurry (this is new), or my socks haven’t been quite warm enough (don’t buy cheap Woolrich woolies, for serious), or I’ve taken a wrong turn. Commuting over and over is all about attaining ride perfection. Taking the right turns, being prepared, ensuring my capp has the right amount of espresso shots. And so on.
I won’t get it perfect right away, but I will eventually.
All this is reminding me why I fell in love with bikes in the first place. I leave work and I’m on my own, with only my thoughts for company. I rely on myself and what I’m carrying. I can take whichever route I want and switch it up on the fly. I’m getting everywhere powered by my own body. That’s pretty cool. My calves ached today, after that first round trip, but I stretched them and they got over it.
🌄Tuesday, May 7th
We’re big fans of Clockwork Active Media System's monthly wallpaper. Their April wallpaper was devoted to, guess who, yours truly!, with a work titled Nights of Biking.” And it was beautiful. May's wallpaper, created by Clockworkers Cody Mastel and Whitney Shaw on the agency's monthly Lab Day, was inspired by Post_it pixels and a warm color palette. Cody and Whitney spent a day posting 18,000 Post_it notes, in 14+ hues, on a Clockwork wall. This wallpaper of a Post_it sunset was the result.
You can find the wallpaper in all its different sizes (iPhone, etc.) here: http://bit.ly/12ev0M9
🌄Monday, May 6th
📄Thursday, May 2nd
Hello, joyful cyclists. How’s your May going?
It was immensely difficult to choose a winner for our Day 30 Best Twitterer contest, the prize being a SWEET limited_edition, waterproof, canvas 30 Days of Biking_branded backpack. But we chose our winner. This series of tweets from Ann Gentle won us over. They embody the bike_obsessed joy that 30 Days of Biking is all about—and they made us smile. Congrats, Ann! We’ll be in touch.
More on Banjo Brothers at http://banjobrothers.com
📄Wednesday, May 1st
Guest entry written by John Jungenberg of FAST, a group that bicycled to advocate for animal rights during 30 Days of Biking. Check out John’s thoughts on FAST’s tour of Illinois and Wisconsin, and meet the team!
FAST, or Five Activists Standing Together, is a group of animal_rights activists who travel by bike to get their message across. They completed their first tour this April, during 2013’s round of 30 Days of Biking, bicycling from Northern Illinois to Madison, Wisc., then to Milwaukee and back. It was a 300_mile round trip.
Notes From the Tour
Our tour started on a snowy and windy Saturday morning. 18MPH winds were coming straight out of the west. It was incredibly difficult the first day, against the wind and snow. We got to Lake Geneva that night, cold and very tired. We arrived in Madison the next day. Biking in Madison is amazing! With bike lanes on almost every street, it is easy to get going faster than the cars next to you.
The next day, we started what we came to Madison to do: raise awareness about animal rights. We went to the University of Wisconsin and started handing out Vegan Outreach leaflets. Vegan Outreach leaflets are pamphlets with information about the cruelties of animal agriculture. Leafleting in Madison was a tremendous success! We handed out 4,000 leaflets at two different colleges and two different high schools.
Then we continued onward to Milwaukee. We made good time to Lake Mills, where we camped for the night. It was very cold that night, too.
We arrived in Milwaukee the next day. Over the next two days, we continued to hand out leaflets. One person told us that she had decided to become vegan as a result of receiving one of our leaflets.
We departed for home on April 21. The trip was a tremendous success. Overall, we handed out 7,200 leaflets and in doing so hopefully spared thousands of animals a lifetime of misery.
You have the power to make a difference, too. Every time we sit down to eat we have a choice to make. We can shape the course of the world by our simple everyday actions.
Meet the Team
Rachel Shippee: “I’m 29 and I’m from Wauconda, Il. I currently coach softball and work as an Admin. Asst. for my family’s business. I have been vegan for 7 years now and an activist for the last 5. Activism is very important part of being a vegan, we have to educate others about animal suffering. The more people that are aware of how animals are abused and tortured for our food, the more animals we can save. So when the opportunity came to combine biking with activism, I was ecstatic! I consider myself a bike advocate, I sold my car 4 years ago, and love the fact that I get to ride and help animals.”
John Jungenberg: “I have been vegan for a little over three years now and have been involved in activism for about 3 years too. My sister (Jamie, who is also a member of FAST) went vegan after watching a video about the cruelty of the egg industry. Shortly after she went vegan, I decided to go vegan too because I was tired of feeling guilty about what I ate. I have been involved in cycling for about 2 years. FAST is a great thing, because it combines two of my favorite things. Biking and activism!”
Kevin Cooney: “I am a member of FAST (Five Activists Standing Together). I’m 29, and live in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. I love biking, and have been biking since I was young. I currently ride a black GT Aggressor. I have been vegan for four years, and became vegan after learning about the horrors of the meat and dairy industry.”
Jamie Jungenberg: “I am a member of FAST Biking 4 Change. I’ve been an ethical vegan since the age of 11, and an avid biker since the age of 13. I love how FAST links the biking and animal rights communities together, in a unique fusion that has the ability to change the world!”
Mary Jungenberg: “I’ve been a vegan for ethical reasons for a little over three years. I went vegetarian when I was nine years old and raised both my children vegetarian. My daughter opened my eyes to the cruelty of the egg and dairy industry when she was eleven years old. I was very sad and angry when she showed me what she had learned. I had eaten animal products for years and was unaware of the gross injustices done to animals. I feel very strongly about dismantling the myths that are sold to consumers through billion_dollar marketing campaigns. I will continue to do whatever I can to bring awareness of the horrors of factory farming to as many individuals as I can. FAST is an effective way to do this. It’s a unique way of doing outreach that inherently shows people that we’re serious about our message.”
To learn more about FAST, visit www.facebook.com/fastbiking4change