Friday, October 10, 2014

It's the Little Things...

Back in the mid-20th century, the French had a sort of "answer" to Bing Crosby in the form of the great crooner Jean Sablon. He had a truly elegant voice and somewhat “Hollywood” features, combining to create a relaxed-yet-sophisticated sound that meshed perfectly with the music of the time. 

Sablon’s best-known song was “Ces Petites Choses” ("These Foolish Little Things"). It is a song about memories and reminders of love. I’m thinking about that song and about the "foolish little things" that make life on my bicycle more enjoyable just now.

Painted speed bumps

The first thing to be thankful for are the newly-painted speed bumps on 25th Street (between D and Center streets, cutting through the mostly abandoned portion of the State Hospital grounds). Those two bumps are pretty “aggressive,” and for a long time they were as black as the asphalt around them. Over the last months first one, then the other, was painted  bright yellow and now they stand out day and (most importantly) night. Since I use this route a great deal to get to and from church (and often in the dark this time of year), I very much appreciate the effort to highlight these two cycling hazards.


Then there are fenders. My bike has a nice set of black fenders (mudguards, if you are English) that came as standard equipment. They are quite attractive and do a petty good job of cutting down on the mess of winter cycling. I have had to add a mud flap to the front wheel (and will probably do the same to the rear wheel soon), but nothing other than that.

Fenders—especially ones coming with the bike—are always a sign to me that a bicycle is meant for year-round use in this part of the world. Having ones that are so solidly built and attached (rather than flimsy adjustable ones that frequently rattle become misaligned) makes for more generally worry-free cycling.

Having fenders that not only work well but look nice seems to complete the aesthetic of a classic utility bike, too.


Another little gift recently received was some skilled pruning at Bush House. The old-growth wisteria attached to the side of the house had an elbow-like branch that dipped rather lower than the others, and one day on my bike (in spite of my usual ducking at this point) my helmet came in contact with that branch (at a pretty slow rate of speed, mind you). It broke the top of my helmet. I was very glad I had it on that day!

A few weeks later, that particular branch had been sawn off. That was a mercy.

I still wish the City would think seriously about resurrecting the old carriageway from Mission to the back of the greenhouse area by Bush House. It would be both historic and a boon to cyclists, allowing us to avoid pedestrians (and wisteria) on the twisting sidewalk up to and around that stately mansion.

Good lighting

Another thing (not so little, at least in the price department) that I have enjoyed recently are the various lights on my bike. I have a fair assortment of them. Together with the reflective sidewalls on my tires, they make me very visible at dusk and in the night. 

Perhaps best of all is the “Monkey” apparatus of LEDs lodged in my front wheel, which not only make a very bright array of attention-getting colors, but form patterns as I bike along (I don’t get to see them…only bystanders get to enjoy this particular show).

A bicycle-friendly sensor

The intersection of Winter and Mission has always been a bit of a poser. A bike lane on Winter terminates in a sort of visual dead-end across the street, making one fight pedestrians in the narrow crosswalk aprons for access to Bush Park. But even more frustrating was the often long period of waiting to actuate the light when riding a bike and waiting southbound at the stop light on Winter. The sweet-spot for whatever sensor was there was rather illusive.

Now there is an optical sensor mounted on the light facing Winter which works fine, making Winter a bit closer to the effective through-town bicycle route I think it is supposed to be.

[Now if they could only put such a sensor on Bellevue and Winter. That would complete the necessary steps to making Winter work well for the many current (and more importantly, potential) cyclists who use this as prime access to and from downtown to South Salem.]


These fall days are always my favorite for cycling around town. Once the rain arrives (perhaps starting next week), it won’t be as enjoyable. But, with the right gear and a little determination, it isn’t all that bad, either. Being thankful for the things needed to make rainy-season cycling more enjoyable would be, however, another post. I’ll try working on that as the opportunity arises (and it likely will).

So, these are some of the "foolish little things” that add up to more pleasure and enjoyment of Upright Cycling around town. I hope to see you out there soaking up these waning dry days of Fall, as well.

A blessed Autumn to all…

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