Monday, September 29, 2014

Bike Kirkwood & Grant's Trail Photo-Tour

On Saturday morning, I got up bright and early and rode my bicycle to Keysor Elementary for the Bicycle Tour of Kirkwood. This was an event planned and sponsored by Trailnet, and was part of a larger project which seeks to (a) educate school children and parents about safe riding (and encourage more of it) and (b) share information about Complete Streets efforts in Kirkwood. While I don't have any small people of my own, I wanted to support the effort and energy and be part of the group. So I rode to the school and had a complimentary banana while I waited for our first ride.

The original plan had been to do a five-mile ride, but there were so many little-little kids (some still on trikes) and a lack of available police enforcement meant that streets were not closed for the event. So instead, we did two rides: a one-miler and a 2.5-miler. Both were very slow and steady so everyone could participate. They were fun! I moseyed through streets I was less familiar with and had a nice chat with the Trailnet staff who were coordinating the event and leading the rides. I found that after the ride, though, I wanted to ride more, so I rode with a couple of volunteers toward Grant's Trail and separated from them to continue on to the trail as they headed home for the day.

I decided to use the opportunity to put some miles on the bike while there's daylight for it, and to finally take more photos of the trail. Since I ride Kirkwood to Mehlville and back again, most of the trail photos are from the trip toward Mehlville, and then I tried to get some more detailed shots and signage pics on the way back. I should have had more to eat, though (I'd had a couple granola bars and the banana, as well as several bottles of water) -- by the time I was slogging up Sappington Road to Big Bend, my legs were toast and I was starving. I hadn't really planned to ride nearly thirty miles that day, and hadn't eaten for it. Duly noted. I should plan to stick some granola bars in my bike bag just because. I had the biggest meal after I got home!

For me, the trail never disappoints. It can get busy around Grant's Farm, and certain entrance points with larger parking lots, but because I mosey (generally 10-13 mph), I just don't find it that hard to negotiate the other users on the trail. I can see where, if your goal is to get your miles in and barrel through at 20mph, you'd have issues, but (a) that's not the right place for it, and (b) it's against the rules to go too fast, so...

Anyhoo, largely without comment, here's the photo-tour of Grant's Trail.

There's a playground near the Kirkwood Trailhead.

Restrooms and a waterfountain - these were operational on 9-27, but not 12-1, FYI.

Home again, home again, jiggety-jog.
The trail smelled alternatively damp (green) and sort of rotten (brown), and, as you can see from the photos, was stuck in between the lingering flowers of summer and the first color changes of fall. It was warm - mid-80s - and I suspect we'll get scant color on most of the trees this year as some trees are already going brown and dropping leaves in a clatter whenever the wind blows. Still, I so enjoy that this trail passes businesses, woods, bridges, highways, and horses, and is all within miles of my home. Because of it's proximity (and resulting accessibility), it's probably my favorite. Perhaps another time I can photo-tour Creve Coeur Lake, but I find that trail much busier and more dangerous to do without directing full attention to errant pedestrians and folks renting bikes (who may or may not know how to use them). 

Daylight Savings Time ends in just over a month (November 2). There are just a few perfect riding days left. I hope you (and I hope I) can make the most of them. 

Cheers and happy riding!

Monday, September 22, 2014

#BBFF Date - The Forest Park Balloon Glow & Fireworks

My riding has been really sporadic this summer and fall, hence the (also) sporadic posts. However, I had a great ride on Friday night that I wanted to share with you, as well as some upcoming rides that should be a lot of fun, and some great bike links.

The Balloon Glow
On Friday, St. Louis held its annual Balloon Glow in Forest Park. I met up with several of my #bbff (that's "best bike friends forever" because bike friendships are fantastic things) at a coffee shop several blocks south of the park, and we rode over to the park together, avoiding all of the parking issues inherent in such a popular event. Bonus: unlike taking public transit (my other preferred method of travel to and from busy events or places with tricky parking), our bikes could go anywhere, so we could take them right to where we wanted to picnic, lock them together, then pack up the picnic and walk around and take photos of the race. (Trust me, ten bikes locked together in haphazard fashion will neither be lifted nor rolled away by anyone without a helicopter.)

Photo by M. Staublin
Photo by M. Llorian

Photo by M. Staublin 
When the ambient light is FIRE, you glow red, too. Photo by M. Llorian

After nibbling on our pot-luck picnic and exploring the Balloon Glow, we hopped back on the bikes and rode over to one of the cyclists' apartments in a high-rise in the Central West End, just East of the park. From there, we took in three amazing views from the apartment rooftop: (1) Fireworks post-glow; (2) great view of downtown at night; and (3) terrible motorist traffic on Kingshighway that we didn't have to deal with at all thanks to two-wheeled transportation. (We rode into the park on Macklind and out of the park through the Central West End into the Grove.)

It was a fantastic evening! I always love my #BBFF Dates.

Bike Events & Bike Links
Here are some fabulous upcoming bike events and links you should know about:

In Praise of the Upright Bike by Brent Toderian
As you know, I have an upright bike (Fleur), a ten-speed (The Radish), and a mountain bike (Julek). I vastly prefer rides on the 3-speed upright to the other two bicycles, so this article speaks to my style of riding (and my beloved "slow bike" movement).

Close to home: on September 27, 2014 at 8:30 am, Trailnet is hosting the Bike-Walk Kirkwood Education and Tour. You can register at the link; $5 for adults and $3 for children under the age of ten years. This tour will highlight the work Trailnet is doing to make Kirkwood more bikeable and walkable (I live just a few miles from Kirkwood, and often ride there).

Cycling Savvy is offering their Truth & Techniques classes in October and early November - these will probably be the last classes of the year (due to light and weather problems that generally come at the end of the year). The classroom session will be October 8 or October 26, followed by a "train your bike" session on October 11 or November 1, and a "road tour" to implement the new techniques on October 11 or November 2, 2014. You can register here. Cost is $30 per session, or $75 if you register for all three sessions ($15 discount). This is a great way to improve your comfort riding on streets. The earlier sessions will be based in the city; the later ones in Clayton and along the city/county border if either geographical area is more appealing. I recommend them highly!

This is a family-friendly ride through one of the City's largest and most historic cemeteries. It is the companion to June's Calvary Cemetery Tour and should be fabulous. I'm really excited to see the cemetery with the fall colors, too. This event is free. 

Finally, it's time for the Fourth Annual Coffeeneuring Challenge! I found out about the challenge too late last year to "win" but tried a couple rides and really liked it. It can be a fun way to challenge the places to and ways in which you ride. I'm planning to participate this year! Here are the rules:
  • Goal: Seven coffee shops in seven weeks (10-4 to 11-16-2014)
    (As in, ride your bike to a coffee shop, have a hot beverage, ride home)
  • Subject to limited exceptions, only weekend trips count (see main link for details)
  • Max of one coffee shop per day (two per weekend)
  • Take a photo of the coffee stop, and log your miles and the address of your destination as proof of the ride
  • The point isn't coffee, or even hot. It's about a nice ride to a nice place to relax and enjoy the moment. Cocoa, tea, or a smoothie are all legit drinks.
  • You cannot combine the coffeeneur ride with a major event ride, but you can combine it with errands (eg, to the grocery store, cleaners, gym, or going to another destination as part of a transportation ride, etc). 
  • You must visit seven different locations, though they can be the same chain (multiple Starbucks or Bread Cos, if you will). You can also do a "coffee shop without walls" wherein you pack your coffee, ride to a campsite or other scenic spot, and enjoy your beverage there. It's about exploring.
  • Deadline for submission: midnight 11-24-14 to gersemalina (at) gmail (dot) com. Send all proof in a single email (word, etc), not seven separate emails.
  • If you win, and pay $4 (competing is free, the prize is not), you get a coffeeneuring patch to display proudly. This is awesome.
  • Americans may use Columbus holiday as one of your rides per the "Tara" rule; Canadians may use Canadian Thanksgiving as an extra day.
  • If you are on vacation, you may coffeeneur any two days of the week, but only two days of the week.
  • If you want to use one trip to buy beans instead of drinking a coffeeneur-approved beverage, that's cool. 
  • You may ride on Veterans Day instead of a weekend day, unless you are an actual veteran, in which case you rock and get a bonus coffeeneur day in recognition of your service. Go you!
  • If you want to share your escapades on social media:
    Twitter: #coffeeneuring
    Flickr: Coffeeneur group
    Facebook: Coffeeneur Group
    Share your blog posts on any platform.