Biking: First Day Observations

Although Brooklyn and biking seem to go hand in hand, I never jumped on that band wagon. I rode a bike around my suburban neighborhood as a kid, I’ll ride when at the beach or doing a winery tour in Argentina (because that’s safe), but since I moved to Brooklyn 1.5 years ago I have never thought of getting a bike. Well, that’s a lie. I’ve thought about it, and then realized how scared and amateur I would feel. So, I’ve stuck to what I know well – public transportation and walking.

Until this month. When my sister and I were in Portsmouth in the beginning of August our awesome hotel had bikes for guests to borrow. We took them around town, riding along the water, through the residential area, to breakfast, and on to a little island. It was a fast, fun way to explore the city, allowing us to discover things we probably would not have on foot. I thought, “Hey, how convenient would this be in Brooklyn.. riding to the store, the gym, friend’s places, the park, work.. so much faster than walking and so much nicer than the subway.” Since then I’ve been doing some research, ie asking all my biking friends what they think. My friends run the gamut – from casual Kmart to fancy $4,000 and everything in between. I realized there were a lot of important features I needed to know about – road bikes vs cruisers, gears vs no gears, the height, the fenders, the wheels, how old and heavy (I live on the 4th floor of a walk up) is it, does it need work done?

After a couple weeks of online shopping and asking friends and families tons of questions, I went to check out a Pacific Shorewood Cruiser I found on Craiglist. It was within my price range, had all the features I wanted, and was super cute! I took it for a test drive and was sold. Today I rode to work for the first time, a little over 3.5 miles, and it was awesome. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought, and in fact felt really comfortable. I have a lot to learn about bike etiquette and do’s and don’ts, but here are my first day observations and questions:

  • On days I decide to ride to work, my commute will be cut by 15-20 minutes.
  • Cars actually seem to be aware of bikers, even on streets with no bike lanes. Brooklyn is sure to be better about this than Manhattan, though. Or maybe I was in the way of traffic and they were being nice? I’ll have to figure that one out.
  • Who has the right of way when you’re in the bike line and you’re going straight but traffic is making a turn in front of you?
  • How closely do bikes have to follow traffic laws? Is it OK to go through a red light if there are no cars coming in the opposite direction?
  • I don’t care how many vents your helmet claims to have to prevent you from getting hot, your head will still sweat.
  • I will be slower than most bikers at first, although I was glad to see that all bikers go at different paces.
  • Related to above, what’s the etiquette on bike passing?
I dropped my bike off to get tuned up and realized I am going to miss it for the next few days. I see the start of a great relationship.
M
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Firefly Music Festival

Ah, Firefly Music Festival. It being my first multi-day music festival, I really had no expectations going into the weekend this past July in Dover, Delaware, except that I knew I wouldn’t be showering for 3 days (gross, right?) Well the weekend turned out to be an amazing one, and here’s why.

  • Almost 50 musical artists, some I knew and loved, some I knew, and some I didn’t know
  • Friends, old and new
  • Outdoors
  • Beer
  • Grilling
  • Face paint
  • Dancing

They really packed us in there

This was the first year for Firefly Music Festival and it went off without a hitch. It was so well run, so organized, a manageable size crowd, and they didn’t try to drain our wallets  with absurd food and drink prices. The weather was not typical July weather, but instead cloudy, rainy, and cool, which worked in our favor since no one wanted to hike to the showers and pay $5 to take one.

The weekend was relaxing, and a mix between hanging out at the campsite, laying on blankets and listening to live music, and having a dance party. The hardest thing about the weekend wasn’t even the port a potties, since you get used to them and there were so many you barely had to wait in line, but it was choosing which artist to see, since there were always two shows going on at once. A few times we did half and half, which worked just fine.

The headliners were Jack White, The Killers, and The Black Keys, who were all amazing. I had high expectations for The Black Keys since they were the main reason I bought a Firefly ticket, but maybe my expectations were too high, because I didn’t love them live as much as I thought I would. Other favorites of mine were Girl Talk, Michael Franti, Mayor Hawthorne, Modest Mouse, Fitz and the Tantrums, The Wallflowers (mainly because they performed “One Headlight” and it took me back to 1997), and The Head and the Heart.

I’ll wait to see next year’s lineup before I decide if I’ll go again, but if they can pull it off as amazingly as they did this year, I highly recommend going.

The Killers

Michael Franti

 

M

Overheard in … everywhere

From an “Overheard in DC” blog:

A guy and a girl are standing in line to order coffee.

Girl: “So what do you do?”
Guy: “I work on the Hill.”
Girl: (pause) “Oh sorry, I didn’t mean what do you do for money. I meant what do you do to make the world better?”

I am a fan of this one in particular.  Because in Washington, DC, especially, and probably like many other places, but in DC especially people just wanna know what you “do”, or rather, want to let you know that they are super important because they work for the federal government.  So I love the girl’s response and actual interest in what someone else really does do.

We’ll write another blog in a month or two …

P