15 days of biking

These riders have it easy: it's flat on this side of the city.

I came into 30 days of biking knowing that there would be some challenges. Not least among these was the fact that I was going to Sacramento for a conference halfway through the month. I was there most of last week. Unlike a normal conference, this one was arranged by one of my grantors, and that meant blowing off part of the meeting to cycle around town was: unlikely.

Just to make me look even more unprofessional, my poster arrived looking like this (fortunately it was undamaged).

This expectation was pretty much spot-on, as it turned out attendees were expected to see and be seen from 8am to 8pm every day. Skipping part of the poster sessions to quickly ride around the Sacramento Conference Center felt like both a huge accomplishment and a huge risk, as explaining myself to colleagues who spotted me was sort of complicated. I proposed that I was wildly eccentric and they did not disagree. At least I missed most of the thunderstorms in San Francisco.

If I had been thinking, I would have headed to one of the many all-night bodegas in our neighborhood. But evidently I look just Russian enough that the owners here get annoyed when I speak English.

But I missed doing even this on the last day of the conference. So when I got home I scanned the kitchen to discover that our grocery situation was dire, made lunches for the next day with the available remains, and went out to ride once around the block in my dress clothes and high heels around 11pm. The only way to ride around the block where we live involves an unappetizing choice between (a) going up, then down, or (b) going down, then up. I picked the former. My choice of timing, route, and dress were atypical, and several oncoming cars stopped dead as I approached them (we live next to a hospital; there is traffic at all hours). It could only get easier from here.

Water in the basement, down from 5 inches to 2 inches

There were also some unexpected challenges. The hospital building behind our street was built over everyone’s former backyards without regard for neighborhood drainage, and as a result, whenever it rains heavily, every basement and garage on the street ends up several inches underwater. This happens a few times every year. It happened last week. As an aside, when we first moved in to the neighborhood, we were the kind of people who put things on the floor of the basement. These days, like every basement on our street, ours looks like an ad for the Container Store. There is nothing on the floor except garbage bins and modes of transportation, but just to be safe, everyone keeps the bikes and scooters on the uphill side. (The bins float so they can go wherever.)

Our son arranged this hardware--Matt insisted I take a picture because it is proof, as if any more were needed, that he is in fact my son.

So when I came home the basement was still draining away several inches of water and everything was covered with mud. Per usual the campus maintenance people came by and pressure washed out most of the mud, but everything was still moderately grungy. Today our kids decided to clean up the rest of the mess. Although they’re not really up to the task, we were so touched by their effort that we took them out to Japanese food and ice cream. That’s another ride in the bag.

So that’s 15 days of biking. Some of the days have been unimpressive. Twice I have ridden only to get takeout pizza (a perfect application for the bungee net!) But I’m not going anywhere the rest of the month, the forecast predicts sunny weather all week, and I’ve already totally embarrassed myself professionally, so barring a plague of locusts, I’m feeling like I should be able to manage 15 more.

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Filed under commuting, San Francisco, travel

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