Tillie & Coco

two ladies, two bicycles, two hemispheres

Category: Summer cycling

Bike!

by Alacoque

In her post Garance states this is the perfect biking outfit. What do you think? What is your typical cycling outfit? I generally just get on the bike and ride wearing whatever but I do love a bit of an up-skirt breeze in summer! One thing I do agree on- on a bike the city is yours! http://www.garancedore.fr/en/2012/08/31/bike/#more-31797

Sydney’s Most Leisurely Bike Rides

by Alacoque

Concrete Playground features Sydney’s Most Leisurely Bike Rides http://sydney.concreteplayground.com.au/news/76336/sydneys-most-leisurely-bike-rides.htm

Not just any Tuesday…

by Tillie

Hi Coco (and everyone!),

Today is my last day of leisure before 18 months of graduate school. The sun is out, so I went for a ride around town before stopping for groceries. I found this rather nice tree-lined pavement (a welcome change after cycling down a back street full of bins). I also found a car park I didn’t know about, but who cares.

The Pedestrian Bridge is being repaired at the moment. It obviously has some foundational problems.

One thing about having 8 months off / not being allowed to work, is that I’ve gotten into the nasty habit of shopping every day. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’s a big waste of time and it makes me a lot less strategic about meals. S and I will need to get back into the habit of weekly grocery shops after today – it’s a great way to save time and money! As we are both well aware, cycling to the grocery shop is a great way to limit what you buy because you can only carry so much, but today I really pushed the boundaries of what my pannier and basket can handle. I need to make some hearty salads to take for lunch for the rest of the week, because I refuse to buy meals on campus (after years of £1.70 jacket potatoes at the Museum, I won’t be able to handle $14 dinners on principle). When my basket is full of fruit and veg, I hang my lock over my handlebars, like people with fixies do!

After I make my hearty salad I plan to spend the rest of my afternoon watching Law & Order. Since January I’ve managed to watch the first six seasons (is that bad?) The episodes from the early 1990s are brilliant – no one has a mobile phone, and the detectives actually look like real policemen, unlike the latest episodes in which they all look like models. I’ll miss you, crime drama!

The Library

by Tillie

Hi Coco,

Aha! Your mention of Rhonda’s book reminded me that I, too, was overdue for a visit to my local library. According to the online catalogue a book I have been wanting to read for months – Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg – had finally been returned to the shelf, so I pedalled over this afternoon to claim my prize! I know my photos make it look like I am the only person who lives in Corning, but the library is very well patronised. There were many people out and about today enjoying the last days of summer proper, and more than a few were to be found in the library’s air conditioned periodicals section. And what library is complete without a newspaper stand?

A Midsummer Cycle

by Tillie

Dear Coco,

It’s been a while since we posted about a cycling journey. I had a number of errands to do today (not very important ones) which were best done by bike, so thought I’d do you a bit of a photo essay. It is a billion degrees today, so definitely not helmet weather, but I have no qualms about cycling on the pavement considering there are so few pedestrians to contend with, and the roads are so pot-holed they aren’t always the better option anyway! As you see, I’ve finally discovered Instagram. I am totally “gramming” as the cool kids say.

First, I went to the post office, and enjoyed using the drive-thru postboxes. This is the main post office, which is the best one to use because they clear the postboxes at 5.30pm. To catch the postman at the other boxes around town you have to be organised enough to post everything by 9.30, which never happens unless I have the extra incentive of posting a Netflix envelope. I’m pretty sure I am singlehandedly propping up the United States Postal Service.

From the Post Office, I headed back towards the centre of town. I meant to take a photo of this magnolia tree for you back when it was flowering. It was really pretty, but didn’t last long because there was a surprise snowfall that ruined everything, like a cold white unseasonal scrooge. Anyhoo, here it is for you in its leafy summer cloak instead. Soz.

You can see why the pavement is far more appealing than the road! I’m a bit confused by the apparent cycle route on this sign, though. Just around the corner from here is a really nice, wide pavement out the front of the Corning Museum of Glass, which leads straight to the pedestrian bridge and then Market Street. I tell myself that the pavement is deliberately wide to accommodate cyclists, even though it’s possibly illegal (maybe I should find out).

My next errand was to Market Street Coffee & Tea to get some coffee ground. We bought a packet of coffee beans from Four Barrels Coffee in San Francisco thinking that we’d buy a grinder, which of course we didn’t. The good folks at the coffee shop amazingly offer a grinding service for free, but I bought a bag anyway because once I needed to get about 20 quarters in change (Ithaca parking metres) and they were kind enough to do that for me without asking me to buy anything, so I had some karma debt to repay.

As usual I had to improvise a bicycle park, but this bench proved a lot easier than my slightly awkward bin technique.

My next stop was Walgreen’s, to see if they had anything in Sali Hughes’ recent Hero Products under £10 column (one thing). It’s always fun to gawp at all the STUFF in there.

Interesting Factoid: the pointy roof (er, architectural term?) was a sort of compromise to make the building fit in with the surroundings more easily – it takes cues from a nearby church and possibly the Rockwell Museum as well. The obligatory car park is set off slightly by some garden (not pictured), but it’s still ugly. And a heat trap on a day like this.

They do have a bicycle park though, so points for that!

I have omitted a rather painful few minutes in glaring sunlight waiting to cross Denison Parkway on the way to my next errand (groceries). Just imagine a hot concrete desert and lots of cars roaring past. When I finally got back to the quieter part of town I cycled down Market Street (on the shadeless side of the road, aargh!) and snapped (I mean “grammed”) this summery pot of petunias on the way:

Planning Moan: I don’t get this sign. I assume it’s there to warn drivers that pedestrians can cross here, but it’s very confusing. Cars may or may not stop for you (mostly not). Why not just have a real pedestrian crossing? Duh. I don’t understand why you need a PhD to know how to cross the road.

Next stop: Wegmans. Another heat trap car park! I do like cycling through it though. It’s so much easier than the bother of parking a car, and it’s much easier to see where the pedestrians are from a bike. One of my greatest driving fears is backing into someone (or running into a deer, not that I’m likely to do that at Wegmans).

Check it out. “Cilantro”. Haha. (Other words I’ve learned since moving here: garbazno beans (chickpeas), arugula (rocket), pignolia nuts (pine nuts). I still don’t know how much a pound is. America, please get the metric system!)

I get an eye twitch every time I pass this sign. I assume the point is that the pavement is very narrow and runs past a Seniors Centre, but it seems a bit harsh. You’d have to be cycling very fast for it to be remotely hazardous. Maybe it’s there because someone had an accident at some point. That’s the only excuse I’ll accept.

After the mean no cycling signs, there’s a rather nice stretch of path through a shady park. I happened upon two workmen doing something to the road, and one of them said to me “nice day for a cycle!” A tad too nice, perhaps, but not complaining.

(PS. I changed our theme… hope OK! Feel free to change it back if you prefer.)

Richmond Park

by tillieandcoco

Hi Coco! Summer has struck.

I heard somewhere that the temperatures over Easter are a whole 10º above average for this time of year. It feels like Australian weather! Yesterday we cycled to Richmond Park through Wimbledon Common, which meant taking Blackie off-road, onto dusty, gravelly tracks. Thankfully I didn’t fall off, which would have been very un-dashing. We went through dense woodland that felt very Coleridge – all pretty, dappled light and cool shade – and then out into Putney Vale and the A3, where there was a wide footpath part reserved for bicycles. From there we crossed over to Richmond Park, which has a very different feel to the Common.

Richmond Park is very large. It has roads for traffic, but the speed limit is 20mph to accommodate cyclists and horses. The roads and relative lack of cars obviously makes the park an attractive place for hardcore lycra cyclists, who whizz past in the blink of an eye – zhoosh! I’m not sure if this is their version of leisure cycling or whether they’re all in training for something, but I was very much outnumbered, and frequently overtaken. All that off-road cycling gave me very dusty feet.

We found an ice cream truck and had a rest under a tree. A woodpecker could be heard, but sadly not seen. What a great sound it is! London was very hazy yesterday because of pollution, which just made everything feel even warmer. We’d left at 10am, and the heat of the day was very much at its height by 1pm. We caught the train home to avoid sunstroke, which took us on a scenic tour of southwest London. I’ve been cycling for quite a while now, but I’m still surprised by the distance you can cover on a bicycle.

Because it’s lovely and warm here, I think I can safely assume that it’s cooling off slightly in Sydney? I am looking forward to hearing about your cape!

Love Tillie