Monday, May 27, 2013

Palmetto Trail Master Plan

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a public meeting for the Palmetto Trail master plan development. The Palmetto Trail is the vision for a 425 mile hiking and biking trail "from the mountains to the sea" running across the heart of South Carolina.

Palmetto Trail (Spring 2013)

There are about 315 miles (to date) of established trail. A good portion of the trail in the southern half of the state is complete. Segments in the Upstate are underdeveloped and unconnected. The trail in the upstate, however, is needs to be further developed. The public meeting I attended last week was a chance for folks from Oconee, Pickens and Greenville counties to share their ideas and experiences for the largely undeveloped portion that will run through the northern parts of these counties. People representing a variety of organizations were there:  Upstate Forever, the Greenville News, Half Moon Outfitters, Upstate SORBA and many folks from the general public. Discussions took place with maps and markers, post-it notes and pens, listening and laughter. It was great to see people making time to take part in a project that will benefit them and other communities throughout the state. If you'd like to add your input, please consider contacting the project team.

Palmetto Trail plan development with input from the public.
National, regional and local organizations are pooling their resources and energy to get the completion of the statewide greenway off the ground. Spearheaded by the Palmetto Conservation Foundation, the effort is focused on expanding and completing the trail. This project will result in a master plan that will guide development and decision making for the trail's future. Designated as the state's only Millennium Legacy Trail, the trail is meant to capture the essence of the state's natural and cultural history, transportation system history and be a place where people can go to have fun.

The plan's development will take about a year, so there's certainly time for you to weigh in and make your ideas known! Another great trail developing for bike riding in the Upstate. Stay tuned to the project website to get the latest and follow the trail and master plan's development.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Biking at Clemson Updates

Happy Friday! (Or whatever the day of the week it is when you read this.) The ride in this morning was beautiful:  perfect weather on National Bike to Work Day. This is my favorite time of year to commute to work:  fewer folks on the road in my hometown, the air is cool and the morning sun is just right. Talking about biking (because that’s what this blog is about), there are a few updates about some biking-related news at Clemson University (because that’s where I work.)

Bicycle Friendly University award.  There has yet to be a formal announcement (update:  formally announced here!), but Clemson received recognition as being a Bicycle Friendly University at the Bronze Level in April. Clemson is 1 of only 58 institutions of higher education to earn such honors. With the adoption of the university bike plan last year followed by the installation of the first bike lane on campus since the mid-1990’s, the University is hard at work to improve facilities for those who cycle. There are quite a few projects that are planned for this summer to continue improvements following the recommendations of the plan. Keep an eye out on the campus for these improvements as the summer rolls on.

Bike Week.  In support of May being National Bike Month, Clemson University is also hosting its inaugural Bike Week. A series of events that are supported by the University Police Department, Campus Recreation and Parking & Transportation Services will be going on at the Big Red Barn Campus Beach (formally known as the “Y Beach”) all week long. Consider joining in on the fun, learning some good tips and meeting others who ride. The events include:
  • Tuesday, May 21 @ 5:30:  A bike repair workshop
  • Wednesday, May 22 @ 3:00:  A bike safety seminar 
  • Friday, May 24 all day:  Launching of the University Park + Bike pilot program
  • All week:  Participate in Bike Bingo to win prizes from the local bike shop Bike Street USA (formally Ride On Bicycles). Additionally, University students, staff and employees will receive a discount at Bike Street USA all week.

Clemson University Bike Bingo
Hope you join in the fun next week. Take part in whatever way you can! There have been some good things going on at Clemson University over the past year. With interest, momentum and a little bit of luck, things - like this - will continue to move biking forward at Clemson.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

HTCBB: Preparations the Night Before

It's time for another installment of the "How to Commute by Bike" series. Previous posts outlined some tips for a week and then a few days before the ride. Hopefully a route has been established, the gear has been checked out and there's a bit of excitement in the air. It's to be expected. Bike riding is some fun business! Here are some things to do the night before your ride:
  1. Gather your gear. Gather the bag or pack that you'll use to transport your stuff. I like to pack my stuff in the morning because I've been doing it so long. It's just part of my morning routine. However, if you're out of practice or a novice, I'd gather everything together and make sure it fits - one more time. Things to pack:  Bike lock, keys, helmet, wallet/ID and cell phone. Other considerations:  Change of clothes, brush, makeup, jewelry, a lunch or snacks, books, laptop map, an extra tube, patch kit, tire levers, hex key....
    **Please note:  Woah. That list of other things to pack is growing. Here's a helpful hint:  The amount of stuff you pack should be based on what you need to help you feel comfortable - during the ride and for the day. Some folks are light packers, others take the "Always Be Prepared" approach. The basics for commuting are listed in first, and then add to that based on preference. And be aware preferences may change over time.

    My experience:   Since I've been commuting for a while, I pack the morning of, but when I was starting out, I made sure everything was together the night before.

  2. Double check - the weather, your bike & route. The Route:  You should already have a planned route at this point. If you don't, just hop online and do a bit of researching of roads, streets and/or paths to take. Consider having your smart phone handy to help with navigation, print or draw out a map or write down street names. There's no shame in having a few things to help you out. In riding new places, I've been known to stash a map in a spare pocket. The Bike:  The best way to have a good ride is to have your bike in good, safe, working condition. Hopefully the bike of your choice has been given a solid tune-up. (If not, spending an extra 10 - 30 minutes to pump up tires and lube the chain will be worth it.) Spend a quick 5 minutes going over the tires for flats, gear shifters, working brakes and a well-lubed chain. The Weather:  Take an extra minute to double check the forecast. If all goes as planned, smooth sailing - or bike riding - should be in store for you tomorrow!

    My experience:  When it comes to the weather, I keep an eye on things throughout the week since I commute 3-5 times a week by bike. If it's going to rain or a chance for rain, I have a back up plan in mind. When it comes to my bike, I pump up the tires once a week, and give a good once over my chain...realistically 2-3 times a month. This makes a noticeable improvement in my bike riding. My route is pretty routine, but I've made a few adjustments from time to time.

  3. Plan extra time. Here, I strongly recommend giving yourself plenty. Of extra. Time. Time to get ready in the morning. Time to prepare your bike to ride. Time to get to work or destination. And, if necessary (as it is in my case), time to change into workplace attire. Your morning routine may need some adjustment. Do you want to bike before or after eating breakfast? Do you need to back a few things on your bike or are you ready to roll? How long will it take you to get to work? What takes me 12 minutes by car takes me 30 by bike. The time it takes to get to your destination also depends on how fast you ride.

    My experience:  Extra time is really important, especially when you're starting out. Planning your arrival to meet the demands, expectations and responsibilities of your job is important. I typically arrive 5-10 minutes before my work day, giving myself time to cool down while I check my email. Then I take anywhere from 10 - 20 minutes to change based on the day's attire. (Hey, a girl's gotta look good, right?) Then, I settle into my work day.
Phew! With these and other tips, you are ready to ride! Congrats! Be excited! (Ha! So many exclamation points!!!)  You'll be joining the gang of riders in National Bike to Work Month and Week. Rest easy and wake up ready to roll. The preparation and planning is complete and it's time to enjoy the adventure that lies ahead.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bicycle Birthday

I had a birthday earlier this spring. Friends and family got me (not all that surprisingly) a bushel of bicycle-related gifts. My peeps know my interest! I thought it might be fun to share some possible bicycle-related gifts that are out there for the giving.

I got bicycle stationary and a bicycle key chain from a friend in Madison. The stationary is very cute, a great bright blue and made sustainability by an international women's co-op. I'm old fashioned and still like to send kind notes and love via the post. I do have to say with this gift that this has gotta be at least a triple score on the environmentally/socially-just/home-made score card. The key chain is cute, too!

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Bike stationary & key chain.
My husband worked with an artist on Etsy to craft this one-of-a-kind bicycle journal. It's a leather-covered journal with a bicycle printed on the front cover. He says that he exchanged several emails with the artisan to create the unique gift. I'm a journal-er (since way back in the 2nd grade), and he knew that this was right up my alley! It's lovely, sturdy and will be used someday soon!

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Hand-crafted leather journal with bike stamp & button.
I also got a book called Women on Wheels which is available on Taking the Lane. The book is a cute, information/story-rich book filled with W.O.W (that's Woman on Wheels) stories, data and studies related to women cycling, tips on how to handle hair and the helmet, kids and cycling, etc. I really like this fun, inspirational read and have thought about getting it for other women who are into cycling. I am treating this book like fine chocolate, taking in the sections one at a time and reading them slooowly to savor.

It seems that these days bikes can be found just about anywhere on just about anything. Consider these or other fun gifts for an upcoming celebration. If you have any fun things to share, I would love to hear about them, too.