Category Archives: Bicyclettes

Biking Jekyll Island

During our short visit to Georgia’s Golden Isles over Labor Day weekend, Z and I headed out to explore Jekyll Island.  Although it looks like it would’ve been a nice ride, the distance Saint Simons would be much more comfortable on something other than the beach cruisers we had.  So, we cheated a bit and loaded a couple of bikes in the truck and drove over.  (It’s vacation.  Who’s keeping track?)  Annual passes are available for locals and regulars, but visitors pay a $6 parking fee, good for as many ins and outs as you’d like until midnight. Continue reading

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Les Vacances on Saint Simons Island

I have completely fallen in love with the coast of Georgia.  As Georgia and Florida natives, Z and his family vacationed here and eventually bought a home. Thanks to them, I’ve spent many a beautiful, lazy day here on the marsh riding bikes, swimming, and eating big, briny oysters and some of the best shrimp I’ve ever had.

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My afternoon with Vélorution – Critical Mass Paris style

As a bike lover and former San Franciscan, when I heard there was a Masse Critique movement in Paris, I was determined to see what it was all about.  Critical Mass, an informal gathering of cyclists that meet at a given point and ride in a group throughout the city, started in SF in 1992.  It has since grown into a decentralized, international pro-cyclist movement with a much more political bent, and greater traffic disturbances, than originally envisioned.  In most cities, this takes place on the last Friday of every month, right before the evening end-of-the-week rush hour.   I remember leaving my office near Market Street and getting stuck in a few of these, thankfully on foot.  With all the hills, being a cyclist in SF is a serious commitment, and this event definitely highlights the sense of identity that goes along with it.  There’s a huge turnout.  The bicycles are often elaborately decorated and carrying all sorts of signage.  Sometimes riders are in serious cycling gear, in costume or au natural (At any Bay-Area protest, outdoor event, or impromptu Saturday afternoon, someone’s getting naked.  It’s just the way it is).  Watching downtown San Francisco grind to an angry hault — financial district types lividly tapping away on their Blackberries and cab drivers yelling or cranking their seats back totally resigned — as a huge group of jubilant cyclists stream through is an image I will always associate with that city. Continue reading

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Ménilmontant: wine-producing village turned Paris quartier

[caption id="attachment_902" align="aligncenter" width="512"] Mural by Jérôme Mesnager, rue Ménilmontant[/caption]

Originally belonging to the commune of Belleville outside Paris, the Ménilmontant neighborhood was first called Mesnilmautemps (“bad weather house”).  The end of the name evolved into “montant” (“rising”) because of the hill that it sits on overlooking the city.  Until the mid 17th century, it exhisted outside the mur des fermiers généraux (the green line in the map below), which separated Paris from its surrounding communes to regulate products coming into the city, largely for tax purposes.  Because of its location outside the wall, the wine produced and consumed there wasn’t subject to the taxes associated with crossing into Paris, attracting Parisians for afternoons of drinking and creating a rather vibrant guinguette culture. Continue reading

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A Little Bike Love

I don’t know about you, but I feel like the first half of January flew by.  I came out of my jet-lag infused post-holiday haze and wham there’s February staring me in the face.  As someone who starts counting down the days ’til spring every year right around January 2nd, I’m not griping too much.  (I beg to differ, T.S. Eliot.  It’s most definitely February.)  But, this also means final exams.  Unlike most US schools which mercifully wrap up mid-December, in France they save finals for after the holiday break.  For those who are used to coming back from the holidays rested and starting anew, having to switch gears and hop into an intense review of everything you did over the course of the semester (and completely forgot about for three weeks or so) is just cruel.  M. Luc Chatel, je vous propose qu’on fasse une réforme.

So, I’m working on some Paris posts, but a little preoccupied with les partiels at the moment.  Just so you know I haven’t forgotten about you, and to pray your patience, I leave you with bicyclettes.

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Capital Bikeshare in Washington, DC

When I first moved to Washington a few years ago, the District had a bickeshare program in place called SmartBike, the first of its kind in North America (go DC!).  But, the stops were few and far between, the bikes were clunkly, and I rarely saw anyone using them.  Apparently, the baskets were also sub-par, and the design of the bikes themselves was a turnoff to users.

But in late 2010, the District came out with its very own replacement program, Capital Bikeshare (CabBi), which has been extremely sucessful and remains the largest bikeshare program in the country.  I heard rave reviews from friends and I’m always rooting for any and all bikeshare programs anyway.  But, I wasn’t prepared to be blown away: I’m spoiled when it comes to this sort of thing and my previous disappointment with DC’s bikeshare efforts didn’t help matters any.  (SmartBike was highly praised too right before it bombed.)  But, boy was I wrong! Continue reading

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à bicyclette avec vélib’

What better topic for a first post than bicyclettes?  I use the vélib’ system quite a bit, since I don’t currently have a bike of my own.  They’re a great way to get around Paris, whether you live here or are just visiting for a few days.  I’ve included some simple how-tos, tips, and tricks from my experience below. Continue reading

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