Archive for April, 2011

Kopenhavn V: Outdoor Pub

April 29, 2011

Of course, only a few hours in to our trip with a few drinks in us all ready, we headed over to an outdoor pub.

While walking over there, we walked down even denser streets which had many food stands on them. Kopenhavn smelled of hotdogs! Delicious.

My SO noticed that it wasn’t a sea of blondes nor even a sea of whites, rather there were differing types of people most of whom were speaking in fluent Danish which added to the surreal feel.

In one of the narrow alleys I even saw a place to meditate. How wonderful.

Finally, we go to a large square which was paved all in stones. The adjoining streets were quiet.

It was as if, in the middle of a large square someone had set up tables and chairs. All of them were filled with Cecilia’s friends.

We sat down and met everyone, who were super-friendly. Then we started drinking again. I didn’t even see where the beers were coming from.

I was especially to see Hanja and her boyfriend who would soon ride motorcycles across South America.

We talked about their trip as well as their finishing their thesis on bicycles in the San Diego and Barcelona.

Time went really fast, of course, and people slowly started to leave.

In the meantime, of course, I had to pee.

The bathroom was the best ever.

There was a spiral maze made from metal. In the center was a trough. I love the trough! I made many trips there.

This was one of my highlights of the trip as I adore novel bathroom technology.

Kopenhaven IV: Cosy

April 28, 2011

Of course, the defining feature of the Danish apartments are bicycle racks. There were two very long racks, but still there were more bicycles than rack space so people parked their bicycles next to the rack using only their awesome internal lock.

I could see why I would NOT want my regular commuter to stand out in any way. If a thief is looking at a large array of similar bicycles, he’s going to go for the one which totally unlocked. If he is a lock picker, he’ll go for quality.

Speaking of quality, the Danes have a word for decorating their apartments which means cosy.

This is probably due to the fact that the winters are not only long, but dark for long periods of time as they are on par with Moscow.

The walls were covered with artistic family photos, cutting edge art some of which looked like street art inspired, and Americana. OK, the way I described it makes it seem incoherent, but trust me, it wasn’t.

The place was like a museum or show room from a fancy apartment. There were tons of books which is almost a prerequisite for getting close to me.

We sat and relaxed for a little bit then we were out again.

Kopenhaven III: Park Life

April 27, 2011

After my SO got back, all three of us started to walk towards Cecilia’s place.

There it was endless beauty. The buildings were monolithic, but not in the brick lump way, but more of a European style. I’m not good at describing things.

In addition to the large, lovely buildings, there were rectangular lakes which were part of the original fortifications which included a moat. I was in heaven to recall a time where it was actually a credible defense to did holes in the ground and fill then with water.

We walked through a park where we saw three graves of increasing importance: Hans Christian Andersen (writer), Søren Kierkegaard (Christian philosopher) and best of all Natasja Saad (singer).

The park was very green and quiet. I hunted for sprinklers and was laughed at. It was wonderful to have lawns that actually could sustain themselves as if they actually belonged there.

Next we went to a park which was themed on the Bermuda Triangle. We sat on a grassy knoll and drank some more while Cecilia talked about many things but most importantly we talked about cycling, psychology, and traffic systems.

A few beers later, and we staggered back to her apartment.

Open Letter To Kaiser

April 26, 2011

Kopenhavn story will wait because I have to strike when the iron is hot.

Dear Kaiser,

This morning, while cycling to work, I saw your large, purple “Healthy Lifestyles” van.

It reminded me that as an organization, you claim to be committed to “healthy lifestyles.” Because of this, I would accept that you understand “active travel”.

However, I am confused why you actively discourage active travel.

I know this because I rode my bicycle to Kaiser and there were zero facilities for me. Rather the entire building was completely built around the automobile.

1. The large parking lot in the front was off-putting for those who walked. In fact, you had to negotiate travel with cars out in the middle of the parking lot to get there.

2. There was no visible bicycle parking in front of the building, while, again, there was a huge parking lot which was an invitation for the unhealthy travel.

3. My doctor told me to exercise. When I told him I rode there, he actively discouraged me from doing this because of its danger. Even when presented with the facts, he did not back down.

It’s really nice that you have decided to promote healthy living, but healthy living is more than painting a few vans and sending emails.

If your organization continues to pour money into infrastructure that discourages walking and cycling, your customers aren’t going to do that.

I suggest that you really don’t want people to ride their bicycles nor to walk, you should save the money on painting vans, lay off the staff that emails me, and pass those savings on to me.

Kaiser is a super large and powerful organizations. It has lots of pull in government and medical authorities it can use to make a case for active travel infrastructure. It has a huge advertising budget to get the public on its side. This money will be a fraction of the costs that it spends on parking garages, heart disease, diabetes II and other diseases created by the unhealthy lifestyle that Kaiser promotes.

Since Kaiser has chosen not to make a real efforts to making their facilities more accessible for those who choose to enjoy the Southern California weather and to walk or bicycle, I can only conclude that Kaiser is not at all serious about healthy lifestyles, and that the vans and the other publicity are there for show only.

I only wonder why so much money is wasted having people drive around in vans when the costs of health care are so high.

I’m going to continue with my own personal “healthy lifestyle” which at nearly 40, I have no health problems and take no medications.

Denmark: Where Everyone Loves My Name

April 25, 2011

in Denmark, the name “Fred” is not an insult, not a cartoon, and not a punchline.

Freds have ruled this wise nation for centuries. Pretty much half the kings were Freds.

The Danes were shocked and horrified at how badly Freds were treated in the US, and they told me the name was only worthy of veneration. J

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederik,_Crown_Prince_of_Denmark

Permanent Tour

April 22, 2011

Permanent Tour

I’m proud to say that I didn’t sleep in my bed last night. 🙂

Yah!

Too bad, I didn’t bring a toothbrush and change of underwear.

Yuck!

I’m going to delay the Kopenhavn narrative because I wanted to write about how I felt my life was like a permanent tour.

I may have said this before, but San Diego’s great weather and the summer’s bright nights make it tough for me to just go home and relax. For some reason, there’s always stuff going on, and I want to be part of it rather than miss out.

I loved the excitement of a real city like Philly, but eventually, I realize that the main thing I can do while in the midst of the swirl of lovely humanity is to sit at a cafe and write.

Here I can not write in cafe’s; I have tried. I can write at home, but I’m never there.

Before I visited Kopenhavn, I felt burned out and the best thing I liked to do was to come home and to eat dinner while sipping a homebrew and watching comedy.

Now I love going out again. I want to do everything.

I don’t know what changed, but I’m happy about it.

For some reason, I’m not worried about being tired all the time, which I am.

I must be jet lagged because last night, I was with some friends, and while cutting lime and cilantro, I almost passed out in the kitchen. The conversation was excellent, but with all my supreme effort, I could not keep my eyes open.

I lay down on the floor and feel asleep. They tried to rouse me but failed so my good friends tossed a blanket on me.

I’m sure a lot of cool stuff happened while I slept.

Man, did I want some of those delicious smelling fish tacos.

I only woke up the next day and rode home to drop off veggies then straight to work. I got here an hour and a half earlier than I need to.

I feel like doing more riding after work as life is now a permanent tour.

Kopenhavn II: Drinking in the Streets

April 21, 2011

Kopenhavn II: Drinking in the Streets

Cecilia left us at our hotel for an hour so that we could take naps which we did.

She came back in an hour bearing a six pack which we started drinking right away. Yes public drinking is legal, though I never did see anyone else do it. And when we did it, we got very static from anyone. Nobody seemed to notice anything we did, actually for the most part.

While my sweet SO was out there looking for an ATM, I got permission then hopped on Cecilia’s bicycle. Finally, I was riding a bicycle in Kopenhavn for the first time!

It was much tougher than I though as Cecilia has an old, rusty three speed. Also the bicycle lane was really narrow, much tighter than the wide Southern California streets that I was used to. But it wasn’t as bad as some people say, and I could get used to it.

It was nice to have so many people passing me.

I rode half a block then walked by bicycle on the sidewalk back to my friend. If I wanted to ride the other way I had to cross the street. Yes, bicycle salmoning was rarely seen during my brief stay, and when they did salmon, they did so on the sidewalk which I guess is two wrongs. Nobody really seemed to mind.

The streets were semi-chaotic. Cecilia said that they were a permissive society which meant no death penalty and surprisingly little crime. Her husband, Marcellus, said, “Nothing bad happens here.” Thus shattering more myths on the need for crazy security to be safe.

It seemed like myth after myth was going to be shattered with no end in sight…

Kopenhavn I: Arrival

April 20, 2011

With a great friend like Cecilia to greet us, arriving in Kopenhavn was a dream. Of course, she greeted us by waving a set of Danish Flags. Definitely a relief to have a great guide in a new country.

It was so easy to get around because she showed us how to take the train. Of course, we sat in the first seat which gave us a view of the city.

The entire trip, the weather was bearable even without my heavy third upper layer and long underwear–the latter, I never used. The former I used once, and I was too warm. Thus, I was able to actually wear the same clothes I had been wearing in San Diego.

Of course as soon as I got off the subway I saw what I was looking for: bicycles, bicycles, and more bicycles.

Near every door of every shop there were lines of bicycles some of which were so dense looked like stacks and piles of bikes.

Everywhere you looked there was bicycle traffic which was thicker than auto traffic which was great because it allowed people to move more efficiently down the narrow streets.

The most peculiar thing wasn’t really the bicycle infrastructure, but how inexpensive and simple it looked.

The main bike path was not, as I had expected, separated from vehicular traffic by walls, but rather it was a step up from the street with a little curb and a step down from the sidewalk. Thus all three modes ran side by side. The bicycle paths were large enough for two bicycles to ride side by side with a third to squeeze by.

The bicycles were mostly rusted and crappy three speeds, but people looked very elegant on them.

Thus, the cost was much lower than expected, and the impact was huge. I was shocked to see how little it would take to make San Diego and the rest of the United States bicycle friendly.

Also, in Kopenhavn, all races and religions were represented on their bicycles. The only thing in common besides their mode was their glamor.

Thus, all the objections based on femininity, or suits, or physical fitness, or age or any other consideration were complete twaddle.

Often cars parked half way on the bike lane and buses unloaded passengers right on the bicycle lanes.

This confusion didn’t impede the bicycle traffic in any meaningful way. The oldest ladies to the youngest children–some of them as young as four riding on their own bicycles–smoothly went around any obstruction.

The drivers were incredibly well behaved waiting behind the baby blue rectangle in front of every intersection where there was a possible right hook.

Thus the objection about right hooks was also twaddle.

There were a very few racer types with helmets and spandex who rode much faster on newer, fancier bicycles which puts to rest the whole racing based objection to infrastructure that San Diego has been infected with in the thirty year reign as unofficial “bike expert” Jonas Trees.

All in all, everyone rode bicycles. It was so normal it was almost boring.

There were more bicycles safely accommodated on single lane streets in Kopenhavn as there are for a few hours a month in San Diego during the biggest group rides like Critical Mass. Thus, this puts to the bed the whole myth that bicycles interfere with traffic.

In fact vehicular traffic was light and moved much smoother in San Diego despite the constant lights at every intersection, lack of traffic light “triggers”, and the absurdly low speed of twenty miles per hour which confirmed my hypothesis that “net traffic speed” and not “top speed” are more important. “Net traffic speed” was much higher due to the almost total lack of vehicular traffic.

This created a sense of calm and order that I had been craving for such a long time.

Sweet Kopenhavn.

And I saw this in the first half and hour while standing on the street corner…

Bicycle Show

April 12, 2011

Last weekend, I went to a bicycle show.

I had gone last year, and I didn’t really have that much fun because I didn’t know anyone.

However, we were introduced to Nobillette, an amazing builder. We all saw Blinekey from North Philly so that was good times.

In fact, my SO ordered a custom bicycle!

However, this year was better.

I guess it was because I knew more people there, again mostly through my SO.

I wish I had gone to the band which had tons of Stone Beer. Plus there were tons of parties.

On Sunday, in LA, there was the cyclovia.

So overwhelming!

But I didn’t do any of that.

While I was at the bicycle show, I learned a little about what the point was when I looked at some custom parts.

This is because recently, due to poor design, my front derailler broke and I had to get a new one.

At the bicycle show, I saw people who could machine much higher quality parts.

I guess the moral is that even though I didn’t get things at first, by hanging around long enough, I was able to learn something.

I’m still not that interested in the mechanics of bicycles at all.

Penny Farthing

April 11, 2011

Last weekend, I met my first Penny Farthing rider, and he made an even huger impression on me than recumbent riders.

Before I go on, I’d like to say that I only met this guy once, but I can’t identify him because he wore a Nixon mask the whole time–or he was Nixon.

Also, he disguised his voice.

Finally, the whole account below is totally fictional.

Did you ever meet a twisted, looking glass version of yourself if you had stayed on the “bad” course in your life?

I did and his name is P. Farthing.

A Penny Farthing bicycle is one of the oldest bikes which has no chain, no gears, and no brakes. It’s basically a giant wheel with pedals and a seat attached.

Though illustrations of Penny Farthings make them look like sissies, this is actually the badest ass bike ever; a tank of the bicycle world.

It can do pretty much everything I want a bicycle to do and some things I won’t admit to wanting.

For example, it never gets flats. It’s super easy to coast. And if it runs into a car door, by accident, it rips the door off!

It sits so high off the ground that if you get cut off and step off the bicycle you wind up standing on the hood of a car.

With no brakes, stopping is a gradual foot dragging process.

The rider seemed a combination of mania, intensity, and joy that I seldom see. For the first time, I could see, perhaps, how people saw me in the bad old days.

If I were a woman, I’d be in love!

As it is, I barely suppressed a “Where can I find you!” before I left his presence.