Wednesday, November 21, 2018

You Are The Luckiest Person in California - And So Am I

Note: Please do some good - register for the San Jose Turkey Trot (which is tomorrow/Thanksgiving Day

I did not have a bad day on Friday.

What I did that morning - not 30 hours before Cranksgiving San Jose was supposed to start - was put on a N95 mask before heading into my garage, finding a roll of masking tape, and drawing the word 'cancelled' with an orange Sharpie across it before taking the photo you see above.

I used the homemade bike trailer frequently to promote Cranksgiving - even lashing 'Wally' - the decoy turkey bought from a hunting supply store  - to the top as a decoration. I had a plan to get sponsors. I had a plan for social media. I had a plan for the manifest, the weigh-in, the volunteers (and did I have some great ones and am forever grateful to them). 

I had found the perfect venue, too: San Pedro Square Market in downtown San Jose. 

I didn't have a plan for wildfire smoke.

Early morning on November 10, 2018. San Jose/Morgan Hill Border
The Camp Fire - which has been accompanied by the kind of news coverage and graphics that make most of my friends who aren't in California certain the entire state is on fire - began burning more than 150 miles away on November 8th. Eleven days have passed and it is still burning, and according to the most recent Associated Press story it has killed at least 81 and the list of people who are missing hovers around 800.

Last week I kept one eye on the smoke levels and another on the remaining tasks. When I learned even the most hardcover riders I knew weren't even taking short trips by bike - even with an N95 mask -  I knew it was looking unlikely by Wednesday. The next evening, San Jose Bike Party cancelled their monthly Friday night ride - the first time they've had to do that in 11 years.

So early Friday morning I went to my workshop, flipped my trailer on its side, made the sign (since I had no other ideas on how to convey the message Cranksgiving was being cancelled) and dutifully put the word out. I managed to return the bike racks I rented from the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition the same day and I'm returning the prizes to the sponsors this week. And wow, the sponsors this year were great:

Beryl - the bike light company in London I've had a long relationship with - donated both a Laserlight and their Burner tailight (they used to be known as Blaze) just like they did last year. They do have other products and new ones coming out - their latest Kickstarter campaign for Laserlight Core started last month and blew past $135,000 when their goal had been $50,000 - and it's still going

Ford GoBike - they're the bike share company in the Bay Area. I own a membership and even though I don't use it a lot I like that I have it. A bike share membership is the confidence that comes with carrying a folded umbrella when walking under an angry sky: knowing a bike is there when I need one, I walk taller.

Be The Change Yoga & Wellness - moving here three years ago and little to put my back up against, I met Be The Change Yoga & Wellness - a nonprofit yoga studio. They just moved to 947 Park Avenue and donated T-shirts and gift certificates for free classes. If you want to manage stress and just be in better shape, visit them. They're amazing. 

Good Karma Bikes - This is a nonprofit bike shop on 460 Lincoln Avenue in San Jose. They sell a few new bikes and parts but they also sell used bikes and parts. Just thinking about it the Mystery of South Norwalk, my City Bike and my California Cargo Bike all have hard-to-find or interesting components on them thanks to frequent shopping at Good Karma Bikes. A must for a maker on a budget. 

Retail Extraordinaire Francois, at left, with Good Karma Bikes founder Jim Gardner

Community Cycles of California This is another bike-based nonprofit in San Jose that gallops in the same direction as Good Karma Bikes but isn't in the same harness. They work in 

La Dolce Velo - This full service bike shop in The Alameda (not far from Recycle Bookstore) is probably one of the most well-curated I've ever been to. They also offer spin classes now that is it winter in California - even though California's definition of 'winter' differs from my own. 

Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition - if you ride a bike in the Bay Area get a SVBC membership. The bike lanes and traffic improvements that appear don't appear on their own and not without a fight. I borrowed five bike racks from them to use at San Pedro Square Market and they even gave me two helmets and two water bottles to use as prizes. Right now they're gearing up for #GivingTuesday so make sure you donate to Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition here

Gemellos Murals - Lila Gemellos is a local artist who has painted murals you have seen if you live in or around San Jose. I didn't know who she was until she showed up at last year's Cranksgiving San Jose without explanation and painted faces (and also my left forearm) while people were getting registered. She made the process feel more like a party and the cards she makes are beautiful thank-you notes that accompany the prizes being returned to sponsors.

As I write this, I'm looking out the window of a VTA light rail train on my way to work. My home is standing. My family and friends are healthy. I am not living in a tent in a parking lot. I'm not waiting to find out if a loved one is dead or alive.

Canceling Cranksgiving San Jose doesn't mean there aren't other ways to get your good on this holiday season, and in the coming days I'll post some ideas. In the meantime you can register for the Applied Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot which takes place in downtown San Jose tomorrow. It helps a lot of great area nonprofits, including Second Harvest Food Bank, which can use funds every bit as much as it needs good donated by bicycle. 

I took this picture this morning of the sunrise in San Jose. The AQI is under 50 and the air doesn't smell like my college roommate's car. We were only inconvenienced by smoke but didn't have to run from the cause of it. 

I feel pretty lucky and hope you feel lucky with me. Thanks again to everyone who supported Cranksgiving San Jose - and thanks for reading and thanks for riding.


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