Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Cranksgiving San Jose 2021: Two Wheels, New Ways to Help Our Neighbors

On a normal year, I'd sit with a big crew - Ocean's 11-style - and divvy up tasks for Cranksgiving San Jose.

But this isn't a normal year - last year wasn't, either. In fact, I'm pretty sure I haven't had a normal year since 2012. 

Thanks to misinformation, the plague is still very much a part of everyday life - so much so large events are still being cancelled, postponed, or virtual. The Habitat for Humanity Cycle of Hope ride was virtual this year but still great (the in-person version was cancelled due to rain) and the Appled Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot will once again be virtual. 

Cranksgiving San Jose this year is going to try to borrow the best of both worlds. 

From November 15th until November 24th ride a bike to Spartan Food Pantry at San Jose State University with some items needed by hungry students - check their donation guidelines for what you can bring.

I learned about the Spartan Food Pantry from an article by San Jose Spotlight. Run by SJSU Cares, it found in a recent survey 29% of students at SJSU are food insecure.

For those of you who live and work near downtown San Jose you can plan on an in-person donation Mondays and Fridays from 10am to 5pm or Tuesdays through Thursday from 10am to 6pm. Follow the map pasted above to find the Spartan Food Pantry, which looks like this when you reach it.

When you drop off your donation, be sure to tell the person behind the desk that "I am donating on behalf of Cranksgiving." and take an appropriate picture of yourself/yourselves using the hashtag #CranksgivingSanJose on social media. And tell your friends. Some will ignore, but others may spontaneously decide to help their fellows and make a donation too. You can also make a financial donation to Spartan Food Pantry here and just write the word 'Cranksgiving' in the Special Instructions textbox.  

Cranksgiving San Jose is also running a virtual food drive with Second Harvest Food Bank - which isn't engaging in in-person food drives this year. Whether you can manage a trip to Spartan Food Pantry or not you can join the Cranksgiving San Jose team and make a donation. 

I know all of us are tired and all of us are living some level of Personal Hell since the plague started, but just like we insist on hammering the pedals when every instinct you have tells you to dismount, now is the time to make a million little differences. Thanks for reading and thanks for giving. 

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Urban Ore and a Tandem Tour of Berkeley

My favorite artist wanted to attend a sketching workshop at a place called Urban Ore in Berkeley. My research of the destination began with looking at Google Earth satellite photos of used toilets.

Really. It did. 

I know these are mostly sinks in the ground-level photo but this does hint at the scale of Urban Ore, which has the tagline "If you're not for Zero Waste, how much waste are you for?" Right there on its website. It's a big place. Parts of it make you think of where things go when people in the first ten minutes of every HGTV show you've ever seen use gentle touches in the 'demo' phase while other parts make you think of a fencing operation. Stacks of appliances. Thousands of doors. Car stereos in a precarious stack. 

And, a few bicycles.

This classic Dahon was in great shape - save for the tires - but I left it where it was so as not to introduce a new tire size into my life. 

What was supposed to happen is my favorite artist was going to sketch around Urban Ore while I'd bike around and do some recon. But instead I spent two full hours wandering about, admiring the items - and sometimes thinking about what I could turn into a new workbench for my shop. 

A little extra room in the car and I'd have parted with the few hundred needed to bring this old doctor's office table home. I had visions of replacing the cushions with a countertop and keeping the spool of paper in place to protect the surface rather than the bottoms of patients. 

The place is also outfitted with some of the most refreshingly honest and unintentionally hilarious labels I've seen on used goods. 

Who needs Las Vegas when you can bet $300 on whether or not you'll have clean clothes for work? 

For $59, I bought exactly three things: the first was a Samsonite suitcase for $10 that was formerly the travel pod of someone's Bike Friday. I know because it had familiar scars on the inside where certain bike parts are known to rub in transit and, even more telling, had three small holes drilled in it for the Bike Friday trailer kit - which as we all know is a great platform for building an original bike bike trailer. There's nothing wrong with the case that I use for my own Bike Friday New World Tourist, but as you know I also have a Bike Friday Tandem and I'm hatching a couple's travel plan once the plague goes away. 

And I bought these.

This is a classic lantern that I bought for $9. It will soon be found on a wall on the inside or outside of my house. 

This is also a small kid's mountain bike with six speeds, rotten tires, a kickstand that snapped off, bad brakes, a shifter you need a pipe wrench to turn and a derailleur that dates back to the Cretaceous Period. And I had to have it, since I've been interested in building a small mountain bike for my favorite artist, who nearly bounced out of her bike seat while pedaling her hybrid Trek at Wilder Ranch State Park.

This was taken on a smoother part of the trail - the very bend up ahead was the start of more difficult terrain, so I floated the idea of getting a little mountain bike to see if she'd like it. 

When the sketching thing was done, my favorite artist saw and approved of my purchases before we followed the tried-and-true practice of taking our Bike Friday tandem out of the car and rode to nearby Emoryville to Los Moles, where we locked up and fueled up on some great Mexican food. 

Afterwards, we did about nine miles hitting a few shops and a flea market. I also bought some Bicycle Coffee beans. 

I even noticed a place called BORP Adaptive Sports and Recreation and stopped by to learn about it. They make specialized bikes and other equipment for people with disabilities. It's very cool and, as of about thirty seconds ago, are one of #MyNonprofits. You can donate to BORP Adaptive Cycling here.

By the time we packed up and drove home, it was about dinnertime, but I still managed to get in the shop and start working on the small mountain bike. 

I hit a snag early on when I discovered I didn't have the right size seatpost in my parts inventory. I needed a 34.5 and most of what I own is 27.2. Rummaging brought out every size but 34.5. It's like the Alanis Morrisette song: '10,000 spoons and all you need is...a slightly larger spoon' or something along those lines. 

I will keep you posted on this and other builds. In the meantime, remember the following:

  • VivaCalleSJ is on September 19th. The Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition - one of #MyNonprofits - is sponsoring their very first Silicon Valley Bikes ride that is 10, 20, or 40 miles. Learn more about it and sign up here
  • Cycle of Hope, Habitat for Humanity East Bay Silicon Valley's ride, is taking place in late October. There's an option to ride in-person or virtual - and the in-person event is on the 24th. Learn more and register here.
  • Cellista's new album, Pariah, drops on Oct. 1. You can buy it on Bandcamp at Cellista.Bandcamp.com
  • For my California readers: please vote no on the recall by September 14th. Just like the mean-spirited and stupid plan to repeal the gas tax it is an awful idea with awful consequences. CalBike had a good post about the recall the other day and I'm too angry and annoyed I'm spending time, money (donate to the Stop the Recall campaign here), and space about the recall. I'm tired of being made to vote for things we should already have in place. Just vote no - and bike to deliver your ballot if you can ride a bike safely. 
Thanks for reading and thanks for riding.