Hands in the air like it’s good to be alive

Planning a bike tour is no easy feat. Depending on where one goes and for how long, one would need a lot of gear to get through the trip:

    Bicycle leaning against rail on boardwalk; overlooking ocean

  • Tent with footprint and rainfly
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Pillow
  • Clothes (cycling & street)
  • Stove, pot, bowls, and utensils
  • Food
  • Water bottles & filtration system
  • Camp towel
  • Toiletries
  • First aid kit
  • Bike tools and spare parts
  • Bike cover
  • Bike lock

I’ve been looking at /r/bicycletouring/ for inspiration as well as advice. I’ve also come across a complete bicycle touring gear checklist that’s proving quite handy.

However, since Alex and I are planning a short weekend trip before we embark on a longer (week- or 2-week-long) tour, we will require less gear than this. Essentially, we’ll just need the necessities: tent, sleeping bags, pillows, cycling clothes, street clothes, camp towel, toiletries, bike tools, spare tubes, pump, and bike locks. The problem is that we don’t currently have camping gear (nor have we ever camped!) so we’ll have to make that investment. We were looking at REI and Dick’s but then I remembered about craigslist! We can get a lot of the items we need second-hand without breaking the bank while helping me curb my tendencies to over-consume.

The trouble now is trying to figure out where we should go and for how long. I’ve long considered State Bike Route 9 for such an adventure but I’ve read some less-than-stellar accounts of it. New York is a big state with a lot of bike routes… and that’s if we decide to stay in NY. New Jersey and Pennsylvania are nearby and we’re considering them, too. (I’ve always wanted to bike through the Amish country!) So there’s still quite a bit of planning to do before this trip becomes reality but we’re excited for this adventure!

Meaning must be imposed by learning by experience

The past few weeks have been fun, busy, exciting, stressful… Let me count the ways:

Earlier in the month, I worked my first shift at the co-op. I opted to do a receiving shift, wherein I arrive at the store before it opens to receive shipments, arrange and display produce, label produce, and check prices. Other than the basic duties outlined in the job description, I didn’t know what to expect. Turns out, it was really fun! Because the store was closed, it was easy to get work done but also to get to know the other members working with me. It was a good group of people and I look forward to my recurring Saturday morning shift. I’ve also been shopping at the co-op more frequently and eating a lot of delicious fruit and veggies. (Part of the reason I like my shift is that I get to shop after I’m finished, right as the store is opening and the produce shelves are still stocked!)

The following day, June 3, I participated in the Tour de Brooklyn. It was a 20-mile bike tour through my home borough with over 2,000 other cyclists. Needless to say, it was crowded and there was a lot of stopping and waiting. I managed to be caught on camera before the start, though! Crews from the local newschannel NY1 were there, covering the tour, and I can be seen in the background, fixing my hair, at about the 0:45 mark. It’s a low-quality video and you can barely even make me out but I’m there! I can now say I was on TV. Hehe.

On June 8, I gave a presentation at SUNYLA 2012: Fashioning the Library of the Future. I talked about my project creating library video tutorials while I was employed at Lehman College. I had a good turnout and thought my session went really well, with a lot of input & discussion from the audience. For those who are interested, my slides are available on the conference website or by following this link directly: From backstage to center stage: Librarians as actors in video tutorials (PPT).

While all this was happening, though, I was also nervously preparing for a job interview. I was selected to be interviewed for a new position, Instruction Librarian, at my current place of employment. This is a huge deal as this is an exciting opportunity for me to work at a college I like with colleagues I admire doing work I find incredibly interesting, challenging, and rewarding. I was interviewed by a committee of my library coworkers yesterday and hope to move on to Phase II of the interview (wherein I give a short presentation, on a topic yet to be determined, to my colleagues in the department) in the coming weeks.

Since interviewing is stressful, I took the day off and, because it was absurdly hot (95°F!), spent it eating ice cream, napping with my cat, and then going to see the New York premier of Sleepwalk With Me at the BAMcinemaFest with Alex. It turned out that our seats were kind of amazing–if all we wanted to see were Ira Glass and Mike Birbiglia talking about the movie. (In the photo on the left, Alex and I are in the second row right in front of the podium. I’m behind the girl in the pink-ish top at Ira’s feet.) However, they were very unfortunate for watching a movie because we were so close and so far off to one side. I spent the evening craning my neck and seeing distorted images projected on the screen. But! It was a fun movie and a great experience nevertheless. I’ve been a fan of Mike Birbiglia the comedian for a while now… and now I consider myself a fan of Mike Birbiglia the film writer, director, and actor, too. (Oh! And while waiting to get into the theater, I spotted a familiar face but couldn’t quite place him. Later figured out that it was John Mulaney. Makes me wonder how many other comedians, actors, and celebrities were at the premier that I just didn’t notice. I’m bad at spotting famous folks.)

I’ll be back in the BAM opera house next week for Radiolab Live: In the Dark. I hope our seats are better, although it’s all so relative, it’s hard to know what to expect ahead of time.

I descended a dusty gravel ridge

So I’m working full-time again. As of January 2 of this year, I am the substitute Technical Services/Electronic Resources Librarian at a college in Brooklyn. I love my (challenging!) job and my (fantastic!) coworkers and I hope this stint will lead to a permanent position in the (awesome!) department… but what I’m really here to write about is my bike.

I love my bike. My boyfriend got me a 2012 Salsa Casseroll for the winter holidays and I’ve been riding it for a month now. I fall in love with it all over again every morning and then again every night. I miss it when I’m not riding it and I’m frustrated when I have to walk somewhere. (For 5 straight days two weeks ago, I couldn’t ride my bike — my fault, not the bike’s — so I took the subway to work and walked the 3 miles home. What do you mean it takes 3 times longer by foot to cover the same distance!? my mind kept yelling.) So now I not only look forward to work everyday but I also eagerly anticipate my commute.

…Unless it’s raining heavily or the winds are blowing at over 50 MPH. Then, yes, I’d rather be somewhere indoors but only because I hate being wet and fighting the wind to stay upright.

So when I realized this morning that my bike needed to go to the shop for some adjustments (derailleurs, brakes), I dreaded the possibility of having to leave my bike there overnight because I’d only be getting in around closing time. Instead, I spent about 15 minutes in the shop as the mechanic fiddled with some knobs and tightened some cables… after he ogled my bike and his buddy let out a wolf whistle. (The attention wasn’t expected but it was definitely appreciated.) It was a painless experience and I left with my bike, ready to tackle another day of commuting duty.

I’ve been consistently riding in to work at least 4 days out of the week. (We had a flurry of three-day weekends that I’ll miss going into a strictly-five-day-workweek March. I also had off-campus meetings that didn’t lend themselves to being bike friendly, as I stuck around afterwards to grab lunch with colleagues and/or travel back to campus with coworkers.) This would have been another one of those weeks — what with an off-campus meeting first thing tomorrow — but I think I’ll suck it up and bike there. It’s under 8 miles of mostly bike lanes. The weather is supposed to be nice tomorrow, too. (High of 46°F! As much as it worries me that this winter can barely be classified as winter, I love that the mild weather keeps me on my bike.)