Sunday, December 20, 2009

Traffic 101 Class...

I taught my first Traffic 101 class last week, Dec. 10th and 12th, as a League Certified Instructor.   The group picture above in the middle shows most of the participants, left/right and front/back, Pamela, Shell, Susan, Vince, Chris, and James.  This was at Bodo's Bagels after lunch and before the ride.  Two other  participants not pictured are Carol and Jim.  Thankfully we had good weather though it was a bit chilly.  The on-road portion of the class took us on the Rivanna Trail from Riverside Park to the High St./250 bypass intersection.  We jaunted down Park St. between North St. and Melbourne, where we turned left.  It wasn't so bad in that spot, and traffic was kept at bay by a red light behind us so we could make our way to the left turn lane pretty comfortably.  A few of the participants took this class specifically to earn the pre-requisite the League requires to become certified instructors themselves.  We had a nice mix of experience that lead to fruitful conversations and a successful ride.  Thank you to all of the participants, and I look forward to the next one.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cycling on the 250 Bypass

The Smart Cycling materials that the League of  American Bicyclists publishes states that "After completing this course, you'll be able to ride on any road that you choose, in a variety of conditions."  According to my experience that I've gained at this point, I chose to go a different route this afternoon on my way home from teaching a bicycle mechanics class at Ivy Creek School.  I continued straight on Hydraulic, crossed 29, continued to the 250 bypass where I turned left, and rode on the bypass.  The right lane actually has enough room for sharing with vehicles, and cars passed me comfortably as I rode down to McIntire.  The intersection you see in the photo is that of 250 and McIntire.  Imagine me coming toward you, positioned to the right of the facing semi truck.  It is here that I turned right, where a bike lane begins toward downtown Charlottesville.  Traffic actually doesn't travel much faster than it does on Georgetown Road, part of my normal route, and there is more room from the shoulder on the bypass.  I was harassed today on Georgetown Road by a passenger in a taxi-van by the way.  He yelled something out the window, but all I heard was something "cyclist."  I could tell it wasn't nice by his tone.  On the bypass, drivers seemed more aware of me, and seemed to conscientiously pass by the 2ft law of Virginia.  

Monday, December 7, 2009

Riding the Perkiomen and Schulykill River Trails in Pennsylvania

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to take all day, and ride the Perkiomen Trail and the Schulykill River Trail 30 miles into downtown Philadelphia.  On a day forecasted for 100% rain up until the night before, I had beautiful weather for my trip.  I caught the Perkiomen trail off of Arcola Road near Collegeville.  It runs directly into the Schulykill River Trail.   Part of the Perkiomen Trail is not paved, but can still be ridden with a road bike.  As the Schulykill River Trail comes into Manayunk, it becomes unpaved, but again still traversible on a road bike.  You could opt to hop up onto main street there and ride it to Kelly Street to connect back with the trail.  However, this is where it could get confusing for someone unfamiliar with it.  As you are coming out of Manayunk, the trail really is the sidewalk.  If you stay on the sidewalk, you can make a sharp right turn on what will become Kelly Street.  This also keeps you alongside the river, which is what you want.   You will come to the top of the Fairmount Park loop and see the bridge in the photo.  I forget the name of it.  There are a few bridges crossing the river throughout the park.  It is easy to stay on track from here all the way to the city.  You will pass the Art Museum, whose steps are now famous since the movie 'Rocky' was made in 1976.  I rode straight to the Italian Village to have lunch (fresh mozzarella, tomato, artichoke hearts on a poppy seed bagel and coffee).  Riding in Philadelphia is pretty comfortable.  There are many bike lanes, and many people bike already, so the drivers are somewhat accustomed to cyclists.  I took Spring Garden Street from the Art Museum area to 10th where I turned right to make my way down to Christian street area.  The Italian Market is on 9th street in that area.  After lunch I rode directly back on the trails, but not before buying some fresh cut cappellini pasta and some chocolate.  On the way down while on the Manayunk part of the trail, two women were walking and had spotted a couple of blue herons that have been living there for a few years now they said.  The birds were startled though and we couldn't see them.  On the way back however, I got to see them right on the trail.  They were gathering dinner.  One of them had a fish hanging out of it bill.  They are beautiful birds, and it was great to get to see them.  By the time I got back to Arcola Road it was dark.  I didn't have to be on the road for long, but it is still better to be seen than to be sorry.  I was prepared with some reflective items and lights.  It was easy enough to throw these things on just before turning onto the road.  These trails are part of a larger trail system in the area.  It was pretty nice to be able to ride off road for such a great distance.  There were plenty of spots I could see traffic on the highways, and was happy that I was not part of it.  I could have pulled my daughter in her trailer, though there would have been a few places I would have had to walk the bike.  In the morning on the way out there was alot of debris (large sticks, branches, leaves) that cluttered the trail through the Valley Forge portion from the previous nights rain and storms.  But on the way back all of that had been cleared.  They do a great job of maintaining it.  To see more photos of the ride you can visit my flickr page from the link on this blog.