Category Archives: Biking

Spontaneous Exploration, or, What I Did with My Daylight Savings

Waking up early and realizing that you have an extra hour in the day is either a recipe for productivity or a chance to roll back over and catch up on sleep.  The recent fall back definitely meant productivity for me.

In between cleaning the bathroom (bathtub and everything!), doing all the piled-up dishes, washing the floor, doing laundry, and cooking up a storm (I made apple pudding for breakfast, roasted butternut squash risotto and black eyed peas & leeks for dinner, and then applesauce and two pumpkin pies just for kicks), I somehow managed to find the time to go adventuring with Joe and Dave.  We biked around Crestwood and spent some time wandering in the now (semi-)abandoned Crestwood Plaza mall.  Here are some photos from the expedition.

Click in.

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Grove Fest 2012

I spent nine hours this past Saturday in the Grove on Manchester for Grove Fest 2012.  According to the Grove’s website, Grove Fest is “an outrageously eclectic FREE street festival [featuring] a diverse set of live music, live and interactive art, fashion shows, street performers, and of course, local food, drinks and wares.”

Above all, it’s a lot of fun.

I was there with Joe and Dave, who were busy filming the next installment in their series of promotional shorts for the Grove committee.  I took the time to snap some pictures myself.

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Photos from the Commute

I travel the same 2.2-mile stretch of Locust Street between Grand Center and Downtown twice each weekday as I bike to and from work.  Every time, I notice more interesting little details.

The heyday of Locust was in the nineteenth century, and the architecture along the way alludes to it’s illustrious past.  Many of the historic buildings have survived (to at least some extent), and layers and layers renovation and signage have since been piled on top, resulting in a fantastic muddle of periods and styles with a wealth of captivating detail.

Every day I bike past, I occupy myself by mentally framing the photographs I would love to make if I only had my camera and a chance to take the time to really look.

This past weekend I finally made the time to walk along my bike route , so here it is at last: my commute in photos.

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Chance Interactions

Biking is a social experience.

When I ride my bike, I feel more connected to my surroundings and engaged with the city.  It’s much harder to tune out and much easier to notice the details.  It’s also much easier to interact with others along the way.  This morning two other bike commuters caught up with me at a stoplight on Jefferson and we rode together and chatted for a half-mile or so before splitting off and heading to our respective destinations downtown.

It was a beautiful start to the day, and it never could have happened had we been in cars.

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Jazzed about Exercise

Since my glory days of cross country and track in high school, I have not been someone who works out.  Oh sure, I would go for a run or accompany a friend to the gym every few months or so, and I walked and biked everywhere to get around, but regular exercise for the sake of exercise was not a part of my life.

Until now.

A combination of spending most days sitting, having a fitness center in my building, and starting to bike to and from work has inspired me to get back into tip-top shape.

It’s not much, but my (hopefully realistic) goal is to spend at least half and hour each weekend day in the fitness center and to bike 2.2 miles each way to and from work (for a total of 22 miles each week).

Now that I’ve put it up here, I have to follow through, right?  Time to get those high school abs back!

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I’m a bike commuter now!

Helmet? Check.  Flashing red light?  Check.  Highly visible gold backpack? Check.

Since the nearest Metro stop is a 15-minute walk from my apartment as opposed to two blocks over, I’ve taken to my bike to get to work, meaning that my workday begins and ends with 2.2 miles of rolling hills as I ride straight down Locust.

So far, so good.  The road isn’t too busy, the hills aren’t too steep, and the weather hasn’t been too bad (yet!).   I’ve also enjoyed having time in the morning (and the afternoon, for that matter) to clear my head and get some exercise.  It certainly makes me feel a little bit better about the inordinate amount of time I spend sitting in an office chair once I get to work!

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In Which I Have Talented Friends

Dave made some wooden handlebars for his bike and then a video documenting the process.  Some of the camerawork credit goes to Joe.  I came along for the ride and took a few pictures.

If you’re interested in seeing more of Dave’s wood work, you can do so on his website.

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A Study in Why I Love St. Louis in the Summer*

We went to CAM Night at the Contemporary Art Museum for the food truck, the dollar beers, and the 90s playlist but ended up drifting out back, away from the noise and towards the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts next door. After all, Joe hadn’t yet seen Joe (Richard Serra’s large-scale steel sculpture, built in 2000).

Joe in Joe.

In the Pulitzer, there was wine and a gorgeous semi-enclosed courtyard looking out on an infinity pool.

There was also a grassy roof, perfect for watching the sun set.

Then there was the bike ride from the Cookie Tree Mansion to the Schlafly Tap Room for the Belgian Beer & Mussels festival.

The ride was full of wonderful details, but one was worth stopping for.

Peat Wollaeger’s work can be found all over the city. It’s not only worth a look, but it’s usually looking right back at you.

*Hint: It’s not the 100+ degree humid heat

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Happy Birthday, America

This year was my first real 4th of July in about four years.  For the past few years I have been lucky enough to be in Europe around this time, and, oddly enough, they don’t seem to celebrate the 4th in quite the same way.  I did, however, get an approximation of the 4th of July experience in Göttingen last summer, what with the omnipresent American flag clothing and random fireworks displays.

America Shorts in Göttingen, Germany

In case you are wondering, yes, I got those shorts (which turned out to be trickier than I expected, since they were sold out in the first store I checked), and yes, I wore them on the 4th this year.  Between the shorts, the red lipstick, and the blue and white glitter, it was probably the most patriotic outfit I have ever managed.

My holiday actually kicked off the night of July 3rd with the FBC (Fucking Bike Club a.k.a. late night Full Moon Fiasco bike rides all around the city with a few hundred people).  FBC’s are always awesomely unpredictable, and this one was no exception.  For three hours straight we rode around the city, winding south, looping back through Carondelet Park, and ending for some celebration by the banks of the Mississippi before splitting off and riding past the Anheuser-Busch brewery on the way into the heart of Soulard in search of a diner.  The diner turned out to be closed by the time we arrived, but fortunately (for the boys), the Jimmy John’s across the street was open for delivery.  So they called and had sandwiches delivered out to the parking lot, and we headed over to a friend’s apartment to watch a few episodes of Police Squad and crash on his sofas (in fact, after all that bike riding I crashed halfway through the first episode).

In the morning, we woke up and began our July 4th by riding back from Soulard to the Cookie Tree Mansion (as my house is affectionately known) for breakfast and a much-needed shower (a long night and hot morning full of bike-riding left me sweatier than I would like to think about—all and all it was about 30 miles in 80+ degree heat).

The 4th of July festivities commenced with a Cookie Tree barbecue.  We successfully made delicious veggie burgers with bean salad, watermelon, and chips, but the strawberry shortcake had to be postponed due to biscuit failure.  Our Crisco had gone bad and the biscuits a). didn’t rise and b). tasted like straight baking soda.  I didn’t know Crisco could even go bad.

The results of our barbecue (unfortunately without strawberry shortcake).

I also finally got a chance to try some of the cocktail recipes I’ve been wanting to make, since my roommates were altruistic enough to be willing to serve as guinea pigs.  So I can now confidently provide you with the means to make G&T Jell-O, Peaches & Cream Jell-O, and Prosecco with Lemon Sorbet and Mint.

Gin & Tonic Jell-O

  • 1 cup tonic water
  • 1 cup gin
  • 1 small package lime Jell-O
  1. Bring the tonic to a boil.
  2. Turn off the heat, add the Jell-O packet, and stir continuously for two minutes.
  3. Stir in the gin.
  4. Pour into a container and place into the refrigerator (NOT the freezer).
  5. Leave alone until set (2-4 hours).
  6. Slurp up!

Keep in mind that these pack the punch of a real G&T, so enjoy responsibly (and prepare your taste buds).

Peaches& Cream Jell-O

  • 1 cup water (can be mixed with Dixie Peach juice, found at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup Irish cream (you could use Bailey’s, but we went with the cheaper off-brand)
  • 1 small package peach Jell-O
  1. Bring the water and peach juice mixture to a boil.
  2. Turn off the heat, add the Jell-O packet, and stir continuously for two minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, mix together the vodka and Irish cream.
  4. Temper the vodka/cream mixture by adding a small amount of the hot Jell-O liquid and stirring.  Then slowly pour the tempered mixture into the hot Jell-O, whisking to combine as you do.  This will ensure that the cream does not curdle.
  5. Pour into a container and place into the refrigerator (NOT the freezer).
  6. Leave alone until set (2-4 hours).
  7. Eat up!

I’m especially proud of this one since it’s entirely my own recipe and came out really well.  Despite the temptation, remember not to eat it all in one go!

Prosecco with Lemon Sorbet and Mint

  • prosecco
  • lemon sorbet
  • fresh mint
  1. Place fresh mint leaves in the bottom of glass until it is it covered.
  2. Muddle the mint leaves (a spoon works well for this if you, like me, don’t happen to have fancy bar tools).
  3. Add a scoop of lemon sorbet and top with prosecco.
  4. Sip up!

These look as pretty as they taste, and would be a perfect cocktail party drink.  Plus, the sorbet acts as ice and keeps the prosecco cool in the summer heat.  It’s an ice cream float for grown-ups!

Anyway, after playing bartender for a while a few of us headed up to the observatory roof at Wash U to watch the fireworks being shot off downtown over the Arch, and arrived to find that a whole crowd of people had had the same idea.  The moon was incredible.  Big, red, and slowly rising, it definitely stole the show.  Unfortunately, it was too dark for me to get any good pictures without a tripod.

You can tell what’s going on here, right?

While the official show was short, fireworks continued to go up all night around the city.  Sitting up on the rooftop patio of the Moonrise (our post-observatory destination for the evening), we had a near 360-degree view of the city and the sound of fireworks popping in the distance punctuated our conversation throughout the night.

So, Happy Birthday, America, and here’s to remembering what those fireworks stand for as we move toward the election: independence from an oppressive government and life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for ALL citizens.

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