SLO Sunday Scene

Posted September 8, 2013 By Frank


It’s a quiet morning, or so I think, until the church bells start ringing at 6:50am — and they keep ringing till 7:00 — everyone’s awake.

We’re packing out of SLO, on our way home via Santa Barbara where we’ll spend 2 nights at the beach.

It’s gonna feel chilly after the toasty temps here in San Luis Obispo, but first we’ve got time to kill. Our train doesn’t depart until 1:55pm.

While I was catching up with the photos, Barbara was out for a walk. She’s toured the I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival and it sounds like it’s worth my time to check it out, too.

Chalk street art in downtown SLO


Before we board the train there’s an hour with little to do. That’s when we spot the Del Monte Cafe. Great food with beer and wine help us idle away the time…

We’re on our way to Santa Barbara, so we snagged seats with extra long leg room — great views, too.



SLO Bike Rodeo

Posted September 8, 2013 By Frank

The last post ended just as we were meeting Dan Rivoire, Executive Director of the SLO Bike Kitchen. The Kitchen does a lot of things, but maybe primarily it’s a space where people can bring their bikes in need of repair and do it themselves. They’ve got the “tools, the parts and the knowledge you need to fix your bike.” The key point here is that you do it; they help, but they’re teaching people to do the basic bike maintenance to keep their bikes in good rolling condition.

As we were winding up Dan offered, “We’re doing a rodeo at Hawthorne Elementary tomorrow — come on by.”

The next morning I couldn’t remember the name of the school, but I was keen to see this rodeo. A quick Google search helped to jog my memory — it was only 3 minutes away — we pedaled right over to my first bike rodeo.

The kids need practice maneuvering the stop signs.

The first thing we notice is how cute the kids are — young, too. These are elementary school kids who probably aren’t getting much realtime on the city streets — how would they learn the rules of the road except here at the rodeo?

The first thing I learn is the day of the week — Saturday is the day for a rodeo. I don’t know why, but it had never occurred to me. The advantages are obvious: no conflict with the academic program, no time pressure — it was a big party with barbecue and helmet giveaways — trick BMX riders were scheduled for the afternoon’s entertainment and all the kids were excited about that.

Who doesn’t need practice riding over railroad tracks?

I’d read about these rodeos; some places in Europe have permanent bike rodeo facilities and the kids are bused in. This SLO approach has its advantages: the red cones make it easy to setup and the rodeo can go where the kids are.


Green light means Go!

Everyone was having a great time.

It’s time to ride away and continue our explorations. We have no plan and maybe that’s the way an anniversary should be. We found a cafe with a jazz band tuning up outside. It was hot compared to what we’re used to at home, so we hid under umbrellas everywhere we went.

Barbara stated the obvious, it was a Saturday, which made me pick up the phone to Yelp a dinner reservation. We’d never been to Ciopinot and the menu looked terrific, so that’s where we ended our day.

An anniversary dinner at Ciopinot.



SLO Sights

Posted September 7, 2013 By Frank


Before the more private part of this trip begins — we’re here celebrating our 39th anniversary — I’m squeezing in a few meetings. I’ve got breakfast with Jo Anne Miller who is breathing new vigor into the local entrepreneurship scene, then it’s time for a bike ride with Eric Meyer.

He’s easy to spot in a crowded coffee patio; he’s wearing a SLO Hothouse t-shirt and that’s just where Jo Anne and I departed an hour ago.

How did we meet? Through bike advocacy, of course. Newport Beach Mayor Pro Tem Rush Hill and I met over coffee 6 months ago and when he learned of my interest in entrepreneurship he wanted to introduce me to the Dean of the Cal Poly Business School, Dave Christy.

I made contact with Dave because I had plans to visit, but my schedule kept changing and I waited to reconnect until I was sure of my route and plans for this trip. After all this time elapsed I was surprised to hear that Dave was leaving for a new position as Provost, Baruch College in the City University of New York. That’s a big change, so I was doubly surprised when Dave suggested that when I visit SLO I meet with Eric Meyer,

Who is an entrepreneur, very active in our Hothouse, and an extraordinary advocate for people on two wheels.

I was intrigued.

I had too much coffee already, so we huddled in the shade of an umbrella. We hit it off right away. It was getting late in the morning and I wanted to do a ride; I knew Eric would have a suitable suggestion. After chatting for a few minutes more he asked if he could join us and we were both delighted to get the personal tour.


The route to Avila Beach is short and sweet, but as the morning grew late the heat was rising and so was the wind. As we all know, riding into the wind is like putting money into the bank for later withdrawal. We were heading towards the coast to meet up with the Bob Jones mult-use path that would take us off road and out of the wind.

The Bob Jones Multi-use path to Avila Beach


Eric Meyer with his Dutch-inspired bike on the Harford Pier in Avila Bay.

Now that we’re at what we thought was our destination, Eric’s encouraging us to keep pedaling on to the Harford Pier. He has a friend he’s hoping to connect with. It’s cooler at the shore and Eric’s been right on with everything else this morning, so why not?

There’s a method to his madness. Eric’s friend is the Harford Pier Master; we get that, but the surprise is that Bill’s from Newport Beach until just a few years ago, so we have quite a few stories to share. It’s all a great coincidence, just another aspect of this fabulous day, another new friend.

There’s a fish market at the far end of the Harford Pier.

Everyone’s got an appetite, so we swing through Avila Beach checking out the restaurants. I object to the touristy feel and the crowds. Eric pointed out the little restaurant cafe along the Bob Jones trail — that’s where I want to have lunch. So we hop back on the bikes and make a big U turn through town. That’s when Barbara shouts, “Look, a Pedego store!”


I’m 2 blocks past before it sinks in; we all do a U turn again to check out the Pedego Central Coast store. Sandra Napua is on duty and she explains they’ve only been open 2 weeks.

Eric’s never seen the Pedego, so we linger to tell some stories and comment on the different models. Before we go Sandra’s invited all of us to her open house coming up in just a few weeks.

We stop for lunch along the Bob Jones trail.

Eric has a little ESP; he can tell we’re doing more than just vacationing. He’s giving us the Chamber of Commerce speech, but in a unique way,

What other cities are on your short list for a move?

Was it that obvious? I guess it shows.

Boulder, of course, it makes everyone’s short list. Eric’s quite adept at handling these objections, “Many people in SLO also have homes in Boulder,” which sounds like a perfect lifestyle. Then there’s Portland, but it doesn’t take much prodding from Eric before we’re shaking our heads on queue, the rain is discouraging.

All we needed to do next was buy a house in San Luis Obispo, but we haven’t figured that out yet. Eric has. And at just the right moment, as we’re back in the city limits, “Got 5 minutes to drop by the house for a tour?” After we say yes, I start to think, there’s no such thing as a 5 minute visit — and I’m right.

Eric’s wife Cynthia greets us as we arrive. We’re looking parched in the SLO afternoon heat, so it’s popsicles for everyone.

Their house is beautiful; a gorgeous combination of old bungalow charm with all the modern niceties. I love every inch of the place! Indoors and out, they’ve built an amazing home. Yes, I could see myself living quite happily in a house just like it.

Forget 5 minutes, I could stay the night, but soon it’s time to head back to the hotel. I protest when Eric gets up to show us the way, but there’s one more stop on his list: the SLO bIke Kitchen.

The Octagon Barn has been restored, but more is planned. It will eventually become the hub of several off-road trails south of SLO.

Eric and Cynthia host us for a tour of their beautiful home.

The last stop: SLO’s Bike Kitchen to meet Executive Director, Dan Rivoire.



San Luis Obispo Again

Posted September 7, 2013 By Frank

When we tell people we came by train with our bikes, they’re surprised and delighted. Surprised that the message is getting out that the Amtrak Surfliner is the best way to travel the 250 miles from Irvine to SLO.


There’s room for 7 bikes on this train, all of them on the first car, but our Business Class seats are in the last car, so we’ve got a long unsteady walk the length of the train as we balance our panniers and bike helmets on our way to our seats.

I only saw our two bikes onboard, but I only checked at Los Angeles and Santa Barbara Stations, as the conductor suggested I do, “That’s where the most foot traffic is;” his hint on avoiding bike theft. I had a better idea and after using the awkward seatbelt to hold the bikes in place I slipped a cable lock around them for extra security. They weren’t traveling anywhere without me now.

So that left 5 empty bike storage slots, but the young man at the Irvine Station in line ahead of us was turned away because he didn’t have a reservation for his bike. The conductor found us on his list and we rolled right on. So there’s a flaw in the system, because the other bike could’ve easily been accommodated.


I didn’t see these instructions on how to alternate the bikes — one facing forward, the next facing back — until after I received the verbal instructions from the attentive conductor.

We’re traveling with the Bontrager integrated panniers and top bag, they’re small, but pop on and off with a single button push — easier to carry than 3 separate bags, too. Stuffing the one big bag into the overhead took 2 tries the first time, but now I’m an expert.

Then we just relaxed; we had a 6.5 hour ride ahead of us. The Orange County stations seem to fly by and soon we’re treated to urban sights like the LA River.


Eventually, we arrive at Santa Barbara then Goleta and the scenery changes; we’re traveling tight along the coastline for the next few hours.


As we approach the San Luis Obispo Station we’re eager to unlock the bikes; the panniers pop back on with a single click and in minutes we’re able to hop on the bikes and ride to our hotel. Just in time, too, the weekly Farmers Market is about to wind down. It’s a big and lively affair with lots of barbecue; a country band with fiddles and a clarinet are bangin’ out the tunes. The whole town seems to be here; the joint is jumping and we’ve only just arrived.



Bikes on Amtrak

Posted September 5, 2013 By Frank


Would you take your bike on the train if it was easier to do so?

Does the idea of boxing up your bike cause you to think of driving to your destination instead?

For today’s podcast I’m joined by Champe Burnley, President of the Virginia Bicycling Federation, Kerry Irons with the Adventure Cycling Association and Dave Snyder, Executive Director of the California Bike Coalition.

This subject came to the forefront recently as the Amtrak Surfliner in Southern California changed its bike accommodation policy to reservation-only, at first for a fee then they quickly abandoned the fee idea. Now it’s all done by reservation which suits the vacationing cyclist well, like me as I depart today for a 6-day visit to San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara, but doesn’t serve the daily commuter.

Maybe somehow Dave knew of my plans when he asked me to write an article for his newsletter — check out “Riding the Rails: AMTRAK Juggles Bike Policies“. The post caused Jeff Miller, President of the Alliance for Biking and Walking, to introduce me to Kerry and shortly thereafter, Champe chimed in with comments on the frustrations his members face when taking the train.

Listen to these advocates discuss the benefits and challenges of bringing your bike on your next Amtrak adventure.

Dave wants to remind all his California listeners of the upcoming Summit, California by Bike, November 7-10 in Oakland.

Champe signs off with a plug for the UCI World Championships coming to Richmond in September 2105.


Show #55 Listen: Stream, Flash player, or subscribe through iTunes.



Martha Roskowski, the Green Lane Project

Posted August 28, 2013 By Frank

Martha Roskowski

Martha Roskowski

Are you creating new bike infrastructure for the one percent?

That’s what most cities do as they begin to move from planning to implementation.

To get more people out of their cars and riding bikes, you’ve gotta build the right infrastructure. If Memphis can do it, certainly it can be done in your home town.

That’s the goal of the Green Lane Project which Martha Roskowski runs — showing the world how to build safer bike infrastructure.

The Green Lane Project is part of People for Bikes, which is part of Bikes Belong, all based out of Boulder, CO. Of course, Boulder is a Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Community as rated by the League of American Bicyclists.

Does your community pass Martha’s “Frozen Yogurt Test”?


Show #54 Listen: Stream, Flash player, or subscribe through iTunes.



Slow Week? Grab Your Headphones

Posted August 26, 2013 By Frank

Treats found in Portland's Audio Geeks

Treats found in Portland’s Audio Geeks

Last week while visiting friends and family in Portland I stopped by Audio Geeks at NW Glisan at 14th Ave.

Wondering what the latest trends in headphones were, I learned that for all those who work in cubicle-America, headphones offer a way to block out noise and facilitate better concentration. Sure they do.

I left the store with a couple of goodies, well I had them shipped home because my suitcase was already full of Portland memorabilia.

Which got me thinking…

This week on the run up to Labor Day — it’s gotta be a slow week at the office for a lotta folks.

Why not grab your ‘phones or your ‘buds and improve your cubicle concentration.

Need some content?

I’ll bet you’ve got some catching up to do right here with some of the 52 audio interviews. iPhone users, click here.



Portland’s Stories

Posted August 22, 2013 By Frank
Pedal Portland Downtown Bike tour

All geared-up for the Pedal Portland Downtown Bike Tour

I was reluctant to tell my Portland friends my plans for the day. Who would be interested in a tour of their own home town?

I was motivated for a couple of reasons. Sometime in 2014 the City of Newport Beach will likely apply for Bicycle Friendly America recognition and the process looks at Encouragement — what we’re doing to encourage people to get out and ride. Accordingly, I’ve been planning a series of local rides, one with a tour theme, not a race-type ride, so I was taking notes on Sarah’s technique as she described the local highlights on the Pedal Bike Tours’ Historic Downtown Tour.

Brewery's loading dock

Did you know? Oregon’s a great place to grow hops.
Sarah tells stories at the Deschutes Brewery’s loading dock

Of course, many of the tour’s features point to their Platinum status as a Bicycle Friendly Community. They’ve been at it a long time, since the 90’s, so they’re recognized as one of the best places in North America to ride a bike.

Benson bubblers

Did you know? Portland doesn’t flouridate its water.
One of the many Benson bubblers downtown.

There’s a lot of civic pride in any city’s downtown bike tour and this was certainly evident on this ride. Over the next few days I would annoy my friends and family by sharing the factoids I learned on the tour: How Portland got its name — it was a coin flip from being called Boston — to the story behind the Benson bubblers scattered across the downtown — Benson was a teetotaller — there’s even one installed in their sister city in Sapporo, Japan.

You's expect an Art school to have stylish bike racks

You’d expect an Art school to have stylish bike racks.
School’s out, so they’re empty.

Admiring the Portland skyline

Did you know? During the last Ice Age Portland was flooded deeper than all these buildings.

What could I possibly learn from this tour that would help with my ambitions back home?

Sarah spoke of local historical facts, but also of simple things, too, like trees and, at one point, sidewalks. We take for granted that streets are paved today, but in Portland’s pre-asphalt past the roads were a muddy mess. Sidewalks were made of wood, but that’s just the setup for Sarah to explain how scandalous Portland women were once perceived. Because walking around town could be quite messy, women wore their hemlines above their ankles, to avoid muddy petticoats. In its day this evoked moral outrage all the way to San Francisco.

Portland's first sidewalks were wooden

Did you know? Portland’s first sidewalks were wooden

Portland's next bridge will service light rail, bikes and pedestrians - sorry, no cars

Did you know? Portland’s next bridge will service light rail, bikes and pedestrians
Sorry, no cars

It was a great way to start our week-long vacation. Just a few days later we rented bikes for a self-guided return to some of our favorite spots. I can’t wait to visit some other city and take their downtown tour.



Santa Barbara’s Ed France

Posted August 15, 2013 By Frank

Ed France

Ed France

He’s the Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition — meet Ed France.

Wouldn’t Santa Barbara make a great bicycle friendly community? Of course, Ed feels this way, too, and we discuss the past, present and the future of this beautiful city’s bicycle potential.


Show #53 Listen: Stream, Flash player, or subscribe through iTunes.



Breakers Drive Memories, Peg Parrott

Posted August 6, 2013 By Frank

Sisters Peggie and Bonnie grew up on Breakers Drive. They own homes next to each other. Recently they’ve both torn down the old homes to build beautiful beach homes. Peg’s home is for sale and before she leaves the neighborhood I asked her to share some of her stories growing up at Big Corona beach.

Mr. Tate ran the beach when we first moved to Breakers Dr. He lived in a one-story home at the end of the block on the sand side. He was a burly man and a little gruff. Every morning he would clean the beach with a contraption on his vehicle that would sift through the sand so that he could check for valuables. One day my brother (maybe 8 years old) had a sifter and proceeded to work the beach — Whamo! Mr. Tate was after him and let him know the beach was his!

He ran a tight ship hiring good workers, mostly young guys who loved the beach. These workers did the landscape maintenance, parking collection and beach rentals. The concession stands were separate. I don’t remember when the city took over but the parking lot in front of our house was black-topped and became a permanent lot, and Tate just vanished along with his house. The city now had control of the beach.

The concession stands were a motley group, but ah the food was terrific. Of about 10 stands, Kirkwood’s was on the edge so did the most business, decent hamburgers, shakes and malteds. Next was the taco stand, delicious! A couple more stands down had fresh-squeezed orange juice and fat hamburgers — the best! Bonnie and I worked at Kirkwood’s and Mr. Kirkwood went to work at the Ace Hardware store when the city tore down the seasonal stands. A couple of more contemporary stands were built.

One of Tate’s workers applied to the city to continue to care for the beach. I can’t remember his name, it will come to me in the middle of the night! He won the contract for the concessions. Even though he was a good guy, the food was mediocre and it was never the same. He had lots of competition for the contract every year and once he went to the Breakers neighbors to ask for letters of recommendation. He won the contract and Bob McAllister got some cookies for the nice recommendation! Don’t know when the city had big plans for construction for the new eatery and 2-story life-guard stand but all was torn down and new buildings constructed.

Next will be the “Neighbors on the block” or if you have any questions about those early days I will try to answer.

Contiune reading Part II.