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What I did on my winter vacation

Seattle Bike Blog is officially back from winter vacation. I spent a few weeks in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, riding in friends’ cars most the time and drinking too much Stag beer. Lots of good music and people.

Some readers commented on all the depressing stories about people getting hit by cars and such. Sorry about that. Didn’t mean to only write bummer stories. I promise some happy stuff to make up for it.

While back home, I did manage to get a tiny bit of riding in. My folx live pretty far out in the suburbs, so I really only had a chance to ride around their neighborhood. I did manage to find a frozen lake to sit by for a while, which was pretty cool. Then it snowed more and the roads turned to ice. They basically stayed covered in ice for the remainder of my trip, which sorta deterred me from venturing out on too many ambitious rides. I hoped to return with lots of great cycling experiences to share, but it was not to be.

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My awesome STL ride: My dad's 80s Schwinn Le Tour in nearly mint (rarely ever used) condition.

Also, while going through a box in the basement, I found my first bike lock. This thing used to lock up my sweet 18-speed mountain bike outside Crestwood Mall, where I would play video games at Exhilarama and drink lots of Mountain Dew (Crestwood Mall was featured in this year-old TED talk about reinhabiting suburbia at 7:25). However, I soon became more of a skateboard-to-the-mall kind of kid, and my biking days drew to a close for almost a decade.

My first bike lock. I think you could cut it with a nice pair of scissors…

St. Louis has sprawl and urban Interstate problems Seattle can’t begin to fathom. Four different Interstates cut through the city limits alone, with two more in the western suburbs. Bus service is often spotty and doesn’t run late. The light rail is great, though it’s growth has been stunted several times by suburban voters. Basically, public transit may be an option for commuting and some other trips, but is not really an option for an evening out. Few buses operate past 10 p.m. Most trips are made by car.

But there are a lot of hardcore bike riders in St. Louis, and the city has been putting in bike lanes and calming traffic on several streets. The bike lanes often disappear at busy intersections and bridges, but I guess it’s good to at least see some efforts. According to census data, bike commuting has doubled since 2000, though it’s share is still below 1 percent (though census bike share data is often lower than reality and only counts work trips).

Though I didn’t get a chance to do much riding myself, but I did fix up a friend’s bike for him and watch him ride for the first time in years. He says he’s excited to start riding, and I hope he gives it a shot. After being away from my bike for several weeks, I had intense withdrawals. But it was nothing a trip around Interlaken couldn’t fix.

I love riding bikes.

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