Friday, January 18, 2013

I Drove Today...

And yesterday, and the day before!  Yes indeed, this is a post about driving a CAR!  Oh, the horror; right?  Wrong, actually.  I'm writing to state that I'm grateful for access to a vehicle that is powered by something other than myself.

I've had a bit of a cough/runny nose/headache for the last month (off and on). Crap's going around, it seems.  And with all of the reports of flu (of varying degrees) and even several cases of pneumonia, I've been trying to take care of myself.  Plenty of mate, sleep, and rest (sorta).  But of course as soon as I start to feel good enough to ride, I do, and then it's back to feeling crummy.  With temperatures in the teens and twenties, this has proven to be a bad idea for my health.  Breathing in the salty (thanks to the city's aggressive de-icing plan) frigid air isn't so good when you're already struggling in the respiratory happiness department.  I've had so many arguments in my head about whether I should or shouldn't ride, but this week I've shut up all the chatter in my brain and just decided to drive every day until I don't feel that tickle in my throat.  So, I'm happy to report that today, this fine Friday, I'm feeling a lot better.  Not 100%, but pretty darn close.

2 wheels or 4?

This report seemed important for me to share because I'm usually writing about the joys of riding my bike, and there is no mention of any vehicle, really, or the benefits therein.  Now, I technically don't own my own car, but Vince and I share the one that he owns.  Aside from this week, it usually only leaves our driveway on Mondays, for a day of errand running all over town; resupply runs for the shop. (CostCo is the one that really keeps me from pedaling.)

In fact, the above photo was snapped one day when I almost drove, but decided that I was TOO LAZY TO DRIVE!  Because driving (on that particular cold frosty day) meant waiting for the car to warm up a bit (so the brakes un-freeze...I know, I know, not a great feature for a vehicle), scraping the windshield, and loading everything into it.  On this day, I decided that riding was the better way to go, since I could just hop on and pedal.  And I didn't feel thaaaaat sick.

After the big snow storm a few weeks ago, I didn't even have to scrape the snow from our car.  The big accumulation started on Wednesday and it wasn't until Sunday that (preparing for the shop's Festivus party) I had to drive anywhere.  I was getting around pretty flawlessly on my bicycle; equipped with studded tires, fenders, rack and basket, I was set!  I even helped push a few cars out of snowbanks, truly. Then Sunday, bloody Sunday.  I was in the 4-Runner for approximately 2 minutes and got stuck on an icy hill!!!!  Oh the irony!!!!  Later Vince asked if I had it in 4 wheel drive...and no...I didn't know how to use it.  So there I sat, wheels spinning, laughing in disbelief that the hill I had easily climbed on my dang bicycle the previous 4 days in a row, was too much for the Toyota.  I slowly backed down in defeat.  So funny, yet sad.  Made me love my snow bike even more!

And then parking!!!  As you well know, I usually stop at Sweet Magnolia's on my way in to pick up baked goods for the day.  With my bike, I just park right up front, run in, load up, and pedal onward.  However, with DRIVING...not so simple. Finding a parking spot close by, so I can run in and grab the goods proves nearly impossible given the popularity of both Sweet Mag's and the neighboring icon, Lisa's Radial Cafe. 
Sweet Mag's in my sweet basket!
So yeah, riding is slower.  This we know.  However, depending on the perspective, way less of a hassle than driving.  But for now, I'm on 4 wheels instead of 2 and grateful for that option.  Have you all been enjoying the winter riding?

Here's to next week!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

On Air

Apparently it's been way too long since a blog entry, considering I felt like I had to hack into my own account just to get to this point.  But here I am!  And it's been a good day so far.

Had another opportunity to talk to the conservative media this morning.  I pedaled in to work this morning and I found this waiting for me in my inbox:

"They" say these back-angle parking stalls are there because YOU BIKE PEOPLE pressed for them! I need you on the air with me this morning to talk about why these are more safe, and what else YOU BIKE PEOPLE have in store for us!

Can you do it? Call my producer: xxx-xxxx or text me: xxx-xxxx.  Or bike over here.  I need you!


Scott Voorhees"

So that was nice.  It's good to feel needed, you know?
After making a slew of lattes and other tasty beverages this morning, my phone started ringing and it was Scott's producer at KFAB.  Luckily the next few folks in just ordered drip coffee so Vince was able to hold down the fort while I chatted about the "trouble" bicyclists are bringing to Omaha!  Actually, it wasn't half bad.  Scott was engaging and trying to ruffle my feathers but overall, rather kind.  I'm trying to find the clip so I can listen to the entire segment. His rant was mostly about the new back-in parking stalls that are starting to pop up around town.  Again, with the 'we' against 'them' philosophy which I tried not to feed too much.

Of course, I'd rather see something like this done to parking spots.  I should have told him about that.  Probably would have gotten a pretty good reaction.  Yay bikes! 

It reminds me of a post from about this time last year.  I had a little run in with Tom Becka that didn't go as smoothly as today's discussion.  Oh well, good entertainment either way.

Aside from that, we have the shop open and it's going great!  Thanks to all of you coffee sipping, bike riding hooligans who are making it happen.

More I don't forget how to log in.  

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day Lookout

I didn't make a single blog entry in August.  It was probably one of the more emotional and physical challenges I've dealt with recently, that silly month of August.  And yet somehow, despite my uncertainties and self doubt at points throughout the process, here we are at Labor Day Eve.  And I'm happy.

It's a pleasant afternoon, just after a much anticipated rainstorm, around 2pm and I'm sitting in my favorite room in the entire big blue house listening to my entire iPod on shuffle [currently Devotchka].  I call it the Downtown Room because it overlooks the skyline of Downtown and Midtown Omaha. It's a great sunrise room.  Every time I sit here I think about how I'm going to make a t-shirt (I know, I know...another damn t-shirt that you definitely don't need but still contemplate purchasing) that has this same skyline but every building is transformed into either a presta or schrader valve.  I can see it now.  It's a good thinking room and was designed to be just that.

The point is that it's Labor Day.  I enjoyed it and still am.  Vince, Matt and I rode from our houses to Whole Foods since Vince actually did have to labor today.  Then Matt and I took the scenic route home exploring some newly opened trails which certainly isn't the norm for me since I'm generally in the street on my bicycle.  It was totally enjoyable!

Crossed that bridge when I came to it, if you know what I mean.
Boys in the park

Metro stop in the back.  (B)US stop?

Purdy flowers along the South O Trail

South O Trail almost to 48th(ish)
I am taking today as one last little chance to ride my bike with friends, enjoy a lazy afternoon and not worry too much about the shop.  We may even have a few folks over to BBQ tonight.  That's the makins for a nice day, isn't it?

It's funny how real things get when you're about to sign your name on something.  Tomorrow I'm signing a lease and getting the keys to a building in Benson where I'm starting a business.  Holy buckets, that's crazy.  Crazy awesome.  I'm super excited.  I've opened 2 other shops with 2 vastly different, yet shockingly similar partners, and have left both of those shops on rather unpleasant terms (divorced my first partner who turned into my husband briefly; the other ended with being unexpectedly fired).  That's why it's unique this time: the only name on the LLC is mine.  I now have something of my own that I'm proud of and excited about and have to look out for.  This may be the last day to lounge in quite some time. [now the White Stripes] So I've enjoyed it and hope you have too. 

Look for an exciting announcement about the shop (the location, clearly) tomorrow.  I'll be there cleaning and laughing from about noon on tomorrow.  Swing by any time, I'll probably be there.  Bring a good record and/or good beverage.

Good afternoon,

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Oh, What a Beautiful Morning...

Smiles from our soggy North Shore adventure
"Oh, what a beautiful day!  I've got a beautiful feeling, everything's going my* way."

Those words, sung on nearly a daily basis by my mother as she roused her sleepy kids from their beds to start the day, echo through my head on this particular morning.  I'm really grateful that I was raised by someone who knew every day was going to be a good one.  (* To be honest, many times the word "my" was actually replaced with "God's".  There you go mom, love you. I prefer "my" these days, but to each, her own.)

As I type, I'm sitting on my shady front porch with a cup of coffee, my notebook, and my dogs; we're watching the mail man and listening to the birds scold each other.  Sounds rather picturesque, doesn't it?! I know that I'm pretty happy these days and it actually stems from a rather unusual turn of events.

In case you didn't know, I was fired from my job as Store Manager, from Greenstreet Cycles last Thursday, the 28th.  And it was unexpected (I still haven't heard the cause).  And done in an extremely unprofessional manner.  And I'm happier because of it.

Almost to the week, I'd been working on making that shop a success for the last 3 years.  I was approached by an investor who wondered why there wasn't a downtown bike shop in Omaha.  I wondered the same thing, and talk turned into business plans, into space selection, into logo scribbling, and shop naming.  The whole shebang.  I was involved, and basically steering the ship (as the one with a lot of previous bicycle retail experience) since day one.  Of course at times it was stressful, but the bottom line was that I was helping people see the importance and power of the simple bicycle. 

This is the eleventh year that I've been watching people's faces light up when they take that first pedal stroke and I don't know how I can stop now.  I truly love pushing this movement that is really starting to take off here in, Omaha, Nebraska.  In fact, there's really nothing I'd rather do.  It took a while for everyone to get comfortable with the fact that no, I wasn't really going to use my journalism degree to its fullest.  But I will say that because of that education, I gained a lot of experience speaking in front of crowds (emcee'ing Greensprints was much easier that way), felt more comfortable in front of a camera (numerous tv, radio, and newspaper interviews), and of course still have fun typing away trying to get my thoughts out of my head and onto some paper (or website I suppose).

All of this adds up. Which is why I'm now perfectly prepared to start my own shop.  I've also learned over the years that it's hard to trust people.  Even when you think that you've done everything you can for some one (either professionally or in any type of relationship) it still doesn't mean that they have to treat you in the same manner.  So yes, I plan to start my own shop.  Will it be a normal bike shop?  Heck no!  Will it be totally rad?  Well, yes. 

I'll keep you posted, of course, but in the mean time, the weekly Ladies Rides that I'm so happy to lead will go on!  They're now referred to as the Lavender Ladies Ride and you can find the group on good ol' Facebook.  I'm also planning on volunteering a lot more at the Community Bike Project and am actually teaching a class there tonight. I'm not sure the current status of their Ladies Nights, but I've asked to help start them back up again. 

So that's it; that's all I've got to say.  Ha.  Right.  Those of you who know me, know that may not really be all I have to say.  But it is for now.  I'm off to pedal down to meet a friend for coffee.  Oh, the joys of not working 65 hours a week!  I know they'll come again, but this time I'll be working for someone I really believe in: myself.

a fun one to send you off with! vince with a tv on his bike.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Oh, the Media!

Some day in Omaha...

There's a lot of buzz about bikes in Omaha these days, and for better or worse, I've been a part of it. Between all the newspaper articles, radio spots, and now tv spots it's all over the place!  At times, it's been quite a challenge to keep my head on straight, particularly when crazy radio personalities are absolutely lying to their listeners. 

One such incident , on KFAB, really got me riled up!  Poor, ignorant Scott Voorhees; what a buffoon!  I was only able to listen to it for a moment or two before I had to call in and try to talk some sense into the fear-mongering idiot.  That's right, I called him an idiot.  Listen to him smashing apart Omaha's City Planning Department starting around the 9 minute mark and you'll see what I mean.  I think the point when I finally got on air was around the 28 minute mark and I realllllly had a hard time not calling him out on his blatant disregard for reality.  Oh well, kind of fun.  Sort of made me reminisce about my encounter with good ol' Tom Becka several months ago.  Blog post on that around the end of December if you feel like reading about that one.

Then, just this morning on KETV there was the morning "Chronicle" which featured the Transportation Master Plan and cycling in our city as the feature.  In case you missed it, here it is.  I really hated the fact that the segment starts out with Rob framing the conversation in a negative light by saying that cyclists will create an obstacle course on your daily commute.  As we all know, it's all in how the media portrays news and not just necessarily what that news really is.  The news, in my opinion, is this: cycling is taking off in Omaha!  Finally!  And it's turning into a polarizing subject.  Which sucks.

I've also been asked to do a guest blog for  I submitted a little write up and we'll see what they do with it.  I'd guess maybe nothing as I tend to be overly opinionated.  I think it would do better here:

"I am not Lance Armstrong.  So, to the gentleman who buzzed by me in his Hyundai yelling, “Get on the sidewalk, Lance” I’d like to make that clear.  I am Sarah Johnson and I live, work, and ride my bicycle in Omaha.  That’s right; I ride a bicycle in the streets of Omaha and so far, I’ve lived to tell about it.  
Right now, you’re probably deciding where you stand on this hot button issue: do you choose to share the road with other users (of all sorts) or do you prefer to harass them and make them feel unwelcome on “your” street?  I don’t like that this is such a polarizing issue these days but with the Transportation Master Plan (TMP) in the works, and about to go to City Council, everyone seems to have an opinion.  This is good…if you’re actually getting all of the facts, and not just emotions to form your opinion. Mine is this: we really can all get along; there is room for everyone.

Part of what I think people aren’t looking at, is the fact that this is a Transportation Master Plan.  Not a Bicycle Master Plan. Not an Automobile Master Plan.  But instead, something that takes both of those modes and more, into consideration and looks at how we can all coexist, safely.  I’m proud that Omaha is growing up as a City, but part of those growing pains requires evolving into a city that can support people moving about efficiently in a manner that they choose.  Right now, a lot of people would say that is in their personal vehicle.  If you look at really any other city where transportation choice has been implemented, you’ll see full buses instead of empty ones, smiling people on bicycles in bike lanes instead of cyclists fearing for their safety, and people of all ages walking down the street getting from point A to B. What you won’t see is a city without cars.  So don’t worry!  Part of having choice, is being able to choose to drive your car.  By yourself.  Don’t even carpool.  No one is forcing you.  

There seems to be an unfortunate amount of fear mongering going on around this issue: “The City is trying to take your car keys away and force you to ride your bike” is one ridiculous comment I heard this week coming from the mouth of a radio personality.  Granted, his job is to stir things up, but if we’re intelligent enough to see past this and imagine a slight change that involves new infrastructure to support choice in transportation, everyone will win.  There will be less congestion, not more because transportation is really about moving people, not just cars.

One way that you can get informed, have fun, and make a difference is coming right up!  Tuesday, May 1st from 5pm-dark there is a transportation celebration, and you should be there.  This Heyday on May Day takes place between 26th and 24th Streets on Harney where you’ll find hundreds of people who are interested in getting around our city.  This Mode Shift Omaha/City of Omaha co-sponsored event will include: food trucks, cycling groups, Trugs, music, a photo booth, group bike rides meeting around the city and arriving together at the Heyday, an alley cat bike race, and most importantly the City Planning Department will give a presentation about the TMP at 6:30pm.  This is an event unlike any Omaha has seen and we’re excited to imagine the possibilities together.  To show some of what is possible and in the plan for Harney Street, or Market to Midtown Connector, we’re shutting down the two north lanes of Harney and spray chalking in bike lanes complete with a tree lined separation from vehicle traffic. "

The sign is up already!
Between ModeShift Omaha and a lot of good information is getting spread around.  It may be biased (towards choices and safer cycling) but it's not full of lies, propaganda, and fear tactics.  Read up and we'll see you on Tuesday at the Heyday on May Day!!  

 Hope to see you on the road, riding safely and courteously, of course!


Friday, April 20, 2012

Fun for your Friday night!!

If you don't have plans for this beautiful evening, we have an idea for ya!  There's a little group ride leaving Greenstreet Cycles tonight at 8pm for a casual cruise around Downtown (complete with a stop or two at some local watering holes).  This is a ride to showcase one of our Bicycle Friendly Destinations, Film Streams, that's showing "The Kid With a Bike" at 10pm.  They're kind enough to offer their student pricing if you ride in.  And, tonight only, if you show up via bicycle, you'll get a FREEEEEE fun-sized popcorn!  Thanks Film Streams!  We're looking forward to it.


Monday, April 2, 2012

What I've Been Working On...

It's a transportation celebration! And we need you here to make it possible.

Omaha is about to adopt a new Transportation Master Plan for our fine city, and we're throwing a party to celebrate our past accomplishments and look to the future with hope for many more.

So here's the deal: we're working with the City to shut down the north two lanes of Harney Street between 26th and 24th Ave. to showcase how wonderful an active, walkable, bikeable, liveable street could be! Priority 1 on the master plan is to convert Harney Street, from UNMC to the Old Market, into a protected cycle track for biking and walking. We're calling it the 'Market to Midtown Connector' and it's sure to be a wonderful addition to Omaha! At the Heyday, we'll help you visualize what that could mean to you.

Please join us, ideally by bicycle, bus, shuttle, foot, or carpool for too much fun to list on one page. There will be group bike rides organizing from around the city. Some of the fun, once you get there, will be in the form of the following:

*6pm: TMPlan discussion/community feedback
*food trucks
*bicycle racing/riding
*sidewalk chalking
*all sorts of art
*tree-lined street-scaping/beautification project
*bike shops and clubs with information
*filming and photographing the fun
*open house of the area
*hoola hooping
*roller skating
*skate boarding
*anything that you can think of that involves fun outside

As you can see, there's an action-packed evening in Omaha's future. You should be there; after all, it is your city.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ladies Ride Day!

Wellll, apparently I'm inept when it comes to uploading video.  So a few quick photos will have to do.  Maybe I'll ask one of those smart young kids I work with to show me how...

Friday, March 9, 2012

11 Wheels on Burt Street

There was bike traffic this morning and it made me smile!!

We (Copper, Vince, and I) were pedaling (or sitting in our Tail Wagon as the case may be) down our usual Burt route towards the shop when we ran into Aaron from Film Streams, our North Downtown neighbor on his daily commute.  But that's not the fun part.  At at stop light on about 20th and Burt, I did a quick wheel count...11 was what I came up with. 

So yeah, 11 because with Copper's trailer
2 + my Vaya 2 + Vince's Surly Necromancer 2 + his older 26" Long Haul Trucker 2 that he pulled along next to him+ his newly built up crazy ass fat unicycle 1 (also a Surly...the guy may be obsessed. Oh, and he just got in a new Pacer frameset that he's building up real purdy like to round out the collection)  + Aaron's bike 2 = 11 wheels!  Whoa.

It was fun to have that much of a bike presence on one corner.  Good times.  Yes indeed, good times.

As you can see, it's nothing but blue skies today and the weekend looks to be gorgeous as well.  Get out and ride folks, and then report!  Or don't.  You never do.  Dang.  Although I do get a lot of wonderful stories in the shop.  So that's nice.  Ok, that's it.  Buh bye.