Day’s Verse:
“He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.”

Luke 1:53 (context)

To celebrate Dad’s 53 years of life, Mom and I baked. We spent a good part of today — which I took off from volunteering especially for the occasion — making a chocolate cream pie and an ice cream cake.

The pie, mostly Mom’s creation (although I helped with application of the pudding and the whipped cream):
Dad's Birthday Pie
Its layers went like this: Homemade graham cracker crust; 1/2″ of peanut butter; homemade chocolate peanut butter pudding with melted chocolate-and-peanut butter chips swirled into the top; extremely thick layer of home-whipped whipping cream sprinkled with more chocolate-and-peanut butter chips. A “small” piece still took up the entire plate, as you can see:
Dad's Birthday

The cake, my creation:
Dad's Birthday Cake
The cake consisted of chocolate chip brownie cake from scratch, a layer of cookies ‘n’ cream ice cream, and another layer of chocolate chip brownie cake with homemade Betty Crocker chocolate butter frosting (which turned out as my best frosting ever — hooray!). The cake took a long time because I had to wait for it to cool completely, then had to slice it, layer the ice cream in, and then re-freeze the entire thing. Then we applied the frosting and re-froze it all in one unit. I sliced the ice cream in thick slices from one of those perfectly rectangular boxes of ice cream you can buy; it worked remarkably well with the rectangular cake and I kept melting to a minimum. The only difficulty was the frosting becoming difficult to spread as it got colder and colder while being applied to the frozen cake!

Both desserts were delicious, and followed directly on the heels of an excellent beef-broccoli stir-fry that also contained onions, red, orange, and yellow bell peppers, and carrots. Even the sticky rice turned out sticky and wonderful. In all it was probably my most successful day of cooking never-before-attempted recipes and helping to cook possibly ever. Too bad we ended up feeling fairly burned out on desserts by the end. If anybody wants to stop by for a piece of cake or pie, please — come help yourself. We have plenty.

And now, the part you really were waiting for: Bicycling Multiple Choice Test Answers!

1. What weather is best for cycling?
a) Below 32°F and sunny – Correct! Put on an extra layer and go for it. These are some of the most gorgeous days of the year, so don’t let that glittery frost deter you. Go for it!
b) Above 32°F and rainy – Correct! Nothing like being warm but damp! Wear the right clothes get in touch with your inner child by going to play in the rain.
c) Below 32°F and rainy – Trick question. This isn’t particularly likely to happen, given freezing points and all. You do occasionally get ice or snow when the air temperature is above 32°F, but sorry, rain below freezing is not an option.
Discussion: Actually, having the right attitude about the weather is key to having a good cycling experience. With a few exceptions, when you dress correctly the actual weather itself should not have that major of an impact on whether you have a decent ride or not. Of course, sunny days in the 70s are always nice, but don’t fail to appreciate the beauty in seemingly non-ideal conditions.

2. What clothes are best to wear in 40°F rainy weather?
a) GoreTex everything, including underwear. – Wrong! Suiting up in GoreTex feels like wrapping yourself in a tent’s rain-fly — not my preferred method of staying comfortable.
b) Heavy-weight wool jersey, waterproof jacket, waterproof pants, booties, 2 pairs of wool socks, 2 pairs of gloves, heavy ear warmers, and a face warmer. – Wrong! Too darn hot! Of course, all clothing choices are personal preferences, and some people do pile on the layers, but often the old “less is more” adage applies for dressing for riding.
c) Medium-weight synthetic jersey, waterproof jacket, partially-waterproof breathable pants, 1 pair of wool socks, 1 pair of gloves, medium-weight ear warmers. – Correct! I like the in-between feeling where you go outside and feel cold to start with, and end up comfortable within about 15 minutes of riding. This means you will probably be comfortable after 2 hours of riding, too.
d) Summer-weight jersey, arm warmers, vest, lightweight Spandex pants, and synthetic socks. – Wrong! Ha, ha! Try this out and you can get back to me on how those chilblains feel.
Discussion: Clothes are completely a personal preference. I wear only fingerless bike gloves down to about freezing; other people start putting on full-finger gloves at 50°F. I wear shorts to about 55°F; other people put on leg warmers at 70°F. Dressing is totally subjective but whatever you wear you should be warm but not roasting. Sweating copiously on a cold day means you overdressed. A good rule of thumb is on a cold day, you should feel cool rather than toasty warm when you start out.

3. Ideally, how many lights should a bicyclist use in the pitch dark?
a) None, reflectors only will do. – Wrong! In all 50 states, cyclists are mandated to have a front light and rear reflector (I think that’s it) at the very least.
b) At least one front light and one blinking back light. – Correct! One of each light would be the bare minimum, but the “at least” suggests you could have more.
c) At least one front light on steady, one front light on blinking, and 2 blinking back lights. – Correct! Of course, more lights won’t hurt, but for seeing and being seen, one headlight for the road and one to light you up is great. More blinkies on the back to attract attention never hurt, either.
d) Just go for the Christmas tree look. – Correct! …Sort of. You don’t want to cause accidents by distracting drivers so much they look at you instead of the road.
Discussion: I am a light addict. I drool over lights that cost as much as a medium-quality bike. I imagine owning this 1200-lumen light that has software that lets you program different light settings (seriously!!). I also love riding in the pitch-dark with only my lights to light me up; there is something magical about riding along in silence with just this tiny scrap of the world illuminated by your headlight. Don’t let the darkness deter you from riding, but don’t push past the limits of your lighting system. However, it is important to always ride (a) legally – with the front headlight and rear reflector at least – and (b) safely – within the constraints set by your light choices.

4. Should a bicyclist tell a driver when the driver’s car has a light out?
a) Yes, it always pays to be nice. – Correct! Of course you should always be nice. If they just passed you rudely, it’s “heaping coals of kindness” on the driver’s head — way better than just keeping quiet.
b) No, that driver just passed me like a jerk a
nd they deserve the ticket. – Wrong! Need I say more?
Discussion: What’s to talk about? This is a general courtesy thing that I see as a way of building up stock with drivers. It’s a nice gesture to make to motorists that only cyclists (or peds) can do, and therefore I always take the opportunity to impress motorists with my niceness. I’d rather them go away thinking “what a nice bicyclist,” than thinking nothing at all.

5. Bike paths are always the best way to go!
a) True! – Wrong! Bike paths are not usually bike-only paths. Usually they are “multi-use trails,” meaning you deal with dogs (on- and off-leash), walkers, small children on and off bikes, slippery wet leaves, trickier handling situations, worse visibility, poor lighting at night, and often extremely hazardous road crossings.
b) False! – Correct! Bike paths can be a great way to get off of dangerous driving roads, but there are enough pros and cons for multi-use paths that a blanket “always good” or “always bad” is impossible to actually determine.
c) I don’t know! – Correct! Anybody willing to admit they don’t know for sure gets extra credit if they research the topic and can discuss its pros and cons later.
Discussion: Multi-use paths are, in fact, a whole can of worms. People feel strongly one way or the other, that they are a Godsend and we should have more; or that they are dangerous and we should all be vehicular cyclists. I think that they are a nice way to take a leisurely ride, but that serious, fast-moving riders should avoid them. They have some serious drawbacks, some of which I mentioned above, but they also have advantages. As an LCI I am not allowed to talk about my preferences in class, but since this is my blog, I will clearly say that I prefer vehicular cycling. Riding on the road, out with the cars, is where I believe I belong. That’s not for everybody, though, and I even use bike paths when they go where I want.

That is the end of our fun fun bike quiz.

KF quality

6 thoughts on “Today Was Dad’s Birthday!

  1. You should get this published or at least submitted somewhere! It’s such good info and interestingly presented.

  2. Aw, I only got two right. I liked your discussion points – in defense of my answers, keep in mind that I’m usually a “leisure” cyclist, in that even when I’m commuting, I’m not necessarily just about speed. And my furthest commute was only about 6 miles. 🙂

    1) Being a Californian, I’m definitely a wuss when it comes to the thought of sub-zero temps (the times I’ve cycled in my half-finger gloves in 40F weather, it hasn’t been fun).

    5) I think being in LA in particular has made me extremely skeptical of bikes-as-vehicles. Ideally, of course it’d be the way to go, but down here the roads are so scary and un-bike-friendly that it makes me really long for a nice bike-trail like some of the ones I commuted on in northern CA.

    4) Lastly, drivers down here would probably just give me the finger if I tried to tell them about their taillight. 🙂

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