Austin’s Scare for the Cure offers PG-13 frights

Scare for the Cure

Scare for the Cure

Press Release provided by Stephen Mercer, Austin Scare for a Cure

Austin always offers something seasonal for the visiting veggie biker to experience. For Halloween, it is the Scare for a Cure interactive haunted house.

The Veggie Biker has followed this from a distance for several years, listening to tales of saving old buildings for their ghost town and creating scary scenarios. He even accompanied two of the Scare for the Cure volunteers to research Neil Patrick Harris’ haunted mansion in Hollywood last year. They think Scare for a Cure can do it better.

Here’s the official word:

SCARE for a CURE presents Fairy Tale Nightmare???, “Murder at Ghost Town??? and “The Boneyard???

What’s new this year?  This year not only will SCARE for a CURE have our hour long haunted adventure “Fairy Tale Nightmare???, but we’ve added two new events!  “Murder at Ghost Town???, a murder mystery and the “The Boneyard??? fit only for the bravest of souls. 

 ftn-sm

What happens when there are not more happy endings?  It’s all gone horribly, horribly wrong in Fairyland.  You may be the last hope.  Or you may become twisted like all the rest.  Forget what you think you know about Fairy Tales.  Ours are far more grimm than you can imagine! 

murder-sm The year is 1883, and the small town of J. Lorraine, Texas is burning.  Or at least many of the folks who live there are.  Someone committed an unspeakable act of cruelty and murder.  The culprit was never caught and the dead cannot rest until someone solves the crime.  Help the residents of GHOST TOWN find final peace – SOLVE the mystery of the Murder at Ghost Tow

boneyard-smStep in the mouth of madness with The Boneyard, an all-new high SCARE attraction that will have you running for your lives.  Try to find your way out of a twisted pit of the most terrifying monstrosities imaginable! Navigate the cursed junkyard with your worst nightmares nipping at your heels. 

Run entirely by volunteers, SCARE for a CURE has become one of the most popular attractions in Austin, Texas during the Halloween season. But don’t be fooled by the name, while SCARE is definitely passionate about the creation of its unique haunt experiences, the emphasis is really on the word CARE. Each year well over three hundred volunteers come together with a passion to share their talent and make a difference in their community. Last year SCARE donated $20,000 to the Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas, and a percentage of our 2013 proceeds from the interactive haunted adventure will again benefit the BCRC.
Contact:Norma Crippen, Co-Founder/Marketing Director, SCARE for CURE, 512-669-2581www.scareforacure.org

Bicycle Washington, D.C., for $7 a day

 

Distances are short in Wash., D.C. There is no reason any trip should take more than a half hour, meaning you will never actually pay more than $7 for 24-hours of touring the capital city.

Distances are short in Wash., D.C. There is no reason any trip should take more than a half hour, meaning you will never actually pay more than $7 for 24-hours of touring the capital city.

Original reporting by Robert R. Mercer, Veggiebiking.com, Copyright 2013

You can bicycle all over Washington, D.C. for 24 hours for just $7.

Really, if you plan your visit correctly, you can do this.

The Veggie Biker used to walk all over D.C. in “Tijuana Slicks” in a younger life before the subway was built. It was a very walkable town.

The Bikeshare rentals are in excellent mechanical shape and the three-speed shift can easily gear down to climb Capitol Hill.

The Bikeshare rentals are in excellent mechanical shape and the three-speed shift can easily gear down to climb Capitol Hill.

But it is an even better bicycle town using Capital Bikeshare. Pair your Bikeshare rental with the Metro, and you can be anywhere quickly and effortlessly. D.C. is basically flat, except for Capitol Hill, and, really, is congress really worth the exertion right now?

Reagan National Airport is still the best place to fly into. Just jump on the Metrorail and you’re anywhere in the district in half an hour. You can pay per trail or bus trip, or get a pass for the length of your visit. The pass includes riding the Metrobuses. However, thanks to the bikes, the Veggie Biker only needed the Metro to get from and back to the airport.

Capital Bikeshare places its racks at every subway station and next to most tourist attractions.  Eighty total racks. This is where the $7-a-day strategy comes in. And Bikeshare wants you to go cheap, too. First half hour is free. Second half hour a buck and a half. Third half hour three bucks.

Bikeshare racks are found at every Metrorail station, including this one at Dupont Circle. And the Metrobus adds even more ways of getting around the district.

Bikeshare racks are found at every Metrorail station, including this one at Dupont Circle. And the Metrobus adds even more ways of getting around the district.

First, you have to join Capital Bikeshare for the day for $7. You can do this at a bike kiosk or using your smartphone. The Veggie guy put a credit card into the kiosk, validated the card using his zip code, and then chose to have a printed access code spit out. You can go paperless if you can remember five digits for five minutes. After five minutes, the code expires.

If you take longer than five minutes, you have to reinsert your credit card and get a new code, the Veggie Biker learned. They have great telephone customer service.

The Bikeshare kiosk only asks you insert a credit card, validate your card, print out a number, and grab a bike.

The Bikeshare kiosk only asks you insert a credit card, validate your card, print out a number, and grab a bike.

Bikeshare emphasizes sharing your bike. If you are not riding it, someone else should be using it. The first half hour of any ride is free. So, do what the hard-core commuters do. Get off the train, grab a bike. Ride to your destination in less than half an hour. Then park it in the bike rack. That stops the clock.

For example, after visiting Mr. Lincoln and paying respect to the  names on the Vietnam Wall, go back to the bike rack and get a new bike. Ride to the White House, etc.

It is possible there will be no bikes in a rack–not likely, but possible. You can insure you have a bike waiting by using your smartphone to reserve a bike at a particular location.

Or…

You can use the smartphone Spotcycle app to see where bikes are currently parked. Well, my Washington-commuter friend could. BUT the app for my  SAMSUNG GALAXY S®4 didn’t really work until I was at the Reagan departure gate. The app also gives you the same information for over 40 cities around the world, including Long Beach, CA., and Denver, CO.

The Bikeshare key is for commuters who buy monthly memberships. Just wave it and ride away.

The Bikeshare key is for commuters who buy monthly memberships. Just wave it and ride away.

Of course, if you live or work in the district, you will get a monthly pass with the neat little “key” that you wave over the kiosk panel and you are outta there. The Veggie guy’s friend bicycled from 14th Street to 7th Street for lunch. When lunch was over, he walked to the nearest kiosk, waved his key, and rode back to work. He does not exceed his monthly membership because he keeps rides under 30 minutes.

There is also a three-day pass for tourists and a daily key for those who ride infrequently.

Complaints: One Bikeshare seat needed adjusting, something the rider can’t do. Solution. Got a new bike. No charge.

Bring your own helmet. They can be bought for $17, but you have to find the shops. You might throw in a really good U-lock just in case you must stop where there is no rack. Bike thieves work hard in the district, it is said.

And D.C. traffic signs continue to be confusing. There are separate lights for people, bikes and cars in some places. One-way streets!. Actual traffic regulations are hard to find. Can you ride on the sidewalks? Can you ride in Lafayette Park? Native bikers I asked, replied, “No one ever gets a ticket.”

But Capital Bikeshare is definitely the ticket-to-ride you want to get.

Local district bicycling laws are hard to determine, but these icons on the bike handle bars certainly help the neophyte jump on and avoid to much trouble in the crowded, but polite streets of D.C.

Local district bicycling laws are hard to determine, but these icons on the bike handle bars certainly help the neophyte jump on and avoid to much trouble in the crowded, but polite streets of D.C.

 

My Commute: In Milwaukee, every sign post is a bike rack

 

Josh and his George's Big Dog Stand.

Customer parking is not a problem for Josh, who sets up his George’s Big Dogs hotdog and bratwurst stand four days a week outside Milwaukee’s National Hardware. The amateur kickball team member offers a grilled dog and toasted bun on his gas grill. Of course, he has three kinds of mustard and sauer kraut. His stand is next to two sign posts where customers lock up to grab lunch and shop in the hardware.

Almost every sign post in downtown Milwaukee has a bicycle locked to it.

Sign post bike rack close up

If every sign post is going to be a bike rack, Milwaukee decided they should be good bike racks.

Seriously! So the city embraced the obvious and has made many downtown sign poles bike racks.

National Hardware

National Hardware provides the Veggie Biker with all sorts of devices for adapting cameras to bicycles. One can find all the pieces to construct an apartment bicycle rack.

Men in coats and ties pedal down the streets and pull up to the nearest sign post, lock up, and go inside businesses. Of course, downtown is full of students from Marquette University, Wisconsin University and the School of Engineering commuting effortlessly up the hills and across the river bridges.

Of course, some poles seem to have bicycles permanently attached. There are bicycles that appear not to have been moved in months. Others, slowly disappear over time as parts are stripped away. However, the Veggie Biker observed the U-Lock and a cable meant never having to worry when you find your very own sign-post bike rack.

Abandoned bike

This forgotten bike has to be pivoted around the sign post each week by the person mowing the parkway. The basket if filled with empty cans and coffee cups.

 

Product Review: WeeRide Kangaroo Child’s Seat comes up a wee bit short

Parent and child using Kangaroo Carrier

The beauty of the center-mounted seat is you embrace your child. However, how the many brands of seats mount differs with manufacturer and engineering elegance. The WeeRide Kangaroo is over-engineered, meaning you can haul heavier children. But it requires more tools and time to install.

The WeeRide Kangaroo Center-Mounted Child Carrier comes up a wee bit short of pleasing the Veggie Biker.

That’s not to say is does not work well; it’s to say it takes too many trips to the hardware store to make it work effectively.

The Veggie Biker bought this seat through Craig’s List. Given he paid $30 and the previous  owner, a parent who used it with two children, installed it the first time for the Veggie grandad, the Veggie Biker should be happy and just quit writing, now. But…, that would not be the blogger way.

The short and the long of Veggie Biking’s complaint is the length of the bolts and the thickness of the clamp that connects the cross-bar rail to the seat stay (the pipe the seat slips into) and the head tube (the pipe the handle bars slip into). On the two bikes used, a Giant XL Cypress and a Raleigh C30, the bolts are too short in the rear. We got it to fit the Raleigh by removing extra pieces fromt he clamp. But just had to get longer bolts for the Giant. And on the Raleigh hybrid, there is not enough clearance for the clamps to slip neatly onto the seat stay and the head tube. The tubes extend well above the Giant’s cross bar. But on the Raleigh, the clamps interfere with the seat adjustment lever.

And, of course, for the cool dad who drops the kid at child care, leaving behind the seat for the afternoon pickup, the bike still has that ugly cross bar attachement. iBert avoids this  with a simple handlebar bracket. But, iBert is rated at 38 pounds, while WeeRide carries up to 42 pounds.

The short and the long of Veggie Biking's complaint is the length of the bolts and the thickness of the clamp that connects to the seat stay (the pipe the seat slips into) and the head tube (the pipe the handle bars slip into). On the two bikes used, the bolts are too short in the rear. And on the Raleigh hybrid, there is no clearance for the clamps to slip neatly onto the seat stay and the head tube. For the Giant, shown here, only the bolts were ill-fitting.

The short and the long of Veggie Biking’s complaint is the length of the bolts (note these are not the factory bolts) and the thickness of the clamp that connects to the seat stay (the pipe the seat slips into) and the head tube (the pipe the handle bars slip into). On the two bikes used, the bolts are too short in the rear. And on the Raleigh hybrid, there is no clearance for the clamps to slip neatly onto the seat stay and the head tube. For the Giant, shown here, only the bolts were ill-fitting. But at least the Giant’s tubes extend well above the cross bar for easy clamping.

The test ride with a real child requires many strap adjustments, no matter whose seat you use. And it just adds to the fear the child has for the first time ride. Solve this by having the kid sit in the seat in the house–on the floor–and make it a game.Then, when it is time to ride, just plunk the kid in and click the buckle. Do the same with the helmet.

Fear is the enemy of teaching children to ride.

Knee knocking was the Veggie Biker’s biggest fear. This did not occur even with a 6’2″ father and granddad. However, it would be nice if one could slide the seat back and fourth along the cross bar for a better fit depending upon the brand of bike being used.

The final consumer review was uttered by the passenger as her father pedaled away. “Go, Daddy, go!”

Giant bike with Kangaroo

The Giant XL Cypress hybrid bike seemed better suited for the Kangaroo Child Carrier than the Raleigh. The head tube and the seat stand both were extended well above the cross bar, making attaching the clamps much more effective.

 

Bicycle Travel: Does your bike belong in a Bicycle Zoo?

bikebat560

Photos copyright 2013 Robert R. Mercer

The Veggie Biker felt a bit like an Alice in a Wonderland when creatures from Austin’s Bicycle Zoo was spotted at the Austin Mini Maker Faire May 5. While the Veggie Biker used a Lytro Light Gathering System Camera to photograph Austin, he felt the exotic bicycles deserve even more exotic images.

Rather than use the original Lytro images, in which the viewer can zoom, focus and shift perspective, the Veggie Biker pulled out a Photography 101 assignment he created in Prague–3-D Stereoscopic Images. The assignment came about when he discovered folding stereo post cards with built-in viewers. Instead of making two images and mounting them together, the perspective shift of the Lytro allows you to make a stereoscopic image with just one exposure. You can shoot moving objects!

Of course, you don’t have an old-fashioned viewer; and you probably don’t want to order an inexpensive folding viever, so, just cross your eyes. You can cross your eyes, can’t you? Really, cross your eyes and put your nose about 5 inches away from screen. Ah, yes, that’s it.

owlbike

merrygoround

dinosaurbike

butterflybike

butterflyriders

Cycling News: He’s pedaling his amphibian around the world

“Dutchman Ebrahim Hemmatnia is pedalling around England in a boat on the first stage of a fully human-powered round-the-world trip,” reports Bike Hub.

“Ebrahim Hemmatnia is currently making slow progress around England in a large, boat-shaped recumbent. He describes his adventure as a ‘tour with the world’s first amphibian and pedal-powered boat.’???

You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

BicycleTravel: Discovering Weird Austin

Austin may not have made the final cut behind Denver and Portland in REI’s Cycling Town Showdown, but the town remains a top destination for bicyclists looking for a long weekend escape.

The south shore of Lady Bird Lake, a portion of the Colorado River that is damed next to downtown, is lined with bicycle rental places. The Veggie Biker’s group chose Austin’s Bicycle Sport Shop to rent bikes. They have several models of pedal and electric bicycles. But they were out of electric bikes that first weekend in May because it was the Pecan Street Festival and all the electric bikes were rented. But it did seem everyone had a bike on Old Pecan Street, today famously known as 6th Street, the self-proclaimed center of live music in America.

Before you choose a weekend, you may wish to see which festival Austin is celebrating that week. The Veggie Biker’s never been there but what there were a lot of people gathered somewhere toasting something.

You can reserve a bike online at most bike shops. Bicycle Sport Shop charged $40 for the day; $52 for 24 hours. The paperwork was efficiently dispatched. Bikes were fitted to the riders. More importantly, the shop keeps the bikes in excellent repair. Everything is tight. The gears shift smoothly.

But that is not all the shop offers, the Veggie Biker learned.

The competition for the most bike-friendly city must have been close. Austin has a maze of bicycle trails along the river. There are bridges at regular intervals for those wanting to cross to the other shore of Lake Austin.

The lakes offers kayaks, paddle boards and even water bicycles. Just exploring around the lake gives one ideas for the next visit to the determinedly weirdest city in America.

Along with Austin drivers displaying a developing-respect for share-the-road, the city continues expanding its web of bike trails and lanes, plus its bike-friendly mass transit. The relatively new Capitol Metro currently has one route. It meant the Veggie Biker and company could ditch their car out in the “Silicon Valley” section of North Austin and ride to within two blocks of the Pecan Street Fest. At the end of the line on 4th Street, a quick change to the number 30 bus took us to the bike shop. A single-day pass covered train and bus.

The only real flaw in Austin’s mass transit development is the lack of a train from the airport to downtown. It is planned when the city gets money, rail workers tell you.

If the mass transit system does not always serve, the bike shop sure does. Coming back to the bicycles after choosing an Indian lunch from among the smorgasbord of ethnic food wagons, one of the tires on the three bikes was flat–like totally. A phone call to the bike shop and Steve Pierce was on the line saying, “Wait a minute. I’ll be right there.”

Yes, Austin has bicycle road service. In about 20 minutes, Steve was peeling off the tire and putting in a new tube. Minutes later, the bikes were rolling toward South Congress Avenue, directly south across the river from the Texas Capitol.

Exploring Old Austin, now “being gentrified by affluent couples with counter-culture leanings,” according to one citizen, made one realize, in Austin, you almost always ride in the shade of really large old trees.

The veggie biker and company returned the bikes to Bicycle Sport Shop. Mike Wachler offered the Veggie Biker the chance to ride a new Stromer pedal-assist elctric bike. That test ride is in an earlier post.

A walk back across Lady Bird Lake led to good bar-b-que and a train ride home.

The Austin Mini Makers Faire on Sunday, May 5 gave one a full sampler of people who help “Keep Austin Weird.” This exhibition is a collection of sustainable technologists, producers of solar collectors and rammed earth bricks; plus cutting edge technogeeks with 3-D printers and robots–and massive geegaw machinery that should work, but is not designed to make anything more than light and noise.

And everyone appeared to love bikes; and adapting bikes; and making bicycle clothing. The Lil’ Red BMX Solar tracker will keep your solar panel focused on the Sun because the inventor found the BMX bike frame served as a perfect, pre-fab pivot frame. A science teacher is building a steam-powered bicycle–well, at least it will look steam powered–with his students. And one of the “Fine Southern Gentlemen” carries his silk screen printer on a tricycle.

The highlight is the Bicycle Zoo of pedal-powered beasties that roam with glowing eyes and flapping wings. But that’s a separate post. Look for it!

Except for th drive back to the airport. Austin gives a visitor little reason to have a car–and several reasons not to. However, there are many sustainable ways to get around Austin, if not voted the most bike-friendly city, certainly it would be voted the weirdest biking town.