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I usually try to keep my ride pretty clean. I’ve been a little lazy about it lately, and it really needs a good bath. This got me thinking. My dad has always said, “Before winter sets in you should put a good coat of wax on you car.” One of his points being is that it helps keep the salt off the car’s finish in the winter months. This does make sense to me. So I’m thinking of cleaning up the old horse and putting a coat of wax on the seat/chain stays, down tube and fork. Can anyone think of a good reason not to do this?
Also with winter on the horizon does anyone have any cold weather riding tips you would like to share with the cycling community? One I use, I got from Sheldon Brown. Use clear tape to block off a few air vents on your helmet. It’s a easy and very inexpensive way to help keep your head a little warmer and not compromise the fit of your brain bucket.
(My former set-up. I used to run the smaller light at the left seat-stay, and even jerry-rigged to the back of my rack.)
It’s been said in several places on the byke innernetz that if your LEDs are a few years old, you might want to replace them. Why? LEDs last nearly forever, no? Because the technology is getting cheaper, brighter, more efficient, more durable and easier to mount!
These are Giant lights that I had on my (crashed) Giant bike. The larger one ran me nearly $30, and the small one was about $10 I think in 2006. The big one was bright enough to do the job fairly well, but it ate batteries like I drink coffee — as they said in Lost in Translation, “with much intensity!” The smaller one died pretty quickly, too. Both fell off the bike several times. In fact, that larger one was actually stolen from ElRo (click here to see image of baby in her tummy) since mine fell off in traffic and got destroyed. When I crashed that bike in April, someone who got to the scene handed me my pump and this smaller damned light. I can vouch for its durability — it fell off a few times and took quite a big roll a couple of those.
When I got my new bike this summer, I wanted to get new lights, too. My five LED headlight was Okay for being seen, but it went dim in a few hours and had a very narrow beam. I wanted some improvement in that area, too. The light I had was about $25 in 2006 also. There were some very awesome lights out since then, and I was excited to try some out.
Planet Bike all the way. Not only are they brighter and easier to mount. They also were cheaper, and they haven’t fallen off yet. I should really get around to posting something about my cheap/simple light set-up. Maybe next week. Stay tuned!
As what I suppose is the first mention of it here (unless you read my blog), one of our NBBB-type folks is pregnant! ElRo (my lovely wife) is pregnant, and we’re hitting the first official OB appointment today. As you can guess, her stomach is doing bizarre things, and some of the things she used to like aren’t jiving (Nutella, I hardly knew ya….). Likewise, hunger pangs rarely follow meal times. So I concocted what we’re calling Mommy Mix — trail mix you can eat whenever and wherever the hell you want to.
When I go hiking and camping, there is a limit to how much “modern” or “high-tech” gear and methods I have the patience for. “Leave No Trace” is awesome. Waterproof gear not made of thin nylon packcloth is awesome. Stormshield tents are awesome. LED flashlights are awesome. Teva sandals are awesome. Dr. Bronner’s soap rocks my world (even at home.)
However, there are some things that I cannot abide, like dehydrated food, energy gels and energy bars, etc. (No offense meant of you like them. That’s cool. I’m saying what I like. Go ahead and start a blog about what you like if you think this stuff is the best thing ever. I’ll promise to read it.) I was an Army Brat, and I grew up eating all kinds of dehydrated food for fun. I’m totally over it now. If I’m burning enough calories to need an energy bar/gel, I’m probably hungry, too. So I’d rather, you know, eat some good food. I guess the problem comes in when you eat any old food like greasy/salty chips and sugary sodas. I’d rather get the nutrients I need to keep going from somewhat normal food than something bizarrely engineered (which is often unfriendly to vegetarians like myself anyway).
So when I hike, camp and cycle, I try to think of what I eat rather than supplementing it with other stuff. And if I’m doing something that requires stamina, I like me some trail mix. Last time I went for a long hike, I made my own with:
Various salty nuts (!)
Vanilla yogurt covered raisins
Something cheesy I can’t remember (mini somethings with cheddar)
Maybe a tiny bit of good pretzels (but not used for cheap filler like the crap you get at the store)
I also made a batch for my father because he was hiking with our group, and he would have made me some if I were still a little guy. It was coveted by all. I mean, here were folks with pretzel-laden junk mix that they probably spent more money on, and my trail mix had only the stuff I like in it, in the proportions that I like. I was the envy of my peers. Luckily for my peers, I like to share and did so.
Dan and I usually score coffee and chocolate when we cycle. Riding in Chucks/Tevas with fenders, racks and cargo shorts, we’d look pretty silly gulping down energy gels while our stomachs growled (see above parenthetical statement if you’re a fan — I ain’t looking for no fight, hon). Dan brought some very delicious chili pepper chocolate to Moonlight Madness, and here I am a month later still thinking about that yummy stuff. We enjoy goodies when we ride. I think I might start concocting cycling mix as the weather winds down to something cooler. Something that goes equally well with coffee, water and beer.
What would be in your perfect mix of cycling/trail mix?
I was going to post this while down the beach but given the recent events I decided to hold off until now. So here it is…
My original plan was to ride from 139th to the OC inlet at the end of the board walk but, after careful consideration, recommendation of a local and a reader of this blog, I decided to ride North instead. I, liking to beat myself up, decided to begin my ride around one p.m. on the hottest day we where down there. You know 90 some degrees with 100 heat index. Whatever, it’s flat on the shore, right? Anyway my first stop was of this watch tower.
For anyone who doesn’t know, these towers are haunting reminders of how close German subs came to our coasts in WW II. I’ve always been fascinated with these concrete sentries. I think they’re creepy in a neat sorta way. Moving on, I next rolled into the town of Bethany. In my opinion this is what a beach town should look like. Quiet, sandy and lived in. I pasted the Bethany bike shop. I don’t think I have to explain why I took a picture of this.
I wasn’t ready to turn back towards home so I continued North on 50. Before I knew it I was looking 2 miles down the road at the inlet bridge. I road down alone side the bridge where there is a parking lot for folks wanting to fish, go to the beach or out on a boat. There I took a water break and a few more pictures.
After hydrating a bit I jumped on my ride and headed home for the day. The ride took me about 2 hours to go up and back, with a few breaks of course. Over all total mileage was just under 25 miles. It was a very relaxing ride. I highly recommend it. The only draw backs are no shade and you are riding on 50 where vehicles pass you are doing, well, 50 or so. That was the most surprising part of my ride is that I did not feel unsafe on 50 at all. Delaware really has it together when it comes to bike lanes and markings for them. The lanes where very clearly marked and there was signage everywhere saying “Look out for bicycles” which, is much more to the point than “Share the road”.
Maybe next time I’m “danny oshin” I’ll ride South. I think that with be in the off season.
Zack and Dan and I had coffee tonight with Zack’s four month old son. Then Dan and I took a long walk around Hampden, Rolden and Roland Park, sipping root beers, talking about the direction this blog has been heading lately. When we started this website and our tongue-in-cheek bike “club”, we had nothing in mind but fun. Why blog? To spread the fun. Environmental issues aren’t going to get as many people to ride bikes as posting pictures and paragraphs about having a fun ride will. Maybe I’m just hedonistic?
I fully realize that I am largely to blame for the recent negativity. Perhaps some of my recent posts would have been better on my personal blog (five years and going strong!). In my defense, seeing a fallen cyclist in the road does tend to breed negative thoughts and feelings, and reading hateful comments on The Sun doesn’t help. But we have to work to get past what happened and to get moving toward remembering why we cycle in the first place: it’s fun. Yes, it’s good for the planet, good for your body. But the best reason to ride is that it’s the most enjoyable way to get anywhere. If we could hear Mr. Yates, he’d be telling us to get out and spread the cycling message through example and a smile, not through angry words.
We promised ourselves we would not use this blog only to complain about cars, about any segments of the cycling community (roadies, hipsters, Freds, etc.), about politics. While we’ve done (I think) a good job of not being divisive about cyclists, we’ve gone and slipped into some us/them mind-set lately. Cars/bikes. Drivers/cyclists. That’s just stupid. I only know two cyclists who don’t have cars, and I’m one of them. Hell, you could argue that it’s good for cyclists to have cars because each of them is one more driver who looks out for other people. That’s an example we could all use on the road. Everywhere.
And certainly lumping all drivers together because of people like The Sun‘s commenters and the people who yell at us is as bad as the folks who lump us all together because they see cyclists running redlights and nearly running over pedestrians.
Something gnawing at me says, “Mr. Yates just died last week! We can’t act happy when the police haven’t even found the truck yet!” But ask yourself this, as I have: What would you tell us if you were Mr. Yates? I‘d say to keep riding. To have fun and let everyone know it. I‘d say that focusing only on danger and tragedy forever isn’t going to get butts on saddles.
So, in the spirit of lightening up, I give you Roxy, who looks like she ran into a wall.
[Roxy photo by ElRo. Evil Crack Monkey drawing and photo by Johnny.]
So says Jack Conahan in The Baltimore Sun:
Our self-righteous pedallers will argue that they are reducing emissions by having one less car on the street. They neglect that the hundreds of motor vehicles they impede burn far more fuel following them in first or second gear than they would in fourth or fifth gear if the bikes were absent. Let them ride public transportation, which would certainly benefit from more fares.
Read the rest (and leave a comment pointing out the multitude of complete BS in this article).
Hmmm, cars don’t actually burn more gas in low gear when they are moving slowly. In fact, if cyclists make cars drift, that saves gas. But even that’s a smoke screen. You know who’s responsible for the planet-killing effects of your car? YOU ARE! If you’re so damned worried about pollution, why are you driving?! And if you can get your car into fifth gear in city traffic, you’re driving too fast.
I am very, sincerely, utterly sorry if I am the cause of you not being able to drive up Charles Street at 45mph. Really I am. You’re right. I concede. You pay to register YOUR car and to put gas in YOUR car to pollute MY lungs. You’re out more money than I am, and I have MUCH more fun on my bike than you have on your way to work in your car. So. Okay. You can have Charles Street on your way home. We’ll all get out of your way because you have to pay for your own car. I know — who would have thought you should have to pay for your own license and registration and insurance? What?
Oh, yeah. You pay for your license and registration because you are paying for the right to drive your car around other people. You’re not paying for the road. That’s paid for by taxes we all pay. That’s right. I don’t drive a car, and I have to pay for the road you ruin with your car through my taxes. I don’t pay for highways, but I don’t use them either, not personally. And anyone that delivers me something via highway pays it themselves.
And you pay for insurance because of all the other people (because I’m sure YOU are a safe driver) who run their huge metal boxes into other people and their boxes and ruin their metal boxes and hurt and kill people, even people walking or cycling without big metal boxes. In short, you’re paying insurance because cars are dangerous, not because it’s some toll giving you sole access to the road. All the money you pay is because you ruin the road, because you pollute the air, because you hurt people. You pay these things because of the nature of cars, which is to trample the road, people, other cars and the environment. These are not your ticket to claim everything paved.
The fact is that most cyclists own cars (not all; I don’t), which entitles them to the road under your criterion anyway, i.e., that they pay for it. And guess what? The rest of us pay for it, too. They are called taxes. Do your research into how they’re spent before venting your anti-cyclist issues a week after one of YOURS killed one of OURS.
If you think licensing and insuring bikes will lead to better bike life in Baltimore, that’s just naive. Even with bike lanes and sharrows, drivers like you act like they/you own the road. What we’ll have is licensed bikes getting hit by cars, rather than unlicensed bikes. Car drivers/owners pay for licenses, insurance, everything you want us to pay for already. Do YOU have great infrastructure? Hell no. “Your” roads are crumbling, and it’s not from bikes.
The problem is one of attitude. And your post illustrates this attitude (this problem), not some solution you think you’ve found in paperwork, fees and bike-sized license plates.
One can boil down 2/3 of the comments on The Sun to some weirdly Rush Limbaugh-esque assumption that being contrary is the same thing as being intelligent. Well, hell, I’ll play along. I’m being contrary about your contrariness, so I must be much, much, much smarter than you are. Bow before my towering, contrary intellect!
Seriously, though. How can the only “official” news agency to show up for the memorial ride go ahead and print this shameless, low-brow nonsense all the time?
Well the NBBB rolled on downtown on Thursday night in the Moonlight Madness ride. For the exception of a few flats and a bad spill everyone seemed to have a good time. Thank you, thank you , thank you to the folks who put this ride together. I totally enjoyed myself. It was so great to see people from all different walks of life with all different kinds of bikes come together to take a ride. It was also great to meet some of the folks who visit this blog and be able to say thanks for visiting, face to face. To the guy who took the spill: I think I can speak for everyone on the ride and say, get well soon, fellow velo.
In other news, I’m gonna be representing the NBBB down at OC for a few days. I’m planning on riding the length of the island. I’ll be sure to post about it with some pics. Has anyone out there ridden this before? If so, anything I should look out for or look forward too?
From an email I received at my other website:
I thought you might be interested in Summer Spectacle, an interactive public concert for 111 bicyclists hosted by the Contemporary Museum ’s Mobtown Modern concert series. For this guerilla-style performance, bicyclists will perform Mauricio Kagel’s Eine Brise, riding through the streets of Baltimore using horns, whistles, and noises to create the sound of wind.
There are still spots available to participate in the inaugural Summer Spectacle – and I thought you and your readers might enjoy making avant garde music on your bikes. To register, e-mail email@example.com.
A press release is attached. Feel free to share this information with your readers.
Mobtown Modern Goes Guerilla for Summer Spectacle
Saturday, July 18, 2009
The Metro Gallery
1700 North Charles Street
Station North Arts and Entertainment District, Baltimore
The Contemporary Museum’s Mobtown Modern concert series will take New Music to the streets with an interactive performance of composer Mauricio Kagel’s Eine Brise (‘A Breeze’) for 111 bicyclists, on Saturday, July 18, 2009 at 3 p.m.
Riders will begin and end their trek at The Metro Gallery in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District. The posse of performers will use bells, horns, and utterances and whistling to replicate the sounds of a crisp breeze during their “round the block” performance. Eine Brise begins with jingling to announce the coming breeze, climaxing with a crescendo of a frenzied chorus of “wind sound” vocalizations from performers.
Anyone with a bicycle and a bell or horn is invited to participate in this guerilla-style music making experience. To participate, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited.
[Photo of Mr. Headset Wrench courtesy of too much time on my hands last summer.]
This Sunday, Dan, Johnny and Zack took a very short (like an hour and a half maybe) ride last-minute because Johnny had to return Zack’s rims to him — trued rims, replaced spoke and patched tire. I mean, folks who ride centuries might scoff at our trip to Druid Hill, down the full length of the Jones Falls Trail and then back up Charles Street to University Parkway. But a nice 12-20 mile ride is just our idea of fun.
All the better if, at the end, there’s a bad flat when we’re near someone’s apartment. Baltimore City tap water (with lemon!) and air conditioning are nice, followed by beers and a little bike work. Hell, how could you say “no” to that?
Anyone up for a short little ride after dinner/evening Thursday night? Nothing big — just meeting at (what’s left of) the Watertower and a 10-20 mile fun ride to end there, perhaps with a coffee stop….
Saw this dapper gent in Washington Square Park in New York last week. He looked so relaxed that I thought about getting a single-speed bike, like I was telling Dan. But then I remembered that Baltimore is much more hilly than Manhattan. Still, I liked that bike, especially that he used the mounting brackets for a metal rack for a milkcrate.
As you can imagine, shopping for that all-important next bike has been eating up a lot of my time and consciousness over the last [nearly] nine weeks. I bought a Novara and returned it after getting Mr. Foot crushed by that lady who thought watching where she was driving was a stupid idea. Plus, as I mentioned, I was less than impressed with the service at the store/location I won’t name.
Last time I bought a bike on purpose, it was 2006. Needless to say, “commuter bike” was only emerging in faint whispers as a bike category. And hell, no one ever mentioned mounts for racks and fenders as a feature of a bike back then! I bought that bike, a Giant Cypress DX, in 2006 from a local chain, and I was happy with the job they did putting it together. Really happy. Two thousand miles under my fat ass, speeding all over Baltimore’s broken streets, and the rims were true when I crashed, and I think they did a nice job adjusting everything else before they sent me on my way. Which was good, considering I was too afraid to adjust brakes back then. That didn’t last long, but still.
Now, there are bikes with internal hubs, fenders or room for better fenders, steel frames, upright riding frames, etc. It’s dizzying. I won’t waste your afternoon (because you know you’ll look them all up) listing all of the bikes that have featured as my replacement bike of the day. I think I’m driving my poor wife and cycling buddies crazy with my bike ranting. “Holy shit, dude! You should see the specs on the bike I looked up today during my lunch hour!”
Really, you start seeing a lot of the same stuff. Heavy shocks, with lock-out becoming a feature of the higher-end models. Eyelets to mount all kinds of stuff, with clearance for fenders. Double-walled rims and decent tires. Better seats and riser bars as far as the eye can see. Every time I found a bike I liked, I would find three others just like it for around the same price from different manufacturers.
Then it comes down to where to actually buy your bike. Do I go back to the store I was unhappy with when they are the only place around town to get a few of the bikes I like? Do I go to a shop that I have never liked because they sell a certain Trek I find alluring? Or some place with a good reputation that is all the way across town from where I live and work? I know where I want to buy my bike. They only carry a few brands, but within those brands, I see some bikes I really like and some I just plain drool over. I miss having an LBS, as I’ve mentioned. I’m looking forward to getting a new bike and shopping and building it up with nice accessories.
Dan said that buying a bike from a national chain didn’t “seem like [me],” which I take as a compliment. He said he thought I’d go local or get a sweet used bike. With some of the used bikes I’ve seen at the LBS I mentioned, hell, I might just do both.
I keep remembering how disappointing it can be when you get a new bike whose specs you love and that you love when you saw it the first time, only to see it poorly assembled and beaten up before you even get to ride it — no matter how good of a deal it is.
I took some photos of the bikes at Penn Station on Bike 2 Work Day on May 15th. I felt terrible for not being able to ride myself. But I had a new bike at home and was a week or two from being back to regular commuting. (Hell, it would be good for my hands/wrists, probably. At least to get my strength back.) I was in a good mood, after getting good news from my hand doctor that week. But I never got to post photos and/or talk about Bike 2 Work Day because that crazy driver ran me over that afternoon.
In the morning that day, I noticed the usual number of cyclists as my bus made its way down University Parkway and St. Paul Street. I was late, and I think most people were already at work. I wanted to take a walk to the Jones Falls Trail that morning, since I think a lot of new cyclists opt for that route. Not that I blame them; it’s a nice calm spot for workday hauling. I thought I’d get some shots in the afternoon, of folks on their way home. But that didn’t work out, either.
I got my foot run over at like 4 pm on Charles Street and got to stay there for a while, as folks made their way home. I didn’t notice more cyclists than usual while we were there with security, the police and the fire department. It could have been the time of day. But I was there long enough on a nice enough Friday, that I think pre-5pm traffic could have been expected. Could have been the constant construction on Charles Street, too. Maybe folks were relaxing with beers after a nice B2WD.
I have noticed something since that Friday: a hell of a lot more bikes around town. This week, I was on Gordon Plaza at the University of Baltimore helping with a mosaic, and I was dumb-founded with the number of cyclists going everywhere. To the store. To work. To home. To school. While I wait for my bus and relax while riding it each day, I see more people all the time. I should really pay more attention and count one day.
One thing I know for sure is that there are far more cyclists riding around in traffic in Baltimore than there were pre-B2DW. And isn’t that the point? Not to get people to ride on May 15th, but more often than that? I didn’t have my camera, but there were far more bikes this morning at Penn Station than before May 15th. One that I never saw until that day but now see all the time, too.
My wonderful wife just landed a sweet job at a university that is a few blocks from the one where I work, in the heart of Central Baltimore. We are both enormous fans of the MTA, and the #61 stops yards from our apartment building. But, as she understands and as I’m sure anyone who cycles would, once I get back on my bike after not riding [without crashing] since April 7th, there’s nothing that will stop me from cycling to work. Not that anything but bad ice did after the installation of my awesome fenders in December. Unless ElRo wants to take the bus, this means that I’ll get company for my commutes!
It used to be my “alone time”, but my wife and I happen to get along very well and enjoy each other’s company, enough to elicit gags at times from a few less happy people. But I rarely took the really long way home before because I wanted to get home to my favorite person. Rather than losing alone time that I don’t really care about, I view this more as getting to saunter-on-wheels home rather than mashing my way up Charles Street and University Parkway. The long way, the scenic way — they’re all ours for the taking.
And it’s fun to point out your favorite way to get to work and all the places to get coffee around there. A week or two before my crash, I was still in North Baltimore for a super-early meeting one Thursday. Afterward, Dan and I met up and took my relaxed way to work, parked in my office and enjoyed coffee/chocolate at Sofi’s. I talked his ear off about what’s around my job, etc. Bob wrote a nice post about this kind of fun last year.
Anyone else get regular company for their commutes?
(Forgive the cross-post.)
But I don’t have a photo yet. This photo is of a pipe-cleaner bike I made at my VISTA training in August. It stands on the jacket dealy from a cup of coffee I was drinking at the time. It resides in my office.
I picked the Novara Buzz V for a number of reasons. It’s simple and practical. I like the low-fi looks and anti-theft aspects like locking skewers and no quick-release anything. It has custom fenders. It’s STEEL. It was in the price range of the insurance money I got for the wrecked bike. I really, therefore, paid for it in September 2005 when I bought my first bike, which was replaced with insurance money when it got stolen in fall 2006. The insurance folks paid for the lights, fenders, rack, computer, etc. Everything that got destroyed but my helmet. I was buying a new helmet anyway, so I didn’t want to go after them for that.
The biggest “fault” I’ve noticed so far is that the paint is junk. It’s matte and flakes off. Mine has several chips already from the trip from the factory to REI, and the one locked near the train station looks like it’s been through a wood chipper. I suppose this is to make it less steal-able? Or just a consequence of the matte finish? I feel like I should be annoyed that my shiny new bike is not perfect (or shiny). But you can’t get a perfect bike. I know that for sure now. And bikes get scratched up when you ride them. Even if you got a perfect bike, it would eventually get dinged up if you rode it. I was being stupid, yes. Thing is, you don’t care when you’re riding regularly. I’m not.
But screw it. I refuse to be a prisoner of my own neurotic and compulsive tendencies. I always need all my shit to be perfect. Forever. Like you can buy perfectly-crafted goods. And like you can use them without wear and tear. Nah, if I resist the urge to be a stupid jackass, I feel particularly…invited to put some stickers on now. I still have some that my cycling pal sent me in 2005 when I first got into cycling. It’s all good. In a few weeks, I’ll be riding my bike and laughing at the witty stickers on it.
We did have a bit of an adventure to get it, though.
Tuesday, I had an early appointment with my hand doctor and a big meeting all afternoon. It was already a weird day. I wanted REI to leave my bike in the box so that I would not be tempted to ride before I’m physically ready and get hurt again. But they couldn’t, and it came in Tuesday, rather than Friday. Our glasses were also ready early. So I walked from near Penn Station to Charles Village after work, met the Mrs., walked to the Rotunda, got our glasses and walked to the light rail. Took it out to Timonium, walked to Baja Fresh and ate amidst sad yuppies. Walked to REI. Picked up my bike, some spare inner tubes and an under-the-seat bag. Walked to the light rail and took my bike on it. Walked about a mile home. So my bike’s first trip was on a train and being walked. Not as cool as being ridden, but much cooler than coming home in a car or truck.
Memorable night, though. And I would be a douchebag to let such a fun-ly-gotten bike be less awesome because it wasn’t perfect when perfection wasn’t even possible.
Perhaps by airing these stupid mind-f*cks I play on myself, I can kick them?
How did we forget to mention that Friday is Bike to Work Day?
Bike to Work Day 2009, sponsored by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, will be celebrated in the Baltimore region and across the nation on Friday May 15, 2009.
Between 7:00 and 8:30 a.m. on May 15, bicycle commuters will gather at locations throughout the Baltimore region, including:
* Anne Arundel Co/Annapolis – City Dock, Annapolis
* Baltimore City – War Memorial Plaza at City Hall (100 N. Holliday St.)
* Baltimore County – Courthouse Square (400 Washington Ave, Towson)
* Carroll County – Westminster
* Harford County – Government Center (220 S. Main St, Bel Air)
* Howard County – The Mall in Columbia by Sears Service Center (10300 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia)
New in 2009! Rallies will also be held at the following Baltimore area colleges:
* College of Notre Dame of Maryland
* Johns Hopkins University – Homewood campus
* Morgan State University
I can’t ride yet (few more weeks), but I’m hoping to make it to the Baltimore City and/or JHU event for pictures and the good vibes. If anyone wants to meet for coffee around Homewood, we can maybe meet up?