Following Ferguson ruling, a new round of anti-police protests hits Durham

Almost a year ago, people gathered in Durham to protest the death of Jesus Huerta, a teen who fatally shot himself while in DPD custody.

Today, a new round of protests has begun.

By my reckoning, there are two groups here. The first group, consisting of citizens expressing outrage and concern over the events which have transpired in Ferguson, MO, was some three hundred strong and gathered to peacefully protest at the CCB plaza.

The second group took a more disruptive path: they blocked traffic on the Durham Freeway while shouting a familiar chant: “No justice, no peace, fuck the police.” I feel like I’ve heard that one before… and even some of those signs look awfully familiar.

The second group made sure to swing by the DPDHQ, because, you know, that’s kind of their thing.

The good news at this point is that I haven’t seen reports of property damage.

It’s early yet, but at first blush this appears to mimic what happened following the Huerta case: a core group of peaceful concerned citizens, and a second group using that as justification for general anti-establishment agitation.

I’ll post more as I hear about it. I really do hope that things don’t get out of hand this time.

Blue Coffee’s Kickstarter has been funded

It came down to the final day; with almost $10k left to raise as of yesterday morning, things were pretty tight, and the projections on Kicktraq weren’t looking good. Some very large contributors managed to send the project over the top in the final hours, and by the end of the day they squeaked by with $1600 to spare.

Best of luck to Gwen Mathews and Blue Coffee in the new location on Church St. It’s not quite as prominent as the old home in the Jack Tar, but given the way downtown is growing I expect more and more foot traffic headed that way in the coming months and years.

What I wear when riding my bike during a Durham winter

Warning: talk of winter clothing follows, in a similar vein to last year’s post about being lit up for night riding. If you don’t care, feel free to stop reading right now 🙂

Somebody on the BPAC mailing list recently linked to a post from a man going to extreme measures to stay warm on a bike. He was using lots of layers of really expensive cycling gear. I’m sure he was really warm, but I couldn’t help but think that it was complete overkill for this area; you really don’t need anything fancy in the winter around here, you just need a bit of planning.

It’s been cold here this week, but not that cold, and it’ll never be that cold here in your lifetime (barring some really nasty climate change side effects… but I’m sure our top men and women will have that little SNAFU sorted out soon, right?). In my 10+ years of bike commuting in the Triangle, I think I’ve developed a pretty good sense of what I actually do need.

For starters, you don’t need any “cycling” clothing. Dedicated cycling gear is obscenely overpriced. Sometimes that price is worth paying if you’re a true bike nerd, but if you just want to ride a bike in the cold weather it’s completely unnecessary. There’s some nice stuff, sure, but under no circumstances do you need a $450 Rapha coat to do the job (although, if you gave me one, I wouldn’t turn it down…).

Dressing for a bike ride is a bit more challenging than dressing for walking around on the streets, and even a bit more challenging than dressing for e.g. running. This is because:

  • You’re exercising, which means your core will get really warm due to body heat, so you need to carefully choose clothing which will both keep you warm at the start and let in more cool air once you get going. This is shared with running, of course, but…
  • You’ll need to be prepared for wind. Riding downhill can result in 30MPH+ speeds, not to mention the possibility of riding into a headwind, so you can face gusts over 40MPH. But since you have to go up hills slowly and make stops along with traffic, that wind can disappear from time to time too.
  • You can’t keep your hands in your pockets (unless you’ve got incredible balance and ride fixed gear, but most of us do need brakes and steering). Your hands need to be kept warm by gloves alone.

There’s one big thing to realize: as you ride, your core will get warmer and your extremities will get colder. So, at the beginning of a ride, you should feel slightly underdressed on your core and slightly overdressed on the extremities (or have provisions to modify that balance as you go).

This is what I wear in weather like we’ve had this week:

  • Denim or khaki pants, same that I use pretty much year round. I wear Levi’s cycling jeans and pants, but they’re absolutely not required; any thick-ish cotton or wool pants will work (the Levi’s Commuters tend to hold up better to long term riding, in my experience). If I were to wear dress pants (or if it were 10 degrees colder), I’d supplement with long underwear (I have a merino/synthetic blend from Costco for this purpose).
  • Wool socks, Kirkland Signature. One layer of wool socks is all that’s needed above about 25F or for short rides; two layers of wool socks will get you through the worst the Triangle will ever offer.
  • Any shoes will work (assuming they have room for your possible double-layer wool socks). No need for technical bike shoes. I usually wear DZR clipless shoes because I am in fact a bike nerd, but I’ve worn dress shoes and Chuck Taylors and Doc Martins, and they’ve all been fine.
  • An Under Armour balaclava. You don’t need much on your head, because you actually generate a lot of heat there, but you do need something (especially to cover up your face and ears, which get exposed to the wind). A thin synthetic balaclava is the best option I’ve found; make sure to get one that can be adjusted for multiple configurations, and then you can wear it even when it’s much warmer.
  • Wool sweater. Same thing you’d wear anywhere when it gets cold. Just needs to be wool, with sleeves long enough to reach your gloves, and long enough to cover your back when you lean forward on the bike.
  • Long sleeve under shirt, whatever sort you prefer (again, Costco tends to have such things). This is not required for anything over about 25F, but if you use a cheap sweater and don’t like its feel directly on your skin this can be worn even when it’s warmer.
  • Wool coat. Just a regular wool coat. Same deal as the sweater, just make sure it covers your back and arms fully when in cycling mode, and make sure its fit allows you full range of motion. Also, ideally ensure that you can unbutton it while riding once your core starts to get warm.
  • Wool scarf. Optional and mostly just for looks, the scarf can make me too warm if I’m not careful. It’s really nice to have when it gets below 20F or so, since you can tuck it under your jacket for an extra, easily peeled away layer on your core.
  • Gloves… well, I’ve splurged on gloves. Yeah, GoreTex, really expensive, water proof, bike specific, the whole nine yards. Those are good down to the high 20s, but I need to add some silk glove liners to help when it’s colder or for longer rides. These aren’t required, of course; in the past I’ve used $20 ice fishing gloves with good results. Basically, you want something that stops wind, and anything that’s “water proof” will do that. The issues with most really cheap water proof gloves are that they 1) tend to not be very flexible, so shifting can get a little tricky, and 2) they don’t breathe at all, so if your hands get too warm you have sweat issues.
  • Sunglasses. You want glasses big enough to cover your eyes totally and ideally overlap with the balaclava. You can use any generic “wraparound” style sunglasses that provide enough coverage. It never gets cold enough to warrant full on ski goggles around here, but you do need sunglasses to keep the wind from freezing your eyeballs out. You can get an extra set of clear glasses or safety goggles for those night rides, if applicable.

See? No big deal. Unless… it rains.

Cold/freezing rain is where you start to really push the boundaries of what you can wear, and fancy/expensive things become really attractive. This is when I resort to the technological marvel that is Gore-Tex.

I have a pair of Gore-Tex rain pants and a Gore-Tex raincoat, both from the “GORE Bike Wear” line, which I use in freezing rain or rain under 40F. It’s also such a complete wind stop that you can wear it instead of a wool coat; a wool sweater and a Gore-Tex rain jacket will handle pretty much anything over 20F. I’ve worn basically that, along with a light denim jacket, in Chicago in negative temps with wind and been fine.

Do you need that stuff? No, definitely not. Wool will work OK for a while, but it will eventually soak through. You can also try wearing a generic, low cost rain suit instead. I find the main benefits of Gore-Tex to be flexibility and breathability; cheap rain gear offers neither.

So, I think that just about does it. If you stay well clothed and stay lit, you can ride year round in comfort. Give it a shot!

Heavenly Buffaloes is amazing and you should eat food from there

OK, I’ll be frank with you: I’ve ordered from Heavenly Buffaloes about once per week since its opening about two months ago.

The humble wing shack off Broad is the latest venture of Dain Phelan and his wife Jennifer, who are probably best known for (surprise) Dain’s Place (which, as awesome as it is, was even awesomer when they briefly served brunch. Boy, I miss that…).

I mentioned the restaurant’s opening in a DNO&E a while back, but I’ve been meaning to write a proper blog post with pictures. The problem, though, is that once I had the food in front of me, I couldn’t stop shoving wings into my face long enough to grab my camera.

Until now.

Basically, it works like this: there’s a shack. The people in there make wings. If you call them up, they’ll bring wings to you. And the wings are really good.

After tasting probably everything on the menu, I think I’ve perfected my order. This feeds three people (or two, if one is (like me) basically a Neanderthal):

  • 7 Sweet Thai Coconut Chili (sweet, coconutty, peanuty) (left)
  • 7 Chipotle Barbeque Wings (spicy, tangy, kind of hint of smoky sweetness) (center)
  • 7 Heavenly Buffaloes (dry rub, moderately spicy, crispy) (right)

Don’t forget… the fries. Especially don’t forget the fries.

  • Sweet potato fries with the mesquite BBQ dry rub (the rub is crucial!)
  • Idaho potato fries with the garlic parmesan dry rub

Regular orders of fries are huge, and those are half orders pictured above (you may be able to sweet talk them into selling you half orders of the fries, but no guarantees – it’s not on the menu). Also, get some extra ranch for the fries. You’re welcome.

Aside from wings and fries, they have vegan wings, which I actually liked. They’re little slices of tofu with the normal wing seasoning on them, and I found them plenty tasty (albeit not especially wing-like in texture or shape). You can also order beer, with a credit card, delivered directly to your door. Which is kind of great.

Heavenly Buffaloes is open long hours: from lunch right on through to midnight most weekdays, and all the way through to 3 a.m. on the weekends, which (combined with its proximity to Duke) should make a lot of college students happy. And, more importantly, it makes me happy.

If you stop by for lunch, there are a couple of picnic tables on which you can eat outside, but this really is a takeout / delivery joint; don’t expect even a Saltbox level of ambiance here.

So, if you’re in the market for some wings, I don’t think you can do better around here. Carpe Durham and Joe both seem to dig the place, too.

Another Durham cyclist has been killed, this time in a hit and run on Roxboro Road

There aren’t many details yet. We know the victim’s name: Tony Morris Turner. We have a description of the perpetrator’s vehicle: a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee. But not much else.

I know this stretch of Roxboro and it’s just awful, terrible to be on. It’s five lanes of really fast traffic and I find it harrowing even in broad daylight. I hate to think of riding that road at night, but there is really no alternative to get to points northward from downtown or vice-versa. Roxboro doesn’t even have a sidewalk or shoulder to bail out on, and from my perspective there’s just no safe way to get north of there without a motor vehicle.

I wrote a blog post about getting from downtown to West Point on the Eno last year. Turner was killed around the point where I talk about being forced to cross Roxboro.

Both WRAL and WUNC have incorrectly reported this as the “third” recent cycling death in Durham. I believe this is due to an incorrect AP report which misattributes the fatal October 3 Chapel Hill incident to Durham (the victim was a Durham resident).

Not that having “only two” cycling deaths within a month is much less shameful.


Bike Durham has scheduled a memorial ride and forum for this Saturday, November 22. I will be out of town, but I’ll be there in spirit.

Durham News Odds and Ends, Welcome to Fall edition!

Hey, election season came and went, and now it’s legitimately feeling like fall. This kind of weather always makes me want to grab a blanket, put on some hot cocoa, and curl up by the fire with a good Durham News Odds and Ends. Lucky for you guys I have one for you right over here (a Durham News Odds and Ends, that is; you’ll still need to find your own blanket and cocoa):

That’s it, you guys! I really hope to be better about churning these things out on time, cause these bi-monthly procrastination editions can get to be pretty darn long. With any luck, I’ll make you one more in 2014. See ya next time!

Blue Coffee launches kickstarter campaign

Blue Coffee has been a downtown anchor since before it was even remotely cool to be downtown, but now their home in the Jack Tar is being renovated and upscal-ified by Austin Lawrence Partners. They’re going to have to move, and they’ve launched a Kickstarter to help.

The new location is at the corner of Church and Main, and crowdfunding proceeds would go to renovating the space. Unlike some other campaigns, Blue Coffee has been upfront about how they’ll use the money, and they’ve got a proven track record of success; I’d buy with confidence on this one.

Right now they still need about $22k of their $35k goal. You’ve got until November 24 to contribute, and I’d recommend getting the word out, because it looks like it’ll go down to the wire.

Indy Week has some additional details, if you’re interested.

You should fill out the Durham Strategic Plan Survey

It’s that time again! The biennial strategic plan review.

Oh man, I can tell you guys are excited.

Anyway, every two years the city updates its “strategic plan,” a document which covers various aspects of running the city and how resources are allocated. This year, you can help steer the plan by filling out a survey. I don’t know exactly how long the survey will be up, but they’ve mentioned it running for “two months” – so my guess would be till the end of the year.

So, if you have ideas on how the city can better allocate its resources, go let them be known.

(Thanks to /u/omgpies for the reminder over on Reddit)