My unofficial guide to the Pacers Bikeshare

I’ve had a Pacers Bikeshare membership for just over a year. I love how convenient it is, so much so that I use it instead of my own bike to get to and from work every day. I’m a big fan of the program and have become an unofficial advocate for it, so I thought it would be helpful to share some of my tips.

img_20160520_092925

  1. Invest in the annual pass. Day passes are $8 for 24 hours’ worth of unlimited 30-minute rides. Annual passes are $80. So riding just 10 times a year makes it worthwhile. And with the annual pass, you get a card that lets you bypass the kiosk and go straight to the bike you want to check it out.
  2. Know before you go. Download the app and check to see if there are bikes at the station near you. When you get close to a station, a “Get a bike” option will appear and you can enter the dock number to check out a bike. Don’t forget to check near your destination to make sure there are open docks. If a station you’re picking up from is empty, most locations have another station within walking distance. If you’re returning a bike and there are no open docks, go to the kiosk and click “more options.” There, you’ll be able to see what nearby docks are open and it will credit your account with 15 minutes to get there without being fined.
  3. Stay on the cultural trail and in bike lanes, not the sidewalk. For the most part, all of the stations are on or near the Cultural Trail, which is designed for cyclists. Biking on the sidewalk is illegal (I think) and also not safe for pedestrians. As much as possible, respect the rules and stay on the trail or in designated bike lanes in the road. There are a few stations that are just off the trail and require you to be on the sidewalk in order to dock. In those situations, I recommend getting off the bike and walking it to the station.
  4. Use the bell. The Cultural Trail can get crowded and there are times when the sidewalk and trail are one in the same (i.e. in front of the Conrad on Washington Street). Give pedestrians around you a heads up by ringing the bell. Don’t be afraid to call out “biker on your left.” And remember, cyclists always yield to pedestrians.
  5. Bike defensively. Some cars don’t care about cyclists. In fact, some cars get super annoyed by cyclists. Don’t assume that because they have a red turn arrow that they will stay stopped and you can fly through with the right of way. Always, always be on the defensive.
  6. BYOH. Bring your own helmet. I’m guilty of not wearing mine… which I justify since my route is entirely on the Cultural Trail. But realistically everyone should be using a helmet every time.
  7. If you see something, say something. It’s true with Homeland Security and with the Pacers Bikeshare. If you notice a flat tire, loose chain, broken seat or anything else, call the number listed on the bike. They will want to know what station and dock number you are at, and may ask for the bike number as well (located on the frame). After you’ve called, turn the seat around backward as a sign to approaching bikeshare users that the bike is out of service.
  8. Don’t hog the bikes. The system works best, and the stations stay balanced better, when people dock their bikes once they get to their destination and pick up a new bike when they are ready to leave. It’s not designed for you to keep the bike out and lock it up somewhere away from the stations. If you want to spend the day joy riding, that’s cool. Just dock and pick up a new bike often.
  9. Explore the city. The location of the stations being on the Cultural Trail makes it so easy to explore parts of the city you might not normally get to. Head to Fountain Square. Check out the north end of Mass Ave. Get over to the canal. I already loved Indy but being out on the bike every day has made me appreciate everything our downtown has to offer even more.
  10. Explore other cities. The Pacers Bikeshare is part of the larger BCycle system, which has locations in several cities across the country. You can use your membership card in any of these locations!

img_20160601_123950

Are you a bikeshare user? What tips did I miss? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

2015 Indy Film Fest Preview

I’ve never understood people who complain about there not being anything to do in Indy or those who compare us to other cities and grumble about things they have that we don’t.

Truth talk: If you’re bored in Indy, you’re doing it wrong.

One of my absolute favorite things in this city is the Indy Film Fest, coming up on July 16 – 25 at the Indiana Museum of Art and IMAX. The organization puts on events throughout the year but these 10 days are some of the best. There are the 100+ films, ranging from comedic shorts to dramatic full-length features. There are the parties (and the after parties). There are the conversations with the filmmakers that give you insight into the creative process. And there are the many shared experiences you’ll be part of as the lights dim in a room full of strangers, all watching the same film but each taking away something different from it.

The list of films selected for this year was released earlier this week. I took a very short, super quick, bookmarked for later scan and here are a few I’m excited about:

  • “Sleeping with Other People” – this film kicks off the festival on opening night. It’s produced by Will Farrell and stars Allison Brie and Jason Sudekis, all of whom I love.
  • “Blood, Sweat and Beer” – as an avid beer drinker (yes, I’m on Untappd) and supporter of local businesses, I’m a big fan of the craft beer scene. This documentary takes an in-depth look at the ups and downs of opening a brewery.
  • “For Grace” – I also have a bit of a fascination with all the things that have to fall into place to make a restaurant simply function, let alone stand out among the competition. This documentary (I promise the festival isn’t all docs) dives into that world and the sacrifices one chef makes to try to become the best.
  • “Love Me Anyway” – the crew behind this film is a regular at the Indy Film Fest. I’ve really enjoyed their previous work and have no doubt this one will keep the streak going.
  • “Somewhere in the Middle” – I’m intrigued by the premise of this one and how it will come together in execution: “…born out of a year-long improvisational process wherein the actors and director mutually crafted a time-fragmented, ensemble drama.”
  • “Wildlike” – this film closes out the festival and looks like an interesting story with scenic Alaska serving as a supporting character.

The exact schedule hasn’t been released yet so be sure to connect with them on Twitter and Facebook to get the latest updates. Links will be available to buy tickets in advance (the opening and closing nights will sell out!) or you can purchase at the door. I strongly suggest investing in the all access pass. It’s worth it and I love that it gives you the freedom to take a chance on movies you might have passed on based solely on the summary or trailer if you had a limited number of tickets.

Last year, I provided some pro tips for festival attendees. Those all still ring true but one to add: There’s been some confusion about whether or not you can still bike to the IMA after some recent policy changes. They clarify in this blog post, which I suggest you read before biking over. I live downtown and try to bike to the festival when I can, partly because it’s a beautiful route, but also to help offset the popcorn, beer and hours of sitting.

So there you have it. My entry into the “stop saying Indy is boring and get out and experience all it has to offer” debate. I hope to see you out at the festival next month!

Full disclosure: I have nothing to disclose! While I have been an official blogger for the festival in the past and received an all access pass for it, this post is just me sharing some love for an event I love and hope you will love, too

Read 26 Indy

When I was 10, my Papa Charlie and I were out shopping and came across one of the thickest books I’d seen up to that point: The Book of Virtues by William Bennett. Clocking in at 800+ pages, he joked about how no one could finish a book that long and I defiantly stated that I could. We left the store and I thought no more of it.

Read26IndyFast forward to Christmas that year when Papa Charlie hands me a heavy present: The Book of Virtues. Wide-eyed and excited, I immediately started reading and was finished within days.

Read26Indy papa

I’ve always been a voracious reader. If it’s a particularly good book, I will completely immerse myself in the story, only occasionally coming up for air. There’s just something about a good book that takes you away from this world. I love movies too but it’s different. Maybe it’s because the characters and scenes can materialize in a number of ways in your mind while reading a book, whereas you are forced into one interpretation while watching a movie.

As much as I love reading, it’s become more and more difficult to carve time out of my day for it. That’s why I was excited to learn about the #Read26Indy challenge and use it as motivation to make reading a priority again.

The goal was simple enough: Read 26 books by the end of the year. I learned a few things on my adventure through 26 (well, 27) books in 2014:

  1. I wish I would have kept a running list of books I’ve read throughout my life. I can’t even imagine how long it would be, not including the books I’ve read multiple times.
  2. I’ve also started a running list of books I want to read next and ones recommended by friends – something I also wish I would have started a long time ago.
  3. When I find an author I like, I tend to read everything by them. (ex: Kate Morton, John Green)
  4. I know there’s a lot of debate among purists about the Kindle. I have an overflowing bookcase in my bedroom and love it. But the Kindle is just too convenient, especially when traveling. For my part, I did a mix of both in 2014. Indy Reads Books is a fantastic shop on Mass Ave that supplied more than a few of my selections.
  5. For the first time that I can remember, I gave up on a book. I got about 100 pages into Anna Karenina, which is on almost every “must read classics” list, before realizing I was forcing myself to get through each page. Reading should be fun, not work. Unless it’s literally for school or work of course. Sorry, Leo.
  6. I didn’t love everything I read (see above) but the challenge reminded me how much I love and miss reading. In my limited free time, mindless Netflix marathons can take over (and are so necessary sometimes) but I need to keep reading a priority.

So, onto the list. If there’s anything you want recommendations on, drop a note in the comments and I’ll let you know my thoughts.

  1. Allegiant
  2. If I Stay
  3. The Husband’s Secret
  4. Where She Went
  5. The Distant Hours
  6. One More Thing
  7. Looking for Alaska
  8. The Corporate Creative
  9. Honey Do You Need a Ride? Confessions of a Fat Runner
  10. The Complete Graphic Designer
  11. Graphic Design Solutions
  12. The Mill River Recluse
  13. The Secret Keeper
  14. The Ocean at the End of the Lane
  15. My Sister’s Keeper
  16. Black Chalk
  17. A Life Without Limits
  18. Mrs. Dalloway’s Party
  19. The Awakening
  20. Madame Bovary
  21. This Is Where I Leave You
  22. The Forgotten Garden
  23. The Children Act
  24. Yes Please
  25. Paper Towns
  26. Rain Girl
  27. The Gradual Demise of Phillipa Finch

Did you participate in #Read26Indy? What did you take away from the experience? What was the best book you read this year? The worst? Have you ever given up on a book?

Beer Quest 2014

On Saturday a group of friends and I went on a quest. A beer quest. Our mission: Bike around Indy to check out some of the new craft beer players in town, with stops at a few trusted favorites along the way. Yes, it was as awesome as it sounds. And no, this wasn’t the first time we’ve done it. I missed last year due to Woods Go West (where I bought the perfect shirt to rock this year!) but you can read all about the inaugural Beer Quest here.

IMG_20140906_102235

Our group was a little smaller this year and changed up at each stop. One friend and I biked up from downtown to our starting point in Broad Ripple. Two friends met us later in the route and used the Pacers Bike Share. Others drove and met us for one or two stops. We were on the Monon Trail, the Cultural Trail, bike lanes on downtown streets and more. I biked close to 25 miles with five official stops plus three extras we tacked on to keep the party rolling.

Before I get into reviews, I have to give a disclaimer. I have very particular beer preferences. I rarely enjoy IPAs, stouts, porters, etc. I go for blondes, cream ales, lagers and kolsch. Some beer snobs out there will scoff at that but I know what I like and I drink it. I will sample everything though and did on Saturday. Just keep that in mind.

Stop 1: HopCat
The hype has been building for this place to open for weeks now so I had high expectations. With 100+ beers on tap, the selection certainly didn’t disappoint. I ordered an Alabaster (Belgian white) by local Oaken Barrel Brewing and enjoyed it. The space itself is nice too with tons of tables and booths.

The one problem I foresee is the potential for servers to not be able to keep up with the constantly rotating tap list. The menu is broken down by style, which is helpful, but I couldn’t quickly find any kolschs on the list. I asked our waitress and she basically admitted to not knowing what they had. To her credit, they ran out of at least three beers while we were there and loaded up different ones in their place. So I’m sure it’s crazy to stay on top of but if you want super knowledgeable staff who can make recommendations, this may not be the place for you.

20140906_121222 20140906_130028

 

Stop 2: Flat12
Flat12 has been around for a long time but we love it so it’s a Beer Quest regular. They have a great deck out back and it’s a nice break after the long ride down the Monon before moving on to downtown. The Penrod 22 I had was pretty standard.20140906_140843 20140906_141716

 

Stop 3: Two Deep
Not a lot of people have heard of this brewery yet but it was one of my favorites of the day. The location is a little random (on Capitol near Walnut) but the tasting room is awesome. I loved the vibe and décor, especially the Indiana-shaped flight board. They had a diverse lineup and even offered wine and liquor, which our one non-beer drinking friend appreciated.

IMG_20140906_151602 20140906_155858

 

Stop 4: Tow Yard
If this place is successful, it’ll be because of its food and great view of downtown, not necessarily because of its beer. Nothing really stood out to me on the beer list and the shandy variation I went with (The Hook Up) wasn’t great. Keeping in mind my personal preference, others may enjoy their beers more. I doubt I’ll be back though.

 

  20140906_16295520140906_161147

 

Stop 5: Chilly Water
Virginia Avenue has come a long way in the last couple years and Chilly Water is a great addition to keep the momentum going. The Built to Last pilsner I had was refreshing and the food was delish. Skip’s balls are a must order (just trust me on this one). The lighting fixtures were also very appropriate for our group.

 

20140906_173339 IMG_20140906_172744 20140906_184744

 

Overall it was a great day with great friends biking around a city I love. Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Indy Film Fest #protip or two

One of my favorite events is back this month: Indy Film Fest on July 17 – 26! It’s the 11th year for the festival but will be my third attending. In 2012 and 2013, I had the chance to screen a few films and write reviews that were posted on the festival’s website. You can read all about my 2012 experience here.

They aren’t doing reviews this year but I love this event, so here I am blogging anyway. I thought I would share a few things I’ve learned over the last couple years to help first timers have a great experience and fall in love with the fest.

  • Have a game plan. The festival is 10 days of non-stop movie madness. There are films playing all day, every day in multiple theatres at the Indiana Museum of Art. You could just show up and take your chance on whatever happens to be playing – a festival roulette of sorts. But, your safer route is to check the schedule in advance, watch trailers/read synopses and plan out your week. I like to get the printed version on opening night and highlight my choices (nerd alert!), but you can buy your tickets in advance on their site and build an online schedule too.
  • Take a chance on something different. If judging a book by its cover is wrong, judging a film by its trailer or synopsis can be too. Get outside your comfort zone and see a film that might look a little strange or is something you would normally skip. Last year they showed a documentary about these crazy good, super intense Tetris players. On paper, it sounded like the strangest, quirkiest movie and I debated not going. It ended up being one of my favorite films that year. And on the other end of the spectrum, there’ll be some that look great based on the trailer but might fall a little flat for you. You’ll never know unless you show up, so keep an open mind.
  • Stay for the Q&A. By far one of the coolest things about the festival is getting to meet the directors, writers and actors of some of the films. Last year director/writer/producer/craft beer drinker Joe Swanberg spoke after the screening of Drinking Buddies. It was awesome to hear him talk about the process of making the film, what it was like working with the cast, etc. It can be incredibly nerve-wracking to sit through a screening (sometimes their very first) and watch the audience’s reaction. Even if you didn’t love the film, stick around, learn about the creative process and show your support of people who are putting it all out there for you to judge.
  • Don’t skip the shorts. The festival screens full feature films but also shows several shorts, which are typically 40 minutes or less. The shorts programs can be hit or miss but great short films pack the punch. One of my favorites two years ago, Cadaver, was just shy of 8 minutes but it was incredibly moving and worth sitting through the other shorts to see.
  • Bring a jacket. There are few better ways to escape the summer heat than sitting in a cool theatre. But about 10 minutes into each film, I’m inevitably freezing in my shorts and tank top. Layers are clutch.
  • Thank a volunteer. The Indy Film Fest board is comprised of volunteers who all have full-time jobs. They work year-round to bring amazing, unique, cultural events to the city. During the festival, a crew of additional volunteers puts in countless hours helping make each screening flow smoothly. A quick thank you as they take your ticket goes a long way.
  • Get connected. Follow Indy Film Fest on Twitter and like them on Facebook to get the latest updates on the schedule of events, after parties, giveaways and more. And of course I’ll be posting my 140-character reviews that week too.

The goal of the Indy Film Fest is to create a shared experience around film and I guarantee you will walk away from the week feeling inspired and energized. The festival is your chance to get in some culture, support independent artists and further position Indy as a Midwest mecca of movies. Who needs Tribeca or Sundance when you’ve got the Indy Film Fest?

Pass the popcorn and let’s start the show!

What did I miss Indy Film Fest veterans? Sound off and share your tips! 

The faster we run, the sooner we can drink beer

This weekend was my first race of 2014: the Shamrock Run. The course was four miles from Monument Circle to Fountain Square and back. It was a little chilly at the start but warmed up quickly and ended up being a beautiful day to race.

My dad ran with me, which was a really cool experience. It was only the second time we’ve ever run together, despite him being one of my inspirations and the person I call after almost every single run. I’ve come a long way since our first run and was able to keep up conversation a little better and push the pace a lot more. We flew through the course and toward the end my dad said he wished the race was longer.   

20140315_094341

I was surprised at how chill I was going into this race. Maybe it was the shorter distance. Obviously there’s a lot more pressure for a half marathon. Months of training come down to one day, one chance to race your heart out. I spend way too much time before the half analyzing the course map, strategizing my water and fuel breaks, visualizing the race, etc.

My only real thought with the Shamrock Run was that I wanted to finish under 40 minutes. I knew that was doable based on how my training runs have gone so far this season. And my dad is faster than me so I knew he would help push me along. Our chip time was 37:35, a 9:23 pace, which I was super happy with!

 20140315_103957_4 20140315_103957_6 20140315_105426

What I didn’t factor in is what it would be like running the morning after doing 14.3. I signed up for the Crossfit Open, which is the first round of competition that leads to the Crossfit Games you see broadcast on ESPN. The Open workouts are tough and designed to filter out the best of the best athletes. Each week a different workout is announced and this week’s workout had heavy deadlifts. My legs felt okay on the run but my back did start tightening up during mile three. I wonder if I could have pushed the pace even more without that.

Outside of some crazy crowd weaving at the start, I really enjoyed this race. My dad and I ran fast and had a great time. And the rest of the day was full of “I heart Indy so hard right now” moments as my friends and I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in the sun.

20140315_150228

What race did you have the most fun during? Are you a talker runner like my dad or a huffer puffer shuffler like me? And what’s with the deal with all the St. Patrick’s Day races? There were at least three in Indy on Saturday. 

Barbells for Boobs

Admit it: You’re a little over the “turn everything pink during October” craze and wonder how much it’s really doing to impact the fight against breast cancer. Or you wonder how far your donation to breast cancer “research” really goes. I’m in that boat. This is a cause close to my heart but I’m always searching for ways to have more of a direct impact.

I found that opportunity through the Barbells for Boobs fundraiser Crossfit Naptown participated in this month. This event is the crossfit community’s way of coming together to raise funds for Mammograms in Action, which provides mammograms regardless of one’s ability to pay. Every $80 raised funds one mammogram.

Thanks to some amazing family, friends and coworkers, I raised $2,000, or 25 mammograms. The Indianapolis crossfit community as a whole has raised $17,461 to date, or 218 mammograms. Think about that for a second. That’s 218 people who wouldn’t be able to afford a mammogram otherwise. 218 people who will have a better chance at fighting breast cancer, should they be diagnosed with it, because of early detection through a mammogram. 

Amazing.

Our fundraising efforts culminated in an event on Saturday, Oct. 26, in the Old National Centre parking lot. We braved cold temperatures to complete the workout Grace: 30 clean and jerks. The heats were timed but this event wasn’t about competing or being the fastest. It was about coming together as a community to lift up people affected by breast cancer.

Barbells for Boobs marquee

During my 65# scaled heat, I was lifting up three women in particular: my grandmother Janice, high school friend Lauren and coworker Jennie. You can read more about these inspiring survivors on my fundraising page (where you can also conveniently still donate *wink wink*). One woman in my heat was a survivor herself. She spoke after about the importance of doing self-examinations and getting checked out if you feel anything suspicious.  

The event was really special and I would encourage anyone in the Indianapolis crossfit community who didn’t participate to sign up next year. We turned a lot pink on Saturday. But, more importantly, we helped make a direct impact in the fight against breast cancer and that’s something I’m really proud to be part of.

Below are a few pics from the event and you can also watch a video of me doing Grace here. Be sure to check out Crossfit Naptown’s Facebook album from the event too!

20131026_102220 2013102695103120 2013102695103150 20131026_103715  IMG_20131026_103529