Dispatch: Money Down the Drain - How I learned to say goodbye to half-hour showers.

I distinctly recall my sister pulling back the shower curtain and telling me that my dad was seconds from exploding. I was in elementary school and had developed a habit of falling asleep in the shower every morning—staying in there for easily half an hour. I used to stay up all night knowing I could get some extra sleep in the shower. I’ve never been a morning person, so I switched to taking nighttime showers. That worked until I got to college.

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Never Too Late to Learn

In a city as bike-crazy as Philadelphia, even occasional riders take for granted that everyone knows how to ride a bike. But just as there are many people who never suited up for swim lessons, there are many adults—myself included—who never wobbled their way off training wheels. If you never felt the urge to learn, thought it was impossible, or feel a bit rusty in the saddle, REI stores in Conshohocken and Marlton, N.J. host a stress-free way to get your wheels turning. The outdoor outfitter’s How to Ride a Bike Class instructors teach adults and families how to get comfortable balancing, starting and stopping smoothly, adjusting a bike to your size, and effective falling, all in one four-hour class. Biking is one of the most environmentally friendly modes of transport, and with just a few hours of skill-building, you can be one step closer to independence from your automobile. Whether you plan on bicycle commuting, mountain biking or just cruising around the neighborhood, this class will help get you there. - Allison Bart

How to Ride a Bike classes, ongoing, $45-$65. Visit rei.com/class/121/market/200 to register.

NBW Goes to Washington

Last summer marked the first ever Ride of Dreams, a 240-mile bike ride from West Philadelphia to the state capital in Harrisburg and back to raise funds for Neighborhood Bike Works (NBW), the Philly-based nonprofit that teaches urban youth the benefits and joy of cycling. This year, NBW will ride from Pennsylvania to Pennsylvania Avenue; the second annual ride will commence on July 22, kicking off at NBW’s headquarters and rolling down to Washington, D.C., where riders will celebrate their successful journey on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building on July 24.

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Connecting the Dots: Expanding lanes and trails is part of a grand design.

“How can we all coexist on these very skinny streets?” asks Rina Cutler, Philadelphia’s deputy mayor for transportation and utilities. “We don’t have room to add more, so we have to make better use of the streets. For me, it’s less about biking, [and more about] creating complete streets and giving people choices.”

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Drink Responsibly! Could Hawthornes’ patent-pending growler system be the most sustainable way to quaff your brew?

Fact: You want to be the dude who shows up to a house party with a delicious, fresh growler of beer. Why? A 64-ounce glass jug under your arm not only suggests that you are dedicated to the success of the evening, but also that you care about the way beer tastes. It says you’re generous, too; look at you bringing enough to share with your pals! It’s a good look all the way around.

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Pedal Pushers: Female cyclists are the key to Philly’s bicycular future. Here’s why—and how to get the spoke-averse in the saddle.

Philadelphia needs to get more women on bicycles, and not just because we look so fine in Lycra.

The biology term “indicator species” is often used to describe female cyclists in urban areas. If the environment is suitable, a 2009 article in Scientific American argues, then the population will flourish. Though it sounds kinda clinical, it’s really just a way of saying women are perhaps the most important demographic for transforming a city with a cycling subculture into one with a cycling-centric city transport ecosystem. Why is that? Essentially, since women are generally more risk-averse than men, women will ride more often only as the perception of safety increases.

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Cruisin' for a Brewsin': Pennsylvania’s booming craft beer industry is built on the state’s fresh, mineral-rich water. That resource is in jeopardy.

Until Prohibition, Philadelphia was known far and wide as one of the biggest beer-producing cities in America. After repeal… well, you probably know the rest. Smaller, independent breweries folded by the dozen, while mega-breweries like Anheuser-Busch and Miller flourished, delivering quantity over quality.

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Food: Minus the Moo - Fire up the Weber, it's burger season

Though i’m not a vegetarian, summertime piques my partiality for grill-ready burgers created from beans (or lentils), grains and vegetables. The trick to a homemade veggie burger that won’t fall to pieces on the barbecue is a simple three-step process: cook, chill and grill. This means that the night (or morning) before, you make the burger mix, brown the patties in a skillet and then chill to set. These can also be made in larger batches and frozen—handy for spontaneous types. Since bean burgers appreciate a bit of sauce for extra flavor and moisture, whip up two of my favorite toppers to really gild this legume lily.

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Cheese of the Month: Red Cat

If you’re looking for a bold cheese to pair with beer, reach for Red Cat from Birchrun Hills Farm. This classic washed-rind stinker from Sue Miller isn’t as bossy as a ripe Epoisses—a pungent French delicacy—but it has the same creamy texture and beefy character. Think of stewed meat and bitter greens. The slightly astringent finish makes this cheese an ideal pairing for the rustic hoppiness and grapefruity twang of a Yards Pale Ale. For something gentler and smoother, try Red Cat alongside a pint of Slyfox Saison VOS. Loaded with apricot and honey notes, this saison softens Red Cat’s growl into a luxurious purr.

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Food: Baked With Buzz

Beer is often called liquid bread, a nod to both grainy origins and covert calorie content. At Betty’s Speakeasy, owner Liz Begosh and pastry chef Adriane Appleby reverse the process, transforming locally brewed liquids into covetable cakes and fudge. “We don’t like to make overly sweet sweets,” says Begosh, a former pro cyclist-turned-pastry queen. “The bitterness in beer balances honey, cane sugar and molasses.”

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Recycling Challenge: Eyeglasses

FACT: More than 4 million pairs of eyeglasses are thrown away each year in North America.

According to the World Health Organization, 1 billion people who need glasses lack access to them. In developing countries, and here in the U.S., inaccessibility means that these people are losing educational opportunities because they can’t see clearly to read, and they are excluded from productive working lives, thus suffering economic and social consequences. The cost of glasses in developing nations is high, frequently exceeding three months’ salary. Most bespectacled Americans have at least one old pair of glasses sitting in a drawer in their house. Instead of becoming a dust magnet—or worse, going to a landfill—those specs could have a second life improving someone else’s.

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MEDIA: Planetwalker by John Francis

When you walk the walk like John Francis, you don’t necessarily need to talk the talk. Planetwalker: 17 Years of Silence, 22 Years of Walking is the true story of a native Philadelphian who, after witnessing a devastating 1971 California oil spill, chose to abstain from all motorized transportation. Instead, Francis walked. When his walking led to arguments with those who did not understand his beliefs, he gave up using his voice, as well

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MEDIA: The City Homesteader by Scott Meyer

How can you get back to the land when you don’t have any land to get back to? In his new book, The City Homesteader: Self-Sufficiency on Any Square Footage, Scott Meyer shows acre-less urban- and suburbanites how to grow and preserve their own food, raise small livestock and become ever more self-sufficient—from composting to making soap, pest control to home remedies.
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