Autumn Greetings!

Hello!  A beautiful autumn bike commute today inspired me to check in and share here.  As I’m sure many would agree, autumn is the absolute best time for cycling.  The temps are cool enough to avoid sweating, but not yet freezing.  Despite the perfect conditions, the paths and bike lanes are relatively empty.

This morning, I set out with a cardigan and light gloves, but shed those as I heated up during my 9 mile ride.

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My commute includes the beautiful Buckingham Fountain every morning.  Lucky me!

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Chicago still looks like summer, but there is a definite chill in the air, with morning temps hovering in the mid-high 50’s.

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I suppose this friendly city guy is saving up nuts and cigarette butts for the winter.

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I hope everyone is enjoying the cooler weather!  I plan to be around here more often, so feel free to check in every now and then.

p.s. We are working on the technical issues (such as broken pic links) of our current web home; bear with us.

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Yeast Nashville Bike Brunch!

The awesome, bike-loving owner of Yeast Nashville put together a bike brunch last month, with the help of the awesome Amanda H. A group of nearly 20 cyclists loaded up on delicious kolaches and cinnamon rolls at Yeast, and then set off on a 7-mile ride organized by Amanda.

 

 

 

 

 

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Me in Shelby Park

The next Bike Brunch from Yeast Nashville is on May 18—find more details here.

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Springtime Dusk

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City life doesn’t get any better than this, especially on a workday.  All thanks to my bicycle.

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Nashville spring biking

 

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You guys, it is spring in Nashville–finally. I’ve been going on rides and walks and making spring-y cupcakes.

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And sunday, April 13, we’re having a bike brunch! Meet at Yeast Nashville at 11:15 for food–then at around noon, we’ll head out for a ride through Shelby Bottoms. More details here.

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Hope to see you there!

A Divvy Morning

 

Earlier this week, I took Divvy bikeshare to work, since it was supposed to rain in the evening.  Divvy is a very useful tool, and I’m lucky to have the option.  I had to stop and re-dock my bike twice along the route to keep from going over 30 minutes and being charged for the extra time.  That was not too much of a hassle, but I wish the max time were 45 minutes.

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I took the Lakefront Trail to work.  With the nice tailwind, it was smooth sailing, although Divvy is noticeably slower than my bikes (even my Dutch bike) because even its highest gear does not provide that much power.

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Here is where I tried to cross Lakeshore Drive at a pedestrian sign and gave up after the walk sign never appeared in five minutes.  I continued down the path and crossed at a car crossing.

 

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My final 9 mile trip was one hour of cycling, plus extra time for walking to and from the nearby Divvy stations.  Not the best option if I’m in a rush, but not too much slower than more regular bikes.
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If the rainy and cold weather sticks around, I expect to be using Divvy quite often this spring.

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From winter to spring…

Right now – late March through early April – is the most refreshing time to ride a bike in Chicago.  The visible signs of fading winter and approaching spring make me so grateful, I could weep.  The chill in the air is enough to make my cheeks rosy, not to cause frost bite.  The sun is still up and slowly setting as I make my way home.  And the Lakefront Trail is calm and peaceful, not yet overcrowded.

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I hope you all are enjoying your bike rides just as much!

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Belle accessories for your bike

Look closely: do you notice anything different about my tire?

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A ladybug is hitching a ride!

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This pair of cuties (one for each tire) is made in Poland and came to me as a gift from Gosia of Bike Belle, who recently visited Chicago from London/Krakow.  Bike Belle carries a fun variety of bike accessories, much of them handmade/painted/knitted.  From the Bike Belle About Us page: “We design, make and sell designer bicycle accessories to make your bikes easier to use, prettier and more you.”  Sounds good to me!  Bonus: they ship worldwide.  :)
untitled-11These ladybugs (and other designs) are called “jewelry for your bicycle” – love it!  I guess these would be Oma’s earnings.  More beautiful jewelry: this rosy bell would be perfect for spring.

I also got this adorable, waterproof seat cover, staying with the polka dot trend.  (Why do I want this mouse one so much?? It’s mesmerizing.)
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If anyone has always wanted a full ladybug kit for her bike, look no further.

Here are Maria of PoCampo, Gosia and me after a lovely brunch.

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I’m so glad I had the chance to meet Gosia, hear a lot about bicycling in Krakow (sounds a lot like cycling in Chicago, actually), and learn more about her shop.

She also has a Bike Belle blog, with plenty of beautiful pictures, so you can enjoy it even if you don’t speak Polish.

Yay for cool, entrepreneurial cycling ladies!

Does your bike wear jewelry?  :)

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A dash of spring

My wish for bright spring colors came true today, at least a little bit. The amazing 50 degree temperature combined with the bright, lingering sun made the city feel like a springtime paradise.  The sidewalks and lakefront were filled with Chicagoans basking in the glory of the weather.
untitled-6The photos below look cold, but the mere fact that I was able to bike on the Lakefront Trail is a sign of the thaw.   Most of the snow has melted, leaving behind mounds of dirt, salt and debris.
I even warmed up enough to remove my scarf, which looked quite lovely on Oma.
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Unbelievably, I heard on the evening news that Chicago may get over a foot of snow mid-week.  All the more reason to appreciate days like today, I suppose.

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Dreaming of bright, spring colors

This photo of Olivia Palermo for Tattler Russia makes me want to dress up, find a pretty spot and take glamour shots with my bicycle.  :)

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Maybe when the snow melts and the weather warms up.

The vibrant colors remind me of past Kate Spade-themed posts.

Adorable Trisha with her Kate Spade Abici.

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Me with my Kate Spade Dress

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Sadly, right now everything outside my window is grey and cold.  Is spring coming soon?!?

{Olivia Palermo image found here.}

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Snow, snow, snow

Lots of this…

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DSCF6498…means lots of this.

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DSCF6507Maybe the snow will stop by April, but I’m not getting my hopes up!

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Surviving this winter

How is one to survive this winter, one of the coldest, greyest and snowiest in history?

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As you can see, I chose to lighten my hair, buy a new red overcoat and bicycle on – except honestly I have not been bicycling a lot, certainly not everyday, as with previous winters.  All I ask for is a morning with temps at least 10 F and no falling snow, but such mornings are rare.  (As I type this, it’s 9 F and snowing.)  When I manage to ride my bike, I feel so much better, physically and mentally.

My plan for combatting winter also includes appreciating the (indoor) culture that Chicago offers: going to ballets, plays, symphonies and art exhibits.  If it were not for the Joffrey Ballet, the Goodman and Steppenwolf and Shakespeare Theatres, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Art Institute (and, of course, my wonderful friends!), I would question daily why I choose to live in this crowded, frozen tundra.

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This time last year, I was already enjoying the sights and sounds of spring with Betty Foy.

How are you dealing with this winter?  How much have you been bicycling?

{P.S. Our friend Elizabeth will be reporting on the National Bike Summit / Women’s Bike Forum here on LGRAB and our Twitter feed this week, so stay tuned!}

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Review: Bike USB Rechargeable Lights

Good morning! Daylight savings time might be right around the corner, but night-time visibility has always been a cyclist’s dilemma. One possible solution? Bike USB Rechargeable Lights, which I received for review from Uncommon Goods.

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I have been impressed with these small, sturdy lights They come in sets of two: One front, in white, and one rear, in red. As shown in the photo above, they attach easily to your bike with an attached rubber band, not unlike other small bike lights such as Knog Lights. There is a groove in the top of the light so that the elastic band is held securely. These lights will not fall off your bike, but they’re easy to remove if you live in a city where bike light theft is a concern.

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The bonus with these little lights? No new batteries: just plug the lights into your computer with any mini-USB cable to recharge. (Fellow NOOK owners: your charging cable is now multiuse.) According to the website, you can get 5 hours of use before needing to recharge—I’ve used the lights for at least 20 minutes a day for about 20 days and have not needed to recharge them, so they may actually last slightly longer. Attaining a full charge takes about 2 hours.

A red light indicates that the light is still charging.

A red light indicates that the light is still charging.

Like most bike lights, these have a blinking mode as well as a steady mode. Just click the button on the top to toggle between modes and on/off.

nightlightrear And the front light is bright enough to help you see rather than just be seen.  It rivals my CatEye.

nightlightAt $49 for the pair, these are a bit pricier than Knog, but the convenience of not needing to replace batteries just might be priceless. (Also, shhh, Uncommon Goods often has sales or coupon codes available.) The final verdict: Worth checking out if you need a little extra illumination!

{ These lights were provided by Uncommon Goods for review, but the opinions expressed are my own. }

 

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Not afraid of a little snow…

EleanorNYC has a lovely little post today showing “women who look stylish on their bike and not afraid of a little snow.”  This reminded me that to not be afraid of a little snow, I need studded tires.  If there is snow on the ground that has not yet been totally plowed off the salted streets, I’ll only ride my bike with studded tires.

 

These are the bad boys on which I rely: Schwalbe Marathon Winters.  I bought them five or six winters ago and they’re still going strong.

Because I don’t have the time, patience or interest to swap out the tires myself (a longer-than-usual process for my Dutch bike), I brought Oma to a local bike shop a few weeks ago for her yearly tire swap.

When it was time to pick Oma up the next day, I Divvied to the shop.  (Thanks again, Divvy!)

20121225-DSCF5480resizedMy girl was waiting for me, still wearing her medical bracelet.

 

Oma was also wearing a note from my friend Dan, who saw her when he happened by the shop later to have his bike serviced.  An inside joke involving karaoke and Justin Timberlake – fun!  :-)

20121225-DSCF5489resizedNow Oma and I are ready to take on winter together and not be afraid of snow.

20121225-DSCF5501resized 20121225-DSCF5502resizedA lot of Chicago bicyclists get by fine without studded tires – and in fact I never put mine on two winters ago due to the relatively mild weather – but I like having them as an option.  What do you do to take on winter bicycling?

See also,

My Schwalbe Marathon Winter review from 2009

In defense of studded tires

My studded tires getting me through a post-blizzard ride

The return of my winter wheels in 2010

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A Winter Bicycling Day in Denver

Hello!  I am just back from a quick trip to Denver this weekend to visit Melissa.  Yesterday she and I grabbed bikes out of the garage (I rode her husband Chanh’s Huffy and she rode her Raleigh “Black Beauty”) for a relaxing ride around the neighborhood.

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So, yeah, in Denver a ride around “the neighborhood” can be pretty darn amazing.

This beautiful scenery is in the city.  After leaving Melissa’s house and crossing a calm and well-marked street or two…

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…Melissa led me down a lovely trail through a huge park.

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As you can see, winter bicycling in Denver is not like winter bicycling in Chicago.  The bright sun and extremely clear sky were super bright, especially coming as I was from the dark and grey world of Chicago.  Good thing I had my big sunglasses.

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A couple of details: the cool bell on my bike and Melissa’s cute biking shoes.

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The park area where we were biking actually used to be an air force base, which this huge plane commemorates.

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Some areas built up in place of the old base look a bit too suburban pre-fab for my taste, but overall it is a beautiful environment.

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We took a break from our ride to enjoy a refreshment at a beer garden.  I love the beer culture in Denver!

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Finally, we got a quick picture together before heading home.

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The day before our bike adventure, we explored the town of Golden, Colorado on foot.

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Where I guess they appreciate bicyclists!

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This town is where Coors is brewed, but we chose to visit a couple of smaller breweries instead.  First, Golden City.  Their sign cracks me up.

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Then an ice cream intermission for this little guy (his first!).

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(He’s like – “Why are you poking me in the head, Auntie Dottie?”  Because I can, baby!)

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And then a walk in the fresh air to the second brewery, Mountain Toad.

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Good times!  We make a good bike-riding, beer-drinking, baby-playing team.  :)

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As I write this, I am back in Chicago: snowy, freezing, and Melissa-less.  So sad!  I’m sure I’ll be back in beautiful Denver again in the next year.

For previous Colorado adventures, see Brewery Bike Tour in Fort Collins and B-Cycling in Denver.

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We’re back!

OK, it has been WAY too long since we’ve been able to blog. We’ve missed you! Won’t bore you with too many tech details, but we have a new hosting company and a brand-spanking fresh installation of WordPress, so here’s hoping that we’ll be good to go without any major outages for another five years. And yes, I said five: Our first real posts at LGRAB were in January 2009.

Since we were gone for so long, I feel it is only right to give  you a little sneak peek at what will be appearing on LGRAB soon!

  • Review of Bookman bike lights
  • Our story of biking the Lustica Peninsula with Feel Montenegro
  • A Trisha & Dottie Midwest adventure, coming in March
  • Coverage of the Tennessee Bike Summit in May

And if you’re in Nashville, join us this Sunday for a bike brunch!

Guess that’s all for now! It feels good to be blogging again.

 

 

Fashion Over Function

Perhaps a flowing white skirt was not the smartest outfit choice for a wet and windy day, but sometimes fashion trumps function, and this morning I wanted to wear a flowing white skirt, dammit.

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I began second-guessing my choice as the lake winds whipped the skirt against Betty’s grimy rack and fender, but by that time there was no turning back.

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In a nod to function, here is my head and eye protective gear that rarely makes it into photos.

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By the end of the day, the hem of my skirt was lightly soiled here and there, but nothing terribly noticeable from a distance.  The real danger was the chocolate cake I enjoyed with lunch, crumbs of which inevitably got smushed on my lap.

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Regardless, riding my bike, eating chocolate cake and wearing a flowing white skirt all made me happy, so I consider the dry cleaning bill worth it.  :-)

Score one for fashion.

{I picked this skirt up from a Paris thrift store for 2 euros.  See it styled for summer here.}

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Wool and Leather in the Rain

This evening I had a dark ride home in light rain.  I was caught without my raincoat or any other special rain accessories, but my normal outfit worked well.

My wool trench coat kept me warm and dry.

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My leather boots served the same purpose for my feet, plus sported a reflective strap for extra visibility.

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My beloved bag was unfazed by the wet weather, thanks to dark leather and pre-treatment with Cadillac Shield Spray.

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My Brooks saddle was protected by me for the ride, but got a bit wet while I took pictures.  I know some people baby their leather saddles, but mine is holding up well, so I’m not too worried.

DSCF4171resized For the most part, light rain does not bother me much.  And soon rain will be replaced by snow!

P.S. Really hard for me to avoid a November Rain reference in this post.  :)

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Focus

Hello there!

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My focus lately has not been on blogging, but I have some renewed energy now.  In three weeks, I start a new job (an exciting step up in my career!) that will bring me a longer and more scenic bike commute.  And to reward myself I bought a beautiful digital camera that has me eager to document my rides.

This morning I enjoyed my regular bike ride to work in the sunshine and crisp air.

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Betty has been my constant companion for the last month, although I expect to swap her out for Oma as soon as the snow starts.

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And here’s what I wore on my bike, although this was in the middle of the day and Betty, unfortunately, was not around to pose with me.  A cashmere sweater and scarf with a leather jacket kept me plenty warm in the low-30 temps.

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That’s about all I have to share for now.  :-)

I hope everyone is doing well!

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Nashville Tweed Ride draws a dapper crowd

We had such a great turnout for the Tweed Ride last month! Despite the very British chill in the air, a lively group of dapper ladies and gents met at Sevier Park. Three pubs and five hours later, we all biked home. Here are some pictures from the day.

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(photo by Austin of Green Fleet)

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The group at Yazoo (+photobomber!)

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So many bikes outside of Yazoo

Two Gitanes outside Yazoo!

Two Gitanes!

Emily and Derek (from Memphis!) and Emily's mom Charlene

Emily and Derek (from Memphis!) and Emily’s mom Charlene

Amanda sets the pace on Patty.

Amanda sets the pace on Patty.

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Car factory taken over by bikes.

Paula and Sten outside Marathon

Paula and Sten outside Marathon

Jessica at Corsair Taproom (photo by Sten)

Jessica at Corsair Taproom (photo by Sten)

Anna, Dan and Paula, so ladylike in white gloves! (Photo by Sten)

Anna, Dan and Paula, so ladylike in white gloves! (Photo by Sten)

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Sonny explains it all (photo by Sten)

John and his cigar: the ultimate tweed ride accessory! (Photo by Sten)

Jack and his cigar: the ultimate tweed ride accessory! (Photo by Sten)

I should mention that I cross-posted this event on the Slow Ride Nashville meetup page. If you’re looking for more ways to get out and about on a bike in Nashville, check it out!

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Bicycling as exercise…or not?

I have been cycling almost daily for so long – over five years now! – that I do not think much about the physical aspect.  When I first started bike commuting, I could feel it in my legs for several months.  By now the act is so routine, I sometimes forget that bicycling is exercise.

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Oma and I setting off to work last week

I was reminded of this fact when I returned to bike commuting after almost a month’s break, due to my travels and other factors.  After two days back in Chicago riding Oma in the wind, my legs muscles were sore.  Really, riding a bike as heavy as Oma is more like weight training than cardio.  :-)

Years ago, I read a Dutch woman comment that because she’s been cycling her whole life, her leg muscles are too used to the motions and she has to do separate exercises to keep her legs toned.  I refuse to believe that – I hate squats!

I wonder how others experience the physical aspects of bicycling and how that has changed (or not) over time.  Anyone care to share?

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