Yup, It’s Winter!

My last post was filled with autumn leaves and musings about approaching winter due to temps in the 30s.  Um, yeah, I must have forgotten what Chicago winters are really like – 30s would be lovely right about now!

This week the temps plunged to the teens with a mean wind brining in the cold air.  I said, “Forget this,” and took the L earlier in the week (when the windchill was 0).  But I knew I had to embrace my new reality eventually, so yesterday I pulled out my hand and toe warmers, winter Bern helmet, wool leggings, ridiculously huge mittens, and got on my bike.

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(Ridiculously huge mittens)
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As long as there’s no snow and ice on the ground, I’ll be riding my Betty Foy.  Oma is ready and waiting with her studded tires, when her time comes.
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Once I got back out there, I remembered how lovely biking in the winter can be.
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Is anyone new to winter cycling or just looking for some new tips?  Here are some oldies but goodies from our archives:

The LGRAB Guide to Winter Cycling

How to Dress for Winter Bike Commuting

Sleek Winter Wear for Cycling

My Defiant Defense of Winter Cycling

Looking Back at My First Winter Cycling

Also, I highly recommend checking out this Bike Commuter’s Guide to Winter Cycling from one of my favorite blogs, Frugalwoods.

Okay, I’m off for my 9 mile ride in 17 degrees (f) now!  Happy Friday!

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Hello from Nashville

Whew. It’s been a busy summer. Since my last post, I have . . .

Celebrated Bike to Work Day (and got a haircut!)

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Completed the Tour de Nash (just the 30 miler)tourdenash

Ridden a Citibike in NYC

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Gone on a Fat Tire Bike Tour of Berlin during their Festival of Lights (yes, my bike is named after a “Gossip Girl” character)

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And been published in Momentum magazine! Woot.

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Now our beautiful fall is almost over . . . but oddly I’m a little excited about biking through the winter this year.

How’s life in your neck of the woods?

p.s. I think I finally got our RSS feed updated! Feedback welcome.

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Goodbye to Autumn?

Fall, I fear, is quickly coming to a close in Chicago.  The temps are dropping into the 30’s and we had our first snow on Halloween evening.

With this in mind, I’m reminding myself to be extra-appreciative of the autumn beauty that surrounds me during my bike commutes.  Soon enough, I’ll be surrounded by wintry beauty.
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P.S. A bit more about that Halloween weather.  The wind was so strong that crashing waves tore chunks of asphalt from the Lakefront Trail, forcing me to bike on city streets this week.  Happily, I hear that crews have fixed all the damage now, less than a week later.

My intrepid friend Dan biked home that evening.  He stopped to record this video of Divvy bikes blowing in the wind!  Dan said, “I had put my omafiets (Dutch bike) down on its side to keep it from blowing away and then hunkered down to shoot these videos.”

Hope everyone is having fun and staying safe this autumn!

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Bicycling to Swan Lake

On Sunday, I biked downtown to see the Joffrey Ballet in a gorgeous performance of Swan Lake.  Bicycling is certainly the most civilized way to travel, I decided, while listening to my Tchaikovsky ballet album on my iPod and sailing along the lakefront trail in the sunshine.

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Of course, I am no stranger to bicycling to the ballet:

Bicycling to the Ballet 

Paris Opera Ballet Picnic 

20 Miles in a Dress and Heels

The Bike Date

And one of my favorite non-bike related posts, Simplicity lessons from a 95-year-old ballet dancer.

 

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A morning moment in Grant Park

Daily I bike past this area of Grant Park.  On Friday morning, I “saw” it for the first time.  

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The autumn canopy was a perfect spot to rest with Betty Foy for a moment and appreciate life.

Cool Interlude

As much as I adore the warm and vibrant colors associated with fall (burnt oranges, reds and yellows), the cool and steely serenity of Lake Michigan in the fall is a sight to behold.
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A perfect start to the day.

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October Camping

Since I last posted two weeks ago, fall has really taken off.

I enjoyed the season to the fullest last weekend, when I went camping near the Wisconsin border with a group of friends.  The autumn colors against the clear blue sky were breathtaking.

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No bikes were involved in this outing (unlike my 24-hour bike camping trip), but there was hiking, dog wrangling, and s’mores making.

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The hiking culminated in this gorgeous view just before the sun began setting.

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On the way back to the city, we stopped at an orchard for some good old-fashioned Wisconsin apple picking.

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And some amazingly delicious apple cider donuts (yummy!).

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Here’s to autumn!  May it last at least a month longer!

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p.s. This work week has been grey and rainy, but I’m grateful for the days when I can ride my bike comfortably.

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Bike Happy!

The beautiful fall continues, making my daily bike commutes an absolute pleasure.  I’m not a natural morning person, but once I eat my breakfast and drink my coffee, kiss Mr. Dottie goodbye, and head out on my bicycle, I’m in a wonderful mood.  This lifted mood carries me through at least part of my work day.

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How can one not feel happy when surrounded by such beauty?

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The commute home this evening was not as beautiful.  Instead, it was dark, chilly (temps dropped to 50 degrees) and WINDY.  The headwind was wretched, slowing my commute and forcing me off the lakefront trail to take city streets the rest of the way home.

On the plus side, I got an intense workout while listening to a full This American Life podcast and saving money.  Not a bad deal.

I’m already looking forward to tomorrow morning’s bike commute. :)

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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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