February 2009 archive

“You’re the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly”

We moved to Alabama from Minnesota when I was a kid. It would have been less of a culture shock to move to Canada. Among the many things I found different about Alabama, aside from the sometimes incomprehensible accents and inability to call pop of any variety anything but “Coke,” was the more formal way everyone dressed, especially for school and church. Mothers and grandmothers were always in full makeup, perfectly coiffed, with their daughters  sporting huge hairbows and the equally huge bangs so popular during the early 90s. The one exception to this rule seemed to be the grocery store, where you’d occasionally bump into those same women, especially the grandmothers, wearing curlers under a brightly covered scarf to pick up a gallon of milk. This was a sight you’d never see up north—whatever primping Midwesterners did happened in the privacy of the home. Not so in the South, where tempers, opinions and, apparently, hairstyling techniques, were never kept hidden. They didn’t seem to mind being caught in what was, to my eyes, something of a state of undress. And they had a point: after all, did we think looking that good was effortless?

All this is a rather long way of saying that, while I came to admire that attitude and their confidence, there is too much of the Midwesterner in me to ever pull it off myself. I’ll never be quite as well-groomed as those stylish Southern ladies, but I’ll never show up at the grocery store in curlers, either. You never know who you might run into—especially in Nashville. Don’t believe me? Check out what Le Peug and I saw at Kroger after picking up some tortillas to make this recipe:

Le Peug gets an introduction to country music

Le Peug has gone country

Since there were no crowds gathering in the store, I’m assuming we didn’t miss seeing Loretta herself (who is working a new album!), but I waved just in case she was waiting on the bus.

Fate and a New Old Bike

Fate has intervened to bring me a blue beauty.

Bridgestone Kabuki

Bridgestone Kabuki

Iciclebicycle found a bicycle at a dumpster while recycling, took it home, and blogged about it. I read about it, wanted it, and let him know. Voila, the vintage almost-mixte Bridgestone Kabuki will soon be mine, after he fixes it up a bit and ships it my way. Then I have plans to attach bells, baskets, racks and any other cute accessories I come up with. I still plan on acquiring another bike; this Kabuki will be a loved member of my growing brood. I have a fondness for former street urchins, as my cats have the same history. You can read more about its ancestry and tangential link to Rivendell at the link.

UPDATE: Progress!

Kabuki Coming Together

Kabuki Coming Together

What’s in a Name?

After our first happy hour

After our first happy hour

In  my imagination, my French mixte was a girl. Her name would be Simone,* and she would be the perfect thing to ride to cafes to sip coffee, or to bars to drink gin martinis or sidecars while discussing feminist theory, boys, bikes, existentialism, travel, politics and our cats (what do you talk about at happy hour?). On the off chance the bike was more scientific-minded, she could be a Marie (Curie); or, if she had a more artistic temperament, Camille (Claudel).

Imagine my surprise when Le Peug showed up and was…a boy. We get along just fine, but I don’t have a name picked out! I’ve tossed around Baudelaire, Balzac, Napoleon (top of the list, but not perfect), Voltaire, Louis (too generic), Moliere (too lighthearted) even Charlemagne, but nothing feels quite right. So for the time being, he’s Le Peug (Puhzh). I’m thinking it will take a few more days to take his measure and figure out his personality. Any bright ideas? Leave them in the comments!

* A fascinating interview with de Beauvoir can be found here.

3 Feet Please

I really want this shirt (see at link). Also, this related news clip is definitely worth watching. The best local news story I’ve ever seen on bikes, except a bit spoiled at the end with the whole “dead right” angle. I need one of those camcorders on my bike. Drivers very rarely pass me so closely, though. Is this type of dangerous driving more common outside of cities, where drivers are not used to seeing cyclists?

Bike Theft Paranoia

I might be suffering from post-traumatic bike-theft stress syndrome. Every work day I park my bike at the McDonald’s Cycle Center, a city bike garage complete with showers, lockers, maintenance, and secure parking. I pay $25 a month for use of the entire facility, but there’s also free secure parking in the basement. (That’s where I parked while on the wait list for membership last summer.)

Bike Garage in Foreground / Office Building in Background

Bike Garage in Foreground / Office Building in Background

Yesterday, I was running late for a meeting and did not have time to park my bike in the Cycle Center. Instead, I chained Oma to a bike rack in front of my building. I can see that particular rack from my 20th floor window, so figured I could keep an eye on her. My meeting lasted 2 hours and as soon as I returned to my office, I looked out the window. It was getting dark and I couldn’t see much. I climbed on top of my desk and mushed my face against the glass to get a closer look. I still couldn’t see Oma. Then I thought I saw a dark figure loitering and messing around in the spot where she was parked.

Immediately, I grabbed my helmet, bag, and coat and ran out of my office. I left without shutting my computer down or rinsing out my coffee cup – all the usual routine tasks. By the time I got through the elevator bank and past security to outside, my heart was thumping, only to find nothing amiss. Oma was standing exactly as I left her, no funny business. I felt absolutely silly and a little unbalanced. I had planned to stay at work a couple more hours, but after going through all the trouble of fleeing the building, I got on Oma and headed home.

Thank goodness I have secure bike parking at the office! There’s no way I could leave Oma chained up outside for 11 hours every day in downtown Chicago. Not with any peace of mind, even with my $135 Abus lock (yes, I really paid that much!). There’s also bike parking in my building’s garage, but I’d have to travel through the dark underworld (see Dark Knight) of Chicago to get there, so I never use it. Do most bike commuters have secure parking at work? If not, what do you do? I guess most cities aren’t as bad for bike theft as Chicago!

More Chicago Fun

On Sunday, we borrowed a bike from the neighbor for me and set off down the Lakefront Path to go ice skating. I’d ridden the path in the summer before, but was eager to give Dottie’s winter commute a try. It was below 20 degrees when we set out, but the day was clear, sunny and beautiful.

Trying out the Raleigh

Trying out the Raleigh

The path was pretty clear of ice and snow, and busy, if not crowded — mostly joggers, but we saw a few other cyclists.

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Retroveloing: Trisha

This bike only weighed a little less than Pinkie, so I figured it couldn’t be *that* different…a bike is a bike, right? Not when one bike is a Retrovelo, apparently. The Paula was so fun to ride — and fast! Biking seems so much easier in Chicago, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. Is it the lack of hills? the company? the quality of the bikes I end up riding when I’m here? Could be all of the above. Since we don’t have a Dutch Bike Shop in Nashville, I guess I will never know for sure, but you can tell I’m having fun in this video (courtesy of Mr. Dottie, who somehow managed to go running through an alley carrying two purses and a camera without being tackled by a would-be Good Samaritan).

Retroveloing Trisha from Dottie White on Vimeo.

Biking (and Blogging!) Together at Last

Dutch Bike Chicago

Dutch Bike Chicago

What happens when you put two bike blogging friends together in the same city? Lots of bikey goodness. We visited Dutch Bike Chicago and tried out a couple of really cool bikes, the Retrovelo Paula and the Workcycles Bakfiets. The snow was falling pretty hard with already a few inches of accumulation, but that did not stop us. [I was excited to have a chance to ride in real snow. Walking in it was not as much fun!  --T]

Everything about the shop is so classy and being surrounded by all of those gorgeous bikes was a treat.

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