Monthly Archives: February 2009

We Are Not Alone

As you have no doubt heard, a very famous person joined me, Dottie, Sally, Pete and everyone at someonestolemybike.com among the ranks of those who have lost a bike to theft: Lance Armstrong himself.

Lance Armstong's time trial bike was stolen from his team's trailer

Lance Armstong's time trial bike was stolen from his team's trailer

Despite what several fake craigslist postings and eBay auctions would have you believe, it hasn’t surfaced yet — but such a distinctive bike must be nearly impossible to pawn off. Let’s hope it turns up soon.

UPDATE:  Lance’s bicycle found!

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Chicago Bike Shop Mini-Tour

Yesterday I set out to visit various bike shops. I visited four total, just the tip of the iceberg in these parts. Two were a pleasure, two were highly annoying, and none led to a bike discovery. On the positive side, I enjoyed spending a few hours cycling around the city. This pic was taken in my “backyard.” Yes, I do live that close to the el tracks, but the noise is not an issue. I prefer to be close to public transit, although I rarely take it nowadays.

My Backyard

My Backyard

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Chicago Bike Shop Mini-Tour

Yesterday I set out to visit various bike shops. I visited four total, just the tip of the iceberg in these parts. Two were a pleasure, two were highly annoying, and none led to a bike discovery. On the positive side, I enjoyed spending a few hours cycling around the city. This pic was taken in my “backyard.” Yes, I do live that close to the el tracks, but the noise is not an issue. I prefer to be close to public transit, although I rarely take it nowadays.

My Backyard

My Backyard

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Kiss My Mixte Ass

“Well, no one wears hoop skirts anymore, so you don’t really see any mixtes around.”

It's a mixte, bitches!

It's a mixte, bitches!

Those were the words of wisdom delivered to me by a bike shop guy in answer to my question of whether they had any steel mixtes. Look, pal, you’re talking mixte crap to the wrong girl. What’s the deal with that attitude? Such disdain for a perceived woman’s bike. I am now determined to buy a mixte frame. Anyone else feeling the mixte love?

I was at the shop to test ride the Surly Long Haul Trucker. Very attractive bike, but I decided for sure that I don’t want a diamond frame, drop bar bike. I felt so scrunched up and bent over, it was ridiculous. I guess I could adjust to it, if I rode it exclusively for a month, but I don’t want to adjust to it. It’s not my style.

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Batavus Countdown

Coming soon to a blog near you

Coming soon to a blog near you

Now that Pinkie is gone, I’m counting the days until I get my new Batavus even more closely than I was before. (Looked for a little countdown ticker to put in the sidebar, but they all seemed to be for weddings and pregnancies.**) Here’s the current breakdown:

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The Hog

2-11-my-hog4

Okay, maybe “The Hog” is not the nicest nickname for a full-figured bike like Oma. But she takes it as the compliment it’s intended to be. I only call her The Hog sometimes, particularly when (as in this picture, though you can’t really see) I ride her wearing a black leather jacket, black leather gloves, jeans, tall black boots, and serious looking black helmet. I’m sure I intimidate all the SUVs on the road! And everyone at my destination can assume that my “bike” is a motorcyle – fine with me. You know those shirts that say “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like”? I need one that says the same for “Cyclist.” :)

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Girly Bike Goodness

I bought a new helmet today – my first Nutcase. I have a serious black winter helmet and a sporty silver helmet, so I needed something in between, fun and casual. I may as well start amassing helmets as some women amass shoes.

Nutcase Helmet

Nutcase Helmet

I also snapped up my very favorite skirt-to-ride-in ever, half off during Patagonia’s big sale. (Half of my non-professional wardrobe is from Patagonia sales!) I ordered it in pink and already have it in khaki. This skirt is like a dream: never wrinkles, falls softly, does not cling to anything in an unsightly manner, has zips up each side to allow for greater mobility and less modesty, and built-in shorts underneath. Dunway Skirt.

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Fair Weather Friends

We had beautiful weather over the weekend that extended through Monday. On Monday’s ride (courtesy of P and her Dahon!), I saw other commuters for the first time in months (to be completely honest here, I should say that “saw” is usually a substitute for the words “was passed in the bike lane by” — unless they’re traveling in the opposite direction, that is.)

As seen on Franklin Rd. over the weekend.

As seen on Franklin Rd. over the weekend, from the Mustang.

My first thought was, how nice to see other people out riding. Too bad they don’t know you can ride when it’s below 50.

Then I realized it was only a few months ago that I realized riding when it was below 50 was possible or desirable, and that I was not a happy camper on the day I rode when it was below 15 this year —  I’m not sure I’ll do that again. Also, I’m still working on negotiating rain, which kept me off my bike yesterday.

While I’m sure I can get to the point where a shower or two won’t keep me off the road, I doubt I’ll ever voluntarily ride in a thunderstorm or even hard rain (does anyone do this?). It’s not necessary, and I’m no masochist. What keeps you off your bike? I’d be interested in hearing where others draw the line. No judgments! And if you’ve conquered a former bike-commuting hurdle, let us know about that, too.

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New Bike, Baby Steps

Trisha and I are now both faced with the necessity of buying new bikes. Well, “necessity” is relative, but we need them. I have not test ridden any bikes since my Jamis was stolen a month and a half ago, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the type of bike I would like to replace it. I learned from Jamis what I like (light and fast) and don’t like (aluminum, chain falling off a lot, brakes compromised by rain). I want a bike that can be a solid quick commuter (but not my primary commuter since that’s Oma’s job) and good for traveling and longer rides. Something quality that will last a really long time. I have $1200 from selling my Prius and would prefer to stay in that price range.

At first I thought the perfect solution would be the newly released Raleigh Superbe Roadster. Steel with internal hub gears and brakes but with lightness and frame geometry similar to the Jamis. But I called Raleigh and found out that it is made in China. I try not to buy anything made in China for vague political reasons, so that disqualified this lovely bike.

Raleigh Superbe Roadster

Raleigh Superbe Roadster

 
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Have You Seen This Bike?

I’m sad to say that, since yesterday around 6 p.m., I have not.

Pinkie, come home!

Pinkie, come home!

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Warmth, Shakespeare, Friends, Beer – Bikes!

After cycling 80 miles from Sunday to Thursday (much of it in strong headwinds), I left the bike at home Friday due to some achey knees (don’t want to push them too hard). Saturday I was back on the bike, cycling to the Shakespeare Theater again, this time to see Sweet William, a one-man show about Shakespeare’s life and work.

Moon Over Lake Michigan

Moon Over Lake Michigan

The weather could not have been better for a February in Chicago! Mid-fifties and the lakefront trail suddenly sprouted hundreds of people.

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Fenders Are Your Friend

Fenders are your friend – don’t be the guy or girl with a brown stripe up your backside! That’s exactly what will happen if you ride in the rain or slush with nothing between you and your tires. Fenders are essential for those who want to ride in all weather conditions and keep themselves clean and dry. My oma has huge fenders and mudflaps that keep all dirt, grime, slush, and other city road nastiness off of me. I wear this cream colored coat a lot while riding and it is totally clean. I’d probably get it dirtier sitting on the el train (I have a fear of one day sitting in a pee-soaked seat – ick).

Clean Coat

Clean Coat

Riding your bike doesn’t have to mean getting messy if you’re prepared. My bikes came with fenders, but most in the States don’t. Planet Bike has some great ones that my husband added to his bike (and hopefully Trisha’s Pinkie will have soon have her own pink pair). There are some that snap on and off easily, but don’t offer full protection. I recommend the full fenders with mud flaps, which will keep your shoes clean and reduce spray for the benefit of any cyclists riding behind you.

Happy (rain/snow) riding!

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Crunchy Ice on Vimeo

Enjoy my first attempt at a video. Nothing too terribly exciting. This is the Oak Street Beach curve, only about 50 yards of these conditions, then smooth sailing. My commute is not always so dramatic. Turn up the volume to experience the sounds of Chicago winter bike commuting.

Crunch Ice from Dottie White on Vimeo.

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Crunchy Ice on Vimeo

Enjoy my first attempt at a video. Nothing too terribly exciting. This is the Oak Street Beach curve, only about 50 yards of these conditions, then smooth sailing. My commute is not always so dramatic. Turn up the volume to experience the sounds of Chicago winter bike commuting.

more about "Crunchy Ice on Vimeo", posted with vodpod

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Cold Sun

Sunrise over Lake Michigan

Sunrise over Lake Michigan

Sunday’s warmer weather was a fluke and the temperatures are back in the single digits (as in, 0). The bitter cold has been accompanied by a glorious sun, though, so I forgive nature.

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What to Wear: Winter Edition

Monday's outfit

I might have to update my portion of the “About Us” page—I’ve finally figured out that it doesn’t matter what you wear to cycle in the winter—as long as you have long underwear underneath. After years in the South I’d kind of forgotten it even existed, but this winter I have gotten my money’s worth out of the Cuddle Duds I bought for a trip to Sweden a few years ago. I added a pair of Marmot midweight pants to my long underwear wardrobe a couple of weeks ago (wearing them in the photo) and plan on scoring some actual wool leggings during the winter sales.

But long underwear is kind of a no-brainer. The biggest surprise is how my knee-high Zara slouch boots with a 1.5-inch heel have become my favorite commuting shoes. They keep my feet and legs warm, feel secure on the pedals and can be worn with just about anything. My coworkers must be tired of seeing them.

I realize you can’t see it, but under the coat I have on the aforementioned long underwear and the Cuddle Duds top, with an aqua sweater dress over it (a present from my aunt Kathy). Yesterday’s morning ride was a not-bad 34 degrees, and when I left in the evening it was 40.

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Cycling to Chinatown

Chinese New Year Parade

Chinese New Year Parade

Sunday was a rare warmer day in Chicago, with temperatures in the mid to high 30’s. We took advantage of the weather by cycling to Chinatown to meet friends for lunch and watch the Chinese New Year parade. (Nothing like riding a 50 pound bike 20 miles to burn off a big lunch.) What a nice feeling! I wore a light jacket and only one pair of gloves. There was life back on the lakeshore trail, including plenty of unleashed dogs running into my path. All these fair-weather people should try poking their heads out the other 180 days of winter. It’s really not so bad.

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The Middle Finger

This picture, unfortunately, is only a set-up and I did not ride my bike with friends on my front and rear racks. But I do want to practice carrying someone on my rear rack. I know it can be done, but it’s a balance issue that I need to work on.

Bike Taxi

Bike Taxi

I rode my bike out last night to Schubas to see Lenka. Again, I was the only one in my group on a bike. I got quite a few comments from strangers, probably because I was in a pedestrian-busy party area. Riding down Broadway a guy said to his friend, That is the most awesome bike ever. While taking the picture above a guy in a van called out, Nice ride! While unlocking my bike, a guy walking by said, You’re not going to ride that are you? It’s a gorgeous bike, but it’s not safe. Ride on the sidewalk. I was all smiles and thank yous, but being told what to do by a random man is high on my list of annoyances. It was 2 a.m. but by then I was very close to home and there were plenty of people out and about. About 90% of the cars on the road were cabs, which means not many drunk drivers.

Bike Parking

Bike Parking

Even though my ride home was short, I broke my most sacred cycling rule – never flip off a driver. I try to stay positive and not sink to their level, which helps me enjoy riding a lot more and hopefully fosters a more positive relationship between drivers and cyclists. But I’m no angel. A cabbie passed me on a narrow one-way street closer than I’ve ever been passed before – a couple inches closer and he would have knocked me down. Before I knew it, my middle finger was up. Maybe it was the three pints of Bass I’d had; maybe he just deserved it. I’ll try to be better from now on. But overall, a fun night.

For Trisha’s benefit, I will tag this post “beer.” It fits.

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Because We Don't Have Enough Posts Tagged 'Beer'

Superbowl Party Supplies

Superbowl Party Supplies

It should have been a 6-pack of Fat Tire, but when I got to the store I realized instead of a $20 I’d grabbed a $5. Sigh.

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Because We Don’t Have Enough Posts Tagged ‘Beer’

Superbowl Party Supplies

Superbowl Party Supplies

It should have been a 6-pack of Fat Tire, but when I got to the store I realized instead of a $20 I’d grabbed a $5. Sigh.

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