Monthly Archives: May 2009

Yoga and Cycling

We cycle as transportation and as a way to enjoy life more by connecting with the world around us. We do not engage in the “sport” of cycling – not that there is anything wrong with that, but neither of us is exactly the sporty type. The health benefits of daily cycling, however, are undeniable and serve as a big reason to ride a bike.

Yoga Oma

Ommmmmm - ah

The other side of this benefit is that the muscles can get very tight with repetitive motion and some complimentary stretching is necessary. Not to over-complicate our basic message of city cycling (“Oh, now I have to create a targeted stretching routine to bike to work? Forget that! Where are my Hummer keys?”) but a bit of stretching would do a cycling body good. We both practiced yoga before we started riding bikes and have found that yoga and cycling is a lovely combination.

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ça pue!

Et ici “ça” = “moi.” At least for a few minutes after I arrive at the office. Temps aren’t too high yet, but with 95% humidity, I’m thinking it’s time to start coming into work early lest my coworkers start begging me to work from home. I got here today, cranked up the air and purchased some Action Wipes. Next week, I’ll come in wearing different clothes than the ones I work in, and wipe down and reapply deodorant in the bathroom once I arrive. Ah, the glamour of summer commuting!

What are your strategies for coping with the summer heat?

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Bikes in the News

I don’t have cable. My boss teases that I am one of the few people under 70 who will be affected by the digital TV conversion next month (for the record, I’ve been ready since February 2007). This does not affect my life in any major way, but it does explain why, on the few occasions I turn the TV on in the morning, I watch the “news” shows on one of the major networks.

“Today” used to be the default, just because everyone else watches it, but once I found out that Harry Smith rides his bike to work, I decided to switch to CBS’s “Early Show.”

Yesterday morning they had a segment on “choosing the perfect bike.” I think Dottie will be pleased that they chose the Jamis commuter! Since I’m not a road bike aficionado, I was underwhelmed by their other choices, but check it out for yourself. My favorite part was when the lady showing the bikes said that you don’t have to spend thousands, but “the thousands are pretty great, I’m not going to lie.” I’m off to write a letter to the show saying they should have suggested a Batavus.

ETA: I can’t seem to embed the video, but you can watch it here.

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Bikes in the News

I don’t have cable. My boss teases that I am one of the few people under 70 who will be affected by the digital TV conversion next month (for the record, I’ve been ready since February 2007). This does not affect my life in any major way, but it does explain why, on the few occasions I turn the TV on in the morning, I watch the “news” shows on one of the major networks.

“Today” used to be the default, just because everyone else watches it, but once I found out that Harry Smith rides his bike to work, I decided to switch to CBS’s “Early Show.”

Yesterday morning they had a segment on “choosing the perfect bike.” I think Dottie will be pleased that they chose the Jamis commuter! Since I’m not a road bike aficionado, I was underwhelmed by their other choices, but check it out for yourself. My favorite part was when the lady showing the bikes said that you don’t have to spend thousands, but “the thousands are pretty great, I’m not going to lie.” I’m off to write a letter to the show saying they should have suggested a Batavus.

ETA: I can’t seem to embed the video, but you can watch it here.

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Beautiful Bicycles: Velorbis Dannebrog – Victoria

Way back in January I started a “Beautiful Bicycles” series, wherein I discuss the beautiful bicycles that I came across during my intensive research leading up to purchasing my Azor Oma. Although the first in the series is consistently one of the most viewed posts on this blog, I had yet to do a second in the series. Until now. I present the Velorbis Dannebrog, very similar to the Velorbis Victoria Classic.

5-23 velorbis plate

Earlier this week I briefly discussed the Velorbis Dannebrog in the context of my visit to the new Chicago shop, Copenhagen Cyclery. I decided that this gorgeous bike definitely deserves its own post.

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Russia: Weird and Wonderful

One of the best things about traveling is seeing how the place you’re visiting is different from your home. I’ve traveled widely in Europe and Russia was probably the most different place I’ve been yet. To sum it up in one sentence: Russia is not for wimps.

There didn’t seem to be many rules there at all, and many of the public health things we now take for granted—safe and stable stairways, pedestrian crossings, lanes on the interstates, no holes in sidewalks smoking bans—do not exist. Not even medicines cater to the weak—check out the non-coated tablets.

Sensitive stomach? Too bad!

Sensitive stomach? Too bad!

You all probably know by now that I really enjoy taking pictures of oddball things. Here are a few more images from weird and wonderful Russia:

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Fun Utopia: Chicago Closes Highway for Cyclists

Sunday morning Chicago held its annual Bike the Drive, an event put on by the Active Transportation Alliance where the city closes Lake Shore Drive (the main scenic highway that cuts down the city parallel to Lake Michigan) to motor traffic and opens it up for cyclists. An estimated 18,000 cyclists participated! What an amazing sight and beautiful way to reclaim our streets!

An estimated 18,000 biked the Drive

An estimated 18,000 biked the Drive

We had to wake up at 4:00 a.m. to get ready and cycle the 7 miles downtown to get started at 5:30. Totally worth it for the sunrise alone.

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Copenhagen Cyclery – New in Chicago!

When I began searching for a Dutch-style bicycle last summer, no shop in Chicago sold them. I used a vacation in Vancouver and Seattle for test rides and then in the fall bought my Azor on the day that Dutch Bike Chicago opened. Since then, buying lovely bikes in Chicago has become considerably easier: Dutch Bike Chicago (Azor, Retrovelo), Boulevard Bikes (Pashley, Batavus), and Tati Cycles (Batavus) are the go-to shops, especially my beloved Dutch Bike Chicago.

Copenhagen Cyclery

Copenhagen Cyclery

Now Copenhagen Cyclery joins the group. Chicago’s newest bike shop opened this weekend in Wicker Park and, of course, I had to stop by to check it out.

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Not So New

Traveled more than 2,000 miles and not a scratch — but the Batavus’ first ride in America left a mark on both of us.

Legs can't stop a Dutch bike.

Legs can't stop a Dutch bike.

The Bat is not unscathed.

Dings and scuffs.

No, we didn’t fall — but when you have to try to lock your bike to a lamppost there’s a lot of opportunity for something to go wrong. Not sure exactly how it happened, but one moment I was tethering the bike to the pole, the next it was falling and I was shooting my leg out to try to stop it. We both got scratched and the Batavus is no longer a perfect specimen (me, well, I was already messed up). Being the klutz that I am, and Nashville being as light on real bike racks as it is, this is quite likely to happen again — it happened at least once with both my other bikes, but it didn’t hurt quite so much. I can’t be the only one who’s had this problem. Can anyone share tips on how to keep a beautiful bike beautiful?

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Bringing the Batavus Home

There is a beautiful bike in my living room today and it’s all due to my fabulous parents.

You may recall my riding the Batavus in England and then heading off to Russia. Since I wasn’t going back via the UK, there was no way I could bring the bike home myself. Luckily, my brother and I had bought tickets for my parents to visit Prague and London last fall, for their upcoming 30th anniversary — and they generously offered to take the bike back for me. I arranged to have it delivered to their hotel, and they would simply take it to the airport on a shuttle, check it, and take it to Alabama. Easy peasy? Not so much, when you’re talking about a fully assembled Dutch Bike. Anyone who thinks they might be traveling with a bike in future, read on!

Mom and Dad decided to take the bike from the box and transport it in the cardboard sleeve, since the box was so unwieldy.

A Batavus packed for transport.

A Batavus packed in a cardboard sleeve for transport.

When they came rolling up to the check-in counter, the United Airlines people at Heathrow looked at them like they were aliens. The woman at the counter asked my dad what she was supposed to do with it…he said, “Well, I was hoping you’d put it on the plane.” They made them deflate the tires because they were worried they’d explode. Luckily, they were too taken aback to realize they could have charged $200 for transporting the bike. Score one for my budget!

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Tori Amos Cycle Chic

This post combines two of my favorite things in the whole wide world: Tori Amos and bikes. Until now, there’s never been a public picture of Tori on a bicycle – trust me, I’ve looked.  Imagine my delight when these images showed up on the video of one of her new songs, “Fast Horse.”

you’ve got yourself a fast horse, darling / but all you do is complain it’s not a Maserati / you’ve got a soul that you left back in Memphis / but your momma ain’t New York, she is pure Tennessee.

Cycle Chic Tori

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Chicago's Ride of Silence

The ride of silence stopped by five peoples’ ghost bikes in Chicago: Clinton Miceli, Tyler Fabeck, Blanca Ocasio, Amanda Annis, and Isai Medina. I think the last death in the city was nearly a year ago, Clinton Miceli. A driver killed Clinton by opening his door into traffic, which stuck Clinton and threw him into the path of an oncoming car. This happened in June 2008, during Chicago’s Bike to Work Week. Even though I did not know him, I had to keep my office door shut most of the day after reading all the news stories because I could not stop crying. He was so young (22) and seemed like such a nice guy. At that time I’d been riding to work for only a week and had to ask myself, “Am I going to ride tomorrow? The day after?”

Clint's Ghost Bike during Ride of Silence

Clint's Ghost Bike during Ride of Silence - photo by Don Sorsa

Obviously, I kept riding. For one, I love riding too much to stop.  Also, the streets will be made safer the more people ride bikes. Cars are far more dangerous than bikes and cars put not only the occupants at risk, but anyone else who happens to be on the street.

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Chicago’s Ride of Silence

The ride of silence stopped by five peoples’ ghost bikes in Chicago: Clinton Miceli, Tyler Fabeck, Blanca Ocasio, Amanda Annis, and Isai Medina. I think the last death in the city was nearly a year ago, Clinton Miceli. A driver killed Clinton by opening his door into traffic, which stuck Clinton and threw him into the path of an oncoming car. This happened in June 2008, during Chicago’s Bike to Work Week. Even though I did not know him, I had to keep my office door shut most of the day after reading all the news stories because I could not stop crying. He was so young (22) and seemed like such a nice guy. At that time I’d been riding to work for only a week and had to ask myself, “Am I going to ride tomorrow? The day after?”

Clint's Ghost Bike during Ride of Silence

Clint's Ghost Bike during Ride of Silence - photo by Don Sorsa

Obviously, I kept riding. For one, I love riding too much to stop.  Also, the streets will be made safer the more people ride bikes. Cars are far more dangerous than bikes and cars put not only the occupants at risk, but anyone else who happens to be on the street.

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All Around the Town

It’s been a beautiful week for riding here in Nashville, and Le Peug put some miles on yesterday. Some scenes from our ride.

In Edgehill Village

In Edgehill Village

The book (A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book, if you’re interested) came off the back rack and I read at the table while waiting to taste wedding cupcakes with my friend E. Edgehill Village is a fairly new commercial area between Vanderbilt and 12th Ave. South, full of independent shops and restaurants.

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All Around the Town

It’s been a beautiful week for riding here in Nashville, and Le Peug put some miles on yesterday. Some scenes from our ride.

In Edgehill Village

In Edgehill Village

The book (A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book, if you’re interested) came off the back rack and I read at the table while waiting to taste wedding cupcakes with my friend E. Edgehill Village is a fairly new commercial area between Vanderbilt and 12th Ave. South, full of independent shops and restaurants.

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Won't You Be My Neighbor?

The sunny and warm weather is bringing people out in droves. As a result, I find myself having more interactions with my friendly (and maybe not so friendly) Chicago neighbors. I’ll start with the friendly-neutral interaction of the day.

(I cried like a baby the day Mister Rogers died)

(I cried like a baby the day Mister Rogers died)

On my way home I was riding near the middle of the lane on a busy road because  a parallel parked car ahead had its door wide open. A driver on the other side passed me extremely closely.  Lucky me, he soon had to stop at a red light and his window was open. Yay for warm weather and open windows! I got an incredible urge to talk to him, which I could not resist. Continue reading

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Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

The sunny and warm weather is bringing people out in droves. As a result, I find myself having more interactions with my friendly (and maybe not so friendly) Chicago neighbors. I’ll start with the friendly-neutral interaction of the day.

(I cried like a baby the day Mister Rogers died)

(I cried like a baby the day Mister Rogers died)

On my way home I was riding near the middle of the lane on a busy road because  a parallel parked car ahead had its door wide open. A driver on the other side passed me extremely closely.  Lucky me, he soon had to stop at a red light and his window was open. Yay for warm weather and open windows! I got an incredible urge to talk to him, which I could not resist. Continue reading

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Hooray for the Freedom Machine!

Last week my aunt sent me a link that I can’t resist sharing with you—since I have a feeling that many of our readers share my interest in (OK, obsession with) both cycling and women’s issues/history. And there’s even a bonus nod to France! The only surprise is that it took me this long to post the link.

Taking freedom by the bars

Taking freedom by the bars

Rebecca Ramsey’s Wonders Never Cease focuses on one “wonder” per post, giving a brief history and presenting images collected from various sources. Her May 13 post highlights the bicycle—or, as the suffragettes dubbed it “the Freedom Machine”—and includes this stellar quote from Susan B.:

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”

As Rebecca says, woo-hoo! Other highlights of the post include a history of Michelin tires, a lovely bicycle ad from the early 1900s and a clip of the bicycle’s precursor the Dandy Horse. So, during National Bike Month, take a moment to celebrate the unique place the bike has had in women’s lives.

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The Bike Date

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were watching a program on the History Channel that started talking about how human males use the car to attract mates by demonstrating their wealth and power. I had to giggle and tell Greg that with that reasoning, he could never get a woman, since he has no car at all. “Hey, baby, wanna ride on my bike?” We all know the stereotype. But once you dislodge yourself from the teat of sexist and consumerist media and think about it logically, what isn’t fun and sexy about riding a bike? Nothing, I say. Certainly someone who is healthy and vigorous as a natural result of enjoying life is more attractive than either someone who is unhealthy or someone who is healthy by driving to the gym and bulking up for the purpose of bulking up.

Heading to the Ballet

Heading to the Ballet, Grant Park

Stylish, high vis, and wool

Heading to the Ballet, Lincoln Statute

Which brings me to the bike date. That’s a good time: sun, fresh air, activity, conversation, and ample opportunity to admire your companion. We put this into action last night, cycling downtown to see the Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg (front row!). Although I cycle everywhere, it’s a little more special to me when I’m dressed up for a date with my husband. With the weather this beautiful, everyone should give it a try!

Participate in the Ride of Silence, May 20

All members of the Chicago cycling community should participate in this ride.  If you’re not in Chicago, check to see whether your city has its own ride.  Here is the press release:

THE RIDE OF SILENCE WILL NOT BE QUIET

Chicago Cyclists Take to the Road to Remember Fallen Riders

On Wednesday May 20, 2009, at 7 PM Chicago cyclists will take to the road as part of a global event to remember crash victims and call for the need for safer streets for Chicago’s more vulnerable traffic participants.

The Chicago Ride Of Silence will gather at the Eternal Flame in Daley Plaza, Washington at Dearborn, at 6:45 PM and depart at 7 PM. The 10-mile route is set to pass the sites of 5 crash victims, and end at the location of the January 2006 death of Isai Medina in the 1100 block of N. Western Ave. Many of the sites are marked by Ghost Bikes, which are powerful memorials to fallen cyclists created by painting a bicycle white and placing it at or near the site of the cyclist’s death.

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