May 2009 archive

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?

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.

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

20090421-P1060612

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?

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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