Monthly Archives: July 2009

No Naked Cyclists in Alabama

On wine labels, that is.

08.01gladiatorlabelBecause Alabama has nothing more pressing to worry about than nekkid women. Especially nekkid French women. Won’t someone think of the children (who, I’ll point out, don’t buy wine)?

As NPR points out, “Fat Bastard” on a label is still A-OK.

(thanks to my bro and Dottie for a heads-up on this home state controversy.)

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More on the Guardian’s Bike Coverage

I’ve long been a fan of The Guardian, so when they launched a bike blog over the summer that collates all their cycling coverage, I signed up to receive updates. So far, I’ve not been disappointed. It covers a broad range of cycling culture and news.

There are women contributors who write about everything from harassment to riding in a skirt. The show’s current podcast, second in what’s to be a monthly series, included an interview with cyclist and Olympic medal winner Victoria Pendleton, who said that while she enjoys racing and can’t wait for London 2012, she looks forward “to the day when I don’t have an agenda [while riding]” and can “just toodle” around with her friends. Perhaps she was imagining that while posing for this picture.

Pendelton with a Pashley Poppy, from the Daily Mail via Cyclechic.co.uk

Pendelton with a Pashley Poppy, from the Daily Mail via Cyclechic.co.uk

Also featured were reviews of the new Trek Soho (described as “stately” yet “slightly chunky”) and the Sirrus Elite (the “boy racer” of hybrid bikes), and an inside look at Pashley (not only is business up, they’re opening a new distribution center . . . in Taiwan!).

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The Importance of “Real People” Profiles

I’m in love with this recent article from The Guardian, “We wouldn’t be seen dead in lycra shorts.” The article profiles real London cyclists from different sub-tribes who all cycle for transportation. Their stories are presented simply, relying largely on the cyclists’ own words. The writer does not wander into cliched presentations of danger or car-bike wars.

Brompton Tribe

Brompton Tribe

“Bromptons have this whole personality,” Andrew Alleyne explains. “I hate to say this, because I don’t like smug Mac users, but people love their Bromptons like people love their Macs. People use generic bike hybrids like they do PCs but a Brompton is not just another bike, it’s like a pet or something.”

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A Change of Scenery

Here comes the sun, la de da da...

Here comes the sun, la de da da...

I had a lovely ride this morning on the lakefront trail and a lovely ride this evening on the city streets. My heart always thumps wildly when I ride in the Loop (the core of downtown Chicago) during rush hour, but that must be good for the cardiovascular system. A special thanks to the SUV that honked at me in a good way – to let me know he was stopping so I could go around the car that nearly ran me over to parallel park.

I took the city streets today because suddenly I was so bored of the lakefront path. The streets I take are busy and have itty bitty bike lanes, so I always have to be 100% on my guard, but the change was nice. I guess I’m pretty lucky to have two drastically different route options. Does anyone else have more than one route they can take and, if so, how do you decide?

An Open Letter to ActionWipes

AW09singleweb-250x154Dear ActionWipes,

Good news first: you work! you really work. Better than the old damp paper-towel routine. Better than a washcloth and soap (no need to rinse).

You’re reuseable.

You do your best to make your packaging environmentally friendly.

You’re convenient.

You included a nice little handwritten note on my order slip.

Thank you for all of those things.

But do you have to smell like a hippie eating a cough drop? Herbal, I can live with, but smelling like the herb, I cannot. Can we pretty please have the cleansing and soothing properties of eucalyptus and tea tree with a little less of the scent? Because on all but the hottest days, I find myself opting for the slight BO/Chanel Chance combo instead.

Sincerely,

Trisha

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Busty Bike Fashion

Aug/Sept Bust

Aug/Sept Bust

Few magazines are both fun and intelligent: Bust, Bitch, Paste and Lula are my favorites. Sure, all magazines are selling something, but at least these are fresh, smart, fashionable and mostly free of body hate. Imagine my pleasure when I saw that the new issue of BUST has a photo spread of “Bike Fashion.” The particular fashions showcased don’t quite ring my bell – a bit too hip(ster) and young for me, but I appreciate anything that presents cycling as a normal activity. Hopefully this spread and others like it will inspire more people to rediscover the fun of riding a bike.

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Under the Magnolia Tree

Hello, I am back. :) This is the second in a series of slightly shaky videos documenting my commute. Not sure the full fun of whizzing across the crosswalk and ducking beneath the magnolia was captured here, but I had to give it a shot! This is the closest nature enroaches on my fairly urban route. How about you?

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Bike Path Etiquette: Chicago’s Lakefront Trail

During the summer, Chicago’s Lakefront Trail is the most popular destination in the city.  People come to jog, walk, cycle, play volleyball, lounge on the beach and people-watch. The trail is a multi-use path, not simply a bike path. Some cyclists sneer at commuters who use the path in the summer because it is so crowded.  (To get an idea of how contentious Chicagoans are over the path, check out the comments from a post in the Chicago Tribune’s blog.) I love taking the path because the surroundings are so beautiful, I prefer to avoid cars, and I like seeing smiling families and children running around.  Therefore, I simply adjust my expectations when riding in the summer and behave in a manner that matches the situation.
Chicago's Lakefront Trail at rush hour

Chicago's Lakefront Trail during my summer commute - rush hour

Unfortunately, not everyone behaves accordingly.  I recently witnessed a terrible incident caused by a reckless cyclist on the Lakefront Trail during my morning commute.

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Bicycle Beauty

The bicycle is an aesthetically perfect creature. So simple and beautiful. Lately I’ve been noticing a lot of bicycle inspiration floating around, particularly in the design, style and fashion world. I started collecting gorgeous bicycle pictures this past month from some of my favorite inspiration blogs. A sign of the times. Spread the bicycle beauty…

oh hello friend

les brumes via Oh Hello Friend

the paris apartment

The Jewels of New York via Design Sponge and The Paris Apartment

daydreamlilly

Thomas Prior via Daydream Lily

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Cyclist’s First …

There are some milestones that every cyclist experiences: first time riding to work, first time riding in the rain, first time yelling at a driver, etc. Warm and fuzzy memories. Today, Melissa experienced her first time yelling at a driver: “Thanks for almost hitting me!!!!” He totally deserved it for nearly side-swiping her. This is generally a positive development, I think. It means the cyclist is becoming confident with her skills and space on the road: she knows who’s at fault. My first time yelling at a driver was after he ran a stop sign, nearly hitting me before slamming on his brakes: “HEEEEY! Stop at the stop sign! Please.” I was more scared than angry and my consolation was that the female passenger had a look of terror on her face. Made me feel a little better.

Here are some happy pictures from Melissa, who is still going strong with Smurfette. She cycles to work most days, happy to leave the frustrating car commute behind! (Read about her beginning here.)

Smurfette Says Hi

Smurfette Says Hi

Panda!

Cyclist's First Panda Shot!

Do you remember your first time yelling at a driver?

Do you have any other milestones to add to the “cyclist’s first” list?

Let’s hear them!

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Cyclist’s First …

There are some milestones that every cyclist experiences: first time riding to work, first time riding in the rain, first time yelling at a driver, etc. Warm and fuzzy memories. Today, Melissa experienced her first time yelling at a driver: “Thanks for almost hitting me!!!!” He totally deserved it for nearly side-swiping her. This is generally a positive development, I think. It means the cyclist is becoming confident with her skills and space on the road: she knows who’s at fault. My first time yelling at a driver was after he ran a stop sign, nearly hitting me before slamming on his brakes: “HEEEEY! Stop at the stop sign! Please.” I was more scared than angry and my consolation was that the female passenger had a look of terror on her face. Made me feel a little better.

Here are some happy pictures from Melissa, who is still going strong with Smurfette. She cycles to work most days, happy to leave the frustrating car commute behind! (Read about her beginning here.)

Smurfette Says Hi

Smurfette Says Hi

Panda!

Cyclist's First Panda Shot!

Do you remember your first time yelling at a driver?

Do you have any other milestones to add to the “cyclist’s first” list?

Let’s hear them!

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Attention Nashville Cyclists

Mark your calendars!

Mark your calendars!

Dottie and I are cooking up a little group ride adventure for her next trip here. Exact route and details TK, but we hope you’ll keep the afternoon of Saturday, August 22, open for a stylish saunter through the bike lanes around my side of town.

P.S. In other news, I’m in North Carolina (Sapphire/Asheville) for a long weekend. Hoping to rent bikes, hike and eat some good food — drop me an email if there’s anything I shouldn’t miss!

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That Uphill Battle

Though we’ve had a brief respite from the usual July heat these past few days, summer is the season when the hilly terrain of Nashville really gets to me.

Caruthers Ave., courtesy of Google Maps

Caruthers Ave., courtesy of Google Maps--a gradual, 2-block incline

Lately I’ve been trying to look at it philosophically—the sense of accomplishment, building strength and endurance, etc.—but that can be hard when you’re dripping in sweat. I guess I’m not the only one who has trouble with this. Yesterday the Guardian‘s Rick Williams shared some strategies for climbing efficiently on their bike blog. A few were surprising, others were useful reminders of proper technique. Among them: standing up does help, but makes you tire more quickly; your heels should remain level with your toes for maximum force.

And today, my friend Jason shared a blog post from Seth Godin (who rides a recumbent) that gave another perspective, and a nice reminder that lessons learned on a bike apply elsewhere in life.

I look forward to the uphill parts, because that’s where the work is, the fun is, the improvement is. On the uphills, I have a reasonable shot at a gain over last time. The downhills are already maxed out by the laws of physics and safety.

So true! Unfortunately for my athletic career (ha), I’ve never been good at taking the long-term view when it comes to physical suffering. I have seen some improvement in my hill performance over the past year, but I still can’t learn to like them. Any hill-climbing pros, please feel free to share your secrets to success in the comments.

ETA: my route elevation map, which might show the ups and downs better than Google streetview. Thanks to commenter Catherine for the site! How does your route compare?

Picture 2

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Beautiful Bicycles: Pashley Sonnet Bliss

My new bike crush is the Pashley Sonnet Bliss.  I’ve discussed the Pashley Princess Sovereign previously, which is very similar except the Bliss is different colors and does not have a full chaincase.  I seriously conisdered buying a Pashley last year, but the Azor Oma Dutch bike won out based on its incredibly sturdy and smooth ride. Recently I’ve been wanting a Pashley again – not instead of Oma, but in addition to Oma. Is that bad? If loving Pashley is wrong, I don’t want to be right. I can’t buy another bike at this time, anyway, so it’s only imaginary.  For now I will be satisfied with my recent test ride at Boulevard Bikes in Chicago. This was the first time I saw a Sonnet Bliss in real life and she is quite blissful :)

Test riding the Pashley Sonnet Bliss

Test riding the Pashley Sonnet Bliss

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My First Bike Ride

Biking with my brother over the Fourth reminded me that our first bike rides ever were taken together. The last time I visited my parents, I dug up some photographic evidence.

These Schwinns were our first bikes ever. We got them for our birthdays (both in April — yes, this is what April looks like in northern Minnesota) in 1985. Charlie was turning 4, and I was turning 5. Training wheels were the way to go back then…

Here I am frowning at the handlebars (this bike stuff was serious business) while Mom adjusts Charlie’s bike and Uncle Bob looks on.

Getting to know you...

Getting to know you...

Meanwhile, Charlie barely fits on his bike! Moments after Mom let go of the handlebars, he was off…and crashed in the woods since he didn’t know how to brake yet. Oops. I think we may have this on video somewhere.

My brother and his first bike.

My brother and his first bike.

How old were you when you took your first ride?

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Bike Date – French Restaurant in Lincoln Park

Last night Mr. Dottie and I enjoyed a romantic dinner at a fancy French restaurant. I wanted to wear my new Saja dress, so I wore it. This is not an ideal dress for cycling because of the length. However, when you ride your bike everywhere, it comes down simply to wearing what you want to wear. If I limited my wardrobe because of my bike, I would resent the limitations. If I took a cab to the restaurant instead, I would be incredibly lame. So I threw on some small shorts underneath, put my basket on Oma for the fig leaf effect, and pedaled in a ladylike manner. This was less revealing than a pair of shorts. Actually, the most challenging wardrobe issue was getting Mr. Dottie out of his cargo shorts and “fun in the sun” t-shirt. Turns out, he cleans up quite nicely. :)

Me and Oma in Lincoln Park

Me and Oma in Lincoln Park

Greg in Lincoln Park

Dapper Greg in Lincoln Park

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New Toys, New Friends

This week brought a couple of changes for me.

I got a rearview mirror for my bike.

I see . . . me!

I see . . . me!

Still playing with the best way to adjust it, but it’s nice to be able to keep an eye on what’s behind me without turning my head. I got used to this little luxury while riding Oma last month.

Now for the new friend:

Walter "Wally" Kitten

Walter "Wally" Kitten

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Perfect Weather

Oma on the way home

Oma on the way home

As much as I love the sun, today’s somewhat stormy and cool weather was perfect for cycling. The storms stopped before my ride home, which meant that the trail was dramatically less crowded than it usually would be (people are easily scared off by the rain) but I did not get wet. The temperature hovered in the low 60’s, which meant that I did not sweat. I had a 16 mph headwind, so I simply popped Oma into 4th gear and took my sweet time. Mmmm, lovely. What is your perfect cycling weather?

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Perfect Weather

Oma on the way home

Oma on the way home

As much as I love the sun, today’s somewhat stormy and cool weather was perfect for cycling. The storms stopped before my ride home, which meant that the trail was dramatically less crowded than it usually would be (people are easily scared off by the rain) but I did not get wet. The temperature hovered in the low 60’s, which meant that I did not sweat. I had a 16 mph headwind, so I simply popped Oma into 4th gear and took my sweet time. Mmmm, lovely. What is your perfect cycling weather?

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Your Cycling Experience Is Requested

Each of us is a wealth of information about cycling in our particular cities. Here are a couple of opportunities to share your unique knowledge to benefit the greater cycling community: the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center Image Library and the New York Cycle Club’s Cycling Risk Assessment Study (not limited to New York).

Bike Lane, Madison, WI )from PBIC Image Library)

Bike Lane, Madison, WI (from PBIC Image Library)

Read on for the details.

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