Monthly Archives: November 2009

Chicago’s Christkindlmarket

This weekend we took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather (~50 degrees F) and cycled along the lakefront to the Christkindlmarket downtown.

I love being able to take off my helmet when I get on the Lakefront Trail with Oma. The wind in my hair feels so good.

Helmet off, hair loose

Chicago’s Christkindlmarket claims to be the only authentic Christkindlmarket outside of Europe. I’m not sure about the “only” claim, but it looks “authentic,” based on pictures of a Christkindlmarket in Salzburg via Academichic.

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Fall into the Flik

As I work on the review of the Jango Flik, and about five other half-finished blog posts, enjoy this photo of the bike posing with the last of the autumn leaves. Like Chicago, Nashville has passed a mild, dry fall that has been a joy to ride in.

A Bike Lover’s Gift Guide: Etsy

Confession: Internet shopping is one of my favorite pastimes. I know it’s not right, but somehow filling a virtual shopping cart with crap I don’t need and then closing the window at the last moment, without checking out, is just as therapeutic as actually making the purchase.

Know what else is therapeutic? Passing the finds on to someone else. In that spirit, and because it is the season of gift-giving, we will be sharing some of our favorite bikey finds with you over the next few Saturdays. First up are some items from one of the places I find near impossible to resist: Etsy.com. If you haven’t heard, Etsy is a fabulous online marketplace where people (like  our friends at cyclemumbreeze!) sell handmade or vintage goods. All of these unique gifts are under $50, by the way.

Row One: Bicycle Key Rack, Custom Leather U-Lock Holster, Vicious Cycle T, Screen-Printed Bicycle Glasses

Row Two: Bike bag, Heidi Cycle Cap, Bicycles Only (Russian), Letterpress Pink Bike

Row Three: The Bicycle (cards), Schwinn Breeze photo, Bike Drawstring Pouch, Bicycle Quote shirt

Row Four: little steel bicycle, Go By Bike Carryall, Going to See My Baby print, Sparkling Grey Legwarmers

Love all of these, but my favorite has to be the Vicious Cycle t-shirt. It’s just so very punny.

How about you?

(p.s. Etsy mini-gallery inspired by the oh-so-tempting collections of Miss Nightingale at Beyond the Pale.)

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Winter?

I think today was the coldest of the season, dropping down to 32 degrees F. We donned our winter Bern helmets and safety glasses for a trip to a home improvement store. I got caught up in the holiday ribbon section, where I picked up some trimmings for Oma (more on that later).

Waiting for Winter

Despite the chill today, the weather tomorrow is expected to be sunny and up to 54 degrees F. I feel like I’ve spent a month bracing for a winter that never comes. By this time last year, snow was on the ground. Not that I’m complaining – I’ll be on my bike enjoying the sunshine!

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Bike Calendar 2010

Our friend Elizabeth of Bike Commuters created a Chicago Bikes calendar with great pictures that she has been taking year-round from her bike. All of the proceeds support Chicago’s Ride of Silence, which Elizabeth plans and coordinates.

Image from Chicago Bike Calendar

Oma is excited to be Ms. September.

There is also a calendar of Chicago Flowers and Chicago Scapes.

Everyone needs a calendar, right? Today they are 40% off with free shipping. Order here.

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Thanks.

I wanted to reiterate Trisha’s thanks to the bike blogging community. Having a place to discuss, vent about and celebrate transportation cycling is priceless. So thanks.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

This year, I am thankful for family and friends near and far;  the community we’ve found through blogging,  good health  and the good food that will be on the table today . . . etc.

But most of all, I’m thankful that after a year and a half on two wheels, I’ve yet to inspire a highway art installment like this one.

Bike art near Guntersville, Alabama

Bike art near Guntersville, Alabama

How about you, friends? And what do you think of this installment? Humorous, or hostile, given that it’s located next to a highway?

And to our American readers — how are you celebrating Thankgiving? I’m spending it away from my family for just the second time in 29 years (yikes). Planned to bring a cake to a friend’s, but a pan extraction incident means I’m making cake balls instead. Something tells me my hosts won’t complain.

(Thanks to Ash & C for the snap!)

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I Believe in Peace, B_ _ _ _

I admit that I was all fired up to write this post when I got home, but after a hot shower, a cold beer and a phone call with my mom, I’m feeling pretty chill. Nevertheless, the show must go on.

You can't tell, but I'm flipping her off

You can't tell, but I'm flipping her off

My ride home today was scary. It was pouring rain, dark out and with all the city lights reflecting off the pavement, I was nervous about drivers seeing me and my lights. Then one particular driver had to go and be an a-hole. I was in the bike lane passing a line of stopped traffic when a car started moving into the bike lane. I yelled on the top of my lungs, “HEYYYYYYY!” to prevent being run over. The car slammed on its brakes (I’m loud) and I proceeded on.

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Sir Raleigh and Betty Foy

In celebration of the mild weather, Sir Raleigh and Betty Foy went for a date ride today – chaperoned by me and Mr. Dottie, of course. I think they are a perfect match. (Tip: you can now see a bigger version of each picture by clicking on it.)

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Back to Bat

Well, for the day at least! Afraid that continued neglect of my darling Batavus could lead to a pant-snatching incident, á la Oma, I took her out to enjoy one of the last days of fall. Together we posed in front of a scraggly tree that is desperately holding on to its leaves. Keep ‘em up there, little tree — I’m not ready for winter!

Off to work -- I look skeptical of the self-timer feature

After two weeks plus of riding the Flik, my Bat felt . . . heavy. But also — stable! And comfortable. I know you roadies out there will probably say it’s just what you’re used to (and you’ll have a point — to an extent, I have gotten used to craning my neck on the Flik), but an upright riding position is SO much more comfortable than being launched out over the handlebars. The Bat was forgiving of my neglect and my sweater tights made it to work without complications.

Weekend plans include meeting up with Andrew, a local owner of a Bike Friday, during a ride through Shelby Bottoms. And, gulp, a viewing of New Moon. Don’t judge, people. As this spot-on article in the WaPo warns, it could happen to you.

Happy Friday!

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Scenes From My New Commute

My new commute is not very different from my old one.  The biggest difference is that my office is not by the lake, so it makes sense to take city streets the whole way instead of the Lakefront Trail.  The other big difference is that  I don’t have to ride through downtown.

The streets I take have either bike lanes or marked shared lanes.  As you can see below, I’m able to slide past car traffic in the bike lane.

Car Traffic

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Last Week

These pictures are from last week. I’m remembering it fondly, as this week has been gray and dreary. Rain was pouring this morning, so I sighed and took the L train to work. I’ll be back tomorrow with a report of my new commute.

Good Times

A Final Burst of Fall

A Final Burst of Fall

Cycle Chic

P.S. I’m rarely able to take good pictures of other cyclists going by, but I managed to snap the one above. Note that she has a Jimmy Choo bag on the handlebars of her vintage Schwinn. Only when I was cropping this picture to post did I notice that her pants legs are tucked into her socks. Thank you, anonymous beauty, for proving that tucked hems can be stylish.

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Bad Oma

Oma was very naughty this morning. I need Super Dutch Bike Nanny. Angry that I was returning to work and spending less time with her (Trisha’s astute observation), Oma lashed out by tearing my pants leg. I was feeling spiffy, riding in my best Brooks Brothers pants suit, when the hem fell and Oma grabbed it with her crank arm.

The Aftermath

I had to show up on my first day of work with pants held together by a safety pin, and being yanked by my bike was not fun. I’ve never had a problem riding Oma in wide-leg jeans, but from now on I will secure long and loose pants.

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Folding the Jango Flik

I’ve been out of town for a few days, but I’m looking forward to getting back and spending more time with the Flik. It’s a pretty sweet ride so far, and a real conversation starter. Before I left, I recorded this brief, bare-bones video of the folding process over my lunch break — couldn’t pass up the opportunity to spend some time outdoors in “Dragon Park” on such a beautiful fall day! Apologies for the lack of close-ups — a full review is coming soon.

p.s. if you haven’t found it yet, check out our YouTube channel. From the whimsical to the informative, we’re adding all sorts of things to it these days.

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How To: Dress For Winter Bike Commuting

The time has come to talk about winter. Winter cycling is a wonderful experience because I enjoy the outdoors and all of its snowy beauty every day while most people hibernate.  I’m really excited about my second winter cycling. Last winter was all about learning the ropes and testing my limits. (See my photo synopsis of winter 2008-09 here.) Now I know what to expect.

Me and Trisha, February 2009

Me and Trisha, February 2009

Here I share my wisdom on how to dress for winter bike commuting. This advice is based on my personal experience: riding 7 miles in snow with temperatures around 20 degrees to -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Your individual climate and commute will dictate how you dress. The main take-away point is that you can wear the clothes you already have, but with more protection for you fingers/toes and less bulk for your torso. If you can walk around in the winter, you can bike in the winter.

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Taking the Elevated Train

Chicago has an excellent public transportation system, despite constant talk of fare hikes and service cuts.  Within the city there is the elevated “el” train and an extensive bus system.  For traveling to the suburbs, there is the cushy Metra train. Chicago’s public transportation system makes living car-free easy. Although we almost always ride our bikes, having other options is helpful.

The El Train

The El Train

The Platform

The Platform

During my first year in Chicago, I took the El train everyday. We bought a condo close to an El stop. I was happy to be free from driving: I could read during my commute or stare out the window aimlessly while listening to music. Most of the routes are above-ground and provide a great view of the city and its neighborhoods. Eventually the routine grew tiresome and I decided to look into bicycling – the rest is history. But sometimes I still take the El (and so does Oma).

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Chicago’s Navy Pier

I ride by Navy Pier every day during my commute. Today the weather was gorgeous – sunny in the 60’s F – so I decided to stop and explore the pier before heading home. I enjoyed it all, even my $5 icecream cone :) This is a great place to go for families, friends and dates.  I love being a tourist in my home city, which you may have noticed. 

11-14 navy pier sign

11-14 ferris wheel

11-14 rides

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Ups and Downs: Balance on a Bike

My ride today was filled with wild variations. A super harsh headwind in the morning and a powerful tailwind in the evening. A calm, safe ride on the Lakefront Trail most of the way and a stressful, congested ride through downtown the rest of the way. Starting out a bit too cold and ending up a bit too hot. Life is full of ups and downs, and dealing with it on my bike helps me appreciate the balance. I really think bike commuting can be as mindful and therapeutic as yoga sometimes.

11-11 betty

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Race Across the Sky

Race Across the Sky is a stunningly beautiful and fast-paced documentary of this year’s Leadville 100 – the mountain bike race that Lance Armstrong won.   Tonight I went to the movie theater to see a special encore showing with Mr. Dottie, Elizabeth and Terry (owner of THREE Rivendells!).This was the second night that select theaters played the film. The story is inspirational and the race is straight-up hardcore.  I highly recommend seeing this film if you get an opportunity, especially on the big screen to appreciate fully the gorgeous shots of Colorado landscapes.

11-11 movie

Terry and Elizabeth

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A Very Good Day

The highlights:

  • I got a job as an in-house attorney for a charitable organization!
  • I am now the proud owner of a sweet camera, the Nikon D3000.
  • I rode home with Ms. E A, and this week I met several other cool bikey people.
  • The new Tori Amos winter album was released.

Here are some photographs of my day.

Betty Foy Glory

A very good morning

Sunrise

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