Yearly Archives: 2009

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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Touring the States on Two Wheels: Victoria’s Ride

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Victoria on her bike.

Last month fate (and couchsurfing.org) brought a special guest to my door. I’m normally very selective about who I choose to host on couchsurfing, perusing their profile and references with care, but when I got Victoria’s request, I couldn’t email her back fast enough. Riding from Boston to LA by bike? on her own? In four months? this was a person I wanted to have a conversation with.

Intelligent and inspiring, Victoria  did not disappoint. It only took a few minutes’ conversation for me to feel comfortable enough to invite her to a girls’ night with a good friend of mine — and to know that I wanted to share her story with LGRAB readers. So I emailed her a few questions, asking her to answer as time permitted from the road. For more on Victoria’s epic ride (as I write, she’s made it to Texas!) check out her blog.

What inspired you to take this trip?
Generally I just love adventure and long-distance feats of endurance. I’ve done a couple week-long hiking trips, a two-mile ocean swim in New England in November (brrrr!), and attempted to walk 100K in one day with my brother (I only finished half of it before my body shut down on me.)

I can pinpoint a couple of sources of inspiration for the cross-country bike tour specifically:

  1. I started using my bike for transportation when I moved to Boston for college in 1994, and found I really enjoyed getting around on a bike.
  2. I grew up just off Route 20, the longest road in the US, which goes from Boston to Oregon and has all kinds of cool little towns and tourist attractions along it. I always thought it would be fun to travel the whole thing, either by biking or driving really slowly.
  3. I have an uncle who rode horseback from our hometown in upstate New York to Wyoming. Sort of captures your imagination when you’re 8 years old.

Tell us about your touring setup (bike, panniers, etc.) and how you chose it.
I have only ever ridden mountain bikes around the city, and knew nothing about road bikes or touring when I started preparing for this trip. I got online and did some research, mostly reading other people’s blogs and equipment lists, and came up with a list of Things to Care About When Bike Touring. These included:

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Need a Ride?

Since transportation cycling is a new concept for most people, we cyclists get a lot of questions.

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What a super chic nerd would wear

The lovely T of the chic blog What Would a Nerd Wear asks how to deal with one of the most common questions:

Recently, I have been riding my bike to lots of events I would formerly have driven to. My friends seem confused by this, and every time we go out somewhere, they always offer to throw my bike in the back of their cars and drive me back home. And even when I politely decline, many continue to insist that I don’t need to ride in the dark (as if I hadn’t realized it would be dark when I set out in the first place).

Has this happened to you guys? What is a good way to respond to this? I don’t want to be rude, but I’m considering saying something more than “No thank you.” What do you say to people who are incredulous that you will ride your bike in the dark, AND (heaven forbid) you might actually like doing so?

This has happened to me a few times, although in Chicago more people I know take public transportation than drive. I have not developed the perfect answer. Usually I say something like, “Oh, no thanks – I’m looking forward to riding home!” For people who are worried about me riding in the dark, I make sure they know that my bike has lights and that night riding is the best because there is no traffic. If the person keeps insisting, I end it by telling them that my bike is way too big to fit in the car – trust me!

Who else gets these kinds of questions, and how do you answer politely but firmly?

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The Natural Attraction to Bicycles

I am still thinking a lot about bicycle marketing, and how important a simple and positive message is for eventual infrastructure change. I strongly believe that on a basic level people are naturally attracted to bicycles. Cycling reminds them of the freedom and fun of childhood. If only we can expose everyone to the beautiful side of cycling – think Copenhagen – the tide would start to turn in our favor.

11-8 sunday

Out and about with Oma

Am I veering too far into unicorn-and-faerie territory?  An experience today makes me think that this idea is not too far-fetched.  Continue reading

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Bike, Sun, Beauty, Happiness!

Forget winter – today was the best day of the season with clear blue skies, a bright sun and warm breezes.   I did not even mind working on a Saturday since my commute was such a joy.  Otherwise, I would have slept in and missed the morning after a fun late night out with the lovely Ms. Elle of Dancing Gypsies.

This is what I call a perfect commute.

11-7 sun and betty

The Sun and Betty

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Bike Love at the Flea Market

I recently went with my mom to the flea market here in Nashville.

In an attempt to save money, I satisfied my urge to buy by taking pictures instead. It must have worked, because I somehow left the fairgrounds with only 3 vintage postcards. A couple of these finds were bike-related.

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The Tip-Top Weekly highlights a daring tale of bicycle bravery

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Marketing the Simple Bicycling Lifestyle, Part 2

Earlier this week I asked what you would do as a marketer tasked with getting people to switch from cars to bikes. The resulting discussion was impressive.  The main points were to emphasize the ease and desirability of cycling, while not being too pushy or preachy and remembering that infrastructure is the most important piece of the puzzle. Steven Vance is discussing this approach in his Making cycling normal series, and of course it’s a constant theme over at Copenhagenize. Today I was hoping to report back on how I had the opportunity to spread this message via the mainstream media, but life is never that simple.

I volunteered to participate in the filming of a segment on winter cycling for a show on the new ABC Live Well network, along with a few other people, including Elizabeth of Bike Commuters and Julie of The Chainlink. Prior to filming, the producer sent us the following instructions:

Please be bike-ready, that is, bring your bikes and gear. We don’t want anyone showing up to the shoot site coming off a bus in work clothes! And finally, please bring your winter gear. We want to capture some footage of you guys wearing balaclavas, your three layers, and someone applying gel toothpaste to their goggles! (emphasis added)

After reading this, I considered canceling. I have no balaclava, goggles or gel toothpaste tricks, and my goal is to dress in work clothes looking as if I could have stepped off a bus instead of a bike. They obviously had a story in mind that I did not fit into. I should have followed my instinct.

The Interview

The Guys

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A Peek at Winter Riding

This week has been a blur of bike commuting with buddies (Elizabeth and Mr. Dottie) and awkwardly working winter gear back into my routine. Waking up to temperatures in the 30’s and 40’s, I’ve been putting more thought into my layering strategy. The goal is to stay warm but not overdress.

11-2 us

The Dotties

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What’s in the Box?

I suppose it’s past time I revealed what the two-wheeled object in the box I was tracking last Tuesday is.

Meet the Jango Flik.

me and the Flik

The Flik and me

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Marketing the Simple Bicycling Lifestyle

Today there is an interview with me on funsherpa, whose tag line is “uncovering what interesting people are interested in.” What a compliment! In my experience people who ride bikes to get around tend to be pretty interesting – they are independent people who take the time to question and challenge the status quo.

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One of the most thought-provoking questions funsherpa asked me was:

Lets say you worked for a marketing firm tasked with getting Chicagoans to switch over from cars to bikes – what would you do?

I would use all the tactics that automobile advertisers use. They show the car as sexy, safe, freeing, fun, attractive, normal, necessary. In my experience, these adjectives describe bicycling more accurately than driving, especially in the city. Bicycling delivers the kind of freedom that car advertising promises. We need images of successful and happy people on bikes dressed nicely, going on dates, smiling and laughing. Exposure to such images, like those on Copenhagen Cycle Chic, is necessary to show the public the possibilities that the bicycle presents. Most women here have no idea that riding a bike with a skirt and heels is easy; that bicycling does not have to be a sport; and that the bicyclist does not have to get sweaty.

My answer is a start, but I’d like to hear all of your ideas. We’ve touched on this in The Bike Commuter Stereotype, and now we’d like to take the issue head-on. What would you do with unlimited resources, or what can you do working with the resources you have? How do we go beyond preaching to the choir and reach the general public – posters, commercials, product placement in movies? Let’s hear your ideas!

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Farewell, October!

I was riding home from work today and saw this beautiful leafy scene. My sister and I loved to rake up piles of leaves and jump in them as kids. In honor of playing with leaves, I stopped and had a little too much fun with my camera’s self-timer. I was way too into my leaf-playing to care whether passersby thought I was insane.

On Your Mark

On Your Mark...

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Have a Haunting Halloween

Two of the more festive houses along my commute:

10.20halloweenThis house is made all the more fearsome by the fact that I somehow took the picture off-kilter.

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My Rivendell Betty Foy Video

After posting my Oma video I got several requests for a Betty Foy video.  Ask and thou shall receive.  (Wait, did I just compare myself to God?)

Anyway, this is for all those interested in the Rivendell Betty Foy.  It’s a very new bike and there’s not much information out there, but there is another video from Velo Fellow of his wife buying her Betty, so any interested parties should check that out, too.

I wanted to write up a detailed Betty Foy review before posting the video, but the darn job really cuts into my blogging time.  Maybe next week. In the meantime, feel free to subscribe to our YouTube channel. More videos to come little by little, based on our whims and with no organization whatsoever. ;)

 

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Bike Commuting is Fun!

After starting a new job, I’m reminded of the fun of bike commuting.  A few main points:

  • Riding a bicycle every morning and evening keeps me sane, especially because I spend 10.5 hours of my day sitting at a desk in front of a computer.
  • Co-workers are always surprised and impressed and want to talk about it.  I try to make it sound fun and easy, while at the same time secretly being proud of the one trait that makes me interesting.
  • Businesses are really catching on.  The new sky scraper where I work has a lovely secure bike room directly off the lobby.  I was locking my bike up outside the building when a man from security saw me through the window and came outside to walk me to this magical bike room.  Very nice!
Oma at Night

Oma at Night

My commutes continue to be dark and rainy, but I’m having fun. I’d better get used to the dark, as the days are only getting shorter.  The rain will soon become snow, though.  I say bring it on!

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The Bat Hits Broadway . . . Eventually!

Just when I start thinking, yes, I am a badass city cyclist, something comes along to humble me. This is probably as it should be. My most recent lesson in humility was 8th Ave. South. I have always avoided this most direct route to downtown, preferring instead to go a couple of miles out of my way to take the Music Row bike lanes, since it’s a steep climb on a busy road. But on Saturday I had a friend along who needed to go that way to get out of town (more about that later), and I figured it was a good time to try a new route.

I would post a picture of the hill I was facing, but they never look as bad as they feel. Let’s just say it is the kind of hill that has a reservoir at the top of it, and a Civil War-era fort, and the climb lasted for at least three long city blocks. We made it to the top but I spent a lot more time in first gear than I expected to — and had to rest for at least a minute in front of the Scientology Center before moving on (luckily no one came out to recruit us).

But! It was all worth it when we got downtown and the Bat got her first glimpse of Elvis (yes, if you’re wondering, he IS from Memphis, not Nashville — but we have kindly provided several statues for drunk tourists to pose inappropriately with).

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Rachel Rides a Bike . . . Everywhere

Does everyone but me know that Rachel McAdams is a city cyclist? I’ve seen pictures of her riding a bike before, but it wasn’t until last week, when the lovely Lalipourie highlighted the green is sexy blog the Canadian actress started with a couple of friends, that I realized it was more than a random occurrence. On her blog, Rachel says her bike is her preferred mode of transportation.

Rachel en velo

Rachel en velo

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Something Wicked this Way Comes

I couldn’t resist using one of my favorite titles ever, even though what’s coming to Nashville today is not a freaky carnival headed by a mysterious man who might be the incarnation of evil. (If it were, I don’t think I’d be tracking it nearly this avidly.) No, what’s coming today is wicked only in the awesome sense. Can’t wait to show you!

Picture 2

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A Bike Commuter Again

I have not been a “bike commuter” for the past two months, merely a girl who rides her bike everywhere.  On Monday I started a new job (nothing exciting – a 3 week contract attorney position) and rejoined the hardy ranks.

Wet vintage dress and shoes, new legwarmers

Wet vintage dress, necklace made by Melissa (thanks!), messy garage

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