Monthly Archives: March 2010

Spring Fever

Like Dottie, I had my share of invisibility yesterday morning: a pedestrian—probably a Belmont student late for class—darted out in front of me, in the bike lane.

All I could do was make inarticulate noises. Luckily that was enough to make him look my way and hustle as I applied the brake. No collision!

Me and Le Peug and the springtime

But then, on the way home, I had the opposite experience: pedaling down Portland, I saw a cyclist riding toward me. As we drew closer to one another, he veered toward me. Is he trying to hit me? Nope—apparently he just wanted to give me a high five. In more than a year of bicycle commuting, that’s the first time I’ve had that experience. So needless to say, we missed actually slapping hands due to my poor aim and late reaction. Still, it was a nice gesture of solidarity. Any other cyclists who can tell me if this was a common way of saying hello?

Tagged , ,

I Must Be Invisible

I must be invisible. Invisibility is the only explanation for a pedestrian walking out in the street in front of me and for a car turning left across my path on the way home today. Except not invisible to other cyclists, since a guy on the other side of the intersection shook his head and said, “He didn’t even see you,” as I rode past.

One of the golden rules of transportation cycling is to assume you’re invisible. Good advice.

Other than this not-so-minor problem, my ride today was lovely. The temperature was warm enough for a t-shirt and the sky was blue. A Diana Mini shot from my lunch break walk conveys the feeling of the day.

Ah, the ups and downs of life on two wheels.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Roll Models: Lalipourie’s Bicycle Style

I’d like to introduce our newest roll model, Laurie Harris. She studied at cycling mecca UC-Davis, where she earned a degree in design with an emphasis on textiles. Very cool! She now has her own small brand of eco-friendly jewelry, Lalipouri Designs, and blogs about her inspirations, including lots of bicycle beauty. Read on to hear how she first learned to ride a bike in college, the freedom provided by Davis’ cycling infrastructure and the ways bicycling can influence fashion design.

Tell us about your history with cycling. When and why did you start, and how do you use cycling now in your life?

At age 5 my parents got me a two wheeler to graduate from my tricycle. My new bike was cute and it was pink with tassels! I was going to be like all the bigger girls in my neighborhood. So my dad took me to the local university parking lot to have my first try! I was rearing to go! I was going great but for safety (of course) I screamed “Papa! Don’t let go!” Of course he did because I was riding just fine, but I freaked out and ran into a bush. I was traumatized! I cried, I screamed and swore I would NEVER ride a bicycle again.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , ,

The Beauty of Mid-Day Escapes

Did you know that sitting all day is as unhealthy as smoking or sun over-exposure? After reading about that study, I feel like even bicycling to and from work every day is not enough to make up for all my sitting. Bike commuting is an amazing activity for consistent exercise, but on average totals only one hour of my day. I have a desk job and many activities I enjoy after work – reading, blogging, watching movies – are sedentary.

In an effort to make my lifestyle more active (no gyms, please!) I often spend my lunch hour walking around downtown Chicago, even if the weather is rainy or freezing. An additional benefit is escaping the office and enjoying life. I take pictures, watch people, window shop or duck into a coffee shop to read. As temperatures rise, I find myself integrating the bicycle into my lunch breaks for a little extra work day escape.

On Friday, Betty and I sailed a couple of miles to enjoy fresh macaroons, but sometimes I venture farther afield. The pictures below are from a long escape earlier this month, which I wrote about here, but it took me a while to develop and scan the pictures from my Diana Mini camera.

The thought of missing out on such adventures in favor of watching TV in the break room or eating at my desk is unbearable. I think everyone would be a whole lot happier if we all enjoyed mid-day escapes in the fresh air more often – preferably with a bicycle :)

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Bulk Groceries on a Bakfiets

Some readers asked for more information about the shopping trip I made with the De Fietsfabriek Bakfiets.  I’m happy to oblige.

As I mentioned before, last week I ran into my friend Elizabeth talking to the shop owner, Jon.  When I commented on how cool the Bakfiets looked, he said I could borrow it, if I ever needed to. My ears perked and I soon took him up on the offer for a trip to Costco. Such is the life of a car-free bargain hunter.

For those who are not familiar with Costco, it’s a store where you can buy products in bulk for incredibly low prices, after paying a modest annual membership fee.  Everything is really big there.  I recently joined to reduce our household grocery budget, after I realized they carry many of the organic products we like.

These pictures don’t portray the full magnitude of the shopping trip.  I filled the super-sized cart with stuff like 12-pound bags of rice, 5-pound bags of frozen broccoli, gallon jars of artichokes, and 24-count cases of bottled  micro brew.  Mr. Dottie kept saying that there was no way everything would fit in the bike.  Once we wheeled everything outside and prepared to load the box, I, too, began to worry.  A few minutes later, however, the cart was empty and the box still had room.  I don’t think we could have fit it all in the trunk of mid-sized car!  With the Bakfiets set in 2nd gear, the ride home was slow, but did not require much more effort.

(My cats have no opinion on the box bike, but were happy with the boxes it brought home to them.)

Discovering how much a bike could carry was an eye-opener!

We’ve discussed grocery shopping on a bike before, but this takes it to a whole ‘nother level. Anyone else make trips like this by bike? Or carried other kinds of large loads?

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Beautiful Bicycles: De Fietsfabriek Bakfiets

Look what I found! An amazing cargo bike from De Fietsfabriek, a Dutch bike shop that I ride by every day during my commute. I got to borrow the Bakfiets overnight for an ambitious Costco bulk food shopping trip, 9 miles total riding distance.

This beast means business. The De Fietsfabriek Bakfiets is the Dutch company’s biggest cargo bike (except the Stretch Limo?). I recommend the Bakfiets for those who regularly haul a lot of cargo or a troop of children, or who want to use the Bakfiets to promote their business in some way (that’s my way of saying that at times I felt like the Good Humor Ice Cream man).

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Bicycles on a Budget

We all love beautiful bicycles, but what if you’re on a tight budget?

At Let’s Go Ride a Bike, Trisha and I aim to show how transportation cycling can be simple, stylish and fun. A major factor of “simple” is low cost – the only lower cost transportation option is walking, which we also enjoy, but it takes quite a bit longer. A major factor of “stylish” is a good-looking bike, and a major factor of “fun” is a bike well-built enough to free you from the stress of bad brakes and uncomfortable seating positions.

At some point, “simple” (i.e. inexpensive) may seem to conflict with “stylish” and “fun.” True, there is a vast array of bikes to choose from at all different price points. However, with the recent emphasis on cycle chic, someone looking to purchase an attractive city bike may feel that the options are limited to relatively expensive Dutch bikes and elusive-in-reality pretty vintage bikes. Our own Beautiful Bicycles series is skewed toward these options.

Reader Carrie wrote us today seeking advice on a sub-$500 bike to ride around the suburbs, with and without her kids on their own bikes, “Perhaps a little more girly, one that will give me that Mackinaw Island feel, basket in the front, do a little grocery shopping, go to the library, pool, etc…” In the comments to the Velorbis Scrap Deluxe post, reader Katherine laments the apparent lack of city bikes that fit in a student’s budget. Others have chimed in with ideas, so I wanted to move the conversation up here for more attention and input.

This we know for sure – one can embrace the simple bicycling lifestyle without a lot of money. Although we now have sleek rides, our beginnings two years ago were humble. Trisha began bike commuting on her childhood Schwinn, which her grandparents kept in their garage for ten years. I bought a $400 Jamis Commuter with my tax stimulus check, and boy did that seem like a lot of money at the time.

Let’s put our heads together – collectively we are a massive resource! – and come up with ideas and solutions. Later, I can put everything together as a guide for all future cash-strapped bike lovers.

Tagged , , , , ,

First Bud of Spring

I’ve been on the lookout for the first bud of spring. Recently, I started seeing plants pushing through, but nothing more. I gazed longingly at ecovelo’s poppies. Today, I finally saw the first Chicago bloom! (And I’m feeling better – thank you!)

I plan to write a retrospective on winter soon, but for now I’m savoring the spring. Any other flowers out there?

Tagged , ,

Under the Weather: Commuting with a Cold

We all know that bike commuters are less likely than non-cyclists to get sick.  But what happens when a cyclist does catch a cold: garage the bike or keep on keeping on?

I encountered this situation today and decided to ride to work.  I have a cold – sore throat, sneezing, a little weak – but did not feel bad enough to take a sick day.  The weather was sunny and relatively warm, so I rode my bike without much thought.  I took it easy, blew my nose at stop lights, and felt pretty good during the ride.  I drooped considerably once I got to my office, and felt more feverish, with a raw throat and less energy.  A cup of hot tea helped and soon I felt just normal sick.  Same with the ride home.

I wonder – what is the healthier course of action?  Riding my bike always makes me feel better in the long run and taking the L train while sick is miserable.  But does riding exacerbate the sickness and slow healing time?  I don’t know.

I like the advice from Commute by Bike: “If I’m too sick to ride, I’m too sick to work.” 

But what about the gray area, where you know you’re not too sick to work, but sick nevertheless?  What has your experience been?

Tagged , , , ,

Beautiful Bicycles: Velorbis Scrap Deluxe

When my friend Ms. Elle called to ask if I wanted to meet up at Copenhagen Cyclery after work, I was quick to agree.  She has been loyal to her vintage bike Cilantro, but decided to explore less “rickety” options.

While she quickly fell in love with the Velorbis Studine (they make a hot couple – see above), I flirted with the Velorbis Scrap Deluxe, a bike I’d never ridden before.

The Scrap Deluxe’s stand-out feature is the set of cream Schwalbe Fat Frank tires.  Aside from being eye-catching and unique, the tires deliver a soft ride over even the most rutted Chicago streets.  There is a bit more drag and weight with these tires, but not as much as you’d think.  Overall, a fair exchange for someone interested in comfort and class.

The bike comes with a Brooks sprung saddle, which breaks in quickly and provides the ultimate in comfort for both short and long rides.  Plus, a Brooks saddle makes any bike look better: an ugly bike gets a distinguished touch of class and a beautiful bike is pushed over the edge into dreamy elegance.  This is a case of the latter, obviously.  Matching Brooks leather grips and a leather mudflap complete the look.

The five speed internal Sturmey Archer hub makes riding on hills, in headwinds and carrying cargo manageable.  I’ve heard here and there that Shimano is a slighty better quality hub, but I don’t have enough experience with Sturmey Archer to compare it to my Oma’s Shimano.

Finally, this handsome Dane has all the attributes that make this style of bike so practical and appealing.  Front and rear integrated generator lights shine brightly when you pedal, no batteries required.  The rear light remains shining even when stopped for a few minutes.  Internal brakes and gears keep the ride safe and smooth in rain and snow.  Fenders and mudlfaps protect your clothes and shoes.  The front wicker basket and rear rack carry lots of cargo – I recommend a bouquet of flowers and a case of beer, respectively.   The shiny “briiiiiiing” bell is tres charmant.

As with all Velorbis bikes, the seating position is straight up, and legs push down and only slightly forward to pedal.  This seems to require a bit more effort than pedaling my Oma, especially when starting from a complete stop, because I can’t take advantage of my thigh muscles as much.  However, I have to attribute this to my personal riding comfort.  After a year and a half of riding Oma, my body is used to pedaling her and my leg muscles have developed in response to her particular needs.

Before testing the Scrap Deluxe, I assumed the ride would be similar to the Retrovelo Paula, since both are elegant city bikes with Fat Frank tires.  I was wrong.  The rides are totally different.  The Scrap Deluxe has a smoother and sturdier ride, more akin to my Oma, while the Retrovelo Paula is sportier.

As always, I highly recommend that anyone considering a bike like this test ride as many as possible.  Only you can decide which is the best choice for you.

In North America, you can order the bike from the lovely Copenhagen Cyclery. I think they’re currently the only NA dealer, but please correct me if I’m wrong. The price is $1,895 (If you think that is too expensive for a bike and own a car, please state the cost of your car when commenting ;) ) For those who really need a more budget-friendly option, Velorbis has a new Studine Balloon in gorgeous cream for around $1200 – similar to the Velorbis Studine Classic.

One last note about the Velorbis Scrap Deluxe – riding this bicycle is sure to get you noticed   ;)

{As always, we at LGRAB receive nothing for our reviews except the joy of spreading beautiful bike love.}

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

1-Up

The other day I found myself humming a familiar tune while putting on my helmet.
Continue reading

Tagged , , , ,

Chicago Loves Bikes!

Chicago loves bikes.  It’s official.

My morning commute yesterday felt like a group ride!  For more than half of the way, I was in a line of 9 cyclists going down the bike lane.  Our spontaneous conga line caused stares, double-takes and smiles.  How could people not consider cycling as a valid form of transportation after seeing so many bikes all around them?  Snowball effect – more riders beget more riders.

On the way home, I spotted my friend Elizabeth.  She had pulled over to chat with the owner of De Fietsfabriek, so I pulled over and joined them, and then we rode home together.  On the way, we saw three bike cops ticketing a van for being parked in the bike lane.  Overhead in a stern voice as we passed, “See, all these bicyclists have to go in the lane around you.”  Today on Streetsblog I saw this video to train Chicago bus drivers how to interact with bicyclists.

I feel that everything is coming together to create a real place for cyclists in Chicago.  The cyclists themselves: out in droves.  The drivers:  expecting cyclists and behaving respectfully.  The infrastructure: far from perfect but following the 2015 Bike Plan and better than almost all other North American cities.  Law enforcement, city government, and Da Mayor: working for us.  The sun: shining down approvingly on all of it.

My giddy optimism is so bright this week!

Do other Chicagoan have thoughts on this?  Bicyclists in other cities – how do you feel about your place on the road and in the community?  Any other optimists out there?

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Sometimes you need a hill

photo of a hill courtesy of pinkmoose @flickr--I was riding too fast today to take one!

I know I complain sometimes about the hills on my commute, but every once in a while I look forward to tackling them. One of the little-discussed benefits of bicycle commuting is using your ride home as a stress release. Trust, it’s better than blasting Pearl Jam in your car (what can I say, music I listened to in high school is still the best when feeling angsty).

Now, back to our regular scheduled, positive programming. And my glass of Jameson — happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Tagged ,

Spring Forward

Months of short days and drab colors wear a girl down. Eventually she needs yellow sun and blue skies. Enter SPRING!

There is no denying the proof in the pictures: winter is behind us; let’s all spring forward :)

Happy Sunshine!

Tagged , , , , , ,

Cute as a bug

. . . my Batavus, that is.

Here she is waiting outside for me during a happy hour last week.

As I was walking away, I looked back and found myself turning around to take a picture (or 10). Who cares what the rush hour drivers thought? And anyway, I knew my friend C wouldn’t get there for a few more minutes — she was trying to find a place to park her car. ;)

Where will your bike take you this week?

Tagged , , ,

Loving Hipster Puppies and Kittens

I’m pretty sure these would still be funny, even without three glasses of Friday night wine.

Hipster Puppy – ari stayed up all night drinking beer and playing old 7”s, so he’s gonna have to sit out this month’s critical mass (photo kari g)

Hipster Kitty – Even Ender’s bike-polo teammates have begun to notice his body odor (photo Sarah VanCamp)

Thanks for the tip, Trisha! You know me too well.

Don’t forget to email us pictures of your cat (or dog, bird, small child, etc.) surfing the internets :)

Tagged , ,

Defrost

Chicago is in defrost mode and the snow is becoming little more than ground water and memories.  Rain has taken over the precipitation spotlight, setting up shop over the city, where it plans to remain for at least another week.

Today’s commute pictures come courtesy of my new Holga, an odd little all-plastic camera similar to the Diana camera.  Yes, that last picture is a pack of Huskies accidentally double exposed over the bike path.  Seeing what comes out is fun, although dropping the film off during lunch and picking it up after work is a hassle. (Check out Quaint Living for some fantastic lomo pictures from a similar camera.)

You don’t get experiences like this in a car. Long live the bike commute – rain or shine!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bike Date!

And nothing matters when we’re cycling / In tatter-tatters you’re entrancing / Be we in Paris or in Lansing / nothing matters when we’re cycling

A slight change to the original.

Monday night, Me and Mr. Dottie, dinner and Magnetic Fields concert.

That is all :)

P.S.  Thanks to {frolic} for making us one of its first Blogs of the Week. I love {frolic} and visit daily for my dose of happy.

Tagged

Marisa Tomei Rides a Bike

Reader Melissa tipped us off to this one — Marisa Tomei riding a gorgeous vintage-style bike as part of the promo for a new web-based series, “Into the Heart of Italy.” (Didn’t embed the whole clip since most of it is a Bertolli pasta commercial!)Melissa, who’s based in NYC, happens to be looking for a similar bike. Readers, any suggestions? Do any modern manufacturers mount the headlight on the handlebars like that? I can’t think of one . . .

Tagged , ,

Betty Foy’s Bloom

Betty Foy’s bloom: the surest sign of spring.

Last week, the awkward weather felt like neither winter nor spring.  Suddenly this week – spring!  Granted, it’s the chilly and rainy spring, not the sunny and flowery spring, but beggars vs. choosers, etc.

You may have noticed that this photo is from a warm day last month, not from today.  Betty and I were together both days and that’s pretty much how outside looked today, so close enough.

I was so cheerful about spring, I took a joy ride during my lunch break, in addition to my 10-mile commute.  Betty and I flew up and down and all around downtown, Navy Pier, Grant Park, crunching both the city gravel and the lakefront sand beneath her tires.  Riding Betty felt like a dream, a cloud, a scoop of gelato.  And fast – vroom vroom!

For once after lunch, I did not want to curl up and take a nap.  A small miracle.  Does anyone else steal away during the 9-to-5 for a ride?  I often go for long walks, but not rides.  That will change as the season does, I’m sure.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 46 other followers