July 2010 archive

Still Enjoying the Long Way Home

My commutes have been so lovely lately. Ever since I took the long way home for the Summer Games, I’ve continued taking the same relatively quiet route to and from work. Now I can’t believe that I never discovered this route for over two years.

The route is all calm two-lane streets with bike lanes. Both the car and bike traffic are much lighter and more considerate. Trees line the way, shading me from the hot sun. Kids wait on the corner for school buses. People walk their dogs.

Bonus: I pass right by one of the best cupcake shops in Chicago.

I feel like my commute is now more like a normal commute in a small or mid-sized city, instead of the hulking beast that is Chicago. The whole experience is totally worth the extra five minutes that my ride takes.

{I took these pictures today with my vintage Polaroid with expired film – that’s why they look funny}

A Random Act of Kindness

To the Argo Tea girl handing out free smoothie samples on the street corner: thank you so much for bringing a sample to me while I was waiting at the stop light and hanging around to take back my empty cup when the light turned green. I did not ask you to do that, but you must have seen how longingly I looked at the smoothie in the 90 degree heat. You, my dear, are an angel.

What is the nicest random act of kindness you’ve encountered while riding your bike?

Summer Games – Molly, Group Ride with Co-Workers

Another Summer Games contestant who entered via email is Molly from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Molly really went the distance, participating in part 3 of the games during her honeymoon in Montreal, and her stories always put smiles on our faces.

From Molly:

Librarian Cyclists

I organized lunchtime group ride for the library where I work. It was a small group, only 4 people, but we still had fun. We rode to the Farmer’s Market and I think we all came back with asparagus.

Story: There’s an organization in Ann Arbor that promotes sustainable transportation alternatives called getDowntown, and every May they have a Commuter Challenge where they get workplaces to compete to have people do the most sustainable commutes over the course of a month. The University of Michigan Library has a huge team, so I was inspired to do a little Commuter Challenge/Summer Games crossover and organized a lunchtime group ride from the library to the Wednesday Farmer’s Market. The weather was great but the turnout was low, probably because I forgot to send a reminder email. But the four of us who did gather had a fun ride to the market. One of our participants interviewed all the other participants for a segment on her radio show. She asked us all what we planned to buy at the market; I think we all said asparagus.

{Awesome! and I can’t resist including her sweet bike date story!}

Piet and Molly

Piet was impatient with my attempts at documentation. Anything for a chance to win a Batavus in the Let’s Go Ride a Bike Summer Games.

Story: We’re finally getting some spectacular weather here in Michigan, so after we got home from work on Friday we were still itching to ride our bikes some more. I thought, “Bike date!” ran off to put on some earrings and fancy shoes, and we biked to Ben and Jerry’s for ice cream. After the ice cream, we encountered a random gang of cyclists zooming around. We didn’t recognize any of them, which was weird, and it turns out they were all from out of town visiting. We joined their gang for awhile and made a haphazard loop around campus. It was totally spontaneous and fun, but I had trouble keeping up on my lazy commuter bike, so after awhile we gave up and had a leisurely pedal home.

{Thank you, Molly! To see all of Molly’s entries, visit her Summer Games Flickr set here.}

I love the idea of getting a group of friends or co-workers together for a lunchtime ride. Has anyone else done something like that?

Easy Summer Commute

I took the Lakefront Trail on the way home, stopping to snap some pics with my little point-and-shoot. Feels like a long time since I enjoyed an easy summer commute on the Lakefront Trail.

Ah, can you feel the sunshine and the lake breeze? That, my friends, is the good life and it’s totally free.

Summer Games – Natalie, Bike a Greenway

Enjoy another Summer Games entry sent to us through email. Natalie and her family explored the Virginia Capital Bike Trail for Part III, Bike a Greenway.

From Natalie:

We went on the first part of the Virginia Capital Bike Trail, which is under construction and eventually will connect Richmond to Jamestown and Williamsburg. This spring, we rode one of the longer sections in the middle, but we hadn’t ridden the part that was in town.

You start by going through a door-sized opening in the flood wall, near the canal walk downtown. There are some odd but somehow pleasing sculptures back there (which can’t be seen from the road because of the flood wall) and a map. The first half mile goes along the old canal under the train trestle. They put a corrugated metal roof under the tracks to keep hot oil from falling on people using the trail. This first section ends at Shiplock Park, and it’s just a mile long. My child liked that there was a small stop sign and railroad crossing sign just for the cyclists near the end of the trail!

We looked around the ship lock and rode back by the old tobacco warehouses that are now condos and apartments, and then parked at pizza place for lunch. Not a long ride at all, but it was nice to get out and it was too hot (mid 90s) for a more involved ride.

I guess this could be considered a greenway and exploring a new area. We don’t have anything called a greenway here, and the only other bike trails are for mountain bikers who like technical rides. I’m looking forward to when the Bike Trail is completed in a few years and hope more of it follows the river!

{Thank you, Natalie! Very interesting to see how this trail snakes under the highways.}

Riding Solo with Friends

Although it seems like all my friends ride bikes, sometimes I’m the only one in the group riding. I suppose I could ditch the bike and go along with everyone else, but I’m loathe to give up the freedom and fun. Such was the case this weekend.

Saturday was a very full day, starting with a 9 mile ride to the Field Museum, where I met Melissa and Chanh. After looking at dinosaurs, we headed back to my neighborhood for dinner. They had taken the train in from the ‘burbs, so they continued with public transportation, while I set off on my bike and met them at the neighborhood L station. The restaurant was another mile away, so I walked my bike with them.

Field Museum

Melissa and Chanh

Sue the T-Rex

The city from Grant Park Museum Campus

Pomegranate Margarita

Later I somehow ended up going to a nightclub; definitely not a usual activity of mine, especially in my old age. I finally ditched my bike in favor of sharing a cab with everyone. After a very late all-night diner visit (mmm, grilled cheese), I rode my bike home by myself at 4 a.m. I was only a couple of miles away and I actually felt perfectly safe (pepper spray and u-lock just in case).

Night View

Thank you, dear Betty Foy the Bike, for taking me all around the city with such ease. I’m never alone when I’m with you :)

What do you do when you’re riding solo with friends?

{These photos taken with my vintage Minolta XG1 film camera.}

Evie – Future Batavus BUB Owner

Congratulations again to Evie of the lovely blog, Now for Then. She will very soon be the owner of a shiny new Batavus BUB courtesy of Fourth Floor Distribution.  Evie won the bike by completing two events for each of the three parts of the games.  However, she went far above and beyond merely completing the events; she incorporated the challenges into her life with enthusiasm and wrote about it all so wonderfully.  The fun radiates through her blog.  Here are Evie’s entries.

Bike date – ride with a friend and dress up.

Ride with your family.

Test ride a different kind of bike.

Go grocery shopping by bike.

Explore a new part of town by bike.

Go on a picnic by bicycle.

Evie, you and your bike Carmen are awesome!  I think she and Mr. Bub will get along very nicely.  :)

LGRAB Summer Games Round III and Grand Prize Winners

The moment is here! Dottie and I wanted to find a way to draw for the prizes together, so we gave Wetoku a spin. The sound leaves something to be desired, but it was fun to be on screen together. Watch the video, or just click through the jump to see the list of winners if you can’t stand the suspense. :)

(more…)

Explore: Nashville’s downtown

In the spirit of the LGRAB Summer Games, last week Le Peug and I rode downtown to go to a party celebrating the release of a new bourbon from Maker’s Mark.

Le Peug in front of the Country Music Hall of Fame

Riding downtown isn’t completely new for me, but I’ve only done it a handful of times—and this was the first time I rode from the office to downtown and then to the Gulch. The picture below shows the new Pinnacle building on the left. It blended into the sky better before they branded it, but such is modern life.

Pinnacle building and Encore condos

The place, the bourbon.

When I left The Palm, it was about 7:45 and the sun was setting. Apparently every bird in Nashville wants to be roosting on the roof of the Hilton at dusk, and the sky was full of them.

AT&T building peeking out from behind the Hilton; bird-filled sky

I rode down Demonbruen and over the viaduct to the Gulch, admiring the sunset along the way.

Union station, sunset

The Gulch, sunset

Most of my bike trips lately have been from home to work and back again, and to other familiar places (grocery store, pub, etc.). Exploring a new part of town was just what I needed to recapture the sense of adventure I felt when I got on the bike for the first time. Here’s hoping the rest of you who did this task for the Summer Games had the same experience!

Summer Games – Kari, Say Hi to a Cyclist

The LGRAB Summer Games have come to an end and we’re getting ready to announce the final winners tomorrow morning. Many thanks to everyone who played! We’re not done with Summer Games fun here, though. Over the next week, we’ll be posting entries that blog-less people emailed us and also putting together more recaps.

The first emailed entry comes from Kari in Minneapolis. This is such a fun story – enjoy!

Nicole and her custom bike

From Kari:

Yesterday, during my commute home, I complimented a woman on her unique bicycle while we were both stopped at a crossing on the Greenway. As we both took off and she receded into the distance, I realized that I could have asked her for her picture and used this as my second entry for the games! Her bike is super cool (evidenced by the photo below) and I was sure I wasn’t going to see anything that cool or unique anytime soon.

She was already pretty far ahead of me, but I decided that I was going to catch up with her anyway! I booked it hardcore in 3rd (my bike is a 3 speed) and I managed to catch up with her, happy but a little out of breath. She was super nice and obliged me with a photo. I told her about the contest and she said she read your blog, too! Her name is Nicole, and her bike was custom-made for her by her boyfriend, Matt, who works at Calhoun Cycle, a bike shop in Uptown.

It’s a really sweet bike in person (she’s sweet too, btw)! It’s not so clear in the photo, but the bike has a smaller front wheel and larger backwheel, plus a handmade chainguard that manages to look sort of steampunk in it’s handmadeness. I think he made the kickstand from scratch, too. Very awesome! Nicole and I geeked out bike-style about custom-made bikes and how hard it is to find European-style bicycles in America. She told me that she was really happy that I stopped her, since people normally ask her “why her bike is so wierd” instead of commenting on how INCREDIBLY AWESOME it is.

So here’s Nicole! Thanks guys!

{Thank you, Kari and Nicole! I love how this story brings two bike lovers – and LGRAB readers – together.}

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