November 2010 archive

Nothin’ lasts forever, even cold November rain

Oh yes, I’m pulling out the Guns ‘N Roses. This is my last chance to use the reference for a year, since tomorrow is the last day of November.

Today’s rain led me to take the Lakefront Trail. Even though the route adds another 15 rainy minutes to my commute, riding among cars in the rain frays my nerves. On the bike path I don’t mind the rain at all, especially when there’s a tail wind.

As usual, wool and boots kept me toasty warm. These super windy pictures are actually from the rainy day last week. The bike was different, but the outfit was pretty much the same.

Anyone else care for an ’80′s MTV flashback? Gosh, I loved this video as a wee lass.

And so, as I roll through the wet, cold weather, I remember that nothin’ lasts forever, even cold November rain.

Cycling to the Christkindlmarket

As winter slowly but surely creeps in, one must take full advantage of any and all lingering above-freezing days. Such was the case today.  As the sun shone brightly and the temperature hovered above 40 degree, Mr. Dottie and I met up with our friends Dan and Janet for a leisurely ride downtown. That’s three Omas and a vintage Raleigh, taking it nice and easy.

We rode the inner lakefront path, a dirt and gravel trail that meanders along Lincoln Park, but eventually jumped on city streets at the Gold Coast and into the bustling Loop.

Our destination was the Christkindlmarket, a traditional German holiday market that sets up shop each year in Chicago’s main plaza. The market is a wonderful use of public space, filled with beautiful booths, Christmas trinkets and delicious sweets.

A particular treat that many people enjoy at the market is the Gluhwein, a hot mulled wine.  While it sounds good in theory, I thought it tasted quite nasty. I still drank every drop and I got a commemorative cermamic boot mug out of the deal, so it was totally worth it. :) As you can see, I hauled around my Basil pannier, which was not the best idea. Should have gone with the basket and purse set-up.

There are lots of delicious sweet treats to go with the alcohol.  Very yummy stuff like fresh roasted nuts, Bavarian gingerbread, baked pretzels, fried apples and chocolate covered marshmallows.

By the time we had our fill of holiday cheer and German junk food, the sun was already setting and the sky grew darker and darker as we rode along the Lakefront Trail, all before 5 pm. (Photo below is from Dan – thanks! – the rest are from my vintage film camera.)

Don’t you love the holidays? I hope everyone else is taking advantage of these final days of November!

{You can read about last year’s cycling trip to the Christkindlmarket here.}

Winter Arrives in Chicago

Although snow has not yet arrived in Chicago, wintery cold has.

Yesterday evening, following two days of Thanksgiving hibernation and feeling the need to get out in the fresh air, I jumped on my bicycle for a freezing but rejuvenating ride along Chicago’s northside lakefront. That really hit the spot. Although my fingers and toes burn and my nose sniffles and my eyes water, everything about riding in the winter makes me feel alive in a way that sweating during the summer does not.

The 30 F temperature felt substantially colder with the 20 mph winds off Lake Michigan and constantly taking my gloves off to operate my camera. Once I got home, a slice of warm, homemade-by-me apple pie and glass of scotch warmed me up right quick.

Winter? I’m ready. :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Small Group, Big Time at the Nashville Tweed Ride

Last week’s Tweed Ride had a small turnout, but it was a great time.  We even had a pace car: My friend Erin’s scooter. I even had some help with photography (thanks TK!). We stopped at two pubs, then had dinner at Bella Napoli and a final drink back near our starting point on the patio at Jackson’s.

Steph & Tony

Whitney

Erin

And . . . we're off! (photo by Tony)

The weather was so beautiful that it was almost too hot for tweed.

At our first stop, Red Door Midtown

second stop: Flying Saucer

Erin & Tony after the Flying Saucer

Jessica at Bella Napoli, final stop (photo by Tony)

The group (photo by Tony)

Best of all, we came up with a great idea for our next Nashville theme ride: Rhinestone Cowboy Ride. Something tells me we’ll stand out a little more than  we did this time around . . .

Freezing Rain

Today’s evening commute brought on freezing rain. Not the most fun weather, but not insurmountable. There was no ice on the road, so the only issue was staying dry and warm. A tweed skirt, long wool winter coat, knee-high leather boots, earmuffs and huge mittens did the job admirably. A thick leather Coach purse in my basket kept my belongings dry. As long as the rain is mild to moderate, this kind of set up works well – no raincoat and waterproof panniers needed.

The photo below shows why I hate to ride downtown in the rain at night. With the wet pavement reflections, I doubt my bike lights and reflectors bring much attention from drivers, which is why I choose routes with as few cars as possible during times like these.

I’m grateful that Chicago does not have a long rainy season. Soon this rain will turn into snow, which – although bringing its own host of problems – is more enjoyable to me.

{For another take on riding in the rain, read about my friend Elizabeth’s wet commute on Bike Commuters.}

I Love My Cold Commute

I’m loving my commute this week, especially the mornings. I love it so much, I’m inspired to create my very first gif self portrait – pardon the silliness.

Although the look is distinctly autumnal, the feel is now wintry, with biting cold hovering around freezing to match the glowing sun.

Hey, don’t think of it as cold, think of it as refreshing. Right? Right! Stay on your bikes, peeps. :)

Helmet obsession not helping

Today I received in the mail the new issue of Yes! Magazine. The prior issue featured me to illustrate bicycling as a resilient idea for a future without oil. As I munched on French bread and sipped wine in a delightful mood, Mr. Dottie handed me the magazine and pointed to the Letters to the Editor section with no comment. Uh-oh.

Wear a Helmet

My husband bikes to work year-round and I tote our two girls (one and three years old) in our bike trailer all around town. I was pleased to see Resilient Idea #3, a full-page picture of a stylish and burly biker in the snow, but wouldn’t a helmet be wise?

Lesley W., Newberg, Ore.

I’m sure Lesley is a lovely woman, but she ruined my appetite.

First, “burly?” – adjective: large in bodily size; stout; sturdy. Ahem, inaccurate description! Painful to vanity!

Second, it’s a portrait. I’m standing next to my bike. In fact, my helmet was in my basket. Context, people.

Third, it’s obviously off road, “along Lake Michigan.” When I ride on the lakefront bike path on my Dutch bike, I often go without a helmet. Free of the fear of getting creamed by a car does that to a woman. The studded tires and lights on my bike are much more important to my safety.

Finally and most importantly, a fixation on helmets does not help bicyclists. In any discussion about bicycling in mainstream or bike-specific media, some bicyclist always chirps about helmets. Helmets! Helmets! HELMETS! And the focus of bicycling instantly moves to danger – not fun or positivity or a damn smart way to get around.

Boooo, hissssss!

I wear my helmet most of the time. I wish the streets were safe enough for me not to feel like I have to. Sometimes I do not wear a helmet. Many bicyclists swear by helmets, while many others swear against them. But we all keep riding our bikes. Life goes on.

Fact is, bicyclists are losing the discourse battle and we are our own worst enemy (like the poor, beleaguered Democrats). Never underestimate the power of discourse. If every mention of bicycling is dragged into the ditch of “danger” and at the same time never gets around to mentioning, hey, motor vehicles and their drivers are the ones that create the danger – well, we’ve all lost.

Portandize said all of this much more eloquently and fully in his recent post, “The Downside to our Safety Obsession.” I suggest you check it out and then everyone stop chirping about helmets at every opportunity.

Double Dutch

I love how the Dutch carry people on their bikes effortlessly, as seen often on Amsterdamize. After two years of owning my Dutch bike, I finally succeeded in riding with a passenger on my back rack.

Me and Janet

I promised a video, so I am delivering. However, I did not take into account beforehand the affect darkness and a few martinis among us would have on the video quality. Soon I’ll make a thorough how-to video. For now, enjoy this quick glimpse.

The only hard part was overcoming my fear of falling when starting. Once I got rolling, I could not feel a difference in the handling or any extra weight. Many thanks to Janet for being a perfect passenger. Having a confident passenger is necessary for this undertaking.

Dan, Janet and their two Omas

The trick now will be convincing bike-less friends to ride on my rack when it would be more convenient than me walking my bike alongside them. :)

Nashville Tweed Ride 2010

Come one, come all (and bring your friends) to Nashville’s first (to my knowledge) tweed ride. The ride starts tomorrow at Fannie Mae Dees (aka Dragon) Park. We’re meeting by the dragon at 2 and setting off on a route that includes stops at Red Door Midtown and the Flying Saucer. I just found a jacket at the thrift store that is something Princess Diana might have worn on a hunting expedition, so I’m pretty psyched.

Hope to see you tomorrow!

A Lovely Change of Pace

“You are a lovely change of pace,” a guy bicycling by me called out yesterday morning.  We had just launched off from a stop light with about 6 other cyclists and I moved over to the right after seeing that he needed to pass in my rear view mirror.  I don’t know if my helpful maneuver or my skirt and pink helmet elicited the remark, but it made me laugh and say, “Thank you!”

A change of pace is really what I needed, after a too-eventful week.  To that end, I chose to ride the Lakefront Trail yesterday evening and this morning.  Even though it’s quite out of the way and adds about 2 miles to my otherwise 4 mile work route, sometimes it’s totally worth it for a lovely change of pace, free of cars.

Happy Friday!

p.s.  I’m not trying to hold out on my new bike news, but I don’t want to post about it until I have it and there’s an unexpected delay, so probably by early next week.

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