Monthly Archives: March 2011

Bicycle-Love Fashion

Hi, there! To follow up on the serious and fascinating discussion going on about the Mary Poppins effect, I’ve got some fashion fluff for you.

I’m not one to wear special cycling clothes, but that does not apply to creative bike-themed fashion.  The outfit below, for example (see also, my Makool bike locket).

Maureen of Inspired Cyclist sent me this beautiful printed t-shirt from Target.  How sweet is this??  The t-shirt’s red and pink hearts perfectly match my new Nutcase helmet.

I put the two together with a pink hoodie, black jeggins and cool earrings made from old tire tubes that I bought at the Bike Winter Art Show (can’t remember the woman’s name!).  Then I biked on Coco downtown to see God of Carnage at the Goodman Theatre, which was an amazing play.

Back to my new Nutcase helmet: so sweet!  

I first saw a photo of this design from the Spring 2011 line on City Girl Rides and knew I had to make it mine.  (Do you know City Girl Rides? Good stuff!!)

Nutcase’s website does not list this design and my local bike shop didn’t have it yet, so I emailed Nutcase directly and quickly got a reply email with a link to a shop in Cali that had some in stock.  Score!

The $60 price tag made me hesitate, but I rationalized that if divided into price per wear, it would be pennies a day. ;)


Altogether, I was a very happy cycling lady!  

P.S.  Mr. Dottie was there, too, but evaded my camera.  He sent Sir Raleigh as his LGRAB ambassador.  :)

Anyone else have bike-themed fashion you just love?

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

My Take on the Mary Poppins Effect

How much does your outfit and bicycle affect how drivers treat you?

Lovely Bicycle talked about the Mary Poppins effect in January and London Cyclist brought it back to my mind with a recent guest post from Bike Thoughts From A Broad (love that name!).

For those who are not familiar, the Mary Poppins effect is basically the idea that drivers are nicer to women bicyclists riding upright bikes with dresses and flowing hair. I haven’t read much from men about this, but maybe dapper men on city bikes get the same deference.

My daily experience cycling in Chicago supports the Mary Poppins effect. Generally, drivers treat me well enough that I feel somewhat … respected? or patronized? *shrug* Both are fine with me, as long as I’m safe. Of course, there are always the assholes outliers, but for the most part drivers are okay.

My only disagreement with the general hypothesis is helmets. A major contributor of the Mary Poppins effect, others have posited, is riding helmetless and with free-flowing hair, because of both the relative vulnerability and the “regularness” it exhibits. I wear a helmet ~ 98% of the time I ride in traffic by personal preference and I receive as much deference, if not more, than someone without. The key is a fun and distinctive helmet – red hearts! pink starbursts! Having a distinctive helmet causes drivers to recognize me, and it’s hard to be rude to someone you pass daily.

The Mary Poppins effect is especially on my mind now because I experienced a lack of the effect today. Typically I wear a dress or skirt, but today I wore a navy pinstripe pantsuit with a ankle strap on my left leg. Everything else was the same: I rode an upright Danish bike, wore a helmet covered with red hearts and rode with my typical calm assertiveness, but luxury SUV after luxury SUV after car passed me too closely. The effect was decidedly non-Mary Poppins.

Could simply wearing pants instead of a skirt lead to such a noticeable change in drivers’ behavior? Maybe. Was I more sensitive to the idea of the Mary Poppins effect due to my recent reading? Perhaps. But I felt like there was a marked difference in how drivers treated me, during both the morning and the evening commutes.

I’m really interested in what others have experienced. Men, women, pants, skirts, helmet, no helmet – have you noticed a Mary Poppins effect, or lack thereof?

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

Bachelorette Party by Bike

Last Saturday, I donned my most recent thrifted dress – Ann Taylor, new with tags! – and headed downtown on Betty Foy to celebrate Melissa’s bachelorette party.


(Pardon the light leaks on my film.)

On the way downtown, I spotted my friend Elizabeth riding in the opposite direction.

I would notice that pink bar tape anywhere.

We stopped and chatted for a bit before continuing on our ways. I love surprise meetings with friends on bikes!

When I arrived downtown, I passed Betty Foy to the bellhop at the swanky hotel where we’d be crashing. He checked her into a secure luggage room for the night. Thanks, Palomar Hotel!

As for the rest of the night… That’s classified. I’ll just say that the bike ride home the next morning was refreshing: rolling through the quiet morning streets in the same outfit I wore the night before, a few boa feathers stuck in my hair. :)

Tagged , , , , , , ,

We {heart} Knitting Lemonade’s Chic Bicycle Crafts

We gotta give a shout out to Kara of Knitting Lemonade for all the crafty bicycle goodness she has on her site this month.

You may remember that I met her by chance at Dutch Bike Co last year when she visited Chicago from Salt Lake City. She then guest blogged about the trials of finding a bicycle to fit taller ladies.

Kara with her Pashley, cape and bunting

Lately, Kara has been creating some fabulous bicycle accessories and sharing her work on her blog. She shows how to make a lovely basket bunting and how to make a super chic riding cape, both of which she test rode on her Pashley.

Bonus: she also found nail polish that matches her Betty Foy!

Craft on, ride on!

{Photo from Knitting Lemonade}

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Chicago Bike Fashion Show – Tonight

My Prada heels on wheels

In celebration of the end of winter cycling and the 14th Annual Bike Winter Art Show, join Chicago’s bicycling community for the closing night party and fashion show. I will be there taking Coco down the (hopefully brief) runway. In addition to the bike fashion show, there will be drinks, a DJ and a performance by the BMX bike dance troupe The Racketeers.

The event will be at the Chicago Urban Art Center in Pilsen, following Critical Mass. More info here.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Riding in heels FAIL

Well, it had to happen one day: I finally found a pair of heeled shoes that I can’t ride my bike in. It’s more like a style of heel, actually, since I have one other pair of black booties that don’t work on a bike for the exact same reason. Here are the culprits.

It might surprise you to know that what doesn’t work on these shoes is not necessarily the high heel: it’s the thick platform sole that angles up at the front (you can see the angle from both the front and the side in the second pic). That angle makes for a smaller contact point on the pedal—and even if you do manage to get the ball of your foot in just the right spot, it also makes it much easier for your foot to slip off. On the one occasion I did ride in these shoes, I definitely had to concentrate on keeping my feet on the pedals — and starting and stopping was a lot less convenient.

I know our female readers and fellow bloggers have mixed opinions on riding in heels. So ladies out there: do you do it? if not, why not, and if so, what type of shoe do you feel most comfortable riding in? I prefer heels with rubber soles myself; this pair of Jessica Simpson pumps I wore on my birthday bike ride last year are some of my favorites for cycling.

Tagged ,

March’s women-who-bike brunch

March’s women-who-bike brunch was small and cozy, thanks to some last minute location scheduling on my part, but at least having fewer people made it much easier to carry on a conversation. I had a great time hanging out with some of my favorite cycling mamas and a recent transplant to Chicago from Austin.

The scene: Wishbone

Lauren and Mimosa!

Jennifer and Ash

Me and Betty

Ash and her Madsen

The next brunch on April 3rd is already set to be another big one. If you’re in the Chicago area and are interested in attending, email me at LGRAB@letsgorideabike.com for the location details. The brunch is always the first Sunday of the month, so put it on your calendar. :)

In other news, I left my bike at home yesterday because the forecast called for thunderstorms and severe hail. Guess what? No thunder, no hail. I was tricked into taking the L train! Boo.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

A New-Old Bike

Last Sunday I went with my friend Whitney to take  a look at a vintage bike.

After a few saddle and stem adjustments, this 1972 Raleigh 3-speed was a perfect fit—a lighter, sportier complement to Whitney’s Jamis that should be able to cope with Nashville’s hills. This was my first time seeing/riding a Raleigh and I was amazed at how light and quick it was.

Whitney and her Raleigh

We celebrated with a brief vintage bike ride — brief because of intermittent rain and looming evening plans. Raleigh and Le Peug were a good match! Probably because they’re about the same age.

Vintage bike buddies

In other vintage bike news, I’ve suddenly become obsessed with getting an Ideale saddle for Le Peug. They seem to be very hard to come by—anyone have any tips?

Tagged , , , , , ,

Happy first day of Spring!

Kind of amazing how, in the course of a month, we’ve gone from this:

February 22

to this:

March 21

Here’s to a season of great rides!

Tagged , , , , , ,

Oz Park

Last Friday was so beautiful, I stopped by Oz Park on my way to work to extend my outside time.  I pass by Oz Park daily, but I’ve never stopped before.  As a Dorothy with a fondness for red shoes (although I’m more of a cat person) this park was a lot of fun for me.

You may have noticed that I’m sporting a new helmet, along with my new $4 thrifted dress (and massive green hands).  This is a sneak preview of the Nutcase helmet – I’ll post all about the helmet soon.

Now that spring is officially here, who else is making more side trips during their bike commutes?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,


Magical Cupcakes on Wheels

I know I blog about cupcakes a lot – here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here! – but this is an extra special cupcake bike story.

Last Friday, I stepped out of my office at the end of the day and right before my eyes was a cupcake van parked in front of Oma.

I did not know where the magical cupcake van came from, but of course I immediately made a purchase.

When I got home, I googled the company, Flirty Cupcakes on Wheels, and discovered that it’s quite the thing in Chicago.  The van drives around downtown to surprise locations, broadcasts the location through Twitter and Facebook, and then after an hour or so disappears back to the magical land of unicorns and rainbows.  Buying their cupcakes is like catching a butterfly in a net.

The only thing that would make this company waaaay cooler?  Cupcakes by bakfiets.  Somebody get working on that one and you’ll have a loyal fan forever.  :)

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Beautiful Bicycles: Yuba Mundo Cargo Bike

As I mentioned yesterday, I recently test rode a Yuba Mundo from J.C. Lind Bikes for 24 hours. Yuba is a utility bike company based in California and the Mundo can carry up to 450 pounds of cargo on the back while riding like a regular bike. As some of my co-workers noted today, this is the station wagon of bikes (as opposed to Oma, which they’ve called my Cadillac).

The bike is not super heavy for its size and is equipped with 21 gears on a derailleur system to help make any load do-able.

You change the gears by turning the grip shifters on the handlebars.

Fenders cover both wheels to help keep you clean and dry.  A spring above the front tire keeps the handlebars stabilized and prevents the bars and the wheel from flopping to the side.

This bike requires maintenance to keep the v-brakes, derailleur and huge exposed chain clean.  Not a big deal, but a factor that does not come into play with traditional Dutch and Danish cargo bikes. Note that the frame could be built up with disc brakes and internal gear hubs, but that would cost extra.

The frame is covered with braze-ons, like the water bottle ones below, to make attaching racks and other add-ons easy.  The top tube is unusually thick, which was annoying at first because my knees kept knocking against it as I pedaled.  But after a few minutes, I adjusted to carrying myself a bit differently and the bumping stopped.

The frame comes in only one size, but the bike is highly adjustable to allow multiple family members to ride it by changing the seat and handlebars.

The one thing that I would change is the step-over height, but maybe that’s a necessity of the design.  Mounting and dismounting in my skirt was inelegant, to say the least, and an easier step-over would be especially beneficial when hauling a load, I assume.

The riding position is pretty straight up, as you can see, although I moved the handlebars more upright to match my preference and the bars could be placed lower and further forward for a slightly more aerodynamic feel.

The main attraction, of course, is the long tail, which is rated to hold up to 450 pounds of cargo.  In addition to the rack itself, rails extend out below the rack to make hanging and strapping stuff along the side super easy.

If I owned the bike, I would permanently attach two saddlebags (those suckers are huge!), one on each side, and distribute bigger loads evenly between both sides.  I think it would be awesome to ride this bike around all the time, never having to worry about my ability to carry any load, while at the same time not feeling weighed down by a big cargo bike when not carrying anything.  This bike also has kid seats that clip onto the rear rack, so if you’re comfortable carrying kids on the back, it’s the most versatile kid/cargo carrier that I’ve test-ridden.

Since I borrowed the bike on the spur of the moment, I did not get to try it with a load.  I wanted to go grocery hauling or do something cool, but I really did not need groceries or to spend any more money.  I carried two bags and a heavy lock in the saddle bag, so there was some weight, but nothing monumental.  I know that greatly limits the helpfulness of this review – sorry about that.

I rode along the lakefront in a stiff headwind this morning, and while the bike was not speedy, it was not heavy like my Dutch bike would have been. The 21 gears are really awesome to use.  The thick 26″ wheels and long wheelbase make the bike draggy, but are essential for carrying sturdy loads.

Handling in general is superb for a cargo bike.  The Yuba rides like a regular bike – granted not like the best bike in the world, but like a smooth and sturdy hybrid.  I got used to the feel of the bike after a couple of minutes and after that could have forgotten that I was riding a strange bike, if it weren’t for all the stares I got from pedestrians.  I’m sure a heavy load would affect that to some degree, but the quality of the ride unloaded is a good sign.

The Yuba Mundo really stands out for its ability to haul massive loads, while functioning like a regular bike when all you want is a regular bike.  If you want to haul stuff on your bike but find the idea of a bakfiets-type bike cumbersome and/or too pricey, the Yuba is definitely worth checking out. Priced at $1095 for the set-up I rode, it’s a relative bargain.

My test ride review can only scratch the surface of this bike, so I encourage you to try it out in real life, if possible (available at J.C. Lind for Chicagoans) and check out Steven Can Plan to hear from an owner. In particular, check out his “Rules for Yubering” and impressive all-Yuba Flickr set.

I know there are quite a few of you out there who ride a Yuba or the similar Surly Long Haul Trucker Big Dummy, so I’d love to hear from all of you about your experiences, especially with carrying substantial loads.

Questions? Leave them in the comments. I may not be able to answer them all, but hopefully someone with more intimate Yuba experience could jump in.

{J.C. Lind Bikes is a sponsor of LGRAB. That’s not why I decided to test this bike, but I should point out that relationship.}

{Also, tying this back to yesterday’s post, I took these photos using the film SLR camera I bought for $25, I’m wearing the wool-silk skirt I bought for $2, and I’m displaying my Irish pride for St. Paddy’s day.}


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

Racing, Thrifting and Cargoing

Today was absolutely gorgeous – sunny and 60 degrees! I biked without gloves and earmuffs for the first time since October. Yes!

During lunch I went to the Salvation Army with a friend from work. I wanted to enjoy the gorgeous weather, so I told her I’d bike and meet her there. We did a little “on your mark, get set, go” when leaving the building. My bike was right outside, while her car was parked in the lot a block away. I left her in the dust until, a mere block from the destination, she passed me tooting her horn. BUT she still had to park, pay the meter machine and put a ticket stub on her dash. By the time she got to the entrance, I was waiting impatiently.

Somehow she beat me on the way back to the office, but just barely. And she didn’t get to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. :)

Betty being cocky

I scored big at the thrift store, buying a manual 35 mm camera in great shape, two dresses and a skirt. Finding beautiful clothes for only $2 is such a thrill. I have very little interest in shopping at real clothing stores now.

My favorite thrift store

On my way home, I was in such a good mood and the weather was so beautiful, it seemed a shame to ride straight home. Instead, I stopped in J.C. Lind Bikes, which I pass by every day, to chat with the owner Jon. I left about an hour later with a Yuba instead of Betty – only for an overnight test ride!

Me and the Yuba

I love riding unusual bikes around town, always fun. I’ll write a full test ride review after I try it out more tomorrow. Plus, the story of a certain awesome cycling family I ran into on my way home!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday Morning Head-Shaker

Just in case anyone needs a laugh (even a “seriously?!?” one) this Monday afternoon as much as I do, here’s a picture that ran on the website of the leading newspaper of my homestate (The Birmingham News) today.

photo by Hal Yeager, Birmingham News

The caption:

Distinctive new road markings, or “€œsharrows,”€ on 14th Street South between UAB and Southside in Birmingham alert drivers that they are sharing the road with bicycles.

But what about this picture does not fit that caption? Oh yeah, the bicycles riding on the SIDEWALK. Seems an odd choice to put with a story like this one, since it in no way illustrates what the sharrows are. Not to shame those riders for making the choice that makes them feel safe, but this photo sends some mixed messages to say the least.

Dear B’ham News: Please call the women at BikeSkirt the next time you want to take a photo to illustrate a story about cycling.

Tagged , , , , ,

Happy Mid-March

I think the weather has been a lovely mix of chilly and springy lately, but I don’t know: I’ve been sick and haven’t left the house in three days.

I’m looking forward to getting back on my bike tomorrow.  Even though I’m still sick.  If I have to go to the office, at least I can have fun getting there.  *sigh*

Also, the Ladies Who Bike and Brunch and Drink are having a happy hour tomorrow night.  If you’re in Chicago and want to come, email me for the details – lgrab@letsgorideabike.com.

Here’s to mid-March/almost-April.  And to bikes and to polaroids.

Tagged ,

Cupcake Attack!

My bike commutes this week have been lovely, happy and above-freezing. Spring is around the corner! I can feel it in my bones, this morning’s flurries notwithstanding.

On the way home today, Betty Foy made me stop for cupcakes in celebration of the season. She is bossy. ;)

I then munched an entire fairy cake whilst standing outside.

Cupcake attack!

At $2.25 each, these sweet treats are a bargain compared to oil. What’s your fuel of choice?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Bike Theft with a Happy Ending

Everyone who rides a bike lives with the fear that the bike will be stolen one day. This is a tragedy that both Trisha and I have experienced – now I use the heftiest and burliest locks available for my bikes, even when they’re locked in my garage. Sadly, my friend Julie suffered this fate last week (the same Julie from yesterday’s post), but her story has a surprisingly happy ending.

Julie and her bicycle - photo (c) Martha Williams of Bike Fancy

In her words:

My bike was stolen Friday afternoon outside my office in Lincoln Park. No cut u lock, no signs of the rack being compromised. I honestly thought that maybe I hadn’t rode in that day…. but I had my helmet and rain pants so I know I wasn’t going crazy.

Immediately I filed a police report over the phone, added it to the stolen bike reg and sent emails to friends.

Yesterday a few people checked out the bike swap on the south side with no luck.

This morning I headed back there with a couple of friends.

Within 5 minutes I saw the bike, we called the cops and they recovered the bike for me. No arrests.

My fenders and rack were missing (which had numerous stickers) but besides that, mommy and baby are reunited.

Apparently, the south side “bike swap” is a regular place/event through which a lot of Chicago’s stolen bikes are funneled. Crazy. I’m so happy that Julie got her bike back, especially because finding a bike that fit her properly took a long time – the Redline is 39 cm with 24″ wheels.

Have you had your bike stolen before? If so, what did you do and was the bike ever recovered?

{The beautiful photo of Julie above was taken by Martha Williams. Check out all her fabulous bike portraits at her blog Bike Fancy There is a new portrait nearly every day.}

Tagged , , ,

Is Bicycling Political?

Old photo chosen for the red, white and blue

WBEZ asks this question and Julie Hochstadter answers.  For those of you who are not from Chicago, brief introductions: WBEZ is my beloved Chicago Public Radio, Julie is co-owner of The Chainlink and all-around awesome woman.

Julie’s take on the question: basically, bicycling is a political statement even if you don’t intend it to be because you’re doing something out of the norm.  Also, you’re saving the world.  ;)  But bicycling is also fun, practical, safe and fast.

I cannot embed the story, so read and listen here. The audio is only 3 minutes long.

What do you think: is bicycling political?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

The End of Hibernation

When I took these photos two weeks ago, I was marveling at the lovely spring thaw.  In comparison to the scenery today, these photos look downright chilly.  Now the snow is almost totally gone (knock on wood!) with only a few ice patches.

I loved my ride on Betty Foy today, so smooth and peppy – and sunny!

I also loved all the bicyclists coming out of the woodwork after hibernation.  There are so many more bicyclists on the streets now than when I took these photos two weeks ago, that’s for sure.  I always enjoy this time of year, when the streets begin to  fill out with other cyclists.  Although having my run of the bike lanes in the winter has a certain charm, sometimes it feels lonely.

I’m looking forward to taking some longer rides once the weather warms up a bit, like a cupcake tour of the city – stay tuned for more info on that brilliant idea, inspired by Bike Skirt. :)

Is anyone gearing up to bike again after taking most of the winter off?  If so, welcome out of hibernation!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 46 other followers