Monthly Archives: May 2011

Music to cycle by

I know I can’t be the only “mother’s worst nightmare” cyclist who occasionally listens to music while commuting. For those worried about my safety, let me assure you that the music is low (though my singing, often, is not) and doesn’t drown out traffic any more than the wind noise does—I also frequently take advantage of the iPhone external speaker, to the chagrin of passers-by. Here are a few of the more recent songs that have been in heavy rotation during my rides this spring.

Monday morning revver-uppers

Songs for overcast days or the mulling over the day’s events on the ride home

When I want to remember I’m in Nashville

Like everyone else in America, I am also wearing out the Adele record. Is there a song you can’t stop listening to? Share in the comments!

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Jamie’s Stylish New Folding Bike

Jamie, the stylish NYC photographer behind one of my favorite photo blogs, From Me To You, recently got a new bike.

This is the Barcelona model of a Citizen Folding Bike. I am not familiar with the brand, but the $399 sale price is right. Check out those cream balloon tires and wicker basket! What a beauty! Both of them. :)

Folding bikes are an excellent choice for city-dwellers who have to carry their bikes into their apartments every night. As Jamie notes, this one fits in her tiny apartment.

{Photo (c) From Me To You and used with permission}

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Wedding Anniversary Bike Date

Earlier this week, Greg and I celebrated our 7 year wedding anniversary in a typical way for us: eating, drinking and bicycling. I ended up working late and took the fastest and most direct route from downtown to Lincoln Square. By the time I got to the restaurant (Mrs. Murphy and Sons Irish Bistro) I was sweaty and amped from all the traffic, but after freshening up quickly in the ladies’ room, I felt great. Although for the life of me, I could not find my comb (don’t you hate it when that happens?). Having a date who also bikes everywhere and knows the deal is helpful. :)

The first dish pictured above is macaroni and cheese bites over goat cheese fondu. Yes, it was delicious and the start of a two hours of yumminess.

Okay, so this bike date was really just about the food and drinks. To see lots of bike dates that actually focus on bicycling, check out Simply Bike’s Bike Date Series. One of my goals this summer is to do a proper bike date for the series.

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Brooke’s Betty Foy (because she’s worth it!)

Reader and cyclist Brooke contacted me back in February for advice on building up a Rivendell Betty Foy. Always happy to help, I dumped a whole slew of opinions on her (which one day I will post, since I have a lot of specific thoughts on component options for the Betty Foy) and this month I heard back from her that she received her beautiful Betty Foy. For your enjoyment and information, here are her photos and a bit more about her Betty Foy story.

Brooke and her new Rivendell Betty Foy

My hubby and I decided we wanted to bring more bike love and less car reliance to our family. The plan was to sell one of our cars, and get our family on bikes more – for errands, commuting, short joy rides, and hopefully some bike camping. I needed a bike I could truly enjoy riding on my own and with one of my kids on the back. In my search I came across Dottie’s blog. Oh Betty Foy! It was love at first site (and at first read of the description) – but I thought I didn’t deserve such a fancy bike. I hadn’t commuted by bike since the kids were born. It seemed a huge leap to go from an old Fuji Finest to such a specimen. But the more I researched, the more I felt that Rivendell’s Betty Foy best met my desires for a comfortable, yet hill and rain capable commuting and (potentially) touring bicycle. I convinced myself in February that I was worth it. After a very long wait, she’s finally here. Thank you Dottie for the inspiration!

Some specs:

Tires: Creme Grand Bois Hetres (so lovely!)
Wheels: Velocity Dyads
Fenders: VO fluted
Rear derailleur: Shimano Deore LX
Brakes: Long reach Tektro R556
Shifters: Shimano Barends (front der. friction, rear der. indexed)
Kickstand: Massload double (super stable for loading a kid on to the bike)
Red valve caps and cable crimps (okay, not a spec, but big love for the little things)

Starting her young

Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Brooke. I am so happy you decided that you are indeed worth it! We here at LGRAB wish you and your Betty the very best! :)

Oma Back in Action

I am happy to announce that Oma is back in action.  After leaving her in the garage with studded tires for 2.5 months while running around with my other bikes, I finally did the honorable thing and spruced her up for summer. Now I’ve been riding her all week.  Many thanks to the fine fellows at Dutch Bike Chicago who did all the work for me.  :)

Speaking of Dutch Bike, they moved to a new location this week, from Lincoln Park to Wicker Park at 2010 W Pierce. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello.

Critical Lass a Lovely Success!

Chicago’s first Critical Lass ride was a great success!  The weather was perfect, the route calm, and 25 cool women showed up.

We met at the Polish Triangle in Wicker Park.  Once the group gathered, our fearless leader Ash welcomed everyone.

I said “hi” to some old friends from the Women Who Bike brunch group.

A random guitar guy serenaded us with an impromptu song about bikes.

And then we were off!


We stopped at all red lights …

And stop signs.

We biked along quiet side streets, passing lots of big green parks and enjoying the smell of fresh mown grass.

After a fun and leisurely five mile ride, we ended at Simone’s in Pilsen.  We managed the parking situation by piling all in together and locking to each other.



Finally, we hung out for a couple of hours, enjoying dinner and kick-ass cocktails.  :)  My 9-mile ride home from Pilsen at 10 pm was also lots of fun, since I had several riding companions for most of the way.

The ride and gathering were so much fun. I plan to attend the ride EVERY THIRD THURSDAY! I hope to see you there. Spread the word!

Keep up with Critical Lass on Facebook.

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Bike Fancy: Chicagoans Looking Good on Bikes

I am enjoying watching Martha’s Bike Fancy archives grow, with a new photo every day of the week showcasing Chicago’s “people looking good on bikes.” Chicago women are awesome and have an overall aesthetic that is very different from Copenhagen Cycle Chic.

Martha on the left, a featured cyclist on the right

My favorite aspect of Bike Fancy is that all of the photos are posed portraits with a bit of information about the rider, sometimes a mini interview. Hearing from the women themselves and knowing that they agreed to pose for the pictures adds another dimension to the site.   While stopping a stranger on the street and asking if you can take her photo to put on the internet may sound awkward, if anyone can get someone to agree to this request, it’s Martha.  :)

Martha at work

In the photo above that I took after the last Women Who Bike Brunch, Martha is writing the contact information of the woman she flagged down. And this is the beautiful picture that resulted:

Image (c) Martha Williams of Bike Fancy

That’s how we roll in Chicago.  Check out all the rest at Bike Fancy!

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East Nashville Ride

My ride to East Nashville added up to more than a sunburn. I’m the worst when it comes to taking photos—especially when one has to pause to take them under the broiling noonday sun—but I did manage to capture a few images from my ride with Whitney and Raleigh a couple of weeks back.

First of all, her Raleigh and Le Peug are now serious buds. Don’t they look great together?


Like all the best bike rides, the point was the journey. It was Mother’s Day, so we avoided the more traditional brunch spots and had salads and a drink at Beyond the Edge, followed by a delicious ice cream cone at Pied Piper Creamery.

By that point the Nashville Bicycle Lounge was open, and we swung by to check it out and chat with owner Dan, who was in the midst of building up this sweet ride. In his words, “If Lizzie Borden rode a bike, this [custom Surly] would be it.”

The Bicycle Lounge is a really cool spot—it’s one of the only places in Nashville with a selection of transportation bicycles like Surly and Linus. Dan said he has trouble keeping the Linus bikes in particular in stock.

 

 

 

As soon as Whitney and I walked in, Dan greeted us. His first words were compliments on our vintage rides. Saying nice things about my bike is on the top 10 list of ways to my heart (other items on the list: cooking dinner, an affinity for Lionel Shriver novels, laughing at my jokes, foreign accents) so things were on the right track to begin with.

After ordering a couple of parts and purchasing some new brake pads for the Raleigh, we were heading back in the full heat of the day. Since going back home from East Nashville contained a few more uphill runs than the way there, we paused in a parking lot. Being dehydrated and sweaty did not make contemplating the soul who discarded a chicken bone, a grape jelly packet and the butt of a Swisher Sweet in the parking lot any more appetizing (let’s hope he or she did not eat them all at once).

 

Anyone else visited a new bike shop lately, or gone somewhere else a bit off the beaten path? I have to say that this ride whetted my appetite for some longer rides. Nothing like the sense of excitement that comes from conquering another part of town by bike.

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Little Miss Muddy: Coco in the Rain

Trisha showed you her Little Miss Messy coffee-stained Abici and now I’ll show you my Little Miss Muddy Velorbis. On Wednesday I rode Coco, my Velorbis, in the rain for the first time.  I discovered that the gorgeous cream-colored frame shows mud quite clearly.  I’m not good at keeping my bikes clean, but I definitely have to wipe Coco down after the rain.

Although Coco’s aesthetics suffer in the rain, her performance is top notch.  The substantial fenders, chain case, and internal brakes are perfect for keeping me clean and stopping on a dime.  The super cushy Fat Frank tires are a big bonus and make Coco the best among my bikes for riding in the rain.  Normally, I feel paranoid riding on slick roads and through puddles, but the stability and comfort of the fat tires made me feel completely secure. I love those tires.

As for myself, I dealt with the rain fine.  I wore my Patagonia trench rain coat (not pictured below), which caught most of the drizzle.  My wool tights and tweed skirt dried quickly and my helmet protected my hair.

So that’s it. I made it through a 30 minute drizzly bike commute a-okay.  By the time I got to work, I was a little bit more in love with Coco than before.

What aspects of your bike help (or not) when riding in the rain?

 

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Little Miss Messy

Reason #153 that Kermit Allegra and I get along so well: Neither of us can keep from spilling coffee on ourselves.

I really need to start bringing my reusable thermos along on commutes with me, especially when I have a 7 a.m. meeting. Even leaving the cup only 3/4 full, the amount of liquid that can escape from one of those tiny holes in the plastic lid over the course of a one-mile ride is astounding.

Introducing Chicago’s Critical Lass Ride

I am pleased to introduce a new addition to Chicago’s growing women-bicycling scene: Critical Lass!  Every third Thursday, 6:00 pm, at the Polish Triangle.

The ride’s name is self explanatory: think Critical Mass but exclusively for women and with an extra dose of friendliness.

The Critical Lass concept was – I think – created last year by Loop Frame Love in Edmonton, Canada.   Girls and Bicycles and Breaking Chains Taking Lanes also participate in the Edmonton ride.  Now my friend Ash of One Less Minivan has picked up the idea and worked to bring the ride to life in Chicago.  As far as I know, Chicago is the second city to host a ride using the Critical Lass name (always the Second City).

From the Critical Lass Chicago Facebook page:

Critical Lass is a monthly 5-8 mile bike ride exclusively for women/trans cyclists. In situations where childcare is not available to you, children who can ride independently while maintaining a 10MPH pace and younger kids in bike seats/trailers will be welcome to join the ride.

We meet on the third Thursday of each month at Polish Triangle (Division/Ashland/Milwaukee) in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Begin arriving at 6pm for a 6:30 departure.

The route will change monthly, always ending at a restaurant or bar for drinks, nosh and conversation.

I’m excited!  Hope to see many of you Chicagoans there.  If not this month, then June, July, August, September, etc.  :)

{p.s. Wondering how to find – or create – a bicycling community in your own town?  Check out Simply Bike for some great tips.}

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A Lovely Bike Commute?

My bike commutes this week have been lovely, full of sunshine and flowers and blue skies.  That’s what I was thinking, anyway…

Then I read Sam’s “Bike to Work Week” post, which is hilarious (as always), but sadly too true.  You gotta read the post yourself, but basically it has me wondering how lovely my bike commutes really are – objectively.

I have so much experience riding in the city now, the stress mostly rolls off my back: speeding SUVs buzzing me, car doors flung open in my path, cabs idling in the bike lane.  All of that craziness is a dim hum in the background for me, but a new bike commuter would be totally freaked out – and with good reason.

But there’s a lot to be said for sticking with bicycling long enough to get over those initial freak-outs.  Because, as Sam discusses, once you move beyond all that, bicycling “will be the most blissful state of existence you will ever know.”  That’s where I’m coming from when I rhapsodize about my lovely bike commutes every day.  Totally subjective.  :)


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Ride of Silence

Dear fellow cyclists,

As the Ride of Silence approaches — Wednesday night, May 18, 2011 for most communities — let’s take a moment now to reflect why we ride in silence and for whom. As someone commented on the Ride of Silence’s Facebook page – “the great thing about the Ride of SILENCE, it’s the same spoken in any language.” Silence is truly a universal and powerful language.

Below in the comments, please list the name of a bicyclist (could be yourself as a crash survivor) that you honor and wish to always be remembered.

Then please take a moment to also add this honoree info here (which will be collected by official ROS organizers for possible inclusion on the memorial page, which hopes to soon include injured cyclists). To see a list of all cyclists who have already been memorialized on the ROS site, visit the “In Memoriam” page.

Now – fellow bike bloggers… help us make another “silent” statement before the night of the ROS silent procession. Please re-post this exact post on your own blog asking the same of your readership (to comment with the names of bicyclists they honor and remember and to repost).

This is our “honor roll” for all bicyclists that the Ride of Silence (the global bike community) will never forget! We honor in this “silent” way all those who have been killed or injured by respectfully saying nothing at all… as we put a name to all cycling crash victims who we will never forget.

Please also add the names of cyclists we honor to the ROS Honor Roll database for statistical collection purposes –http://bit.ly/mnFne9

Let the Silence ROAR.

{Much love to our friend Elizabeth, who started this message at Bike Commuters, and who puts so much energy into organizing Chicago’s ride and spreading the message of remembrance.}

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May’s women-who-bike brunch

May’s women who bike brunch last Sunday was great fun, as always! It marked our first outdoor dining experience, on the rooftop of The Twisted Spoke.

There was plenty of bike ogling and shop talk, of course.

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Also lots of general hanging out, which is the main purpose of the brunch.

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One lady showed us this awesome pannier that she sewed herself. How cute!

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And finally, good drinks and grub.  Yes, I scarfed that entire platter down.  I need my energy for biking!  ;)

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See you next month? Hope so!

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If you’re in Chicago and would like to join our next brunch – or if you’re in a different city and have questions about starting a similar get-together – email me at LGRAB [at] letsgorideabike.com.

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The Lakefront Trail in Spring

When I got on my bike Friday morning, I made a last-minute decision to take the Lakefront Trail instead of my usual street route, since I was not feeling up to car traffic and was not in a rush.

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The Lakefront Trail in spring is totally different from the Lakefront Trail I wrote about in winter.

First, getting on the trail was a challenge, as recent thunderstorms created a moat in the underpass access. The water was very deep, so I backtracked up the ramp and biked three blocks south to the next access point, among heavy car and truck traffic merging onto Lakeshore Drive. Not my ideal route, but I managed safely by acting like a car and taking the lane.

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I was annoyed by the difficulty, since the whole point of riding the trail was to take it easy due to my illness. When Coco and I made it to the lakefront, though, my annoyance dissolved. The cool air was refreshing off Lake Michigan, a huge improvement from the hot-sun-on-blacktop feeling of the streets. Lots of people were out enjoying the beautiful Chicago morning.

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A couple of miles along, I encountered heavy trucks working on the trail. This was a pleasant surprise because they had paved over all the chunks of missing concrete and horrible craters that formed during the winter. Smooth sailing!

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I enjoyed my easy ride so much, I totally forgot I was sick until I tried to sing along to my fav Kate Nash song and couldn’t make it through one line without losing my breath. So it’s official: riding Coco slowly is less taxing than singing along to my iPod.

After emerging from the trail for the final 1.5 miles on downtown streets, I popped my helmet back on, blew my nose and said “cheese!” with Coco.

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Looking back on naive, Friday morning Dottie, I almost feel bad for her. She had no idea that she’d end up working late and then biking home along congested streets in a harsh headwind and temperatures that fell 30 degrees from the 70’s to the 40’s, without the benefit of gloves or earmuffs and with a hacking cough. But at least she could go home and sleep 12 hours, dreaming of her ideal Chicago spring morning ride.

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Bicycle Favoritism

Like a parent, I really can’t choose a favorite among my three bikes Oma, Betty and Coco. But I do go through periods when I heavily favor one over the others. Right now, it’s Betty’s time in the spotlight.

For the past month and a half, I’ve been riding Betty Foy exclusively. (April 7 was our 2-year anniversary!) I missed her so much during winter, as soon as the ice cleared and I got her tuned up, she became my ride of choice day after day. She’s so fun and breezy. I haven’t ridden Oma since the weather cleared two months ago because she still has studded tires and I hadn’t ridden Coco since…let me check the archives…March 31.

That changed on Wednesday, when I pulled Coco out for the day.

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And boy, am I glad I did! She’s a lovely bike and those Fat Frank tires are so cushy. I feel different when I’m perched atop her riding straight up. Once I break in the Brooks saddle, the comfort level will be perfection.

As for Oma – getting her studded tires swapped out is on my to-do list for this weekend. So Betty may have to take a back seat again for a while.

On another note, after all my talk of allergies, I finally went to a doctor yesterday and learned that I don’t have allergies at all (good!), but a two week virus (basically a bad cold). I plan to bike today even though I feel like crap because I can’t stand a second day on the L. (There’s a double meaning with “stand” – get it?)

Happy Friday!

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Women in Technology

Obvious alert: LGRAB has a new look. What do you think? Dot & I have been working on this one in fits and starts all year, and there’s likely to be a few more tweaks to come, but we’re pretty happy with our take on the Suffusion theme.

The Valve Variations

My fun with Kermit Allegra Spade (official name!) has been put on hold, thanks to a maintenance snafu. Kermit Allegra was originally slated to be my ride across town on Sunday. Filled with zeal, I decided that I’d check her tires before we left.

Walter is an attention whore

KAS did not come with a manual, but I felt especially confident because I have not only a standard Schrader valve pump, but also a Woods/Dunlop pump. What ever was on this bike, I thought, I’d be ready. Then I removed the cap to reveal something completely different. A Presta valve.

Presta valve

Unfortunately I did not stop there and turn to YouTube. It was clear that SOMETHING had to be done with the little brown top before air could be put in the tire. I opened the valve–but made the mistake of putting pressure on it. Whooooooosh, went the air. Flaaaaat, went my tire.

Flat tire

Le Peug and his old-school Schrader valves smiled in triumph and carried me off on the ride. Now I’m in the market for yet another pump to join the crew in my front hall closet.

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Blooming Bicyclists

If anyone got tired of me talking about snow during winter, prepare to get tired of me talking about flowers now. :) Seriously, check out these magnolias! How can this not make you happy?




Other than the severe allergies I’m suffering from, my bike commutes have been lovely. Today was the first bona fide hot day of the year. Bare legs, short sleeves and I still sweated. How novel.

Another novelty was the large number of bicyclists accompanying me. Yesterday at a stop light (North & Wells) I counted 12 of us. We are taking over. Very cool.

Bicyclists are blooming like flowers in Chicago! How about where you live?

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Enjoying the Springtime Scenery

Now that flowers are finally blooming everywhere in Chicago, I’m totally enjoying the gorgeous springtime scenery during my bike commutes. Although winter scenery is beautiful in its own weird way and autumn leaves are striking, spring wins the scenery contest hands down. As long as its not raining.

Unfortunately, for the second year in a row, I have allergies in the form of a terribly scratchy throat and itchy sinuses. I never had allergies before last year. But I’m still happy to be surrounded by flowers.

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