May 2011 archive

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!

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}

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.

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! :)

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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.

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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.

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!

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.

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?


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.

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