August 2011 archive

Bicycle Daydreams

Do you ever daydream while riding your bicycle? A benefit of taking side streets to work is the opportunity to let my guard down and allow my mind to wander a bit.

One of my favorite daydreams is of being in Paris. Since visiting last year, I consider Paris my favorite city (okay, Chicago, maybe my second-favorite city). The best way to evoke Paris is by listening to Coeur de Pirate while riding my bike and stopping for lunch at Leonida’s Chocolate Cafe for savory crepes.



I love the little patio with chairs and tables that look just like cafes in Paris.

Trisha sent me the Coeur de Pirate album and it is the sweetest, most magical music you could listen to while riding your bike. It makes me feel like I’m the protagonist in a cute French movie, even though I have no idea what any of the lyrics mean and ignoring the fact that they are from Montreal.

Here is my favorite song to listen to while cycling, Fondu Au Noir, with a handy translation.

When I’m not daydreaming about Paris, I’m very happy to be in Chicago. Yesterday I had a very Chicago evening, meeting up with some of my biking ladies, drinking Goose Island beer, eating pizza, and watching Ferris Bueller (John Hughes’ love letter to Chicago) on a rooftop with a beautiful view of the skyline. The occassion was a special bike-in movie event to benefit West Town Bikes. I don’t have any photos, but it was a lovely evening, despite the light rain.

What do you daydream about while bicycling?

Happy Friday!

TGIF! It’s hard to believe that this is the last weekend of August already.

In order to enjoy the remaining days of summer as much as possible, yesterday I signed up for the Four Star Bike Tour on Sunday, which is an annual ride hosted by and benefiting the Active Transportation Alliance. In the past, I’ve volunteered at the ride, but never biked it myself.

There are four route options, 12/21/35/65 miles, and I plan to do the 35-mile route, which will be 50 miles of riding when I add in the trip from home and back. Sounds like a lovely way to see the city:

You’ll travel through many of the same Chicago neighborhoods as the Chicago Ramble, also riding through Bronzeville, Hyde Park, South Commons and the Near South Side. You’ll explore Garfield and Humboldt Parks before following Oakwood and Drexel Boulevards south to soak up the beautiful, historic Kenwood and Hyde Park neighborhoods. In Hyde Park, you’ll head east through the Midway Plaissance, and then continue south on Woodlawn to Jackson Park where you’ll pick up the Lakefront Trail for the return trip.

I’ll have to dig in the back of my closet to pull out my only cycling-specific outfit of padded shorts and jersey (wool, of course!).

Does anyone else have special bicycling weekend plans?

A Sorry Excuse for a Bike Route

One of the most popular and vital bike routes from downtown Chicago to neighborhoods on the north side is Lincoln Avenue. I’ve read that 25-40% of the rush hour traffic on Lincoln is people on bikes. I certainly see lots of bicyclists along the way.

One day last week I decided to take this route to work, since I was on a tight schedule and Lincoln Avenue is by far the most direct and quickest route. Perhaps I have been spoiled by my super long and winding but super calm route of side-streets, but I was appalled by the situation on Lincoln Avenue. The cars sped from red light to red light, the huge intersections were like gladiator trials for bicyclists and pedestrians, car doors flung open left and right, buses heaved, and large trucks blocked the bike lanes on every block.

At one point, I was going straight through an intersection with a green light and a driver turned left riiiight in front of me. I looked at him in horror and saw that he was holding a document up in front of his face, reading it. What the what?!? And last Friday, my husband was side-swiped by a driver who veered into the bike lane. His pannier bore the brunt of the impact (with a big mark to show for it) and he was able to keep his bike upright. The driver had the decency to stop, apologize, and ask if he was alright, but maybe drivers could LOOK FIRST?? Pretty simple.

I don't *think* I'm invisible

Greg is definitely visible

All this on a popular marked bike route, which is a joke (on us bicyclists). Despite the fact that people on bikes make up a substantial amount of the traffic, all we get is a strip of paint dangerously close to parked cars and some sharrows.

Door zone

Our beautiful bike lanes

If Chicago is going to be anything near a world-class bicycling city, this key route from the northside to downtown must be improved. While a buffered or protected bike lane would be the bees freakin’ knees, I know that will not happen. I would be content with colored bike lanes that extend through intersections, bike boxes at stop lights, fewer potholes, red light cameras, enforcement of cars parked in bike lanes, and attention-getting signage*. Such improvements should not be an afterthought. If a street is not safely servicing up to 40% of its daily users, the street is a failure.

Until then, I’ll be on the side streets, getting to work 15 minutes later but in a much better mood. And here, hoping that loud complaints will somehow beget real change.


*Something like, ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO FLING OPEN YOUR CAR DOOR WHEN YOU HAVE NOT LOOKED TO SEE IF THAT ACTION WILL KILL ANYONE??????? I’m just brainstorming here, but you get the idea.

More Chicago News

Mayor Emanuel and I have something in common: we both took the Brown Line to work yesterday. I took it because threatening thunderstorms kept me off my bike and the Mayor took it to demonstrate how great Chicago’s public transportation system is.

“Got on the train and got to work in 30 minutes, short order. That is a competitive advantage for the city,” he said.

Next he should ride his bike to work. Would that be something? I think so! His people should call my people and we can work it out. (News story here)

Unfortunately, there was also tragic news yesterday.

A 30-year-old man, Fredrick Kobrick, was killed in a hit-and-run crash while riding his bike in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood Sunday night. Based on a photo of the scene, it appears he was riding in a bike lane. The man driving the car was apprehended and has been charged with reckless homicide, aggravated DUI, and leaving the scene of a fatal accident. (News story here)

Yesterday, an 86-year-old woman, Coral Kier, was killed in my neighborhood while crossing the street in a crosswalk by a left-turning cab driver. No word yet on charges against the driver. (News story here)

My thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims.

I chose to highlight these stories because I believe it’s important to recognize the good and the bad relevant news, and to recognize the victims, not to make bicycling or walking in the city seem especially dangerous. (Nearly every day, it seems, there are news stories about car drivers and passengers being killed in crashes.) I hope there will be justice for these senseless deaths, what little justice there can be, and further examination by the City of how it can make its residents safer.

Why I Ride a Bike

The weather is warm and sunny, the flowers are blossoming, and the traffic is calm on my quiet side street route. Riding my bike is so much nicer than squeezing onto the L train or being trapped in a car.




Even if the rest of my day is not so great, at least I know that I will enjoy my commute to and from work. (Even if I cut my head off with my self-timed photos :)) That’s why I ride my bike. Most assume it’s an environmental or health statement, but those factors are secondary to having a happy commute. If it were not enjoyable, I would not do it.

Why do you ride a bike?

LGRAB Summer Games: Players & Prizes, Part 4

It’s time for the final dose of inspiration and prize-winning from the Summer Games.

Linda at The Auspicious Life in Portland rode to the Willemmette River  and Sauvie Island for some fresh raspberries (jealous!), outings that speak to the spirit of the Games.

She read The Lance Armstrong Performance Program: “I don’t plan on riding in any races or going up the Pyrenees anytime soon. But there were some good tips that led me to reevaluate my seat position and had some advice about shifting and breaking that will come in handy.” Linda, who just started biking last year, also went on her first group ride and enjoyed the sensation of stopping traffic. :)

Andrea M. in Toronto took our tasks and ran with them, completing nearly all of them by the time the contest was over! She “rinally” cleaned her rusty chain on her Opus.  took a picture that screams summer, rented, rode and reviewed one of the Bixi bicycles, went on her first group ride on a new bike trail and filled out a form asking for bicycle parking. Whew.

Reader Sara B. wrote about all her Summer Games events in one post. She read Cycling for Everyone, a book she “will turn back to repeatedly.”  She test-rode a Camp folding bike, rode somewhere new to pick up her CSA (yay for CSAs!) and took a summer snapshot.

Sara's summer snapshot

Hyedie H. of the delightful Cupcake Ride blog, also in Toronto, took a summer picture, too. Loving these beautiful landscapes!

Hyedie also went on a group ride, fixed the brakes on her grocery getter and wrote a letter to her councilman about saving the downtown bike lanes, which a new mayor in Toronto seems to be threatening. Maybe we should all join her and Andrea in that one…

The ladies from Loop Frame love played along, too, although Jen in Seattle was the only one to complete all four event, including test-riding an Xtracycle, fixing the handlebars on her son’s trail-a-bike, organizing a group ride to some of Seattle’s new Neighborhood Greenways and photographed her summer commute “at its best.” 

Jen on the Xtracycle

Meanwhile, Deb in Edmonton read It’s All About the Bike (and gave it a glowing review—I want to pick this one up!), rode in a Critical Lass and proofrided her Brooks saddle (another thing I definitely need to get done myself) and cleaned the chain on her Raleigh Sports.

Reader Sumehra entered by email, and included some fantastic photos from the events that she completed, including going on a group ride — a seersucker social! — performing some bike maintenance, and test-riding a Bridgestone Mixte with flat tires. :) (She normally rides a custom Rivendell, yum.)
IMG_8842

And the winners this round are . . .

(more…)

You might also like:

Lady Rivendells in the Wild

Although there are thousands of interesting bicycles in Chicago, I almost never see any bikes like mine – Rivendell, WorkCycles or Velorbis. In the past week, I had the good luck to spot two Rivendells and speak with their owners. As expected, women who ride Rivendells are super cool.

The first was Rachel. I locked my bike next to hers while stopping for an afternoon cupcake. I was admiring her Honjo fenders and Brooks saddle, but I did not realize it was a Rivendell until she came up and we started talking. Apparently, her frame was a prototype that combined two of their regular models…I think. Something like that. You can see that it says “Protovelo” on the front. Very interesting!

Rachel and her Rivendell

Two Rivendells

The second was Cara. As I biked down the Lakefront Trail on my Betty Foy in the morning, I spotted her and her Betty Foy. Of course, I had to come to a screeching halt to drool over the bike’s build. Check out the cream tires and leather wrapped bars. Mmmmm, lovely! Luckily, she knew of this blog, which helped me to not come off like a crazy stranger lady. Hopefully :)

Cara and her Rivendell Betty Foy

Beautiful Betty Foy

Spotting these lovely bikes (and bicyclists!) was a real treat. Fun to find some kindred spirits out there.

Betty Foy and Me

Does anyone else get excited when seeing a bike like their own in the wild?

LGRAB Summer Games: Players & Prizes, Part 3

All right folks, it’s another evening and another drawing/roundup of this year’s Summer Games winners. Every day this week through Friday, we will be posting a round-up of LGRAB 2011 Summer Games players and announcing the lucky prize winners. Winners will be randomly drawn from the entire pool of players.

For those of you looking for ideas for books to read about cycling, Molly has a review for you:

I picked up this kids book about the history of women and bicycles from the library several months ago and I keep renewing it without reading it. The Summer Games changed that. Actually, this book might have been recommended by one of you: Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way). It was interesting, but I would have liked more about the impact of bicycles on women’s day to day lives, and less on famous lady bike racers.

She performed a maintenance task–an impressive one if you ask me!

I accidentally did the same maintenance task for this year’s Summer Games as I did last year: Repacking a hub. I’m still not very good at it. If I’d planned ahead I could have counted many other things, since this summer I took an 8 week bike workshop through Common Cycle, and we learned everything from raising saddles to replacing cables and housing to headset adjustment. But I didn’t take pictures any of those weeks. I waited til the very last week, when we were doing hubs and wheel truing. Here’s the picture I attempted to take of myself; it was hard because my hands were covered in grease and all I had was my phone.

Molly also went on a group ride on her birthday (happy birthday Molly!) and took this lovely summer-themed photo. We need to do a flikr pool of these for us to pine over when we’re stuck in the depths of winter once again. Mm, sweet corn.

 

Hollis and Daniel's Farmstand

Meanwhile, in Wiltshire, Kate from mixed baby greens was making headway on her four events. First up: writing to a council member about a much-needed improved crossing. She heard back that it was in the works. “Which means that from Friday onwards I’ll be able to ride the cycle-lane, stop and cross the road safely exactly where I need to, and head straight to the off-road route into town.”

She also took a new road home and performed a maintenance task: replacing the old pump and bottle cage on her bike with a new, more coordinated one.

And she snapped a photo that is the perfect combo of summer and bikes. I love it!

 

One of the best things about having a bike blog is having all sorts of cool people contact you to say that you’ve inspired them to create their own blog. :) Kathy in Chicago is among that number and you can read about her adventures in multi-modal commuting at Train-Bike Bike-Train. Kathy test-rode a cargo bike and videoed the results—click on the photo to see the video.

She also wrote a letter to Metra suggesting improvements for multi-modal commuters, gave her bike tires a lift and took some stellar summer pictures.

JoAnna rediscovered cycling a year ago when she was in Paris and hasn’t looked back (a woman after our own hearts!). For the Games, she completed seven tasks: riding a bike on vacation, writing a letter, reading a book, cleaning her chain, riding on a greenway and participating in New York’s Summer Streets.

Martina at The Life Academic knocked out quite a few tasks in a single afternoon.

Martina and Poppy

She tuned up her bike and went out for a ride, ending up in a new part of town and discovering a new friend along the way.

How have I never realized that my favorite droid has been waving to me all summer long as I biked to and from work? I honestly couldn’t be happier to have met this new friend. Isn’t it just the summeriest, happiest thing, to have droid along your ride?

(our answer: YES!)

Yvonne, aka The Knot Whisperer, also got in on the fun. She very responsibly biked to jury duty, making me horribly jealous because, oddly, I have always wanted to be chosen for jury duty and somehow have gone 12 years without being tapped (yes, I know it will probably be boring. I still want to be picked for the team!). She read The Lost Cyclist, a fascinating true tale of a man who biked around the world back in the late 1800s.

I couldn’t help putting myself in Lenz’s place as he traveled through Japan and China without speaking a word of those countries’ languages. While it’s true that I went to St. Petersburg, Russia, without knowing a word of Russian, I went there as part of a writing seminar and was therefore hardly on my own. I can’t imagine how frightening it must have been for him, all on his own, especially back then when foreign countries were truly foreign to most people.

She wrote asking for improvements to the Ashland/Armitage/Elston intersection, aka the “Intersection of Terror.” And she rode a cruiser on vacation! Sweet.

OK, now that you’re all inspired: it’s time to reveal the winners, drawn by Dot.

First up: Bates Crate Porter Crate, a beautiful, functional, handmade carrying crate for your bike.

It goes to . . . Kathy F, whose adventures were featured above.

Our second drawing is for a Workcycles apron.

And the winner is . . . Stacy Bisker!

Kathy and Stacy, we will be in touch with information on how to claim your prizes.

Not a winner yet? Keep checking daily, because we still have several great prizes to give away.

Jack White at Nashville Bike Brunch

OK, so I’ve taken advantage of the headline writer’s prerogative to get your attention. To clarify: Jack White did not attend our brunch, but he was totally at the same restaurant. So clearly, if you want to see a celebrity, you have to hang with us. :)

Christina and Kim

Vintage buds

Lauren & me

 

Whitney and Christina

 

Sweet rides

You can see pictures from our first Bike Brunch on July 10 here. Nashville brunches are always on the second Sunday of the month. Our next one is on September 11—check out the calendar here. Cyclists of all types welcome.

LGRAB Summer Games: Players and Prizes, Pt. 2

As I announced yesterday, every day this week through Friday, we will be posting a round-up of LGRAB 2011 Summer Games players and announcing the lucky prize winners. Winners will be randomly drawn from the entire pool of players.

Here is your Wednesday dose of bikey inspiration…

Melissa – She read Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne (“Once I got past his somewhat patronizing tone, I thought it was a pretty insightful book.” – ha!), stopped to smell the flowers with her vintage Bridgestone, test rode a Townie (which may be part of her future?), and enjoyed commuting to her new job in Denver for the first time.

Melissa and her bike Smurfette smelled the flowers

Melissa made the Townie look goooood :)

Stacy – Completed many of the tasks with her family. They talked to their orthodontist about bike parking after having to lock to his sign (he’d been meaning to install a rack), took many pictures of summer bike commuting, began oiling their chains weekly, and rode the heck out of the only bike path in Huntington. She also test rode a neighbor’s bike while her husband test rode a Cannondale 5 and she read Duck on a Bike to a class of toddlers (start ‘em young!).

Stacy made the Games a family affair

Stacy made the most of her bike summer!

Andrea – Tried out the Bixi bikeshare system in Montreal, took a picture of summer, and went on a group ride with Toronto Bike Meet-up. She also requested more bike parking using the city’s online form and performed maintenance tasks (cleaned the chain, pumped the tires, adjusted the bell).

Andrea rocked a red dress on a group ride

Andrea Bixi-ed

Chris – After getting back into biking when his 12-year-old son found an old road bike in their garage last year, he’s been teaching basic bike maintenance to his son by repacking bearings, replacing cables, tubes, tires, handlebar tape and installing a bike computer. They also went on a group ride for his son’s Boy Scouts Bicycling Merit Badge and generally roamed the city and outlying trails together. Fun!

Chris went on a group ride for his son's Boy Scouts Bicycling Merit Badge!

Chris's son enjoyed a greenway ride

Highlands Veteran – Sent us a summer photo from day one of the super group ride, RAGBRAI!

Highlands Vet rode RAGBRAI

Becca – Read a book about cycling, Urban Biker’s Tricks and Tips (“Since I have been commuting to work off and on for about 4 years, I’d taught myself these tricks, but I am glad I read the book so I can feel confident to recommend it to new riders who are scared.”)

Becca confirmed her knowledge by reading about tips and tricks for urban cyclists

Jaclyn – Got the idea to start her own blog through the Games – awesome! She posted a review of a book about biking (The Art of Cycling), test rode a new bike (a Trek trike!), emailed Walgreens to request more bike parking (I need to do that, too!), and rode her new Dutch bike to work.

Jaclyn commuted in style

Jaclyn test rode a trike

So wonderful, everyone! All of the bikey awesomeness really warms my heart. :)

——————————————————————————————————————————-
Today we are giving away the Abus Bordo lock from Abus.

The Abus Bordo lock is a flexible lock that folds up small, while offering a medium-high level of protection.

And the winner is…

Sara B. who blogs at With Love From Sara. Congrats! We have not yet gotten to the overview of her challenges, but you can read about them firsthand here.

We are also giving away Scarlet-X Tech Knickers from Harlot Wear and athletic sunglasses from the Sunglasses Shop.

Scarlet-X Tech Knickers are women’s bicycling knickers made of breathable stretch fabric with a water-repellent finish and a soft anti-odor lining, made with a stylish cut and reflective piping. The Sunglasses Shop sunglasses sport large, tough frames.

And the winner is…

Lowrah, who blogs at Grease Rag Ride and Wrench in Minneapolis. Grease Rag’s mission is to encourage and empower women/ trans/ femme (WTF) cyclists in a collaborative and fun learning environment through rides, discussions, shop nights and educational seminars in a safer space. (Love!)

If you did not win yet, keep checking daily, because we still have several great prizes to give away.

You might also like:

1 2