December 2011 archive

Podcast: What we talk about when we talk about bikes

Our latest podcast is the first one to feature Dottie and me together. It was recorded during my November Chicago visit over what might have been one Manhattan too many. The original idea was for Dottie to interview me, but what it turned into was a long, wide-ranging and extremely informal discussion about our cycling stories and preferences. It’s not available in the iTunes store yet, but you can stream it here or right-click to download it to your computer. Enjoy!

Bright Colors and Winter Sunshine

The mild winter weather continues to make me so happy! Sure, it’s cold, but not freezing cold. Sun shining on my shoulders and clear roads are all I need to stay in high spirits.

My bright red coat, instead of being my one source of winter color, is merely one of many bright colors on my commute. Look – not only is there a Carolina blue sky, there’s also green grass!

In case any driver fails to notice my bright red coat, I’ve taken to wearing a neon yellow slap bracelet around my ankle. This is the same nifty free bracelet I posted about wearing on my wrist during the summer. A little extra color never hurts, plus it’s just too fun and easy to leave at home.

The darkness of the evening commute feels more like winter, but I’m still rocking my holiday lights. Plus, today the weather warmed so much by the time I left work, I did not need my scarf and unbuttoned my coat.

This type of winter weather makes Elisa’s advice about dressing for winter bicycling in New Orleans relevant for bicyclists around the country, even us Midwesterners.

Whatever your particular weather experience is right now, I hope you’re enjoying these first weeks of winter!

p.s. I wrote this last night and this morning I woke up to heavy rain and 40 degree temps. Weird weather!

Love for Atlanta Bicycle Chic

I have a new blog love: Atlanta Bicycle Chic!

This is a fabulous blog filled with original photography of stylish cyclists around Atlanta.  Such a high-quality blog focused on bicycle street style with posed portraits is a rare gem  (the only other that comes to mind is Chicago’s Bike Fancy).  If you’re not already familiar, you should check it out immediately!

Looking through the archives really makes me want to visit and ride around Atlanta!

 

 

 

 

Atlanta Bicycle Chic is an off-shoot of the style blog Atlanta Street Fashion, both by photographer Cameron Adams.  I had a quick email chat with Cameron to learn more about his blog and Atlanta bicycling.

Cameron Adams on a Bianchi Milano

What made you decide to start a blog dedicated to Atlanta bicycle fashion?

Great looks are everywhere and bikes make stylish accessories.  The convergence of street fashions and city cycling is a global trend and one worthy of its own forum, so I started Atlanta Bicycle Chic.

I think of Atlanta as a car-centric, traffic-heavy city. What is the bicycling scene like?

Yes, Atlanta is a car-centric town, but bike commuters are daily shaping the future. One leading the way is Rebecca Serna of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and organizer of our Heels on Wheels. ABC also organizes group rides like the BeltLine (Atlanta’s rails-to-trails project) Tour and has participated in a mass ride to the state capitol campus in support of the three foot law. Progressive politicians like Kwanza Hall keep our infrastructure needs at the forefront of the city’s legislative agenda.

You often feature photos from the Heels on Wheels ride. Could you tell how readers in the Atlanta area could join?

Interested? Look to their facebook page. The ladies meet on first Saturdays spring, summer and fall for leisurely rides on Peachtree Street for fun and fellowship.

What is your personal history with bicycling?

A younger version of me commuted in the streets of my hometown Richmond, Virginia, but now I ride daily for exercise on the lovely riverside trails in north Atlanta and take my bike into town by MARTA rail or car for style blogging expeditions. Both Bill Cunningham and Scott Schuman know there’s nothing like being a pedestrian for intercepting other pedestrians.


Thanks to Cameron for maintaining Atlanta Bicycle Chic and for taking the time to chat!



{Check out other Atlanta-area bike blogs, Sweet Georgia Brown, I Dream of Bicycling, and Cycle Kabob. Who did I miss?}

One Year’s Difference

Exactly one year ago today, I posted about biking in the snow after several inches fell over Christmas, adding to the snow that had already fallen throughout December.  The temperature was in the teens.  My studded tires had been on Oma for two weeks.

This year, snow is non-existent.  The temperature is in the mid-30′s.  A raincoat over a sweater is enough to keep me warm and protected.  I’m still riding my Betty Foy and have not yet bothered to pull out Oma’s studded tires.  This kind of weather is more like the winters I experienced when I lived in Nashville.

I’m certainly not complaining about this surprising situation!  (As long as it’s not due to global climate change or anything.)

There are fewer bicyclists on the road now, which makes me think that many people automatically put away their bikes when the winter months roll around, without considering whether conditions are actually bad enough to justify it.

For those still on their bikes and new to winter cycling, check out the LGRAB Guide to Winter Bicycling.

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A Happy Bike Ride to University of Chicago

Hello, there!  Since today is dark and rainy and I have to go back to work (sad face), I’m starting the morning with something bright and happy.  I just stumbled upon these photos and realized that I never posted about this ride.

On the last Sunday of October, a day of perfect weather, I biked to Hyde Park to enjoy brunch at my friend’s house.  Hyde Park is a neighborhood on the southside where the University of Chicago is located, about 15 miles from where I live.  After brunch, I took the opportunity to explore the area by bike. The campus is beautiful, as you can see below.

At the time, I thought this was my last warm weather hurrah, but winter has yet to take hold of Chicago for real. The high temps this week will be in the 40′s.

I wish I could post something about biking during my Christmas vacation in North Carolina, but sadly my hometown is not conducive to biking. Did any of you make time for a nice holiday ride?

Happy Holidays from North Carolina!

I’m in North Carolina for Christmas again this year, visiting my mom, dad, sisters, nephew, and in-laws. No bicycling, just lots of eating, drinking, and laughing.

Happy holidays to you and yours! :)

The Mr. Dottie Family Farm

 

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Review: Mini Monkey Light

For the last two months, I’ve been dazzling Nashville with my Mini Monkey Light M210 from Monkey Electric. And I really mean that—while it’s no Christmas light set, this is the sort of lighting option that draws oohs and ahs from pedestrians and is difficult for motorists to miss. Very important attributes when it starts getting dark at 4:30!

The Monkey Light is easy to install, with a battery case  (3 AA) that rests on top of the wheel’s hub and a small circuit board that fits between the spokes like a baseball card.

 

The on/off button, and the button that allow you to select which pattern you want the light to display, are on the circuit board, as you can see below—they’re labled “Power” and “Theme.”

You may also notice that there’s a “tire” and “hub” indicator, and mine is facing the wrong way.  This did not seem to affect its performance, although I’m sure it alters some of the patterns, so I changed it around after these photos were taken. I attached the Monkey Light to my rear wheel only; I felt like both would have been overkill and I was worried that the battery pack would affect the bike’s performance. That does not seem to have happened,  although my definition of “performance” is doubtless less stringent than most.

Sadly, I can’t seem to get a picture of the light at night to save my life, though I’ve made a few efforts. Whitney finally helped me out and got the best snaps yet. I believe the pattern I have selected is the red “fireball” shown here. I may look like a ghost, but you can definitely tell the lights are BRIGHT.

Luckily, they have a video that better displays what the Monkey Light can do (and has me thinking that maybe I should install it on both wheels after all?).

You can find out more about Monkey Electric and the Monkey Light on their site, or their Kickstarter page. The Monkey Light Mini will be available in February for $49.99, but you can pre-order now. While the price is a tad steep (especially if you want to use the light on both wheels) this light definitely delivers when it comes to visibility (and in two months of use, I haven’t drained the batteries).

Deck the Bike with Holiday Lights

Fa la la la la, la la la la!

Every year around the holidays, I think about how cool it would be to go all out with Christmas lights on my bike. And every year I punk out by throwing on ribbon and a couple of ornaments.

Not so this year!

I finally bought a string of battery-operated lights, one that’s colorful and blinks in fun patterns. Installing it on my bike was easy – I simply wrapped it around, starting from the handlebars, down along the top tube, and ending at the rack, where I tucked the battery pack under my cargo straps.

This set up makes me ridiculously happy. (It’s the little things that count.)

Plus, I’m the most visible bike out there by far! :)

Do you decorate your bike? I know several of you put lights on your bikes and encouraged me to do the same, so thanks!

Winter Group Rides – Critical Lass

Chicago’s monthly Critical Lass ride continues on, even in the dark cold!

Usually I avoid winter group rides because biking for a long time at slow speeds in freezing temps is a great way to freeze my extremities off.

The ladies behind Critical Lass understand these problems and have adjusted the winter rides accordingly. For the next few months, the ride will be short (3-4 miles) and end at neighborhood bars that are close to home for as many of the lasses as possible.

This plan worked perfectly for December’s ride. A hardy group of 16 lasses showed up and spent much more time drinking pitchers of beer in a cozy pub than pedaling in the cold.

To stay up-to-date on the different dates and locations for Chicago’s Critical Lass ride, check out the Facebook page.

What do you think about winter group rides? Have you been on one this year?

Biking to Harpo Studios

Yesterday was a special day for me, thanks to good luck. I won tickets to a taping of The Rosie Show where Tori Amos was the guest, by writing an essay about my love for her music. When I got there, they sat me front row center, the best seat in the house!

Rosie tapes her show in Harpo Studios, where Oprah used to tape. Riding there from my office was a breeze, since I could take the Kinzie protected bike lane and side streets the whole way. Riding from there back home was a little crazed and stressful. I wasn’t familiar enough with the area to attempt side streets at night, so I took a main route full of fast traffic, which then detoured because of construction, putting me on an even busier street, and *ugh* reminding me why I prefer side streets. At the same time, the experience also reminded me that I can confidently handle the messy stuff when it comes my way.

Outside Harpo Studios, I was disappointed that I couldn’t find bike parking, forcing me to lock to a light pole. There is very little bike parking in the West Loop neighborhood in general.

Here is the view from my seat in the studio, not zoomed in, right after the show ended when we were finally allowed to take pictures. You can see Rosie to the right and Tori’s piano straight ahead.

I also had the pleasure of seeing Tori in concert at the Chicago Theater on Saturday night, a sold out show. Chicago Theater is the best for seeing bigger concerts.

Okay, I’m done with my fangirl stuff. (Everyone has a favorite artist they’d be super excited to see up close…right?)

The weather in Chicago is back to being oddly warm. It’s in the 40′s now and will get up to the 50′s tomorrow. Weird but good for winter cycling!

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