March 2012 archive

Review: Lululemon Ride On Crop

Lululemon sent a pair of Ride On Crops along with the other items in the Ride On collection, but the sizing and style weren’t quite right for me. So I passed them along to one of the most faithful members of our bicycle gang to assess! In addition to being a badass cyclist who bike commutes from East Nashville to downtown more often than not, Lauren is a talented seamstress, so her opinion on clothing is probably worth a lot more than mine anyway. :) Without further ado, here’s Lauren’s take on the Ride On Crop

Let me preface this by pointing out that I don’t wear cycling-specifc clothes—nothing against those of who do, I’m just the kind of girl who rides in what she happens to be wearing. Which is usually something tacky like denim cut-off shorts and a ratty tank top. So I was pretty delighted to be given the opportunity to review these sweet little cropped pants.

As both Trisha and Dottie have pointed out, the sizing is kind of weird in this line. I was given the size 8 and it fits perfectly in the legs and bum, which is interesting since I normally wear a 2 or a 4 in ready-to-wear. The waist is a bit large, but I have a fairly substantial hip-to-waist ratio so I’m not necessarily going to blame the pants in this case. [ed: this seems to be common throughout the LL Ride On line; I had the same issue with the shorts. But I also have the waist-to-hip thing going on.] There is an (elastic!!) drawstring on the inside of the waistband, which cinched them to the correct size. The pants I was given are a greyish white, although they also come in indigo and black.

I really like the way these pants are engineered. As a seamstress, I love lurking the insides of a piece of clothing to see how it is constructed—especially something with such a high price tag! The very first thing I did when I got my hands on these pants was to flip them inside out and start inspecting seams. As Lululemon boasts on their website, the seams of these pants are specially engineered to avoid chafing—they are serged completely flat, so there isn’t any bulk to rub against. I’ve never had a problem with chafing (despite the aforementioned denim cut-offs), so I can’t really weigh in on that matter. But it does make for some very strong seams—and combined with how hefty the fabric is, despite the stretch factor, I feel that these pants are pretty hard-wearing.

The extra details (both fashion and functional) are what really sold me, however. The bottom flips up and buttons closed to make your pants into cropped length—and exposes the reflective trim. Can we all stop for a second and admire how cute that reflective trim is, by the way? It looks like rick-rack! So sweet, but it doesn’t scream GIRL’S CYCLING GEAR! Another feature I really love are all those mesh pockets at the hip—yes, those are pockets, and there are three of them.

I like to carry my phone and iPod in my pockets while I cycle, so I appreciate a good pocket. These pockets are awesome! I dropped my iPod in the back pocket for my ride into work (don’t worry —I keep my headphones around my neck while I’m riding :)) and it stayed put the whole way. The mesh is stretchy, so the elastic at the top keeps your stuff from popping out while you ride. Much more secure than pants pockets—I have definitely had my iPod push its way out of my back pocket before, and drop itself into the street! I also really loved that the drawstring at the waist is elastic. I needed to cinch in quite a bit to get the pants to fit at my waist, and the elastic kept everything comfortable so there was not digging into my midsection whenever I bent over.

I was excited to try the “moisture wicking and breathable” fabric—I am definitely a sweat-er and I need all the help I can get when it comes to staying cool :) And you know what? I think the fabric actually does a pretty good job! I was still pretty warm—cycling in 80*+ weather will do that to ya—but my legs didn’t get all sweaty and I found that I cooled down much more quickly than if I’d just been wearing jeans. It’s nice to have a pair of pants like this for cycling, especially since the mornings here start out pretty cool and then progress into those higher temperatures later in the day.

As far as the price is concerned . . . well, $92 does seem a little steep for what is essentially a pair of yoga pants. I will say that I think these pants are really well-made and have great details that definitely push them above your standard stretch exercise gear. And they are stylish enough to wear for non-cycling purposes—which is like getting two pairs of pants for the price of one. My butt has been getting a lot of compliments in these pants, which I’d say is definitely a plus!

{Thanks for your take on these pants, Lauren! This review is Lauren’s personal opinion and she was not paid to write it, although she is keeping the pants. :)  Lululemon is not a sponsor of LGRAB. Find out more about Lululemon here. Find out more about Lauren and her sweet handmade wardrobe here.}

Chicago Cherry Blossoms

I’m so happy to be back in Chicago for springtime.  I’m more of an autumn person, but I must admit that the city looks most beautiful during the short time period when cherry blossoms bloom.

This year is way ahead of schedule.  Last year, the blossoms did not appear until May and the year before, not until mid-late April.

Another lovely change is being able to bike without tights, which is always exciting after six months of covered legs.

I’m so lucky to enjoy this beautiful scenery and weather on my bicycle every day.

Are the flowers blooming along your bike route?

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Review: Lululemon Pedal Pusher

A good handlebar bag is hard to find. Lululemon has entered the competition with The Pedal Pusher, a small baguette-style handlebar bag. I received this bag in the dune/fossil color combination, but it’s also available in black.

 

This bag has one main compartment and two external pockets on the front and back. This is a small bag that will easily carry the basics of purse, phone, chapstick, camera, etc,  but not much more. It has a comparable amount of interior space as my Po Campo Pilsen Bungee, though the soft nylon sides do allow for some cramming.

Inside, there are two mesh pockets—one zip, one not—and a strap to secure your keys.
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I love the pinstripe lining.

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Exterior, with a phone pocket. There is reflective piping along the edges of the zipper pocket. This piping is in the back of the bag also and is the only reflective material on the bag.

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Baguette-style bag

 

lululemon ride on collection

Straps with D-rings and clips to attach the bag to the handlebars

 

Straps to go around the stem.

External rear pocket, and straps to go around the stem.

I live on the edge and use this for my phone, not just as a “strap garage.” (I find the type instructions on what goes where to be annoying—both twee and dictatorial!—but realize others might not be bothered.)
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Like most handlebar bags, this one suffers a bit when it comes to actually attaching it to the handlebars (ah, the reality of brake cables!). The main problem here is that the straps that are meant to attach the bag to the stem for extra support (shown above) tend to come loose as you ride along, so that the bag will bounce as you go over bumps, and droop lower. This could be a problem if you have a short stem and no fender or front rack, since it could rub against the wheel.

On the plus side, the clip-on style makes it fast and easy to secure the bag to the handlebars. And the design, while a bit sportier than Po Campo, doesn’t scream “bike!”, nor is it obnoxiously girly. I find the herringbone strap particularly attractive. The material is water resistant and the straps and clips are very sturdy. The price ($58) is competitive. Those in the market for a smaller handlebar bag should take a look at The Pedal Pusher.

{This review is my personal opinion. I was not paid for the review, but the bag was sent to me to keep. Lululemon is not a sponsor of LGRAB.}

Surprise Trip to Montreal

I’m back!

En route home to Chicago from Dublin, I had an unexpected side trip to Montreal. My flight from London was delayed, causing me to miss my connection from Montreal to Chicago – the last of the day.  Air Canada comped my hotel and meals, so although I was exhausted and ready to be home, I embraced the opportunity to see Montreal for the first time.

In the morning, I woke early and Mr. Dottie and I set off to spend three hours wandering around downtown before we had to catch the 1:45 flight home. The weather was perfect – warm and sunny. Armed with a map, complete with Bixi bikeshare station locations, we planned to pick up Bixi’s at Parc LaFontaine and ride along a protected cycle track to the Old Town area, ending at Marche Bonsecours.

We arrived at the park and wandered around looking for the Bixi station for a good 15 minutes. (Montreal peeps know where this is going…) We were so confused, standing exactly where the map said the Bixi station should be. Finally I asked a woman walking by with a bike where we could find the station and she informed us – oh, the bike share? – Bixi does not open until April. :(

Sad about not being able to ride a bike (no time to track down a bike rental store), we instead walked the planned route, which was also a great way to take in the city sights.

The feel of the city is unique.  The old buildings and French language contributed to a European feel, but overall it felt more like Chicago than Paris.  I imagined an idyllic bicycling paradise, while in reality it was more…real.  A big city with a lot going on.  There were many cyclists and some cycle tracks, but also a lot of motor vehicle traffic.  The number and types of people bicycling seemed similar to those in Chicago.

Since I could not ride a bike there, I compensated by buying a bicycle t-shirt.  It says in French, “Ceci n’est pas une bicyclette,” which Trisha assured me is an arty little meme, nothing dirty. :)

I also bought a lovely bicycle-print dress at Marche Bonsecours that was designed and made in Montreal.  I love the dress and I’ll definitely post about it later.

I enjoyed the unexpected side trip to Montreal.  I only wish I had time to plan ahead, see more of the city, ride a bike, and meet up with some locals.  Next time!

March Nashville Bike Brunch

March has been full of sun and warmth, but also some killer winds and sudden storms. (Lion’s breath?) But we gathered our biggest group yet for a late brunch on March 11 at Margot Café.

We even filled the bike rack! It was a proud moment.

This time around, I got portraits of almost everyone and their bikes. Tell me you’re impressed, Internet. :)

Lauren

Abby

Sarah

Chad

Kim

Whitney

Jessica & Sten

Me

 

Our April bike brunch will be Sunday, April 1, at 11 am at West End Café. RSVP via email and let me know you’re coming. New faces are always welcome!

 

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Road users and patience

I spent a little too much time on YouTube looking up clips from “Trigger Happy TV” the other day. For those of you who haven’t seen this gem, it’s a hidden camera show from the UK that used to air on Oxygen about 7 years ago. Although my absolute favorite gag is the cell phone one, on this watch through the following clip stood out (click the image to watch on YouTube).

Yes. it is hilarious to see a grown man crawling across a crosswalk in a snail costume—but what really struck me about this clip on this viewing is that THE CARS STOP. And NO ONE HONKS. It’s really rather remarkable.

Here in Nashville, I’ve noticed an increase in signage at crosswalks and intersections over the past few months, along with an increase in sharrows and bike lanes.

Unfortunately, there has been no corresponding increase in cars actually stopping for pedestrians at said crosswalks, and the signs have ended up looking more like this (and having to be replaced) more than once. Today I stopped at a crosswalk—a new one on Wedgewood, with flashing lights that signal to motorists when people are crossing—and the guy behind me swerved around me to avoid having to wait for the pedestrians.

image by notes from the basement

I’m hoping that the Share the Road campaign launching soon will have some effect on this, but I am not going to hold my breath. Has anything worked in your city? Anyone interested in staging  a snail-crossing protest in Nashville?

 

Review: Lululemon Ride On Blazer

Dottie and I got the opportunity to review a few of the items from Lululemon’s Ride On! collection, a limited run of cycling clothes being released this month. (See her review of their rain jacket here.)

I’m also starting out with the item from the collection I liked the most: The Ride On Blazer.

I was sent this blazer in “fossil” in a size 6. If you have never tried Lululemon, know that they do not vanity size: definitely get a size up from what you wear normally. This jacket is a bit snug on me and fits more like a 2/4. Because it is a stretchy jersey-esque fabric, though, it’s not that big a deal.

Like the other items in the “Ride On” line, the blazer has specific details that were conceived with cyclists in mind. For example, the collar of the jacket has a fleecy insert that can be zipped up to your neck to keep out the chill, as shown on the model below. This piece can be removed.

detail photo from Lululemon's site

LIke the rain jacket, the blazer is longer in the back—no fear of showing anyone anything you don’t want them to see while you’re pedaling. I absolutely love the peplum effect that the back has.

Flaunting the back of the jacket

Note the small reflective detail near the elbows, almost a reflective rick-rack. There is another similar reflective detail on the collar if you pop it up, although that would normally be covered by my hair.

Yes, my seat is too low.

The jacket is cut with a generous pleat in the elbows, leaving lots of room for movement. The sleeves, however, are quite long, as you can tell by the fact that the reflective strip is on my forearm and not actually at my elbow. They do have thumbholes so you can keep the wind off your hands.

detail photo from Lululemon's site

There are two pockets with trendy exposed zippers. The fabric is some Lululemon trademarked thing that is breathable and moisture-wicking.

Overall, this jacket is a win for me. Though the fit is not perfect, it is comfortable, I’ve gotten countless compliments on it in just a week, and it has a lot of thoughtful functional details that prove it was made with cyclists in mind. The one thing that surprises me is that they weren’t a little heavier on the reflective details—as with the rain jacket, there are no reflective pieces on the back of the jacket other than the one on the collar. I would love to know why this didn’t happen. Maybe they’re worried about limiting the market, despite it being a cycling-specific collection? In most of the online reviews of this product, the purchasers make no reference to bicycling.

And then there’s the price: $168. Not outrageous for this sort of well-made piece, but certainly not an amount of money I’d throw down without a little bit of inner turmoil. Your mileage may vary, of course! Still, if you are looking for a unique, stylish jacket with cyclist-specific details to wear on your rides, the Ride On Blazer is the cutest I’ve seen yet.

More on the jacket on Lululemon’s site.

{This review is my personal opinion. I was not paid for the review, but the jacket was sent to me to keep. Lululemon is not a sponsor of LGRAB.}

Winter gives way to spring

These two windows were directly next to each other along my bike commute route in Chicago.

Seems even the shop owners are divided on whether we’re experiencing winter or spring. I’m going to optimistically say spring, but then again I don’t return from Scotland until the first official day of spring, so I don’t have to worry about it. :)

Are you feeling more winter or spring where you live? And will anyone kinda sorta miss winter when it’s officially over?

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The city too busy to care?

This video from filmmaker Casey Neistat is disheartening. Neistat locked up his bike in several different locations in NYC, then proceeded to steal it to see if he would be stopped or questioned by a bystander. No spoilers, but let’s just say the results were not what bike owners would like to see.

Why do you think that people are so reluctant to step in? What would you do if you saw a bike getting stolen?

 

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East Nashville Greenway tour

A couple of weeks ago I took advantage of the beautiful spring weather to ride to East Nashville and do some of the Shelby Bottoms Greenway with some friends.

Kermit Allegra was kitted out with everything you need to go 20-ish miles crosstown: coffee and a Po Campo bag.

Of course, we started out at the coffeehouse.

And then hit the trail for a couple of miles.

It’s nice being so close to nature in the city. We could hear frogs croaking like mad and were determined to see one.

Whitney attempted to prod the area with a stick to see if we could make the frogs jump

Finally, we spotted one, thanks to a kid and his mom.

Shelby Bottoms Nature Center

All in all, it was a relaxing way to spend the afternoon.

What have you been doing on your weekend rides lately?

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