Monthly Archives: April 2012

A Day at the Nature Museum

Last week, Trisha visited Chicago for her birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!).  We were together again!

We biked down the lakefront and stopped by the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

Coco and Oma got to be together, too, outside of the garage for once.

While there, we enjoyed a high-quality exhibit, called Bikes! The Green Revolution, that happens to be at the Nature Museum until September 9.

There was a display of cool vintage bikes.

Art work with the theme “bike monsters.”

Photo ops with a penny-farthing, which we were all over once the children got out of our way.

And a photo exhibit of modern cycling style, featuring portraits by Bike Fancy’s Martha Williams.  (Look, there’s me!)

Next, we stopped by the butterfly house, but the many fluttering things disconcerted Trisha a bit too much.

So we rested a bit.  :)

We finished our visit in the gardens, a lovely respite from the city.

Where we listened to highly entertaining bird calls in the bird sanctuary.

 Finally, we got back on our bikes to continue our day downtown.
Another lovely day on bikes in Chicago. Plus Trisha, which makes the day 100x better!  :)
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Bicycling Home

Today was another lovely bike ride home.  A little windy and chilly, but sunny and relaxing.  Refreshing.  I was grateful for the escape after a day at the office.

Nothing helps me unwind and appreciate my place in life like time on the bike.

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Fail: spandex shorts under dress

We’ve been talking a lot about dealing with unruly skirts and dresses recently.  I shared my experiences of tying my skirt and stapling my dress.  To avoid such a faux pas in the future, I decided to wear my old Nike spandex shorts (no padding) under suspicious new dresses.

Such was the case with a dress I thrifted last week (ahem, new with Nordstrom tags, I gotta brag).  The skirt was full and the fabric light, making the dress a candidate for floating-up-with-the-wind syndrome, so I threw my spandex shorts underneath and thought I managed to be both clever and chic.

Um, nope!

I realized only when I got this film photo back from the lab that the outline of the shorts was totally visible under the dress fabric.

*sigh*  The dress never behaved inappropriately on the bike, anyway.  Such is life, I suppose.

At this point, the garter-belt-pinned-to-dress idea is looking like the best.  I’m noting that for the future.  :)

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The daily grind

Here in Nashville, we’ve had lovely weather for bike riding, but other than that, my trips have been pretty routine.

Especially when compared to the pictures my dad has been sending me from California.

Santa Monica pier at night, with bike

Santa Monica Pier at night

Looking up at LAX

The daily commute and trips to the usual drinking hole by bike are fun, but after 3+ years they’re not especially glamourous. Luckily, here in Nashville there are about to be plenty of opportunities to shake up your routine. For Bike Month (May, if you don’t know!) Walk/Bike Nashville has compiled a calendar of events taking place around the city, and encouraging people to create their own events. I’m leading a ride from 12South to Edgehill Village and back for pizza, dessert and drinks—a progressive dinner of sorts—on May 13, but I’m also looking forward to the Cinco de Mayo ride.

Anyone else felt the need to spice up their cycling routine lately? Is your city doing anything exciting for National Bike Month?

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Chicago’s Lurie Botanical Gardens

Today was a beautiful day.  One of the most beautiful of the year.  The sunshine and blue skies and flowers and fresh air all made me remember how wonderful living in this world can be, on the right kind of day.

I rode my bike more than usual and I was thankful for the opportunity.  In the morning I had to be far downtown for a seminar, so I took the Lakefront Trail for 45 refreshing minutes.  A few hours later in the early afternoon, I got to enjoy the outdoors again as I biked from there to my office.  While co-workers jumped in a cab,  I couldn’t resist stopping by the Lurie Botanical Gardens in Millennium Park on my bike.

I wore one of the skirts I thrifted this weekend for $2.  I enjoy wearing flowers in the springtime, although I know my fabric cannot compete with nature’s beauty.

The Lurie Garden is an almost miraculous spot in the middle of downtown Chicago.  There is a glorious juxtaposition of nature and city.  The skyscrapers are a sight to behold, hovering over the flower beds.

Getting down to the ground level and smelling the blossoms takes me back to my mom’s garden, growing up in North Carolina.

Then I stand up and see the architectural marvel of the Pritzker Pavilion, backed by the Aon Center and the Watertower antennas.  Ah yes, Chicago!

I lack the green thumb of my mother, so this guide identifying the different flowers in the garden at this time of year was helpful.

This bird in the tree was making a fuss about me taking its picture.  Very loud.  Camera shy.

At the end of the day, I decided to take the Lakefront Trail home.  On one of the most beautiful days of the year, why not end the day with more of the beautiful same?

I managed to feel like I spent a great deal of time outside, when really all I did was get from one place to another, pure transportation.  Yet so much more.  Everyone who rides a bike, you know what I’m talking about, right?  :)

 

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A Spring Saturday Bike Ride

Saturday morning, I met up with my friend Araidia for a brunch and thrift shop expedition. Of course, we biked, which was half the fun!

There are so many beautiful spring flowers in bloom, we each found one to match our helmets.

Araidia’s a purple Bern…

…and mine a pink Nutcase.

We chatted freely along the way, either riding side-by-side or dropping back into single-file when a car approached. The route and area were new to me, so Araidia led the way.  Since she took us along a very quite path, there were few cars and no stress.

We biked through a college campus…

parks…

…and neighborhood streets.

Our destination was the Albany Park neighborhood. Once there, we enjoyed a Swedish brunch at Tre Kronor and thrifting at Village Discount Outlet, where I scored two dresses and three skirts (including an Elie Tahari and a Ralph Lauren) for $37 and Araidia found the awesome pink bag in the photos.

Here is a short little video of our ride through Albany Park. (The song is Jenny Mayhem, “All the World.”)

I returned home five hours after I left, feeling very good about my day – and entitled to some cake and wine after biking nine miles. :)

Did you spend some quality time on your bike this weekend?

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Tulips and a Dutch Bike :)

Spring is such a beautiful time of year for riding a bike!  Oma enjoyed very much spotting so many of her homeland’s flowers during the ride home this evening.

I put her flowered basket back on for now.  I could feel a substantial weight difference with the front rack and basket today, versus strapping my bag to the rear rack, but the basket set-up is worth it for the convenience and aesthetics.

The back street route I traveled was car-free for much of the time.  Such a rarity in Chicago, which is why I’m happy to go 15 minutes out of my way.

Here’s a more representative “gritty” city shot.  I think I need to start adding more spring color to my wardrobe.  The tulips have inspired me!

I hope everyone had a lovely week of bicycling and is ready to begin the second half of April!  :)

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Convert Your Skirt!

This morning, I met up with my friend Elizabeth at Heritage Bikes for a quick breakfast before continuing on to work.  Bikes and coffee and friends is a lovely way to start the day!

While there, I met Sarah, one of Elizabeth’s high school friends visiting from Berkeley.  She showed us her clever creation, a restrictive pencil skirt that she made bike-able by replacing the side seams with zippers and sewing in extra fabric.

The surprise pop of color is so fun!

At the office, you’re wearing a regular pencil skirt and then before getting on you bike at the end of the day, you unzip the sides and viola.  Here’s a short demonstration video.

Sarah has a website, Skirts on a Bike, where you can download instructions on how to convert your own skirt.  She plans to start selling kits complete with zippers and fabric in the future.

I have a few pencil skirts and dresses that I love but rarely wear due to not being able to ride my bike with them. I think it’s time to convert some skirts! :)

Has anyone else tried something like this?

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The Kid with a Bike

On Monday, I watched a movie that may particularly interest readers here, The Kid with a Bike.

The film, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes, is “about a child, abandoned to the elements, learning to become good.”

The bicycle is prominent throughout the film, both as a practical prop (it’s how the boy gets around) and at various times as a symbol of innocence, betrayal, violence, forgiveness, and kindness.

Here’s the trailer. Go ahead and try not to get teary-eyed.

This is a film I’ll be watching a second time, for sure.

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What’s your bicycling slogan?

Our friend Melissa (the one who put together the first Critical Mass ride in her old suburban town) is settling into life in Denver, where she moved partly to make living an active life easier.

Recently, BikeDenver put together a photo booth event, We Bike This Town: Portraits of Bicycling in Denver, “to create a collection of portraits of our bicycling community to help us show our elected officials and decision makers who their decisions are affecting.”  What a great idea!

Attendees were given a word bubble to write down a personal bicycling slogan.  Melissa, with her new Raleigh named Black Beauty, came up with the slogan: “It just makes sense!”  I agree!

Other slogans I saw looking through the portraits: “Bikes make life better,” “To ride or not to ride…there is no question,” and simply “I <3 Bikes.”

I would have to go with the original LGRAB slogan: “Life on two wheels: Simple. Stylish. Fun.”

What would you write in your word bubble?

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Made in Montreal Bike Dress

In a recent comment, LC of Naturally Cycling: Manchester made a great point, saying:

I have made a conscious decision of buying less but buying good quality and ethically made. So I would be happy to pay more for an item of clothing if I know (and it’s certified) that it’s made ethically, for example the workers are paid a fair living wage, the materials are of certified origins (i.e. organic cotton, fair trade etc).

If the price tag is high just because it’s ‘fashion’, then no, I am not willing to shell out so much money. But if it means workers have not been exploited then yes.

I totally agree with this philosophy.  Buying fewer things that are high quality and ethically made makes sense all around.  Although I sometimes slip up, I try to apply this reasoning to all my purchases.  (I sort of get a free pass at thrift stores, which is one reason thrifting is so fun.)

In this spirit, while visiting Marche Bonsecours in Montreal, I purchased a dress that was designed and made in the city.  The price was high compared to a mass market dress, but I was willing to pay more to support a local Montreal designer.  Plus, bicycle print!

The designer is Eve Lavoie.  I could not find much about her online, except this shop that sells her clothing.

Do you have a shopping philosophy?

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April’s Women-who-bike Brunch

On Sunday, the Chicago Women-Who-Bike gathered for our April brunch.  Although we had to cancel a planned picnic at the last minute due to the weather (never trust a Chicago forecast), a great group of both regulars and first-timers gathered at the back-up location.

Beth (on the left below), a first-timer, is preparing for a charity century ride in June and learning how to use clipless pedals.  My hat is off to her!  Those are two bikey things that I have never tried before.  I love how her Fuji manages to be both utilitarian and attractive while primarily being sporty.  You can follow her adventures at YAY BETH!! (tagline: “cheer me on, damn you.” ha!).

Jenny (on the right below) is a regular and she rides the most lovely Globe I’ve seen.  The Carolina blue frame and cream tires are so gorgeous, right?  Especially with her brown leather boots.  I’m impressed by how far the Globe has come as a utilitarian and classy bike in the past few years.

Araidia and her lovely vintage Raleigh are regulars.  I swooned over her shellacked cork grips for a bit (she shellacked them herself and they look so much nicer than my pre-shellacked ones) and we noticed that our 3-speed Sturmey Archer shifters are almost identical, even though hers is over 30 years older than mine.  Ariadia designs and creates beautiful Love Letter Slips and we made plans to go thrifting together soon!

Chika (on the left below) joined the group for the first time.  I was amazed to learn that we both grew up in North Carolina, went to the same college (the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), and graduated the same year, 2003!  Meeting a fellow Tarheel in Chicago is so rare, let alone one from my class.  Very cool!

Lucy (on the right) lives near the restaurant, so she walked and I got a photo of her with her cool shoes, instead of her bike.  :) Cute skirt plus leggings plus sneakers = perfect early spring outfit.

Ann was another first-timer.  She rides a WorkCycles Fr8 with two child seats, one on the front and one on the back.  This badass setup is rare in Chicago and I realized that I spotted her one morning in Lincoln Park last year, biking her children to school.  I blogged about the sighting at the time, saying this:

I passed a woman going the other direction who was riding a Dutch bike with flowing hair, carrying a baby on the front and a toddler on the back.  It was so beautiful, I could have wept.  She must be Dutch or something, although I would love to be wrong.  Anyone know a regular Chicago mom who throws down like that?  I was tempted to turn around and catch up with her to snap a picture, but figured that would be weird.

I love that I ended up meeting her all this time later at my brunch, and I’m happy to learn that she is American!

We also had a very special guest visiting from NYC, Kim of Velojoy, a “growing online resource for city cyclists and those who may be considering riding in the bike lanes for the first time,” written by an all-female team.  Connecting with people from around the country and world through the love of bicycling is the best.  I’m so glad Kim contacted me and and now I’m excited to visit New York again soon.

I pulled out Coco for the morning.  I’ll be riding her a lot this spring, I’m sure.  Such a sweet and happy bike.  :)

Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of everyone who was there (Seri, I’m looking at you!).

Of course, the women-who-bike brunch is also about food.  My favorite dish at Ann Sather, a Swedish diner, is the Swedish pancakes with lingonberries.  Yum!

Our next brunch will be the first Sunday of May and we’re also having a happy hour next Wednesday, April 11.  If you want in, email me at LGRAB@letsgorideabike.com and I’ll add you to the mailing list.  Don’t be shy – we’re a friendly bunch!

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Package Delivery

Last week, I went to the post office and here is the obligatory cargo photo.  :)

Seriously, my bike was the perfect way to go because the place was only four blocks away, but the packages would have been a bit much to carry in my arms.  I continue to be impressed by the do-anything straps that came with my Oma, although after 3.5 years in the elements, they’re starting to look dry and corroded.  I should replace them soon before they snap at an inopportune moment!

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Wardrobe Malfunction: Tying my skirt

The other day, I wore a full pleated skirt to work, one I had worn while bicycling many times in the past with no problem.  I must have been riding Betty Foy and not Oma those previous times (like here), because this time the skirt kept ballooning up with wind and blowing back.  While the slightly leaned-forward positioning of Betty Foy causes the wind to push skirts down more securely against my thighs, Oma’s laid-back positioning can have the opposite effect.

For a while, I biked one-handed while using the other hand to hold down the skirt, but even that was not enough to tame it.  Eventually I pulled over, grabbed a ponytail holder from my bag, and tied up one side of my skirt, which worked, although it was wrinkled afterward.

Ta-da!

I was really annoyed by this situation at the time.  I know there are lots of people (both bicyclists and non-bicyclists) who think bicycling in a skirt is silly, and I probably looked like Exhibit No. 1 in support of their opinion out there, but I know that bicycling in a skirt is perfectly reasonable.   I do it all the time without incident and never have to worry about changing at my destination.

I should not care what others think, but I am cognizant of being a rarity out there and I want to represent well the idea of everyday bicycling.

In the end, the solution was easy enough – fast, effective and free – and I will simply make a mental note of this particular skirt’s limitations.

See also, Stapling my skirt.

P.S. Since we’ve been talking a lot about pricy specialty bicycling clothes lately, I’ll point out that this skirt, the pearl necklace, and the cashmere sweater all came from thrift stores.

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