June 2012 archive

Fashion Friday: Nearly naked edition

weatherchannel

It’s so steamy I can’t even think about real clothes this weekend, and since the hellish weather (aka pink blob of death) that’s enveloping Tennessee right now seems to be covering much of the country there’s a good chance many of you are feeling the same. So for this week’s fashion Friday, I’m dreaming of being on a boat with some Jeni’s ice cream. Pants optional. If you live somewhere that allows you to wear more than a bathing suit or underwear this weekend . . . can I come to visit?

Nautical heat wave

Top, $23
J Crew underwire swimwear, $43
J Crew hipster bikini, $23
BCBG Max Azria nautical jewelry, $23
Dsquared summer scarf, £95

 

Not much on my plate this weekend other than the vain attempt to keep cool, but I am looking forward to fabric shopping with Lauren and a last-minute visit from my college roommate (yay K!). Also, to multiple cucumber-rosemary gin & tonics. And possibly frying an egg or toasting marshmallows on the sidewalk. Feel free to share your weekend plans or commiserate about the heat in the comments!

A Long Summer Evening

20120627-BRA5994-R1-024-10A

I love how getting home at the end of the day can become extraordinary simply by bicycling with friends.  After this week’s Tuesdays on the Terrace event at the Museum of Contemporary Art, I biked home along the lakefront with my friends Sara and Holly.  At 8:30, the sun was setting, creating beautiful colors in both the sky and water.  Sara had the idea to stop along the way and venture to the edge of a pier for a beautiful view of the city.

Sara with her blue Pashley Poppy:

Holly with her green vintage bike:

Me with my Rivendell Betty Foy:

We took a bunch of photos and engaged in some general silliness:

Sara said she felt like it was one of those long summer nights of childhood, when the streetlights have come on but you’re not ready to go home home and go inside yet.

I totally knew what she was talking about.    Riding bikes with friends on a late summer evening is the best.


Do you ever get that feeling?

{p.s. Have you read about Grant Petersen’s visit to Nashville yet?  I want to read his book for the title alone – Just Ride!}

An afternoon with Grant Petersen

photo by Kim Sherman

Nashville was lucky to host Grant Petersen—of Rivendell Bicycle Works, makers of Dot’s beloved Betty Foy, among other bicycles!—on the last stop of his book tour for Just Ride, an opinionated collection of essays on the various reasons for/ways of riding a bike for pleasure. Parnassus Books was packed during the hour-long conversation, as Grant discussed the origins of his book and took questions from the audience—even store co-owner Ann Patchett was among the crowd. As the talk progressed, it became more of a conversation, with audience participation and laughter.

'Just Ride' displayed at Parnassus Books

Turns out that writing a book was his publisher’s idea—they called him up out of the blue in 2008. At the time, Petersen said, he didn’t know much about Workman Publishing, one of the biggest lifestyle book publishers in America. “What to Expect When You’re Expecting is paying for this book tour,” he joked.

photo by Kim Sherman

Like most books, Just Ride has an eventful publication story. Petersen went through three drafts. When he turned in his first draft, his Workman Editor David Skinner said “Somewhere in here, there’s a good book.” So he tried again, narrowing the topic to his opinion about various bikes on the road, and ended up with a book he laughingly called ”Grant Petersen’s big boring book of bicycles.” Petersen didn’t like it, and when he admitted as much, his editor replied “Good. Nobody here likes it either.”

Trisha of LGRAB with Grant Petersen

Getting my book signed

Take three became Just Ride (eventually—settling on a title was equally full of back-and-forths), a book written in an informal but informed style that Petersen aptly described as “a friendly scold.” It’s an ode to “unracing,” the type of riding that most appeals to me and something that Petersen only discovered after spending six-and-a-half years racing bikes and about 20 more still riding like a racer.  As he put it, “Uniforms have an interesting effect on people. . . . When you put on the uniform of a professional racer, without even knowing it, you put on all the swagger that comes with it.” When you’re spending 10 minutes suiting up for a ride, he said, “You don’t want to do fun rides anymore…it feels like a waste, foolish.”

Petersen said that he found himself pushing himself out of the house in the morning and missing leisurely breakfasts with his wife and daughters in order to get his miles in before the heat of the day hit. He was embarking on the type of ride “you’d rather finish than start.” He wasn’t having fun.

 

most bikes greenhills has ever seen

The bikes outside Parnassus Books—thanks to Walk/Bike Nashville

Eventually, he realized that this philosophy was costing him and decided to indulge in “the luxury of being able to enjoy your bicycle.” Something just about everyone who reads this site surely believes in, right?

Three ways to unrace yourself, according to Grant Petersen:

1. Dress down. Wear your normal clothes and dress for the weather, not for your bike

2. Ride a different kind of bike. You don’t need 30 gears.

3. Don’t have goals. “You work toward goals, you don’t play toward them,” said Petersen. “Riding a bike should be fun.”

Petersen stressed that everything in the book was his opinion, and his opinion only. “Nowhere in the book does it say ‘in my opinion,’ but all of it is.” Some of his more controversial essays, such as the ones on helmet use (hilariously, Petersen said he has worn his bike helmet in the car: “I’m afraid of driving.”) and Critical Mass have earned him some nasty emails from early readers, but he felt it was worth it to get his thoughts out there. He doesn’t expect everyone to agree with him, and he’s fine with that, saying that if you get something from at least 8 or 9 of the 89 essays in the book, it’s worth the price of admission.

I can say with certainty that readers of this blog will get more than that for sure. If you’re looking for a book to share with friends and family in order to explain why you ride the way you do, Just Ride would be a great choice.

After the talk, we rounded up about 15 of the people who had ridden to the reading despite the sizzling 100-degree temperatures and headed to Green Fleet Hub for a little afterparty.

The group, and Grant

There were a few Rivendells in the crowd.

Me and Le Peug

We ate chips and salsa, drank some Fat Tire and chatted. My new Po Campo bag was duly admired by all. I asked Grant if he had considered making a second women’s bike, and he said no…but then asked me what I would change about the Betty Foy. The sign of a successful businessperson, being willing to consider new ideas.

Bikes outside of Green Fleet Hub

Meeting one of cycling’s legends was definitely the highlight of my weekend. Thanks to everyone who came out as well as to Parnassus Books, Green Fleet Hub and Walk/Bike Nashville for helping to make it happen.

{photos in this post courtesy of Austin, Kim & Whitney, who filled the breach after my camera came down with a fatal lens error. Thanks!}

Neighborhood Buffered Bike Lane

20120625-R1-04333-0029

Another new buffered bike lane has been installed in Chicago, this one in my neighborhood along the business district.  Notice that with this lane the buffer zone is next to parked cars, while with the lane heading into downtown, the buffer zone is next to moving traffic.  Even with the buffer, cyclists still need to bike in the outer portion of the bike lane to avoid opening car doors.

There is a buffered lane on the other side of the street, too, and visually the bike lanes make up a big portion of the roadway.  This street has always been very bike-friendly with slow and light traffic, but the new buffered bike lanes make it even more so.  I consider this low-hanging fruit for CDOT, so while I am happy to see the improvement, I anxiously await improvements where they are most needed – on major routes.

Roll Model: Lauren in Nashville

cowboy tuxresized

As part of the new LGRAB, every Tuesday we will profile an inspiring everyday cyclist—a weekly series called “Roll Models.”

This week’s Roll Model is Lauren T., who rides here in Nashville. If Lauren looks familiar to you, it’s because she’s been a loyal attendee of bike brunches and events here in Nashville since the very beginning (well, that, and she wrote a terrific guest review of the Lululemon crops).  The photos she chose here do a great job of illustrating her lively, adventurous personality and the fun she has riding her bike. Not shown: Her penchant for colorful language, apparently reserved for those of us who have the privilege of knowing her personally! Read on for Lauren’s take on the bike scene in Nashville.

Describe your bicycling style in three words.

colorful, fearless, inventive

How long have you been riding a bike?

I’ve been cycling for about 2 years. Of course, I had a bicycle when I was a kid, and I loved riding it everywhere, but I stopped when I got my driver’s license… and forgot everything. It is possible to forget how to ride a bike, I don’t care what anyone says! I had to re-learn in my back yard. I promptly rode straight into a bush and tipped over. Fortunately, it gets much easier after that :)

 

At bike to work day 2012

How does bicycling fit into and/or shape your life?

I do have a car, but I try to ride my bike at least a couple of times a week – for exercise, less gas consumption, a stress reliever, and also because it’s just fun. I only live about 5 miles from my office so this actually pretty feasible. A little less than a year ago, my truck died (like, needed a new engine died) during a long weekend… and I wasn’t nearly as bummed as I thought I would be, since I knew my bike would get me where I needed to go (and the public transit could pick up the slack!). I spent about a month getting around via bike and bus before I found a replacement truck… and the whole process was actually kind of fun! Not to mention I had the luxury of taking my sweet leisurely time in picking out something in my budget that wasn’t a piece of junk, instead of just grabbing the first deal that came my way. I’m not quite at the point where I’m willing to entirely give up my car, but I’m definitely heading in that direction!

What inspires you to keep bicycling?

As dorky as it sounds, the wonderful feeling I get from cycling is what keeps me going. I love the feeling of freedom, of propelling myself with the strength of my own two legs. And, you know, it feels pretty dang good to roll up at some giant festival downtown & lock my bike to the nearest rack – instead of paying $15 to park my car (and get stuck in traffic crawls when all is said and done!).

In your experience, does the general bicycling world—shops, outreach, group rides, etc.—feel welcoming for you as a woman?

In my city – absolutely! I think this city & all the little bike gangs around do their best to make sure everyone is included – both women and men. I’ve never felt stupid or looked down on for wandering into a bike shop & asking dumb questions. My commute has lots of interactions with male cyclists – the kind who are head to toe in colorful spandex on top of a really expensive bike – and we all chat each other up & offer words of encouragement. I may be rolling around on a spray painted Frankenbike, but I’ve never felt like I was inferior because of that, or because I am a lady cyclist.

Lauren in a cycling jacket she sewed

What is your take on the “gender gap” in cycling, including media attention on how to get more women to bicycle?

I don’t see much of a gender gap – maybe I’m just oblivious to it. Wouldn’t be the first time!

If you could magically change one thing to improve bicycling in your city, what would it be?

I think the single most important thing we need here is education – lots and lots of education. Education for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. We all need to learn how to share the roads – they are there for all vehicles, not just ones that use gasoline :) I’d say that the majority of my problems from cycling around in the city are from driver ignorance — whether they are passing too close because they don’t know better, or maybe they didn’t know they couldn’t park in the bike lane, and even a lot of the road rage toward cyclists. Nope, me cycling in the street is not illegal, sorry!

Lauren at the Tour de Fat

Do you feel optimistic about the future of bicycling?

Oh, yes! I really do think we are heading toward a more sustainable lifestyle – and bicycling is definitely a big part of that. Seeing all the progress that my city is pushing toward pedestrians & cyclists absolutely makes me feel optimistic about the future.

Any advice for people, especially women, who want to start cycling?

Starting out can be intimidating & scary, but it will get easier the more you ride! You don’t need something overly fancy/expensive to start, just make sure you have the seat at the right height & that you feel comfortable on your bike. I started out by riding in circles around my block (and tipping over every single time I tried to turn the bike, haha), and then working up to tiny ½ – 1 mile rides down the road – until I was at the point where I could comfortably ride all the way to my office. I was very timid when I started – I wouldn’t even bike around my neighborhood solo, too scared! – but now I’m kind of fearless. I’ll bike anywhere, for any distance, and I’ll even do it in a skirt! Yeah!

Final words?

My riding mantra is, “If I was in a hurry, I’d take my car.” Slow down and enjoy the ride! Otherwise – what’s the point? :)

Thanks Lauren! For more about Lauren, visit her sewing blog, Lladybird, and be wowed by her stitchery talent. She’s currently helping me sew a skirt.  In the three months I’ve been working on it off and on with her, she’s completed approximately a dozen outfits. 

Tuesdays on the Terrace

20120625-R1-04333-0015

Have I mentioned that summers in Chicago are the best?  ’Cause they are!

Last week, I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art for Tuesdays on the Terrace, a free event with admission to the exhibits and the back garden, where a jazz band entertained and people enjoyed fresh grilled food and drinks.  I lounged on a blanket with my friends Chika and Linda, enjoying the outside ambiance.

The museum is right by Lake Michigan and Chika walked me to the lakefront trail at the end of the evening.  Coco is a bit too big for her, but I think they make a lovely pair.

I enjoyed my bike ride home in the evening, totally content.  Bicycling with the fresh air and sunset and skyline is the best way to end a Tuesday.  Certainly better than a usual mid-week bike commute.

I plan to go to as many Tuesdays on the Terrace events as possible this summer.  After all, the event is free!  ;)  No reason not to take advantage of all the culture Chicago offers.

Bikes and the City Print

20120611-BRA5825-R1-052-24Aresized

I am a long-time follower of the always beautiful, original, creative, and intelligent Bikes and the City, but I only recently realized that the fabulous blog-runner, Meli, has original bicycle prints for sale.  I immediately chose this fabulous orange and yellow San Francisco bicycle print for my home.

The print now hangs framed on my living room wall.  Love!  The fact that it’s from Meli makes it extra special.

You can get your paws on a print of your own here.

Fashion Friday: Star Struck

Fashion Friday-starsresized

This amazing skirt by Shadowplayncy inspired me to build a whole Fashion Friday look around it. The cotton sateen skirt is hand-sewn in New York City and printed with real images from the Hubble Telescope.  All of their space-inspired pieces are jaw-droppingly beautiful and unique.

I’m also really into these studded leather flats by Marc Jacobs.  If you look closely, you can see that the toes have little mouse ears, eyes, and noses!  A fun craft project would be turning a cheap pair of flats into mice.  Another would be putting orange accents on my Dutch bike, calling it Hermes, and reselling it for $4,650.  :)

I would wear this outfit on a night bike ride (sunglasses becoming a headband after sunset) to view the International Space Station as it passes by this weekend.

{Dorothy Perkins gold top, $49, Star skirt, $138, Marc by Marc Jacobs mouse shoes, $250, Mathias Chaize star earrings, $110, Chloé square sunglasses, $143, Bicycle Hermès Surprise, $4,650}

Simplicity

20120616-R1-06833-004Aresized

Although not directly bike-related, I am compelled to share with you this beautiful short film.  Created by Julia Warr, the film features Maia Helles, a 95 year old Russian ballet dancer, as she shares her secret for a long and happy life: simplicity.  The running time is only four minutes – please do watch it now; I’ll wait.

Beautiful.  I want to remember Maia and try to make little changes in life to foster the kind of happiness she displays.  If I could be assured of having half of her health and serenity in my later years (maybe even toodling around on my bike still), I would not fear growing older as much.

{I found this film via the always thoughtful and lovely blog Silent Storyteller.}

Summer 2012 Jerk Season

BRA5370-R1-019-8

The good side of biking Chicago

Welcome to Jerk Season aka summer!

On Saturday, I set off on my bike, in a great mood, to the theater to watch Moonrise Kingdom.  I was biking on a busy but reasonable two-lane street, outside of the door zone, three feet from parked cars.  Suddenly, from far behind me I heard a honk, then two more as the car came closer.  HONK!  HOOONK!  HOOOOOOONK!  The car passed me extremely closely, as the driver screeched out the open window, “MOVE OUT OF MY FUCKING WAY, BITCH!!!”

I maintained my line and did not react at all.  About 30 yards later, I passed her and the many cars stopped in traffic in front of her, soon arriving at my destination.

The experience was unpleasant – obviously, like any sane person, I would prefer not to be assaulted while traveling – but I have to remember that there are always awful people in the world, whether I am driving or bicycling.  I had to deal with her for only a few seconds, while she is trapped in her own anger always.  It would have been nice if a police officer had magically been around to pull her over, but such is life.

Now I can add “bitch” to the list, along with “retard,” “asshole,”  and “moron,” drivers have yelled at me for no reason.  Not too bad, in four years of daily Chicago bicycling, but I prefer bicycling in the winter, when drivers keep their windows closed and I cannot hear their crazed screeching.

1 2 3