Monthly Archives: August 2012

Fashion Friday: Sweet & Sassy Summer outfit

My obsession with all things denim continues with this week’s chambray shirt/neon skirt combo. I love the idea of casual denim juxtaposed with bright neon and some ladylike but edgy accessories, like the pumps and cameo necklace.

Of course, pencil skirts are not the best choice for biking, but that’s where the sassiness comes in: Hike it up! Although you might not have to hike things up too far if you’re riding a Retrovelo Paula. And I had to give a shout-out to my Armitage Satchel, the one item in this set that I actually have in real life. I get compliments on it both on and off the bike.

Sweet & sassy summer outfit
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Pedal Pushers

Before I started cycling, I never thought about the name “pedal pusher” for pants in a literal way. But now it comes to me – duh, this style is named pedal pushers because they are made for pushing pedals!  The cuffs are short enough that there is no risk the getting caught in the chain or crank while bicycling.

Since I started bicycling daily, I almost entirely stopped wearing pants in favor of skirts and dresses to avoid having to secure pants cuffs, but lately I’ve been wanting to wear outfits built around pants.  Pedal pushers are a good solution.

This is the only pair of pedal pushers I have, tending to avoid them as not the most flattering length, but I think I’ll keep my eyes out for more.  They are just too convenient and fun for bicycling.  I really don’t know why I never thought of them much before.  :-)

What do you think – are you a fan of pedal pushers?

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August’s Women-Who-Bike Brunch (with kids!)

For our August brunch, the Chicago Women-Who-Bike gathered in Lincoln Park south of the zoo for a scenic picnic.

There were lots of cool ladies with cool bikes.

This month, kids were specifically invited – and enjoyed the nearby petting zoo after brunch.  Happily for them, there was plenty of grass to run around on and trees to climb.

Their moms were rocking some VERY cool multi-passenger bikes.  This Bike Friday Two’sDay Tandem is an awesome little machine.  You can read more about it on One Less Minivan.

Then there was this chic black Madsen with a heavy duty front rack.

This WorkCycles Bakfeits regularly carries three boys.  Read more about it on Chicargo Bike.

Super fun Nutcase helmets!

Taking off…

Betty Foy looked on with respect and admiration.  These women and their bikes are way badass.

If you are a woman in Chicago interested in joining the group, you are very welcome!  Email me at LGRAB@letsgorideabike.com for details.  The next brunch will be Sunday, September 9, at the Nature Museum to check out the final day of the Bikes! The Revolution exhibit.

{P.S.  There’s a great discussion going on in the comments sections of yesterday’s Bicycle Booty post – check it out and share your thoughts!}

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Bicycling booty

There’s something I’ve been meaning to post about here for some time: The “riding makes you thin!” meme. So many times I see it mentioned on bike blogs that so and so can eat whatever they want because they bike.

my homemade macarons

It is true for some people, I’m sure. But I have actually had the opposite experience, and I feel like I can’t be the only one. When I first started cycling in April 2008, I lost a few pounds. Then, as my cardiovascular fitness improved and my commute was no longer a real workout, that weight came back — with a little bit extra, probably due to a combo of increased muscle mass, age-related metabolism slowdown, and the fact that cycling makes me hungry. On someone who is 5’2″ (optimistically!) even a small amount can be noticeable.

That said, bicycling has made other, more important changes in my body. I can run (well, OK, jog) 3+ miles now without being seriously sore/tired the next day, when previously one mile on the treadmill made me feel like dying. My ride to work takes a couple minutes less than it did 3 years ago, and I can ride across town without breaking a sweat (figuratively; this is Tennessee!). I have cycled 30 miles in a day without my legs being sore. It is seriously awesome.

In some ways it it frustrating to feel so healthy and fit, and yet not be the Cosmo-approved width (at least, I assume I’m not—I gave up reading Cosmo at least 5 years ago). But I am short with a medium/muscular build, my legs especially. Cycling doesn’t do a lot to work against nature in that area. Maybe if I gave up sweets and alcohol (not gonna happen), I could be back to the weight I was when I was 23. But the fact is, cycling is a rather efficient form of exercise. You just don’t burn that many calories riding 30-40 minutes a day at a moderate pace, like I do.

In short, I can’t promise you that riding your bike means being able to eat an unlimited amount of cupcakes, or croissants or whatever your treat of choice might be. It might even make your butt bigger. It is more likely to give you T-Rex arms than Michelle Obama arms (tm Elisa!).

But I can promise you that it will give you more energy, build your stamina and get your heart in better shape. And oh yeah, it’s fun. Most days, that’s enough of a bargain for me.

What has your experience with cycling and weight been?

{ Dottie’s take on bicycling and self-esteem is here. }

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Fashion Friday: End of Summer Cycling

As the summer winds down, I find myself already growing nostalgic, but excited for cooler weather.  This outfit brings together those disparate feelings.  The bright flowers celebrate the brightness of summer, while the jeans are perfect for those evenings when there’s a slight chill in the air – and these skinny jeans won’t get pulled into bike cranks or chains.  (Hint: if you don’t want to pay for Dolce & Gabbana, buy some inexpensive jeans and fabric paint!)

I’m heading to Nashville this weekend to hang with Trisha and enjoy some Southern sun.  Then I plan to spend as much of next week outside as possible, enjoying what’s left of Chicago’s magical summertime.

How about you?

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Surly Stories

My friend Megan, intrepid world-traveler, recently bought a Surly Cross-Check.  She already had a Gary Fisher Simple City for in-town riding, but wanted the Surly for longer, faster rides and for a bike tour around Iceland next summer!

I ran into her by chance today on my way home from work and she had been riding around the city for hours, enjoying the swiftness of her new bike.

The Surly seems like a popular bike for people looking for the right combination of quality and (relative) affordability.  I know of many who use Surleys both for commuting and for touring.

Do you have a Surly story?  If so, share it in the comments!  I’m sure Megan and many others would be interested to hear them.

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Unsolicited “Advice”

Occasionally when bicycling, a random guy gives me unsolicited advice.  For illustration, here are two scenes from the past month.

Warning: Competent Woman on the Loose

Scene 1:  I am bicycling home at night, equipped with a helmet, blinking lights and reflectors.  I stop behind a city bus at a red light.  A motorcyclist pulls up very close to me in the same lane.

Motorcyclist Guy:  [lecturing tone] You gotta be safe out here.

Me:  [unsure, attempting friendliness] Yeah, we all have to.

MG:  But be careful, you don’t want to be knocked over.  You just need to be safe out here.

Me:  I am safe.  I do not need your advice.

MG: [revs engine and jets off]

Me: [???]

Scene 2:  I’m bicycling to work in the morning, stopping at a stop sign to allow a pedestrian to cross.  The temp is 90 degrees, so I take my helmet off and hang it on my handlebars.  To compensate, I bicycle extra slowly and cautiously.  Bicyclist guy squeezes between me and the SUV on my left.

Bicyclist Guy: You need to wear a helmet.  Your helmet is not going to protect your handlebars. [passing me at twice my speed]

Me: I do not need to hear this from you.

BG: [in a singsong tone] Just some friendly advice!

Me: I’m a big girl.

BG: [yelling over his shoulder] We all are!

Me: Ha! [wondering how long until he realizes what he said and goes, "Doh!"]

In both situations, the guys seemed to assume that I would benefit from their “advice.”  In fact, I act deliberately and do not need to hear the opinion of a random man on the street, whether it’s about my “safety,” my helmet, or my looks (that’s a different topic).

If anyone is tempted to offer this kind of advice, please think twice, and unless someone’s actions directly affect you, hold back.

Ladies and gentlemen, do random people give you unsolicited “advice” while bicycling?  If so, does it make you want to inform the advice-giver where to shove it?

:)

{Photo above by Martha Williams of Bike Fancy}

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The Best Everyday Pedals

I believe there is no such thing as bad shoes for everyday cycling, only bad pedals.  :-)  Although I rarely wear high heels (preferring not to feel hobbled), I do not want my bike to prevent me from pulling them out on those days when I feel inspired.

My friend Chika recently wore these fabulous high-heeled sandals while riding her new Linus Dutchie.  Although she looked kick-ass, she admitted that the heels were very difficult to bike in, as her foot kept sliding off the pedal.

Chika’s heels

While some may say, “Um, don’t bike in heels,” that’s not how we roll around here.  Instead, I commiserated – been there, experienced that – and encouraged her to consider replacing the Linus’s stock pedals with inexpensive Dimension rubber pedals. Chicagoans: you can buy them locally at J.C. Lind Bikes.

Dimension rubber pedals

I discovered these particular Dimension pedals while borrowing a De Fietsfabriek bike for a group ride.  During that ride, my normally difficult, high pumps stayed glued to the pedals as if by magic.

Prada pumps and Dimension pedals

I soon bought the same pedals for my Oma and they have been going strong for over two years.  The rubber has not lost its grippiness over time and the heavy use has not worn them down.

As I said before, the ability to bike in any shoe is all about the pedals.  Well, okay, maybe these extreme(ly badass) heels of Trisha’s would be difficult even with these pedals.  But maybe not!

What kind of pedals do you have on your bike?  Do your shoe soles ever slip?  Do you have your own recommendation for “best everyday pedals?”

Fashion Friday: Summer separates

As much as I love the ease of dresses, in recent months the siren song of separates has been calling to me. Not having the perfect pair of jean shorts is starting to get to me. Luckily August is the best time to find such items in the thrift store, so I’m going to cross my fingers and take a shopping trip sometime soon.

If I do find those shorts, here’s the sort of thing I’d want to wear with them, while riding Le Peug of course.

Summer shorts
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Weirdly Wavy

So as I believe I’ve mentioned, my camera is on the fritz…which means my iPhone 3G is my only photographic equipment at the moment. Usually it’s adequate to the task at hand, but sometimes photos turn out a little…interesting.

Do you think it was the heat that was making these photos turn out so wavy? Or perhaps the warp speed at which I ride my 50-pound bike. ;)

Maybe it’s time for an upgrade.

The Things She Carried

post office goodies

vino!

sunflowers and CSA

sunflowers and CSA

 

computer and PoCampo bag

Well, it’s no adorable chihuahua, but never say you can’t use a bicycle for schlepping! I did try to avoid blogger stereotypes by not posting pictures of my lunch tethered to the rear rack. What have you carried on your bike lately?

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A Separated Bike Lane Commute

Big bicycling improvements are happening in Chicago!  I heard that the city recently installed a separated bike lane on Elston Avenue, so I went a little out of my way yesterday morning to check it out.

The  city calls the Elston bike lane “protected,” but as you can see below, plastic bollards do not provide any real protection from dump trucks.

But I am not knocking the lane at all.  I love it!  Biking down this wide industrial road with fast traffic is now easy as pie.  Bikes have their own area and cars seem to respect it.

Intersections and parking lot entrances are marked with green paint to remind drivers to watch for bicyclists.  Some stretches of the lane have car parking to the left, providing real protection from moving traffic.

Look at that wide open lane with the Sears Tower beckoning – beautiful!

After a while, the separated lane ends and turns into a buffered lane, which is also new.  Although this design forces bicyclists to watch out for opening car doors and cars pulling out of parking spaces, there is a lot of breathing room that helps bicyclists feel more comfortable.

After Elson I turned onto Kinzie Street, which has the city’s very first separated bike lane installed in the spring.  I wrote about this beautifully designed and implemented lane earlier this year.

Finally, I turned on a side street for the last few blocks to my office.  This is the only street on the route that does not have a bike lane, but it does boast the beauty that is the underside of the L train tracks.

Biking my entire commute on mostly separated bike lanes was awesome.  I’m excited for the city to create more of these safer lanes.  Mayor Emanuel recently said, “By next year I believe the city of Chicago will lead the country in protected bike lanes and dedicated bike lanes and it will be the bike friendliest city in the country.”  Sounds good to me!  (That is how a big city mayor should talk, in contrast to Toronto’s horrible mayor.)

I think an abundance of separated lanes in a city would result in a massive increase of everyday cycling – don’t you?

If you agree, PLEASE sign this petition supporting protected bike lanes!  Right now there are 2,000 something signatures; we can double that number if we spread the word!

Extras:

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Just Glide

So I realized after posting about tips to beat the summer heat that  there was one thing I hadn’t mentioned: Coast when you can! This is probably because I often forget to do this myself. You know those small dogs who, when held above the water, automatically start paddling?

funny gifs

That’s me when my feet are placed above bike pedals.

But here in Nashville, the upside of all the hills are all the downhills! (Well, I guess technically the downhills are the downside, not the upside, but you know what I mean.) And when it’s hot, I try to remind myself to take a break from pedaling and glide down them.

The joys of having a step-through: resting your feet on the top tube!

Are you a phantom pedaler too? Make me feel less alone here. :)

 

{ gif pulled from gifbin.com }

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A New Kind of Bike Rental

Yesterday morning on Cup of Jo, I read about a totally new kind of bike rental/bike share system, Spinlister, described as airbnb for bicycles.  The idea is to rent a bike from an individual, paying substantially lower rates than you would at a traditional bike rental company.  The site is currently live for NYC and San Fran.

The best thing about this system is the available selection of unique bicycles, much better than the usual crappy hybrids offered by bike rental shops.  A quick look at the site shows a fun collection of bikes, including the ones below.

a Batavus Old Dutch:

a sweet vintage mixte:

and a fixie:

I think this is a cool idea with a lot of potential, although arranging to meet up with an individual to pick up a bike may be too much trouble for a one-day rental.

Would you consider using this system while visiting another city?  Would you offer your bike up for rental???  I don’t think I would be willing to hand over my bikes to complete strangers.

{Check out our past interview with Joanna of Cup of Jo!}

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Making It Work

Sometimes an outfit comes along that is worth a little extra trouble to become bike-friendly.

I found this Burberry polo shirtdress at Salvation Army last week for the low, low, low price of $1.89.  I thought the casual dress would be great for summer, but it was shorter than I expected once I put it on.

I really did not want to be inappropriate, so I put on black spandex shorts underneath.  Then I layered a full-length opaque slip to prevent the black from showing through the white cotton.

A couple of people mentioned using slips for bicycling in the comments of this post, so I picked up a highly-recommended full slip from Gap Body.  The slip worked perfectly, although natural fibers would be more breathable and therefore better for bicycling.

These three layers helped me feel secure while biking 8 miles in this dress.  I think I could have gotten by without the shorts, but I prefer not to worry about my hemline and appreciate the extra coverage.

I’m sure this new slip will come in handy with many other outfits.

Do you have an outfit that you love so much, you go out of your way to make it work on your bike?

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A Happy Morning

Happy: A cup of freshly brewed coffee.

Happier: Biking to an early yoga class.

Happiest: Unexpectedly seeing my good friend Sara while leaving the yoga studio and biking to work together.

Here’s to becoming a morning person!

:)

 

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How To: Leather U-Lock Holster

I heard so many great tips from commenters about u-lock schlepping last week.  The one that takes the cake is from Jessie of Bicitoro, who posted an excellent tutorial for creating a u-lock holster from a leather belt.

What a stylish, thrifty, and utilitarian solution!

Check out her step-by-step instructions.  If you create your own, please let us (and Jessie) know.

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Bike Style in Vogue

News flash: bicycles are in.  Last week, Vogue wrote about the fashionableness of bicycles:

As we ease into the last few weeks of summer, bike style is the new street style. So why not count your chic cruiser as a seasonal staple? Just as you might acquire pieces to complement a favorite new bag, it’s possible to build your ensemble around your bike.

A slideshow of bicycles matched with fall fashion accompanies the article. (Hat tip to CycleStyle Australia for the link.)

Looking at the slideshow is fun, kinda like our Fashion Fridays, but with all couture designer clothing.  We have been known here at LGRAB to match our outfits to our bikes!

I think such attention is positive for the image of bicycling and it gives me a little thrill, but I also agree with Trisha that bicycling is more than a fashion statement and that making the bicycle a fashionable accessory – without accompanying advocacy – will not substantially increase the amount of bikes on the road.  Paris and New York’s bikeshares and increase in infrastructure must be pushing this trend.  I’d love to know what others think.  Do you get excited about or roll your eyes at such articles?

(I must say, in regards to the imagery above, that society tends to gloss over painfully thin models as normal for fashion, but excepting the very few woman who look so naturally, this extreme thinness is not good or healthy.)

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Fashion Friday: Biking to Yoga

Who else is obsessed with the Olympics?  Watching the US women’s gymnastics team (go Gabby!) was the push I needed to get my butt back to yoga, after years of saying, “I need to get back to yoga.”

I’m finishing week two of near-daily 6 a.m. classes and I love it.  I am not a morning person, but I discovered that if I get up as soon as the alarm goes off, throw on my yoga clothes, and head straight out the door – no snooze button, coffee, twitter, or other procrastination – the morning is not so bad.

This routine requires extra preparation, especially combined with biking to work.  I bike to the studio on the way to work wearing my yoga outfit (Lululemon’s yoga clothes are so expensive, but soooo perfect!).  After class, I shower at the studio and change into regular shorts and a t-shirt, since my yoga clothes are too sweaty to put back on and I get too sweaty on my bike right now to wear work clothes.  Finally, I bike the rest of the way to work and change into my work clothes.  I swear, this is not as complicated as it sounds.  Totally worth the extra effort for the wonderful feeling I get from yoga class.

Do you have a yoga or other exercise routine that you combine with your bike commute?  I’m interested to hear how others handle the logistics.

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Share your Bike Share stories with us

So as I said last week, Nashville is about to get a kiosk bike share (we do already have GreenBikes, yo). Chicago’s bike sharing program is about to expand enough to be actually useful.

Lots of beautiful, beautiful Velib' bikes in Paris

But we know lots of you live in cities that already have a bike share. Will you tell us about it? We’d love to know whether you use your city’s bike share, and why. Responses may be collated and posted here.

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