September 2012 archive

Bike Bumper Stickers

P1020230resized

Over the years, I’ve considered getting a bumper sticker for my bike.  Something fun and positive like, “Thank you for seeing me!” or “Have a nice day!” or “Put the fun between your legs!”  (I am not that forward!!).   But this is the first bike bumper sticker I’ve ever sported:

The sticker is not made specifically for bicycles, of course, but my Velorbis has a convenient license plate-like area perfectly fit for such a sticker.  Instead of peeling off the backing, I stuck some electrical tape on the back side and so far it’s holding up well.

I’m ridiculously proud of/smug about this bumper (fender?) sticker.

Have any of you ever sported a bike bumper sticker?  If so, what did it say?  ;-)

Park(ing) Day Downer

nopark(ing)

So Friday was Park(ing) Day, a day when cities around the country take over parking spots and turn them into urban parks. When my friend Whitney said she was volunteering at the one downtown, I immediately begged to tag along with her for her 7-10 pm shift. Our ride downtown was pretty pleasant, featuring Minnie Pearl impersonators outside the Country Music Hall of Fame:

Minnie Pearl lives, in Nashville anyway!

 

Blocked-off streets due to a downtown music festival (no problem for bikes!):

 

And a few hills:

Here’s what we were expecting to find, thanks to the Nashville Civic Design Center’s Facebook page:

Here is what we found:

 

The Flik sadly contemplates the dusty remants of an ancient civillization

 

No green stuff, but lots of traffic!

I guess Nashville can’t give up a parking spot for more than a few hours? I won’t lie, we were pretty annoyed—especially Whitney, who had volunteered her time and was not contacted about the event ending early.

We salvaged the evening with a progressive ride to the Nashville Night Market, dinner at Silo in Germantown and a beer at the Taproom.

Anyone have a more positive Park(ing) Day experience than I did? Hope so.

Review: Bird Industries Bike Garter

garter clip side

When I saw bike garters from Bird Industries available in one of those email flash sales a few months back, I decided to give one a whirl. This particular bike garter had been recommended a few times in our comments section, and I have a few skirts I like to wear on my bike that give me occasional modesty issues. The bike garter is pretty simple: It’s a garter with a clip much like an actual garter, but the clip is meant to grab your skirt, not a stocking. The Bird Industries garter I chose was a bright pink and size large since I wanted to make sure it was not too snug. The inside of the garter has a silicone grip, and it stays put on my leg without pinching (though it’s not the sort of thing you really forget you are wearing).

The clip is not difficult to use, but the way it works was not intuitive to me: instead of pinching the end of the clasp to make the end that opens open, you push it up to open the clasp.

The first time I wore the garter, I fixed the clasp to the hem of my skirt, on the side. It made a bit of a bubble hem, but looked pretty normal.

Skirt with garter clip clipped to the hem—note the slight bubble

You can also attach the clasp to a spot on the underside of the skirt.

rear side of skirt clipped to garter

skirt with the garter clip clipped to the underside of the skirt

Both clasp methods worked to keep the skirt from flying all the way up, and did not impede my pedaling ability. However, neither kept the garter from showing. This is clear on the Bird Industries store, so it isn’t like they’re misleading anyone, but I was surprised by the way exposed garter made me feel. It still seemed that something was showing that ought not to be—and that “something” was bright pink! I didn’t take pictures of this situation for that reason. But it was easily resolved by tucking a small portion of my skirt hem under the edge of the garter at the side. I am not sure I would feel comfortable wearing this garter with a shorter skirt, like the ladies in the Bird Industries photos. Which is odd, because I don’t consider myself that shy about that sort of thing—it took me four years to buy one of these, after all.

Garter clip in action, with garter safely covered.

As I mentioned, I bought my garter clip on super clearance through one of those “final sale” flash shops, but the normal retail price is $12. Overall, it is an effective method of keeping your underwear under wraps, as long as you don’t mind flashing a garter instead.

Do you use a bike garter?

Fashion Friday: Foxy Fall

foxy fall

The crisp fall weather has officially arrived in Chicago (see here) and this week I wore gloves and a light scarf for the first time (see here).  Fall is my favorite season and I love dressing for it.  Lately I’ve been thinking of boots, burnt orange, brown leather, dark denim, and – yes – sweaters emblazoned with foxes.  A spritz of my favorite fall scent, Burberry Brit, and I’m ready to go. Since I was talking about alien baby folding bikes recently, I added a Strida to the mix: quite possibly the most alien of them all.

Now all I need is a big pile of colorful leaves to jump in.  Who’s with me?  :-)

P.S. I totally want to follow this DIY to embroider my own fox slippers.

{Collage details here.}

What Not to Wear, Bicycle Edition

We’re big believers in the fact that riding a bicycle doesn’t have to mean compromising style (and when we say style, we mean YOUR personal style, not any sort of catwalk ideal). So we’ve tried wearing just about everything in our closets on our bicycles, and have found that there are very few items that absolutely won’t work (or aren’t worth the trouble of hacking). Here’s our very short list.

  • Pencil skirts (without slits)—the tight, hobbling skirt doesn’t allow enough freedom to pedal, unless you convert them.
  • Bellbottoms or extremely long or loose pants—the flares can get caught in your chain or crank, and the extra material slapping against the chain case or frame as you pedal can be annoying. Of course, binding the pants at your ankles can fix this, but for simplicity’s sake we prefer to just go for an alternate pants style.
  • Miniskirts—unless you don’t mind being known as the girl who flashes people on her way to work. If you love miniskirts, try leggings, tights or bike shorts underneath, or get a big ol’ basket for the front.
  • Evening gowns—this is as much a safety issue for the gown as it is for the individual! But long trains, gauzy overskirts, etc can be especially challenging on a bike.
  • Platform heels—there just isn’t enough sole surface area at the ball of your foot to make contact with the pedal.

Readers: where do you draw the line when it comes to bike-friendly clothing? Tell us in the comments!

You might also like:

David Byrne + St. Vincent

P1020211resized

While some in the bicycling world may think “bike advocate” when they think of David Byrne, he is also a pretty big deal in the music world.  :-)  Last night, David Byrne and St. Vincent, along with a brass band, played a sold out show at the Chicago Theatre to promote their new collaborative album, Love this Giant.  They are the epitome of cool and the show was as energetic and wonderful as their album.

After the show, I biked into the beautiful Chicago night with my friends.  Too bad David Byrne could not join us – I think he would have enjoyed himself!

In Byrne’s 2009 book Bicycle Diaries, he talks of cycling in different cities when he is on tour, so I kept my eyes peeled for him around town all day, to no avail.  But I know someone who ran into him Monday in a bike shop – he was buying a basket!  I like a man who appreciates a good bike basket.

Here is the first single from Love This Giant, Who.  Great song, awesomely weird video.  Makes me want to booty dance like David Byrne and stomp my feet like Annie Clark.

I know Trisha plans to see them play in Nashville.  Anyone else catching the tour?  I highly recommend it!

Fun with the Folding Flik

BRA2620-R1-037-17resized

When I visited Nashville a couple of weeks ago, I used the Jango Flik, a nifty folding bike that Trisha reviewed a while ago.  The bike was a lot of fun!  I zipped all around town, at least 12 miles, and the Flik was right there with me, handling up-hills and down-hills with ease.

The size of the bike fits both me and Trisha, despite our height differences, because the handlebars and seat tube are highly adjustable.

The Flik is also light and easy to carry.  I simply locked it up outside at my destination instead of folding it, but yeah – it folds, too.

I have not heard much about the Flik in the last couple of years, which is surprising because it’s such a cool little bike.  Most people with folding bikes seem to go with the classic elegance of a Brompton or similar, but the cute baby alien look of the Flik is kinda awesome.

At one point, while riding with a group of about 6 others, a pedestrian called out: “I like your bike the best!”  Ha.  My companions had some lovely bikes, but the Flik is an attention-getter, for sure.

How to Conquer Your Cycling Fear: Tips for Beginning Cyclists

We get occasional emails from first-time or beginner cyclists, asking us for advice on conquering their fear of sharing the road. In the past, we’ve doled out bits and pieces of advice on this issue, but have never really consolidated it all into one step-by-step post for those who are just starting out on a bike. Here are my recommendations for how to become confident in sharing the road (just stop before you become one of those reckless bike messengers who are giving us all a bad name!).

First: It’s homework time. If you don’t know the rules of the road, learn them! Learn how to signal a turn. Learn what your rights are in your city: is there a three-foot rule? Are you allowed to take the lane on all roads? Under what circumstances? Check out this hideously ugly but extremely informative site to find out what errors are most likely to lead to a car/bike accident, and do not make them!  If there’s a bike safety class in your area, take it.

Second: Get a helmet. I am not taking sides on the helmet debate here (please, Internet, I mean it), but studies show that if nothing else, they make you feel safer. This is important for beginners. Also, purchase lights, especially if you will be riding after dark. The brighter, the better. Use them.

Dottie’s Nutcase Helmet

Third: Take your bike out! But don’t ride to work yet. Choose a greenway or bike path near your house, or a quiet side street, preferably with a bike lane. Any street with minimal traffic or some sort of separation from cars. If you absolutely do not have bike lanes or greenways or bike paths nearby . . . cry, and then write your city council or Congressperson. Or move. Or, for the less proactive/drastic personalities, just get up early on a weekend morning and ride. Guaranteed traffic-free!

Don’t let the fear-mongering culture fool you—bike paths are a good thing!

Once you have done all these things, and feel completely comfortable puttering around the neighborhood on two wheels, it’s time to try your commute—but not on a workday. Remember those magical weekend mornings when no one is driving? Pick one of them, and head to the office. (Painful, I know, but you don’t have to actually go in!) Google Maps has biking directions for most cities, and while they are not perfect, they’re a good jumping off point if you’re not sure what route to take. See how long the trip takes. Figure out how to deal with any complicated intersections or disappearing bike lanes. Find a place you can lock your bike near your office. If you didn’t feel comfortable on the ride, repeat this step, or alter the route to go around any spots that are keeping you from feeling comfortable. It’s OK to take the long way!

Finally: Bike to work for the first time! Revel in your accomplishment, and enjoy your time in the fresh air. Feel, for once, that you have earned your happy hour beer.

I know most of our readers are well beyond the beginner stage—what tips helped you build your bicycling confidence? Share in the comments.

Bike pump advice?

I need a new bike pump. It shouldn’t take 10 mins to top off two tires, right? But my cheap Bell pump needs a converter to work with Kermit Allegra’s presta valves, and it’s so poorly constructed that the hose keeps disconnecting from the valve in mid-pump. It would also be nice to have a pump with a pressure gauge.

Proof of the pain the lack of a bike pump can bring. (click image for source)

Can anyone suggest a quality double-header pump that won’t break the bank? I suppose this is a question more properly posed on Twitter, but it’s easier to refer to the comments section than pore through @replies.

Fashion Friday: Almost time for tights!

fashionfridayscreencap

So it’s starting to feel like fall, and that means one thing to us on LGRAB: tights! With dresses or skirts, they’re the perfect riding combo. As soon as it gets a little bit cooler, I plan to rock my bright blue Riyoko lace leggings with a plain black dress like this one. But since we’re in the realm of fantasy today, I’m going to imagine wearing this outfit while riding a Republic Plato Bike. We keep getting asked if they’re any good and it would be nice to have a vague idea!

Black and blue (with bicycle too)

Black and blue (with bicycle too)

 

What are you most excited about when it comes to fall?

You might also like:

1 2