September 2012 archive

Cyclist Hot Chicken Happy Hour

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Last night a few of us in Nashville met up for some hot chicken & beer at Hattie B’s in Midtown. YUM.

 

For those of you who haven’t had hot chicken, this Nashville delicacy is unique among foods. The spice mix is dry, not wet like hot wings, and though the exact formulas used in places like Prince’s & Bolton’s are top-secret, any fool can tell it’s cayenne-based. The chicken is served on a slice of white bread with a few pickle chips. Purists eat it without dipping sauce, but I learned last night that hot chicken and honey is the absolute best! The honey calms the heat without muting the flavors.

The remnants of my hot chicken

Lauren and I went for the second-hottest spice level (Hattie B’s offers mild, medium, hot! and damn hot!), and it was more manageable than I feared—in fact, it wasn’t too much hotter than Jessica and Sten’s “medium” chicken. I’d say the heat levels here are more mainstream than they are at either Prince’s or Bolton’s, if any locals are curious.

Jessica, Sten & Lauren

Whitney & me

Whitney’s bike with a Basil flower garland on the back

The Flik sat next to me

As is pretty much par for the course here in Nashville, there was some huge live music event going on. Whatever it was, it was going on behind Chuy’s (Loser’s?) and we could hear it all the way where we were.

After dinner, Lauren, Whitney and I hit Pinkberry.

Bikes parked by Pinkberry

Then I led them astray for just one more drink at the Broadway Brewhouse, where no photos were taken but fun was had. :)

 

If you’re a city cyclist in Nashville and want to come to our next happy hour or brunch, please join our Google Group. We’d love to have you! I often post about other bike-related events in Nashville there, too—things that don’t necessarily appear on the blog.

See you in London

The Harp Bar, Covent Garden

So as I mentioned a couple of months ago, Dottie and I will be traveling to London, Paris and Amsterdam together this fall. London readers, would you join us for the Very First LGRAB Overseas Happy Hour at The Harp Bar in Covent Garden* for a pint on Sunday, October 14? We’ll be there between 5pm and 7pm, most likely on some sort of two-wheeled conveyance.
:)

 

We’re so excited to have the chance to meet more of you in person! Let us know in the comments if you can make it! Cheers.

 

{ Related: our post on the NYC reader happy hour last summer at Adeline Adeline. }

* Thanks to reader Liz for the rec! Pint on us if we like the place.

Out of Line

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While I continue with yoga class every morning to improve my alignment, Oma’s alignment has gotten way out of whack.

No, it has nothing to do with stuffing her pannier full of Chipotle and wine.  One unfortunate event caused her current crooked state.  On Sunday, I stood Oma up on a grassy area in the park.  Due to rain the night before, the ground was saturated and soon Oma toppled and fell on her side with a crash.  I think this was the first time she has ever fallen like that, since her double-footed kickstand is super heavy-duty.

I picked her up, dusted her off, and went on with my business.  But later while biking home, I noticed a problem after about a mile.  (Obviously, I am not very observant.)

See how the handlebars are squared to the front, but the wheel is tilted to the right?

And how the wheel is pointing straight to the front, but the handlebars are off to the side?

Yeah, that’s not good.

And this morning I noticed that my pedals are out of alignment.  The right side is pushed way in and the left side is sticking way out.

Funny enough, Oma continues to ride pretty normally.  Knowing me, I could continue riding her like this for at least a year or two, but I’m determined to fix this problem in a respectable timeframe.

But this is not like when Betty Foy falls and knocks her fenders out of line – that’s a problem I can fix easily and quickly. Oma’s solidness is a double-edged sword.  She refuses to budge from this new position.  I attempted in vain today to kick the pedals and push the handlebars back in line.  I suppose I will enlist Mr. Dottie’s help in the morning or just drop Oma off at the bike doctor in the afternoon.

Has your bike ever gotten out of line?   If so, how did you fix it?

{Please pardon the puns and gratuitous use of my camera’s tilt-shift feature.  A nerdy girl’s gotta have her fun.}

Early Fall Fresh Air

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I have been feeling road fatigue lately and the best antidote is always the fresh air of Lake Michigan and the open space of the Lakefront trail, which is once again a calm and pleasant place to ride a bike, now that the summer crowds have dispersed.

Can’t you almost feel the sunshine and crisp, early fall air?

The absolute best music for a fun and stress-free bike ride like this is Janelle Monae’s Archandroid.

Here I am, being unprepared for my camera’s self-timer once again.  :-)  I wore a skirt and cardigan over my t-shirt for work, then traded those out for shorts and kicked off my heels for the ride home.

I hope everyone is having a beautiful Monday!

Now try to listen to this song without dancing. Impossible!

Betty Foy Lately

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I’ve been riding my Rivendell Betty Foy almost exclusively all summer long.  She is so light and smooth and fast and happy.

One morning, an SUV slowed next to me and – just as I was giving it the side eye – a woman in the passenger seat called out the window, “I love your bike!”  Complimenting my bike is the quickest way to win me over and I called back with a big smile, “Thanks, it’s a Rivendell!”  Her response: “I know; I’ve never seen one in real life before.”  Viola! my arms motioned and then she was gone.

But not all has been rosy with Betty lately.  My fault, not hers!

Last week, I stopped at the grocery store on my way home to pick up a few things.  When I returned to the bike rack ten minutes later, I realized that Betty was not locked.  She was merely sitting next to the rack with the u-lock in her basket.  Yipes!  How horrible to think that she could have been swiped so easily.  (Please tell me I’m not the only one who has done this!)

The next morning, I set out on Betty only to realize quickly that her front tire was totally flat.  This was Betty’s very first flat tire ever, birth date April 2009, and also the first flat on any of my Schwalbe tires.  So sad.  :-(  I do not have a 650B tube and have been too lazy to buy one in the past week, so I have been riding Coco and Oma.  But I miss Betty, so I need to get my shit together.

Sometimes bicycling is so easy breezy and sometimes life throws hurdles in the way or you just do dumb stuff.  As with life in general, amirite?  It all evens out in the end.  :-)

A Concept Comes To Life: People Spots

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A fun concept has popped up in Chicago this summer: people spots!  These public areas, also called parklets, are created simply by reclaiming two to three on-street parking spots and setting up tables and chairs to encourage community.

I happened upon this people spot featured below while biking down Lincoln Avenue, conveniently located in front of Heritage bike shop and cafe.  This people spot will be a permanent feature, except during winter for snow plowing purposes, and you can read more about this parklet here.

What a lovely addition to my neighborhood!  I’m so happy that the Alderman and the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce are embracing the vision of a people-centered community.  Surely more of these people spots would help local businesses and property values, in addition to bringing residents together.  Cities need more of this forward-thinking and action.

Have you seen people spots popping up where you live?  Isn’t this such a fun idea?!

 

Yoga and Bicycling: Pedal, Stretch, Breathe

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A wink and a smile.  Peanut butter and jelly.  Gin and tonic.  Some things just go well together.

Such is the case with yoga and bicycling.  Trisha and I discussed this lovely combination in 2009, and I mentioned recently that I’ve begun practicing yoga every weekday morning.

So when I read about Pedal, Stretch, Breathe: The Yoga of Bicycling, a new ‘zine written by Kelli Refer of the blog Yoga for Bikers and published by Elly Blue of Taking the Lane, I decided to order a copy.

While the 44 page booklet is not a comprehensive guide, it outlines interesting links between bicycling and yoga, beginning with the importance of breathing fresh air and ending with the ability “to invite meaningful change into our communities.”  In between is practical information with action steps for integrating the practice of yoga with bicycling.  While some of the information is aimed at those taking long, sporty rides, much is applicable for those – like me – who simply ride for transportation.

The first half of the booklet provides several different yoga poses that either integrate a bicycle into the pose or are especially helpful for bodies subject to the repetitive motion of cycling.  Each pose is presented with a sketch and a description.  The poses can be performed either directly on the bike while waiting at a stop light or with more space pre or post-ride.

My friends Chika and Sara were cool enough to experiment with and demonstrate the poses when we met up for a free yoga class on Lake Michigan.  Below are their thoughts on a few of the poses.

They started with Dancer’s Pose: Natarajasana:  a little hard to balance while standing over a bike, but otherwise easy to do while waiting at a stoplight.  Good for the thigh and ankle, which both get a lot of strain from bicycling.

Heart Opener:  feels good! especially after leaning over handlebars.

Turn Around Twist: not much of a twist feeling…

…but they achieved more leverage by putting the front hand in the middle of the handlebars, allowing for a fuller twist.

Down Dog with your Bike:  feels good, would work as a pre or post-ride stretch, but obviously not at a stoplight.

Down Dog Twist: even better!

The booklet offers several different flow variations for these and other poses.  After completing this series of poses, Chika and Sara said they felt warmed up and ready to go and could see themselves enjoying these poses on their own.  Two thumbs up from my testers.  :-)

The second part of the booklet contains a basic guide to chakras “for you and your bike.”  Some of this I’m not really into, such as “true your wheels and repack your hubs to feel more freewheeling in life.”  But some is inspiring, such as bicycling as a moving meditation.

Consider your bike ride to be a moving mediation.  Notice all the sensations: Air on skin, steady breath, sweat rolling down your brow.  Move with keen awareness of your body and surroundings.

I need a recording of those words read in a calm, yoga-teacher voice to play whenever I get frustrated by heat, cold, potholes, or drivers.

Overall, Pedal, Stretch, Breathe is a unique and thoughtful read for those interested in both bicycling and yoga.  Definitely worth $5, especially considering the money supports cool, entrepreneurial women.  You can buy the ‘zine HERE and read more about the topic at Yoga for Bikers.

Now that I find myself doing heart openers at stoplights, I’m curious: do any of you incorporate yoga into your bicycling routine?

My Trip Around Scotland

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As I mentioned before I left, in March I went to Scotland for a week with my friend Tanya and my husband.  I had not gotten around to blogging about the trip, since it was no epic bicycling adventure.  In fact, quite the opposite: we traveled all around Scotland via rental car with the express purpose of visiting as many whisky distilleries as possible.  We were successful.  :-)

We flew into Glasgow and immediately picked up the car and set out for the countryside, traveling to a different town every day, staying at a different B&B every night.  I would not necessarily recommend this itinerary for a week’s trip because driving time was much longer than estimated (and scary! with being on the left and curvy roads and cliffs and all) but we got to see a lot of this beautiful country and meet lots of very friendly residents.

Slowed down a bit by a flat tire…

And now prepare for gobs of photographs, showing our daily adventures.  I hope no one still has dial-up internet!  (All photos by me, unless I’m in them.)

Day 1: Oban

B&B: Strumhor

Distillery: Oban

Every B&B we stayed at served breakfast, of course.  The menu never changed: always the traditional Scottish breakfast.

I was happy to see that in addition to tea every place served delicious french-press coffee.

 

Day 2: Isle of Skye

B&B: Grasmhor

Distillery:  Talisker

I think sheep are so funny and awesome and I was thrilled to see them everywhere in Scotland.  The sheep roam entirely free on the Isle of Skye, since the only way off is a bridge, and the shepherds separate them at the end of the season based on color markings on their wool.  The result is a bunch of punk-rock sheep wandering around, with hot pink and bright blue and neon green tufts sticking up.

Ratagan Pass for a beautiful view.

Inveraray Castle

Day 3: Dufftown

B&B: Morven House

Distillery: Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Glen Grant

 This B&B had the coolest house cat.

Day 4: Pitlochry

B&B: Roseburn

Distillery: Macallan, Dalwhinnie

Macallan is my favorite distillery and I brought back two bottles: a special edition 1876 replica and a 22 year.  Yum!

Queen’s View for the most beautiful view.

Castle whose name I cannot remember with beautiful but scary peacocks wandering around.

Day 5: On the road to Edinburgh

Distillery: Erdradour

A hike at the Falls of Bruar, which my fear of heights made nerve-wracking, but the views were worth it.

Day 6: Edinburgh

B&B: Ayden

It rained pretty much the entire time, which we took as a sign to spend most of the day poking around used book stores and drinking in pubs.

My Lululemon rain trench came in handy.

While in Edinburgh, we were thrilled to meet up with Jennifer both nights, a fab woman and LGRAB reader whom I hung out with when she visited Chicago two years ago.  So handy to have a local to bring us to the best restaurants and bars!  :-)

Day 7: Glasgow

B&B: Alamo

After Glasgow, we flew to Dublin for 2 days/3 nights.  I’ll post about that part of the trip separately.

The single malt whisky I brought home with me!

Half of these bottles are empty by now.  :-)

 THE END

Other trips we’ve taken over the years:

St. Petersburg, Russia (with some interesting bicyclists)

London, England (with cycling infrastructure)

Littlehampton, England

Paris, France (with Velib and bicycling around Versailles)

Alsace, France

NYC, New York

San Diego, CA (twice!)

Montreal, Canada

And we’re very excited about our planned trip to London/Paris/Amsterdam next month!

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