Monthly Archives: April 2013

Women, Bicycling and Makeup

John Greenfield posted an article last week in his Newcity column Checkerboard City, partially inspired by my recent post on beauty videos. I’m reprinting here with permission, as we both are interested in hearing readers’ thoughts on the issue.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Last week Dottie Brackett, co-author of the excellent Chicago cycle-chic blog LetsGoRideABike.com, put up a post that was completely unrelated to bicycling. While spending several days at home sick, too exhausted to even read books, let alone ride a bike, she found herself watching instructional beauty videos online for hours on end. “I’m not that into makeup,” she wrote. “But listening to these women’s voices was oddly comforting and I felt like I was learning something while using very minimal mental energy.” She linked to videos by some of her favorite beauty experts, like Lisa Eldridge and Sali Hughes.

Dottie’s post jogged my memory about a makeup-centric article that I never got around to writing up, so here it is. Last year I got in a debate with my roommate Meagan, a non-cycling Texan who’s a bit of a Southern belle. She spends about an hour on her hair, makeup and grooming each day, and I was ribbing her about it.

Meagan said that her beauty routine was pretty much the norm for women. I argued that my female friends, especially the ones who bike-commute regularly, tend to be lower-maintenance, wearing minimal or no cosmetics, spending little on haircuts and waxing, and only getting manicures and pedicures on an occasional lark. “Oh, they wear plenty of makeup,” she said with a grin. “You’re just not aware of it because you’re a guy.” Meagan was confident, for example, that most of my female bike buddies wear foundation, but it’s subtle enough that I don’t notice.

I emailed a bunch of my longtime pals from the Critical Mass ride for backup, explaining that I planned to write up their responses, and found out that my theory was pretty much correct. “These are my confessions,” responded my friend Gin. “I move up and down the ‘putting on a face’ continuum. Some days I don’t wear any makeup. Many days I do not even shower. I wash my hair about once a week.”

However, Gin said she does spend between three seconds and three minutes a day on cosmetics. She usually applies lip gloss and occasionally wears face powder or a lightweight foundation to even her skin out. Every few months she “tames” her eyebrows. When she feels like doing more, she’ll put on mascara, eye shadow, lipstick and possibly blush. “And I do like a good mani/pedi,” she added.

My neighbor Lisa wrote that her maintenance routine is similar to Gin’s except that she uses a lightly tinted combination moisturizer/sunscreen nearly every day, only applying foundation for dressier occasions or photo shoots. She uses a similar selection of cosmetics as Gin when she wants to get dolled up, with lipstick being a priority. “I’ve always believed (and had drummed into me by the super models and my mother) that if you can only wear one thing it should be some color on your lips,” she said.

“Sometimes I comb my hair,” my friend Ash responded dryly. “Would your roommate be horrified to see our collective armpits?”

Ash and Gin

“I am your gal,” my neighbor Julie wrote. “I don’t own any foundation. Eye shadow is for kid makeovers only. On rare occasions I wear lipstick.” She doesn’t maintain her eyebrows and tries to get haircuts for free.  She’s had a pedicure three times, but never a manicure. “I don’t shave,” she added. “I tweeze hairs that appear in odd places. But I have to say I’m surprised that Gin and Lisa sometimes wear foundation—I wouldn’t have guessed that.”

Karen and her husband Kevin, the owner of a bike shop where I used to wrench, are two of the crunchier people I know in Chicago, so I wasn’t shocked to hear she possesses zero makeup. “I owned some eyeliner in high school,” she emailed. “And I know that [our friend] Lauren wears it sometime because I used some of hers in the women’s bathroom at a Chicagoland Bicycle Federation gala years ago when I was drunk.  Haven’t worn it since.”

Karen dislikes mascara, but she tried foundation once in school. She stopped using it after a friend pointed out that her face and neck were two different colors. “Lipstick looks good on a lot of women, but not me,” she said. She showers two or three times a week and has never had a mani or pedi. Although most of her haircuts cost $12 or less, she occasionally splurges on a salon cut and partial color. “I am not so unconcerned with appearances that I don’t find hiding a few gray hairs and having a cut with some style to be rewarding.”

“Sometimes I wished I looked different—somehow ‘prettier,’ I suppose,” she wrote. Actually, Karen and all of our friends who responded to my query are quite attractive—all of that pedal pushing certainly doesn’t hurt. “But I’m not convinced that the pursuit of that look would necessarily pay off for me,” she added. “Maybe for your roommate it does. But I’m looking forward to reading your article when it comes out. You could call it ‘Cycling: The Only Foundation Beautiful Gals Need.’”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Personally, I am not a high-maintenance type of person, but I wear at least some makeup almost every day. Sometimes I go through phases when I wear less or none at all, but generally I feel more professional with makeup on. Plus, I have quite bad skin with scars that I prefer to cover.  Lately, I’ve been wearing more than usual: foundation, concealer, blush, lipgloss, eye shadow, mascara.  In the summer, I tend to pare down to tinted moisturizer, concealer, and lipgloss. I’m always in a rush in the morning, so all of this happens in a slapdash 5-10 minutes.

When I started biking to work, my makeup routine stayed the same, except in hot or cold weather I began carrying my makeup bag with me to apply after arriving at work.  If anything, makeup became more important to my daily “look,” because my hair was more often thrown in a sweaty bun. A nice, bright lip takes attention away from messy hair.

Thinking of the women I know, biking and non-biking, (which includes some of those John interviewed) there seems to be an even mix of those who do and don’t wear makeup. The one difference is that the women I know who consistently make themselves up highly do not bike.

What do you think: are women who bike less likely to wear makeup?  Do you wear makeup? If so, do you change your routine or products based on your bike commuting?

P.S. After I posted about my favorite online beauty videos, reader Marsha commented, “I tried looking up make-up bike tutorials and came up empty. So I made one.” Love it!

Tagged , , ,

Spring biking season is here

Hooray for blue skies,

 

sunshine,

 

and bare legs!

Spring in the South is short but oh so sweet. Even when it comes late!

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day ride in Nashville

Oh my gosh. What happened to April? I can’t really blame my vacation, since I was behind on my blogging before I even left: I didn’t post these pictures from our last Nashville group ride, which took place on St. Patrick’s Day. It was dreary and overcast (story of the last three months, it feels like) but we didn’t get *too* rained on. Even though it’s late, I have to share them in honor of the awesome friends who came out (and wore green!).

For those in Nashville, our next ride will be May 5. Find out more here!

Kermit Allegra was decked out for the holiday.

IMG_0977

 

So was Jessica’s Linus, although I did a horrible job of taking a photo of it.

IMG_0976

We started at Taproom, where I had a corned beef sandwich and a black and tan.

IMG_0975

Then we set off for downtown and our final destination of Fleet Street Pub (there being no satisfactory Irish pubs in downtown, alas).
IMG_0983

Everyone was wearing green.

IMG_0985

 

The group at Fleet Street.

IMG_0987

 

Ticker tape bills!

IMG_0986

Afterwards, Whitney and I went to our last Italian lesson and then took the bus home just for kicks.

IMG_0989

How was your St. Patrick’s Day? Your Easter? (How could I have missed two holidays?!?)

Our next outing will be on May 5, and is a Farmer’s Market Brunch + MetroCenter ride. Details here—come and join us!

Beautiful Bicycles: WorkCycles Secret Service

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I recently got my paws on a WorkCycles Secret Service Step-Through bicycle from J.C. Lind Bikes in Chicago. (The bike is also available in a diamond-frame version.)  Naturally, I have lots of thoughts after riding the Secret Service around for a few days.  If you’re interested in learning more about this Dutch bike, read on!

P1030099resized

For those of you who are not familiar with WorkCycles (where have you been?!), they are a true Dutch bike company  with unfailingly high quality. Dutch bikes, of course, are known for their practical utility.  WorkCycles shines on that front, offering bikes loaded with bells and whistles that make for a comfortable, all-weather ride.

P1030116resized

I have been interested in trying the WorkCycles Secret Service for years, because the Secret Service is billed as a lighter, tighter, more compact version of the WorkCycles Oma – aka my big baby girl.  As such, I will frame my thoughts about the Secret Service as they relate to the Oma.

First of all, the Secret Service profile is noticeably slimmer.  This is a result of slightly lighter tubing, narrower tires and handlebars that swoop back less dramatically.  The body positioning while riding the Secret Service is straight up, with legs motioning down and not slightly forward as with the Oma.  Oddly, I was not able to place a foot on the ground comfortably at stoplights; I had to dismount instead.  Note that I test rode the 53″ Secret Service and my Oma is a size 57″.

P1030117resized P1030105resized

The sturdy steel frame and sprung Brooks saddle together make for a smooth ride – almost like my Oma, but not quite as smooth. The pace of the ride is also similar to my Oma, but definitely a bit peppier.  I don’t think I got anywhere faster than I would have on my Oma, but I used a bit less energy.  Some people are thrown off by the front handling of the Oma, feeling that the front wheel way out front is too unweildy.  Those people would not have that issue with the Secret Service – handling is definitely more nimble and responsive.

Like any respectable Dutch bike, the Secret Service holds a substantial amount of cargo.  The integrated rear rack is rated to carry around 65 pounds, while the built-in bungie straps are useful for fastening all sorts of stuff on the rack.  There is an option to increase the cargo capacity significantly by adding a front rack that is rated for up to 50 pounds.  (Same as Oma.)

P1030108resized

Shimano roller brakes in the front and rear are excellent in any weather.  Since they are covered, they are not affected by rain or snow.  With roller brakes, your days of taking twice as long to screech to a stop in bad weather are over.  (Same as Oma.)

P1030115resized

P1030112resized

The sturdy wheels are 28″ with Schwalbe tires.  Schwalbes are the best!  The ones on my Oma have never gotten a flat after almost 5 years – knock on wood.  (Same as Oma, but the tires are narrower on the Secret Service.)

P1030113resized

For gearing, there is a Shimano internal hub with 8-speeds.  The bike is also available with a 3-speed hub.  This Shimano Nexus shifting system is a joy to use – transitions are super smooth and allow for changing gears while completely stopped.  (Same as Oma.)

P1030119resized

There are several components that work together to keep your clothes clean and safe. The chain case will prevent your clothes from getting dirty, greasy or eaten by the chain. The fact that the chain is fully covered majorly cuts down on maintenance and helps make this an excellent all-weather, all-season bike.  (Same as Oma, but with a center cut-out and overall lighter look.)

The skirt guard will prevent your skirt or coat from getting caught in the wheel spokes while riding.   (Same as Oma, but smaller and see-through.)

The sturdy two-footed, center-mounted kickstand holds the bike up no matter what. A sturdy kickstand is especially helpful while loading and unloading.  (Same as Oma.)

P1030120resized

Heavy duty fenders are included – an essential for all-weather riding, especially in nice work clothes.  Remember: friends don’t let friends get skunk stripe.  (Same as Oma.)

P1030104resized

The bike is equipped with integrated front and rear lights, which are essential for safe daily riding.  The lights are hub dynamo, which means they are powered by your pedaling and batteries are not needed – a huge benefit!  I really cannot overemphasize the usefulness of integrated lights.  Few situations are more dicey than biking home in the dark after your battery-operated light runs out of juice or is stolen.  (Same as Oma.)

P1030114resized

P1030103resized

A sprung Brooks B67 saddle is standard.  This saddle really contributes to the smoothness of the ride.  I can attest that these are absolutely the most comfortable saddles out there, after a short breaking in period of only a few days.  (Same as Oma.)

P1030107resized

The rear wheel comes with a wheel lock, a useful extra that immobilizes the bike – unless someone wants to carry her away.  (Same as Oma.)

P1030109resized

The platform pedals work well with all kinds of shoes, helping to prevent slippage.  (Same as Oma.)

P1030110resized

There is a built-in tire pump that I find to be an odd addition, as I much prefer to use a floor pump.   The chain case makes fixing flats on the go a huge pain and Schwalbe tires rarely get a flat, so a mini pump does not seem very useful.   (Oma does not have a pump.)

P1030111resized

In summary, the set-up of the Secret Service is the same as Oma’s, except the the skirt guard, chain case, and tires are slighter; the handlebars are not swept back as far; the tubing is a tad thinner; and the weight is a bit lower. In exchange for a smaller size and peppier response, the ride is not as smooth and the overall feel is not as luxurious as Oma’s. Those who find the Oma ill-suited because she is too big or heavy would do well to check out the Secret Service. (I’m talking to you, shorter peeps!)

P1030121resized

The WorkCycles Oma is firmly in a class of her own. She reigns as Queen of Citybikedom.

The WorkCycles Secret Service is a first-rate bike with excellent quality, utility and beauty, but could be considered in the same general class as the following:

Gazelle Toer Populair
Pashley Sonnet Bliss
Velorbis Victoria / Dannebrog
Pilen Lyx

Riding the Secret Service reminded me more of those four bikes than of the Oma. Oma is like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Float or a glider rocker on wheels; the other bikes are like very nice bikes.

I would recommend the Secret Service over the Oma for anyone who feels overwhelmed by the size of the Oma, who dislikes the sometimes-unweildly front handling of the Oma, or who travels longer distances or encounters the occasional hill.

As always, I recommend trying to test-ride as many different bikes as possible before deciding which bike is best for you. If you’re in Chicago, you can head over to J.C. Lind Bikes in Old Town (and soon, because he’s getting only one more small shipment of WorkCycles for the rest of the year).

Finally, here is a quick video I put together that hopefully gives you a better idea of the bike.

P.S. Read about our visit to the WorkCycles shop in Amsterdam here.

{As always, we at LGRAB receive nothing for our reviews except the joy of spreading beautiful bike love.}

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Watching (a lot of) online beauty videos

This post has absolutely nothing to do with bicycling.

For days I have been wallowing around sick at home. I did not leave the house, let alone ride my bike. Even reading a novel seemed like too much work. This led to me watching literally hours of beauty videos online. Admitting this feels silly, but it’s the truth. I’m not that into makeup, but listening to these women’s voices was oddly comforting and I felt like I was learning something while using very minimal mental energy.

Most YouTube “guru” type makeup people are way too tacky or cutesy for my taste, but here are some that I like very much. If you feel like wasting some time, enjoy!

Lisa Eldridge is the best (and her voice is lovely). She’s a top makeup artist working with the likes of Kiera Knightly and Vogue. She just did a helpful series on foundation basics. I prefer watching the videos via her website, but she also has a YouTube channel.

Sali Hughes is a close second. She is the beauty reporter for The Guardian. Her website is much more than just videos, but she also has a YouTube channel.

Here she is hanging out in Caitlin Moran’s bathroom!

All the others are straight-up YouTubers:

A Model Recommends

Start2FinishMUA

Tanya Burr

Xteener

Even though I’m 31 and have been wearing makeup for years and years, I still feel like I don’t really know what I’m doing. Tell me I’m not the only grown woman who’s fallen into the rabbit hole of online beauty videos. I’ll feel a bit less silly.

Do you have any recommendations I should add to my list? Not that I need to waste more time on this…

Tagged , ,

WorkCycles Have Returned to Chicago!

To the untrained eye, this bicycle may look like my Oma, but it’s actually a stealthy WorkCycles Secret Service.  She’s a loaner from J.C. Lind Bikes for a few days while Betty Foy gets her (much needed!) spring overhaul.

When Dutch Bike Chicago closed a year and a half ago (their Seattle shop is still in business), I was disappointed that WorkCycles were no longer sold in Chicago.  People often ask me about my Oma, and after DBC closed I had no place to direct them other than the internet.

Happily, this is no longer a problem.  WorkCycles have returned to Chicago!  Jon of J.C. Lind Bikes (at 1300 N. Wells for locals) worked out an arrangement with Henry of WorkCycles, and now the shop carries a variety of WorkCycles city bikes.

I have a review of the Secret Service coming soon, and I’ll try to test others like the Fr8 and Gr8 at some point, since I know many people are unable to test ride them in real life before purchasing and must rely heavily on online information.

Stay tuned!

{J.C. Lind is an LGRAB sponsor and friend. Henry of WorkCycles is an LGRAB friend now, too!   But all of my reviews are absolutely independent.}

 

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Bike With Me: Elston Separated Lane

Yesterday afternoon I had a meeting across town, which led me to a different route for the commute home.  I was able to take advantage of the newish separated bike lane on Elston Avenue.  I first wrote about this lane in the fall, but have not had occasion to bike it since.

Riding in this lane is like butter.  The separation from cars makes all the difference, of course. Other benefits are not being placed in the door zone and the relatively small number of cross streets, alleys and parking lot exits.  I would love a set-up like this on the busy streets that connect my neighborhood to downtown, where I often feel like a hunted animal during open season.

You can see previous videos of me biking along Chicago’s protected bike lanes here:

Dearborn protected lane  – two-way bike lane in the Loop

18th Street protected lane – the most similar to Elston’s bike lane

Kinzie protected lane – Chicago’s first separated bike lane

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Suiting up for spring

Right about now is the perfect time to bike in a wool suit without sweating or freezing.  Yesterday I did just that, as I had a court hearing in the morning.

20130401-P1030090

The early spring weather was chilly (I ended up putting on a light jacket over my suit) but beautifully clear – especially along the Lakefront Trail.

20130401-P1030087

20130401-P1030060

20130401-P1030074

20130401-P1030077

20130401-P1030078

20130401-P1030083

As I biked down the trail, I passed a group of tourists on a rental bike tour preparing to set out and heard the tour leader say, “And this is the lakefront path, over 20 miles of…”  This was a good reminder to slow down and appreciate the beauty I’m lucky enough to enjoy on a daily basis.

{For more on wearing suits on bikes, see my earlier post, How To: Bike Commuting in a Suit.}

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 57 other followers