Monthly Archives: July 2013

Symphonic Beauty

Yesterday I watched the Grant Park Orchestra perform Beethoven and Shostakovich under the evening sky.

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After the performance, I biked off into the night along the Lakefront Trail, music ringing in my ears.

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I’m not sure which was more beautiful: the symphony or the bike ride.  Luckily, I don’t have to choose between the two.  :-)

 

 

 

Divvy Bike Share to the Rescue!

On Friday, I attended the Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park west of downtown Chicago.      Instead of biking there, I planned to hop on the bus afterward, which would take me straight home.  Obviously, I’m not too familiar with the massive crowds associated with music festivals, my plan to “hop on the bus” being hopelessly naive.

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All started well, but then the final show of the day – Bjork! – abruptly ended early, due to an approaching storm.  Everyone had to leave en masse.  I was part of a huge crowd crawling toward the exit, and by the time I got out, there was a mass of people lined up for the bus and a bottleneck up to the L station.  I decided to walk north in hopes of finding a cab or an alternate bus route and made it a few blocks before the storm arrived, complete with thunder, lightening and a torrential downpour.  Along with other festival wanderers, I took shelter in a 7-11, cursing the situation.

That’s when I decided to pull out my iPhone and check the Divvy app for nearby stations.  Bingo – a station a little less than a mile up the road.  Happy to have a plan, I marched outside and into the pouring rain.  I was already soaked, so no big deal.  Finally coming upon the Divvy station was like finding an oasis in the desert.

photo-2Although I had not used Divvy before, getting my bike was a breeze.  I marched up to the nearest bike, checked the tires and brakes quickly, used my member key fob to release the bike, and adjusted the seat.
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Then I was off!  I started on the bike lane right next to the station, then soon turned off on a quiet neighborhood street.  I was happy to see a bright front light flash as I pedaled, making me feel visible in the night.

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The ride was so lovely, cruising through the quiet, dark, stormy night, leaving behind the chaos of the music festival crowds.  A big, goofy smile plastered my face the whole time.

There is not yet a Divvy station near my home, so I biked to the station closest to my home and adjacent to the Brown Line, which took a bit less than 30 minutes.  Here I am, looking bedraggled but feeling triumphant at the end of my ride.

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I easily docked the bike and then jumped on the L, which took me the final couple of miles home.

This was a beautiful first experience to have with Divvy.  I desperately needed a way home and Divvy answered the call.  The only improvement would have been for Divvy to take me straight from the festival to home.  I hope the hundreds of other planned stations will open soon!

 

 

One Less Minivan!

A couple of Sundays ago, my Women-Who-Bike and Brunch group met up for a lovely picnic at the Logan Square Farmer’s Market.  Summer picnics are the best – I love sampling all the delicious food everyone brings.

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My friend Ash, who writes about some of her bike adventures at One Less Minivan, was there with her two daughters and badass bike set up.  She has a Joe Bike bakfiets fitted with a baby carseat in the front and a child’s seat in the back.

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Baby is strapped in and ready to go!

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A happy flower smiles at following drivers.

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P is serious about her helmet.  :-)

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Getting ready…

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And they’re off!

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You can read the details about Ash’s set-up at her cheekily titled, “And it’s not even a death trap.”

Thanks to all the cool women who came out!  See you in August.  :-)

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Oma is Back!

Many of you noticed that Oma has not appeared on LGRAB in a long time.  Rest reassured that I did not suddenly decide that Dutch bikes are no longer cool.  I continue to love Dutch bikes and Oma in particular.  The only reason for the absence is that Oma fell over, messing up her crank and bottom bracket, and I was too lazy and cheap to get her fixed.  Seriously, I’m a ridiculous procrastinator.  It’s a problem.

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A couple of weeks ago, I finally decided to walk Oma to nearby Heritage Bikes.  I’ve enjoyed breakfast at Heritage, but this was my first experience with their bike shop.  I received good and affordable service, and luckily no new parts were needed.

Here’s Oma’s hospital bracelet:

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The day I picked up Oma was hot, so I enjoyed an iced tea with Mr. Dottie in the people spot outside Heritage before heading home.

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I’m so happy to be reunited with Oma on Chicago’s streets.  Yes, she is slow and heavy, but also comfortable and strong and classy.

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I promise much more Oma coverage in the near future.  Happy Dutch-style cycling!  ;-)

{P.S. I’m wearing my Made in Montreal bike dress.}

 

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Lakefront

Today is a beautiful day for a bike ride.

Happy Friday!

Urban Gardening by Bike, Take 2

Last summer, I shared my adventure of creating an urban garden on my small balcony.  I am sad to announce that none of those plants survived the winter.  I brought the herbs inside when cold weather set in, but soon had to throw them away after I found tiny bugs all over them.  Sad.

This summer, I’m starting fresh.  On Sunday evening, my friend Sara and I took a class on plant propagation at Sprout, a cozy gardening shop in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood.  Plant propagation is making a new plant out of an existing plant.

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Sara and I biked to Sprout separately and left Betty and Poppy outside to spend quality time together on the rack.

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Meanwhile, we were inside the beautiful shop, learning how to clone plants by dividing their roots or clipping their leaves.

After an informative hour, we each got to take home five baby plants: an orchid, lemon button fern, acalypha, sanseviertia and begonia.  These will all be house plants, so I don’t have to worry about the winter freeze.  As long as I keep them away from my cats (they love munching on leaves) and remember to water them, everything should be fine.

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We were very proud of our baby plants!  ;-)

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The little guys made it home safely, although quite shaken up after traveling over Chicago’s notorious potholes.

I plan to take more classes at Sprout, including one of their upcoming classes on terrariums.  (There’s also a Sprout location in Brooklyn.)

Who else is trying their hand at gardening this summer?  Any tips to share on houseplants?

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DIVVY: Chicago Bike Share!

Chicago announced its plan for a large scale bike share system almost two years ago.  After a long wait, the system – now called Divvy – went live on Friday!

Only a fraction of the stations are open during the first phase – none near my home – but many others are scheduled to open soon.  A total of 4000 bikes at 400 stations is planned for the first two years.

Even though I have my own bikes, I became a member.  I anticipate Divvy being useful when:

  • I want to bike to a bar and cab or transit home.
  • I take the L in the morning due to rain but the sun is shining by the end of the day.
  • I don’t want to leave my bike locked outside for an extended period of time.
  • I need to get to court or a meeting during the middle of the day and taking my bike out of my office and down the elevator would be too much trouble.
  • I want to travel with a friend who does not have her own bike.

The annual membership is only $75 and includes unlimited, free 30 minute rides.  Daily passes are available for only $7.

While Divvy will be useful to me personally, I’m most excited about the system because I believe it will radically change the culture of Chicago for the better. I was skeptical of bike share until I saw how Velib is used by everyone in Paris.  Now I am anxious to see the same happen in Chicago.  The more people ride bikes, the more people will understand what it’s like to ride a bike.  Empathy from Chicago drivers – imagine that!

Here’s a quick video I made of the process to join Divvy with an overview of the website.  I will make a video of using the system soon.

Joining DIVVY Bike Share from LGRAB on Vimeo.

Anyone else already a Divvy member?  (No?  Join now!)

{P.S. Stay up-to-date on Divvy through Streetsblog Chicago’s excellent reporting.  Read Trisha’s report of Nashville’s bike-share and my Denver B-Cycle story.}

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