Monthly Archives: August 2013

Last training ride before the metric century

On Sunday, we had our last training ride before the metric century. And it was a little bit rough. Although we were out on the glorious Natchez Trace again—saw multiple deer and a whole flock of turkeys this time!—I could only manage 20 miles at an average of 10.5 mph.

Blech.

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Me and Andy, ready to go

Like Whitney and Andy (our fourth badass century rider, Amanda, was in Minnesota for the weekend) I wore everything I plan to wear on the ride: Terry skort, Carrera helmet. Both were great, although the padding in the skort wasn’t perfectly placed for more upright riding.

I also had my bike setup the way I planned to have it, including adding foot cages to my bike pedals. Which, incidentally, I HATED. Internet, do you think that I can ditch them? I don’t think they work very well for small feet. I kept realizing my feet had crept up into them and I was pedaling with my arches.

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Whitney and her Trek

Not sure why I was so off my game, unless it was the Turtle Anarchy beer (thanks, Aubrey!) and pizza at Desano with the lovely ladies of the Nashville blogger meetup the night before. (Where much fun was had—you can find links to all the blogs of these clever and entertaining ladies here. Photo courtesy of Lauren, though taken by the busboy who kept calling me “boss.”)

Nashville bloggers!

Nashville bloggers!

I did ride to the meetup, of course—I took Kermit Allegra out for the first time in a couple of months, and kept up an 11mph+ pace (but it was just an 8-10 mile round trip).

Not sure if those two things could have affected my performance on Sunday that much, but I will be sure not to do either of them *this* Friday night. In fact, I’m trying to get lots of rest and cutting out alcohol for the rest of this week. Planning to go on a short ride tonight, and then nothing more until the day of the century.

Yikes. I’m actually going to ride 62 miles on Saturday. I keep alternating between excitement and terror.

 

 

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A wooden crate as a bike basket

When I posted about riding my Dutch bike last week, Trisha noticed that I have a new crate on the front.  Yes, and I love it!

As I explained in my Oma review, I purchased my bike with a heavy duty front rack that attaches to the frame, making a sturdy base for up to 50 pounds of cargo.  I was using a Hershberger’s Baker Basket on the front rack, but two years of heavy use was more than the delicate basket could handle.  First the leather strap in the front broke, causing the top to fly open in the wind, then one of the small leather straps on the back of the lid broke, making the top sit crooked.  The wicker became dried and bleached by the sun.  Basically, the poor thing fell apart.

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Baker Basket in better days

For a while, I detached the front rack and used a pannier on my rear rack to carry stuff.  Then one day Mr. Dottie found a wooden crate in an alley behind a Mexican restaurant, which he thinks was used for avacados.  The crate has “Made in Mexico” stamped on the side.  He attached the crate to my rack with a bungie cord through the bottom and a few zip ties all around; it does not move an inch.

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My new Mexican crate

I love the crate for both aesthetics and utility.  I can fit so much stuff in there, and I tend always to be carrying a bunch of stuff – for example, two full grocery bags and a purse.  I can also easily and quickly reach my bag when stopped at a red light.

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The crate is heavy – it’s all solid wood and nails.  But so is my bike!  When I’m riding Oma, I’m slow and steady and generally traveling no more than five or six miles, so extra weight is not a big deal.

Does anyone else use a wooden crate like this?

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Divvy! Divvy! Divvy!

Divvy bikes are taking over Chicago!  On Wednesday, I had plans with my friend Sara for dinner and a movie after work.  Just that morning, I saw a brand new Divvy station near my home and before heading out to meet Sara, I realized that  I could easily Divvy the whole night long.

There’s the starting Divvy station:

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The Divvy station across the street from the restaurant:

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And the Divvy station a block from the movie theater:

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Here’s Sara with her Divvy-colored Pashley.  :-)

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And coming full circle at the end of the night, I returned my Divvy.

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I’m excited as new stations continue to pop up daily.

Chicago is doing Divvy so right!

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Bike-a-bee founder attacked while bicycling

Jana of Bike-a-bee, who I wrote about last year,  was attacked this week while riding her bike in Logan Square.  A passenger in an SUV leaned out the window and grabbed Jana by her backpack, dragging her on her bike for several seconds.  When she crashed into a parked car and hit the ground,  she could hear the men laughing as they drove away.  They have not been caught, but the police have upgraded the incident from hit-and-run to aggravated battery.

This incident is horrifying, a sad reminder of how awful some people can be and how vulnerable we are on the roads.

You can donate to help Jana with her medical and physical therapy bills and lost income.

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The Oma Lifestyle

As I mentioned last month, I’m back to riding Oma almost daily.  And I’m reminded that Oma is not just a bike style, but a lifestyle.

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I slow way down with her and relax into the ride. I coast up to yellow lights instead of accelerating to beat the red.  I enjoy the city sights from my high perch.

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It’s all about opting out of the commute-as-race by sheer force of will.  Even as SUVs speed past me too closely and I breath in truck exhaust, I think happy thoughts and continue slowly pedaling.  Riding Oma helps me maintain a bit of serenity, as the city buzzes around.

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Nashville bicycle brunch: Fools in the rain edition

On August 11, we had something of a last-minute bicycle picnic brunch in Centennial Park. It was hot and HUMID…really gross and humid. And it got even wetter before the day was over. But a good time was still had by all. I think!

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Our delicious spread included iced coffee, champagne, watermelon, yummy breads and boiled eggs. Oh, and kolaches from Yeast Nashville!

New friends Anna and Dan arrived on their sweet vintage Gitane tandem.
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We ate and chatted amid tourists renting B-cycles and locals doing what looked like Tae Bo (she politely asked if we minded her occasional cursing. We pointed out that we were drinking alcohol in a park during prime church hours…so, not really.).

Sadly, we missed Andy and Amanda, who had ridden all the way from East Nashville (with more kolaches!) but had gotten there early and missed where we were set up in the park. At least they had extra pastries to console them. Next time I plan to choose a geographical feature in the park to mark our spot!

Toward the end of the brunch, we started feeling raindrops. We huddled under a tree for a while, thinking it would pass. It…didn’t. Once we were completely soaked, we decided it was time to take refuge under the Parthenon. Anna and Dan kindly donated their blanket to keep my new Brooks dry.

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Rainy group photo, with Le Peug standing in for me.

Our next brunch will be on September 29, at the Stone Fox. Fingers crossed we won’t get rained on. Email me for more details if you’re interested in joining!

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Babies in Bike-Themed Onesies

Good morning!  This post delivers exactly what the title promises: babies in bike-themed onesies.  Guaranteed to brighten your day.  :-)

I received these pictures on my phone last week.  The first is Dante, Melissa’s bebe.  Dante is modeling a onesie I bought him in Amsterdam (before he was born) with a cow and HOLLAND written across the front.

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Okay, the Holland onesie is not strictly bike-themed.  Here’s another!

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Hehehehe.  :-)

The second is Asha, Chika’s bebe, modeling a onesie I made for her with my not-exactly-correct version of  a bicycle on front.

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Looking at these photos instantly cheers me.  Love these sweeties and their awesome moms.  :-)

Here’s to the next generation of bike lovers!

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Yoga on the go

My exercise goal for August is decidedly less intense than Trisha’s century ride training.  I have to attend two Bikram yoga classes a week with my friend from work.  The 90 minute classes heated to 105 degrees are not exactly fun.  The best feeling comes when the class is over and I can sail away on my bicycle for the six mile ride home along the Lakefront Trail.  The transition from the oppressive heat of the yoga room to the cool lake breeze of the trail is beautiful and makes me enjoy riding my bike even more than usual.

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Plus, there’s always this view.

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My bike set up on yoga class days is basic.  Okay, a little bag lady-chic.

 

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I strap my mat to the back rack (and then sometimes forget it there for a couple of days, creating deep indentions in the mat).

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I stuff my work bag, change of clothes, towel, water bottle and lock in my front basket.  My basket is low down and anchored to front stays, which helps this load feel light and not interfere with my steering.

My cockpit area is looking a bit too cluttered.  Perhaps I should remove my scarf or flower or handlebar bag or camera mount…

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Once the (heavily discounted) introductory month is over at the Bikram studio, I will probably go back to Vinyasa, as a more enjoyable yoga for me.  But I expect to miss, at least a little bit, the relief of escape by bicycle that practicing Bikram provides me.  :-)

More on yoga from the archives:

Yoga and Cycling – our first post about the topic, over four years ago

Fashion Friday: Biking to Yoga – a description of my biking-to-yoga routine from last summer

Pedal, Stretch, Breathe – review of a booklet on bicycle-focused yoga moves

 

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Training ride: The Natchez Trace

A couple of commenters pointed out I was being a bit sketch about the details of my training plan in my last post. Those commenters were absolutely right. But you see, me being me, the details of my training plan ARE a bit sketch. They consist of:

  • Biking for transpo as often as possible (pretty standard, but I’m pushing it more than usual)
  • One medium-length ride during the week (10-15 miles)
  • One long ride at the weekend (20-30 miles)
  • At least one cross-training day (walk/jog or yoga)

This means I’m riding somewhere in the neighborhood of 50-60 miles per week. Since I once read somewhere that riding an equal number of miles per week as you will in your big ride means you’re in good enough shape to make it happen in a reasonable amount of time, I feel like we’re doing OK. If I’m wrong, well, I’m sure the Internet will chime in to let me know.

Anyway, last weekend our training ride was on the Natchez Trace. Since I’ve never been able to transport my bike comfortably by car before, this was my first time biking on the Trace. All I could think was, what took me so long??

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One fun little quirk about going on long rides with me: I’m a total grump for the first 20 minutes. I start thinking about how we’re only 10 percent or whatever of the way in and that means we have to bike for TEN TIMES this long. I brood about the temperature and how much water I have with me and how much that hill we just went down is going to suck on the way back.

Then, somehow magically somewhere around mile 5, I am fine. I become accustomed to the heat and discomfort. I am resigned to the fact that I will be sweating for the next few hours and parts will be fun and parts will not be fun and I am totally OK with it going on as long as necessary. In other words, my Czech/Finnish peasant ancestry kicks in. Being built for endurance vs. speed isn’t a bad thing.

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So after my typical rough beginning, I was all about the Trace. Even though it was late morning, we saw some wildlife! Namely a turkey, a turtle and a deer, which luckily did not decide to charge us. And…get excited…a dead skunk! Car traffic was very light and the drivers were courteous. There were tons of other cyclists; we saw at least two dozen.

Whitney and I actually considered blowing off work on Monday and going all 171 miles to Tupelo. Of course, that was while we were biking with a tailwind. When we turned around just over 10 miles in, our pace slowed since we had more uphills + a headwind to deal with.

We did stand out quite a bit from the other cyclists on the Trace. We were the only riders  who didn’t have drop bars and clip-ins. Near the end of one particularly long, steep incline, a male road cyclist came up beside us and greeted us with “Way to go, ladies!” I wasn’t sure what to expect (would he be down on us for not wearing helmets? Was this a drive-by pat on the head?) but he somehow managed to be encouraging without being patronizing. “I’ve seen people on $2000 equipment die on this hill,” he confided. Since we were able to keep him in sight for at least 10 minutes after he passed us, we considered ourselves pretty hardcore. “Think of what we could do with $2000 of equipment,” Whitney said.

So here’s what we did with our decidedly NOT $2000 bikes. (Not to mention that Le Peug only has five working speeds at the moment…I’ve got to get on that.)

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I know, not exactly fleet foxes. But by the end of the month we can improve this time a bit—and I also think that, especially with the adrenaline of riding in a group, this is a pace we can maintain for 62 miles. We both still felt good after the ride, like we could have gone longer, and no soreness afterward. And the Clarksville Century course is legendarily easy.

And sometime in the next six months (spring or fall, probably!) I am taking a long weekend to ride the Natchez Trace. Anyone coming with me??

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News from Nashville

Just a quick post to let you know about a couple of of rides taking place in Nashville this weekend.

  • Saturday, August 10, 3pm: a Critical Mass ride to show support for cyclist Molly Meinbresse, who was severely injured in a hit-and-run incident on the Korean Veterans Bridge last Saturday. The ride will begin at the Nashville Courthouse, at Second and Union, and end at Five Points in East Nashville. More details here. Sadly, this is the second instance in just over a year of a cyclist who has been struck from behind by a driver who subsequently fled the scene (and yes, it’s the driver who flees the scene, NOT the vehicle!). Raising awareness of cyclists on the road is critical, and I hope that you’ll join me on this ride.
  • Sunday, August 11, 11 am: Nashville Bike Brunch in Centennial Park. Bring a breakfast-y item to share, and I’ll bring the coffee. We’ll be between the Parthenon and West End Ave. Ride afterward for those who are interested, as long as heat stroke is not a threat. :)

 

U.S. cycling from a Dutch perspective

This week I came upon a video on Facebook by Bicycle Dutch called “U.S. Cycling from a Dutch Perspective.”  The video may have already made the rounds, but I’m posting it here because the (lack of) infrastructure and driver behavior in the U.S. and Chicago in particular have been on my mind lately, with several people I know being hit by drivers in the past year (including, of course, myself).

As the video says, “This situation makes clear why you are 30 times more likely to get injured as a cyclist in the  U.S. than in the Netherlands.”  This is a outrage and needs to change.

A few more choice quotes from the video:

“It almost looks as if these people are riding a race, rather than going home after work.  They’re trying to outrun other traffic.  It really seems like a chase.”

“There’s a lot of cycling here despite the infra[structure], rather than because of it.”

“There could be a good future for cycling in the U.S.”

I hope so.

 

 

Riding the Nashville greenways

Hello, my name is Trisha and I have a secret. I have been training for a long-distance ride. And for some reason it has taken me forever to share this with the blogosphere! Maybe because those distance rides take time!

So last Sunday night, Whitney and I loaded the bikes onto her Subaru (this is a story in itself!) to do a 24-mile round-trip ride from Shelby Bottoms to the Percy Priest Dam.

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We’ll be riding the metric century in Clarksville on August 31.

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The weather was perfect: Not humid, hovering under 80 degrees. Pretty much unheard of for late July in Nashville, but we were happy to take it.

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We were feeling fine at the halfway point.

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Whitney in front of the dam

And even better as we rode back into the sunset across the river.

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A couple of bloggers have been inspiring me this summer with their exciting stories of long-distance rides. I’m looking forward testing myself (and Le Peug) on a 62-miler! Any tips for the big day?

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My Second Divvy Experience

When I first wrote about Divvy, I listed reasons that I anticipated using the bike share system, even though I have three bikes of my own.  On Friday, one of those reasons popped up.

  • I take the L in the morning due to rain but the sun is shining by the end of the day.

Leaving for work in the morning in the pouring rain, I did not even consider biking.  By the early evening, the sun was out and I was itching to ride a bike.  Lo and behold, there was a brand new Divvy station right by me.

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Using the bike was super easy.  I had no problems riding in my trousers, thanks to the covered chain.  The fenders protected me from being splashed by leftover rain puddles.

The front rack held my legal file and bag remarkably well.  I was worried about the file slipping out, but everything felt perfectly secure.

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I rode Divvy as far north as possible, before switching to the L to get all the way to my destination in Lincoln Square, where I was meeting friends for dinner.  I can’t wait for the day when Divvy stations cover the city – which should be by the end of the summer!

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I look forward to many more rides with Divvy in the future!

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