Yearly Archives: 2013

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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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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Bye bye, Google Reader

As hardcore Google Reader aficionados, Dottie and I have been mourning their pending loss since it was announced. And it’s almost here: As of tomorrow, GR will be no more. But! You can still follow LGRAB by RSS. I’ve already switched over to Feedly and am pretty happy with it—cloud-based, with IFTTT integration. I just wish they made it easier to email posts. Anyway. If you’ve switched to another reader and weren’t able to import our RSS feed, here they are:

Follow LGRAB on Bloglovin’

Follow LGRAB on Feedly

Our Feedburner feed, which leads to subscription options in other readers—at least, until Google decides to retire that, too.

And hey, if you want to subscribe to our posts by email, click here. It goes without saying, but your address will NEVER be sold or otherwise shared with third parties.

Bikes + cars at the Frist

Is biking to see an automotive exhibit the ultimate in cognitive dissonance? Don’t ask me; I was an English major. Anyway. Whitney and I did just that a couple of Thursdays ago, for the members-only preview of Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles.

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I tried to wait out the woman in the background, but no dice.

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Yes, we biked in these outfits.


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Bikes + beer = FUN

The third annual Nashville Tour de Fat was on Saturday, and it was a blast. It was also a hot and humid 90+—the second day of summer and it totally felt like it. Major kudos to those who wore costumes. The best I could do was deck out the Bat.

After the parade, the bike valet set up by Walk/Bike Nashville was just a little bit popular…

After helping park some bikes, I was off to gulp down a squash fritter from Riff’s, and settle down with a beer and some friends to watch the craziness in the bike corral.

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While walking around the festival, I overheard a few different people talk about how they wanted to get a bike and start riding around—one of the many reasons that the Tour de Fat is more than just a fun ride/day in the park.

Another reason: More than $30,000 was raised for local nonprofits. Is the Tour de Fat coming to your town?

{ Read about Dottie’s and my previous experiences at the Tour de Fat here, here & here. }

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