Yearly Archives: 2013

Grant Park Orchestra

Last Wednesday, before biking home in the dusk, I spent the evening with my friend Sara, enjoying a free performance by the Grant Park Orchestra in Chicago’s gorgeous Pritzker Pavilion.  The performance was part of a summer-long Grant Park Music Festival.

I try to go once a week; everyone in Chicago should try to go at least once a season.  The music and scenery are beautiful, and you’re allowed to bring a picnic complete with wine.

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Best of all, once the concert is over, I get to bike off into the beautiful sunset.
I’ve written about these concerts a few times before.
Happy Official Summer!  :-)
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New look for LGRAB

So you’ve probably noticed our new look (including a new homepage!). We’re still making a few tweaks, but overall we are very pleased with this theme from the fabulous BluChic. The support and features are totally awesome and worlds above that of our previous theme. </end nerdy WordPress commentary>

Let us know what you think in the comments!

 

Dusk

Dusk is day’s most beautiful time.  If I can manage to bike home in the aftermath of the setting sun, I’m a happy woman, a calmer woman.

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For comparison, here’s a look at my wintry dusk commute on the Lakefront Trail from a few months ago.  Of course, during winter the dusk arrives a few hours earlier!  The photos above were taken around 8:30 p.m., while the winter ones must have been closer to 4:30 p.m.

For a melancholy take on dusk, I leave you with Carl Sandburg’s “Dreams in the Dusk.”

Dreams in the dusk,
Only dreams closing the day
And with the day’s close going back
To the gray things, the dark things,
The far, deep things of dreamland.

Dreams, only dreams in the dusk,
Only the old remembered pictures
Of lost days when the day’s loss
Wrote in tears the heart’s loss.

Tears and loss and broken dreams
May find your heart at dusk.

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Roses are Real…

Last week I shared the story of getting caught in the rain on the way home.  Here is a little photo story of the rose garden I came upon right before the rain began.

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I believe my discovery of this beautiful rose garden goes nicely with Bikeyface’s idea that riding a bike is a great way to connect with the real world.

Happy Biking!

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Indy’s Impressive Protected Bike Infrastructure

On LGRAB’s Facebook page, I shared a photo of the recently-completed separated bike lane on Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago’s busiest bikeway.

I’ll write more about this new infrastructure after I bike it myself next week.

In response, Facebook Friend Matt shared an article about the separated bike infrastructure in Indianapolis, Indiana, via an article from Treehugger, The biggest bicycling infrastructure achievement in North America that you’ve never heard about.

Trisha biked around Indy four years ago and was impressed with the trails and bike lanes, so I knew that the city has some bike infrastructure, but I had no idea it was so sophisticated and extensive.  After watching the video below by Streetsfilm and reading more about the infrastructure in their article, The Next-Gen in U.S. Protected Bike Lanes, I am in awe of what the city has accomplished.

Other mid-size cities should try to replicate this type of project, which must be great for quality of life, health and tourism.  I know that Indy is now on my list of places to visit.

I’m curious: do any of you live in Indy?  If so, are these protected paths useful for biking to work and errands – that is, actually getting around the city?

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Summer Rain

I was rained on during my bike commute today, and I did not mind at all.

Heading home, I took a different route than usual and soon happened upon a garden.  I pulled over to walk the paths and enjoy the thousands of roses.  As I said goodbye to the flowers and set out toward the lakefront trail for my 7-mile ride home, rain started falling.  I briefly considered ducking into a cafe, but the heady smell of fresh summer rain urged me on.  While tourists and beach-goers hustled for cover, I cycled on with a smile.

The shower was short-lived and by the time I got home, my light summer dress had completely dried.  No rain gear necessary.

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Blur

Some words of summer (and stuff) from the poet Andrew Hudgins.

Storms of perfume lift from honeysuckle,
lilac, clover—and drift across the threshold,
outside reclaiming inside as its home.
Warm days whirl in a bright unnumberable blur,
a cup—a grail brimmed with delirium
and humbling boredom both. I was a boy,
I thought I’d always be a boy, pell—mell,
mean, and gaily murderous one moment
as I decapitated daises with a stick,
then overcome with summer’s opium,
numb—slumberous. I thought I’d always be a boy,
each day its own millennium, each
one thousand years of daylight ending in
the night watch, summer’s pervigilium,
which I could never keep because by sunset
I was an old man. I was Methuselah,
the oldest man in the holy book. I drowsed.
I nodded, slept—and without my watching, the world,
whose permanence I doubted, returned again,
bluebell and blue jay, speedwell and cardinal
still there when the light swept back,
and so was I, which I had also doubted.
I understood with horror then with joy,
dubious and luminous joy: it simply spins.
It doesn’t need my feet to make it turn.
It doesn’t even need my eyes to watch it,
and I, though a latecomer to its surface, I’d
be leaving early. It was my duty to stay awake
and sing if I could keep my mind on singing,
not extinction, as blurred green summer, lifted
to its apex, succumbed to gravity and fell
to autumn, Ilium, and ashes. In joy
we are our own uncomprehending mourners,
and more than joy I longed for understanding
and more than understanding I longed for joy.

-Andrew Hudgins

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Jill Scott Rides a Bike!

One of my all-time favorite songs to sing-along with while bicycling on the lakefront trail is Jill Scott’s “Golden.” So upbeat and infectious and perfect for starting the day right.

I always change the lyrics a bit for myself:

I’m taking my freedom
Putting it in my car [on my bike]
Wherever I choose to go
It will take me far.

Well, I just found out that this song is accompanied by a fabulously cycle chic video. Jill Scott rides her bike among cars on the street while smiling and singing. Yes! Love!

What are your favorite bike-a-long songs?

Happy Sunday!

Review: Detours Ballard Market Pannier

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Recently I have been testing a new bike bag, the Detours Ballard Market Pannier, a large shopper that easily transforms from a pannier to a tote to a backpack.

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The website describes the bag as follows:

If you’re rolling up [to the market] on a bike, this is the perfect pannier to take with you. An easily hidden padded shoulder harness lets you wear the pannier as a backpack while browsing the stalls, and two simple yet sturdy pannier clips attach to your rack for the ride home. A lightweight waterproof base keeps your bag dry from street spray, and a removable rain cover protects your goods when the skies cloud over. Interior organization makes this a great option for casual office commuting as well!

The bag comes in red (shown), black and “dalia print,” which is my favorite – grey with a little flower painted on front.

The bag hangs from the rear rack by two clamps.  The system was a bit tricky on my Pletscher rack because I had to raise the rack’s clamp while attaching the bag, but once in place, the bag fit well.  The large rack on my Dutch bike works perfectly with the Detours’ attachment system.

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The bag appears to droop a bit when loaded, but always feels securely attached.

There are adjustable straps on the front, which come in handy when the bag is used as a backpack.

The long handle straps are useful when carrying the bag, but they hang awkwardly when the bag is mounted and could be long enough to interfere with the wheel.  I tied them together and tucked them into the bag as shown below.  Another option is to tuck the straps in the front pouch, but neither solution is very elegant and I wish there were a better solution.

The bag, as you can judge by its size, holds a substantial amount of stuff.  In addition to the cavernous interior, there is a small internal, zippered pocket, plus three external pockets (two small on the side, on large on the front).

The bag I’ve been using for years as a large shopper is my Basil Rosa-Mirte Shopper, but that bag must be hand-carried by a handle – super annoying when trying to shop and/or when carrying a heavy load.  The Detours bag is not as cute, but wins over the Basil for ease of carrying with the shoulder strap and backpack option.

I’d say the Detours Ballard Market is most comparable to the Ortlieb Bike Shopper that I reviewed last year.  In that showdown, the Detours bag wins hands down.  Both bags hold a lot and have smart and easy attachment systems, but the Detours has useful outside pockets, holds more, is easier to close, turns into a backpack and costs $30 less.  The Ortlieb wins only in waterproofness.  The material on the Detours is water-resistent, but the drawstring top leaves it vulnerable.  A full, neon yellow water cover is included, though, so as long as you keep it in the bag, you should be good to go in storms.

The Detours logo on the side of the bag is reflective, but I was disappointed not to see more.  I wish companies would incorporate more reflective markings on bike bags.

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The two clamps on the back are fronted by a fabric panel…

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…which can be zipped up to hide the clamps and protect you from being poked.

When carried, the pannier functions as a long, substantial tote bag.  As you can see, it has a sporty feel.  Not something I would feel comfortable carrying to important meetings or court, but suitable for a regular day at the office.

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For daily use, I prefer a more professional-looking bag like Po Campo.  I’m not crazy about the sporty/bookbag-esque look of the Detours, which does not mesh well with my professional lifestyle.  The black or “dalia print” colors are better professional options than the bright red.  That said, the Ballard Market Pannier is marketed as a farmer’s market bag that could double for casual commuting, and the design is appropriate to that purpose.

Overall, I like the Detours Ballard Market Pannier a lot.  The bag fits a huge amount, while also being easy to attach and detach and convenient to carry, either as a tote bag or a backpack.   For a bike bag that are designed to carry substantial loads, the Detours is the best I’ve come across so far.

And a HUGE bonus of the bag is its nifty transformation to a backpack.  I did not get a photo wearing the pannier as a backpack, so please watch my video to see how easily this works.

Review: Detours Ballard Market Pannier from LGRAB on Vimeo.

The Detours Ballard Market Pannier retails for $69.  The company is based in Seattle, and I’m not aware of any local Chicago stores that carry the brand.

{As always, I received no compensation for this review, other than the bag itself.  Trust me, my opinion’s not that cheap!  ;-)  You can see my entire collection of bags in this video.}

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In Honor of Bobby Cann

The death of cyclist Bobby Cann last week is an awful tragedy felt by the entire Chicago bike community.  Streetsblog and other media have covered the story in detail, including the driver’s arrest for reckless homicide.  I just want to draw attention to a Groupon in his honor (he worked for Groupon), which raises money for the Active Transportation Alliance’s Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign.

Death can come to us at any time. A meteor can come dashing in from a whirling asteroid belt. The very universe could blink off, just as it once blinked on. In a moment, in a breath, it is over. But living under the stars—a miracle and a wonder that Bobby cherished close in his heart—is not inherently dangerous. So it should be with cycling.

— Catherine Bullard

Please donate if you can.

Cerebral Palsy Has Nothing on This Biking Kid

Today I’m honored to share this guest post by my friend Samantha, who blogs at Ding Ding Let’s Ride!  (This originally appeared there.)  She was profiled here as a Roll Model earlier this year, where the focus was on her personal bicycling history and encouragement of other women to start biking.  This post is an in-depth look at the bicycling history of her adorable stepson.

Besides writing about Dutch bikes and other city bikes, I also write about adaptive bikes for kids. We’ve gone through a number of bike variations over the last three to four years for my 8 year-old stepson, as he has grown and his abilities have changed. All the while we’ve tried to keep him on a bike that he can get on and off by himself and ride without our assistance.  His Cerebral Palsy has made that a bit of a challenge.

These days,  I don’t think twice about our family riding our bikes to meet up with the Kidical Mass families for a ride instead of driving there and unloading our bikes.  Actually though, it’s a big deal that he’s got the endurance and ability to ride those extra miles.   Thinking about that made me take a moment and look back over how far our young cyclist has come in the last few years.

Burley Bike Trailer

We started with a Burley bike-trailer as he grew too big for a regular stroller.  His mom went with a special-needs stroller – they are a little bigger and heavier-duty than typical strollers. We thought we’d try using the  Burley bike trailer with a stroller attachment instead, though we certainly had to borrow the stroller once in a while.  When LD was  4 and 5, trips to places like the zoo or a museum could not happen without something for him to ride in like a stroller or the Burley.  He began walking much later than most kids do, and his legs and energy didn’t last that long either- a typical challenge with CP.  With the Burley, we could ride our bikes to the zoo, neighborhood festival, or park, lock up the bikes,  un-hitch the Burley, flip down the front stroller wheel, slide on the stroller handlebar, and be ready to go.   He could walk around and play, and then climb back in when he got tired.

Red Kid’s Trike

The first bike we tried out with him was a regular kids tricycle –  a used red Radio Flyer even! But it didn’t work. He felt awkward, couldn’t really pedal, and almost fell off. We tried to entice him with a walk-bike, but he was almost too tall for one at that point, and it just wasn’t comfortable for him either.    Then, in 2010, his therapists presented him with a specially-adapted tricycle (as part of a program sponsored by The TelecomPioneers) That was a banner day.   He zoomed around the therapy room with it like nothing any of us had ever seen.  He was ecstatic and so were all his parents.

 

The trike really made us believe that he’d be able to ride a bike one day. We weren’t sure what kind of bike, but we knew there had to be one and that he’d be game for it.

Adapted Kids Bike with ‘Fat Wheels’

It didn’t take too many months for him to overpower that first trike.  As he grew more confident in his ability, like any kid he only wanted to ride harder and faster.  We started our research, and you can find more pictures and details about the first bike we got for him in this post.  We thought we would get a trail-a-bike for him to ride behind Andrew – but realized he would most likely be constantly leaning to one side or the other.  Instead, we bought a standard kids bike, and had it adapted with a larger seat,  weighted flat pedals with foot straps, a hand brake, and an extra set of tires, larger than traditional ‘training wheel’s attached via a sturdy bracket.

 

This bike has been powerfully successful.  He became just another kid on a bike.  He was able to ride it around the block,  ride it on vacation with other kids and family members, and so on. Tentative at times, but still a kid riding a bike.

(Riding with my brother)

Trike Conversion Kit

He took some spills, went through phases where he was too scared to ride much like many kids,  then got back on it again and took off.  Last spring though, he became really uncomfortable riding it as he had grown so tall that he was very top-heavy against the wobble of those extra wheels.   Which meant it was time to change up his bike again.  This time, we went with  a full trike-conversion kit, which you can read more about in this post.   He still rides the same bike frame, but now it’s been converted to the coolest, orangest-looking trike you’ve ever seen.

Both Andrew and I love the feeling we get when we’re out riding – for both of us, a bad day riding a bike is better than any other day not riding one.  We commute by bike and do as many of our errands and everyday trips by bike as possible.  We wanted to include the little guy in our rides and teach him how to ride so that he can share that great feeling and always have an independent means of transportation. Based on how much he loves to ride his bike these days, I think we’ve succeeded.  And most of the time I forget how far along he’s come from that first red trike.

If you want to catch a view of his trike in action, here’s  a video from a recent Chicago Kidical Mass ride (Jan 2013).  He pops up here and there the video, and again at the end of the ride.  I kept the video going for a bit as we rode on home with LD  in front of me, hamming it up, and riding along like a pro.

Thanks so much, Samantha!

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Bike Detour

Yesterday evening I was at Millennium Park in downtown Chicago for an outdoor concert – an event that signals for me the beginning of summer.  The park is near Lake Michigan and usually a quick ride through a garden brings me to the Lakefront Trail for my ride home.  However, last night I was greeted by this construction site where the garden used to be.

Yikes – I hope they are constructing an even more beautiful garden!

Fortunately, the city set up bike detour signs to guide me along an alternate route.  This turned out to be a fun mini-adventure because I never knew of this path.

The path followed the Chicago River…

…with a fancy tunnel to cross under Lakeshore Drive

…which brought me to a bridge over the river

…and led me to the Lakefront Trail.

As I biked up the trail, the sun finished setting.

I ended my journey home on neighborhood streets.

If I wanted to get all deep, I could take this as a reminder that what may at first seem like an imposition could turn out to be an opportunity to try something new.

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Dinner and Bikes

Elly Blue of Taking the Lane has been traveling across the midwest recently, on a tour for her new project, Dinner and Bikes, with Joshua Ploeg, Joe Biel and Aaron Cynic.

Dinner & Bikes is a month-long tour of the central and northeastern U.S. in May, 2013. Our events bring people together to eat delicious food and get inspired about bicycle transportation.

A Dinner and Bikes evening includes a gourmet, vegan and gluten-free buffet dinner prepared by Joshua Ploeg, a presentation about transportation equity and the everyday bicycling movement by Elly Blue, and a near-complete excerpt from Aftermass, Joe Biel’s forthcoming documentary about the history of bicycling in Portland. The event is followed by a book signing with all three presenters, and some time to peruse our traveling bicycle and cooking themed bookshop.

The tour’s final stop will be in Chicago on Tuesday, June 4, at Heritage Bikes (they’re in Milwaukee tonight).

If you missed the tour, you can still get in on the bikes and food action with the Culinary Cyclist cookbook project on Kickstarter that Elly put together with Anna Brones.

Fashion Friday: Scandalous Style

This week I burned my way through season one of Scandal on Netflix.  Love!  The best part of the show is the main character Olivia Pope, played by Kerry Washington.  She’s uber-capable, confident, loyal and smart as hell – and also an amazing dresser.

As much as I love her style, I found myself thinking about the difficulty of wearing her outfits on a bike.  She favors crisp white suits, sky high platform heels and wide leg pants.

So I put together my own interpretation of bike-friendly Olivia Popeness.  I swapped out her wide-legged trousers for slim pants or a skirt to avoid chain disasters, her towering stilettos for pedal-friendly wedges, and her Prada bag for a Po Campo bag.  I had to keep the white trench coat, so watch out for grease!

Now she’s good to go on the Capital Bikeshare!

Or even better – a WorkCycles Secret Service.  :-)

 

I hope everyone enjoys the (long for some) weekend.  You can find me on the couch, binge-watching season two of Scandal.

{P.S. Here’s an interesting interview with Scandal’s costumer Kristine Haag, including her tips on how to get the look on a budget.}

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This is why I buy stuff online

The scene: Local bike and outdoor supply shop, Nashville, Tennessee, on a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon. The perfect day to test ride a bicycle.

The players: Two experienced cyclists who happen to be female. One bike shop employee who happens to be male. Two Trek FX 7.2s. Le Peug.

I express interest in test-riding a Trek FX 7.2. Employee (to be called “LBS Guy” going forward) kindly takes it to the back room to top off the tires and check that everything is working properly. He leads me into the back parking lot. The conversation that follows is of course slightly paraphrased (I don’t have perfect recall) but not exaggerated.

LBS Guy: Do you know how the shifters work?

Me: [not having taken a close look at the lever setup] Well, not on this particular bike, no.

LBS Guy: What type of bike do you usually ride?

Me: [List my four bikes.]

LBS Guy: Oh. So you’re just looking for an everyday runaround, then? [Proceeds to give me not only a tutorial on how the shifters work, which was slightly different from my current setup, but also an exhaustive explanation of what the front chainrings do and how the rear cassette works despite my having told him that I rode a 10-speed here.]

Me: [after listening patiently] Is there a hill nearby where I can try this out?

LBS Guy: Oh, you don’t have to worry about that. The parking lot goes way back and you don’t have to think about cars at all.

Me: Well, I rode here on the street, so that doesn’t bother me. I’m interested in seeing how this takes a hill compared to my bikes.

At this point, Whitney comes out of the shop. I ask her if she wants to ride along with me. We make a couple of loops through the parking lot while I get a feel for the bike, and it is obvious that the saddle is too low. I stop, but the seat adjustment requires an allen wrench. I notice LBS Guy is standing in the lot watching us, so I decide to ride back and ask him to raise it slightly.

Me: Would you mind making a quick adjustment? The seat is too low.

LBS Guy: Well, you don’t want to raise it too much. It looked fine to me. If you’re see-sawing back and forth on the bike [which I was nowhere close to doing] the seat is too high. If you’d just point your toes a little when you pedal…

Me: I’d prefer to get closer to full leg extension. I’m not getting enough power.

LBS Guy: [reluctantly raising the seat about a quarter of an inch] Try that. I’ll watch your position when you ride away.

I ride away, with the seat still slightly low but not bad enough to go back and receive more patronizing advice. We get on the street and find a hill, ride up and down it, circle around for a few more minutes and return to the shop. The whole ride takes maybe 10 minutes. LBS Guy is opening the door as we start to bring the bikes back in.

LBS Guy: [somewhat aggressively] There you are! I was just about to go out looking for you. You aren’t supposed to leave my sight on a test ride. You could have just ridden off. I didn’t have anything to guarantee you were coming back.

Me: [puzzled] What do you mean? My bike is here [gesturing to Le Peug, which was parked in the store the whole time].

LBS Guy: [scornful glance at Le Peug] Well, that’s not collateral for a bike like this one. We don’t let people take bikes on the street without leaving a driver’s license or a credit card. [Neither of which he asked me for.]

Me: [a bit stunned] Well, I didn’t realize that. And I’m not sure how people can be expected to get a feel for a bike without taking it outside of a parking lot.

LBS Guy, clearly not really listening: I’ll come back and put the bike up later. I have other customers now.

He walks away. I lean the Trek against a shelf and go to get Le Peug as the insult to me and my bike registers. Another employee comes up as we are leaving the store and wishes us a good day—not sure if he heard the conversation and was trying to apologize or was just being polite. An angrily energetic ride home ensues.

***END SCENE***

I had been planning to browse for some items for the Clarksville Century ride (this shop carries a larger amount of sporty accessories than any other in town) but needless to say that didn’t—and probably won’t—happen. A certain amount of mansplaining, I can put up with (unfortunately, being short and female, I have a lot of practice doing so), but diss my bike and basically accuse me of being a thief and you’ve lost my business forever. Say what you will about Amazon.com, but that’s something you don’t have to put up with online. (Of course, they do already have my credit card number on file!)

I value the contributions to the community that local businesses can make, and try to support them when possible. But if local shops don’t deliver on customer service, I have no qualms about firing up Chrome and clicking straight to what I want, without the BS (and usually with a considerable discount).

I guess every good experience has to be balanced by a bad one. But why is it so hard for bike shops to learn how to treat female customers?

 

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Spring Joy Ride

On Sunday, I enjoyed a joy ride with my friend Maria, since we were both far from our mothers.  The weather was a bit chilly – in the mid 40’s – but the sun was shining and it’s mid-May, for goodness sake, so I wore a happy spring outfit and threw on hose to keep my legs warm.

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We biked down the lakefront trail and stopped to watch a sailboat race and enjoy some mimosas.  You can see our location on the tip of the harbor from my iPhone GPS below.

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After drinks, we decided to bike to the theater to see The Great Gatsby in 3D (two thumbs up!).  We wanted to avoid weekend traffic, so we chose to weave our way through the inner lakefront trail and neighborhood streets to get there.  I don’t think I’ve ever talked about the inner lakefront trail before.  The inner trail is a path that runs parallel to the lakefront trail for a couple miles through Lincoln Park.  The inner path is unpaved in many areas and is not plowed in the winter, but it’s generally a good option to escape the crowds or the winds by the lake, as long as you are not in a rush.

I filmed a bit of the joy ride to share here.  Enjoy!

Spring Joy Ride from LGRAB on Vimeo.

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My first flat (yes, it’s true!)

Well, it had to happen one day: On Tuesday, I left work to discover that I had my first-ever flat. Poor Le Peug!

womp womp

I considered going inside to ask my coworkers for a ride home. I considered calling a friend. But it was a beautiful spring day—the first we’d had in a while—and I had some time before I had to be at the farmer’s market in Sevier Park, so I decided to lock Le Peug back up and walk.

Once I was three blocks away, I remembered that my shoes, while not the least comfortable heels I owned, were not really the best for this sort of activity.

I was jealous of ALL OF THE BIKES that went by. And even one skateboarder, at whom I would have ordinarily scoffed. (Since when has that become a legit form of transportation?)

 

But I made it to the market, albeit a bit footsore, and partook of an Izzy’s Ice as a reward.

The next day, I drove to work. Afterwards, Le Peug and Minnie got to know each other on the way to Halcyon.

When we got there, Andrew offered to show me how to fix a flat myself. Never one to say no to the pursuit of knowledge, I agreed. I’ve always been a little embarrassed that I have never changed a bike tube, because when I first started driving, my dad made sure I knew how change a car tire, change and check the oil, replace the fluids, etc—it was part of being a responsible vehicle operator. Maybe I should be a more responsible bicycle operator? After all, they’re much simpler, right?

Well, changing a tire might be a simple task, but it’s not necessarily easy. It took me a good 30 minutes at least, and there was a lot of awkward fumbling and possibly some moderate swearing. Andrew would demonstrate a 10-second task (like separating the bead of the tire from the rim) and then I would struggle for 10 minutes. My long nails and short dress made it a challenge, and I felt especially inept since there was an appropriately dressed and extremely skilled female bike repairer working at the station next to mine…but eventually I had a new tube in a new tire and that new tire was on my old bike.

While I’m glad I have given changing a flat a shot, I don’t plan to start carrying tools with me on my bike. In an urban environment, when I’m biking short distances, there are too many other options for me if something goes wrong with a bike—calling a friend, taking the bus home and yes, walking, are all preferable to me than changing a flat in my office parking lot. That said, I really appreciated that my LBS offered me the chance to learn something even though I was a woman in business attire—a lot of people would have taken one look and automatically assumed I wouldn’t be interested. Maybe I’ll at least keep a tire lever and some extra tubes at home…although if it takes me four years to get another flat I will have forgotten everything I learned on Wednesday!

Anyone else have a flat tire story? Do you carry tools with you on your bike? Why or why not?

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National Bike Month rolls on in Nashville

Earlier this week, Dottie mentioned all the awesome events going on in Chicago for National Bike Month. We’ve got lots going on here in Nashville, too! Last Sunday, I led a Bike Brunch + MetroCenter Ride, which miraculously was rain-free. Also a miracle: That another cyclist came by, the first we’d seen all day, just in time to take this photo.

MetroCenter Ride crew

MetroCenter Ride crew

Next week is the biggest week yet: Wednesday is the Ride of Silence, Friday is Bike to Work Day, and Saturday is the Tour de Nash! We just found out that Mike Wolfe from “American Pickers” will be leading the Family Ride. I’m hoping he’ll be on some sort of awesome vintage machine…

Check out the calendar for more details on those and other events.
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What’s happening in your city for bike month?

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Fashion Friday: The Best Site for Pre-Owned Fashion

A few readers have asked me to discuss my favorite places to shop for pre-owned clothing.  I estimate that approximately 75% of my wardrobe is pre-owned, as in secondhand/used/thrifted.  I love pre-owned clothes for two main reasons: I can buy a lot more/better quality for less and I can minimize my contribution to the fast fashion system, the one that causes stuff like THE DEATH OF 1,000 HUMANS.  (Please think about that for a few moments and consider how important cheap new fashion is to your lifestyle.)

Locally, I prefer Salvation Army on Grand Avenue.  The goods are grimey, but if you sift through the racks long enough, you’re guaranteed to find some gems, like the $4 Burberry dress shown below.  (Remember, “God made dirt; dirt don’t hurt.”  Am I the only one who heard that a hundred times in my childhood?)

But since most of you do not live in Chicago, I’m sharing my favorite online shop.

And my choice is The Real Real, a site with daily flash sales of pre-owned designer items.  When I say designer, I mean designer, with oodles of options among Chanel, Prada, Stella McCartney, Chloe, Givenchy, et al.  (Thanks, rich people who wear a dress twice and then consign it!)  This is not just about fancy labels.  In my experience, these clothes are generally better made with higher quality materials, resulting in superior fit and longer lifespan.  BUT if designer is not your thing, scroll past the flash sales to the “Contemporary Designer Sales” section – that’s where the real deals are: Diane von Furstenberg, Trina Turk, Nanette Lepore, Kate Spade, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Steve Alan, and a crap load more.  Of course, these are not Salvation Army-level bargains, but that’s the price you pay for well-edited and dry-cleaned goods.

Through this site, I’ve found that I can buy used, high-quality designer items for the same price as new clothes at stores like Zara and J.Crew.  And unlike with eBay, I never have to worry about authenticity and returns are accepted.  Here are all of my purchases from the site to date:

(Oh my gosh, suddenly I wish I had my long hair back.  Don’t you hate that?  Too late now!)

Trust me, on my non-profit salary, there is no way I could ever afford all these beautiful clothes new.

As a caveat, the site can be addicting.  Under no circumstances should you subscribe to their daily email – that’s a great way to get sucked into constantly browsing for clothes that you don’t need.

Currently, everything is on sale for 20% off.  Woo-hoo!  I myself snapped up two Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses and a silk wrap top, along with a silk See by Chloe skirt.  Now I’m ready for spring.  :-)

A similar site I’ve been eying – but from which I’ve not yet purchased anything – is Vaunte.  They also sell pre-owned designer stuff, but their prices are a bit higher and they do not accept returns.  Womp-womp.

Do you have a favorite online shop for pre-owned clothes?  Please share!

{If you follow the link to The Real Real or Vaunte and buy something, the site gives me a $10-$20 credit.  Not a rigged blogger thing, just the reward they give anyone who refers another shopper.  And credits are great because I already spent my clothing budget for Spring 2013!}

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Perfect Bicycling Days

As I tweeted earlier, today was absolutely the most beautiful day of the year so far to bike in Chicago.  Simply perfect.  Light wind, warm air, calm water, blue skies, gentle sun, and a hint of a chill to prevent sweating.  It doesn’t get better than this.  On such days, I am super grateful for my bike, which allows me to spend a lot of time outside just going to and from work.

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In addition to biking, fishing is a popular activity on a day like today, as demonstrated above.

I wish all of you similarly perfect bicycling days.  :-)

 

 

 

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