Category Archives: Fun

A Winter Bicycling Day in Denver

Hello!  I am just back from a quick trip to Denver this weekend to visit Melissa.  Yesterday she and I grabbed bikes out of the garage (I rode her husband Chanh’s Huffy and she rode her Raleigh “Black Beauty”) for a relaxing ride around the neighborhood.

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So, yeah, in Denver a ride around “the neighborhood” can be pretty darn amazing.

This beautiful scenery is in the city.  After leaving Melissa’s house and crossing a calm and well-marked street or two…

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…Melissa led me down a lovely trail through a huge park.

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As you can see, winter bicycling in Denver is not like winter bicycling in Chicago.  The bright sun and extremely clear sky were super bright, especially coming as I was from the dark and grey world of Chicago.  Good thing I had my big sunglasses.

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A couple of details: the cool bell on my bike and Melissa’s cute biking shoes.

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The park area where we were biking actually used to be an air force base, which this huge plane commemorates.

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Some areas built up in place of the old base look a bit too suburban pre-fab for my taste, but overall it is a beautiful environment.

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We took a break from our ride to enjoy a refreshment at a beer garden.  I love the beer culture in Denver!

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Finally, we got a quick picture together before heading home.

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The day before our bike adventure, we explored the town of Golden, Colorado on foot.

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Where I guess they appreciate bicyclists!

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This town is where Coors is brewed, but we chose to visit a couple of smaller breweries instead.  First, Golden City.  Their sign cracks me up.

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Then an ice cream intermission for this little guy (his first!).

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(He’s like – “Why are you poking me in the head, Auntie Dottie?”  Because I can, baby!)

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And then a walk in the fresh air to the second brewery, Mountain Toad.

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Good times!  We make a good bike-riding, beer-drinking, baby-playing team.  :)

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As I write this, I am back in Chicago: snowy, freezing, and Melissa-less.  So sad!  I’m sure I’ll be back in beautiful Denver again in the next year.

For previous Colorado adventures, see Brewery Bike Tour in Fort Collins and B-Cycling in Denver.

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Nashville Tweed Ride draws a dapper crowd

We had such a great turnout for the Tweed Ride last month! Despite the very British chill in the air, a lively group of dapper ladies and gents met at Sevier Park. Three pubs and five hours later, we all biked home. Here are some pictures from the day.

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(photo by Austin of Green Fleet)

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The group at Yazoo (+photobomber!)

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So many bikes outside of Yazoo

Two Gitanes outside Yazoo!

Two Gitanes!

Emily and Derek (from Memphis!) and Emily's mom Charlene

Emily and Derek (from Memphis!) and Emily’s mom Charlene

Amanda sets the pace on Patty.

Amanda sets the pace on Patty.

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Car factory taken over by bikes.

Paula and Sten outside Marathon

Paula and Sten outside Marathon

Jessica at Corsair Taproom (photo by Sten)

Jessica at Corsair Taproom (photo by Sten)

Anna, Dan and Paula, so ladylike in white gloves! (Photo by Sten)

Anna, Dan and Paula, so ladylike in white gloves! (Photo by Sten)

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Sonny explains it all (photo by Sten)

John and his cigar: the ultimate tweed ride accessory! (Photo by Sten)

Jack and his cigar: the ultimate tweed ride accessory! (Photo by Sten)

I should mention that I cross-posted this event on the Slow Ride Nashville meetup page. If you’re looking for more ways to get out and about on a bike in Nashville, check it out!

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The Return!

Hello!  We are back!  Pardon the silence, but sometimes a woman has to travel.  :-)

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Trisha posted a teaser about our destination a couple of weeks ago and reader Jennifer correctly guessed our location: Dubrovnik, Croatia!  But wait, there’s more.  A full reveal of all our destinations is below.

Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina:

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Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina:

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Dubrovnik, Croatia:

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Lake Skadar, Montenegro (our home base was Herceg Novi):

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Lustica Peninsula, Montenegro:

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Belgrade, Serbia:

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We will post much more later, including details about an amazing bike excursion we went on one day.

Now back to regularly scheduled bike blog programming.  :-)

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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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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!

Amsterdam shenanigans

Lest you think all we did on our trip to Amsterdam is visit bike shops and examine cycling infrastructure, let me assure you that we also did what we could to sample the culture, food and drink. Here’s what we got up to during our three nights and two-and-a-half days in the city.

We stayed in a houseboat on a canal—highly recommended.

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Dottie unlocks the door while the suitcases wait patiently to enter.

We discovered Little Bear on the Water thanks to the fab Cup of Jo, and Anno was an incredible host. He even left us two Heinekens in the fridge.

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Our welcome gift

Our first night in Amsterdam we were lucky enough to have dinner with locals—Malay takeout! The next day, we set off on our bikes to check out the Van Gogh Museum. Well, as close as we could get to the Van Gogh museum, which turned out to be the Hermitage Amsterdam since the real museum is being renovated. Since we were right there, we had to try to take a picture in the i amsterdam sign—with limited success (that’s us in the “m”!).

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After admiring the exhibit (I thought it was interesting that Van Gogh and his brother corresponded in French!) we went to lunch at Gartine, a spot Dottie had uncovered during her Amsterdam research. It’s hard to pick a favorite meal on this trip (see below, plus we ate here in Paris!) but this lunch was definitely the best meal for the money that we had on our trip. We each had a delicious sandwich and shared a custard dessert.

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Outside of Gartine

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Lunch, the aftermath

 

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Dottie through the lantern on our table at Gartine

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Looking up from our table

 

After lunch, we got back on the bikes and struck out for Bols Genever, with an unscheduled stop at a book market that we just happened to pass through (love this aspect of traveling!). Dottie bought a vintage bike print.

cyclists zipping past the book market

cyclists zipping past the book market

 

The House of Bols museum was definitely a slick, commercial tour—still, it was a very nicely done and affordably priced one. We went on a Friday night, so the entry was just € 7,50—which included a cocktail and three tastes of Bols.  The perfect aperitif! We felt like we got an interesting glimpse into the history of this precursor to the gin we both love so much. :)

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the four main types of Bols Genever

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Bols also makes flavored liqueurs—you could spritz these into the air and guess what flavor they were.

After our time at Bols, we pedaled through Vondelpark to our first dinner out in Amsterdam at Restaurant Blauw. We ordered the rice table, which was a first for both of us but definitely something we want to do again—nothing like having scads of tiny, delicious dishes spread out before you.

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I think she’s impressed

On Saturday morning, we took a ferry to Noord Amsterdam (separate post on that one) and then returned the bikes to Henry at WorkCycles before hurrying back to our houseboat to meet my brother. Charlie had arranged for a stopover in Amsterdam on his way back from a work trip in Italy. After a brief cultural detour and a couple of drinks, we headed to dinner.

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my brother and me

We had dinner at a place called Marit’s, which was in a quiet neighborhood and was another of Dottie’s discoveries. Marit serves dinner a few times a week in her home—so it’s sort of a cross between a restaurant proper, and a supper club. The service was professional, but the atmosphere was homelike and cosy.
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You know, like the sort of place where you might pause in the middle of the meal to pet a dog.
dottie and marit's dog

We walked home, intending to stop at the windmill brewery that Henry had recommended. Alas, it was closed, but we found a bar next door that would serve us their beer. It was quite good. I guess it’s a good thing to have something to look forward to on our next visit…

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Brewing beer in a windmill! Brilliant idea.

 

windmill IPA

 

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Our walk took us past the Vanmoof factory—we saw a handful of these in the wild on the trip.

Eventually, we returned to our houseboat and reflected on how lovely it is to bike and walk everywhere so easily in such a cozy, friendly city.

It was up early the next day to head to the airport. Amsterdam, we’ll be back!

 

 

 

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Visiting the Mothership: WorkCycles in Amsterdam!

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Me, Henry, Trisha and Pascal in Amsterdam

When I purchased my most beloved WorkCycles Oma, little did I know I would be visiting the mothership four years later, hanging out at the home of the founder and his family.

Lucky for me, Henry, the owner of WorkCycles, is a very cool guy.  When I told him Trisha and I would be visiting Amsterdam, he was absolutely welcoming. He and his wife opened their home to us our first night in town.  After a scenic bike ride with his children, a delicious dinner, and a crash course in navigating the city, he sent us off on two lovely WorkCycles for the remainder of our visit. It was so nice to spend time in someone’s home after being on the road for so long!

With Henry

With Henry

Henry maps out Amsterdam for us after dinner

Henry maps out Amsterdam for us

Biking Amsterdam in the rain with Henry and his family

Henry and his family

We were both so impressed with Pascal’s riding skills—at just four years old, he was navigating the streets on his own like a pro. Henry’s wife is from Japan, so both children speak three languages: English, Japanese and Dutch. Which made conversations with 2-year-old Pia especially interesting!

Henry's adorable, bike-loving children

Henry’s adorable, bike-loving children

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Pascal’s custom ride

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Pascal: best, youngest cyclist in Amsterdam (nay, in the world!)

Here we are with our adopted WorkCycles. Cycling Amsterdam like locals rather than on bright red rental bikes was cool, and being totally comfortable with handling Dutch bike helped us navigate the crowded bike paths with ease.

Trisha and her loaner WorkCycles

Trisha and her loaner WorkCycles

Dottie on our first ride

Dottie on our first ride

Hug a bike today!

Hug a bike today!

Now here is a special tour of the WorkCycles shop. This place was warm, welcoming, and packed full of goodies!

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Bike specials of the day

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Love the creatures on the WorkCycles shirt

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OMG! A BABY OMA!!

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WorkCycles Bakfiets

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Family of four? WorkCycles has a bike for that!

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Starter bikes

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The front office

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Leather bike saddle stools – WANT!

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Bike bags and bakfiets sans bak

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Pretty little bikes all in a row

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Communal table

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Heavy duty bike pulley

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Heavy duty front rack

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Suspended WorkCycles frame

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More WorkCycles!

On the day we returned our bikes (so sad) the weather had turned out chillier than we anticipated. Perfect timing to get some cozy WorkCycles hoodies—which have been favorites for both of us ever since.

Booking it home after we'd returned our bikes—thank goodness for the hoodie.

Booking it home after we’d returned our bikes—thank goodness for the hoodie.

If you are ever in Amsterdam, we highly recommend a stop by WorkCycles!

Visit the WORKCYCLES website.

Visit Henry’s blog, BAKFIETS EN MEER.

Thanks, Henry!

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Our trip to Amsterdam—cycling thoughts

It’s been months since we got back from our first visit to Amsterdam. It’s safe to say that both Dottie and I loved the city even more than we expected to, and not just because of the biking. We were impressed by the city’s beauty and charm, the friendliness of its people and the deliciousness of its food. But first things first: Here’s a little bit on how we felt about biking in the City of Bikes.

To start, if you are wondering whether Amsterdam’s reputation as such has been overstated, I can tell you emphatically that it hasn’t been! Bikes are literally, absolutely everywhere. Drivers are in the minority and in general act accordingly.

One of Amsterdam's beautiful bikes

One of Amsterdam’s beautiful bikes

When your bike is one of many, it seems even more important to make it stand out. Many Dutch bikes were decorated or had custom baskets, etc.

A Mac Bike rental

A Mac Bike rental

Sunflowers seemed to be a popular theme.

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Amsterdam bikes

Henry at WorkCycles set us up with bikes (more on that in another post) and our first ride in the city was with him and his family, including 2-year-old Pia and 4-year-old Pascal, who rode his own bike alongside us through a light rain.

Henry and his family

Henry and his family

 

Dottie's bike was called Bonnie!

Dottie’s bike was called Bonnie!

Hug a bike today!

Hug a bike today!

My WorkCycle

My WorkCycle, who was sadly nameless! I propose “Trisha.” ;)

Dot & Bonnie

Dot & Bonnie

The infrastructure was pretty much a cyclist’s dream—lights, turn lanes, bike paths, signage.

Bike sign graffiti

Bike sign graffiti

Bikes get their own signals

Bikes get their own signals

Bike path!

Bike path!

Bike keys

Bike keys

But we thought that the most bike-friendly thing about Amsterdam was the terrain. Neither dully flat, nor obnoxiously steep, in general the terrain seemed to be made up of  what felt like gently rolling hills, which give you opportunity to coast without ever seriously taxing your legs. It really seemed like we could have biked forever.

The city

The city

Dottie on one of the city's beautiful bridges with her WorkCycles bicycle

Dottie on one of the city’s beautiful bridges

We did find the city’s circular structure and canals slightly tricky to navigate at times, but biking in Amsterdam never felt less than completely safe.

I check the map for the 10th time.

I check the map for the 10th time.

But it wasn’t entirely stress-free. Coming from a city where bike parking is not exactly at a premium, at times it was frustrating to spend as much time trying to find somewhere secure to park the bikes as I might have to spend stalking a parking spot at the Green Hills Mall on Christmas Eve!

Sometimes bike parking was frustrating—no empty spots on the rack!

Sometimes bike parking was frustrating—no empty spots on the rack!

A lot of Amsterdam cyclists seemed pretty sanguine about the whole thing, often just parking their bikes  on the sidewalk and locking the wheel to the frame, à la Sheldon Brown. We didn’t feel comfortable doing that with our WorkCycles, so often Dottie and I would split up and head in opposite directions to find our spots.

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Bike parking without bike racks

Bike parking along the canal

Bike parking along the canal

So much bike parking.

So. much. bike parking, but it’s still hard to find spots!

Bike Parking!

Despite the parking issues, bikes are absolutely the most efficient and economical way to get around a compact city like Amsterdam. We did take the tram and the subway during our trip. While both were convenient and easy to figure out and use, they were extremely expensive: 2,70 Euro for one hour of transit, or 7,50 for 24 hours. While I’m sure residents have the option of buying less expensive monthly or yearly passes, riding your bike is free and probably takes about the same amount of time, if not less.

The Amsterdam Tram

The Amsterdam tram

The tram map

The tram map

One tip, if you do take the tram and buy your ticket on board: Don’t try to buy it from the driver! There’s an entirely separate person in the middle who dispenses the tickets. Ah, to live in a country where public transport was sufficiently valued as to pay two separate workers per vehicle . . .

The tram payment person—not to be confused with the driver!

The tram payment person—not to be confused with the driver!

Basically, biking around Amsterdam is easy, fun and makes you feel like a local (well, if locals had to consult maps every five seconds). It lived up to everything we imagined, and then some.

More Amsterdam posts on the way in the next couple of days!

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A Day in the Urban Outdoors

This time of year, lots of people spend their weekends hiking or taking drives to look at autumn colors. Which is all well and good, but you don’t have to leave the city to spend an active day out of doors.

On Sunday, we had a bicycle brunch at West End Café.  It was a beautiful day with temperatures in the high 50s.

Lauren, Stephanie, Jonathan, Whitney, Sten & Jessica

Newlyweds! Jess & Sten got married on November 3.

 

Lauren knitted her sweater.

I pulled the Bat out for the day.

Afterwards, most of us went downtown to check out the Mayor’s 5K. Stephanie and Jonathan left before the start, but Whitney had registered and Lauren and I decided to walk along with her.

Walking a 5K in boots while carrying a purse? Why not?

We felt a tad out of place, not being clad in sweats, tennis shoes or t-shirts, but walking such a short distance in city clothes is really no big deal. Besides, who could miss out on the chance to enjoy city streets closed off to car traffic? Not this trio.

After the 5K, we ate some free snacks and checked out the Bcycle terminal…bikes TK next month.

Finally, pricing is revealed!

Then we went to get our bikes for the ride home, stopping to admire the picture they made in front of the red trees and new courthouse shining in the late afternoon light. Who says you can’t enjoy fall color in the city?

Whitney and I took the long way home to check out the new 28th Ave Connector, which has a protected bike lane. I was too busy enjoying the ride/huffing on the uphills to take a picture of my own, not that you get much of a chance for photos on a ride that’s only just over a quarter of a mile, but here’s one from WSMV (click for more details on the connector, if you’re curious).

Image courtesy of WSMV, obviously!

When I got home after my 5-hour outdoor day, I headed directly to the couch. Where I’m fairly certain someone else had been for the entire day.

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Bike Bumper Stickers

Over the years, I’ve considered getting a bumper sticker for my bike.  Something fun and positive like, “Thank you for seeing me!” or “Have a nice day!” or “Put the fun between your legs!”  (I am not that forward!!).   But this is the first bike bumper sticker I’ve ever sported:

The sticker is not made specifically for bicycles, of course, but my Velorbis has a convenient license plate-like area perfectly fit for such a sticker.  Instead of peeling off the backing, I stuck some electrical tape on the back side and so far it’s holding up well.

I’m ridiculously proud of/smug about this bumper (fender?) sticker.

Have any of you ever sported a bike bumper sticker?  If so, what did it say?  ;-)

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Mr. Dottie Rides My Bikes

If you look closely at the picture below, you will see that both Coco and Betty Foy are locked to the bike rack.  Did I carry one in the other’s basket, you may be wondering.  Surprisingly, no.  I biked on Coco and Mr. Dottie rode Betty Foy because his bike has a mechanical issue that requires a part to arrive in the mail.  In the interim, my bikes to the rescue!

I admit that watching him perched atop Betty (and Oma another day) is pretty hilarious.  Both bikes are fine for men, but are not his style, with his sporty helmet and backpack, and he does not bother to raise the seat.

I tried to ride his Civia Hyland before, but I can’t even stand over the top bar unless I have on high heels and I’m uncomfortable with the aggressive positioning.

Do you ever trade off bikes with your partner?  How does that work?

Chance Meeting with Reader Holly

While at J.C. Lind Bikes the other day, I met Holly, who was looking all cycle chic and introduced herself as a reader of LGRAB.  What a lovely chance meeting!

I fawned over her Carolina blue Gazelle, which she purchased last year.  How great is the blue with the cream tires?

I also loved her use of an orange wire Basil basket on her rear rack.  She simply slipped the handlebar holder prongs over the Gazelle’s thick rear rack and added one zip tie for extra hold.  I might have to use this idea with Oma or Coco.

I got Holly’s email address and followed up with her for more information on her bike life.

I just got back on a bike five years ago after a 20 year hiatus.  I grew up on a gravel road, so I had never ridden a bike IN a city and it took me quite a while to build up courage.  After reading your blog and realizing that commuting to work did not have to include another set of clothes and a shower but actually, you could wear the cutest damn outfit and just enjoy the ride, I decided I could probably do it, too.

I bought my Gazelle at JC Lind last summer after trying out a lot of bikes and doing a lot of research online.  Your reviews and posts made a world of difference for me in helping understand important features and the needs for commuting and commuting in Chicago.  I decided that the Gazelle Basic was the best option for a “beginner” Dutch bike.  I wasn’t fully ready for the financial commitment of the “super” Dutch bikes!

If there is something I’d want others to know, it’d be that biking means different things to different people.  You don’t have to be fast and you don’t have to be fit, you just have to enjoy being out there, but please, bike polite!

Meeting people like Holly reminds me how cool biking women are and how happy I am to reach so many of them through LGRAB.  If anyone sees me out and about, please say hi!  I’d love to chat.

 

Betty Foy Stationery!

I recently received a message from Pam, a proud Rivendell Betty Foy owner and reader of LGRAB.  She shared with me the custom Betty Foy stationery that she created and then sent me one in the mail.  So pretty!

Pam traced a photo of her Betty and took the drawing to a stationer, who made a plate and letterpressed the cards.  She carefully matched the frame color and, if you look closely, you can even see the water bottle and Po Campo bag on the handlebars.  Her full name is pressed into the top of the card in the same color.

The real life Pam and her Betty Foy.  :)

Lovely!

This custom stationery is such a great idea.  I appreciate the time, thought, and work that Pam put into creating these cards. Stationery is a soft spot of mine and seeing others who appreciate fine paper as much as fine bikes warms my heart.

Has anyone else created personalized bike art?

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