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.
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.
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.”)
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.
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.
Plus, there’s always this view.
My bike set up on yoga class days is basic. Okay, a little bag lady-chic.
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).
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…
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. :-)
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.
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.
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.
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!
I look forward to many more rides with Divvy in the future!
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.
Sara and I biked to Sprout separately and left Betty and Poppy outside to spend quality time together on the rack.
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.
We were very proud of our baby plants! ;-)
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
Yesterday I had the pleasure of bicycling downtown to see the Joffrey Ballet’s Othello. The ride was about 7 miles each way, along the lakefront trail. The theatre is close to south Grant Park, which looked very nice on this beautiful day.
And at my destination, here is the view from my regular seat in the front row of the balcony.
What these photos fail to show is the wind. It was really, really windy – even by Chicago standards. This resulted in a super fast bike ride down the lakefront trail on the way to the show (I arrived 10 minutes earlier than I expected) and a strenuous bike ride back home with the wind in my face. I popped Betty into an easy gear and focused on spinning. I got quite a workout!
Also, the photos don’t show the black spandex shorts I wore under my dress – necessary, as the wind blew the light silk around like crazy. :-)