Category Archives: random rides

Symphony in the Park

There is so much to do – for free! – in Chicago during the summer.  I try to do as much as possible, since culture is the reason I choose to live in the city.

Last Wednesday, my friend Chika and I attended the opening night of the Grant Park Orchestra, a free outdoor symphony in downtown Chicago’s architecturally stunning Pritzker Pavilion.  The pavilion lawn spreads out under the sky, perfect for enjoying a picnic in the fresh evening air.

Of course, I biked to work that day, so I biked to the concert after work.  The shopping bag on my rack held picnic supplies.

The fresh air, music, and company made for a lovely evening.  Bicycling home into the late sunset was the perfect end to the night and – as usual – half the fun.

I really cannot think of a better way to spend a Wednesday evening in the city.  And all for free, except the optional cost of wine and cheese.

The next free Grant Park Orchestra performance is Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony this Wednesday.

How are you enjoying the summer on your bike?

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Roundtrip Bike Ride to Woodlawn

On Sunday, Mr. Dottie and I biked to a friend’s home for brunch in Woodlawn, a neighborhood on the southside of Chicago.  The total roundtrip was 31 miles.  The Lakefront Trail conveniently took us almost straight there, allowing for a beautiful and car-free ride.  As you can see, the weather was absolutely perfect!  The sky was blue, the lake bluer, and the sun shining.  Days like this, I really treasure living in Chicago.

Because poor Betty Foy needs a tune-up desperately, I rode the Civia Twin City that I’ll be reviewing soon.  For the haul, I swapped in my personal Brooks saddle and slipped on padded bike shorts under my skirt.

Although I enjoy going for long bike rides, I usually need a destination to motivate me.  My daily 9 miles of commuting prepares me pretty well for longer hauls, but I admit that my legs were tired while finishing the ride in a strong headwind.  That’s when you really know you’re alive, right?  :)

Have any of you commuters broken free for a long ride lately?

 

Enjoying the Spring

Chicago spring is still a bit chilly but overall chill (see how I word-played there?).  Most of my rides have been nice and calm on the side-streets and I’ve been taking time to hang out with friends, read books, drink cocktails, and just enjoy life with Mr. Dottie.

I need to get working on spring cleaning, including taking Betty Foy in for a much-needed tune-up (am I the only one who totally destroys her bike during fall and winter??).  But, you know, whenever…

I hope everyone else is enjoying the spring, too!

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May’s Critical Lass Ride

I missed the past couple of Critical Lass rides, so I was happy to catch up with the group for May’s ride.  Coolest bicycling group in Chicago, for sure, including a couple of baby-bicyclists.  We started in Roscoe Village and enjoyed a leisurely ride through Lakeview and Lincoln Park, ending at a Mexican restaurant for margaritas.

Many thanks to our fearless leader Ash, pictured first below.

We got rained on a little during the ride, but hail and lightening waited until we were safely at the restaurant and finished by the time we departed for our rides home.  The goddesses were on our side.

Join or keep up with Chicago’s Critical Lass Rides on Facebook.

 

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Chicago’s Culture by Bike

During Trisha’s recent visit, our time at the Nature Museum was only the beginning of our day enjoying Chicago’s culture by bike.  After saying goodbye to the birds and butterflies, we continued riding south along the Lakefront Trail to downtown.  Our destination was the Art Institute, Chicago’s great art museum.

During previous visits, we’d already seen the famous impressionists and modernists.  This time we enjoyed the exhibits featuring beautiful textiles, furniture, photography, miniature rooms, sculptureChagall’s windows, and O’Keefe’s Sky Above Clouds.

After a few hours, our minds began to turn from art to relaxing.  We met up with Sara and her new pastel blue Pashley Poppy that she bought from Boulevard Bikes.  After commuting daily on a Jamis Commuter for a long time, she certainly deserved the upgrade!

The three of us (san Poppy) went to Rooftop at the Wit for drinks.

The drinks were overpriced and the atmosphere a little obnoxious, but the views of downtown were cool.

After drinks and dinner, we added Mr. Dottie to our group and headed to Goodman Theatre to see The Iceman Cometh, starring Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy.  The play was interesting to think about afterward and also very long, 4.5 hours.

We ended up biking back home together through the relatively empty city streets at midnight.  In my opinion, the best way to end a full and engaging day.

Wherever you live, remember to take the time to explore and enjoy your area’s culture.

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A Day at the Nature Museum

Last week, Trisha visited Chicago for her birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!).  We were together again!

We biked down the lakefront and stopped by the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

Coco and Oma got to be together, too, outside of the garage for once.

While there, we enjoyed a high-quality exhibit, called Bikes! The Green Revolution, that happens to be at the Nature Museum until September 9.

There was a display of cool vintage bikes.

Art work with the theme “bike monsters.”

Photo ops with a penny-farthing, which we were all over once the children got out of our way.

And a photo exhibit of modern cycling style, featuring portraits by Bike Fancy’s Martha Williams.  (Look, there’s me!)

Next, we stopped by the butterfly house, but the many fluttering things disconcerted Trisha a bit too much.

So we rested a bit.  :)

We finished our visit in the gardens, a lovely respite from the city.

Where we listened to highly entertaining bird calls in the bird sanctuary.

 Finally, we got back on our bikes to continue our day downtown.
Another lovely day on bikes in Chicago. Plus Trisha, which makes the day 100x better!  :)
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A Spring Saturday Bike Ride

Saturday morning, I met up with my friend Araidia for a brunch and thrift shop expedition. Of course, we biked, which was half the fun!

There are so many beautiful spring flowers in bloom, we each found one to match our helmets.

Araidia’s a purple Bern…

…and mine a pink Nutcase.

We chatted freely along the way, either riding side-by-side or dropping back into single-file when a car approached. The route and area were new to me, so Araidia led the way.  Since she took us along a very quite path, there were few cars and no stress.

We biked through a college campus…

parks…

…and neighborhood streets.

Our destination was the Albany Park neighborhood. Once there, we enjoyed a Swedish brunch at Tre Kronor and thrifting at Village Discount Outlet, where I scored two dresses and three skirts (including an Elie Tahari and a Ralph Lauren) for $37 and Araidia found the awesome pink bag in the photos.

Here is a short little video of our ride through Albany Park. (The song is Jenny Mayhem, “All the World.”)

I returned home five hours after I left, feeling very good about my day – and entitled to some cake and wine after biking nine miles. :)

Did you spend some quality time on your bike this weekend?

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Only bikes

It’s been a turbulent weather day here in Tennessee, and in much of the southeast/midwest. I actually got some indoor use out of my bike helmet while sheltering in my safe place for a good 30 minutes this afternoon, although Nashville was thankfully spared a hit from one of the 94 tornadoes spotted today. Instead of showing you my cracked bedroom window (from golfball sized hail — which, in the grand scheme of things, is nothing to complain about!), I’ll share this photo from my dad in Malibu, where there’s a protected lane for “only bikes.”

I hope that you have had a palm tree sort of day, wherever you are.

Nighttime novelty ride

It really says something about how mild this winter has been that tonight, when I had the chance to ride in the rain in the dark, I was actually sort of excited about it. After all, I haven’t had to walk home or catch a ride home because of the snow even once!

Made me think of all those poor people who live in Hawaii or California and never have to pull out sweaters and barely open umbrellas.

They’ve gotta get bored. Change is good!

 

p.s. hi everyone. It’s been a while! [Insert boring computer story and other lame excuses here.] Short version: I’m back. And there’s a lot going on in Nashville that I can’t wait to tell you about.

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A Happy Bike Ride to University of Chicago

Hello, there!  Since today is dark and rainy and I have to go back to work (sad face), I’m starting the morning with something bright and happy.  I just stumbled upon these photos and realized that I never posted about this ride.

On the last Sunday of October, a day of perfect weather, I biked to Hyde Park to enjoy brunch at my friend’s house.  Hyde Park is a neighborhood on the southside where the University of Chicago is located, about 15 miles from where I live.  After brunch, I took the opportunity to explore the area by bike. The campus is beautiful, as you can see below.

At the time, I thought this was my last warm weather hurrah, but winter has yet to take hold of Chicago for real. The high temps this week will be in the 40’s.

I wish I could post something about biking during my Christmas vacation in North Carolina, but sadly my hometown is not conducive to biking. Did any of you make time for a nice holiday ride?

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Brewery Bike Tour in Fort Collins

I’m back in Chicago! Can you believe it’s November already?

During my Denver vacation, I spent a day in nearby Fort Collins, Colorado.  Melissa, Chanh, Mr. Dottie, and I went on a bike tour of the city’s breweries. Melissa mapped out an ambitious plan to hit all seven, but a late start, early return time for the bikes, and a lot of beer sampling lowered that number to three.

Our first stop was the Fort Collins Bike Library to pick up free bikes. That’s right: free.  The Bike Library is a non-profit that lends out bikes like a library (get it?).

The Bike Library is located in a small hut in the middle of the downtown pedestrian plaza. Once we signed a waiver and provided credit card information, we were free to pick out the bikes.  Many were unrideable due to needed repairs, but lucky for us, several were left in good condition.

I scored a Jamis Commuter, the first bike I owned as an adult.  This was a very nice version, complete with 8-geared internal hub, chain guard, fenders and generator lights, although it made a crazy noise and the fenders were bent up.

Melissa tried out the bakfiets (awesome!)…


But went with a cute blue cruiser.

Chanh and Greg chose/were left with red single speeds.

Our second stop was CooperSmith’s Brewery, since it is next to the Bike Library and has a pub where we could eat lunch. Also, beer!

Then we set off down the road to our next stop, Odell Brewing. The ride was quick, but most of the route was along the shoulder of a two-way street with faster traffic. Someone with less experience riding among traffic may not be totally comfortable with this route (along Lincoln) but we found a more enjoyable back-streets route for the return trip.

The beer at Odell was AMAZING!  Easily among the best beer I’ve ever had, especially the Bourbon Barrel Stout.

I think we managed to taste them all.

Our final stop was New Belgium Brewery, which appropriately had a wide bike lane outside.

And its own small fleet of branded bikes.

I’m a big fan of New Belgium, both for its Tour de Fat/bike advocacy and its delicious beer.

Uh, yeah, we enjoyed our beer. :)

Fort Collins is not only breweries, though. Before heading out, we spent some time walking around the cute downtown area.

It is very pedestrian friendly.  ;)

We played with the interactive street art.

Surely, this fish was meant to be ridden.

Definitely this bike piano was meant to be played.

Fort Collins is an awesome little town.  We had so much fun and I’m happy we spent a day there.

I highly recommend a visit if you’re in the area. What could be more fun than bikes and breweries?

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Soak up the sun

This weekend may be one of your last to soak up the sun without simultaneously shivering (especially if you’re in Chicago).

 Jump on a bike and enjoy the ride! :)

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Blame it on the rain

Despite dispensing advice about riding in the rain, I try my best to avoid it.

But sometimes you just can’t. Such was the case on Monday night. When I left a restaurant during a light drizzle but pedaled the last six blocks home through a heavy rain.

when I got home, my dress was wringing wet

As you can see, I didn’t melt. But I did learn that plastic grips get slipperier in the rain. So do the bottoms of your dress shoes. Especially when they’re holding a few inches of rainwater.

I know Dottie was caught in a summer downpour recently. Anyone else experienced Mother Nature’s wrath lately?

{Cupcake} Training Ride

Recently, I talked about my goal to take a few substantial joyrides this summer.  I got lots of great suggestions in the comments, but so far I have not mustered the energy to do anything about it.

My most ambitious ride last weekend involved ambling on Coco to the movie theater to see Midnight in Paris (love Woody Allen!) and stopping for a couple of cupcakes on the way home.

Hey, I know: this was a training ride!  I’m deep in preparation for this Saturday’s Cupcake Ride. I take this kind of stuff very seriously.  ;)

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Summer Joyriding Plans

So far this summer, I have been riding my bike about the same amount as during the winter.  That is to say – a lot.  I bike to work daily, of course, and to get anywhere else I need to go.  But I need to start joyriding, now that I can stay outside for longer than an hour without turning into a dotsicle.  :)

Me on a mini-joyride to Humboldt Park

I need to create a plan to enjoy the great outdoors with my bike during the next two months of warm weather.  I definitely want to go camping again, like last year. And I’ve always wanted to take the long ride to the Chicago botanic gardens.

Any other ideas?  What joyrides have you taken in the past and what do you have planned for this summer?

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Bill Cunningham New York by Bike

On Wednesday I met up with friend Sara by bike for al fresco dining – sushi and champagne (love BYOB restaurants!). After dinner, we loaded up on cheap candy at the drug store and then went to the Music Box Theater to watch Bill Cunningham New York.





Bill Cunningham is a film photographer for the NY Times who rides his bike everywhere, documenting street style. He is an eccentric, in most ways true to himself and down-to-earth. Not at all a fashion industry type of person. The portrait of him was fascinating, funny and touching. When the film ended, I felt like clapping – and everyone in the audience did, so I did, too! It was that kind of movie. Highly recommended.

Has anyone else seen this or other good bike-related films lately?

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Wedding Anniversary Bike Date

Earlier this week, Greg and I celebrated our 7 year wedding anniversary in a typical way for us: eating, drinking and bicycling. I ended up working late and took the fastest and most direct route from downtown to Lincoln Square. By the time I got to the restaurant (Mrs. Murphy and Sons Irish Bistro) I was sweaty and amped from all the traffic, but after freshening up quickly in the ladies’ room, I felt great. Although for the life of me, I could not find my comb (don’t you hate it when that happens?). Having a date who also bikes everywhere and knows the deal is helpful. :)

The first dish pictured above is macaroni and cheese bites over goat cheese fondu. Yes, it was delicious and the start of a two hours of yumminess.

Okay, so this bike date was really just about the food and drinks. To see lots of bike dates that actually focus on bicycling, check out Simply Bike’s Bike Date Series. One of my goals this summer is to do a proper bike date for the series.

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A public service announcement

Dear LGRAB readers:

Summer weather is here. The sun is strong. Riding 10+ miles without proper protection is not recommended.

Here’s hoping that this is the kind of sunburn that is here today, tan tomorrow.

Thank goodness for the SPF 15 in my face lotion

The cats care not for my suffering

The ride to East Nashville was worth it, but I won’t make this mistake twice. Maybe now that I’ve mentioned it, you won’t make it once.

Love,

Trisha the red xo

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Cherry Blossoms, Finally!

Cherry blossoms are finally starting to bloom, a month later than last year.

That is all. :)

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Nashville!

I’m back from Trishaville, aka Nashville. Although I lived there for only three years and moved away four years ago, Nashville is my favorite city to return to again and again, simply because of Trisha and other friends.  And there’s something about the South that calls to me, although I spent my youth hatching escape plans.

My three days with Trisha were full of awesomeness, of course: used bookstores, a British sitcom marathon, a discount designer warehouse, French breakfast, fancy ice cream, duck fat tater tots, Yazoo beer and live music at the Mercy Lounge (Those Darlins!).  Plus, I finally got to meet Trisha’s brother, Charlie.  Hmmm what else?…

…oh yeah – bicycling!

I got to meet the new Kate Spade Abici, whom I keep calling Kermit Spade, to Trisha’s chagrin.  With Trisha on KS and me on the Bat, we rode downtown and crossed the pedestrian bridge for a view of the Nashville skyline.

Yeah, we’re cool.

I must share, there are a number of weirdo men loitering around downtown Nashville who were quite interested in us.  We handled them effectively with stoney silence, which we’re both really good at when we put our minds to it.

After the bridge, we rode over to Broadway, with its honky tonks and cowboy boot shops.

We really should have stopped to take advantage of the 3-boots-for-the-price-of-one deal – missed opportunity.

Bicycling in Nashville was a great pleasure for me.  The weather is not yet at Southern summer oppressiveness.  The infrastructure is quite supportive of cycling, with wide bike lanes on many medium-sized streets and plenty of winding back roads with almost no cars at all.  Drivers seemed to display the fabled Southern hospitality, although I’m prone to romaticize it now that I don’t live there anymore.  One guy in a work truck blocking the bike lane drawled, “Pardon me, ladies,” which made me inordinately happy.

Today my thighs are sore from all those hills (damn! major props to Trisha for handling those every day) but it was worth it.

I make it to Nashville at least once a year, for Trisha’s birthday, but hopefully it won’t take me a year to return this time.  Chicago is comparatively cold in all ways.

Many more photos from our Nashville adventures and Trisha’s Abici to come.

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