Category Archives: random rides

A Late Blooming Spring

So far this year, I have not seen any flowers. The temperature is finally warming, but the scenery remains bleak. How disappointing!

I decided to check the LGRAB archives to determine when I could expect beautiful cherry blossoms and I was shocked to see that by this time last year, Chicago was filled with flowers. I guess Spring 2011 is a “late bloomer.”

April 2, 2010 – A Good Friday Commute


April 3, 2010 – I Never Get Tired of My Bike

April 4, 2010 – Simple Spring Enjoyment

April 10, 2010 – Cherry Blossom Oma

April 11, 2010 – Black and White Spring

I’m going to take a bike ride this warm Sunday and hunt for flowers. :)

Is anyone else still waiting impatiently for spring?

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Bicycle-Love Fashion

Hi, there! To follow up on the serious and fascinating discussion going on about the Mary Poppins effect, I’ve got some fashion fluff for you.

I’m not one to wear special cycling clothes, but that does not apply to creative bike-themed fashion.  The outfit below, for example (see also, my Makool bike locket).

Maureen of Inspired Cyclist sent me this beautiful printed t-shirt from Target.  How sweet is this??  The t-shirt’s red and pink hearts perfectly match my new Nutcase helmet.

I put the two together with a pink hoodie, black jeggins and cool earrings made from old tire tubes that I bought at the Bike Winter Art Show (can’t remember the woman’s name!).  Then I biked on Coco downtown to see God of Carnage at the Goodman Theatre, which was an amazing play.

Back to my new Nutcase helmet: so sweet!  

I first saw a photo of this design from the Spring 2011 line on City Girl Rides and knew I had to make it mine.  (Do you know City Girl Rides? Good stuff!!)

Nutcase’s website does not list this design and my local bike shop didn’t have it yet, so I emailed Nutcase directly and quickly got a reply email with a link to a shop in Cali that had some in stock.  Score!

The $60 price tag made me hesitate, but I rationalized that if divided into price per wear, it would be pennies a day. ;)


Altogether, I was a very happy cycling lady!  

P.S.  Mr. Dottie was there, too, but evaded my camera.  He sent Sir Raleigh as his LGRAB ambassador.  :)

Anyone else have bike-themed fashion you just love?

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Bachelorette Party by Bike

Last Saturday, I donned my most recent thrifted dress – Ann Taylor, new with tags! – and headed downtown on Betty Foy to celebrate Melissa’s bachelorette party.


(Pardon the light leaks on my film.)

On the way downtown, I spotted my friend Elizabeth riding in the opposite direction.

I would notice that pink bar tape anywhere.

We stopped and chatted for a bit before continuing on our ways. I love surprise meetings with friends on bikes!

When I arrived downtown, I passed Betty Foy to the bellhop at the swanky hotel where we’d be crashing. He checked her into a secure luggage room for the night. Thanks, Palomar Hotel!

As for the rest of the night… That’s classified. I’ll just say that the bike ride home the next morning was refreshing: rolling through the quiet morning streets in the same outfit I wore the night before, a few boa feathers stuck in my hair. :)

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Happy first day of Spring!

Kind of amazing how, in the course of a month, we’ve gone from this:

February 22

to this:

March 21

Here’s to a season of great rides!

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Precious Cargo Fail

What I learned today: 24 bottles of beer can fall from a bike rack in transit and not break.

Tis true.

The heavy cardboard box of Two Brothers brew I strapped to Oma’s rear rack crashed to the pavement as I peddled out of the Costco parking lot. I have successfully biked home with cases of beer in the past, but the problem here was that I could not center the box on the rack because my full pannier had to clip on the left side, so the box was flush on the left side but hanging over quite a bit on the right side. Bad idea. I know this now.

After I thanked the barley gods that the bottles did not break, I repositioned the box in the center of my rear rack, placed the pannier on top of my filled basket, hung a bag from my handlebars, and proceeded to walk my haphazardly loaded bike home, one mile in the misty sleet, mumbling cuss words under my breath.

I really needed a beer by the time I got home, which was convenient.

That was pretty much the perfect end to a difficult week.

A bright spot in the past seven days, though, was a happy hour with some of the women who bike and brunch – and drink! Good times. I did not have my camera, but Ash came through with her phone as she and I prepared to ride home in the wet snow.

Ash and her Batavus Old Dutch

Me and Oma

The happy hour and Darcy’s – I mean, Colin Firth’s – best actor win were the highlights of the week.

Here’s to hoping this coming week is better.

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Midday Ride Adventure

As I mentioned last week, my friend Elizabeth (of Bike Commuters) and I got together for a midday joyride recently. During lunch, I cycled to her office and then we set off together down the nearby Lakefront Trail.

A few miles later, we arrived at our arbitrary destination, the Field Museum.

We battled a fierce headwind on the way there and we were both a bit overheated from working so hard. I even took my sweater off, although it was not quite 60 degrees out.

Joyfully, we had a tailwind on the ride back, which didn’t feel like wind at all. I just felt naturally fast and strong. :)

The route was pretty muddy and watery, with all the blizzard snow quickly melting.

So what if I returned to the office a bit muddy with a run in my tights and tangled hair (bad, uncovered Betty Foy chain!) – I felt much more energized and productive the rest of the day.

Funny that no matter how much I cycle for transportation, I still love to joy ride, especially with a good friend. I never (okay, rarely) get tired of riding a bike.

Do you ever get out during the day for a ride?

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Valentines Via Velo

Someone asked me last week if I had any bikey Valentine’s Day plans with Mr. Dottie. I answered, “No, we’re just going to dinner at our favorite French restaurant, Bistrot Margot.”

Then I thought for a second and amended that answer with, “Well, of course, we’ll be riding our bikes there.”

Bicycling is such an ingrained part of our lives – it’s always there somewhere. But unlike driving or taking public transit, biking is not simply another mundane transportation option. It’s fun and adds something special to every occasion!

For this reason, I would say that our little French dinner was a bikey Valentine’s Day, with bicycling being the perfect aperitif (to stimulate the appetite) and digestif (to aid in digestion).

Of course, fancy truffles and flowers are always welcome, too. :)

But above all – bike love!

P.S. February 14 is long gone and so are all those truffles!

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Post-Blizzard Bike Ride Details

Yesterday I posted pictures I took while playing in the blizzard and I mentioned my bike ride the day after the storm. Here is a detailed account of that ride and a look at the blizzard’s not-so-pretty aftermath.

After pulling Oma out of the garage and into the alley, I began doubting my decision to ride my bike one day after 20 inches of snow poured down on Chicago.

The condition of the first street I came upon did not increase my self-confidence.

However, I had a plan to take arterial streets that I usually avoid due to scary car traffic. I knew they would be plowed and a bit calmer than usual, and I was right.

Once I reached my destination, I just had to find a parking spot…

This bike called dibs way earlier. I’d say he earned it.

Luckily I found a bike rack that was not totally consumed by snow.

Once on foot, I realized that bicycling in the road was much easier than walking down un-shoveled sidewalks.

Well, except for streets like this one. The side streets still had a ridiculous amount of snow.

Want some?

Overall, the ride was a pretty low-key adventure. My intimate familiarity with the area, bicycling confidence and studded tires helped the situation. For sure, I was happy to return home at sunset, safe and sound and feeling a little bad ass.

Today I biked 10 miles roundtrip to work, plus a couple of miles during lunch, plus a few more miles tonight to see the Decemberists play a live show (so good!). The rides were more stressful and obstacle-course-like than usual, especially when some [censored] honked at me, but enjoyable nevertheless.

Now what’s that news story about a groundhog seeing his shadow?

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After the Blizzard

Starting Tuesday evening, 20 inches of snow fell in 24 hours.  Here’s what it looked like yesterday:

My work closed yesterday and today – I didn’t know Chicago ever had snow days!  By this afternoon,  I was itching to get out of the house and do something.  This was my agenda:

  • Movie theater to watch Blue Valentine
  • Thrift store where I scored a beige jersey dress with two big horses printed on the skirt
  • Record store to look for the new Decembrists on vinyl (no luck)
  • Bookstore to buy my fave magazine, Lula
  • Drug store to drop of film for developing

Luckily, all of these businesses had re-opened already.  I opted to ride my bike, not from a sense of adventure, but because it made the most sense.

I wanted to get to a certain area and didn’t want to walk 3 miles roundtrip or deal with public transportation.  The ride was fine.  While the side streets are drowned in snow, the main routes have been plowed and cars were nice enough while going around me.

Pretty cool, right?  I enjoyed my first blizzard.  :)

How’s everyone else dealing with the weather?

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Winter Cycling to the Shakespeare Theater

My love for Chicago is largely based on bike-ability and access to culture.  I try to take advantage of these as much as possible and, as a result, my favorite activity is cycling to see a play at the Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier.  This always makes for a lovely Saturday: 12 miles of bicycling, a stop at the bar for a bourbon, and an imaginative and original Shakespeare production.

On this particular Saturday, going to see As You Like It, the Chicago weather was on my side: a temperature of 32 degrees felt nice in comparison to usual winter temps.  My outfit of jeggings (oh yes, I bought jeggings – and I love them!), long wool sweater, and tall boots kept me warm. I was able to ride along the Lakefront path most of the way, diverting to the inner Lakeshore Drive for the stretch that is not plowed.

It’s a good thing that we love to cycle to Navy Pier because getting there otherwise is a pain. Public transportation to the Pier is not direct, requiring two L trains and a trolley from my place, while parking is at least $25 for a couple of hours (not that I have a car to park).

Navy Pier during the winter has an isolated and slightly Kafkaesque mood that I love.

That’s why I love going to the Shakespeare Theater so much. Not only for the excellent productions, but for the time spent cycling there and back along the car-free Lakefront, as well as the time meandering down the Pier – a combination of my favorite parts of Chicago.

I have a long history of cycling to the Shakespeare Theater, which you can read about in the following posts:

With Jennifer from Scotland
Almost exactly one year ago
Through the rain
Shortly after acquiring Betty Foy
Almost exactly two years ago
One of my first LGRAB posts

Where is your favorite place to cycle?

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Car-free Shopping Strategies

This weekend I made another bulk product shopping trip by bike.  There’s no real game plan, every pannier in the closet gets thrown on Oma and Sir Raleigh, who make a rag-tag cargo team.  In the photos below, there is quite a bit of stuff smushed onto the bikes.

At the Dottie household, we have a good system for taking care of all our purchases without a car, while staying within a budget and valuing local, organic and natural products.

  1. Most of the food we eat comes from area farms, delivered by a CSA, Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks.
  2. A lot comes from Whole Foods natural grocery, which is a very short walk.
  3. The heavier and pricier purchases, like cat food for our three kitties, come from Amazon via the mail.
  4. Most of our clothes come from neighborhood thrifts shops and those are fun trips!
  5. Finally, occasional bike trips to the bulk product store take care of miscellaneous stuff like fancy olives, liquor and beer.  (Fun fact: while visiting local brewery Two Brothers, they told me that the bulk store is their biggest customer.)  Whether luckily or unluckily, the bulk store is on the edge of my neighborhood, a quick ride.

This system works well for us.  What is your system for shopping without a motor vehicle?

(A previous discussion specific to grocery shopping by bike can be read here.)

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December’s women-who-bike brunch

Samantha, Kate, Megan, Martha, Lauren, Sara, Sarah

Eight women braved the streets after Saturday’s snow storm and rode to the second women-who-bike brunch at Handlebar in Wicker Park. After brunch we headed en masse to the Renegade Holiday Craft Fair, where we bumped into a couple of women separately who were familiar with the brunch event (Megan and Kristine, hope to see you next time).

How does one dress for winter cycling in Chicago? With style!

Megan

Sarah and Lauren

Samantha

Kate and Sara

Martha

The group was a mix of experienced and new winter riders. While the temperature has not dropped to wintry depths yet, if anyone road a bike this weekend in Chicago, that person now knows what winter riding is like.

One of the attendees, Lauren, said, “I think I have officially convinced myself that winter biking isn’t all that bad — especially when a delightful brunch is the destination.” That’s what I like to hear!

Chicago snow

The next brunch will be Sunday, January 9, and thereafter on the first Sunday of the month. If you would like to be included, email LGRAB [at] letsgorideabike [dot] com. If you’re not in Chicago, considering organizing a get-together in your town.

p.s. Don’t forget to check out Bike Fancy, the new Chicago fashionable cycling blog. Martha, the photographer, is part of the brunch crew and some attendees may be showing up there in the future.

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Walking in a winter wonderland

Yesterday a few inches of snow fell in Chicago. My friend Elizabeth and I headed out to enjoy the winter wonderland and take some pictures (I used my new 50-year-old camera). Although we’re both year-round cyclists, we didn’t feel comfortable riding with the falling snow, so we hopped a bus to Lincoln Park and then walked around for an hour. A cozy underground pub and some Guinness warmed us up when we’d had enough.

Afterward, we went separate ways and I headed downtown to drop off my film for developing. I could have taken the bus, but the snowy night was so pretty, I chose to walk an hour to my destination. Then I took the L train home, but got off early to walk the final mile. Walking is such a great activity and I’m lucky to have so many transportation options in Chicago.

Now I gotta get those studded tires back on Oma!

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Cycling to the Christkindlmarket

As winter slowly but surely creeps in, one must take full advantage of any and all lingering above-freezing days. Such was the case today.  As the sun shone brightly and the temperature hovered above 40 degree, Mr. Dottie and I met up with our friends Dan and Janet for a leisurely ride downtown. That’s three Omas and a vintage Raleigh, taking it nice and easy.

We rode the inner lakefront path, a dirt and gravel trail that meanders along Lincoln Park, but eventually jumped on city streets at the Gold Coast and into the bustling Loop.

Our destination was the Christkindlmarket, a traditional German holiday market that sets up shop each year in Chicago’s main plaza. The market is a wonderful use of public space, filled with beautiful booths, Christmas trinkets and delicious sweets.

A particular treat that many people enjoy at the market is the Gluhwein, a hot mulled wine.  While it sounds good in theory, I thought it tasted quite nasty. I still drank every drop and I got a commemorative cermamic boot mug out of the deal, so it was totally worth it. :) As you can see, I hauled around my Basil pannier, which was not the best idea. Should have gone with the basket and purse set-up.

There are lots of delicious sweet treats to go with the alcohol.  Very yummy stuff like fresh roasted nuts, Bavarian gingerbread, baked pretzels, fried apples and chocolate covered marshmallows.

By the time we had our fill of holiday cheer and German junk food, the sun was already setting and the sky grew darker and darker as we rode along the Lakefront Trail, all before 5 pm. (Photo below is from Dan – thanks! – the rest are from my vintage film camera.)

Don’t you love the holidays? I hope everyone else is taking advantage of these final days of November!

{You can read about last year’s cycling trip to the Christkindlmarket here.}

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Winter Arrives in Chicago

Although snow has not yet arrived in Chicago, wintery cold has.

Yesterday evening, following two days of Thanksgiving hibernation and feeling the need to get out in the fresh air, I jumped on my bicycle for a freezing but rejuvenating ride along Chicago’s northside lakefront. That really hit the spot. Although my fingers and toes burn and my nose sniffles and my eyes water, everything about riding in the winter makes me feel alive in a way that sweating during the summer does not.

The 30 F temperature felt substantially colder with the 20 mph winds off Lake Michigan and constantly taking my gloves off to operate my camera. Once I got home, a slice of warm, homemade-by-me apple pie and glass of scotch warmed me up right quick.

Winter? I’m ready. :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Small Group, Big Time at the Nashville Tweed Ride

Last week’s Tweed Ride had a small turnout, but it was a great time.  We even had a pace car: My friend Erin’s scooter. I even had some help with photography (thanks TK!). We stopped at two pubs, then had dinner at Bella Napoli and a final drink back near our starting point on the patio at Jackson’s.

Steph & Tony

Whitney

Erin

And . . . we're off! (photo by Tony)

The weather was so beautiful that it was almost too hot for tweed.

At our first stop, Red Door Midtown

second stop: Flying Saucer

Erin & Tony after the Flying Saucer

Jessica at Bella Napoli, final stop (photo by Tony)

The group (photo by Tony)

Best of all, we came up with a great idea for our next Nashville theme ride: Rhinestone Cowboy Ride. Something tells me we’ll stand out a little more than  we did this time around . . .

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Biking to brunch—and beyond—in Nashville

On Sunday I had a little bike brunch with Whitney, a LGRAB reader who recently moved to Nashville. After a hearty meal at Fido, we decided to head to the Frist to catch the new Birth of Impressionism exhibit. (Funny story — my coworker was in Paris just after we were this Fall and went to the d’Orsay hoping to see the painting of Whistler’s mother. It wasn’t there—because it was on its way to Nashville.)

We got to the museum a few minutes before opening time, so we took a few photos.

The Frist used to be Nashville’s main post office, back in the 30s when the USPS was a source of national pride, and the building is an Art Deco masterpiece. Even the benches have those crisp, architectural edges.

It’s been a long time since I went on a bike ride with friends in my own city, and it felt great.

If you want to go on a group ride in Nashville — you’re in luck. I’m leading a Tweed Ride on Sunday, November 21. We’ll be meeting at 2 pm in Fannie Mae Dees (aka Dragon) park. More details about the route will come in a post of their own, tomorrow…

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Simply Bike at LGRAB

This weekend a very special guest stayed chez Dottie, S from Simply Bike. I was very excited to meet her in person, after following her for a long time on Academichic and now on the newer bike blog.  Obviously, we have a lot in common and as I predicted, we got along extremely well and I had so much fun. As a bonus, she and Betty Foy were perfect together.

Riding bikes was a big part of the visit, since she had a conference about 8 miles away along the lakefront and I dropped her off and picked her up each day.  Other notable activities: the Race Against the Sky movie, a big German meal at Chicago Brauhaus, a ferris wheel ride at Navy Pier, fresh Mexican at Rick Bayless’s XOCO, Checkov’s The Seagull at Goodman Theatre and warm donuts from Dinkel’s Bakery.

I love getting out and enjoying Chicago to the max.  I always try to take advantage of everything the city has to offer, but hosting an out-of-towner gives me an extra push.

Saying goodbye to such a cool lady was sad.  All of us fun, smart bike ladies should colonize a new city, where we can hang out and ride bikes together all the time.  :)

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It was a dark and stormy night

Last night I was going to a business meeting. It was nearby, but the sky was dropping spittle that seemed likely to turn into rain, and I had to transport a manuscript. As I considered the pros and cons of bike and car, I was met with this sight:

special delivery

Clearly a sign from the universe, right? (The Mustang is my car.)

Scolding myself for even thinking of driving the short distance, I grabbed Le Peug and set off. We got to the meeting only minimally damp and right on time.

But apres, le deluge. Which I and my vintage suede suit jacket were not ready for. It has been months since I’ve ridden in the rain—have I mentioned it has been a dry fall?—and I had totally forgotten how hard it is to see when rain is flying in your eyes. That was bad enough, but then I tried to stop at a stop sign and realized that Le Peug’s slightly weak rear brake, which I have been meaning to fix for a couple of months, doesn’t work at all when the rims are wet. Worst scare I’ve ever had on my bike—I almost threw myself off because I was sure I was going to end up in front of an oncoming car (until I thought of just turning right instead of going straight as I had intended).

Against the odds, we made it home.

so much for that good hair day I was having

Clearly I can’t read signs from the universe.

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Final Outdoor Farmer’s Market Trip

October is drawing to a close far too quickly and today was the last outdoor farmer’s market of the season. Luckily, Chicago’s Green City Market continues year-round indoors. Still, I will miss spending time outside in the fresh air of Lincoln Park. This is my last hurrah post with pictures I took using my vintage film camera.

After the market, I met up with Melissa and Chanh for the somewhat lackluster Rally to Restore Sanity (the main event was in D.C.). Afterward, we went to lunch. They were dressed up for Halloween as a redneck and a hippie. The waitress, after remarking on their costumes, turned to me and said, “I know who you are. From the Wizard of Oz. You’re Dorothy.” Hmm, I thought, this is actually how I dress everyday (in my new thrifted outfit). Aloud I said, “Yes, I am Dorothy.” A true statement, but not in the way she understood it. :)

And now, In Memorium: Summer 2010 Farmer’s Market.

Bicycling to the Farmer’s Market
Simple Pleasures
Farmer’s Market by Bike
Farmer’s Market on Film

How are you spending the last weekend of October?

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