Category Archives: Oma

A dash of spring

My wish for bright spring colors came true today, at least a little bit. The amazing 50 degree temperature combined with the bright, lingering sun made the city feel like a springtime paradise.  The sidewalks and lakefront were filled with Chicagoans basking in the glory of the weather.
untitled-6The photos below look cold, but the mere fact that I was able to bike on the Lakefront Trail is a sign of the thaw.   Most of the snow has melted, leaving behind mounds of dirt, salt and debris.
I even warmed up enough to remove my scarf, which looked quite lovely on Oma.
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Unbelievably, I heard on the evening news that Chicago may get over a foot of snow mid-week.  All the more reason to appreciate days like today, I suppose.

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Not afraid of a little snow…

EleanorNYC has a lovely little post today showing “women who look stylish on their bike and not afraid of a little snow.”  This reminded me that to not be afraid of a little snow, I need studded tires.  If there is snow on the ground that has not yet been totally plowed off the salted streets, I’ll only ride my bike with studded tires.

 

These are the bad boys on which I rely: Schwalbe Marathon Winters.  I bought them five or six winters ago and they’re still going strong.

Because I don’t have the time, patience or interest to swap out the tires myself (a longer-than-usual process for my Dutch bike), I brought Oma to a local bike shop a few weeks ago for her yearly tire swap.

When it was time to pick Oma up the next day, I Divvied to the shop.  (Thanks again, Divvy!)

20121225-DSCF5480resizedMy girl was waiting for me, still wearing her medical bracelet.

 

Oma was also wearing a note from my friend Dan, who saw her when he happened by the shop later to have his bike serviced.  An inside joke involving karaoke and Justin Timberlake – fun!  :-)

20121225-DSCF5489resizedNow Oma and I are ready to take on winter together and not be afraid of snow.

20121225-DSCF5501resized 20121225-DSCF5502resizedA lot of Chicago bicyclists get by fine without studded tires – and in fact I never put mine on two winters ago due to the relatively mild weather – but I like having them as an option.  What do you do to take on winter bicycling?

See also,

My Schwalbe Marathon Winter review from 2009

In defense of studded tires

My studded tires getting me through a post-blizzard ride

The return of my winter wheels in 2010

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Fall is Here!

Time to break out the tweed and cashmere – fall is here!

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I have a habit of writing every year about how much I love fall, and this year will be more of the same.  It’s such a perfect time for bike riding, especially for riding in full work clothes without arriving sweaty.

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I enthusiastically pulled out from under my bed the two containers of cold-weather clothes and suddenly I have a whole new wardrobe.  This week I will replenish my supply of black and brown tights, then I’ll be good to go through early spring.  :-)

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A wooden crate as a bike basket

When I posted about riding my Dutch bike last week, Trisha noticed that I have a new crate on the front.  Yes, and I love it!

As I explained in my Oma review, I purchased my bike with a heavy duty front rack that attaches to the frame, making a sturdy base for up to 50 pounds of cargo.  I was using a Hershberger’s Baker Basket on the front rack, but two years of heavy use was more than the delicate basket could handle.  First the leather strap in the front broke, causing the top to fly open in the wind, then one of the small leather straps on the back of the lid broke, making the top sit crooked.  The wicker became dried and bleached by the sun.  Basically, the poor thing fell apart.

Baker Basket

Baker Basket in better days

For a while, I detached the front rack and used a pannier on my rear rack to carry stuff.  Then one day Mr. Dottie found a wooden crate in an alley behind a Mexican restaurant, which he thinks was used for avacados.  The crate has “Made in Mexico” stamped on the side.  He attached the crate to my rack with a bungie cord through the bottom and a few zip ties all around; it does not move an inch.

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My new Mexican crate

I love the crate for both aesthetics and utility.  I can fit so much stuff in there, and I tend always to be carrying a bunch of stuff – for example, two full grocery bags and a purse.  I can also easily and quickly reach my bag when stopped at a red light.

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The crate is heavy – it’s all solid wood and nails.  But so is my bike!  When I’m riding Oma, I’m slow and steady and generally traveling no more than five or six miles, so extra weight is not a big deal.

Does anyone else use a wooden crate like this?

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The Oma Lifestyle

As I mentioned last month, I’m back to riding Oma almost daily.  And I’m reminded that Oma is not just a bike style, but a lifestyle.

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I slow way down with her and relax into the ride. I coast up to yellow lights instead of accelerating to beat the red.  I enjoy the city sights from my high perch.

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It’s all about opting out of the commute-as-race by sheer force of will.  Even as SUVs speed past me too closely and I breath in truck exhaust, I think happy thoughts and continue slowly pedaling.  Riding Oma helps me maintain a bit of serenity, as the city buzzes around.

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WorkCycles Have Returned to Chicago!

To the untrained eye, this bicycle may look like my Oma, but it’s actually a stealthy WorkCycles Secret Service.  She’s a loaner from J.C. Lind Bikes for a few days while Betty Foy gets her (much needed!) spring overhaul.

When Dutch Bike Chicago closed a year and a half ago (their Seattle shop is still in business), I was disappointed that WorkCycles were no longer sold in Chicago.  People often ask me about my Oma, and after DBC closed I had no place to direct them other than the internet.

Happily, this is no longer a problem.  WorkCycles have returned to Chicago!  Jon of J.C. Lind Bikes (at 1300 N. Wells for locals) worked out an arrangement with Henry of WorkCycles, and now the shop carries a variety of WorkCycles city bikes.

I have a review of the Secret Service coming soon, and I’ll try to test others like the Fr8 and Gr8 at some point, since I know many people are unable to test ride them in real life before purchasing and must rely heavily on online information.

Stay tuned!

{J.C. Lind is an LGRAB sponsor and friend. Henry of WorkCycles is an LGRAB friend now, too!   But all of my reviews are absolutely independent.}

 

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2-Year Oma Anniversary!

Today while riding Oma home, I started thinking about what a wonderful bike she is and how it must be close to our 2-year anniversary. I knew I got her sometime in October 2008. When I arrived home, I consulted the extensive Trisha-Dottie email archives to pinpoint the exact date: October 18! That is today, my friends.

As I’ve made very clear before, she’s the best bicycle a woman could hope for and has changed my life by making biking so fun and easy.

Don’t tell Ms. O that I almost forgot our anniversary; I’d never hear the end of it. She’s still upset that I ride Betty Foy so much.

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Flowers for the Tour de Fat

On Saturday I attended the Tour de Fat, an annual bike festival by New Belgium Brewing, where I ran into several people I know, including frequent commenter Scott and his girlfriend with their gorgeous Velorbis and Pashley bikes (pictured below). Chicago was the first stop on a nation-wide tour. You can read, see and watch more about the Tour de Fat at my write-up from last year.

Before heading out, I decided to decorate my bike. The flowers came from a thrift store wreath and were already strung together. I simply zip-tied each end to the top of my basket and voila – bike basket beauty.

I also decorated my hair. :) This is going down as an event in the Summer Games, “Decorate your bike.”

All bike baskets should be adorned with flowers and/or ribbon!

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Cherry Blossom Garden

I love spring because everything is fresh and new. Colors pop from all corners, chirping “hello!” and “well done!” after a long winter. The cherry blossom tree encapsulates everything that is magical about spring, a burst of breezy energy between the icy winter and the sweltering summer.

All of these trees hid in plain sight in the garden where I often sit and read during my lunch break. I did not realize that they were cherry blossom trees until I approached the park on Friday to see millions of tiny blossoms smiling at me. Two days before there was nothing – then, everything. My heart hurt when I realized that I did not have my camera, so I returned during lunch today to capture the beauty that is already drifting off the limbs.

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Fashionable Sunday

Today I biked downtown to attend a fashion show for the Chicago Haute Couture Club, featuring the creations of a friend from work.  I am so impressed by creative people and her designs were so chic and beautiful.  I wish I had been more interested in my mom’s sewing as a girl, but I’ve never been at all crafty.

My work friends were totally unfazed by the fact that I rode my bike. Dottie riding her bike is perfectly normal to them by now, after six months of knowing me. I love that :)

{P.S. The picture above shows how I wait at red lights on Oma. Instead of dismounting, I simply put one pointed toe down. My legs are fully extended when pedaling, but I’m still able to reach a toe down while on my saddle. I’ve gotten this question a few times, so there you are.}

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Oma Appreciation

Now that other cyclists are out in full force, Oma gets compliments more than once a day.

“I love your bike!” “Awesome bike!” “Now that’s a bike!” “Beautiful, girl!” “Very elegant!” “Good for you!”

Usually I would not be crazy about strange men calling out to me, but all of these radiated a wholesome appreciation for my Dutch bike and the regular-woman-on-a-bike aesthetic.

All these photos were taken with my Diana Mini. You can see more at Ye Olde Flickr.

Have a great weekend! :)

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Cherry Blossom Oma

Oma triumphantly returns to LGRAB, ushered in by cherry blossoms and ladybugs!

During the winter I rode only Oma, keeping Betty Foy in the garage due to her lack of studded tires and protection from the elements. After the first signs of spring last month, I started riding only Betty. I missed Betty’s peppiness and also was too lazy to remove Oma’s winter studded tires.

Today, missing my sweet Oma girl, I finally brought her to the shop for the tire swap. Boy, was she glad to be out in the spring air!

{I adore these cherry blossoms. I believe this is the same kind of tree Trisha captured yesterday, but the ones in Chicago are all white.}

Anyone else tend to ride certain bikes during different times? And then feel guilty for neglecting the other(s)? ;)

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One Year Oma-versary!

Oma and Me

Oma and Me

Dearest Oma,

I love you.

XO,

Dottie

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My Dutch Bicycle Video

Here is the second video for the LGRAB YouTube channel. Clearly, I don’t have a future with broadcast journalism, but I want to share more about Dutch bikes with the public. When I started researching Dutch bikes, there were none in my city to test ride and not much information beyond the manufacturers’ websites. I obsessively googled different bike brands and found frustratingly little on my favorites.

My WorkCycles Azor Oma written review is extensive, so the video can be considered bonus material. Not super interesting, so don’t feel compelled to watch, but I hope this video will help others who are seeking more information about them before ordering one on the internet or driving a far distance to test ride one.

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The Red Shoes

Yesterday I attended a party at De Fietsfabriek, a Dutch bike shop, to celebrate the fall line of Po Campo stylish bike bags. I wore my lucky red velvet Marc Jacobs shoes and a vintage red bow.

The red shoes are lucky because I wore them when I met Tori Amos and the first thing she said to me was: “I love your shoes!” Then she hugged me. This is the kind of outfit I wear simply because it makes me happy like a little girl. RED BOW!

what's black and white and red all over?

what's black and white and red all over?

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Beautiful Bicycles: My Workcycles Azor Oma

One year ago I purchased a Workcycles Azor Oma, and that decision has changed my life for the better. I already cycled to work daily, but with Oma I was able to integrate cycling more easily and fully into my life. I no longer needed to coordinate my outfits around grease and chains. I was able to cycle through the harsh Chicago winter with no worries about frozen drivetrains. I left behind annoyances such as falling chains, deflating tires, and compromised braking. Now I simply get on my bike and go. It’s really a lovely way to travel.

7-18 profile 9-4 outfit

3-21-dress-bike29-1 oma dress

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Zen and the art of…oh screw this! Can I ride my bike now?

Some people are into bicycle maintenance. They get a kick out of lubricating derailleurs and messing with thingamabobs. (See ecovelo) These are the same people who spend pretty Saturdays waxing their cars, if they own them. I am decidedly not one of those people. Quite the opposite. I neglect maintenance even when I know it’s wrong.

Sparkling Clean Oma and Betty

Sparkling Clean Oma and Betty

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Dutch Style Inspiration from Oma

I decided that it is finally time for me to write a review of Oma for our Beautiful Bicycles series. She and I have been together for nearly a year! For the occasion I put together an outfit and hairstyle inspired by her roots. Granted, I know very little about Holland – this is my interpretation of a vintage Dutch look, pulled out of my imagination.

9-4 outfit

9-4 dress

9-4 vintage dress

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Vintage Fun

Trisha and I are working on a short series about vintage and thrifted style – bicycles and clothing!  In the meantime, here’s a taste of my vintage fun for today. I wore an outfit centered around a vintage ’80’s (yes, ’80’s is now vintage and we are all old) skort I recently acquired. This is the kind of clothing that I love and that my sisters would wrinkle their noses at in disgust and ask why I insist on dressing like mom.  Oh, and I got a haircut – bangs!

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Outfit for toodling on bike
Vintage '80's skort
H&M t-shirt
Marc Jacobs flats
Marc Jacobs sunglasses
Fairy necklace from Celtic street fair
Nutcase Starburst helmet

I stopped by Haystack Vintage, one of my new favorite shops, and spotted this extensive collection of vintage bikes outside. So cute, but they all look so small!

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