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.
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!
I love how getting home at the end of the day can become extraordinary simply by bicycling with friends. After this week’s Tuesdays on the Terrace event at the Museum of Contemporary Art, I biked home along the lakefront with my friends Sara and Holly. At 8:30, the sun was setting, creating beautiful colors in both the sky and water. Sara had the idea to stop along the way and venture to the edge of a pier for a beautiful view of the city.
Sara with her blue Pashley Poppy:
Holly with her green vintage bike:
Me with my Rivendell Betty Foy:
We took a bunch of photos and engaged in some general silliness:
Sara said she felt like it was one of those long summer nights of childhood, when the streetlights have come on but you’re not ready to go home home and go inside yet.
I totally knew what she was talking about. Riding bikes with friends on a late summer evening is the best.
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?
Yesterday after work, I rode over to the season’s first installment of the 12South Farmer’s Market. Since my CSA deliveries start next week (yay!) I wasn’t after produce, but I couldn’t pass up grabbing one of my favorite juices from Juice Nashville. Worth every penny!
The market was jam-packed.
Sadly, so were the (two) parking lots, and the streets for about two blocks on either side.
I did see a few bikes, like this sweet Raleigh Sprite and its pal.
And of course, Kermit Allegra was there.
The dearth of bike parking could have been a factor, but it seems odd that more people—most of whom I assume live in the neighborhood, which is one of the city’s most walkable/bikeable—wouldn’t consider an alternate mode of transportation to a farmer’s market. Made me want to start quizzing people about how they got there and why they chose that method.
Is there a farmer’s market in your neck of the woods? How do you get there?
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.
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 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.
Today was a beautiful day. One of the most beautiful of the year. The sunshine and blue skies and flowers and fresh air all made me remember how wonderful living in this world can be, on the right kind of day.
I rode my bike more than usual and I was thankful for the opportunity. In the morning I had to be far downtown for a seminar, so I took the Lakefront Trail for 45 refreshing minutes. A few hours later in the early afternoon, I got to enjoy the outdoors again as I biked from there to my office. While co-workers jumped in a cab, I couldn’t resist stopping by the Lurie Botanical Gardens in Millennium Park on my bike.
I wore one of the skirts I thrifted this weekend for $2. I enjoy wearing flowers in the springtime, although I know my fabric cannot compete with nature’s beauty.
The Lurie Garden is an almost miraculous spot in the middle of downtown Chicago. There is a glorious juxtaposition of nature and city. The skyscrapers are a sight to behold, hovering over the flower beds.
Getting down to the ground level and smelling the blossoms takes me back to my mom’s garden, growing up in North Carolina.
Then I stand up and see the architectural marvel of the Pritzker Pavilion, backed by the Aon Center and the Watertower antennas. Ah yes, Chicago!
I lack the green thumb of my mother, so this guide identifying the different flowers in the garden at this time of year was helpful.
This bird in the tree was making a fuss about me taking its picture. Very loud. Camera shy.
At the end of the day, I decided to take the Lakefront Trail home. On one of the most beautiful days of the year, why not end the day with more of the beautiful same?
I managed to feel like I spent a great deal of time outside, when really all I did was get from one place to another, pure transportation. Yet so much more. Everyone who rides a bike, you know what I’m talking about, right? :)
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…
…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?
En route home to Chicago from Dublin, I had an unexpected side trip to Montreal. My flight from London was delayed, causing me to miss my connection from Montreal to Chicago – the last of the day. Air Canada comped my hotel and meals, so although I was exhausted and ready to be home, I embraced the opportunity to see Montreal for the first time.
In the morning, I woke early and Mr. Dottie and I set off to spend three hours wandering around downtown before we had to catch the 1:45 flight home. The weather was perfect – warm and sunny. Armed with a map, complete with Bixi bikeshare station locations, we planned to pick up Bixi’s at Parc LaFontaine and ride along a protected cycle track to the Old Town area, ending at Marche Bonsecours.
We arrived at the park and wandered around looking for the Bixi station for a good 15 minutes. (Montreal peeps know where this is going…) We were so confused, standing exactly where the map said the Bixi station should be. Finally I asked a woman walking by with a bike where we could find the station and she informed us – oh, the bike share? – Bixi does not open until April.
Sad about not being able to ride a bike (no time to track down a bike rental store), we instead walked the planned route, which was also a great way to take in the city sights.
The feel of the city is unique. The old buildings and French language contributed to a European feel, but overall it felt more like Chicago than Paris. I imagined an idyllic bicycling paradise, while in reality it was more…real. A big city with a lot going on. There were many cyclists and some cycle tracks, but also a lot of motor vehicle traffic. The number and types of people bicycling seemed similar to those in Chicago.
Since I could not ride a bike there, I compensated by buying a bicycle t-shirt. It says in French, “Ceci n’est pas une bicyclette,” which Trisha assured me is an arty little meme, nothing dirty.
I also bought a lovely bicycle-print dress at Marche Bonsecours that was designed and made in Montreal. I love the dress and I’ll definitely post about it later.
I enjoyed the unexpected side trip to Montreal. I only wish I had time to plan ahead, see more of the city, ride a bike, and meet up with some locals. Next time!