Category Archives: explore

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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Winter Maintenance of the Lakefront Trail

I’m still annoyed by winter, but I’ll think back to happier times: Friday, when I biked to work and then took a joyride to the lakefront during my lunch break.

This was two days post-blizzard. Access to the trail is through an underpass below Lakeshore Drive and this was the most difficult section to manage due to the snow, as only a narrow path was shoveled and not very well.

Once I emerged on the other side, the plowed bike path pleasantly surprised me. I biked a ways up and down the path just for fun, but it was slow going, mostly because I’m a baby when it comes to biking on packed snow, even with my studded tires, and always want to be able to put a foot down if necessary.

At this moment, I joined Lovely Bicycle in really wanting a Surly Pugsly for the massive snow tires. I also wondered if Coco would be better in this particular snow situation with her Fat Frank tires. I’ll have to take her for a spin in the alley this weekend for research.

It’s a good thing that my visit to the Lakefront Trail was only for fun and not for transportation. Although I commend the city for plowing the trail so quickly after the blizzard, clearing away all the snow would take a little more time.

For Chicagoans who want to use the trail for transportation in the winter, the Active Transportation Alliance posts regular updates of conditions on its blog, along with helpful pictures. You may also be able to find useful information on The Chainlink, a Chicago bicycling online community.

Is anyone relying on trails and bike paths to commute during the winter? If so, how are the conditions as far as upkeep and lighting?

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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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Biking in France: the Wine Road

Alsace is my favorite region in France for a lot of reasons; it’s going to be a bit difficult for me to focus this post on our two-wheeled adventures without first enthusing just a leeeetle bit about this under-explored region. To set the scene: here’s Dottie and me in Strasbourg, along the canal overlooking La Petite France. A bit worse for the wear after our 7-hour plane ride and 2.5-hour train ride, but definitely happy to be there.

The entire city center of Strasbourg is a UNESCO heritage site and is full of beautiful timbered houses. Since it is home to a large university, there is a large number of cyclists.



The next two photos were taken with my camera by Dottie, and I just noticed that I am in the background of the first one.

The countryside looks like this.

Exploring it by bike on a beautiful fall day was an amazing way to spend a lazy afternoon. I had big plans for renting bikes in Colmar and embarking on a 40km ride through several villages. Between the advice of the bike rental guy and the condition of the bikes we were renting, it seemed prudent to change our itinerary, and instead we took an easy, 18km ride to the village of Eguisheim. Less time on the bike, but more time to wander, eat and taste wines like this one.

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Neighborhood Biking in Nashville

The weekend before Labor Day (wow, am I ever behind on blog posts!) was the second installment of this year’s 12South Concert series. Held in Nashville’s Sevier Park, these free concerts are open to everyone (and their dog—literally!), so I packed a picnic and went to check it out by bike with my friend Chiara, who’s always game for a bicycle outing.

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No parking, except for bikes

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Wine in the grass is a beautiful thing

Relaxing on the lawn
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The stage is set

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On the way to the unofficial afterparty at the Taproom.

The next 12South Concert is tonight—it’s definitely worth checking out.

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Pashley Pride in NYC

Trisha w/Pashley Princess Sovereign and Dottie with the Pashley Poppy

Dottie and I took a spin on some bikes from Adeline Adeline this afternoon with our friend Wanda. We took our time looking over their impressive inventory–Linus, Pashley, Batavus, Gazelle and more–and rode a couple of models each, including the Pashley Princess Sovereign and Pashley Poppy pictured above. It was my first Pashley ride and Dottie’s first time on a Pashley Poppy–and the first time riding the streets of New York City for all three of us. The ensuing debriefing covered many topics, including compare and contrast: Pashley Poppy and Azor Oma; is bigger really better when it comes to bells; and the prevalence of bike salmon. More to come on these all-important thoughts and our NYC experiences when we get home!

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Explore: Nashville’s downtown

In the spirit of the LGRAB Summer Games, last week Le Peug and I rode downtown to go to a party celebrating the release of a new bourbon from Maker’s Mark.

Le Peug in front of the Country Music Hall of Fame

Riding downtown isn’t completely new for me, but I’ve only done it a handful of times—and this was the first time I rode from the office to downtown and then to the Gulch. The picture below shows the new Pinnacle building on the left. It blended into the sky better before they branded it, but such is modern life.

Pinnacle building and Encore condos

The place, the bourbon.

When I left The Palm, it was about 7:45 and the sun was setting. Apparently every bird in Nashville wants to be roosting on the roof of the Hilton at dusk, and the sky was full of them.

AT&T building peeking out from behind the Hilton; bird-filled sky

I rode down Demonbruen and over the viaduct to the Gulch, admiring the sunset along the way.

Union station, sunset

The Gulch, sunset

Most of my bike trips lately have been from home to work and back again, and to other familiar places (grocery store, pub, etc.). Exploring a new part of town was just what I needed to recapture the sense of adventure I felt when I got on the bike for the first time. Here’s hoping the rest of you who did this task for the Summer Games had the same experience!

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Chicago Countryside

Chicago is the third-largest city in America. Skyscrapers, taxis, tourists, crime – it’s all there. However, jump on your bike and ride a few miles south of downtown for this scenery.

The Chicago Countryside is closer than you think :)

{I could not help posting more pictures from our Sunday ride.}

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A Different View of Chicago

This morning Mr. Dottie and I set out at 9 o’clock for brunch at the home of friends. The catch: they live over 15 miles away (31 miles roundtrip) in Hyde Park, aka Obama’s neighborhood. The ride was totally worth it for their fantastic food and company, plus I always like an excuse for a bike expedition.

Thanks to the Lakefront Trail, the ride there was simple and beautiful. From our house we rode a mile east to the Trail, then 14 miles south down the Trail, then a mile west to their house. I often ride along the north side of the trail, but very rarely along the south side. The south side is much quieter and less crowded, more nature-like and removed from the city.

Me at Promontory Point - view of skyline from the south side

Greg and Sir Raleigh at Promontory Point

Museum of Science and Industry

I'm on a boat! Not really, I only wish I were.

Part of the skyline from the south

Chicago skyline with kid biking

I wish I could convey the feel of the 90-degree heat, burning sun, miraculously cold lake breeze, cookout smells, boom box music, children laughing… We returned home at 5:30 pm, exhausted in a good way, feeling alive.

This is going down as a Summer Games event, “explore a new part of town by bike.” Although I’ve been there before, I don’t go often, and I’m not eligible for prizes, anyway :)

Read about my ride to Hyde Park last year here.

While you’re at it, check out this fun write-up with photos of the south side Lakefront Trail from Bike Bliss.

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Nashville and the Long Way Home

Well. It’s the final stage of the LGRAB Summer Games and I have to say that the competition for the Batavus BuB is fierce.  But! There are many more of you who could be contenders, if you complete an event (or two) this week.

Though sadly ineligible for a prize, I took the long way home on Friday. That day (the same day Kim @cottenmusic saw me in the Village), this just meant going a few blocks out of my way on S. Douglas Ave. since I was already running late for my evening plans.

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Wide and gently curving with slow-moving traffic, the street is terrific for cyclists. At the turn of the century, when the neighborhood was being planned, the center lane held a trolley car. Of course in the 1940s all that went away.

More pics from my long way home:

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Will I ever get tired of pics of heels on asphalt? probably not.


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Bike Events Are All Around

It’s the first official weekend of summer, and two events in the Southeast can help cyclists kick it off right.

First up, Nashville peeps can check out Russ & Laura (of the Path Less Pedaled) at the Nashville Bicycle Lounge at 5 pm on Saturday, June 26. I had the pleasure of meeting them yesterday, and you definitely want to hear about their trip across the country by bike.

My beautiful cousin Jodie is getting married this weekend in Birmingham, so I won’t be at the Bicycle Lounge–but if I have a second between rehearsals, showers and family time I will definitely be showing up at the Bici Coop Garden Party put together by our friends at Bike Skirt.

Are summer bike events popping up in your area?

(This post brought to you courtesy of the free wireless at  12South Taproom — go USA!)

Holga Carnival

Here are some more pictures of the pop-up carnival I posted about last week. I shot these with my Holga – an all plastic, twenty-five dollar camera. No batteries required, only film. The results are not photo-shopped or altered in any way. They’re far from perfect, but that’s what I like about them.

Thank you for putting up with another non-bike-related post (although I did bike there!). Now back to regularly scheduled programming, including the announcement of the Summer Games Part I winners…

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Pop-Up Carnival

While on a quiet solo bike ride around my neighborhood on Saturday, I stumbled upon a pop-up parking lot carnival. This was quite a gift from the Chicago gods, as I love carnivals and their childlike, old-fashioned and slightly creepy vibes. These pop-up carnivals are also a fun way to re-use public space and bring the community together. This one was surreal, placed on a busy road between a massive grocery store and a strip mall.

During the last two years of bicycling in Chicago, I have discovered and appreciated so much interesting “stuff” that I never would have noticed otherwise.

Do you ever feel that your bike is a key to a much cooler and more unexpected world? If not, I suggest that the next time you’re bored, you head out with your two wheels and a sense of adventure.

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Explore: Chicago’s Clark Park Bike Trail

A hidden gem in Chicago is Clark Park. Mr. Dottie discovered this park while running, tucked behind an awful strip mall-parking lot development. The park includes a baseball field, forest preserve and kayak rental to flow down the river – if you don’t mind the signs warning you not to make skin contact with the water. The best feature of the park is the bike trail, especially the section with “sweet” jumps for mountain and bmx bikers. The area shown below is tucked in the woods and has a secret garden feel to it.

After some Googling, I discovered that the park sits on the grounds of the former Riverview Amusement Park (1904-1967), which for a time was “the world’s largest amusement park, with a massive roller coaster, a double ferris wheel, a tunnel of love, a water slide, a parachute drop, and carnival games of skill and chance, among many other things.” How cool is that? Very. Chicago is full of little treasures like this, waiting to be discovered.

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Explore: Lincoln Park Zoo

On Saturday for the first time I visited the Lincoln Park Zoo. Of course, we rode our bikes there. The zoo is free, located just north of downtown by the lake. The size is impressive for a free attraction and it’s a fun way to spend the day, especially for families with children.

Some exhibits were a little sad, especially the intelligent gorillas. I’m not sure how I feel about zoos in general, but the beauty of the space is undeniable, especially in the middle of a city as big as Chicago. I enjoyed spending the day outside with nature and with my friend Marisol from high school, visiting from North Carolina. A good thing about living in Chicago is being a hub for visitors :)

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Bicycling to the Farmer’s Market

A bicycle trip to the farmer’s market is a perfect way to begin the weekend. Fresh air, exercise, a feeling of community and local food. Saturday morning, Greg and I met up with Arielle (of the newly-formed Bicycle Goddess Brigade) to ride our bikes to Chicago’s Green City Market.

What a happy scene – dozens of bicycles were locked up outside the market and many bicycling families went by with kids in bike seats, trailers and on their own bikes. In general, I think people who ride bikes are the type of people who shop at farmer’s markets. Also, a bike trip to the farmer’s market is a pleasurable weekend activity for people who bike only occasionally.

In the evening, we enjoyed rhubarb compote that Arielle made. We’d never eaten rhubarb before, which surprised her, since apparently it grows on the side of the road in her native Washington. Then we all biked to The Hideout, where Arielle played the fiddle and sang with the Bubbly Creek Bluegrass Band. So much awesomeness in one person! :)

Total daily mileage = 14.

How is the farmer’s market scene where you live? Do you have access to fresh local food and, if so, do you see a lot of fellow bicyclists there?

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Millennium Park in the Morning

I stopped by Millennium Park on the way to work Thursday morning. The park is out of my way, but worth a visit. I have gobs more pictures of the gardens – this is only the first set.

I really appreciate Chicago.  The city has its problems, but there is also so much beauty.

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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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The Beauty of Mid-Day Escapes

Did you know that sitting all day is as unhealthy as smoking or sun over-exposure? After reading about that study, I feel like even bicycling to and from work every day is not enough to make up for all my sitting. Bike commuting is an amazing activity for consistent exercise, but on average totals only one hour of my day. I have a desk job and many activities I enjoy after work – reading, blogging, watching movies – are sedentary.

In an effort to make my lifestyle more active (no gyms, please!) I often spend my lunch hour walking around downtown Chicago, even if the weather is rainy or freezing. An additional benefit is escaping the office and enjoying life. I take pictures, watch people, window shop or duck into a coffee shop to read. As temperatures rise, I find myself integrating the bicycle into my lunch breaks for a little extra work day escape.

On Friday, Betty and I sailed a couple of miles to enjoy fresh macaroons, but sometimes I venture farther afield. The pictures below are from a long escape earlier this month, which I wrote about here, but it took me a while to develop and scan the pictures from my Diana Mini camera.

The thought of missing out on such adventures in favor of watching TV in the break room or eating at my desk is unbearable. I think everyone would be a whole lot happier if we all enjoyed mid-day escapes in the fresh air more often – preferably with a bicycle :)

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Windy and Icy Adventure Ride

Boy, did I have an adventure this morning! The day began like any other. I checked the forecast before heading to the office and read “25 F, sustained winds of 26 mph.” Hmmm. Wind is not something I like to play with, but I really wanted to ride my bike. I clicked for more details: “wind direction north-northeast.” Great! I was heading south to downtown, so the wind would push me merrily along. What about the return trip? Below it said “wind down to 10 mph by late afternoon.” Decision made! Oma and I set off happily…

…and made it about 2 miles. As you can see, the wind was mean and a bit more northeast than north. And there was another factor I failed to take into account: ice. Yesterday we had a small, wet snow – no big deal. On the lakefront, however, the wet snow froze, joined by crashing waves which froze.

My studded tires kept me upright, but after the trail began to resemble an ice-rink and I felt a tiny slip in my front tire, I dismounted. I’m not a fan of falling. Assessing my situation, I realized that every tiny thing was covered with ice and decided to turn around, garage Oma and take the L train. At this point, I met a very interesting person and we chatted for a bit. I’ll have to make that its own post.

I’m glad I tried to bike to work. I had lots of fun and started out my day with an adventure. Although sometimes I have to admit cycling is not practical, I’ll always try before giving up :)

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