After more than a year of languishing in my stairwell, giving me sad looks, the Batavus Entrada Spirit is back on the road. I pumped up the tires, dusted off the cobwebs and leaves and rode the bike on tiptoe to work late last week (the seat was still adjusted to D from when she visited for my birthday in 2011!).
All fixed up and ready to ride
On my way home, I stopped to let a mechanic at my LBS help me with the seat adjustment. This seatpost has always been a bear. Screws get stripped so easily for some reason, and they have to be threaded further up than a lot of screws are, and even then they don’t always tighten enough to make the seat completely immobile. She patiently went through two or three of them to find the right one. Thank goodness for bike mechanics. And double thank goodness for a bike mechanic who finally promised to order me a quick-release lever for this bike!
So this week, the Bat and I have been fighting the humidity together. As well as bad hair. And magically disappearing makeup. For those of you who think that this dress is too skimpy for the office (aka my grandmother, who likes to say that I ride my bike wearing “nightgowns”—love you Grams), rest assured that a scarf and suit jacket are stowed away in my new Po Campo bag. Along with two books, a camera, a pound of coffee beans, and the normal stuff one might carry in a purse.
While the Bat was gathering dust, I had somehow convinced myself that the reason I was neglecting it was that my other bikes were better suited to Nashville’s hills. Riding it again, that’s just not true. So…I guess I’m just going to continue to own four bikes.
Trisha’s post yesterday about the difficulty of riding in Nashville after snow has me thinking about the important role that city preparation and maintenance play in winter commuting. If streets are not cleared quickly after a storm, even a modest snowfall can ruin several bike commuting days.
Southern cities are getting more wintry weather this year than they’re equipped to handle. I heard on the news that Atlanta has 8 snow plows; in contrast, Chicago has hundreds. I assume road salt is in similarly limited supply.
Without salt and plows, Trisha has to walk her bike over large icy patches in Nashville
On top of this, Southern bicyclists are likewise less equipped to handle the weather, as there’s usually not enough snow to justify purchasing snow tires or studded tires. This results in more of Trisha’s commutes in Nashville being thwarted than mine in Chicago, despite the much greater snow totals in Chicago. You can see this happen with Bike Skirt Elisa’s commute in Alabama, too.
Meanwhile, this week in Chicago, I took one day off bicycling when the snow was actively falling on Tuesday. The next day, after 5 inches of snow, all but the small side roads had been cleared of snow and ice. Plus, to handle any surprises, I have studded tires.
Streets are reasonably clear a day after a Chicago snowstorm
Unfortunately, the bike lanes are still a complete mess, which is something the city needs to work on improving, but at least I could ride in the main lanes safely.
Unfortunately, bike lanes are mostly ignored in the snow-clearing process
Therefore, it seems like so far this winter, snow and ice have been more problematic for bicyclists in the South than in areas to the north that regularly get snow.
Of course, I have not forgotten about the crazy blizzard action going on around New York and New England. How long does it take after one foot of snow falls before roads are reasonably clear for bicycling?
And for everyone else, feel free to leave a comment stating your location and how well your city has been dealing with wintry weather this year.
I cannot count how many times I’ve heard those words over the past week—most recently, this morning, when I strolled into Fiddlecakes through falling snow with ice crunching underfoot in search of a cheddar and bacon scone (totally worth it).
Yesterday I rode to work. It was right around the freezing mark, so not too cold, and the night before the roads had seemed pretty clear. Thinking I wouldn’t be walking, I traded the snow boots I’d been trapped in all weekend for my heeled leather boots. Mistake! Icy, slushy patches had me on foot for about half my commute. Fearing I wouldn’t be able to spot these in the dark, and feeling discretion was the better part of valor, I accepted a ride home with a co-worker. The Bat is currently installed in my office, hoping for clearer streets (and perhaps an earlier departure time) tonight.
More pictures, from a snowy walk to watch my alma mater Auburn win the National Championship at the Melrose on Monday night.
I know other people have had to put their riding on hold because of the weather—let’s hope we get back to our regularly scheduled programming, i.e. less snow, ASAP.
Earlier this year, Trisha and I opened a Formspring account and welcomed you all to ask us questions. We’ve been answering the questions on Formspring individually as they come in. Now we’re putting the answers together as a cohesive FAQ section, although some of the questions are not so frequent. :) This is the second half. Read the first half here.
Amsterdam is flat. Chicago is flat. Is Nashville flat? What effect does topology have on how bike-friendly a city is? I suppose Portland is not flat.
I don’t think Portland is flat, no. And Nashville definitely isn’t! IMO that is not the biggest consideration for bike-friendliness, although it may be an obstacle in developing a large bicycling culture since hills can be intimidating. You will develop the necessary muscles, and there’s always the downhill stretches! And hey, as Dottie pointed out in a recent post, there’s no shame in walking your bike up a hill if you need to.
Don’t your feet get sweaty when wearing heels? Even when I wear just flats its definitely not as comfortable as when I wear socks + some sort of sneaker
No, my feet are actually cooler when I’m not wearing socks and sneakers. Maybe you could throw a bit of talcum or baby powder into your heels before you set off and see if that makes a difference.
Earlier this year, Trisha and I opened a Formspring account and welcomed you all to ask us questions. We’ve been answering the questions on Formspring individually as they come in. Now we’re putting the answers together as a cohesive FAQ section, although some of the questions are not so frequent. :) This is the first half. We’ll post the second half soon.
How and when did Dottie and Trisha meet?
Trisha and I met through our mutual friend, Erin, at a group happy hour. The first meeting I really remember was at a Russian dinner party I threw at my apartment. Trisha showed up with a shirt that said, in Russian, “I love Russian.” Awesomeness. Soon after, we went to a midnight showing of Gremlins and I drank too much beer and had to leave before the movie ended (beer buzz + crowded theater + gremlins driving Barbie cars = overwhelming). From then on, we were fast friends. :) That was, I think, about 4 years ago when I lived in Nashville for law school.
What saddles do you use on your bikes?
I (Dottie) have Brooks saddles, which I love. On Oma it’s the B67 with springs – the most comfortable saddle ever. On Betty it’s the B17S – no springs and took longer to break in, but still great. Trisha’s Batavus came with a Selle Royale and her Peug has a vintage saddle.
As Part II of the LGRAB Summer Games was coming to a close (how has it been six weeks since we started these??) I spent a lot of time reading everyone’s entries and planning how to participate myself.
So imagine my joy when, last Wednesday, I realized I was carrying a load (small box of books, plus a laptop) on my bike.
Then imagine my chagrin when I arrived home, pulled out my camera to get some photographic evidence . . . and realized I had left my memory card in my iMac at the office. Duh.
Luckily I had a backup method: telephone!
The haze over the lens pretty much says it all about the sort of humid, sultry weather we’ve been having lately. And the uptilted seat? well, that’s something that will be addressed when I write up my “complete a bicycle maintenance task” post.
I plan on being a much more timely poster when it comes to Part III!
For the last few weeks you may have noticed me riding Le Peug more often.
But I like to be fair (I was the kind of child who worried about stuffed animals being lonely if they didn’t sleep with me every night, which is why I only ever had one), so for the past couple of weeks it’s been the Bat’s turn.
The minute my butt hit the seat, I thought, no wonder I brought this bike back from the UK. Smooth, stylish, sturdy, easy to shift, built-in lights and zero maintenance. Why would I want to ride something else? Why have two bikes, again?
Funny thing is, I know I’ll feel the same way the next time I get back on Le Peug. Light, nimble, sporty and fast. Why would I want to ride something else? Why have two bikes, again?
Here she is waiting outside for me during a happy hour last week.
As I was walking away, I looked back and found myself turning around to take a picture (or 10). Who cares what the rush hour drivers thought? And anyway, I knew my friend C wouldn’t get there for a few more minutes — she was trying to find a place to park her car.
Here in Nashville, it’s back to our regularly scheduled programming. Still cold and wintry, but the snow is all gone, so I’ve been able to ride again. The Bat was even talked into posing for a few photos to show off her new accessories — which my brother brought back from Amsterdam as a Christmas present.
I’m still very jealous that he got to Amsterdam first, but these new “On the Road” panniers went a long way toward making me feel better about it. They can carry a lot and fit perfectly on the rack. Great for grocery shopping.
Only problem is, they have to be buckled on and off the rack, which takes time (especially with cold fingers) and I don’t like to leave them on overnight, so I haven’t used them as much as I’d like to. Anyone have ideas for securing them to the bike? I know the canvas could always be cut, but I thought a thin cable lock or chain might be a deterrent — the kind of secondary lock people put on saddles.
One of these is carrying a little more than the other!
My other gift was a “brrring” bicycle bell, which my camera utterly refuses to photograph. Which meant googling “fietsbellen” to find a photo of one just like it! After going through 9 pages of results (those Dutch have a lot of different bicycle bells!) it finally turned up.
image courtesy of dag.nl
Mine is minus the battle scars, but I love the Dutch crown emblem. It looks great on the Bat, and is a big improvement over the stock bell that came on the bike.
Well, for the day at least! Afraid that continued neglect of my darling Batavus could lead to a pant-snatching incident, á la Oma, I took her out to enjoy one of the last days of fall. Together we posed in front of a scraggly tree that is desperately holding on to its leaves. Keep ‘em up there, little tree — I’m not ready for winter!
Off to work — I look skeptical of the self-timer feature
After two weeks plus of riding the Flik, my Bat felt . . . heavy. But also — stable! And comfortable. I know you roadies out there will probably say it’s just what you’re used to (and you’ll have a point — to an extent, I have gotten used to craning my neck on the Flik), but an upright riding position is SO much more comfortable than being launched out over the handlebars. The Bat was forgiving of my neglect and my sweater tights made it to work without complications.
Weekend plans include meeting up with Andrew, a local owner of a Bike Friday, during a ride through Shelby Bottoms. And, gulp, a viewing of New Moon. Don’t judge, people. As this spot-on article in the WaPo warns, it could happen to you.