Tag Archives: Beautiful Bicycles

A Bicycle Named Millicent

Hello very lovely Let’s Go Ride a Bike readers! This is Maria, of Lulu Letty, here to guest blog for Dottie and Trisha while they’re off exploring France. I am very honored to be chosen as a guest blogger and have the chance to chat about my lovely bike, Millicent. Dottie is a bit of a superhero to me – saving the planet while informing people about the joys of bicycling. Reading her posts and seeing that she could still wear her everyday (or even work) clothes while cycling, truly inspired me to finally buy a bicycle of my own.

While my dream bicycle has always been a Pashley Princess Sovereign (Regency Green), I knew that unless I would be commuting I didn’t want to make that financial investment just yet. So being a lover of vintage and thrifting, I started rummaging through Craigslist in the hope of finding the perfect bicycle. I was pretty lucky that within the first hour of searching, I found my dear Millicent. She was a vintage Sears bicycle from the 70’s and was in great condition. So I went to check her out and take a test drive. I knew immediately that, even though she was burgundy and not hunter green, she was the bike I was looking for. After a paint job and the purchase of a straw basket, Millie and I were ready to start the first of our many adventures together.

Visit the fabulously stylish and smart Maria at Lulu Letty.  For more Millicent photo shoots, see Millicent with breeches , with shorts and brogues,  on a picnic, and during her first ride.

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Emotional Bicycle

Today’s beautiful guest post is from Velouria of Lovely Bicycle, who really needs no introduction.

Earlier this month I tried to sell one of my bicycles – a vintage mixte that I no longer need because a new one has been custom built for me. I say “tried,” because in the end I could not go through with it and decided to keep it. There were just too many emotions tied to this bicycle, too many personal experiences associated with it.

If there is anything I have learned in my year and a half of cycling, it is that a bicycle is more than just a bicycle. When cycling is a part of everyday life, our bicycles become integrated into our memories of everything meaningful and exciting that happens to us. Over time, the bicycle attains the intimate, emotional features of the events and memories it represents.

When I look at my old aqua blue mixte, I see more than just a bike. I see winding paths with overarching trees, I see sunsets over the river, I see the endless sand dunes of Cape Cod, I see familiar Boston street scenes changing with the seasons, and I see events of the past unfolding around me. Those are all things this bicycle allowed me to experience in a new and unique way, and the experiences will always be associated with it.

Some will say that it is foolish to form attachments to objects. After all, it is experience that matters. But experience is fleeting, and since the dawn of time people have sought to keep mementos of meaningful events – something to look at or touch, that would evoke a welcome memory of a favourite moment. Whether we realise it or not, I think for many of us the bicycle plays this role.

Visit the enchanting and informative bicycle world of Velouria at Lovely Bicycle.

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Who, knowing the truth, would choose anything else?

This morning I planned to take my usual street route to work. After I got on my bike and felt the sweet sun and cool breeze, however, my instinct took over and led me to the Lakefront Trail. I thought maybe I needed a clear stretch of pavement to go fast and get out any residual aggression from yesterday’s jerk sighting, but after I rode the mile to the lake and my tires automatically slowed upon hitting the Trail, I realized that what I craved was some quiet time with the horizon, safe from all motor vehicles.

The same held true for my ride home from work in the evening. Just what the doctor ordered.

There was a great post on EcoVelo recently about how ridiculous it is when non-cyclists speak of your bike commute as a great sacrifice, when it’s anything but. Riding a bike is almost too fun and too perfect for starting and ending the workday. That really is the big secret, apparently. Who, knowing the truth, would willingly chose anything else?

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Bike Fun with Girls & Bicycles

On Saturday Mr. Dottie and I had the privilege of spending the whole day with Miss Sarah of Girls & Bicycles and her husband Don. We showed them Chicago, local style. First they came to our place to get fitted on Oma and Sir Raleigh. Despite the height differences, the bikes worked out.

Then we rode a few miles to the Bucktown/Wicker Park neighborhood, where we had brunch at Toast and walked around. While Sarah scored at the BCBG sale and the thrift store, I finally found a good straw hat at Goorin Brothers hat shop. Eventually we ended up at the gem of the neighborhood, Copenhagen Cyclery. Much riding of awesome bikes and talking of sustainable living with owner Brett and manager Phil ensued.

We all had lots of fun with the Velorbis Mobii.

Then we rode the Larry v. Harry Bullitt.  That bike got the best of me – I could not even ride it a few yards without bailing, lest I fall over.  Something about the steering is very odd, but Don and Greg managed to figure it out.

After the shop, we drank delicious cocktails at The Violet Hour speakeasy.  Our drinks: Swingin’ on the Lawn, The Etiquette, Georgia Peach, Tattooed Seaman, Tequila Old Fashioned, and Juliet and Romeo.

Next we bought wine and picnic food from The Goddess and Grocer and rode our bikes to watch To Catch a Thief in the park with bike friends Elizabeth and Dean, before finally returning home 12 hours after we set off.  A very good day!

Sadly, Sarah and Don – and their crazy foreign accents – are now heading back to Canada.  I’ll have to start planning my trip to Edmonton.  :)

You can see more fabulous pictures of the whole day from Sarah at Girls and Bicycles.

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Beautiful Bicycles: Kangaroo Family Bike

Allow me to introduce you to the Kangaroo, the most sophisticated cargo bike I’ve met. The Kangaroo is a Danish bike, designed specifically – and wonderfully – to carry children. Although I was initially skeptical of a bike made of such modern materials and with such a narrow purpose, after my test ride the Kangaroo now ranks near the top of my bike list.

the Kangaroo

The frame is aluminum 6061, the cargo area is impact-resistent and UV-stabalized polyethylene, and the cover is nylon. Good old-fashioned wood and steel is more appealing to me initially, but these materials go together to create a unique and utilitarian set-up that would not be possible without them. The cover, when fully set up, is wind, water and snow proof, although there is an additional tarp for heavy downpours and outside storage.  The convertible cover is impressively simple to operate, going from fully-enclosed to open-air in about ten seconds.

ready for action

There is only one frame size, but everything is adjustable to allow more than one member of a family to hop on and drive. In addition to the seat, the handlebar system is highly adjustable, able to go up, down, forward, backward and all around. The position of the bars in these photos is a little further from me than I would have them set up for long-term use. There are also several hand positions for comfort, kinda like cargo bike drop bars. The steering responsiveness is also fully adjustable, so the driver can set it how she or he feels most comfortable.

riding

The amazing part of this bike is the cargo area, designed to hold kids with many different set-ups.  The seats look super comfortable and a harness holds the kiddies in.  Here is the main set-up with two seats facing the front.

two seats

The seats are held on with these rails and quick-release levers.  Adjusting the seats take a little more time than adjusting the cover, but no more than a couple of minutes.  The seats can slide back and forth to adjust for necessary leg room or cargo.

seat rails

The seats can be turned around so one or both face the back.

facing backward

One seat can be removed to carry only one child in the center and keep a good balance of weight.

one seat

And the seats can lay totally flat for some nap time.

seat laying down

When turning, the front moves separately from the back and the back leans to the side slightly. The turning radius is amazing for a big trike like this.  I was going around and around in tight circles and weaving in and out of parked cars.  The bike always felt completely stable.  My least-favorite part of riding the De Fietsfabriek trike was feeling a bit topsy turvy over every grade change and pothole, even if it was mostly in my head.  With this bike I deliberately went over a lot of uneven pavement (there’s plenty to choose from in Chicago) and never had that feeling.

turning

tight turning radius

The front has hydraulic disc brakes for serious stopping power, although I cannot say how they feel stopping from high speeds, carrying a heavy load or while going downhill.

hydraulic disc brakes

The rear has a coaster brake, which by itself was suitable for my stopping purposes during the test ride. There is a seven speed internal hub – more than enough for Chicago. Again, I cannot say how this bike would feel up hill. I imagine it would be a hard slog, as it would with any cargo bike.

coaster brake, chain guard, 7-speed internal hub

Need even more carrying capacity? There’s a sturdy rack on the back. For keeping your clothes clean, there are fenders and a chain guard. LED lights in the front and rear are built-in. I prefer dynamo lights that automatically work without batteries when I pedal, but at least LED batteries last a long time.

rack, fenders, LED lights

There is a short-term parking brake on the handlebars. For long-term parking, the front kickstand is sturdy. The number you see on the front is also on the frame and serves as a theft deterrent or at least a way maybe to get the bike back if a thief tries to sell it.

ID number for theft, front kickstand

Overall, I’m highly impressed by this bike. The design is ingenious for kid-carrying, the ride is smooth and the handling is superb. The limitations of my short test ride without kids in the front means I cannot give complete information about using the bike, but I know that when the time comes for me to buy a family bike, I will be going back to test ride the Kangaroo again.

better than a Subaru

For more info, check out this Danish article via Copenhaganize that test rode several family bikes and ranked the Kangaroo as the best, giving it a 5 out of 5 rating. The article also calls it the Volvo of bikes and says it has a suburban look to it. Certainly, the Kangaroo is not sexy like the wood and steel Bakfiets, but that would be the least of my concerns while toting a kid around the city.

The company has another version, the Wallaroo, that is shaped like a two-wheeled bakfiets, but has a similar child compartment on the front. I’d be interested to try that version, as well.

As far as I know, the Kangaroo is carried by only one store in the USA and, lucky me, it’s in Chicago. The store is J.C. Lind Bikes.

{As always, we at LGRAB receive nothing for our reviews except the joy of spreading beautiful bike love.}

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Still Enjoying the Long Way Home

My commutes have been so lovely lately. Ever since I took the long way home for the Summer Games, I’ve continued taking the same relatively quiet route to and from work. Now I can’t believe that I never discovered this route for over two years.

The route is all calm two-lane streets with bike lanes. Both the car and bike traffic are much lighter and more considerate. Trees line the way, shading me from the hot sun. Kids wait on the corner for school buses. People walk their dogs.

Bonus: I pass right by one of the best cupcake shops in Chicago.

I feel like my commute is now more like a normal commute in a small or mid-sized city, instead of the hulking beast that is Chicago. The whole experience is totally worth the extra five minutes that my ride takes.

{I took these pictures today with my vintage Polaroid with expired film – that’s why they look funny}

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Evie – Future Batavus BUB Owner

Congratulations again to Evie of the lovely blog, Now for Then. She will very soon be the owner of a shiny new Batavus BUB courtesy of Fourth Floor Distribution.  Evie won the bike by completing two events for each of the three parts of the games.  However, she went far above and beyond merely completing the events; she incorporated the challenges into her life with enthusiasm and wrote about it all so wonderfully.  The fun radiates through her blog.  Here are Evie’s entries.

Bike date – ride with a friend and dress up.

Ride with your family.

Test ride a different kind of bike.

Go grocery shopping by bike.

Explore a new part of town by bike.

Go on a picnic by bicycle.

Evie, you and your bike Carmen are awesome!  I think she and Mr. Bub will get along very nicely.  :)

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Summer Games – Kari, Say Hi to a Cyclist

The LGRAB Summer Games have come to an end and we’re getting ready to announce the final winners tomorrow morning. Many thanks to everyone who played! We’re not done with Summer Games fun here, though. Over the next week, we’ll be posting entries that blog-less people emailed us and also putting together more recaps.

The first emailed entry comes from Kari in Minneapolis. This is such a fun story – enjoy!

Nicole and her custom bike

From Kari:

Yesterday, during my commute home, I complimented a woman on her unique bicycle while we were both stopped at a crossing on the Greenway. As we both took off and she receded into the distance, I realized that I could have asked her for her picture and used this as my second entry for the games! Her bike is super cool (evidenced by the photo below) and I was sure I wasn’t going to see anything that cool or unique anytime soon.

She was already pretty far ahead of me, but I decided that I was going to catch up with her anyway! I booked it hardcore in 3rd (my bike is a 3 speed) and I managed to catch up with her, happy but a little out of breath. She was super nice and obliged me with a photo. I told her about the contest and she said she read your blog, too! Her name is Nicole, and her bike was custom-made for her by her boyfriend, Matt, who works at Calhoun Cycle, a bike shop in Uptown.

It’s a really sweet bike in person (she’s sweet too, btw)! It’s not so clear in the photo, but the bike has a smaller front wheel and larger backwheel, plus a handmade chainguard that manages to look sort of steampunk in it’s handmadeness. I think he made the kickstand from scratch, too. Very awesome! Nicole and I geeked out bike-style about custom-made bikes and how hard it is to find European-style bicycles in America. She told me that she was really happy that I stopped her, since people normally ask her “why her bike is so wierd” instead of commenting on how INCREDIBLY AWESOME it is.

So here’s Nicole! Thanks guys!

{Thank you, Kari and Nicole! I love how this story brings two bike lovers – and LGRAB readers – together.}

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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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Beautiful Bicycles: Civia Loring

Chances are good that you’ve already heard of Civia Cycles, the relatively new company in Minnesota making beautiful utilitarian bikes. Civia’s motto is: Life’s better by bike. We agree!

I recently test rode the Civia Loring. The Loring is the most relaxed of the company’s five models. Civia markets the Loring for “tooling around town, cruising campus, or pedaling to the grocer.” This seems to limit the Loring more than necessary, as it is a sturdy utility bike and they make it sound like a cruiser.

The steel frame and sprung Brooks saddle make for a smooth ride, almost like my Dutch bike, but not quite as smooth. The pace of the ride is also similar to my Dutch bike. I had expected the Loring to be a little more peppy, but the bike demands smooth, steady and slower pedaling action. The swept-back handlebars are comfortable and allow for a somewhat upright riding position. The position is similar to that of my Rivendell Betty Foy.

Civia Loring in all her glory

The Loring has the unique combination (at least unique for city bikes) of an internally geared hub and disc brakes. Both of these components are excellent for riding in rain and snow. I rode the 3-speed version (there is also a 9-speed version). The first gear was useless during my test ride in flat Chicago, but could come in handy for people with hills or carrying heavy loads. Second and third gears felt good. Braking at normal speeds and in normal conditions felt no different than braking with the roller brakes on my Dutch bike.

Rear wheel with disc brakes

Front view of Civia Loring

Carrying capacity is outstanding, with integrated front and rear aluminum racks with bamboo slats. A spring prevents the front from swinging around when loaded. The fenders are also bamboo and work to keep you clean and dry in the wet weather. Other stand-outs are the chain guard to keep your pants and long skirts from getting greasy and mangled, and the two-footed kickstand to keep your bike sturdy and upright. Minus a couple of points for the lack of an integrated lighting system.

Integrated front rack with wood slats

Integrated rear rack with wood slat

Wood fenders and 26" wheels

Civia Loring

The Civia Loring is a high-quality and well-thought-out bike. If you are interested in a beautiful and dependable bike to get you and your stuff around town, you may want to add the Loring to your list of bikes to consider. As always, I recommend trying to test-ride as many different bikes as possible, before deciding which bike is best for you.

For other Civia Loring reviews, check out Ecovelo’s and Fortworthology’s great write-ups.

{As always, we at LGRAB receive nothing for our reviews except the joy of spreading beautiful bike love.}

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Roll Models: Melissa! Queen of the Suburbs

Today’s “Roll Model” is a familiar face here at LGRAB, our friend Melissa. This is a very special profile for me to post, not only because we’ve been friends since 3rd grade, but also because I feel a tiny bit responsible for putting this woman on the road. I gave her a vintage Bridgestone Kabuki (“Smurfette”) and talked endlessly about how much I love riding my bike. Then she started riding to work! She lives in the far suburbs (exurbs) of Chicago, so riding a bike around town is no easy feat.

Melissa and her bicycle

Describe your bicycling style in three words.

Defensive, chill, fun!

How long have you been riding your bike?

I’ve been commuting for about 2 years, off and on. But, you know, I had a bike when I was a kid. Aw, those days when we would just ride nowhere…

Why did you start riding your bike?

I first started when I was going to college. It was down the street and I rode my then-fiance’s bike there. I hadn’t ridden much since then, but I am a runner and I love pushing myself, so I thought that riding a bike would be good on my off-days. I bought a crappy Wal-Mart bike, but it started doing something weird and I didn’t know how to fix it. I freecycled it to someone, but it left me without a bike. Dot had an extra bike, so it was mine for my “19th” birthday.

I used to have this horrible commute on the highway. It was so boring and restricting (especially in the spring and fall) but we moved closer to my work, so the commute wasn’t as bad. I decided to start bike commuting because I wanted to be outside more, especially after reading one of Dot or Trisha’s blog posts – it looked so nice to start your day outside!

Melissa riding in a skirt

How does the bicycle fit into your life?

I love Smurfette. I love her because she is unique and I am unique. I love standing out from the crowd and Smurfette does that for me. In my area, there are mostly mass produced bikes or Lance Armstrong wanna-be bikes. Also, I like that Smurfette isn’t too complicated. I know some bikes have complicated gears or something but Smurfette is simple!

How long is your commute and what is the route like?

My commute is about 6 miles, a good mix of trail and street. I start on the trail, which is good because I can wake up slowly. Then I get on the street. There is a tricky part Where the Sidewalk Ends, with no shoulder and a curve, so it makes it hard for the cars to see me. That is the part that I repeat my little mantra, “I have a right to be here.” On some parts of the route, I am too scared to ride in the street, so I ride on the opposite side of the cars on the empty sidewalk.

How do you manage the clothing situation?

I sweat a lot, so I wear shorts or skorts and a t-shirt for my commute and change into my work clothes. I usually pack what I’m going to wear the next day and store it in my back basket. It’s tricky to pack the night before because I am moody, so I don’t always love an outfit I picked out the night before. Or sometimes the outfit didn’t look as good as I thought it did 11pm the night before. To smell fresh throughout the day, I have a whole bag of toiletries to help!

On the trail

What are people’s (friends, family, co-workers) reactions to you riding your bike?

Well, at first my fiance was against it because he thinks it’s dangerous. I don’t think it helps that I am a klutz in general: I fell down on my first commute this year. But he is starting to come around. He bought a bike and rides with me more. The other day, he proclaimed that he wants to try to ride to places more. I am definitely testing that!

My family is cool with it, too. They know I’m crazy and see this as another crazy endeavor. Funny story, when I was visiting my dad in Colorado, he mentioned that a lot people are all starting to ride their bikes now. He is a big Ford truck man, so I knew he wasn’t saying it in support. But I just said, “Join the revolution, Dad.” An awkward silence followed.

When my coworkers found out that I ride to work, they were really surprised. They think I’m crazy and that’s okay. During Ride Your Bike to Work Week, I sent an email out about it. I actually got a response from someone and we’re going to meet up on our commute soon!

You started a Facebook page to advocate for more bike lanes in your town, Aurora. What are the riding conditions like there and do you think it will improve?

Aurora riding conditions are not for commuting. We are lucky enough to have a bike trail, but that is really for recreation. It doesn’t go anywhere in town. There is one bike lane that lasts about ½ a mile. I still can’t figure out what the purpose of it is. It doesn’t go anywhere and it starts and stops randomly.

I am fairly confident that it will improve. I was interviewed by our local paper and the woman said that the mayor wants to add bike lanes but finds it hard to get support. I am thinking about planning a bike ride for some of us to ride in the streets. Maybe if we annoy the drivers enough, they will want a lane for us.

Aurora Commute Scenery

What do you like best about riding your bike?

There is so much to like, I can’t pick one favorite! I like the physical exertion, I like that I am lessening my global footprint, I like the wind in my hair on a hot day, I like seeing deer on my commute, I like high fiving the trees, whistling while I ride…

What do you like least about riding your bike?

I hate that it’s so dependent on the weather because the weather is so weird here. I also don’t like the lack of support from drivers. They can be such buggers! Lastly, I don’t like that the infrastructure of my town makes it difficult to ride into town.

Describe your dream bicycle outfit and destination.

I like to wear longer dresses that don’t fly up in the wind. I think it’d be cool to ride in New York City. I’d probably get in an accident watching all the other cyclists!

What advice would you give someone new to bicycling, especially women?

You just have to get out there and do it. You’ll figure out what works for you. Also, plan plan plan. You have to plan how you’re going because it sucks getting lost on your bike.

Have fun with it. You aren’t in a race, so don’t hesitate to stop and smell the flowers. For women especially, don’t flip off anyone that honks at you. You don’t know why they’re honking or who they are.

Also, learn how to work on your bike.

Smurfette - Melissa's loyal Bridgestone Kabuki

How did you get so awesome?

This is a silly question, Dottie! But I shall amuse you.

When a strict man and free-spirited woman love each other, they make a strictly free spirited baby. Haha!

I just try my best to be who I am. I have really great friends and family that amuse my whims. They are all really supportive of me and I’m really lucky. I haven’t had a friend who puts down any of my silly attempts to do something different and that’s really great because if they did, they’d be out anyway! Mostly, my fiance is my biggest fan. He’s the one who holds me when I cry and claps when I dance. If it weren’t for him, I’d be a lazy, chain-smoking slob. (Love you, boo. Can’t wait to be your wife.)

Pop quiz: I was with you the only time before adulthood I fell off my bike. What were we doing at the time?

Riding our bikes! Hehe. Honestly, I don’t remember. I remember when you fell but I can’t recall what we were doing. I know that my first memory of when I first fell off my bike, I lost my big toenail. [Editor’s Note: we were selling Girl Scout cookies!]

Melissa and her bicycle

Thanks, Melissa! You’re an inspiration to all – living and riding with class, style, humor and fun. :)

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Bicycle Picnic in the City

On Monday (hooray for holiday weekends) I rode a few miles, set up my blanket under a big tree by the lake, laid out my spread of fizzy drink and fresh berries, and read a novel for a couple of hours. Although the local news warned that because of the 90 degree temps everyone should stay in the air conditioning (sigh) the day was beautiful in the shade with the legendary Chicago wind keeping things cool.


The gorgeous location, so private and quiet, was amazing for a city as big as Chicago. The city has so many lovely spots for those who put forth the small effort to find them.

This is going down as an event for the Summer Games, go on a picnic by bicycle. Bicycle picnic was the first event I came up with when Trisha and I started planning the Games. I’m excited that it’s finally come around and I hope others take the opportunity to have a bicycle picnic of their own :)

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Smile at the Bicycles

Today there were so many bicyclists along my route, everywhere, becoming a real force in the movement of the city – it was beautiful. I found myself smiling the whole way home.

There are many more bicyclists this summer than last summer, and especially more people dressed in regular clothes. I’m bad at numbers, but I must have seen nearly 100 other bicyclists during my commute. On the way home I rode behind a guy in a suit (jackpot!), a woman in a skirt and another woman in stylish khakis and a button-down with pink flowers on her basket.

I hope people who don’t ride notice all of the bicycles, too. They must! Seems impossible to miss such a dynamic new part of the cityscape. I’m pretty sure I saw some smiles on the faces of pedestrians. Who can resist a smile at the bicycles? Especially those with wicker baskets, flowers, skirts and suits? :)

Have you noticed more bicyclists where you live? Or is it your first summer riding a bike? I’m really curious to hear what others’ experiences have been.

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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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Beautiful Bicycles: Pashley Sonnet Bliss (yes, again)

Today I stopped by Boulevard Bikes to visit the Pashley Sonnet Bliss. Lucky for me, one of the very few Pashley retailers in the U.S. is in Chicago. My love for Pashleys is no secret and I hope to own a Pashley one day. Of course, I also hope to own a bakfiets cargo bike, Brompton folding bike, ANT Light Roadster and Sweet Pea Little Black Dress, so… we’ll see.

Two years ago I seriously considered buying Pashley Princess Sovereign. I decided to buy my Dutch bike instead, but now I think owning both would not be too crazy.

A year ago, I rode and reviewed the Pashley Sonnet Bliss and fell in love. You can read all about the bike at the original review.

This is going down as “test ride a different type of bike than you normally ride” for the Summer Games. I swear the Pashley is different enough from my Oma to count! ;)

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I {Heart} My Bicycle

I love my Rivendell Betty Foy for her steel strength, smooth ride, quickness, lightness, easy step-through and good looks. Most of all, I love that she loves me back. It’s obvious!

Feel free to say what bike you ride and what you love, even if you’ve said it before. Let’s get some Friday good bike vibes going :)

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A Peek at the Batavus BUB

The Summer Games are getting really exciting, especially now that the prize-winning has begun! The Batavus BUB is our grand prize, very generously offered by Fourth Floor Distribution. I have several BUB photos that I’ll post periodically to keep you all motivated. Here, Mr. Dottie checks out a diamond frame BUB.

Mr. Dottie on the BuB

{Note that this is not the actual grand prize BUB, just one from the floor at Copenhagen Cyclery. The prize BUB is coming straight from Fourth Floor .}

Too bad Mr. Dottie is not allowed to win prizes – he and the BUB look pretty good together. Good luck to everyone else!

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Sunny Side Up

Given that Jerk Season has become our most commented post in record time, I figured I’d take this opportunity to highlight the sunny side of cycling. The sunny side is much bigger than the dark fringes!

On Wednesday, I had the great pleasure of meeting Cherilyn of Bike Bliss. She, her husband and their 3 sons were visiting Chicago as part of their mini Midwestern tour. A beautiful family all on bicycles! She and I broke away for a leisurely ride along the lakefront and a great discussion of how important the online community is for supporting people – especially women – who may not have a supportive network in their hometowns.

Cherilyn of Bike Bliss

Last Sunday, me, Greg, Amanda, Arielle and a whole fun group enjoyed a picnic dinner party in an urban park. My rhubarb-discovery summer continued with Amanda’s delicious homemade rhubarb pie.

Arielle and her bike Ruby

Amanda, her boyfriend and their bikes

Amanda's Rhubarb Pie

Amanda's awesome picnic basket

I’ll put these rides down as my “Schedule a bike date with a friend or partner — dress up!” event for the Summer Games :)

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Bicycling and Self Esteem

As Trisha discussed on Sunday, last week the women of Academichic hosted Dress Your Best Week, an event that encouraged readers to dress to highlight their best features in lieu of the usual dressing to minimize real or perceived “figure flaws.”  The discussion in the comments section about whether biking has created any “best” body parts was both funny and inspiring.  Strong legs and backside, toned arms (for those climbers) and waist, healthy lungs with fewer asthma problems – all of these benefits were listed by more than one person.  The consensus is that bicycling makes one feel better physically – no surprise there! – but also feel better about themselves.

In our bipolar society, where the most obese population in the world is inundated with dangerous images of “beauty” by the media and where “fit” people drive to the gym to run on the treadmill, millions are locked in a struggle with their bodies.  Even healthy and otherwise happy young women waste immeasurable time fixated on perceived flaws and self-loathing.  For evidence of this, read Courtney Martin’s Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, on the frightening new normalcy of hating your body.

Dressing my best means fun and comfortable clothes that make me happy

The solution is a lifestyle change that favors simplicity over excess and regards the human body as a tool rather than merely a decoration. A big part of such a lifestyle is active transportation, especially cycling. Riding a bicycle as daily transportation can radically shift both how you feel and how you feel about yourself. The benefits are the same that make sports so good for adolescents, especially girls.  Transportation bicycling is even better than sports, as there is no competition or pressure to perform, and cycling fits seamlessly into every day life. Free of the need to carve out time in your day to work out, you are simultaneously free of the self-loathing that accompanies the failure to do so.

When your body carries you several miles to and from work every day, you appreciate your body as a tool and a workhorse. When your lungs fill with air and your heart pumps energetically, you know your body is good, without having to examine it in the mirror, searching for flaws. If society declares that your body is not ideal because you are not skinny enough or muscular enough, or your hips or thighs are too big, you know that society is wrong because your body works for you admirably every day.

Bicycling is not a wonder drug or a total solution to the deeply entrenched problem of body image and self-esteem, but it is a small change that individuals can make to live a healthier and happier life. Plus, riding a bike is fun!

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Beautiful Bicycles: De Fietsfabriek Oma

I recently test rode the De Fietsfabriek Oma for three days and thirty miles. De Fietsfabriek is a Dutch bike company and the U.S. distributor is a lovely shop along my daily commute route, owned and run by Jon Lind. (A great interview with Jon is here.)

This is the first bicycle I have tested that matches the quality of my WorkCycles Azor Oma and has features that I wish my Oma had. In fact, my Oma has now been slightly altered to incorporate one of the De Fietsfabriek’s accessories – more on that later.

I’m not saying that this bike is a rival for my love, but I wouldn’t kick her out of bed for eating crackers.

Before I begin to discuss all of the components, I must point out the design touches that make this bike extra special. As shown below (the “FF” stands for “Fietsfabriek”) lettering can be die cast into the frame, between the top and bottom tubes. You can choose to spell your name or anything else you want. Now I totally want “Dottie” on my Oma!

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