Tag Archives: Beautiful Bicycles

Go Green Go Dutch Go Bike!

On Saturday morning, I participated in a group ride along the Lakefront Trail, Go Green Go Dutch Go Bike, put on by Active Trans and the Dutch Consulate in Chicago. The event did not attract a huge amount of people outside the Dutch bike community, possibly because of the threatening skies and mid 40’s temperature, but the fact that we have a Dutch bike community is pretty cool. Socializing among ourselves was fun, including groups from each of the city’s three Dutch/Danish bike shops, Copenhagen Cyclery, De Fietsfabriek and Dutch Bike Co. Chicago is the mecca of beautiful bike shopping in America.

I rode an Oma bike from De Fietsfabriek (full review soon) and my husband finally rode my WorkCycles Oma. Once he stopped trying to launch off, he caught on well to the Dutch bike riding style.

The Copenhagen Cyclery crew.

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Bicycling – A Best Kept Secret

Today was one of those perfect bike commuting days. The sky was crisp and clear, the sun shone brilliantly and the temperature was chilly enough to prevent sweating. I relished my ride along the Lakefront Trail, pedaling slowly and listening to the sweet jams of She & Him. Refreshing!

Also, I’ve had extra fun running into a few different people I know through this blog (howdy! you know who you are :))

On days like these, I can’t imagine why everyone does not ride a bicycle everywhere. This is like the best kept secret ever!

If you’re searching for some extra (not so secret) joy this weekend and live in Santa Barbara, check out this lovely Cycle Chic Fashion Show via Bike by the Sea. If you’re in Chicago, maybe I’ll see you at the Go Dutch Go Bike ride on Saturday with the Bicycle Goddess Brigade. Email if you’re interested in meeting up to ride together.

{I took all of these photos in Chicago’s Millennium Park, which I described in detail here.}

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Party Dress Ride

Ruffles? Check. High heels? Check. Bicycle? Hell yeah!

Anyone who knows Trisha would expect no less than for her to arrive at her birthday bash on Peugeot, looking perfectly chic and elegant. In the midst of the torrential downpours and flooding in Nashville this weekend, the sky cleared long enough to make this moment possible.

Girl can ride in heels like nobody’s business, and she is fast. No one should try to tell her that it’s silly or impractical to ride while dressed up. Nothing could be more simple, stylish and fun – plus, it’s much easier than walking in those heels!

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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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Pop and Culture

I rode my bike 15 miles on Saturday, wearing a dress and boots, naturally. The rain stayed away for my ride, although the fog and wind were quite harsh.  I pumped myself up by pulling out my iPod on the bike path. The thumping beats of Lady Gaga and Kate Nash made me push myself harder and I accidentally got quite a workout.  I cooled down comfortably after five minutes of sitting on a park bench among the falling cherry blossoms.

My destination was the Art Institute of Chicago downtown. I met up with Melissa, who took the train from the suburbs, to see the temporary Matisse exhibit. Six rooms of Matisse was pure joy! I love Matisse. The exhibit was especially fun with such a cool friend, up for games such as, “Which do you like better?” and “Was he mad at his wife when he painted that portrait?”

Melissa the Muse

A little bit of pop, a little bit of culture, a whole lot of biking – that’s my kind of day.

More awesome rainy city adventures today, but that story will have to wait. I hope everyone else is having a good weekend!

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How To: Bike Commuting in a Suit

The need to look professional is an excuse I hear often for not bike commuting. Please. Don’t try that one with me! As a lawyer, I often wear business suits to work and – yes – I ride my bike dressed up. Riding a bike in a suit is quite easy, especially if the weather is mild and the distance is not very great.  I have only a few tips:

  1. If the weather is hot, leave your tie, hosiery, jacket at work.
  2. If the weather is freezing, layer sensibly as I discuss here.
  3. If you wear pants, secure your cuff from hungry chains and crank arms, unless you want your fine Brooks Brothers suit ripped (sob).
  4. If you get hot while riding and want to remove your jacket, roll it before placing it in your pannier or basket to prevent wrinkling.
  5. Take it slow and steady.  No need to race the yoga-pant and lycra crowd.

If you follow these simple tips, riding in a suit will be a practical and simple course of action.  As a bonus, you’ll find yourself sitting up straighter and feeling super dapper.

Sure, you will definitely stand out, but is that a bad thing?  Drivers will pay more attention, while pedestrians and other cyclists smile at you more than usual.  Public perception is far from acknowledging biking in business suits as normal behavior, but that’s all the more reason to do it :)

An example of public perception: I attended my company’s Wellness Committee meeting this week to propose that we participate in Chicago’s Bike to Work Week (hosted by the Active Transportation Alliance) for the first time. (Challenge accepted, and I’m the Team Leader!) I passed around a flier advertising the ride and one of the young women immediately saw the picture below and cried out: “He’s riding a bike in a suit! Ha!” General tittering followed. I piped up that I often ride in suits.  “Really?”  “Yup.”  End of story.

Now at least all of us here know that riding a bike in a suit is not at all silly.  If you want to try riding in your work clothes, have at it!

Does anyone else out there ride in a suit, at least occasionally? Any other tips?  I almost never see other cyclists in suits.  I’ve appreciated the dapper/ladylike eye candy on the few occasions I have seen suits out there :)

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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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Heating Up

A fresh drink of water – my parched mouth would have appreciated that during the ride home today. The weather is suddenly extremely hot for Chicago in April, with temperatures in the 80’s the past couple of days. Soon I’ll have to start strategizing for freshening up at the office. After the long winter, I’m not complaining!

I rode along the Lakefront Trail again today. Irresistible with this beautiful weather! These photos are from my lunch break walk along the Magnificent Mile, where there’s a lovely public space for reading and people watching. I took these pictures with a 1979 Minolta XG-1 SLR camera that my mother-in-law pulled out of an old storage box for me. The camera is fully manual and a bit temperamental, with occasional leaks and a light meter that keeps dying, but it’s free, fun and film!

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To the Bike Path, My Happy Place

For the first time in a couple of weeks, I retreated to the lakefront bike path for my commute to and from work. Taking the car-free path adds about 1.5 miles to my normal 4.5 mile ride, but the beauty and stress-free commute is worth it when I’m not focused on getting to work quickly.

In stark contrast to the winter, when I have the path to myself, lots of people are out and about. Most of the cyclists on the path are lycra racer types, with a smattering of tourist on rental bikes, plus joggers, roller bladers and dog walkers. Despite the crowds (which have not yet hit summer congestion heights) I love taking the path.

As I’ve discussed before, without the path I never would have attempted to ride all the way downtown to work when I first started cycling. Even now that I am a seasoned city street rider, I still appreciate the protection and beauty of the bike path, where I feel safe enough to let my hair flow freely without a helmet* and just chill out without cars breathing down my neck.

{*Riding 10 mph on a Dutch bike cautiously without cars, I have decided that this is not risky. Please resist the urge to argue with me otherwise.}

I’m so lucky to have a happy place to retreat to when needed (thought not quite as luxurious as CYLRAB Adrienne’s happy place). :)

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Black and White Spring

Did I dress today to match the blooms? Maybe ;)

Happy to be reunited with Oma, I enjoyed sitting as straight and tall as possible on my Sunday ride, parading down the crowded Chicago streets. Everyone was out this weekend, including lots of people on bikes, though no other dresses that I saw. This spring feels like the most beautiful ever, but I think that’s because I’ve been slowing down to appreciate it more.

Sadly, when I arrived at my favorite shop, Haystack Vintage, this is all that remained.  Closed with no warning that I saw. After standing dumbly in front of the store for five minutes, Oma said, “Such is life” and brought me over to the bookstore.

Simple pleasures like riding a bike, wearing a pretty dress and smelling flowers make Life beautiful, even if life with a little “l” is not going perfectly.

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April Showers

Raindrops, say hello to bicycle.  You two are old friends by now.  With bicycle today are her sidekicks: helmet, lights, saddle cover and fenders.  For today’s extreme adventure with you both, I’m fortified with a tweed skirt, tights, boots and trench coat.  With these precautions, I will manage to arrive perfectly presentable for my 9 a.m. meeting.

Dear reader, if you are new to riding in the rain, but would like to try, check out our how-to guide. For more examples of how rain and bikes can go together, click on the “rain” tag below.  If you are an old pro, feel free to leave your tips and words of encouragement :)

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Coffee and Bicyclettes

Returning to work after a beautiful three-day weekend is never fun. Despite this, I’ve quite enjoyed the last two days of bike commuting. Aside from the usual driver tomfoolery, my trips have been easy and breezy.

Knowing of the forecast for thunderstorms this morning, I decided to ride anyway. Luckily, I made it to work five minutes before the sky opened up. Either way, I had a rain coat and would not have melted. Some people genuinely seem to think getting wet is a state of emergency. I did consider taking the L train – for about two seconds. The thought of starting my day without my bike ride, passively sitting, is miserable.

I crave the fresh air rush, the blood pumping rush. This is not the same as the adrenaline rush: nothing that extreme, simply a gentle reminder that I’m alive. My bike commute craving is physical, even stronger than my caffeine addiction. Certainly among the healthiest of addictions, though.  No need for the Surgeon General’s warning.   :)

{Speaking of warnings, you’ve got to check out this awesome post and the ensuing conversation at Copenhaganize. I hope the Active Transportation Alliance does not excommunicate me.}

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Simple Spring Enjoyment

Today’s agenda: Riding a bicycle, laying in the grass, soaking in the sun, watching a ladybug.

The best things in life are free, n’est-ce pas? :)

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I Never Get Tired of My Bike

Saturday began as a rainy mess. I ventured outside on foot for lunch and a chai latte, but scurried back inside to read all day. Suddenly, at 5 o’clock in the evening, sun began pouring through my living room window. This change in scenery demanded a sunset bike ride. As quickly as I could swap my lounging attire for a spring dress and grab my cameras, I was on Betty headed for the lakefront.

Two hours later, I was back on the couch for dinner and a Netflix movie, feeling much rejuvenated.

You’d think that after riding my bike to and from work every day, I might get tired of cycling. Yet I savor the weekends for the time it allows me to ride my bike. I can’t explain why, but I never get enough of my bike.

Anyone else constantly turn to your bike for amusement, even after a full week’s commute?

p.s. To the girl who rode by and said, “Let’s Go Ride a Bike!” – Hello! In the second before you called out, I was thinking, “What a pretty girl on her bike.” :)

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Warms My Heart

Happy April First!

Chicago’s temperature climbed to a high of 83 degrees today! While cycling the Lakefront Trail for my morning commute, I was compelled to pull over, awestruck by the gentle sunrise. Work could wait ten minutes.

I spent my lunch hour on a park bench reading War and Peace and eating the most fabulous cupcake. (Now that I’ve discovered the cupcake boutique More not far from my office, my addiction can only get worse.)

All of this beauty really warms my heart. What a wonderful place this world can be.

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Beautiful Bicycles: Velorbis Scrap Deluxe

When my friend Ms. Elle called to ask if I wanted to meet up at Copenhagen Cyclery after work, I was quick to agree.  She has been loyal to her vintage bike Cilantro, but decided to explore less “rickety” options.

While she quickly fell in love with the Velorbis Studine (they make a hot couple – see above), I flirted with the Velorbis Scrap Deluxe, a bike I’d never ridden before.

The Scrap Deluxe’s stand-out feature is the set of cream Schwalbe Fat Frank tires.  Aside from being eye-catching and unique, the tires deliver a soft ride over even the most rutted Chicago streets.  There is a bit more drag and weight with these tires, but not as much as you’d think.  Overall, a fair exchange for someone interested in comfort and class.

The bike comes with a Brooks sprung saddle, which breaks in quickly and provides the ultimate in comfort for both short and long rides.  Plus, a Brooks saddle makes any bike look better: an ugly bike gets a distinguished touch of class and a beautiful bike is pushed over the edge into dreamy elegance.  This is a case of the latter, obviously.  Matching Brooks leather grips and a leather mudflap complete the look.

The five speed internal Sturmey Archer hub makes riding on hills, in headwinds and carrying cargo manageable.  I’ve heard here and there that Shimano is a slighty better quality hub, but I don’t have enough experience with Sturmey Archer to compare it to my Oma’s Shimano.

Finally, this handsome Dane has all the attributes that make this style of bike so practical and appealing.  Front and rear integrated generator lights shine brightly when you pedal, no batteries required.  The rear light remains shining even when stopped for a few minutes.  Internal brakes and gears keep the ride safe and smooth in rain and snow.  Fenders and mudlfaps protect your clothes and shoes.  The front wicker basket and rear rack carry lots of cargo – I recommend a bouquet of flowers and a case of beer, respectively.   The shiny “briiiiiiing” bell is tres charmant.

As with all Velorbis bikes, the seating position is straight up, and legs push down and only slightly forward to pedal.  This seems to require a bit more effort than pedaling my Oma, especially when starting from a complete stop, because I can’t take advantage of my thigh muscles as much.  However, I have to attribute this to my personal riding comfort.  After a year and a half of riding Oma, my body is used to pedaling her and my leg muscles have developed in response to her particular needs.

Before testing the Scrap Deluxe, I assumed the ride would be similar to the Retrovelo Paula, since both are elegant city bikes with Fat Frank tires.  I was wrong.  The rides are totally different.  The Scrap Deluxe has a smoother and sturdier ride, more akin to my Oma, while the Retrovelo Paula is sportier.

As always, I highly recommend that anyone considering a bike like this test ride as many as possible.  Only you can decide which is the best choice for you.

In North America, you can order the bike from the lovely Copenhagen Cyclery. I think they’re currently the only NA dealer, but please correct me if I’m wrong. The price is $1,895 (If you think that is too expensive for a bike and own a car, please state the cost of your car when commenting ;) ) For those who really need a more budget-friendly option, Velorbis has a new Studine Balloon in gorgeous cream for around $1200 – similar to the Velorbis Studine Classic.

One last note about the Velorbis Scrap Deluxe – riding this bicycle is sure to get you noticed   ;)

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

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Betty Foy’s Bloom

Betty Foy’s bloom: the surest sign of spring.

Last week, the awkward weather felt like neither winter nor spring.  Suddenly this week – spring!  Granted, it’s the chilly and rainy spring, not the sunny and flowery spring, but beggars vs. choosers, etc.

You may have noticed that this photo is from a warm day last month, not from today.  Betty and I were together both days and that’s pretty much how outside looked today, so close enough.

I was so cheerful about spring, I took a joy ride during my lunch break, in addition to my 10-mile commute.  Betty and I flew up and down and all around downtown, Navy Pier, Grant Park, crunching both the city gravel and the lakefront sand beneath her tires.  Riding Betty felt like a dream, a cloud, a scoop of gelato.  And fast – vroom vroom!

For once after lunch, I did not want to curl up and take a nap.  A small miracle.  Does anyone else steal away during the 9-to-5 for a ride?  I often go for long walks, but not rides.  That will change as the season does, I’m sure.

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No Winter Nostalgia

Yesterday I was feeling nostalgic for winter. The sun – it shined! The sky – it blued! The temperature – it climbed! Suddenly I became anxious for the missed opportunities as winter slipped away. I should have taken more icy pictures and, I don’t know, made snow angels and stuff. After work I decided to take the Lakefront Trail for the first time in a couple of weeks to document and appreciate the fading winter.

Once I got there, however, any nostalgia I felt for a fading winter vanished. Surprise – winter was still going strong, complete with deep snow on the beach and fierce freezing wind. (Meeting fellow bike commuter and reader Vince by chance was fun – hi Vince!)

My optimistic outfit of only a cardigan and tights with my dress meant that I felt pretty much like this abandoned apple. Brrrr.

By the time I arrived home, I was cursing winter, and all was right with the world. Nostalgia for Chicago winter is just not natural.

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