Tag Archives: Chicago

J.C. Lind Bike Co. and Pilen Preview

I know I’m spoiled by Chicago’s collection of bike shops and unique bicycles. The least I can do is take full advantage and share my experiences through this blog.

In that spirit, below is a photo of me saying goodbye to a Pilen this afternoon, after a three day test ride. I’ll provide a full review here soon, but spoiler alert: I loved it!

(As an aside, today was 90 degrees and a black t-shirt is great for disguising sweat spots. I’m going to regret saying this in a few months, but – damn, who else is ready for fall? I’m so tired of sweating.)

Anyway, back to the Pilen. It’s a Swedish bike, the newest addition to J.C. Lind Bike Co.

J.C. Lind is a sponsor of LGRAB, but I’m saying this as a friend and bike-lover: any bicyclist in Chicago who has not visited the shop and gotten to know Jon Lind is missing out.

If you’re in the city, you really should stop by and chat with Jon, test ride some bikes, and check out the cool accessories. People always ask where they can buy a Nutcase helmet or Basil pannier like mine – that’s where! The shop is in Old Town, on Wells Ave between North and Division. If you’re far from Chicago but looking for a cargo bike or unique city bike, you can visit his shop virtually. The impressive list of bikes includes Christiana, Batavus, Gazelle, Linus, Civia, Golden Lion, Kangaroo, Yuba and Pilen.

Jon is so friendly and he’s in this business for the love of bikes and bike culture. He really cares about bringing the best cargo and city bikes to Chicago – just what our city needs!

If you stop by, tell him Dottie says hi. :)

I’m glad this blog gives me an excuse to try out bikes. Someone tell me I’m not the only one who lusts after new bikes, knowing full well that I have neither the money nor the space for any more.

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Bicycle Daydreams

Do you ever daydream while riding your bicycle? A benefit of taking side streets to work is the opportunity to let my guard down and allow my mind to wander a bit.

One of my favorite daydreams is of being in Paris. Since visiting last year, I consider Paris my favorite city (okay, Chicago, maybe my second-favorite city). The best way to evoke Paris is by listening to Coeur de Pirate while riding my bike and stopping for lunch at Leonida’s Chocolate Cafe for savory crepes.



I love the little patio with chairs and tables that look just like cafes in Paris.

Trisha sent me the Coeur de Pirate album and it is the sweetest, most magical music you could listen to while riding your bike. It makes me feel like I’m the protagonist in a cute French movie, even though I have no idea what any of the lyrics mean and ignoring the fact that they are from Montreal.

Here is my favorite song to listen to while cycling, Fondu Au Noir, with a handy translation.

When I’m not daydreaming about Paris, I’m very happy to be in Chicago. Yesterday I had a very Chicago evening, meeting up with some of my biking ladies, drinking Goose Island beer, eating pizza, and watching Ferris Bueller (John Hughes’ love letter to Chicago) on a rooftop with a beautiful view of the skyline. The occassion was a special bike-in movie event to benefit West Town Bikes. I don’t have any photos, but it was a lovely evening, despite the light rain.

What do you daydream about while bicycling?

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Happy Friday!

TGIF! It’s hard to believe that this is the last weekend of August already.

In order to enjoy the remaining days of summer as much as possible, yesterday I signed up for the Four Star Bike Tour on Sunday, which is an annual ride hosted by and benefiting the Active Transportation Alliance. In the past, I’ve volunteered at the ride, but never biked it myself.

There are four route options, 12/21/35/65 miles, and I plan to do the 35-mile route, which will be 50 miles of riding when I add in the trip from home and back. Sounds like a lovely way to see the city:

You’ll travel through many of the same Chicago neighborhoods as the Chicago Ramble, also riding through Bronzeville, Hyde Park, South Commons and the Near South Side. You’ll explore Garfield and Humboldt Parks before following Oakwood and Drexel Boulevards south to soak up the beautiful, historic Kenwood and Hyde Park neighborhoods. In Hyde Park, you’ll head east through the Midway Plaissance, and then continue south on Woodlawn to Jackson Park where you’ll pick up the Lakefront Trail for the return trip.

I’ll have to dig in the back of my closet to pull out my only cycling-specific outfit of padded shorts and jersey (wool, of course!).

Does anyone else have special bicycling weekend plans?

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A Sorry Excuse for a Bike Route

One of the most popular and vital bike routes from downtown Chicago to neighborhoods on the north side is Lincoln Avenue. I’ve read that 25-40% of the rush hour traffic on Lincoln is people on bikes. I certainly see lots of bicyclists along the way.

One day last week I decided to take this route to work, since I was on a tight schedule and Lincoln Avenue is by far the most direct and quickest route. Perhaps I have been spoiled by my super long and winding but super calm route of side-streets, but I was appalled by the situation on Lincoln Avenue. The cars sped from red light to red light, the huge intersections were like gladiator trials for bicyclists and pedestrians, car doors flung open left and right, buses heaved, and large trucks blocked the bike lanes on every block.

At one point, I was going straight through an intersection with a green light and a driver turned left riiiight in front of me. I looked at him in horror and saw that he was holding a document up in front of his face, reading it. What the what?!? And last Friday, my husband was side-swiped by a driver who veered into the bike lane. His pannier bore the brunt of the impact (with a big mark to show for it) and he was able to keep his bike upright. The driver had the decency to stop, apologize, and ask if he was alright, but maybe drivers could LOOK FIRST?? Pretty simple.

I don't *think* I'm invisible

Greg is definitely visible

All this on a popular marked bike route, which is a joke (on us bicyclists). Despite the fact that people on bikes make up a substantial amount of the traffic, all we get is a strip of paint dangerously close to parked cars and some sharrows.

Door zone

Our beautiful bike lanes

If Chicago is going to be anything near a world-class bicycling city, this key route from the northside to downtown must be improved. While a buffered or protected bike lane would be the bees freakin’ knees, I know that will not happen. I would be content with colored bike lanes that extend through intersections, bike boxes at stop lights, fewer potholes, red light cameras, enforcement of cars parked in bike lanes, and attention-getting signage*. Such improvements should not be an afterthought. If a street is not safely servicing up to 40% of its daily users, the street is a failure.

Until then, I’ll be on the side streets, getting to work 15 minutes later but in a much better mood. And here, hoping that loud complaints will somehow beget real change.

*Something like, ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO FLING OPEN YOUR CAR DOOR WHEN YOU HAVE NOT LOOKED TO SEE IF THAT ACTION WILL KILL ANYONE??????? I’m just brainstorming here, but you get the idea.

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More Chicago News

Mayor Emanuel and I have something in common: we both took the Brown Line to work yesterday. I took it because threatening thunderstorms kept me off my bike and the Mayor took it to demonstrate how great Chicago’s public transportation system is.

“Got on the train and got to work in 30 minutes, short order. That is a competitive advantage for the city,” he said.

Next he should ride his bike to work. Would that be something? I think so! His people should call my people and we can work it out. (News story here)

Unfortunately, there was also tragic news yesterday.

A 30-year-old man, Fredrick Kobrick, was killed in a hit-and-run crash while riding his bike in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood Sunday night. Based on a photo of the scene, it appears he was riding in a bike lane. The man driving the car was apprehended and has been charged with reckless homicide, aggravated DUI, and leaving the scene of a fatal accident. (News story here)

Yesterday, an 86-year-old woman, Coral Kier, was killed in my neighborhood while crossing the street in a crosswalk by a left-turning cab driver. No word yet on charges against the driver. (News story here)

My thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims.

I chose to highlight these stories because I believe it’s important to recognize the good and the bad relevant news, and to recognize the victims, not to make bicycling or walking in the city seem especially dangerous. (Nearly every day, it seems, there are news stories about car drivers and passengers being killed in crashes.) I hope there will be justice for these senseless deaths, what little justice there can be, and further examination by the City of how it can make its residents safer.

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Why I Ride a Bike

The weather is warm and sunny, the flowers are blossoming, and the traffic is calm on my quiet side street route. Riding my bike is so much nicer than squeezing onto the L train or being trapped in a car.




Even if the rest of my day is not so great, at least I know that I will enjoy my commute to and from work. (Even if I cut my head off with my self-timed photos :)) That’s why I ride my bike. Most assume it’s an environmental or health statement, but those factors are secondary to having a happy commute. If it were not enjoyable, I would not do it.

Why do you ride a bike?

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Chicago’s “culture of speeding and reckless driving”

From an article in the Trib today:

About 80 percent of vehicle-pedestrian crashes in Chicago occur at intersections and commonly involve people crossing the street with the walk signal, according to a new city study.

As a frequent pedestrian in Chicago, these statistics are not surprising. What’s noteworthy is that the city commissioned a special study on pedestrian safety and plans to do something about it.

The exceptionally high rate of pedestrians being struck, predominantly by turning vehicles, while they are inside the presumed safe haven of crosswalks was an unexpected finding that will prompt increased police enforcement of the No. 1 cause of pedestrian accidents — drivers failing to yield, officials said. More traffic safety technology is coming too, they said.

The hit-and-run rate in Chicago is double the national average, with 33% of drivers leaving the scene of a pedestrian crash (44% for crashes that result in death).

“It’s unbelievable, and it’s a real crime,” Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein said. “I think we have this culture of speeding and reckless driving.”

I agree that there is a culture of speeding and reckless driving. I rarely see drivers slow down or stop for pedestrians even in school zones.

Improving the safety of pedestrians by working to change the culture of speeding and recklessness will naturally improve the safety of bicyclists. Bicyclists also must make sure to yield to pedestrians (which does not mean simply swerving around them in the crosswalk).

Read the rest at the Chicago Tribune.

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Newcity Cover Story: the Martha Stewart of Chicago biking

Last week John Greenfield interviewed me for a cover story in Newcity, a Chicago news and arts weekly. I enjoyed chatting about bicycling with him over a beer and the story came out quite nicely. Apparently, I am the Martha Stewart of Chicago biking! I want business cards with that title.

One funny thing about the paper layout, though. The Pitchfork bike cut-out is grouped with two photos of me and before reading the interview (which mentions the objectification issue), people may think it’s also a representation of me. My co-workers were joking, Is that you after a few drinks??

You can read the full text and see more photos at Grid Chicago, where John blogs with Steve Vance about transportation issues. If you’re in Chicago, you can pick up a paper copy at any pink Newcity dispenser around the city.

Thanks, John!

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The Art of Enjoying the Ride

The summer heat has (temporarily?) given way to cooler air – 61 degrees this morning! It’s the perfect time to enjoy a refreshing ride on Chicago’s Lakefront Trail.

The fresh air off Lake Michigan, scenic views of the skyline, and escape from city traffic combine to make the trail the most pleasant way to get downtown.

As summer winds down, don’t forget to stop to smell the roses and take the long way home.

If you are lucky enough to have such a beautiful route option, why would you not take it, at least every now and then? Although it’s slower, time enjoyed is never time wasted.

So in this last month of summer, remember that biking in the city is not only about efficiency, but also about feeling good and appreciating the little things in life.

{This post is dedicated to Mr. Dottie, who never takes the long sloooooow way home, unless I’m with him. ;)}

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Fan-tastic

This is a post about a fan.  F-A-N.  Other corny title options: #1 Fan, Office Fan-tasy, Fan-cy Pants.  So feel lucky you got the title you got.

As I’ve mentioned before, Chicago summers can be brutally hot.  At least for a few weeks.  Long enough to make me miss winter a little bit.

During those hot weeks, I wear gym-type clothes during my commute (not that I ever step foot in a gym, but you know what I mean).  I sweat a lot, so wearing proper work clothes is a bad idea.

summer heat commuting outfit

When I get to the office, I change into my skirts and suits.  Until last month, I had to use an Action Wipe or something similar to cool down with before changing.

That’s before I got my fan.

A colleague, who happens to work for facilities, noticed me fanning myself with a sad piece of paper after arriving to work and later magically appeared with a sleek floor fan.

sorta like this one

Since then, the fan has been stationed next to my desk. I turn it on first thing in the morning. After 3 minutes in front of the fan, I am 95% better, no action wipe needed. It’s pretty amazing. And then 15 minutes later the fan is off and I’m wrapped in my pashmina because the air conditioning in the building is so cold.

How do you cool down in the summer? Anyone else discover the power of the fan?

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In Search of the Most Peaceful Commute

While I wait for Chicago to be covered in gloriously safe bike infrastructure, I have to work with what I’ve got. As some mentioned in the comments to yesterday’s post, small side streets can provide a calm and safe way to travel through the city – no special bike infrastructure needed. Using such routes to get from one place to another may require practice, familiarity and extra time, but it can be well worth the trouble for those who value peacefulness above efficiency.

Over the past two years, when it no longer made sense to take the car-free Lakefront Trail on a regular basis due to the location of my new office, I have been adjusting my 5-mile commute route from the efficiency side of the scale to the peacefulness side of the scale.

Happy to be cycling on Chicago's peaceful side streets this week

I started with the most obvious and direct bikeable route: a left and a right and I was there (Lincoln to Wells). Most of the ride consisted of a diagonal street with either sharrows or bike lanes the whole way, popular with both bikes and cars. Unfortunately, vehicle traffic moved quickly and there were lots of trucks, buses and giant six-way intersections.  After a while I grew tired of the traffic and aggression, such as drivers shouting at me to get out of the way or just generically being awful. The stress was really getting to me.

Looking for an alternative, it occurred to me last summer to sacrifice some efficiency and try taking slightly calmer streets. The new route amounted to a right, left, right, left and right, instead of a straight diagonal (basically, Southport to Armitage to Wells). I still had to deal with congestion, often riding down the bike lane past grid-locked vehicle traffic, but the cars moved considerably slower, the intersections were smaller, and the bike lanes more consistent.

This route served me well for a year, but lately I have been craving a more peaceful commute. Participating in the super calm Critical Lass rides helped me realize that Chicago has lots of small, tree-lined, neighborhood streets to ride, as long as one is willing to meander: these magically quiet streets have a tendency to end or become one-way suddenly. For the past few weeks, I’ve been experimenting with different side streets, backtracking and exploring a lot.

As of today, I’ve finally discovered The Calmest Route from My Neighborhood to My Office (patent pending). My route is now: right, left, right, left, right, left, right, left, right, left, right, left. That is no exaggeration: I typed while visualizing my ride with my eyes closed.

The difference in my stress level from my first commute route to my current commute route is night and day, with my current route being virtually stress-free. Of course, this comes at a cost. First, it takes about 10 minutes longer than more obvious route. Second, the potholes are especially bad on side streets. Third, this route probably won’t be an option during the winter, when side streets are neglected by snow plows. Finally, I have to be extra cautious at each block’s four-way stop sign because drivers in neighborhoods love to roll through stops, unless there’s another ton vehicle staring them down. Despite these costs, the calmness of the route is worth it to me.

I wish I’d thought of adjusting my route like this a long time ago, but I guess such a paradigm shift is obvious only in hindsight.

I know this kind of meandering commuting is not for everyone, but I’m curious: does anyone else seek out the most peaceful routes possible?

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Optimism

As someone who rides my bike everyday, I get a lot of questions and comments about bicycling in the city.  When people tell me (so many people do, especially women!) that they wish they could bike BUT they do not feel safe and are afraid of being hit by a car, I do not launch into a stump speech about the benefits of bicycling.  I may say something like, “It’s not so scary once you learn the rules of the road and get used to riding in traffic,” but I always say something like, “Yeah, it can be scary, I know.”

Although I’m a passionate advocate for transportation bicycling, I have to be understanding and realistic during those conversations.  I don’t think it’s right to pressure or judge people when it comes to bicycling because the transportation system is not set up for us.  While bicycling may be safer than driving a car statistically, statistics won’t help people feel less afraid as speeding SUVs whiz by them.

All of this is to say – I am optimistic that the day will come when I can respond to people with something like, “Oh, you should try out the network of protected bike lanes.  Just take X street to Y street straight into the Loop and you’ll be physically separated from cars the entire time.”  Or, even better, I’m optimistic that the day will come when I won’t have to respond at all because the first reaction to the idea of bicycling in Chicago won’t be FEAR.

From whence does my optimism spring?  From the direction the city is going in with bicycle infrastructure.

Today was the ribbon cutting ceremony for Chicago’s first protected bike lane and the announcement of the next location to get a protected bike lane: Jackson Boulevard from Damen to Halsted.  This is all part of new Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan for 100 miles of protected bike lanes during his first term.  The Mayor is working with new Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein to get this done.  (Read an interesting interview with Commissioner Klein at Grid Chicago.)

I know I should not get too excited about this plan because it’s only the beginning and there will surely be opponents.  But I’m choosing optimism.

What do you think?  Do you feel optimistic for the future of bicycling where you live?  How do you react when people tell you they’re too afraid to bike?

 


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Enjoying Bike Summer at the Seersucker Ride

Lately it seems I’m posting more about group rides and events than about my daily biking.  While I continue to ride my bike to work and everywhere else, the high points of my biking life have been special events like Critical Lass, the Women-Who-Bike Brunch, my Cupcake Ride and the Tour de Fat.   There is simply no better way to enjoy Chicago in the summer than outside, under the sun, on my bicycle, chatting with nice people.

Now I’m adding  the Seersucker Ride to that list, which I joined last Sunday.  The ride was co-organized by the BBC (British Bicycles of Chicago), the Slow Bicycle Society and Velo-Francais.  Sort of like a Tweed Ride for the summer heat.

There was an excellent turn out of excellently turned-out folks.  :) We met at a neighborhood watering hole for starter refreshments.  I chose a summer shandy to deal with the heat wave weather.  (I refuse to listen to anyone who points out that alcohol dehydrates!)

Then we headed to beautiful Humboldt Park for a picnic.  By far the classiest picnic I’ve ever seen, with table cloths, mini strawberry shortcakes, and fresh mixed mint juleps!



Fun bicycle events provide such a friendly and relaxed environment.  I enjoyed chatting with old friends and meeting new people.

Everyone was dressed so nicely, very casual chic.




After the picnic, we meandered slowly to another watering hole, where I chose to remain for a couple of hours before heading home.  :)

Oh, yeah, and there was this: 

Take that fixies and BMX bikes!  He was actually only one of five penny-farthing riders there and three of them were women.  (I can’t believe I forgot to get a picture!)

Ash gave the Pennyfarthing a try, but I am too much of a chicken for something like that.

Many thanks to the organizers of the Seersucker Ride.  Everyone had a great time!

Who else is enjoying a bike summer?

 

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Tour de Fat Comes to Chicago

On Saturday, I went to New Belgium’s Tour de Fat festival during its one-day stop in Chicago. For those who are not familiar with the Tour, it’s basically a gloriously goofy celebration of bike culture and craft beer. It also raises money for bike non-profits local to each city – the highly deserving West Town Bikes for Chicago.

My festival story must begin with this sneaker bike. Yup, sneaker bike, a beautifully grotesque creature. Too much fun, right? Yeah, because after doing one lap around the ring, I wiped out spectacularly (kinda like that guy in the background). Totally worth it.

That was after Megan and I tried and failed to ride an extremely odd tandem – if you could even call it that.

I wasn’t the only one checking out the franken-bikes. Ash and Rico also took their turns.

Later at the main stage, there was a slow bike race. As in, whoever gets to the finish line last without stopping wins.  I think Coco and I could have been real contenders, but she was too lazy to try.

Apparently, she has nothing to prove. Instead we drank beer served to us by Stephanie (thanks!).

Jami twisted amazing balloon creations (not as deviously as she looks in this photo).

And others wore them very chicly.

Mr. Dottie posed for a rare photo.

Finally, a group of us headed to nearby Lula Cafe for lunch and drinks, which was the perfect way to end a hot day.

The Tour de Fat is always lots of fun, plus it’s an unusual and inexpensive way to spend the day outdoors while benefiting deserving non-profits. Highly recommended!

I plan to be there again next year, just like I was last year and the year before.

Check to see if the Tour de Fat is coming to your area. If so, you should put it on your calendar!

Stay tuned for Trisha’s story of the Nashville Tour de Fat next week!

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Fresh Bike Commute

Even though I bike to the same office at the same time day after day, my commute rarely feels stale.  Either the city throws something new my way or I take it upon myself to try something new.  Today my bike commute was a mix of both.  I enjoyed fresh air, fresh bike lanes, fresh cupcakes and a fresh route.

The cool breeze made it comfortable to bike in my work clothes for a change.  It was nice to go straight to my office without stopping by the bathroom to change.

Along the way, I noticed that the bike lanes along a large section of my route were freshened up with new paint and decals.  They are much more noticeable now.  Turns out, the Alderman re-striped all the bike lanes in his ward by making the project a budget priority.  Nice!

On my way home, the siren song of  Sweet Mandy B’s lured me.  I just had to stop to get a cupcake.  Or two.  They did not last long.

After my massive sugar consumption, I continued my ride on super quiet side streets.  I’ve been experimenting with a complicated route of small streets the entire way to and from work.  More on this new route soon.

See?  Never a dull moment.  My life is full of action and adventure.  :)

Anything new and fresh going on with your bike commute?

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July Women-who-bike Brunch

July’s women-who-bike brunch in Chicago on Sunday was a lovely little affair.  (I believe most of our ladies were resting up after the annual overnight L.A.T.E. Ride.)  We set up a picnic on the banks of a river just off a recreational bike path.  Everyone brought a little something to share and there were lots of fresh berries, homemade pastries, and refreshing spiked drinks.


The weather was a bit hot and there was a flat tire at the end, but nothing that the ladies could not handle.

It was so lovely to meet new people and to see familiar faces!

Are you in Chicago and interested in joining us?  Email me at LGRAB [at] letsgorideabike.com.  All women-who-bike (or are-considering-biking) are welcome!

More events coming up:

  • Women-who-bike Happy Hour: July 20, 6:00, Blue Line Lounge
  • Tour de Fat: This Saturday, July 16, Palmer Square
  • Seersucker Social: This Sunday, July 17, 1:00, Streetside Bar
  • Critical Lass: Thursday, July 21, 6 pm, Polish Triangle

Hope to see you there!

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A Chicago Welcome Home Storm

This morning I was excited to jump back on my bike after a week’s vacation in North Carolina.  I set out bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with the sun shining down on me.

A couple of miles into my ride, the air began to look strangely green.  Suddenly, all at once, the wind picked up massively, rain poured, lightening struck and thunder pounded.  A small branch fell down behind me.  It was freaky!

I was on a quiet neighborhood road and I started riding toward a bigger street in hopes of finding shelter at a coffee shop.  I didn’t get far before I had to dismount and scurry to the sidewalk.  I stood next to a wind-blocking building for about five minutes, getting soaked.  (Later I read the wind was up to 75 MPH.)  When the wind and rain did not let up, I scurried down the sidewalk to the end of the block, where I found a bank lobby to duck into (the bank was closed but the lobby was open for the ATM).  There I watched the downpour and lightening for 30 loooong minutes.

When the rain let up slightly, I decided to bike the 2 miles back home, drop off my bike, change clothes and take the L train to work.  I did not want to ride all the way to work downtown in the lightening.  I finally arrived at the office at 10:00 – a not-so-great way to start back after vacation.  Luckily, I have understanding co-workers.

I’ll take this morning’s “adventure” as a harsh reminder to CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST BEFORE LEAVING.  Also, as a WELCOME HOME, SUCKER, from Chicago.

At least I’m not the only one who got stuck in the storm.  Anyone else get caught by surprise lately?  Nah, I’m sure you’re all way too smart for that.  :)

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A Delicious Cupcake Ride!

Ride to eat cupcakes, eat cupcakes to ride.

On Saturday, that’s exactly what a celebratory group of 18 bicyclists did, navigating 8 miles to visit 3 bakeries and consume countless cupcakes.  All in the best summer finery, of course.

After setting off from Wicker Park, we stopped first at Alliance Bakery, my personal favorite of the day.  Such delicious and beautiful confections!

The group got a little sidetracked by a very pink sidewalk sale at a boutique next door…

But we soon got back to serious cupcake business.

Next we biked through Wicker Park and Bucktown and across the river to Roscoe Village for our second stop, Bleeding Heart.

There we visited with a bicyclist who would have joined us for the ride, if she had not had to work at the bakery that day.  Hi!  :)

We took a break at a park across the street, as we began to realize that eating more than one cupcake in a row can be quite a challenge.

Then after riding through Roscoe Village, Lakeview and Lincoln Park, we arrived at our final bakery, Sweet Mandy B’s.  A final round of cupcakes was ordered, because we’re hardcore like that.

Finally, we parked ourselves at the beautiful rose garden in nearby Oz Park for a picnic of … cupcakes!  And champagne!  A lovely combination.

Merci Beaucoup to my partner in crime, Sara.  I literally could not have done it on my own, without her enthusiasm and route-mapping skillz.  And mucho gracias to our adorable yet badass corker, Ash.

Thanks to everyone who came out!  You’re all awesome!

What kind of ride should we do next?  Perhaps some gelato and ice cream?  Perhaps!

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June Critical Lass – all lasses welcome!

Chicago’s second Critical Lass ride rolled out last Thursday, this time with a group of nearly 30. Like the inaugural ride in May, the ride was so much fun. I love it!

As you can see in my photos below, it’s a women’s ride, plain and simple. All lasses are welcome! I guarantee you will be greeted by the friendliest group of women in Chicago.

(Saying goodbye to mom)










Chatting with others and riding side-by-side was easy due to the super calm route.  After about an hour, we ended at a bar in Logan Square, where I stayed for a couple of hours, enjoying beer and buffalo wing specials.

The next Critical Lass ride is July 21 – always the third Thursday of the month, starting at the Polish Triangle. I hope to see even more lasses there next time! :)

I bow down, once again, to our amazing leader Ash.

p.s. You can read about Edmonton’s June Critical Lass ride via Loop Frame Love and Girls and Bicycles.

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Bike to Work Week!

Last week was Bike to Work Week in Chicago. We celebrate it later than the rest of the country, waiting until June to make sure it does not snow. :)

I volunteered at an Active Transportation Alliance commuter pit stop one morning. The stop offered free coffee and Clif bars, various swag, tune-ups and general encouragement.  I mostly just stood around chatting with friends, though.

This particular pit stop was co-hosted by The Chainlink and REI.

Julie of The Chainlink worked the megaphone with great enthusiasm and cuteness.

People signed their names to a petition to support more protected bike lanes in Chicago, part of Active Trans’s new and exciting Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign.

My friend Sara happened to ride by on her way to work, looking naturally fabulous.  Hello!

And other office cycle chic peeps rolled by.

After a demanding morning of gabbing and drinking free Caribou coffee, I set off for the office myself.

I’m a fan of Bike to Work Week. Some people criticize the focus on commuting, while others proclaim it should be “bike to work week every week,” but the directed outreach seems to encourage new people to try transportation cycling. In fact, I first biked to work during the official Bike to Work Week three years ago.  It would be interesting to see statistics comparing the amount of bike commuters the week before, the week of, and the week after the event.

Was anyone else inspired by Bike to Work Week or a similar event as a newbie?  Do you have any co-workers who became interested in commuting after hearing about the event?

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