Tag Archives: clothing

Critical Lass a Lovely Success!

Chicago’s first Critical Lass ride was a great success!  The weather was perfect, the route calm, and 25 cool women showed up.

We met at the Polish Triangle in Wicker Park.  Once the group gathered, our fearless leader Ash welcomed everyone.

I said “hi” to some old friends from the Women Who Bike brunch group.

A random guitar guy serenaded us with an impromptu song about bikes.

And then we were off!


We stopped at all red lights …

And stop signs.

We biked along quiet side streets, passing lots of big green parks and enjoying the smell of fresh mown grass.

After a fun and leisurely five mile ride, we ended at Simone’s in Pilsen.  We managed the parking situation by piling all in together and locking to each other.



Finally, we hung out for a couple of hours, enjoying dinner and kick-ass cocktails.  :)  My 9-mile ride home from Pilsen at 10 pm was also lots of fun, since I had several riding companions for most of the way.

The ride and gathering were so much fun. I plan to attend the ride EVERY THIRD THURSDAY! I hope to see you there. Spread the word!

Keep up with Critical Lass on Facebook.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Bike Fancy: Chicagoans Looking Good on Bikes

I am enjoying watching Martha’s Bike Fancy archives grow, with a new photo every day of the week showcasing Chicago’s “people looking good on bikes.” Chicago women are awesome and have an overall aesthetic that is very different from Copenhagen Cycle Chic.

Martha on the left, a featured cyclist on the right

My favorite aspect of Bike Fancy is that all of the photos are posed portraits with a bit of information about the rider, sometimes a mini interview. Hearing from the women themselves and knowing that they agreed to pose for the pictures adds another dimension to the site.   While stopping a stranger on the street and asking if you can take her photo to put on the internet may sound awkward, if anyone can get someone to agree to this request, it’s Martha.  :)

Martha at work

In the photo above that I took after the last Women Who Bike Brunch, Martha is writing the contact information of the woman she flagged down. And this is the beautiful picture that resulted:

Image (c) Martha Williams of Bike Fancy

That’s how we roll in Chicago.  Check out all the rest at Bike Fancy!

Tagged , , , , , , ,

May’s women-who-bike brunch

May’s women who bike brunch last Sunday was great fun, as always! It marked our first outdoor dining experience, on the rooftop of The Twisted Spoke.

There was plenty of bike ogling and shop talk, of course.

IMG_0011resized

IMG_0004resized

IMG_0019resized

IMG_0010resized

Also lots of general hanging out, which is the main purpose of the brunch.

IMG_0021resized

 

IMG_0022resized

 

IMG_0009resized

One lady showed us this awesome pannier that she sewed herself. How cute!

IMG_0007resized

IMG_0008resized

And finally, good drinks and grub.  Yes, I scarfed that entire platter down.  I need my energy for biking!  ;)

IMG_0024-2resized

IMG_0023-2resized

See you next month? Hope so!

IMG_0015resized

If you’re in Chicago and would like to join our next brunch – or if you’re in a different city and have questions about starting a similar get-together – email me at LGRAB [at] letsgorideabike.com.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

The Lakefront Trail in Spring

When I got on my bike Friday morning, I made a last-minute decision to take the Lakefront Trail instead of my usual street route, since I was not feeling up to car traffic and was not in a rush.

IMG_4829resized

The Lakefront Trail in spring is totally different from the Lakefront Trail I wrote about in winter.

First, getting on the trail was a challenge, as recent thunderstorms created a moat in the underpass access. The water was very deep, so I backtracked up the ramp and biked three blocks south to the next access point, among heavy car and truck traffic merging onto Lakeshore Drive. Not my ideal route, but I managed safely by acting like a car and taking the lane.

IMG_4818resized

I was annoyed by the difficulty, since the whole point of riding the trail was to take it easy due to my illness. When Coco and I made it to the lakefront, though, my annoyance dissolved. The cool air was refreshing off Lake Michigan, a huge improvement from the hot-sun-on-blacktop feeling of the streets. Lots of people were out enjoying the beautiful Chicago morning.

IMG_4830resized

A couple of miles along, I encountered heavy trucks working on the trail. This was a pleasant surprise because they had paved over all the chunks of missing concrete and horrible craters that formed during the winter. Smooth sailing!

IMG_4821resized

I enjoyed my easy ride so much, I totally forgot I was sick until I tried to sing along to my fav Kate Nash song and couldn’t make it through one line without losing my breath. So it’s official: riding Coco slowly is less taxing than singing along to my iPod.

After emerging from the trail for the final 1.5 miles on downtown streets, I popped my helmet back on, blew my nose and said “cheese!” with Coco.

IMG_4837resized

Looking back on naive, Friday morning Dottie, I almost feel bad for her. She had no idea that she’d end up working late and then biking home along congested streets in a harsh headwind and temperatures that fell 30 degrees from the 70’s to the 40’s, without the benefit of gloves or earmuffs and with a hacking cough. But at least she could go home and sleep 12 hours, dreaming of her ideal Chicago spring morning ride.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cycling in a Shorter Dress

When I blogged about bicycling in this dress, reader Krista commented, “You seriously need to tell me your secret to riding a bike in a dress like that! I would be flashing drivers left and right!” My response is that with tights as insurance, flashing is not a worry with that particular dress: it lays firmly, does not ride up, and does not flap in the breeze.

Indeed, most skirts and dresses are great for cycling. In The Best Skirts for Cycling, we discussed the categories of structure, fabric and length that tend to work best. However, there are always exceptions.  The only way to know for sure whether a particular garment poses a flashing risk is to test each individually. I was reminded of this by the new dress that I wore when I got caught in a thunderstorm last week.

I figured that it would be fine on the bike because, although it is shorter than my usual hemline, it is longer than the other dress and is made of heavy silk.  As soon as I straddled my bike, though, I knew that it would not work.  The dress rode way up for some reason and even with opaque black tights underneath, I did not feel comfortable. I pulled over and tied my coat around my waist in order to feel decent. Simple solution – problem solved. I was able to ride to and from work without worrying about flashing anyone. An even simpler solution than when I stapled my skirt.

For those of you who cycle in skirts and dresses, feel free to share your experiences with different types in the comments.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Unexpected Thunderstorms

Last weekend a friend asked me and Trisha what we do about thunderstorms, and we both agreed that we simply do not bike in them. However, that is a simplified, partially true statement. The full explanation is that I choose not to bike in the morning if, at the time of leaving, hard rain is actively falling or the forecast all but guarantees thunderstorms. I tend to ignore vague forecasts for the possibility of thunderstorms in the evening, because so many times when I started bike commuting, I was tricked into not biking when the weather was fine.

Which is how I now end up biking home in thunderstorms more than I would like.

My commute is long enough to give the weather ample time to change (30 minutes) but short enough that I feel okay pushing through bad weather. I wait out storms with thunder and lightening, but the most common scenario has me leaving work just before the sky opens up, and once I’m already on my bike, only the worst conditions could stop me. Otherwise, I push on through cautiously but assertively.

Such was the case last night.

Photo from last year. Imagine this, but dark.

Leaving a fundraiser benefit for my employer, the weather seemed fine, although the night sky was too dark to see clouds. Only after I biked half a mile did the rain suddenly start pouring. Thunder and lightening soon followed.

I was wearing an elegant black ensemble: a silk dress, blazer, tights and dress shoes.  I had a raincoat tied around my waist because my new dress became way too short on the bike (more about that later) and for visibility, not because I anticipated rain.  After the storm started, I considered pulling over to put the raincoat on, but did not want to lose momentum, so I continued all the way home as I was.  Of course, by the end of my commute, the storm had calmed to a drizzle. Arriving home, drenched and drowned-rat-esque, I immediately hung my clothes to dry and took a hot shower.  This morning, both the clothes and I are fine. My Po Campo bag, which is advertised only as water resistant, amazingly kept all of my contents safe and dry.

There is a lot of talk on bike blogs and forums about gear like rain pants, ponchos, etc.  Those accessories are important in some situations (like if I were on my way to the event), but if you’re going straight home, there is nothing terrible about getting caught in the rain in your regular clothes. I do not want newer bike commuters to worry that they are not properly prepared for bicycling until they acquire all that stuff.

I am grateful that I had my Planet Bike Superflash.  Powerful lights are always important when riding in the rain, especially at night.

Somebody tell me that I’m not the only one with bad luck when it comes to getting stuck in the rain. What do you do when unexpected thunderstorms hit?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Nashville!

I’m back from Trishaville, aka Nashville. Although I lived there for only three years and moved away four years ago, Nashville is my favorite city to return to again and again, simply because of Trisha and other friends.  And there’s something about the South that calls to me, although I spent my youth hatching escape plans.

My three days with Trisha were full of awesomeness, of course: used bookstores, a British sitcom marathon, a discount designer warehouse, French breakfast, fancy ice cream, duck fat tater tots, Yazoo beer and live music at the Mercy Lounge (Those Darlins!).  Plus, I finally got to meet Trisha’s brother, Charlie.  Hmmm what else?…

…oh yeah – bicycling!

I got to meet the new Kate Spade Abici, whom I keep calling Kermit Spade, to Trisha’s chagrin.  With Trisha on KS and me on the Bat, we rode downtown and crossed the pedestrian bridge for a view of the Nashville skyline.

Yeah, we’re cool.

I must share, there are a number of weirdo men loitering around downtown Nashville who were quite interested in us.  We handled them effectively with stoney silence, which we’re both really good at when we put our minds to it.

After the bridge, we rode over to Broadway, with its honky tonks and cowboy boot shops.

We really should have stopped to take advantage of the 3-boots-for-the-price-of-one deal – missed opportunity.

Bicycling in Nashville was a great pleasure for me.  The weather is not yet at Southern summer oppressiveness.  The infrastructure is quite supportive of cycling, with wide bike lanes on many medium-sized streets and plenty of winding back roads with almost no cars at all.  Drivers seemed to display the fabled Southern hospitality, although I’m prone to romaticize it now that I don’t live there anymore.  One guy in a work truck blocking the bike lane drawled, “Pardon me, ladies,” which made me inordinately happy.

Today my thighs are sore from all those hills (damn! major props to Trisha for handling those every day) but it was worth it.

I make it to Nashville at least once a year, for Trisha’s birthday, but hopefully it won’t take me a year to return this time.  Chicago is comparatively cold in all ways.

Many more photos from our Nashville adventures and Trisha’s Abici to come.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Skirt for Public Transportation

As Chicago experiences the rainiest April in 50 years, my thunderstorm-averse and frankly unmotivated self has been taking the L train this week. A colleague yesterday asked if my bike was okay because she saw me walking.

I’m determined to bike tomorrow no matter what (probably) because I’m going stir crazy. In the meantime, I’m taking advantage of this rare public transportation time to wear the few outfits I have that simply do not work on a bike, which usually sit untouched in the back of my closet.

For example, this skirt I wore today that does not allow me to lift my leg any higher than shown below.

Normally, I would not buy a skirt that constricts my ability to cycle, but I made an exception for this mint condition Marni skirt from Salvation Army for $2. Yeah, that’s like $798 off retail price! Looking at this photo, I realize that the entire outfit is thrifted, except the bamboo tights from Trisha.

In other news, the cherry blossoms still have not bloomed in Chicago, which so far is one month later than last year. All these April showers better bring some May flowers!!!!

And finally, happy, happy, happy birthday to our very own Trisha! I’m saving the big b-day post until after I document whatever trouble we get in together this weekend, but for now here is a beautiful flashback to T’s birthday party last year.

Smashing, love!

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Spring? Not here.

I am stubbornly dressing in happy spring clothes, but had to layer on a coat, earmuffs, winter boots and mittens for today’s 35 degree weather.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed my bicycle rides. My commute was low key and I was happy not to be stuck on the L train again.

My only complaint is that the trees don’t have green leaves yet, let alone cherry blossoms. Le sigh. When the flowers finally start blooming, my cameras and I will be ready!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Winter Style Encore

Guess what I woke up to on this fine spring morning? Snow! All over the cars and the grass, even as cold rain fell on top of it. I was in no mood to have a surprise winter bike commute, so I grabbed my puffy coat and huffed my way to the L train. I’m itching to wear my pretty spring clothes, not my down coat, for goodness sakes!

Looking for a bright side, I decided to take this opportunity to spotlight some final winter bike photos. Below are two sleek winter cycling looks that readers Molly and Kaitlyn sent.

Molly shows how stylish winter cycling can be in Ann Arbor – at least on the days when she does not wear her sleeping bag-esque winter coat.

Molly in her sleek winter wear

Molly - sleek off the bike

Kaitlyn in Brooklyn rocked the sleek NYC black look, even when wearing rain pants. She blogs at Thoughts of Mint Green.

Kaitlyn in her sleek winter wear

Kaitlyn - sleek off the bike

Looking good, ladies! Thank you for the inspiration!

And now let’s drag winter off the stage with a hook. :)

Tagged , , , , , ,

A Late Blooming Spring

So far this year, I have not seen any flowers. The temperature is finally warming, but the scenery remains bleak. How disappointing!

I decided to check the LGRAB archives to determine when I could expect beautiful cherry blossoms and I was shocked to see that by this time last year, Chicago was filled with flowers. I guess Spring 2011 is a “late bloomer.”

April 2, 2010 – A Good Friday Commute


April 3, 2010 – I Never Get Tired of My Bike

April 4, 2010 – Simple Spring Enjoyment

April 10, 2010 – Cherry Blossom Oma

April 11, 2010 – Black and White Spring

I’m going to take a bike ride this warm Sunday and hunt for flowers. :)

Is anyone else still waiting impatiently for spring?

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

April Showers

April showers are officially here. As winter slowly recedes, the season of rain begins. Unless you live in Portland, in which case it never ended. :)

My trusty rain trench and wool combo

Although I haven’t experienced rain since the snow started months ago, rain is no stranger to the LGRAB world. Check out the 4 pages of posts we’ve written about the subject, under the tag “rain.”

For more direct guidance, there’s Trisha’s how-to advice for riding in the rain, a quick video I made showing how easy it is to prep for rain, and my “April Showers” post from one year ago.

And if you don’t like riding in rain, remember my mantra. Rain: at least it’s not hail.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bicycle-Love Fashion

Hi, there! To follow up on the serious and fascinating discussion going on about the Mary Poppins effect, I’ve got some fashion fluff for you.

I’m not one to wear special cycling clothes, but that does not apply to creative bike-themed fashion.  The outfit below, for example (see also, my Makool bike locket).

Maureen of Inspired Cyclist sent me this beautiful printed t-shirt from Target.  How sweet is this??  The t-shirt’s red and pink hearts perfectly match my new Nutcase helmet.

I put the two together with a pink hoodie, black jeggins and cool earrings made from old tire tubes that I bought at the Bike Winter Art Show (can’t remember the woman’s name!).  Then I biked on Coco downtown to see God of Carnage at the Goodman Theatre, which was an amazing play.

Back to my new Nutcase helmet: so sweet!  

I first saw a photo of this design from the Spring 2011 line on City Girl Rides and knew I had to make it mine.  (Do you know City Girl Rides? Good stuff!!)

Nutcase’s website does not list this design and my local bike shop didn’t have it yet, so I emailed Nutcase directly and quickly got a reply email with a link to a shop in Cali that had some in stock.  Score!

The $60 price tag made me hesitate, but I rationalized that if divided into price per wear, it would be pennies a day. ;)


Altogether, I was a very happy cycling lady!  

P.S.  Mr. Dottie was there, too, but evaded my camera.  He sent Sir Raleigh as his LGRAB ambassador.  :)

Anyone else have bike-themed fashion you just love?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My Take on the Mary Poppins Effect

How much does your outfit and bicycle affect how drivers treat you?

Lovely Bicycle talked about the Mary Poppins effect in January and London Cyclist brought it back to my mind with a recent guest post from Bike Thoughts From A Broad (love that name!).

For those who are not familiar, the Mary Poppins effect is basically the idea that drivers are nicer to women bicyclists riding upright bikes with dresses and flowing hair. I haven’t read much from men about this, but maybe dapper men on city bikes get the same deference.

My daily experience cycling in Chicago supports the Mary Poppins effect. Generally, drivers treat me well enough that I feel somewhat … respected? or patronized? *shrug* Both are fine with me, as long as I’m safe. Of course, there are always the assholes outliers, but for the most part drivers are okay.

My only disagreement with the general hypothesis is helmets. A major contributor of the Mary Poppins effect, others have posited, is riding helmetless and with free-flowing hair, because of both the relative vulnerability and the “regularness” it exhibits. I wear a helmet ~ 98% of the time I ride in traffic by personal preference and I receive as much deference, if not more, than someone without. The key is a fun and distinctive helmet – red hearts! pink starbursts! Having a distinctive helmet causes drivers to recognize me, and it’s hard to be rude to someone you pass daily.

The Mary Poppins effect is especially on my mind now because I experienced a lack of the effect today. Typically I wear a dress or skirt, but today I wore a navy pinstripe pantsuit with a ankle strap on my left leg. Everything else was the same: I rode an upright Danish bike, wore a helmet covered with red hearts and rode with my typical calm assertiveness, but luxury SUV after luxury SUV after car passed me too closely. The effect was decidedly non-Mary Poppins.

Could simply wearing pants instead of a skirt lead to such a noticeable change in drivers’ behavior? Maybe. Was I more sensitive to the idea of the Mary Poppins effect due to my recent reading? Perhaps. But I felt like there was a marked difference in how drivers treated me, during both the morning and the evening commutes.

I’m really interested in what others have experienced. Men, women, pants, skirts, helmet, no helmet – have you noticed a Mary Poppins effect, or lack thereof?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bachelorette Party by Bike

Last Saturday, I donned my most recent thrifted dress – Ann Taylor, new with tags! – and headed downtown on Betty Foy to celebrate Melissa’s bachelorette party.


(Pardon the light leaks on my film.)

On the way downtown, I spotted my friend Elizabeth riding in the opposite direction.

I would notice that pink bar tape anywhere.

We stopped and chatted for a bit before continuing on our ways. I love surprise meetings with friends on bikes!

When I arrived downtown, I passed Betty Foy to the bellhop at the swanky hotel where we’d be crashing. He checked her into a secure luggage room for the night. Thanks, Palomar Hotel!

As for the rest of the night… That’s classified. I’ll just say that the bike ride home the next morning was refreshing: rolling through the quiet morning streets in the same outfit I wore the night before, a few boa feathers stuck in my hair. :)

Tagged , , , , , , ,

We {heart} Knitting Lemonade’s Chic Bicycle Crafts

We gotta give a shout out to Kara of Knitting Lemonade for all the crafty bicycle goodness she has on her site this month.

You may remember that I met her by chance at Dutch Bike Co last year when she visited Chicago from Salt Lake City. She then guest blogged about the trials of finding a bicycle to fit taller ladies.

Kara with her Pashley, cape and bunting

Lately, Kara has been creating some fabulous bicycle accessories and sharing her work on her blog. She shows how to make a lovely basket bunting and how to make a super chic riding cape, both of which she test rode on her Pashley.

Bonus: she also found nail polish that matches her Betty Foy!

Craft on, ride on!

{Photo from Knitting Lemonade}

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Chicago Bike Fashion Show – Tonight

My Prada heels on wheels

In celebration of the end of winter cycling and the 14th Annual Bike Winter Art Show, join Chicago’s bicycling community for the closing night party and fashion show. I will be there taking Coco down the (hopefully brief) runway. In addition to the bike fashion show, there will be drinks, a DJ and a performance by the BMX bike dance troupe The Racketeers.

The event will be at the Chicago Urban Art Center in Pilsen, following Critical Mass. More info here.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Oz Park

Last Friday was so beautiful, I stopped by Oz Park on my way to work to extend my outside time.  I pass by Oz Park daily, but I’ve never stopped before.  As a Dorothy with a fondness for red shoes (although I’m more of a cat person) this park was a lot of fun for me.

You may have noticed that I’m sporting a new helmet, along with my new $4 thrifted dress (and massive green hands).  This is a sneak preview of the Nutcase helmet – I’ll post all about the helmet soon.

Now that spring is officially here, who else is making more side trips during their bike commutes?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Bringing in the Spring Style

Every bicyclist has his or her own personal signs of spring style – something that clearly indicates a departure from the darkness of winter. My friend Elizabeth’s involves clip-in bike shoes for the first time since fall, fingerless gloves, footless leggings and flouncy skirts.

Love this look! While totally utilitarian, it’s also a stylish celebration of spring that conveys her individuality.

She and I got together today for a lunchtime bike ride to celebrate the high-50’s temperature. (More on that later.)

How does your bicycle get-up change as the weather warms? Do you also feel the need to mark spring with a celebratory style?

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Guy Week at Bike Fancy

Hey, hey – it’s Guy Week at one of my very favorite internet places, Bike Fancy!

Pro photographer and stylish cyclist Martha is turning her lens on the men of Chicago. Although the majority of Chicago’s cyclists are men, I’m not used to seeing them without their backpacks and rain pants, track standing and running red lights. (I poke fun because I love!)

So this is a treat. :)

For those not interested in pictures of guys per se, there’s also an offer off of locally manufactured menswear company Nonetheless.

Guy Week at Bike Fancy – Check it out!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 39 other followers