Last Sunday I rode the Four Star Bike Tour, a massive group ride organized by and benefitting the Active Transportation Alliance. I chose the 35-mile route through the west and south sides of Chicago and my total mileage for the day was a little over 50.
Betty Foy at Promontory Point
I enjoyed the ride a lot. The crowd was too packed together at the beginning and after rest stops, but most of the time I was alone or with a small group. Sunday morning traffic was light and we had the roads mostly to ourselves. The route was pretty easy to follow and I saw many parts of the city for the first time.
The view from Promontory Point
I wore my one sporty bicycling outfit – a wool jersey and padded shorts from Ibex. Although I hate the diaper feeling off the bike, the outfit was super comfortable for the ride and I was happy to have the padding.
A sporty thumbs up
I enjoyed bicycling for the sake of bicycling, not as transportation, but I kept wanting to stop places, especially in Hyde Park, like my favorite bookstore or the place with the best croissants. I was determined to stick to the task at hand and ride a straight 35 miles, so I resisted temptation.
Except for a quick detour to Promontory Point for some photos.
Enjoying a quick break
Betty did a great job
I’ve never biked more than 60 miles at a time and rarely more than 10. I was happy to find that my regular daily riding was enough “training” for this longer ride. I even pushed myself to go quite fast, relative to my usual speed, the last several miles because I still felt so good. My legs were tired by the end, but in a healthy way, and my muscles were not sore the next day.
Participating in the Four Star has inspired me to spend some of my Sundays waking up early and going for long bike rides. I mean, not this Sunday, but maybe next? Definitely next year at the 2012 Four Star.
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!
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
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.
Mark your calendar! Together with Sara of This Little Bike of Mine, I will be leading a cupcake ride this Saturday, June 25, at 1:00 p.m.
The ride will be a leisurely 6-7 miles, starting at the Polish Triangle and ending at Oz Park.
We plan on visiting 3 bakeries – Alliance, Bleeding Heart, and Sweet Mandy B’s. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to eat 3 cupcakes (although Sara and I are up for the challenge!). You can always share with a friend. We’ll be stopping in a couple of parks to enjoy our treats so feel free to bring a blanket if you prefer.
The dress code is “cupcakesque.” Ruffles and pastels encouraged. Per usual, any ladies-who-bike are welcome! We hope to see you Saturday!
*In the chance of rain we will announce an alternate date.
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.
Samantha, Kate, Megan, Martha, Lauren, Sara, Sarah
Eight women braved the streets after Saturday’s snow storm and rode to the second women-who-bike brunch at Handlebar in Wicker Park. After brunch we headed en masse to the Renegade Holiday Craft Fair, where we bumped into a couple of women separately who were familiar with the brunch event (Megan and Kristine, hope to see you next time).
How does one dress for winter cycling in Chicago? With style!
Sarah and Lauren
Kate and Sara
The group was a mix of experienced and new winter riders. While the temperature has not dropped to wintry depths yet, if anyone road a bike this weekend in Chicago, that person now knows what winter riding is like.
One of the attendees, Lauren, said, “I think I have officially convinced myself that winter biking isn’t all that bad — especially when a delightful brunch is the destination.” That’s what I like to hear!
The next brunch will be Sunday, January 9, and thereafter on the first Sunday of the month. If you would like to be included, email LGRAB [at] letsgorideabike [dot] com. If you’re not in Chicago, considering organizing a get-together in your town.
My inaugural women-who-bike brunch took place on Sunday. The focus was on enjoying good food and even better company, while bikes took a backseat as a tool for transportation and for connecting us all in the first place. To this end, a dozen awesome women rode their bikes without ceremony, in their regular clothes, and proceeded to chat for three fun hours. Here is but a sampling of the awesomeness that ensued.
Women who bike – photo by Martha Williams
Rebecca! of Active Trans
Emily! of Po Campo
Samantha! of Ding Ding Let's Ride
Martha! of Bike Fancy
Janet and Patty
The group checks out Po Campo prototypes
Me – photo taken by Martha Williams with my film camera
Are you a woman in the Chicago area who would like to join us in the future? Email me at LGRAB [at] letsgorideabike [dot] com. If you’ve sent me your email before but did not get the message about the brunch, please re-send. I might have indadvertedly left some people out.
I must sound like a broken record but women who bike are pretty much without fail smart, fun and cool.