Tag Archives: fall cycling

Philip Larkin’s Fall

Mother, Summer, I

by Philip Larkin

My mother, who hates thunder storms,
Holds up each summer day and shakes
It out suspiciously, lest swarms
Of grape-dark clouds are lurking there;
But when the August weather breaks
And rains begin, and brittle frost
Sharpens the bird-abandoned air,
Her worried summer look is lost,

And I her son, though summer-born
And summer-loving, none the less
Am easier when the leaves are gone
Too often summer days appear
Emblems of perfect happiness
I can’t confront: I must await
A time less bold, less rich, less clear:
An autumn more appropriate.

{see also, Emily Dickinson’s fall}

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September Women-Who-Bike Brunch

In September, the women-who-bike brunch group picnicked for the final time this year.  Lucky for us, the weather was perfect.

Here are some of the cool women-who-bike and their trusty steeds.

After the picnic, a few of us walked over to the nature museum and stopped by the butterfly sanctuary…

…on our way to check out the final day of the “Bikes! Green Revolution” exhibit, which I originally blogged about last spring.

I dig the old school cycle chic posters.

The next brunch will be this Sunday with special guest Trisha!  :-)  Email LGRAB@letsgorideabike.com if you’re interested in joining us.

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A Happy October Outfit

Welcome to October!  It’s hard to believe that September is already over and fall is seriously here.  The weather in Chicago is cooling down substantially and in response I pulled out the (sometimes fingerless) gloves, cashmere, and jeans.

This is a typical fall outfit, although for now the sweater comes off at a stop light early in the ride.

I’m happy for the change in seasons – in fact, October is my favorite month!  How are you handling the transition?

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Fashion Friday: Foxy Fall

The crisp fall weather has officially arrived in Chicago (see here) and this week I wore gloves and a light scarf for the first time (see here).  Fall is my favorite season and I love dressing for it.  Lately I’ve been thinking of boots, burnt orange, brown leather, dark denim, and – yes – sweaters emblazoned with foxes.  A spritz of my favorite fall scent, Burberry Brit, and I’m ready to go. Since I was talking about alien baby folding bikes recently, I added a Strida to the mix: quite possibly the most alien of them all.

Now all I need is a big pile of colorful leaves to jump in.  Who’s with me?  :-)

P.S. I totally want to follow this DIY to embroider my own fox slippers.

{Collage details here.}

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A Happy Bike Ride to University of Chicago

Hello, there!  Since today is dark and rainy and I have to go back to work (sad face), I’m starting the morning with something bright and happy.  I just stumbled upon these photos and realized that I never posted about this ride.

On the last Sunday of October, a day of perfect weather, I biked to Hyde Park to enjoy brunch at my friend’s house.  Hyde Park is a neighborhood on the southside where the University of Chicago is located, about 15 miles from where I live.  After brunch, I took the opportunity to explore the area by bike. The campus is beautiful, as you can see below.

At the time, I thought this was my last warm weather hurrah, but winter has yet to take hold of Chicago for real. The high temps this week will be in the 40′s.

I wish I could post something about biking during my Christmas vacation in North Carolina, but sadly my hometown is not conducive to biking. Did any of you make time for a nice holiday ride?

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Mild November

Wow, only five more days until December! Hard to believe that winter and the year’s end are so close. Chicago’s weather has been mercifully mild and is predicted to remain so through the rest of November. I’ve been getting along fine with cashmere sweaters ($6 at the thrift store) and wool mittens.

This pair of fingerless wool mittens is convenient for fiddling with my bike lock and flipping off drivers (only once, I’m doing better!).

This is my favorite time of year. I’m spending my Thanksgiving holiday reading books (on book #3 today), cooking, and eating, but I also have a couple of LGRAB podcasts, a video, and a bike review in progress – hopefully for next week.

I hope everyone else is having a mild season and enjoying the holiday!

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November’s women-who-bike brunch

The Women-Who-Bike group has been coming together for brunch every month for over a year now.  November’s brunch was number 13.  There were 20 of us, a great mix of regulars and new faces, plus Trisha.  I was especially excited to have a group of teenage girls and their mentors from West Town Bike’s Girls Bike Club.   (Much more about them in a future post!)

I was so busy eating and gabbing, I managed to take pictures of only a few of the women, so this is merely a sampling of the awesomeness.  :)

I must give thanks to Bleeding Heart Bakery and Cafe on Chicago Avenue.  Even though they don’t take reservations, they accommodated our large group, plus the food was delicious and our waitress was super sweet.

 

If you are in Chicago and interested in joining us for brunch, we meet on the first Sunday of the month.  Email me at LGRAB [at] letsgorideabike.com to get on the mailing list for the details.
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Brewery Bike Tour in Fort Collins

I’m back in Chicago! Can you believe it’s November already?

During my Denver vacation, I spent a day in nearby Fort Collins, Colorado.  Melissa, Chanh, Mr. Dottie, and I went on a bike tour of the city’s breweries. Melissa mapped out an ambitious plan to hit all seven, but a late start, early return time for the bikes, and a lot of beer sampling lowered that number to three.

Our first stop was the Fort Collins Bike Library to pick up free bikes. That’s right: free.  The Bike Library is a non-profit that lends out bikes like a library (get it?).

The Bike Library is located in a small hut in the middle of the downtown pedestrian plaza. Once we signed a waiver and provided credit card information, we were free to pick out the bikes.  Many were unrideable due to needed repairs, but lucky for us, several were left in good condition.

I scored a Jamis Commuter, the first bike I owned as an adult.  This was a very nice version, complete with 8-geared internal hub, chain guard, fenders and generator lights, although it made a crazy noise and the fenders were bent up.

Melissa tried out the bakfiets (awesome!)…


But went with a cute blue cruiser.

Chanh and Greg chose/were left with red single speeds.

Our second stop was CooperSmith’s Brewery, since it is next to the Bike Library and has a pub where we could eat lunch. Also, beer!

Then we set off down the road to our next stop, Odell Brewing. The ride was quick, but most of the route was along the shoulder of a two-way street with faster traffic. Someone with less experience riding among traffic may not be totally comfortable with this route (along Lincoln) but we found a more enjoyable back-streets route for the return trip.

The beer at Odell was AMAZING!  Easily among the best beer I’ve ever had, especially the Bourbon Barrel Stout.

I think we managed to taste them all.

Our final stop was New Belgium Brewery, which appropriately had a wide bike lane outside.

And its own small fleet of branded bikes.

I’m a big fan of New Belgium, both for its Tour de Fat/bike advocacy and its delicious beer.

Uh, yeah, we enjoyed our beer. :)

Fort Collins is not only breweries, though. Before heading out, we spent some time walking around the cute downtown area.

It is very pedestrian friendly.  ;)

We played with the interactive street art.

Surely, this fish was meant to be ridden.

Definitely this bike piano was meant to be played.

Fort Collins is an awesome little town.  We had so much fun and I’m happy we spent a day there.

I highly recommend a visit if you’re in the area. What could be more fun than bikes and breweries?

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Appreciating Late Fall

The past two days have been rainy and super windy, so I’ve taken public transportation. The L train is no fun compared to my bikes, but I’m grateful for its convenience when needed. The combination of bicycling and access to great public transportation is what allows me to live without a car

Happily, today is sunny and dry, although 39 degrees – brrr.

I’ll not complain about fall weather too much, because I know what’s coming.

Gotta remember to appreciate the present.  Happy Friday!

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Who is the A-hole? Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me…

This is a post where I get to use our “a-holes” tag.

Yesterday morning, during the portion of my commute where I have to use a busy road, I approached an intersection (Wells & Division) with the green light and I kept a sharp eye on opposite traffic to make sure no one turned left in my path. That is a common occurrence because drivers either don’t pay attention or think they are fast enough to dart through, so I’m always looking out for it.

I entered the intersection and the opposite driver, who had a clear view of me, began to turn left at the same time without warning. I started breaking, but I wasn’t sure if I could stop in time, so I called out, “Don’t go! Don’t go!” I’m loud and his window was open, so he stopped and as I went by a split second later, he yelled out his window, “Then hurry up, Asshole!”

Can you believe that? Crazy times!

But I will continue to use my outside voice when necessary to ensure my safety. By the time I arrived at work, I was mostly zen about it, telling myself that he must be a miserable person, whereas I only had to deal with him for a few seconds.

I did stop at the store afterward to buy this amazing Icelandic chocolate bar before going to work. Chocolate is my friend.

And it helped that I had the witty banter of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me whispering in my right ear.

You may have noticed that I was a bit bundled up. With temps in the low 40′s, biking in a suit sans sweat is no problem, and now I have to add earmuffs, a scarf, wool tights and gloves. Not just any gloves – my fingers get very cold, so I had to break out these huge Thinsulate reindeer gloves. They’re so silly looking, they make me laugh.

Mean drivers, cold weather, whatever.

I will still be out there, enjoying my bike rides. :)

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Soak up the sun

This weekend may be one of your last to soak up the sun without simultaneously shivering (especially if you’re in Chicago).

 Jump on a bike and enjoy the ride! :)

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More about skirts and helmets

The past two days, I have worn skirt and blouse outfits similar to what I wore in my last post, with a helmet, and drivers were pretty nice, but not as totally nice as before. Again, maybe it’s in my head, but it’s interesting to ponder.

For anyone who is “meh” about the Mary Poppins Effect talk because they don’t experience it – Mr. Dottie is right there with you and he’s perfectly content to ride a faster bike in construction-site work clothes, thankyouverymuch.

In an unrelated observation, the skirt below came down to my mid-calf, but was nowhere near my back wheel when I sat on the saddle. There are very few skirts that require a skirt guard, so I encourage those apprehensive about biking in mid-length skirts to give it a try. Just make sure your skirt is not touching your back wheel before setting off.

Hey, today’s Friday – happy Friday! I’m excited for the weekend because Trisha, Melissa and Erin, another friend from Nashville, will be in Chicago. I don’t know if Erin will be up for riding in the city, but I know Trisha and Melissa will be. This is when having multiple bikes comes in handy. I’ll be a mini bike share system. :)

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The Mary Poppins Effect and Happy Helmets

I left work yesterday evening, unlocked my bike and prepared to set off when I realized that I forgot my helmet in my office. It was one of those days when the idea of locking my bike again, removing my bag, going upstairs and unlocking my office was unbearable, so I decided to continue on helmetless. If I had a busy route, I would have retrieved my helmet, but my route is a series of calm side-streets.

Me and Betty on yesterday’s evening commute

This was one of my first times riding Betty Foy without a helmet. I have done it more often riding Oma, but Betty is faster and has more aggressive positioning.

My ride home was perfectly fine and I felt comfortable on the road. In fact, drivers were extremely nice to me. No one passed too closely or cut me off, and many drivers gave me an extra wide berth or slowed behind me until they could pass safely. I wonder if this behavior had something to do with the Mary Poppins Effect, as several people commented previously that when they don’t wear helmets, drivers are kinder. But my usual Nutcase helmet is so sweet and happy, I don’t see why wearing it would make drivers treat me any differently. I think a helmet covered with pink and red hearts would contribute to the Mary Poppins Effect.

Maybe the kindness was caused by the perfect fall weather, which put everyone in a really good mood. Or maybe it was partly in my head, since I was already wondering if drivers would treat me differently. Regardless, I’m more worried about drivers who never see me at all, so I will continue to wear my helmet most of the time. Maybe when Chicago gets those 100 miles of protected bike lanes, I’ll feel more comfortable going without. :)

{This post is not meant to be all “yay helmets” or “boo helmets” – simply a bit about my day.}

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Dressing for the Weather

The delightful, crisp fall weather has turned into lots of rain and somber grey skies. The past five days have been pretty crappy, weather-wise. I took the L because of the rain on Monday and that experience reminded me that riding a bike is always more enjoyable, even if in the rain.

An upside of fall, regardless of the exact weather conditions, continues to be seasonal clothing. I’ve been enjoying all my tweed and wool and – yes – velvet. Very librarian chic. LC of Naturally Cycling: Manchester recently talked about how she likes to dress to match the season. I find that I do the same, preferring pinks and yellows for spring, browns and oranges for fall.

When bike sites talk about dressing for the weather, they usually focus on technical aspects, such as specialty raincoats and balaclavas. (We have our fair share, of course.)  I prefer to think of dressing for the weather in this more fun way. The common sense stuff comes naturally – for example, I’m about to throw a rain trench over my burnt orange sweater and tweed skirt for my wet ride this morning.  That will do just fine.  :)

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The Start of Fall Bicycling!

Today is the first day of fall – my favorite season for bicycling.

Fall cycling is lovely and requires little-to-no preparation. Jumping on your bike in slacks or tights and a sweater will work most days. Nevertheless, I notice a steep decline in bicyclists once the dreadfully hot days of summer are over, so obviously some people need convincing to continue riding their bikes. In light of this, we put together a How To Dress for Fall Cycling guide a couple of years ago and a quick Refresher Course last year.

Incidentally, last night I attended the Bike Winter kick-off meeting. I really don’t want to start thinking about winter yet, but I enjoyed hearing tips and questions from the large group of attendees, both seasoned winter bicyclists and people who plan to try it for the first time. If you’re already thinking this far ahead, check out Bike Winter for lots of great info, as well as the LGRAB Guide to Winter Bicycling and my video on how I dress for winter biking.

Whether you plan to stick it out for the long haul or simply make the best of fall weather before storing your bike for the winter (both reasonable options), I wish you a happy and healthy fall bicycling season.

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A Little Courtesy and Sunshine

Picking up on Trisha’s post yesterday about craziness and courtesy on the road, I have a little courtesy to share from this evening’s commute.

On my way home, an SUV driver stopped for three older gentlemen at a crosswalk.  This is so rare in Chicago, that could be the whole story, but there’s more.  I was biking from the other direction and also stopped. Two of the gentlemen shuffled by and the third saw me waiting and gave a polite bow while motioning for me to go ahead of him. I thanked him with a smile and set off, as another in the group called out, “Hey, want to take me with you?” Ha, cute! (Note to men: do not attempt unless you are in a group of adorable elderly men, otherwise you’ll just be a creepy.)

A few miles later, I heard a little girl say to her mom, “I like that bicycle!” as I passed. Aw, double cute!  Ladies of all ages appreciate the Betty Foy.

Another plus from the day – the weather was glorious. I enjoyed basking in the morning sun as it rose over Lake Michigan.

The sweet little interactions and the beautiful weather made up for the traffic craziness of the day, like the four drivers who opened car doors in my path. Good thing I was not riding a little closer to the parked cars, sheesh.

Anyway, a little courtesy and sunshine go a long way to brighten my day.  :)

 

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Goodbye, Summer Crowds

Now that Labor Day is behind us, the crowds are starting to thin out on the Lakefront Trail. I’ve avoided the trail most of the summer because dodging hundreds (thousands?) of other trail users is not my idea of fun. I plan to take the trail much more often during the fall, when I can relax and enjoy the crowd-free and car-free goodness.

I have missed the beautiful view of Lake Michigan and the fresh air that comes off it. So far early fall has been perfect in Chicago – hopefully we’ll have at least two good months before winter begins.

In other news, a new bike joined my household today! The bike is Mr. Dottie’s, which is good because he loved to tease me about our 3-to-1 bike ownership ratio. I wonder if anyone can guess what kind of bike he bought. Hint: it’s not the same brand as any of mine.

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Winter Arrives in Chicago

Although snow has not yet arrived in Chicago, wintery cold has.

Yesterday evening, following two days of Thanksgiving hibernation and feeling the need to get out in the fresh air, I jumped on my bicycle for a freezing but rejuvenating ride along Chicago’s northside lakefront. That really hit the spot. Although my fingers and toes burn and my nose sniffles and my eyes water, everything about riding in the winter makes me feel alive in a way that sweating during the summer does not.

The 30 F temperature felt substantially colder with the 20 mph winds off Lake Michigan and constantly taking my gloves off to operate my camera. Once I got home, a slice of warm, homemade-by-me apple pie and glass of scotch warmed me up right quick.

Winter? I’m ready. :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

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I Love My Cold Commute

I’m loving my commute this week, especially the mornings. I love it so much, I’m inspired to create my very first gif self portrait – pardon the silliness.

Although the look is distinctly autumnal, the feel is now wintry, with biting cold hovering around freezing to match the glowing sun.

Hey, don’t think of it as cold, think of it as refreshing. Right? Right! Stay on your bikes, peeps. :)

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A Lovely Change of Pace

“You are a lovely change of pace,” a guy bicycling by me called out yesterday morning.  We had just launched off from a stop light with about 6 other cyclists and I moved over to the right after seeing that he needed to pass in my rear view mirror.  I don’t know if my helpful maneuver or my skirt and pink helmet elicited the remark, but it made me laugh and say, “Thank you!”

A change of pace is really what I needed, after a too-eventful week.  To that end, I chose to ride the Lakefront Trail yesterday evening and this morning.  Even though it’s quite out of the way and adds about 2 miles to my otherwise 4 mile work route, sometimes it’s totally worth it for a lovely change of pace, free of cars.

Happy Friday!

p.s.  I’m not trying to hold out on my new bike news, but I don’t want to post about it until I have it and there’s an unexpected delay, so probably by early next week.

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