Tag Archives: fall cycling

More Ups and Downs – and Doubling Up

I’m going to continue with my “ups and downs” theme from Tuesday because it fits so perfectly.

On my way home from work last night, taking busy city streets, I rode by a group of people giving out free lights to cyclists. Up!

Dressed for 35 degree biking (thanks for the belt, Trisha!)

Not a half mile later, a driver passed me and then immediately swerved hard to the right to go around another car waiting to turn left. The maneuver put his speeding car dangerously close to my front wheel, causing me to scream and slam on my brakes. Soon the driver was stopped behind 10 other cars waiting for a red light. As I rode by, I looked in and saw a 30-something guy tapping away on his iPhone. This was too much for me to bear, so I tapped on his iWindow. He looked up with surprise and rolled it down. I said, “That was very scary back there.” He reacted with complete cluelessness and I calmly informed him that he very nearly hit me when he sped around the car just a few seconds ago. He apologized profusely and said that he never saw me.

Holy hell!! If that’s even true, it does not make me feel better. I kindly suggested that he pay attention to the road and then I turned onto a side street, anxious to get away from the rush hour madness and allow my hands and voice to stop shaking. These drivers are totally out of control. DOWN!

La Oma

But wait! Don’t give up on humanity yet: this is an overall positive post.

After that debacle, I met my friends and fellow oma-owners, Janet and Dan, for hard apple cider and sweet potato fries at a neighborhood pub. Up!

Afterward, this amazing husband-wife team demonstrated doubling up on a bike, with Janet sitting side saddle on the back rack and Dan pedaling. They made it look so easy and elegant! Then I got a chance to ride on the back rack – my first time doubling up. It was so much fun! Learning this skill is now high on my to-do list. Janet has graciously offered to be my trial passenger this weekend. Stay tuned for more detail as this progresses. There will be video. UP! :)

What have your ups and downs been lately?

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Ups and Downs of Bike Commuting

I’ve written before about the ups and downs of bike commuting. A year later, I’m revisiting the theme based on the ups and downs I experienced during the past two days.

Down: Last night, as I was riding up Lincoln Avenue, a major bike route, a woman in a van yelled, “Ride in the bike lane, retard!” Wow, really?? For the record, I was riding on the outside line of the bike lane because otherwise I would be in the door zone. Regardless, anyone who would yell such awful and ignorant words at anyone is a miserable person. Incidentally, wouldn’t Chicago be so much better if everyone felt safe to ride their bicycles, including the developmentally disabled? I think so!

Up: Tonight, a woman standing on the sidewalk whistled and called out, “Hey, I love your bike!” while the men with her nodded in appreciation. The fact that they were outside a cool live music venue and not a tool-central type of bar doubled the impact of the compliment. I smiled and called out, “Thank you!” :)

I’m pretty sensitive, so I can’t help but be affected by such incidents, but really, no matter what someone may or may not yell at me, I always prefer my bicycle over any other form of transportation. If someone offered me free daily door-to-door Towncar service with complimentary muffins and NPR, I would turn it down without hesitation.

If you doubt me, check out the scenery from my ride this morning.

The temperature was in the high ’30s, but with a dress, a wool sweater, tights, boots and gloves, I was set.

For some reason, a lot of the “citizen cyclists” seem to have packed it in for the winter already, leaving me and a bunch of guys on road bikes. Just as I was thinking, “Gosh, everyone out here is in spandex going really fast,” my friend Dan rode by on his WorkCycles Oma and stopped to chat. (You may recognize him as top hat guy from the cocktail ride.) I love that in a huge city like Chicago, I still run into people I know regularly via the Lakefront Path and bike lanes.

A little later, a guy on a WorkCycles Opa rode by and rang his bell. I don’t know if he’s a reader (hi!) or merely a fellow Dutch bike appreciator, but it was great to see!

Back to the “ups and downs” of bike commuting. This I know for sure: I’m totally enjoying the up of autumn before the down of a long winter. Oh, who am I kidding? I kinda love winter, too!

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Cocktail Party Ride – Fall 2010

On Sunday evening, 25 Chicago cyclists joined together to ride and drink in style, demonstrating that bicycling in a suit or dress and heels is easy.  The temperature was about 40 degrees with a stiff wind, but otherwise a lovely autumn evening, perfect for bicycles and sidecars.  Thanks to everyone who came out! You all looked fabulous and I wish I could have taken everyone’s picture! And special thanks to Mr. Dottie for putting on a suit – very rare.  :)

THE RIDERS

THE RIDE

THE COCKTAIL PARTY

To all Chicagoans: See you next time! Date TBD. (Likely to be co-hosted again by John of Vote With Your Feet.)

To all others: Start planning your own cocktail ride. It’s so fun and easy!

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Simply Bike at LGRAB

This weekend a very special guest stayed chez Dottie, S from Simply Bike. I was very excited to meet her in person, after following her for a long time on Academichic and now on the newer bike blog.  Obviously, we have a lot in common and as I predicted, we got along extremely well and I had so much fun. As a bonus, she and Betty Foy were perfect together.

Riding bikes was a big part of the visit, since she had a conference about 8 miles away along the lakefront and I dropped her off and picked her up each day.  Other notable activities: the Race Against the Sky movie, a big German meal at Chicago Brauhaus, a ferris wheel ride at Navy Pier, fresh Mexican at Rick Bayless’s XOCO, Checkov’s The Seagull at Goodman Theatre and warm donuts from Dinkel’s Bakery.

I love getting out and enjoying Chicago to the max.  I always try to take advantage of everything the city has to offer, but hosting an out-of-towner gives me an extra push.

Saying goodbye to such a cool lady was sad.  All of us fun, smart bike ladies should colonize a new city, where we can hang out and ride bikes together all the time.  :)

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Relaxed

After a demanding day at work and the stress of two serious posts, I decided to take the Lakefront Trail home to avoid cars and meditate on the horizon. Before I knew it, my body and mind relaxed, the anxiety effortlessly left behind.

Bicycling is amazing like that. All I’m doing is getting from work to home, but somehow there’s so much more going on.

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Final Outdoor Farmer’s Market Trip

October is drawing to a close far too quickly and today was the last outdoor farmer’s market of the season. Luckily, Chicago’s Green City Market continues year-round indoors. Still, I will miss spending time outside in the fresh air of Lincoln Park. This is my last hurrah post with pictures I took using my vintage film camera.

After the market, I met up with Melissa and Chanh for the somewhat lackluster Rally to Restore Sanity (the main event was in D.C.). Afterward, we went to lunch. They were dressed up for Halloween as a redneck and a hippie. The waitress, after remarking on their costumes, turned to me and said, “I know who you are. From the Wizard of Oz. You’re Dorothy.” Hmm, I thought, this is actually how I dress everyday (in my new thrifted outfit). Aloud I said, “Yes, I am Dorothy.” A true statement, but not in the way she understood it. :)

And now, In Memorium: Summer 2010 Farmer’s Market.

Bicycling to the Farmer’s Market
Simple Pleasures
Farmer’s Market by Bike
Farmer’s Market on Film

How are you spending the last weekend of October?

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Bike Deprivation

I am in the middle of one of the longest stretches of bike deprivation I’ve suffered in my 2.5 years of cycling. On Saturday I did not ride my bike because I spent the entire day on the couch reading the fascinating book Joyride by former Portland Bicycle Program Manager Mia Birk (stay tuned for my write-up). On Sunday I did not ride my bike because I spent the entire day at a film bootcamp learning to develop and print my own photos.

Monday – I rode my bike! And Martha shot this portrait of me and Oma.

Me and Oma, shot by Martha Williams

Today I took the L train to work and I’ll be doing the same tomorrow. By force. Chicago is currently in the throes of the second-strongest storm in it recorded history, a cyclone over Lake Michigan that is bringing sustained winds of more than 30 mph with gusts up to 60 mph. As much as I love to ride, I know where to draw the line.

Things I miss about riding:

  • Eating donuts with a clear conscience;
  • Feeling the wind in my hair;
  • Not feeling like a giant ground sloth;
  • Free transportation – the L train ride today was $4.25 I’ll never get back;
  • No wait time;
  • Fresh air;
  • A cheerful start to the day;
  • A stress relief after a long day.

What good stuff did I leave out?  :)

Is anyone else feeling the affects of this massive storm?  I’m sure there are hardier souls than I who rode anyway.

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A Refresher Course on Fall Cycling Style

Fall is the most fun season to dress for, in my opinion, whether on a bike or not. Tights, scarves and boots all come into play, but in a fun and casual way, not the oppressive way of winter.

Last year we wrote a How To for fall cycling style. In Paris, Trisha demonstrated the effortlessly chic look that’s so spot on for this time of year.

Trisha demonstrates fall cycling on a Velib in Paris

Note the main ingredients that we discussed in last year’s advice column: a dress made season-appropriate with a pair of fun tights and a breezy cardigan. Such an outfit is a perfect mix of style and substance. Tres velo chic!

What’s your ideal fall cycling outfit?

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2-Year Oma Anniversary!

Today while riding Oma home, I started thinking about what a wonderful bike she is and how it must be close to our 2-year anniversary. I knew I got her sometime in October 2008. When I arrived home, I consulted the extensive Trisha-Dottie email archives to pinpoint the exact date: October 18! That is today, my friends.

As I’ve made very clear before, she’s the best bicycle a woman could hope for and has changed my life by making biking so fun and easy.

Don’t tell Ms. O that I almost forgot our anniversary; I’d never hear the end of it. She’s still upset that I ride Betty Foy so much.

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Blue Chicago

While bright oranges, reds and yellows get all the attention in the fall, smooth Chicago blues should not be overlooked.  Something about the crisp autumn air makes Lake Michigan seem very still and peaceful, while the early-setting sun casts my long shadow on the empty beaches.

Ah, can you almost feel the fresh air?  Riding my bike along the lakefront sure makes city living more enjoyable.

The picture below is the first I took today.  When I got home and reviewed all of my pictures together, I noticed a theme.  Not only the color blue, but look – the guitarist has a shadow.

Aside from admiring the water and chasing my shadow, I encountered a couple of people on my way home. A guy cycling by me said, “You win best-dressed.”  Not that I was trying or that being the best-dressed person on a bicycle is hard, but thanks.  :)  Skirt suit – purchased three years ago at Target on clearance for $20.

I also ran into John Greenfield, the guy we’ve organized our cocktails rides with in the past.  You should definitely check out John’s excellent writing at Vote with Your Feet and his book about drinking and biking from coast to coast, Bars Across America.

What colors, changes and people are you encountering on your rides?

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Belle and Sebastian and Bikes

Do you have tickets to a concert? Consider riding your bike there! Nothing is better after leaving a crowded theater and feeling amped up than jumping on your bike and sailing home in the cool night air. As a bonus, you probably have the streets all to yourself. Just bring your lights and pepper spray.

I experienced this joy Monday night, riding the Lakefront Trail after a Belle and Sebastian show at the Chicago Theater. At nearly midnight, Mr. Dottie and I were the only ones out there on the bike path and there were barely any cars on the streets. My new $5 thrift store skirt managed the bike/work/bike/concert/bike transition very well.

Past posts about riding bikes to concerts:

The Magnetic Fields
Tori Amos
Sonic Youth
Nashville’s 12th South Concert Series

Naturally, I’ve ridden my bike to every concert I’ve seen for the past two years. In addition to the shows I’ve blogged about, there’s been Kate Nash, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Amanda Palmer, Aimee Mann, Ani DiFranco, Meiko, Lucinda Williams, Lilly Allen, Swell Season, Regina Spektor, Sia, Death Cab, She and Him. So now you know my musical tastes and my failure to blog about many outings. :)

Who else likes to combine bike riding with concerts?

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Seasons on Two Wheels

Our third autumn of life on two wheels is here in full force. From the suddenly deserted beaches of Lake Michigan to the leaves burning with color, everything around me during the bike commute signals the changing of seasons and the passage of time.

Other than during my girlhood, I never took so much notice of or pleasure in the weather as I have in these last two and a half years of riding my bike every day. It’s amazing how a simple change in transportation mode can lead to a powerful change in life.

How are you experiencing autumn on two wheels?

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A Perfect Weekend

The weather this weekend was perfect – nearly 80 degrees with blue skies – made extra special by the knowledge that another such weekend probably won’t come around again until May.  I’m proud to say that I enjoyed the weekend to the fullest, especially since it conveniently coincided with my birthday and Trisha’s visit.

The weekend in a nutshell.  Friday started with a drooling-just-thinking-about-it lunch at Rick Bayless’s XOCO, the best sandwich shop ever.  After eating, we moved on to the Chicago Country Musical Festival (Gretchen Wilson) and then the Siskel Film Center to see Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Marilyn Monroe).

On Saturday, we rode bikes along the Lakefront Trail to downtown, where we met up with Melissa.

All together we took an architectural boat tour of the Chicago river , enjoying the views and warm sun.

Melissa was attacked by a giant Lego lion on Michigan Avenue, but managed to escape in time for a bike photo op.

At night there was a small rooftop party with a lot of champagne, gin and chartreuse.  My friend’s awesome daughter decorated this pumpkin for me.

Eventually I woke up on Sunday for an autumn-colored ride to the Andersonville neighborhood and fortified myself with gelato from a gorgeous Italian bakery, while more motivated people like Melissa’s fiance Chanh ran the Chicago marathon.

A delicious and decadent French dinner, followed by a long bike ride home, wrapped everything up.  Sadly, Trisha has now returned to Nashville – Chicago misses her already.

I feel very lucky for the beautiful weather, bicycle rides and wonderful friends.  Here’s to all that!

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Scottish Cycle Chic in Chicago

Jennifer is a bike commuter in Edinburgh, Scotland and an LGRAB reader. She owns both a WorkCycles Oma and a Pashley. When she mentioned that she was taking a vacation in Chicago, I was excited to suggest that we get together.

On Wednesday, we met up for a few beers with my friends Patty, Brian, Elizabeth and Dean (all bikey people, incidentally). Then yesterday Jennifer and I spent the day together with Oma and Betty. This turned out to be quite an adventure!

After a hearty Mexican lunch, we set out for the Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier via the Lakefront Trail. The wind was exceptionally fierce, crashing waves onto the path all around us, and the rain unexpectedly picked up during the ride, but it was still great fun.

I assume this mounted police officer was there to make sure no one tried anything stupid, like surfing.

Our raincoats mostly protected us. When we got to the theater my tights dried quickly and Jennifer cleverly let her long tunic top become a dress, while her jeans hung to dry in the coat check room. Then we warmed up in the pub over whiskey and Baileys before settling in for a great production of Romeo and Juliet.

After the play, we walked along Navy Pier a bit as the wind whipped around us, speculating as to how difficult our journey home would be, since the tail wind we enjoyed on the way there would be a head wind.

We walked over to the ferris wheel for a ride but it was closed, apparently due to the high winds.

As we figured, the head wind was killer and the 7-mile ride home was slow, cold and dark – but pretty funny! We could not help laughing at the absurdity of the situation: the trail was deserted and the two of us, in our dresses and on our upright bikes, were the only ones intrepid enough to brave the weather.  

Undeterred, we swung by my place to pick up Mr. Dottie and continued our ride to the Lincoln Square neighborhood, where we enjoyed dinner at a very lively German restaurant. Schnitzel, mashed potatoes and steins of beer work wonders to warm a body.

The rain picked up full force for our late ride home and poor Jennifer’s jeans got soaked all over again. Luckily, she was just an L train ride away from the warmth and comfort of her hotel room.

Many thanks to Jennifer for being great company and such a good sport! What could have been grounds for complaining instead became a fun, invigorating, laughter-filled adventure. ‘Cause cycling ladies are cool like that. :)

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Commuting to the Courthouse

This past week I rode my bike to work every day, as usual.

Yesterday I had a court hearing in the morning and I wore my professional outfit on the bike commute – a Brooks Brothers skirt, blouse, hose and shoes. As soon as I got to my office, I threw on the matching suit jacket that was waiting for me and walked one mile to the courthouse.

Thank goodness for the perfectly cool fall weather that made all of this possible without sweating. Also, major props to my new Liz Clairborne shoes from DSW. They are super comfortable for walking (I wore them every day in France), have no-slip rubber soles for biking and still look decent enough for work.

Nothing hip or especially fashionable here, just a real outfit on a real bike commute. :)

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Scenes From My New Commute

My new commute is not very different from my old one.  The biggest difference is that my office is not by the lake, so it makes sense to take city streets the whole way instead of the Lakefront Trail.  The other big difference is that  I don’t have to ride through downtown.

The streets I take have either bike lanes or marked shared lanes.  As you can see below, I’m able to slide past car traffic in the bike lane.

Car Traffic

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Last Week

These pictures are from last week. I’m remembering it fondly, as this week has been gray and dreary. Rain was pouring this morning, so I sighed and took the L train to work. I’ll be back tomorrow with a report of my new commute.

Good Times

A Final Burst of Fall

A Final Burst of Fall

Cycle Chic

P.S. I’m rarely able to take good pictures of other cyclists going by, but I managed to snap the one above. Note that she has a Jimmy Choo bag on the handlebars of her vintage Schwinn. Only when I was cropping this picture to post did I notice that her pants legs are tucked into her socks. Thank you, anonymous beauty, for proving that tucked hems can be stylish.

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Chicago’s Navy Pier

I ride by Navy Pier every day during my commute. Today the weather was gorgeous – sunny in the 60’s F – so I decided to stop and explore the pier before heading home. I enjoyed it all, even my $5 icecream cone :) This is a great place to go for families, friends and dates.  I love being a tourist in my home city, which you may have noticed. 

11-14 navy pier sign

11-14 ferris wheel

11-14 rides

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Ups and Downs: Balance on a Bike

My ride today was filled with wild variations. A super harsh headwind in the morning and a powerful tailwind in the evening. A calm, safe ride on the Lakefront Trail most of the way and a stressful, congested ride through downtown the rest of the way. Starting out a bit too cold and ending up a bit too hot. Life is full of ups and downs, and dealing with it on my bike helps me appreciate the balance. I really think bike commuting can be as mindful and therapeutic as yoga sometimes.

11-11 betty

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Farewell, October!

I was riding home from work today and saw this beautiful leafy scene. My sister and I loved to rake up piles of leaves and jump in them as kids. In honor of playing with leaves, I stopped and had a little too much fun with my camera’s self-timer. I was way too into my leaf-playing to care whether passersby thought I was insane.

On Your Mark

On Your Mark...

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