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.
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.
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 bookJoyride 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;
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.