The Tour de Nash is currently on progress, and I’m watching riders come in after doing the 8-mile ride. (last one is a snap from the finish, where I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of Izze’s Ice. Oh, and also Lauren, Whitney & Sarah.
I missed the past couple of Critical Lass rides, so I was happy to catch up with the group for May’s ride. Coolest bicycling group in Chicago, for sure, including a couple of baby-bicyclists. We started in Roscoe Village and enjoyed a leisurely ride through Lakeview and Lincoln Park, ending at a Mexican restaurant for margaritas.
Many thanks to our fearless leader Ash, pictured first below.
We got rained on a little during the ride, but hail and lightening waited until we were safely at the restaurant and finished by the time we departed for our rides home. The goddesses were on our side.
Chicago’s monthly Critical Lass ride continues on, even in the dark cold!
Usually I avoid winter group rides because biking for a long time at slow speeds in freezing temps is a great way to freeze my extremities off.
The ladies behind Critical Lass understand these problems and have adjusted the winter rides accordingly. For the next few months, the ride will be short (3-4 miles) and end at neighborhood bars that are close to home for as many of the lasses as possible.
This plan worked perfectly for December’s ride. A hardy group of 16 lasses showed up and spent much more time drinking pitchers of beer in a cozy pub than pedaling in the cold.
To stay up-to-date on the different dates and locations for Chicago’s Critical Lass ride, check out the Facebook page.
What do you think about winter group rides? Have you been on one this year?
Last weekend’s Nashville bike brunch took us to Sylvan Park at the suggestion of Jessica and Sten. This was a new idea for me, but Google maps swore it was only about 4.5 miles from my house by bike. Once I learned that, it became an instance of, why haven’t I ridden there before?
We met at the corner of Belmont and Portland (otherwise known as where Belmont becomes Portland; Nashville streets are always changing names!) and consulted on a route. Sten had come up with one that was slightly longer but avoided one major intersection and another major hill.
As we left the restaurant, someone noticed that Whitney’s tires looked low. Someone else noticed that there was a gas station with an air pump nearby. We looped around and took a break for bike maintenance.
Le Peug got topped off too.
If this all looks fun, laid-back and easy, it’s because it was. None of us are sports cyclists, just people who want to have a good time tooling around together by bike. And eating. OK, and maybe discussing our bikes. And books. And travel. And cats (although dog lovers are welcome!). If someone’s chain falls off, we’re happy to stop and fix it. If we see something interesting along the route, Le Peug (like all my bikes) stops for yard sales.
Our next meetup will be at next Thursday’s Live on the Green (I’m working bike valet for Walk/Bike Nashville). Our next brunch will be Sunday, October 2. We’re planning to take advantage of the fall weather and head over to East Nashville for brunch at Mad Donna’s and a short ride along the Shelby Bottoms Greenway.
If riding to East Nashville won’t work for you, take your bike on your car, or the bus! Multimodal transport is never a deal-breaker. Feel free to email me for route advice.
(Thanks to Sten and Kim for the photos used in this post!)
TGIF! It’s hard to believe that this is the last weekend of August already.
In order to enjoy the remaining days of summer as much as possible, yesterday I signed up for the Four Star Bike Tour on Sunday, which is an annual ride hosted by and benefiting the Active Transportation Alliance. In the past, I’ve volunteered at the ride, but never biked it myself.
There are four route options, 12/21/35/65 miles, and I plan to do the 35-mile route, which will be 50 miles of riding when I add in the trip from home and back. Sounds like a lovely way to see the city:
You’ll travel through many of the same Chicago neighborhoods as the Chicago Ramble, also riding through Bronzeville, Hyde Park, South Commons and the Near South Side. You’ll explore Garfield and Humboldt Parks before following Oakwood and Drexel Boulevards south to soak up the beautiful, historic Kenwood and Hyde Park neighborhoods. In Hyde Park, you’ll head east through the Midway Plaissance, and then continue south on Woodlawn to Jackson Park where you’ll pick up the Lakefront Trail for the return trip.
I’ll have to dig in the back of my closet to pull out my only cycling-specific outfit of padded shorts and jersey (wool, of course!).
Does anyone else have special bicycling weekend plans?
All right folks, it’s another evening and another drawing/roundup of this year’s Summer Games winners. Every day this week through Friday, we will be posting a round-up of LGRAB 2011 Summer Games players and announcing the lucky prize winners. Winners will be randomly drawn from the entire pool of players.
For those of you looking for ideas for books to read about cycling, Molly has a review for you:
I picked up this kids book about the history of women and bicycles from the library several months ago and I keep renewing it without reading it. The Summer Games changed that. Actually, this book might have been recommended by one of you: Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way). It was interesting, but I would have liked more about the impact of bicycles on women’s day to day lives, and less on famous lady bike racers.
She performed a maintenance task–an impressive one if you ask me!
I accidentally did the same maintenance task for this year’s Summer Games as I did last year: Repacking a hub. I’m still not very good at it. If I’d planned ahead I could have counted many other things, since this summer I took an 8 week bike workshop through Common Cycle, and we learned everything from raising saddles to replacing cables and housing to headset adjustment. But I didn’t take pictures any of those weeks. I waited til the very last week, when we were doing hubs and wheel truing. Here’s the picture I attempted to take of myself; it was hard because my hands were covered in grease and all I had was my phone.
Molly also went on a group ride on her birthday (happy birthday Molly!) and took this lovely summer-themed photo. We need to do a flikr pool of these for us to pine over when we’re stuck in the depths of winter once again. Mm, sweet corn.
Meanwhile, in Wiltshire, Kate from mixed baby greens was making headway on her four events. First up: writing to a council member about a much-needed improved crossing. She heard back that it was in the works. “Which means that from Friday onwards I’ll be able to ride the cycle-lane, stop and cross the road safely exactly where I need to, and head straight to the off-road route into town.”
She also took a new road home and performed a maintenance task: replacing the old pump and bottle cage on her bike with a new, more coordinated one.
And she snapped a photo that is the perfect combo of summer and bikes. I love it!
One of the best things about having a bike blog is having all sorts of cool people contact you to say that you’ve inspired them to create their own blog. Kathy in Chicago is among that number and you can read about her adventures in multi-modal commuting at Train-Bike Bike-Train. Kathy test-rode a cargo bike and videoed the results—click on the photo to see the video.
JoAnna rediscovered cycling a year ago when she was in Paris and hasn’t looked back (a woman after our own hearts!). For the Games, she completed seven tasks: riding a bike on vacation, writing a letter, reading a book, cleaning her chain, riding on a greenway and participating in New York’s Summer Streets.
She tuned up her bike and went out for a ride, ending up in a new part of town and discovering a new friend along the way.
How have I never realized that my favorite droid has been waving to me all summer long as I biked to and from work? I honestly couldn’t be happier to have met this new friend. Isn’t it just the summeriest, happiest thing, to have droid along your ride?
(our answer: YES!)
Yvonne, aka The Knot Whisperer, also got in on the fun. She very responsibly biked to jury duty, making me horribly jealous because, oddly, I have always wanted to be chosen for jury duty and somehow have gone 12 years without being tapped (yes, I know it will probably be boring. I still want to be picked for the team!). She read The Lost Cyclist, a fascinating true tale of a man who biked around the world back in the late 1800s.
I couldn’t help putting myself in Lenz’s place as he traveled through Japan and China without speaking a word of those countries’ languages. While it’s true that I went to St. Petersburg, Russia, without knowing a word of Russian, I went there as part of a writing seminar and was therefore hardly on my own. I can’t imagine how frightening it must have been for him, all on his own, especially back then when foreign countries were truly foreign to most people.
She wrote asking for improvements to the Ashland/Armitage/Elston intersection, aka the “Intersection of Terror.” And she rode a cruiser on vacation! Sweet.
OK, now that you’re all inspired: it’s time to reveal the winners, drawn by Dot.
First up: Bates Crate Porter Crate, a beautiful, functional, handmade carrying crate for your bike.
It goes to . . . Kathy F, whose adventures were featured above.
Lately it seems I’m posting more about group rides and events than about my daily biking. While I continue to ride my bike to work and everywhere else, the high points of my biking life have been special events like Critical Lass, the Women-Who-Bike Brunch, my Cupcake Ride and the Tour de Fat. There is simply no better way to enjoy Chicago in the summer than outside, under the sun, on my bicycle, chatting with nice people.
Now I’m adding the Seersucker Ride to that list, which I joined last Sunday. The ride was co-organized by the BBC (British Bicycles of Chicago), the Slow Bicycle Society and Velo-Francais. Sort of like a Tweed Ride for the summer heat.
There was an excellent turn out of excellently turned-out folks. :) We met at a neighborhood watering hole for starter refreshments. I chose a summer shandy to deal with the heat wave weather. (I refuse to listen to anyone who points out that alcohol dehydrates!)
Then we headed to beautiful Humboldt Park for a picnic. By far the classiest picnic I’ve ever seen, with table cloths, mini strawberry shortcakes, and fresh mixed mint juleps!
Fun bicycle events provide such a friendly and relaxed environment. I enjoyed chatting with old friends and meeting new people.
Everyone was dressed so nicely, very casual chic.
After the picnic, we meandered slowly to another watering hole, where I chose to remain for a couple of hours before heading home. :)
Oh, yeah, and there was this:
Take that fixies and BMX bikes! He was actually only one of five penny-farthing riders there and three of them were women. (I can’t believe I forgot to get a picture!)
Ash gave the Pennyfarthing a try, but I am too much of a chicken for something like that.
Many thanks to the organizers of the Seersucker Ride. Everyone had a great time!
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.
I am pleased to introduce a new addition to Chicago’s growing women-bicycling scene: Critical Lass! Every third Thursday, 6:00 pm, at the Polish Triangle.
The ride’s name is self explanatory: think Critical Mass but exclusively for women and with an extra dose of friendliness.
The Critical Lass concept was – I think – created last year by Loop Frame Love in Edmonton, Canada. Girls and Bicycles and Breaking Chains Taking Lanes also participate in the Edmonton ride. Now my friend Ash of One Less Minivan has picked up the idea and worked to bring the ride to life in Chicago. As far as I know, Chicago is the second city to host a ride using the Critical Lass name (always the Second City).
Critical Lass is a monthly 5-8 mile bike ride exclusively for women/trans cyclists. In situations where childcare is not available to you, children who can ride independently while maintaining a 10MPH pace and younger kids in bike seats/trailers will be welcome to join the ride.
We meet on the third Thursday of each month at Polish Triangle (Division/Ashland/Milwaukee) in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Begin arriving at 6pm for a 6:30 departure.
The route will change monthly, always ending at a restaurant or bar for drinks, nosh and conversation.
I’m excited! Hope to see many of you Chicagoans there. If not this month, then June, July, August, September, etc. :)