Well, it had to happen one day: On Tuesday, I left work to discover that I had my first-ever flat. Poor Le Peug!
I considered going inside to ask my coworkers for a ride home. I considered calling a friend. But it was a beautiful spring day—the first we’d had in a while—and I had some time before I had to be at the farmer’s market in Sevier Park, so I decided to lock Le Peug back up and walk.
Once I was three blocks away, I remembered that my shoes, while not the least comfortable heels I owned, were not really the best for this sort of activity.
I was jealous of ALL OF THE BIKES that went by. And even one skateboarder, at whom I would have ordinarily scoffed. (Since when has that become a legit form of transportation?)
But I made it to the market, albeit a bit footsore, and partook of an Izzy’s Ice as a reward.
The next day, I drove to work. Afterwards, Le Peug and Minnie got to know each other on the way to Halcyon.
When we got there, Andrew offered to show me how to fix a flat myself. Never one to say no to the pursuit of knowledge, I agreed. I’ve always been a little embarrassed that I have never changed a bike tube, because when I first started driving, my dad made sure I knew how change a car tire, change and check the oil, replace the fluids, etc—it was part of being a responsible vehicle operator. Maybe I should be a more responsible bicycle operator? After all, they’re much simpler, right?
Well, changing a tire might be a simple task, but it’s not necessarily easy. It took me a good 30 minutes at least, and there was a lot of awkward fumbling and possibly some moderate swearing. Andrew would demonstrate a 10-second task (like separating the bead of the tire from the rim) and then I would struggle for 10 minutes. My long nails and short dress made it a challenge, and I felt especially inept since there was an appropriately dressed and extremely skilled female bike repairer working at the station next to mine…but eventually I had a new tube in a new tire and that new tire was on my old bike.
While I’m glad I have given changing a flat a shot, I don’t plan to start carrying tools with me on my bike. In an urban environment, when I’m biking short distances, there are too many other options for me if something goes wrong with a bike—calling a friend, taking the bus home and yes, walking, are all preferable to me than changing a flat in my office parking lot. That said, I really appreciated that my LBS offered me the chance to learn something even though I was a woman in business attire—a lot of people would have taken one look and automatically assumed I wouldn’t be interested. Maybe I’ll at least keep a tire lever and some extra tubes at home…although if it takes me four years to get another flat I will have forgotten everything I learned on Wednesday!
Anyone else have a flat tire story? Do you carry tools with you on your bike? Why or why not?
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!)
My ride to East Nashville added up to more than a sunburn. I’m the worst when it comes to taking photos—especially when one has to pause to take them under the broiling noonday sun—but I did manage to capture a few images from my ride with Whitney and Raleigh a couple of weeks back.
First of all, her Raleigh and Le Peug are now serious buds. Don’t they look great together?
Like all the best bike rides, the point was the journey. It was Mother’s Day, so we avoided the more traditional brunch spots and had salads and a drink at Beyond the Edge, followed by a delicious ice cream cone at Pied Piper Creamery.
By that point the Nashville Bicycle Lounge was open, and we swung by to check it out and chat with owner Dan, who was in the midst of building up this sweet ride. In his words, “If Lizzie Borden rode a bike, this [custom Surly] would be it.”
The Bicycle Lounge is a really cool spot—it’s one of the only places in Nashville with a selection of transportation bicycles like Surly and Linus. Dan said he has trouble keeping the Linus bikes in particular in stock.
As soon as Whitney and I walked in, Dan greeted us. His first words were compliments on our vintage rides. Saying nice things about my bike is on the top 10 list of ways to my heart (other items on the list: cooking dinner, an affinity for Lionel Shriver novels, laughing at my jokes, foreign accents) so things were on the right track to begin with.
After ordering a couple of parts and purchasing some new brake pads for the Raleigh, we were heading back in the full heat of the day. Since going back home from East Nashville contained a few more uphill runs than the way there, we paused in a parking lot. Being dehydrated and sweaty did not make contemplating the soul who discarded a chicken bone, a grape jelly packet and the butt of a Swisher Sweet in the parking lot any more appetizing (let’s hope he or she did not eat them all at once).
Anyone else visited a new bike shop lately, or gone somewhere else a bit off the beaten path? I have to say that this ride whetted my appetite for some longer rides. Nothing like the sense of excitement that comes from conquering another part of town by bike.
Earlier this year, Trisha and I opened a Formspring account and welcomed you all to ask us questions. We’ve been answering the questions on Formspring individually as they come in. Now we’re putting the answers together as a cohesive FAQ section, although some of the questions are not so frequent. :) This is the second half. Read the first half here.
Amsterdam is flat. Chicago is flat. Is Nashville flat? What effect does topology have on how bike-friendly a city is? I suppose Portland is not flat.
I don’t think Portland is flat, no. And Nashville definitely isn’t! IMO that is not the biggest consideration for bike-friendliness, although it may be an obstacle in developing a large bicycling culture since hills can be intimidating. You will develop the necessary muscles, and there’s always the downhill stretches! And hey, as Dottie pointed out in a recent post, there’s no shame in walking your bike up a hill if you need to.
Don’t your feet get sweaty when wearing heels? Even when I wear just flats its definitely not as comfortable as when I wear socks + some sort of sneaker
No, my feet are actually cooler when I’m not wearing socks and sneakers. Maybe you could throw a bit of talcum or baby powder into your heels before you set off and see if that makes a difference.
On Sunday I had a little bike brunch with Whitney, a LGRAB reader who recently moved to Nashville. After a hearty meal at Fido, we decided to head to the Frist to catch the new Birth of Impressionism exhibit. (Funny story — my coworker was in Paris just after we were this Fall and went to the d’Orsay hoping to see the painting of Whistler’s mother. It wasn’t there—because it was on its way to Nashville.)
We got to the museum a few minutes before opening time, so we took a few photos.
The Frist used to be Nashville’s main post office, back in the 30s when the USPS was a source of national pride, and the building is an Art Deco masterpiece. Even the benches have those crisp, architectural edges.
It’s been a long time since I went on a bike ride with friends in my own city, and it felt great.
If you want to go on a group ride in Nashville — you’re in luck. I’m leading a Tweed Ride on Sunday, November 21. We’ll be meeting at 2 pm in Fannie Mae Dees (aka Dragon) park. More details about the route will come in a post of their own, tomorrow…
Last night I was going to a business meeting. It was nearby, but the sky was dropping spittle that seemed likely to turn into rain, and I had to transport a manuscript. As I considered the pros and cons of bike and car, I was met with this sight:
Clearly a sign from the universe, right? (The Mustang is my car.)
Scolding myself for even thinking of driving the short distance, I grabbed Le Peug and set off. We got to the meeting only minimally damp and right on time.
But apres, le deluge. Which I and my vintage suede suit jacket were not ready for. It has been months since I’ve ridden in the rain—have I mentioned it has been a dry fall?—and I had totally forgotten how hard it is to see when rain is flying in your eyes. That was bad enough, but then I tried to stop at a stop sign and realized that Le Peug’s slightly weak rear brake, which I have been meaning to fix for a couple of months, doesn’t work at all when the rims are wet. Worst scare I’ve ever had on my bike—I almost threw myself off because I was sure I was going to end up in front of an oncoming car (until I thought of just turning right instead of going straight as I had intended).
Last Saturday, I took a trip downtown for BarCamp. It was a beautiful afternoon, and after a few hours in tech seminars lit only by the glow of Apple computers, I was ready for some sunshine. Wanting to prolong my trip home, I swung by Riverfront Park to check out our much-touted bike share program. I was already feeling guilty for waiting two whole months to visit.
So I left Le Peug tethered and walked the two blocks to the Visitor’s Center.
This is what I found.
A trip inside was no more encouraging. My friend and I stood in front of the reception desk for at least a minute before the young man sitting behind it noticed us (hard to hear an entry bell when you’re listening to your iPod). We proceeded to attempt to extract some info about the program from him. It was like pulling teeth from a hen. He eventually said that to borrow the bikes, we would have to be residents of Davidson County (check) and would have to fill out a form (he implied this had to be done online beforehand; I’m not sure that’s true).
Since I had my own bike, I did not press the issue. But it made me wonder if anyone at all had actually been able to use this program. It’s nice that you can rent bikes for free and cruise around downtown. It’s not so nice that on one of the most beautiful fall days of the year, the bikes were covered by tarps in the back of the building and the person in charge did nothing to encourage their use, even when confronted with people who were interested.
This bike share program has seemed dubious from the beginning — just two locations, Davidson County residents only — but the fact that it was free and the fact that the two stations were in good locations made me think the investment might be worth it, if only to give Nashville’s citizens a risk-free way to rediscover riding a bike on a lazy afternoon. Maybe the Shelby Bottoms location is more welcoming, but if the Riverfront station is an indicator, I doubt they’ll get enough use out of the bikes to justify next year’s planned expansion. The Music City Star all over again?
On a cheerier note, here’s a picture from downtown. I loved seeing the SUV behind the horse and buggy.
And here’s a pic of us back home. You may have noticed I’m missing about 11 inches of hair. Locks of Love was very appreciative, and I adore my new bob.
A close up:
But back to the subject at hand: Any Nashvillians had a better experience with this program than mine? I’m willing to admit it was just one day and one man, albeit one perfect day for a bike ride…
OK, so I’m still not sure about this statement when it comes to romantic relationships, but it does apply to me and my bikes. Every once in a while, I get in a rut where bicycle commuting seems as problematic as any other form of routine transportation. Over the past two years I’ve learned that if I start feeling that way, the best remedy is to not fight it. After a few days off the bike, riding it again feels like a new discovery or a special treat. That wasn’t the reason for my recent break in riding, though: it was due to the extreme head cold I’ve been fighting since getting back from NYC. Despite a welcome drop in the temperature I hadn’t felt up to getting on my bike — until yesterday.
What happens to one's skin under heavy bangs after 3 weeks of 100 degree temperatures is not pretty.
And it felt great. Le Peug and I added on an extra couple of miles by going to my friend Erin’s to pick up our CSA share. Only one squash was lost on the way home (darn pletscher racks).
For the last few weeks you may have noticed me riding Le Peug more often.
But I like to be fair (I was the kind of child who worried about stuffed animals being lonely if they didn’t sleep with me every night, which is why I only ever had one), so for the past couple of weeks it’s been the Bat’s turn.
The minute my butt hit the seat, I thought, no wonder I brought this bike back from the UK. Smooth, stylish, sturdy, easy to shift, built-in lights and zero maintenance. Why would I want to ride something else? Why have two bikes, again?
Funny thing is, I know I’ll feel the same way the next time I get back on Le Peug. Light, nimble, sporty and fast. Why would I want to ride something else? Why have two bikes, again?
Over the past few days, spring has tipped over into full bloom.
Blossoms at Belmont
On Monday’s ride, I had to stop and take a picture when I realized that I was dressed to match the blooming redbud.
This picture taken courtesy of a 1960s Ford pickup, whose hood was kind enough to hold my camera. Obviously self-timed snaps are something I take very seriously (or maybe it’s just that it was Monday morning?).
Today it’s lovely and sunny, cool…it’s time to give the Bat a spin.