Tag Archives: Nashville

Bikes + cars at the Frist

Is biking to see an automotive exhibit the ultimate in cognitive dissonance? Don’t ask me; I was an English major. Anyway. Whitney and I did just that a couple of Thursdays ago, for the members-only preview of Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles.

lepeugweb

I tried to wait out the woman in the background, but no dice.

whitmefrist

Yes, we biked in these outfits.


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Re-discovering Nashville

Howdy!  I recently got an iPhone and I’m intrigued by all the blogging/twitter/picture possibilities.  Therefore, those of you who follow us on Twitter may have seen that Trisha and I were hanging together in Nashville this weekend.  Working on some fun blog-related stuff.  :-)

On Saturday, we biked to the park and picnicked for a few hours with a bottle of wine and some good cheese.  I rode the Flik folding bike and Trisha rode her beloved Kate Spade Abici.

dot flik

trisha abici

nashville

Other than blog work and bicycling, we’ve basically been eating our way through Nashville, with stops at Barista Parlor, Rolf and Daughters, Hattie B’s Chicken (for a Nashville bike brunch and meet-up with my friend Erin and her baby Finn), and The Pharmacy.  Love Southern Food!

hattie

erin

hattie2

pharmacy

We also absorbed some culture at the Frist Art Museum.

frist

tulips

Finally, a bit of shopping, including some long-desired, ultra-local Imogen + Willie jeans for Trisha and Wolford tights for me (I’ll review them here, as I’m hopeful they are the perfect winter tights).

Re-discovering Nashville with every visit (after living here six years ago) is always a treat.  The city is on a huge upswing, including improving public transportation and bicycling facilities.  Every time I visit, there is more to see and do!

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2013 by bike, so far

I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I look back on the year before and try to tweak the formula a little to come up with a better year to come—more of this, less of that and a little of something new. Still, I always try to start the New Year out by doing things that I want to do more of (or keep doing) in 2013.

So on New Year’s Eve I made sure to take my bike over to my neighbor’s for a quick dinner of Fat Mo’s and prosecco.
NewYearsRide
Freezing rain on New Year’s Day—and a persistant cough that I can’t seem to shake (along with half my office)—meant that my next ride had to wait a while. But I did take a quick ride to Halcyon last night for a party for the volunteers for the 12South Winter Warmer. The place was packed (I love parties in bike shops!) and the beer was great.

Halcyon

The party

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Other things I have done so far in 2013:

  • Attended the Belcourt (they’re doing a Hitchcock retrospective! I got to see The Lady Vanishes on the big screen)
  • Spent a whole day lying on the couch watching a BBC miniseries (The Crimson Petal and the White, very good)
  • Visited the new coffeeshop in my neighborhood, run by the best roasters in town
  • Eaten Pad Thai twice
  • Made a galette des rois (in progress now)

Judging from this list, I’d better get up to something a bit more active this weekend, lest 2013 be a year of sloth and screen-staring. Luckily Anna is coming into town today and can perhaps save me from myself with a nice long bike ride.

How’s everyone else’s New Year going so far?

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Park(ing) Day Downer

So Friday was Park(ing) Day, a day when cities around the country take over parking spots and turn them into urban parks. When my friend Whitney said she was volunteering at the one downtown, I immediately begged to tag along with her for her 7-10 pm shift. Our ride downtown was pretty pleasant, featuring Minnie Pearl impersonators outside the Country Music Hall of Fame:

Minnie Pearl lives, in Nashville anyway!

 

Blocked-off streets due to a downtown music festival (no problem for bikes!):

 

And a few hills:

Here’s what we were expecting to find, thanks to the Nashville Civic Design Center’s Facebook page:

Here is what we found:

 

The Flik sadly contemplates the dusty remants of an ancient civillization

 

No green stuff, but lots of traffic!

I guess Nashville can’t give up a parking spot for more than a few hours? I won’t lie, we were pretty annoyed—especially Whitney, who had volunteered her time and was not contacted about the event ending early.

We salvaged the evening with a progressive ride to the Nashville Night Market, dinner at Silo in Germantown and a beer at the Taproom.

Anyone have a more positive Park(ing) Day experience than I did? Hope so.

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Review: Bird Industries Bike Garter

When I saw bike garters from Bird Industries available in one of those email flash sales a few months back, I decided to give one a whirl. This particular bike garter had been recommended a few times in our comments section, and I have a few skirts I like to wear on my bike that give me occasional modesty issues. The bike garter is pretty simple: It’s a garter with a clip much like an actual garter, but the clip is meant to grab your skirt, not a stocking. The Bird Industries garter I chose was a bright pink and size large since I wanted to make sure it was not too snug. The inside of the garter has a silicone grip, and it stays put on my leg without pinching (though it’s not the sort of thing you really forget you are wearing).

The clip is not difficult to use, but the way it works was not intuitive to me: instead of pinching the end of the clasp to make the end that opens open, you push it up to open the clasp.

The first time I wore the garter, I fixed the clasp to the hem of my skirt, on the side. It made a bit of a bubble hem, but looked pretty normal.

Skirt with garter clip clipped to the hem—note the slight bubble

You can also attach the clasp to a spot on the underside of the skirt.

rear side of skirt clipped to garter

skirt with the garter clip clipped to the underside of the skirt

Both clasp methods worked to keep the skirt from flying all the way up, and did not impede my pedaling ability. However, neither kept the garter from showing. This is clear on the Bird Industries store, so it isn’t like they’re misleading anyone, but I was surprised by the way exposed garter made me feel. It still seemed that something was showing that ought not to be—and that “something” was bright pink! I didn’t take pictures of this situation for that reason. But it was easily resolved by tucking a small portion of my skirt hem under the edge of the garter at the side. I am not sure I would feel comfortable wearing this garter with a shorter skirt, like the ladies in the Bird Industries photos. Which is odd, because I don’t consider myself that shy about that sort of thing—it took me four years to buy one of these, after all.

Garter clip in action, with garter safely covered.

As I mentioned, I bought my garter clip on super clearance through one of those “final sale” flash shops, but the normal retail price is $12. Overall, it is an effective method of keeping your underwear under wraps, as long as you don’t mind flashing a garter instead.

Do you use a bike garter?

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Fun with the Folding Flik

When I visited Nashville a couple of weeks ago, I used the Jango Flik, a nifty folding bike that Trisha reviewed a while ago.  The bike was a lot of fun!  I zipped all around town, at least 12 miles, and the Flik was right there with me, handling up-hills and down-hills with ease.

The size of the bike fits both me and Trisha, despite our height differences, because the handlebars and seat tube are highly adjustable.

The Flik is also light and easy to carry.  I simply locked it up outside at my destination instead of folding it, but yeah – it folds, too.

I have not heard much about the Flik in the last couple of years, which is surprising because it’s such a cool little bike.  Most people with folding bikes seem to go with the classic elegance of a Brompton or similar, but the cute baby alien look of the Flik is kinda awesome.

At one point, while riding with a group of about 6 others, a pedestrian called out: “I like your bike the best!”  Ha.  My companions had some lovely bikes, but the Flik is an attention-getter, for sure.

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Cyclist Hot Chicken Happy Hour

Last night a few of us in Nashville met up for some hot chicken & beer at Hattie B’s in Midtown. YUM.

 

For those of you who haven’t had hot chicken, this Nashville delicacy is unique among foods. The spice mix is dry, not wet like hot wings, and though the exact formulas used in places like Prince’s & Bolton’s are top-secret, any fool can tell it’s cayenne-based. The chicken is served on a slice of white bread with a few pickle chips. Purists eat it without dipping sauce, but I learned last night that hot chicken and honey is the absolute best! The honey calms the heat without muting the flavors.

The remnants of my hot chicken

Lauren and I went for the second-hottest spice level (Hattie B’s offers mild, medium, hot! and damn hot!), and it was more manageable than I feared—in fact, it wasn’t too much hotter than Jessica and Sten’s “medium” chicken. I’d say the heat levels here are more mainstream than they are at either Prince’s or Bolton’s, if any locals are curious.

Jessica, Sten & Lauren

Whitney & me

Whitney’s bike with a Basil flower garland on the back

The Flik sat next to me

As is pretty much par for the course here in Nashville, there was some huge live music event going on. Whatever it was, it was going on behind Chuy’s (Loser’s?) and we could hear it all the way where we were.

After dinner, Lauren, Whitney and I hit Pinkberry.

Bikes parked by Pinkberry

Then I led them astray for just one more drink at the Broadway Brewhouse, where no photos were taken but fun was had.
:)

 

If you’re a city cyclist in Nashville and want to come to our next happy hour or brunch, please join our Google Group. We’d love to have you! I often post about other bike-related events in Nashville there, too—things that don’t necessarily appear on the blog.

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Roll Model: Lauren in Nashville

As part of the new LGRAB, every Tuesday we will profile an inspiring everyday cyclist—a weekly series called “Roll Models.”

This week’s Roll Model is Lauren T., who rides here in Nashville. If Lauren looks familiar to you, it’s because she’s been a loyal attendee of bike brunches and events here in Nashville since the very beginning (well, that, and she wrote a terrific guest review of the Lululemon crops).  The photos she chose here do a great job of illustrating her lively, adventurous personality and the fun she has riding her bike. Not shown: Her penchant for colorful language, apparently reserved for those of us who have the privilege of knowing her personally! Read on for Lauren’s take on the bike scene in Nashville.

Describe your bicycling style in three words.

colorful, fearless, inventive

How long have you been riding a bike?

I’ve been cycling for about 2 years. Of course, I had a bicycle when I was a kid, and I loved riding it everywhere, but I stopped when I got my driver’s license… and forgot everything. It is possible to forget how to ride a bike, I don’t care what anyone says! I had to re-learn in my back yard. I promptly rode straight into a bush and tipped over. Fortunately, it gets much easier after that :)

 

At bike to work day 2012

How does bicycling fit into and/or shape your life?

I do have a car, but I try to ride my bike at least a couple of times a week – for exercise, less gas consumption, a stress reliever, and also because it’s just fun. I only live about 5 miles from my office so this actually pretty feasible. A little less than a year ago, my truck died (like, needed a new engine died) during a long weekend… and I wasn’t nearly as bummed as I thought I would be, since I knew my bike would get me where I needed to go (and the public transit could pick up the slack!). I spent about a month getting around via bike and bus before I found a replacement truck… and the whole process was actually kind of fun! Not to mention I had the luxury of taking my sweet leisurely time in picking out something in my budget that wasn’t a piece of junk, instead of just grabbing the first deal that came my way. I’m not quite at the point where I’m willing to entirely give up my car, but I’m definitely heading in that direction!

What inspires you to keep bicycling?

As dorky as it sounds, the wonderful feeling I get from cycling is what keeps me going. I love the feeling of freedom, of propelling myself with the strength of my own two legs. And, you know, it feels pretty dang good to roll up at some giant festival downtown & lock my bike to the nearest rack – instead of paying $15 to park my car (and get stuck in traffic crawls when all is said and done!).

In your experience, does the general bicycling world—shops, outreach, group rides, etc.—feel welcoming for you as a woman?

In my city – absolutely! I think this city & all the little bike gangs around do their best to make sure everyone is included – both women and men. I’ve never felt stupid or looked down on for wandering into a bike shop & asking dumb questions. My commute has lots of interactions with male cyclists – the kind who are head to toe in colorful spandex on top of a really expensive bike – and we all chat each other up & offer words of encouragement. I may be rolling around on a spray painted Frankenbike, but I’ve never felt like I was inferior because of that, or because I am a lady cyclist.

Lauren in a cycling jacket she sewed

What is your take on the “gender gap” in cycling, including media attention on how to get more women to bicycle?

I don’t see much of a gender gap – maybe I’m just oblivious to it. Wouldn’t be the first time!

If you could magically change one thing to improve bicycling in your city, what would it be?

I think the single most important thing we need here is education – lots and lots of education. Education for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. We all need to learn how to share the roads – they are there for all vehicles, not just ones that use gasoline :) I’d say that the majority of my problems from cycling around in the city are from driver ignorance — whether they are passing too close because they don’t know better, or maybe they didn’t know they couldn’t park in the bike lane, and even a lot of the road rage toward cyclists. Nope, me cycling in the street is not illegal, sorry!

Lauren at the Tour de Fat

Do you feel optimistic about the future of bicycling?

Oh, yes! I really do think we are heading toward a more sustainable lifestyle – and bicycling is definitely a big part of that. Seeing all the progress that my city is pushing toward pedestrians & cyclists absolutely makes me feel optimistic about the future.

Any advice for people, especially women, who want to start cycling?

Starting out can be intimidating & scary, but it will get easier the more you ride! You don’t need something overly fancy/expensive to start, just make sure you have the seat at the right height & that you feel comfortable on your bike. I started out by riding in circles around my block (and tipping over every single time I tried to turn the bike, haha), and then working up to tiny ½ – 1 mile rides down the road – until I was at the point where I could comfortably ride all the way to my office. I was very timid when I started – I wouldn’t even bike around my neighborhood solo, too scared! – but now I’m kind of fearless. I’ll bike anywhere, for any distance, and I’ll even do it in a skirt! Yeah!

Final words?

My riding mantra is, “If I was in a hurry, I’d take my car.” Slow down and enjoy the ride! Otherwise – what’s the point? :)

Thanks Lauren! For more about Lauren, visit her sewing blog, Lladybird, and be wowed by her stitchery talent. She’s currently helping me sew a skirt.  In the three months I’ve been working on it off and on with her, she’s completed approximately a dozen outfits. 

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East Nashville Greenway tour

A couple of weeks ago I took advantage of the beautiful spring weather to ride to East Nashville and do some of the Shelby Bottoms Greenway with some friends.

Kermit Allegra was kitted out with everything you need to go 20-ish miles crosstown: coffee and a Po Campo bag.

Of course, we started out at the coffeehouse.

And then hit the trail for a couple of miles.

It’s nice being so close to nature in the city. We could hear frogs croaking like mad and were determined to see one.

Whitney attempted to prod the area with a stick to see if we could make the frogs jump

Finally, we spotted one, thanks to a kid and his mom.

Shelby Bottoms Nature Center

All in all, it was a relaxing way to spend the afternoon.

What have you been doing on your weekend rides lately?

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Nashville Share the Road photoshoot: Behind the scenes

Two weeks ago, Kermit Allegra and I were invited to take part in a photo shoot for Metro’s latest “Share the Road” campaign — an initiative created through a collaboration between the Mayor’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) and Metro Public Health. Funding came from Communities Putting Prevention to Work, a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (so Nashville cyclists, don’t say the stimulus package never did anything for you.).

They shot two types of cyclists: me on my bike in a dress and heels, and a sporty road bike rider. Imagine me in the place of Keith (the sporty cyclist) and Kermit Allegra in place of his bike (since I could not photograph and also be photographed). You’ll see the shots soon! The campaign is set to launch March 15, in conjunction with the official inauguration of the spanking new Music City Bikeway. It’ll be mostly MTA and (gulp) billboard ads.They are meant to educated drivers in particular on how to behave when confronted with people who make alternate transportation choices.  Hence the car in the shot, happily sharing the road with the bike.

This is what the creative director saw.

 

Here is Kermit Allegra waiting her turn, with her Po Campo bag on the rear rack. Note the sadist with the reflector blinding our cyclist friend. He was doing the same when it was my turn (though he was quite apologetic about it). I’m pretty sure they’re going to have to Photoshop eyes onto me because it was nearly impossible to keep from squinting! But I guess that’s how photoshoots roll.

This was what I was staring at. Note the sunny glare/flare/whatever you call it. One other fact I learned: you cannot expect sweet jams during a city-funded photoshoot. So if I don’t look particularly natural when you see me on the side of the bus, please be kind. I was sun blinded and not even enjoying some Lady Gaga to compensate. :)

Despite these hardships, the photoshoot was a fun experience, and the campaign is going to be a great thing for Nashville. Let me know if you spot it before I do!

 

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February Nashville Bike Brunch–one flake, and some snow

I didn’t make it to this Sunday’s bike brunch, but our little tradition carried on just the same, despite the large wet flakes of falling snow (first of the year here in Nashville) with a stalwart six meeting up at Whiskey Kitchen.

Kim gets street cred for biking through our little blizzard on her Raleigh.

Kim, Lauren and Whitney

Abby & Chad

Chad & Sarah

 

Our next bike brunch will be Sunday, March 11, at Margot Café in East Nashville at 1 p.m. This is a later brunch than usual — hopefully the weather will be warmer in the afternoon! Please RSVP to lgrab [at] letsgorideabike [dot] com so I can make a reservation.

 

 

 

 

 

VFC43VJVBSYF

 

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Nighttime novelty ride

It really says something about how mild this winter has been that tonight, when I had the chance to ride in the rain in the dark, I was actually sort of excited about it. After all, I haven’t had to walk home or catch a ride home because of the snow even once!

Made me think of all those poor people who live in Hawaii or California and never have to pull out sweaters and barely open umbrellas.

They’ve gotta get bored. Change is good!

 

p.s. hi everyone. It’s been a while! [Insert boring computer story and other lame excuses here.] Short version: I’m back. And there’s a lot going on in Nashville that I can’t wait to tell you about.

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Temporarily car-free in Nashville, Tennessee

So for the past month, after the car accident I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been car-free here in Nashville.

Living in a city that makes only the barest of nods to public transportation, I’d always assumed that being without a car would be a terrible hardship, even though I already rely on my bicycle for most neighborhood trips. Some of my fears turned out to be true and others, not as much. Here’s how a few of my preconceptions ended up playing out in reality.

I’d be limited on what I could do and where I could go.
True, but not to the extent that I had feared. I was able to bum a ride to events that were really important, or take a bus. I also tried out the bike/bus combo for the first time—overcoming my fear that my bike would fall off the rack at the front—and was amazed at how easy it was. That said, with an increased awareness of the energy and time expenditures to get somewhere, I found myself choosing to spend time (and money) in my own neighborhood more often.

My social life would suffer.
The past month has been quieter for me—but having to get most everywhere by bike has made me respect my human limitations and not push myself to do things when I feel sick or tired like I usually do. Surprisingly, being forced to slow down has been more relaxing than frustrating.

I’d be unable to see out-of-town family and friends.
Sadly, true—I missed out on seeing some good friends of mine a couple of weekends ago. (The Greyhound to my hometown takes about 7 hours, vs. 4 hours in the car, which means that taking it for a weekend is impractical. Rental cars are pretty pricey for a weekend.) This continues to be one of the biggest reasons for me to keep a car.

I won’t be able to do everyday things—shop for groceries, etc.
Again, sort of true. My local grocery is close but has crap (aka zero) bike parking, so it’s kind of a pain. I have tagged along with friends to the store a couple of times, which was nice when it came to buying milk, etc. I also found myself buying things at odd places that were for whatever reason more convenient (I’ve never bought milk at Walgreens before! Or butter from the Dollar General.). Random shopping trips just didn’t happen. I would say that was a good thing since I saved some money, but I’m pretty sure I made up for it by buying stuff online. There were some errands I put off while I didn’t have a car, like going to the bank, but then again I do that anyway.

More to come on the response from others, and my own feelings about the experience, but this post is getting pretty long. I know there are others in mid-sized cities, and others here in Nashville, who don’t drive. What has your experience been like? What were your fears about being without a car and how did you deal with them?

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LGRAB Summer Games: Players & Prizes, Part 3

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.

 

Hollis and Daniel's Farmstand

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.

She also wrote a letter to Metra suggesting improvements for multi-modal commuters, gave her bike tires a lift and took some stellar summer pictures.

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.

Martina at The Life Academic knocked out quite a few tasks in a single afternoon.

Martina and Poppy

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.

Our second drawing is for a Workcycles apron.

And the winner is . . . Stacy Bisker!

Kathy and Stacy, we will be in touch with information on how to claim your prizes.

Not a winner yet? Keep checking daily, because we still have several great prizes to give away.

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Nashville’s Tour de Fat was all that

On July 9, Nashville hosted the Tour de Fat for the first time.

It was a big deal for a lot of reasons, first of all because it was one of the first times the “no alcohol in Metro Parks” rule had been set aside for an event. Good news is, the chance the Mayor took was worth it: Nashville’s tour set records for both the number of parade participants and money raised for local nonprofits at a first time Tour — 600 parade riders and $14,000 for Walk/Bike Nashville and Soundforest.

Honestly, I didn’t know how much this ride was for me, since photos from Tours in other cities showed a lot of scantily costumed folks on tall bikes or cruisers, but any group ride in Nashville can pretty much count me in so I headed out. I did not have a summery costume so I wore a flounced, sheer overskirt over the smallest tank dress I could find and my trusty Jessica Simpson heels. Setting out at 9 am, alone on the street, I felt slightly ridiculous (ride of shame?) and got a couple of curious looks/honks, but once I arrived among the throngs of cyclists at Centennial I felt more at home.

me next to my beer, after the ride

The ride was a blast. Even though it was hot and we were very, very sweaty. Music was blaring and the carnival atmosphere at the starting line had the energy rising. I also liked the “this ride is pro-bike, not anti-car!” message that the “Rymanese Twins” were proclaiming from their platform at the start of the race.

Afterward I met up with Anna from Bike Skirt and we watched the shows and tried out some of the trick bikes they had in the corral. Anna was more adventurous than I.

Anna & me

Anna and Ross on a tandem

The moral of the story is: if the Tour comes to your city, hop on! It really is the best party on two wheels.

 

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A public service announcement

Dear LGRAB readers:

Summer weather is here. The sun is strong. Riding 10+ miles without proper protection is not recommended.

Here’s hoping that this is the kind of sunburn that is here today, tan tomorrow.

Thank goodness for the SPF 15 in my face lotion

The cats care not for my suffering

The ride to East Nashville was worth it, but I won’t make this mistake twice. Maybe now that I’ve mentioned it, you won’t make it once.

Love,

Trisha the red xo

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Nashville!

I’m back from Trishaville, aka Nashville. Although I lived there for only three years and moved away four years ago, Nashville is my favorite city to return to again and again, simply because of Trisha and other friends.  And there’s something about the South that calls to me, although I spent my youth hatching escape plans.

My three days with Trisha were full of awesomeness, of course: used bookstores, a British sitcom marathon, a discount designer warehouse, French breakfast, fancy ice cream, duck fat tater tots, Yazoo beer and live music at the Mercy Lounge (Those Darlins!).  Plus, I finally got to meet Trisha’s brother, Charlie.  Hmmm what else?…

…oh yeah – bicycling!

I got to meet the new Kate Spade Abici, whom I keep calling Kermit Spade, to Trisha’s chagrin.  With Trisha on KS and me on the Bat, we rode downtown and crossed the pedestrian bridge for a view of the Nashville skyline.

Yeah, we’re cool.

I must share, there are a number of weirdo men loitering around downtown Nashville who were quite interested in us.  We handled them effectively with stoney silence, which we’re both really good at when we put our minds to it.

After the bridge, we rode over to Broadway, with its honky tonks and cowboy boot shops.

We really should have stopped to take advantage of the 3-boots-for-the-price-of-one deal – missed opportunity.

Bicycling in Nashville was a great pleasure for me.  The weather is not yet at Southern summer oppressiveness.  The infrastructure is quite supportive of cycling, with wide bike lanes on many medium-sized streets and plenty of winding back roads with almost no cars at all.  Drivers seemed to display the fabled Southern hospitality, although I’m prone to romaticize it now that I don’t live there anymore.  One guy in a work truck blocking the bike lane drawled, “Pardon me, ladies,” which made me inordinately happy.

Today my thighs are sore from all those hills (damn! major props to Trisha for handling those every day) but it was worth it.

I make it to Nashville at least once a year, for Trisha’s birthday, but hopefully it won’t take me a year to return this time.  Chicago is comparatively cold in all ways.

Many more photos from our Nashville adventures and Trisha’s Abici to come.

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Me and my shadow

Work, life and a few side projects have kept me from the blog so far this month—but they haven’t kept me off my bike. I am loving these late spring evening commutes. Even if this picture was taken a week ago and it’s now far too warm to wear a jacket of any sort, much less corduroy!

This morning I’m riding into the Village to get a new pair of glasses. (After 6+ years, it’s about time.) Anyone taking advantage of the pretty weather to bike this weekend?

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How Preparation and Maintenance Affect Winter Bicycling

Trisha’s post yesterday about the difficulty of riding in Nashville after snow has me thinking about the important role that city preparation and maintenance play in winter commuting. If streets are not cleared quickly after a storm, even a modest snowfall can ruin several bike commuting days.

Southern cities are getting more wintry weather this year than they’re equipped to handle. I heard on the news that Atlanta has 8 snow plows; in contrast, Chicago has hundreds. I assume road salt is in similarly limited supply.

Without salt and plows, Trisha has to walk her bike over large icy patches in Nashville

On top of this, Southern bicyclists are likewise less equipped to handle the weather, as there’s usually not enough snow to justify purchasing snow tires or studded tires. This results in more of Trisha’s commutes in Nashville being thwarted than mine in Chicago, despite the much greater snow totals in Chicago. You can see this happen with Bike Skirt Elisa’s commute in Alabama, too.

Meanwhile, this week in Chicago, I took one day off bicycling when the snow was actively falling on Tuesday. The next day, after 5 inches of snow, all but the small side roads had been cleared of snow and ice.  Plus, to handle any surprises, I have studded tires.

Streets are reasonably clear a day after a Chicago snowstorm

Unfortunately, the bike lanes are still a complete mess, which is something the city needs to work on improving, but at least I could ride in the main lanes safely.

Unfortunately, bike lanes are mostly ignored in the snow-clearing process

Therefore, it seems like so far this winter, snow and ice have been more problematic for bicyclists in the South than in areas to the north that regularly get snow.

Of course, I have not forgotten about the crazy blizzard action going on around New York and New England. How long does it take after one foot of snow falls before roads are reasonably clear for bicycling?

And for everyone else, feel free to leave a comment stating your location and how well your city has been dealing with wintry weather this year.

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FAQ’s – Part II

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.

Continue reading

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