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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.