Tag Archives: spring

Springtime Dusk

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City life doesn’t get any better than this, especially on a workday.  All thanks to my bicycle.

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From winter to spring…

Right now – late March through early April – is the most refreshing time to ride a bike in Chicago.  The visible signs of fading winter and approaching spring make me so grateful, I could weep.  The chill in the air is enough to make my cheeks rosy, not to cause frost bite.  The sun is still up and slowly setting as I make my way home.  And the Lakefront Trail is calm and peaceful, not yet overcrowded.

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I hope you all are enjoying your bike rides just as much!

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Dreaming of bright, spring colors

This photo of Olivia Palermo for Tattler Russia makes me want to dress up, find a pretty spot and take glamour shots with my bicycle.  :)

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Maybe when the snow melts and the weather warms up.

The vibrant colors remind me of past Kate Spade-themed posts.

Adorable Trisha with her Kate Spade Abici.

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Me with my Kate Spade Dress

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Sadly, right now everything outside my window is grey and cold.  Is spring coming soon?!?

{Olivia Palermo image found here.}

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Spring Joy Ride

On Sunday, I enjoyed a joy ride with my friend Maria, since we were both far from our mothers.  The weather was a bit chilly – in the mid 40’s – but the sun was shining and it’s mid-May, for goodness sake, so I wore a happy spring outfit and threw on hose to keep my legs warm.

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We biked down the lakefront trail and stopped to watch a sailboat race and enjoy some mimosas.  You can see our location on the tip of the harbor from my iPhone GPS below.

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After drinks, we decided to bike to the theater to see The Great Gatsby in 3D (two thumbs up!).  We wanted to avoid weekend traffic, so we chose to weave our way through the inner lakefront trail and neighborhood streets to get there.  I don’t think I’ve ever talked about the inner lakefront trail before.  The inner trail is a path that runs parallel to the lakefront trail for a couple miles through Lincoln Park.  The inner path is unpaved in many areas and is not plowed in the winter, but it’s generally a good option to escape the crowds or the winds by the lake, as long as you are not in a rush.

I filmed a bit of the joy ride to share here.  Enjoy!

Spring Joy Ride from LGRAB on Vimeo.

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Perfect Bicycling Days

As I tweeted earlier, today was absolutely the most beautiful day of the year so far to bike in Chicago.  Simply perfect.  Light wind, warm air, calm water, blue skies, gentle sun, and a hint of a chill to prevent sweating.  It doesn’t get better than this.  On such days, I am super grateful for my bike, which allows me to spend a lot of time outside just going to and from work.

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In addition to biking, fishing is a popular activity on a day like today, as demonstrated above.

I wish all of you similarly perfect bicycling days.  :-)

 

 

 

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Bicycling to the Ballet

Yesterday I had the pleasure of bicycling downtown to see the Joffrey Ballet’s Othello.  The ride was about 7 miles each way, along the lakefront trail.  The theatre is close to south Grant Park, which looked very nice on this beautiful day.

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And at my destination, here is the view from my regular seat in the front row of the balcony.

What these photos fail to show is the wind.  It was really, really windy – even by Chicago standards.  This resulted in a super fast bike ride down the lakefront trail on the way to the show (I arrived 10 minutes earlier than I expected) and a strenuous bike ride back home with the wind in my face.  I popped Betty into an easy gear and focused on spinning.  I got quite a workout!

Also, the photos don’t show the black spandex shorts I wore under my dress – necessary, as the wind blew the light silk around like crazy.  :-)

Did anyone else have a fun ride this weekend?

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Fashion Friday: Spring Scarves

I have a fun new accessory for spring: a beautiful vintage silk scarf that Trisha brought me from her recent trip to Italy.

I used to associate silk scarves with my elderly Sunday school teacher from childhood, but Trisha wears scarves with such effortless chic, I realize now how stylish they can be.  I drew inspiration from Trisha yesterday morning when deciding what to wear.  The Italian scarf called out to me and allowed me to wear an all-black ensemble without veering into Lydia territory.

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The 80 degree weather from Wednesday dropped dramatically to the 40’s, so it was back to tights and long sleeves for me.  A silk scarf is lovely for warmer weather with a chill in the air.  It’s also fun for bicycling, I learned.  With the bright scarf whipping in the wind behind me, I felt a bit ooh la la.

Like a toned-down version of this.  :-)

When I got to work, I pulled myself together by slicking back my hair, taming my scarf and throwing on heels that live under my desk.  As demonstrated with this very classy bathroom photo.

Now I want to seek out more silk scarves.  Lucky for me, they can be found a dime a dozen (almost) at thrift stores.  Highly recommended for the civilized transportation bicyclist!  (Just be sure the scarf is not too long – don’t want it catching on anything while cycling.)

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Warm Weather Excitement!

After a very long winter/early spring, truly warm weather has finally come to Chicago.  Yesterday was a whopping 85 degrees!

Bicycling in warm weather feels so different from bicycling in the freezing or even chilly weather.  Over the past 6 (7…8…?) months, I’d forgotten how it felt.  And there are lots and lots of other bicyclists out there, all of a sudden.  Love it!

I picked out my lightest silk skirt and blouse to celebrate the occasion.  I retired my black, winter Bern helmet for my happy, pale pink Nutcase helmet.  (Unfortunately, I had a sweaty helmet hair situation by the time I returned home in the evening, as shown above.)  I also pulled out my fingerless gloves, which I wear in warm weather to prevent discomfort from sweaty palms rubbing against cork grips, as well as to absorb some of the road shock.

That’s about it!  Just happy to share my warm weather excitement.  :-)

P.S.  I’m really enjoying reading everyone’s personal take on the issue in the comments of yesterday’s post, Women, Bicycling and Makeup.  Reader Bettina in Germany posted her perspective on her blog, Books, Bikes, and Food (hey, three of my favorite things!).

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Bike With Me: Elston Separated Lane

Yesterday afternoon I had a meeting across town, which led me to a different route for the commute home.  I was able to take advantage of the newish separated bike lane on Elston Avenue.  I first wrote about this lane in the fall, but have not had occasion to bike it since.

Riding in this lane is like butter.  The separation from cars makes all the difference, of course. Other benefits are not being placed in the door zone and the relatively small number of cross streets, alleys and parking lot exits.  I would love a set-up like this on the busy streets that connect my neighborhood to downtown, where I often feel like a hunted animal during open season.

You can see previous videos of me biking along Chicago’s protected bike lanes here:

Dearborn protected lane  – two-way bike lane in the Loop

18th Street protected lane – the most similar to Elston’s bike lane

Kinzie protected lane – Chicago’s first separated bike lane

 

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Warm Spring Ride!

What’s that?!  A mittenless hand?

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Bootless feet?

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Muffless ears?

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That’s right – spring is HERE!  (Okay, I’m willfully ignoring the 20-30 degree temps predicted for Monday.)

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This long-awaited warm-up set the stage for a highly enjoyable and leisurely bike ride with friends Dan and Janet.

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The destination was a lovely Easter lunch at the home of our friends Sara and Glenn.

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Oh yeah, Che lives there, too!

After a delicious meal and a spirited game of Scrabble, we were off on our bikes again to return home.  The evening sun made the ride chillier, but still very enjoyable.

The feel of warm air on bare skin is such a luxury this time of year.  Here’s hoping there is much more of it soon!

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Did you enjoy any special rides this weekend in the warm spring air?

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Sights and Sounds of Early Spring

Welcome, March!

March means almost spring!

While out and about on my bicycle yesterday, I noticed some definite signs of early spring.

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For example, after brunch with my women-who-bike friends Catherine, Christina and Maria, the sun was high and bright, making Maria look particularly angelic…

And casting a strong shadow for Betty Foy…

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And slowly but surely melting the patches of snow…

And causing icicles to drip at a fast pace.

I noticed that these early spring sights had accompanying early spring sounds – notably, the sounds of melting icicles and birds chirping.  Here is your one minute of meditation for the day:

I’m already daydreaming about the long recreational rides I will take on my bike in the coming months.  Maybe a trip up to the Botanical Gardens or down to the Indiana border.  Until then, I will wear the Road Holland jacket I have for review (and that would be perfect for such rides) while hanging around the house working.  And daydreaming.  :-)

Of course, as I type this early Monday morning, the forecast calls for half a foot of snow on Tuesday.  Such is life.

Have you noticed sights and sounds of early spring in your neck of the woods (or of early fall for Australians)?

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Fashion Friday: Beautiful Beige

I went all-color for my previous Fashion Friday, but this week I’m feeling the beige.  Often stereotyped as boring, a palette of subtly varied beiges can be romantic and classy.  I love pairing bright red lips with such ensembles to provide a pop of color (Chanel is my favorite).  Many women are afraid of red lips, but the bold color is guaranteed not to look tarty on a background of beige.

My weekend plans involve biking, picture-taking, reading, and brunching with my women.  Maybe I’ll look half as put together as my style collage.  :)  What’s on your agenda?

Vintage dress, vintage camera, Breukelen from Bowery Lane Bikes (love the wood crate!), Yakkay helmet, Kate Spade sunglasses, KORS shoes, Chloe bag, Chanel lipstick.

P.S. HAPPY JUNE!

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Lake Breezes and Karma

The cool breezes of Lake Michigan lured me to the lakefront trail yesterday morning.  Freedom from the stifling heat of car exhaust and crazy drivers, I relaxed and enjoyed the beauty around me.

These pictures are from this great old Polaroid Land Camera 250.  Very fun to play with.  :)

In the evening, I took city streets, where I witnessed a scene that first had me flaming mad and then had me cheering.

As I waited at a red light at a crowded intersection, a driver in a fancy SUV was turning left and inching into a crosswalk as a mother with a baby carriage crossed with the walk signal.  The mother was saying something to the driver that I could not hear, probably like, “Excuse me, I have the walk sign and I’m here with my baby.”  The driver responded by HONKING his horn, right in the baby’s face!  The mother did not budge and the driver then stepped on the gas to lurch forward and psych out the mother, who was standing no more than two feet away WITH HER BABY CARRIAGE!  (Who are these horrible people???)  As soon as she moved away, the driver sped down the street…

…for about 3 seconds.  A police SUV, which was two cars behind the offending SUV, immediately went after it with lights and sirens.  As a biked by, the SUV was pulled over and two police officers were exiting their vehicle.  The scene was so beautiful, I could have wept.  KARMA!

I think the driver should have been arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, but at the very least I hope he or she received a citation for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.  Drivers need to know that they cannot get away with criminal behavior simply because they are surrounded by a ton of metal!

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The Independence of Bicycling

Boy, was I happy to be riding my bike yesterday evening!  An extra-alarm fire at a furniture store adjacent to the L-tracks shut down the red, brown, and purple lines for several hours spanning the height of rush hour.  (No one was hurt in the fire.)  Mr. Dottie was on the brown line and had to walk the last two miles home, which is not so fun in near 90-degree heat, carrying a heavy work bag and wearing steel-toed boots. I, on the other hand, sailed along home with trusty Oma.

The scene biking past the L station was chaotic, with hundreds of people waiting for shuttle buses and car traffic jammed from road closures.  I may have gotten some envious looks from the poor commuters stuck on the side of the road.  Too bad Chicago’s planned bike share is not up and running yet – I bet lots of people would have tried it for the first time!

Bonus: enjoying the sight and smell of fresh flowers along my route.

While situations like this on public transportation are rare, I prefer to deal with them never.  The ordeal reminded me of the independence that the bicycle provides.  As long as I have my trusty bike and a slim stretch of road, I’m set.  (Just no thunderstorms, please!)

Good work, Oma!

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Urban Gardening by Bike

I am a city girl, but sometimes I complain about not having a yard and google Asheville farmhouses.  A classic “grass is greener” situation.  In reality, I have never displayed a green thumb and barely use my only outdoor space, a small wooden balcony.  Admitting this to myself, I decided to embrace what I have fully, instead of uselessly dreaming of what I do not have.  The result is my new urban garden!  My south-facing balcony gets strong direct sunlight for most of the day and finding plants that thrive in such an environment was easy.

On Saturday, I biked to my neighborhood garden center (Fertile, for locals) and loaded up on flowers: roses, begonias, daisies, and a window box for mounting.

To transport the plants, I simply zip-tied to my front rack a wine crate that Mr. Dottie found in our alley (free!).  This served the purpose splendidly.  The plants were packed in enough that they did not jostle or fall over.

Back at my condo, I transferred the flowers to bigger pots with more soil.  Lucky for me, I snapped up several terra-cotta pots that my neighbor left in the basement when she moved (free!).  These were a big score, as transporting heavy pots would have been difficult.

I learned via gardening blogs that I need some larger material at the bottom of my pots, below the soil, to help with drainage and avoid root rot.  I had enough wine corks for the first pot, but then I was at a loss and not up for another trip to the store.  Mr. Dottie came up with a plan to collect rocks from under nearby L tracks, which sounded kinda gross, but after only a few handfuls each – and after picking out the broken glass – we were set (free!).  :)

On Sunday, I returned to the garden center for herbs and vegetables.  Same bike set up as before.  I got sage, rosemary, basil, thyme, tomatoes, and banana peppers!

 Mr. D stuffed another flower box in his pannier.

Then we got back to work potting.  Getting my hands in the dirt – like a kid again – was fun, even though the dirt came from a bag.  (I was able to buy organic potting soil from the nearby grocery store, allowing me to walk home carrying the bags and avoid loading the bike up.)

Now I have a real live urban garden – complete with herbs, veggies, and flowers.  Once I prove to myself that I can keep these guys alive, I plan to go back for more.  And I’m working on some seedlings (green beans, catnip, flowers) that hopefully will join the rest of the gang outside soon.

As a final touch, I scored two barely-used patio arm chairs from Craigslist, which the seller delivered for a small extra fee.

I could not be more excited about my tiny urban garden!  Now I can sit outside and enjoy my personal oasis.  :)

Plus, I’ve already roasted a chicken using my own herbs – delish!

Does anyone else have an urban garden?  Or do you have an actual yard with an actual garden??  I’d love to hear stories and tips.

{Two helpful blogs I used as resources: Urban Organic Gardener  and Life on the Balcony.}

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May’s Women-Who-Bike Brunch

Last Sunday, the Chicago Women-who-bike gathered for our monthly brunch at Revolution Brewing in Logan Square.  This meant we got to enjoy their signature beermosa.  :)

Overall, our group size was about 30 people, all at one long table.  Special thanks to our excellent waitress, Jessica, for taking such good care of us.

Molly and her husband Piet joined us while visiting Chicago from Ann Arbor, Michigan.  You may remember both of them from their Summer Games participation and especially Molly from her 2010 Roll Models profile. 

After brunch, we spent time outside – as always – talking about bikes.  I like how April strapped her Kate Spade bag to her front rack.

Alison took Jen’s bakfiets for a spin.  Love the look on her face.  :)

But she soon went back to her own cute orange ride.

The day was a little rainy and I saw lots of different rain coats.  I particularly like this teal one!

Jenny showed how casually stylish a skirt with sneakers can look.

And Megan wore cool red sneakers!

Saya and Laurie, her friend visiting from Boston, struck a pose for me.  :)

This is only a small sampling of the great group of women who came out.

If you’re a woman and in Chicago and you bike (or simply want to learn more about biking!), email me at LGRAB@letsgorideabike.com to be added to the list.  Our next brunch will be Sunday, June 3rd – a picnic on the lakefront.

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Previews!

Here is a preview of the new Civia Twin City Step-Through from JC Lind Bikes.  I picked her up today for a weekend review.  The  last bike I reviewed was way back in October, although I posted the review in February, so I’m excited to try a new bike.

I have big weekend plans for me and the Twin City, including a trip to the farmer’s market.  Stay tuned for a full review next week.

Also, check back on Monday morning for an exciting announcement about the evolution of Let’s Go Ride a Bike!  You may have noticed our brand spanking new look (still working out the kinks!) – that’s only the beginning.  ;)

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Enjoying the Spring

Chicago spring is still a bit chilly but overall chill (see how I word-played there?).  Most of my rides have been nice and calm on the side-streets and I’ve been taking time to hang out with friends, read books, drink cocktails, and just enjoy life with Mr. Dottie.

I need to get working on spring cleaning, including taking Betty Foy in for a much-needed tune-up (am I the only one who totally destroys her bike during fall and winter??).  But, you know, whenever…

I hope everyone else is enjoying the spring, too!

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May’s Critical Lass Ride

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.

Join or keep up with Chicago’s Critical Lass Rides on Facebook.

 

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Chicago’s Culture by Bike

During Trisha’s recent visit, our time at the Nature Museum was only the beginning of our day enjoying Chicago’s culture by bike.  After saying goodbye to the birds and butterflies, we continued riding south along the Lakefront Trail to downtown.  Our destination was the Art Institute, Chicago’s great art museum.

During previous visits, we’d already seen the famous impressionists and modernists.  This time we enjoyed the exhibits featuring beautiful textiles, furniture, photography, miniature rooms, sculptureChagall’s windows, and O’Keefe’s Sky Above Clouds.

After a few hours, our minds began to turn from art to relaxing.  We met up with Sara and her new pastel blue Pashley Poppy that she bought from Boulevard Bikes.  After commuting daily on a Jamis Commuter for a long time, she certainly deserved the upgrade!

The three of us (san Poppy) went to Rooftop at the Wit for drinks.

The drinks were overpriced and the atmosphere a little obnoxious, but the views of downtown were cool.

After drinks and dinner, we added Mr. Dottie to our group and headed to Goodman Theatre to see The Iceman Cometh, starring Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy.  The play was interesting to think about afterward and also very long, 4.5 hours.

We ended up biking back home together through the relatively empty city streets at midnight.  In my opinion, the best way to end a full and engaging day.

Wherever you live, remember to take the time to explore and enjoy your area’s culture.

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