Tag Archives: spring

A Day at the Nature Museum

Last week, Trisha visited Chicago for her birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!).  We were together again!

We biked down the lakefront and stopped by the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

Coco and Oma got to be together, too, outside of the garage for once.

While there, we enjoyed a high-quality exhibit, called Bikes! The Green Revolution, that happens to be at the Nature Museum until September 9.

There was a display of cool vintage bikes.

Art work with the theme “bike monsters.”

Photo ops with a penny-farthing, which we were all over once the children got out of our way.

And a photo exhibit of modern cycling style, featuring portraits by Bike Fancy’s Martha Williams.  (Look, there’s me!)

Next, we stopped by the butterfly house, but the many fluttering things disconcerted Trisha a bit too much.

So we rested a bit.  :)

We finished our visit in the gardens, a lovely respite from the city.

Where we listened to highly entertaining bird calls in the bird sanctuary.

 Finally, we got back on our bikes to continue our day downtown.
Another lovely day on bikes in Chicago. Plus Trisha, which makes the day 100x better!  :)
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Bicycling Home

Today was another lovely bike ride home.  A little windy and chilly, but sunny and relaxing.  Refreshing.  I was grateful for the escape after a day at the office.

Nothing helps me unwind and appreciate my place in life like time on the bike.

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Chicago’s Lurie Botanical Gardens

Today was a beautiful day.  One of the most beautiful of the year.  The sunshine and blue skies and flowers and fresh air all made me remember how wonderful living in this world can be, on the right kind of day.

I rode my bike more than usual and I was thankful for the opportunity.  In the morning I had to be far downtown for a seminar, so I took the Lakefront Trail for 45 refreshing minutes.  A few hours later in the early afternoon, I got to enjoy the outdoors again as I biked from there to my office.  While co-workers jumped in a cab,  I couldn’t resist stopping by the Lurie Botanical Gardens in Millennium Park on my bike.

I wore one of the skirts I thrifted this weekend for $2.  I enjoy wearing flowers in the springtime, although I know my fabric cannot compete with nature’s beauty.

The Lurie Garden is an almost miraculous spot in the middle of downtown Chicago.  There is a glorious juxtaposition of nature and city.  The skyscrapers are a sight to behold, hovering over the flower beds.

Getting down to the ground level and smelling the blossoms takes me back to my mom’s garden, growing up in North Carolina.

Then I stand up and see the architectural marvel of the Pritzker Pavilion, backed by the Aon Center and the Watertower antennas.  Ah yes, Chicago!

I lack the green thumb of my mother, so this guide identifying the different flowers in the garden at this time of year was helpful.

This bird in the tree was making a fuss about me taking its picture.  Very loud.  Camera shy.

At the end of the day, I decided to take the Lakefront Trail home.  On one of the most beautiful days of the year, why not end the day with more of the beautiful same?

I managed to feel like I spent a great deal of time outside, when really all I did was get from one place to another, pure transportation.  Yet so much more.  Everyone who rides a bike, you know what I’m talking about, right?  :)

 

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A Spring Saturday Bike Ride

Saturday morning, I met up with my friend Araidia for a brunch and thrift shop expedition. Of course, we biked, which was half the fun!

There are so many beautiful spring flowers in bloom, we each found one to match our helmets.

Araidia’s a purple Bern…

…and mine a pink Nutcase.

We chatted freely along the way, either riding side-by-side or dropping back into single-file when a car approached. The route and area were new to me, so Araidia led the way.  Since she took us along a very quite path, there were few cars and no stress.

We biked through a college campus…

parks…

…and neighborhood streets.

Our destination was the Albany Park neighborhood. Once there, we enjoyed a Swedish brunch at Tre Kronor and thrifting at Village Discount Outlet, where I scored two dresses and three skirts (including an Elie Tahari and a Ralph Lauren) for $37 and Araidia found the awesome pink bag in the photos.

Here is a short little video of our ride through Albany Park. (The song is Jenny Mayhem, “All the World.”)

I returned home five hours after I left, feeling very good about my day – and entitled to some cake and wine after biking nine miles. :)

Did you spend some quality time on your bike this weekend?

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Tulips and a Dutch Bike :)

Spring is such a beautiful time of year for riding a bike!  Oma enjoyed very much spotting so many of her homeland’s flowers during the ride home this evening.

I put her flowered basket back on for now.  I could feel a substantial weight difference with the front rack and basket today, versus strapping my bag to the rear rack, but the basket set-up is worth it for the convenience and aesthetics.

The back street route I traveled was car-free for much of the time.  Such a rarity in Chicago, which is why I’m happy to go 15 minutes out of my way.

Here’s a more representative “gritty” city shot.  I think I need to start adding more spring color to my wardrobe.  The tulips have inspired me!

I hope everyone had a lovely week of bicycling and is ready to begin the second half of April!  :)

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Convert Your Skirt!

This morning, I met up with my friend Elizabeth at Heritage Bikes for a quick breakfast before continuing on to work.  Bikes and coffee and friends is a lovely way to start the day!

While there, I met Sarah, one of Elizabeth’s high school friends visiting from Berkeley.  She showed us her clever creation, a restrictive pencil skirt that she made bike-able by replacing the side seams with zippers and sewing in extra fabric.

The surprise pop of color is so fun!

At the office, you’re wearing a regular pencil skirt and then before getting on you bike at the end of the day, you unzip the sides and viola.  Here’s a short demonstration video.

Sarah has a website, Skirts on a Bike, where you can download instructions on how to convert your own skirt.  She plans to start selling kits complete with zippers and fabric in the future.

I have a few pencil skirts and dresses that I love but rarely wear due to not being able to ride my bike with them. I think it’s time to convert some skirts! :)

Has anyone else tried something like this?

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Made in Montreal Bike Dress

In a recent comment, LC of Naturally Cycling: Manchester made a great point, saying:

I have made a conscious decision of buying less but buying good quality and ethically made. So I would be happy to pay more for an item of clothing if I know (and it’s certified) that it’s made ethically, for example the workers are paid a fair living wage, the materials are of certified origins (i.e. organic cotton, fair trade etc).

If the price tag is high just because it’s ‘fashion’, then no, I am not willing to shell out so much money. But if it means workers have not been exploited then yes.

I totally agree with this philosophy.  Buying fewer things that are high quality and ethically made makes sense all around.  Although I sometimes slip up, I try to apply this reasoning to all my purchases.  (I sort of get a free pass at thrift stores, which is one reason thrifting is so fun.)

In this spirit, while visiting Marche Bonsecours in Montreal, I purchased a dress that was designed and made in the city.  The price was high compared to a mass market dress, but I was willing to pay more to support a local Montreal designer.  Plus, bicycle print!

The designer is Eve Lavoie.  I could not find much about her online, except this shop that sells her clothing.

Do you have a shopping philosophy?

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April’s Women-who-bike Brunch

On Sunday, the Chicago Women-Who-Bike gathered for our April brunch.  Although we had to cancel a planned picnic at the last minute due to the weather (never trust a Chicago forecast), a great group of both regulars and first-timers gathered at the back-up location.

Beth (on the left below), a first-timer, is preparing for a charity century ride in June and learning how to use clipless pedals.  My hat is off to her!  Those are two bikey things that I have never tried before.  I love how her Fuji manages to be both utilitarian and attractive while primarily being sporty.  You can follow her adventures at YAY BETH!! (tagline: “cheer me on, damn you.” ha!).

Jenny (on the right below) is a regular and she rides the most lovely Globe I’ve seen.  The Carolina blue frame and cream tires are so gorgeous, right?  Especially with her brown leather boots.  I’m impressed by how far the Globe has come as a utilitarian and classy bike in the past few years.

Araidia and her lovely vintage Raleigh are regulars.  I swooned over her shellacked cork grips for a bit (she shellacked them herself and they look so much nicer than my pre-shellacked ones) and we noticed that our 3-speed Sturmey Archer shifters are almost identical, even though hers is over 30 years older than mine.  Ariadia designs and creates beautiful Love Letter Slips and we made plans to go thrifting together soon!

Chika (on the left below) joined the group for the first time.  I was amazed to learn that we both grew up in North Carolina, went to the same college (the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), and graduated the same year, 2003!  Meeting a fellow Tarheel in Chicago is so rare, let alone one from my class.  Very cool!

Lucy (on the right) lives near the restaurant, so she walked and I got a photo of her with her cool shoes, instead of her bike.  :) Cute skirt plus leggings plus sneakers = perfect early spring outfit.

Ann was another first-timer.  She rides a WorkCycles Fr8 with two child seats, one on the front and one on the back.  This badass setup is rare in Chicago and I realized that I spotted her one morning in Lincoln Park last year, biking her children to school.  I blogged about the sighting at the time, saying this:

I passed a woman going the other direction who was riding a Dutch bike with flowing hair, carrying a baby on the front and a toddler on the back.  It was so beautiful, I could have wept.  She must be Dutch or something, although I would love to be wrong.  Anyone know a regular Chicago mom who throws down like that?  I was tempted to turn around and catch up with her to snap a picture, but figured that would be weird.

I love that I ended up meeting her all this time later at my brunch, and I’m happy to learn that she is American!

We also had a very special guest visiting from NYC, Kim of Velojoy, a “growing online resource for city cyclists and those who may be considering riding in the bike lanes for the first time,” written by an all-female team.  Connecting with people from around the country and world through the love of bicycling is the best.  I’m so glad Kim contacted me and and now I’m excited to visit New York again soon.

I pulled out Coco for the morning.  I’ll be riding her a lot this spring, I’m sure.  Such a sweet and happy bike.  :)

Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of everyone who was there (Seri, I’m looking at you!).

Of course, the women-who-bike brunch is also about food.  My favorite dish at Ann Sather, a Swedish diner, is the Swedish pancakes with lingonberries.  Yum!

Our next brunch will be the first Sunday of May and we’re also having a happy hour next Wednesday, April 11.  If you want in, email me at LGRAB@letsgorideabike.com and I’ll add you to the mailing list.  Don’t be shy – we’re a friendly bunch!

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Wardrobe Malfunction: Tying my skirt

The other day, I wore a full pleated skirt to work, one I had worn while bicycling many times in the past with no problem.  I must have been riding Betty Foy and not Oma those previous times (like here), because this time the skirt kept ballooning up with wind and blowing back.  While the slightly leaned-forward positioning of Betty Foy causes the wind to push skirts down more securely against my thighs, Oma’s laid-back positioning can have the opposite effect.

For a while, I biked one-handed while using the other hand to hold down the skirt, but even that was not enough to tame it.  Eventually I pulled over, grabbed a ponytail holder from my bag, and tied up one side of my skirt, which worked, although it was wrinkled afterward.

Ta-da!

I was really annoyed by this situation at the time.  I know there are lots of people (both bicyclists and non-bicyclists) who think bicycling in a skirt is silly, and I probably looked like Exhibit No. 1 in support of their opinion out there, but I know that bicycling in a skirt is perfectly reasonable.   I do it all the time without incident and never have to worry about changing at my destination.

I should not care what others think, but I am cognizant of being a rarity out there and I want to represent well the idea of everyday bicycling.

In the end, the solution was easy enough – fast, effective and free – and I will simply make a mental note of this particular skirt’s limitations.

See also, Stapling my skirt.

P.S. Since we’ve been talking a lot about pricy specialty bicycling clothes lately, I’ll point out that this skirt, the pearl necklace, and the cashmere sweater all came from thrift stores.

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Happy March!

Stuff your coat in your bike basket and go ride through some puddles of melted ice!  :)

With any luck, we’ll all be seeing some flowers outside in a few weeks.

(And I hope everyone enjoyed Leap Day!)

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Another Windy City Commute

The shining sun this morning lured me out to the Lakefront Trail, away from my usual route to work.  Once I got onto the trail, I realized that there was an extremely strong headwind, the kind that slows me down by half.

I started to feel grumpy (this was pre-coffee, people!) but I stopped myself and decided to focus on all the good.  My path was clear, the sky had a subtle pink tint, and the spindly trees looked cool.  I could turn my face up to the sun and feel the slight warmth on my skin.

And turning the corner near the end of my ride and seeing this view is always good for morale.

In the afternoon, I treated myself to this bad boy for my hard work and as a fortification for my ride home.

Sometimes the wind turns on me as a cruel joke during the day, so I was a little worried about taking the lakefront home in the evening, but I couldn’t resist and this time I had the wind at my back.

That is the story of my windy city commute today.  Bike commute number 1,174 – approximately.  :)

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June’s Women-who-bike Picnic Brunch!

Sun, women, bikes, brunch, sangria, fresh mown grass = a perfect Sunday morning.  This month’s women-who-bike brunch was a picnic on the lakefront, with everyone bringing a dish to share – and boy were there some delicious baked goods!  Although Chicago has scores of great brunch restaurants, the picnic was so much better than being cooped up indoors.  After about 8 months of cold, Chicagoans know how to enjoy the summer!

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves now.













Thank you, awesome women, for choosing to spend your Sunday morning with the group!
As always, women in the Chicago area who would like to join the brunch (or one of the happy hours – next one on Monday, June 13) should email me at LGRAB@letsgorideabike.com.
Hope to see you there!  :)
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Jamie’s Stylish New Folding Bike

Jamie, the stylish NYC photographer behind one of my favorite photo blogs, From Me To You, recently got a new bike.

This is the Barcelona model of a Citizen Folding Bike. I am not familiar with the brand, but the $399 sale price is right. Check out those cream balloon tires and wicker basket! What a beauty! Both of them. :)

Folding bikes are an excellent choice for city-dwellers who have to carry their bikes into their apartments every night. As Jamie notes, this one fits in her tiny apartment.

{Photo (c) From Me To You and used with permission}

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Wedding Anniversary Bike Date

Earlier this week, Greg and I celebrated our 7 year wedding anniversary in a typical way for us: eating, drinking and bicycling. I ended up working late and took the fastest and most direct route from downtown to Lincoln Square. By the time I got to the restaurant (Mrs. Murphy and Sons Irish Bistro) I was sweaty and amped from all the traffic, but after freshening up quickly in the ladies’ room, I felt great. Although for the life of me, I could not find my comb (don’t you hate it when that happens?). Having a date who also bikes everywhere and knows the deal is helpful. :)

The first dish pictured above is macaroni and cheese bites over goat cheese fondu. Yes, it was delicious and the start of a two hours of yumminess.

Okay, so this bike date was really just about the food and drinks. To see lots of bike dates that actually focus on bicycling, check out Simply Bike’s Bike Date Series. One of my goals this summer is to do a proper bike date for the series.

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Critical Lass a Lovely Success!

Chicago’s first Critical Lass ride was a great success!  The weather was perfect, the route calm, and 25 cool women showed up.

We met at the Polish Triangle in Wicker Park.  Once the group gathered, our fearless leader Ash welcomed everyone.

I said “hi” to some old friends from the Women Who Bike brunch group.

A random guitar guy serenaded us with an impromptu song about bikes.

And then we were off!


We stopped at all red lights …

And stop signs.

We biked along quiet side streets, passing lots of big green parks and enjoying the smell of fresh mown grass.

After a fun and leisurely five mile ride, we ended at Simone’s in Pilsen.  We managed the parking situation by piling all in together and locking to each other.



Finally, we hung out for a couple of hours, enjoying dinner and kick-ass cocktails.  :)  My 9-mile ride home from Pilsen at 10 pm was also lots of fun, since I had several riding companions for most of the way.

The ride and gathering were so much fun. I plan to attend the ride EVERY THIRD THURSDAY! I hope to see you there. Spread the word!

Keep up with Critical Lass on Facebook.

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Little Miss Muddy: Coco in the Rain

Trisha showed you her Little Miss Messy coffee-stained Abici and now I’ll show you my Little Miss Muddy Velorbis. On Wednesday I rode Coco, my Velorbis, in the rain for the first time.  I discovered that the gorgeous cream-colored frame shows mud quite clearly.  I’m not good at keeping my bikes clean, but I definitely have to wipe Coco down after the rain.

Although Coco’s aesthetics suffer in the rain, her performance is top notch.  The substantial fenders, chain case, and internal brakes are perfect for keeping me clean and stopping on a dime.  The super cushy Fat Frank tires are a big bonus and make Coco the best among my bikes for riding in the rain.  Normally, I feel paranoid riding on slick roads and through puddles, but the stability and comfort of the fat tires made me feel completely secure. I love those tires.

As for myself, I dealt with the rain fine.  I wore my Patagonia trench rain coat (not pictured below), which caught most of the drizzle.  My wool tights and tweed skirt dried quickly and my helmet protected my hair.

So that’s it. I made it through a 30 minute drizzly bike commute a-okay.  By the time I got to work, I was a little bit more in love with Coco than before.

What aspects of your bike help (or not) when riding in the rain?

 

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A Lovely Bike Commute?

My bike commutes this week have been lovely, full of sunshine and flowers and blue skies.  That’s what I was thinking, anyway…

Then I read Sam’s “Bike to Work Week” post, which is hilarious (as always), but sadly too true.  You gotta read the post yourself, but basically it has me wondering how lovely my bike commutes really are – objectively.

I have so much experience riding in the city now, the stress mostly rolls off my back: speeding SUVs buzzing me, car doors flung open in my path, cabs idling in the bike lane.  All of that craziness is a dim hum in the background for me, but a new bike commuter would be totally freaked out – and with good reason.

But there’s a lot to be said for sticking with bicycling long enough to get over those initial freak-outs.  Because, as Sam discusses, once you move beyond all that, bicycling “will be the most blissful state of existence you will ever know.”  That’s where I’m coming from when I rhapsodize about my lovely bike commutes every day.  Totally subjective.  :)


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May’s women-who-bike brunch

May’s women who bike brunch last Sunday was great fun, as always! It marked our first outdoor dining experience, on the rooftop of The Twisted Spoke.

There was plenty of bike ogling and shop talk, of course.

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Also lots of general hanging out, which is the main purpose of the brunch.

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One lady showed us this awesome pannier that she sewed herself. How cute!

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And finally, good drinks and grub.  Yes, I scarfed that entire platter down.  I need my energy for biking!  ;)

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See you next month? Hope so!

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If you’re in Chicago and would like to join our next brunch – or if you’re in a different city and have questions about starting a similar get-together – email me at LGRAB [at] letsgorideabike.com.

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The Lakefront Trail in Spring

When I got on my bike Friday morning, I made a last-minute decision to take the Lakefront Trail instead of my usual street route, since I was not feeling up to car traffic and was not in a rush.

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The Lakefront Trail in spring is totally different from the Lakefront Trail I wrote about in winter.

First, getting on the trail was a challenge, as recent thunderstorms created a moat in the underpass access. The water was very deep, so I backtracked up the ramp and biked three blocks south to the next access point, among heavy car and truck traffic merging onto Lakeshore Drive. Not my ideal route, but I managed safely by acting like a car and taking the lane.

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I was annoyed by the difficulty, since the whole point of riding the trail was to take it easy due to my illness. When Coco and I made it to the lakefront, though, my annoyance dissolved. The cool air was refreshing off Lake Michigan, a huge improvement from the hot-sun-on-blacktop feeling of the streets. Lots of people were out enjoying the beautiful Chicago morning.

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A couple of miles along, I encountered heavy trucks working on the trail. This was a pleasant surprise because they had paved over all the chunks of missing concrete and horrible craters that formed during the winter. Smooth sailing!

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I enjoyed my easy ride so much, I totally forgot I was sick until I tried to sing along to my fav Kate Nash song and couldn’t make it through one line without losing my breath. So it’s official: riding Coco slowly is less taxing than singing along to my iPod.

After emerging from the trail for the final 1.5 miles on downtown streets, I popped my helmet back on, blew my nose and said “cheese!” with Coco.

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Looking back on naive, Friday morning Dottie, I almost feel bad for her. She had no idea that she’d end up working late and then biking home along congested streets in a harsh headwind and temperatures that fell 30 degrees from the 70’s to the 40’s, without the benefit of gloves or earmuffs and with a hacking cough. But at least she could go home and sleep 12 hours, dreaming of her ideal Chicago spring morning ride.

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Bicycle Favoritism

Like a parent, I really can’t choose a favorite among my three bikes Oma, Betty and Coco. But I do go through periods when I heavily favor one over the others. Right now, it’s Betty’s time in the spotlight.

For the past month and a half, I’ve been riding Betty Foy exclusively. (April 7 was our 2-year anniversary!) I missed her so much during winter, as soon as the ice cleared and I got her tuned up, she became my ride of choice day after day. She’s so fun and breezy. I haven’t ridden Oma since the weather cleared two months ago because she still has studded tires and I hadn’t ridden Coco since…let me check the archives…March 31.

That changed on Wednesday, when I pulled Coco out for the day.

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And boy, am I glad I did! She’s a lovely bike and those Fat Frank tires are so cushy. I feel different when I’m perched atop her riding straight up. Once I break in the Brooks saddle, the comfort level will be perfection.

As for Oma – getting her studded tires swapped out is on my to-do list for this weekend. So Betty may have to take a back seat again for a while.

On another note, after all my talk of allergies, I finally went to a doctor yesterday and learned that I don’t have allergies at all (good!), but a two week virus (basically a bad cold). I plan to bike today even though I feel like crap because I can’t stand a second day on the L. (There’s a double meaning with “stand” – get it?)

Happy Friday!

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