As I mentioned last month, I’m back to riding Oma almost daily. And I’m reminded that Oma is not just a bike style, but a lifestyle.
I slow way down with her and relax into the ride. I coast up to yellow lights instead of accelerating to beat the red. I enjoy the city sights from my high perch.
It’s all about opting out of the commute-as-race by sheer force of will. Even as SUVs speed past me too closely and I breath in truck exhaust, I think happy thoughts and continue slowly pedaling. Riding Oma helps me maintain a bit of serenity, as the city buzzes around.
My exercise goal for August is decidedly less intense than Trisha’s century ride training. I have to attend two Bikram yoga classes a week with my friend from work. The 90 minute classes heated to 105 degrees are not exactly fun. The best feeling comes when the class is over and I can sail away on my bicycle for the six mile ride home along the Lakefront Trail. The transition from the oppressive heat of the yoga room to the cool lake breeze of the trail is beautiful and makes me enjoy riding my bike even more than usual.
Plus, there’s always this view.
My bike set up on yoga class days is basic. Okay, a little bag lady-chic.
I strap my mat to the back rack (and then sometimes forget it there for a couple of days, creating deep indentions in the mat).
I stuff my work bag, change of clothes, towel, water bottle and lock in my front basket. My basket is low down and anchored to front stays, which helps this load feel light and not interfere with my steering.
My cockpit area is looking a bit too cluttered. Perhaps I should remove my scarf or flower or handlebar bag or camera mount…
Once the (heavily discounted) introductory month is over at the Bikram studio, I will probably go back to Vinyasa, as a more enjoyable yoga for me. But I expect to miss, at least a little bit, the relief of escape by bicycle that practicing Bikram provides me. :-)
Last Wednesday, before biking home in the dusk, I spent the evening with my friend Sara, enjoying a free performance by the Grant Park Orchestra in Chicago’s gorgeous Pritzker Pavilion. The performance was part of a summer-long Grant Park Music Festival.
I try to go once a week; everyone in Chicago should try to go at least once a season. The music and scenery are beautiful, and you’re allowed to bring a picnic complete with wine.
I was rained on during my bike commute today, and I did not mind at all.
Heading home, I took a different route than usual and soon happened upon a garden. I pulled over to walk the paths and enjoy the thousands of roses. As I said goodbye to the flowers and set out toward the lakefront trail for my 7-mile ride home, rain started falling. I briefly considered ducking into a cafe, but the heady smell of fresh summer rain urged me on. While tourists and beach-goers hustled for cover, I cycled on with a smile.
The shower was short-lived and by the time I got home, my light summer dress had completely dried. No rain gear necessary.
Storms of perfume lift from honeysuckle,
lilac, clover—and drift across the threshold,
outside reclaiming inside as its home.
Warm days whirl in a bright unnumberable blur,
a cup—a grail brimmed with delirium
and humbling boredom both. I was a boy,
I thought I’d always be a boy, pell—mell,
mean, and gaily murderous one moment
as I decapitated daises with a stick,
then overcome with summer’s opium,
numb—slumberous. I thought I’d always be a boy,
each day its own millennium, each
one thousand years of daylight ending in
the night watch, summer’s pervigilium,
which I could never keep because by sunset
I was an old man. I was Methuselah,
the oldest man in the holy book. I drowsed.
I nodded, slept—and without my watching, the world,
whose permanence I doubted, returned again,
bluebell and blue jay, speedwell and cardinal
still there when the light swept back,
and so was I, which I had also doubted.
I understood with horror then with joy,
dubious and luminous joy: it simply spins.
It doesn’t need my feet to make it turn.
It doesn’t even need my eyes to watch it,
and I, though a latecomer to its surface, I’d
be leaving early. It was my duty to stay awake
and sing if I could keep my mind on singing,
not extinction, as blurred green summer, lifted
to its apex, succumbed to gravity and fell
to autumn, Ilium, and ashes. In joy
we are our own uncomprehending mourners,
and more than joy I longed for understanding
and more than understanding I longed for joy.
Yesterday evening I was at Millennium Park in downtown Chicago for an outdoor concert – an event that signals for me the beginning of summer. The park is near Lake Michigan and usually a quick ride through a garden brings me to the Lakefront Trail for my ride home. However, last night I was greeted by this construction site where the garden used to be.
Yikes – I hope they are constructing an even more beautiful garden!
Fortunately, the city set up bike detour signs to guide me along an alternate route. This turned out to be a fun mini-adventure because I never knew of this path.
The path followed the Chicago River…
…with a fancy tunnel to cross under Lakeshore Drive
…which brought me to a bridge over the river
…and led me to the Lakefront Trail.
As I biked up the trail, the sun finished setting.
I ended my journey home on neighborhood streets.
If I wanted to get all deep, I could take this as a reminder that what may at first seem like an imposition could turn out to be an opportunity to try something new.
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!).
Kirsten Dunst stars in some of my favorite films: Virgin Suicides, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Marie Antoinette, and Melancholia. I’m also a fan of her personal style. Naturally, I was excited to stumble upon these photos of her riding a bike.