Tag Archives: summer

Caught in the Rain

Summer is notorious for sneak attack storms and I am always caught unprepared.

Such was the case on Saturday.  In the morning, I met my friends Chika and Holly for a free and super fun Bollywood dance class outside the Museum of Contemporary Art.  The sun blazed on us for two hours of dancing, but as soon as we got on our bikes, the sky darkened ominously.  The pouring rain soon followed.  Luckily, Chika lives nearby and offered us refuge.  She even invited Betty Foy inside.

The elevator was a bit of a squeeze, but we managed.

Once tucked inside, we waited out the rain with some delicious gin, among other treats that Chika kindly supplied.

After a couple of hours, the sun was back to blazing and Holly and I set out for home.

Unfortunately, I did not have any of the cool rain accessories that Trisha posted about on Friday, but my dress and shoes (and Betty’s poor leather saddle) were all dry by the time I set out.

Overall, I was happy for the storm because it lead to some quality girl-bonding time.  You know what they say about clouds and silver linings!

Who else has gotten caught in the rain lately?

Tagged , , ,

Summer Night Rides

Most of my end-of-the-day rides this summer have been in the late evening or night.   There are so many fun events in Chicago right now, I rarely go straight home after work.  Such was the case last night, when my friend Chika and I biked home at 11 pm after a wonderful outdoor concert by the Grant Park Orchestra.

Pritzker Pavilion in Millenium Park

Frozen Planet with a live orchestra

Chika and her Linus on the Lakefront Trail

Betty Foy sans rear light

Biking later in the evening is wonderfully refreshing.  I avoid evening rush hour: the hottest, most polluted, and busiest time of day.

Unfortunately, my rear light (held on by an old rubber band) fell off while I was going through a big intersection and broke into three pieces. The intersection was too dangerous to attempt retrieval, so now I need to buy a new light and actually attach it properly.  Luckily, my new Po Campo pannier has a huge reflector on the back, but I find a red rear blinkie light to be a necessity, in addition to a reflector.

Does anyone else find themselves biking home later this summer, either to beat the heat or as a result of other activities?  Make sure you have good front and rear lights!

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Blues Brothers in Wrigley Field

On Friday,  I saw a special outdoor showing of Blues Brothers at Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs.  This was my first time watching the iconic Chicago movie and there was no better opportunity to do so, as the setting was dramatic and the audience was absolutely enthusiastic.  Although the temperature reached a high of 100 degrees that day, I was happy to take my seat in the bleachers, knowing the sun would soon set.

The ride to Wrigley Field was quick and there was ample bike parking right outside the stadium.  We were glad to avoid the expensive nightmare that is car parking.

Chika on the left also biked there, from several miles away.  I thought she took the L train, judging by her miraculously fresh appearance, complete with a skirt and pearls.  Sara on the right simply walked to the stadium.

Here is my favorite bit of the movie:

Elwood: It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, a half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses.

Jake: Hit it.

Speaking of wearing sunglasses in the dark, just before the movie began, we in the audience broke the Guinness Book record for the most people wearing sunglasses in the dark at once. Yes, apparently, there is a Guinness Book record for pretty much everything!

This was one of those perfect Chicago nights that make me so happy to live and bike in this city.

Tagged , , , , ,

Paris Opera Ballet Picnic

{Our Roll Models series will return next Tuesday, after the holiday.  In its place today is a little story about a beautiful night out in Chicago.  Have a great Independence Day, Americans!}

On Wednesday, I enjoyed a free showing of the ballet Giselle, performed by the Paris Opera Ballet, in Chicago’s amazing Millennium Park.  The performance was a live telecast from a nearby theatre and the acoustics in the pavilion were wonderful.

The advantage of seeing a ballet on the lawn instead of in the theatre is laying out a picnic blanket and enjoying some wine and cheese in the fresh air.

A picnic is more fun when shared, so I gathered together my friends Sara and Jerry, Gigi and Chika, Maria and Seth (and Glenn, not pictured :-).

As the sun set in time for the second act, and the 90 degree heat lifted, the pavilion took on a magical feel, with shining city lights all around.

The group of us biked home together up the Lakefront Trail under the night sky.  A beautiful end to a beautiful night.  Jumping on the L train just would not have been right.  :)

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Smelly

The worst part of my bike commute today in 96 degrees and high humidity?  The pungent smell coming from trash bins as I rode down my alley and by others.  Oh, the humanity!  The smell wrapped itself around me in a most unpleasing manner.  The trash was not messing around.  Unfortunately, it’s hard to avoid breathing while bicycling.

The smelly did not stop there.  Although not nearly as bad (seriously, not anywhere close!), the gym clothes that I wore and sweated in during my morning ride were a little rank when I pulled them out of my cabinet at the end of the day.  Not fun to have to put them back on.  Darn polyester.

As for myself, I stayed fresh as a daisy with the help of my beloved office fan, a change of clothes, Burts Bees towelettes (pleasing scent), and awesome Soapwalla deodorant cream.

The forecast for Chicago tomorrow is as high as 99 degrees, with a heat index of 105 – and I know other areas are even hotter!

I will be on my bike with sunscreen, a change of clothes, a positive attitude and a travel size perfume.  :)

Tagged , , , ,

A Long Summer Evening

I love how getting home at the end of the day can become extraordinary simply by bicycling with friends.  After this week’s Tuesdays on the Terrace event at the Museum of Contemporary Art, I biked home along the lakefront with my friends Sara and Holly.  At 8:30, the sun was setting, creating beautiful colors in both the sky and water.  Sara had the idea to stop along the way and venture to the edge of a pier for a beautiful view of the city.

Sara with her blue Pashley Poppy:

Holly with her green vintage bike:

Me with my Rivendell Betty Foy:

We took a bunch of photos and engaged in some general silliness:

Sara said she felt like it was one of those long summer nights of childhood, when the streetlights have come on but you’re not ready to go home home and go inside yet.

I totally knew what she was talking about.    Riding bikes with friends on a late summer evening is the best.


Do you ever get that feeling?

{p.s. Have you read about Grant Petersen’s visit to Nashville yet?  I want to read his book for the title alone – Just Ride!}

Tagged , , , , , ,

Tuesdays on the Terrace

Have I mentioned that summers in Chicago are the best?  ‘Cause they are!

Last week, I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art for Tuesdays on the Terrace, a free event with admission to the exhibits and the back garden, where a jazz band entertained and people enjoyed fresh grilled food and drinks.  I lounged on a blanket with my friends Chika and Linda, enjoying the outside ambiance.

The museum is right by Lake Michigan and Chika walked me to the lakefront trail at the end of the evening.  Coco is a bit too big for her, but I think they make a lovely pair.

I enjoyed my bike ride home in the evening, totally content.  Bicycling with the fresh air and sunset and skyline is the best way to end a Tuesday.  Certainly better than a usual mid-week bike commute.

I plan to go to as many Tuesdays on the Terrace events as possible this summer.  After all, the event is free!  ;)  No reason not to take advantage of all the culture Chicago offers.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Summer 2012 Jerk Season

The good side of biking Chicago

Welcome to Jerk Season aka summer!

On Saturday, I set off on my bike, in a great mood, to the theater to watch Moonrise Kingdom.  I was biking on a busy but reasonable two-lane street, outside of the door zone, three feet from parked cars.  Suddenly, from far behind me I heard a honk, then two more as the car came closer.  HONK!  HOOONK!  HOOOOOOONK!  The car passed me extremely closely, as the driver screeched out the open window, “MOVE OUT OF MY FUCKING WAY, BITCH!!!”

I maintained my line and did not react at all.  About 30 yards later, I passed her and the many cars stopped in traffic in front of her, soon arriving at my destination.

The experience was unpleasant – obviously, like any sane person, I would prefer not to be assaulted while traveling – but I have to remember that there are always awful people in the world, whether I am driving or bicycling.  I had to deal with her for only a few seconds, while she is trapped in her own anger always.  It would have been nice if a police officer had magically been around to pull her over, but such is life.

Now I can add “bitch” to the list, along with “retard,” “asshole,”  and “moron,” drivers have yelled at me for no reason.  Not too bad, in four years of daily Chicago bicycling, but I prefer bicycling in the winter, when drivers keep their windows closed and I cannot hear their crazed screeching.

Tagged , , , , ,

Comparing Routes on Bike to Work Day

Chicago’s Bike to Work Week took place last week, with Friday as the grand finale “Bike to Work Day” and a big rally downtown.  I had an early meeting and could not attend.  I simply celebrated by … biking to work.  Imagine that.

Biking to work

The day was a little special, incidentally, because I met up with my friend Elizabeth for the morning ride to work.  We took the most direct, major route, which is not so bad in the morning.  There was plenty of opportunity for chatting.

Elizabeth in the morning

In the evening, Mr. Dottie happened to be leaving work the same time as me, a rare occurrence, so we met up for bike home together.

Mr. Dottie in the evening

I made him take my quiet side street route and he thought it was more stressful than the busy-but-direct route.  He reasoned that all he had to do on the busy route was stay straight and stop for stoplights, while on the twisty side street route, there was a lot of turning, plus potential car conflicts at every block in the form of four-way-stop intersections.  I can see where he’s coming from – cars have a tendency to “not see” bikes at those intersections – but I am more stressed by what I cannot control on the busy route: cars barreling behind me at a fast speed and parked car doors flinging open.

Interesting to consider the choices through someone else’s perspective.  What kind of situation do you think is more stressful?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Symphony in the Park

There is so much to do – for free! – in Chicago during the summer.  I try to do as much as possible, since culture is the reason I choose to live in the city.

Last Wednesday, my friend Chika and I attended the opening night of the Grant Park Orchestra, a free outdoor symphony in downtown Chicago’s architecturally stunning Pritzker Pavilion.  The pavilion lawn spreads out under the sky, perfect for enjoying a picnic in the fresh evening air.

Of course, I biked to work that day, so I biked to the concert after work.  The shopping bag on my rack held picnic supplies.

The fresh air, music, and company made for a lovely evening.  Bicycling home into the late sunset was the perfect end to the night and – as usual – half the fun.

I really cannot think of a better way to spend a Wednesday evening in the city.  And all for free, except the optional cost of wine and cheese.

The next free Grant Park Orchestra performance is Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony this Wednesday.

How are you enjoying the summer on your bike?

Tagged , , , ,

June’s women-who-bike picnic brunch

The first Sunday of June was an absolutely gorgeous Chicago day.  The women-who-bike met for a picnic by the lake.  Much fun was had!  Check out all the awesome women and their bikes!

Sara with her new Pashley Poppy and amazing red pants.

Chika – her first time biking in a dress!

Jen and her badass bakfiets.

Amy is serious business.  :)  Preparing for her first RAGBRAI this year!

Seri rocking the all black ensemble and preparing for her fourth (!) RAGBRAI.

Megan’s cool.  Coordinating her bungie straps to her sandals?  Yup, that’s how she rolls.  :)

Shelley on her way to tend her organic pop-up garden.  (Way more advanced than mine!)

Stefanie shows how to do summer blues!

Krystle looking Parisian chic!  (Fun fact: we first met when she recognized me outside the grocery store.)

PINK!  Christina shows how to do high-vis.  :)

Araidia and her adorable gingham skirt with clever leggings.

Me and Coco.  Read more about biking in this long dress.

Our beautiful patch of Chicago, in the shade of a majestic old tree.

Prosecco!

Berries!

Muffins!

A fabulous morning.

If you’re a woman in Chicago, join the next brunch – a picnic in Grant Park downtown!  Sunday, July 1, 10:30 a.m.  Email LGRAB@letsgorideabike.com for the details.

Tagged , , , ,

Fashion Friday: Fun in the Sun

Trisha is at Bonnaroo music festival, so I am posting this Fashion Friday in her place and in her honor, since I’m sure she’s having lots of fun in the sun!

This outfit is more of a dream one for me, because I own nothing like this flowered tank, pink shorts, and silver sandals.  It would look pretty cool, though, and perfect for a fun summer weekend!  I definitely need more bright colors in my wardrobe.  The colorful, cycle chic Schwinn bike pictured is only $300 at Target, although I cannot vouch for its quality.

I hope you all have some fun in the sun of your own – just remember to wear SPF!

Old navy tank top, $18 on sale for $8, J.Crew chino shorts, $48, Schwinn Women’s Three Speed Fiets Hybrid Bike White/Green, $300, DV by Dolce Vita leather platform sandals, $59, Old navy hat, $13BCBG Max Azria plastic sunglasses, $90

Tagged , , ,

Kate Spade CHI :)

You know how the right outfit has the power to brighten your day and make the world a more fun place to live?  If no, you should probably skip this vapid post.  If so – yeah!  totally!

I wore this Kate Spade ensemble to work last week, which of course involved nearly ten miles of bicycling.  And I felt so super happy the entire time, la la la lalalalaaaa.  *birds chirping*  A bonus is that drivers might be nicer to me dressed like this (Mary Poppins Effect), if they take a moment to glance up from their iPhones.

I am usually a thrift store lady, but I am admittedly attracted to a few different designers.  Not that I pay full price!  Goodness, no!  But I am a seasoned clearance stalker and when this Kate Spade dress popped up for 1/3 of the original price, I was so there.

Luckily, the weather was not too hot and humid – I’d hate to sweat all over this dress’s lovely lining (’cause I sweat like a piglet).  Tip time!  Did you notice the socklette peeking from my mary janes?  I buy those from the drugstore and they keep my feet from getting sweaty-stinky.  ;)

I also wore my Nutcase helmet, not pictured because I won’t pretend I think helmets improve on a look.  Oh!  But you know what helmet would have been spectacular with this dress (if you’re into that kind of thing!):

Ladybug!!!

Do you have a favorite outfit that makes you feel especially happy and cheery while bicycling?  I’d love to hear about it!

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

How to: bicycling in a long dress

Bicycling in a long dress is possible! In fact, with the right set-up, it’s downright simple. Some may ask, “Why even bother biking in a long dress?” My response is that my bike is transportation and I do not want it to dictate what I wear (except pencil skirts, those are crazy – unless you convert it!).

If you are interested in learning how, read on!

Three major factors determine how successfully you can bike in a long dress: the dress, the bike, and the technique.

The Dress

Must allow enough freedom to move your legs in a cycling motion. The skirt needs to be relatively full or made of stretchy material with a slit, such as the one pictured above. Test the dress’s bike-ability before leaving (or purchasing) by doing some knee-lifts.

The Bike

Must have several characteristics to work with a long dress, unless you tie your dress up by your knees. First, a step-through frame (has anyone done this with a diamond frame??). Second, a covered chain to keep the skirt from being eaten and/or greased up. Third, a skirt guard if the skirt is full, so it won’t get pulled in the rear wheel spokes. Note that this was not an issue with the dress and bike above. Fourth, fenders, otherwise your skirt will rub against the rear tire. Finally, a clean frame is a good idea, since your dress will rub against it a fair bit.

The Technique

For the most part, you can bike as normal. You may benefit from hitching the skirt up a bit, to provide more give around the thighs. Experiment to determine what works best for each dress. You may also want to dismount fully at stoplights, to reduce stress on the seams of the skirt.

Here is a quick video that covers the topic. I did this on the fly yesterday, since I happened to be wearing a long dress. I’m not a professional film-maker, so not the best quality video ever, but I hope simply seeing someone bike in a long dress is helpful.

Have any of you biked in a long dress or skirt? I’d love to hear stories and additional tips in the comments! Please feel free also to share photos, via either html or links.

{For more advice, come out to my The Lady and the Bike class in Chicago tomorrow!}

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

September’s women-who-bike brunch

Those of us who were not out of town for the Labor Day weekend met up for our monthly brunch on September 4. We enjoyed the back patio at bike-friendly Handlebar Bar & Grill, a group favorite. The weather was perfect and we savored what may have been our last outdoor brunch for 7 or 8 months.

Megan and her Bianci

Cute shoes and Road ID

Sara and her Jamis

Cute bike flower

Stefanie and her vintage roadbike

Jennifer and her vintage Raleigh

Me and Oma

I love hanging out with this cool group of women! We meet for brunch the first Sunday of the month and for happy hour whenever. If you’d like to join us, email me at LGRAB@letsgorideabike.com.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Riding Chicago’s Four Star Bike Tour

Last Sunday I rode the Four Star Bike Tour, a massive group ride organized by and benefitting the Active Transportation Alliance. I chose the 35-mile route through the west and south sides of Chicago and my total mileage for the day was a little over 50.

Betty Foy at Promontory Point

I enjoyed the ride a lot. The crowd was too packed together at the beginning and after rest stops, but most of the time I was alone or with a small group. Sunday morning traffic was light and we had the roads mostly to ourselves. The route was pretty easy to follow and I saw many parts of the city for the first time.

The view from Promontory Point

I wore my one sporty bicycling outfit – a wool jersey and padded shorts from Ibex. Although I hate the diaper feeling off the bike, the outfit was super comfortable for the ride and I was happy to have the padding.

A sporty thumbs up

My outfit

I enjoyed bicycling for the sake of bicycling, not as transportation, but I kept wanting to stop places, especially in Hyde Park, like my favorite bookstore or the place with the best croissants. I was determined to stick to the task at hand and ride a straight 35 miles, so I resisted temptation.

Except for a quick detour to Promontory Point for some photos.

Enjoying a quick break

Betty did a great job

I’ve never biked more than 60 miles at a time and rarely more than 10. I was happy to find that my regular daily riding was enough “training” for this longer ride. I even pushed myself to go quite fast, relative to my usual speed, the last several miles because I still felt so good. My legs were tired by the end, but in a healthy way, and my muscles were not sore the next day.

Participating in the Four Star has inspired me to spend some of my Sundays waking up early and going for long bike rides. I mean, not this Sunday, but maybe next? Definitely next year at the 2012 Four Star. :)

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

J.C. Lind Bike Co. and Pilen Preview

I know I’m spoiled by Chicago’s collection of bike shops and unique bicycles. The least I can do is take full advantage and share my experiences through this blog.

In that spirit, below is a photo of me saying goodbye to a Pilen this afternoon, after a three day test ride. I’ll provide a full review here soon, but spoiler alert: I loved it!

(As an aside, today was 90 degrees and a black t-shirt is great for disguising sweat spots. I’m going to regret saying this in a few months, but – damn, who else is ready for fall? I’m so tired of sweating.)

Anyway, back to the Pilen. It’s a Swedish bike, the newest addition to J.C. Lind Bike Co.

J.C. Lind is a sponsor of LGRAB, but I’m saying this as a friend and bike-lover: any bicyclist in Chicago who has not visited the shop and gotten to know Jon Lind is missing out.

If you’re in the city, you really should stop by and chat with Jon, test ride some bikes, and check out the cool accessories. People always ask where they can buy a Nutcase helmet or Basil pannier like mine – that’s where! The shop is in Old Town, on Wells Ave between North and Division. If you’re far from Chicago but looking for a cargo bike or unique city bike, you can visit his shop virtually. The impressive list of bikes includes Christiana, Batavus, Gazelle, Linus, Civia, Golden Lion, Kangaroo, Yuba and Pilen.

Jon is so friendly and he’s in this business for the love of bikes and bike culture. He really cares about bringing the best cargo and city bikes to Chicago – just what our city needs!

If you stop by, tell him Dottie says hi. :)

I’m glad this blog gives me an excuse to try out bikes. Someone tell me I’m not the only one who lusts after new bikes, knowing full well that I have neither the money nor the space for any more.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Bicycle Daydreams

Do you ever daydream while riding your bicycle? A benefit of taking side streets to work is the opportunity to let my guard down and allow my mind to wander a bit.

One of my favorite daydreams is of being in Paris. Since visiting last year, I consider Paris my favorite city (okay, Chicago, maybe my second-favorite city). The best way to evoke Paris is by listening to Coeur de Pirate while riding my bike and stopping for lunch at Leonida’s Chocolate Cafe for savory crepes.



I love the little patio with chairs and tables that look just like cafes in Paris.

Trisha sent me the Coeur de Pirate album and it is the sweetest, most magical music you could listen to while riding your bike. It makes me feel like I’m the protagonist in a cute French movie, even though I have no idea what any of the lyrics mean and ignoring the fact that they are from Montreal.

Here is my favorite song to listen to while cycling, Fondu Au Noir, with a handy translation.

When I’m not daydreaming about Paris, I’m very happy to be in Chicago. Yesterday I had a very Chicago evening, meeting up with some of my biking ladies, drinking Goose Island beer, eating pizza, and watching Ferris Bueller (John Hughes’ love letter to Chicago) on a rooftop with a beautiful view of the skyline. The occassion was a special bike-in movie event to benefit West Town Bikes. I don’t have any photos, but it was a lovely evening, despite the light rain.

What do you daydream about while bicycling?

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Happy Friday!

TGIF! It’s hard to believe that this is the last weekend of August already.

In order to enjoy the remaining days of summer as much as possible, yesterday I signed up for the Four Star Bike Tour on Sunday, which is an annual ride hosted by and benefiting the Active Transportation Alliance. In the past, I’ve volunteered at the ride, but never biked it myself.

There are four route options, 12/21/35/65 miles, and I plan to do the 35-mile route, which will be 50 miles of riding when I add in the trip from home and back. Sounds like a lovely way to see the city:

You’ll travel through many of the same Chicago neighborhoods as the Chicago Ramble, also riding through Bronzeville, Hyde Park, South Commons and the Near South Side. You’ll explore Garfield and Humboldt Parks before following Oakwood and Drexel Boulevards south to soak up the beautiful, historic Kenwood and Hyde Park neighborhoods. In Hyde Park, you’ll head east through the Midway Plaissance, and then continue south on Woodlawn to Jackson Park where you’ll pick up the Lakefront Trail for the return trip.

I’ll have to dig in the back of my closet to pull out my only cycling-specific outfit of padded shorts and jersey (wool, of course!).

Does anyone else have special bicycling weekend plans?

Tagged , , , , ,

Why I Ride a Bike

The weather is warm and sunny, the flowers are blossoming, and the traffic is calm on my quiet side street route. Riding my bike is so much nicer than squeezing onto the L train or being trapped in a car.




Even if the rest of my day is not so great, at least I know that I will enjoy my commute to and from work. (Even if I cut my head off with my self-timed photos :)) That’s why I ride my bike. Most assume it’s an environmental or health statement, but those factors are secondary to having a happy commute. If it were not enjoyable, I would not do it.

Why do you ride a bike?

Tagged , , , , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 52 other followers