Tag Archives: summer

LGRAB Summer Games: Players & Prizes, Part 3

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.

 

Hollis and Daniel's Farmstand

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.

She also wrote a letter to Metra suggesting improvements for multi-modal commuters, gave her bike tires a lift and took some stellar summer pictures.

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.

Martina at The Life Academic knocked out quite a few tasks in a single afternoon.

Martina and Poppy

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.

Our second drawing is for a Workcycles apron.

And the winner is . . . Stacy Bisker!

Kathy and Stacy, we will be in touch with information on how to claim your prizes.

Not a winner yet? Keep checking daily, because we still have several great prizes to give away.

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The Art of Enjoying the Ride

The summer heat has (temporarily?) given way to cooler air – 61 degrees this morning! It’s the perfect time to enjoy a refreshing ride on Chicago’s Lakefront Trail.

The fresh air off Lake Michigan, scenic views of the skyline, and escape from city traffic combine to make the trail the most pleasant way to get downtown.

As summer winds down, don’t forget to stop to smell the roses and take the long way home.

If you are lucky enough to have such a beautiful route option, why would you not take it, at least every now and then? Although it’s slower, time enjoyed is never time wasted.

So in this last month of summer, remember that biking in the city is not only about efficiency, but also about feeling good and appreciating the little things in life.

{This post is dedicated to Mr. Dottie, who never takes the long sloooooow way home, unless I’m with him. ;)}

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Fan-tastic

This is a post about a fan.  F-A-N.  Other corny title options: #1 Fan, Office Fan-tasy, Fan-cy Pants.  So feel lucky you got the title you got.

As I’ve mentioned before, Chicago summers can be brutally hot.  At least for a few weeks.  Long enough to make me miss winter a little bit.

During those hot weeks, I wear gym-type clothes during my commute (not that I ever step foot in a gym, but you know what I mean).  I sweat a lot, so wearing proper work clothes is a bad idea.

summer heat commuting outfit

When I get to the office, I change into my skirts and suits.  Until last month, I had to use an Action Wipe or something similar to cool down with before changing.

That’s before I got my fan.

A colleague, who happens to work for facilities, noticed me fanning myself with a sad piece of paper after arriving to work and later magically appeared with a sleek floor fan.

sorta like this one

Since then, the fan has been stationed next to my desk. I turn it on first thing in the morning. After 3 minutes in front of the fan, I am 95% better, no action wipe needed. It’s pretty amazing. And then 15 minutes later the fan is off and I’m wrapped in my pashmina because the air conditioning in the building is so cold.

How do you cool down in the summer? Anyone else discover the power of the fan?

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Summer Treats

As the heatwave continues, I find it’s a good idea to treat myself on the way home every now and then. Keeps morale up.

My usual indulgence is a stop at the grocery store for a cold six-pack or a pint of Ben & Jerry’s (Americone Dream!), but recently I kicked it up a notch. Mr. Dottie and I met at a French bistro for dinner on our way home from work in the middle of the week. Dripping with sweat and hauling our panniers and helmets, we were too excited about the delicious aromas to care whether we fit in with the other patrons.

Here was my reward for biking through a heat wave. Bread, butter and a lillet blonde – parfait! :)

Additional rewards: mussels in white wine, coq au vin, creme brulee. Hells yeah. That certainly gave me the motivation to make it through another sweaty bike commute.

I hope you’re treating yourself! And don’t forget to drink lots of beer water to stay hydrated! ;)

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In Search of the Most Peaceful Commute

While I wait for Chicago to be covered in gloriously safe bike infrastructure, I have to work with what I’ve got. As some mentioned in the comments to yesterday’s post, small side streets can provide a calm and safe way to travel through the city – no special bike infrastructure needed. Using such routes to get from one place to another may require practice, familiarity and extra time, but it can be well worth the trouble for those who value peacefulness above efficiency.

Over the past two years, when it no longer made sense to take the car-free Lakefront Trail on a regular basis due to the location of my new office, I have been adjusting my 5-mile commute route from the efficiency side of the scale to the peacefulness side of the scale.

Happy to be cycling on Chicago's peaceful side streets this week

I started with the most obvious and direct bikeable route: a left and a right and I was there (Lincoln to Wells). Most of the ride consisted of a diagonal street with either sharrows or bike lanes the whole way, popular with both bikes and cars. Unfortunately, vehicle traffic moved quickly and there were lots of trucks, buses and giant six-way intersections.  After a while I grew tired of the traffic and aggression, such as drivers shouting at me to get out of the way or just generically being awful. The stress was really getting to me.

Looking for an alternative, it occurred to me last summer to sacrifice some efficiency and try taking slightly calmer streets. The new route amounted to a right, left, right, left and right, instead of a straight diagonal (basically, Southport to Armitage to Wells). I still had to deal with congestion, often riding down the bike lane past grid-locked vehicle traffic, but the cars moved considerably slower, the intersections were smaller, and the bike lanes more consistent.

This route served me well for a year, but lately I have been craving a more peaceful commute. Participating in the super calm Critical Lass rides helped me realize that Chicago has lots of small, tree-lined, neighborhood streets to ride, as long as one is willing to meander: these magically quiet streets have a tendency to end or become one-way suddenly. For the past few weeks, I’ve been experimenting with different side streets, backtracking and exploring a lot.

As of today, I’ve finally discovered The Calmest Route from My Neighborhood to My Office (patent pending). My route is now: right, left, right, left, right, left, right, left, right, left, right, left. That is no exaggeration: I typed while visualizing my ride with my eyes closed.

The difference in my stress level from my first commute route to my current commute route is night and day, with my current route being virtually stress-free. Of course, this comes at a cost. First, it takes about 10 minutes longer than more obvious route. Second, the potholes are especially bad on side streets. Third, this route probably won’t be an option during the winter, when side streets are neglected by snow plows. Finally, I have to be extra cautious at each block’s four-way stop sign because drivers in neighborhoods love to roll through stops, unless there’s another ton vehicle staring them down. Despite these costs, the calmness of the route is worth it to me.

I wish I’d thought of adjusting my route like this a long time ago, but I guess such a paradigm shift is obvious only in hindsight.

I know this kind of meandering commuting is not for everyone, but I’m curious: does anyone else seek out the most peaceful routes possible?

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Enjoying Bike Summer at the Seersucker Ride

Lately it seems I’m posting more about group rides and events than about my daily biking.  While I continue to ride my bike to work and everywhere else, the high points of my biking life have been special events like Critical Lass, the Women-Who-Bike Brunch, my Cupcake Ride and the Tour de Fat.   There is simply no better way to enjoy Chicago in the summer than outside, under the sun, on my bicycle, chatting with nice people.

Now I’m adding  the Seersucker Ride to that list, which I joined last Sunday.  The ride was co-organized by the BBC (British Bicycles of Chicago), the Slow Bicycle Society and Velo-Francais.  Sort of like a Tweed Ride for the summer heat.

There was an excellent turn out of excellently turned-out folks.  :) We met at a neighborhood watering hole for starter refreshments.  I chose a summer shandy to deal with the heat wave weather.  (I refuse to listen to anyone who points out that alcohol dehydrates!)

Then we headed to beautiful Humboldt Park for a picnic.  By far the classiest picnic I’ve ever seen, with table cloths, mini strawberry shortcakes, and fresh mixed mint juleps!



Fun bicycle events provide such a friendly and relaxed environment.  I enjoyed chatting with old friends and meeting new people.

Everyone was dressed so nicely, very casual chic.




After the picnic, we meandered slowly to another watering hole, where I chose to remain for a couple of hours before heading home.  :)

Oh, yeah, and there was this: 

Take that fixies and BMX bikes!  He was actually only one of five penny-farthing riders there and three of them were women.  (I can’t believe I forgot to get a picture!)

Ash gave the Pennyfarthing a try, but I am too much of a chicken for something like that.

Many thanks to the organizers of the Seersucker Ride.  Everyone had a great time!

Who else is enjoying a bike summer?

 

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Riding the Heat Wave

Temps are in the 90’s this week in Chicago – and many other places around the country.  Riding my bike did not feel much hotter than usual.  Maybe it helps that I recently spent a week in North Carolina, where it’s always 90 degrees.  And now when I feel hot, I can visualize myself back to the beach there.  :)




Seriously, I guess my one tip is to take it slow.  And drink water.  That’s two tips.

Stay cool, everyone!

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Fresh Bike Commute

Even though I bike to the same office at the same time day after day, my commute rarely feels stale.  Either the city throws something new my way or I take it upon myself to try something new.  Today my bike commute was a mix of both.  I enjoyed fresh air, fresh bike lanes, fresh cupcakes and a fresh route.

The cool breeze made it comfortable to bike in my work clothes for a change.  It was nice to go straight to my office without stopping by the bathroom to change.

Along the way, I noticed that the bike lanes along a large section of my route were freshened up with new paint and decals.  They are much more noticeable now.  Turns out, the Alderman re-striped all the bike lanes in his ward by making the project a budget priority.  Nice!

On my way home, the siren song of  Sweet Mandy B’s lured me.  I just had to stop to get a cupcake.  Or two.  They did not last long.

After my massive sugar consumption, I continued my ride on super quiet side streets.  I’ve been experimenting with a complicated route of small streets the entire way to and from work.  More on this new route soon.

See?  Never a dull moment.  My life is full of action and adventure.  :)

Anything new and fresh going on with your bike commute?

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July Women-who-bike Brunch

July’s women-who-bike brunch in Chicago on Sunday was a lovely little affair.  (I believe most of our ladies were resting up after the annual overnight L.A.T.E. Ride.)  We set up a picnic on the banks of a river just off a recreational bike path.  Everyone brought a little something to share and there were lots of fresh berries, homemade pastries, and refreshing spiked drinks.


The weather was a bit hot and there was a flat tire at the end, but nothing that the ladies could not handle.

It was so lovely to meet new people and to see familiar faces!

Are you in Chicago and interested in joining us?  Email me at LGRAB [at] letsgorideabike.com.  All women-who-bike (or are-considering-biking) are welcome!

More events coming up:

  • Women-who-bike Happy Hour: July 20, 6:00, Blue Line Lounge
  • Tour de Fat: This Saturday, July 16, Palmer Square
  • Seersucker Social: This Sunday, July 17, 1:00, Streetside Bar
  • Critical Lass: Thursday, July 21, 6 pm, Polish Triangle

Hope to see you there!

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A Chicago Welcome Home Storm

This morning I was excited to jump back on my bike after a week’s vacation in North Carolina.  I set out bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with the sun shining down on me.

A couple of miles into my ride, the air began to look strangely green.  Suddenly, all at once, the wind picked up massively, rain poured, lightening struck and thunder pounded.  A small branch fell down behind me.  It was freaky!

I was on a quiet neighborhood road and I started riding toward a bigger street in hopes of finding shelter at a coffee shop.  I didn’t get far before I had to dismount and scurry to the sidewalk.  I stood next to a wind-blocking building for about five minutes, getting soaked.  (Later I read the wind was up to 75 MPH.)  When the wind and rain did not let up, I scurried down the sidewalk to the end of the block, where I found a bank lobby to duck into (the bank was closed but the lobby was open for the ATM).  There I watched the downpour and lightening for 30 loooong minutes.

When the rain let up slightly, I decided to bike the 2 miles back home, drop off my bike, change clothes and take the L train to work.  I did not want to ride all the way to work downtown in the lightening.  I finally arrived at the office at 10:00 – a not-so-great way to start back after vacation.  Luckily, I have understanding co-workers.

I’ll take this morning’s “adventure” as a harsh reminder to CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST BEFORE LEAVING.  Also, as a WELCOME HOME, SUCKER, from Chicago.

At least I’m not the only one who got stuck in the storm.  Anyone else get caught by surprise lately?  Nah, I’m sure you’re all way too smart for that.  :)

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Quick-Drying Outfits

For summer rainstorms, a quick-drying outfit is more important than a good raincoat. Who wants to wear a coat when it’s so hot outside? The sweat and humidity is worse than the rain. Ick.

I was wearing this outfit below last week when unexpected rain hit just as I left work. Five minutes into my ride, the rain stopped and the sun came out. I was pretty wet, not quite soaked, but by the time I got home 20 minutes later, I was completely dry. Very impressive quick-drying performance from my Patagonia skirt and top. I looked at the tag and they’re made of polyester. Boy, that fabric has come a long way since the 70’s.

As I set out for work yesterday morning, a sprinkle turned into a downpour, soaking me. I had to wring out my shirt after I locked my bike. Unfortunately, I was wearing Lululemon yoga capri pants and top. Despite laying them out to dry all day, they were still damp (and mildewy) at the end of the day. Whatever fabric those are made of is good for yoga movement, terrible for bike commuting in the rain. I chose to wear my office skirt and blouse for the ride home.

My shoes and riding gloves are still drying, too. I should stick to my Keen commuter sandals instead of regular sneakers for wet summer weather.

Funny how I’ve been bike commuting for three years and I’m still learning this stuff. ‘Cause I keep forgetting. :)

Who else forgoes typical rain gear in the summer? What kinds of clothes and accessories have you found best for quick-drying?

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A Delicious Cupcake Ride!

Ride to eat cupcakes, eat cupcakes to ride.

On Saturday, that’s exactly what a celebratory group of 18 bicyclists did, navigating 8 miles to visit 3 bakeries and consume countless cupcakes.  All in the best summer finery, of course.

After setting off from Wicker Park, we stopped first at Alliance Bakery, my personal favorite of the day.  Such delicious and beautiful confections!

The group got a little sidetracked by a very pink sidewalk sale at a boutique next door…

But we soon got back to serious cupcake business.

Next we biked through Wicker Park and Bucktown and across the river to Roscoe Village for our second stop, Bleeding Heart.

There we visited with a bicyclist who would have joined us for the ride, if she had not had to work at the bakery that day.  Hi!  :)

We took a break at a park across the street, as we began to realize that eating more than one cupcake in a row can be quite a challenge.

Then after riding through Roscoe Village, Lakeview and Lincoln Park, we arrived at our final bakery, Sweet Mandy B’s.  A final round of cupcakes was ordered, because we’re hardcore like that.

Finally, we parked ourselves at the beautiful rose garden in nearby Oz Park for a picnic of … cupcakes!  And champagne!  A lovely combination.

Merci Beaucoup to my partner in crime, Sara.  I literally could not have done it on my own, without her enthusiasm and route-mapping skillz.  And mucho gracias to our adorable yet badass corker, Ash.

Thanks to everyone who came out!  You’re all awesome!

What kind of ride should we do next?  Perhaps some gelato and ice cream?  Perhaps!

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Guest Post on {frolic!}

Check it out! We put together a little guest post on favorite blog {frolic!}, featuring Trisha and her Kate Spade Adeline Abici.  The message?  Bike + Be Happy!

Thanks to Chelsea Fuss for inviting us over!

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June Critical Lass – all lasses welcome!

Chicago’s second Critical Lass ride rolled out last Thursday, this time with a group of nearly 30. Like the inaugural ride in May, the ride was so much fun. I love it!

As you can see in my photos below, it’s a women’s ride, plain and simple. All lasses are welcome! I guarantee you will be greeted by the friendliest group of women in Chicago.

(Saying goodbye to mom)










Chatting with others and riding side-by-side was easy due to the super calm route.  After about an hour, we ended at a bar in Logan Square, where I stayed for a couple of hours, enjoying beer and buffalo wing specials.

The next Critical Lass ride is July 21 – always the third Thursday of the month, starting at the Polish Triangle. I hope to see even more lasses there next time! :)

I bow down, once again, to our amazing leader Ash.

p.s. You can read about Edmonton’s June Critical Lass ride via Loop Frame Love and Girls and Bicycles.

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{Cupcake} Training Ride

Recently, I talked about my goal to take a few substantial joyrides this summer.  I got lots of great suggestions in the comments, but so far I have not mustered the energy to do anything about it.

My most ambitious ride last weekend involved ambling on Coco to the movie theater to see Midnight in Paris (love Woody Allen!) and stopping for a couple of cupcakes on the way home.

Hey, I know: this was a training ride!  I’m deep in preparation for this Saturday’s Cupcake Ride. I take this kind of stuff very seriously.  ;)

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Bike to Work Week!

Last week was Bike to Work Week in Chicago. We celebrate it later than the rest of the country, waiting until June to make sure it does not snow. :)

I volunteered at an Active Transportation Alliance commuter pit stop one morning. The stop offered free coffee and Clif bars, various swag, tune-ups and general encouragement.  I mostly just stood around chatting with friends, though.

This particular pit stop was co-hosted by The Chainlink and REI.

Julie of The Chainlink worked the megaphone with great enthusiasm and cuteness.

People signed their names to a petition to support more protected bike lanes in Chicago, part of Active Trans’s new and exciting Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign.

My friend Sara happened to ride by on her way to work, looking naturally fabulous.  Hello!

And other office cycle chic peeps rolled by.

After a demanding morning of gabbing and drinking free Caribou coffee, I set off for the office myself.

I’m a fan of Bike to Work Week. Some people criticize the focus on commuting, while others proclaim it should be “bike to work week every week,” but the directed outreach seems to encourage new people to try transportation cycling. In fact, I first biked to work during the official Bike to Work Week three years ago.  It would be interesting to see statistics comparing the amount of bike commuters the week before, the week of, and the week after the event.

Was anyone else inspired by Bike to Work Week or a similar event as a newbie?  Do you have any co-workers who became interested in commuting after hearing about the event?

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Join the Cupcake Ride!

Mark your calendar! Together with Sara of This Little Bike of Mine, I will be leading a cupcake ride this Saturday, June 25, at 1:00 p.m.

The ride will be a leisurely 6-7 miles, starting at the Polish Triangle and ending at Oz Park.

We plan on visiting 3 bakeries – Alliance, Bleeding Heart, and Sweet Mandy B’s. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to eat 3 cupcakes (although Sara and I are up for the challenge!). You can always share with a friend. We’ll be stopping in a couple of parks to enjoy our treats so feel free to bring a blanket if you prefer.

The dress code is “cupcakesque.” Ruffles and pastels encouraged. :) Per usual, any ladies-who-bike are welcome! We hope to see you Saturday!

*In the chance of rain we will announce an alternate date.

{p.s. Inspired by the lovelies at Bike Skirt.}

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Summer Joyriding Plans

So far this summer, I have been riding my bike about the same amount as during the winter.  That is to say – a lot.  I bike to work daily, of course, and to get anywhere else I need to go.  But I need to start joyriding, now that I can stay outside for longer than an hour without turning into a dotsicle.  :)

Me on a mini-joyride to Humboldt Park

I need to create a plan to enjoy the great outdoors with my bike during the next two months of warm weather.  I definitely want to go camping again, like last year. And I’ve always wanted to take the long ride to the Chicago botanic gardens.

Any other ideas?  What joyrides have you taken in the past and what do you have planned for this summer?

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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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Summer Geek Gear

Summer heat has finally come to Chicago. Although fresh summer cycling is possible, especially if I ride super slowly, with temperatures in the 80’s F, riding in gym clothes is now easier than riding in work clothes. This week I traded my chic suits and tweed skirts for geeky bike commuter gear.

I described my full “LGRAB team kit” last year and this summer it’s pretty much the same, albeit with new sunglasses (am I the only one who always loses sunglasses?).

When I arrive at work, I pop into the ladies room and freshen up with an Action Wipe before putting on my work clothes.

But – oops! On Wednesday I totally forgot to carry a change of work clothes with me! I rifled through my office and unearthed a wrinkled blouse and skirt that had been waiting for a trip to the dry cleaners. Crisis averted, although I looked like a ragamuffin all day.

Getting into the routine of packing extra clothes will require an adjustment period. :)

Has anyone else changed their bike commuting routine for the summer (or winter, for Aussies out there)?

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