Tag Archives: summer

FAQ’s – Part I

Earlier this year, Trisha and I opened a Formspring account and welcomed you all to ask us questions.  We’ve been answering the questions on Formspring individually as they come in.  Now we’re putting the answers together as a cohesive FAQ section, although some of the questions are not so frequent.  :)  This is the first half.  We’ll post the second half soon.

How and when did Dottie and Trisha meet?

Trisha and I met through our mutual friend, Erin, at a group happy hour. The first meeting I really remember was at a Russian dinner party I threw at my apartment. Trisha showed up with a shirt that said, in Russian, “I love Russian.” Awesomeness. Soon after, we went to a midnight showing of Gremlins and I drank too much beer and had to leave before the movie ended (beer buzz + crowded theater + gremlins driving Barbie cars = overwhelming). From then on, we were fast friends.  :)  That was, I think, about 4 years ago when I lived in Nashville for law school.

What saddles do you use on your bikes?

I (Dottie) have Brooks saddles, which I love. On Oma it’s the B67 with springs – the most comfortable saddle ever. On Betty it’s the B17S – no springs and took longer to break in, but still great. Trisha’s Batavus came with a Selle Royale and her Peug has a vintage saddle.

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The Last Weekend of August

Yikes – this is the last weekend in August. Where has the summer gone? To enjoy as much of the remaining warmth as possible, I spent Saturday experiencing a new-to-me Chicago summer tradition: the Ravinia music festival. There the music takes a back seat to enjoying time outside – Chicagoans so love time outside in the summer. Ravinia Park has a huge lawn where thousands set up elaborate picnics, often complete with tables, candles and multiple courses.

Riding home from the train station

The evening’s performance was by Rodrigo y Gabriella, but because we could not see the stage, our focus was on picnicking, drinking wine and spending time with friends. As everyone in our group bike commutes and some race, there was much discussion about terrible drivers and the awesomeness of cyclocross races, which sounds like an event I should go watch sometime.

New friends Brian and Patty

Me and Greg at Ravinia

Mr. Dottie and I rode our bikes to the Metra station and the suburban train took us straight to Ravinia Park for free. Hordes of others had the same idea to take the train, which resulted in extreme waits to get in the Park and back on the train after the show. Although this was hectic and I wished I’d had my bike, it was far better than driving.

How are you enjoying the last few summer weekends?

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Who, knowing the truth, would choose anything else?

This morning I planned to take my usual street route to work. After I got on my bike and felt the sweet sun and cool breeze, however, my instinct took over and led me to the Lakefront Trail. I thought maybe I needed a clear stretch of pavement to go fast and get out any residual aggression from yesterday’s jerk sighting, but after I rode the mile to the lake and my tires automatically slowed upon hitting the Trail, I realized that what I craved was some quiet time with the horizon, safe from all motor vehicles.

The same held true for my ride home from work in the evening. Just what the doctor ordered.

There was a great post on EcoVelo recently about how ridiculous it is when non-cyclists speak of your bike commute as a great sacrifice, when it’s anything but. Riding a bike is almost too fun and too perfect for starting and ending the workday. That really is the big secret, apparently. Who, knowing the truth, would willingly chose anything else?

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A Typical Tuesday

My commute to and fro today was lovely, other than having to yell “JERK” at some jerk, who honked at me for being in the road and then cut me off to turn right.  I guess I should not be surprised, since some people (*cough* men *cough*) are often jerks in general.   The anonymity of driving naturally magnifies this tendency.  They should get their ridiculous testosterone under control and stop bringing me down.

Anyway, my ride really was (mostly) lovely.  There is finally some relief from the oppressive heat and I can feel autumn trying to break though.  Although I know it’s too soon to get excited, I can’t help it – I love autumn!

How’s everyone else doing?  I’ve been so busy lately, I feel a bit disconnected from my fellow bike commuters out there in internets land.

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Friday Unwinding

This morning I almost took public transit instead of riding my bike, as the news predicted a sweltering 90 degree day with thunderstorms. I decided to ride anyway. By the afternoon, the official thunderstorm watch was the talk of the office, with heavy rain and lightening strikes predicted…any minute… But the rain never happened. So after work I rode my bike a couple of miles as planned to meet up with Sarah, Don and Mr. Dottie at The Publican for dinner.

After a delicious and very interesting meal, we walked the 1.5 miles back to their hotel, stopping to take random photos, of course.

I have no idea what we were talking about in this last photo, but I was obviously amused.

After leaving Sarah and Don at their hotel, we rode the 7 miles home via the Lakefront Trail. The night ride was a perfect way to wind down after a long week of crowded streets and hot sun. TGIF.

I find that switching up my commute at the end of the week is a good way to unwind and usually I have the opportunity to do so after going out with friends. How do you unwind to leave your weekday riding behind?

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“Excessive Heat Warning” Commute

Today there was an excessive heat warning in Chicago, the first since 2006, due to a top heat index of between 100 and 107 degrees. I rode my bike today, as I have every day this week. It wasn’t a big deal, nothing dramatic. I went slowly and sweated and that was that. For the very young, the elderly or the asthmatic, riding a bike probably would not have been a good idea, but I was okay. The worst part was the haze of pollution in the air.

I also walked a couple of miles in the middle of the day. Riding a bike felt much better, since it creates constant airflow.

On my way home I attempted a panda shot in honor of Simply Bike. Turns out I’m really bad at taking pandas and barely got the bike in the frame. I’ll have to practice this some more.

How’s everyone else holding up this fine August?

p.s. By the time you read this, I’ll be on a plane to visit NYC for the first time. Trisha will be there, plus bikes, plus more friends – I’m very excited.

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A Hot Ride

The heat wave continues in Chicago and around the country. In the 90 degree temperatures, this dress helps me look put together while sweating bullets. Although the black material attracts the beating sun, sweat marks are completely concealed.

I love this Diane von Furstenberg dress because I bought it from the Salvation Army for $3.99 last week! Unfortunately the details don’t show up in the photo from my point-and-shoot camera, but it’s a button down with a big collar and a sash at the waist.

This is the beautiful garden where I sat during my lunch hour, eating a cupcake and reading Bust magazine. A guy walking by looked at my bike and commented, “Must be tricky in those heel.” Nope, not really, with some practice.

Oh, I love getting out of the office for a bike ride, although the resulting sun and sugar high makes it a bit hard to focus for the rest of the afternoon. :)

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Bulk Grocery Trip

My bulk grocery trips are not as pretty to look at as my farmer’s market bike trips, but I imagine the former are much rarer than the latter in the bicycling world. Of course, Mr. Dottie and I prefer to buy our food at the farmer’s market, but the bulk store keeps us in fancy olives and upscale beer within my non-profit salary.

We’re lucky that the route to Costco is super simple and relaxing – only a couple of miles down a quiet neighborhood street leads us directly to the parking lot.

And the result of our farmer’s market and bulk food trip – dinner!

There’s quite a lot packed into our panniers and my basket, but the ride was no problem. I load my rear rack with a lot of weight without worrying about it, but I keep my front load lighter, otherwise my steering gets squirrely. I also carried a light shoulder bag with my camera and some spinach.

If we owned a car, we would probably say, “eff it, let’s take the car,” so we’re thankful that we don’t have that option. Makes life more interesting :)

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A Random Act of Kindness

To the Argo Tea girl handing out free smoothie samples on the street corner: thank you so much for bringing a sample to me while I was waiting at the stop light and hanging around to take back my empty cup when the light turned green. I did not ask you to do that, but you must have seen how longingly I looked at the smoothie in the 90 degree heat. You, my dear, are an angel.

What is the nicest random act of kindness you’ve encountered while riding your bike?

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Easy Summer Commute

I took the Lakefront Trail on the way home, stopping to snap some pics with my little point-and-shoot. Feels like a long time since I enjoyed an easy summer commute on the Lakefront Trail.

Ah, can you feel the sunshine and the lake breeze? That, my friends, is the good life and it’s totally free.

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Chicago Countryside

Chicago is the third-largest city in America. Skyscrapers, taxis, tourists, crime – it’s all there. However, jump on your bike and ride a few miles south of downtown for this scenery.

The Chicago Countryside is closer than you think :)

{I could not help posting more pictures from our Sunday ride.}

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A Different View of Chicago

This morning Mr. Dottie and I set out at 9 o’clock for brunch at the home of friends. The catch: they live over 15 miles away (31 miles roundtrip) in Hyde Park, aka Obama’s neighborhood. The ride was totally worth it for their fantastic food and company, plus I always like an excuse for a bike expedition.

Thanks to the Lakefront Trail, the ride there was simple and beautiful. From our house we rode a mile east to the Trail, then 14 miles south down the Trail, then a mile west to their house. I often ride along the north side of the trail, but very rarely along the south side. The south side is much quieter and less crowded, more nature-like and removed from the city.

Me at Promontory Point - view of skyline from the south side

Greg and Sir Raleigh at Promontory Point

Museum of Science and Industry

I'm on a boat! Not really, I only wish I were.

Part of the skyline from the south

Chicago skyline with kid biking

I wish I could convey the feel of the 90-degree heat, burning sun, miraculously cold lake breeze, cookout smells, boom box music, children laughing… We returned home at 5:30 pm, exhausted in a good way, feeling alive.

This is going down as a Summer Games event, “explore a new part of town by bike.” Although I’ve been there before, I don’t go often, and I’m not eligible for prizes, anyway :)

Read about my ride to Hyde Park last year here.

While you’re at it, check out this fun write-up with photos of the south side Lakefront Trail from Bike Bliss.

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Simple Pleasures

Sustenance and transportation are two necessities of daily life. People need to eat and need to get from one place to another. How one chooses to fulfill these needs greatly affects one’s life. Our society in general is going about it all wrong. Pleasure, health and happiness can be derived from these tasks. I don’t mean by eating steak and driving a porsche; I’m not talking about anything money can buy, but about simple pleasures.

Just some thoughts after another beautiful Saturday at the farmer’s market, eating fresh food in the shade of old trees and then hopping on the bikes for a quiet ride home. The price for hours of entertainment, quality time, exercise, transportation, fresh air and happiness – nada. For local food (cherries, cheese, arugula, croissant, mushrooms) – ten dollars per person.

I’m no master of simple living, but I know what makes me happy. Bicycles and fresh food are so obviously good, their near-invisibility in society boggles the mind.

What is your take on simple pleasures and how they affect your life?

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Keeping Cool

Riding 5 miles in 80+ degree temperatures does not have to be miserable. Take the opportunity to kick back and relax, keeping cool while keeping your cool. Everyone else can rush rush rush, but you’re too smart for that.

After my Friday work commute

That’s how I roll :)

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Smile at the Bicycles

Today there were so many bicyclists along my route, everywhere, becoming a real force in the movement of the city – it was beautiful. I found myself smiling the whole way home.

There are many more bicyclists this summer than last summer, and especially more people dressed in regular clothes. I’m bad at numbers, but I must have seen nearly 100 other bicyclists during my commute. On the way home I rode behind a guy in a suit (jackpot!), a woman in a skirt and another woman in stylish khakis and a button-down with pink flowers on her basket.

I hope people who don’t ride notice all of the bicycles, too. They must! Seems impossible to miss such a dynamic new part of the cityscape. I’m pretty sure I saw some smiles on the faces of pedestrians. Who can resist a smile at the bicycles? Especially those with wicker baskets, flowers, skirts and suits? :)

Have you noticed more bicyclists where you live? Or is it your first summer riding a bike? I’m really curious to hear what others’ experiences have been.

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Friendly Commute

This morning I rode further than usual to attend a conference.  While waiting at a stop light, my friend Elizabeth magically appeared next to me.  What a fun surprise!  There are few surprises better than meeting a good friend in an unexpected place.  Turns out she was on a long morning ride (being much sportier than I).  Gotta love the social aspect of bike riding.

Elizabeth brightening my morning

Soon afterward, a grouchy guy tried to mar my morning.  As I rode 8 mph on the nearly empty bike path (trying not to sweat my ass off before work), he said sarcastically while passing me, “Nice place for your helmet,” indicating the helmet hanging from my handlebars.

Helmet-carrying contraption, aka handlebars

Why, thank you!  I agree; that’s a brilliant place for my helmet, as I can easily take it off and put it on as I transition from the streets to the bike path.  Perhaps if he slowed down occasionally (to, say, 8 mph), he would notice that riding a bike is not always an extreme sport requiring protective gear. :)

Really, I ride so slowly and cautiously when I take off my helmet on the bike path – if anything, I am safer.

My ride was otherwise nice and relaxing, though almost 90 degrees and humid. Nothing a wet washcloth and deodorant couldn’t handle.

And now for something completely different. In one hour (9:00 central) Trisha and I will be interviewed live on Bicycle Radio. You can – and totally should! – listen at http://bicycleradio.com. If you miss the show, you can download the podcast. While you’re at it, check out their awesome archives, which include guests such as Ray LaHood and Gary Fisher!

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Two Pictures, One Garden

After six months of winter, I was thrilled by the re-emergence of roses and puffy hydrangea in Chicago’s Grant Park. I cycled through the garden every day to and from work, and these flowers always brought a smile to my face. Sadly, they are now dying as autumn takes over.

Beginning of summer, blooming flowers in Grant Park

Beginning of summer, blooming flowers in Grant Park

End of summer, dying flowers in Grant Park

End of summer, dying flowers in Grant Park

Aw, so sad.  See you in nine months, garden!

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An Open Letter to ActionWipes

AW09singleweb-250x154Dear ActionWipes,

Good news first: you work! you really work. Better than the old damp paper-towel routine. Better than a washcloth and soap (no need to rinse).

You’re reuseable.

You do your best to make your packaging environmentally friendly.

You’re convenient.

You included a nice little handwritten note on my order slip.

Thank you for all of those things.

But do you have to smell like a hippie eating a cough drop? Herbal, I can live with, but smelling like the herb, I cannot. Can we pretty please have the cleansing and soothing properties of eucalyptus and tea tree with a little less of the scent? Because on all but the hottest days, I find myself opting for the slight BO/Chanel Chance combo instead.

Sincerely,

Trisha

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Attention Nashville Cyclists

Mark your calendars!

Mark your calendars!

Dottie and I are cooking up a little group ride adventure for her next trip here. Exact route and details TK, but we hope you’ll keep the afternoon of Saturday, August 22, open for a stylish saunter through the bike lanes around my side of town.

P.S. In other news, I’m in North Carolina (Sapphire/Asheville) for a long weekend. Hoping to rent bikes, hike and eat some good food — drop me an email if there’s anything I shouldn’t miss!

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