Tag Archives: travel

October Camping

Since I last posted two weeks ago, fall has really taken off.

I enjoyed the season to the fullest last weekend, when I went camping near the Wisconsin border with a group of friends.  The autumn colors against the clear blue sky were breathtaking.

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No bikes were involved in this outing (unlike my 24-hour bike camping trip), but there was hiking, dog wrangling, and s’mores making.

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The hiking culminated in this gorgeous view just before the sun began setting.

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On the way back to the city, we stopped at an orchard for some good old-fashioned Wisconsin apple picking.

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And some amazingly delicious apple cider donuts (yummy!).

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Here’s to autumn!  May it last at least a month longer!

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p.s. This work week has been grey and rainy, but I’m grateful for the days when I can ride my bike comfortably.

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The Return!

Hello!  We are back!  Pardon the silence, but sometimes a woman has to travel.  :-)

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Trisha posted a teaser about our destination a couple of weeks ago and reader Jennifer correctly guessed our location: Dubrovnik, Croatia!  But wait, there’s more.  A full reveal of all our destinations is below.

Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina:

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Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina:

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Dubrovnik, Croatia:

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Lake Skadar, Montenegro (our home base was Herceg Novi):

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Lustica Peninsula, Montenegro:

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Belgrade, Serbia:

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We will post much more later, including details about an amazing bike excursion we went on one day.

Now back to regularly scheduled bike blog programming.  :-)

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LGRAB aime Paris

Since we’ve been going on about our fall vacation over the last week, here are some scenes from our October trip to the City of Lights. We didn’t bike while we were there—it was just a 48-hour trip—but we walked our feet off. We’d both been to France and Paris before, so our priority this time around was acting like locals. Well, and doing a little photo shoot on the banks of the Seine.

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The weather could have been better, but we were just happy to be in Paris. We were also incredibly pleased with our budget hotel, the Hotel Tiquetonne. For just 60 EUR a night, you have this view.

 

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If you look carefully, you might see Sacré Coeur in the background.

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And this stairwell.

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And you’re incredibly close to this wonderful restaurant. We had to settle for the wine bar, but it was worth the wait. Afterwards, we shut down the café near our hotel—the perfect Paris night out!

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More beautiful Paris pictures:

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Pretty sure Dottie was taking the photo above when Trisha took this one:

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We also made time to stop for an apèro. Or three!

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Coffee and crepes on a rainy day.

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Shopping at Galeries Lafayette‘s flagship store. We spent our time/money in the food hall, but admired everything else.

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The store’s beautiful ceiling

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A quick stop at the Musée Carnavalet.

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That is all.  <3

P.S. see our previous trip to Paris here, plus bicycling Versailles and an American girl(s) on Velib.

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Re-discovering Nashville

Howdy!  I recently got an iPhone and I’m intrigued by all the blogging/twitter/picture possibilities.  Therefore, those of you who follow us on Twitter may have seen that Trisha and I were hanging together in Nashville this weekend.  Working on some fun blog-related stuff.  :-)

On Saturday, we biked to the park and picnicked for a few hours with a bottle of wine and some good cheese.  I rode the Flik folding bike and Trisha rode her beloved Kate Spade Abici.

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Other than blog work and bicycling, we’ve basically been eating our way through Nashville, with stops at Barista Parlor, Rolf and Daughters, Hattie B’s Chicken (for a Nashville bike brunch and meet-up with my friend Erin and her baby Finn), and The Pharmacy.  Love Southern Food!

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We also absorbed some culture at the Frist Art Museum.

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Finally, a bit of shopping, including some long-desired, ultra-local Imogen + Willie jeans for Trisha and Wolford tights for me (I’ll review them here, as I’m hopeful they are the perfect winter tights).

Re-discovering Nashville with every visit (after living here six years ago) is always a treat.  The city is on a huge upswing, including improving public transportation and bicycling facilities.  Every time I visit, there is more to see and do!

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A Bit of Amsterdam in Chicago

I know I love Chicago because whenever I return from a trip, no matter how cool the cities I visited, I’m happy to be back and Chicago shines a little brighter for a couple of days.  I must say that after Amsterdam, though, the bicycling situation in Chicago is looking especially bleak.  At least I can retreat to the Lakefront Trail, where the bicycling conditions are Amsterdam-level easy, pleasurable, and safe.

I took these photos before I left for my trip.  I was worried that cold weather would have set in by my return, but today is sunny and in the 60’s F!

When you return from traveling, do you feel better or worse about bicycling in your home city?   If you’ve visited a bicycle-paradise city like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, or Bogata, did seeing the possibilities make you more hopeful for the future or just make you want to run away to said bicycle-paradise city?  I’m not yet sure where I fall.

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Fashion Friday: European Vacation

Today I’m heading to Europe, where I’ll meet Trisha to enjoy a whirlwind 10-day trip through London, Paris, Amsterdam, and a bit of Dublin!

This is the collage I created to plan my packing.

And here is Trisha’s packing collage.  Yes, we are planning nerds.  :-)

Everything is good for walking and bicycling comfortably while (hopefully!) looking chic.

We’ll be taking many trains and riding lots of bicycles.  And we’re shoving everything into carry-ons, so wish us luck!

How do you pack for trips?  Do you have any traveling tips to share?

 

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My Trip Around Scotland

As I mentioned before I left, in March I went to Scotland for a week with my friend Tanya and my husband.  I had not gotten around to blogging about the trip, since it was no epic bicycling adventure.  In fact, quite the opposite: we traveled all around Scotland via rental car with the express purpose of visiting as many whisky distilleries as possible.  We were successful.  :-)

We flew into Glasgow and immediately picked up the car and set out for the countryside, traveling to a different town every day, staying at a different B&B every night.  I would not necessarily recommend this itinerary for a week’s trip because driving time was much longer than estimated (and scary! with being on the left and curvy roads and cliffs and all) but we got to see a lot of this beautiful country and meet lots of very friendly residents.

Slowed down a bit by a flat tire…

And now prepare for gobs of photographs, showing our daily adventures.  I hope no one still has dial-up internet!  (All photos by me, unless I’m in them.)

Day 1: Oban

B&B: Strumhor

Distillery: Oban

Every B&B we stayed at served breakfast, of course.  The menu never changed: always the traditional Scottish breakfast.

I was happy to see that in addition to tea every place served delicious french-press coffee.

 

Day 2: Isle of Skye

B&B: Grasmhor

Distillery:  Talisker

I think sheep are so funny and awesome and I was thrilled to see them everywhere in Scotland.  The sheep roam entirely free on the Isle of Skye, since the only way off is a bridge, and the shepherds separate them at the end of the season based on color markings on their wool.  The result is a bunch of punk-rock sheep wandering around, with hot pink and bright blue and neon green tufts sticking up.

Ratagan Pass for a beautiful view.

Inveraray Castle

Day 3: Dufftown

B&B: Morven House

Distillery: Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Glen Grant

 This B&B had the coolest house cat.

Day 4: Pitlochry

B&B: Roseburn

Distillery: Macallan, Dalwhinnie

Macallan is my favorite distillery and I brought back two bottles: a special edition 1876 replica and a 22 year.  Yum!

Queen’s View for the most beautiful view.

Castle whose name I cannot remember with beautiful but scary peacocks wandering around.

Day 5: On the road to Edinburgh

Distillery: Erdradour

A hike at the Falls of Bruar, which my fear of heights made nerve-wracking, but the views were worth it.

Day 6: Edinburgh

B&B: Ayden

It rained pretty much the entire time, which we took as a sign to spend most of the day poking around used book stores and drinking in pubs.

My Lululemon rain trench came in handy.

While in Edinburgh, we were thrilled to meet up with Jennifer both nights, a fab woman and LGRAB reader whom I hung out with when she visited Chicago two years ago.  So handy to have a local to bring us to the best restaurants and bars!  :-)

Day 7: Glasgow

B&B: Alamo

After Glasgow, we flew to Dublin for 2 days/3 nights.  I’ll post about that part of the trip separately.

The single malt whisky I brought home with me!

Half of these bottles are empty by now.  :-)

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Other trips we’ve taken over the years:

St. Petersburg, Russia (with some interesting bicyclists)

London, England (with cycling infrastructure)

Littlehampton, England

Paris, France (with Velib and bicycling around Versailles)

Alsace, France

NYC, New York

San Diego, CA (twice!)

Montreal, Canada

And we’re very excited about our planned trip to London/Paris/Amsterdam next month!

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A New Kind of Bike Rental

Yesterday morning on Cup of Jo, I read about a totally new kind of bike rental/bike share system, Spinlister, described as airbnb for bicycles.  The idea is to rent a bike from an individual, paying substantially lower rates than you would at a traditional bike rental company.  The site is currently live for NYC and San Fran.

The best thing about this system is the available selection of unique bicycles, much better than the usual crappy hybrids offered by bike rental shops.  A quick look at the site shows a fun collection of bikes, including the ones below.

a Batavus Old Dutch:

a sweet vintage mixte:

and a fixie:

I think this is a cool idea with a lot of potential, although arranging to meet up with an individual to pick up a bike may be too much trouble for a one-day rental.

Would you consider using this system while visiting another city?  Would you offer your bike up for rental???  I don’t think I would be willing to hand over my bikes to complete strangers.

{Check out our past interview with Joanna of Cup of Jo!}

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We’re crossing the pond again!

Sorry for the slight lapse in posting lately. Dottie and I are devoting a lot of mental energy to planning our next trip.

Yep—that’s a London-Paris-Amsterdam itinerary you’re looking at. We will be there in mid-October (and I’ll be in Wales and Dublin before that).

Since we have so much time to dream and plan, we’d love to get suggestions from you on what we should see—especially when it comes to Amsterdam, as neither of us has been there before. Please share in the comments! And let us know if you’re interested in a reader meetup. Tea and Topshop in London??

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Surprise Trip to Montreal

I’m back!

En route home to Chicago from Dublin, I had an unexpected side trip to Montreal. My flight from London was delayed, causing me to miss my connection from Montreal to Chicago – the last of the day.  Air Canada comped my hotel and meals, so although I was exhausted and ready to be home, I embraced the opportunity to see Montreal for the first time.

In the morning, I woke early and Mr. Dottie and I set off to spend three hours wandering around downtown before we had to catch the 1:45 flight home. The weather was perfect – warm and sunny. Armed with a map, complete with Bixi bikeshare station locations, we planned to pick up Bixi’s at Parc LaFontaine and ride along a protected cycle track to the Old Town area, ending at Marche Bonsecours.

We arrived at the park and wandered around looking for the Bixi station for a good 15 minutes. (Montreal peeps know where this is going…) We were so confused, standing exactly where the map said the Bixi station should be. Finally I asked a woman walking by with a bike where we could find the station and she informed us – oh, the bike share? – Bixi does not open until April. :(

Sad about not being able to ride a bike (no time to track down a bike rental store), we instead walked the planned route, which was also a great way to take in the city sights.

The feel of the city is unique.  The old buildings and French language contributed to a European feel, but overall it felt more like Chicago than Paris.  I imagined an idyllic bicycling paradise, while in reality it was more…real.  A big city with a lot going on.  There were many cyclists and some cycle tracks, but also a lot of motor vehicle traffic.  The number and types of people bicycling seemed similar to those in Chicago.

Since I could not ride a bike there, I compensated by buying a bicycle t-shirt.  It says in French, “Ceci n’est pas une bicyclette,” which Trisha assured me is an arty little meme, nothing dirty. :)

I also bought a lovely bicycle-print dress at Marche Bonsecours that was designed and made in Montreal.  I love the dress and I’ll definitely post about it later.

I enjoyed the unexpected side trip to Montreal.  I only wish I had time to plan ahead, see more of the city, ride a bike, and meet up with some locals.  Next time!

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B-cycling in Denver

Mr. Dottie and I are in Denver this week vacationing and visiting Melissa and Chanh. We’re staying at a B&B downtown and so far we love the area. Today was devoted to B-Cycling. We picked up a couple of bikes a block away and made our way across town to the Platte River Trail, where we biked several miles, stopping for lunch and an excursion to the flagship REI store.  We biked about 12 miles total for the day.

B-Cycle is Denver’s bike share system.  There are 500 bikes at 51 stations, mostly serving the downtown area.

The bikes are fully outfitted for city riding, with 3-speeds, drum brakes, skirt guards, chain guards, baskets, generator lights, fenders and adjustable quick-release seats. Very comfy.

You swipe your membership card (which we borrowed) and the bike of your choice is released.

After paying a membership fee, using a bike is free for the first 30 minutes, $1 for the hour, and thereafter $4 for every half hour, to encourage short local trips. We managed to spend no more than $4 all day by docking and re-releasing our bikes as often as possible.

And then we were off! The trail is lovely – paved, scenic and well-maintained.

The fall colors here are gorgeous.  So beautiful.

We stopped by a cool bike shop/coffee shop, Happy Coffee Co., that had this great mural outside.

Then Mr. Dottie had to infuse the ride with adventure and bomb up this hill with his little B-Cycle. Pretty impressive for a 3-speed city bike. We’ll have to find some real mountain biking later this week.


We loved our adventure on the B-Cycle and are enjoying biking in Denver.  The past couple of days have been warm, but it’s supposed to snow up to 10 inches tomorrow!

Now back to vacation…

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Nashville!

I’m back from Trishaville, aka Nashville. Although I lived there for only three years and moved away four years ago, Nashville is my favorite city to return to again and again, simply because of Trisha and other friends.  And there’s something about the South that calls to me, although I spent my youth hatching escape plans.

My three days with Trisha were full of awesomeness, of course: used bookstores, a British sitcom marathon, a discount designer warehouse, French breakfast, fancy ice cream, duck fat tater tots, Yazoo beer and live music at the Mercy Lounge (Those Darlins!).  Plus, I finally got to meet Trisha’s brother, Charlie.  Hmmm what else?…

…oh yeah – bicycling!

I got to meet the new Kate Spade Abici, whom I keep calling Kermit Spade, to Trisha’s chagrin.  With Trisha on KS and me on the Bat, we rode downtown and crossed the pedestrian bridge for a view of the Nashville skyline.

Yeah, we’re cool.

I must share, there are a number of weirdo men loitering around downtown Nashville who were quite interested in us.  We handled them effectively with stoney silence, which we’re both really good at when we put our minds to it.

After the bridge, we rode over to Broadway, with its honky tonks and cowboy boot shops.

We really should have stopped to take advantage of the 3-boots-for-the-price-of-one deal – missed opportunity.

Bicycling in Nashville was a great pleasure for me.  The weather is not yet at Southern summer oppressiveness.  The infrastructure is quite supportive of cycling, with wide bike lanes on many medium-sized streets and plenty of winding back roads with almost no cars at all.  Drivers seemed to display the fabled Southern hospitality, although I’m prone to romaticize it now that I don’t live there anymore.  One guy in a work truck blocking the bike lane drawled, “Pardon me, ladies,” which made me inordinately happy.

Today my thighs are sore from all those hills (damn! major props to Trisha for handling those every day) but it was worth it.

I make it to Nashville at least once a year, for Trisha’s birthday, but hopefully it won’t take me a year to return this time.  Chicago is comparatively cold in all ways.

Many more photos from our Nashville adventures and Trisha’s Abici to come.

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A Bicycling Tour of Versailles

The scene: Versailles, a city outside of Paris renowned for the Palace of Versailles.

After taking the RER train from Paris to the suburbs and walking a short distance, you are greeted by the imposing statue of King Louis XIV on horseback. The surroundings are a bit ominous, but don’t be scared – continue on and you will be rewarded.

You encounter the palace first.

Then turn around and gawk at the decadent and expansive grounds.

Okay, this is still a little scary. Sorry about that. No, the palace looks more like this in real life.

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Brownie on a Bike in San Diego

Hi. I go by “beany” online as I’m a bean counter. I’m a brownie who is car-free in San Diego and blog at Brown Girl in the Lane . While Dottie and Trish are off galavanting in France, eating the most delectable of meals and drinking the finest of wines, they have asked me to write a post for you. So here it is :)

I had the incredible pleasure of meeting Dottie and Trish in person earlier this year. It is easily one of the most memorable blogger meetings I’ve had because meeting women who ride a bicycle is harder than finding a pair of shoes that I want. Meeting women who genuinely love riding and ride for the sheer pleasure of riding, like I do? Well, that’s much harder than…fixing a flat in the worst of all possible ghettos in sub zero temperatures, in a hail storm while trying not to dirty a nail. In other words, a very rare occurrence in my world.

This post is a brief-ish history of my love affair with riding a bicycle.

Me and my cousin at age 5

I first began riding when I was around five years old.  My father bought me a red colored bicycle that had a banana seat and came with training wheels. To say that that bicycle became an obsession would be an understatement. My bicycle was parked close to my bed and I rode it every day  and soon graduated to riding a two wheeler like a proper cyclist would.

My bicycle became a constant and steady companion. It was how I was able to explore the city of eight million that I grew up in. My bicycle was my ticket to freedom, exploration and with it an incredible feeling of utter exhilaration. Riding through the city began to define how I viewed the world. Everything seemed possible and doable when I was out riding. It was on a saddle (or banana seat) that I was able to sort out the jumble of thoughts and contemplate about things I thought were worth contemplating over.

In my late teens, I moved to the U.S. where I found myself living in a suburb of Philadelphia. It was there that I realized the futility of relying on others for rides or the shoddy public transit system. I also disliked living in a small town. I thrive on the energy that is found in cities. So I began to date a man in Philadelphia who would one day become my husband. My dates with him all revolved around a lengthy bike ride ending at a good bar and grill. Thankfully, he rode because he loved to ride and rode everywhere. But he was unhappy living on the East Coast and wanted to fulfill a lifelong dream of living by the Pacific Ocean. I agreed to move and convinced him to make the move to the West Coast…by bicycle.

And that was what we did. We got rid of everything we owned and got ourselves touring bikes and panniers and headed west.

I would state that teddy bears provide much more visibility that wearing neon would. Because, who would want to run over a teddy bear?

This was how, in late 2008, we found ourselves in San Diego. San Diego seemed like a nice enough city so we decided to make this city our home. I found that I had become a very different person than the one who had left Philadelphia. The weeks of repeated riding had made me fall deeper in love with riding. Whereas in Philadelphia I found myself only riding because I had, in San Diego I soon found myself extending my commute daily, going out for a ride for no real purpose besides for the sheer thrill of riding.

I moved further away from my job to extend my commute. I began frequenting a farmers market located further way to have a longer ride. This was craziness. Especially in a place where the love affair with the automobile is practically a law.

But here I am. Living in a automobile-saturated culture without ever having owned an automobile. Life here without an automobile is the furthest thing from a hardship, for me. With perfect weather to be experienced every single day, the last place I want to be is boxed up in an automobile. The only place I’d rather be is on my saddle: riding, exploring, discovering and falling in love with the world around me every single day.

Visit the awesome Beany and her wickedly funny musings at Brown Girl in the Lane.

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Bike Camping Trip

This weekend I took my first official bike camping trip. I’ve camped plenty of times and taken my bike before, but I’d never biked to the campsite or carried my camping gear on my bike.  Rivendell has termed this kind of small adventure the S24O, for sub 24-hour overnight trip.

The basics:

  • Packed a change of clothes, essential toiletries and some food and dishes into panniers.  Zip tied sleeping bags to racks.
  • Biked to Union Station in downtown Chicago.
  • Took Metra train one hour out of the city.  Bikes are allowed on train for free.
  • Met Melissa at the destination station and the three of us biked together to the forest preserve campsite.
  • Met Chanh at the campsite in his car.  Good for people who are not comfortable riding the whole route and/or carrying bigger items like tents and coolers (although we could have fit a tent on our bikes).
  • Biked around, played with fire, drank beer and canoed.
  • Biked to the train station, took train back to Union Station, biked home.

The details:  Once we set up camp, all four of us set out for Two Brothers Brewery. The route was a nice mix of nature bike paths, quiet neighborhood streets and fast roads with wide shoulders, with some interesting sites along the way.

After super fresh beer, food and more bike riding, we returned to the campsite to watch the sunset.  Songs, fire and more beer drinking followed late into the night.

The next morning started with s’mores – the breakfast of champions! – and Melissa’s guitar.

A quick rain shower cleared up in time for us to hit the lake.  Mr. Dottie and I took a canoe, while Melissa and Chanh chose a tandem kayak.

After packing up, we biked to a diner for lunch and then biked to the train station.  Mr. Dottie and I took the train to downtown Chicago and biked home. In our neighborhood we stopped for frozen custard, and it’s amazing how well the turtle sundae recharged my batteries.

My Rivendell Betty Foy, which I bought for the versatility of commuting and light touring, handled everything perfectly and felt wonderful.

By the end of the whirlwind weekend, I was exhausted but happy.  I want to do this more often.  The next-to-nothing cost and planning make it easy to accomplish on any given weekend.  The opportunity to escape the city and enjoy life’s simple pleasures make me want to do it every weekend!

Who else has experience with bike camping, either S24O’s or longer tours?

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Back from NYC

I just came back from spending a week in New York City. Though I didn’t get to actually ride a bike during my time there like Miss Sarah (damn you, work responsibilities!) I did enjoy observing the bicycles and boring my non-cycling companions with comments on the NYC cycling scene.

Such as the dominance of front-attached wire baskets.

wire baskets were the order of the day

There were also scads of folders, not many helmets, and crazy peeps who did things like run red lights. Many crappy MTBs in midtown, but vintage 10-speeds and even a few Dutch bikes dominated Villages East & West. Also saw a some cruisers, like the one belonging to this trilby-ed gentleman in Washington Square Park.

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Manhattan riders can’t be daunted in the face of four-lane traffic.

cyclists ready to go

Then there were idyllic scenes like this one. Seriously, two dogs, a chalkboard menu, and a bike?

I got a chance to dip into the Museum of Arts and Design for Bespoke, the handmade bicycle exhibit.  Mike, your bikes looked great! I did snap a picture of the A.N.T. memorabilia before realizing that, oops, photos weren’t permitted in the exhibition.

I also took the opportunity to fall in love with the beautifully lugged bicycles of Peter Weigle. (He has a few pictures of the exhibit here.) I just love the geometry and style of classic French randonneurs, and his components and colors are perfection. I think I need to trick out Le Peug in this style.

Tried to meet up with the folks at Bowery Lane Bicycles, but after trekking all the way out to Alphabet City and chatting with their neighbors, turned out we’d mistaken the dates and they were out of town. At least I got to see a guy with two parrots in a cage strapped to his chest. Totally worth it.

Though I’ve been to NYC before, this is the first time I’ve spent more than a few hours outside the Javits Center. It’s expensive, noisy and crowded but I think it might be love.

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Back From California

We are back from a trip to San Diego for our annual girlfriend reunion.  We will have intelligent stuff to say about the city and its bicycling culture later – which includes cruisers and meeting the fantastic Beany of Brown Girl in the Lane.  For now we’ll leave you with pictures.

I’ll put them after the jump to spare loading time…

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Touring the States on Two Wheels: Victoria’s Ride

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Victoria on her bike.

Last month fate (and couchsurfing.org) brought a special guest to my door. I’m normally very selective about who I choose to host on couchsurfing, perusing their profile and references with care, but when I got Victoria’s request, I couldn’t email her back fast enough. Riding from Boston to LA by bike? on her own? In four months? this was a person I wanted to have a conversation with.

Intelligent and inspiring, Victoria  did not disappoint. It only took a few minutes’ conversation for me to feel comfortable enough to invite her to a girls’ night with a good friend of mine — and to know that I wanted to share her story with LGRAB readers. So I emailed her a few questions, asking her to answer as time permitted from the road. For more on Victoria’s epic ride (as I write, she’s made it to Texas!) check out her blog.

What inspired you to take this trip?
Generally I just love adventure and long-distance feats of endurance. I’ve done a couple week-long hiking trips, a two-mile ocean swim in New England in November (brrrr!), and attempted to walk 100K in one day with my brother (I only finished half of it before my body shut down on me.)

I can pinpoint a couple of sources of inspiration for the cross-country bike tour specifically:

  1. I started using my bike for transportation when I moved to Boston for college in 1994, and found I really enjoyed getting around on a bike.
  2. I grew up just off Route 20, the longest road in the US, which goes from Boston to Oregon and has all kinds of cool little towns and tourist attractions along it. I always thought it would be fun to travel the whole thing, either by biking or driving really slowly.
  3. I have an uncle who rode horseback from our hometown in upstate New York to Wyoming. Sort of captures your imagination when you’re 8 years old.

Tell us about your touring setup (bike, panniers, etc.) and how you chose it.
I have only ever ridden mountain bikes around the city, and knew nothing about road bikes or touring when I started preparing for this trip. I got online and did some research, mostly reading other people’s blogs and equipment lists, and came up with a list of Things to Care About When Bike Touring. These included:

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When Graffiti Goes Right

Yesterday, in between thrift store visits, we stopped for lunch at the Earwax Café, where the food was much more delicious than the name might suggest.

Public bathrooms aren’t usually the best photo venues, but I couldn’t resist documenting this piece of graffiti. If you’re going to deface a wall, you might as well say something worth saying. Just one of the reasons I love visiting Chicago!

Graffiti I can agree with

Graffiti I can agree with.

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Biking the Biltmore

Good friends. Wine. Wonderful weather. Mountain landscapes. A visit to a  luxury estate. Delicious food. Only one more thing was necessary to make my trip to North Carolina complete: biking!

It wasn’t hard to persuade Jennie and Kristi to get on board. $10 and a trip to the activity center at the Biltmore Estate took care of that little omission. We chose the Trek Single cruisers and set off for a quick ride to the lagoon and back, past fields of grapevines and sunflowers. It was the perfect post-lunch, pre-wine-tasting-and-concert activity.

Before we set out, we spotted these adorable young cyclists riding along the path.

Starting early

Don't worry mom and dad, we're only taking their picture to post it on the Internet!

After paying, we headed out to the barn where bike mechanic Jessica had the Treks all ready for us — complete with baskets for our purses.

And . . . they're off!

And . . . we're off!

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