Tag Archives: travel

Biking with My Brother

The holiday weekend found me in Indianapolis visiting my brother. On Sunday, we rode the Monon Trail from his neighborhood to downtown, a roundtrip of somewhere around 14 miles. The trail, built along the path of an old railway was beautiful, the snazzy Bianchi bikes we borrowed from a high school friend were nimble, but the best thing about it was spending some time riding bikes with my brother again.

Charlie and me on bikes today.

Charlie and me on our borrowed Bianchis.

This is an old favorite hobby of ours, as you can see.

Charlie and me, with our bikes in 1987.

Charlie and me, with our bikes in 1987.

We’re no longer quite so blond, and I no longer carry a groomable dog toy with me when I ride, but other than that, things were pretty much the same as when we used to ride around our neighborhood in Minnesota, or to the convenience store from our house in Alabama: fun!

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Nashville Is (Bike) Friendly!

Nashville is known for many things: country music, Southern gentility, comfort food, and Nicole Kidman sightings. Cycling is not among these distinctions.

Tandem at Halcyon Bike Shop - Trisha and I need one of these!!

Tandem at Halcyon Bike Shop - Trisha and I need one of these!!

When people speak of bike friendly cities in the US, they speak of Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, Boulder, Davis, San Francisco, Madison, and Chicago. I am quick to extol the virtues of Chicago’s efforts to promote cycling. Does it follow that Chicago is bike friendly? Usually I think so, at least for North America, but riding in the chaotic and congested city is often stressful and occasionally scary.

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Russia: Weird and Wonderful

One of the best things about traveling is seeing how the place you’re visiting is different from your home. I’ve traveled widely in Europe and Russia was probably the most different place I’ve been yet. To sum it up in one sentence: Russia is not for wimps.

There didn’t seem to be many rules there at all, and many of the public health things we now take for granted—safe and stable stairways, pedestrian crossings, lanes on the interstates, no holes in sidewalks smoking bans—do not exist. Not even medicines cater to the weak—check out the non-coated tablets.

Sensitive stomach? Too bad!

Sensitive stomach? Too bad!

You all probably know by now that I really enjoy taking pictures of oddball things. Here are a few more images from weird and wonderful Russia:

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Fun Utopia: Chicago Closes Highway for Cyclists

Sunday morning Chicago held its annual Bike the Drive, an event put on by the Active Transportation Alliance where the city closes Lake Shore Drive (the main scenic highway that cuts down the city parallel to Lake Michigan) to motor traffic and opens it up for cyclists. An estimated 18,000 cyclists participated! What an amazing sight and beautiful way to reclaim our streets!

An estimated 18,000 biked the Drive

An estimated 18,000 biked the Drive

We had to wake up at 4:00 a.m. to get ready and cycle the 7 miles downtown to get started at 5:30. Totally worth it for the sunrise alone.

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Bringing the Batavus Home

There is a beautiful bike in my living room today and it’s all due to my fabulous parents.

You may recall my riding the Batavus in England and then heading off to Russia. Since I wasn’t going back via the UK, there was no way I could bring the bike home myself. Luckily, my brother and I had bought tickets for my parents to visit Prague and London last fall, for their upcoming 30th anniversary — and they generously offered to take the bike back for me. I arranged to have it delivered to their hotel, and they would simply take it to the airport on a shuttle, check it, and take it to Alabama. Easy peasy? Not so much, when you’re talking about a fully assembled Dutch Bike. Anyone who thinks they might be traveling with a bike in future, read on!

Mom and Dad decided to take the bike from the box and transport it in the cardboard sleeve, since the box was so unwieldy.

A Batavus packed for transport.

A Batavus packed in a cardboard sleeve for transport.

When they came rolling up to the check-in counter, the United Airlines people at Heathrow looked at them like they were aliens. The woman at the counter asked my dad what she was supposed to do with it…he said, “Well, I was hoping you’d put it on the plane.” They made them deflate the tires because they were worried they’d explode. Luckily, they were too taken aback to realize they could have charged $200 for transporting the bike. Score one for my budget!

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Birthday Bike Ride

Our last day in Russia (a week ago today) also happened to be my 29th birthday.  Spending it riding bikes with one of my fave people was definitely the way to go. The day in pictures:

We started out by climbing the 200-odd steps of St. Isaac’s cathedral to admire the view.

Dottie and me on top of St. Isaacs cathedral.

Dottie and me on top of St. Isaac's cathedral.

Then it was time to head to Krestovsky Island for a bike ride and picnic.
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Ladies Who Tea

5-2-teas2

Forgive the non bike-related post, but I can tie it to cycling by mentioning that later today I will be riding in Chicago’s inaugural Tweed Ride, so I feel like reminiscing about how Trisha and I recently were proper ladies in London having tea at Claridge’s. Well, okay, as proper as two sailor-mouthed Americans taking digital photos of themselves at fancy restaurants can be.

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St. Petersburg Cycles, We . . . Sleep

So, the St. Petersburg cycling scene was quite different from the London one Dottie wrote about last week. Though we spotted more bikes than we expected to see in a city that doesn’t exactly make cycling easy, there was nary a skirt or Dutch bike in sight.

BMX bandits are alive and well in Petersburg: a cyclist in Moskovskaya Ploschad.

BMX bandits are alive and well in Petersburg: a cyclist in Moskovskaya Ploschad.

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London Cycling Infrastructure

London cycling infrastructure has some interesting ideas, but it does not come across as a coherent system. What I saw was a hodgepodge of stuff spread around the city with not much of an overall plan or connection.

For example, I saw a few of these bike signal lights. Oddly, they were in the crosswalk with the walk signal, not with the lights for the cars. Since bikes ride in regular car lanes, I’m not sure the point – anyone have insight?

Bike Signal

Bike Signal

I didn’t see a lot of bike lanes compared to Chicago, but the ones I saw were pretty special.

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London Cycles, We Watch

Cycling is quite prominent in London, although the city obviously has a long way to go. The narrow streets, huge double-decker buses, and tiny speeding cars present special challenges for cyclists, but many Londoners are up for the challenge. Walking down the main streets downtown, I watched several cyclists go by each minute. A lot had sportier bikes and special gear, but the vast majority looked quite stylish. I saw a few Pashleys and some Dutch bikes, as well. I took as many pictures of interesting cyclists as I could manage whilst site-seeing. I don’t know how Riding Pretty, Chic Cyclist and others do it so well, because it’s been hard for me to hit a moving target.

My favorite find was this lovely lady on a Dutch bike. Love the flowing locks!

Beautiful

Beautiful

More cycling Londoners:

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In Honor of Ugly Rental Bikes

I owe a lot to an atrociously ugly (even, dare I say, fugly) beach cruiser. In the spring of 2007, I went on vacation in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. The whole place is basically a huge retirement community with some of the coolest older folks. They were up with the sunrise to play bridge by the pool and stayed up for the sunset to play dominoes by the pool – sign me up! Anyway, in this bucolic place a natural activity, after tennis and shuffleboard, was to rent a couple of beach cruisers and explore the nice bike path down the beach to the park.

might want to raise the seat a bit...

might want to raise the seat a bit...

The bikes were god awful ugly, but I don’t think I was fully aware of the severity of their aesthetic failures at the time. Besides having been beaten by the proverbial ugly stick, they were also not so comfortable. BUT. Continue reading

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Going International

You may have noticed my Batavus Day countdown ticker inching toward the finish line over there in the sidebar. Yes, folks, Let’s Go Ride a Bike will be going international in just a few days as Dottie and I head for London and then St. Petersburg, Russia. Of course, we’re planning some biking outings during our trip, and hope to be able to share them all with you.

In London,  we’ll be checking out the new Cycodelic product line at Topshop.

And of course, on Saturday, we’ll be visiting Littlehampton Dutch Bike shop to have tea with Paul and test ride my long-awaited Batavus…as well as every other bike they have in the shop. :)

Russian bike plans are a little more ambiguous, but we plan to rent bikes at least once: either on Krestovsky Island or during a day trip to Vyborg.

Anything we’re missing? Leave us a note in the comments! I’m especially interested in whether anyone’s used London’s Oybike rentals.

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More Chicago Fun

On Sunday, we borrowed a bike from the neighbor for me and set off down the Lakefront Path to go ice skating. I’d ridden the path in the summer before, but was eager to give Dottie’s winter commute a try. It was below 20 degrees when we set out, but the day was clear, sunny and beautiful.

Trying out the Raleigh

Trying out the Raleigh

The path was pretty clear of ice and snow, and busy, if not crowded — mostly joggers, but we saw a few other cyclists.

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Biking (and Blogging!) Together at Last

Dutch Bike Chicago

Dutch Bike Chicago

What happens when you put two bike blogging friends together in the same city? Lots of bikey goodness. We visited Dutch Bike Chicago and tried out a couple of really cool bikes, the Retrovelo Paula and the Workcycles Bakfiets. The snow was falling pretty hard with already a few inches of accumulation, but that did not stop us. [I was excited to have a chance to ride in real snow. Walking in it was not as much fun!  --T]

Everything about the shop is so classy and being surrounded by all of those gorgeous bikes was a treat.

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