On Sunday, I enjoyed a joy ride with my friend Maria, since we were both far from our mothers. The weather was a bit chilly – in the mid 40′s – but the sun was shining and it’s mid-May, for goodness sake, so I wore a happy spring outfit and threw on hose to keep my legs warm.
We biked down the lakefront trail and stopped to watch a sailboat race and enjoy some mimosas. You can see our location on the tip of the harbor from my iPhone GPS below.
After drinks, we decided to bike to the theater to see The Great Gatsby in 3D (two thumbs up!). We wanted to avoid weekend traffic, so we chose to weave our way through the inner lakefront trail and neighborhood streets to get there. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about the inner lakefront trail before. The inner trail is a path that runs parallel to the lakefront trail for a couple miles through Lincoln Park. The inner path is unpaved in many areas and is not plowed in the winter, but it’s generally a good option to escape the crowds or the winds by the lake, as long as you are not in a rush.
I filmed a bit of the joy ride to share here. Enjoy!
This morning, my friend Elizabeth posted a response on Bike Commuters to a dumb op-ed stating that winter bicyclists are “insane” and “suicidal.” I love how her response is so reasonable. Unfortunately, this particular poorly written op-ed is only a drop in the bucket of ridiculous stuff written and said about winter bicyclists.
My own personal response is: calm down and stop being so lame! You sound silly. Winter bicycling is perfectly rational and enjoyable.
So when I returned home from work this evening after bicycling 6 miles in 10 degree temps (-12 C), I made a quick video demonstrating how simple and normal the whole thing is. Pretty dorky, but I’m embracing my inner Liz Lemon in remembrance of 30 Rock.
My bike ride this evening could not have been better. As I cycled along the lakefront, the setting sun turned the sky soft shades of blue and pink over the placid, icy blue lake. Salt covered the trail, rendering the danger of ice moot. I was not cold; I was happy. And here is what I wore.
What would you say to those anti-winter-bike goofballs?
As you may have noticed, I enjoy wearing skirts and dresses, which means that I often cycle in skirts and dresses. Last summer, I posted about cycling in a long dress on a bike with a chainguard and soon made a part II video on a “regular” bike with no chainguard. In both cases, I was wearing ankle length dresses and had to be careful that the hem would not catch in the chain.
Recently, I found myself wanting to wear a new long(ish) skirt on my regular bike. This skirt stops about 6 inches above my ankle. I thought I would have to gather the skirt to keep it from the chain and back wheel, but discovered that the skirt hem stayed far from those danger zones once I’m up on the saddle.
I made a quick video to demonstrate how easy bicycling in this long skirt can be – no special accessories or preparation needed.
Winter bicycling is more than temperatures and forecasts and wool layers and hand warmers. Winter bicycling is when the world brightens as the wind whips and my mind clears as my cheeks flush.
My fingers and toes may be numb, my nose may be running, my eyes may be watering – but I am the happiest and calmest version of myself, bicycling on a crystal clear winter day.
Today I experienced a rare winter treat: leaving the office early enough to catch the sun before setting. The late afternoon light painted the sky with an ombre splash of color, inspiring me to record a video that I hope conveys some of the joy of the ride.
Although not directly bike-related, I am compelled to share with you this beautiful short film. Created by Julia Warr, the film features Maia Helles, a 95 year old Russian ballet dancer, as she shares her secret for a long and happy life: simplicity. The running time is only four minutes – please do watch it now; I’ll wait.
Beautiful. I want to remember Maia and try to make little changes in life to foster the kind of happiness she displays. If I could be assured of having half of her health and serenity in my later years (maybe even toodling around on my bike still), I would not fear growing older as much.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yesterday I was in the Pilsen neighborhood on Chicago’s southside for the Women-Who-Bike brunch. I decided to take the Lakefront Path for the 10 mile ride home, which I could reach by taking the new protected bike lane on S. 18th Street from Canal to Clark Streets, connecting the Pilsen and Chinatown areas. This protected bike lane is one of three in Chicago and exists in part thanks to Alderman Solis (read more about his Ward’s projects and his recent trip to the Netherlands here).
Here is a quick video I made of the entire half mile long lane, sped 250%.
Grid Chicago reported on the construction of this bike lane in November. Progress has been made since then, but I assume (hope) that the lane is not finished because there is no protection on the grated bridge and not much treatment for the intersections. The riding experience for new bicyclists could be stressful at those points. Overall, the protected bike lane was a pleasure to ride and certainly an improvement, although not as thoroughly executed as the Kinzie protected bike lane.
I ended the year on Saturday with a ride downtown along the Lakefront Trail with my friend Elizabeth. Here’s a little video of cycling the Lakefront Trail heading south. I’m riding my Betty Foy and Elizabeth occasionally pops up with a santa hat on her helmet. The video is sped up by 150% and the song is by The Moonlighters from Free Music Archive.
You can see that the car-free trail is a very nice route, especially when it’s not crowded. I would take this route to work every day if it were a little more conveniently located for me.
Earlier this week, I posted a video of my commute along quiet side streets. To show how different the ride is along a busy route, on Friday morning I took Lincoln Avenue, a popular street for both bikes and motor vehicles. I considered this taking one for the team, because I hate this route during rush hour.
A few notes before moving on to the video:
Lincoln Avenue is a major bikeway, with either bike lanes or sharrows along the length of it. As I discussed previously, it’s a pathetic set-up for such a popular bike route. Nevertheless, most bicyclists would take this street from my neighborhood to downtown.
This route takes about 25 minutes to my work, while the side streets route takes about 40 minutes. Lincoln is faster because it is diagonal, a straight shot to downtown.
The bicyclist who happens to be in front of me for most of the video is carrying a child on the back, very cool. I position myself a little further in the street and away from the parked cars than she, to avoid the door zone.
There’s a lot of traffic during rush hour and I generally filter on the right to get in front at stop lights. This is the safest place to wait, but it’s important to position yourself in front of cars and trucks, not next to them. Also, I know the light cycles well and go ahead only when I have enough time to do so safely.
The video is sped up by 250% and shows only 1/3 of the ride. My memory card got full right before I passed three solid blocks of traffic-jammed cars. That’s always smugly fun.
Without further ado, I present another low-budget LGRAB production:
A couple of weeks ago, I shared photos of my bike ride through Chicago’s first protected lane on Kinzie Avenue. I love this lane, so now I’m sharing the experience with all of you. Sorry for the jumpy video – the ride is more peaceful than it looks, but Chicago’s streets are bumpy and I was holding the camera in my hand.