After mentioning that I have not put my studded tires on Oma yet, I missed them this weekend. Some mild precipitation on Friday night caused patches of black ice to form all around the city.
I had to walk Oma over black ice several times while getting around on Saturday – biking to Logan Square to try on vintage outfits from Holly’s Lucite Box for the upcoming Bike Winter Fashion Show (found a gorgeous blue velvet dress), back to Lakeview for Heritage Bicycles’ grand opening party (crowded!), and to Wicker Park with a bikey group to see circus-punk marching band Mucca Pazza (pure fun). On Sunday, I decided simply to take the L to the Loop to see Mamet’s Race at Goodman Theatre (excellent).
Not simply a wet road, but a sheet of thin black ice
Based on this experience, I decided to put the studded tires on Oma, but today’s forecasted high of 44 F has me delaying the studs again. But I’m extra cautious while biking, especially at night.
I’ll leave you with a Mucca Pazza song to brighten your Monday morning.
Hi, Chelsea from Frolic! here! I am so glad to be guest blogging on Let’s Go Ride a Bike today! It’s one of my daily reads. I recently came across these old photos and I think the girls and their bicycles are super chic!
Unless I’m riding my bike or spending time with friends, you can bet that I’d rather be reading a novel. Especially Russian novels, which I studied in college to earn a degree in Russian literature.
Reading in the Park
My attachment to Russian literature began as quickly and simply as my attachment to bicycling. During my junior year of high school, I randomly grabbed a book off the library shelf – The Death of Ivan Ilych and Other Stories by Leo Tolstoy. This Tolstoy guy was like nothing I’d read before. His direct approach to life’s most important questions through perfectly executed plot and vivid characters swept me away. This Tolstoy guy wasn’t fucking around.
The Death of Ivan Ilych and Other Stories
My first semester of college, I enrolled in a Russian language course and almost immediately decided to major in Russian literature, instead of my vague plan for American literature.
Now I’m a lawyer, but I fill my free time as much as possible with reading novels. That is, when I’m not riding my bike, taking pictures or blogging. Sometimes, like today, I combine all four activities.
Bike, book, camera
Recently I finished reading War and Peace for the first time.
Voina i Mir- Po Russki
No, not in Russian! In English.
War and Peace: Epilogue, Part II
There is a reason War and Peace is called the greatest novel ever written: it is the greatest novel ever written.
War and Peace: Best. Novel. Ever.
Now I am reading – for the fourth time – Anna Karenina. I decided to leave behind my much-marked-up copy from college (how I marked my books up! instead of relaxing and letting the words flow over me) for the new translation by husband-wife duo Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.
Anna Karenina – New Translation
My Old Marked Copy: Anna's Decision
Pevear and Volokhonsky are the masters of Russian translation (I’ve also read their versions of W&P and Dostoevsky’s Demons and The Adolescent). Take this pivotal passage from Anna Karenina.
The Norton Critical Edition translation by Gibian:
That for which nearly a year had been Vronsky’s sole and exclusive desire, supplanting all his former desires: that which for Anna had been an impossible, dreadful, but all the more bewitching dream of happiness, had come to pass. Pale with trembling lower jaw, he stood over her, entreating her to be calm, himself not knowing why or how.
The Pevear and Volokhonsky translation:
That which for almost a year had constituted the one exclusive desire of Vronsky’s life, replacing all former desires; that which for Anna had been an impossible, horrible, but all the more enchanting dream of happiness – this desire had been satisfied. Pale, his lower jaw trembling, he stood over her and pleaded with her to be calm, himself not knowing why or how.
A Perfect Afternoon
So what are you waiting for? Get your paws on some Tolstoy!
Happy to be reunited with Oma, I enjoyed sitting as straight and tall as possible on my Sunday ride, parading down the crowded Chicago streets. Everyone was out this weekend, including lots of people on bikes, though no other dresses that I saw. This spring feels like the most beautiful ever, but I think that’s because I’ve been slowing down to appreciate it more.
Sadly, when I arrived at my favorite shop, Haystack Vintage, this is all that remained. Closed with no warning that I saw. After standing dumbly in front of the store for five minutes, Oma said, “Such is life” and brought me over to the bookstore.
Simple pleasures like riding a bike, wearing a pretty dress and smelling flowers make Life beautiful, even if life with a little “l” is not going perfectly.
My favorite online vintage shop is Market Publique, where the sellers are vetted, the pictures are well-styled and the selection is a top-notch mix of designer duds and affordable finds. Imagine my delight when I saw that the intrepid entrepreneur behind the site, Pamela, uses a vintage trike to get around and haul cargo for the shop. She was gracious enough to talk with us for Part III of our Vintage Style Series. Read on to hear about the traumatic event that stopped her from cycling for so long, her return to pedal-powered transportation and the intersection between chic cycling and vintage style.
Pamela and her Vintage Trike
Hi Pamela. Thanks again for taking the time for this! We love to profile real women who use bikes for transportation, and you and your trike are perfect for our vintage series.
Tell us a bit about your history with cycling. When and why did you start, and how do you use cycling now in your life?
I didn’t really start cycling until this summer. I knew how to ride a bike when I was a kid, but I was pretty bad at it, and once crashed into a small bush outside this lady’s driveway because she was backing out and I had never learned to use my backpedal brake. As I was lying amidst the bush, under my bike, the lady backed up more, rolled down her window and said: “Can you please be more careful with my bushes?” then she rolled up the window and sped away… I was stunned, hurt, scarred for life and never rode my bike again.
My husband Jon has always been on my case about how awesome it would be if we could go ride our bikes together around Brooklyn. I was also walking many many blocks with tons of packages from the Market Publique office to the Post Office, and we had just signed up for a CSA, where I would have to pick up our vegetables every two weeks – it seemed like I really needed a bike then.
(Yikes.) So what is the story of your awesome vintage trike?
I hesitated getting a bike because of my childhood experiences, so I jokingly said that maybe I should get a Big Wheel or some kind of tricycle so I could carry a bunch of stuff and not worry about falling over.
I didn’t really know adult tricycles existed, but after some googling, we found a few. I got super excited and was trying to decide between a blue and a red model on Amazon, when a few days later, Jon surprised me with an early birthday present: my awesome vintage trike, found on Craigslist. My birthday is actually in September, but that way I could ride it around all summer and really enjoy it.
Unfortunately, knowing little about bikes, I bought the wrong lock and my trike got stolen before my birthday even came. We instantly searched Craigslist and eBay, to see if the thieves were up to no good, and lo-and-behold, we found a very similar one, which we bought instead.
Pamela's Second Vintage Trike
Do other cyclists and drivers on the road treat you differently because of your bike and clothes?
Ummm, yes. I think people think I’m weird (it’s true). Some cyclists get very excited, and ring their bell or yell “awesome bike” (I like those). Others give me dirty looks and complain I’m taking too much of the bike lane or going to slow (not so keen on them). About the clothes, I do live in Williamsburg, so I don’t stick out as much as I would in other places.
Is there a link between your passion for vintage clothing and your passion for cycling (aesthetic, environmental, economic, etc.)?
I think biking is a great way to get around without having a carbon footprint. It’s much better than driving a car to go 10 blocks away, and great exercise!
It is very much tied to my vintage lifestyle, as the main reason I got it was to be able to take the packages of clothing I’ve sold on Market Publique to the Post Office. We also love to eat local, so we joined a the Southside CSA. I ride my bike to pick up our veggies all the way from the Northside, and take my reusable bags in the basket with me.
Aesthetically, I love how my trike has recently become my signature accessory, it’s really fun! And the fact that we were able to get a vintage one is even better.
Vintage style seems to be having a moment right now. What do you attribute that to?
People are wanting to be more eco-friendly and sustainable without sacrificing style. Vintage achieves that, because you can get something fashionable and one-of-a-kind, that’s also eco-friendly. You’re not only reusing, but there’s less waste created when the fashion you buy is stylish but not necessarily trendy: you can wear your vintage season after season, since it won’t really go out of style, instead of buying things made in China that won’t last or will be out of fashion in a few months.
Plus, vintage tends to be a better value, as the quality is often higher than that of new items at an equal price point. If a dress has been around for more than 20 years, you know it will hold up for a few more years – unlike the new things that you wash once and get destroyed.
Pamela and her Topshop cruiser via Chictopia contest
The online vintage shop you co-founded, Market Publique, is a huge success. Tell us about the concept.
Well thank you! I think we’ve had the success we’ve had because we solved a problem.
I was selling vintage on eBay and then on Etsy for a few years before we started Market Publique, and was really frustrated with both options. eBay changed their policies, fees, and feedback system to a point where it no longer made sense for me to sell my vintage there. Plus, it’s overrun with fakes, vintage reproductions not listed correctly, and a lot of irrelevant items, which made it hard to find the true vintage or trust any of the sellers.
I tried Etsy, but items sat on the virtual shelves for way too long without moving, and the lack of auctions made pricing difficult. You could also have very little creative control over your shop and branding, which is essential in conveying your message and presenting your items in an attractive way. Plus I felt that vintage should not have to be a second-class citizen on a handmade site, but should have a marketplace designed and built for it.
Since my partners and I are designers and developers, we decided we should start a site that fills in the gap, and gives vintage buyers and sellers a focused environment where vintage is truly appreciated – thus, Market Publique was born about six months ago.
We’re truly grateful to everyone who has supported us in our short existence. Because of them, our budding new site is now competing with eBay (10 years old!) and Etsy (5 years old!). We are thrilled at this quick start, and excited to finally bring the vintage community together, giving them the place and attention they deserve.
What is the vintage outfit of your dreams to ride your bike with (or perhaps you already own it!)?
Hmmm… I have so many dream outfits! Some I do own, like many of my 50s dresses, which pair excellently with some flat sandals and a picnic basket on the trike. I would love to have a swimsuit by Rudi Geinreich with a cute little skirt that I could ride to Brighton Beach and go sunning in (with a big hat and SPF, of course!).
Do you have any guidelines you apply to yourself when dressing to go somewhere on your trike, or do you ride in any outfit without giving it a second thought?
I try to ride with any outfit, but that has gotten me into trouble before, so now I give it a little more thought: Rompers usually work the best. Too short skirts or skirts that tend to twirl and blow in the wind require bike shorts or cute little tap pants. Long skirts are a no-no. Shoes are better without a heel, but hey, it all depends how far you’re going! And no shoes that are too precious to get scratches, as that’s almost inevitable.
The Aforementioned "Trouble"
Is there any advice you would like to pass on to women considering city cycling?
I would say, stay on the bike lane and wear a helmet. I go to http://www.nycbikemaps.com/ and plan my route if I don’t know where I am going. I also bike with other people if I am going long distances, so we can help each other out if necessary – although they don’t like to wait for my grandma trike… hehehe. I try to only bike around Brooklyn, and not go into Manhattan so much, as it is mighty crazy over there.
Plus, get all your gear: a good helmet that fits properly, lights for night riding, a bell, and most importantly – a mighty good Kryptonite lock – they will steal ANYTHING in big cities.
While cycling can be sociable, I love to meander around the city alone. Plenty of time to think and simply enjoy. Today I set out for my favorite thrift shop, Haystack Vintage, and also bought new knee-high snow boots at DSW. As always, a shopping trip was so much more than that. The cold and physical activity was invigorating, and after I bought the most flattering vintage black wiggle dress for $17, I meandered over to the lakefront park nearby to capture the last bits of sun. I never got outside like this in the winter before cycling. The temperature was around 14 F (-10 C), and my fingers and toes were cold, but my body was fine in a dress, turtleneck, wool tights and wool overcoat.
While I was riding, Mr. Dottie went for a run and returned with icicles on his eyelashes, eyebrows and balaklava. Good times. I bought him some Yaktrax for Christmas (equivalent of studded tires for running shoes) but he hasn’t had to pull those out yet.
A lovely Sunday, a happy new year. How is your 2010 going so far?
Our vintage style series has finally returned! Now that Dottie has outlined the many excellent reasons cyclists are drawn to vintage style, it’s my turn to share some tips on secondhand shopping. Since I can’t bring you all to my favorite places to shop vintage– America’s Thrift Store in Pell City, my grandmother’s closet (like other bloggers, a place I’ve had great luck with), the local shop Pre- to Post-Modern,–I’ll focus on shopping somewhere I know you all can visit: the Internet.
Vintage dress, vintage bike
I love browsing through carefully curated vintage shops for style ideas, but when it comes to opening my wallet, the item must be a bargain (hey, it is used after all!). When shopping secondhand, I prefer items that are either timeless, or play off of current trends without being too costume-y. Things, in other words, that don’t necessarily scream “vintage” and can be mixed with modern pieces to add a unique touch.
In celebration of the mild weather, Sir Raleigh and Betty Foy went for a date ride today – chaperoned by me and Mr. Dottie, of course. I think they are a perfect match. (Tip: you can now see a bigger version of each picture by clicking on it.)
Yesterday I attended a party at De Fietsfabriek, a Dutch bike shop, to celebrate the fall line of Po Campo stylish bike bags. I wore my lucky red velvet Marc Jacobs shoes and a vintage red bow.
The red shoes are lucky because I wore them when I met Tori Amos and the first thing she said to me was: “I love your shoes!” Then she hugged me. This is the kind of outfit I wear simply because it makes me happy like a little girl. RED BOW!
This is the first part of a four-part series on vintage style. In part two, Trisha will discuss her vintage style and share some of the best places to find vintage items online. Part three will provide tips for buying vintage bicycles and the pros and cons of ownership. Finally, part four will profile a founder of a vintage shop who gets around the city on her vintage trike.
Why are we devoting a series to vintage style on a bicycle blog? Vintage style and bicycling have a lot in common! They are both sustainable, budget conscious, individual and fun. It’s no wonder so many bicyclists—including Trisha and me—gravitate toward vintage and thrifted fashion.