Tag Archives: winter

Winter Bicycling Is…

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.

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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.

The accompanying song is “This Winter I Retire” by Said The Whale.

(Hello, there!)

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What is winter bicycling to you?

 

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Saturday Night Sleet

Here I am Saturday night after biking home in rain and sleet with Mr. Dottie.  The streets were not slippery yet, so the ride was not so bad.  :-)

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My Lululemon Ride On Rain Jacket continues to perform well.  Being able to put the hood under my helmet is a great help.  Today the weather is super cold, dry and sunny, which I generally prefer, but sometimes a ride in the freezing rain can be invigorating.

P.S. Who watched the Golden Globes last night?  Love Tina and Amy!

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Winter Beauty

Winter is my favorite time to ride a bike in Chicago.  The paths are relatively empty and there are many sunny mornings, when the blues and whites and sands shine brilliantly.

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There has been a little ice and snow this winter.  Just enough to add a bit of sparkle to the city, not enough to disrupt my routine or put challenges in my path.

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I cannot imagine Chicago winter without bicycling.  I think life would be pretty grim this time of year, if I did not have a reason to frolic outside with regularity.  And I would miss out on so much beauty!

 

 

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A Freezing Start to 2013

Welcome, 2013!  As I followed my ritual this morning of pouring a cup of coffee and popping open my macbook to check the weather, I was greeted by this sight:

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12 degrees fahrenheit – yeesh.  (That’s -11 celsius.)  Normal for Chicago winter, but by far the coldest day of this season so far.  At least most of last week’s snow has disappeared.

With very little traffic lately due to people being off work for the holidays, I’ve been enjoying my bike commutes along otherwise highly trafficked streets.  I certainly did not want to miss out on cycling today.  Here I am preparing to set off:

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I wore a wool dress with tights.  To this I added the following for non-bulky but highly effective layering: wool leggings and wool leg warmers, wool socks and winter boots with warmers, a light windbreaker and trench coat, cashmere scarf, glove liners and ski mittens with warmers, earmuffs and winter helmet, and sunglasses (safety glasses after dark to protect my eyes from cold wind).  This is very similar to what I wore in my how-to video for winter cycling.

This worked perfectly.  I was like a little moving furnace.  My only problem was forgetting to fill my pockets with tissue to blow my nose, which runs like crazy in the extreme cold.

When I left work in the evening, the weather had warmed up to a relatively toasty 22 degrees and I was sweating under my layers by the time I got home.

How has your 2013 started?

P.S. For more info on dressing for winter bicycling, see The LGRAB Guide to Winter Bicycling, How To: Cycle Sleek Winter Wear, and How To: Dress For Winter Bike Commuting.

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Returning to the bike after a crash

I got back on my bike last Friday.  The morning was beautiful.

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I felt great during the whole ride, including the bits on the street.  Thank goodness for the Lakefront Trail, where I don’t have to worry about cars.  I’ll be taking this route much more from now on, since my peaceful side-street route turned out to be not so peaceful.

Last night I took city streets home – a similar route as usual but avoiding the intersection – but it was too soon.  I was fearful and started crying a bit for no reason as I went along.  Typing that out is embarrassing, but there you have it.  I’ve always been super defensive and cautious, but now I feel like I cannot trust any intersection situation no matter what.  Plus, I think the night and everything felt too similar.  I’m back on the Lakefront Trail today.

For anyone who’s gone through something like this, how did you feel getting back on the bike?

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Another Friday

One week ago, I began my Friday morning at Heritage Bikes

For a quick breakfast…

With my friend Elizabeth…

Then we biked to work together…

And 10 hours later Elizabeth was picking me up from the ER and ferrying Coco and me home.  (She also happens to be the organizer of Chicago’s Ride of Silence).  Thanks, E!

Today I plan to get back on the bike for the first time.  Circumstances forced me finally to change Betty Foy’s flat tire, so I’ll be riding her.  :)

Happy Friday!

 

 

 

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Fashion Friday: Heels on Wheels

“Heels on Wheels” is a phrase that makes me cringe when used in the media to describe women riding bikes.  Since, you know, women should not be defined by a shoe type.   Yet here I go, using the phrase.  In my defense, this is only one post in a blog filled with varied topics about women and bicycling.  Also, the rhyming is irresistible.  :-)

Moving along to the point, a couple of Sundays ago the weather was unseasonably warm and as I headed out the door to a baby shower, I threw on an old pair of heels instead of my usual flats.  I rarely wear heals, preferring to tromp around the city with the steadiness of a mountain goat.  But I’m going through a wardrobe purge/overhaul of sorts and figured I should give these heels one more chance before throwing them in the ebay pile.

Turns out they are actually quite comfortable, provided I don’t stand for a long time.  And biking in them felt pretty bad ass.  The shoes created no logistical problems; as you can see in the photo below, there is plenty of contact between the pedal and the sole.  So these survive the purge, even though I probably won’t wear them often.

Now I’m drawn to the idea of stiletto heels in theory and what better way to play with this idea – sans wasted money and sore paw pads – than incorporating it into my Fashion Friday collage of imaginary outfits.  :-)  Now that the weather is straight-up cold, I winterized the concept.

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I like this outfit because of the overall librarian feel (carried through to the Bowery Lane bike with its leather, cork, and wood), but with a kick of awesomeness from the heeled suede boots.  (Manolos are supposed to be the most comfortable heels, right?  Anyone have $600 I can borrow?  No?  Jerks.)  Of course, the stylish leather gloves would have to serve merely as the lining under my ski mittens with warmers.

So what say you: are you a heels on wheels type of person?

p.s. I really want that Everlane tote, made in Texas of Illinois canvas, priced at only $35!  (Everlane is my new style love, borne of a very cool concept.)

 

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Warm woolen mittens…stuffed with Grabbers

I love warm woolen mittens.  They are cozy and perfect for crisp fall weather.

(and whiskers on kittens! because why not.)

But woolen mittens are not cutting it any longer, as December approaches.   My fingers and toes are extremely sensitive.  While other cyclists seem to get by fine with a regular pair of gloves, my fingers and toes start to freeze/burn after ten minutes in 30 degree temps, even wearing wool glove liners with down-filled ski mittens (fingers) and wool socks with leather snow boots (toes).

The only solution for me – I’ve tried everything over the years – is warmers.  I buy Grabber brand (made in the USA and non-toxic) by the caseload from Amazon, making them 50 cents a pair.  A fair price to avoid daily misery and still much less expensive than the L train.

A pair lasts long enough to use for the morning and evening commutes, if stored in a ziplock bag during the day.  Grabber also makes toe warmers, but they are pricier and not as warm, so I save them for my regular shoes and  stuff hand warmers in my roomy snow boots.

Now if only I could get Amazon to deliver them in brown paper packages tied up with string…

How do you keep your fingers and toes warm during winter?

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A Week of Fall Outfits

Here’s an overview of my outfits last week, before setting off to bike to work in temps of 30-40 degrees.  I expect to wear these same outfits over and over again during the upcoming months.

Tuesday: Chloe trench, cashmere sweater, Celine pants, boots.

Wednesday: trench, Chloe dress, tights, boots.

Thursday: trench, cashmere sweater, wool skirt, tights, boots.

Friday: red trench, cashmere sweater, Burberry skirt, tights, flats.

(Most everything I bought used, some on clearance.)

The photos reveal a consistency in my fall dressing: cashmere, wool, tights, and leather boots.  I know I’ve said this many times before, but these materials are excellent for cold-weather cycling.  There is no reason for me to wear technical clothing.

Do you have a cold weather cycling uniform?

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Colorful Fall Beauty

I woke up this morning to a dusting of snow!  Nothing serious, so I’ll bike to work as usual, but only last week I was enjoying the beautiful colors of a fall commute.

Always surprising how quickly fall fades into winter in Chicago.

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Fashion Friday: Wool Boucle Suit for Bicycling

The outfit above is chic – there is no doubt about it in my mind.  But at some point stuff gets ridiculously expensive.  This week, I saw a gorgeous Chanel boucle suit at a consignment store…in my size…for almost $2,000.  Holy mother of god.  That is a lot of money for one second-hand outfit.  The shop lady kindly informed me that they have layaway – ha!  Luckily, the timeless Chanel designs have filtered down to the level where ordinary people like you and me can enjoy clothes that look kinda sorta the same.

The day after I left the consignment store, a friend at work randomly gave me a Chanel-esque wool boucle suit that no longer fits her.  So I ended up with a similar outfit for free!  Sure, it’s no Chanel, but it is a quality suit made in Canada.

Once I got to work, I traded  my winter boots for heels, removed my gloves and scarf, and viola: ready for the office.  Except I realize now that my bow was askew.  :-)

A co-worker said to me, “You biked in that?!”  Really, wool boucle and tweed are excellent for bicycling because the fabric has some give, never wrinkles, and is super cozy for fall and winter.  I’m going on the record now to say that a wool boucle skirt suit – in addition to being timelessly chic – is the best outfit for cold-weather cycling.  Who’s with me?  :-)

 

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Janet’s Black Faux Fur Helmet

On my ride home from work yesterday evening, I ran into my friends Janet and Dan on the Lakefront Trail.  I love unexpectedly seeing friendly faces in Chicago; it always brightens my day and makes the city seem more and more like home.

As you can see, Dan and Janet have WorkCycle Omas, which they bought after visiting Amsterdam a few years ago.

Janet had on a new helmet by Yakkay, called the Luzern Faux, that she bought locally from Heritage Bikes.  The Yakkay helmet can be mixed and matched with different style covers and this is one option (it also comes in white).  So stylish!

At first I thought it was an actual shapka, not a helmet.  These are very on trend right now (and I do love my Anna Karenina).  :-)

Janet’s whole outfit was perfect for a chilly November night: fur hat, tweed coat, scarf, jeans, leather mittens, and high boots.  Perfection.

I want one now, but alas I already own a black winter helmet.

You can see another Yakkay helmet cover modeled by Martha, one of the lovely women-who-brunch, in this post from last year.  Has anyone else given this a try?

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Winter Biking Memories

I found an old draft post from December 2010 with the working title, “New Pictures…”

Hey, look, winter!

How funny to look at these on a 90 degree day.  I thought you all might get a kick out of this.  Seems unreal.

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Bike Winter Fashion Show – Friday!

Chicago’s annual Bike Winter Fashion Show will take place this Friday, as part of the closing party of the Bike Winter Art Show.

I will be participating in the fashion show for vintage shop Lucite Box, owned by bicycling-and-brunching lady Holly. Last week, the group got together for a dress rehearsal, complete with hair and makeup magic by Christopher Conner.  Then we had a photoshoot by bicycle style photographer Martha Williams of Bike Fancy fame.  She is the best!

Model Lisa, Photographer Martha, and Vintage Clothier Holly

I’m in love with the Pashley Princess Britannia I was riding, courtesy of Boulevard Bikes. (I have a long and documented obsession with Pashleys.)

And I may have to buy this vintage 60’s tweed cape suit.  (As well as the blue velvet dress I chose as my evening look!)  Check out Lucite Box for some fabulous vintage clothing and housewares.

Me and Pashley by Martha Williams

You gotta check out the preview photos for all the lovely ladies at Bike Fancy. They look amazing! Such a fabulous collection of portraits.

Martha at Work

In Chicago? Great! Come out to the Bike Winter Fashion show this Friday night, 7-11:30, at Gala Gallery, 1000 N. Milwaukee.

The official description:

The 15th Annual Bike Winter Art Show closes on March 9th at the Gala Gallery located at 1000 N. Milwaukee Ave. Join us at the Bike Winter Art Show for a night of bicycle enthusiasm, cycling camaraderie and rider revelry that’s sure to shake off the winter blues. The benefit kicks off at 8 pm with a family fun puppet show performed by Jabberwocky. The main event, a runway fashion show, starts at 9 pm and is sponsored by Rapid Transit Cycles. After the fashion show, deejay Montay spins the beats. The event is free and open to the public.

More info on the Facebook page.

P.S. After Martha finished with my photos, she spotted this little girl bicycling in the park. Sweet!

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Bicycling to the Bookstore

One of my favorite things to do on a weekend is get out of my jammies, bike to the bookstore, and return home to my jammies and a day of reading new books.  (I’m a wild woman, I know.)  The ride to my favorite bookstore is about 3.5 miles roundtrip – the perfect distance for an easy ride that nevertheless allows me to feel like I’ve accomplished enough physical activity for the day.

As much as I love this bookstore, I would shop there less often if I could not ride my bicycle, because 3.5 miles is a bit much to walk in the cold and the store is not along my public transit route.  Even if I had a car, parking is nearly impossible to find in that neighborhood.  Lucky for both me and the store, I have my bicycle.  :)

Last Saturday I went a little crazy in the sale section, but they had so many excellent books for under $5.  By looking at my haul, you can get a big hint about where I’m going for my next trip.  (Mr. Dottie and I leave in one week!!)

Of course, I did not carry my books directly on my rack like this, but a canvas bag smushed down by bungie straps is not so photogenic.

Is there anywhere you enjoy going, but would rarely frequent if you could not bike there?  I think businesses in the city are well-served by a growing bicycling population.

Happy relaxing weekend to all!

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Happy March!

Stuff your coat in your bike basket and go ride through some puddles of melted ice!  :)

With any luck, we’ll all be seeing some flowers outside in a few weeks.

(And I hope everyone enjoyed Leap Day!)

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Another Windy City Commute

The shining sun this morning lured me out to the Lakefront Trail, away from my usual route to work.  Once I got onto the trail, I realized that there was an extremely strong headwind, the kind that slows me down by half.

I started to feel grumpy (this was pre-coffee, people!) but I stopped myself and decided to focus on all the good.  My path was clear, the sky had a subtle pink tint, and the spindly trees looked cool.  I could turn my face up to the sun and feel the slight warmth on my skin.

And turning the corner near the end of my ride and seeing this view is always good for morale.

In the afternoon, I treated myself to this bad boy for my hard work and as a fortification for my ride home.

Sometimes the wind turns on me as a cruel joke during the day, so I was a little worried about taking the lakefront home in the evening, but I couldn’t resist and this time I had the wind at my back.

That is the story of my windy city commute today.  Bike commute number 1,174 – approximately.  :)

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Happy Friday!

My week has been filled with lovely bike commutes, mild weather (50 degrees today!), and only a couple of ridiculously stupid drivers.

No coat required today!

As I write this quick post while sipping a homemade cocktail (1 part vodka, 1 part St. Germain, splash of champagne), I’m officially beginning my three-day weekend, thanks to presidents.  I have a stack of to-be-read books and an overflowing Netflix queue, but I may slip out for a ride or two to prevent moss from growing on me in a sloth-like manner.

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I wish the same simple happiness to you!  :)

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Pants on Bikes

I dislike bicycling in pants.  I was reminded of all the reasons why a couple of days ago.  Pants rub uncomfortably against my thighs, bunch up around my saddle, and drop low on my waist when I lean forward even slightly.  Plus, they force me to wear goofy ankle straps on both legs.  (Chain cases don’t help; the problematic part is the crank arm, which has ripped more than one cuff.)  Not a good look and annoying to fiddle with!

The only pants I’m comfortable cycling in are jeggings, but since I can’t wear them to work, they don’t come out often.

Therefore, I wear a lot of skirts and dresses, with tights and leggings to carry me through the winter.  This is 100% practical.

I think the concept of cycling in skirts may seem silly to outsiders or newbies, but once women experience cycling in different clothes, they must appreciate the comfort of skirts, right?  And since more women are riding bikes for everyday transportation,  perhaps skirts on bikes are slowly becoming the new normal.  A couple of days ago Lovely Bicycle posted about normal-clothes preferences while bicycling, starting with a conversation she overheard of women shopping for bike-friendly skirts, and several women in the comments mentioned that they like cycling in skirts.

Ladies, which do you prefer for cycling – skirts or pants?  How do you make pants comfortable??  Gentlemen, are you envious that society generally keeps you from wearing skirts (seriously, I wanna know)?

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February’s Women Who Bike Brunch

Yesterday the Chicago Women Who Bike Brunch descended upon Haymarket Brewery in the West Loop.

Tab: Bikers

Haymarket is a great place for big groups and easily accommodated our table of 25.

The food was delicious, especially for a brewery, and I enjoyed some of the best French toast ever.

The mimosas each came with their own mini bottle of champagne!

After a long and luxurious meal, we headed outside to chat and slowly unlock our bikes.  The weather was partly sunny and 40 degrees, so there was no big rush.

A few of us decided to go back inside and embark on some Haymarket beer taste-testing at the bar.  Such a good idea!  Their beer is as good as their food.  (Thanks, Sara!)

I always look forward to celebrating a new month with this great group of women!

If you’re in the Chicago area and would like to join us, email me at LGRAB@letsgorideabike.com.  Our next meet-up will be a happy hour this Thursday.

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