Bike Deprivation

I am in the middle of one of the longest stretches of bike deprivation I’ve suffered in my 2.5 years of cycling. On Saturday I did not ride my bike because I spent the entire day on the couch reading the fascinating book Joyride by former Portland Bicycle Program Manager Mia Birk (stay tuned for my write-up). On Sunday I did not ride my bike because I spent the entire day at a film bootcamp learning to develop and print my own photos.

Monday – I rode my bike! And Martha shot this portrait of me and Oma.

Me and Oma, shot by Martha Williams

Today I took the L train to work and I’ll be doing the same tomorrow. By force. Chicago is currently in the throes of the second-strongest storm in it recorded history, a cyclone over Lake Michigan that is bringing sustained winds of more than 30 mph with gusts up to 60 mph. As much as I love to ride, I know where to draw the line.

Things I miss about riding:

  • Eating donuts with a clear conscience;
  • Feeling the wind in my hair;
  • Not feeling like a giant ground sloth;
  • Free transportation – the L train ride today was $4.25 I’ll never get back;
  • No wait time;
  • Fresh air;
  • A cheerful start to the day;
  • A stress relief after a long day.

What good stuff did I leave out?  :)

Is anyone else feeling the affects of this massive storm?  I’m sure there are hardier souls than I who rode anyway.

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40 thoughts on “Bike Deprivation

  1. Amy says:

    I feel your pain Dottie! I didn’t get to ride to work yesterday morning because all the rain and leaves were horizontal and wizzing past at about (what I leaned later on) to be 75 mph! I did get to ride this morning and this afternoon, though this afternoons ride was through 20-30mph winds, which I’ve decided was WAY too much for me. I had the husband come by with the car and pick me up this evening since we’re now under a tornado watch.

  2. Steve A says:

    It was calm and in the 80’s here. I didn’t ride because I went to a “clean air” luncheon that was 20 miles from work.

  3. J.B. says:

    I waited out the rain this morning and rode to work a bit late (flexible hours are great). It was windy, but manageable.

  4. Anni says:

    I saw a couple of bikers on the roads today and wondered if you braved the storm! That rain around rush hour this morning was ridiculous. Don’t blow away. :)

  5. Doug says:

    The same storm hit way up here in Minnesota. But we only had 40-45 mph wind gusts mixed with heavy rain and fog. So I rode.

  6. Dave says:

    We had some 60-70mph winds this spring (our spring was crap), and it’s definitely not fun, I almost lost my hat on the Hawthoirne bridge a couple of times. Especially if it is dumping rain, i usually ride anyway, but those are the days when it’s really just the lesser evil for me, it’s not fun.

  7. Jazzboy says:

    Only minor effects of that storm are reaching Toronto: Wind SW 45km/h (28mph) but I am still riding and can relate to all the other things (except eating donuts).

  8. Moopheus says:

    Good job on learning to process film! I first learned to do it when I was about 8 or 9 years old–more than a few years ago. It’s fun to play with chemicals.

  9. Sigrid says:

    I understand bike deprivation for sure. I think if one rides bicycle a lot for any reason be it commuting, exercise, or general tooling around, when you are off your bicycle that little thing that makes the special in an ordinary day is missing and it does not take much for the melancholy and sloth-i-ness to set in. And YES, this wind is CRAZY!

  10. Good to hone your photo skills! You have progressed much on this blog and I think will be taking it to the next level, soon.

    We having the same storm as you, with snow a possibility in the morning. I’m picking out my gear for the morning, now. The wind does slow down our Dutch bikes but doesn’t shake them much.

  11. Herzog says:

    The subway seems like such a waste of money when you start riding a bike. I spent $1.75 to go two stops on the subway — What a waste!!?! I could have bought a nice coffee for that much!!

  12. LC says:

    when I don’t cycle I miss the random hello and smile you get from fellow pedestrians and cyclists and on-the-spur detours… i.e. if I see something interesting, or cycle pass a pretty park etc.

    Hope the storm goes away soon! I am not cycling very much either at the moment, as we have our family dog staying with us for a few days and he’s not good with running alongside the bike. But I am enjoying long walks and plenty of stick throwing and of course, furry cuddles :D

    L xxx

  13. nicolas says:

    I took a break today. The practical reason was that I’m meeting up with my fiancée tonight and she’s not riding today (she’s recovering from a stomach flu, and has been “lady-inconvenienced” by being in the saddle lately. Not a very glamorous subject, but I guess it happens sometimes, even with the loveliest leather saddle.

    Now, I could have taken a Vélib… but I also JUST got my hands on some coffee with a proper grind for my Bodum thermos with an integrated French press, and I’ve fallen back on my NPR and France Culture podcasts. What’s a boy to do? Rode the metro all the way.

  14. neighbourtease says:

    I took the subway this morning because my bike garage is closed today for some repairs and I can’t safely park my bike on the street. It’s so warm and awesome here today and I would have loved to ride.

    I am now looking at CL for a true beater. I hate bike deprivation!

  15. Roberto says:

    Dottie, I love reading your posts about cycling & commuting by bike. I like to commute by bicycle also, but live in a rural area and, because of my work schedule, it is too dark to ride the 10 miles without an expensive lighting system. How far do you commute and do you use a lighting system? Sorry I haven’t taken the time to read all the old blog post to find out!

    • cycler says:

      Lighting systems don’t have to be THAT expensive, especially in the age of LED. I bet that for $75-$100 you could get a light to see with and a decent rear blinkie.
      I bet a lot of people on this site use a generator system with LED headlight and integral tail light. The lights aren’t much more expensive than the battery powered ones, but it requires a special generator hub on the front wheel, which can be $150 to $250 depending on if you can find a pre-built wheel in the right size or have to have one custom built.

      You have put these costs into the perspective of the costs of other transportation. If you drive, $75 buys, two, maybe three tanks of gas? If you take the train, it’s probably the same cost as a monthly pass.

    • Herzog says:

      As cycler said, you can get started for about the cost of a monthly transit pass. What kind of bike do you have?

      Unless your work/commute situation is subject to change, I would encourage you do the generator hub route. This will cost you $250 or so, but will provide highly reliable and effective lighting system.

    • Scott says:

      Getting good lights is really worth it. You can get battery powered lights (Cateye for instance) front and back for about $70. But getting a dyno hub in my opinion is worth it. It is an up-front investment, but it will pay off over and over if you ride to work regularly.

  16. Bryan says:

    I’ve been commuting during the wind storm here in Milwaukee. There were a couple of times riding home last night where the wind brought my bike to a complete stop. Kind of a weird feeling. I found that getting into a deep tuck and spinning fast in a low gear got me through the big gusts. The worst part about this storm is that my office on the 15th floor is swaying back and forth. I’m getting sea sick sitting at my desk!

  17. cycler says:

    It’s not nearly as windy here in Boston, although I did get blown sideways a bit by a weird gust funneled down a sidestreet downtown.

    I rode in the rain this morning, which I don’t normally do, mainly because I was running enough behind, that taking the train would have made me really late. I used my new $7 tyvek poncho and it was actually not bad at all. My boots kept my feet dry, and my tights dried out before I finished my coffee. The hem of my skirt was pretty damp, but it didn’t trouble me much.
    It was so muggy that riding the train would have been really miserable, and if it’s clear this evening, I’d be sad to have missed the chance to ride.

    Being bike deprived really messes with my mental health- I guess if I got exercise another way it would be more bearable, but if I don’t get some sort of exercise every day I feel kind of out of kilter.

  18. Scott says:

    I ride in almost all weather, but not today and yesterday.

    I took the L to work both days; I can’t help thinking that at least some of the crowds of people on those cattle cars would prefer riding to work. Why do they think they need road bikes with no fenders and a gym to shower in?

  19. Deborah says:

    I rode a tiny bit here in Minneapolis — ridiculous winds and cold driving rain. I was only going about a mile in each direction to the grocery store and it was actually great fun in a “playing in mud puddles” kind of way. Got home completely drenched but I had warm dry feet and hands, which makes all the difference. I think I’ll do the same today, just to get out in it for a little bit. No way would I commute to work though. It’s just too hard for that.

  20. Julie says:

    I think that Chicago storm is messing with my bicycle weather in NYC. I should have just chanced it this morning. It’s wet, but not that bad. The Bus is making me so late! I have to adjust my whole morning routine to compensate for all the time I lose taking public transportation instead of riding.

  21. Anne says:

    I didn’t ride yesterday or today either due to the wind. I had a stressful bike commute to work 2 weeks ago and sadly haven’t rode in since. I need to get back into the habit of bike commuting! Sometimes drivers just scare me away for a little while.

  22. Steve says:

    Hey Dottie,
    I have to thank you, I stumbled across your videos on youtube, then found your blog, and really appreciate your love for riding your bikes. Admittedly, I am one of the lycra wearing cyclists (most of the time), but I always enjoy a good ride around town or countryside. You’re obvious love for the experience and craftsmanship of your bikes is infectious and has reminded me of why I too love to ride! I would love to commute everyday by bike, but live 35 miles from work. I do however ride home from work many times in the summer which is awesome. Thanks for your blog, taking the time to put your own stamp on this wonderful activity, I look forward to reading your other posts and reconnecting with my love of the ride! BTW, that same storm rolled through central Illinois yesterday morning, ahh the midwest :)

  23. philippe says:

    Ok, I’ve no comment about the storm, but that was a very nice dress.

  24. Stephen says:

    Greetings from the other side of Lake Michigan. Grand Rapids, MI is also under the spell of this Kansas-like wind. I stumbled upon your blog after seeing your youtube videos – they are spell binding. I ride my 1970 Schwinn Collegiate to work most days but now I’m really jonesing for a Dutch bike or English Roadster. Your pictures, videos, and narratives are very compelling and inspiring – keep up the GREAT work!

  25. ridon says:

    i’m bike deprived by force as well. it was stolen! i did test ride some bikes today and at one point a gust of wind hit me just as i was starting up and blew me into a street light. i didn’t hit it that hard, but the bike was heavy and i was surprised it propelled the both of us. i have riden when the winds are 25-30 mph, but those weren’t as constant blowing as the ones these past few days and not 50mph either.

  26. Nick says:

    Rode yesterday in the rain, 10 miles one way. It was great, an adventure. The ride home in the afternoon was dry, but almost as windy. Commuting by (recumbent) bike is great, particularly in Chicago where I get to use the lakefront bike path for 9 of the 10 miles. Sat healthy!

  27. Nick says:

    Rode yesterday in the rain, 10 miles one way. It was great, an adventure. The ride home in the afternoon was dry, but almost as windy. Commuting by (recumbent) bike is great, particularly in Chicago where I get to use the lakefront bike path for 9 of the 10 miles. Stay healthy!

  28. Holly says:

    I rode yesterday & today. I only got to ride about 6 miles each day, though. Thankfully, I missed the rain entirely. I’m a dog walker so my day starts later than most people’s work days.

    I really enjoyed riding in this weather, though, I wouldn’t want to do it every day. Fortunately Chicago has plenty of fabulously pretty days. (I love seeing them from your vantage point on the LF path!)

    I used to swim laps for exercise. There is something about diving into the wind on my road bike as I’m turning that reminds me of being in the pool. I don’t know why I feel like that, but I like the sensation.

    When I don’t ride, I miss every little thing about it!

  29. Daniel says:

    The amazing winds in Chicago for the last two days did, indeed, make for difficult, but thrilling commutes on the omafiets. I’d say I got about twice as much exercise as usual. And what’s with having to fight the wind in both directions?!


  30. Mike says:

    The wind here in Winnipeg wasn’t so severe (80 km/h gusts), so I didn’t uncover the car to get the kids to school/day care. Steering the empty bakfiets through the gusts with the canopy on was a bit tricky, though, especially when crossing the railroad tracks, where there are no wind-blocking obstructions.

  31. Looking forward to your review of Mia Birk’s book Joyride! I just ordered it. I read Jeff Mapes “Pedalling Revolution” and it seems a lot of bikey stuff is happening in the USA.

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