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.
When I was in Chicago, I got to ride Coco. Somehow, Dot and I overlap on the bike size spectrum—just enough so that I can ride most of her bikes as long as the seatpost is alllll the way down and I’m willing to dismount at all stops. Anyway, the lovely Coco and I got along just great while I was there.
Every time I ride in Chicago I discover all over again how different it is to ride somewhere that’s FLAT. So flat. Like, the “hills” in Chicago feel like speedbumps flat. It’s a totally different thing. No coasting, but no real exertion either, unless you want to be a speed demon.
(Which, in case you just stumbled on this blog today, we don’t.)
Instead of hills, Chicago has potholes. Thank goodness for sprung saddles, Coco’s big balloon tires and posting skills, is all I’m saying about that.
But the best thing about riding bikes in Chicago is sharing the street with this lady.
I’ll be back in November for my first (Chicago) winter cycling effort in a couple of years. I have some winter boots and plenty of wool tights. Keeping an eye on the weather report to see if I need them—we’ll see how it goes (and so will you, I’m sure!).
Trisha showed you her Little Miss Messy coffee-stained Abici and now I’ll show you my Little Miss Muddy Velorbis. On Wednesday I rode Coco, my Velorbis, in the rain for the first time. I discovered that the gorgeous cream-colored frame shows mud quite clearly. I’m not good at keeping my bikes clean, but I definitely have to wipe Coco down after the rain.
Although Coco’s aesthetics suffer in the rain, her performance is top notch. The substantial fenders, chain case, and internal brakes are perfect for keeping me clean and stopping on a dime. The super cushy Fat Frank tires are a big bonus and make Coco the best among my bikes for riding in the rain. Normally, I feel paranoid riding on slick roads and through puddles, but the stability and comfort of the fat tires made me feel completely secure. I love those tires.
As for myself, I dealt with the rain fine. I wore my Patagonia trench rain coat (not pictured below), which caught most of the drizzle. My wool tights and tweed skirt dried quickly and my helmet protected my hair.
So that’s it. I made it through a 30 minute drizzly bike commute a-okay. By the time I got to work, I was a little bit more in love with Coco than before.
What aspects of your bike help (or not) when riding in the rain?
Like a parent, I really can’t choose a favorite among my three bikes Oma, Betty and Coco. But I do go through periods when I heavily favor one over the others. Right now, it’s Betty’s time in the spotlight.
For the past month and a half, I’ve been riding Betty Foy exclusively. (April 7 was our 2-year anniversary!) I missed her so much during winter, as soon as the ice cleared and I got her tuned up, she became my ride of choice day after day. She’s so fun and breezy. I haven’t ridden Oma since the weather cleared two months ago because she still has studded tires and I hadn’t ridden Coco since…let me check the archives…March 31.
That changed on Wednesday, when I pulled Coco out for the day.
And boy, am I glad I did! She’s a lovely bike and those Fat Frank tires are so cushy. I feel different when I’m perched atop her riding straight up. Once I break in the Brooks saddle, the comfort level will be perfection.
As for Oma – getting her studded tires swapped out is on my to-do list for this weekend. So Betty may have to take a back seat again for a while.
On another note, after all my talk of allergies, I finally went to a doctor yesterday and learned that I don’t have allergies at all (good!), but a two week virus (basically a bad cold). I plan to bike today even though I feel like crap because I can’t stand a second day on the L. (There’s a double meaning with “stand” – get it?)
Because of the icy weather, I have not been riding Coco, my Velorbis Studine Balloon, as much as I desperately want to, choosing instead my studded-tire bike. I can count the substantial rides I’ve taken with her on one hand – not enough for a real review, but enough to talk a bit here and there as I get to know her better.
After my first work commute with Coco a couple of weeks ago, I talked about her ride. In that post, I mentioned how Coco’s geometry is different from Oma’s, even though the two look like similar style bikes. The photos below demonstrate how Coco’s distinctive geometry affects my riding position.
As you can see, my hips and legs are aligned almost straight down, while my torso is slightly leaned forward. My posture is straight, but not totally upright. You can compare to my positioning on Oma here.
I thought this geometry difference would cause my legs to work more, but thus far I have not noticed a difference in the amount of energy required for pedaling. If anything, Coco may be a bit swifter, although I’m still trying to determine if that’s all in my head.
The geometry does make slight differences to the details of my ride. For example, starting from a stoplight is easier. My foot on the raised pedal simply goes straight down to propel the bike forward; I don’t have to simultaneously push down and forward on the pedal while my other foot pushes off the ground. Another detail is that I can stand up on the pedals for a boost of energy, which I cannot do on Oma. Also, good posture is easy to maintain; I don’t have to keep telling myself to sit up straight and roll my shoulders back as I do when riding Oma.
These subtle differences are hard to describe, but they make riding the two bikes not as similar as some may assume.
I do realize I’m firmly in the “splitting hairs” territory that EcoVelo recently wrote about. To me, at least, Coco and Oma are like apples and oranges. :)
I rode Coco to work Monday, before Tuesday’s snowfall sent me back to Oma and her studded tires. I was so giddy to have a new bike, I decided to take Coco on a spin to the lakefront during lunch with my camera and a roll of film.
I haven’t ridden Coco enough yet to provide in-depth opinions on how she performs, but I’ll offer some initial thoughts. She feels great! The ride is similar to Oma’s and nothing like Betty Foy’s. She weighs a bit less than Oma and is a bit more sprightly, but speed (or lack of it) and comfort are on pretty much par.
There are some notable differences. First, Coco’s balloon tires are super cushy and help me laugh in the face of Chicago’s potholes and train tracks (one of my biggest fears). Second, Coco has only three gears. I ended up using all three gears during my ride, depending on incline (ramps in and out of the Lakefront Trail) and wind direction, and the range felt spot on. Third, Coco’s geometry is almost straight up and down, but a tiny bit bent forward to reach the handlebars, whereas Oma’s geometry is a tiny bit leaned back with legs pushing a tiny bit forward. I thought this would make riding Coco feel substantially different after a few miles, but my body felt the same while pedaling and once I arrived at work, no more or less fatigued or energized.
I probably don’t even need to mention looks. She’s a beauty that I love to gaze at. Beauty should not be underestimated when choosing a bike. If you’re going to ride a bike every day, it should call out to you. Coco certainly accomplishes that!