Category Archives: our bikes

Cherry Blossom Garden

I love spring because everything is fresh and new. Colors pop from all corners, chirping “hello!” and “well done!” after a long winter. The cherry blossom tree encapsulates everything that is magical about spring, a burst of breezy energy between the icy winter and the sweltering summer.

All of these trees hid in plain sight in the garden where I often sit and read during my lunch break. I did not realize that they were cherry blossom trees until I approached the park on Friday to see millions of tiny blossoms smiling at me. Two days before there was nothing – then, everything. My heart hurt when I realized that I did not have my camera, so I returned during lunch today to capture the beauty that is already drifting off the limbs.

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Fashionable Sunday

Today I biked downtown to attend a fashion show for the Chicago Haute Couture Club, featuring the creations of a friend from work.  I am so impressed by creative people and her designs were so chic and beautiful.  I wish I had been more interested in my mom’s sewing as a girl, but I’ve never been at all crafty.

My work friends were totally unfazed by the fact that I rode my bike. Dottie riding her bike is perfectly normal to them by now, after six months of knowing me. I love that :)

{P.S. The picture above shows how I wait at red lights on Oma. Instead of dismounting, I simply put one pointed toe down. My legs are fully extended when pedaling, but I’m still able to reach a toe down while on my saddle. I’ve gotten this question a few times, so there you are.}

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Oma Appreciation

Now that other cyclists are out in full force, Oma gets compliments more than once a day.

“I love your bike!” “Awesome bike!” “Now that’s a bike!” “Beautiful, girl!” “Very elegant!” “Good for you!”

Usually I would not be crazy about strange men calling out to me, but all of these radiated a wholesome appreciation for my Dutch bike and the regular-woman-on-a-bike aesthetic.

All these photos were taken with my Diana Mini. You can see more at Ye Olde Flickr.

Have a great weekend! :)

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Cherry Blossom Oma

Oma triumphantly returns to LGRAB, ushered in by cherry blossoms and ladybugs!

During the winter I rode only Oma, keeping Betty Foy in the garage due to her lack of studded tires and protection from the elements. After the first signs of spring last month, I started riding only Betty. I missed Betty’s peppiness and also was too lazy to remove Oma’s winter studded tires.

Today, missing my sweet Oma girl, I finally brought her to the shop for the tire swap. Boy, was she glad to be out in the spring air!

{I adore these cherry blossoms. I believe this is the same kind of tree Trisha captured yesterday, but the ones in Chicago are all white.}

Anyone else tend to ride certain bikes during different times? And then feel guilty for neglecting the other(s)? ;)

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Cute as a bug

. . . my Batavus, that is.

Here she is waiting outside for me during a happy hour last week.

As I was walking away, I looked back and found myself turning around to take a picture (or 10). Who cares what the rush hour drivers thought? And anyway, I knew my friend C wouldn’t get there for a few more minutes — she was trying to find a place to park her car. ;)

Where will your bike take you this week?

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Feeling French

Lately I’ve been feeling French. Dottie’s and my planned trip there this fall has been on both our minds and I’m afraid I’m somewhat obsessed. These past few days I’ve been listening to French radio, watching French films, reading French websites and even reading French novels (Stendhal and Nothumb, a balance of classic and modern).

So it goes without saying that I have been riding my French bike.

This morning we took a ride to pick up French bread and cheese (sadly, not French) to bring to an Oscar party. Anyone have any tips before I turn in my Oscar ballot?

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Vintage Beautiful Bicycle: A New-Old Raleigh Gran Sport

Once upon a time in a far away land, there lived a shiny new bicycle named Raleigh Gran Sport.

The Beginning... 1973

The ravages of time, evil stepmothers, poisonous apples, etc. caused Gran Sport to become a bit shabby.


Until one day a prince came along to whisk him off ebay (this is a modern fairy tale).  No mice or crustaceans helped with this transformation: it was all the prince, other than the wheel building.


Now Gran Sport is way cooler than ever before, complete with internal hub gearing, roller brakes, generator lights, mustache bars, Schwalbe tires, and the ultimate classy-bike-combo of Honjo fenders, Nitto rack and Brooks saddle.  And they lived happily ever after.

More pictures and a complete list of parts used after the jump.  The bar tape has been shellacked and the cables more nicely secured since these pictures were taken.

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A Rare Winter Ride with Betty Foy

Today I rode to Evanston, a city north of Chicago, to hang out with Holly (who writes the blog Dancing Gypsies), where we had a fun time looking through book shops and clothing boutiques.  Since the distance was long and the streets totally clear of ice, I rode Betty Foy and took the most direct route along a major street. Things I learned on the 9-mile ride:

  • I miss riding Betty Foy.
  • I get a cardio workout riding Betty that I don’t get on Oma.
  • I can sweat a lot even in freezing temperatures.
  • I was in better shape in the summer.
  • There is a reason I don’t usually ride on big roads with fast traffic.
  • Big roads with fast traffic are scary.
  • The city is not that concerned about bicyclists’ safety.
  • Air pollution is a problem. *cough*
  • Sometimes when the route is stressful and it’s dark out and flurries begin to fall, the best way home is riding the train with my bike.

Now Betty Foy goes back in the garage and I go back to my regular commute until the next totally clear day.

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Here in Nashville, it’s back to our regularly scheduled programming. Still cold and wintry, but the snow is all gone, so I’ve been able to ride again. The Bat was even talked into posing for a few photos to show off her new accessories — which my brother brought back from Amsterdam as a Christmas present.

I’m still very jealous that he got to Amsterdam first, but these new “On the Road” panniers went a long way toward making me feel better about it. They can carry a lot and fit perfectly on the rack. Great for grocery shopping.

Only problem is, they have to be buckled on and off the rack, which takes time (especially with cold fingers) and I don’t like to leave them on overnight, so I haven’t used them as much as I’d like to. Anyone have ideas for securing them to the bike? I know the canvas could always be cut, but I thought a thin cable lock or chain might be a deterrent — the kind of secondary lock people put on saddles.

One of these is carrying a little more than the other!

My other gift was a “brrring” bicycle bell, which my camera utterly refuses to photograph. Which meant googling “fietsbellen” to find a photo of one just like it! After  going through 9 pages of results (those Dutch have a lot of different bicycle bells!) it finally turned up.

image courtesy of

Mine is minus the battle scars, but I love the Dutch crown emblem. It looks great on the Bat, and is a big improvement over the stock bell that came on the bike.

Have you added anything to your bike lately?

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DIY: Fun with Fenders

Technically, this should have been categorized as a DIWYF — do it with your family! Without my dad and my brother, there’s no way these Velo Orange Fluted Fenders would have made it onto Le Peug. I had read about fender installations before purchasing mine, and the one thing that all the stories had in common was the potential to get into something difficult–something that required special tools or customization. As luck would have it, mine required both.

Twas the week after Christmas, and we wheeled Le Peug into my Dad’s garage.

Le Peug before

Le Peug enters the garage . . . he doesn’t know what he’s in for

First step was to clean the bike and touch up the 30-year-old paint job. Dad promised that his 3M compound could take out all but the deepest scratches, and that Wenol, an extra-strength German metal cleaner, could make the dull aluminum rims shine.


cast of characters

As usual, he was right. Check out these before/after shots. That compound cream worked miracles. If you think your bike needs to be repainted, try this first — but keep in mind that it does remove some of the paint, so be cautious.

portion of seat tube near bottom of photo has been cleaned


stay at top of photo has been cleaned

After cleaning the frame with compound, we touched up the scratches with some white paint. Once that dried, it was time for wax. Now, the frame is back to blinding white and looks almost like new.

The clean, touched-up frame — like new!

That took a couple of hours, and a lot of elbow grease, but it was the easy part. Next, we had to figure out how to install the fenders. Le Peug’s brake and stay clearance was tight, so we had to reshape both the front and rear fenders a bit.

And because the screw on our brake bolt wasn’t long enough to attach the fender, too, we had to come up with a makeshift L-bracket. Luckily, right about that time my brother wandered into the garage. He scrounged up some scrap metal and got to work.

Charlie bracket

Charlie drills the custom bracket

One fender down! I study the instructions for our next step.

The other major modification? Shaving down the front sides of the rear fender so that it would fit better between the chain stays behind the bottom bracket. Sorry, but I did not take pictures of this process since flying sparks were involved.

We replaced the wheels and cut the extra length off the stays (more sparks!).

Both fenders on, we replace the wheels.

Then we wiped the frame down again, removing some of the marks we had made with wrenches, etc, during the installation. And here’s the finished product!

front fender with custom bracket

Charlie wasn’t happy with the L-bracket was, since it was so visible and made of two different colored metals, but I like it — the gold matches the decal on the bottom tube and it is distinctive.

all done

my finished beautiful bicycle

While I don’t really enjoy day-to-day bike maintenance duties (refilling tires, yawn), projects like this feel different. Taking the bike apart, cleaning it, installing the fenders and putting it all back together gave me a better sense of how my bike works. And seeing the finished project was oh-so-satisfying: Le Peug looks better than ever, and our painstaking custom installation means a perfect fit with no rattling. I’m now saving my pennies for the next upgrade on my list: a Brooks saddle.

What’s your latest DIY project?

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Guitar Bike: Week Two

Another guitar class means another guitar-bike picture. Since the weather is beautiful and the roads are clear, I rode Betty Foy this time. I felt perfectly stable, but had to lean forward a bit more than I would like, making the ride somewhat uncomfortable. Luckily, it was less than two miles. Cars seem to give me more room when I have this on my back.

Now I’m off to enjoy the beautiful weather with Betty some more :)

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Foggy Navy Pier Ride

Today we engaged in our absolute favorite Saturday activity – cycling to Navy Pier to see a play at the Shakespeare Theater. In my opinion, this is the best theater in Chicago and we never miss a performance. There has been a “heat wave” of just above freezing this week. I doubled-up my tights, wore two sweaters, threw on snow boots and was good to go (my Marc Jacobs maryjanes rode in my basket – I have cycled in these heels, but my feet would have been too cold today). Since most of the snow and ice melted, I was able to pull out sweet Betty Foy for the ride. I missed her effortless pedaling, although the potholes that Oma handles so easily rattled my teeth.

Navy Pier looks much different on a foggy day. To see pictures I took on a beautiful blue day, click here.

Where did you ride this weekend?

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Sir Raleigh and Betty Foy

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.)

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Back to Bat

Well, for the day at least! Afraid that continued neglect of my darling Batavus could lead to a pant-snatching incident, á la Oma, I took her out to enjoy one of the last days of fall. Together we posed in front of a scraggly tree that is desperately holding on to its leaves. Keep ’em up there, little tree — I’m not ready for winter!

Off to work -- I look skeptical of the self-timer feature

After two weeks plus of riding the Flik, my Bat felt . . . heavy. But also — stable! And comfortable. I know you roadies out there will probably say it’s just what you’re used to (and you’ll have a point — to an extent, I have gotten used to craning my neck on the Flik), but an upright riding position is SO much more comfortable than being launched out over the handlebars. The Bat was forgiving of my neglect and my sweater tights made it to work without complications.

Weekend plans include meeting up with Andrew, a local owner of a Bike Friday, during a ride through Shelby Bottoms. And, gulp, a viewing of New Moon. Don’t judge, people. As this spot-on article in the WaPo warns, it could happen to you.

Happy Friday!

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One Year Oma-versary!

Oma and Me

Oma and Me

Dearest Oma,

I love you.



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My Dutch Bicycle Video

Here is the second video for the LGRAB YouTube channel. Clearly, I don’t have a future with broadcast journalism, but I want to share more about Dutch bikes with the public. When I started researching Dutch bikes, there were none in my city to test ride and not much information beyond the manufacturers’ websites. I obsessively googled different bike brands and found frustratingly little on my favorites.

My WorkCycles Azor Oma written review is extensive, so the video can be considered bonus material. Not super interesting, so don’t feel compelled to watch, but I hope this video will help others who are seeking more information about them before ordering one on the internet or driving a far distance to test ride one.

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The Red Shoes

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!

what's black and white and red all over?

what's black and white and red all over?

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Beautiful Bicycles: My Workcycles Azor Oma

One year ago I purchased a Workcycles Azor Oma, and that decision has changed my life for the better. I already cycled to work daily, but with Oma I was able to integrate cycling more easily and fully into my life. I no longer needed to coordinate my outfits around grease and chains. I was able to cycle through the harsh Chicago winter with no worries about frozen drivetrains. I left behind annoyances such as falling chains, deflating tires, and compromised braking. Now I simply get on my bike and go. It’s really a lovely way to travel.

7-18 profile 9-4 outfit

3-21-dress-bike29-1 oma dress

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A New Old Bike in Progress

Not for me, but for Mr. Dottie! Thus far he’s gotten by with his Jamis Coda Sport, but has been saving up for another. Instead of buying a new bike, he’s custom building it himself with a vintage frame.

Greg testing the Raleigh

Greg testing the Raleigh

He started with an early 1970’s Raleigh Gran Sport frame that he bought for a low price on eBay. He’s a practical engineer, building it up with components to make the most utilitarian bike for his purposes, including a lot of winter riding. I’ll have a full write-up when he’s finished, but it includes an internal hub, roller brakes, generator lights, and mustache bars. He still has to adjust the parts for the perfect fit and add accessories, but he was able to take his first test ride today. He’s having fun, learning a lot and soon will have the perfect bike that he deserves!