Tag Archives: Dutch bikes

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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Late October Chill

BRRRRR!  The October warm-up is over and real Chicago fall has arrived with morning and evening temps in the 30’s F, which is basically as cold as winter in my native North Carolina.  This is my 6th fall in Chicago, but the reality of the first chill still surprises me.

Yesterday I wore a wool dress, tights, and my new Chloe trench from Paris (love!) for my entire bike commute.  I thought I would get overheated, but nope.

The street lights were on by 5:30 p.m.

I felt kinda like a baby, complaining of my frozen fingers and toes when I arrived home, but even Ted the Cat, with his massive fur coat, has taken to snuggling under blankets.

So here’s to staying warm with the start of cold weather bicycling in Chicago!

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Fashion Friday: Riding in the Rain

Overcast and rainy skies have surrounded me lately.  Much of my riding in Amsterdam took place under damp mist and yesterday a heavy rain fell in Chicago, causing me to tuck Coco in my office for the night and take the L train home.  Alas, I was caught without a coat to fend off the sudden cold and rain.  If I could do my Thursday morning preparations over again (with dream clothes/bike collection), I would opt for something like this European-inspired rain outfit.  Why not, right?  :)

I hope all of you either have been staying dry or enjoying the wet weather in style!

{Collage details here}

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Indian Summer

I continue to enjoy fall the best way possible: by bicycle. These days, the lakefront trail is even more beautiful than usual.

To accompany the beauty of the season, I’ll share with you one of my favorite songs, Indian Summer, instead of a poem this time.

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Philip Larkin’s Fall

Mother, Summer, I

by Philip Larkin

My mother, who hates thunder storms,
Holds up each summer day and shakes
It out suspiciously, lest swarms
Of grape-dark clouds are lurking there;
But when the August weather breaks
And rains begin, and brittle frost
Sharpens the bird-abandoned air,
Her worried summer look is lost,

And I her son, though summer-born
And summer-loving, none the less
Am easier when the leaves are gone
Too often summer days appear
Emblems of perfect happiness
I can’t confront: I must await
A time less bold, less rich, less clear:
An autumn more appropriate.

{see also, Emily Dickinson’s fall}

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A Happy October Outfit

Welcome to October!  It’s hard to believe that September is already over and fall is seriously here.  The weather in Chicago is cooling down substantially and in response I pulled out the (sometimes fingerless) gloves, cashmere, and jeans.

This is a typical fall outfit, although for now the sweater comes off at a stop light early in the ride.

I’m happy for the change in seasons – in fact, October is my favorite month!  How are you handling the transition?

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Out of Line

While I continue with yoga class every morning to improve my alignment, Oma’s alignment has gotten way out of whack.

No, it has nothing to do with stuffing her pannier full of Chipotle and wine.  One unfortunate event caused her current crooked state.  On Sunday, I stood Oma up on a grassy area in the park.  Due to rain the night before, the ground was saturated and soon Oma toppled and fell on her side with a crash.  I think this was the first time she has ever fallen like that, since her double-footed kickstand is super heavy-duty.

I picked her up, dusted her off, and went on with my business.  But later while biking home, I noticed a problem after about a mile.  (Obviously, I am not very observant.)

See how the handlebars are squared to the front, but the wheel is tilted to the right?

And how the wheel is pointing straight to the front, but the handlebars are off to the side?

Yeah, that’s not good.

And this morning I noticed that my pedals are out of alignment.  The right side is pushed way in and the left side is sticking way out.

Funny enough, Oma continues to ride pretty normally.  Knowing me, I could continue riding her like this for at least a year or two, but I’m determined to fix this problem in a respectable timeframe.

But this is not like when Betty Foy falls and knocks her fenders out of line – that’s a problem I can fix easily and quickly. Oma’s solidness is a double-edged sword.  She refuses to budge from this new position.  I attempted in vain today to kick the pedals and push the handlebars back in line.  I suppose I will enlist Mr. Dottie’s help in the morning or just drop Oma off at the bike doctor in the afternoon.

Has your bike ever gotten out of line?   If so, how did you fix it?

{Please pardon the puns and gratuitous use of my camera’s tilt-shift feature.  A nerdy girl’s gotta have her fun.}

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Early Fall Fresh Air

I have been feeling road fatigue lately and the best antidote is always the fresh air of Lake Michigan and the open space of the Lakefront trail, which is once again a calm and pleasant place to ride a bike, now that the summer crowds have dispersed.

Can’t you almost feel the sunshine and crisp, early fall air?

The absolute best music for a fun and stress-free bike ride like this is Janelle Monae’s Archandroid.

Here I am, being unprepared for my camera’s self-timer once again.  :-)  I wore a skirt and cardigan over my t-shirt for work, then traded those out for shorts and kicked off my heels for the ride home.

I hope everyone is having a beautiful Monday!

Now try to listen to this song without dancing. Impossible!

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August’s Women-Who-Bike Brunch (with kids!)

For our August brunch, the Chicago Women-Who-Bike gathered in Lincoln Park south of the zoo for a scenic picnic.

There were lots of cool ladies with cool bikes.

This month, kids were specifically invited – and enjoyed the nearby petting zoo after brunch.  Happily for them, there was plenty of grass to run around on and trees to climb.

Their moms were rocking some VERY cool multi-passenger bikes.  This Bike Friday Two’sDay Tandem is an awesome little machine.  You can read more about it on One Less Minivan.

Then there was this chic black Madsen with a heavy duty front rack.

This WorkCycles Bakfeits regularly carries three boys.  Read more about it on Chicargo Bike.

Super fun Nutcase helmets!

Taking off…

Betty Foy looked on with respect and admiration.  These women and their bikes are way badass.

If you are a woman in Chicago interested in joining the group, you are very welcome!  Email me at LGRAB@letsgorideabike.com for details.  The next brunch will be Sunday, September 9, at the Nature Museum to check out the final day of the Bikes! The Revolution exhibit.

{P.S.  There’s a great discussion going on in the comments sections of yesterday’s Bicycle Booty post – check it out and share your thoughts!}

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Fashion Friday: Star Struck

This amazing skirt by Shadowplayncy inspired me to build a whole Fashion Friday look around it. The cotton sateen skirt is hand-sewn in New York City and printed with real images from the Hubble Telescope.  All of their space-inspired pieces are jaw-droppingly beautiful and unique.

I’m also really into these studded leather flats by Marc Jacobs.  If you look closely, you can see that the toes have little mouse ears, eyes, and noses!  A fun craft project would be turning a cheap pair of flats into mice.  Another would be putting orange accents on my Dutch bike, calling it Hermes, and reselling it for $4,650.  :)

I would wear this outfit on a night bike ride (sunglasses becoming a headband after sunset) to view the International Space Station as it passes by this weekend.

{Dorothy Perkins gold top, $49, Star skirt, $138, Marc by Marc Jacobs mouse shoes, $250, Mathias Chaize star earrings, $110, Chloé square sunglasses, $143, Bicycle Hermès Surprise, $4,650}

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Comparing Routes on Bike to Work Day

Chicago’s Bike to Work Week took place last week, with Friday as the grand finale “Bike to Work Day” and a big rally downtown.  I had an early meeting and could not attend.  I simply celebrated by … biking to work.  Imagine that.

Biking to work

The day was a little special, incidentally, because I met up with my friend Elizabeth for the morning ride to work.  We took the most direct, major route, which is not so bad in the morning.  There was plenty of opportunity for chatting.

Elizabeth in the morning

In the evening, Mr. Dottie happened to be leaving work the same time as me, a rare occurrence, so we met up for bike home together.

Mr. Dottie in the evening

I made him take my quiet side street route and he thought it was more stressful than the busy-but-direct route.  He reasoned that all he had to do on the busy route was stay straight and stop for stoplights, while on the twisty side street route, there was a lot of turning, plus potential car conflicts at every block in the form of four-way-stop intersections.  I can see where he’s coming from – cars have a tendency to “not see” bikes at those intersections – but I am more stressed by what I cannot control on the busy route: cars barreling behind me at a fast speed and parked car doors flinging open.

Interesting to consider the choices through someone else’s perspective.  What kind of situation do you think is more stressful?

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Kate Spade CHI :)

You know how the right outfit has the power to brighten your day and make the world a more fun place to live?  If no, you should probably skip this vapid post.  If so – yeah!  totally!

I wore this Kate Spade ensemble to work last week, which of course involved nearly ten miles of bicycling.  And I felt so super happy the entire time, la la la lalalalaaaa.  *birds chirping*  A bonus is that drivers might be nicer to me dressed like this (Mary Poppins Effect), if they take a moment to glance up from their iPhones.

I am usually a thrift store lady, but I am admittedly attracted to a few different designers.  Not that I pay full price!  Goodness, no!  But I am a seasoned clearance stalker and when this Kate Spade dress popped up for 1/3 of the original price, I was so there.

Luckily, the weather was not too hot and humid – I’d hate to sweat all over this dress’s lovely lining (’cause I sweat like a piglet).  Tip time!  Did you notice the socklette peeking from my mary janes?  I buy those from the drugstore and they keep my feet from getting sweaty-stinky.  ;)

I also wore my Nutcase helmet, not pictured because I won’t pretend I think helmets improve on a look.  Oh!  But you know what helmet would have been spectacular with this dress (if you’re into that kind of thing!):

Ladybug!!!

Do you have a favorite outfit that makes you feel especially happy and cheery while bicycling?  I’d love to hear about it!

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How to: bicycling in a long dress

Bicycling in a long dress is possible! In fact, with the right set-up, it’s downright simple. Some may ask, “Why even bother biking in a long dress?” My response is that my bike is transportation and I do not want it to dictate what I wear (except pencil skirts, those are crazy – unless you convert it!).

If you are interested in learning how, read on!

Three major factors determine how successfully you can bike in a long dress: the dress, the bike, and the technique.

The Dress

Must allow enough freedom to move your legs in a cycling motion. The skirt needs to be relatively full or made of stretchy material with a slit, such as the one pictured above. Test the dress’s bike-ability before leaving (or purchasing) by doing some knee-lifts.

The Bike

Must have several characteristics to work with a long dress, unless you tie your dress up by your knees. First, a step-through frame (has anyone done this with a diamond frame??). Second, a covered chain to keep the skirt from being eaten and/or greased up. Third, a skirt guard if the skirt is full, so it won’t get pulled in the rear wheel spokes. Note that this was not an issue with the dress and bike above. Fourth, fenders, otherwise your skirt will rub against the rear tire. Finally, a clean frame is a good idea, since your dress will rub against it a fair bit.

The Technique

For the most part, you can bike as normal. You may benefit from hitching the skirt up a bit, to provide more give around the thighs. Experiment to determine what works best for each dress. You may also want to dismount fully at stoplights, to reduce stress on the seams of the skirt.

Here is a quick video that covers the topic. I did this on the fly yesterday, since I happened to be wearing a long dress. I’m not a professional film-maker, so not the best quality video ever, but I hope simply seeing someone bike in a long dress is helpful.

Have any of you biked in a long dress or skirt? I’d love to hear stories and additional tips in the comments! Please feel free also to share photos, via either html or links.

{For more advice, come out to my The Lady and the Bike class in Chicago tomorrow!}

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Lake Breezes and Karma

The cool breezes of Lake Michigan lured me to the lakefront trail yesterday morning.  Freedom from the stifling heat of car exhaust and crazy drivers, I relaxed and enjoyed the beauty around me.

These pictures are from this great old Polaroid Land Camera 250.  Very fun to play with.  :)

In the evening, I took city streets, where I witnessed a scene that first had me flaming mad and then had me cheering.

As I waited at a red light at a crowded intersection, a driver in a fancy SUV was turning left and inching into a crosswalk as a mother with a baby carriage crossed with the walk signal.  The mother was saying something to the driver that I could not hear, probably like, “Excuse me, I have the walk sign and I’m here with my baby.”  The driver responded by HONKING his horn, right in the baby’s face!  The mother did not budge and the driver then stepped on the gas to lurch forward and psych out the mother, who was standing no more than two feet away WITH HER BABY CARRIAGE!  (Who are these horrible people???)  As soon as she moved away, the driver sped down the street…

…for about 3 seconds.  A police SUV, which was two cars behind the offending SUV, immediately went after it with lights and sirens.  As a biked by, the SUV was pulled over and two police officers were exiting their vehicle.  The scene was so beautiful, I could have wept.  KARMA!

I think the driver should have been arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, but at the very least I hope he or she received a citation for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.  Drivers need to know that they cannot get away with criminal behavior simply because they are surrounded by a ton of metal!

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The Independence of Bicycling

Boy, was I happy to be riding my bike yesterday evening!  An extra-alarm fire at a furniture store adjacent to the L-tracks shut down the red, brown, and purple lines for several hours spanning the height of rush hour.  (No one was hurt in the fire.)  Mr. Dottie was on the brown line and had to walk the last two miles home, which is not so fun in near 90-degree heat, carrying a heavy work bag and wearing steel-toed boots. I, on the other hand, sailed along home with trusty Oma.

The scene biking past the L station was chaotic, with hundreds of people waiting for shuttle buses and car traffic jammed from road closures.  I may have gotten some envious looks from the poor commuters stuck on the side of the road.  Too bad Chicago’s planned bike share is not up and running yet – I bet lots of people would have tried it for the first time!

Bonus: enjoying the sight and smell of fresh flowers along my route.

While situations like this on public transportation are rare, I prefer to deal with them never.  The ordeal reminded me of the independence that the bicycle provides.  As long as I have my trusty bike and a slim stretch of road, I’m set.  (Just no thunderstorms, please!)

Good work, Oma!

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Enjoying the Spring

Chicago spring is still a bit chilly but overall chill (see how I word-played there?).  Most of my rides have been nice and calm on the side-streets and I’ve been taking time to hang out with friends, read books, drink cocktails, and just enjoy life with Mr. Dottie.

I need to get working on spring cleaning, including taking Betty Foy in for a much-needed tune-up (am I the only one who totally destroys her bike during fall and winter??).  But, you know, whenever…

I hope everyone else is enjoying the spring, too!

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A Day at the Nature Museum

Last week, Trisha visited Chicago for her birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!).  We were together again!

We biked down the lakefront and stopped by the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

Coco and Oma got to be together, too, outside of the garage for once.

While there, we enjoyed a high-quality exhibit, called Bikes! The Green Revolution, that happens to be at the Nature Museum until September 9.

There was a display of cool vintage bikes.

Art work with the theme “bike monsters.”

Photo ops with a penny-farthing, which we were all over once the children got out of our way.

And a photo exhibit of modern cycling style, featuring portraits by Bike Fancy’s Martha Williams.  (Look, there’s me!)

Next, we stopped by the butterfly house, but the many fluttering things disconcerted Trisha a bit too much.

So we rested a bit.  :)

We finished our visit in the gardens, a lovely respite from the city.

Where we listened to highly entertaining bird calls in the bird sanctuary.

 Finally, we got back on our bikes to continue our day downtown.
Another lovely day on bikes in Chicago. Plus Trisha, which makes the day 100x better!  :)
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Chicago’s Lurie Botanical Gardens

Today was a beautiful day.  One of the most beautiful of the year.  The sunshine and blue skies and flowers and fresh air all made me remember how wonderful living in this world can be, on the right kind of day.

I rode my bike more than usual and I was thankful for the opportunity.  In the morning I had to be far downtown for a seminar, so I took the Lakefront Trail for 45 refreshing minutes.  A few hours later in the early afternoon, I got to enjoy the outdoors again as I biked from there to my office.  While co-workers jumped in a cab,  I couldn’t resist stopping by the Lurie Botanical Gardens in Millennium Park on my bike.

I wore one of the skirts I thrifted this weekend for $2.  I enjoy wearing flowers in the springtime, although I know my fabric cannot compete with nature’s beauty.

The Lurie Garden is an almost miraculous spot in the middle of downtown Chicago.  There is a glorious juxtaposition of nature and city.  The skyscrapers are a sight to behold, hovering over the flower beds.

Getting down to the ground level and smelling the blossoms takes me back to my mom’s garden, growing up in North Carolina.

Then I stand up and see the architectural marvel of the Pritzker Pavilion, backed by the Aon Center and the Watertower antennas.  Ah yes, Chicago!

I lack the green thumb of my mother, so this guide identifying the different flowers in the garden at this time of year was helpful.

This bird in the tree was making a fuss about me taking its picture.  Very loud.  Camera shy.

At the end of the day, I decided to take the Lakefront Trail home.  On one of the most beautiful days of the year, why not end the day with more of the beautiful same?

I managed to feel like I spent a great deal of time outside, when really all I did was get from one place to another, pure transportation.  Yet so much more.  Everyone who rides a bike, you know what I’m talking about, right?  :)

 

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A Spring Saturday Bike Ride

Saturday morning, I met up with my friend Araidia for a brunch and thrift shop expedition. Of course, we biked, which was half the fun!

There are so many beautiful spring flowers in bloom, we each found one to match our helmets.

Araidia’s a purple Bern…

…and mine a pink Nutcase.

We chatted freely along the way, either riding side-by-side or dropping back into single-file when a car approached. The route and area were new to me, so Araidia led the way.  Since she took us along a very quite path, there were few cars and no stress.

We biked through a college campus…

parks…

…and neighborhood streets.

Our destination was the Albany Park neighborhood. Once there, we enjoyed a Swedish brunch at Tre Kronor and thrifting at Village Discount Outlet, where I scored two dresses and three skirts (including an Elie Tahari and a Ralph Lauren) for $37 and Araidia found the awesome pink bag in the photos.

Here is a short little video of our ride through Albany Park. (The song is Jenny Mayhem, “All the World.”)

I returned home five hours after I left, feeling very good about my day – and entitled to some cake and wine after biking nine miles. :)

Did you spend some quality time on your bike this weekend?

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Tulips and a Dutch Bike :)

Spring is such a beautiful time of year for riding a bike!  Oma enjoyed very much spotting so many of her homeland’s flowers during the ride home this evening.

I put her flowered basket back on for now.  I could feel a substantial weight difference with the front rack and basket today, versus strapping my bag to the rear rack, but the basket set-up is worth it for the convenience and aesthetics.

The back street route I traveled was car-free for much of the time.  Such a rarity in Chicago, which is why I’m happy to go 15 minutes out of my way.

Here’s a more representative “gritty” city shot.  I think I need to start adding more spring color to my wardrobe.  The tulips have inspired me!

I hope everyone had a lovely week of bicycling and is ready to begin the second half of April!  :)

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