Monday, May 31, 2010

Tweed Ride!

My first group ride was such fun!  The weather ended up being much cooler and more pleasant than I'd expected, and it was just a joy to be cycling through our beautiful city/cities on such a sunny, breezy Memorial Day.  Lots of bell-ringing and (very!) slow pedaling that allowed for spontaneous inter-bike conversations.  My pal Y and I had to peel off a bit early and so missed the pub stop and end-point picnic, but it was still nice to socialize, however briefly, with our fellow cyclists.

Unfortunately, I'm terrible about remembering to take photos at special events, so at the moment, I can only show you what Y and I wore.  I know there will be more photos coming up from other sources, so perhaps I will steal a few links in the days to come. 

But we look good, right?
(Answer: Yes, we do!)

Oh, and I also got to meet Cycler from Biking in Heels and Somervillain (note: does not look like Curious George in person!) from Boston Retro Wheelmen, both sporting very enviable vintage rides.  Don't feel bad for Frida, though, as she had many fans of her own!  I just hope it doesn't go to her head...

LGRAB Summer Games, Part 1: Social Cycling

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Second Sunday

I just missed the chance to photograph these guys swimming in their neat little line, goslings flanked fore and aft by their larger guardians.  But it was also sweet how the two grownups carefully ushered them up onto the riverbank.  It's enough to make you forgive them for leaving their poo all over the path where it constantly threatens to besmirch a pair of lovely cream tires.

On a side note, I think what I find most difficult to understand about fixed-gear bicycles in how anyone could willingly give up the ability to coast.  Being able to just sit back and relax as you sail down a hill effortlessly, listening to the whir of your wheels-- who doesn't like that?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lady fingers

In my excitement over Monday's upcoming Tweed Ride, I may have ordered a pair of vintage crocheted gloves to be overnighted from etsy...
(The best part is the buttons, obviously.)

By the way, whose bright idea was it to have a tweed ride in Boston at the end of May?  Never mind; in my head, it will be a linen and lace ride.  And I may bring a bottle of Pimm's.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Keep it under your skirt

I've seen various recommendations for how to deal with riding in short or flowy skirts on breezy days. Here's my latest solution, via the Gap (note: I'm finding the longer I live around Harvard Square, the more my wardrobe ends up coming from the Gap, mostly because I am lazy about shopping and the Gap is always right there. I'm not sure how I feel about this):
These are the lace-trimmed modal shorts. They come in a few different solid colors and are super light and soft and breathable. Depending what size you get, I find they look sort of like vintage tap pants (i.e., totally cute), and they do a good job of lying nicely under a lot of different fabrics-- the modal is smooth and slippery, but without having that all-manmade materials feel to it. Plus, they're cute enough that if your skirt does fly all the way up, you can pedal on with confidence!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Your own personal bike lane

How cool is this? The LightLane "personal bike path": a bike lane created by lasers attached to a rear LED light. It's still being developed (in Boston, yay!), as of reports from last summer, but I love the idea and would be happy to see it in stores.

Here's a video of a prototype being tested on urban streets, which does a good job of showing how this might work under a variety of typical lighting conditions.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

LGRAB Summer Games Round 1: Social Cycling

May 17-June 6: Social Cycling
  • Go on a group ride
  • Leave a nice note on a bike, or say hi to a cyclist at a red light
  • Schedule a bike date with a friend or partner — dress up!
  • Recruit a non-biking friend for a ride
  • Ride with your family

The afternoon of my accident, I ran into this adorable man with his adorable baby girl and adorable BMX bike. They all looked so darn adorable that I asked if they wouldn't mind pulling over and letting me take their picture:

See?? How great are they?! He seemed tickled by the suggestion and didn't mind the interruption at all. This was the first time I've ever really given more than a quick, "hey" to a fellow cyclist, and it felt nice-- especially after such a difficult cycling day!

That same day, I was waiting to walk my bike through a crosswalk by Harvard Yard when I noticed I was pulling my Fryslan up to a red Batavus Old Dutch! The owner smiled and said, "A nice choice," and we chatted on our walk through the Yard as our Bats rolled side-by-side (honestly, I think Frida was comforted to see a relative on such a traumatic day). It turns out, the guy was actually from the Netherlands, doing a chemistry post-doc at Harvard, and he'd just purchased his bike from Quad Bikes the previous week. He agreed that these bikes were built tuff and was unsurprised at how well Frida handled the crash. I didn't get his name or photo, but on my way home, I saw his bike parked outside the Science Center-- next time I'll leave a note! Our Bats can be buddies!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Batavus Takes a Licking!

So here's how it all went down: I was minding my own business, riding my bicycle up Cambridge Street around 7:30 this morning. About two blocks from Harvard Yard, I was approaching a side street where an oncoming car was preparing to turn left. I slowed down a bit to make sure the driver would wait to let me pass and then proceeded to pedal onward. Except it turns out, the driver decided not to wait after all. There was a split second where I could see it happening and was thinking, "Wait, this is no good!" and I thought I might just be able to clear the car; but it ended up clipping my rear wheel and knocking us both over. I fell back, mostly on my elbows, comme ca:
Really, they look worse than they feel (but they do make me look kind of badass, no?). Anyway, a few people on the sidewalk rushed over to help me with my bike and scattered shoes and things, and the cops directing construction traffic a block away came right over. They even called an ambulance, which while really unnecessary, was also the first time I've ever seen the inside of an emergency vehicle. The girl driving the car, who was maybe a little bit younger than I am, was beside herself. I know I would be too. Hitting a cyclist while driving is one of my worst nightmares, and I can completely understand how she felt. She said the sun was in her eyes, and all it takes is that one second when you're not quite paying attention.

My main concern from the first moment was for the Fryslan! The brand new, purchased-on-Friday, gorgeous Fryslan. I was terrified.

I am pleased to report, however, that everything you've heard about the sturdiness and strength of these Dutch city bikes is true. The only damage was cosmetic, and really, her paint was barely scratched. Some faint-to-medium scuffs along the left side, scraped rubber on the left handlebar grip (which I was hoping to replace anyway), and the right skirt guard came loose and lost one of its clips. It's now secured with a zip tie, which is pretty unobtrusive:

The main two areas that got slightly bent out of shape were the two stays (?) holding the rear rack on the left side and also the rear fender.
In this one, you can kind of see also where the stay (or whatever) on the left side bends inward toward the bottom compared to the one on the right.

I took her back to Quad Bikes for a checkup, and they confirmed that nothing was structurally wrong. The guys were impressed with the Frys's sturdy steel construction and said the frame performed as well as it could have in a collision with a car. Someone also mentioned that since the bike was brand new, it may be possible to get replacement costs from the driver's insurance company, which would be pretty nice. The thing is, the cosmetic damages don't really bother me-- I think they add to Frida's (I'm calling her Frida, because I think it sounds strong) character and are a sign of her resilience. But, they're things that aren't really fixable/if I wanted the bike back to pre-accident condition, I would more or less have to buy a new bike. In any case, I took photos of all the scratches and scrapes (on the bicycle and on myself), and we'll see how it turns out.

Incidentally, I wasn't wearing my helmet. I always wear it at night, because I put big reflective stripes on it, or in the cold or rain; but otherwise, I really prefer to go without. Part of the joy of riding my bicycle is the feeling of freedom it gives you, with the wind blowing in your hair and the sun shining on your face. But everyone I've spoken to today is adamant that I wear the helmet all the time now, and it seems hard to argue.... Sigh.

After lunch, Frida and I took a well deserved rest in the shade of the Radliffe Quad. This was kind of a bonding experience for us, but a somewhat tiring one.

Thanks go out to the passersby on Cambridge Street, Officers Mahoney and Douglas, Brian the EMT, and Dave + other guy whose name I didn't get at Quad Bikes, who never seem to want to charge me for their services (I always go for the tip jar though).


The Frys and I got hit by a car this morning in Cambridge. Luckily, we both made it away with just minor cosmetic damage, and I am newly impressed with the tank-like nature of the Batavus. The full story still to come!

On the plus side, I'm having a pretty good hair day.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Something old, something new

I'm preparing myself to say goodbye to my "first" bicycle: the first since 1994; the first that wasn't only ridden on the sidewalk; the first that was as much about getting around in my everyday life as it was about going for rides on weekends.  Here she is, the lovely Cordelia (as in, "Will you please call me Cordelia?") (PS I've been to Green Gables, and it is totally awesome):
The KHS Green was an ideal starter bike for me-- affordable, extremely low-maintenance, easy to ride, and tough enough to withstand all the snow and rain and gunk I could throw at her.  No muss, no fuss, and good-looking to boot.  The M on her head badge stands for 'Manhattan,' but I always liked to think it was meant to match my name.
I also very much enjoyed the process of fixing her up with all kinds of lights and baskets, U-lock cozies and fancy saddles.  The latter items are staying with me, but otherwise, Cordelia will leave nicely equipped.  Let's see that face:

As sad as I am to see her go, I am so, so happy to be handing her over to my friend C.  This bicycle improved my quality of life dramatically, and it just makes it that much better to be able to pass along the gift to a friend.  Also, it would be sad to send Cordelia off to some unknown stranger who might not end up loving her.

I do, of course, have the still-unnamed Fryslan to comfort me in her absence.
Hello, pretty lady!  You need some baskets!  Here's another look at the slapdash handlebar bag, made from an old leather purse of my mom's:
And the bell has a cute little bike-riding couple stamped on it:

Here are the two ladies, saying their goodbyes:
Oh come on, don't be shy!
There we go!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fryslan's First Sunday

This morning, I took Fryslan* out for coffee and the crossword.  The elastic straps on her rear rack were perfect for holding the Sunday NY Times safely and securely to our destination.  Here's how she looked once we arrived:

Very stately, even with an old leather purse slapped on as a makeshift handlebar bag.

Before we made it to breakfast, though, there was a minor tire mishap.  I wanted to check on the tire pressure before I left the house this morning, so I went to the front wheel, unscrewed the little rubber cap, and --WHOOSH!--  all the air blasted out of the tire.  It seems I'd accidentally also undone the metal nut underneath the rubber cap.  But looking at the little pieces I had in my hand, I was really confused.  See, I know there are generally two kinds of valves on bicycle tires:
What I had  going on didn't look like either of these.  It was as narrow as a Presta valve but didn't have the pin thing sticking out of the top.  Some minutes of googling later, I was led to believe that what I had was a Woods or Dunlop valve, which apparently is rare in the US and looks something like this:

After replacing the nut, I was kind of able to get some air back into the tire, but the pump clearly wasn't able to form a proper seal on the valve, and I couldn't get any reading on the pressure.  It was good enough to ride over to Ace Wheelworks, though, and I made it over there right after they opened at noon-- along with almost every other cyclist in the Cambridge/Somerville area, it seemed.  Despite the mad rush, I was able to talk to someone within a few minutes.  He identified my valve as "a kind of European version of the Presta" (okay?), and after a little searching, he 1) declared that there was no pump in the entire shop that would fit, and 2) realized he had lost the metal nut for my valve so there was no way it would be able to hold air anyway.  So what ended up happening is he replaced the tube and valve, leaving me with this on the front tire:

(a basic Schrader, with no rubber cap for me, I guess.)

and then on the back tire, he just left everything alone, like so:

I guess it's back to Quad Bikes on Monday to see if they can give me any more insights into the mysterious valve and/or just replace it with a Schrader** so it matches the front (maybe with an extra rubber cap!).

Ah well.  I figure these getting-acquainted hiccups will just make us closer in the end, right?

* I'm still contemplating names.  At first, I was trying Frieda-- Frieda the Fryslan-- but the more I typed it, the more it looked like "Fried A," which isn't great.  Going the e-less route didn't help as much as you would think.  So just Fryslan for now.

** Honestly, I didn't know any of these names before this morning.  Did I fool you into believing otherwise?

Oh how nice-ycle!

Last week, I was meeting a friend for coffee at Simon's on Mass Ave. My bike was parked directly out front, but I was sitting way at the back and so was unable to gaze lovingly at my ride while I sipped my coffee. It was one of those relentlessly rainy days we've been having, and I'd ridden over all kitted out in my brimmed helmet and bright yellow rain boots, which coincidentally have super reflective stripes around the tops. That, plus the fact that the soles are thinner and easier to pedal in than my more extreme knee-high French Wellies, have made them my go-to rainy day cycling shoes:

(By the way, when searching for this image, I found these, also Tretorns:

Rain wedges! How cute!)

The whole point of this story is that while I got my person all prepped for the weather, I somehow forgot to do the same for my (newish) Brooks B67 after I'd parked my bike! Lucky for me, the nice barista who was taking out the trash at the end of the night saw my poor, unprotected saddle and was kind of enough to pull out the shower cap* I keep tucked in there and cover it up. Maybe he saw me ride up when I came, but somehow he guessed the bike belonged to me and let me know everything was all right. Wasn't that nice?? My bum especially appreciated it on the ride home.

*I don't know why more people don't use shower caps as saddle protectors. They're designed to be waterproof, they have an elastic band built in so they'll fit snugly without any effort or elaborate knotting, you can get one for a dollar or two, and they look so much nicer than plastic grocery bags.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Q: What has 5 speeds, 28" wheels with cream tires, a rear coaster brake, full fenders, skirt guard, and a genuine Dutch pedigree?

A: My new bicycle!


Holy fiets. A 30% off sale on Batavus at Quad Bikes and a 6-month-long Dutch bike lust do not go well together------ OR maybe they go together perfectly?

More to come?