Nothing more enticing to a witty Lady than biking statistics…
Lovely! Converting what we have into what we can imagine. More examples of great planning and adjusting exisiting infrastructure to benefit the city and community.
Increased foot traffic to businesses, decreased pollution, improved smile-to-frown ratios, and the added potential for street tango all night long.
See an area in your city that could be transformed for the better? Tell us your vision here. And while you’re at it, tell us why you ride, because sharing stories helps us all connect over shared experience, and helps inspire others to get out and ride, too! We’ll be sharing best ideas and stories from around the globe right here on the blog.
Stretch of urban highway that could be transformed into a waterfront park ala Portland’s Waterfront Drive? Maybe a busy street with potential to become a vibrant business district with a pedestrian walking plaza? The sky’s the limit (well, actually the pavement, but you get the idea)!
Keep dreaming, riding, and smiling, Ladies!
This morning when I awoke next to my window, bathed in hues of pink and peach and radiative heat loss, I knew my ride was going to be gorgeous, clear, and frozen.
In winter, the normally celebrated lack of cloud cover and/or presence of sunshine is a meteorological announcement of the frigid conditions outside my door. Planning my commuting garb ahead of time proves about as useful as preparing a meal for unconfirmed guests: the variability of Winter weather means decisions are made day-of lest I be left broiling in rainpants on an abnormally warm day or thawing in wet, frozen jeans.
Based on the chill and beautiful views, I started gathering necessary supplies: warm socks, scarf, hat, warm gloves (thanks, Mom & Dad!), down coat. I decided that on a day like this, cuteness need not be abandoned for spandex, goretex, nor any other highly engineered “-tex” you can think of. This Lady was braving the frozen dawn in a skirt.
I used to think through my layering, but at this point it feels relatively routine. Underwear (which, outside of added warmth in winter, are unnecessary in my opinion), leggings, wool socks, pencil skirt (practicality note: be prepared to expose a lot of thigh, or in this case, legging). On top: tank top, t-shirt, wool hoodie (Icebreaker has amazing layering that is well worth the expense), down coat, rain shell. Layering gives you a dial on your internal thermostat: stop and take shit off when you’re over heating or when you arrive, add more when sweat starts to evaporate and you begin to feel chilled. The flexibility of layering allows me to dress in lovely attire rather than spandex and “cycling” garb.
Next to-do: basic component check. The precise “not-too-squishy” squeeze of my tires to assess adequate inflation, a look at my brakes to ensure brake pads are not entirely worn (also effective: the equally precise “metal-on-metal” sound check that tells you pads need replacing), and a squirt of lube across the length of my chain (which is essential this time of year. Every month or so you should also clean your chain of winter build-up using a wet cloth, then re-lube it.). All checks out? I’m on my way.
With the weather so gorgeous, I left home early this morning just so I could relax and enjoy my ride. Occasionally taking time to savor sunshine and beautiful scenery is essential to my happiness, and this was a perfect day to do so. Riding on a bike boulevard, a glorified low-traffic road in Portland, means seeing other cyclists, especially at rush hour. Two Lady-lovers in front of me, a Lady or two behind me, occasional spandex-clad racey-types speeding past me, the obligatory tight-pantsed helmet-less rider on a fixie (which reminds me: have any of you seen Premium Rush? I had the pleasure of experiencing this gem of modern cinema with friends. If you appreciate bikes and absurdity, it’s a must watch.)… we create a temporary community. I smile at people passing and just generally appreciate the blessing of a working body and people to share the ride with.
My 5-mile-each-way commute includes a categorized climb about 3/4ths of the way in. That means my legs are burning, my heart is pumping, and some days I feel incredibly strong and empowered, other days it means incessant cursing and huffing. Today as I sat stopped at a light preparing for The Climb, a cyclist behind me grabbed my attention to compliment my blue tires. It was so sweet, and I thanked her and wished her a lovely day. This exchange exemplifies one of my favorite parts of commuting on two-wheels: how often do we have genuine interactions with strangers in our daily lives? Well, I can tell you, not often enough!
Despite the traffic, I had a relatively uneventful, beautiful commute. Just a few days ago on the stretch of my ride I refer to as “the gauntlet” (look for a post on this next week), a Lady I recognized as my regular waitress at a local diner was felled by a car cutting into the bike lane. She was in a lot of pain, but luckily OK. Cycling is far safer than most would have you believe, but incidences like that remind me to appreciate every day and every pedal I have the opportunity to experience.
Today was a beautiful ride. Ladies (and Lady-lovers), I hope yours was as well
Keep riding, smiling, and rocking pencil skirts, Ladies!
PS- What’s the best part of your commute in the winter? Leave comments and share advice below!
It’s snowing in Portland.
Ladies are festooned in fashionable coats and scarves; audible squeaks and rubbing arise from chains and gears collecting coats of seasonable grime; cheeks flush and noses pink from exposure; quiet snow-dusted streets bear the narrow, singular tracks of Ladies who’ve tilled fresh path through the dawn’s wintry welcome.
The added goodness of riding this time of year is above and beyond all the blissful benefits of riding in calmer weather: the chill and precipitation remind us through experience and sensation that we are human, that life is fragile, and just how much happiness and enjoyment we can experience when we learn to tolerate temporary discomfort.
When I leave my home, bundled and bracing, I’m usually in a state of continuous clenching (and sometimes a stream of muttered obscenities). But once I’m riding through the chilled air, my body warms, my mind clears, and I release into the comfort of being active; of blood rushing, heart pumping, and warmth that permeates even the coldest days. Sometimes my hands thaw, sometimes they don’t, and my nose is usually somewhere between faucet and drizzle. But by the time I arrive at my destination, I’ve accepted whatever state I’m in with a smile and a shrug.
And this is my daily reminder of reality: seasons change and weather, much like life, is unpredictable and sometimes unpleasant. When we’re enclosed in the trappings of the traditional American way of life, we start to expect simplicity. Couch to car to cubicle and back again. When do we ever really experience anything? This artificial ease keeps us from moving our bodies as intended, from thinking and exploring life beyond a surface that speeds by at 60mph. Humanity has become mislabeled an inconvenience.
But us Ladies (and Lady-lovers) out experiencing the weather, actually feeling what it means to be alive, see so much more in every person, inch of pavement, and ounce of bespeckled scenery we pass.
When I’m atop two-wheels, even the greyest Portland day is overflowing with the color of life in its dayglow brightest. And I just sit back and enjoy the ride, grinning and snotting all over myself and my city.
COMING UP THIS WEEK:
Exploring the lovely, sometimes frustrating, multi-faceted experience of the winter commute! This week we’ll be discussing riding tips, basic maintenance, and all things year-round riding.
This “Why I Ride” comes from Hart, a Lady-lover and active transportation activist from Portland, OR:
I’m no Lady, but I definitely ride for the Ladies.
Simple and to the point. Thanks for the Lady shout-out, Lady-lover! Glad to have you on the streets alongside us.
Check Hart’s lovely article about livable streets and the true cost of highway projects here.
Keep riding and loving the Ladies, sir!
This “Why I Ride” comes from Annette, a lovely Lady in Portland, OR.
Long one: The question of why I ride struck me as especially difficult to explain while being soaked during this morning’s freezing commute. I’ll preface my answer by saying I’m not what people imagine when they think of Portland’s bicycle subculture: I’m really troubled by most descriptions of Cyclocross (that much bruising can’t be good for you), and accordingly I try not to appear like I do, so spandex is out. I didn’t know what fixies were until six months ago, and initially I didn’t believe the description because there’s no way a person would seriously want to ride one. It took me a while to not feel intimidated by having to figure out a safe route and the logistics required to be dry and civilized once reaching work. And I just got fenders installed yesterday. The thoughts crucial to getting me out of the apartment at six a.m. for my commute are that it’s actually faster than the bus, and it’s a legit reason not to go to the gym. I repeat that over and over to myself while I put my shoes on. What really surprises me is how much I love it once I’m on my way – after the first hill, when I’ve exerted myself enough to no longer be freezing. At that point the rain is refreshing and the air is the cleanest I’ve ever breathed. I cross the Hawthorne Bridge along with a surprising number of other cyclists (even on a morning like this I was 175th!) and runners. It’s wonderful to feel a part of something like that – a feeling I’ve never experienced in a public space anywhere else I’ve lived (FL, MA, NY, DC, AZ, Colombia). Once I get to work, there’s a startling difference in the level of vibrancy in the morning between those who arrive by bicycle versus car or bus. And that, paired with coffee, feeds in to my alertness and ability to perform at work. All of that combined is why I ride.
What an eloquent and authentic response, Annette! The time after that first hill, when your body takes to the experience of being in motion, and the feeling of connection to your surroundings and community are exactly what keep this Lady and so many others getting up early, facing a plethora of weather anomalies (along with expected seasonal changes), and living life atop two wheels every. single. day.
And her description of fumbling through the logistics of commuting when you’re just starting out? Spot on! This Lady didn’t even know what “clips” or “fenders” were when starting out.
Thanks for the story and photo, Annette!
Keep riding, smiling, and rediscovering your commute and community each day!
From lovely Lady Nicole Heckman:
I ride because I can. I ride to feel the wind in my hair and the sun on my face. I ride to take in the scenery and find new shops I’ve never noticed in the car. I ride to be social and spend time with my husband. I ride to keep the car sitting in the driveway. I ride to make people stare and to wonder why I don’t drive. I ride to get the blood pumping in my legs and coursing through my veins. I ride to feel alive. I ride because I can.
Well said, Lady! And check out Nicole’s shop of bikey goodness, urban-spoke.com. Best item on her site? The shimmering blossom reflective pins! Handmade in NYC, these fabulous flowers add loveliness AND visibility. A great gift for any Ladies in your life.
Thanks for sharing and riding, Nicole!
My heart swells with pride for my hometown of Baltimore, MD.
Cycling Ladies (and Lady-lovers) gathered this past friday for the regularly scheduled Baltimore Bike Party; a ride on the last Friday of every month. Lovely Ladies (and handsome Lady-lovers), peaceful evening streets, and an experience of Charm City few ever experience.
And last week’s ride, in celebration of the blue moon, drew over 700 riders; the highest attendance to date!
The sheer joy of riding the streets atop two wheels with neighbors and strangers alike was described wonderfully by Lady-lover Ron Cassie over at BaltimoreMagazine.com:
I didn’t plan to write one of those “Best. Time. Ever.” posts. But I’ve never seen so many people riding bicycles and smiling as I did at Friday night’s most recent iteration of the Baltimore Bike Party — the last Friday of each month group pedal around town. Big smiles, too.I actually heard a guy at the Druid Hill Park rest stop say that he’d been waiting for a bike ride like this his whole life. (He was probably in his mid-20s, but still.)More than 700 bicyclists, surpassing all expectations, rolled out together from Mt. Vernon’s Washington Monument for the “Moonlight Madness”-themed ride, a 12-13 mile trek through East Baltimore, West Baltimore, Druid Hill Park, Hampden and other neighborhoods. It wrapped up about 10 p.m. with an outdoor party at the Wyman Park Dell: Buscia’s Kitchen and IcedGems food trucks, Natty Both on tap, music and dancing. Whole night could not have been better — check the comments on the event’s Facebook page. (The above photo, I took, the rest are courtesy of the event’s Facebook page.The ride was organized, traffic-friendly (with assistance from Baltimore’s finest), non-confrontational, and yet, blocks-long, had the feeling of an impromptu parade with bikes decorated with glow sticks, strobe lights and disco balls. And it was noisy, too, horns, bicycle bells, cowbells — and something that made a moose call — at least, that’s my best guess. Tim Barnett, one of the ride organizers, pulled a sound system in a trailer behind his bike as well, blasting everything from Ozzy to Kanye. Participants ranged from 15-50.Best part, hands down, was the reaction in the neighborhoods. People came off their porches to high-five bicyclists. Young kids sprinted and roller-skated on sidewalks to keep pace. Older kids jumped on their bikes and joined in.