Category: Travels and Adventures

I’m happy to report that I rang out 2011 on two wheels!

My friend Dottie from LGRAB and I began our bike adventure with a ride down Chicago’s Lakefront path. The weather here in Chicago has been so mild (no complaints!) that I just knew I had to get out to enjoy the sunshine we had on New Year’s Eve. How joyous to have Dottie join me; she even took video of our ride down the lakefront path and posted it on LGRAB.

And of course we just had to pause for some lakeside photos!

Dottie and her camera at the Chess Pavilion

And me in my Santa hat for the holidays

Our first destination was the Art Institute to see the wreathed lions; 2011 represented the 20th anniversary of this Chicago tradition. Of course, we had to battle throngs of pedestrians and Segway tourists to get our photo op.

Segway riders tour the Art Institute’s Wreathed Lions – view of the south lion

As noted on the Art Institute’s website, the lions have quite a history in Chicago.

What are the names of the lions?
The two bronze lions that flank the Michigan Avenue entrance were made for the Art Institute’s opening at its current location in 1893. They were a gift from Mrs. Henry Field. They have unofficial “names,” which were given by their sculptor Edward Kemeys that are more like designations. You’ll notice that the lions are not identical, and thus are named for their poses: The south lion “stands in an attitude of defiance,” while the north lion is “on the prowl.”

We then began our journey back north to the Streeterville neighborhood. Before any more photos, though, we had to warm up our fingers and toes… so we ducked into Fox & Obel’s for coffee and hot cocoa! Mmm…

Warming Up!

Once warmed from the inside out, I had one more stop on my list — to see the 26-foot Marilyn Monroe sculpture set for all to see over on Michigan Avenue. Chicagoans have definitely had mixed responses (some saying it’s hideous) to this larger than life statue. Needless to say, I just had to photograph it for posterity while it remains on display.

Marilyn towers over Michigan Avenue across from the Wrigley Building

We concluded our bike ride at the locally owned Unabridged Bookstore in the Lakeview neighborhood.

Our final stop – the local bookstore

I don’t get out for leisurely rides like this often… and it’s even rarer during the winter months. But, Chicago’s been known to have it’s share of winter warm-ups like the 50-degree weather I posted about last February.
The best part of the day – sharing the ride adventure with a friend.

Sharing the ride with a friend

How are you getting out to enjoy this winter’s riding conditions?

We got a press release a few days ago concerning Bike New York’s efforts to “establish NY as a cycling city” by putting on the Inaugural Bike Expo New York:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kanessa Tixe, 347-223-3464, kanessa@sourcecommunications.net

Bike New York Announces Largest Bike Expo in the Nation, Taking Place May 3-5, 2012 Presented by Eastern Mountain Sports

Expo will be free and open to the public

(New York – Nov. 9, 2011) –Bike New York will bring the nation’s largest bike expo to New York City May 3, 4, and 5 at the inaugural Bike Expo New York (BE NY) presented by Eastern Mountain Sports (www.ems.com). The expo will provide a perfect opportunity for residents and visitors to take an unprecedented look at urban cycling against the backdrop of New York, meeting the demand from both retailers and consumers for a major bike expo on the east coast. This event is free, open to the public, and will take place on the days leading up to the 2012 TD Bank Five Boro Bike Tour.

Located at the new Basketball City on Pier 36, the expo will host rider packet pick-up for the 32,000 bicyclists participating in Bike New York’s annual TD Bank Five Boro Bike Tour (www.bikenewyork.org), making it the most attended bike expo in the United States. All booth sales and additional profits from the expo will help fund Bike New York’s continuing bicycle education and safety classes.

“2012 will be a big year for biking in New York City and we want an event to match,” says Ken Podziba, president and CEO of Bike New York. “With more people biking, the increasing expansion of bike lanes, and bike share around the corner, Bike Expo New York will be the perfect platform to showcase what a bike friendly city New York has become. We look forward to working with the NYC bicycling community to provide an opportunity for people of all ages and bicycle levels to celebrate biking and the biking lifestyle in the city.”

The expo will feature more than 130 vendors, live-performances, hands-on programming, giveaways, and of course, free bicycle classes for both youth and adults! The NYC Department of Transportation, co-producer of the TD Bank Five Boro Bike Tour, will be supporting the expo and will be on hand promoting bicycle projects and initiatives. As presenting sponsor, Eastern Mountain Sports is excited to partner with Bike New York to promote the sport, business, and lifestyle of bicycling.

“Cycling is part of our DNA,” said Ted Manning, Executive Vise President of Merchandising and Marketing at Eastern Mountain Sports. “This Expo is an important step forward for the cycling community, and we are proud to be the presenting sponsor, working in partnership with Bike New York. It continues our commitment to the cycling community. Our SoHo and new Upper West Side locations have passionate bike techs that provide best-in-class customer service. With urban commuting on the rise, we are a great resource for New York’s cycling community and invite all to experience our service first hand.”

More details about the expo will be announced in the beginning of 2012. Organizations interested in purchasing exhibit space at the expo can email exposales@bikenewyork.org.

About Bike New York:
Bike New York is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that promotes and encourages bicycling through education, public events, and collaboration with community and government partnerships. For more information, visit www.bikenewyork.org.

About Eastern Mountain Sports:
Founded in 1967 by two New England rock climbers and based in Peterborough, N.H., Eastern Mountain Sports is one of the nation’s leading outfitters of outdoor gear, clothing, footwear and accessories with 67 retail stores in 12 states. Eastern Mountain Sports designs and sells products for outdoor adventurers who participate in a variety of sports, such as mountaineering, backpacking, camping, hiking, adventure racing, climbing, kayaking, mountain biking and snow sports. Eastern Mountain Sports product and technology is tested by its product development and quality assurance teams in conjunction with the Eastern Mountain Sports Climbing, Kayaking and SkiSchools. More information is available at www.ems.com.

Is anyone out there planning on going to the Expo? The Five Boro Bike Tour has long been on my radar as far as cycling events I’d love to attend…who knows, I may try to work in a vacation over that way in May!

Bonjour Bike Commuters!  Have I got a tasty post-Halloween PG treat for you.  Put down your slice o’ wonder bread and pick up your baguettes, because France is killing it on the bike share scene with these two amazing programs:  Velib in Paris and Vcub (V3) in Bordeaux.  I just returned from a jaunt in Europe and was swooned by the cities after stepping off the train and encountering bike share stations at every turn.  Both Velib and V3 are sponsored by the local governments and offer budget-friendly rates with plenty of stations around town that make renting the bikes a convenient and competitive option for commuting and running errands!  The heavy bikes have three speeds, fenders, front baskets, generator-powered lights, chainguard, kickstand, and a bell.  Similar programs are offered in the U.S. of Americans, like Hawaii’s own pilot project of B-Cycle in Kailua. 

Girl on Velib in Paris, courtesy of Lezarderose on Flickr

I couldn’t believe my four eyes as we power-walked the streets of Paris in a mad hunt for signs of the Da Vinci Code, the Velib bikes were EVERYWHERE!  It was a Velib Bike Zombie attack: there were more Velib bike commuters than Parisians on their personal bikes!  This article from the Scientific American (whose author was trolling the streets the same time we visited) gives a logical explanation: 

Vélib’ is utterly inescapable, which is what makes it work so well. Paris has 20,000 shared bikes at its 1,800 stands…spaced about 300 meters apart. The system’s density is so great that a novice does not need any help in finding bikes. Even without a map or a smartphone, my friend and I rarely failed to find a stand of gray cruisers standing at the ready, just by walking a few blocks while keeping an eye out for the glowing LEDs of the bike stands. 

Clever move, la France: bombard your citizens with bikes every 300 meters and there is no excuse not to try one! 

Fire Ze Missiles! Then have a bike.

In Bordeaux the V3 program rents their bikes for free for the first 30 minutes and charges 2 euros for each hour therafter.  A monthly or annual pre-paid subscription reduces the rate to 1 euro an hour.   And – hold on to your butts for this one, loud engrish Americans – the website actually encourages riders to switch bikes every half hour should they need it longer, in order to avoid paying for usage at all.  This puts my capitalist knickers in a twist, but hey, I’m down for some PG-rated V3 bike action.  Bike availability by station can be accessed via the web, and stations are paired with the brand-new bus and transit lines, so it’s easy to switch from bike to bus or bike to tram if needed.  And now for graphic indulgence: 

A cheeky V3 on a sunny Sunday in Bordeaux. Courtesy of Oncle Tom via Flickr.

In Paris, the Velib is only 1.70 euros for the whole day.  My French girlfriends rolled up to the bar on Velibs, and took them to the train station each day for their out-of-town work meetings.  Taking the Velib for a downhill ride is always a Parisian favorite, as the trucks cart them back up the hills and refill stations on a daily basis.  After seeing the popularity of this program in Paris, I am crossing fingers that B-Cycle in Hawaii explodes and takes over like weevils in my oatmeal… With a wimpy 12 bikes and two stations available in Kailua, the one-year pilot is targeted more at B&B tourists exploring Kailua Beach.  (Boo! sad face.)  See this article from the Honolulu Magazine for more deets.  Bike share lust abounded for me in the city of tongue-kissing and croissants! 

I said BRRRR!

Back in Bordeaux, to top it all off like a glass of champagne, I came across this mysterious bike habitat, closed on a Sunday: 

The window showcases piles of bikes… must be source of French Bike Zombie outbreak.

After a bazillionth of a second Google search, I used my high-school French translation skills to decipher that this is a bike library of sorts, sponsored by the City of Bordeaux.  The Maison du Velo’s slogan is:  Ici, le velo est roi, or “Here, the bike is king.”  (Double swoon!)  With 48 bikes to check out for free, an open shop, and classes on safety and maintenance, it is the ultimate stop for new Bordelais riders interested in bike commuting.  Riders must undergo safety training prior to receiving a bike and have the option to check out accessories, helmets, and even baby carts!  So jealous.  Imagine how easy it would be to convince your friends to ride bikes to work with you if there were free bikes available!  A surefire cure for the self-proclaimed members of broke phi broke – who’ve got no extra cash in this down economy to spring for a bike.  Sign me up for socialism and foie gras! 

And for you curious and scrutinous clever BikeCommuters readers, segregated bike lanes in Paris and Bordeaux.  J’adore!  The French bike-share riders don’t seem too keen on helmets, but I suppose you could always bring your own.  

From the Cycling is Good for You blog to you…

Anyone else tried out any bike share programs out there?

Over the years I’ve taken vacations, but never with my bike. Last weekend I attended a family wedding in Pennsylvania and all of my family told me the biking out there would be awesome. I contemplated packing up the car with my bike and driving from Chicago to Pennsylvania OR packing my bike for the plane ride. In the end, I opted for a vacation even from my own bike(s) and decided simply to take my chances renting bikes. The weather predicted for the weekend was iffy (at best) but the weekend weather turned out wonderfully — picture perfect for the wedding and a couple of bike rides on terrain that I normally wouldn’t experience if I’d been riding my own bicycle.

Typically I ride a road bike with narrower tires and a more forward position. For bike commuting and recreational riding around Chicago and the Midwest, my bikes suit me well. I do have a project bike in the works that would position me in a more upright position, but I rarely take any bike off-road.

But my weekend getaway introduced me to a few new bikes and to riding along crushed stone trails.
Meet my hybrid rental:
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New Hope Cyclery rents these Trek hybrids from their store for hourly, 1/2 day and daily rental periods and suggested riding the Delaware and Raritan Canal Trail, which is mostly crushed stone
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I took their advice and crossed over to the New Jersey side of the Delaware River, rode down to Washington Crossing State Park and crossed the Delaware River again to ride back up the tow path on the Pennsylvania side – to complete the roundtrip loop.

No bike riding across the bridge!
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Paying tribute to Washington at Washington Crossing State Park
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Having fun on the bike rentals (no- that’s not me poppin’ that wheelie!)
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The next day I ventured upstream to Frenchtown, NJ, to rent a tandem bike from Cycle Corner (advertised on the local area visitor map).
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Upon entering Frenchtown, I felt like I was in bicycle heaven. Everyone seemed to be out on bikes – whether they be visitors or locals. Bikes and bicycle riders decorated the town.

The shop guy happily showed off and adjusted the Electra Tandem Bike – cruising in smokin’ red style!
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Riding along the trail on a bicycle built for two:
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I did ride in the rear for this outing, but took a turn in the captain’s seat. Getting going was a bit wobbly at first but was fun once I got going… then I had to stop again (not the easiest especially with the rider in back).
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The end result of this vacation getaway? SMILES all the way.
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For me it’s always fun to get away and enjoy new adventures. I’m grateful for the vacation from my own bikes and even more so for the opportunity to ride different bikes! (For this bike trip I did take my own helmet and gloves so that I knew I’d be comfortable riding with my own gear; I just had to sign a waiver to turn down the shop’s helmet.) A while back Miriam visited Chicago and explored the bike rentals from Bike and Roll.

What bike travel adventures do you have to share?

Longtime reader and contributor Ann Rappaport sent in the following coverage and photos of her recent experience riding the Tour de Troit. Take a look — this event looks and sounds like a blast!

Saturday was the 10th annual Tour de Troit. This was my first chance riding in it and I can’t wait for the next one. It’s a leisurely paced/avg 10 mph ride with police escort and road closures. The route explores some of the city’s historic areas. Early registration gave me a great ticket price of $35 which included a nifty tee-shirt and all the other goodies a rider could want. On site the tickets were $50 but no tee-shirt included. You had to spring for an additional $10 to get one. At the end of the day you got your money’s worth and more.

better

Tour De Troit was founded by Edward Potas and Mike Kiewicz. They started out with a bike trailer, a cooler, a pump and some tools. In the past 10 years, the event has raised nearly $100,000 specifically for the biking community. Profits go to the Southwest Detroit Greenlink which, when completed in 2011, will connect Corktown, Mexicantown and S.W. Detroit with 17 miles of bike lanes. Detroit is starting to look a little like Chicago as bike riding is becoming common. The city has over 400 miles of bike lanes planned in the future.

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Two rides were offered, the primary ride which included Belle Isle, a 5 mile loop, for a total of 24 miles. Actually riders could choose to omit this and take a break at the entrance; relax and recharge with drinks, fruit and power bars and then continue with the group. The second option was a metric century (62 miles) at a faster pace/avg. 15 mph.

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After the ride, there was food, drink and music at Roosevelt Park; located in front of Detroit’s old Michigan Central Station, at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and 14th Street. If you know Detroit I need only say that Slow’s Bar B Q had two selections (vegan or meat) and you know just how tasty the other 5 food choices were. Riders got 2 food and beer tickets. Beer…..yes beer was also part of your reward provided by MillKing It Productions brewery. The lines were long but you could turn in your beer tickets “en masse” as long as you could carry it away- it was yours. Top it all off with souvenir photos, live bands and it was a truly perfect fall day.

Tour De Troit 6420

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Bookmark this site for 2012:
http://www.tour-de-troit.org/

For further information about biking in Detroit and the surrounding communities:
http://www.m-bike.org/
http://www.wheelhousedetroit.com/
http://thehubofdetroit.org/
http://corktowncycles.com/
http://www.facebook.com/groups/71297671024/
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=251386061561481