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Ending 2011 with a Cycling Photo Expedition

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?

Skirts, bike shoes and lunchtime rides

Nearly 60-degrees mid-February in Chicago?!? Yes. That was one week ago today. Perfect for a leisurely lunchtime joy ride with Dottie from LGRAB.

This week Chicago is back to the usual frigid, snowy weather. In fact, I encountered “thundersnow” and sleet on my bike commute home last night – definitely no joy ride last night.

In honor of the springtime warm-up, I dressed for the occasion – wearing a skirt with bike capris layered beneath and just a long-sleeve top (and only packed the lightweight windbreaker).
spring fashion

For the first time in months, I donned my bike shoes and clipped in for the commute. Amazing feeling and oneness with my bike again, especially to battle the headwind on the bike commute to work. And on my hands — Look ma! – exposed fingers!
fingerless gloves

And then I did something I usually never do — I took a lunchtime bike ride along Chicago’s lakefront. My friend Dottie from LGRAB joined me as we huffed our way into the wind toward the Museum Campus and then enjoyed the push and effortless ride back north to our respective workplace afternoon meeting appointments. Along the way we frolicked through puddles and muddy lakefront path terrain.

muddiness
(Thank goodness our bikes are decked out with full fenders for the mess we encountered.)

Like giddy school girls at recess, we played and photographed our way along the lake. Neither of us wore our jacket/sweater.
dottie-no jacket

I even endured a bit of chill on the way back north in defiance of the cold. And Dottie had her own snag in her tights (tell-tale sign of too much fun during the work day?).
tights snag

Even if it only lasted one day, spring was in the air. Ah! Breathe it in and feel the vitality all around. Hopefully it keeps us all going until spring arrives for good and all that snow finally melts into a sunny summer.
muddy-spring

Sharing the Ride

Sometimes I thoroughly enjoy the alone time of being on my bike; other times it’s great to have a friend to share the bike commute home. A couple of weeks ago was one such night.

Flurries had been in the weather forecast for the evening, but the meteorologists seemed to not make a big deal of it, so neither did I. However, by the time the sun set, I looked out the window and knew I would dread my bike commute home. Snow was falling in big flakes and the accumulating snow might be just enough to hide the slick spots on the road.

When I set out for home, I simply repeated a mantra in my head to keep me focused on the riding task at hand and praying for a safe bike ride home.

Unfortunately I had worn my glasses that day (foregoing the contacts) and couldn’t fit my ski goggles over my spectacles. I decided to take the most direct (hopefully fastest) and well-lit route. The snowflakes fell on both sides of my eyeglasses – blinding my view and causing me to pause every few blocks to clear them off. At about the midway point – feeling on edge and anxious to be home already – while I was waiting at a traffic light, I saw another bike commuter pass by. I waved. He waved. And after he passed, the “ah ha” moment dinged in my head like a bike bell — “Hey – I know him! That’s Greg!” (for more about my recognition of this fellow commuter friend and his bike, please see Dottie’s LGRAB post)

He must have had that same “ah ha” moment as he passed because he waited for me to turn the corner and catch up. We marveled at the unlikelihood of running into each other, but he had worked late and I had left a bit early. Result = my mood immediately lifted. Snow seemed to let up, too. Turns out Dottie could rest at ease as he and I shared the rest of the commute home. Safety in numbers.

greg
Thanks Greg for sharing the ride.

What “sharing the commute” bike commuting stories do you have to share?

Enough already?

To echo my friend Dottie’s post yesterday at LGRAB, I must say that I’ve had enough – not necessarily of the cold weather, but of the stingy ill side effects of the harsh cold I’m feeling in my sinus passages. Luckily, Dottie has been organizing monthly brunch meet-ups for local Chicago ladies who ride bikes and I was finally able to join the fun this past Sunday. Fellow cyclists and bike friends really are an inspiration.
brunch

So are freshly baked cinnamon rolls…
cinnamon rolls

And sharing the ride…
ladies who bike

After brunch, Martha of the photo blog Bike Fancy asked to take a photo of me with my bike. Of course! So… Toro and I happily posed for a winter photo op and today Martha featured us on her blog!

I love riding my bike and miss riding for sheer enjoyment without the sting of the cold and without the need for all the layers or the slick and snow-impacted road conditions.

You’ll notice my bright yellow jacket in the photo. Yes – it keeps me visible, but it also adds a splash of needed bright sunny color to what can become an otherwise drab winter commute.

UPDATE: If you would like to join us for the next brunch or simply join the group’s main communication, please consider joining the newly created Women Who Bike group on The Chainlink.

The next women-who-bike brunch will take place on Sunday, March 6. Dottie just posted her take on the February “event”.

The LGRAB Summer Games!

Our dear friends over at Let’s Go Ride a Bike just announced their LGRAB Summer Games:

banner

How to play, you ask?

It’s easy. There are three main categories, and six events in each category. Complete events in each category over a three week period, and tell us about it via blog post link, email or photo addition to our Summer Games Flickr Pool. Entries must include a story and a photo of each event you complete. If you enter via a post on your own blog, please link to this announcement in your entry, include one of our badges and let us know via email.

Anyone who completes at least two events in each of the three categories will be entered to win the Batavus BuB by random drawing. We’re also giving away prizes as readers complete each category.

Get the skinny on the events, rules and other contest ephemera by visiting Trisha and Dottie’s article on the Summer Games. This is a great event and participants are virtually guaranteed a good time playing along!