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Tag Archive: spring

Friday Musings – Top 3 Must-Have Bike Commuting Accessories?

Well, well, well… the weekend is just around the corner, just in time for FRIDAY MUSINGS!  Or… just in time for you to get your Fandango tickets to the Hunger Shames.  Before the spring time blooms assault your sinuses with a full-on allergy attack, I wanted to get all sentimental and mushy-gushy over Bike Commuting like the leftover V-day chocos I found in my desk drawer at work.

Bike Commuting in Spring - Bring on the Sunshine!

We have posted a bajillion reviews on Bike Commuters accessories, gear, and products that range from frivolous to frugal over the past many moons.  The “basic needs” of each cycle monster for an enjoyable commute vary according to the rider and the location.  I’m the first to admit I have an emotional (let’s hope it’s not physical) attachment to my bikes – giving them names, identities, and custom makeovers… So that made me wonder, what about accessories?  If you could only take three items with you on your commute each day, what would you choose!?  (And your bike is a given….!  We could go on and on about what makes the perfect commuter bike, but I that’s a whole ‘nother love affair.)

Here’s my top three Must-Have Bike Commuting Accessories to get us started:

RL loves the Whitey Von, but any backpack will do!

1)  Any kind of backpack – I used to be all about the rack, but have switched back to the backpack in the past few years!  I love backpack.

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So low-tech, but it WORKS!

2)  Watch face taped to my handlebars – So unimpressive and borderline ghetto, this watch is a must for me because it’s easy to read in the morning to determine how much time I have left to get to the office.  I taped it to the mount where I used to keep my wireless Cateye from the days of trying to be “fast” – clockin’ 12 mph baby!

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I love BLINKY LIGHTS more than helmets, pants, or chalupas.

3)  Blinky Lights: One rear and one headlight, these are a must for me, I have several kinds around the house and will grab one red and one white everyday.  A must-have for me as I am a blinky addict.

So cycle ladies and gents, do you have any top three accessories that you can’t commute without?  Share with us, and in the spirit of Effie Trinket, “Happy Bike Commuting! And may the odds be ever in your favor!”

Enjoy your weekend, bike commuters!

Waterproof enough

Last night’s commute home in Chicago was a wet one. Last year I dreaded commutes in this kind of springtime weather – cold, damp, soppy and windy. Somehow, though, I find myself enjoying the rides this week so far. (For me, it beats the snowy commutes that our neighbors to the north in Wisconsin are facing – and I wish you a return to springtime soon.)

But – the wet weather commuting brings its challenges: namely staying comfortable (reasonably dry and warm) while riding. During a summer rain, I don’t mind just getting wet, especially during my commute home. But when the thermometer reads 39-degrees and the wind is whipping out of the northeast and in my face at 15mph (gusts up to 35mph), I must strategically dress for my commute.

This evening, my layering went accordingly:
* first thing I put on was my cycling cap with visor to keep the rain out of my eyes.
* then my fleece balaclava to keep my head warm (and dry)
* helmet
layering for my head in rain

* I had worn light wool long underwear (top and bottom) since wool dries quickly and insulates well even when wet
* On my bottoms I wore a newly acquired pair of Marmot rain pants that I picked up from an online sale last fall; tonight was my first chance to really test them in a steady rainfall
* my usual hi-vis yellow commuter jacked (windproof and waterproof) from Endura covered my torso
* on my hands I wore simple wool gloves I picked up from an army-navy surplus store, covered by an outer windproof, water-resistant lobster style shell mitt.

The full outfit – upon wet arrival at home:
full rain gear

By the time I got home, I was reasonably dry. The good news:
My visor had done its job of keeping the rain out of my eyes. My waterproof pants performed excellently; too bad they aren’t cycling-specific… as they could have been a bit longer with better movement in the knees, but my legs were dry and they breathed well.

Unfortunately, some not so good news:
Seems the my waterproof jacket needs to be re-waterproofed. Thinking back, this jacket is two-years old, so it is time to wash and reapply a waterproof coating to the jacket. Water had seeped through to my arms but the rest of my torso did remain dry. Luckily, I was home, so I quickly changed into dry, comfortable loungewear for the night.

Earlier in the day my mom had sent me an email after her wet, messy morning commute (by car) saying “I thought about you as I drove … in the rain. I don’t know how you do it! Ride to work in the rain.” I responded that my commute was invigorating and so much more enjoyable than being stuck in a car (or a bus) – at least it seemed that way from the glum looks on peoples’ faces in their cars or waiting at the bus stops I pass along my route.

Overnight, my bike served as a drying rack for all my gear to dry before my commute today.
bike drying rack

And today I’m recharged for another day – dry! – of bike commuting.

What are your best stay dry/warm tips for this season?

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

Weeeee!!!!

Spring is in the air as winds out of the south blew me home last night.

Those happy, free-as-a-bird feelings of bike riding rushed back to me as I easily pedaled home – face uncovered for the first time in months, now that the winter thaw has set in. Ah… With warm 40-ish temperatures and the nice breeze to propel my journey, I felt invigorated.

Back on Groundhog Day I posted that the groundhog predicted the end of winter. I’m sure ready to embrace the less-layered and bundled look in favor of spring temperatures. (just hold off the chilly spring rains – please)

Tomorrow Chicago may reach a high of 60-degrees! For those of you in warmer climates – hush! – but for the rest of us… get on your bike and enjoy the weather while it lasts.

Spring commuting hazards

Now that spring weather has finally arrived in Chicago, the roadways and bike paths are showing the signs of winter wear and tear. I was going to title this post – “My biggest cycling gripe” – but really it’s more the biggest hazard: POTHOLES!

Let’s face it, our pavement simply takes a beating through the temperature fluctuations, the heavy traffic and the salt that’s applied to keep ice at bay in the frigid winter. In recent months, I’ve been dodging more potholes – holes that reach down to the old street cobbles, even in the bike lane!

Last night I rode the lakefront path home (and enjoyed cruising by the bumper-to-bumper traffic on Lake Shore Drive)

I thought the worry of terrible road conditions wouldn’t trouble me until I came upon this “patch”!

An encounter with a pothole a few years ago sent me flying off my bike; luckily no cars were around. Ever since then I’ve realized just how dangerous roads can be.