29 August 2008

Bikes on the Commuter Rail

As I get ready to leave town on my bike for the holiday weekend, I thought I'd write a bit about our bike/train infrastructure.

If you're lucky your trip on the MBTA Commuter Rail will be glorious, thanks to the ample parking offered by the bike car. It is nice to see that they have both the wheel-mounted racks and also a smaller number of frame-mounted racks.

Note, however, that just because you're riding in the allowable off-peak hours doesn't mean you're ensured the bike car. If you don't get it, be prepared to watch over your bike! These bikes were rolling all over the place.

It was worse than this on my most recent trip, I think we had more than twenty bikes in a car meant to hold zero. Note to MBTA: it's a good idea to send the bike car on the train that goes closest to sundown. That's when the cyclists are likely to be ending their adventures and heading home. I hear the 2PM bike car was completely empty, but bikes were spilling into the aisles of my 7:30PM train.

What's black and white and zips all over?

A Boston bike girl in bright blue boat shoes.

girl on bike
A Boston bike girl on a bike in slinky summer sandals.

28 August 2008

Enjoy the last days of Summer

woman park bench bike Boston
While the men are on the Esplanade, it seems the women are reading on benches in smaller gardens. I think Mike's right that they're less likely to be part of a "scene" while tucked into these smaller places.

Or perhaps this is all a gross over-simplification. Either way, I hope you enjoy these last stunningly beautiful days of summer.

27 August 2008

Short on gears, long on style

Some Boston/Cambridge singlespeed ladies, each with her own look:
boston lady singlespeed
boston lady singlespeed
boston lady singlespeed

Took a new route this week

man esplanade boston bike
I discovered yet another aspect of our fair city; that after work the Esplanade is filled with men who ride their bikes to go relax and read a book. Nearly every bench was occupied this way. On the other hand I didn't see a single female cyclist. Anyone care to speculate on the social forces at work?

man bike bicycle esplanade Boston book

26 August 2008

Autumn announces its arrival

Bicycle fashion Boston
There's a chill in the air. We're not sure whether to wear a sundress like usual or bust out the sweater and scarf. Me, I hold on to summer 'till I'm shivering.

25 August 2008

Boston Blue

blue Raleigh three speed
I have never seen a Raleigh 3-speed shinier than this one.

Bag Matches Bike

bike bicycle bag
Riding to work, riding to class, isn't it cute when you bike matches your bag?

24 August 2008

Vogue Vogue

bicycle fashion
Saturday night on the Esplanade. I was napping at our picnic when I hear these two girls styling themselves. I sleepily roll over, then grab my camera. This shot is taken too late, what you can't quite see is that they were doing an impromptu photo shoot with the bike, "look over your shoulder and smile". You know, a bike is this season's IT accessory...

23 August 2008

Bike Friday, Boston

Bike Friday Boston 2008
SAFE, GUIDED CONVOYS WITH POLICE ESCORT Lead by experienced cyclists and escorted by Boston Police, convoys follow a fixed schedule and route and originate at locations throughout metro-Boston. All convoys finish at City Hall Plaza Boston.

Yesterday was Bike Friday, a chance for cyclists new and old to try commuting by bike with a police escort. It was a lot of fun and I was excited to meet Nicole Freedman, and Mayor Tom Menino himself!

Nicole, my friend Dorothy Fennell of MassBike, and I were all very excited together about the changing nature of the Boston bike culture. Go Boston!

22 August 2008

Sunny day, red hot cruiser

cruiser summer sun bike bicycle
This week's weather has been better than any weather anywhere. It is for this week that we live all year.

It's been such fun to see all the happy people on their pretty bicycles...

Especially for RB

You asked about how the hooks are attached to my sister's backpack. Here are some close up photos:

21 August 2008

Back to School

On my way to the first day of third grade. I may not have front teeth, but man was I proud to have my very own bike lock, with a secret combination!

Last year a New York Times article asserted
"Forty years ago, half of all students walked or bicycled to school. Today, fewer than 15 percent travel on their own steam."
They go on to list myriad environmental, health, and mental acuity-related benefits to getting one's self to school.

I'd like to add another: Self Confidence.

I am certain that I was (am?) a stronger person as a result of my independence and self-reliance at a young age. My mother tacitly sent the message that she had faith in my good judgment by allowing me to get myself to and from school. This carried over into other aspects of my life outside the scope of this blog, including things like eventual peer pressure to smoke, etc. (yes, I am THAT old!)

Thank you Mom, for your faith in me.

Parents: protect your children, but don't forget to give them wings.

20 August 2008

Golden Girl

older lady on a bike
Hurray for ladies of all ages on bikes!

19 August 2008

A great day for Bike Boston (and Cambridge)

bicycle culture Massachusetts
As a cyclist I don't usually associate "Pleasant" and "Massachusetts Avenue". But at that intersection we can see both bicycle cops enforcing the stoplight, and a father bringing his son to school.

There's two signs of a thriving bike culture, and that's certainly pleasant for Massachusetts!

Alf's Elegant Bike Bags

Brooks Glenbrook saddle bag bike bicycle
I'll only send one entry, my Cadillac Bike, the ladies 1980 Schwinn Suburban. The bag is a Brooks Glenbrook and I bought it new specifically for this bike because I think the Glenbrook is the only bag currently on the market with enough class to compliment this particular bike. A second point and which I only realized some time well after installing the bag, is that the bag is perfectly sized to distract an observer from noticing the ungainly saddle height position. While my ideal frame size is a 22", we vintage-bike rescuers have to make do with what we randomly find and the Cadillac Bike's frame is a 19".

Brooks saddle bag bike
Other fashion accessory bags which I have are a Brooks Millbrook on my green Raleigh; a Brooks Challenge Bag on a Ferrari-Red '67 American-built wannabee-Raleigh; a Carradice Barley Bag on a fantasy backdated Schwinn Continental made to favor a 1940s British Clubman; a grotesque yellow nylon deep handlebar bag on a bright blue Austrian Steyr of about 1970 or so; and a currently-surplus Schwinn Approved leatherette touring style large saddle bag. Nice bag in the manner of the Glenbrook but quite frankly ... just not a Brooks. BTW, I currently have it listed for sale on the QUAD CITIES IA/ILL Craigslist.

And of course you already know about the converted ladies handbag I mounted on Eliza Doolittle.

This'll be fun to see how other people use bags on their bikes, hope the turnout is good.

18 August 2008

'Meli in the City' and her bags

bike bag backpack
Girl, you're looking super hot!!!

bike bag in basket
Meli (Bikes and the City) says: "This bag I use for everything and not only the bike, it's a good size, fits the basket and fits additional books or big magazines that sometimes don't fit in my purse. Backpack that can also be a tote. Love it."

bike purse bag
Meli says: "My grannie-purse, coffee mug, gloves, eye drops & first aid kit (bandages, etc — has come in handy many, many times), water, moleskins, micron pens, lipsticks, allen tool, safety pins and wallet ;)"

Meli - thank you for sharing your bags! Practical, chic, urban... I'm impressed.

17 August 2008

Other bag posts

A week ago I posted a question about bags on bikes and what you keep in them. Many people responded directly in the comments there.

Some responses can be found at other blogs:
Alaska Bike Girl
Chicago Bike Blog
General Carlessness

Tiago (Ride'N'Desire) wrote to me directly:
"Malheureusement je n'utilise pas de sac cycliste. Juste mon porte feuille avec documents et argent. Si j'ai un problème avec le vélo, je prends le metro et je retourne à la maison chercher les outils. Mais je pense qu'en plus de 15 ans à faire du vélo, c'est arrivé 2/3 fois maximum."

For the non-francophones:
"Unfortunately, I don't use a bike bag. Just my wallet with ID and money. If I have a problem on my bike I take the metro back home to get my bike tools. But after more than 15 years cycling that's only happened 2-3 times."

This got me thinking - perhaps it's a New World, "boy scout - be prepared" kinda thing to carry supplies around the city? Then my husband reminded me of his 5 flats in one morning trying to get to work in Paris. The glass was just awful that day. How do you do it Tiago???

I don't know. Perhaps some of us are just more lucky than others?

15 August 2008

A peek inside my bag

contents of my bike bag
Here is my bike bag. Made by Carradice, it's a purpose-built bike bag. So shoot me. It's extremely practical, and extraordinarily well thought-out. It's not the most beautiful bag I own but its virtues are such that I love it.

In it I carry too many things:
  • U lock
  • plastic shopping bag - to cover my Brooks saddle if it's wet, or I'm parking in a suspect locale
  • tire pump
  • set of Alan wrenches - I think I'll stop carrying these, since this bike doesn't use them
  • small screwdriver - I think I'll stop carrying this
  • tire irons
  • tire gauge
  • spare 27" Schrader tube
  • adjustable wrench
  • Brooks wrench - I definitely will stop carrying this
  • bungee cord - I used to have two of these...
  • lock de-icer for my home bike shed - this might be stored 'till winter!
  • headlight - clips onto the bike
  • Sam Browne belt - my husband bought this from RUSA for Paris-Brest-Paris. It's the dorkiest thing anywhere, but I wear it gladly late on Friday night in any inclement conditions. I just think about how happy I was that he made it through that tough ride and got safely home to me
  • reflective gloves - my sister gave me these for Christmas to improve my visibility

Not pictured, because I forgot to replenish them: latex gloves, at least one pair, maybe two, for use when handling greasy bike bits. They're great to toss and go.

I have all this and still room to haul home groceries, or whatever needs hauling each day.

Stay tuned for guest bag posts...

14 August 2008

The Inspiration for the Bag Question

As y'all know, my kid sister is going to college (university, higher edjumacation) at the end of the month. She's got the campus bike, now she needs to carry her books and whatever else she'll need. I personally hate heavy things on my back when trying to ride any distance. Trips across campus are no more than a mile but getting back home will be quite a bit further.

In thinking about what she needs in a bag I decided to modify an ordinary backpack from the thrift store into a rack-mounted book backpack. To do this I mounted two heavy-duty clips to the back of the bag, but up above the shoulder area. They're stoutly sewn on with lengths of climbing harness nylon. I've worn the backpack around my apartment and the hooks don't rub. I then modified the shoulder straps so that their tails are wound up in velcro, like Camelbak does. This leaves the straps adjustable but keeps the tails from getting caught in the wheels. I added one subtle strip of 3M Scotchlite reflective tape that will reflect behind her as she keeps the bag on the non-drive left-hand side of the bike. (S, are you catching these instructions?)

DIY book backpack bike bag rack mounted
To get it off the bike with weight in it she'll want to hold the handle against the rack and with the other hand un-clip each clip. She can then use the backpack portion of it.

backpack mounted to bike rack
You can see here how hers is wider and lower than the wearpoints that my bag has made on my rack. My bag clips to the stay on the rack which keeps it from sliding back. I think this backpack may need that but I haven't added it because her rack is different from mine and I'm not quite sure where to put the lower attachment. Mom, I think this is going to fall to you, since you have access to the actual bike.

OK, so this backpack is olive drab, pretty masculine. I think we need to pretty it up a bit. I think a girly motif might be just the dichotomous element to give the bag some interest, besides also being a possible opening to conversations with the boys in class. Our mother has an embroidery company so I was thinking of asking her to embroider a design on that flap that covers the front. I wish someone would digitize a nice design for a good townie with fenders and baskets. What about a road bike embroidered in pink or butter yellow where this one is red? There's a mountain bike too. Yes, I am hoping she meets someone who likes bikes.

Internet world - what would be something cute on the backpack that would invite opportunities to chat?

White dress in the sun

Yesterday was a beautiful day for Bike Boston - lots of people were out. My noon meeting was canceled (due to perfect weather!) and even I got out for a joy ride. It was a perfect day.

13 August 2008

Great legs, red shoes

red shoes girl on a singlespeed
Those great legs - nature? bicycle? or both?

12 August 2008

Retro Fenders

bicycle fenders
I love my hammered Honjos, but these faceted fenders are gorgeous enough to tempt me. They look so very retro.

Photo from Vélo Orange.

Phantom Rider

Bicycle rain Boston
I guess we probably look a bit like that to the drivers of cars sometimes.

11 August 2008

More New Old Bike Excitement!

I'm looking for a bike for my mother, as she's said she's interested in getting groceries on her bike.

I want it to be something kinda special, she's my mom after all. A while back I was sitting with Aunt Charlotte and an old family friend B shows up as scheduled to watch 60 Minutes with my aunt.

We chatted and she says to me "I haven't ridden my bike in decades, do you know anyone who'd want it?"

I said yes, I know three women looking for bikes, can you tell me more
about it?

B: "Well I got it when I was studying in Europe, I brought it back on the boat with me. I had to go get it at the workshop, I was too tall for the stock bikes in the store."
Charlotte: "How tall are you?"
B: "Five eight and a half"
Charlotte: "Ah, the same height as me and my mom and my sister - it will have to be for one of them!"
B: "Perfect. It's an obscure brand - a Dawes."
Charlotte: "NO WAY! I ride a Dawes!!!"

(both of us start getting really excited)

B: "Well, it is blue, it has white plastic fenders, and it was
made in 1954. It's all original except I had new tires put on about 20
years ago."

Charlotte: "My mother was born in 1954."
B: "Tell your mother she can have my bike."

My mother is thrilled, she misses the old town where this bike is and loves that her bike is coming from our friend.

I picked it up this weekend at Aunt Charlotte's 97th birthday party. I simply pumped up the tires and rode it down from her house to ours. Here are some photos:

Dawes three speed
Here's the bike in its basement where it's been stored for basically my entire lifetime.

The headbadge
The traditional Dawes headbadge.

Dawes three speed
The "before" photo. My mom gets a dynohub!

I welcome any suggestions in getting this bike fixed up. It's pretty rusty/mildewy and I don't want to hurt the enamel paint. There are chrome parts that we know are not original (the handlebars) so I'm not going to restore those. The frame though, is Reynolds 531, which I believe is rare for a ladies' bike. They don't usually use the good stuff for them. This is consistent with Dawes' reputation in that era:
"Dawes approach to bicycles was opposite to that of many of the large volume builders. They put the emphasis and the bulk of the value into the frame, which establishes the ride characteristics. Most of the large volume manufacturers lured buyers with the emphasis on the components. Given that components are easier and less expensive to upgrade than a frame, Dawes approach was appealing the knowledgeable cyclist. The approach was not unique to Dawes, but it certainly wasn't mainstream."

PS. The birthday party went very well and the lemon cake was the first cake gone.

08 August 2008

Going Green (with a brown basket)

Bike Boston is looking chic, even in the rain. An ensemble that coordinates with her bike indicates the bike was probably chosen for its aesthetics, in addition to it evident practicality.

Bostonians in the Rain

Any day is a good day for Boston by Bike.

Boston bike rain
It was raining by the cyclists are out anyway. Cycle chic or practical, rain is no reason to stop riding.

leather coat cyclist
Some braved the weather in leather coats.

Cycling in the rain
Some stopped to put on a hoodie...

A white shirt and bag coordinate with a white-tipped fender.

rain gear cyclist
And others had head-to-toe rain gear.

We hauled things home, even if they get wet.

And we counted on our fenders to protect light-colored shorts...

What's In Your Bag?

It's not quite Back-To-School, but I'm thinking along the lines of starting to get organized. I was going to show people what I carry in my bike bag (tools, etc.) but realized that it would be more fun if we all did a show and tell together. Anyone who wants to is invited to participate, post to your blog or send in submissions, whatever! Photos, lists, reviews, whatever you think would be fun and useful.

I'd also love to know what bag you use and what you like and don't like about it. If you don't carry a bike bag/any tools I also think that's interesting, so I hope you'll play too and let us know why you prefer to travel light.

Shall we set next Friday (15 August) as Bike Bag Share Day? Tell your friends!

Clarification, your "bike bag" can be your personal bag, but don't feel obliged to share the personal part. By saying "bike bag" I mean only bike-related items you carry regularly, if you carry any at all.

07 August 2008

Jillian's Custom Child's Bicycle Seat

I started this blog to be the repository of all the cycle chic I wanted to remember. With permission I'm reprinting the Custom Childseat post in its entirety from Jillian's blog - I don't ever want to lose this inspiration!

My green experiment has been on hold for the most part as far as the cycling aspect goes because I had no seat to transport Ellie. And frankly, I just couldn't justify spending over a hundred dollars for one of the ghastly seats that are available to me here. So, I paid 30 for one of those ghastly seats. You gotta love craigslist.
standard bicycle seat

What I got for that amount was the Copilot Limo seat which retails for around $130. Saved quite a bit there. Which left me some room to purchase the items to personalize it. I know, I know, those of you who may read this trying to figure out how to do it are like, GET ON WITH IT ALREADY! So here's what I did.

First I took off the seat padding and any straps that were removable. Then I taped off the remaining harness with duct tape. The rack that comes with the seat was originally black and I couldn't have that on my pretty white bike, so I spray painted it a high gloss white. The dentist in Jeremy came out and he was all you know the spectrum of white is huge so it may not match. But to me, white next to pretty white is better than black on white. So as that was drying I spray painted the body of the seat lime green. I chose green for a couple of reasons. 1. I thought it would be highly visible in the event of our imminent death by truck squashing. 2. If we ever have a son I can just change out the fabric on the seat cover and it will work for him also.

custom child's bicycle seat
custom child's bicycle seat
custom child's bicycle seat
At first I left the handlebar red but after some time the contrast between the green really got to me and I spray painted it green too. As all of that was drying I made a very basic pattern for the seat cover by tracing it onto a piece of scrap fabric I had left over from my bicycle basket liner. When I cut the pattern out I left about a two inch margin. Then I simply hot glued the fabric margin to the opposite side of the seat cushion. It is important to note that if I had a sewing machine or a drop of patience I could have made a much better cushion cover that could be easily removed and washed as needed. Well, that's the plan but for now I needed immediate gratification and there's nothing better than a glue gun for that.

When that was finished I slipped the straps from the harness through it and attached it to the seat with the Velcro that came with it. I also added a couple of self adhesive Velcro strips to the edges to make it a little more secure. The I took some coordinating hot pink fabric and hot glued it around the arm rest and added a Velcro strip to it and I was done. Jeremy had to file the rack down slightly for it to fit my bike, but when it was all said and done I had only spent a total of $41.
$30 Child seat
$8 two cans of spray paint
$3 one yard of hot pink fabric from the clearance rack.

custom child's bicycle seat
custom child's bicycle seat
custom child's bicycle seat
custom child's bicycle seat

So, now that it is all done and on my bike I can honestly say that I am happier with it than I would have been with the bobike seat of my dreams. Because I created it. It is one of a kind and I'm proud of myself. For not accepting something that I wasn't happy with and being resourceful. Now I just have to pray that I don't kill us both.