28 August 2009

Labor Day Ride

Labor Day Bicycle Ride BostonFor more information, join the Boston 3-speed Bicycle Club!

27 August 2009

We Like Lugs

I scream, you scream, we all scream for pretty lugs. Maybe if we make enough noise the manufacturers will start making bikes with pretty lugs again.

So to start, I thought I'd show you all up close and personal the lugs on my 1977 Dawes. No doubt some would prefer them repainted, with no rust. Maybe someday I'll do that. For now I'm enjoying the vintage patina and the handmade charm.

Love the openwork on the headtube lugs and the lugged fork crown:

lugged headtube and fork crown Dawes

The seat tube is lugged and features the Dawes fan pattern on the seat stay:

lugged seat tube Dawes

Even the bottom bracket is lugged:

lugged bottom bracket Dawes bike

Of course, I like pretty lugs so much I made sure to buy a road bike with them too! Here's my bike in Dijon, ready to be loaded up for a day of cyclotouring:

Raleigh International chrome lugs
On this bike I also love the chrome tips to the fork and stays, I've mentioned before that I come to cycling from equestrian pursuits and I realize they remind me of traditional dressage wraps...

Here are the lugs which sold me on the "original Rambouillet":

Raleigh International lugs

26 August 2009

I didn't even know it was my birthday

Yesterday, under cover of night, Boston Public Works visited my commute and left me...

Thank you Boston Public Works
A BIKE LANE! Stretching as far as the eye can see in both directions, a beautiful brand-new official reflective bike lane.

Boston Columbus Avenue bike lane
Doesn't it suit Columbus Avenue nicely? I think they go perfectly together.

Columbus Avenue bike lane in Boston
Thank you Boston! It's beautiful. It's just what I always wanted!!!

25 August 2009

Bike Community

The school year is about to start/has started and I think we all look to do something worthwhile this time of year - take a class, clean the house, maybe volunteer? Here are two impressive bicycle programs in the Boston area.

Walking back to my office after lunch last spring I was delighted to see this chic cyclist bicycling in the park with her class:

student bike program elementary school
I think she is taking part in the CYCLE Kids program (though I could be wrong, I didn't ask).

This looks like a great program, in addition to learning about safe cycling, healthy living, and environmental issues it seems the kids learn about physical science in a hands-on way:
"Children enrolled in the CYCLE Kids program learn the answers to such mysteries as why bicycles stay up, how gears and chains multiply their energy when they pedal, and how to check air pressure in tires."
Information about volunteering with CYCLE Kids here.

Here are the bikes parked while the kids did a more theoretical portion of the curriculum, they look like the kind of bike a kid would be very excited to ride:

locked bicycles school program Cambridge, MA
These radiant young ladies are out for a ride after completing the Bikes Not Bombs Earn-A-Bike program, one of the many awesome programs offered at Bikes Not Bombs.

Bikes Not Bombs Earn a Bike program participants out on a ride
Photo from dotbike

If you're interested in volunteering in this program, there will be a training starting August 31, 2009. There are many other volunteer opportunities there, something for any level of commitment.

Happy back-to-school everyone!

24 August 2009


Since returning from my vacation I've noticed more and more bikes decked out with accessories. Take this bike, for instance, which appears to be wearing its own scarf:

bike wearing a scarf

This bike has a head tube wrapped in ferns:

singlespeed bike with ferns wrapped around the head tube
The chainstays are sporting their own teddy bear (or perhaps that's a little dog?):

single speed bike with a teddy bear in the seat stays
And for those who just don't do fake flowers, this bike on Newbury Street has flower pots and real flowers:

bike flowers garden

20 August 2009

Boston Tweed Ride

Lovely Ladies and Gentle Men

Please be so kind as to Save the Date

Sunday October Fourth
at Two o'clock in the Afternoon

for Boston's Official Tweed Ride

Formal Invitation and Details to Follow

18 August 2009

My Impressions of the Velibs in Paris

Aesthetics of Velib
Having seen the bike share programs through a cross section of France, I noticed upon returning to Paris that the Velibs are nicely suited to the city. The color is just the right tone to blend in, and when you see a person on a Velib you notice the person first, the bike second. The plastic covers hide the bike-like aspects, making it seem more like a people-mover than a bike. They are discreet.

bike share programs across France
That said, I love that each city personalizes the bikes for their own aesthetic. Can't you just see how Paris is different from Dijon is different from Lyon is different from Avignon in the photo above?

Mechanics of Velib
While we were surprised that they had not elected to provide a coaster brake, I was surprised and delighted to see my Schwalbe Marathon tires on every bike share bike in France. They also invested in the Shimano generator front hub that my husband got from Peter White for his randonneuring bike. Someone has done a lot of research into the parts that go into these bikes, keeping both the cost down but also considering the repair technician's time. I would think that a parts list could be informative for the rest of us, we can leverage all that research and save ourselves a lot of time in both shopping and repairs.

That said, in our unscientific sampling we never got a perfect Velib. The hub was wonky, the headset bad, the seatpost bolt slipping, etc. Always one issue per bike, never enough to return it and select another. I thought I had a perfect Velib but then we discovered that the attachment point was bent and we had trouble returning the bike. At one point the plastic housing on the handlebars fell off my husband's bike! However we never once had an issue with any aspect of the braking, and we never had a flat.

Experience of Velib
Oh, it was glorious! Rolling in Paris, the beautiful buildings and monuments all around. We had lunch under the Eiffel Tower, then rolled across the city in just a few minutes to have mint tea and pastries at the Mosquée de Paris.

One amusing aspect of riding a Velib is dealing with parking. We got to one part of the city and all the stations were full. We rolled around for while looking for an open space and I quickly lost patience. I realized that it's been years since I'd circled for parking!

Psychology of Velib
The most profound impact of the Velib program was how the psychology of it changed our perceptions of cycling in the city, and indeed changed our behavior cycling in the city.

In America, articles like this contribute to the collective feeling that a cyclist is transgressing by pedaling on the roadway. There is a distinct feeling of trespass, that bikes don't belong. As a result cyclists feel like "outlaws" and often take liberties; for their own safety and because they feel they're outlaws anyway. Drivers don't feel this way, to them it's perfectly natural to be in the road and they mostly buy in to the system.

By riding a Velib all that disconnect changed. All of a sudden we were part of the establishment, we belonged. We had state-granted rights that were almost inherent to "state-vehicle" we rode, and that state sanction traveled with us on the street for all to see.

rules for riding a Velib in ParisThere were also responsibilities as a Velib. In circumstances where we might have tried to jump a light (Idaho-style) as outlaws, on a Velib we calmly rode into the intersection and took our lane as we needed it, then gave it back when we didn't, content in the understanding that we were entitled to the space we needed to travel safely. I've ridden dedicated bike lanes before, it was a world-shifting experience to feel as entitled while on the city streets.

The final mind-shift of the Velib program is the way in which it changes the idea of who can ride a bicycle. In America it's predominately young folks. In France the bicycle-riding generation had moved to the countryside and was aging. One of our hosts told us riding a bike had started to be perceived as lame (ringard) among women my age. Velib has attracted both those populations and everyone else - we saw 8 year olds, 28 year olds, 48 year olds, and 80 year olds on bikes. And everyone else. Anyone can ride a Velib, and that changes the perception of cycling even among those who do not choose to participate.

When I grow up I want to be this lady. You can't see her face but she's at least as old as my mother:

elegant cyclist on a Velib

Bike Share and Boston

Oh, Boston, Boston, I have such high hopes for you and your bike share. Can you ever meet my high expectations? I worry that you'll do like Washington and get just a couple bikes and call it a bike share, or like Brussels and not put in enough stations. Velib works because the entire region is saturated, Paris apparently has one bike for every hundred citizens and Boston would need to take into account the student population. I fear you won't educate your drivers and that the Globe will publish more inflammatory nonsense. If Boston puts her mind to doing something well she has the brain-power and influence to do it as well as anyone, but do we have the will? I don't know.

17 August 2009

Handsome Parisian Men on Bicycles

All so very handsome, and all with a chaincase or guard:

Parisians in suits on bicycles

Dapper Parisian on a bike

young man Parisian cyclist

handsome Parisian cyclist
Only papa seems to be riding the other way! His route is part of my husband's former commute, the most beautiful city commute in the world.

Parisian father bicycle commuting

14 August 2009

Honjo fender painting update

nailpolish bike paint
My mother prides herself on her ability to remember colors, and to pick things that match exactly when she gets them home.

I think I didn't did too badly when I selected Sally Hanson Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear in "Marine Scene" to match my Atlantic Blue Dawes bicycle. At $2.99 I was willing to risk it but it looks to me like it works!

In order to see what the polish would look like painted on my fenders, I tried different numbers of coats on a piece of aluminum foil. I will need to do three coats to get the right buildup of color and glitter. Yes, the nailpolish is prismatic like my original paint.

It occurred to me as I was riding in this morning that nailpolish is enamel formulated for a certain degree of flex without cracking. That's probably a very good thing for fenders since they do flex.

UPDATE: Photos of the painted fenders...

13 August 2009

Parisian Personal Bikes

Lovely Bicycle asked how the private cyclist population in Paris (not on Vélibs) compares to the cyclist population in Boston.

I would estimate that it is a slightly larger percentage of a certainly larger population than Boston's. I offer as corroborating evidence, these photos of bike parking near the Hotel de Ville for a free summer evening concert by some unknown band. In Boston we only see this kind of bike density for bicycle-related events like the Redbones party. Here one would have trouble finding a spot to park, that's never been a problem for me in Boston. It's worth noting that the nearby Velib stations were also full.

Click to expand the photos; a prize of some kind for the first person who can count all the bikes!

paris bike parking

paris bike parking

12 August 2009

Mixtes across the Hexagon

While I couldn't possibly photograph all the mixtes I saw in France, here are a few of the photos that were convenient to get. I've mentioned that I came to urban cycling after living in Paris, upon returning I'm convinced that the archetype of the mixte frame entered my subconscious while I was there and that is why I love it so. They are so very practical, always have fenders and little platform racks, are lighter than most city bikes... I still don't own one, but they are lovely, aren't they?

This lady in Paris has the only reflective ankle strap I saw in France:

There's no lycra here in deep Provence! Monsieur was pumping up that tire and fiddling with the bike. I couldn't wait long enough to get a photo of him riding, but he must have gotten it running because the next day the bike was gone.

old man mixte Provence

Fully loaded for camping in Lyon, that may be a 2 Second tent but I learned it's two seconds to put up and about twenty minutes to fold back down again:

Lyon camping mixte
This one looks better if you click to expand the image:

Paris mixte hat
Finally, a pink mixte in Lyon:

Man's pink mixte Lyon

11 August 2009

Hammered and Painted Fenders

At Velo Orange they mention that their hammered and fluted Honjo fenders are inspired by Parisian bikes of the 40s and 50s.

What they don't mention is the personalization potential of the fluting. In the next month or so I need to find some aqua paint to match my frame. My hammered and fluted fenders will certainly be handpainted by me during my autumn tune-up.

vintage French fenders painted studded bike bicycle

I also like the contrasting color approach. On a light-colored bike this would be particularly nice, the butter yellow doesn't have enough contrast with the chrome. I have a nail polish that is just the right bright deep red this must have been originally, and the nail polish format would be very easy to apply.

original hammered fenders bike bicycle Paris

10 August 2009

Just a glance

Parisienne on a bike in her black dressI am still working on what I want to say about out trip (and getting caught up in real life) so I'll just post this picture of a lovely Parisienne on her way somewhere on a summer evening, pausing to look in a window in the Marais.

07 August 2009

Back from France

There's so much to tell you all, but it will have to wait for next week. In the meantime, enjoy this lovely Peugeot.

A bientôt!