30 October 2009

Happy Halloween!

Critical Mass Halloween
This photo is from last year's Critical Mass. Anyone out there with plans to costume your bicycle? I'd love to hear what you're up to!

29 October 2009

Inspiring Story on CNN

My friend M shared this CNN story, about 84-year-old nurse Lan Yin Tsai who rides a singlespeed 150 miles for MS research. To top that, she does the ride in a dress and heels.

I'm beyond impressed. I think I'm humbled.

28 October 2009

Antique Black Bike in Kendall

antique bicycleThis bike, spotted in Kendall Square, grabbed my attention by being both old and unfamiliar. It may be that it's a mish-mash of parts from many bikes, but I think you'll agree it's an interesting assemblage. There is a lot of evidence that the bike is Swiss, see what you think.

fender bag on bicycle
This bag is most intriguing to me. I wonder what he keeps in there? I'd never explored the space between my fender and my seat tube, though I think his fender sits further back than mine. You can see a Swiss cross at the top of the license plate.

primitive wheel lock
This is an antique wheel lock, clearly it's of historical interest only as he's using a modern U-lock on the bike.

front of bicycle
The front angle shows what an exotic bike this is on the streets of Cambridge.

bicycle serial number
Here you can see the serial number, up where it's easy to read.

Swiss cross and 1938 mark on bicycle
I thus think that this number indicates the year the bike was made. Note the Swiss cross in the lug.

old bicycle seat
The saddle is old but I've seen them before. The seatpost, however, is new to me. Is that really a seatpost, or did he re-use a stem in an exotic configuration? (yes, the bike behind this one is missing a saddle)

27 October 2009

Slap Bracelets are Trousers Cuffs

slap bracelets
When I was in 6th grade these slap bracelets were popular. They ended up getting prohibited at school because they make too much noise when every girl in class is obsessively slapping her bracelet all day.

Amusingly, when I asked the Claire's Boutique employee if I could photograph her product, she told me that I was the second person that day who was interested in these bracelets as a cycling trouser cuff.

26 October 2009

Mystery Bike

commuter Trek bike in CambridgeSpotted in East Cambridge, the make is no mystery - even though it's painted over the bike is clearly a Trek. No, the mystery is what is contained in the locked box on the rear rack.

tail light and reflectorThis commuter bike is well thought-out. It has Schwalbe marathon tires, full fenders, those upright handlebars, an internal hub, and both a tail light AND a red reflector.

locked box on bike rack
The mystery box is locked, and there is even a bit of foam in the lock, presumably to reduce the rattle. What do you suppose is in there? I'm hoping for something super-top-secret. Any guesses?

23 October 2009

Friday Freebie: Autumn Bike Flowers

To celebrate that it's FRIDAY I'm giving away a bike corsage made with the rest of the flowers from my helmet spray. It's not terribly well-made, it just ties on with a red ribbon, but it's free to the first person who emails me with the understanding that you'll send a photo of the flowers on your bike to be published here on the blog. Please, responders located in North America only.

Today was a fun bike ride because Obama is coming to town to give a talk on energy. MIT is in a flurry of excited preparations, I even saw people wearing suits today! I'm gratified to report that while they have barricades up everywhere, they are NOT impeding the bike lanes.

If you're interested in Obama's address, more information is available on the MIT website.

autumn leaves bike

22 October 2009

My Trinket

Inspired by Dottie's post, and in agreement with her Emily citation:
The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.

-Emily Dickinson

I have switched out my pink flower, and am now wearing a spray of mums and leaves.

autumn decorated bike helmet

Trondheim Bicycle Lift

Trondheim bicycle lift

OK, this thing is pretty cool. My world-traveling friend E took these photos for all of you. The Trondheim Bicycle Lift is a bit like the bunny slope at a ski resort, but instead of getting little kids up a snowy hill "Trampe" gets big people on bikes up the hill (probably in the snow too).

You can buy/rent the a key card for 100 kr from a bicycle repair shop, a kiosk, the Dromedar Coffee Bar, or at the tourist office.

Tronheim bicycle lift

The sign says
"The bicycle life TRAMPE was intstalled in 1993 as an important part of our program to encourage cycling in Tronheim.

This is the first bicycle lift in the world.

You need to be at least 10 years of age to use the lift. Only cyclists are allowed to use the lift.

The Public Roads Administration advises you to wear a helmet whenever cycling.

In the event of any technical problems with the lift, please ring ..."

paying for the bicycle lift
"He's got a ticket to ride..."

Up, up, and away!
E tells me that his right foot was resting on a little metal "starting block" type thing that was powering him up the hill.

This hill doesn't look terribly steep to me, but I know that hills don't ever photograph as steep as they are. The lady walking certainly looks like she's going down a steep hill. Additionally, the road is clear now but I could imagine that riding up it in the snow would be a challenge, a bit like the hills of Somerville. Indeed it sounds from their website like their community is a bit like ours.

Trondheim is a hilly city, the third largest city of Norway, yet it has the highest share of cycling in all of Norway. Trondheim is a university city with 30,000 students, 90% of whom using their bicycles as their main transport tool

In a user survey, 41% of the lift users claim they're using the bicycle more often due to the installation of Trampe, which has pushed 220,000 cyclists up that hill.

I'd love to try it someday.

20 October 2009

Trondheim Skirt Guard

folding bike Trondheim with a skirt guard
This lovely submission comes from my world-traveling friend E, who noted the charm of what appears to be a home-made skirt guard on this folding bike in Trondheim.

Ever since I examined the skirt guard of that Pinarello in Washington I've been taken with the idea of giving it a try. Could be fun!

19 October 2009

Scarf - Gloves - Boots

gloves winter cyclistShe's looking cute on that bike, even in this cold. I'm guessing that we're seeing a pair of tights peeking between her trousers and her boots. That's a great trick for staying warm in New England, on and off a bike.

16 October 2009

Reflective Cycling Cape Update

reflective tweed cycling cape
Well, I've finished my reflective cycling cape and I must say I'm just a tiny bit disappointed. The price and time commitment were definitely right, but the finished result isn't as great as I'd hoped. Oh, it's cute all right. I like it, and I think for someone else it will be perfect, but
  • it's too grey for my complexion, I look washed out when I wear it
  • it's too short for me - the next one will be a different, longer pattern
  • it's too light weight for me - this I had suspected but I liked the fabric's slubby weave... This cape belongs in Florida or some place warmer than here
(NOTE, I'm not sure it's any lighter than the Dashing Tweeds cape. Take a look at how theirs drapes. I just know that I'd want a heavier, longer cape for Boston)
  • the contrast of the seam binding (which matches the gold fibers) is more striking than the reflection of the fibers themselves - the cape is probably safest worn inside out and while the construction would be proud to be on display (did anyone see the Hermes dresses last spring? Inside out to show the impeccable construction), that wasn't my intent...

seam binding on cape
On final review it's worth far more than the $5 I spent, but it not yet the ideal reflective cycling cape.

15 October 2009

Little Black Dress on a Little Black Bike

classy cyclist in Cambridge
This classy cyclist in Cambridge has me very impressed. It got quickly cold here and I went for comfort today. Not her, she's looking good today. Her black stockings looked especially nice with her coat and heels. Bravo!

14 October 2009

My day started off so well

bike skirt
I was wearing my new velvet skirt and feeling good. The sun was shining, the birds singing. It's that beautiful crisp golden autumn light that can only be found in New England. I saw Sexy Brompton ride by in his Barbour, waved at my Blog Friend E, and generally felt that all was right in my little world.

I was sitting outside on my breakfast date with my husband, watching the cyclists go by for all of you when I saw it: my first dooring. It looked like the bike just slipped out from under her, she fell forward and braced with her hands which might have been very good since she wasn't wearing a helmet. The scariest part was that there was a city bus right behind her which barely managed to miss her as she was sprawled out on the road. She could have been any one of us. She was riding a KHS Green ladies' frame and wearing really cute black flowered flats, which fell off in the accident. The other thing which went flying was her iPod. I can't say whether she was wearing it while riding, and whether being off in her own world might have contributed to the accident. I'll never know.

We went running over to help. I flagged down an ambulance that happened to be passing by and my husband got the bike out of the road and gave it a once over. Another cyclist was diverting traffic. The car driver was very sorry and occupied herself with the injured cyclist. We left knowing that the cyclist would be all right, but we would all be shaken up all day.

In discussing the accident it's unclear how it could have been avoided. The road was too large and busy for all these cyclists to take the lane all the time. I would not feel comfortable (or safe) behaving that way in that place. The sidewalk is very much needed by the large pedestrian population. There's a hospital nearby and many people out walking are very frail. I would not have them dodging bikes on the sidewalk. I really don't have an answer for today's accident.

Please, all of you: be careful out there.

13 October 2009

Massachusetts Avenue road work

Mass Ave under construction
Mass Ave is under construction. It looks like they're widening the roadway by taking out the raised center island. Dare I hope for a bike lane?

10 October 2009

Carved Brooks Saddles

custom carved Brooks saddles
Photo by karagleather

I first came across these saddles on the to be, inspired blog, but the entire Flickr set is worth checking out. Kara does absolutely gorgeous work. I'd love to see a Western styled custom Brooks saddle.

09 October 2009

Phillips Manhattan

Spotted in Cambridge, this bike has seen better days but her previous beauty shines through and she's clearly still functional. I hope she's been rescued and is on her way to the Bike Spa.

Phillips Manhattan 3 speed bike

Phillips headbadge lion
Look at all that muck on her fork. The gold headbadge is lovely though!

Phillips Manhattan seat tube decals
The seat tube decals are what I first noticed about the bike.

Phillips bike pedal block rubber
I love the Art Nouveau styling of the original pedal blocks.

Phillips Manhattan
This two-toned paint scheme would be expensive to reproduce.

Phillips Manhattan drivetrain
Note that the chainring reads "Phillips" (it's hard to see unless you enlarge the photo).

08 October 2009

New Bottom Bracket and the Simplex Chainguard

Step one of my drivetrain overhaul is complete. My bike has a new sealed cartridge bottom bracket, which will be much easier to maintain going forward, particularly as we enter winter.

The new bottom bracket required new cranks, something I wasn't thrilled about, but it all works flawlessly now. Perhaps someday I will find prettier cranks with the correct taper.

It's worth noting that, while we could have installed the cartridge ourselves, removing the old cups from the old-fashioned bottom bracket was not something we could do ourselves. Shops have expensive specialized tools to complete the task quickly and efficiently. My second-favorite mechanic on earth (I'm not married to you, J) did all of this for less money than the one-month bus pass I would have had to buy while we fought with the bike. In other words, money well spent.

As part of the repair we brought in the hack-sawed SKS chainguard bracket which he put on when installing the cartridge. It was originally 3-armed and we removed one to leave just two mounting points for the chainguard. This modification allowed me to install my pretty French chainguard!

Simplex chainguard bike bicycle
It would probably look better with a larger chainring but this is the size calculated to be ideal for Step Two of the drivetrain overhaul, internal 3-speed hub. My husband finished the wheel last night, so that's happening soon. You can see that the modern cranks are a little, uh, robust, beefy, for the vintage bike, but they do work well.

SKS chainguard mount with vintage chainguard
I had to drill a new hole in the chainguard to match the bracket. It was easy to do. The bracket is threaded, so I haven't added the nuts to the screws yet. I will do that this weekend as I now have it positioned just right.

SKS chainguard bracket with vintage chainguardHere you can see how the chopped SKS chainguard mount holds the chainguard without touching my frame. It's clamped on by the bottom bracket. I like that there will be no cause for more rust than I already have...

SKS, I know you're not reading but if you were I think this would be a natural product to offer. So many people struggle with mounting a custom chainguard, why don't you offer a vintage chainguard kit?

I've been riding with it for a week now and it's been great. I feel like my bike has new jewelry, and my trousers have been protected. The new bottom bracket is a more subtle upgrade, but it does make the bike feel stronger, smoother, and thus safer. I'm a very happy cyclist.

07 October 2009

Cloud Bike

On a grey rainy day I thought of this "Cloud Bike" I spotted on Newbury Street last week. I thought the color scheme was distinctive, when I got closer I noticed many personalized details.

powder colored bike
What do you all think of this custom headbadge? I'm intrigued with custom headbadges at the moment.

custom headbadge on a bike
I was also interested in the chainguard, as I was working out how to mount mine. My setup looks nothing like this one, both are good.

attachment of chainguard
A simple clamp works if you have the arm that comes off the chainguard. I wonder if that could be fabricated? Their chainring is a better size, aesthetically, than mine, it tucks in nicely to the guard while mine is a little small. I like the look of this one.

attachment of chaing guard
This clamp is obviously made for the job, and does it well.

05 October 2009

Boston Tweed Ride

Boston Tweed Ride 2009
The Boston Tweed Ride was a right good time, with at least 98 cyclists in their finest kit, a lovely mobile tea party, and beautiful bikes.

We were a cheery lot and may have recruited several new riders for next year, and there will be a next year.

This group photo is courtesy of Maileen Salazar, there are many more photos being added to the Boston Tweed Ride Flickr Pool and there's a spread at Bostonist.

Some writeups:
Old Spokes Home
Bike Me

02 October 2009

Diamond Frame in a Mini Skirt

Last week, leaving work, I was stopped at a red light when a voice issuing from a car behind me politely asked "Excuse me!". I turned and looked and the man in the passenger seat asked "Is that a skirt you're wearing?"

I responded in the affirmative. "On a man's bike?"

Yes, again. "Wow!" he said, "I'm very impressed!"

I hadn't thought much of it before then. Diamond frames are stronger and are made large enough for this tall girl, so that's simply what I ride - in a non-stretch mini skirt or whatever I happen to be wearing. Yes, I have to make some concessions while mounting and dismounting and so here they are:

How to ride a diamond frame in a non-stretch mini-skirt
while carrying lots of groceries:

triangle frame man's bike ridden in a skirt
If at all possible, try to mount and dismount to a curb, a parking block, or any other slightly elevated surface. This permits the most elegant approach as you pass more easily over the top bar and then step down to ride off.

triangle frame man's bike ridden in a skirtIf you happen to be somewhere without an elevated surface (and we want to be able to go anywhere ladies!) then all you have to do is lean your bike over sufficiently to get your leg over. There's a bit of a shuffle to get the bike fully vertical, and then you're on your way!

No big deal.

01 October 2009

Free Bike in Boston

free bike in Boston

Last night I came across this free bike for daredevils outside the Christian Science Center.

free bike in Boston

free bike for Daredevils

It's a cute bike, I might have taken it to fix it up. But I'm not a daredevil. Would you have taken it? Do you think there was a candid camera somewhere nearby?