Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Reading Ride With Me NYC for the LGRAB Summer Games

We found the perfect rainy day armchair summer travel read... Ride With Me NYC.  It's a wacky multi- tour journey through New York with Roos Stallinga, a dutch cyclist who rides a beat up Ross and has lived there for years. She introduces us to captivating city riders, eateries, museums and most importantly coffee shops.  One of my favorite riders is the elegant Mary Libby who has been riding the streets of New York since before I was born.  She's the original cycle chic. Helmet haters should check out Edlin Pitts. A must see is the cool Grolsch cargo bike. It's a lower Manhattan family school bus.

Roos cleverly included all the old Dutch names for the places she rides.  You can get away with that when you are dutch. Can you find Boswyck, Vlissingen,  or Konijnen Eyland? She adds clear maps tracing each route with solid directions and details of the special places along the way.

If you are curious to find a copy one can be ordered from any of your favorite local bike or book shops. Adeline Adeline and Rolling Orange both in New York carry it.  If you do get a copy take it for a ride to your favorite cafe, order a "cortado" and settle in for a fun vicarious jaunt on two wheels in New York. (Then stash the book away for the next time you are in New York and get to take a ride. She even tells you where to rent a bike.)

We read it for the LGRAB Summer Games hosted by Trish and Dottie over at  Let's Go Ride A Bike. I know we are a little thick with the advice lately but you should click on over there and get playing.  Maybe you could even win some prizes!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Never Mind the Bollards. Here's the Ribbon Cutting!

Today at 11 a.m., at the intersection of Kinzie and Jefferson, the very first protected bike lane ever in the great City of Chicago will be officially opened with an amazing ribbon cutting ceremony.  Did you know that you are invited too? You know that you want to go! Please come.

Bring your children. Ride the lane together if you never have had a chance.

Celebrate as the whole city is invited to cheer our first giant leap towards the world class cycling city that we might become. Protected lanes are not just for strong seasoned commuters but for the kids, families and senior citizens of our very city to get out and ride everyday.  It's quite possible that all the news on the next lane will be revealed. You'll see the masterminds behind the "protected lane in no time " team.

Don't miss it. Grab your bike and come on down!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Pile of Children's Bike Books to Beat the Heat

We were going to do a great tour of our favorite splash parks today but after a roasting trip to the farrmer's market everyone was way too wilted. Stay tuned for quiet routes to splashy parks...

Instead we have a shock of kids bike books to read while you beat this summer blast furnace inside at home with the lemonade or trawling the library for good bike reads.  If you've never read any of our kid bike book suggestions before you can find them just on the right under the Delightful Bike Books post list.  Read picture books to your small riders! (Especially The Bear's Bicycle).

Here are three new ones:

Anatole by Eve Titus with pictures by Paul Galdone is a stealth bike book. It was the Caldecott Medal winner for 1956 and stands the test of time with beautiful line drawings washed with blues, red and black.  Anatole is a Parisian mouse searching for a way to take care of his growing family.  It just so happens that he and his mouse friends use their bikes to get everywhere. Their classic bicycles are sprinkled throughout  the book with cool bright front lights and bells on the handlebars. It's especially good for kids that like cheese....

Along A Long Road is a brand new book by New Yorker cartoonist Frank Viva. Our guys love the dynamic drawings that tell the story of a long fast ride through towns, tunnels over bridges. They don't pay so much attention to the words. Making up their own stories for where the rider is going and about the curious pregnant lady and her son who appear and disappear seems to be more fun. Just in case you are a stickler, the rider is not wearing a helmet...  but we love looking at the pictures in this book anyway.

New Red Bike a new book by James E. Ransome is all about the story and pictures. Tom's new bike is beautiful and the swooping ride he takes to visit his friend Sam is a favorite especially with our youngest.
The older guys have a running debate about Tom and Sam's friendship which takes a turn when Sam steals Toms bike and disappears.  Should Tom hang out with Sam anymore or should he just ride that terrific red bike off into the sunset? You'll have to choose your own side.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What's in the family pannier for sweltering summer days?

It's been very hot here the last few days, up into the three digits. (°F) We've still been out on our bikes to work, to the park and to friends' houses, but with an eye to keeping everyone safe in the heat.

In the summer pannier when riding with babies/ kids we carry some essential hot weather goodies that keep us all rolling along. We have:

  • Thermos bottles of cold water
  • Plenty of hats and sunscreen
  • Lots of extra diapers, Balmex tube and wipe material
  • Some extra clothes and plastic shopping bag in case we get somewhere we can get wet  (in Chicago there are wonderful playground sprinklers and the lake to jump into) Sometimes a swim diaper too. 
  • maybe a small towel or two (depending on how many kids you might have with you) 
  • Extra snacks and some juice bags. For non nurser babies extra small person food. 
  • a tool kit and pump just in case, including a little first aid kit
The excess of extra diapers are so the smallest people don't get icky in the heat. We find this especially important with babies and not-training-yet toddlers. Diapers (cloth diapers get hot too) are best changed as often as possible in the heat, which isn't complicated but good packing makes it easy. Keep clean, wet cloth washcloths in a ziplock, (or carry baby wipes) and an extra closeable ick bag to keep everything apart and ok in the heat if you don't use disposables. (We love to carry a tube of Balmex too just in case you need to grease a bottom)

Extra water and a favorite snack for nursing moms help too if you are out for your first summer rides as a family. Surprisingly, moving on the bike is often cooler than walking or public transportation, especially if you are coasting a lot!

We are not shy about spending days at the cool bookstore, museum, library, or just plain home on these baking hot afternoons. Moderation is our habit when it gets extremely hot. Whenever we ride in summer we are game for an ice cream or gelato stop. Hot days are the perfect excuse to duck happily into an air conditioned coffee shop.

Hope you are staying comfortable in the heat and enjoying these sunny summer days on two wheels!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Safer streets make bikes more popular, in NYT

You already knew this, surely, but when things like protected bike lanes are installed the numbers of bike riders go up and more of those riders are kids, older people, women, and less experienced riders. A quick study in New York recently confirmed this about women anyway. The New York Times article is here (they limit you to only a few article views a month for free).  Nice to see something we all knew written in a mainstream newspaper.

Ride your kids to movies in the park this summer - ET is tonight, Tuesday

The Park District will be showing E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, the 1981 Spielberg movie, at Fulton River Park on Tuesday the 12th at dusk. Why, you might wonder, would I mention it at all? It's just that E.T. is the greatest kid bike power film ever. (The perfect antidote to ten-year-old bike malaise -- our guys just watched it for the first time.) I had completely forgotten about the bikes! The guys were flabbergasted by the bike gang and how they got everywhere together on those banana seats.

It just so happens that Fulton River Park is the little park right next to the new Kinzie  bike lane! I promise I'll stop writing about the lane but I can't help pointing out that this would be great in any park and especially in this one. Meet the Parents and The Princess and the Frog will be at Fulton River park later in the summer but as far as I know they have nothing to do with bikes.

This is great summer bike family entertainment. A free movie outside in the park on a giant screen (with a limited supply of free park district popcorn sold by a popcorn, er, pedaler). We suggest packing your bike with water/drinks, popcorn or a picnic of your own, and a good blanket to sit on. Bug repellent might be handy.  People sometimes bring little folding chairs too. 

They will also be showing E.T. in Mann Park at 3035 E 130 St on July 20, and at Harold Washington Park, 5200 S Hyde Park Blvd, on Sat Aug 13.

For a complete PDF list of planned movies on the Park District web site, click here. Too bad we already missed Breaking Away on June 16. The list also has the number for each park in case you need to phooone hooome.

Our favorite Super Playground park, now named after Mary Bartelme, also has a couple of movies this summer. In fact, LOTS of parks have movies, including a park near you. Pump up your tires, raise your kids' bike seats, and go!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Doughnut Lane

We rode across town and down the new protected bike lane from the Jewel at Kinzie and Desplaines to the famous famous Doughnut Vault on Franklin and Kinzie. That's a 5 inch wide $3 chocolate glazed in the picture.  You can also get three smallish sugar and cinnamon (gingerbread stack) donuts for $2, and the coffee is good, with little bits of fine grounds at the end of the cup. The whole neighborhood smells of chocolate from the Blommer's factory.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Summer Ride To Millennium Park and The Art Institute (with kids on their bikes or as a passenger on yours)

Here is a Chicago classic for summer. A ride to  Millennium Park to jump in the fountain after a visit to the Art Institute. Alert! You'll need to pack some snacks, sunscreen and extra clothes or bathing suits and towels. It's so fun running in the shallow water at the Crown Fountain (the one with the giant faces spitting water) that no one can ever just get their feet wet.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Raleigh good time in New England

the best air pump is at the college library and has been since...?
1974 Colt (small frame) in front, 1972? Superbe in back.

Lately we've been cycling in New England doing some work.  If you live in Massachusetts you might guess the small town we've been in. Taking small town rides in a hilly place has been fun even if we do miss the skyscrapers. Here are some of our favorite places to eat and ride in Northampton (oops) just in case you might find yourself there. We had the Onderwater tandem and some trusty old Raleighs we found at the Hampshire Bicycle Exchange and spiffed up. These old made in England bikes from the 70s and prior are not related at all to the recent products bearing the same name, and they fit in perfectly for a ride around Smith College's very New Englandy campus and the little town surrounding it.