The 411 on The 606

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Welcome, indeed!

If you’re looking for urban perfection then follow the trail to the 606. It’s an oasis for cyclists, runners, walkers, dogs, cats, birds, you get the gist. When I got my introduction, I thought, “Is this heaven?” The response, “It’s Chicago!”

My affinity for Chi-town, the Windy City, Second City, started at birth. My mother’s side of the family hails from Chicago. When we would visit nearly every other weekend I loved the tuk, tuk, tuk of the L, and I adored how when I stayed with my grandparents, we’d walk everywhere. Mostly to get bubble-gum ice cream outside the Sears Robuck. My Yiayia (Greek for grandmother) would hold my hand and we walk slow and steady so I could drink in the sights and sounds.

This post isn’t about the Memory Trail though, it’s about the 606, a.k.a. The Bloomingdale Trail. If you use Trail Link I’ve linked the map. At 2.7 miles you might think, “Meh, what’s the big deal?” Yes, it’s short in length but long in personality, character, art, landscape and history. It’s elevated too. Read that bit again. It’s elevated. Like heaven.

The eyes have it all and this ingenius art installation called Bird Watching by #JennyKendler from 2018 is stupendous. There are 100 photographs of birds’ eyes watching and each bird is named on a placard labeling the installation. I spent about 20 minutes studying it all and watching families interact with it. Pure joy!

I’m glowing!

As I was riding I couldn’t help but think that this trail is one of my new happy places. I’ve uncovered a secret. My cousin’s hubby told me about it and while he’s not a cyclist, he is a train guy. He’s an expert on all things rail and when he first told me about it I started to research it on Trail Link and then I wondered how I would ride to the trail. This is often a challenge when you hear about a possible trail and you’re lost when it comes to navigating easily to the trail.

Cool mural on the way to the trail.

It’s easy enough to get to if you’re staying/visiting/living in the Lakeview East area. I had some directions from him which I checked with the Maps App and Google Maps and it worked out pretty well. There were a few busy stretches but I don’t recall a street that didn’t have a bike lane. There’s a small portion on Cortland that could use some paving but all in all I arrived in under 20 minutes and then spent a few hours exploring the the 606.

14 feet wide with plenty of room to stop or pass.

It’s on Chicago’s northwest side and it’s built on an old rail line, hence the elevated bit. It sits about 20 feet above four of the city’s neighborhoods: Humbolt Park, Wicker Park, Logan Square and Bucktown. You get a distinct feeling that you are one with the world as you traverse effortlessly atop the city as if you are a rare bird trying to decide where to build a nest.

You can easily use ramps to get down into the neighborhood for a closer look at murals you can see from the 606.

On your left a mural and on your right an art installment then oh is that another mural and wait a statue and on and on for nearly 3 miles. The perfectly paved trail is 14 feet wide so there’s plenty of room for everyone. It wasn’t crowded and I had plenty of room even whilst people were walking with double strollers, big dogs, little dogs and inline skaters.

A feast for all the senses.

I regretted every picture I didn’t take, so I tried to take many pictures, but it’s hard to capture it all. There was a point when I was riding and these exquisite blossoms were waving at me and I felt like I was being caressed even visually massaged by the color orange. My senses were like fireworks on the 4th of July.

Orange you glad you’re learning about the 606?
I neglected to bring my handlebar mount but I did manage to get a little video of the trail. The flowers.

Chicago has an impressive trail system. According to Trail Link there are more than 200 miles of on-street protected, buffered and shared bike lanes. The 19-mile Lakefront Trail is possibly the most well known, and the 606 is worth exploring. Chicago is a great place for cyclists. Why is it called the 606? That’s the first three numbers of the zip code and the areas it goes through. The 606 is just one more reason to love Chicago. The 606 is worth riding again and again and in different seasons. Oh, there’s an idea! Yes, dear reader, I will return to the 606 and next time I write about it I’ll include more video.

Katniss Everbike (mentioned in the previous post) did a great job. #mybrompton

Can a trail be inspiring? Can a trail infuse you with enthusiasm? I think so. The 606 is inspiring. Well done, Chicago!

How about you? What trails have stayed in your memory. Share a trail you love. Thanks for reading. Get out there and ride your bike!

Bike Goddess

It’s A Bromptime!

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They look like clown bikes if you ask me. Honestly they do. How can they possibly even BE bikes that you could actually ride for more than a few miles! Bromptons are like a praying mantis with wheels or a pterodactyl that mated with a pennyfarthing. Yet, they are the most elegant, feisty and dynamic wee bike machines I’ve ever had the privilege of riding. They’re truly a marvel.

It started as a conversation with my husband who has a Brompton he bought a few years back. I thought I’d see if he’d let me borrow his for a trip to Chicago. Poor Bromptosaurus (as we named it) was just folded up in the garage and I thought I could coax him into letting me borrow his for the trip. But my plan backfired when he decided he’d like to get back into riding it.

We went to the bike shop to check on a used carrying case for the Bromptosauras and ended up buying a bike for me. Yeah, it all happened so fast and color played a big part in the whole story. We tinkered with the case and getting his bike inside properly and there was this used red one that I took for a test ride and one thing led to another and suddenly I was taking a test ride on an orange beauty that reminded me of Katniss Everdeen from Hunger Games because the orange flame lacquer was shining bright and it felt like I was on a chariot with flames coming off the rear wheels. I have a very healthy imagination. Find me and #KatnissEverbike adventures on Instagram. Next thing I know, Clever Cycles has my credit card and I’m considering accessories and of course bike bags.

Katniss has a straight handlebar and all she needed was a dynamo light system and then Brompto and Katniss could be canoodling Brompties and the whole household could be happy.

New Bike Day with Katniss Everbike: June 6, 2021

Size matters when it comes to traveling with a bike. On a Brompton, it’s three folds and a pedal and with origami engineering it feels compact and creative. Such an engineering genius. Since new bike day Katniss and I have been to Chicago by train and then back home via plane and then I got a “special bag” from Ikea called Dimpa that’s a solid investment at $5 for traveling with your Brompton via car so we went on a short road trip with our bikes in the boot.

My S6L in flame lacquer.
The Dimpa bag from Ikea is $4.99 and an easy way to pack up a Brompton for a road trip.

I’m enjoying a new lease on life with a bike that acts like a Yorkshire Terrier. It’s small, compact and ready to go, go, go. All bikes come with energy, and the Brompton seems to have an unbridled energy that begs you to get into places you might not go with a regular bike. You can take your bike inside a store or restaurant with you. With 6 gears you’d think you were on a short leash, but quite frankly I feel free and ready to ride off into any sunset, anywhere.

This is the kickstand fold. The sculpture is called The Kiss.

Now I know what you’re thinking. You can rent a whole lot of a bikes for what it costs to buy a Brompton. Yes, but… I have and I’m sort of done with that drama. Also, I’ve done that for more than a decade. This gives me more freedom to get out into the world and explore and travel.

I happened to meet a bike mechanic at the Specialized Store on Halstad in Chicago who used to work at Brompton. He said he loved Bromptons and he especially loved the people who rode them. “They’re cool people,” he added. I might have beamed a bit when he said that. I sure feel cool when I’m riding. They have a BMX sort of vibe. People do look at you a bit but and sometimes they ask questions about how Brompties ride. When you’re fluent in bike all that matters is that you’re enjoying the ride and experiencing the place where you’re riding. That’s all part of the adventure.

Bromptosaurus and Katniss in Chicago.

Do you travel with your bike? Tell me about it in the comments.

Until next time, get out there and ride your bike.

Stay safe,

Bike Goddess

Chicago near Buckingham Fountain

Friday the 13th, 2020

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Today’s sunny day was lucky!

I’ve always been superstitious. That said, Friday the 13th has always been a lucky day for me. I never go into a Friday the 13th thinking something bad is going to happen. 

I could never have imagined what happened on this day last year. 2020. It was the last Friday when life could be called normal. It’s the sort of life altering day that seems prophetic by the light of 2021. When I look at pictures of me and my students in the studio doing the news LIVE, or being together with our unmasked faces, I wonder if we had any clue what was ahead. Of course not. There was a massive run on books in the library and shelves were left in disarray when students learned that we would be starting Spring Break weeks ahead of schedule. It was a great wonderful mess that made me feel happy to have something they wanted. Books! But it was also paralyzing. There was an upcoming musical and the cast was  commiserating in the library and clinging to each other but also looking to the adults for answers. We didn’t have many if any answers. 

Chromebooks and books checked out in droves.

Then the doors were shuttered and we went home and our world of screens and Zoom meetings became our new universe. Schedules were completely overhauled and even though I’d had solid video editing experience at the juncture even I had to learn other tools. So many other tools. 

Remembering that a year ago it seemed like there was no one else out. A biker’s dream!

We had 5 days to shift, pivot, swivel, think, mourn and wonder what was next. The anxiety could be seen in everyone’s eyes through the little Zoom screens. We all looked like the sun was too bright in our eyes or our brows were furrowed enough to create a unibrow of distress and uncertainty. Then we had “spring break” week to rest, but no one did. I worked. I was trying to think about what my job would look like and how I could help provide assistance to teachers remotely. I could continue to offer classes and record instruction and share the videos with teachers. There was a massive push for eBooks and audiobooks, so I used the remaining money in my budget to purchase those resources. It wasn’t much but it was something. I created a Google Classroom for students who wanted to join to have virtual contact with other kids in my school. I would post tasks, ideas, suggestions, videos, lessons every weekday during their breaks. It never stopped either. Even now, evenings, weekends, everyday is consumed by school.

With my commute less than 20 feet, my biking life changed drastically. Instead of going to and from school I would wait until the end of the day and ride to all the Little Free Libraries and stock them up with books from my home. I’d even move stock around if I noticed that one was brimming with books while another was nearly empty. I rode not to or from but around. I rekindled my love of the ride. Just to get out there and ride with no destination or task in mind.

Did you have a period of time when you sampled masks? I did. I tried one or 10 others to see which one(s) fogged my glasses the least. The weather was decent which made getting out easy and predictable. 

Here I am a year later. I’m grateful that I’m healthy and one shot away from fully vaccinated. I’m employed and able to continue working in a job I love. I’m also grateful there’s a vaccine and that little by little the students are returning to school and life is starting to expand beyond my house and my school. I have a fashionable assortment of masks and all in all life is good. It is hard, but it is working out. It always was good, but a pandemic helps reveal all that is good.

My wanderings to every Little Free Library within 20 miles of my house.

Saturday the 13th of March 2021, I rode my bike on a gorgeous sun shiny day. The daffodils are popping up like sunshine at your feet and I see the rhododendrons are also starting to flower and I can’t help but think of the lyrics from Sheryl Crow, Soak Up The Sun, “…It’s not having what you want. It’s wanting what you’ve got.”

Today was a good day. I hope your’s was too. 

Take care out there.

Be safe.

-Bike Goddess


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Gobble ’til you Wobble

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What a beautiful day for a bike ride! It was cold but clear with the sun making an appearance now and again. I enjoyed a ride around my neighborhood and noticed these two birds. If these two were my yard, they’d be on a tandem bike. Oh… maybe next year.

I was busy getting supplies for an upcoing bikey event. It’s on Friday evening and I’ll give you a sneak peek. I do like decorating my bike for Christmas so today I spent some time checking on lights and other accessories.

A quick trip to the hardware store for some lights and zip ties and then over to the grocery store for some Thanksgiving Day supplies, such as wine. Then as I was organizing my basket a woman walked toward me and smiled. She doubled back and complimented me on the back of the bike. I confessed that I had more decorations on my bike than my home. “Well, it’s very cute,” she cooed.

“Thanks,” I said. “That’s exactly what I’m going for.” And there’s more to come.

Readers, thank you for checking in and liking my posts. I wish I had more time to blog. I think I see a New Year’s resolution in my future. I do very much appreciate your time and “likes” and on the eve of Thanksgiving I wanted you to know it makes my day.

Check back on Friday for a bit of an unveiling. Who needs a tree when you can decorate your bike!

Until then. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Cheers!

Bike Goddess

Spinning in Love

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I didn’t mean for it to happen. I only went to check out the store. Then it seems I was handing over my bag and taking a bike for a test ride. One thing led to another and now I’m in love with another bike.

Three bikes. That’s what I tell all my friends and anyone who asks me about buying bike. Always test ride three bikes. Ask questions and leave the store armed with knowledge and sit on it. Don’t buy. Wait until you feel the pull of love, the nudge of lust. Wait until you feel the bond with the bike. Yeah, I’ve said that. Shameless. I believe it. However after that test ride I felt like done. Decision made. However, I did not buy. Yet.

I’m pining right now. I’m pining for a bike. Again. I didn’t expect to find love again. I mean come on, I have this beautiful e-bike made by Faraday called the Corland. It’s one of the only bikes with a belt drive and I added her to the fleet in December of 2016 when I decided I’d commute both to and from work. I love my Lulu, and she’s had some issues of late. Long story short, but it looks like the future of the company has hit a wall and there’s no longer any support for the bike which means as things go wrong it will be a challenge to keep her on the road. Since I commute with Lulu that presents a dilemma. Also a little heartache. I love my Lulu! She’s beautiful and people always a shocked that she’s an ebike because she’s soooooo pretty! I mean look at her. She brightens up any day. She is the blue sky when there is none.

We’ve been separated now for about a week and I miss her. People are throwin’ some shade on her because of the company going bankrupt or whatever. It makes me sad enough to drown my sorrows in another bike. There’s no therapy for what’s happening here. Except retail therapy at a bike shop.

I went to a bike shop, The Ebike Store, I’ve never been to before. I went to check it out the store and their collection of gear. Brian and Jeff and someone else were extremely helpful and easy to talk to about my needs. I wanted to see what they had to say about my Corland and I wanted to chat about what I need in an ebike. I need one that has more range (Cortland can do 18-20 miles) and can handle the rough rains and road conditions of the Northwest weather. I watched a few EBR (ElectricBikeReview) videos and I had it in my head that a Raleigh ebike might be an option. While at the store I was dazzled by the frame of the Specialized Turbo 5.0. I had never seen one and frankly didn’t know Specialized was in the market. The Specialized uses the Brose motor and I was immediately interested. The Bosch and Brose motors seem to be the two main players. They are the only ones I’ve heard of aside from the proprietary one on my Faraday. The older Raleigh models were using the Brose and that’s one reason I wanted to try one out. But they didn’t really have one. Let me put it this way, if they did, I didn’t see it because I suddenly couldn’t see anything except the Turbo step through and step over. Well, hello sweet ride!

Why yes, I would love to try one out!

The Brose motor is as quiet as a classroom upon learning that they have to make up that snow day. I was impressed enough to consider what I would name it after two spins around Peninsula Park. The rain seemed to stop and I had this new stunning bike under me and we were enjoying a moment. We bonded quickly and with little effort. The first downstroke of the pedal and I didn’t even have the e-juice yet.

Conversation was easy because the Como speaks my language; perky speed, comfortable geometry and zippy. It’s agile handling makes you feel like you’re riding a mountain bike but it has the comfort of my childhood bikes. Instant love, lust, whatever. The Como wants to “Come on-a My House” in the words of the 1951 song. If Goldilocks was taking the test ride she would have said this bike was just right. Plus did I mention how light it is? I don’t actually know how much it weighs, but it’s light enough to pick up without feeling like you’re lifting a tree.

It’s hasn’t been 24 hours yet and still I’m pining. I’m considering giving Lulu an early retirement and riding her in fair weather only. I think she’s earned that after 6,500 miles.

I love bikes. I mean it’s not that hard to see the beauty in virtually all bikes. Even the worn out relics that people use in gardens are lovely. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. That’s the thing about love and bikes.

Maybe another test ride. After all I left my bag behind the desk and didn’t have my phone to give a proper look to my blog followers. You want more, right?

Thanks for reading. I’m getting on my Belle and ripping up some dirt. Displacement activity.

Happy riding,

Bike Goddess

#ebikestore

#ebikes

#faraday

#bikelove

My Bike Ride is My Bliss

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September was a blur of activity. My daily mileage was good but something was different. My school schedule has changed drastically. Now school starts a full hour later than it did last year and the subsequent 20 years of my career. I used to leave the house at 6am but now it’s 7ish. There’s traffic like I’ve never seen in all the years I’ve commuted to school by bike. Now there are four cars at the four way stop and there are trucks and motorcycles everywhere. Deliveries are being made and FedX or UPS trucks are everywhere, or that’s how it feels. The road is not my own every morning. I’ve tried four different routes to determine which one has the least amount of traffic. But where cars are few, school buses are in my lane. Yes, school buses in the bike lanes! I figure by the time I get to the end of October I won’t be as outraged by it all. Maybe by then I will have it figured out. I really should live in Copenhagen or Amsterdam.

The last day of the month and I wanted to go out for a moutain bike ride and catch some falling leaves. The air was heavy with fog and some drizzle but then it cleared up and I was shedding some layers. Another month of riding full speed ahead. Because despite the schedule changes and traffic, my bike rides are my zen. Plain and simple, it’s my bliss.

Happy Fall!
Happy October!
Get out there and ride! You’ll love it, but be safe!

Bike Goddess

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Mission Beach Accomplished

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In the words of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, “The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach — waiting for a gift from the sea.”  I think you can say the same thing about a bike ride. A day of riding a bike to the beach is its own gift. I wanted to ride to Mission Beach and as I started to plan the ride with the help of my cousin last week we noticed that we’d have to be on a road that didn’t seem bike friendly. Google Maps gave us three routes and all of them included Friars Road.

Not to be deterred, we decided we’d park at De Anza Cove and ride over to Fiesta Island. As we were loading the bikes my cousin’s neighbor came over to talk. He mentioned the Mission Bay Bike Trail. After Googling it we decided to stick with our plan of parking at De Anza Cove and follow the signs for the path. An adventure!

Wikipedia says, “In the San Diego area, the Mission Bay bike path is an easy, 3 mile one-way to 19 mile loop path along the shore of beautiful Mission Bay. Location: Mission Bay, near SeaWorld. Distance: Between 3 and 19 miles depending on the routes taken.”

I’m in! Dan was excited to put some miles on his new bike. I wanted to ride to Mission Beach. The plan was to eat lunch at Rocky’s Crown Pub. That was the only plan. IMG_5534

We took off. Lots of sharrows on East Mission Bay Drive. We started out early and the traffic was light. You can hear cars coming up behind you and there’s plenty of room for bikes even if some of it is parking spaces. The skies were overcast and perfect for a day of riding.

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There’s a slight curve in the road as Fiesta Island Road takes you on an extension of the path and it opens up to showcase sandy sights and a warm breeze. Definitely a nice side trip. I had to stop and see the horses.

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As you can see, I’m very happy with Fiesta Island. We parked our bikes and walked up a mound of sand to see a huge field of well, more sand.

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This is an area where the Over-The-Line game is played. Over-the-line is a bat-and-ball sport game related to baseball and softball. News to me, but later in the day…

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at Rocky’s Crown Pub I saw this photo on the wall (Danny pointed it out). Looks like a quite an event. The path turns into Pacific Highway which sounds scary, but it isn’t. There’s a traffic light and you need to stay in the lane and it becomes Ocean Beach Bike Path.

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You’re parallel to the freeway and there’s was a strong headwind, but overall I was all smiles. What an amazing path! Good job, San Diego!

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The path goes on and ontoward the Sunset Cliffs but we were focused on our mission. I’ll have to explore the rest next time.

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The signs to Mission Beach. Everything is well marked and overall the path was clean and easy to ride. All the hairy details on the Google map we looked at were solved by this brilliant bike path and some city planners some years ago. Again, nice job!

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A myriad of bridges and curves make the path interesting. Every turn is another photo opportunity. As you look left to right, each view just as exquisite as the last. I’m sure there are times during the week when it is busier, but there weren’t many people out on Wednesday morning, and it felt like a private tour.

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I saw a pelican flying overhead and wanted to get a picture but knew I’d be too late. Sometimes you have to be in the moment and soak it in.

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Happy to share the path with skateboards, roller blade and anyone else. It does help to have a bell to remind peds you are on the left.

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My Strava map shows the route. The bike is in front of the Caravan Hotel. Perhaps the only spot on the whole path that was busy.

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Sandy public beaches and people enjoying the day. The 12.7 mile ride was better than I expected. After lunch at Rocky’s Crown Pub, we decided to finish the route we started and ride it again. Since we stopped here and there for pictures the first time around,  we thought a second time minus Fiesta would be the perfect way to end the day.

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We were right. When something works out even better than you anticipated, there’s a sort of gleeful happiness that emanates from the knowledge that somehow the universe took care of you and all is well. It was a bike adventure extraordinaire! If you are ever in San Diego I strongly recommend this bike path.

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In the waning days of summer,  I know I will look at this photo and the two signs, Endless Summer Straight Ahead and know that the Mission Beach route was accomplished. (Cue Mission Impossible theme.)

Thanks for reading and following my blog. I appreciate it. What are some of your favorite routes? Post in the comments below.

Get out there and ride.

Bike Goddess