Culottes Again! And Folding Bikes!

Almost a year after I made reflective culottes, I made another pair! Culottes 9

This time, I made this Vogue 9091 pattern out of navy blue tropical suiting and used some of my aurora borealis reflective ribbon from Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics for a tux stripe. I love how comfortable they are, and how surprisingly well they fit, considering I stayed with the only alteration I made last time, dropping the crotch depth. However, the construction process did not go as smoothly as I had last time. And I really hate the way the hem looks. It looks like high school theater. Culottes 1I am also considering shortening them – I like the midi length, but maybe it’s too long? I’ll have to ask the women at work and get their thoughts.

The fabric pressed the front inverted pleat nicely, so we’ll see how long that lasts. Based on experience with the previous pair, I stitched the pleats down more, to make them easier to press. I still don’t understand the instructions on stitching the inside pleat, but whatever.

Edge stitched the front pleats - totally visible but I think it will keep the pleat better.

Edge stitched the front pleats – totally visible but I think it will keep the pleat better.

I can’t get a good photo of how the reflective ribbon looks like aurora borealis colors when it’s not reflecting – it glows purple and green, it’s really cool! You’ll have to trust me… But it reflects really well, yay!

You may have noticed that I’m riding a different bike in these photos. Good eye! The Mechanic and I now have both a Tern folding bike, and a Dahon folding bike! I’m SO EXCITED! And they both look nearly identical; what are the chances that Craigslist would work out so well?!?Culottes 3After riding the Tern (named Amsel; persona possibly Goth but I haven’t decided yet) around a bit Sunday, I’m even more excited to take these bikes on trips. They are so much lighter than our standard commuter bikes, and I love the easy step-through.

The Dahon is too new to even have a name, let alone a personality.

The Dahon is too new to even have a name, let alone a personality.

Between warmer, sunny weather, a successful-ish (just don’t look inside…) sewing project, and new bikes, it was a pretty great weekend. Too bad they can’t all be as bike-y and sew-y!

Dahon to the left of me, Tern to the right, here I am....

Dahon to the left of me, Tern to the right, here I am….

Iceland Biking and New Looxs Bag

The Mechanic and I didn’t get a chance to do any bike riding while we were in Iceland, but saw some familiar bike things in Reykjavik. And I bought a lovely new pannier!

Edgar got to bike in Reykjavik

Edgar got to bike in Reykjavik

Apparently and understandably, mountain biking is a bigger deal in Iceland than basic city bicycling. I did see a group of women geared up against the cold biking past us while we sat in Slippbarinn having lunch. We also saw a consistent number of what appeared to be bicycle commuters every time we drove through Reykjavik, and even spotted a proper European bike lane.

The guy standing in the bike lane was also taking pictures of it. I wonder if he was American too.

The guy standing in the bike lane was also taking pictures of it. I wonder if he was American too.

There were also some fun bike racks around town, along with a complicated version in several places downtown.

I did find one “urban” style bike shop, catering to the Pashley/dandy crowd. I have Americanized the name to Berlin Bike Shop (Sorry!) because the true name is a bit complicated. I ducked in quickly and admired the bicycles and accessories, but didn’t linger because The Mechanic was sick. But I did grab a new bike pannier – a New Looxs bag I’d seen in Germany during our honeymoon and regretted buying ever since.

Turns out this bag was pretty expensive, after I figured out the exchange rate. Oh well – it’s extremely versatile and I’ll get a ton of use out of it.

New purchase on the couch at Slippbarinn

New purchase on the couch at Slippbarinn

It’s a nice size that can carry a folder and water bottle, but isn’t as huge as my full size pannier. It has shoulder straps to carry like a purse, pannier hooks in the back with a Velcro flap system to cover them up when not needed, a large front pocket and a small inside pocket that perfectly fits my phone.

Having a lovely new bike bag was probably the only thing that got me through my first day back. New Looxs 8As you can see, if fits nicely on my bike, and naturally coordinates.

I normally prefer my purse in my front basket, so I have my keys and phone and Kleenex close at hand. But this bag does indeed also fit in my front basket, so the days recently when I’ve had both my large pannier and this, I just put the New Looxs bag in my front basket. It doesn’t fit perfectly but close enough. Because it’s narrow, it does fit perfectly in a Capital Bikeshare basket, something few of my bags do.

I’ve been thinking about a new purse, and had decided I don’t need a bike bag to throw in my front basket, but having the ability to do both actually makes this a brilliant option. I wish the handles were a bit more comfortable on the shoulder, but it’s not that bad.

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Wearing my #memade unicorn blouse on an early spring-like day

It’s hard to find these Dutch bags here in the US, of course, so even though this was crazy expensive (about $100!), I guess I would have ended up paying a small fortune in shipping if I decided to order if from overseas. And since we don’t (yet) have firm plans to return to Europe, well, let’s just say I am glad I spent the money!

Put A Light On It

I decided to go for a walk after work Thursday night to check out the Christmas lights. I really enjoy how some of our neighbors go all out with the lights and decorations! (Then there are houses that not only do not have Christmas lights on, inside or out, but not a single light or sign of life. I wonder if they are elderly people who need assistance, and hope they are cared for.) Apparently the trend in outside holiday lighting is some sort of projection light that makes houses seem to have green and red measles! Here are some of my favorites:

But while I was out, I had the opportunity, since I was on foot, of taking photos of something that bothers me during this time of year.

Can you spot the guy on his bike?

Can you spot the guy on his bike?

Can you spot the guy jogging?

Can you spot the guy jogging?

First of all, my ‘hood has spotty sidewalk placement, so anyone out on foot is often IN the street. Second of all, you can see how dark the streets are – street lights are few and far between in this area. I guess the NIMBYs don’t want bright lights shining in their windows. Then again, they probably aren’t out walking after dark, either.

The guy in the photo on the bike didn’t even have reflectors on his bike. It made me sad, because he looked like a low-income man coming home from work, or maybe even headed to work – one of those who probably needs a bike, and would be in a lot of trouble (aka, no health insurance) if he was injured while riding the bike. I didn’t even have lights to give him, assuming I could have caught up with him.

The guy in the photo who was jogging was wearing an orange hi viz shirt – see how well that worked? I guess he would show up better in car lights, but on my bike I’d have trouble seeing him until he reached my bike light area. Lights would help him, and everyone around him, because we’d know where he was far away enough to adjust our travel accordingly. Swerving at the last minute isn’t good for drivers in cars or people riding bikes.

You know me, I’m all about the reflective stuff! But being out on these streets lately has made me realize how ineffective the reflective is without lights to catch it. That is, people wearing lights simply show up better, no matter how small the light is. I can spot someone coming towards me in the dark as I am biking home if they are wearing a light, but not always if they are wearing reflective gear. (Note: I wore a pale colored coat, an arm band light and reflective pant straps to go for my walk.) Maybe it’s just neighborhood streets that I should worry about with regards to visibility. Are your neighborhoods as poorly lit?

I don’t believe that people are at fault if something happens to them while they are out in the dark without lights or reflective gear. I generally assume it is the fault of the driver. In my experience, drivers are NOT paying enough attention. <put down the *&$%#@%^ phone!!!!> However, maybe if these guys knew how truly hard they are to see while they are out and about at night, they would stop and think about adding a light or two. Regardless of whether you do or don’t add a light, please, please be careful! I do worry about people in the dark. Christmas Lights 5

Too Many Bikes – I Can’t Imagine

A story has been circulating lately that has many bike advocates and people who bike wishing they had this problem – Amsterdam has run out of bike parking, and the city is contemplating building underground parking for 7,000 bikes! For the rest of us, this is unbelievable, mind blowing, a wet dream, or all of the above. I mean, the city plans to spend 200 million Euros on new bicycle infrastructure (as part of it’s long range planning)! This makes me want to cry.

Amsterdam Bicycle Parking near the Central Station

Amsterdam Bicycle Parking near the Central Station

The city is considering underground bike parking, as well as adding more floating bike parking stations, around the Central Train Station, to a whopping total of 21,500 by 2030. Construction isn’t expected to start until 2017, but I have no doubt it will happen – 43% of Amsterdam residents bike to and from work, according to the City Lab article, with over 50% biking daily.

Floating Bike Parking near Amsterdam's Central Station

Floating Bike Parking near Amsterdam’s Central Station

I have to confess, however, that my first thought was, “Well get rid of the abandoned bikes first!” When we were in Amsterdam last summer, we noticed that not only are the racks crammed full of bikes, a great number of those bikes appear to be abandoned. I’m pretty sure that flat tires, rusted or broken chains, missing parts, etc., is a good sign that a bike hasn’t been ridden in a while. And City Lab reports that Amsterdam removed 73,000 “wrongly” parked bikes in 2013, so I guess they do keep tabs on that. Copenhagen was the same way: we saw seas of parked bikes, only to get close and realize that a significant percentage were clearly not ridden on a regular basis. Apparently it’s a problem that urban planners and others in Copenhagen are just beginning to realize and recognize.

Sure, this might not be an abandoned bike. Someone may have parked it this way on purpose.

Sure, this might not be an abandoned bike. Someone may have parked it this way on purpose.

They might look rusty to us but are probably (?) well-used bikes!

They might look rusty to us but are probably (?) well-used bikes!

This story has reduced me to sighing wistfully and clicking through photos of both our visits to Amsterdam and Copenhagen. I know The Mechanic and I remarked on those trips about the sheer number of bicycles in mass bike parking lots, and how we wished we had the problem of abandoned bikes piled up on the racks. I mean, how does one cram one’s bike into an overcrowded rack?! I guess that’s part of the reason they all ride clunkers.

Where do you put your bike in this Copenhagen bike parking?!

Where do you put your bike in this Copenhagen bike parking?!

That bike on the top row of this Copenhagen bike rack is what I'd call "wrongly parked."

That bike on the top row of this Copenhagen bike rack is what I’d call “wrongly parked.”

I'm willing to bet that all these bikes in front of Copenhagen's Magasin du Nord are there just for the 50% off sale!

I’m willing to bet that all these bikes in front of Copenhagen’s Magasin du Nord are there just for the 50% off sale!

While we struggle to get adequate parking in most places in this country, we can all dream of the day when we have the Amsterdam problem of too many bikes, not enough bike parking. Someday….

Reflective Pants and Shepherdstown

Shepherdstown, WV, is clearly turning into our (well at least my) favorite nearby getaway destination. It was only 2012 when The Mechanic and I first participated in the CASA River Ride, and then two years later, we got married at the Bavarian Inn. This past weekend we decided to go stay at the Bavarian Inn again, and just relax. Every trip to Shepherdstown since our engagement a year ago has been for wedding-related meetings and appointments – not a bad thing, just not casual, random fun. So it was nice to return and be random! IMG_2422

Conveniently, I had just finished my latest reflective fashion project – Butterick 6028 Katherine Tilton pants made out of snakeskin-print corduroy (my favorite fabric of all times!) with of course reflective bias trim in the seams. They were trickier than they should have been – I’m pretty sure the pattern instructions were wrong regarding the zipper fly and the facing. So the inside is not perfect, but whatever. They fit pretty well, despite the high waistline, which I am not used to, and are very comfortable. I wore them to get dinner Friday night, but they officially debuted on Saturday.

It is not quite full autumn colors, but there were enough, plus coupled with some cooler weather and rainy clouds, it felt like fall. So we were appreciative of the fire in the fireplace at Hillsborough Winery, where we stopped for wine tasting. This winery is on the road to Shepherdstown, and every time we have driven past, I have said, “We should stop in some day.” So this time we made a point of starting our trip there. The wines were different and good, but the scenery won the prize.

We watched a bit of the Shepherd University football game, where The Mechanic coined the phrase “artisanal football” – small, local, excellent, not found all over. Come on, you know it’s the next hipster thing! Then an excellent dinner at The Press Room, and a stroll around town in the dark (ooh spooky…), then going to bed early and sleeping late. Ah…. relaxing….

Sunday highlights were stopping at the farmer’s market so I could buy flowers from Megan Webber Flowers, who did our wedding flowers, and whose work I really truly love (She just has such an eye for flower arrangements!), as well as biking on the C&O Canal. We were a bit dismayed to find some construction along the trail around Mile 74, and really hope it is not going to be parking spaces. No cars! Keep it wild and wonderful, and free of too many people! I got a flat tire as we were headed back to Shepherdstown, but luckily I married a bike mechanic, who happily patched up the tire.

It was so nice to feel relaxed and peaceful and very zen, but after our dee-lish vegetarian sandwiches and a WV beer at Domestic, we sadly loaded up the bikes and dove back into the traffic to return to our normal lives. Time to face another week.

C & O Canal zen

C & O Canal zen

The Crack in the Facade

It seems a bit self-focused to talk about anti-bicycle road rage when Congress has shut down the federal government, but maybe our elected officials could do with some “share the road” reminders. We are all in this together, and we all need to get where we are going safely and legally, be it on a street or on Capital Hill. Stop often to remember that you are not the only person in the world, and everyone is equally important.

I know I have been fortunate with my Team in Training Sea Gull Century training – the weather has been excellent for the most part, almost every Saturday ride has been on quiet rural roads, and other things I don’t want to jinx by mentioning. So it should not have come as a surprise, after 750 miles in the last four months, that we should, at last, experience some nasty road rage. You know, the kind where you honestly fear for your physical safety.

Last Team in Training ride before the Sea Gull Century!

Last Team in Training ride before the Sea Gull Century!

Last Saturday’s ride was a fairly gentle 43 miles, and a small group of us rolled along, laughing at how leisurely we were being – farmer’s market? Yep, nice-looking pottery. Stop to take a picture? Sure why not? Yeah, clearly everyone is ready for this to be over. Around mile 40, we got our wake-up call, and it sobered us up in a hurry.

The beginning of fall colors during the ride.

The beginning of fall colors during the ride.

I was in front, so I didn’t see what started the problems, but my teammate behind me filled me in afterwards. We were cycling on a stretch of road with no shoulder, with a curve ahead, and double yellow lines, so cars were backed up behind the four of us in our group. Finally space to pull ahead, and as the cars did so, they not only didn’t give us any space (3 feet? ha, maybe a foot?), but I could hear the word “asshole” coming out of one passenger window as the car zoomed past. Suddenly, a big matte red pickup zooms in front of me, slammed on the brakes, and the driver flung himself out of the cab and came running at me/us, hurling curse words. I had no idea what was going on, and being confused, just kept riding past him. Although I guessed he wasn’t yelling at me, I still tensed up and was braced for a physical blow. Then a bit later, he pulled up to us again, slowly pacing us while yelling at my teammate who was now in front of me. My teammate kept repeating, “You need to share the road, sir.” Finally we turned off onto another road and the pickup driver was gone.

Once we all regrouped where we felt safe, my teammate admitted that after three cars buzzed us, when this red pickup driver gunned the engine and moved towards him, he flipped off the driver. Not his better idea, he admitted, so he tried to diffuse the situation while standing his ground by reminding the driver to share the road. I wish I’d been able to pull my phone out and take a picture but honestly, I was more concerned about being prepared to be attacked in some way to even worry about a license plate.

We were all fine, just a bit shaken up, and finished the ride in silence. I thought about how spoiled I am, with my short bike ride to work on fairly safe roads in bike lanes, and how few problems we’d had all summer. I wish I could have reported the driver, but then again, I didn’t want to do it in front of him either – who knows how he would have reacted to that? And it made me think evil, unfair thoughts about rural people.

A lovely SAG stop at a nature center.

A lovely SAG stop at a nature center.

Enjoying the stillness that nature brings...

Enjoying the stillness that nature brings…

I know every cyclist is on the receiving end of road rage at some point, so there is nothing about this event that makes me special in any way. I also know that there is so much written about “why don’t cars behave better?” and “why don’t cyclist obey the rules?” and on and on and on, so I hate to rehash it all again. I guess in light of today’s government shutdown, I am just sad that it is so difficult for people to accept differences, and be tolerant of other ideas, beliefs, cultures, traditions, and hobbies. Instead of forcing everyone to think the same way, why is it so hard to just acknowledge the difference, then move on? Are you really threatened by what I’m doing, or is what I’m doing trigger some sort of guilt you can’t identify, so you react by lashing out?

At least on Sunday I had a very Zen late morning cozied up to some furry friends and The Mechanic – dog-sitting in DC has never been more welcome. Many thanks to our friends for letting us relax with their mini therapists and enjoy some peace and quiet in their backyard! Now, if only I can channel that peace for the rest of the week!

Loving our fuzzy friends!

Loving our fuzzy friends!

To all of those jobless because of the bickering in government, my profound sympathies and support. Having been unemployed several times in my life, I know how scary and stressful it is. I wish you all the best and hope for a speedy yet reasonable resolution.

Bike-Envy of Montreal

There were so many great things about the bicycle culture in Montreal that it’s hard to decide where to start. I guess the biggest thing was the cycle track not far from our hotel. And all the bike lanes had sharrows painted through the intersections, so it was clear that bicycles were still in the road. And not just one sharrow, several. We weren’t sure about the diamond in the lanes, however.

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The other instantly noticeable feature was the large number of people on bikes – all kinds of people, even EMTs! I’d say about half wore bike helmets, and most of them were wearing the “urban” style such as Nutcase or Bern. We did some some roadie-looking cyclists, both male and female, but they stood out because there were so few of them. A large percentage of the people we saw were riding Bixi bikes, and no wonder – those docking stations are everywhere! And what we consider a large station here is an average size one there.

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Another great feature were the parking meters with built in bike racks. We saw tons of those. Also several different styles of bike racks, which is always fun. And almost every bike rack had at least one bike with a baby seat on the back, a very good indicator of the cycling community – if families feel safe enough to bike around with their infants, it’s a safe place to bike, period. 100_9360100_9404100_9490100_9646100_9647100_9356100_9437100_9455100_9573

We also saw a surprising number of e-bikes.

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The Metro not only indicates which Metro car bikes are allowed on, the stations have channels to run bikes up and down the stairs! This just about made The Mechanic and I cry. We even saw someone using it. So envious.

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Naturally, we went into a few bike shops…

100_9689100_9695100_9824I noticed with some amusement that a church was located directly in front of a cycle track – and that it had a drop-off cut-out right in front! (I’m not sure what the technical term for that actually is.) But it made me think of the M Street cycle track-church drama.

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Along one of the cycle tracks I noticed that where the bus stops were located, on the traffic side of the track, the track itself was raised so that a pedestrian wouldn’t have to step down into the track, but could walk straight onto the bus stop island. If one was in a wheelchair, or had a baby stroller, it wouldn’t affect them at all, crossing the cycle track. And the slight bump was barely noticeable from a bike.

bus stopBuses didn’t have bike racks on the front, and the only bus we rode was the one to and from the airport (every 5 minutes!), so I can’t say much about that.

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The crowning glory of the bikey part of the weekend was hanging out in front of Velo Quebec – Maison des Cyclistes, a coffee and wine bar dedicated to cyclists. We sat for a long time just watching everyone cruise past us on bikes. That’s where we really saw all kinds – even someone in a motorized wheelchair zipped past in the cycle track! It was right next to a Bixi station (well, across the street), as well as a well-traveled intersection, plus a bike repair station (I think that’s what it was, anyway).100_9673100_9672 100_9678IMG_6428IMG_6431IMG_6433

Across the street, next to the Bixi station, was a large sign with some history of Montreal’s cycling culture, as well as helpful descriptions of the different types of bike lanes. I thought that would be a pretty handy thing to have in every bicycle-friendly city. IMG_6425IMG_6435

Also, one of the signs included some stats about the cycling population of Quebec – 4 million cyclists in 2000, is what I think the sign said. That’s impressive! IMG_6423

Much like Copenhagen, Montreal came across not as a “city of cyclists” but as a city where some people choose to get around by bike, rather than by another mode of transportation. That is, not anything special, unique, crazy, or “niche.” After all, if regular clothing stores use bicycles in advertisements, how “niche” can that be?

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Bad Bike Karma – Twice!

I have been so relieved and impressed at how well my 75 mile bike ride went last week, and now, in the last 24 hours, I’ve had both bikes go out of commission! Bike karma biting me in the a**?

I had been apprehensive about doing my Team in Training 74 mile ride on August 10, after having been out of town, which meant I’d missed two Saturdays of riding. Not only that, but I hadn’t been to the gym or anything since I’d been back in town, so the milage seemed quite daunting. The longest I’d done up to that point was 56 miles. But I did it! I followed the advice of a pro in my office, and ate frequently on the bike, and I guess that helped. It was actually a really lovely ride.

The firs SAG stop was in North Beach, an adorable beach town that I want to return to.

The firs SAG stop was in North Beach, an adorable beach town that I want to return to.

The second SAG stop was in Galeville, next to the harbor and The Pirates' Cove, a restaurant I'm sure I'd like - hey, it's pirates!

The second SAG stop was in Galesville, next to the harbor and The Pirates’ Cove, a restaurant I’m sure I’d like – hey, it’s pirates!

The total ride was almost 76 miles, thanks to a detour I made while hunting for a restroom…

75.70 miles in 6:10:58. Average speed 12.2 mph - pretty proud of that!

75.70 miles in 6:10:58. Average speed 12.2 mph – pretty proud of that!

The rest of the weekend was an exhausted blur of out-of-town guests, but amazingly I didn’t feel as sore as I expected. Whew! (I’m also super close to my fundraising goal, which makes me happy as well.)

The Mechanic and I got a surprise Sunday while we were driving around with Donner (my matte black Cannondale road bike) in the back of the Big Green Van – it took us a minute to realize the sound we were hearing was one of my bike tires explosively leaking. Since we’d noticed the back tire was getting worn, we assumed it was just that. And we were wrong. The front tire was flat!

Donner and his flat front tire in the Big Green Van

Donner and his flat front tire in the Big Green Van

We left it until last night, and when I moved the bike to reach it better, discovered that the back tire was flat as well! What?!?! Long story short – the rim tape under the tube was apparently thin enough that the tube not only bulged into the spokes holes, it allowed big gashes to form, almost simultaneously. We’ve never over-inflated it (I can barely pump it up at all), and the bike only has about 850 miles on it, so I am a bit disappointed that this happened. Easily fixed, but it meant spending this evening buying new rim tape, and not getting to ride in the lovely weather we had today.

Oh the indignity!

Oh the indignity!

Then to add insult to injury, Fauntleroy got injured! After spending all day locked up in his normal spot at the bike rack at work, with six other bikes, I hop on and ride home, only to have the chain get tangled up. Closer inspection showed that the biggest front chain ring had been bent in towards the other rings, and the teeth were catching on everything. Although I can see the bent in the ring, it was hard to get a good picture. There is also blue paint on the bent ring.

Top edge of big ring bent slightly inwards...

Top edge of big ring bent slightly inwards…

Paint left behind from whatever smashed the ring.

Paint left behind from whatever smashed the ring.

My first thought was that the bike had somehow fallen over while locked up, but I saw it around lunchtime and it was fine. I checked with my colleague who parks next to me, and she hadn’t noticed anything awry, so I have no idea when it would have happened. But considering that the color of the racks matches the blue of the paint chips on the bike, I still conclude that it somehow fell into the rack.

Fauntleroy goes on the close end of this rack.

Fauntleroy goes on the close end of this rack. (like the green paint, signifying the “green” parking spaces in the garage?)

I am sure it’s an easy fix; The Mechanic is away or it would already be done. I don’t want to fuss with it in case I make it worse! For now I just have two injured bikes – it’s a bit sad, really. I feel much more intimately connected with these bikes than I ever did to my cars, so it feels more personal, somehow. It pains me that my bikes are damaged. Am I the only one who is that attached to their bikes?!

So the real question is – how do I overcome this bad bike karma before my next long ride on Saturday?!?!?

Donner, before he went belly up

Donner, before he went belly up

 

Boots and Colorblocking

I’ve been hopping around this evening out of excitement, because Merrell has at last created bike-friendly boots! I want both pairs!

Merrell Evera Fade - this color is my favorite fall/winter neutral, so I love them even more!

Merrell Evera Fade – this color is my favorite fall/winter neutral, so I love them even more!

Merrell Evera Amp - a very work appropriate dressy black boot.

Merrell Evera Amp – a very work appropriate dressy black boot.

I love boots, and I love my Merrell Evera bike shoes, so I’m especially excited to see these two. And I love that wine color – it really is one of my favorite winter neutral colors. My beautiful big wool overcoat is that same color, and I just love it. Merrell has also come out with a cute Mary Jane style heel, which makes me a bit crabby, because I just this spring bought a pair of the basic black pumps, but the size is too small. A shoe that is not strapped around my ankle just doesn’t stay on, so I hoped that a smaller size would help. Not really – anyone want to buy a barely used pair of black Merrell bike heels?

The Merrell Evera Draft - I would much rather have these than the ones I have. I even love the color.

The Merrell Evera Draft – I would much rather have these than the ones I have. They have just enough of a strap to keep them on my foot. I even love the color.

These shoes are a reminder that I’ve started to see fall clothes pop up here and there, and now I’m getting my mental list ready for what I want to sew for the fall. I already have one very clear project, although it is a bit too hot these days to get excited about sweatshirts.

I’ve shared this pattern already, but I’m posting it again.

McCalls 6792

McCalls 6792

I’ve got two ways of altering it so the block is on the back as well as the front, and then I can put reflective piping on both sides. But what got me more excited about this pattern is my latest Lucky magazine, which had several color block tops here and there.

Colorblocked sweater - like these colors.

Colorblocked sweater – like these colors.

This is neoprene, but I LOVE the color combination! This is my biggest inspiration.

This is neoprene, but I LOVE the color combination! This is my biggest inspiration.

A few black and blue options. Like the one with the white shoulders.

A few black and blue options. Like the one with the white shoulders.

Then a friend posted this picture on some social media site, can’t remember which one. It’s a gown in the Bergdorf window in Manhattan.

Colorblocked gown in the Bergdorf window.

Colorblocked gown in the Bergdorf window.

It reminds me of this other pattern I have that I’d kill to make, but have nowhere to wear it.

McCalls 6755 - colorblocked skirt, which I love and is completely impractical for my life.

McCalls 6755 – colorblocked skirt, which I love and is completely impractical for my life. Too long to bike in, too dressy for the office, and I have no social life, so…

That, in turn, reminded me of an old Vogue pattern I recently rediscovered, this Issey Miyake pattern I bought in 1995 (I started writing the dates of purchase on my patterns for this very reason!).

Vogue 1563 Issey Miyake colorblock dress in two lengths.

Vogue 1563 Issey Miyake colorblock dress in two lengths.

I’m so tempted to make this dress right now, but I would have a hard time deciding which length. The short one is obviously very bike-friendly, but I love the longer one, and maxi dresses are very in right now. Besides, the shorter one just looks a bit awkward, and sort of like a maternity dress. No matter, I probably won’t get it done soon enough for summer anyway.

So I’m back to sewing the colorblock top for the fall, with some alterations needed to make it reflective fashion-perfect. Now I just have to pick out colors! I am so tempted to do the burgundy-aqua of the neoprene top, but I’m a bit worried that I won’t have anything to wear with it. I need it to be office-friendly, and what pants do I own that would be appropriate? Maybe I need to make new pants, too? I have noticed that the fall pants are a slightly different, more relaxed skinny leg (that almost scream the 1980s, which I’m trying to ignore…). It’s hard to balance fashion with office wear with sewing projects with what one already owns! And my closet isn’t that big. What do you do – shop for mostly work clothes, or mostly play clothes?

Yeah, I really want to make this dress...

Yeah, I really want to make this dress…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Amish, Bunnies, and a Beach

Yesterday was a great day despite the heat – the 44 mile Team in Training ride was sociable and went well, then The Mechanic and I played tourist in the Chesapeake Bay area.

The nice thing about doing group rides is being able to ride with a group. So far, on the TNT rides, I’ve floated between groups, too fast for some, not fast enough for others. Yesterday I found a group to pace with for most of the ride, which was very pleasant. It was nice to be able to chat a bit with my teammates, ask questions about cycling and fundraising, and discover others with a love of Broadway shows. We were very pleased when we discovered that part of our route took us on the Three Notch Trail, so we were off roads. I think we lollygagged a bit on that part. But at the very end I powered up the last big hill, and then just kept going – it felt good to really crank out those last few miles. And I appreciated my teammate who stuck right behind me through that last push.

The route for the Hughesville "Hidden Amish" TNT ride.

The route for the Hughesville “Hidden Amish” TNT ride.

The ride had been titled the “Hidden Amish” ride, and I was surprised, not realizing that there would be Amish outside of Pennsylvania. Shows what I know! We passed farmers in a field on a tractor of some kind pulled by horses, saw an Amish boy mowing the lawn with a non-motorized lawnmower (the kind my dad used to have!), and then saw a woman driving her horse and buggy towards us, small girl asleep in her lap. She looked very unconcerned about all the cars and trucks pulling around her. I guess we must look equally unconcerned, as cyclists, with the cars and trucks pulling around us, but she looked much more Zen than we probably do.

The Mechanic and I had planned on spending the day in the area, so we bought a 5 gallon solar shower to rig up behind the van, so I could shower after the ride. I have to say, I was pretty excited by this idea! In fact, I probably jumped in the shower too soon, since I continued to sweat for a long time afterwards. But it felt nice to rinse off and put on a clean, dry dress.

You can just see the solar shower bladder on the roof of the van behind my head.

You can just see the solar shower bladder on the roof of the van behind my head.

On our way further south, headed for Calvert Cliffs State Park, we passed a huge farmers’ market, and decided to go back and check it out. I’m so glad we did! It was the most diverse, unusual market I have ever been to. One side was farm stuff – produce, livestock, baked goods, jams and jellies, while the other side was the cheap plastic junk you see at flea markets, with some antique furniture and law mower parts thrown in for good measure. On the flea market side, we agreed that we felt like we were in another country.

Parking at the farmers' market

Parking at the farmers’ market

But the best part was the bunnies! Some of the farmers were selling bunnies, as well as chickens, chicks, and even puppies (puppies of the smallest, roundest, fluffiest kind I’ve ever seen, soooo cute!). I love bunnies, and can’t wait to have another, but not this weekend. Or any time soon.

Bunny love!

Bunny love!

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We escaped with a loaf of bread and mini fruit pies, leaving the gorgeous produce, the python, the junky stuff, and the furniture behind.

We picnicked at Calvert County State Park before the short 1.8mile trek to the beach. The hike was along side a marshy, swampy area that was full of water lilies of some kind, and dead trees. IMG_5437

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The beach was not what I expected at all – the side where the cliffs are was shut down because of land slides, and the rest of it was pretty small, and full of sunburned people clearly unconcerned about the number of jellyfish floating in the surf. We didn’t linger long. P1050155

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Although we had seen a “no bicycles” sign on the trail when we started, there was a bike rack at the beach, so clearly there are trails somewhere in the park that can be ridden. But it was late, we were so sweaty, and it was just too hot to figure it out. So The Mechanic’s mountain bike and my commuter bike stayed in the van. I did have one last ride before we headed home though – how often do you get to ride a dinosaur?!

dino riding