Three Reasons Why May is My Favorite Month

May is my favorite month of the year. I’m a bit biased, of course, since my birthday is in May, as are the birthdays of many friends, my dad (who randomly has the exact same birthday – day and year – as The Mechanic’s dad. What are the chances of that?!??!), and some wedding anniversaries. But those aren’t the only reasons.

1. Birthday Books

Okay, I will start with my birthday and be blatantly self-centered. Aren’t birthday presents fun, though? I got two really cool books this year and I have to share them with you. Okay, one I bought for myself. My copy of Bikes and Bloomers by Kat Jungknickel arrived, hurray (blogged about last month)!

Reading on the bus with my Ulster Weavers tote bag

I haven’t gotten too far in yet but was surprised to see that over a century ago, Butterick Pattern Company produced women’s bicycling patterns! I wonder if they can find them in the archives and reprint them. Then I got a surprise package from my friend in Germany, with a wonderful sewing book! Trying to translate both the language and the metrics will be excellent practice to get my language skills back up a bit.

“Now I sew for me” = direct translation. Not sure that’s how a German would say it!

2. National Bike Month

National Bike Month is celebrated across the US every May. During this time, Bike to Work Day and Week is celebrated and National Safe Routes to School hosts Bike and Walk to School Day. Watching all the kids, especially at the elementary level, arrive at school on their small, brightly colored and well-decorated bikes is one of my favorite days of the month and year. Bike to Work Day is a second favorite in May. I love the excitement and energy that surrounds something as fun as biking and it always makes me feel better about my chosen mode of transportation. (Caveat: I’m still healing from surgery and not yet biking <sad face>.) 3. Me Made May

Me Made May is a fun challenge started by sewing blogger Zoe to encourage people who sew, crochet, knit, and otherwise craft things to wear, to actually wear them, and to love them. I didn’t actually sign up this year but I’m participating anyway. I like the opportunity to analyze what I’ve made and figure out what the holes might be – and we never have the right thing to wear, amiright?! Beyond realizing how badly I need another way to get photos of my outfits other than my work restroom (eek!), I realize that my weekend wardrobe is a bit lame. And I need more plain white tops. Here’s a sampling of the first two weeks; follow me on Instagram @earletted as I keep it up for the rest of the month.

So basically May is a celebration of two of my favorite things, sewing and biking. What is your favorite month, and why?

 

PS – Another thing I love about May around here are the azaleas. Gosh they are so pretty! The colors are so vivid and bright and dense, and I just love them.

 

Riding for Change on Bike to Work Day

Happy Bike to Work Day!

I hope you all got a chance to get out and ride somewhere! Here in the DC Metro area, the weather is somehow miraculously absolutely perfect. After weeks of rain and gloom, we have blue skies and warm temperatures. Ballston SkyAfter spending the morning greeting people on their bikes to one of the Arlington Bike to Work Day pit stops, I took advantage of the fact that I not only had the day off, that I was awake, dressed, and desperate to get a bike ride in during the lovely weather. So off I went – a short loop on local trails where I enjoyed the large green trees, clear blue skies, and the occasional wild rabbit on the side of the road. One tiny baby bunny was so focused on its breakfast that it barely blinked when I pulled over to take it’s picture. I was tempted to scoop it up and bring it home, but I know better.

Baby bunny don't care...

Baby bunny don’t care…

On my way home, I took a selfie – Bikingand then Tweeted it to the US Department of Transportation. I don’t actually know anyone there. The purpose of this Tweet was in response to reading an email from Transportation 4 America, which asked people to Tweet photos of themselves biking today, urging US DOT to count people, not cars, in their new proposal for evaluating traffic congestion. Absolutely I want them to #MakeMeCount – I am traffic, and I want safe streets to get around, regardless of what mode of transportation I use (which is mostly walking and biking). At the same time, the Department of Transportation blog, Fast Lane, supports bike lanes and connections to help people safely and easily get to where they are going on continuous bikeways. Here here!

Safety is the current buzz word in biking and in transportation, it seems. While our Metrorail system takes steps to avoid a complete meltdown, and thousands of commuters will need to find alternatives to their daily Metro ride, biking could be a good option for many. But safety and comfort are top of the list of reasons why they won’t try it. If people don’t feel safe and comfortable biking, because their routes don’t connect, because they are on roads that are not remotely bike-friendly, because their work sites don’t have showers, because they don’t have safe places to leave their bikes once they get there – they simply won’t do it.

Safety and comfort were key points all of the presenters made at the National Museum of Women in the Arts “Women on Wheels: Can a Bicycle Be an Agent of Change?” Fresh Talk last weekend. Author Sue Macy, author of Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (with a few flat tires along the way), talked about the challenges women faced in the late 1800s, as they discovered the freedom of bicycles. Lyne Sniege, director of the arts and culture program at the Middle East Institute, echoed many of the same challenges that women in the Middle East face when it comes to bicycling – but their challenges are so much more complex. Not just cultural challenges, but physical challenges of living in areas where *everything* is built for cars. Then the other panels brought the topic to our area: Renee Moore, founder of Bicycling and the City; Lia Seremetis, founder of DC Bike Party; Nelle Pierson, deputy director of WABA and the founder of WABA’s Women & Bicycles; and Najeema Davis Washington, co-founder of Black Women Bike. All of them talked about the need to have safe, comfortable spaces, both physically and emotionally, that will encourage and support women while they become comfortable (or learn to) riding bikes.

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, so I don’t feel that I really need to go on and on about bicycling, safety and comfort. I feel like today is a good day to sit back and look at some of the things that are going on to make us feel safer on our bikes. We have government officials supporting community designs that support bicycling, we have advocacy groups working with local governments to create safer spaces for us (Yes to protected bike lanes on N. Quincy Street!); and we have national advocacy groups working for us at the federal government level. It’s not us versus them anymore (well, depending on which street you are on…) – it’s a movement that is gaining some traction.

You know me, I’m a reluctant advocate, but seeing some steps in the right direction is empowering. I hope that you, like me, will find some time to speak up for bicycling. Even if you don’t bike yourself, I bet you know someone who does. And really, would you want to put anyone in a dangerous situation? Because that’s what happens to many when they hop on their bike.

 

Helping You Prep for Bike to Work Day

Are you ready for Bike to Work Day? I am – I’ll be working at a local pit stop (Ballston – if any of you reading stop there, look for me!) and I *might* be wearing something special, something women & bike specific, not of my own making! Intrigued? You’ll have to wait until next week to find out – or check my Twitter feed on Friday.  BTWD-Logo-2015-black-e1421436521719

If you aren’t ready, there are plenty of retailers out there who want to help you – I swear I’ve gotten (and deleted) several emails this week for gear and clothes and so on. I couldn’t find all of them, but REI, Map My Ride, and Terry Bicycles top the list. (Note that the Map My Ride ad shows a woman in heels on a bike with a front basket – everyone is trying hard to avoid the MAMIL image!)

Some retailers have figured out that this event means big business, and they should. It’s a great excuse to get new gear, sort of like the bike equivalent of Back to School in the Fall. Now we just need to get non-bike companies to figure this out as well, and get on the retail wagon. Maybe once bigger companies cater a bit more to Those Who Bike, and Those Who Bike For Transportation, stores and cities and neighborhoods will be more inclined to cater to us as well – better bike racks, more bike lanes, more polite street behavior (cars, I’m looking at you). It’s a dream I realize, but hey, a girl can dream!

Eventually, everyone will realize BikeArlington is right with their Number One Reason to Bike to Work: Bike ArlingtonAll your friends will be there – because they biked as well!

See you in the bike lane, friends!

cropped-BTWD2015WebHead1

Latest Sewing Projects Catch-Up

I realized today that I haven’t actually blogged about my latest sewing projects (other than the reflective sashes for Team in Training fundraising)! I’m surprised, I thought I had. I guess my social media platforms are beginning to blend together, oops.

The first one is actually a project I finished a while ago, but had yet to wear, my peplum top.

Reflective bow detail on the peplum top.

Reflective bow detail on the peplum top.

I wore it with my lovely Cole Haan reflective loafers and Vespertine blossom bracelet . I begged one of my coworkers to take a few pictures of me, so I could show off the outfit. The top isn’t covered in reflectivity, but I like the bit of detail it has.

Without and with flash

Without and with flash – yep, those shoes are bright!

What I like most about this top is how small it makes my waist look! (Is that vain?) This was a very easy pattern, and I think I might make another out of one of the cotton prints I’ve been moving around for years.

My next project was my Bike to Work Day dress. I made it on Bike to Work Day, after coming home from working at the Ballston pit stop.

Bike to Work Day dress without flash...

Bike to Work Day dress without flash…

...Bike to Work Day dress with flash.

…Bike to Work Day dress with flash.

I really like this because it’s so comfortable. It was very easy to make, although I’m not 100% happy with it. It’s been years since I worked with knit fabric, and I stupidly stretched it when I put the reflective piping in, and I shouldn’t have. I think the bust darts are too low as well.

Back view, with flash. Which also shows the other reflective gear I have...

Back view, with flash. Which also shows the other reflective gear I have…

Admittedly, this dress is not an ideal bike dress because although it’s short and stretchy, it’s too narrow to be really comfortable on the saddle. I wear it with my Spanx or Jockey Skimmies SlipShorts underneath, so there’s no threat of flashing anyone, but it does show a lot of leg. There isn’t much reflectivity on it either, but I’m okay with that. I don’t want to overdo it. Not every dress can be the Tron dress!

My current project is very exciting. I’m making the dress I’ve been wanting to make for a while now, with a reflective shoulder yoke, that will be worn with my reflective obi sash.

Vogue Dress Pattern with Sash

Vogue Dress Pattern with Sash

I cut out the fabric at work last week, on the craft table that is THE perfect cutting table. (Apparently it will be replaced with far more useful cubicles, and I will be very sad when that happens).

Cutting out fabric at work. The Capital Bikeshare sign is completely unintentional, I swear!

Cutting out fabric at work. (The Capital Bikeshare sign is completely unintentional, I swear!)

Half-finished dress with the sash folded over the hanger.

Half-finished dress with the sash folded over the hanger.

With the flash.

With the flash.

Back view - better shot of the yoke.

Back view – better shot of the yoke.

Back with the flash.

Back with the flash.

Detail of the print.

Detail of the print.

I need to cut out the lining fabric so I can finish this. I’m really looking forward to wearing this. I’m a bit paranoid about it, since I seem to make some stupid mistake on every sewing project. I’ve looked into Craftsy, to see what their online classes are like – has anyone ever tried them? I wish now that I’d paid closer attention in my sewing classes…

This dress isn’t even done yet and I’m madly searching for THE perfect blouse pattern for this fabric I bought recently.

Project-to-be

Project-to-be

It’s hard to get a good picture of the reflective material with or without the flash, but this cotton print looks amazing with the super light pink reflective fabric. I want to try making bias with the pink, so that it’s flat instead of corded piping in the seams. I’m inspired by Tulle & Tweed, and her bias tutorial looks like something I might be able to figure out. I need to buy a cutting mat first, however. I have no idea where mine went to, and I’m not going to try to cut this out with my scissors. I think it needs the rotary cutter.

IMG_5271

I need a bigger sewing space! I’m sure I didn’t lose the cutting mat here.

So that is where I am with sewing projects. I’m sure I’ll be inspired for the next project before too long. I am running low on my reflective fabric but not sure when I’ll be able to make it back to New York for more fabric shopping. I can’t wait to go, however – I want to begrime the city with a Citibike like everyone else! All of bikepeacenyc‘s blog photo shoots are making me jealous. But I’ll have to be there for a long time – I have so many reflective fashions now that I’ll need to wear them all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

May, the Momentous Month

It’s May, a month full of lovely things!

It starts off right away with my birthday. Last year was the big 4-0, and I decided that from now on, I shall only turn 35. So this week is my 35th birthday! hahaha… They say you are only the age you feel, right?

How you doin'?

How you doin’?

May is also Bike Month! League bikemonth_bike

As you may guess, I will be working on Bike to Work Day in Arlington on May 17. I’m already looking forward to it. It’s a shame I have to wear work-branded stuff, because I’d wear some of my reflective fashions. Unless I make something between now and then. Hm…

Here Bike to Work Day is promoted by Commuter Connections and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, and BikeArlington is one of the sponsors. We at Arlington Transportation Partners work the event and try to encourage regular bike commuting by hoping that individual cyclists will talk to their HR reps about providing bike benefits, covered secured bike parking, showers, and more.

Last year's Bike to Work Day, in non-fashionable reflective gear

Last year’s Bike to Work Day, in non-fashionable reflective gear

May is also the kick off for the National Bike Challenge, and this year, we have a much improved bike team! There are three more regular bike commuters in my office, so we should have a pretty strong team. Add in a few coworkers who will ride occasionally to work, but mostly on the weekends, and we could actually challenge the Bike Arlington Team! My team is currently in third place, unbelievably, but it’s only been practice miles. The serious stuff begins now!

The other thing I’m kicking off this month is a really crazy idea – I registered to ride the Sea Gull Century through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program. I wanted to ride the Sea Gull Century last year, but ran out of time to properly train. I’m hoping that by doing this, it will force me to train all summer. I was told that they have trainers and nutritionists and so on to help, and that’s what I really need/want.

Sea Gull Century Logo

Sea Gull Century Logo

The part I’m actually the most nervous about is the fund raising. I have to raise $1900 by the middle of September, eek! I’m considering donating reflective sashes to people who donate certain amounts, but I don’t have enough reflective fabric! Apparently there is a point in July at which I can decide if I want to continue, so I hope I can raise at least half the amount before then. I’ve never done any kind of fund raising before, so I guess we’ll see how this goes!  (Here’s my donation page, should the spirit move you: http://pages.teamintraining.org/nca/seagull13/elizabethfloyd)

All this talk of training reminds me that the CASA River Ride is also this month – May 18, so just about two weeks away. I did it last year (albeit with more training), so I’m sure I can do it again, but it might not be pretty. Well, the ride is, which is why we want to go back.

Somewhere in WV during last year's CASA River Ride

Somewhere in WV during last year’s CASA River Ride

We end Bike Month with something very non-bikey. We are going to see “Wallenstein,” a play by Friedrich Schiller, at the Shakespeare Theatre Company.  I am excited to see a play, at STC, and a play I know nothing about. I know a bit about the main character, Albrecht von Wallenstein, a highly motivated and skilled military leader in Bohemia during the Thirty Years’ War.* This war was one of many I studied in grad school, since Early Modern European History was my first focus (the degree is actually in Modern European History, with a focus on 19th century Germany). A German historical figure? Count me in! A love earlier than the love of biking, believe it or not.

Most of my Master's Thesis books, German history and language

Most of my Master’s Thesis books, German history and language

Add to these events friends visiting from out of town, horseback riding, Amtrak Train Day, and the EU Embassies’ Open Door Day, and it’s quite the month! I will need Memorial Day weekend to recover!

In the Danish Embassy last year

In the Danish Embassy last year

*It’s very improper historian to use Wikipedia as a source, but it’s harder to offer you my text books for further research.

 

Bike Weekend Recap

There was a time in my life when I only obsessed over fashion. Even all those years in grad school, when I was obsessed with all things German (see the unfinished fruits of that labor here), I was still obsessed with fashion. But now when I look at my life, bicycling has clearly moved to the forefront. (Although now I seem to be obsessed with bike fashion, but that will be a later blog…)

So here’s my bike weekend recap –

Bike to Work Day in Ballston

Modeling the reflective vests I was passing out at Bike to Work Day

Rosslyn won the sibling rivalry with DC’s Reagan Building (but just barely!), with 968 cyclists, while Ballston had a respectable 513. See more figures here and check out some photos here. (and sign up for this blog if you haven’t yet!)

CASA River Ride

What I’ve been planning for for ages! We had a blast. Who knew Shepardstown, WV, would be so cute?! A small, historical downtown with a clear German immigrant past (see my other website for personal significance…), a stream that runs through much of it, including through my new favorite restaurant, the Blue Moon Cafe, and a tiny house that was also fully furnished with tiny furnishing!

Shepard University, on German Street

The public library, in a former Odd Fellows building

The tiny house in the middle of town

I love this – on the corner of German Street and Princess Street!

I could go on and on about this town, but I won’t. However, I plan on going back in the fall, so maybe I will then!

The ride itself was the best thing I could have done as a new roadie. It was a beautiful day, absolutely perfect weather, and the country we rode through was gorgeous – rolling farm lands, fields, horses, big and old houses, and the occasional crossing through civilization. It was very well supported, and I was very grateful for the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the second pit stop! Definitely a tastier option than my Clif Bar. I only got to take one picture, when The Mechanic had to stop for a mechanical issue (quickly resolved, not to dear).

What I really appreciated was the fact that there were few cars, few cyclists, and no pedestrians, so I was able to really get into the bike, and push my limits without fear. Fear of hitting someone or being hit by something! Now I’m going to be itching to do something similar again.

I was surprised that I wasn’t as sore as I thought I’d be, but boy were we exhausted afterwards! We napped for a bit, then went back to Historic Shepardstown to be tourists again, and have another excellent meal at the Blue Moon Cafe. I love that the stream runs through the middle of it!

Blue Moon Cafe, Shepardstown, WV

The next day we admired the Bavarian Inn, checked out C&O Canal Lock  38, and stopped at Antietam National Battlefield on the way home, then Harper’s Ferry. The two couldn’t have been more different. The Battlefield was peaceful, wild, solemn, while Harper’s Ferry was packed with tourists and Harley motorcycles. The former pulp factory and the train tracks were cool though.

The Bavarian Inn, Shepardstown, WV

Lock 38 Mile 72.7 – some day we’ll bike past this again!

Antietam National Battlefield

The remains of the Shenandoah Pulp Factory, shut down in 1935, destroyed in a flood in 1936.

Harper’s Ferry

Although we didn’t bike at all on Sunday, and I didn’t bike to work on Monday, I did the last two days. I wore my bike skirt to work today and showed it off!

Climate Ride NYC to DC

The last bike thing I want to mention is the Climate Ride. A colleague of mine just finished the NYC to DC Ride, and a few of us went to meet her, and the other Climate Riders, in Georgetown, as all 180 cyclists collected to ride off to the Capitol. I had been interested in doing the five-day ride myself, but couldn’t, so maybe next year. Sounds like she had a great time! Listening to her experiences will only make me want to do it that much more. Congrats to all the Climate Riders, and thanks for making it a priority.

Heading off to the Capitol to call for better sustainability and a renewable energy future.

 

And then I rode home in the rain – my first thunder and lightening bike ride! Thanks to my obsession with emergency preparedness, I had a change of clothes, shoes, and raincoat, so although I was wet, my nice stuff didn’t get wet.

Recap

After the claustrophobic experience of Bike DC,  I was extremely relieved that the CASA River Ride was such a pleasurable experience. And now that I’ve completed my first half-century, I’m eyeing my first full century! I am super busy this summer so I don’t know that I”ll have enough time to properly train, but it isn’t until the fall, so I’ve got time to decide. But I really want to do it! How did I become so obsessed with biking? I have no idea! But it’s now a huge part of my life, and I love it.

 

 

 

My Big Fat Bike Weekend

It’s the beginning of my big fat bike weekend and I’m so excited!

First and foremost, tomorrow is Bike to Work Day and its a huge deal in the DC area. The last I heard was that 12,000 people have registered for a pit stop, to pick up their tee shirts. There is a nice “sibling rivalry” going on between Arlington and DC, to see who gets more cyclists, so we’ll have to see what the final numbers end up being. I will be working in Ballston, at the pit stop at FreshBikes. I’ve heard rumors of unicyclists performing….

Also this weekend The Mechanic and I are heading to West Virginia for the CASA River Ride.

We are going to do a half century, and I have been studying the two options, since there are two 50-mile loops. The Berkeley loop is shorter (48 miles) but according to the elevation charts, has a bit steep climb in the middle.

CASA Berkeley Loop

The Jefferson loop is longer (55 miles) but has steady rolling hills. I think I prefer that. Plus, it has three pit stops! That will help.

CASA Jefferson Loop

I am disappointed that I haven’t had more opportunities to train, not as I’d hoped. I can do 50 miles, but I had hoped to be in better shape so it wouldn’t be as painful or as slow. Guess we’ll see what happens on Saturday!

We are staying in Martinsburg, WV, for the whole weekend, and I’m looking forward to some small town quiet as well. Sunday I think we will go to Harper’s Ferry, which should be fun, I’ve always wanted to go there.

Off I go! Whee!