Summer is gone.


It's been a quiet couple of days here on the blog.  The previous week was completely devoid of any bicycling adventures.  Between the loss Read more

Basil Bottle Basket


My first commute to work made it glaringly obvious that I needed to get some baskets.  The problem was which ones.  I liked the Read more

Brooks Campaign - Behind the Scenes


(Photo above is a screen capture from Zinio.  http://brooksengland.com) Yesterday Andy picked up a copy of Bicycle Times (and then later got a Zinio subscription) Read more

A Grueling Weekend


It's been a quiet couple days here on our blog, mainly because we had a super busy & traumatizing weekend which we are still Read more

Our 2nd Public Bike joins the family.


Now that Andy has had a chance to talk about his bike, I can post about mine!  We were quite smitten once we learned Read more

Summer is gone.

Posted on by Lynn Posted in General Bike Stuff, Personal | 2 Comments

reflection of a tree in a puddle at twilight

It’s been a quiet couple of days here on the blog.  The previous week was completely devoid of any bicycling adventures.  Between the loss of my kitty, a strange flu-like bug I got, and the fact that it rained for about 10 days straight, we didn’t spend much time on our bikes at all.  I was pretty bummed about that, but what can you do?  Yesterday I rode to work for the first time in days and it felt great to be out on my bike again. It’s also completely obvious now that summer is long over.  We went from high 80′s to the 60′s literally overnight, and then had 10 days of rain.  Thankfully the leaves are still hanging on to the trees though.  I’ve noticed this trend in the past few years that it’s horribly hot well into September, then the leaves start to change, and it’s beautiful for a day or two, then it rains like hell and all the leaves fall and it looks like winter a month too soon.  I really hope that doesn’t happen this year.  Seasons in Michigan have all but disappeared.  Spring and autumn used to feel like real seasons that lasted for weeks.  Now they last 5 or 6 days.  I’m not exaggerating and I’m not the only one that’s noticed this.  Our climate here is pretty much turning into overwhelming heat and humidity or non-ending winter.

But this is my first real experience riding in the fall (as an adult at least).  There was obviously no discernible changing of the season when I lived in southwest Florida, and so I am really appreciating the cooler weather and the changing color of the leaves. It even smells like fall. The word that keeps coming to me is “pleasant” but it’s more than that.  It’s quite wonderful really.  I hope we get many weeks to enjoy riding in cooler weather before our neighborhood turns into a pile of slush.

fall leaves

Despite it being kind of a slow week for us, here are a few things I’ve been thinking about:

- Tracking miles.  Who does this?  Do you feel a need to keep a general count of how many miles you’ve put on your bike (or a tally of how much you ride certain bikes, for those of you with more than one?)  We have been keeping track, mostly because I think we are both nerds and find this kind of stuff interesting.  We have been using Map My Ride’s iPhone app for this purpose.  It has been ok, but not great.  We both find the web interface extremely confusing and non-intuitive, and this is coming from two geeks.  We also have had problems with the app giving us errors saying the GPS isn’t working on our phones, but it still shows our route anyway.  I’m thinking about getting a wireless bike computer instead, but frankly, I don’t want to ugly-up my bike attaching a bunch of junk to it.  I also don’t neednine hundred different stats – I basically want to track mileage and that’s it.  (Though I have to admit, I kinda like the computers that show the temperature too, that would be nice to know.)  The one nice thing about the app is that it gives us a historical total as well as ride-specific data.  But there doesn’t seem to be a way to mark which bike you are riding.

- I emailed Basil after posting about the bottle baskets, suggesting that they add rubber feet to the bottom of these baskets – as they are designed to be taken on and off the bike.  To my surprise, I got two replies and they seem very interested in my feedback!  It’s definitely cool to know a company takes their customer’s ideas seriously.  I am still loving those baskets, by the way.

- I picked up one of these wrist wallets from REI last weekend.  I am hoping this solves two problems, one is the GPS issues I’m having with my phone and MapMyRide seems to happen more often when my phone is buried at the bottom of a pannier basket or in a pocket.  The second issue is that we have two private parks in our neighborhood that you have to show a credit card-like pass for.  I realized the first time we rode there that trying to dig that thing out takes forever, and I don’t trust it not to fall out of a pocket.  So it’s usually tucked in my wallet, tucked in a bag, inside my basket.  So that means a lot of fumbling at the gate, which is annoying enough when there aren’t cars behind me waiting to get in.  So this little wrist wallet thing should make that much easier.  Tonight we are going to bike to one of the parks to see a movie (yes our park has a movie theatre!) so I’ll get to test it out.

- There’s a new bike in my future, but I’m going to hold off on talking about it until closer to delivery.  But I’m super excited.

Posted on by Lynn Posted in General Bike Stuff, Personal | 2 Comments

Basil Bottle Basket

Posted on by Lynn Posted in Accessories, Our Bikes | 3 Comments

Basil Bottle Basket - Lemon Yellow on Public M3

My first commute to work made it glaringly obvious that I needed to get some baskets.  The problem was which ones.  I liked the idea of pannier bags and pannier racks, but I couldn’t find any I really loved until I stumbled upon Basil.  Basil is a company based in The Netherlands specializing in stylish bicycle baskets and accessories.  They have a lot of products that I really like and I have a feeling this will not be my last purchase from them.  I definitely have my eye on some of their pannier bags as well.  But I immediately fell in love with their “Bottle Basket”, a rear pannier basket available in the colors of sherbert.  (lemon yellow, pastel green, salmon orange, and mint turquoise.)  The salmon orange looked liked it would clash with the vibrant orange of the M3, so I opted for the yellow.

I was super delighted to find them available in the US from Niagara Cycleworks (via Amazon) for $27.99.  Shipping seemed to take forever, especially since I ordered several other accessories from Amazon resellers at the same time and everything else arrived first.  But I am very pleased I was able to find them at all because there doesn’t seem to be too many US distributors.  (Though I guess that’s about to change, Andy tells me PUBLIC just announced in their last email blast that they will be offering Basil items as well.)

I purchased 2 rear baskets and 1 front basket in a matching color.  I will be posting better photos later and probably a more detailed review once I’ve spent more time using them, but here are my first impressions of the rear racks.   Please excuse the low quality point-and-shoot camera photos.  (Also please excuse our grass – as I mentioned in our previous post, we are rarely home on weekends when the weather is nice due to our jobs and our yard definitely suffers for it!)

Two Basil Bottle Baskets mounted on Public M3

Here are both mounted on the rear rack.  Try to ignore the yellow bungee cord I neglected to remove before taking photos.  I feel the color in the image above is more representative of the actual color than the other photos.  This is not a bright, vibrant, true yellow….Rather, it is more like a chalky, greenish yellow that can almost look just slightly chartreuse in daylight.  Regardless, I think the baskets look pretty nice against the orange.

Showing how the Basil Bottle Basket secures to the rear rack.

Unlike most pannier racks (I think), this one is designed to allow effortless removal.  I really liked this feature as I only plan on keeping the baskets on when I’m actually hauling stufff.  The easy on and off was a huge bonus to me, and one of the deciding factors to purchase these.  The rack hooks are long and the baskets stay securely in place with very minimal movement.  (I don’t notice any movement at all or hear any noise when using them so far.)  I am not worried about them falling off at all, and they were completely fine even going over potholes.

Basil Bottle Basket Handle Detail

One of the great features is this comfortably molded plastic handle.  I didn’t realize how much of a big deal this was until I picked up a heavy load of groceries in it and found it super easy to hold.  It’s one of those features that’s easy to overlook until you need it, and much appreciated.

Public M3 with Basil Bottle Basket

The basket is huge and can easily fit a standard sized brown paper grocery bag.  That said, we found it easiest to just pull the racks off, hook them to the inside of a shopping cart, and put our purchases directly inside them.  (And if you were just getting light items or using one basket, you could skip the grocery cart altogether.)

My only point of contention at this time is that there are no rubber feet on the bottom and I’m worried about how well the paint on the bottom will hold up over time.   I’ve found that even though I don’t want to do it, I need to occasionally put the baskets on the ground – and that ground is usually rough concrete.  For example, if I’m lugging home two baskets of heavy groceries, I have to take one off and put it down immediately so I can grab the second one before the bike falls over.  Any load over a few pounds is enough to cause the bike to fall over when it’s on the kickstand – especially if I’m only using one basket.  This is probably just a function of having a side kickstand instead of a european style one with the supports on both sides.  (And it makes a good argument for having a more supportive kickstand for major shopping outings.)

Our maiden voyage to Trader Joe’s with these racks really put them to the test….we bought quite a few heavy products, including a lot of dense stuff in glass jars (like almond butter) and wine, meat, cheeses and other heavier liquid products.  The baskets were quite heavy and Andy even offered to put one on his bike, but I wanted to see how feasible it was for me to carry everything myself.  And it was perfectly fine, no bending, no rattling, it was a perfectly uneventful ride home.  So far these baskets get my seal of approval.

 

Posted on by Lynn Posted in Accessories, Our Bikes | 3 Comments

Brooks Campaign – Behind the Scenes

Posted on by Lynn Posted in General Bike Stuff | Leave a comment

Brooks Fox Ad(Photo above is a screen capture from Zinio.  http://brooksengland.com)

Yesterday Andy picked up a copy of Bicycle Times (and then later got a Zinio subscription) and I spent a few minutes flipping through it but I didn’t get far because this ad stopped me in my tracks.  As a photographer, this image really appealed to me.  I love the humor in it and the use of the animals.  I immediately started wondering about it and dissecting it.  Who was the photographer?  How much of it was composited?  Was the fox real?  It looked too believable to be a stuffed one, and the hand placement around the tail and the fox’s body position also looked too believable to have been digitally added later.

So this morning, it was a nifty coincidence that Houndstooth Road tweeted about the exact same ad.  The Brooks website posted about this campaign back in March, complete with a behind the scenes video.

I thought I’d repost it here for anyone else who likes this sort of thing.  We recently put Brooks saddles on our PUBLIC Bikes, which were a huge improvement.  Andy took a lot of photos and will have a post coming soon.

Posted on by Lynn Posted in General Bike Stuff | Leave a comment

A Grueling Weekend

Posted on by Lynn Posted in Personal | 1 Comment


It’s been a quiet couple days here on our blog, mainly because we had a super busy & traumatizing weekend which we are still trying to recuperate from. Our photography jobs require us to work many weekends of the year, particularly late spring through early fall.  On Saturday, after coming home from a long day of  shooting, we pulled into our driveway to discover that one of our cats, Draven,  had gotten out of the house and had been killed by two stray dogs (which we actually saw lazily walking down the street a few seconds before reaching our house.)   To say I was devastated is putting it mildly.  I got Draven when I was 19, and had just moved out on my own, and he was my companion for 14 years.  He was not your typical cuddly housecat….in fact I suspect that he most likely was feral.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved him, and he (mostly) was nice to me, but he could be downright vicious when it came to other humans and unfamiliar animals.  (Our own large 70lb dog was scared to death of him!)

In the last year, he had developed a thyroid disorder, which caused him to lose a lot of weight quickly.  He went from over 20lbs to 6lbs over the course of several months.  We had gotten him to some kind of equilibrium lately with some new medicine (which I found online), but it was clear we didn’t have that much time left.  Because he had gotten so skinny, he was able to slip under the fence and out of the relative protection of our back yard.  And he was obviously much weaker than normal.  In his prime, this cat probably would have kicked the butts of these dogs, but in his weaken state, he didn’t stand a chance.  I feel horrible for not taking better precautions to make sure he didn’t get outside, but  by the same token, for such a thing to happen in our neighborhood is pretty unheard of.

As if that wasn’t enough, the previous week I found a little cut on one of our other cats.  She needed vaccinations anyway, so I made a vet appointment for her, but the earliest we could get her in was yesterday, and by that time, the cut had turned into a giant abscess which caused her face to swell to the point that it looked like she was storing two large walnuts in her cheek.  She required minor surgery to clean out the wound and drain it, but after what had happened during the weekend, I was doubly anxious for her.  (We still do not know what happened to her, but she was definitely not involved in the incident with Draven.)

For the record, I know many feel it’s horrible to ever let cats outside.  And perhaps I’m reaping what I deserve.  But if you have ever taken in an adult stray, you know they always want to spend some time outdoors, and it becomes a quality of life thing.  (For both you and the cat……if you have ever listened to a cat cry for hours for its freedom, you know what I mean.)   We also live in an area of very low traffic, where speed limits are slow, and everyone on the block tends to look out for each other’s pets.  I also think it’s a little mean to deprive any animal of fresh air and the warmth of sunlight.  Our cats mostly stay in our fenced in yard, away from predators and have their claws.

I actually started this post with a bike-specific topic in mind, but it just sort of turned into this.  Give your pets some love today and take lots of photos of them.  I am glad I got those two above of Draven before he got super-super skinny.  But of course I wish I had taken more.

 

 

Posted on by Lynn Posted in Personal | 1 Comment

Our 2nd Public Bike joins the family.

Posted on by Lynn Posted in Our Bikes | Leave a comment

Orange PUBLIC Bikes M3

Now that Andy has had a chance to talk about his bike, I can post about mine!  We were quite smitten once we learned of PUBLIC Bikes and I think we both were pretty much on board right away.  Their product line was in our price range for our “getting back into biking” bikes, the colors were wonderful, the bike geometry pleasing to the eye, and they promised super easy online ordering and delivery.  The only choice for me really, was which style I should get.

(Also, for the record, I know so far our blog has been very PUBLIC Bikes-centric….hopefully that will change soon, we are just ridiculously excited about our bikes.  I promise not all future content will sound like an ad for this company.)

I can really be indecisive at times, to the point that it’s paralyzing.  Originally I really had my heart set on the C3:

Public Bikes white C3PUBLIC Bikes C3   (image from www.publicbikes.com)

At this point in my bike search, I had just started looking at loop frames and had yet to open the pandora’s box that is the wonderful blogs like Lovely Bicycle! and Let’s Go Ride a Bike.  If I had, I probably would have spent three times what I did and ended up with dutch bike.  (And that could still happen people!)

That said, I’m still pleased that I purchased my PUBLIC Bike.  If I had fallen hardcore in love in one of those pricier dutch bikes, I’d probably still be deliberating and making lists and researching my “big” purchase.  And not riding.  And I also would have considered the “investment bike” too precious to lock up and leave while at work.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

Choosing a 3-speed model was the no-brainer part.  I definitely wanted more than one speed, and 7 or 8 seemed like overkill on our mostly flat streets.  I also liked that the 3-speed models had the Shimano Nexus gears which meant a cleaner profile and the ability to switch gears at a standstill.  I also wanted to avoid a diamond frame.  So that narrowed down my options to the M3 or the C3.

I loved the loop frame C3 model both for looks and its promise that it would be easy to step over.  I am super klutzy and the Trek bikes we purchased previously (and subsequently ignored) were diamond frames.  I wanted something that screamed “ease”.  Yet at the same time, I was also loving the styling on the mixte frames, in particular those lovely painted rims on the wheels.  I was inexplicably drawn to those painted rims.  I know this is a stupid thing to base a purchase on.  But those rims….OMG, I love them! I was all about those painted wheels, especially in the orange color.  Photos like this one made me fall further in love with the mixte.

I went back and forth for days deliberating.  I couldn’t decide.  The loop frame looked adorable and easy to ride, but the mixte also had great looks and those painted wheels.  The C3/loop frame was high tensile steel while the M3/mixte was chromoly.  Given my clumsiness and newness to riding, it seemed likely I would eventually fall and nick the paint and maybe a more rust resistant frame was the way to go.  Finally I told Andy go ahead and order his M3, and I would take a look at his and make the final decision.

While we waited for his to arrive, I kept reading and started checking out in particular those aforementioned blogs.  The more I looked at truly dutch bikes, the more I liked them and the more the C3 looked “too modern”.  The handlebars didn’t seem to go with the frame (PUBLIC uses the same handlebars on every model). I felt that I wanted my loop frame to have a fully enclosed chainguard.  The seat would have to be switched out, but that was a given on any of their bikes.

I briefly flirted with the idea of getting this bike from Linus, but the colors weren’t that exciting and it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind for my ideal loop frame bike.

Andy’s bike arrived and it was beautiful. I decided I would go ahead and get a M3 (in medium) and keep my eye out for a loop frame to get sometime in the future.  (Already planning my next bike before the first arrives….is this how bike obsession starts?  I am in trouble!)

So that’s how I wound up with a M3 as well.  If you want to see unboxing pictures, I suggest checking out Andy’s post below.  I have some too, but they are basically exactly the same.

Now I’ll reward you by reading through all my rambling with photos of my mixte.  I’m sure you’ll agree that she’s much prettier than Andy’s.  :)

Orange Public M3

(These photos, and all photos on our blog can be enlarged by clicking on them, FYI.)

I ordered an orange rear rack and the cute red Federico bell with my M3.  The light is a Knog that I purchased separately through Amazon.  I removed the front reflector from the handlebars.  Which probably isn’t proper, but I didn’t want my handlebars mucked up with junk.  (I normally don’t keep the light on either, but Andy took these photos and it happened to be on.)

Orange painted rims on Public M3

Here’s those lovely painted rims/wheels/whatever. I still need to learn the bike lingo.

Boring seat photo

Gratuitous boring saddle photo.  The saddle that comes with PUBLIC’s bikes isn’t horrible, but it’s not as good looking as a Brooks, so we replaced ours.  We’ll be talking about them more in a future post.

PUBLIC Bikes Chainguard

Rear rack on Public M3 in orange

The orange racks PUBLIC sells are actually color matched to the C3 bikes which are just a shade lighter than the M3 orange.  If you look closely you can see it’s a bit off from the fender.  It’s really NOT that big of a deal, but if you are super picky this may be a point of contention.  Apparently their next batch of racks will match the M3.  It wasn’t worth waiting for a perfectly matched one, because I want to be able to haul stuff.  Yellow bungee is mostly there because it looks cute, though it has been used a few times out shopping.

Mixte Detail

I was optimistic that the M3 might be stepover-able, but I really don’t find it to be.  I am finding that to be less and less of a big deal, though I still do see a loop frame bike in my future.

Red Federico Brass Bell

I love my bell and I don’t care if it doesn’t match at all.

M3 handlebars

My bike came with grips different from Andy’s M3 and what’s shown on the website.  Mine are synthetic leather, while Andy has the rubbery ones shown on Public’s site.  I don’t know why I got the brown ones.  I think they are making slight tweaks to their bikes, and I’m guessing the orange bikes are selling faster than the whites, so maybe my bike is newer than Andy’s.  We ordered our bikes maybe 7-10 days apart.  Our bikes both have the cleaner looking disk over the chain hiding the “teeth”, which are visible on the M3 on PUBLIC’s site.  Again, I think they are just still refining things.  Andy likes my grips better, but I feel that his look more retro.

Mixtes

Here’s both of our bikes together.  His M3 is in the large frame, while mine is medium.  It doesn’t look like there is much difference here, but in person the size difference is more discernible.  As a side note, I have to say it’s kind of funny how my individuality seems to suffer when it comes to choosing a bike.  We ended up getting the same model Treks a couple years ago, and here I am buying the same bike again!  (This is just another reason why I should get a loop frame too, I’m sure he won’t want a “girly” bike.)  :)

Mixte bikes

So there’s my mixte at a glance.  Thanks to everyone that’s stopping by and checking out our blog.  We appreciate it!  If you have a bike blog we should link to, let us know.  And we’d also love for you to link to us as well, too.

Posted on by Lynn Posted in Our Bikes | Leave a comment