Tag Archives: bike

Two Great Loves

From the Spring 2010 "Northern Now" alumni magazine

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Back to School!

I am not used to there being so many kids around.  College campuses just aren’t like this.  And being that I’m usually jogging, on my way to mass, or heading off to work at the same time school starts I am always running into kids.  Everywhere.

And not that that is a bad thing.  Just different.  I am also not used to so many different schools in the same area.  For me, it was one school.  Everyone in the area went through the same school district (with the exception of high school, but those that didn’t follow the rest of the junior high class were certainly an exception).  Now I have about 5 schools within a 15 minute walk, which means that most of the kids are walking too.  Brett Bretterson and I were on our way to campus early this week when I approached an intersection.  The crossing-guard stopped traffic for me.  I guess that is her job.  Or maybe she just mistook me for a 7-year-old.

I will admit that the first day I saw a gang of little girls in plaid skirts I got a little nervous.  Why are you all wearing unfashionable attire?!  Together??!  It took me a moment to realize what was going on.  OBVIOUSLY I went to public school.

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Riding a bike in a skirt: A guide.

I’ve seen a lot of traffic to this site as the result of using a search engine for the phrase “riding bike in a skirt.” Searching this phrase will bring you to this post, which really isn’t about riding in a skirt at all. So, friends and fans, let me be of assistance, because I have done my fair share of perfecting this art.

Material and length make a big difference. Obviously, the longer the skirt the easier it is to keep it from flying up. Something that goes past your knees when sitting is ideal. One would think that a heavier material would be key, but it is just the opposite. A heavier material is more likely to catch the wind and make sudden and unexpected flips. A lighter skirt (those with a slip are always helpful) allows for more airflow and the wind passes through.

When riding, try to keep the end of the skirt capped over the knees. It is helpful to angle the knees in toward each other as the skirt then has a smaller area to cover and is more likely to drape down rather than being caught by the air. If this is a problem the length the the skirt can be tucked under one’s buttocks when seated. Not the whole skirt–it doesn’t need to be taught across the lap–just enough to keep it from moving too much.

Finally, when cruising it is best to have one leg as straight as possible and the other bent near 90 degrees. Angle the knee of the bent leg inward, again, allowing the skirt less surface area to cover. The trick here is to take a bit of the skirt and press it against the seat with one’s inner thigh, which keeps it in place without being completely obvious.

Now, lets be modest here, but keep in mind that if you end up without perfection the first (or 100th) time around, shorts often show a lot more skin than a wind-swept skirt. Be smart. Be aware. Be stylish. Stay awkward.

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CU later

After work today I have grand plans of going to Espresso to use my last fully-punched card for a free chai tea…heck I’m feeling crazy–make it a latte.  I will sit and read my book.  I will finish it–only 30 pages to go, and return it (backdated, of course) in the morning.  It feels strange to not only be leaving the physical campus, but the library system as well.

After my caffeine, final pages of the book, and writing upon the last 2 pages of my journal, I will ride my bike home and pack my apartment.  I will sleep for a long time and get up before the sun to run through the streets of Urbana one. last. time.

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move’n on up, to the (west)side

Sandy and I decided to put a security deposit on a place we looked at.  We’d been excited about it after the showing, but tried to play it cool.  “We’ll think about it and pray about it.  If it’s supposed to be ours it will be there when we’re ready.  I don’t think we should freak out now and try to nab it.”  A few days later the landlord emailed me to ask if we were still interested, as he thought we’d make good tenants.  This was also the day I discovered that St. Joseph is the patron saint of finding a home.  That man is always watching out for me.  I took it as a sign.  (although, I surely do not believe in signs…)  Aside from some minor things, the place is everything we were looking for.  A bit farther from the city than I would have liked, but for the cost and the amenities its so very worth it.

I was on the phone with the landlord going over some questions we had when another 708 number was ringing through.  I got really excited at the thought of one of the places I applied was trying to contact me.  ((Could it be all to perfect?!))  Turns out it was just my new university confirming that, no, they do not in fact offer discounts on the CTA.  Damn.  There goes another $75 a month.

I’d really love a job in the loop.  It is asking a lot, I know, but I miss the feel of the city.  Last weekend when we changed trains at the Washington stop it made me long for New York in a way I haven’t felt in a while.  Could I make this my New York?  Could I be a bike-riding Farmer’s-market Thomas-O’Brien suburb girl who has a hip job worth waking up for?

I hope it all works out.  How strange life is turning out to be.  Strange but good.  At one point I thought I was moving across the country and now I find myself 4 miles from Ashley, 11 miles from Liz (for a bit), 8 miles from Jake, 13 miles from AAron (and soon Stephanie), and 43 miles from my physical home.  Not that I’ve checked.

Ashlee, you understand.

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“Were you just riding your bike in a skirt?” “Yes, it’s an art I’m perfecting.”

I have been riding my bike to work for a number of weeks now. It is the four miles of the day I’ve grown to love.

For a while I had convinced myself that I was too cool for a helmet. I was going mostly through neighborhoods, helmet might mess up my hair, and I simply didn’t need one because of my stubbornness. But thoughts of you, lying on the pavement, hardly conscious, kept flooding my mind. I am so glad that even if part of you was replaced with a steal rod, you are still alright now. I bought a helmet. It is not so stylish, but it is mine. I have you to thank.

I carry it with me where ever my bike goes. And somewhere along the way I’ve turned into a real bike-commuter. One of those messenger-bag-wearing-rolls-right-pant-leg-up-takes-helmet-into-restaurant-bikers. And I’m not going to lie, I love it. I continue to find new things to fix on the bike (his name is Brett, by the way. Brett Bretterson.) and with each passing week my commute becomes more and more satisfying. It used to annoy me that I would have to carry Brett up 3 flights of stairs at the end of the day, but now I see it as a sign of accomplishment.

At 11.50 I escape from work and head over to mass. Although I have shoes that I use to get too and from work, the heels stay on for the commute to the church. Its probably not the best idea, I know, but it is a game for me. A challenge. “Ladies and gentlemen, CAN she do IT?!” I think it makes the ride all the more interesting if for no one else but myself.

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