On having bikes that work…

Soooo, we bought another bike. Two, actually!

Once we moved to Seattle, it became immediately clear that the bikes we already owned would not work here. The hills are far steeper than we imagined, and on the off chance that we got overly ambitious and tried to go for a bike ride, we ended up walking our single speed bikes up the hills and arrived at the top sweaty and exhausted. We didn’t realize how lucky we were to have lived in one of the flattest cities ever, where a single speed was more than enough for a comfortable ride. Here, the terrain is our #1 barrier against riding, and we were choosing walking over riding for almost every trip.

Tax return season came at just the right time, and Brian decided to make the jump and buy the Surly Long Haul Trucker he’s always wanted. It has a great gear ratio, the best reviews in the industry, and the only hard choice was whether or not to disc brake. (He chose not). I didn’t have a dream bike in mind, so I decided to keep riding my vintage 3-speed until the right bike came along.

As the weather got warmer, I got increasingly bitter anytime we rode our bikes. It’s absolutely miserable when something that’s been a part of your life every single day for the past 4 years becomes so depressingly hard. It would be the same if a runner had to run in two left shoes, or a writer could only write with their left hand. I knew subconsciously that my negative attitude was being caused by the bike, so I told Brian I was done riding until I found a new bike. I walked to work by myself while Brian rode, and started searching Craigslist for a vintage steel bike that I could start building up.

I contacted three different people about bikes on Craigslist, and scheduled a test ride for a 2006 Soma Double Cross not far from our apartment. It wasn’t the vintage lugged steel I was looking for, and instead it was a new-ish cyclocross style steel bike with high quality new parts.  I wasn’t totally sold on the bike until I threw my leg over the bike and it just fit. It was perfect. It fit me better than any bike I’d ever ridden in my entire life, and it didn’t hurt that it shifted and rode like butter too.

We’ve had our new bikes for 2 weeks, and what a glorious 2 weeks they have been. We have been riding everywhere, and it seems like the city has gotten bigger and more exciting overnight. All of the places that used to be too far, too difficult of a ride, or at the top of a too-tall hill are all of a sudden totally accessible to us.

I’ve wanted to write this type of post for awhile, because I know a lot of people in our lives probably don’t totally understand why we ride like we do. We don’t own a car, and honestly don’t really want to. When we lived in Chicago, everything was completely accessible by foot, bike, or public transit. Grocery stores were 1/2 mile away tops, and work was a (flat) 4 mile bike ride each way. We didn’t start biking as a challenge to be carless, or to prove anything, we just enjoy riding our bikes and it also happens to be the best way for us to get around.

Now that we’re in Seattle, we’ve definitely had to make some adjustments to the lifestyle we’d gotten used to, but not as many as we thought. We chose to live in one of the most accessible neighborhoods in the city, along the only light-rail line, near multiple buses and streetcar routes, and only a mile from our offices. We’d like to move to a different neighborhood once our lease is up, but we’ll definitely be keeping in mind the proximity to transit that allows us to live without a car.

To us, owning a car would be a constant pain. Worrying about where to park it, how much we have to pay to park, paying insurance, paying for gas, etc. When we go to leave the house, it’s easier for us to grab our bikes and go than it would be for us to remember where we parked the car, walk to it, drive, and then pay to park on the other end. If we were to walk instead, it would take us about 3 times as long to get to our destination, and we wouldn’t be able to carry as many groceries or bags, though our transportation would be free.

To most of our friends and family, a car is the first choice for transportation, and bikes are more of a chore. To ride a bike in the suburbs for errands would require pulling the bike out of storage, pumping the tires, changing your outfit to be acceptable for biking, riding a long distance to your destination, and (god forbid) having to wear a helmet. Modes of transport are much different depending on where you live, and choosing to live in a less urban area allows for a much more limited means of commute.

We get it, and 100% understand the differences in lifestyles that allow us to all choose our preferred means of transportation. We actively choose to live in a neighborhood that makes riding a bike an easy choice, instead of living in a suburb where our daily destinations would be out of reach by bike. Being able to hop on our bikes whenever we want is a massive luxury for us, and one that we would be hard pressed to give up. I love writing about this, because I truly want people to understand the freedom that we feel when we ride our bikes. There are obviously monetary benefits that go with, and I’ll attempt to write about those in another post because they extend far beyond what most people would assume. For now, we ride because we love it.

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THE 2016 CHICAGO CUBS WIN THE WORLD SERIES AFTER 108 YEARS

no words.

(actually just kidding I wrote a few words at the end if you’re interested in some sappy memories and a quick little rant about the gentrification of the Chicago Cubs)

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I grew up playing softball, watching baseball, and going to Cubs games with my dad who was a lifelong fan and loved the game. We’d bring our gloves with us (just in case), wear a homemade shirt, and stock up on slurpees and hot dogs at the 7-11 across the street before the game. Some days we had great seats, sometimes the bleachers, but best of all were back against the fence in the upper section where you’d have a nice breeze blowing in behind you. I remember the park being half empty, never waiting in lines for the bathroom, and being able to move closer to the field to open seats after a few innings when it was clear the ticket holders were not showing up. When I moved downtown, I’d buy last minute tickets on Craigslist for a few dollars, and spend an afternoon or evening hanging out at Wrigley. One year, I even found a season ticket holder who gave me his number and told me to text him directly on days when I wanted tickets since he was happy to sell them to someone who loved the game. Cubs fans are good people, and season ticket holders are the most faithful of all.

The past few years have been totally different, and although the team has improved like crazy, the fan experience has not. I feel like the Cubs just got gentrified, and all of the lifelong true fans have been pushed out. It’s hard not to be bitter, but I have such great memories from when I was younger that I will hold on to and remember what it’s like to sit through a rain delay to watch a team that’s down by 11 in the 2nd and be totally thrilled about it. We had a neighbor who would watch every single game on her sunporch til the day she died. My dad honored her in the best way possible by “accidentally spilling” a cremation slurpee over the bleachers into the ivy a few years ago. This World Series win means more to people like her, and Ron Santo, and Ernie Banks, and the fans and players who loved the team no matter how awful they were, and built the franchise (I hate that term) into what it is today. I didn’t tear up once watching the game, but I’ve shed quite a few re-watching clips of old fans and players reminiscing about the past and their dedication and loyalty to the Cubs. Listening to Pat Hughes wishing Ron Santo was there to witness this, and reading all the stories of sons and daughters celebrating for their parents who would have loved to see this day are too much for me to handle. I hope that every player understands the weight of this win and that they look out over the crowd in Grant Park and remember that there are generations of fans who would have given anything to see this day.

Wordly Inspiration

Get it? Wordly, not worLdly? heh, heh, heh.

In lieu of being able to string enough words together to write one sentence, or track down our weekend photos from their scattered folders, I’m happy to introduce you to a few ladies who’ve done both of these. I’m inspired by their writing, their lifestyles, and their ability to create beautiful blogs while raising kids. I’m finding it difficult… even without kids.

1. Reading My Tea Leaves
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Reading My Tea Leaves is my newest blog-crush, and for good reason. Her series “Life in a Tiny Apartment” sings straight to my soul, and she is currently at tip #145 for ways to live in small spaces. Each of her tips has crossed my mind at one point or another, and it feels like meeting an old friend when I read her posts. She is also a fabulous author, and her book Simple Matters has shot to the top of my wish list.

 

2. House of Habit

This family gives me my daily dose of west coast life with 4 of the coolest boys I’ve ever met (through the internet). Their parents have some serious style, and are always collecting vintage goodies, including cars, vans, and trailers. They go on crazy cool vacations, but have a great laid back day-to-day lifestyle too. I’m so envious of the way they parent these boys, giving them all of the freedom and tools to grow up to be awesome. My favorite of her series are “Overheard” and #teamleonthomas (on instagram)

3. Kate Baer
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I’m always a big fan of anyone whose writing comes off as totally effortless. Kate Baer has absolutely nailed it, and I love digging back into some of her older posts about life in general. She has great insight on the way life works, and isn’t scared to lay it all out on the line. She has one post in particular, which actually isn’t even written by her, but it has stuck with me since the first time I stumbled upon it. It’s called A Letter to Moms Whose Partners Work Long Hours. It’s exactly what it sounds like, but relevant to a whole slew of people who are loving someone with other priorities. Some of my other favorites of her writing can be found here.