Magic Monday

It’s a rainy Monday morning in Chicago. I skipped my bike ride in favor of cute umbrellas and fun snaps on my commute into work. Here’s to a marvelous week.

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Posted on the run!

A Style Evolution

I often talk about fashion and style on this blog, but let’s take a minute to think about our lexicon here.  Style can have a lot to do with how you look and the clothes you wear, but saying the two are interchangeable is a bit of a misnomer. Style is feeling comfortable in your own skin and having the confidence to let that comfort shine through.

My husband once said to me, “You’re cool.  You are completely at ease with who you are,”  and I took a minute to ponder

mirror

mirror (Photo credit: gioiadeantoniis)

that, because it wasn’t always that way.  I spent many years copying other people’s fashion and mannerisms – I’d pay desperate attention to how my cousin Tutti dressed (who is a sartorial wunderkind, by the way.)   This kind of self-loathing is a taught mechanism – I’m sure you can immediately find 10 examples of something stating that you are not good enough or you should look like XYZ.

I spent a lot of time and money fighting the way I looked.  I tried silly diets and exercise regimes that never amounted to much.  I altered the texture of my naturally curly hair and I was never that comfortable with my size (I certainly am now).  Then one day, I woke up and thought, you know what?  Life is not a dress rehearsal.  Why get anxious over what someone else thinks?  They don’t have to live this life!   This is my general approach to most things.  Don’t get it twisted, I will always have some element of caring what other people think – you’re lying if you say you don’t.  However, I never get too caught up in it – I have to live with my decisions and actions so it’s in my best interest to do what is pleasing to me.

Laziness was actually a big factor in developing my own style.  I didn’t have the time or desire to fight against who and what I was, so I really learned to work with what I have and love it; regardless of what Vogue, men on the street, or other women had to say about it.

Admittedly, I borrow fashion element and style inspiration from all circles – my mother, my father, my husband, the girl on the bus with the great Kate Spade bag.  I don’t embrace any one look – I like to experiment and play with them all.  I have some days that are real sartorial misses and messes – don’t be surprised if you find a few stray cat hairs nestled in my ‘fro, or there’s a run in my hose. That’s all part of me too, and like a coworker once said, “Hey, I can’t be brilliant everyday.”

I think your personal fashion is an extension of who you are and how you feel about yourself.  Clothes don’t make the man, but most people feel good when they look good.  That was my impetus in getting into style consulting.  My job isn’t to tell you what to wear – my job is to help you evaluate who you are, what you want to portray, and dress accordingly without ever feeling compromised.

Fashion can be an enabler of style, but it’s not the same.  How did you figure out your style?

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On working out…

Me I Want a Hula Hoop

Me I Want a Hula Hoop (Photo credit: Vicki & Chuck Rogers)

This is a topic that has been visited and revisited, ad nauseum.

I hate loathe exercise.  Yep, I said it.  I am not and will not ever be a zen yoga master, a soul cycle enthusiast, or a mighty marathoner.  I have made peace with these facts, although I don’t think my physician has (as she is not so subtle about mentioning the 10 pounds I should lose). Now, now you gym nazis, while I am known to occasionally slip into periods of sloth, (generally when I am on vacation at my parents’  where my Jawbone Up pedometer band logged a total of 764 steps on a Saturday compared to my normal 10,000-12,000), I’m fairly active on a daily basis.

This is not due to logging hours at Women’s Torture Chamber Women’s Workout World or the gymnasium du jour.  I do not “feel the burn” or “get into the zone.”   There is no runner’s high in my world; instead I play tennis run around chasing a ball in a feeble manner¹, I cycle everywhere, and when I don’t cycle, I walk.   I’m a firm believer in functional and fun exercise, which brings me to the problem of this year’s bloody polar vortex.

See, I had these grandiose plans that I was going to Bike Winter in Chicago.  You know, bundle up with the balaclava and knock out those 10 miles a day on my Green Lantern (that’s my bike).  The Hawk had a serious hand in paving the road to hell – my good intentions were met with ice, wind, and Siberia-like temperatures. I had talked to my friend Sandra in Sweden and she said that Malmö was warmer than Chicago– it was clear that my tires would not be meeting the pavement anytime soon.  I made it a point to walk at least five miles on even the coldest days, but how can you not want to gorge yourself with macaroni and cheese and stay holed up in flannel and fleece when it’s 25 degrees below zero?  My efforts to cycle a had gone a wee bit in vain.

You know that mental to-do list that you have the back of your brain of things you want to do say…during your lifetime?  (This is going somewhere, I promise)  Not even a bucket list, per se, but just those questions that annoy you off and on like, “How do I stay fit during the winter without succumbing to the gym and not developing severe hypothermia in the process?” (Okay, maybe you’re deep and your thoughts are a bit more existential– more in the “What is the meaning of life?” vein.  I’m an easy read.  It’s either “What am I going to eat today?” or something far more mundane like what I just said.)  The answer came to me in a Refinery29 post.

Hula Hooping.  Yes – hula hooping.  It was a stroke of absolute genius. Why force yourself to do things you hate? If I have to “work out” it is going to have to be a) fun or b) functional.  I was a very active 80s child – most of my time was spent outdoors running around², on roller skates, on a bicycle, or often with a hula hoop.  Can’t you see me with my big Afro, some serious bell bottoms, and a sparkly hula hoop,  going for what I know³?  Immediately, I asked the almighty Google for an adult hula hoop and the Cleveland Clinic (yes that Cleveland Clinic) had a collapsible Hoopnotica one on sale.  Sold!  This was the most brilliant thing I’ve thought of in weeks! I can’t wait.

I’ve not hooped in years, so the first week is going to be hard colossally tragic.  They do say it’s like riding a bike. Hopefully that doesn’t mean falling down a lot.  I’m not a video kind of gal, but maybe Keith will post a vid of me and the hoop (what should I name my hoop???) after I get a little good, although I suspect that I will never be amazing.

All you gym haters out there (c’mon, it’s safe to tell me)  - how do you stay fit?

 

¹ You should see me and Keith attempting to play tennis.  We have public courts across from our house and I am surprised we haven’t been banned.  It’s pretty pathetic and I think other real tennis players are ashamed for us.  My favorite part?  Tennis fashion.  I’ve got some great tennis skirts and dresses.

²And getting poison ivy from Miss Sadie’s house (Shout out to Nerissa who always gets my terrible 80s references).

³Come on.  This never gets old.  And it’s on repeat in my brain until I get my hula hoop.  Maybe then I’ll expand my mental jukebox.

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Argh, My Bag!

 

Rotating Black Hole

Rotating Black Hole (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My purse is a BLACK HOLE.  I mean, a supermassive black hole where nothing can escape.  I carry EVERYTHING with me, all the time.  You never know when you are going to end up with broccoli in your teeth and need some floss to get it out (Flosscard!!), or if you are like me and don’t wear antiperspirant, you don’t know when you might spontaneously start to stink and need to reapply your natural deodorant (Jean Godfrey June swears by Lavanila, but I’ve found that plain old Milk of Magnesia in a spray bottle works the best and it’s cheap, to boot.)

So I carry everything with me (need a baby wipe?  sewing kit?  Girl, I got you.)  and when I see all those blog posts about “What’s in Celebrity XYZs” bag and it ends up being an iPhone and a tiny wallet, I think seriously?  Is it because she has a sherpa to lug her real 30 pound whopper-of-a-suitcase around?  Cause that certainly ain’t me.

However, I am a student of life, ready and willing to learn how to schlep around less, because I ruin the handles on bags on a very regular basis and furthermore, my left shoulder has a permanent indentation from where my ginormous bag rests.  I’ve moved to crossbody bags and to backpacks to redistribute weight, and I can even pare down to a bag a bit smaller than the size of a Louis Vuitton Speedy 25.  I can’t help it, there’s a special place in my heart for a big ol’ tote.  I mean the kind of tote that screams FEED ME SEYMOUR cause you would never believe what I find in the bottom of my bag at the end of the week.  I’m talking about unwrapped pieces of gum, hairpins, an errant Kind bar, broken tea bags and way too much electronic nonsense (flash drive?  check.  headphones? check.  Square card reader? check.)  I hate to admit it, but I once smooshed an avocado in my  12 x 9 x 7 humongous Badgley Mischka tote and it still hasn’t changed the error of my ways (I just learned to put my avocado in a plastic container, which equals MORE. DAMN. STUFF.)

So tell me your secrets, ladies?  How can you get away with carrying next to nothing (which to me is a tiny wallet, 2 keys, and a cell phone)? I can do this if I am going out, but my work bag? AIN’T. GONNA. HAPPEN.  How are you living your lives without lip balm?  Umbrellas? Business cards?  Androids/iPods/iPads/tripod/whatever other nonsense you need to make it through the day?  What’s the most bizarre thing you’d find in your bag? And is there such a thing as Big Bag Rehab?  If not, I need to get on that.

Zen and the Art of Bicycle Riding

Bikes

Bikes (Photo credits: www.roadtrafficsigns.com)

Let’s start this by stating that I’ m a utility cyclist. It’s my point A to point B – seldom do I cycle ‘for fun’ and I certainly don’t cycle for sport.  I still hate to exercise, but I do not equate my daily ten mile commute with a bout at the gym. However, when I do find myself at the gym on business trips, I notice that cycling has improved my effectiveness.

I spend a good amount of time on a bicycle. About 10-15 hours a week. It’s been a life changing experience in many different ways, the most valuable being that it has taught me how to slow down.  This modern life has a way of systematically getting us away from simple pleasures; there’s always a drive to be bigger, better, faster…and more efficient.  Now, I’m all for efficiency – I probably should be a German in that respect, but it seems like taking the time to smell the roses is hardly ever an option.

Bicycling changes all of that. You can only go as fast as your feet can take you on a bike.  And for me that tops out at about 9mph at a hefty clip.  On a bicycle, my mantra is “I’ll get there when I get there,”  although I am seldom late.  I ride fully engaged with my surroundings.   I use all five senses simultaneously: taking in the jarring feel of Chicago roads and wind through my helmet, sniffing the respectively enticing and repulsive smells of Blommer’s chocolate and an overdue trash day, hearing the annoying horns of Windy City cabbies and listening to my fellow 7am middle aged cyclist who pumps dub reggae out of his new age ghetto blaster on a a Divvy bike.  I see the city coming to life as mothers shuffle their tots off to school and rush hour traffic ensues at 5pm.  I taste the saline sweat from my upper lip – I don’t understand runner’s high, but I completely get the connection between body, pedal, and earth.

Okay, I’ve waxed poetic enough, but imagine living your life at a speed relative to as fast as your own two feet could take you.  Don’t get it twisted, there are many days where I don’t feel like hopping in the saddle, but peace (relative peace…thanks f’ing cabbies) awaits me there.  In my world of 24-hour news, smartphones, reports, and airplanes, that otherwordly slowing-down to take the time to smell the flowers (or dog $*!t…hey it’s all organic) is a sobering antidote.  It  connects me to a slower form of life, where my only immediate concerns are if I have enough air in my tires and will the Grand street bridge be out today.  There are times on that long, quiet tretch of Hubbard street through the West Loop where I could could give Icarus a run for his money with my thoughts, but I try to keep my eyes and ears on the road so it’s typically very freeing.

All in all, for those precious 15 hours a week, I can only do one thing at a time and I can only go as fast as my two feet will carry me, which for me is a zen and peace that my bus card or a set of car keys can never provide.

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Being Better to Yourself (and winning!)

Icon from Nuvola icon theme for KDE 3.x.

Icon from Nuvola icon theme for KDE 3.x. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wrote a little earlier this year about taking out time to be better to myself (and you being better to yourself as well.)  Unfortunately this meant a few things had to fall by the wayside until I got a better balance on my life.   I’m definitely guilty of trying to take on 1000 things at one time, therefore doing none of them well.   Being a new wife and trying to make all the gears turn hasn’t necessarily been difficult – it’s been very enjoyable, but it does put demands on your time that being single does not.  I think I’m entering a period of homeostasis now, so you probably will hear from me a bit more often. Besides, a lot has gone on.

Anyway, enough about that, more about me :)  This is a lifestyle blog, after all.

About 15 years ago I was super sick – no fault of my own really.  Luckily, recovery began sooner rather than later with a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis and a lot of pills.   I mean,  A LOT of pills – no fewer than 25 daily.  Those pills brought relief and an ability to walk again, but the pills also brought along their own host of problems – some that I’ve still not completely conquered 15 years later.  Sad to say, but after a while, you get used to being sick.  It becomes a feeling of normality.  Pain becomes normal. New conditions that stem from your old ones become normal.  It’s really difficult to remember what life was like before illness hit.  After a while you forget what it’s like to feel healthy (and good) and at this point a lot of things can slip by, unnoticed.  This is what happened to me.  Feeling tired and achy became second nature, so the additional malaise of weight gain and general unhealthiness just went unnoticed.
I’m not motivated to lose weight by appearance, unlike many others.  After my father fell ill earlier this year I knew something had to give, but I wasn’t quite sure how to tackle the very complicated web of not-so-great family health history+my unique needs of having a disability+my general aversion to diet and exercise.  I don’t “diet” because I tend to eat healthy meals (just too much of them).  I don’t subscribe to weird fad diets because I know what I’m like.  I need easy, accessible foods that I’m going to make and eat.  Exercise is an entire different matter – others definitely find joy in the “runner’s high,” but I find severe knee pain.  I don’t just dislike exercise; often walking simply hurts, so it’s no wonder I have an aversion to many activities.
I had let my indolence about my body and health go on for long enough.  I’m at the age where things really start falling apart – I got a big dose of it at a young age, but chronic disease starts to really manifest itself the closer you get to your 40s.  I think I’ve had my fair share of suffering, so it was up to me to make some changes for the better.  I had to rearrange some priorities, give up some old habits, and be honest with myself about myself – I knew good and well that I wasn’t going to convince myself to run a marathon, so I kept my goals sizeable.
So….*drum roll please!*  I sleep on average 7.75 hours a night, I’ve been seeing my physicians on a regular basis, I’ve lost 10 pounds in two months, have become relatively physically fit, and while I have two chronic illnesses, I’m 90% medication free and what’s left has been reduced (and hopefully will soon be eliminated!)
Now to the good stuff…
1.  Set manageable, tangible, and relevant goals.  This is the best piece of advice I can ever give you.  Try to make your goal as specific as possible and do not make your goal punitive in nature.  Really think about how to structure your goal.  I knew I needed to lose some weight, but my goal was actually to incorporate more exercise into my life.  The weight loss would follow.
2.  Celebrate small victories. You made it to yoga this week – YAY!  You counted your calories for five days in a row – YAY!  You went to have a physical – YAY!  See where I am going with this?  Give yourself some low-hanging fruit.  There’s going to be weeks where nothing goes according to plan, and those are the weeks that you will need to find the small things to celebrate.  (YAY!)
3.  Make things quantitative.  This is probably the other sound piece of advice I can give you.  Data is a good thing when it comes to taking care of yourself and simply knowing where you stand can be a big motivator.  I got one of those activity monitor thingamajiggers (really, it’s the Jawbone UP) and that made me pay much closer attention to my eating/sleeping/exercise habits.  You don’t need a $150 piece of equipment to do this, but if it helps, it’s worth it.  This is your life we’re talking about after all.
4.  Slow down.  I’m so guilty here.  There are about a billion things that I want to do at any given time (like write a blog post and sleep…) And about a million that I need to do and have no desire to (like work on a 150 page report for work).  It’s super easy to get overwhelmed, which equals serious burn out and nothing gets done.  I’ll cover slowing down in more detail later, but this is your one life and you owe it to yourself to savor it instead of rushing through it.
5.  Have a schedule and be in control of your time.  This might actually sound counter-intuitive, but it’s really not.  Having a schedule (with room to deviate from it) makes you far more effective.  A schedule makes you mindful of your time and how you are using it.  When you schedule a meal, you are less likely to make poor nutritional choices. When you schedule exercise, it’s a part of your day and there’s not room to excuse yourself from doing it.  Scheduling a date night with your loved ones keeps you honest about how and where you are spending your time.
A personal shout out to my minister for reminding me of this one, but 6.  Schedule time for prayer/meditation/personal centering too.  It’s not a time to go over your shopping list, but rather a time to connect yourself to something bigger than the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  We often neglect our mental well-being and it is just as  important to take care of your mind as well as your body.
Scheduling can be a double-edged sword.  Just be careful not to schedule every minute of every day up the ying yang – It’s a good way to set yourself up for failure.  Give yourself some wiggle room.
Also, when you have a schedule, you can easily keep others from intruding on your time by simply saying you’re busy. Sometimes you need to put you first.
7.  Find something positive you like and stick with it.  This specifically speaks to the physical activity component of taking care of yourself.  I’ve owned a bicycle for as long as I can remember, but this year, I made the commitment to swap out my bus pass for my pedals,  and there’s no looking back.  I get to places faster, it costs me less, I enjoy more scenery, and I get a daily workout, all without adding extra minutes to my day.  Win, win, win.  Cycling may not be your jam, but really think about the things that you love to do without feeling like it’s a chore.  Now stop thinking and do them.
8.  Get more quality sleep.  Chances are you aren’t getting enough good sleep.   I’m fine with 7.5-8 hours a night, but perhaps you need more – my husband does.  The quality of your sleep is just as important as the quantity, so kill the smartphone at least 30 minutes prior to bed (hey, what a good time to meditate!) and get some shuteye.
9.  Prioritize.  You can’t do everything all the time.  Sometimes you simply will have to tell others no and sometimes you have to tell yourself no.   Put the most important things (you, your health, and your family) first then the rest will follow – and you won’t lose any sleep over it either.
Here’s to your good great health!
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Back in the Saddle

Looking south from 30th Street at bike lane in...

Looking south from 30th Street at bike lane in 9th Ave on a cloudy afternoon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I received a significant amount of feedback about my initial post on cycling, so I wanted to do a follow-up, specifically on fashionable cycling.  I am no road racer, but I put in anywhere from 50-70 miles a week on my trusty nonmotorized steel horse and more often than not, I do so in my everyday clothes, except on the hottest days*.  As a commuter cyclist, I have some concerns about showing up at my place of employment smelling like a gym sock, so I will provide a few tips on how to survive a ride and still look fresh and clean. *A note about cycling in extreme weather.  Dress the part.  If it’s 96 degrees outside, don’t ditch your bike! Wear clothes that wick sweat and RIDE. You’ll feel a lot better and stay a lot cooler. I work out in tennis outfits made of wicking material, so those become my cycling outfits when the mercury climbs above 90.  Also, stay hydrated. You’re gonna sweat. For the most part, water will do the trick, but you might find sports drinks are a better idea if you cycle long distances in the heat.  Similar instructions for crazy cold weather, but layers are your friend and cotton is not.  You still need to wick sweat, but opt for wool or silk when you can.

On Commuting… I started commuting by bike a few years ago, but gave up due to taking a crazy route.  If you’ve not commuted to work by bicycle or if you are used to riding your bicycle on short trips for recreation, it’s a good idea to try a few longer trips when you have a lot of time.  Plot out the distance from your place to work and plan to have a semi-leisurely ride for that distance on the weekend.  Doing a dry run to your place of work and back is  a great idea, but if you can’t stand to be near your place of work on the weekends…a similar route with the same terrain and distance will do.  Build up your endurance by doing this a few times then make your way to work… With that said, it is a very wise idea to map out your route before you go.  If you are a beginning cyclist, I highly recommend that you do not ride on busy roads, but instead try quiet streets nearby the busy roads so that you feel safe and comfortable. My most direct route to work is a 4 mile straight shot down one of the busiest and most cab-filled streets in Chicago, but I eat the extra mile to take a safer and more comfortable route meandering through side roads. Allot plenty of time to get to your destination – you’ll want an extra 15 minutes to clean yourself up when you get to your destination.  Commuting by bicycle can be a very sweaty experience.  Which leads me to:

Packing your bike bag

In my previous segment I suggested some ways of schlepping your kit around – you do not want to do this on your back.  Many cyclists wear backpacks or messenger bags while commuting, but a sweaty back is just un-chic.  Do yourself a favor and get a rack/basket system and some panniers if you need it.  You’ll thank me when you come across that $3.99/bottle closeout of cabernet  at Whole Foods and you decide to take half a case home (true story). I keep a small menagerie of things in my bike bag, but when it comes to staying gorgeous (and clean) without fail there’s always four things:

  • Baby wipes (buy a giant pack and stuff a bunch in a plastic baggie.  Refill as needed)
  • Mini deodorant
  • Alcohol-based scented body spray (you know you got 15 of these last Christmas from Bath and Body Works.  Finally a use for Sweet Pea!)
  • Mini Baby powder

The first two are probably obvious – you can take a ‘slagwash’ with the baby wipes in the restroom and throw on some deodorant and you’re pretty good to go.  The alcohol in the body spray is very cooling when you feel like you’ve been sitting in a steam room – plus you smell a bit nicer.  The powder takes care of any extra sweaty spots and helps ward off chafing should you have that problem. Considering that I am a serious bag lady, I consider a few other things as smart choices in your bike bag, but these will have varying degrees of necessity for you.

  • Sunscreen lotion – this is really a necessity, but I slap it on in the morning before I leave.  Considering how far you commute, you may need to reapply and you probably should reapply for a sunny evening commute home.
  • Blotting papers/blotting powder – You will have a serious healthy glow going on after you get off your bike in the morning.  It’s great to have that natural dewy look, but uh, this can get excessive if you’re perspiring heavily.  A bit of translucent powder does the trick.
  • Lip balm – riding against the wind chaps lips.  It sucks.
  • Also good to have: A small repair kit.  Wrench/hex key combo/flat repair/small air pump/bungee cords

Hopefully these tips will get you off your butt and on  your bicycle!

Happy riding!

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America the Beautiful – A Fashion Show

Lately, I’ve been super busy with the hidden operations behind  Plastic Bags and Magazines, specifically the event planning and entertainment portion of my larger business, Caden-Price Creative Consulting.  It’s been a busy summer with moving things over to WordPress and undertaking so many new events, including hooking up with the crowd at Unieros for the America the Beautiful fashion show.  Join us this Saturday at the MultiKulti community space for fashion and music representing the diversity of the United States and beyond.  DJ Justjazz (me) and DJ Somos will be your selectors for the evening, and there will be live performances from !Esso! AfroJam Funkbeat, Josh Niemier, and Dame Haze.

 

America the Beautiful Fashion Show

America the Beautiful Fashion Show

Biker Babes

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Photo Credit:  Keith Caden

From Holland (the Netherlands) to Humboldt Park (Chicago), cycling is all the rage.  More cities in the United States are working to become more cycle-friendly, including Chicago with its addition of the new Divvy bike-sharing program.

Cycling is nothing new in Chicago, as my neighbors in Humboldt Park have chosen la bicicleta as their preferred form of transport for quite some time.  It’s the perfect solution for getting around the city when you’re carless and don’t want to sit for hours on a bus or train.

Contrary to what some may think, cycling is for everyone, whether you’re a year-round enthusiast (like my husband, an ex-courier) or take to the streets during the warmer months (like me).  For those of you who are thinking that it’s hard to look cute on a bike, I’ll have you know that you are sadly mistaken.  Considering I’m always a stickler for fashion and functionality, check out the different ways to get your bum on a bike and look good doing it.

Get Your Wheels:

  • Not ready to commit to owning a bike full time?  Try the city’s new bike-sharing program, Divvy.  You can rent bicycles Zipcar-style with new stations popping up all around the city to pick up and drop off a sturdy cycle.  Annual memberships start at $75 and 24-hour passes are $7.
  • Not a hardcore cyclist, but want one of your own on a budget?  You can always pick up a bike for about $100 at a big box store, or hit up Craigslist for a used option.  I bought my husband’s $500 bike from Craigslist for $40 and had it tuned up for about $30 at my local bike shop.  Also, check your local university to see if they have a surplus store.  When I was at university, I could pick up a used bike from MSU Surplus for $10.  I’m sure they’re a little pricier now, but it’s worth a look.
  • Going all out?  Try your local cycle shop – they help promote cycling in your area.  Ours, Ciclo Urbano, offers new and used bikes for reasonable prices and also has classes to teach you how to care for your bike with the proceeds going to charity.  

Protect Your Neck: You can’t be cute in the hospital with a traumatic brain injury, so get a helmet.  Helmets are notoriously ugly, but a few companies have come out with some slick options.

  • Don’t give a damn about how you look?  A basic helmet such as a one from Bell will suit.  I’ve seen them in Aldi (yes, Aldi) for as low as $12.99.  Make sure the helmet fits securely without being too tight and that your chin straps are secure.  
  • Looking for something a bit more stylish without breaking the bank?  Try helmets from Nutcase, Giro, and Bern in more equestrian or baseball cap styles.  My new helmet is from Lazer, one of the oldest helmet makers around, and it’s pretty sassy.
  • Money not an issue?  Go all out with this stunner from Yakkay or the super minimalist Hovding airbag collar.  

Protect Your Goods:  Bikes get stolen.  In big cities, bikes are stolen even more, so make sure you have the right kind(s) of lock(s) to keep your bike yours.

  • Heavy duty chain locks - So, you gave up your first born for your bike (hope not).  If you don’t mind the weight, Kryptonite has the New York City Fahgettaboutdit Chain/Mini U-Locks for the ultimate in lockdown.  You will pay about $100 for the lock and have super buff arms (this bad boy weights about 15 pounds) but you can certainly Fahgettaboutdit!  OnGuard makes a similar lock.
  • U-locks – Probably the best and most affordable option.  Make sure you get one with a flat key instead of a tubular key (apparently those can be picked with a Bic pen cap!).  To operate properly, make sure the lock can go between your front wheel and the frame of your bike.  There are several options with good locks from Kryptonite, OnGuard, and Master Lock.
  • Cable locks – These are least secure, so I recommend you use one in combination with a U-lock.  I have a combination of an OnGuard Bulldog lock with a Master Lock Python cable to weave between my wheels and basket when I don’t want to carry it.  
Carry Your Kit!  Seeing that I’m all about bags, are you surprised this is my favorite part? You have several choices for lugging your stuff around, but let your bike do the work instead of schlepping it on your back.  For starters, you will probably need a rear rack.  I’ve found them at Target, but check your local bike shop or the vastness that is Amazon.
  • A tisket, a tasket – get yourself a basket: You can get a basket that goes on the front of your handlebars.  The options here are many – you can go with a wicker basket that attaches with leather straps and buckles, or a metal one like you see in my photo.
  • The rear basket is a great choice  - buy, don’t steal! your milk crates from FarmPlast or the Container Store.  I happened to find a really cool one at Home Goods that was easily attached to my rack with bungee cords.
  • Want something a little sturdier that you can take with you?  Look into panniers.  Panniers are bags that have hooks to hang off the sides of your bicycle rack.  Some great choices can be found by PoCampo (based right here in Chicago!), OYB bags, or Basil bags of the Netherlands.
Hold on, Night Rider - last piece of advice.  If you’re biking at night, like I often do, it’s usually municipal law that you have lights on your bike – a headlight generally being the bare minimum.  For safety’s sake, buy your lights in pairs – a red taillight and a white headlight - so you can be easily seen.  Reflective tape is always smart as well.
 
Enjoy your freedom!!

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