Friday, November 8, 2013

Chicago Cycling Club November meeting

Our next meeting on Tuesday 11/12 will feature a presentation and Q&A by John Greenfield and Steven Vance about their experiences in covering bicycling and sustainable transportation issues. They currently write for Streetsblog Chicago and other publications. 

It's happening at REI's upstairs community room, 1466 N. Halsted.  There will be social time from 6:30 to 7:00 p.m.  The meeting and presentation will start at 7:00.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Divvy first impressions

Club member Julie Sherman shares her impressions after trying Divvy for the first time.

I finally tried the new Chicago Bike Share Divvy program yesterday to mixed thoughts. While I am very excited this program exists and think it is brilliant, I have not used it to date because the 99% of the time I need a bike, I am already on one of my own.

For those who have been living on planet Xeron and do not know about Divvy, it is a bike rental program open to anyone. If you are a member ($75.00 annual fee - not transferable to other cities that have a Divvy-type program) or a single day user ($7.00 for a 24 hour pass), the idea is that you rent a bike to use for a singular 30 minute period. You can re-dock the bike at any station within those 30 minutes and then recheck out another bike in less than one minute without incurring additional fees and restarting the clock. If you keep the bike out for more than 30 minutes, you will be charged a per minute overage fee. There is no limit to how many times you can ride, re-dock and check out another bike.

If I was working closer to areas where there were Divvys rather than Evanston, I could see myself using the bike program all the time. Because rain was in the forecast, I decided to Divvy it rather than ride my own bike down to Daley Plaza. After swiping my credit card for the $7.00 one day fee, and following the online instructions and safety notices, I received a one-time use code to release a bike from the station.  The system uses the Divvy symbol >> to progress at the kiosk instead of the word “Next”.

Note that you only have 5 minutes to remove a bike, so don’t dither around.  At the bottom of each kiosk there is a place to receive a copy of this one time code, however because I did run into one machine that was out of paper you should memorize the code.

Select a bike, any bike, and enter the 5 digit code into the bike stand to release the bike. It took me a few tries to get the bike out of the stand, you really have to pull up in the back and angle the front wheel down and out to release. Once you  adjust the seat for your height, the seat tube is clearly numbered to help you set up any future rides, you are ready to roll.

The first thing I noticed was how much more narrow the handlebars were over what I am used to. The bikes are 3-speed with narrow shifting on the right hand side. The shifting was counter to what I am used to with my mountain bike, I kept shifting into gear 1 instead of 3.

I liked that the bikes flash in front and back while in motion, it’s a nice little extra safety measure.

When you dock the bike back at any open spot at any station, do make sure to stay until you get the yellow then green light. It also took me a few tries each time to get the front wheel just “so” into the docking station. If you walk away from an improperly docked bike, you could be in for some shocking overage charges on your credit card.

After my ride in I returned hours later to get another bike. I keyed in that initial code I received when I first signed up in the morning. After repeatedly getting a red light, I called Divvy to find out why my code was not working, I mean it’s an all day code right? Wrong! Using the same credit card as I used initially at the Kiosk I selected Get New Code. D’oh, that was item 4 on the instruction panel that I read in the morning.

A new code is issued without charging your credit card. Use that code to get a new bike. Because at this point I had accumulated a lot of packages, not all of which fit into my backpack (recommended for Divvy riding), I first got them onto the bike using the bungee cord to sort of secure them. My biggest gripe I would have to say, which is not a huge deal, is that there are no baskets or racks on the bike. There is an open space in the front to secure things with a thick bungee cord. I found that my packages slipped a bit as I rode and one package was a tad too wide, so it went on the handle bars where it hit my knee a few times while riding.

Thoughts? Well it’s still a great program. I would recommend using a back pack to carry items, as the front carrier is very limited. There are some free apps (i.e. CycleFinder or Chi Bike) to not only find a Divvy station but to set a timer to help keep you within the 30 minute single use time limit. Stations are popping up all over the place, so there is bound to be one in the city near you in the future.  A one day pass breaks even at about 3 separate CTA trips. Overall, I’m happy it’s here and would love to see more cities implement the program.

    - Julie Sherman

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Traffic Skills 101 class this Saturday 10/12

Club member Elizabeth Adamczyk (a League of American Bicyclists certified instructor) is leading a Traffic Skills 101 class

The class is a great way to learn great bike handling skills and increase your confidence on the bike.
Class info (
The on-bike portion of Traffic Skills 101 - $25.00

Part 1: Classroom Session – MUST BE COMPLETED ONLINE (approximately 2.5 hours).
   • Register at to start the online course. Search for the class that I set up for 10/12.
   • Getting on a Bike and Keeping it Running
   • Traffic Rules and Safety
   • Enjoying the Ride

Part 2: On-Bike Session – 10/12 from 9am to 2pm at the parking lot of St. Stanislaus Church near Pulaski Park
   • Essential Bike Handling Skills
   • Emergency Maneuvers
   • Cycling in Traffic

Pre-registration required; payment accepted via check, cash and PayPal.

To register, contact the instructor Elizabeth Adamczyk -

Each student must provide their own helmet and bike.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Winter cycling tips 1-3

Thanks to everyone who came to last night's meeting, especially the panelists and our organizer/ moderator Joe Studer.  It was a lively discussion that covered a wide variety of topics related to winter riding.

I'd like to offer a few general thoughts inspired by tonight's discussion.

Winter tip #1:  Your mileage may vary.  As with many other aspects of cycling, what works great for your friend might not be the perfect thing for you.  If the first combination of gear or clothing doesn't quite work right to make your ride as comfortable as it could be, don't get discouraged.  Experiment and try a different mix.

Winter tip #2:  Fenders are your friend.  They make a huge difference in keeping you and your bike cleaner and drier. If you're riding with other people, fenders help keep them drier, too.

Winter tip #3:  Get lit.  When riding at night or in snow or rain, lights are critical.  In average city riding conditions, you don't need them to see the road.  You do need to be seen by others: drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists.

Got more tips to share?  Email them here.

     - Anne Alt

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Chicago Cycling Club September meeting - get ready for winter cycling

Join us for a panel discussion at REI (1466 N Halsted) on Tuesday September 10 - get ready for winter cycling.  Social time: 6:30 to 7:00 p.m.  Discussion 7:00 to 8:30.  Anyone is welcome.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Adventure on the Danube

Phyllis and I will be joining a group of six other friends for a 13 day bike trip along the Danube River from Passau, Germany to Budapest, Hungary.  We fly out tomorrow and begin the ride on Sunday.  My daughter, Erika has set up a blog for us to documents our travel. 

Please feel free to check to check on our progress. 

We return on September 7 and please save the next day (September 8) for the Eleventh Annual Football Nostalgia Ride.

     - Joe Dickstein

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

volunteering and the Four Star Bike Tour

For many CCC members, volunteering is a way of life.

Congratulations to Kathy Schubert on her Mayor's Bike Advisory Council award for her longtime advocacy work.  It was good to see her at the Bike to Work rally.

Bryce Sabin deserves our congratulations as Active Transportation Alliance 2012 volunteer of the year.  He got his award earlier this year at the volunteer thank you party.

The Four Star Bike Tour is coming up fast, and they could use more of our volunteer help.  The need for course marshals is especially urgent.  They help guide riders along the course and may answer questions as needed.

This year's routes (12, 22, 35 and 62 miles) go north from the UIC campus.  If you can help, there's still time to sign up as a volunteer.

Thank you for all you do - as a CCC member and a volunteer.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


For many, the Pampered Century is their first attempt at a 100 mile ride.  To everyone riding tomorrow, whether it's your first or your one hundred first, I'd like to wish you a safe, successful trip.

    - Anne Alt  

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

senior ride

Here's a moment of the fun on a recent Thursday senior ride.

Photo by Phyllis Dickstein

If you'd like to join in the fun, the next senior ride is happening on Thursday 6/27.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Bike traffic skills class

Do you have a friend or family member who would like to ride more places but lacks confidence in traffic? A Traffic Skills 101 class might be just the thing.  There's a class starting Monday night.  Click here for more info.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sunday, February 17, 2013

bikes and travel

Thanks to all who attended our February meeting.  The exchange of questions and answers enhanced the value of the presentation.  Having a healthy mix of familiar faces, new members and guests also added to the experience.

I promised a follow-up post with informational links.

Bikes on Amtrak

Avoiding excessive baggage fees on flights

I'd also like to offer a thank you to REI for hosting our meeting.   If you joined us for the first time this month, I hope you'll come back again and make it a regular habit.

    - Anne Alt

Monday, February 11, 2013

Chicago Cycling Club meeting - bikes and travel

Please join us for our next club meeting on Tuesday February 12.  Social time starts at 6:30, and our presentation starts at 7:00 p.m. Our topic is a panel presentation/discussion on bikes and travel. Would you like to learn a bit about what's it's like to take a foreign bike tour, explore a city using bike share or take your bike on Amtrak trip? Come and find out.  You'll find us in the upstairs community room at REI, 1466 N. Halsted (just south of the North/Clybourn red line stop).

Anyone is welcome to attend.