Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Betsy Learns About Bikes

The minute CTA anounced a fare hike, I decided right then and there I would ride my bike through winter. Pay $6 a day to ride the train? No. Pay nothing to get some good excerise? Yes.

Although CTA has now announced they won't increase fares, I'm already commited — to something I am not prepared to do. I really don't know how to take care of my bike. I don't know how to change a flat. I don't even know how to grease my chain. Winter in Chicago means dirty snow and slush, potholes, salt, and whole bunch of other things that can hurt and rust and do other mean things to bikes.

So last night I took advantage of West Town Bike's Women's Night. As long as you're a girl, you're free to come work on your bike under the helpful eye of female mechanics. Dudes tend to dominate the world of bikes, so this was an opportunity for me to learn a thing or two in a low-pressure environment.

As I predicted, I was not a fast learner. I couldn't even get my wheel off at first. But with some good old-fashioned elbow grease and some patient guidance from the mechanics, I successfully removed both tires, took them apart, and put everything back together. Two and a half hours later, I was coated with a thin layer of bike grease, my thumbs felt like putty, (27-inch tires are TIGHT) and I had broken a nail. It was a good night.

Unfortunately, I must have tightened my brake pads or one of my wheels too tight, because I then rode home against some sort of resistance, which kept worsening by the block. Those five miles were tough. But hey, I made it. And now, I know which tool to take to my bike to fix the problem. Thanks, West Town Bikes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Yep, That's How It Goes

A message from a friend I haven't talked to in a few months:
What are you up to? Do you have a job in journalism? A friend of mine has a masters from Medill and just got an internship at Huffpost and my sister graduated from NYU in journalism and is working at JCrew. So good luck, it must be tough.

When I Get a Job…

I am creating a list of things I shall do once I am employed. And I WILL become employed… some day. So I better make a list of what how to spend all this money once I have it.

- Make my first donation to This American Life
- Buy a bottle of wine that is more than $8. And some nice jeans. And some other material possessions.
- Move into a sweet one-bedroom apartment with my cat
- Register for yoga classes. And maybe a triathlon, too
- Create a Zipcar account
- Open a high-yield savings account
- Take my mom to dinner and a show

I can't wait. It's gonna be great.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Betsy Gets Another Byline

Months and months ago, I asked Rolph Potts for some tips about breaking into travel writing. He suggested that I pitch a story about something in Paris I knew better than anyone else. Something in which I was an "expert."

As an American who had only spent a year in Paris, I felt like I had nothing to unique to write about. Could there possible be some aspect of Paris I knew better than my Parisian friends? Well, I was the only person I knew who spent hours upon hours upon more hours running in Paris. A pitch was born.

I emailed an editor at a travel website with my idea. He bought it — not for much, but he bought it nonetheless. And so, Running in Paris: A Guide to Scenic Trails and Special Advice for the City was born.

(Grandma and Grandpa: Click on THIS to read it.)