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Introducing Hettie!

January 18, 2011

I’m feeling far too lazy to do justice to any of the books waiting for posts, so instead I’d like to introduce you to Hettie, my bicycle! You first met her at the beginning of the month, but at the time her personality had not yet fully emerged. I’ve made some changes that have made her feel much more girly, resulting in her name: Hettie.


(click to enlarge)

I love Hettie dearly, and I wish that my adjustments were a bit less Macgyver-ish (she deserves the best), but on the plus side, her makeover cost a mere fifteen dollars! First, I removed her labels (my dad’s extensive tool box yielded a ‘heat gun,’ basically a blow dryer on steriods, that made quick work of them): this instantly made her look more elegant. And then I started haunting thrift stores for the perfect basket: I found one quite quickly! It’s big enough for a purse, a cardigan/jacket, the lock I’m borrowing from my mom, and even a bit of (lightweight) shopping. My dad helped me attach it with zip ties, which have proved surprisingly durable. When I’m riding, the basket doesn’t really move around. Since it doesn’t have a lot of support, I make sure to keep the load light, so it doesn’t interfere with my steering or balance when I’m bicycling. Once the basket was in place, all that was left was to crochet a set of dress guards. For those (like my guy friends and father) who haven’t heard of dress guards, they’re in place to make sure that full skirts or dresses (or long coats) can’t get caught in the wheels. As full skirts and dresses make up the majority of my wardrobe, I knew I needed them to make me happy! But it’s almost impossible to find them in shops here. So I did a bit of internet sleuthing for diy options, bought myself some black thread (I always like black and cream together; not to mention it’ll hide dirt better) and binder clips, and made it up as I went along. They turned out far better than I’d hoped! Even the plastic binder clips somehow look nicer than you’d think (my mom was impressed). Let’s take a closer look, shall we? ;)

Hettie and I have already been on a few adventures together: her three speeds are perfect, and bicycling makes me even happier than I had dared hope. I think I’m addicted! Today, I braved the big street near my house; it has a forty-mile-per-hour speed limit, so I had been too nervous to even be in the bike lane. But it turns out, the bike lane feels much bigger on a bicycle than in a car! And while drivers here tend to be aggressive towards each other, so far they’ve been nothing but accommodating for me. When I feel brave enough for night cycling (!), I’ll look into lights, but I imagine that’s a ways in the future. I’m currently searching for a bell; so far, the stock in local stores has been pathetic (they’re all quite ugly), and I’m thinking I’ll have to order online. For my birthday (in April), I’ll probably ask for some kind of rear basket/rack/storage system, which would make it possible for me to carry bigger loads (like library books). But honestly, I’ll need to get my strength up first! While most of my important places are within two miles, the library is a bit over five miles away, and it’s only accessible by major roads (they do have bike lanes for the most part). So for now, I’m just enjoying cruising around to Barnes & Noble (I received two gift cards for Christmas that I’ve been using for cafe drinks), my favourite thrift store, and a park down the street.

Before I got Hettie, I wasn’t sure if cycling was feasible, considering my fibro and aggressive drivers and all that. But fortunately for me, my legs are not one of my fibro hotspots, and it’s been surprisingly easy to just hop on and go (except during flare ups, of course)! I feel like I’ve taken the first baby steps towards a car-free lifestyle, and I couldn’t be happier. :D

Also, since I know it’s running through all of your heads (either my mom or sister or myself break it out every time I mention Hettie):

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46 Comments leave one →
  1. January 18, 2011 2:53 pm

    I love Hettie! I used to have a great 3-speed like this with a HUGE basket on the front that I would sometimes overload — and tip forward! I would warn against that. :) Love the dress-guard too. What a happy post.

  2. January 18, 2011 3:13 pm

    The video cracked me up.

    I think its great that you are bicycling around! I used to bike all over the place at college since everything was near by-it seemed silly to drive, but my bike was stolen my last semester at school. Perhaps it is time I get my hands on a bike so I can make trips to the stores around town. :)

  3. January 18, 2011 3:20 pm

    She’s adorable!! Love the dress guards and your ingenuity amazes me!! Have fun and pack a camera around in that basket with you so you can post more pictures of Hettie and Eva’s Great Adventures.

  4. January 18, 2011 3:22 pm

    I love Hettie’s new accessories. You’re making me want to drag my bike out of the shed again :)

  5. January 18, 2011 3:24 pm

    Hettie looks wonderful, and I had no idea about dress guards (since I don’t bike or wear skirts, heh)—what a great idea. Enjoy her!

  6. January 18, 2011 3:39 pm

    Hettie is so cute and (like Literary Omnivore) I had no idea what a dress guard was (but it’s brilliant and looks great)! Have fun biking around, if I ever get brave about my knees (they go out of place really easily) I’d like to start biking – I live in a rather bicycle friendly town.

    Also – You gotta love Queen – now I have the song stuck in my head though – thank you very much!

  7. January 18, 2011 3:41 pm

    I’m so jealous that you live somewhere where you can ride your bike on errands. To get anywhere, we have to go on a two lane road that has no shoulders.

  8. January 18, 2011 3:44 pm

    Hettie looks great. How ever do you dismount in a skirt?

  9. January 18, 2011 4:00 pm

    Love hettie she’s looking fine now Eva hope she gives you many years pleasure ,all the best stu

  10. January 18, 2011 4:27 pm

    I’m totally in love. Hettie is Amazing! I love the giant basket on the front.

  11. January 18, 2011 4:35 pm

    Love the modifications you’ve made! I have had my bike for a few years now (her name is Rowena), but I haven’t got a chain guard on her which means riding in the summer (when I only wear skirts) is a pain. I ruined two skirts by getting them stuck in the chain while riding and that was horrible! I also need to get fenders on her so that I can ride when it is slightly rainy out… I guess a makeover is in her future!

  12. January 18, 2011 4:56 pm

    I was wondering what that was on the back wheel. Nifty!

  13. January 18, 2011 5:07 pm

    Hettie is lovely! She looks like something a classic literary heroine would have. I’m impressed by your resourcefulness regarding the dress guards….very clever! I’m thinking of getting a bike, but I live in a ridiculously hilly area and am not sure I could get much further than the top of my own street. I guess it’s all about building up strength. It’s amazing how much more you can accomplish on a bike than on foot. I’d love to drive less. Enjoy your new mode of transportation!

  14. January 18, 2011 5:17 pm

    Hettie looks great! I have to admit I think of the Queen song whenever I think of bicycles, but I think I’d love the freedom to go anywhere without driving (I don’t drive in the UK), especially if I managed to make her look so nice!

  15. January 18, 2011 5:32 pm

    Hettie is beautiful! May you cover many miles together happily. I’m really happy for you that you’re finding cycling a positive experience and that it doesn’t cause you any fibro pain.
    The basket is great, and the dress guards are ingenious! The basket reminds me of uni… (http://www.oxfordlight.co.uk/category/cycling/ penultimate picture!)

  16. January 18, 2011 6:08 pm

    Well, Hettie is adorable — she reminds me of the short time I spent at Cambridge transcribing a 17th-century commonplace book (it was a lot of speeches by Charles I talking about his father’s very dear friend the Duke of Buckingham) — anyway, everyone at Cambridge has wicker bike baskets all over the place. I hope you and she have many lovely adventures!

  17. January 18, 2011 6:34 pm

    Ooh yay! I’m glad you’re having so much fun biking, and I love the name Hettie :)

  18. ana permalink
    January 18, 2011 6:42 pm

    So impressed with your new cruiser. I acquired a similar one earlier this year and have been amazed and delighted at how energising it is to cycle. With some energy issues myself I had been uncertain how I would cope. Admittedly I mostly try in our local version of Central Park. Spent time in Cambridge UK ten years ago and loved how everyone rode bikes and how respectful the few car drivers were!! Carried all our groceries from town to our flat in regular trips but needed to carefully balance the weight between the front basket and the back carrier contraption. Quite a challenge at times.

    It is wonderful that you live in such a bike friendly town. Our local council has designated cycleways at the edge of some roads but they are very narrow and many car-drivers are not very kind to cyclists.

    With your gorgeous handcrafted dress guard and sweet basket there will be no holding you back!!

  19. January 18, 2011 6:59 pm

    The make-over – especially the dress guard – is impressive! I used to bicycle to work at my last job / previous home, and it can be quite lovely in the spring and fall. The other seasons were a variable experience in Maryland. My bike used to be my dad’s and is very tall (fortunately I am tall too) and has very thin wheels.

  20. January 18, 2011 7:51 pm

    Love it! This is so perfect and I love the name, of course. :O)

  21. January 18, 2011 8:08 pm

    Welcome, Hettie! The changes you’ve made are wonderful and make her perfect. It definitely makes me want one just like her! Enjoy lots of trips this year.

  22. January 18, 2011 8:16 pm

    A very happy post. You bring back memories of my teen age years when we went everywhere by bicycle. To me, then, it represented freedom just the way a car does now.

  23. January 18, 2011 9:09 pm

    Heehee, Hettie is great! Love it! Enjoy the bike!

  24. January 18, 2011 9:18 pm

    Adorable bike! I wish it was not snowing in Madison, and that I had a nice bike, so I could gallivant about town :)

  25. January 18, 2011 11:43 pm

    Awesome, Eva! What a freeing discovery/acquisition. David & I got cruising bikes a bit like Hettie last summer, and it was SO fun rediscovering comfortable bicycling (I’d been riding racing/mis-fitted/boy bikes for years which all make my body hurt, so the discovery of an upright bike was a revelation.) And in Texas I imagine the weather stays bike-able for a large part of the year? Happy cycling, lady!

  26. January 18, 2011 11:46 pm

    I love it! And I love that you made your own dress guards! I wish I knew how to crochet.

    I also ventured out on the bigger roads near my house this week. One of them has a bike lane, but the other big streets don’t. I wanted to panic at the busy intersection closest to my house, but other than that (and a couple of dogs!), it’s been good. :)

  27. January 19, 2011 1:14 am

    OMG Hettie is AWESOME Eva :D You’ve done such a fantastic job personalizing her :D Can’t wait to see her continuing evolution!

  28. January 19, 2011 4:44 am

    You’re right, all of those “personalized” improvements do give it character. I always wanted to use a bike here in Brussels, and I know a lot of people do, but my fear is not of aggressive driver, but the tram tracks that are everywhere. I’ve already seem a couple of nasty accidents happen when the bike wheel gets caught in them. So I just walk or take the metro everywhere!

  29. January 19, 2011 7:26 am

    I love Hettie!! She’s adorable, and I am very impressed with the upgrades you’ve made. The dress guard, especially, is just fantastic! Good work!

  30. January 19, 2011 9:15 am

    I love your bike! I personally love riding my bike, but I moved to a location with busy streets with high speed limits and no sidewalks or designated bike lanes :( So now I can’t really ride everywhere as I used to. I don’t even feel comfortable walking, which is a double-downer, because where I didn’t bike, I walked.

    Enjoy Hettie! She looks amazing :)

  31. January 19, 2011 1:23 pm

    Oh my God! I am in love with Hettie!!

    I had never heard of dress guards and I always wondered how people didn’t die while wearing a dress on a bike. I’m finally looking into buying a bike so I really appreciate the knowledge (as well as the crocheting idea).

  32. January 19, 2011 3:35 pm

    Love the crocheted guards!

  33. January 19, 2011 6:42 pm

    I love it! And I love that song :) I don’t have a cruiser bike but would love one. All my money goes into racing bikes, though. And I don’t really need a cruiser bike, as just about anywhere I need to go is either within a mile from my house and therefore good for walking or too far away to ride. But I want one anyway!

  34. January 19, 2011 10:38 pm

    Hettie is one well-dressed bike!

  35. January 20, 2011 12:20 am

    Hettie is adorable. I’m so glad you have bike lanes where you live-we don’t here and I don’t know how people manage. Getting out always lifts the spirits and Hettie will do that for you. Have fun.

  36. January 20, 2011 9:11 am

    I love it! I hope to purchase a bike this year, but I don’t think I will be as adventurous as you, given that there are no bike lanes and too many crazy drivers where I live.

  37. January 20, 2011 10:38 am

    Heh, what a cutie! :)
    I love using the bike for short trips and I even use it for grocery shopping, though it’s quite heavy and I probably look like a beginner without coordinating skills!
    And good luck braving the big streets, I’m sure you’ll get used to them quickly.

  38. January 20, 2011 10:54 am

    I love your dress guards, so impressed that you made the construction up on the fly. Hettie is very pretty and I best she looks awesome complemented by you in a dress.

  39. January 20, 2011 11:59 am

    Oh my gosh! I LOVE the dress guards! That’s amazing! My old bike desperately needed them.

  40. January 20, 2011 2:06 pm

    I love the bike and the dress guards are gorgeous! I’ve never heard of them, but their brilliant and they give the bike such personality.

  41. January 20, 2011 2:52 pm

    What a beautiful bicycle! I love it, and the dress guards. Best of luck with it :)

  42. January 21, 2011 4:54 pm

    That is a girl’s dream bike! I always wanted a big basket on my bike to carry my kittens.

  43. January 22, 2011 3:56 pm

    I think I’m jealous of your bike lanes! There are certainly plenty of places around where I live that I could get to by bike, but no bike lanes, plenty of foolish drivers, and I’m basically too chicken to ride on the streets. I love your dress guards–very inventive, and I’m glad they work. (Oh, and my dad has been biking to work for decades. There have been times when he’s gone in early enough that it’s still dark out, and he once was stopped by a police officer for not having lights on his bike!)

  44. January 24, 2011 8:31 am

    Hettie looks marvelous! Good luck with your adventures, I’m sure you’ll have plenty. :-)

  45. January 24, 2011 12:12 pm

    Hettie looks wonderful. I’m guessing you will get many enjoyable hours out of her!

  46. January 25, 2011 9:55 am

    I love Hettie. :D I love what you’ve done with her. And excellent job on the dress guards.

    When I move, I’ve vowed to get my hands on a bike and start cycling more. :D

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