Friday, November 29, 2013
A Shift to Stylish Cycling
Enter recent acquisition of a step through style bike plus an old 12-speed. The shift from practical cycling garments to reflecting my personal style is still in transition, but unmistakably, something has changed. I think about wearing a skirt over tights, choosing a matching hand bag that can be tossed into a basket—often in flashy colors. The more leopard print the better. What shoes should I wear?
Style doesn't end with clothing either. It's all about the bike too. I coordinate handlebar tape, experiment with corks for bar end plugs, prefer longer lasting tires that honor the bike (gumwalls anyone?), racks or baskets that complement and provide ample storage. Beautiful bells. Comfy and good looking saddles. Repurpose bags into panniers and front mounted containers. The list goes on.
So what happened? Why the change? I think it partly due to recent bicycle culture. There are numerous organized bike rides. Tweed rides, night rides—you name it. Our local Great Turkey Chase and Halloween Ride come to mind. Each celebrates an occasion, representing a theme, often with recommended attire. In turn these events fuel bike happiness and confirm that it's acceptable to wear street clothes on the bike. Anything goes.
Without societal pressure, there is free reign to boldly go where no woman has gone before.* So profound, I know, and not necessarily a revelation, but there it is. Couple that with reality: I'm beyond school girl age. Who cares about social etiquette and conformity? As far as I'm concerned, it's license to follow my own wardrobe path.
And while I don't strictly adhere to lycra-less plumage, stretchy material has it's place on the bicycle. Think leggings, yoga pants. Jeans are usually out—too many seams—though I've been known to wear them on rare occasions. I straddle both legions. Enough form-fitting clothing to keep from getting caught in the chain and enough dual utility outerwear to easily walk into a store. All with style, of course.
Secondly, consider the resurrection and popularity of old bicycles—think 3- and 10-speeds. That's a culture that is quite literally, spinning its wheels. And—dare I say it—because helmets are not mandatory in most U.S. locales**, riding without special clothing or equipment has inadvertently encouraged everyday cycling. Roll a Raleigh 3-speed outdoors, hop on and ride 2 miles to the office. For many folks, it's faster than driving —not to mention locating and paying for parking.
Whatever your cycle style, I'll be touring with bold-printed socks in sandals and riding an old Peugeot around town. It's all good.
*Sorry trekkie fans. I couldn't resist. Or should that be Trek lovers?
**Please refrain from pro vs. against helmet use-related comments.