March 2011 archive

Bicycle-Love Fashion

Hi, there! To follow up on the serious and fascinating discussion going on about the Mary Poppins effect, I’ve got some fashion fluff for you.

I’m not one to wear special cycling clothes, but that does not apply to creative bike-themed fashion.  The outfit below, for example (see also, my Makool bike locket).

Maureen of Inspired Cyclist sent me this beautiful printed t-shirt from Target.  How sweet is this??  The t-shirt’s red and pink hearts perfectly match my new Nutcase helmet.

I put the two together with a pink hoodie, black jeggins and cool earrings made from old tire tubes that I bought at the Bike Winter Art Show (can’t remember the woman’s name!).  Then I biked on Coco downtown to see God of Carnage at the Goodman Theatre, which was an amazing play.

Back to my new Nutcase helmet: so sweet!  

I first saw a photo of this design from the Spring 2011 line on City Girl Rides and knew I had to make it mine.  (Do you know City Girl Rides? Good stuff!!)

Nutcase’s website does not list this design and my local bike shop didn’t have it yet, so I emailed Nutcase directly and quickly got a reply email with a link to a shop in Cali that had some in stock.  Score!

The $60 price tag made me hesitate, but I rationalized that if divided into price per wear, it would be pennies a day. ;)


Altogether, I was a very happy cycling lady!  

P.S.  Mr. Dottie was there, too, but evaded my camera.  He sent Sir Raleigh as his LGRAB ambassador.  :)

Anyone else have bike-themed fashion you just love?

My Take on the Mary Poppins Effect

How much does your outfit and bicycle affect how drivers treat you?

Lovely Bicycle talked about the Mary Poppins effect in January and London Cyclist brought it back to my mind with a recent guest post from Bike Thoughts From A Broad (love that name!).

For those who are not familiar, the Mary Poppins effect is basically the idea that drivers are nicer to women bicyclists riding upright bikes with dresses and flowing hair. I haven’t read much from men about this, but maybe dapper men on city bikes get the same deference.

My daily experience cycling in Chicago supports the Mary Poppins effect. Generally, drivers treat me well enough that I feel somewhat … respected? or patronized? *shrug* Both are fine with me, as long as I’m safe. Of course, there are always the assholes outliers, but for the most part drivers are okay.

My only disagreement with the general hypothesis is helmets. A major contributor of the Mary Poppins effect, others have posited, is riding helmetless and with free-flowing hair, because of both the relative vulnerability and the “regularness” it exhibits. I wear a helmet ~ 98% of the time I ride in traffic by personal preference and I receive as much deference, if not more, than someone without. The key is a fun and distinctive helmet – red hearts! pink starbursts! Having a distinctive helmet causes drivers to recognize me, and it’s hard to be rude to someone you pass daily.

The Mary Poppins effect is especially on my mind now because I experienced a lack of the effect today. Typically I wear a dress or skirt, but today I wore a navy pinstripe pantsuit with a ankle strap on my left leg. Everything else was the same: I rode an upright Danish bike, wore a helmet covered with red hearts and rode with my typical calm assertiveness, but luxury SUV after luxury SUV after car passed me too closely. The effect was decidedly non-Mary Poppins.

Could simply wearing pants instead of a skirt lead to such a noticeable change in drivers’ behavior? Maybe. Was I more sensitive to the idea of the Mary Poppins effect due to my recent reading? Perhaps. But I felt like there was a marked difference in how drivers treated me, during both the morning and the evening commutes.

I’m really interested in what others have experienced. Men, women, pants, skirts, helmet, no helmet – have you noticed a Mary Poppins effect, or lack thereof?

Bachelorette Party by Bike

Last Saturday, I donned my most recent thrifted dress – Ann Taylor, new with tags! – and headed downtown on Betty Foy to celebrate Melissa’s bachelorette party.


(Pardon the light leaks on my film.)

On the way downtown, I spotted my friend Elizabeth riding in the opposite direction.

I would notice that pink bar tape anywhere.

We stopped and chatted for a bit before continuing on our ways. I love surprise meetings with friends on bikes!

When I arrived downtown, I passed Betty Foy to the bellhop at the swanky hotel where we’d be crashing. He checked her into a secure luggage room for the night. Thanks, Palomar Hotel!

As for the rest of the night… That’s classified. I’ll just say that the bike ride home the next morning was refreshing: rolling through the quiet morning streets in the same outfit I wore the night before, a few boa feathers stuck in my hair. :)

We {heart} Knitting Lemonade’s Chic Bicycle Crafts

We gotta give a shout out to Kara of Knitting Lemonade for all the crafty bicycle goodness she has on her site this month.

You may remember that I met her by chance at Dutch Bike Co last year when she visited Chicago from Salt Lake City. She then guest blogged about the trials of finding a bicycle to fit taller ladies.

Kara with her Pashley, cape and bunting

Lately, Kara has been creating some fabulous bicycle accessories and sharing her work on her blog. She shows how to make a lovely basket bunting and how to make a super chic riding cape, both of which she test rode on her Pashley.

Bonus: she also found nail polish that matches her Betty Foy!

Craft on, ride on!

{Photo from Knitting Lemonade}

Chicago Bike Fashion Show – Tonight

My Prada heels on wheels

In celebration of the end of winter cycling and the 14th Annual Bike Winter Art Show, join Chicago’s bicycling community for the closing night party and fashion show. I will be there taking Coco down the (hopefully brief) runway. In addition to the bike fashion show, there will be drinks, a DJ and a performance by the BMX bike dance troupe The Racketeers.

The event will be at the Chicago Urban Art Center in Pilsen, following Critical Mass. More info here.

Riding in heels FAIL

Well, it had to happen one day: I finally found a pair of heeled shoes that I can’t ride my bike in. It’s more like a style of heel, actually, since I have one other pair of black booties that don’t work on a bike for the exact same reason. Here are the culprits.

It might surprise you to know that what doesn’t work on these shoes is not necessarily the high heel: it’s the thick platform sole that angles up at the front (you can see the angle from both the front and the side in the second pic). That angle makes for a smaller contact point on the pedal—and even if you do manage to get the ball of your foot in just the right spot, it also makes it much easier for your foot to slip off. On the one occasion I did ride in these shoes, I definitely had to concentrate on keeping my feet on the pedals — and starting and stopping was a lot less convenient.

I know our female readers and fellow bloggers have mixed opinions on riding in heels. So ladies out there: do you do it? if not, why not, and if so, what type of shoe do you feel most comfortable riding in? I prefer heels with rubber soles myself; this pair of Jessica Simpson pumps I wore on my birthday bike ride last year are some of my favorites for cycling.

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March’s women-who-bike brunch

March’s women-who-bike brunch was small and cozy, thanks to some last minute location scheduling on my part, but at least having fewer people made it much easier to carry on a conversation. I had a great time hanging out with some of my favorite cycling mamas and a recent transplant to Chicago from Austin.

The scene: Wishbone

Lauren and Mimosa!

Jennifer and Ash

Me and Betty

Ash and her Madsen

The next brunch on April 3rd is already set to be another big one. If you’re in the Chicago area and are interested in attending, email me at LGRAB@letsgorideabike.com for the location details. The brunch is always the first Sunday of the month, so put it on your calendar. :)

In other news, I left my bike at home yesterday because the forecast called for thunderstorms and severe hail. Guess what? No thunder, no hail. I was tricked into taking the L train! Boo.

A New-Old Bike

Last Sunday I went with my friend Whitney to take  a look at a vintage bike.

After a few saddle and stem adjustments, this 1972 Raleigh 3-speed was a perfect fit—a lighter, sportier complement to Whitney’s Jamis that should be able to cope with Nashville’s hills. This was my first time seeing/riding a Raleigh and I was amazed at how light and quick it was.

Whitney and her Raleigh

We celebrated with a brief vintage bike ride — brief because of intermittent rain and looming evening plans. Raleigh and Le Peug were a good match! Probably because they’re about the same age.

Vintage bike buddies

In other vintage bike news, I’ve suddenly become obsessed with getting an Ideale saddle for Le Peug. They seem to be very hard to come by—anyone have any tips?

Oz Park

Last Friday was so beautiful, I stopped by Oz Park on my way to work to extend my outside time.  I pass by Oz Park daily, but I’ve never stopped before.  As a Dorothy with a fondness for red shoes (although I’m more of a cat person) this park was a lot of fun for me.

You may have noticed that I’m sporting a new helmet, along with my new $4 thrifted dress (and massive green hands).  This is a sneak preview of the Nutcase helmet – I’ll post all about the helmet soon.

Now that spring is officially here, who else is making more side trips during their bike commutes?

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