As summer comes to an end, I’ve decided on my favorite warm weather cycling outfit. I’ve worn it many times, including a 20 mile ride on Labor Day and a fast ride downtown today for a networking event. The dress is super light and airy with great ventilation. The pleated skirt drapes prettily and covers everything I want covered. Wrinkles never form. Sweat spots never show. Best of all, there is a shorter layer of fabric just below the waistline that flies up in the breeze and flaps behind me like a cape. Very fun The shoes are super comfortable gold leather flats. When choosing between this outfit or shorts and a tank top, this outfit wins hands down.
In a couple of months I will look back on this post in mourning, as I begin my winter ritual of layering wool leggings, pants, two pairs of wool socks, wool undershirt, wool sweater, wind breaker, two pairs of gloves, ear muffs, scarf, Russian winter boots, and safety glasses.
I decided that it is finally time for me to write a review of Oma for our Beautiful Bicycles series. She and I have been together for nearly a year! For the occasion I put together an outfit and hairstyle inspired by her roots. Granted, I know very little about Holland – this is my interpretation of a vintage Dutch look, pulled out of my imagination.
Cycling with style is easy and fun. However, I don’t want it to seem like I simply hop off my bike fresh as a spring flower and go along my merry way. If that’s what people think is supposed to happen after they read about how easy it is to ride in regular clothes, then they will be annoyed when it does not work for them and give up. So I want to be clear that I sweat. A lot. More than the average person. I have been known to sweat in the dead of winter on my bike if I wear one layer too many. My hair gets sweaty and a bit frizzy. Sometimes I get grease on my leg and curse at Betty Foy. Over time I have learned how to deal and always have a plan of action for hot rides.
For example, yesterday I rode 7 miles downtown to have lunch with a friend. The sun was at its peak and the temperature was around 80 F. I wore a breezy lined silk skirt and a cami, stowing my cardigan rolled up in my purse. I strapped my purse in my front basket with a bungie cord and put on my helmet. I then cycled at a steady but easy pace to avoid getting too hot. Twice I stopped to turn my skirt around to prevent sweat spots from building up.
The sun was blazing today with temperatures near 90 degrees. Although I grew up in North Carolina and should be used to it, I absolutely hate extremely hot weather. I’d much rather cycle in the snowy sun. Despite the heat, I couldn’t sit around all day, so I put on my breeziest summer dress and set out on Oma. This picture captures how hot the sun was, apparently burning through my clothes.
My employment-free ride of the day was to the drug store to pick up a prescription and to the pet store to stock up on cat food. I know, I live such a glamorous life. But wait, it gets really exciting – I forgot my lock key in my garage. What a plot twist! So at the drug store I had to use the drive-through window and the pet store was nice enough to let me bring Oma inside. Whew, crisis averted! As you can see in the picture, I got a lot of cat food – both wet and dry. I am so rock ‘n roll with my bike and my cat food.
I’m in love with this recent article from The Guardian, “We wouldn’t be seen dead in lycra shorts.” The article profiles real London cyclists from different sub-tribes who all cycle for transportation. Their stories are presented simply, relying largely on the cyclists’ own words. The writer does not wander into cliched presentations of danger or car-bike wars.
“Bromptons have this whole personality,” Andrew Alleyne explains. “I hate to say this, because I don’t like smug Mac users, but people love their Bromptons like people love their Macs. People use generic bike hybrids like they do PCs but a Brompton is not just another bike, it’s like a pet or something.”
The inaugural Summer Babes and Elegant Bachelors Ride was a chic and fun success, despite the 90 degree temps that quickly devolved to rain. Everybody looked fabulous and we fit in everywhere we went, especially the swanky Nomi lounge. We’ll have to plan another one soon for later in the summer!
Let's Go Ride a Bike and Elizabeth from BikeCommuters.com – luckily she lives only two blocks away!
Let’s Go Ride A Bike has teamed up with John Greenfield of Vote with Your Feet to encourage Chicago cyclists to turn it up a notch when it comes to style. All Chicagoland cyclists are invited to don their finest party attire and join us for a fun and classy ride about town. The route is still being finalized (John’s doing all the work) but we will be stopping by a few of the best al fresco drinking establishments.
For those who would like to get into the spirit early, come out to the Active Transportation Alliance’s member-only mixer at Dutch Bike Chicago on June 25 from 7 to 9 p.m. Active Trans members get in free and attendees can sign up for memberships at the door – a totally worthwhile cause. I hear there will be an urban obstacle course to navigate with a Dutch bike (I think that’s called my daily commute), alcohol, and a 20% discount on chic bike bags.
(The swanky pair on the flyer is JJ and Mac – looking good!)
It’s been mentioned that I am neglecting Oma. I don’t think I’m neglecting her in real life, although I usually ride Betty for my commute, but I’ll try to post about her more often. She’s still my favorite bike in the whole wide world and every time I get on her after a brief hiatus, I’m amazed at how totally plush she is.
You can tell I’m posing because the kickstand’s down
Today I rode Oma to work, taking the city streets instead of the lake path in the morning, and also wore my work clothes – drivers are definitely nicer when I’m dressed like this. Usually I don’t ride in work clothes, preferring to change when I get there, but this morning I was going straight to a panel discussion and did not have an opportunity to change. There’s really no reason not to wear work clothes when I’m riding Oma, since she’s made for that sort of thing and I sweat much less on her – although I am a sweat-er – but it’s easier for me to leave all my suits and shoes at work in an empty office that I took over (can you say walk-in closet?). My three-inch chunky heels presented no problem at all. My tweed skirt is a bit narrow, so when I take off from a stop I have to launch myself straight up, then straight back while fully lifted, and then straight down. A small price to pay for fashion.
Post Script: I want to highlight three newer blogs that I’m absolutely in love with. Readers here probably already know them and I read a huge amount of bike blogs, but I’m so taken with these lately that I must share.
Lovely Bicycle! – as the name says, lovely bicycles, plus a lovely bicyclist to narrate!
Sunday morning Chicago held its annual Bike the Drive, an event put on by the Active Transportation Alliance where the city closes Lake Shore Drive (the main scenic highway that cuts down the city parallel to Lake Michigan) to motor traffic and opens it up for cyclists. An estimated 18,000 cyclists participated! What an amazing sight and beautiful way to reclaim our streets!
An estimated 18,000 biked the Drive
We had to wake up at 4:00 a.m. to get ready and cycle the 7 miles downtown to get started at 5:30. Totally worth it for the sunrise alone.