Archive for July, 2011

July 31, 2011

Feeling Good: Biking and Self-Image

A magical moment occurred at the July 24 Spokane Summer Parkways event. A woman stopped by our booth, whisked her way through the rack of Nuu-Muus and Ruu-Muus, and announced, “I own two already; I’m getting another one because I’ve gained weight.”

Why magical? Because, as my 17-year-old daughter who was helping in the booth noted, one of the most frequently mentioned barriers to buying one of these wonderful exercise dresses was, “Oh, these are so cute. I’ll have to get one—as soon as I lose 10 (20/30/40) pounds.”

Yet here was a woman treating herself to a short blue flowered dress in size XXL because she had gained weight. She’s comfortable with herself and confident about how she looks in a Nuu-Muu. (She should be—they’re awesome and she looked great. More on that in another post.)

This reaction to a cute little dress reflects far deeper issues. We have been sold an airbrushed bill of goods on what women (and men, for that matter) “should” look like.

Facebook comment in response to the question, "How does riding your bike make you feel?": I'm 6 foot 1, and I weigh 255 pounds, with a 42-inch waistline. But when I ride my bike, I feel slim and athletic.

Women “should” have no apparent fat storage other than in a strategically located shelf just below the clavicle and some toned and lifted booty. When you turn sideways to look at yourself in a mirror, I’ll bet you instinctively suck in your stomach and straighten your posture (and you did just now as you read this, didn’t you?). We’re not even supposed to wear sleeveless tops after a certain age because the flesh might keep waving after we stop moving the arm.

Facebook comment in response to the question, "How does riding your bike make you feel?": Most of the time, much much better. There is a certain confidence that comes with using nothing but your self-power to get around. There are also times that I get passed (and passed, and passed) where I feel like I'm a giant blob pedaling around -- but even in those situations, better to be pedaling then driving :)

Another woman looking at the Nuu-Muus at the South Perry Street Fair said to my friend Betsy, who wears a size 00, “Of course it looks adorable on you; you’re a size nothing. But what if you have some junk in the trunk?” Betsy said, “Hey, Barb, turn around!” Yep, that’s me—comfortably cushioned and quite happy in my Nuu-Muu.

Facebook comment in response to the question, "How does riding your bike make you feel?": It makes me feel good to know I'm doing something active that I actually enjoy, rather than slogging to the gym to spend time working out on equipment covered in other people's sweat. The scenery changes all the time when you ride a bike; not so much in the gym. Besides, there's nothing like creating the wind you feel through your hair (okay, through your helmet) ~ to quote the founder of Terry Bicycles "Our wheels are our wings."

However, despite having worked mindfully to get past the body obsession fostered by too many issues of Seventeen, Glamour, and Mademoiselle consumed in my formative years, I still have “aha” moments, like the epiphany I had in one of Betsy’s yoga classes recently.

The two women on adjacent mats were larger than I am and fairly round—not the hot yoga body you will see on the cover of Yoga Journal. And here they were doing yoga in form-fitting clothes.

What I realized was that if I look at Betsy and see the flat stomach I don’t have, they look at me and see the waistline they don’t have, and somewhere there is a woman who can’t even leave her home because she can’t walk to the door who would look at them and see the mobility and grace that she doesn’t have. Except for that woman trapped in her home, though, any one of us riding a bike down a hill is light as a feather.

Facebook comment in response to the question, "How does riding your bike make you feel?": It makes me feel great! I love the speed of riding and knowing that I am the one and only thing creating that speed. I know that I am doing something wonderful for my body and, for the first time in my life, I love that feeling of being totally wiped out, like I couldn't push my pedals around one more time, but I find the energy to go just a little bit further. Plus there is the added benefit of learning some bike maintenance - of knowing that I could fix things if I had to and not have to depend on anyone else.

As my friend Kris pointed out in a blog post, we fear the adjectives we carry around in our heads to describe ourselves, but they’re probably not the ones our friends think of.

The comments illustrating this post are responses to my question on Facebook about how biking makes people feel. The people who responded are all shapes and sizes, and I couldn’t tell you their waistline measurement. I can tell you that they’re funny, interesting, and active. And I can tell you that they look happy when they’re on the bike.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • How do you feel when you ride your bike?
  • Are there body parts you obsess over?
  • Have you created self-imposed boundaries about things you “can’t” wear because of your size or shape?
  • Do you think you could stop should-ing on yourself? (Say that fast and you’ll hear what you’re really doing to yourself)
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July 27, 2011

You’re the Catalog Buyer. What Do You Like?

Cute silver penny farthing bike necklace.Pretend you’re designing the future Bike Style Spokane catalog. What would you want to see in it?

As we look for additional products to add to the mix, we’ve identified some ideas and need your help as our online focus group to tell us which ones are worth hunting down. We just asked this in a much shorter version on Facebook too; no harm done if you answer in both spots.

As always, we’re looking for things not readily available in local bike shops; we cater to a more specialized/niche market and have to find manufacturers willing to supply our very small volume. They also need to fit the values/philosophy outlined in Thoughts on Shopping and Shopping for a Better World: Made as close to home as possible with components and a manufacturing process that keep health and sustainability in mind.

Some of the items aren’t for riding per se–they would answer the question, “What do I buy as a gift for that friend of mine who rides a bike when I don’t know what she/he needs for riding?”

Related Reading

July 22, 2011

Bike-Friendly Restaurants

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend in downtown Spokane. When she asked where we should go for lunch, I suggested two places–both specifically because they have a bike rack in front or within the same block.

Now, I have various coping mechanisms when I go to a business that doesn’t offer a bike rack. But when I have the choice to support a business with my dollars I’ll support one that recognizes a bike rack is a real drawing card for customers, whether they installed it themselves or were just smart enough to pick a good location or ask the building owner to put one in.

Bike racks at the Elk Restaurant, Browne's Addition, Spokane, WA

How many cars could you park in this spot? One. How many customers would you want if you owned that restaurant?

It’s a cost-effective drawing card, too. Did you know you can park anywhere from 8-16 bikes in the space of one car? If you owned a store or restaurant how many customers would you rather have–16 or one? That’s why the Elk in Browne’s Addition asked the city to remove a parking spot and install racks, then threw a big party to celebrate. As I pointed out in the post on Bikespedition #1 to Carnegie Square, biking customers can be our own mini-stimulus for the local economy–so easy to stop and shop lots of places!

Now don’t get me wrong. I do actually drive places! And I’m always happy to find a parking spot when I do. But if 8-16 of you happened to ride your bikes on the one day that I drive, think how much easier it is for me to score that spot. And if I’m one of the 8-16 biking and you’re the driver, you’re welcome. We’re all in it together, after all.

Since a spot for treats is an essential part of any good Bikespedition, I’d love to get your recommendations for restaurants, coffee shops, and delis that have a bike rack, whether they’re in Spokane or somewhere in the area that could make a nice destination for a ride. If you’re the restaurant owner feel free to tell us why you’re bike-friendly.

Your Turn

What are some of your favorite places to eat that have a bike rack available?

July 19, 2011

How Bikes Can Save the World

In September 2010 I participated in the first-ever Ignite Spokane (“Enlighten us–but make it quick”), which had the theme “Ideas that Will Save the World.” For those not familiar with the format, you have 5 minutes and can show 20 slides that must advance automatically. No losing your place!

And yes, I biked to the event in the dress and heels I’m wearing in the video.


So you’re expecting the talk with the data and the graphs and the guilt and you want that? See me afterwards.

I’m going to take a different direction on this inspired by Portland blogger Dana Putnam.

Why I Bike: I Am Cheap

First of all, show of hands—how many of you know what gas costs?

I have no idea. I bike because I am cheap. I don’t pay for parking, I don’t worry about insurance. My daughter who’s here tonight had a blow-out on her tire the other day at a stoplight. One hundred and ten bucks. Except those things have four of them and you have to replace them all. I don’t like that part.

How many people would like a raise of over $7,000 a year? Okay, don’t talk to your boss, that’s how much it costs you to run your car. That’s according to AAA and that’s when gas cost about $2.30 a gallon.

I understand it’s more now? I’m not sure, of course.  [Added info: Found a different AAA source with more current data and the cost of operating a vehicle is actually over $9,500 a year.]

Why I Bike:  I Am Lazy

I also bike because I am lazy. How many of you had to walk to the parking lot to get your car and then drive here, find a parking spot, walk to the building…. Do you hear all that walking?

Barb wearing a red suit and black patent leather high heels with her bike in the offices of the Spokane Regional Transportation Council.

Indoor bike parking: The ultimate in bike-enabled laziness.

I pretty much bike point to point. I am so lazy that sometimes I actually take my bike inside. This redefines indoor parking, I believe. My ride to work is also mostly downhill so I coast.

It’s a little counterintuitive but you can bike if you’re lazy.

Why I Bike:  I Am Impatient

There are many reasons—my mom might call these character flaws, I think—to bike.

I bike because I’m impatient. I always hated waiting at stoplights. There really isn’t time to finish reading the article before the light changes for one thing; you can’t do your nails. But when I’m on my bike and I get to the stoplight it’s really just a chance to catch my breath.

So I’ve got a new attitude about stoplights: They’re a good thing. I bet you don’t share that.

Another thing for you—even if you’re never going to get out of your car, if all of us on our bikes and all the people on the bus do get back in our cars, look what we do to the street. We’re in front of you now at the stoplight. So if you’re impatient you want us to keep riding (or riding the bus).

Car, Bus, or Bicycle? Poster from a German campaign comparing how much street space each form of transportation requires to move the same number of people.

How much space would it require if everyone riding a bike got back into their cars? Believe me, you don't want us to do that.

I also hate one-ways because there’s no point to going like this and like this and like this [gesturing to draw three sides of the block].

I get off my bike and I walk a block, get back in the lane and keep going. I am continuing to move towards my destination while you’re stuck at the light. So if you’re impatient biking is great for you.

Why I Bike:  I Am a Control Freak

I’m also a little bit of a control freak although I thought of titling this “mechanically inept.” And for the men in the room you don’t have to fess up. But when I take my car to the shop and they tell me a lot of things I don’t understand and I have to pay them a lot of money—remember, I’m cheap and I’m impatient—I don’t like that part.

But I can actually fix my own flat on the bike. The technology has not changed that much since the Wright Brothers. I get to feel like I’m in control at this point. It’s a great feeling.

These are other reasons to ride. I’m not saying this is about you, it’s about me—

Additional Reasons to Ride a Bike: Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem—or, flip side, big ego—

When I’m pedaling and I feel the wind and I’m making the wind myself because I’m going so fast? Awesome. I’m not going that fast—it’s like 17 miles an hour and you’re going to pass me—but I feel great about it.

Additional Reasons to Ride a Bike:  Desperate (but Successful!) Attempt to Appear Cool/Hip/Trend-Setting

If you think about what’s cool right now it is not you in your SUV on the way to Costco to pick up a gallon of ranch dressing and five pounds of Tater Tots. You’re not going to be on the tourism brochure cover or the magazine cover.

You know what picture is going to be on the tourism brochure cover, don’t you? This is a total set-up. You know what it takes to be cool.

Cute woman riding a bike with a basket.The only thing missing from this shot is the farmers’ market vegetables. So, you can be hip and cool and urban just by getting on a bike. Who knew it was so simple? I thought it cost a lot more, actually, and shopping at better stores as well.

Additional Reasons to Ride a Bike: Excuse to Shop

There are other sorts of character issues. This is an excuse to shop for men as well as women. If you like buying something and then bragging to your friends about how yours is better than theirs biking is totally for you. There’s more than one rider here tonight so I know you know what I’m talking about. Technical fabrics, special food—it’s basically sugar in a pouch but it’s still special food.

Additional Reasons to Ride a Bike: Huge Rush that Comes from Saving the World

You knew I was going to do a little bit of this piece. If you like knowing what’s good for other people and telling them about it, biking is totally your thing.

When people are talking about the problems of the world—it’s air pollution, it’s peak oil, it’s urban sprawl, it’s diabetes and obesity—if you ride a bike you’re not responsible for any of that! How cool is that?

Morbidly obese man trying to fasten seatbelt.

You can have this.*

Cool young guy wearing jeans, sunglasses, denim jacket on a bicycle.

Or you can have this. He totally brings us back to the cool urban trend-setting piece.

We do have a lot of problems in the world. I do think that biking is the only thing that solves a lot of these problems all at once. You do get to be healthier and save money and all of that. But also, it’s so simple a child can do it and it’s fun.

Little girl on a bicycle wearing a helmet.Remember when you learned to ride a bike and you had that sense of freedom and “I don’t have to wait for Mom or Dad to get in the car”–which was the limitation in your life at that point—you could ride your bike.

If you have any of these character flaws you don’t have to admit it out loud. Or maybe it’s psychological issues and therapy costs a lot. You could take a little bit of that money and you could ride a bike.

This post originally appeared on my personal blog, BiketoWork Barb.

*With lots of apologies to people who really struggle with their weight, that image still vividly demonstrates the challenges we face as a society with the growing epidemic of obesity, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes, fostered and enabled by a society designed to move people using car power, not people power. If that person got out of that car and walked or biked just a few blocks every day, it would make a difference.

(On the video when I mention skipping it’s a reference to the talk earlier that evening by Patty Sanders about the virtues of skipping to make the world a better place. I wanted this to read as a stand-alone essay.)

Your Turn

  • What are your reasons for riding a bike?
  • What’s your favorite on my list of reasons?
  • Can bikes really save the world?
July 18, 2011

Bike Style Spokane Products

Women with bike wearing a Ruu-Muu exercise dress for biking, walking, and generally looking cute while you exercise

Belles and Baskets bike club founder Betsy Lawrence is cuteness personified in the Bluebelle Ruu-Muu. We promise this will become your #1 go-to outfit for summer fun. With this on over bike shorts you just feel a bit more dressed when you stop at the coffee shop.

Bike Style Spokane fills the gap between Nordstrom’s and the local bike shop with comfortable, stylish choices in clothing, accessories, and bike gear. We are constantly looking for new products that fit with our purchasing philosophy and values and that help you look good and enjoy the ride.

Look for our products at special shopping events and area street fairs. Check the Events tab for updates, become our friend on Facebook, and follow @BikeStyleSpok on Twitter for updates.

We don’t yet have an e-commerce function on the site (someday!). If you see something you absolutely must have and are in the Spokane area, drop us an email and we’ll figure out how to connect with your heart’s desire between events.

Send us your ideas for more products to order in; we know you’d much rather see/touch/feel/try on/check out something before buying, which is why we started with events, not a virtual shopping cart.

Sensible Style for Women who Move

Pedal Panties: More than underwear, less than bike shorts. A touch of lightly padded comfort under regular clothes.

Silky wicking fabric, no panty line, and just enough padding that you and your bike saddle can still be friends at the end of the day.

Nuu-Muus & Ruu-MuusThe cutest dress you’ll ever sweat in! Great for biking, tennis, yoga, running and other active movement. Made by a women-owned company based in Bellingham, Nuu-Muu is a member of 1% for the Planet, a business organization that donates 1% of all sales to environmental organizations. Nuu-Muu: $70. Ruu-Muu (with pocket): $80.

Pedal Panties: More than underwear, less than bike shorts–equally perfect under those Nuu-Muus or your buttoned-down office look. Sleek and sexy quick-dry performance fabric with a thin, breathable cushion for comfort on the saddle without that sensation that you’re wearing a Depends. Made in California by a women-owned company. Available in teal (shown), lilac, black, or new red. $36 ($30 when purchased with a Nuu-Muu/Ruu-Muu–just because we think this is such a rockin’ awesome combo for easy rides and weekend errands.)

Save Our Soles: Great bike socks with a wide and wild variety of patterns. Flowers, hearts, cats, or cups of coffee–you name it, we probably have it on a pair of socks. Most $10; some $12-$14

Ana Nichoola cycling gloves for women. White crocheted back, light blue bow, loops between fingers for easy removal.

Ana Nichoola cycling gloves for women definitely fall at the intersection of style, comfort, and functionality.

Ana Nichoola Gloves: We scored the last of these spring/summer/fall pretty crocheted gloves. Designed by an English woman who races bikes, these gloves give you real functionality with nicely padded palms and a feature you won’t be able to live without it once you’ve had it: loops between the fingers that make it a snap to pull the gloves off quickly instead of peeling them off. The design features a crocheted back and light blue bow on the velcro tab closure. Note that these run small. You will need to try them on to get the right size. Quantities extremely limited. $45/pair

Carry On

Donkey BoxxPerfect for trips to the farmers’ market or a day of errands! Each box can hold a full grocery bag. Practical box-like bicycle panniers made of 80% recycled corrugated plastic fasten to your bike with zip ties. Manufactured by Minnesota Diversified Industries, which employs people with disabilities. $28/Boxx

Donkey Boxx Bike Carrier made in US from 80% recycled material

The Bike Style Donkey Boxx with a typical farmers' market load.

Po Campo Bike Bags and Panniers: No one will ever guess that pretty purse is actually designed to strap onto your handlebars–until you show them. Not just for biking–great to strap onto strollers too! Made in Chicago by a woman-owned company. Prices vary.

They’ll Know You’re There

Spoke-N-Wheel Bike Bells: Customized by a mom in Los Angeles with fun phrases and 3D features like flowers and animals. $20-$22

Bike Wrappers: Like reflective clothing for your bike–style & safety both. Made by a small California company. $40 for a set of 3 to cover frame tubes

Reflective stickers for your bike, helmet, and other gear: Made by creative folks at Spokane’s own Hydra Creations. We’ll keep adding colors and designs as we learn what you like. Tell us what sticker images you’d want to have reflecting in that driver’s high beams! $1.50/ea or 4/$5

Po Campo Loop Pannier in "Free Bird" fabric with a laptop inside.

Po Campo Loop Pannier in "Free Bird" fabric with a Lenovo ThinkPad inside. Water-resistant/fade-resistant fabrics, practical design, but so pretty no one will guess it's made to attach to your bike. Now that's bike style!

And More!

Bike-themed jewelry, Action Wipes for grown-ups (your face isn’t a baby’s butt–don’t wipe it like one), BPA-free stainless steel Bike Style water bottles, and other goodies.

This post will be updated with more products as they arrive and we’ll get more images posted too.

Sign up at www.bikestylespokane.com to subscribe to blog posts and notices about future events, and keep riding with style!

Nuu-Muu & Ruu-Muu exercise dresses. Close-up 8-14-11 by Andrea Parrish Geyser
Nuu-Muu & Ruu-Muu exercise dresses come in the most beautiful fabrics!
Gorgeous close-up shot by Andrea Parrish Geyser, Hydra Creations.
Bike Style Spokane stainless steel water bottle close-up by Andrea Parrish Geyser

We offer BPA-free stainless steel water bottles with Bike Style. Photo by Andrea Parrish Geyser, Hydra Creations.

July 15, 2011

Thoughts on Shopping

A “buy local/buy good stuff/buy from real people” unmanifesto

This site represents the basis for a community of women who bike with style and who support each other. I’m filling the toolkit over time with a few things I hope will help.

1) It’s a blog that I hope brings you value and builds the community of women riding bikes in the Spokane region (and elsewhere).

Read, enjoy, comment, and share your stories. I love riding my bike and writing; the blog is a natural extension of my life.

2) It represents a specific set of values and philosophy because at the end of the day how you spend your dollars will always represent a decision about your priorities. My approach (which got more than a little help from my thrifty Depression-era parents):

  • It’s entirely possible to take care of many of your style and comfort needs with a trip to a local thrift shop and a little ingenuity. Living well does not require excessive consumerism.
  • Know where and how things are made before you spend your hard-earned money on them. This doesn’t reward impulse shopping–it rewards homework and mindful decision-making.
  • Be willing to pay more for something well-made that will last longer. Your cost per wearing is far lower than if you buy cheap crap that wears out quickly, and that extra cost most likely also represents a living wage for the person who made your purchase and better quality materials that will hold up to repeated wearings.
  • If you buy something you don’t think looks absolutely great on you, down the road you’ll pass over it every time you go to the closet. Save your money for the cute stuff and the classics. Since you’ll wear them more, you want good quality, and if you buy fewer things you can afford better ones; see bullet point above.

3) If you’re in the Spokane region you will see me put on an occasional shopping event or take wares to a neighborhood street fair to offer up products that the local bike shops don’t carry. (I’m not trying to compete with the shop owners–I consider them friends. I’m trying to grow their potential market!)

Some of the items I’ve found may be available in your local bike or recreational clothing store; I haven’t spotted them in Spokane.

I think you should buy local whenever possible, but if you can’t find it locally and I’ve linked to it here, I hope you’ll buy through me. Some of the links may someday represent an affiliate relationship through Amazon or with a specific manufacturer and your purchase helps support our mutual quest. Down the road you’ll see an e-commerce function on the site too; I have this great inventory and if you can’t wait for the next event I want to be able to fulfill your personal quest right away.

I only feature items I think are useful and/or beautiful that will help you bike in style and comfort. For more on my philosophy and the values I bring to product and partner selection, see Shopping for a Better World.

July 12, 2011

Bikespedition #1: Carnegie Square

“Did you bike here? Do you want to bring your bikes inside?” Now that’s something you don’t hear every day from a shop owner!

What an auspicious start to Saturday’s Bikespedition to Carnegie Square: the collection of distinctive local shops clustered around the corner of First and Cedar on the west end of downtown Spokane. Fans of historic architecture get some visual treats at this corner too.

We made an outstanding choice for our first outing in both date and destination. The weather Saturday dawned bright and beautiful. Belles and Baskets founder Betsy Lawrence and I set forth to explore several shops and check out the treats and bike parking.

Our first stop would have been French Quarter Gourmet Shoppe, but despite the hours posted on the door they weren’t open. Call ahead to make sure they’re open if you want some of the handmade chocolates, wine selection, unusual soda flavors (cucumber, anyone?), greeting cards (some shaped like shoes!), and gourmet snacks visible through the window.

Bike sculpture at the corner of First and Cedar on the west end of downtown Spokane

If you're standing here, you'll find bike racks both left and right along Cedar and on First.

A large bike rack awaited us on Cedar between Andy’s and Carousel Vintage and another invites you to stop in at Two Wheel Transit; just look for the bike sculpture on the southwest corner of First and Cedar and you’ll find racks nearby.

Irimi Art, Antiques & Fiber co-owner Dale Forbes gave us that bike-friendly greeting. Her partner Rick Graff builds bike projects in the basement so they’re hip to the biking public.

Their shop offers a fascinating and eclectic mix of handmade arts—from yarn fibers and beautiful clothing to fine paintings, pottery, rugs, lamps, and furniture—coupled with antiques. Dale taught us a bit about the various fibers and treatments, and we ran our hands through the silky-soft hair from the pygora goats they raise.

Barb Chamberlain trying on a handmade sweater at Irinia Art, Antiques and Fiber, Carnegie Square, Spokane

I resisted the urge to buy this handmade sweater at Irimi. It may still be waiting for you, but if not you'll find other wonderful things!

My finds here: After resisting (just barely) a beautiful sweater coat, I picked up a special gift for a friend’s baby shower that I can’t describe in detail for obvious reasons. I also found reusable produce bags; I’ve been on the lookout for those for a while to cut down on the plastic so that was a happy discovery.

Carousel Vintage Clothing right next door is already a favorite. Every single time I wear a particular vintage dress I got there I get compliments; we found a prom dress here for daughter Laura; and on this day I found a princess-pink sundress dress I had to get for her. (Total Great Mom points when I brought that home.)

Owner Jenny Stabile has a great selection of vintage and repurposed vintage, and lots of the dresses are short and/or flippy enough to bike in. (A too-straight skirt makes the leg-over maneuver a challenge.) Be sure to come in for vintage clothes, shoes, handbags, jewelry, and formals, with men’s clothes as well as women’s.

You’ll find more vintage and consignment clothing of any age at Fringe & Fray just across Cedar. We spotted a maroon paisley skort—shades of the 1980s, perhaps?—on the rack. They offer shoes, jewelry, bags, and scarves too.

Carousel Vintage Clothing: Cute vintage dress you could wear to ride a bike and look pretty too.

At Carousel Vintage Clothing, a cute vintage dress you could totally wear biking.

By now it was treat time, so Rocket Bakery it was. The deli case offers a nice assortment of fresh salads; they have the made-from-scratch scones, bagels, quiche, and giant cookies you’ll find at all their locations; and at the back you can pick up a bottle of wine from a selection that covers the wall. The Rocket is Spokane’s local coffee chain, established in 1992. Wi-fi available and plenty of bike parking if you shackle to the fence around the outdoor seating, or do what we did and leave your bikes in the rack by Carousel while you wander around.

Right next door there’s more wine available at Whitestone Winery, one of Spokane’s many great local wineries and tasting rooms. Time your visit for Thursday through Saturday noon-6pm and First Fridays to get a taste or a bottle.

We had to stop in at Two Wheel Transit, of course, to say hi and pick up a copy of Bicycling Times magazine. Owners Geoff Forshag and Bruce Abbott offer bike fitting and a line-up of bikes from Trek and Fisher; Betsy loves the Trek FX she outfitted with fenders, rack, and lights to serve as her commuter.

Belles and Baskets founder Betsy Lawrence, left, and Barb Chamberlain pick up a copy of Bicycling Times at Two Wheel Transit.

Getting our bike on at Two Wheel Transit in our Nuu-Muus and Ruu-Muus!

Two more shops that fit into the home décor category round out the possibilities: Spokane Tile and Design (I redid my bathroom in my mind in about 60 seconds of peeking through the window) and Lee Custom Frame Shop and Gallery, featuring the art of Carl Funseth and Renee Rigsby.

If you head out later in the afternoon you’ll run up against closing time at some of the shops but you can grab a stool at the cool stainless steel counter of neighborhood hangout Andy’s bar, open 4pm-2am.

From First and Cedar it’s but a short jaunt a couple of blocks east on First to Tangerine Boutique (“the ultimate closet,” and yes it is), where we succumbed to the sales rack and the beautiful jewelry. Look for clothing, jewelry, handbags, consignment clothes, and a few greeting cards (if you love the snarky housewife works of Anne Taintor, look for her cards here). Many of the styles they offer would work great for bike riding.

If you didn’t get a bite to eat at Rocket Bakery, next door to Tangerine you can get some incredibly awesome vegan tomato soup and other yummies at Scratch (yes, their food is made from scratch) or an adult beverage at their sister establishment Rain

Tangerine Boutique sign on West First marks the spot for "the ultimate closet," while The Sweetie waits patiently with my Donkey Boxx and Po Campo Logan Tote ready to haul home the finds from Bikespedition #1.

Tangerine Boutique sign on West First marks the spot for "the ultimate closet," while The Sweetie waits patiently with my Donkey Boxx and Po Campo Logan Tote ready to haul home the finds from Bikespedition #1.

The only downer in the Tangerine/Scratch/Rain block is the lack of bike parking. We hitched to parking meters, which don’t offer real protection since someone tall could lift bike, lock, and all right off the top, and kept an eye on the bikes.

From here you can easily head on into the Sodo (South of Downtown) area on Second Ave. (under construction right now, but persist, walk your bike through the worst of it, and take them your business!), the downtown core, or West Main. All future destinations for a Bikespedition! (vote on the poll)

All in all, a wonderful day. And it was a good thing I had my Donkey Boxx and Po Campo Logan Tote with me to haul home the beautiful and useful things I found along the way. Notice how ‘spedition and “spending” both involve the letters -spe? This blog post is officially my most expensive to date–and worth every penny.

Spread the Word. This Was Fun!

More on Bikespeditions

Getting There: Some Basic Route Advice

This is by no means a comprehensive bike route map, just a few suggested streets. Carnegie Square is easy to find.

From the South Hill (west end): North down High Drive/Cedar (bike lane). Where the arterial curves left stay on Cedar; it’s a quieter street and the cross streets have to stop.

At 5th the street curves right/east and drops down to merge with 4th. Watch for traffic that has recently left the freeway and is heading to downtown, but on this particular Saturday there wasn’t a car in sight midday. Move quickly to the left lane; you’re turning in half a block.

Turn left/north on Jefferson (new bike lanes). Pass through stop lights at 3rd, 2nd, and 1st. Turn left/west on Sprague to Cedar.

South Hill (east end): Come north down Southeast Blvd (bike lane) to 2nd. It has a beautiful new surface thanks to a 2010-2011 street bond project. (Your alternative westbound is Sprague, which does not have a beautiful new surface. Wear your Pedal Panties if you choose this route; you’ll want the extra shock absorption.)

You’ll pass through a couple of busy intersections; the drivers have 4 lanes and should have no problem moving around you if need be.

If you’re comfortable staying on 2nd to Cedar, just do that. Otherwise you can turn right/north at Division or at Howard (bike lane there) to Riverside, then left/west on Riverside.

From downtown: Riverside has two lanes each direction, making it easy for a driver to move around you if need be, and west of Lincoln has a bike lane for a bit through a pretty stretch with a central median and street trees. When it curves around to a stop sign, that’s Cedar; turn left, go one block south, and you’re there. Your return could be along West First or back down to Riverside.

From the north: I recommend Wall, Post, and Howard (that one doesn’t go through all the way north, however)–all decent streets for bike access. (Maple Street is downright hostile. Monroe works fine if you’re comfortable in traffic; drivers have two lanes and can move around you.)  Northsiders, add additional route suggestions in comments.

Come through Riverfront Park, if you like, and turn right/west on Spokane Falls Boulevard. It curves westward and through a funky intersection at Monroe; bear right and you’re now on Riverside. See above.

July 9, 2011

South Perry Street Fair Fun: Look for Bike Style!

South Perry District banner on light pole (Spokane, WA). 2011 South Perry Street Fair July 16.

South Perry has it goin' on Saturday, July 16, with the parade and street fair.

We’ll have a booth at the South Perry Street Fair Saturday, July 16. Share the Eventbrite invitation or Facebook event with friends so they know to stop on by. Featured items build on what we’ve had at the first two shopping events.

Sensible Style for Women who Move

Nuu-Muus & Ruu-Muus: The cutest dress you’ll ever sweat in! Great for biking, tennis, yoga, running and other active movement. Made by a women-owned company based in Bellingham, Nuu-Muu is a member of 1% for the Planet, a business organization that donates 1% of all sales to environmental organizations.

Pedal PantiesMore than underwear, less than bike shorts–equally perfect under those Nuu-Muus or your buttoned-down office look. Sleek and sexy quick-dry performance fabric with a thin, breathable cushion for comfort on the saddle without that sensation that you’re wearing a Depends. Made in California by a women-owned company.

Carry On

Donkey Boxx: Perfect for trips to the farmers’ market or a day of errands! Each box can hold a full grocery bag. Practical box-like bicycle panniers made of 80% recycled corrugated plastic fasten to your bike with zip ties. Manufactured by Minnesota Diversified Industries, which employs people with disabilities.

Po Campo Bike Bags and Panniers: No one will ever guess that pretty purse is actually designed to strap onto your handlebars–until you show them. Not just for biking–great to strap onto strollers too! Made in Chicago by a woman-owned company.

They’ll Know You’re There

Spoke-N-Wheel Bike Bells: Customized by a mom in Los Angeles with fun phrases and 3D features like flowers and animals.

Bike Wrappers: Like reflective clothing for your bike–style & safety both. Made by a small California company.

Reflective stickers for your bike, helmet, and other gear: Made by creative folks at Spokane’s own Hydra Creations.

And More!

Bike-themed jewelry, Action Wipes for grown-ups (your face isn’t a baby’s butt–don’t wipe it like one), BPA-free stainless steel Bike Style water bottles, and other goodies.

Sign up at www.bikestylespokane.com to subscribe to blog posts and notices about future events, and keep riding with style!

PS: Keep checking back; we’ll update this post with more product specifics as shipments arrive.

Tweet this post: A preview of the Bike Style Spokane selection at the South Perry Street Fair Saturday, July 16, 2011

July 7, 2011

Happy Bottom: Pedal Panties Review

“Happy Bottom” is actually my dad’s nickname for my mom, whose name is Gladys. (As she always said, “At least he doesn’t call me Jolly Butt.”)

A happy bottom is also what I have on days with a little more mileage than usual—that is, if I’m wearing my new Pedal Panties!

Pedal Panties Front View: Underwear made for biking.

Pedal Panties: Front view.

Like many, many biking women (possibly all of us) I’ve been through several saddles in search of the “perfect” one. Ain’t no such thing, sugar. Every woman’s anatomy is different. I’m pretty happy with my current saddle, a Serfas Terazzo, but put in more than a few miles without bike shorts and I’m going to notice it the next day when sit bones meet saddle.

In my ongoing quest for clothing that helps you look good and ride comfortably I ran across the gals at Pedal Panties and ordered some in time for the June Bike Style Treats & Shopping event.

I had the chance to try them out the day before the event. Thanks to a Belles and Baskets evening ride and several errands I put in 16.5 miles that day, whereas a day with no meetings and just a ride to work and back only nets me around 5 miles.

Pedal Panties Back View: Underwear for biking

Pedal Panties: Back view.

Remember, I bike to work in regular clothes: skirts, dresses, capris, pants. I don’t want to mess with carrying clothes and changing; I’ve made slight adjustments to my shopping habits specifically so I don’t have to do that.

So all this time I’ve been toughing it out on longer-mileage days because there’s no way I’m wearing what feels like a diaper all day long. Bike shorts would show under my work clothes and while Spandex may be slimming, I don’t want to be squeezed like a sausage in a casing all day long. That gripper elastic on the thighs isn’t that comfy after 10 hours either.

To be blunt—this is just between us girls, right?—regular underwear can prove to be a tragic mistake on a bike and you won’t know until you find out the hard way. Beautiful lace? Irritating after a while. Thong? Really bad idea if you’re riding very far. Wrong kind of elastic? Ouch. Depending on the fabric your outer pants are made of you may run into some chafing of the inner thighs, too. Bike shorts are designed to be worn without underwear for a reason.

Pedal Panties to the rescue! They have just a light touch of padding—a soft cottony-feeling finish (made of polyester, though, for its wicking qualities) rather than a thick chamois pad, so no sensation that makes me feel as if I should waddle. They’re made of a lightweight, silky, moisture-wicking performance fabric that feels delightful.

Pedal Panties Inside View: Underwear made for biking

Pedal Panties: The hidden truth revealed.

When I initially put them on I was a little worried because the low-rider cut felt pretty low in the back and I don’t like that sensation. But the fabric is so wonderful that two seconds later I’d forgotten all about that and I never thought about it again. They felt comfortable on and off the bike all day long. The boy-cut legs meant no panty line under the somewhat form-fitting stretchy capris I wore to work that day. That cut also provides some inner-thigh protection that I think will reduce or eliminate chafing.

Nothing is ever perfect, of course. Right now they come in teal, lilac, and black. I’d like a color I could wear under whites.

It would be great if the size range covered more women; they start with XS (2-4) and go up to XL (10-12). Those are my only recommendations for change. I’d say the sizing is a little bit larger than you’d think with this scale because I wear somewhere around an 8-10 (depending on the brand) and the size M (6-8) I wore was fine; in fact, I might have been able to wear a size S. A friend who wears a size 00 at Black House White Market said the XS fit her fine and if they made an XXS she could wear those. If you’re a 12-14 I think you could wear the XL. I’ve already asked them about making more of a size range.

Now, they’re not a substitute for bike shorts if I’m heading off for a full day of riding. But for the vast majority of my days this is all I’ll need and it’s a big improvement over the offerings of Victoria’s Secret (or Fred Meyer).

You want to know cost, of course. They retail for $36. That’s more than I’ve ever paid for underwear, and less than I’ve ever paid for bike shorts. And that’s a perfect description of them too: more than underwear, less than bike shorts. For 16.5 miles of comfort last week, it seemed like a fair price.

Pedal Panties are made in the United States, in California. If you’re interested in checking them out, watch the blog for the next Bike Style shopping event. I’ll have them there.

Pedal Panties get a shout-out on Veló Vogue: Back in the Saddle.

Tweet this post: More than underwear, less than bike shorts: Pedal Panties!

July 4, 2011

Independence and Freedom, Courtesy of the Bicycle

Some of the ways riding a bike makes me feel independent and free:

  • Competence and self-sufficiency: I can fix most basic mechanical problems that would stop me from going down the road. Not all, but I can patch or replace the tube to repair a flat tire, get the chain back onto the derailleur, and fiddle with the brake adjustment if it’s rubbing. Note that I cannot perform any of the equivalent tasks on a car.
  • Convenience: When I feel like taking a ride, I can just go. I don’t have to think about whether there’s gas in the tank or a parking place when I get there. (Personally, I’m fueled by caffeine, chocolate, and the farmers’ market.) And while I appreciate having a good transit system and utilize it in the winter when I can’t ride or when I need a lift up a steep hill, with my bike I’m not tied to anyone’s schedule but mine.
  • Financial freedom: Speaking of gas…. Freedom from knowing what gas costs! Seriously, unless I happen to glance at a station as I bike past (I try to wave at the poor drivers) I couldn’t tell you the price of gas. I understand it’s quite steep.
  • Mobility: It’s much easier to get around in heavy traffic, and that’s without breaking any laws. If I hit a heavy construction zone and cars are backed up, I just switch to the sidewalk as a pedestrian and keep moving. I can get through spaces where a car can’t pass if need be, and I take up a lot less room so it’s easier to maneuver.
  • Freedom to choose a different path: You can take this one metaphorically, and I do mean it that way. On my bike I experience a greater flexibility of thought about how to get from point A to point B. If you’re a driving commuter, when is the last time you drove on different streets just to see what’s on them? Or because that little store looks intriguing and you can stop and check it out quickly without a big hassle? Experts say that trying new things helps keep your brain young; biking is my brain-aerobics every day.
  • Freedom to see through new eyes: Closely related to the path-finding is the way I now think about transportation. For one thing, I don’t take it for granted. For another, I think more broadly about all the ways people and goods move around and I recognize auto-centric thinking, speech, and limitations all the time. I have ridden away from a very confining box, and it’s not the car–it’s the thought patterns that allow themselves to be constrained by its boundaries.

Free yourself. Ride your bike.

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