Posts tagged ‘fashion’

May 28, 2012

Getting Started Bike Commuting: A Blogspedition inside Bike Style

Barb on a bike wearing a green dress

A typical day on the bike: Dress, pumps, helmet, gloves.

The blog now stands at over 170 posts after a year of writing. Lots of advice is sprinkled throughout every post, along with my ponderings and miscellany on bike policy, infrastructure creation, and other aspects of becoming a bike-friendlier world.

This post serves as a categorized round-up of many of the posts you may find helpful if you’re thinking about bike commuting.


Riding and Mechanics


Hauling Stuff

Getting Started as a Commuter

Route Selection

Bike Parking


Rules of the Road

Paying Attention

“Roll” Models

Women featured in our “On a Roll with” series talk about how they ride and other posts about or by individual women riders. Be inspired!

Snapshots of Riding Days and Destinations

These posts are of the “where I rode my bike today” variety to give you an idea of how easy and flexible bike transportation can be, whether it’s for the round trip to and from work or a Saturday full of errands. Many of them also tell you what I was wearing, in my ongoing mission to demystify and de-Spandex everyday biking.

Your Turn

  • Some topics are missing from the list. Helmets and hair, for example–an issue for many women and one I’ll tackle in a future post. What topics would you add?
March 24, 2012

The Skirt Scoot: A Key Maneuver

Skirts can be easier to ride in than pants, but they have their dark side. Read on for a little Twitter discussion I was reminded of the other day. (Note for those who aren’t on Twitter: When someone replies to a tweet the original appears above with the reply below in this format, so you’ll see some tweets duplicated.)

Just the other day I experienced “some alarm” and was reminded yet again of the importance of the skirt scoot maneuver.

What’s that, you ask? My nickname for a little move I’ve adopted, born of a combination of the occasional disastrous skirt fabric/length combo and my fondness/weakness for alliteration.

Cream-colored vintage knit dress from Carousel Vintage, Spokane, WA

Love-love-love this stretchy little number from Carousel Vintage. It’s a soft, nubbly knit and even if I forget my skirt scoot I can easily pull the skirt up and off the saddle just by standing on the pedals. Woven fabrics? Not so forgiving in your nanosecond of need.

This is the maneuver I now try to remember to execute any time I get on the bike, whether it’s as I leave the house in the morning or when the light turns green: Lift up and slide back, making sure the fabric of the skirt is trapped between the saddle and your butt.

It’s just a simple little step, but an easy one to forget. The times I have forgotten it and just plopped onto the saddle led to the “some alarm” tweet above. Those were the times when a skirt with an unforgiving non-stretch fabric happened to be just the right length to get caught over the back of the saddle.

What happens next, as you begin to slow for a stop and plan to step smoothly and gracefully off the saddle, is that you can’t. You are caught on the saddle by the fabric of your skirt and you are starting to tip over.

So far I’ve been lucky. I’ve felt the catch in time to push back on the pedals and unhook the skirt, but not without a nice little adrenalin rush.

I’ve already mostly moved away from straight skirts in my wardrobe as I’ve shifted my shopping toward a bike-friendly mindset. I ride a regular road bike for my commuting as well as for fun and straddling the top bar is just less (ahem) ladylike in a straight skirt that I have to hoist to mid-thigh to get enough leg maneuvering space. (I still have a few I won’t give up, mind you–I’m careful about where I stand when I hoist on so I continue to be the lady my mother raised me to be. Avert your eyes, you creeper.)

The moment of panic when I realize I didn’t skirt-scoot and I am now skirt-stuck is a reinforcement of my fashion move toward skirts with a slightly flippier hemline, and definitely ones with stretchy fabric.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • What clothing-induced moments of panic have you experienced?
  • Any great tips for avoiding said panic in the future, à la skirt scoot?
March 22, 2012

Shop & Swap! Spokane Bike Swap Saturday-Sunday

Close-up of Nuu-Muu and Ruu-Muu fabricsC’mon down! Bike Style Spokane will hold our first shopping event of the season (it is the season, honest! Snow? What snow?) at this weekend’s Spokane Bike Swap.

The event offers plenty of reasons besides our bike stylin’ cuteness to head on out to the Spokane Fairgrounds, and with a forecast of 57 degrees for Saturday and 59 for Sunday you’ll be itching to think about bikes (and what you’ll wear riding, of course).

The deets–

Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Sunday, 9 a.m.-noon

Spokane Fairgrounds, Annex A

Entrance fee: $5 (kids 12/under free)

Proceeds benefit the Friends of the Centennial Trail, who have worked for decades to provide this great community amenity.

Once upon a time I was a volunteer for the North Idaho Centennial Trail Committee as we worked to construct the trail segment on that side of the state line, before I moved back to Spokane to a location that lets me ride along the Spokane River pretty often (but never often enough).

If you’re in the market for a bike for yourself or a kidlet in the family, you’ll have an array to choose from, both new and used–everything from mountain bikes to recumbents. If you’re ready to trade up or get rid of a spare you can sell your bike too ($10 fee to sell).

You’ll find bikes and gear both new and used, the chance to practice getting your bike on and off the bike rack on a Spokane Transit bus, helmet fitting, bike tour info, and more–and of course, the chance to hang out with Spokane’s friendly bike community and talk shop.

Bike Style will be there with a sampling of some of the cute products we carry and a new item or two you haven’t seen yet, with special pricing on a few items just for you.

Pop quiz: What’s one of the distinguishing features of the Spokane Transit system as it relates to bikes? Post your guesses in the comment section below and I’ll post the answer later.

Poster for Pedal Panties: Underwear for extra comfort on your bike saddle that fits under regular clothes. Made in US.

Pedal Panties. You know you want 'em. Or need 'em. More than underwear, less than a bike short.

February 23, 2012

They’re Coming Back! Spring and Health

Reasonably good indicators on both fronts: returning health, and returning spring. Biking keeps me attuned to both conditions–my physical well-being and the turning of the seasons–in ways that driving could never provide.

Health: My uphill ride home is a real indicator of whether I’ve shaken off whatever crud has attacked.

Not good: I sound like someone you’d want beginning nurses and doctors to listen to with a stethoscope for the definition of the word “rales” because I’m still crackling like a bowl of Rice Krispies.

Not good: Still a most unladylike amount of nasal fluids being produced.

Good: On the last couple of climbs toward home I’m no longer in first gear–I’m in third. Woohoo! These are hills that I usually do in the middle ring of my front derailleur, not the little ring, so I still have a way to go, but this is progress.

Spring: Like fall, it’s another shoulder season when I start playing “musical layers”–take off one, take off another one, decide I need that one for a few more days after all….

I also play musical gloves: lobster-claws in the morning, five-fingered in the afternoon because my hands would sweat in the lobsters.

Right now I need to be dressed more warmly for the ride to work because I create more speed and thus more windchill factor going downhill, it’s colder in the morning, and I don’t have the warmth of working to go uphill. In full summer it’s the same morning and afternoon.

Today’s outfit:

  • Black cotton/Lycra leggings
  • Lightweight Helle Hansen long johns–not the thick Hot Chilis I was wearing a few weeks ago
  • Wool socks
  • Tall gray boots (a souvenir of my trip to New York City with Second Daughter)
  • Camisole
  • Microweight cream-colored long-sleeved wool tee from Swrve
  • Gray cable-knit hoodie sweater from REI
  • Cute scarf
  • Morning: Windbreaker, lobster-claw gloves
  • Afternoon: Stopped halfway home to take off the windbreaker; five-finger gloves
  • Long gone: The face mask I was wearing to block windchill and warm my breath; a cap under the helmet; fleece neckwarmer; another layer of wool stockings under the long johns and leggings

Biggest indicators of all that we’re turning toward spring: blue skies, fat, puffy clouds instead of gray overcast dullness, birds chirping, and the sunlight on the road as I headed home around 3:30 (can’t quite hack a whole day yet).

I can’t wait for full spring and full health. Meanwhile, the bike helps me feel more optimistic about both coming back soon!

Ride Report

  • Days ridden: 27/54 (goal is 250 days this year–travel and illness are hurting my percentages right now but I’ll get back on track)
  • Miles: 203.5 (goal for 2012 is 1,200)

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Did you ride today?
January 26, 2012

Winter Ride Report: Sunshine and Splatter

Alas, you can't see how the two peachy pieces on top complement each other. But you can see the snow on the ground. Luckily I don't have to ride in it with my skinny tires!As I’ve written several times throughout this weird, weird winter: Yep, still riding!

Mind you, the deep snows of last week would have stopped me, if I’d been in town. Instead I was in Olympia, where if anything it was even worse because everything was encased in ice. Limbs shattered off trees from the weight, reminding me of the 1996 ice storm in the Spokane region (so severe it’s in Wikipedia). I had thought I might try for a bike-share experience in Olympia since the hotel I stayed in was only 2.2 miles from the Capitol, but not in those conditions!

Back home again, I drove Monday (“Mom Taxi” duty made me miss riding on a day of brilliant sunshine), bused Tuesday (kinda gray but would have been rideable, although the end of the day had a “wintery mix” per the weatherfolk that meant fine, cold, drizzly rain), looked at the forecast for Wednesday and said, “Heck yeah!”

While ice patches and clumps of snow-plowed grayness still filled the majority of the bike lane, the road was mostly bare and wet and very rideable, with enough pre-planning to brake in time for stops and no leaning into the corners because of the possibility of an unexpected patch of ice and a quick fall.

The day’s outfit was–seriously–just like what I was wearing in September. October. November. December. Recently the Copenhagenize guy took after Momentum Magazine for their article on dressing for winter riding, blasting them for making it sound as if biking in winter required “special” clothing.

What your boot looks like after around 2.5 miles on wet roads.

What your boot looks like after around 2.5 miles on wet roads.

I subscribe to Momentum and thought their article was fine. It told people that dressing for winter biking is like dressing for winter, period, and you can just keep riding. Sure, they showed some cute bike-specific product, but who doesn’t love to shop?

My outfit reflects their sensible advice: Dress in layers, wear wool underneath, keep your feet and hands dry and warm, remember that it’s dark and gray and drivers aren’t expecting you so dress for visibility. In Copenhagen? They’re expecting you on the road year-round. In Spokane? Not so much. Pays to be flashy.

My “special winter biking gear” consisted of:

  • SmartWool tights
  • SmartWool socks
  • Boots with a good grippy sole that cover my legs and stay on the pedals
  • My cut-off long johns that serve as knickers under skirts
  • Long gray wool knit skirt–another Goodwill $4 special
  • Peachy sweater–this is either a Goodwill find or possibly from Sequel, the resale shop in the Paulsen Building at which I’ve been scoring some cuteness recently
  • Lighter peachy suede jacket–from The Reclothery (yes, you’ll note a trend–I do love one-of-a-kind finds and those are only possible at vintage and resale shops where no two things on the rack are the same)
  • High-vis jacket; in the morning sunshine this is mostly for its value as a windbreaker, but riding home in the dark it’s a safety feature
  • Trusty black velvet scarf
  • Helmet with knitted earwarmers and helmet cover from Hub and Bespoke in Seattle (you can get them from me too)
  • Lobster-claw gloves
  • Face mask for the morning ride–not needed for the evening ride

The coffee cup in the bike bottle holder on my seat tube took a hit from the street splatters too.I walked my bike out of our incredibly icy driveway and set off in absolutely brilliant sunshine. Within no time at all my boots were completely splattered with muck from the road. I want to get some Splats from Rivendell! Or potentially these Canadian MEC shoe covers that Patty from Belles and Baskets has worn for years and highly recommends.

Leaving work after 5 I rode in heavy traffic on Browne because I was racing the clock to meet my daughter at Empire Dance Shop to provide the debit card action before they closed. At the corner of Browne and Sprague a pedestrian hurried across the street after the “Don’t Walk” sign had started flashing. I called, “Hurry, they’ll get you!” She laughed and said, “I know–I’m not as brave as you are!”

Not brave–just habituated. And so happy to be on the bike again after slushing around via “two-foot drive” on snowy sidewalks.

How this day relates to my 3 words for 2012 riding: I’m consistent, in that I’m still riding. It’s variety because I’m definitely riding in heavier winter conditions than I have in years past. And I’m mindful because that icy is slippery!

And then there's what the road does to your actual bike.... This will necessitate some serious clean-up. Grime is not good for gears and chains. Now, where's my Sweet Hubs when I need him?

Ride Report

  • Days ridden in 2012 (as of Wednesday, Jan. 25): 17 of 25 days. My goal is 250 days; this total includes a couple of days on the trainer indoors racking up some sweaty mileage. At this rate I wouldn’t be able to hit this target, but given that it’s winter and I’ve been out of town I’m behind my usual riding frequency. No problem catching up in the balmy days of spring, summer, and fall, when only the unfortunate lock themselves into steel boxes.
  • Miles: 144.01 miles. My goal is 1,200, which is only 100 miles a month. I’m on track for this one, no problem, but why move a bar I’m going to clear?

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Riding?
  • What do you wear to deal with the mucky bits?
  • See weather forecast below (for Thursday, Jan. 26). With a forecast like this would you plan to ride?
January 17, 2012

My Favorite Posts of 2011: A Blogspedition in Bike Style

I launched this blog May 1, 2011, at the beginning of Spokane Bike Month and National Bicycling Month, after nearly three years of blogging about biking and a lot of miscellany over at Bike to Work Barb.

Not knowing what kind of blogging pace I could keep up, I started out cautiously, then picked up steam. Celebrating 30 Days of Biking with my own 30 Days of Biking Blogging showed me that I could find plenty of fodder as long as I made the time to write.

I’ve slowed down the writing a bit–it’s winter and hibernation season, after all–but am happy to report that the fodder keeps coming and the blog is gaining readers and views. For that, much thanks!

As I look forward to 2012 I thought I’d look back at 2011 and pick out my favorite posts, as well as tell you which ones were tops for views.

It’s tough since they’re all my children and we don’t have any favorite children, right? Some of these are ones I think deserve more readers than they’ve had so far; others capture something near and dear to my heart.

First, my personal favorites:

Now for the ones the stats say are the winners:

Related Reading

  • All the other posts

Your Turn

  • What was your favorite post and why?
January 3, 2012

Starting the New Year off Right: On my Bike!

I know, I know--the green ear covers don't match the red, black and white outfit--but they DO go with the spiffy new handlebar tape Sweet Hubs put on my bike over the holidays!

This has been an amazing year for riding through the winter, at least so far! I rode the bus two days in November right before Thanksgiving because the snow looked like a little bit more than I’m comfortable riding in when the drivers are still remembering how to stop in snow. (Hint: Locking up your four-wheel-drive doesn’t work. We call that a “skid.”)

Beyond that, it’s been bike-bike-bike! Barely any extra layers or protection from the wet needed, either.

Monday’s outfit is pretty typical of what I was wearing back in October-November that I continued to wear in December and now January.

  • SmartWool tights
  • Wool socks
  • Boots: These have nice Vibram soles for pedal grip.
  • Cut-off long johns to create “bloomers” for under my skirt. (If I had been just a titch smarter I would have cut them off below the knee for riding, then folded them up shorter than skirt length for the office.)
  • Base sweater: Today’s is so thick and toasty I didn’t wear a base layer–I knew I didn’t need it.
  • Top sweater: A touch of red for some color in my typical fairly monochrome wardrobe. This is cotton so it doesn’t add much by way of warmth, but it zings up the black and white.
  • Skirt: Thanks, Goodwill, for this $4 vital basic! Cut is flippy enough at the bottom that it’s easy to jump on the bike and go.
  • Outerwear for the morning and evening ride: Ski jacket minus the liner (not shown in this pic because it was midday and I didn’t need it, and honestly I could downgrade to a lighter jacket and be fine); neck cover and face mask for morning but not evening; black velvet scarf shown here is more for pretty but does add some warmth around the neck; lobster-claw gloves; strap/ear covers and a thin skullcap under the helmet; cute black velvet helmet cover from Hub and Bespoke in Seattle.

Feet and hands are the biggies for me, followed closely by my neck and ears. If those are reasonably warm and the wind is blocked, I’m okay. The torso warms up with pedaling, the legs won’t freeze and fall off in my relatively short rides, and my arms seem to be just fine if the rest of me is.

I’m a big base-layer girl–was one even back before I biked to work because I just like to feel snuggly. If I have to watch for anything it’s for being too warm rather than too cold; I often leave whatever jacket I plan to wear in the office in the Donkey Boxx and just wear my wind-blocking outer layer because otherwise I’ll end up sweaty.

My biking goals for 2012 are to ride 1,200 miles or more and–more important to me–to ride 250 days of the year or more. Since knowing that I had to report to all of you on the 30 Days of Biking challenge in September kept me accountable, I’ll do an occasional ride report throughout the year to show you how I’m doing and to remind myself to stay on track.

  • Days ridden in 2012: 1
  • Miles: 6.68

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Are you a winter rider?
  • If not, what temperature or weather conditions do you look for as your signal to get rolling?
December 14, 2011

Still Riding!

In case you wondered, yes, it’s still riding weather! Cold, sure, but the roads have been bare and dry. Sometimes the road is lightly frosted in the early morning so I allow for more braking time and don’t really lean into the corners, but other than that riding now is like riding in September or October. Actually, it’s drier! We had more wet days in the fall than we do right now. And this morning’s light frosting of snow? Easy enough to handle, as long as I’m gentle.

As for the gear and clothing, it’s about where it was a few weeks ago when I started adding the face mask to the morning gear. [Fashion tip: If you wear lipstick, don’t put it on until after you get to work if you’re wearing a mask.]

Take Tuesday’s outfit, for example. Or, well, don’t, because it’s a favorite of mine for its simplicity and ease of dressing, mounting/dismounting the bike, and moving around while feeling as if I look pretty good.

  • Under it all: A sleeveless undershirt and “bloomers” both made by Cuddle Duds. They’re not high-end long johns or merino wool, which I adore, but they feel nice and provide one more insulating area for warm air to be trapped. I don’t know the R value  ヅ(a measure of insulating power usually used in the construction industry).
  • Dress I’ve had for years: 70% polyester, 30% wool, with a turtleneck and short sleeves.
  • Blazer (some kind of PVC–fake leather–doesn’t breathe but does block wind on the parts it covers)
  • Crocheted wool stockings from Hub and Bespoke in Seattle (so cute!)
  • Shoes from The Walking Store
  • Ski jacket without the liner–just the outer shell
  • Scarf
  • Neck gaiter (to pull up so there’s no gap for the wind to sneak into between scarf and face mask)
  • Face mask
  • Lobster-claw gloves
  • Skullcap
  • Helmet with knitted wool ear straps
  • This morning I had a pair of North Face wind-resistant pants from Mountain Gear added on–more windchill going downhill fast on the way to work than going uphill slow on the way home!

This was just about right. I was warm enough on the way to work, and warm when I got home thanks to the uphill workout.

Temps? Oh, around 24 degrees or so when I left. Overcast skies, unlike yesterday’s brilliantly sunny 21 degrees. I’ve biked to work every day so far in December and the forecast isn’t giving me a lot of reasons to change my habits yet. We may get a touch of snow Thursday of this week but the forecast is sunny from then on straight through to Christmas.

How’s the riding in your neck of the woods?

Related Reading

October 26, 2011

Wednesday Words: Bicycle Quotations on Women, Fashion, and Emancipation

Some of these are oldies but goodies that you’ll find on other sites—others are freshly picked.

Women, Fashion, and Emancipation

Don’t be afraid of going fast and getting hurt. You can always wear black stockings to cover up the scars! —Marla Streb; spotted at Pedal Panties

Let us now observe a moment of silence for the shiny Lycra stretch pants and neon nylon windbreakers that have been considered, for the past ten years, de rigueur for anyone traveling on two wheels…. A hot-pink boa works as well as a lime-green Gortex windbreaker to make you visible on the road. —Jennifer Worley, The New Colonist

The bicycle . . . has been more responsible for more movement in manners and morals than anything since Charles the Second . . . Under its influence have blossomed, wholly or in part, weekends, strong nerves, strong legs, strong language . . . equality of sex, good digestion and professional occupation—in four words, the emancipation of women. —Novelist John Galsworthy

[T]he bicycle will accomplish more for women’s sensible dress than all the reform movements that have ever been waged.  —Author Unknown, from Demerarest’s Family Magazine, 1895

“What shall we wear?” is a query rising from every channel of woman’s life: for upon each occasion we must be suitably clad to enjoy its peculiar benefits. This is especially noticeable for such exercise as bicycling, for, in this case, it is not only a matter of appearing well, but the health, the comfort and safety demand a carefully selected costume and equipment. —From The Ladies Standard Magazine, April 1894

Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman on a wheel. It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. —Susan B. Anthony, New York World, February 2, 1896

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October 23, 2011

Cutest Dress You’ll Ever Sweat In: I Heart Nuu-Muus & Ruu-Muus

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My product review of Nuu-Muus/Ruu-Muus is long overdue, given how many times I rave about them and show Betsy or myself in one on a bikespedition or at an event.

Some of the reasons I love them:

  • The silky, body-skimming fabric is wonderful on your skin and utterly forgiving of lumps, bumps, and bulges.
  • The fabric choices generally are “busy” patterns. Busy in a good way, that is. I tend toward pretty conservative solids and small patterns in my work clothing but have learned that their choices are great for distracting the eye and further disguising said lumps, bumps, and bulges.
  • They dry in a flash whether wet from sweat or from a quick swish in the sink while you’re traveling–always ready to wear the next day. Friends have taken them to Italy and The Netherlands and report that in humid weather when nothing else would dry, the Nuu or Ruu was ready to rock.
  • The Ruu-Muu pocket is especially handy. Not just for biking, when you might want to stash arm warmers or sunglasses for weather changes, but for tennis balls, golf balls, and other athletic stuff–or for your car keys if you’re wearing it to the grocery store. No more fishing in your purse!
  • They’re well-made, made in the US, and last a long time. Betsy and I each have one we purchased around five years ago and they’re still going strong with no signs of wear–and believe me, we wear them like crazy!
  • I’m thrilled that when I sell them I’m supporting a woman-owned business right here in my home state of Washington. So many great products I’ve found, like Po Campo bags and Pedal Panties, are the result of women who ride together, identify a gap in the existing bike products line-up, and create something made just for us. These aren’t the result of a focus group–they’re from the heart.

Betsy in a Bluebelle Ruu-Muu (size XS).

I’ve told a Nuu-Muu-inspired story about how body image can hold us back or we can free ourselves. They seriously, seriously, look good on women of all sizes. One woman who tried on a size XXL at a Summer Parkways event said wonderingly, “These make my legs look great.

Betsy and I were at the South Perry Street Fair and a woman said to size 00 Betsy, “Well, of course they look great on you. You’re a size nothing! What about someone who has some junk in the trunk?” Betsy called out, “Hey Barb! Turn around!”

I turned around (Exhibit A). She bought one. Unfortunately, so far they only go up to a size XXL but if you’re a size XXL and think you can’t wear cute little dresses, try on one of these.

Paired with Pedal Panties, they’re my standard summer riding wear. In fact, I have to confess that now if I ride in a “regular” bike outfit of jersey and shorts I feel a little . . . naked. Not fully dressed the way I would feel in a cute little dress that keeps my butt (AKA trunk junk) covered. If I get off the bike at a coffee shop or store I don’t feel out of place; I’m wearing a dress and ready to go anywhere.

Bottom line, they are cute-cute-CUTE. My Nuus and Ruus are my automatic go-to every weekend all summer long and into the fall. I throw on a jacket or arm warmers and some tights to keep wearing them as long as I can.

You want one.

Hint: They also make great gifts for your biking mom/daughter/niece/friend.

Barb Chamberlain on bike wearing Nuu-Muu, Sheila Moon knickers, Sheila Moon bolero

Rockin’ the Ruu-Muu with Sheila Moon black lace-trimmed lingerie knickers and a Sheila Moon white bolero.

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