Posts tagged ‘women’

November 23, 2011

Cranksgiving Ride, Relax, Reward

I’m anti-Black Friday. For days I’ve been posting things on Facebook about buying local or staying home instead of mobbing the big-box retailers at oh-dark-thirty for whatever this year’s “must-have” gift items are. The whole notion of storming the gates of retail to get all the holiday shopping over with in one mad blur leaves me puzzled.

That’s because when I shop, I like to enjoy shopping.

I want to linger. I want to talk to someone. I want to get a good look at what I’m buying, for heaven’s sake. And if it’s a gift, I want to spend some time thinking about whether it’s just right for the person who will receive it. None of that happens on Black Friday as it now takes place.

I recently took a survey put together by one of the Washington State University interior design students. Among other questions, she asked for a description of what makes for an ideal shopping event. I wish I had saved what I wrote there because I came up with quite the list. I’ll do what I can to recreate it—

  • I want to feel as if the owner and/or people engaged in the transaction know and love the products they sell.
  • I want to feel welcome whether or not I look as if I will buy anything.
  • I want it to smell nice (which for me means not full of plastic-y off-gassing or mustiness–better yet, a nice smell that makes me think of something delicious or something beautiful).
  • I want to stumble on some little unexpected find I wasn’t looking for that is just right.
  • I want to enjoy time with friends and drink some good coffee as part of the experience.
  • Ideally the shopping is part of a process of discovery on my bike—I’ve never had so much fun shopping as I have on the Bikespeditions I hatched this summer.

And guess what? Along with the lovely ladies of Belles and Baskets, I’ve put together a little event for this Friday that accomplishes quite a few items on the list.

I didn’t manage to get the “funky discovery of some new shop I’ve never heard of that I fall in love with” element that was also on my list. But with a bike ride mid-morning, coffee and conversation at The Shop on South Perry after, then some light shopping at my house with all the Bike Style goodies from this summer on display—plus new fabrics in Po Campo bags and Nuu-Muus/Ruu-Muus—I’ve come as close as I can get without mounting a full Bikespedition.

I’ll put some Green Bluff cider in the Crockpot, make some hot, tasty Roast House Coffee, and set out a goodie or two for snacking. You can try on a Nuu-Muu (two new fabrics just in!), see if the new helmet covers from Hub and Bespoke in Seattle (available in black or cranberry cotton velveteen) look awesome on your helmet, and talk bikes with whoever’s there.

If you do head out into the shopping madness and burn out–or if it’s the family madness at home you need to escape–I hope you’ll come have fun with us!

The forecast for Friday, Nov. 25, 2011, as of Wednesday night.

11 a.m.: Meet at The Shop. The Belles and Baskets ride assumes the weather will cooperate, and at this point it looks as if it will be cold but sunny.

We’ll do a short loop with a long-loop option for those who want more of a hill climb.

Officially 2-6 p.m.: Stop by my house* for a drop-in Bike Style shopping event. I’ll have the usual product assortment I had at the various bike events in Spokane over the summer (on sale) plus some new jewelry, helmet covers, and ear covers. (I say “officially” at 2 p.m. because whoever comes on the Belles and Baskets ride is welcome to head on over to my house whenever we start breaking up.)

If you’re thinking, “Oh, I shouldn’t buy things for myself this time of year—I’m shopping for others,” I’ll offer up a special Shopping Helper service. Come shop, make notes about what you want, and tell me who to email the list to. I’ll take care of it and you’ll know that at least one important gift recipient—you—has been taken care of in the manner you deserve.

*Where’s my house? Call or text 509-869-2949, email bikestylespokane at, become a Bike Style fan on Facebook, or DM @BikeStyleSpok on Twitter.

November 22, 2011

On a Roll with Betsy Lawrence: On Becoming a Late-in-Life Jock

This piece takes a different approach than our usual Q&A for the On a Roll with series. Introducing occasional guest blogger Betsy Lawrence: community college composition instructor, yoga teacher, and the founder of Belles and Baskets. What she doesn’t mention here that you should know: Her round trip to work is nearly 20 miles.

I was the baby of the family: the cute one, the dancing one, the happy one—NOT the athletic one. That was my big sister. I was the not-athletic one to the extent that my mom went to my grade school to warn the PE teacher (one of those old-school, could-have-been-a-character-on-Glee PE teachers) that I was not like my sister, so don’t expect much.

Mom was right. I didn’t learn to walk until I was two and couldn’t ride a bike until I was eleven. I couldn’t make contact with a ball with my hand, foot, or a bat. I spent my junior high years finding ways to be injured to avoid PE. When I ran out of injuries and had to do a 360 on the uneven bars, three spotters had to push me up and over. When we had to jump over hurdles, I refused. The teachers ran masking tape between rows of hurdles so I would jump over the tape without fear of the hurdle falling on me. Title IX was wasted on this girl.

Once I became an adult, while not an athlete, I was pretty active. I adored tap dancing, old-school aerobics, and weight lifting. In my forties, I began practicing yoga and soon became a yoga instructor. All these activities had something in common—they could be done indoors and didn’t feel like “sports.”

Eight years ago when I began dating Steve Faust, the man who later became my husband, he took me on a bike ride. I unearthed a bike that I had used twenty years prior on trips to the playground with my young children. I expected an easy ride, not the fifteen-mile, Riverside State Park loop that he took me on; it nearly killed me. (How is it that loop is uphill the whole way?) However, I enjoyed riding again, so I soon visited a local bike shop and bought a comfort bike.

In the following years, I came to love my heavy, comfortable bike. I added a rack and grocery carrier and became what I called a “lateral cyclist.” No huge hills for me, but living near drug stores, a library, and several grocery stores, with my bike I could easily accomplish tasks, get a little exercise, and (to my shock) feel a little bit less uncoordinated. I biked nearly every day during nice weather and it made running errands feel like play.

Betsy Lawrence in a Ruu-Muu on a summer Bikespedition to Carnegie Square.

Three years ago, as I became more comfortable riding, I heard about Bike to Work Week. I couldn’t imagine ever getting from my home near Comstock Park all the way to my work at Spokane Community College, but just to get involved, I volunteered at the BTW wrap-up party. I marveled at those spandexed folks who seemed to easily commute by bike. Even though I was daunted by thoughts of the trucks, the roads, the distance, the helmet hair, I vowed to ride to work during the next year’s BTW Week.

I began preparing for this task by gathering lots of information. Friends who bike commute explained routes that are commonly used, and I learned that I could avoid streets that frightened me. I found that those in the cycling community are thrilled to educate those who want to give commuting a try.

The next step to becoming a bike jock occurred when I rode in Spokefest the following September; there was a bus with a kind STA driver who demonstrated how to put my bike on a bus rack. Learning that easy, two-step process was the key to opening up the whole town to cycling. On a Friday in May, the last day of Bike to Work Week, I was ready. I rode to work and downtown to the wrap up party, put my very heavy bike on the bus for a two-mile break up the hill, and was proudly able to join the ranks of bike commuter.

No longer only a fair-weather rider, Betsy sets forth on winter roads.

Since that day two years ago, I have biked to work dozens of times. Last summer I decided it was time for an upgrade and bought a lighter bike that makes riding all the way up the South Hill easier. Bike commuting makes my work day a lovely experience. Sure, my hair isn’t quite as fluffy as usual, but after enjoying views of the river, saying “hello” to runners, yielding to geese, and smiling at truck drivers, I enter my work place much calmer than I would after driving. I am very proud to mention that I rode 1,000 miles in 2010—a huge accomplishment for the girl who took years to learn to ride a bike.

This piece first ran in Out There Monthly, Spokane’s fantastic free monthly publication featuring all things outdoors. It’s such a great story that we had to repeat it here to inspire those of you who think you can’t possibly ride a bike for transportation. Our thanks to OTM publisher Jon Snyder for permission to republish here and for being a sponsor from the beginning of Spokane Bikes/Bike to Work Spokane.

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Your Turn

  • Were you athletic as a kid?
  • How has Bike to Work Week affected you?
November 4, 2011

On a Roll with Mary Verner

Mary Verner (center) rides on the bike lane on Jefferson, part of the new downtown Spokane loop created in 2011.

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner (center) rides on the bike lane on Jefferson, part of the new downtown Spokane loop created in 2011.

Name: Mary Verner

Location: Spokane

Things Mary does: I’m a content mom and grandmother working as mayor to improve my community.

Who or what made a difference in your life that got you on a bike?

I lived in sunny Florida with a broken-down car and a commission-based job. I started commuting to work and got hooked on feeling healthy!

Tell us about your bike(s) and accessories.

I have an inexpensive street bike with no accessories and an antique (1938) road bike that was used during the construction of Grand Coulee Dam.

What type(s) of riding do you do? How often, what destinations, and how far? 

Recreational riding, usually 10 miles to restore the spirit on the Centennial Trail on the weekends. Occasional commutes to/from City Hall when my daily schedule allows.

What’s the most common question you get asked when you bike somewhere?

When are you going to fix the potholes (or sweep the bike lanes!)?

What do you usually wear when you ride?

Comfortable shorts or slacks, shirt depending on activity/destination, flat street shoes. I keep a change of clothes at the office.

What things do you wish were different about your bike and gear or women’s clothing or both that would make it easier to bike and look good, if this is something you give any thought to? Or at least bike and be comfortable.

Need a dark wash-‘n-wear suit that’s lightweight and suitable for biking so all I have to do is unclamp the pants leg and change shoes and I’m transformed from biker to business woman.

What does this area need to make it an even better place for women to ride their bikes?

Equal acceptance of women’s rights to wear casual clothing in the professional workplace.

What’s your proudest biking accomplishment?

Three-woman bike camping trek from Portland, Maine, through Nova Scotia, Montreal, Vermont, New Hampshire, and home via Boston.

What question didn’t we ask that you really want to answer?

What size seat do you use?

Answer: I’m not telling!

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Your Turn

  • Know someone we should profile? Is it you? Email us!
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October 10, 2011

On a Roll with Jamie Morgan

Jamie Lynn Morgan, Hayden, Idaho, with her 1935 Elgin Classic Cruiser

Jamie Lynn Morgan, Hayden, Idaho, with her 1935 Elgin Classic Cruiser

Name: Jamie Lynn Morgan

Location: Hayden Lake, Idaho

Things Jamie does:

I am a craft-beer-loving bicycle-riding wife to one and mother to three. Currently I’m the owner of a travel and tourism marketing company (I just use my name for the company name as I am a one-person operation at the moment). Living in the Inland Northwest offers so many opportunities for outdoor activities, but I have to admit I am not a winter sport person; I prefer biking, camping, hiking, and other warm weather sports. When not working to promote craft beer, dining, and activities in the Northwest you will find me homeschooling two of my three children (oldest has two years of college under her belt), teaching as a new instructor at the North Idaho College Workforce Training Center, planning outings for our Bikes and Brews Crew bicycle club, and studying to be a certified beer Cicerone.

Who or what made a difference in your life that got you on a bike?

I have always loved riding, but I would have to say that my parents buying me my first purple bicycle got me started and living 15 miles out of town for a portion of my teenage years (and not having a driver’s license–wasn’t old enough yet) showed me how efficient riding a bike can be when you want to get somewhere.

Tell us about your bike(s) and accessories.

I actually have two of my own. 1. 1935 Elgin Classic Cruiser (the one in the picture). 2. Jaguar 7 Speed Cruiser and several other ones to choose from in my husband’s collection that he has for sale for different types of rides. But 99% of the time I am on one of mine.

What type(s) of riding do you do? How often, what destinations, and how far?

I like all kinds of different rides, from short commuting in town to longer rides that include several miles in a day. I would someday like to travel around the United States by bicycle, but that is for when the kids are out of house or at least all old enough to fend for themselves.

What’s the most common question you get asked when you bike somewhere?

You really rode 20 miles on that seat?

What do you usually wear when you ride?

Since I am a casual rider (meaning I will never race or get anywhere in a big hurry) I am usually just wearing what I have on for the day: shorts, jeans, blouses, t-shirts etc.

What things do you wish were different about your bike and gear or women’s clothing or both that would make it easier to bike and look good, or at least bike and be comfortable?

I would like there to be more options for carrying the things you need in more fun colors and made for women. I don’t bedazzle, so the stuff I buy must already have the bling going on. Clothing that is more comfortable and suited for long rides but still fashionable is definitely on my wish list. My cute shorts don’t always work well for long rides.

What does this area need to make it an even better place for women to ride their bikes?

More education for drivers and bicyclists and MORE bike friendly roads and or bike paths. I’m a little tired of having to sometimes go out of my way to get places because the more direct route is not bike-friendly.

What’s your proudest biking accomplishment?

Making it up the hill on Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive on the way out to Higgins Point without having to stop. (Has been awhile though–not sure if I could do it now)

What one word describes the way you feel most often when you ride?


What question didn’t I ask that you really want to answer?

Why would you rather ride your bike than drive your car?

We are always moving so fast through our daily lives and we miss so many things. The smells from the bakery, the older gentleman in his garden who gives you squash because you stopped to admire them, the sounds of nature, and just the ability to pause and take in the scenery. That is why I ride!

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Your Turn

  • Want to be profiled? Know a woman who should be profiled? Shoot me an email: info AT!
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October 9, 2011

Helping the World, One Bike at a Time

You know your bike makes a difference in your life. It gives you a sense of independence or style or a respite from the demands of technology.

Think what your bike would mean to you if it represented the only way you could get to school and home again safely–so you could make it past the eighth grade–because the bike cuts down your three-hour walk to school.

That’s why I’ve created the Women Bike Blogs Team on World Bicycle Relief.

The list of Women’s Bike Blogs I’ve been collecting since fall 2010 is now up over 600 and continues to grow. I didn’t start building the list with the idea of reaching out for a fundraiser, but I have seen such community growing through our comments and links on each other’s blogs, the Twitter conversations, the connections and support, that I know an incredibly giving spirit resonates there.

If 10% of the women on the list, just 60 bloggers, raised $134 each–the donation that provides one bicycle–that would be $8,030. Dreaming a little bigger, what if we sponsored an entire school? That’s $15,000. We’d get pictures of the school and stories from the students whose lives we have changed forever, and I promise you’ll see them posted here.

We can do it!

If you’re a woman who writes a bike blog, will you post about this effort? Share the link to the team page, enlist friends and family, talk it up on Facebook and Twitter, and inspire your blog readers.

If you want to join or give–even $5 helps!–go to this page on World Bicycle Relief. You can search for my personal fundraising page under Barb Chamberlain and give there, or join the Women Bike Blogs team.

Still wondering if it really makes a difference? Watch this.

Related Reading

Participating Blogs
October 6, 2011

Pants Management 101

This is the stuff they didn’t teach us in Home Ec back at Bowdish Junior High School in the Spokane Valley (go Rockets!): How to manage your pant leg so it doesn’t get caught in the bike chain.

While I’ve ranted before about the search for the perfect women’s pants for bike riding (stylish and comfortable) and have even compiled a shopping list or two, simpler answers exist that don’t involve spending (much) money.

1) Buy pants with narrow enough legs that they don’t flap and get caught.

More easily said than done, what with the changing winds of fashion and all that. Summer is fine—hello, capris—but my usual fall/winter pants have a little bit more going on in the fabric department.

Pants leg reined in with rubber band to enable bike riding.

Pants leg reined in with a rubber band. Choose fabrics that won't crinkle & crease when compressed; this polyester/rayon blend doesn't work that well, unfortunately. And yes, I ride in these shoes. Aren't they cute?

2) Fight the flap.

Sure, you can buy those uber-geeky reflective ankle straps with the Velcro fastenings, but have you ever checked out what Velcro can do to a nice fabric if it goes astray? Ugh.

I have two basic weapons in this battle, both of them straight from my desk: rubber bands and binder clips.

I slide rubber bands up over my shoes and around the ankle for the ride, then store them on my cyclometer when I park the bike.

Binder clips are a fallback because they can pop off under strain, but they don’t give in to weather the way the rubber bands do.

For wetter weather I have a great pair of North Face pants I picked up at Mountain Gear, my favorite local outdoor gear shop even though they don’t carry bike stuff.

The pants are water/wind resistant and work for most of Spokane’s weather, although I do note that “resistant” and “proof” are very different levels of protection in a really blustery downpour….

The feature that helps fight the flap is a Velcro tab at the ankle (not as risky to fabric finish as the geeky ankle strap, since there’s the extra pant leg there as protection).

Pants reined in by binder clip to enable bike riding.

The binder clip alternative can be a bit risky if you use too small a clip; it pops off under the strain.

I usually go ahead and rubber-band my office wear to make it easier to put the overpants on; otherwise I’ll spend five minutes hopping around on one leg trying to stuff the first pants leg down into the overpants leg and I end up with a lumpy, uncomfortable wad halfway down my calf.

You’ll see people who have only reined in the fabric on the right leg, where all the greasy messy mechanical stuff resides. I like to keep both legs under restraint; I’ve had at least one startled moment when a wider pant leg managed to slide over the entire pedal crank and stop its rotation completely in mid-pedal. This makes for a nasty surprise in an intersection and I’d rather be safe than sorry.

North Face pants from

Protected from road splatters in these North Face pants from Mountain Gear. I should have put my shoe covers on, though! These Ann Taylor ankle boots have been simply awesome for riding and they're easy to pop on and off for removal of the outer pair of pants.

I also found out the hard way that the tan pants I’m wearing in these photos wrinkle really easily. I left the rubber bands on through a one-hour meeting because I was just going to zip out the door and back to my office; that was enough time to leave me with pretty funny creases. I don’t buy linen any more but I thought this polyester/rayon blend (which is really smooth and doesn’t chafe) wouldn’t wrinkle. Wrong.

Turns out this is not rocket science—just some tricks you need to know to make it easier to bike in style.

P.S. For talented seamstresses like my friend Sandra, taking wide-legged pants in so they don’t flap is another option. I’m only giving you the quickies here because those tan pants in the pictures above? They’re still downstairs on my “need to take these in” pile. I put them there last fall.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • What’s your secret to clothing management for riding?
October 5, 2011

The Quest for the Perfect Pants for Biking: Are We There Yet? I Need to Go.

Yep, still questing. I’m listing some additional options I found after my Phase I pants quest in all those Google search sessions while my family watches a movie and I multi-task (because really, how many movies these days can hold your full attention?).

Ibex Rio Pant: An activewear pants option for women who ride bikes

The Ibex Rio Pant has some definite possibilities. go look at them on the Ibex site, where you can zoom in and see more detail (and the back side!).

I’ve had to delete some that became unavailable after my initial search, like the Sugoi HOV (Human Operated Vehicle) urban cycling line of pants and matching jackets.

I did track down one pair of the Sugoi HOV pants through an outside vendor after they disappeared from the Sugoi site but don’t figure they’re worth reviewing since you can’t get them. (Sugoi, if you’re thinking of bringing them back, let me know and I’ll write a review–with just a couple of small tweaks these could be 100% awesome and I love being able to get pants with a matching jacket for more of an office look.)

Totally bums me out that what looked like a good option disappeared from the market, which tells me that if you find something that you think might work you should jump on it.

Real possibilities:

  • Outlier Women’s Daily Riding Pant. Unfortunately these only run sizes 0-12. Available in black, static gray, slate gray, marine blue, burgundy. $180. Scroll way down on the page to see a photo with some of the colors but not all (which really bugs me).
  • Ibex Global Wool Pant. Dings for the contrast stitching. Big patch pockets outlined with contrasting stitching Are. Not. Flattering. On. Any. Woman. The back pockets make these look more like jeans than like office wear. Only available in charcoal gray. $195. May as well bite the Outlier Tailored bullet, get more color choices and not have to look at the contrasting stitching and fattening pockets.
  • Icebreaker Rio Pant. They’re cute and made of wool (which I want for fall/winter). Only available in black. $100.

Too yoga/sporty for me, maybe okay for you (I’m only listing a few I spotted that look as if the legs aren’t too flared–you can find these kinds of pants everywhere):

  • SportHill Women’s Traverse Pant Plus: For plus-sized women 1X-4X. On the sporty side but some potential for a casual day, and wind resistant which is nice for riding as the temps cool down. May be swishy-sounding when you walk, though; no way to know what some of these technical fabrics are really like. $129.95
  • Columbia Anytime PantMajor points for having a little video clip with someone talking about the pants, holding them up and pointing out the hidden zipper pocket feature. Totally yoga though. $45.
  • Lolita Pant by PrAna. Only available in espresso. Totally yoga. On sale when I last looked for $37.49.
  • Patagonia Merino 3. These look too wide-legged and are definitely yoga. They show as sold out on some sites and aren’t listed on the Patagonia site any more so if you like the look, order them ASAP.

I should mention that I actually do yoga so saying pants are “totally yoga” isn’t meant as a bad thing–just not a boardroom thing.

Considered and rejected:

  • Columbia Just Right Pant: Honkin’ big zipper pocket on the left thigh, cinch things that raise and lower hem length. Not just right for my purposes.
  • Columbia Trail Twist Slim Pant: Looked great—straight legs won’t catch on pedals—until I zoomed in and caught the flashy little décor on the backs of the ankles. And I really don’t want my work pants to say “Omni-Dry” on the outside; doesn’t this suggest I’m in need of Depends? On sale last I looked, though, for $37.90.
Swrve bike knickers for women

Swrve's bike-specific knickers: Cute, but my calves get cold just looking at them as I contemplate fall/winter riding.

Not pants but so cute: Nau Confidant Short. Long enough to be considered a city or walking short, which might be fine for some workplaces and I could get away with it in summer. Made of fine merino wool which is a great fabric for active movement. Gray heather or brown heather.

Nau makes some cute pants for women that are supposed to be designed for active movement and I love their business values and design aesthetic. Organic or not, though, I just don’t like the chafe potential of denim or the failure to dry of cotton, their fabrics of choice.

Also not pants, also cute: Swrve Softshell Knickers. I just can’t figure out why anyone thinks knickers are cold-weather riding gear; do their calves not feel temperature or get wet? And for $120 (regular price–on sale right now for $90) couldn’t they use enough fabric to cover my ankles?

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Add to the list! Have you found pants designed for biking and for business?
October 4, 2011

The Quest for the Perfect Pants for Biking to Work: Phase I

Outlier Tailored Women's Riding Pant. Clearly, these pants make you look urban and cute. And forgetful, or she would be wearing a helmet.

The saga continues….

As I described in an earlier post, I’ve been searching for quite a while for a decent pair of pants that will work for professional settings and truly give me riding comfort.

I have purchased exactly one pair so far, and it happens to be one that’s no longer available so the quest has to continue. I’m hoping your feedback will help me narrow the choices I’ve found in my mousing around shopping online.

Here’s what I found in my first foray into the Interwebz, which took place fall 2010 (yes, I’ve really been searching that long) and which I updated recently.

(And yes, I searched high and low locally first because I believe in supporting the local economy. Everything I found fails the tests I outlined in yesterday’s post.)

The one nice-looking pair of cycling-specific women’s pants for office wear I’ve found, made by Outlier in New York City, costs $180. Gulp.

Call me cheap (I prefer “thrifty” in homage to my Depression-era parents), but I’ve never paid that much for a single pair of pants. I have a hard time paying that much for a whole suit when I know it will go on sale eventually.

I need to justify a clothing investment like that. Do I wear them every day? Back up to where I said I’m a woman and this is a fashion dilemma.

Same pair of pants every day ain’t gonna happen, although I know I’d wear a good pair of pants in a color like black or charcoal gray more than once a week during cold weather and they sound like well-made clothing that would last a long time. So actually, if I divide the price by the number of times I’d wear them, the cost per wearing comes down to something I can manage as long as I remember to think of it that way.

But then I’d have to buy online. How will I know whether I look good in these pants? A really narrow cut like this one mostly looks awesome on size 00 women, and I’ve got a bit more cush in my tush.

And did I mention they cost $180?

Also, hello again, Outlier? For me to know if I want Static Grey or Slate Grey you have to Show. The. Actual. Colors. What happened to the color swatches you showed for a brief time earlier in 2011? You show some of the colors but if you offer two shades of grey, you have to show both of them.

They do use my magic words–“comfort” and “style”–in the description…. And I wouldn’t criticize if I didn’t care so much about you ㋛.

Swrve makes knickers for women, but no trousers. (They make men’s pants, of course–biking being one of the few realms in which men have far more fashion choices and color options than women.)

And seriously, knickers? It’s nice to keep your knees warm when the temperature drops but I don’t want to look like a misplaced golfer once I’m in the office in my plus-fours. We have actual winters here. I have to wear boots. Can you say Dork Fest?

BikePortland had an article in the search results and I got all excited. It’s Portland, right? Should be plenty of bike-stylish options there, right?

They linked to the Sheila Moon site (“infuses cycling apparel with a twist of fashion”), which offers knickers in several fabrics. There’s that golfer thing again and it doesn’t change my mind just because they say knickerbockers are big with the velocouture crowd, whoever they are. I can also get stretchy yoga pants. Not so good with the suit/tie-couture crowd.

The BikePortland piece also points to Ibex, which has a slightly more promising line—at least there are the “global wool pants” that look more like trousers ($195, though–more than the Outlier and sportier in design). Icebreaker has some pants that might work too (for a mere $100).

The real test almost every product I’ve found fails is the “does it look like workout clothing?” test. Visible logos, great big seams, sizing that runs S/M/L instead of true women’s clothing sizes, descriptions that include “comfortable for yoga”—these aren’t going to pass for boardroom wear.

At least, I don’t think so when I can’t see the product clearly–often a problem with dark fabrics unless you’ve got really great photography and zoom.

Now I’d love to just head to Nordstrom’s, buy some great-looking slacks, and call it good. But let’s get real, ladies. As my friend Allyson said when I described this dilemma, “Nobody wants to divide the good china.”

Design and construction of certain seams are critical to stylish biking comfort. Compare a pair of cycling shorts to regular walking shorts and you’ll note a key difference mid-you.

That’s why great women’s professional clothing doesn’t equal “great women’s professional clothing I can wear comfortably riding a bike.”

And that’s why the quest continues.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Do you own any of the pants I’ve listed here? What do you think of them for riding?
  • Do you have other brands/styles to suggest?
October 3, 2011

It’s Pants Week. Share My Obsession.

For someone who rides much of the year in skirts I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about pants. The next couple of posts will take you through my by-now-slightly-obsessive quest for the perfect pants, along with some tips for managing the imperfect pants I ride in now.

By “perfect” I mean perfect for biking and working: Cycle Chic in the very best sense of that now-trademarked term.

I’m seeking workplace wear that is office-appropriate. Your office may be cool with stretchy yoga pants every day but that doesn’t work for everyone.

My personal style is more tailored (and I prefer to feel more fully dressed in the office J). As Eldest Daughter said the day I wore some suspiciously yoga-y leggings with a big sweater, “Mom! Pants for your work need to have seams!”

Everyone’s criteria will be different. For me the pants fail if:

  • They look like I could go bouldering in them. I don’t need all those pockets and zippers and places to hang carabiners; I’m not bivouacking or climbing at Red Rocks. I’m walking into a five-story academic building with a latte stand on the first floor (praise be to the coffee gods) and later I’m going to a Chamber of Commerce meeting.
  • They make a swishy sound when I walk. If it’s so wet I need truly waterproof gear, I’m putting an outer layer over my work pants anyway.
  • The detailing screams “sportswear!” In this category: Big patch pockets, really contrasty stitching, and other design elements that don’t pass the boardroom test.
  • The legs flare too much at the bottom so I’m worried that they’ll get caught and rip if I don’t do something to rein them in; that’s an extra step I’d like to avoid if I can.

Notes to manufacturers:

  • Consider that women who wear larger sizes also want to look good and feel comfortable while biking without squeezing into Spandex. You’ll have their undying love and access to their credit limits if you design for them too. Too many of the pants I looked at top out at size 12 or XL. Have you looked at America lately?
  • I wish the sportswear folks who have a head start on performance fabrics and bike-suitable tailoring could get over the need to hang your reflective logos and feature descriptions on the outside of the clothes. Ann Taylor and Liz Claiborne do not do this. (I do want reflective elements–I just want them to be subtle–even hidden until I need them.)
  • I also wish you could disabuse yourself of the notion that large front pockets are somehow flattering for women’s bodies. Um, no. Not good on anyone. Really. Trust me.
  • The more you show us your product with photos front/back and the ability to zoom, the more we can imagine the pants on our own butts. This is a requirement when buying online since I don’t have a three-way mirror and my best friend to save me from a tragic mistake.
  • If you tell me I can bike in the pants you get Bonus Awesome Points if you have actually designed them with a waistband cut slightly higher in the back, lower in the front; a gusset that eliminates seams running straight up the tender girl parts; and a fabric that has a lovely soft non-chafing finish on the inside and some dirt-repelling qualities on the outside.

This is one of the few blog posts I’m hoping gets plenty of links at the bottom from people who want to sell me something–that is, if you are the designer of the perfect pair of bike riding/work pants.

Better yet, if you’re a woman who can match my pickiness and who has a favorite pair of pants you can tell us about, go for it. Please. I beg you.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • What attributes make a pair of pants perfect for your biking?
  • Have you found those pants? WHERE?!
September 29, 2011

Dear Reader, I Chicked Him

A couple of days ago I chicked a guy.

That is to say, I overtook and passed him climbing a hill on the way home.

Wearing a skirt.

Mind you, only one of us was aware this was a race. He looked as if he was taking it fairly easy going up the hill when I first saw him somewhere around Sherman Avenue and maybe 7th or so. I caught a glimpse of him as I turned right (south) from 5th.

Now, I’m not fiercely competitive in many aspects of life. I like to support and encourage and see someone go on to greater things. But put someone’s back ahead of me on a bike and I spin faster. Can’t help it.

So I pegged away up the hill at least 1-2 miles faster than my usual climbing pace, which isn’t very fast given that I try not to sweat on my work rides wearing regular clothing. If nothing else, he was motivating me to put more workout value in the ride and that was an acceptable outcome.

I began to feel the gap closing, kept gaining, and finally passed him (ah, sweet victory!) a little above 10th, calling out “On your left!” with a smile in my voice and a song in my heart as I pedaled past. He didn’t chase me down and catch me before I reached my turn another six blocks up and I felt pretty triumphant, all in all.

Whether this particular terminology–which I learned from my husband when I caught and passed a guy who had passed me on a long climb on the Old Palouse Highway–is sexist, I forebear from judging.

As a feminist who never stopped using the F word to describe myself, I figure I can claim the word “chick” or “girl” (spelled, however, with a vowel and only one R—I did major in English) if I want to without giving up my independence.*

Earlier this summer, I executed an even better “chicking,” if that’s the right verb form (hey, wait, I majored in English—it’s right).

That time it was a guy who did look like he was trying, bless his barrel-chested heart, in his workout clothes pegging up the steep overpass on the Centennial Trail that takes you over Hamilton.

I breezed past him without breaking a sweat in my flowered skirt and high heels. I figure with the skirt and heels that’s at least a triple chicking.


*I would argue, however, that this is one of those terms that I can claim as a member of the group described–not one of those terms it’s okay for an outsider to apply in an attempt to bond or in a lame effort at cool hipness.

Posts in our 30 Days of Biking Blogging Inspiration & How-to Series for Sept. 2011 30 Days of Biking

  1. 30 Days of Bike Commuting: You Can Do It!
  2. Why We Ride/Resolve to Ride–A Blogspedition
  3. Preparing to Commute by Bike: Get the Worry out of the Way
  4. Buying a Bike for Commuting: Some Questions and a Blogspedition
  5. How to Bike Commute: Getting the Gear Together
  6. Bike Commuting 101: Carrying Stuff
  7. On a Roll with Wilma Flanagan
  8. 30 Days of Biking: Week One Report
  9. Ride with your Community: SpokeFest Rocks!
  10. There and Back Again: How to Pick your Bike Commute Route
  11. Intro to Bike Commuting: Route Selection Part 2
  12. More Bike Commuting Route Selection Tips: Part 3
  13. Thinking Like a Driver vs. Thinking Like a Bicyclist
  14. Biking as Downtime and other Musings on Overproductivity
  15. 30 Days of Biking: Week Two Report
  16. On a Roll with Katherine Widing
  17. I Shouldn’t Assume
  18. Falling Down on Your Bike. It Happens. To Grown-Ups.
  19. Pretty Handy, Gloves. The Blogspedition Assumes You’ll Get ‘Em.
  20. What to Wear for Your Bike Commute? Clothes.
  21. How to Get a Dropped Bike Chain Back On, Grease-Free
  22. 30 Days of Biking: Week Three!
  23. It’s All in the Attitude
  24. Things I Now Do on My Bike Without Having to Think About It
  25. Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Risk and Trust
  26. More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Friendliness and Openness
  27. Even More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Tolerance, Humor, and Persistence
  28. Bicycling Rites of Passage, Spokane Style
  29. Dear Reader, I Chicked Him
  30. 30 Days of Biking: Final Report!

Your Turn

  • Does your competitive streak emerge when a rider passes you or you see someone ahead?
  • Are we all in secret races with each other all the time? (If so, what do we get when we win?)
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