Thursday, January 6, 2011

How to cycle in style - Part 1

You may or may not know that I am a pretty keen cycler. I like to cycle to work or just about. My husband and I cycle into the city most weekends for coffee. It's fun and healthy.

What I don't love about cycling is the lycra, and the assumption that if you're not wearing lycra you're not a cyclist (damn snobby road cyclists). Lycra is really, really unattractive - and unless you're cycling a million miles in a road race - usually not that essential.

So instead, I'm offering some tips on how to cycle in style - not Lycra.

1. Bicycle
So you have a bicycle, or you want to get a new one?
If you own one, well that's half the job done right there.

Now look at your bicycle, now back at me, now back at your bicycle.

Does it make you want to leap on it and tear off down the street? No? Why not?

Consider getting a gel seat cover - and if you're a lady, perhap a ladies' seat. It's a bit wider and more supportive for your hips and things.

Get a basket at the back or the front - or perhaps some cute panniers or saddle bags. Try weaving some plastic flowers in your basket - make it fun!

If you are going to buy a new bicycle, consider your terrain. Riding along the beach front - go for a cruiser. Live on top of a mountain - perhaps something with a few (or heaps) of gears. Ride your potential new friend around the shop and see how it feels.
The first time I got on a bike that had suspension it felt super weird and squishy - but now I love it.

If you wear skirts - like I do - get a step through frame, or at least a ladies' frame. Trust me, you'll thank me.

Also consider getting a second hand bicycle. They often have more classic style and most have nothing wrong with them except requiring a bit of paint and maintenance.

Whatever you get, make sure it's something you'll want to ride - often. I'm still a bit sad that my current bicycle is blue, but I'm considering a bit of cosmetic work to fix that *evil grin*

2. Helmet
Now you may live in parts of Europe and elsewhere that do not require you to wear a helmet when you ride. But I think you're nuts (and considering the number of odd looks I got in Europe when wearing one - you all think I'm nuts)

And with so many cute helmets out there, why would you risk have your brain come out of your ear sockets? Just check that they comply with the safety standards in your country.

Plus I'm a massive klutz and not wearing protective gear is just inviting trouble.

3. Lights
I always ride with lights on my bike - just in case I want to go off on a long adventure or it gets really dark and cloudy out.
You can buy teeny clip-on LED lights for less than $20, so unless you live in a super high crime area, you can just leave them on your bike and not worry about the weather or the night time.

4. Bicycle Lock
Once you've gone to all the trouble of making your bicycle all pretty and fun, you don't want someone pinching it.

Depending on how prevalent bicycle theft is in your country (Netherlands, I have my eye on you) you may need a heavy duty lock (or several) or just a regular bicycle lock.

Try getting a combination lock as then you have no key to lose.

Stay tuned for the next installment addressing clothing and accessories.


Jackie said...

I love those bikes. I can't remember the last time I rode one. We live in a very small village and there would be nowhere to ride a bike to. Everywhere we go, we have to travel by car. It's at least 10-15 minutes by car to the nearest grocery store, the nearest anything really.

But if I could have a bike, I'd take the pink one and the a basket on the front!

CycleStyle said...

Thanks for the mention! What a great post, exactly what's needed to get ladies out on the road to experience the joys and conveniences of cycling. Looking forward to the next instalment :)

Ron D Swan said...

Thanks for your thoughts, I particularly like what you say about helmets. I too am a klutz and have appreciated my helmet on a couple of unexpected occasions.
I also agree about your skirt/step through advice, I have just purchased a step though and am enjoying the skirt friendliness. Bike riding should be an everyday freeing experience and I think more and more people are starting to realise that.

Anonymous said...

Nice post just one thing, a wider seat does not always equal more comfort. On my "shopper" bike I did have a wide seat (now narrow seat), on my road bike* I have a narrow seat that fits my sit bones. I'd take the narrow one over the wide one any day. Takes pressure off the "ahem" lady parts and does not catch on any clothes at all. Depending on how far you ride it may make it a more pleasant journey.

*yes I wear lycra and cannot for the life of me understand the hatred some have towards it, it works and has it's place and hey as long as they are on a bike does it matter?

Packrat said...

Great post. I didn't know that you like to cycle. It is great exercise and certainly saves money on transportation.

Why wouldn't I ride my bike? Uh, because I haven't ridden a bike in 30+ years. I'm too scared of crashing and getting hurt (no health/accident insurance). I don't "bounce" like I used to. Also, everything here is up and down, and I just have a plain old fashioned bike (not even a 3-speed). I'd much rather walk.

Random, but I received my bicycle for my birthday in 1964 or 1965. I still have it.

Wear Lycra shorts? Only for modesty under a skirt. When my daughter goes dancing, she wears short(er) Lycra shorts under her dresses. The shorts are tight so that they don't show even under a slim fitting dress (almost like a panty girdle), are modest, and keep panty hose from sliding down.