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Biking: If I can do it, you can, too!

I don’t wear spandex. I don’t consider myself to be a serious cyclist, and racing, bike polo and bicycle touring in third world countries do not appeal to me. But I love my bike, and I love riding it.

When I moved back to Minneapolis in April 2011, I hadn’t ridden a bike in nearly two years. Newly single and on a shoestring budget, a few things became clear very quickly:
1) I needed my ’06 Ford Focus with 112,000 miles to last for many years to come
2) I could not afford to fill up my tank every week
3) I could not afford to pay for parking on a regular basis
4) The bus system in the Twin Cities left several things to be desired, including affordability and reliability

Several of my housemates bike year ‘round in Minneapolis. I needed a bike to be able to hang out with them – for social rides, on picnics at Lake Calhoun and on trips to the grocery store. A good friend sold me a ’79 steel frame Schwinn road bike, complete with a U-lock, rack and lights for $90. He had fixed it up for his ex, who barely rode it and left the bike and a whole bunch of other stuff in his garage when she dumped him and moved to Europe. Her loss was my gain (the bike, not the guy).

My roommates rode around with me a few times, showing me the best routes.  I still drove to work when it was raining or when I just couldn’t drag myself out of bed 15 minutes early. Interestingly enough, though, traffic was so bad at 5 p.m. that the ride home took no longer than driving. After a few weeks, whenever I did drive I found myself sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, looking wistfully at the cyclists pedaling away in the bike lane. Biking is financially efficient, but for me it was also time-efficient: a commute that only took slightly longer than driving gave me a good workout at the same time. Soon I was in the best shape I’d been in since quitting the swim team.

I began planning my work clothes to strike a balance between bike-ability and work-appropriateness. My dress code for work is casual, but since I work in the fine arts, I need to look put-together in an interesting way. I found myself checking out other women on the road – what were they riding? What kind of bag were they carrying? Most importantly, what were they wearing? If I’ve figured out anything, it’s that the problem of what to wear for biking has infinite solutions.

Ten months ago I started biking whenever I could, and shortly thereafter I began consciously building a bike-able, cute wardrobe on a tiny budget. This blog is the chronicle of my newfound love for biking and my quest for clothes that fit that lifestyle but don’t scream, “I rode my bike here!” It is inspired by my attention to aesthetics, a strong sense of midwestern practicality and a desire to see more like-minded women on the bike paths. If I can do it, you can, too!

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12 comments on “Biking: If I can do it, you can, too!

  1. Really enjoying your posts! Keep up the great work and #PedalChic : )

  2. […] I mentioned in my first post, I work in the fine arts industry, which presents unique wardrobe challenges. As far as I can […]

  3. Your blog is exactly what I have been looking for. Mostly all of your post are relevant to stuff I have been Google searching for since I bought my first bike last spring. Like you I did not consider myself a cyclist but I love my bike so much!!!

  4. Hi, I just discovered your blog and I love it. It is exactly what I have been looking for. Mostly all of your content is relevant to things I have been Google searching since I bought my first bike last spring. I also care about the aesthetic particularly in what to wear while keeping it functional. Lol, no shame in that, it’s part of the fun!! It’s the little things like that which keep me excited about riding. Like you I never considered myself a hardcore cyclist but I do love, love, love my bike! It’s a photo matte black Kona commuter bike <3. Thanks for the fun and informative posts!

  5. I am in love with your blog! I started bike commuting regularly about a year ago and have found everything about it addictive (I’m even fixing up an old Le Mans I got my hands on). I totally agree, it is so hard to dress appropriately. In the winter I find I am ridiculously layered. And in the summer I wish I could just wear my cut off shorts to work! Always look forward to your new posts!

  6. I found you through a Google search looking for women’s bike commuting gear. I’ve been riding for several years, mostly through group rides and commuting to work. I found recently, though, that my bike-to-work-and-bike-home model wasn’t quite working — I’d wear a kit in each morning, change into work clothes for the entirety of the day, then back to the kit for the ride home. But since I have meetings and classes around town most days of the week now, I need a friendlier solution to make the transition easier (namely not having to change into my cycling shoes each time I need to hop on the bike for a few minutes). I’ve skimmed most of your posts but can’t wait to read and learn more!

    • Thanks for writing! I’m always torn between wanting to blog about clothes because it’s important and there’s not much information out there, and being frustrated because no one is making the products I want to buy. However, I’ve got a little bit more disposable income in my budget this fall and will be trying and blogging more about clothes as I keep experimenting with my biking wardrobe.

  7. This is what every girl who do Bike2Work every day should read.. You go girl! Keep Pedaling..!

  8. I’ve been biking to work for years and found myself on your blog researching how to get chain grease out of clothing, specifically a very, VERY cute dress. Bikeability ranks extremely high when it comes to my wardrobe choices, probably not that surprising considering I am a beauty blogger that works in fashion. Also probably not surprising that I have also thought A LOT about hair + cosmetic needs when it comes to pedaling! If you ever want a guest post on the subject, I have a lot to say! Would love to collabo, but love what you’re doing!

    Cb

    ps. I’m born and raise in the Twin Cities and am beyond impressed that you bike in winter!!!!

  9. Hi, thank you so much for your blog! I live in Madison and have been doing a combo drive/bike commute to work for two years, but a new bike path in the area has made it safer/easier for me to bike the 5 miles to work (and I get to bike for a mile by a small lake!). I’ve been slowly outfitting myself with appropriate gear and I am so happy I stumbled upon your blog. I love your practical + feminist outlook on cycling/commuting for women, and you have such a positive and encouraging voice. I find the male-centric cycling community to be intimidating and your writing is very welcome. Thank you.

    • Thanks so much! I feel very lucky to be part of a large network of women in Minneapolis/St.Paul who support, teach, and encourage each other. Check out GreaseRag.org for more perspectives and some ideas on how a handful of women started something that has gotten huge in just 4.5 years. Also, my friend Charlotte has a cool blog, http://www.womanonawheel.wordpress.com. Both blogs get updated more regularly than mine.

      Do you bike in the winter? Any questions about winter biking? I think I need to write some more articles about outfitting myself and my bike for snow season.

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