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!