fall commute

ESSENTIAL GEAR FOR FALL RIDING

Ahhh, Ladies! That runny-nosed and rosy-cheeked chilled breeze? That encompassing waft of wooded fireplaces? Those unexpected gusts that wobble wheels and whirl leaves like the shaking of a snow globe? That’s Fall!!

Pedaling in this atmosphere is to experience, through all of our senses, the shifting of our world and rotation of seasons. It’s like the world is reminding us of our own potential to continually grow, shrivel, and reemerge as something more rooted and whole.

It’s also a time when echoes of squeaking chains remind me of needed two-wheeled maintenance and gear upgrades in preparation for hibernating temperatures and intensifying precipitation.

My favorite gear for fall is listed below! Feel free to share yours in the comments :)

1) A RIDICULOUSLY OVERSIZED SCARF

Those chilled breezes can lead to stiff-muscled, frigid riding, hence the need for layers and scarves. Keep your neck wrapped and warm to have a more relaxed, leaves-gazing ride. Great handmade options are available through Etsy, like this one made in Portland, OR. You could also knit your own (I have one my Mom knitted me a while back that I could probably smuggle several children in, and it’s WONDERFUL).

2) A LOVELY LONG COAT

I posted about this one a little while back, but in general, a slightly longer, water-resistant to water-proof, snuggly-warm coat provides a needed layer of elemental protection, and the added length helps keep upper legs dry when you forget your rain pants…

3) A GO-TO WOOL BASE LAYER

Wool is unbeatable for its warmth and drying capabilities. I have a zip-up hoodie from Ice Breaker (note: not certified humane. Make sure you do your research), but any thin zip-up is a great top layer for regulating your temperature and preventing the coat-sauna of winter.

4) 2 PAIRS GLOVES OR MITTENS – WOOL + WATERPROOF

I have both, and you should, too. If you’re enjoying a two-wheeled commute everyday, you’ll need more than one pair. The waterproof ones are… not so lovely, so having a go-to wool pair AND back-up water-and-cold-proof pair can keep you chic and frost bite free.

5) LIGHTS!!

Tons of options, and Knog has some great, bright, USB-chargeable ones. There are also these, which seem pretty amazing and worth the investment.

6) WARM. ASS. SOCKS.

I hate socks. In fact, I almost never wear them. Until it’s cold. Really cold. So when I do give in to the demands of my frozen toes, I snuggle my feet in these, or these (which are vegan, USA made, and recycled cotton).

Stay warm, chic, and enjoy your ride, Ladies!

XOXO

hair for helmet

PREVENTING HELMET HAIR

Hello, Ladies & Lady-lovers! Welcome to Fall – brought to you by the flavor of pumpkin!

As leaves turn, dry, and drop and temperatures welcome warmer attire, a quintessential two-wheeled dilemma rears its disheveled head – helmet hair.

It’s a kind of sweaty smushing in the summer, a wild, woebegone wash in the winter, and a half-sweat half-frizz fro for the spring & fall. Regardless of your unique head-nest, helmet hair can impede the chicness of your cycling.

Reader @rebeccadbar inquired on twitter about dealing with the follicular disarray, so I thought I’d pass along some advice!

1) THE SCRUNCH & HAND-TEASE: Since the most common form of hair du helmet is a cemented hair encasement of your skull, this technique seeks to preserve body. Basically, you take the top half of your hair, twist it into a bun or pseudo-bun on the very apex of your head (no hair tie required!). You then place your helmet over the bun and ride, letting your hair down upon arrival. The raised bun keeps your roots upright and stops the squish. When you get there, use your hand – with fingers spread apart like you’re holding a large ball – to jush your mane from the roots, helping your ‘do fall back into place. If your hair is too short for a bun, just lift roots up and back pre helmet – it has the same effect.

2) TRY A HELMET-FRIENDLY TIE-BACK: Low ponytails and buns to the rescue! If your hair is long enough, you can give up the fight and just roll with the realities of wearing a helmet. Here are some options to try, and I’d add the loveliness of a side-swept braid to your arsenal if your hair is long enough.

3) HEADBANDS: These can look professional, stylish, sporty, or hippie-chic – le versatile! They also allow you to prop up the front portion of your hair upon arrival, helping to hide helmet effects. Check out Etsy for all sorts of options.

Keep riding and looking lovely, Ladies!

XOXO

Riding Coat

TRIED AND TRUE

Coats. Not just pretty, warm coats, but coats that move well, breathe well, and keep rain off well enough for riding year round. I wore my down puffy beneath a rainshell for years, but the look was… not ideal – Michelin Man-esque and more appropriate for backpacking than political hearings.

I posted a while back about gorgeous rain coats made by a lovely Lady in the UK – The Cambridge Raincoat Company. I still recommend these lovely threads, but I’m adding another option to the list.

Slightly less expensive, designed and founded in Portland, OR, made from recycled and low-impact materials, I’ve found the perfect go-to coat for just about everything! And after extended experience with their product and stellar customer service, I’m officially offering my pick for the top two-wheeled commute-coat maker: Nau!

The designs and details are spot on, clean, and sophisticated, the inner lining is luxuriously soft, and the coat cleans (& stays clean) easily. Style AND practicality – a lovely combination! And huge kudos for an oversized collar that seconds as a face warmer & wind shield – an easy single handed, one-button conversion while riding. I’m currently loving the Shroud of Purrin Trench, with added length to keep my thighs dry but enough stretch to prevent hinderance to leg movement. It isn’t fully waterproof – just resistant – but it holds up to year-round Portland-misting, light rain, and dries pretty quickly after downpours.

I encourage you to buy from and support this awesome, USA based company. Yes, they manufacture outside of the US, but they’re transparent about it and have standards far beyond most apparel producers. I buy USA made, particularly locally made, whenever possible. This is one instance where their ethical and environmental standards coupled with a commitment to headquarters in the USA made the purchase alright with my standards. I still hope for USA manufacturing in their future, and encourage you to send along a give-us-a-USA-made-option request to them, too!

The cost is moderate for a coat that lasts years (my first Nau coat is still in excellent condition after wearing it, sweating in it, and testing its limits nearly daily for almost 3 years), but you can also best your they-still-have-my-size luck and reap major savings from their yearly sale, which usually happens at the beginning of the summer.

For a full-on raincoat, check out Cambridge. For your everything-else coat? Nau’s the way to go.

Keep riding beautifully & comfortably, Ladies!

XOXO

Sahn Helmet

TRIED AND TRUE

Until recently, I was under the impression that helmets could be either stylish or comfortably cool, but not both.

Sports helmets have holes and airflow that provide cooling comfort in the summer heat, but have a utilitarian nature that looks amiss with my biking attire. Gorgeous cap helmets look fabulous but turn my head into a sweaty, helmet-haired sauna. Le sigh – is there really no option that provides both?

Well, after a year of use – from daily commuting to legit, sweat-drenched biketouring through mountains – I can unequivocally say: I’ve found the goldilocks of helmets!

Sahn helmets, designed and made in Vancouver, B.C., make beautiful helmets that breathe. They’re on the pricier side, but the investment is well worth it. I no longer swap out helmets for long-rides, requiring both a stylish and sporty helmet to choose between. I now have one, lovely helmet and I use it for everything. Bonus points for a perfectly shaped and sized visor – it effectively keeps both rain and sun from your eyes.

The investment is worth it, plus you’ll be supporting the lovely small business owners (whom I had the pleasure of meeting at a local trade show – kind, wonderful people) rather than a larger corporate producer.

So strap on some loveliness, head out wherever you’d like, and enjoy your gorgeous, well-dressed ride!

XOXO

Cycle Path

DESIGN BIKE-SPIRATION

1) Physically separated, one direction bicycle facility*

2) Goes where “people want to be” (directly to commercial store fronts)

3) Greenery!

 

Possible improvements:

  • Make it wider – riding a bike, unlike driving, is a social activity. It’s nice to be able to ride abreast
  • More greenery :) never enough nature
  • Continue the separated lane – dumping into traffic and disconnected networks are no bueno

 

* Why I don’t like two-direction facilities, even when they’re physically separated: accommodating space for both directions means each lane tend to be narrower; constant caution – as people pass, etc. coming towards you – makes riding less leisurely and less enjoyable

LADYGYVER: HOW TO RIDE A BIKE IN A SKIRT

Don’t have a bicycle garter? No worries, Ladies!

Here’s a great how-to for keep your skirt down and Lady-parts concealed whilst wheeling through town. All you need is a penny, a rubber-band, and a fabulous skirt.

Some additional tips from my experiences:

*Sporting a mini, flyaway skirt? Sit your underweared behind directly on the seat, allowing the skirt to flow around you. Trying to tuck limited fabric beneath you often creates a cheeky street show.

*Long skirt or maxi? Tie the base in a knot (not too tight – make sure you can still pedal!) to keep it out of your rear wheel.

*Pencil skirt? Unzip or unbutton at the waist and wiggle the skirt down a bit for added coverage. And wear tights, leggings, or adorable undies, since this skirt is the biggest flashing culprit I’ve donned.

Do you have any tips from your fabulously frocked rides? Share them in the comments below :)

Keep riding and looking lovely, Ladies!

XOXO

Morning coffee clearly calls for fancy hats

FANCY HATS FOR EVERYONE!

Thanks to a dear Lady friend of mine for sending this along!

There are plenty of helmet accoutrements out there, (including great reflective bows!), but nothing meets these excellent and amusing fancy hat covers from Bandbox. “Elegance in Safety” – even the tagline is grin-inducing.

Riding to the Kentucky Derby? Covered!

Huffy-ing it to High tea? Done!

It’s like the tweed ride all year long! Whether its for costuming purposes or a legitimate love of exquisite hats, check these out.

Keep fun-ifying and enjoying your ride, Ladies!

XOXO

LADY EDITORIAL: 3 WISHES FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Wreaths tacked upon doors, grills, and fenders. Lights stranded meticulously… or haphazardly. Seasonal dustings of warmth atop tops of trees and bushes; neighboring properties swallowed in blizzards of night-time fluorescence (and unfathomable utility bills).

Torrential breezes muffled-yet-audible near globes and larger-than-life-size rotund men in red suits, made more roly-poly in appearance with seams stretched taut, rhythmically rocking with each gust. These inflatable totems contain the “holiday spirit” much like our belts contain our widening ham/tofu/cookie-filled bellies – limits tested and eager to explode.

Walking and riding past each individual display, I can’t help but notice the variations on “holiday” each presents, and how they speak to the lives of the people within.

*A single strand thrown lopsidedly across an overgrown tree: 20-somethings sharing a home, “hey, we decorated!” attempt at creating a more adult home.

*A cascade of perfectly positioned lights from corner-to-corner and back again: wealthier couple with children whose father or mother has made this able-to-enact-whilst-watching-the-kids hobby a yearly tradition, expanding in exorbitance from year to year.

*A modest, imperfect wrapping of several trees and shrubs: 30-somethings, likely a couple, expressing their nostalgic holiday memories while creating new traditions of their own.

Of course this is assumption, but it’s fun to imagine. And all of this nuance, this imagining, these lovely displays soak in more fully when passing atop two-wheels (or two-feet). Taking time to notice. Taking time to absorb all the life, in all its displays, around us. Taking time… it’s something I do too rarely, and something we all need a bit more of.

I feel blessed to live in a place where I can walk (mostly) safely and ride (mostly) without fear, and to live surrounded by so many people who are so different, yet so open, so non-judgmental of the idiosynchronicity of others. Where you can embrace your quirks and uniqueness fully, and where you’re not only free of the pressures to be-as-you-should, you’re more respected for fully being whoever you really are.

There is so much to be grateful for so much of the time. And from this foundation of gratitude, I’d like to share 3 wishes I have this holiday season. Feel free to leave a comment with wishes of your own.

1) I wish our streets were safer. For everyone.

Morgan Maynard CookJoseph “Joey” Randall Ransly StoneViJay Dalton-Gibson. The list of victims goes on, and on, and on, and on. Every time it breaks my heart. Every time I think about the families left without loved ones during the holidays, left with empty chairs at the dinner table, and empty spots in circles gathered round roaring fires and festooned trees. Spots that will remain empty forever. A void that never stops feeling… empty.

My parents were nearly left with that void a year and a half ago when a careless driver ran a stop sign into a neighborhood greenway… into me.

We’ve learned to just accept this carnage and tragedy, at a rate of over 88 people killed per day (that’s about 4 deaths per minute), not to mention the enormous numbers of serious, life-long injuries. Why? Because we want to be able to travel when we want to, and most importantly, because we want to drive ourselves to the places we need to go (and in many places, because that is our only option). Equity in access to transit and safe biking and walking facilities is abominable, and more and more the ability to walk near your home is becoming a privilege.

Enrique Penalosa, the former mayor of Bogotá, Columbia, came to speak in Portland a little while ago, and I remember being taken aback by one particular statement he made: “cars kill people”.  “That’s a bit inflammatory,” I remember thinking. But overtime, the statement sunk in, and it became apparent that the sentiment wasn’t radical. It was truth.

If you are riding a bike, if you are walking, if you take a bus, if you take a train – all of these options contain a chance of death and injury to yourself and others (so does living). But walk into someone on a sidewalk, accidentally run into someone on your bike… the consequences of inevitable human error are far less disastrous when not backed by thousands of pounds of environment-muffling steel. 

We will always fail. We are human. But when we fail at 40mph, even at 20mph, in steel, people are far more likely to die, including people just engaging their legs as they’re intended (or those playing, as children often do, in their own front yard).

I still drive occasionally, and I grew up driving for nearly all of my trips. I know how hard it is to see the realities of something considered a touchstone of American life. An essential. The truth is uncomfortable, and it implicates us all: Every time we drive our car, we put other people and ourselves at risk. Not only due to crashes, but due to the pollution we cannot see that gives us and everyone living around us cancer, breathing ailments, and more.

We can do so much better, and we owe it to ourselves, our neighbors, and our communities to try. Just try. What if we drove less? What if we spent less on roads for steel-boxes and more on education? What if more people could live longer and better because they added activity to their day during their commute? What if you could save your own life, your mother’s life, you friend’s life, a stranger’s life by taking an extra 5, 10, 20, 30 minutes to get to where you’re going? Wouldn’t that be time well spent? And what if our city policy prioritized equitable transit for all, with preference for expenditures based on greatest benefit to surrounding communities (walking first, transit second, bike facilities third, high-speed rail fourth, driving last)? It’s a lot of change, which is not and will not ever be well received at first, but more importantly it’s progress. For our health, our budgets, our happiness.

This holiday season, all I wish for are representatives WITH VISION, the kind who see the damage of a freeway running through downtown and stop saying “we have to account for SOV driving demand” and start asking “how can we eliminate the demand in the first place?”.

Most importantly, I wish for streets that unite us, where we can gather and see one another, and where we can live and commute without the daily reality of wondering whether or not we’ll make it home alive.

2) I wish I could remember how lucky I am. Everyday.

In the words of the venerable Kanye West, “time is the only luxury.”

My family. They’ve supported me through the hardest year of my life, they’ve frustrated me to no end, and they’ve given me love for being exactly as I am. How often do I forget how many people do not share this luxury? How many people wish they’d had the opportunities, support, and care that I have taken for granted?

How many people have no families to even have the option of going home to? And my dearest friends who have become my family out west… we all like to feel we could do it alone, but the reality is we can’t. I forget to open my eyes and see all the goodness in my life from time to time, and all I wish for this holiday season is to remember to see it more often.

Legs that (luckily) still work and take me where I’d like to go. A roof over my head and lovely people to share it with. The opportunity to educate myself everyday. Access to warm showers and heated rooms. Sidewalks and neighborhood greenways and transit that free me from the constraints of car travel. Amazing and not-so-amazing neighbors and strangers who smile at me for no reason, or say “hello” as they pass me by. There are so many things everyday that make life worth living and bring me happiness. Much as I savor my surroundings when pedaling past, it’s time I savored my living as it passes me by.

3) I wish that I could do more and be a more active part of improving the lives of everyone in my community.

Finding the time to volunteer, to push for change, to shape the world in my backyard. That time is there, and I often find a way to be involved. As I once heard a young poet say, “your observation becomes an obligation.” If I know it is wrong and I know it can change, then it is my duty to refuse to be silent. All I wish for this year is to continue that drive, not to give up because I am frustrated, and to keep trying to be the change I wish to see. I hope more of you will join me, and I hope we can all work together to create a better future for ourselves and future generations.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and as always, Ladies (and Lady-lovers): Remember to enjoy the ride.

XOXO

ANOTHER TRAGEDY IN OUR STREETS – A PLEA FOR CHANGE

Share, Ladies (& Lady-lovers). No one should ever fear for their life, or lose their child, just because they’re walking or riding a bicycle.

An emotional plea from the parents of Allison Liao, a 3 year-old who was recently run over and killed in a NYC cross-walk. This video is hard to watch, leading this Lady to tears. It is also a moving argument for why our streets need to change.

Streets are for people. It’s time we took them back.

FROM THE VIDEO:

The police know the driver was in the wrong, they issued him two traffic tickets… Ali paid the death penalty for crossing the street. It is unbelievable that the driver’s penalty is two tickets, and our daughter is gone…

So, our message to all drivers is simple. Please, before you get behind the wheel, and realize that the machine you are about to operate can kill people. We may drive everyday, but we need to be conscious of the enormous responsibility we have when we get behind the wheel. We urge drivers to pay attention to the road, and to SLOW DOWN. YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS, they have the RIGHT OF WAY and it’s the right thing to do. Your vehicles weigh one ton of steel, the average human body weighs a fraction of the vehicle and is made up of fragile flesh and bones. New Yorkers are always in a  hurry, but we challenge drivers to pause and ask: IS IT WORTH IT?

Is it worth RUNNING OVER A CHILD because you are running late? Is it worth picking up the phone when it could mean a family must pick out a grave for their child? Is it worth texting a friend when that message could force a father to text a date and time of their child’s funeral? Is it worth looking at the phone when it causes a mother to look at their daughter in the ER as they try to resuscitate her daughter?

We ask you to pause, because if the driver who killed our happy daughter on that fateful day had PAUSED, perhaps I would not have to stand before you today. Where did he need to go in such a hurry that he couldn’t stop for a few seconds to let an elderly lady and her granddaughter cross the street? We challenge drivers to pause and ask, is it worth it? Because the next person killed by a reckless driver may be someone you love.