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

LADY OWNED, FOCUSED, AND RUN BIKE SHOP OPENS IN PORTLAND, OR

More Women riding bikes more often.

Gladys Bike Shop in N Portland, OR

Gladys Bike Shop in N Portland, OR

That’s precisely the goal of Gladys Bikes, a new bike shop located inside the HUB building along the heavily ridden Williams corridor in Portland, OR (2905 NE Alberta Street, Portland, OR). If you’re a Lady riding Vancouver/Williams, you need to check this place out.

Owner Leah Benson has stocked her shelves with essentials for a comfortable and fabulous ride, from reflective flower pins and helmet bows, to rain jackets, saddles, helmets, and more. Also offering Lady-run maintenance, classes, and bike fittings from an oh-so-accessible $50, Gladys is exactly the kind of shop that makes entering the realm of riding feel approachable for Women of all ages and abilities.

And did I mention free cookies?

Lovely reflective pins!

Reflective pins… and cookies

While the face of two-wheeled travel is still predominantly male, shops like Gladys are tapping into what happens to be the fastest growing segment of the two-wheeled world: Ladies! From the League of American Bicyclists:

Looking at the gender breakdown, the data shows the total number of women bike commuters in 2012 grew to 236,067, which is an almost 11% increase from 2011. More broadly, women commuting by bike has grown by 58.8% since 2006. What’s more, the ACS data shows that the growth in bike commuting by women is outpacing that of men. Between 2011 and 2012, the growth in bike commuting by women was 10.9%, compared to 8.4% for men.

The lovely Leah Benson, owner of Gladys

The lovely Leah Benson, owner of Gladys

Gladys Bikes is a lovely shop in a great location with a wonderful owner and mission worth supporting. Check out the accessories and awesomeness in the space just behind Ristretto next time you’re riding by, and in the meantime, you can check out and LIKE Leah’s shop on facebook, and attend her clinic “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Your Bike (But Were Afraid to Ask) on 10/17 @6:30pm at the shop.

Keep pedaling, supporting local Lady-run businesses, and enjoying the ride, Ladies!

XOXO

Return to riding

Ahhh, scenery. One of many joyful jaunts atop two-wheels this summer!

Ahhh, scenery. One of many joyful jaunts atop two-wheels this summer!

Well hello, Ladies! Long-time no post!

Over here at TWAAL, we’ve had a summer packed with… well… everything, but as the crispness of mornings stirs memories of flaming foliage, cozy consuming sweaters, and 4pm sunsets, it’s finally time to settle into the grounding beauty of Fall.

Days get shorter, commutes get chillier, and tips for riding gracefully through the transition will be all up in this Lady’s posts! So will lovely gear suggestions, recipes to fuel your ride, livable streets news and commentary, ideas and wares for living simply, plus ideas for two-wheeled autumnal travel.

So Ladies – grab your skirts, tall socks, layering cardigan, beautiful boots, or whatever the fuck makes you smile while you pedal! It’s time for Fall riding.

Keep pedaling and enjoying life, Ladies! Looking forward to riding along with all of you :)

XOXO

“THE SUMMER BIKES TOOK CONTROL”: THE BICYCLIZATION OF URBAN AMERICA

Citibike rolls out 10,000 bikes, launching bikeshare for Ladies (and Lady-lovers) of the Big Apple. Chicago is slated for 4,000 in their initial bikeshare launch, and have already installed miles of new bike lanes. Indianapolis opens the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, a physically separated cycletrack and pedestrian walkway connecting five major cultural districts in the city center. The mayor of San Diego, Bob Filner, vocally advocates for increased biking and pushes through the conversion of Balboa Park, a former parking lot, into a car-free plaza.

Ladies (and Lady-lovers) are reshaping the urban landscape across the USA. And they're here to stay.

Ladies (and Lady-lovers) are reshaping the urban landscape across the USA. And they’re here to stay.

Two-wheels are ushering in a wave of livability and sensibility to an urban landscape typically dominated and divided by automobile-centric design, and the sea-change in cities across the US is now undeniable.

The rise of the bicycle through bikeshare and infrastructure implementation, against all odds and detractors, has taken hold, and it isn’t stopping anytime soon.

On Citibike in NYC:

The bottom line is that one contentious month since the launch of New York’s program — with riders as bad as they’ll ever be, and the blue paint without any sun-fading to tone down the gaudiness — the actual majority of New Yorkers love the bikes. Numbers released yesterday from Quinnipiac University showed overwhelming approval…

See also Copenhagenzine‘s graph of the typical timeline of “whining” around the launch of bike-share programs worldwide: a steady rise during the months preceding, followed by a precipitous drop to almost zero shortly after launch. The dissenting New Yorkers are not an original phenomenon. If precedent holds, they will fade…

No transport system is perfect, but bike-sharing is promising, and among the best we have.

And from the NYTimes article, The End of Car Culture:

…recent studies suggest that Americans are buying fewer cars, driving less and getting fewer licenses as each year goes by.

…things are converging which suggest that we are witnessing a long-term cultural shift…

Part of the explanation certainly lies in the recession, because cash-strapped Americans could not afford new cars, and the unemployed weren’t going to work anyway. But by many measures the decrease in driving preceded the downturn and appears to be persisting now that recovery is under way…

Demographic shifts in the driving population suggest that the trend may accelerate. There has been a large drop in the percentage of 16- to 39-year-olds getting a license, while older people are likely to retain their licenses as they age, Mr. Sivak’s research has found…

A study last year found that driving by young people decreased 23 percent between 2001 and 2009. The millennials don’t value cars and car ownership, they value technology…

[BILL FORD of Ford Motor Company proposed] partnering with the telecommunications industry to create cities in which ‘pedestrian, bicycle, private cars, commercial and public transportation traffic are woven into a connected network to save time, conserve resources, lower emissions and improve safety.’

The landscape is changing, Ladies, and this time of momentum (pun intended) for the joy of two-wheeled transport is an opportunity for inspiring projects and creation/extension of bike networks that are not only the best in the USA, but can set an example for what is possible to the rest of the world.

The first car-free downtown in the US? Uninterrupted bike thoroughfares connecting people to places they want to be and/or need to go? What if Broadway, a major route through the heart of Portland, was converted into a cycletrack and pedestrian plaza lined with shops, offices, and greenery? What all could this do for the city and its people?

So much is possible, and finally, the tides have turned in favor of Ladies and Lady-lovers all over the USA.

What do you want to see in your city?

Keep thinking big, riding, and changing the world, Ladies!

XOXO

LADY EDITORIAL: SUNSHINEY GOODNESS & THE DISSERVICE OF “GEAR”

Sunshine and skirts and bikes, hooray!   (image courtesy of carrelle.wordpress.com)

Sunshine and skirts and bikes, hooray! (image courtesy of carrelle.wordpress.com)

Poised pedaling, lovely locks of all lengths billowing in the breeze, wafts of wildness and blooming and pot, the sensation of sunshine warmly embracing cool, wintry-white skin that has longed for sheer exposure: nothing compares to the loveliness of summer riding!

As the skies clear and temperatures finally rise to a heat conducive to unbuffered flesh-air contact, shared city spaces and streets bud and burst with life of all kinds. Seeing people gathering, walking, biking, and just generally grasping the opportunity to experience the world beyond interiors makes this Lady’s heart well-up and ‘splode all over its wonky self.

Summertime means a public realm packed to the brim with citizens enjoying and living in shared space, not to mention an overflowing and wonderfully expanded community of active commuters just enjoying the ride.

Seeing more fair-weather Ladies (and Lady-lovers) take to the streets atop two-wheels provides a glimpse of what our neighborhoods and streets COULD be, of how much more enjoyable, useful, connecting, and beautiful streets and city centers have the potential to be. It also reminds me of what, besides the fabulous forecast, makes summer riding more enticing to those who forgo the enjoyment of riding year-round: casual accessibility.

No new-fangled, neon-yellow jackets (which ultimately don’t make a big difference in visibility, anyhoo), no waterproof glorified-trash-bag outwear, no elasticized booties or so-many-rear-lights-you’ve-become-a-land-bound-lighthouse. The temperature and physical activity dictate lighter layering, and for most people that means riding in average daily attire. For shorter, slower jaunts to the store, that often means the provocative exposure of scalps, too.

When average people look out on the streetscape, they see something they can relate to; something they could actually be comfortable becoming a part of. The gear-attire mentality does a huge disservice to us Lady’s (and Lady-lovers) trying to expand the joy of riding to more people, by making it feel like a club you need an obnoxiously bright card to be a part of. It also makes cycling seem incredibly uncool. And honestly, what young Lady-in-training wants to be lumped in with predominantly male baby-boomers in bright spandex on flagged recumbents?

All riders are welcome on the roads, and I have a special place in my heart for the geared commuter kind (my bikey heart has space for EVERYONE!), and you should wear whatever the hell you want when you ride. But when the landscape is monochromatic and aesthetically dismal, it becomes harder for average people used to wearing what they’d like and driving a steel-box they’ve customized to their liking to place themselves alongside their two-wheeled neighbors. We become more and more “other”, and less and less understood.

What can every Lady do to support her fellow riders and neighbors in their pursuit of happier, healthier streets? Ride like you’re living, not like you’re “cycling”. Increase your “picnic riding”, or slow, leisurely, helmet-free (whenever possible) jaunts to the neighborhood market, school, and other short daily trips. Encourage your friends to come along, no special-attire required.

Keep smiling, riding, rocking skirts & dresses, and loving the sunshine, Ladies!

XOXO

LADY EDITORIAL: TRUCE – AN END TO THE CAR-BIKE WARS

This Lady originally wrote this article for BlueOregon.com.

 

They’re aggressive, sometimes dangerously so, and destroy our air quality, communities, and planet.

They’re in the way, run stop signs, and ride without regard for others on the road.

Regardless of which trench (or, god forbid, in the inhospitable in-between of No Man’s Land) you find yourself, you’re likely tired, frustrated, angry, and just looking to get home alive.

In the lengthy and unnecessary war between car drivers and bike commuters, no real progress has been made. It’s time to draw down forces and start working together towards a more prosperous future for everyone.

BOO CARS!

I often hear gripes from the bike community, admittedly at times my own, that car drivers are inconsiderate and dangerous. I have indeed been harassed on bike boulevards (streets supposedly dedicated to people on bikes), drivers laying on the horn and riding behind me for block after block, perhaps not realizing that their momentary expression of annoyance has permanently damaged my hearing. Or those, too many to count, on their cell phones, putting all road users at risk.

Or the driver who followed me for an entire mile, pulled up alongside riding slowly with his window rolled down, yelling expletives, taunting me, and threatening my life for no reason at all. Some of these interactions have made me deathly afraid, and these sorts of actions are completely inexcusable, but I’ve had just as many drivers stop to let me cross a busy street, smile and wave, pull over to apologize for almost hitting me (she was so sweet), or do nothing at all except drive the speed limit and pass me when it is safe.

I love to ride my bike. It is safer than most believe, it costs the city less in upkeep costs (so more of our taxes can go to schools, paving roads, etc.), I actually meet and interact with neighbors and strangers along my ride, plus I save lot of money every year. Not to mention I save myself years, and everyone else money, in healthcare costs by staying active. I’m no better than anyone else, nor am I worse. I’m just a person who happens to love riding my bike. I’m glad I can choose to do so, and hope more of my community members will choose to ride along, too.

 

BOO BIKES!

Yes, cars break down roads faster than bikes and they pollute our air and water with some pretty nasty carcinogens, not to mention the detriment to the cohesiveness of communities that lie along busy roads and highways (they’re linked to increased crime, too). But in many communities, we’ve left people with almost no option but to get around by car. In fact I was a car driver until the last few years, my Ex-Husband, a dear friend and wonderful person, drives a car to get to his job where no public transit or bike lanes go, and my parents, also lovely and caring, drive, too.

Does that fact that they drive a car in a culture where most activities for the past 50 years centered around cheap oil make them bad people? Why wouldn’t one try to have understanding for people forced to pay extra thousands of dollars a year to sit in polluted air?

Bike commuting is incredibly enjoyable, and it is a failing of our government to not provide safe routes that are available to everyone in all of our communities, but since the 1950’s our government has invested in unsustainable expanses of highway and suburban development while dismantling and defunding public transit, all of which normalizes and encourages driving for trips that the automobile is not best suited.

Driving as primary transit has come about through a combination of cultural norms, government inaction, short-sighted planning, and lack of understanding of personal responsibility/impact, and that’s my point: If you live in East Portland, of course you drive your car. You likely can’t even walk your child to school, since your neighborhood probably doesn’t even have sidewalks.

And waiting behind a cyclist when you commute to work downtown, after driving that expanse because there is no other feasible option… I can understand your frustration. Violence and aggression are never justified, but frustration? Who wouldn’t feel it. In fact our roads aren’t streets anymore; their design feeds into the perceived but inappropriate unwelcomeness of people on bicycles.

And yes, some cyclists blatantly run stop signs, which is not OK (I generally end up with a rolling stop, and I think most car drivers, if honest, do, too.), but just as many and more, myself included, follow posted traffic signs. And all of us, regardless of mode, make mistakes.

Streets used to be designed for horses. Then some were designed for bikes. Then public transit. Then cars. In the last iteration, room for all other modes was wiped clean, in fact sidewalks were reduced in size to make way for parking, making it less hospitable to exercise your innate proclivities to WALK. A driver’s natural tendency to see the bike as unwelcome and out of place? It’s rooted in our poorly planned and usually myopic street design.

A SYSTEM FOR EVERYONE: PROVIDING MORE OPTIONS

People on bikes are obnoxious vagrants who don’t pay their fair share. People in cars are dangerous jerks who ruin everything wonderful about our communities.

The truth is that at these extremes, we lose sight of each other. Our anger and fear and frustration have prevented us from seeing another human being, now merely a projection of past grievances and caricature rooted in daily emotional fluctuations. Take away the car, take away the bike, and you have two members of the shared community just trying to get home alive and unmaimed.

Better options, better quality of life for everyone. It's time to work together.

Better options, better quality of life for everyone. It’s time to work together.

I believe that we all want the same thing: a transportation system that is speedy and efficient, doesn’t cost too much to maintain, and gives us the opportunity to enjoy our commutes and communities. Realistically, our current system is unaffordable, and it will take people thinking beyond the car for the majority of trips, especially inner city travel, to create transportation budgets that are financially sustainable (and happen to promote public health, the local economy, and environmental protection).

But for right now, let’s rise above the few things that separate us and see our commonality. Put aside your frustrations and anger and be kind to each other out there. Drivers: try taking one or two trips a week by foot or by bike (like to the store or taking your kids to school) and be patient with pedalers and pedestrians. Cyclists: ride respectfully and respond with kindness, not anger.

I’m ready for an era of peace and prosperity, and I think Oregon is, too.

THE COMMUTING CHRONICLES: A LOVELY WINTER RIDE

This morning when I awoke next to my window, bathed in hues of pink and peach and radiative heat loss, I knew my ride was going to be gorgeous, clear, and frozen.

In winter, the normally celebrated lack of cloud cover and/or presence of sunshine is a meteorological announcement of the frigid conditions outside my door. Planning my commuting garb ahead of time proves about as useful as preparing a meal for unconfirmed guests: the variability of Winter weather means decisions are made day-of lest I be left broiling in rainpants on an abnormally warm day or thawing in wet, frozen jeans.

Based on the chill and beautiful views, I started gathering necessary supplies: warm socks, scarf, hat, warm gloves (thanks, Mom & Dad!), down coat. I decided that on a day like this, cuteness need not be abandoned for spandex, goretex, nor any other highly engineered “-tex” you can think of. This Lady was braving the frozen dawn in a skirt.

My adorable pencil skirt: worn proudly atop two-wheels this morning.

My adorable pencil skirt: worn proudly atop two-wheels this morning.

I used to think through my layering, but at this point it feels relatively routine. Underwear (which, outside of added warmth in winter, are unnecessary in my opinion), leggings, wool socks, pencil skirt (practicality note: be prepared to expose a lot of thigh, or in this case, legging). On top: tank top, t-shirt, wool hoodie (Icebreaker has amazing layering that is well worth the expense), down coat, rain shell. Layering gives you a dial on your internal thermostat: stop and take shit off when you’re over heating or when you arrive, add more when sweat starts to evaporate and you begin to feel chilled. The flexibility of layering allows me to dress in lovely attire rather than spandex and “cycling” garb.

Next to-do: basic component check. The precise “not-too-squishy” squeeze of my tires to assess adequate inflation, a look at my brakes to ensure brake pads are not entirely worn (also effective: the equally precise “metal-on-metal” sound check that tells you pads need replacing), and a squirt of lube across the length of my chain (which is essential this time of year. Every month or so you should also clean your chain of winter build-up using a wet cloth, then re-lube it.). All checks out? I’m on my way.

With the weather so gorgeous, I left home early this morning just so I could relax and enjoy my ride. Occasionally taking time to savor sunshine and beautiful scenery is essential to my happiness, and this was a perfect day to do so. Riding on a bike boulevard, a glorified low-traffic road in Portland, means seeing other cyclists, especially at rush hour. Two Lady-lovers in front of me, a Lady or two behind me, occasional spandex-clad racey-types speeding past me, the obligatory tight-pantsed helmet-less rider on a fixie (which reminds me: have any of you seen Premium Rush? I had the pleasure of experiencing this gem of modern cinema with friends. If you appreciate bikes and absurdity, it’s a must watch.)… we create a temporary community. I smile at people passing and just generally appreciate the blessing of a working body and people to share the ride with.

My 5-mile-each-way commute includes a categorized climb about 3/4ths of the way in. That means my legs are burning, my heart is pumping, and some days I feel incredibly strong and empowered, other days it means incessant cursing and huffing. Today as I sat stopped at a light preparing for The Climb, a cyclist behind me grabbed my attention to compliment my blue tires. It was so sweet, and I thanked her and wished her a lovely day. This exchange exemplifies one of my favorite parts of commuting on two-wheels: how often do we have genuine interactions with strangers in our daily lives? Well, I can tell you, not often enough!

Despite the traffic, I had a relatively uneventful, beautiful commute. Just a few days ago on the stretch of my ride I refer to as “the gauntlet” (look for a post on this next week), a Lady I recognized as my regular waitress at a local diner was felled by a car cutting into the bike lane. She was in a lot of pain, but luckily OK. Cycling is far safer than most would have you believe, but incidences like that remind me to appreciate every day and every pedal I have the opportunity to experience.

Today was a beautiful ride. Ladies (and Lady-lovers), I hope yours was as well :)

Keep riding, smiling, and rocking pencil skirts, Ladies!

XOXO

PS- What’s the best part of your commute in the winter? Leave comments and share advice below!