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

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