The Cycle Chic-ish Manifesto: A Happy Medium

Why isn’t there a distinct cycling niche of ladies I can relate to?

As Lisa Marie put it, almost every bicycling subgroup fits into some type of EXTREME: “FIXIES!; cycling in outfits that cost more than the bike itself; speeding past life at 30 mph in spandex; drowning in neon yellow seated in a recumbant for commuting only.” Certainly, I value each of those subgroups; I only wish there was an additional one. I’m not an extreme fashionista who puts style above all else, but I’m also not an extreme athlete who puts performance above all else including style. You’re just not going to find me decked out in neon yellow or exposing designer clothes to a rainy commute.

I’m not riding to be seen, but I also know that while I’m riding I will be seen. I’m not riding just because it’s physically demanding, but I recognize that it is physically demanding and I like that. I ride because it’s super fun, efficient, and a healthy thing to do. With the existing subgroups, it’s difficult to fit cleanly in one group without compromising these values. And without an identifiable group, it’s no wonder more ladies like me don’t make cycling a staple mode of transportation year-round.

The Cycle Chic© Manifesto is everywhere – have you seen it? I can’t get over the disparity between what it promotes and what I value about cycling, the reality of the city I live in, and — more fundamentally — what I aspire to be. I present an alternative manifesto below hoping to represent a growing niche of chic-ish lady cyclists in Portland and beyond:

  1. I ride at a pace that strikes a balance between getting where I’m going and enjoying the ride.
  2. My style will contribute to feeling confident and finding joy in riding for transportation, fun, and wellness. In every season.
  3. I am aware that my presence on a bike contributes to safer and better bicycle infrastructure. I appreciate the contribution that all other cyclists make to bicycle-friendly city planning and will seek additional ways to further that cause, including supporting a sense of community with other cyclists.
  4. I will learn to properly care for my bicycle, including how to make basic repairs.
  5. I will acquire, where possible, fenders and a basket or bag that is aesthetically pleasing and appropriate for my cargo needs and the weather from a small, local business.
  6. I will respect the traffic laws.
  7. I will plan routes ahead of time for safety and pay careful attention to my surroundings. I acknowledge that not even Portland is as safe or seamless to ride in (yet) as Copenhagen, so I will ride defensively and mindfully.


  1. Thank you, Thank you. For the inspiration! If I didn’t work 40 miles away, I would find some way for my 57 year old body to ride everyday on my wonderful commuter cyclocross bike….most of the year, that is, because I live in northern Vermont and would need about an hour to prepare for snow and ice and below freezing temps. But when one does get outdoors to feel that propulsion of the wheels and the wind and the closeness of the surroundings, it is pure joy.

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