See you on the trail!

The Merry Month of May – Bike Tips

May is a wonderful month! It’s full of many wonderful things – my birthday (May 2), Mother’s Day, Memorial Day (aka a long weekend), lilies of the valley, warm weather, and this year, a baby princess was born on my birthday! I’m sure that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will name Princess Cambridge after me. Princess Cambridge

But May is also <drumroll please> National Bike Month! And the start of the National Bike Challenge! And Bike to Work Day is May 15th! And Bike to School Day is May 6! So many bike things to celebrate this month, so dust off those bikes and get out there!

But before you get too excited, I’d like to share some thoughts about how to make it a better experience for all of us. I’ve observed some things in my days, weeks and years of biking around that are unsafe, illegal, or discourteous, and it concerns me, because I spend a good deal of my outreach time listening to people ranting about how “those bicyclists” are putting drivers and pedestrians in danger by their careless behavior. I know there are people out there who follow the rules and are careful and are victims of careless, discourteous and unsafe drivers nevertheless. But I think it is important to try to do the right thing. I’d like to see a day when drivers have nothing to rant about – maybe then they would realize that car drivers are worse than bicyclists and pedestrians!

So let’s talk about some things I’ve observed.

Helmets – a bike helmet is meant to be worn on the top of your head, right above your eyebrows, parallel to the ground, not on the back of your head, the side of your head, or backwards. The helmet should fit TWO finger widths above your eyebrows. Tighten those straps under your chin, if it won’t stay on properly; that’s what they are there for. Check out this really great article from KVAL.com – an oldie but a goodie. This is especially important for children – please please please make sure their helmets not only fit properly, but check them frequently if you are biking with them to make sure they stay like that.

Hand Signals -Using your hands to indicate which way you are planning on turning is no different than using turn signals in a car (you do signal before you plan on turning, right?). But it’s important to make sure that others actually see your hand signal. I specifically am referring to the practice I frequently see (if I see a cyclist signaling a left turn, that is) where the person on the bike flicks their hand out around their waist area. If I didn’t know what it meant, I would have NO idea that it indicates a desire to move to the left. Stick your arm straight out! It’s not hard! Consider it a good time to stretch your shoulder. Make it obvious to the people behind you that you intend to do something. You won’t win cool points if you flip your hand and someone fails to realize what you are doing.

Check out these awesome examples from Bikeable Dallas! This is a great post, too, so check it out.

Check out these awesome examples from Bikeable Dallas! This is a great post, too, so check it out.

Bike Correctly in the Bike Lane – In the last week or two, I have come across people biking towards me in the bike lane. No! Not only is this incorrect, it’s scary – geez, we don’t have enough threats to worry about without other cyclists making it worse! If you are riding in a bike lane, you need to go the same direction as the traffic, unless of course you are in a two-way bike lane. Those, however, are few and far between outside of Pennsylvania Ave in DC, so chances are good that you are not. Seriously, it is bad enough that runners think they can run the wrong direction in a bike lane, please, please, if you are on a bike, find the proper place to be.

Biking in the direction of traffic on South Eads Street

Biking in the direction of traffic on South Eads Street (Photo from Arlington County DES Project webpage)

Stay Out of the Way If Stopped – If you need to stop for some reason, do not stop in the middle of the lane. Move to the side, so that you are not creating a potential traffic jam. If your car suddenly dies in the middle of a lane, what do you do? You try to move it out of the way of other cars. Same with a bicycle. I’ve seen kids do this and I’ve seen roadies do this. It’s unsafe.

Red Traffic Lights – Technically, bicyclists are supposed to stop at red lights. Legally, bicyclists are supposed to obey all traffic signs, signals, lights, and markings. I make an effort to stop at red lights, so at least once a week (sometimes daily), I will see someone bike past me, then swerve into the pedestrian crosswalk to continue biking through the red light. This does not make it okay! This is still going through a red light! The pedestrians have a “don’t walk” signal too! Swerving back and forth between the road and crosswalks/sidewalks confuses me, confuses drivers and confuses pedestrians. Also, when stopping at a red light, don’t stop in the middle of the intersection and start up as soon as the opposite light turns yellow.

Whether you are new to biking, starting up again after time away, or think you know it all, brushing up on rules and etiquette during National Bike Month is a good idea, sort of like changing smoke detector batteries when the Daylight Savings ends and begins. Just get into a habit of occasionally reviewing a few websites. I’ve linked to a few of my favorites here:

“New to Biking?” by BikeArlington

“Learn Bike Etiquette From Your Legos,” WABA’s Women & Bicycles Tip

Bike Laws, summarized by WABA

Lastly, I encourage you to sign up for the National Bike Challenge, if you haven’t already. The five-month challenge rewards you for just getting on your bike, so regardless of where you go, how far you ride, and what type of bicycle you prefer, this challenge is for you! I hope to see you in the bike lanes (modeling good behavior, of course)!

See you on the trail!

See you on the trail!

Indego Bike 1

ICYMI: April is Over?!

Um, where did April go?!

May is a good month, because it’s National Bike Month, and there are soooo many bikey things going on! But before we get to May, let’s wrap up the goings-ons in April.

I didn’t get much sewing done, and I didn’t do much biking either. I hope this isn’t a trend for the spring! So here’s what is going on with other people:

Indego

Philadelphia launched it’s new bikeshare system, Indego. Huzzah! Welcome to the bikeshare city club, Philly! And check out their snazzy bikes: not just a wire mesh basket in the front, but one on the back rack – and yes, I said rack! Those bikes have back racks! That means I could take my own pannier with me and just clip it on the bikeshare bike! Genius! What a difference that would make to me. As it is, I frequently don’t take Capital Bikeshare because my pannier doesn’t fit in the front basket, it smacks me in the knee when I hang it from the handle bar, or it’s just awkward to carry over my shoulder. #gamechanger I can’t wait to take a weekend trip to Philly now and check out these bikes.

Carniesha Kwashie of the Mayor's of Transportation and Utilities and Claudia Setubal of Bicycle Transit Systems on Indego bikes. Photo by Mitchell Leff, from Metro.us

Carniesha Kwashie of the Mayor’s of Transportation and Utilities and Claudia Setubal of Bicycle Transit Systems on Indego bikes in Philadephia, PA. Photo by Mitchell Leff, from Metro.us

Women BikeDC

Mary at Chasing Mailboxes, here in the Washington, DC, area, has started a blog series about women in the DC area who bike. It’s great because I’ve thought about doing the same thing, but never found the time, and she write much more frequently than I do, so you’ll actually get something often. Check it out and keep an eye on it, especially if you are in the DC area. I think it’s so great to know a bit more about the women I may pass in a bike lane (well actually, they are probably passing me).

EverNote

Sam of Sam’s Signature Seams recently blogged that she uses Evernote as her pattern tracker. I think this is brilliant! I’ve tried Evernote before, but found that it always deleted my categories, so I eventually gave up on it. I’m inspired by her blog post to try it again, and not just patterns – maybe it’s a good way to track and categorize the things I actually make. I’m bad about remembering when I made things, so maybe this will help. Have you used Evernote before? What are your tricks and tips, if you have? I probably need the help. Evernote

Random Brushes With Fame

The Discerning Cyclist published a post I wrote about spring shoes, which reminded me of the shoes I had been lusting after, and now I’m lusting after them again. My feet hurt at the moment, which makes me really want the sneakersNeiman Marcus Rene Caovilla Metallic Floral Lace Up Sneakers

The League of American Bicyclists

I was innocently cruising through Twitter during work recently, trying to catch up on world news and industry news, when I found a ran across a photo of myself! The Bike League has used a photo of mine on one of their blog posts! It’s a photo from when some friends and I did a bike ride last year, something I’d Tweeted but haven’t thought about in ages. Therefore, it was a bit weird to see it staring at me on Twitter. I’m not opposed to it, I just had no idea they were going to use it. I think it’s a bit odd that they used a photo of us on a blurb about bicycle-friendly engineering, but whatever. I’m flattered to be a Bike League model! 2015_0430_Bike League TweetI’m looking forward to May because it’s a busy and important month. I hope you are ready for lots of sewing and the National Bike Challenge! Dust off those bikes and sewing machine and get ready for fun!

Yee-haw!

Trend in Reflective: Culottes

I had just finished my culottes today when I checked my email, and lo and behold! VeloJoy’s newsletter was about culottes! She sums up the reasons why I decided to embrace this trend, despite my initial skepticism (okay, flashbacks to childhood fashions): freedom of movement yet classy, easy to dress up or dress down. Culottes are bike-friendly midi skirts!  The opposite of everyone’s favorite skinny jeans/pants for biking, culottes offer a more flattering fit (note: you have to get the right cut for your size!) yet are shorter than the other current trend, wide-legged trousers. Oh sure, you can use a pants strap on those, but culottes make it unnecessary. Swing your now covered legs off your bike and it immediately looks like you are wearing a smart skirt. Yep, I’m a convert.V9091

I ordered Vogue Pattern V9091 just this month, and found the plum colored linen blend fabric at JoAnn Fabrics. Initially I’d been thinking of culottes in some sort of faux suede, since suede is also on trend for Spring. I chose V9091 because it had a flat front; I still can’t bring myself to wear pleated pants or culottes or shorts. But once I got the pattern in my hands, I realized that Version B did in fact have a massive inverted pleat right in the front! Oh. So much for my faux suede idea; linen has a better drape.V9091 cullottes I actually cranked these out in two days, after a few days of trying to decide how to alter the pattern. I’m trying to be better about the fit of the things I make, and I know that back in the early 90s, when I took a pattern alterations class, I had to do a certain number of alterations to get pants to fit properly – lengthen the rise, more curve for the bum… I just can’t remember what the exact numbers were. So I only added 1/2″ to the rise and yet somehow they still ended up being rather high-waisted! No matter, it makes my waist look tiny, and I can’t complain about that!

Giant inverted center pleat

Giant inverted center pleat (Lands End tee shirt)

The linen blend was just lovely to work with, pressed up easily, nice and forgiving to sew on, nice drape. I started with the size 14 pattern and then took in the waist enough to fit properly, although maybe I did it a bit too carefully – there is no room to gain an ounce in these now! Not that I want to, just saying I can’t.

I didn’t have much in the way of obvious seams for reflective trim, so I only ended up adding a bit to the side seam. I probably should have done more, because now this falls into the “nice try” category – just enough to say it’s reflective, but not enough to be truly visible. Grr. I considered just edging the hem with it, but thought it would negatively impact the drape, so I didn’t, but that would have been more visible. Given the fullness of these culottes, the reflective bits might not show as much as I’d like.

Reflective bits

Reflective bits – should have extended it higher up the seam

The legs are much fuller than I anticipated, and I feel somewhat like those early cowgirls who wore giant divided skirts to ride their horses. Anyone else remember that Folkwear divided skirt pattern?

They are very comfortable to wear, but I didn’t get to bike in them today because, well, The Mechanic accidentally flung ice cream on my lap and I wanted to wash them right away. <sad face> But I can’t wait to try them out!

The next challenge will be to figure out how to style them. Some of the photos I’ve found on Pinterest show crop tops or oversized shirts, but I think any top I wear with these will need to be fairly fitted, to balance out the bottom. And although the oxfords look fine, I will need to try other shoe options. Even if they aren’t the “bikiest” of the things I’ve made (that is, with the least amount of reflectivity), they will probably become a summer favorite because of the lightweight, easy breezy feel of them.

Yee-haw!

Yee-haw!

 

 

Clarks Busby Folly

Stylish Spring Cycling Shoes

It’s Spring and although it is currently chilly, I know it will soon be time for sandals! I’ve dusted off my warm weather shoes in preparation, and feeling a bit… uninspired… by my current collection. I seem to always be searching for THE perfect shoes, shoes that will go with everything, feel comfortable no matter what I’m doing, and look stylish and professional at the same time. Okay, this is probably a fantasy, but I do have high standards for my shoes.

My current collection - serviceable yet mostly uninspiring

My current collection – serviceable yet mostly uninspiring

First of all, any shoe I buy must be comfortable enough to walk to the Metro or a bus stop, to meetings and on outings. To me this translates into a slight heel and good arch support, plus some cushion between me and the pavement. (The mystery remains as to how my red reflective Cole Haan shoes remain my most comfortable shoe, since they fulfill neither of those categories…) Since I started biking, I have some additional requirements, but only a few – I don’t want to wear open-toed shoes on my bike, out of fear of injuring them somehow, and the super-wedge platforms make it hard for me to feel the pedals. So my new Dansko heeled sandals are not going to be bike shoes – open toes and a platform heel.

But this Spring, the trend is for *flat* shoes! What?!  you say – yes, all the magazine articles and ads are full of models in sporty looking flat sandals and loafers and other assorted flat shoes. It’s so refreshing. Additionally, many of the styles are menswear-inspired, oxfords and tuxedo slippers and kilties. These have my stylish bike shoe requirements – closed toes, sturdy heel, I can add insoles if needed, and most of them as professional-looking as well as stylish and casual. Here are some I am currently obsessed with:

 

I love the Nike X Liberty Air Rift trainers, because I owned four pair at one point; they were my favorite summer shoe. I thought Nike stopped making them, so I was pleased to see them return. Alas, I won’t buy a fifth pair, mostly because I don’t love the color of these, and besides, maybe I should move on.

I had to laugh when I saw that En Brogue had a whole blog post about Salt Water Sandals! I grew up in these, as did my little brother and cousin. I couldn’t wear them now because they are too flat, but even looking at the photos brings back memories of my new ones every summer. (PS – En Brogue is currently my new favorite style crush – she has the coolest flat shoes! #envious)

My cousin, my brother and I all in our Salt Water Sandals, circa no idea but probably 1982-1984

My cousin, my brother and I all in our Salt Water Sandals, circa no idea but probably 1982-1984

You can tell I’m totally in love with blush-colored shoes, can’t you? Those Finery London kiltie oxfords just make me swoon, and the gold Clark’s tasseled loafers, well, yes, lust. The Naturalizer Banner wedges shoes are the type of shoes I feel I should own, because they look so, well, business-y, in a casual sort of way, comfortable and practical. You call tell I like Clark’s, can’t you? I blame it on En Brogue again, especially after her recent report of next season Clark’s shoes. Clark’s is a company that I don’t normally associate with funky shoes, but they are doing a really good job of impressing me lately.

All of these shoes fall into my acceptable stylish cycling shoes category, so you could expect to see me in any of these shoes in the next few months. However, I don’t anticipate buying any of them any time soon. Let’s ignore the prices for a moment – I frankly don’t know what I’d wear any of them with! All could go perfectly well with jeans, but I don’t wear jeans that often, and definitely not to work. I’m in the process of completely redoing my wardrobe, complete with an appointment with a Nordstrom personal stylist for my birthday next month. And I’ve learned over the years that what I buy at the beginning of a season tends to not be the item(s) I wear throughout most of the season.

So I have to force myself to not buy new shoes any time soon, and continue to bike in the shoes I have.

But I really want these Danskos! Danskos have become my go-to comfy shoe, after years of denying that they could be cute and comfortable. Surely these would go with everything?!

But I really want these Danskos! Danskos have become my go-to comfy shoe, after years of denying that they could be cute and comfortable. Surely these would go with everything?!

Do you buy (non-bike-y) shoes based on certain criteria, the way I do? Or do you wear bike shoes, and change into work/dress shoes when you reach your destination? And am I the only one weird about not biking in open-toed shoes?!

 

01828ad2eed53e095c9c53fde9434e9c12a4d1d469

On the Road (Bike) Again

A male friend recently commented that he doesn’t read my blog anymore because it’s so fashion-oriented. Well, David, here’s a post for you! It’s all (well, almost all) bike related.

The Mechanic and I dusted off our road bikes today and went for our first ride in about 18 months. Yes, since I completed the Sea Gull Century in 2013, I simply haven’t ridden my road bike. That was mostly because our weekends became full of wedding planning, and after we returned from the wonderful bike honeymoon in Europe, we were uninspired to bike anywhere around here. But we decided to get back on the saddle and thus signed up for the CASA River Ride in Shepherdstown, WV. casa-river-century-sm1Neither of us have the interest in doing a century, and it’s not that far away, so a half-century it will be. Since we both bike to work everyday, I don’t feel like either of us are completely out of shape, but 50 miles is definitely more than we’ve done in a long, long time. Therefore, Sunday we started our “training” slowly with a quick jaunt on the Arlington Loop. Arlington-Loop We purposefully choose to bike Sunday, rather than Saturday, which was the better weather day. We hoped/assumed that a cooler overcast day would mean fewer people out on the trails. It was pretty crowded, so I can’t imagine what Saturday was like, when sunny weather topped 80*F. We saw tons of Spandex, several family groups, groups on hybrids, a woman and child on a tandem tricycle (never seen one of those before!), and several women with their dogs in the front baskets of their bikes. I’m glad so many people were out! But it made for slow going in places. At least, that’s what I blame our low MPH on… Arlington Loop 041915I was completely in love with the bright colors of every flower and blossoming tree, and wish I could have stopped to photograph every scenic spot we passed. I did pull over at the Navy-Merchant Marine Memorial because I couldn’t resist the vivid red tulips. This is one of my favorite memorials in the DC area; I love the moment of it. 01828ad2eed53e095c9c53fde9434e9c12a4d1d469Despite the fact that I haven’t biked more than 13 miles in any given day (and that not all at once), I feel pretty good. My elbows ache and my right shoulder that hurts from desk stuff still hurts, but I don’t feel it in my legs. Thank goodness! I think even with a few weekends of long rides, we’ll be ready for 50 miles. After all, isn’t it a mere 15 or so mile between pit stops?!

In other bike-y news, we went to Target yesterday (dammit I missed the Lilly Pulitzer for Target collection release Sunday morning and everything I wanted had sold out by noon!) and found some slightly horrific bike assembly. I was admiring the manly “Utility” bike bags (which I think are really great, by the way), and we wandered over to see what sort of bike they had available – what a mistake! The fork on a cute red Schwinn was on backwards, and the handlebars on another bike were on backwards. Yikes! This is obviously one of many reasons to buy from a small bike shop (any bike shop), but it’s so horrifying that employees put these bikes together incorrectly, then some unsuspecting person purchases them and doesn’t know the difference and hates biking because it’s uncomfortable. Gah! I Tweeted a picture and Target actually Tweeted back to inquire at which store this was, so they could contact management. I appreciated that – although I still wouldn’t buy a bike there.

It felt really great to get out and do some serious biking on my lightweight bike (whee, speed!) and feel that muscle burn that I’ve missed. I did have to psych myself into our ride this morning but now that I’ve done it, I can’t wait to go again! Is it sad to hope the weather is less than stellar so that there are fewer people out?!

Prepping for our road bike adventure today proved challenging - I think I need to organize my bike crap!

Prepping for our road bike adventure today proved challenging – I think I need to organize my bike crap!

 

Ladies’ Night: Bikes, Wine and Shopping

I’m pretty sure all the women who showed up for Revolution Cycles Ladies’ Night event in Clarendon last night would have come without the wine incentive but it didn’t hurt. Neither did the chocolate or cheese. The event was sold out and then some – over thirty women who were interested in women-specific biking. And it was worth the $5 admissions price! RevCycles Ladies Night 8I’ve written before about how attending a Ladies’ Night at the same Revolution Cycles shop when I first started biking changed the experience for me: I bought padded bike shorts, I felt encouraged by the other women who spoke about their experiences, I worked up the courage to join the Rev Cycles Sunday morning group ride (on my 7-speed hybrid!), etc. I told general manager Katie how often I’ve talked about the impact of that event and that it’s why I support women-specific bike events. They will get more women onto bikes. I’m glad that Rev Cycles understands that. (no, I was not paid to say that!)

That's right Katie, I'm back in the front row again!

That’s right Katie, I’m in the front row again!

This event was different than the one years ago. We got gift bags! We sat on the floor! Items were passed around the group! There was a raffle with amazing prizes! We had tons of time to shop! And there were many more women employees – shout out for that! Katie said it was the first time the male employees were outnumbered by all of us. Heh heh.

Rev Cycles employees, including three women (plus Katie who was behind me)! Sooooo nice to have so many women in the bike shop!

Rev Cycles employees, including three women (plus Katie who was behind me)! Sooooo nice to have so many women in the bike shop!

We talked about women’s impact on safety and went over the differences between men and women and bike fit. Katie did her fantastic demonstration of how to use chamois cream, and women asked questions it – in the comfort of a group of women, we could. I don’t even want to have that conversation with The Mechanic. I was really pleased to see that most of us there ride our bikes for transportation – to work, to run errands, etc. Slightly fewer bike for recreation on the weekends, fewer still race, and only a handful do triathlons. Seeing so many women who use bikes as transportation, many who are car-free, gives faces to the idea bikes are not recreation “toys” used by wealthy white males. This was a diverse group of women of all ages and backgrounds.

With two of the women employees (sorry it's so blurry, ladies!)

With two of the women employees (sorry it’s so blurry, ladies!)

During the bike fit conversation, Katie explained center of gravity, how it is different on men and women, and what that means for different styles of bikes, especially as you get into the more aggressive bikes. Of course I know about the different centers of gravity, how women have stronger legs and men have stronger upper bodies, but how that translates into bike fit was not something I’ve seen demonstrated so well. So even though I’ve been biking for a while, I’m still learning new stuff! As it should be. I appreciated the set of chamois that were passed around; I probably need new padded bike shorts. “Diaper pants,” one woman called them.

Pick yer chamois!

Pick yer chamois!

I did mention a swag bag and shopping. I was NOT expecting a swag bag at all, nor such a generous one! My friends and I were surprised as we kept pulling stuff out of the bag – great catalogs of Electra bikes and Trek bikes, plus the cool “new bike” folder from Rev Cycles full of info, but also an Electra Solona Clutch full of more goodies: socks, a lever set, and sunscreen, pants strap and bell from BikeArlington! Then there were the raffle tickets – two saddles, two messenger bags and water bottles; one of my friends (the one who rides the least) won a saddle! I’m super excited about the clutch.

Swag bag items! I bought the bike gloves during the shopping part of the event.

Swag bag items! I bought the bike gloves during the shopping part of the event.

Shopping was part of the event, and women were in full shopping mode. I saw several trying on helmets, since Katie suggested we compare expensive and less expensive helmets to experience the difference (she said they are lighter weight; I didn’t try any on). Several were swooping up bike short and skirts, some like me headed for the gloves, others were trying on jackets. I think everyone appreciated the almost one-on-one employee attention, and I suspect that it encouraged some to spend more than they might have otherwise. Or maybe that was the wine helping. RevCycles Ladies Night 2I’d like to thank Revolution Cycles, owners Pinkey and Mike, Katie, and all the employees who were there tonight (yes, guys too!). One of the main topics of the Women & Bikes Forum was the importance of creating safe spaces for women to grow more comfortable, become more confident and really find their bike “voice.” Another thing that was talked about at the Forum was the fact that women like to do things in groups, that we are social, and place great weight on what our peers are doing. When I introduced myself to owner Mike on my way out, he said that he could host a beer and brats event for men, and they wouldn’t show up the way women do for a social/networking/women only event. I guess we just proved how important a safe space is for women.

Thanks Mike!

Thanks Mike!

 

Disintegrating as I look at it!

Spring Sewing Plans (Fail)

At last it’s turned into Spring!

Once again, I am completely in love with the giant flowering trees in Arlington. They make me so happy!

I wish my sewing projects made me as happy. I came back from SoCal ready to start the projects I have mentally lined up, and yet – complete fail. I don’t have enough of anything to get started! I really wanted to make the McCalls 7099 jumpsuit first; the fabric I have my heart set on was listed on Fabric.com as being back-ordered until April 3, so I was sure I’d be able to come home, order the fabric, and start altering the pattern. But no – now it’s just “temporarily unavailable.” I called and they couldn’t give me an ETA. Bummer. So down the list it goes.

Next on the list is Vogue 9087, which I want to make partially with reflective fabric and partially with some blue ditsy floral print – something more affordable than Liberty of London, my first choice. But I can’t find anything I totally love – my only local fabric store options, JoAnn Fabrics and G Street Fabrics, are disappointing and I’m not in love with anything on Fabric.com either. Or any other fabric website I’ve checked out. Of course, I don’t actually own this pattern yet anyway, so I’m clearly not in that big of a rush. Come on, Vogue Patterns, have a sale already!

Next on the list is culottes. Occasionally I think that the smart thing to do would be go to a store and try on some different styles, to see what I like best – longer or just below the knee; pleated front or gathered or plain; drapey or more constructed; solid or print. But I’ll probably just go with Vogue 9091, version B with the flat front and just below the knee. That length seems best for biking in, and since I have an aversion to 1980s-reminiences pleated fronts, I like the waist on this version. I was thinking of doing this in micro-suede, maybe tan or maybe burgundy. I can’t decide which color would work best with my existing wardrobe. I’ve ordered fabric swatches from Fabric.com (seriously, they should make me a spokes-stitcher at this point), but until I order this pattern, too, I guess I’m not in a hurry.

Vogue 9091 Culottes

Vogue 9091 Culottes

What, then, instead?! Good question. I have noticed a need in my casual spring/summer wardrobe for a blue skirt, so I might just make up a pattern for a lightweight denim elastic-waist skirt with pockets, and use some of my cool reflective rick-rack as a sort of petticoat trim, peeking out from under the hem. At least that fabric should be easy enough to pick out at JoAnn’s.

In other sewing fails, the orange reflective fabric that I used on my latest Liberty of London for Target duvet cover top is basically falling apart. I wore it for the first time on Easter, and just washed it this weekend (cold water, line dry). I’m completely disappointed at how the material is basically self-destructing! The other colored reflective fabric I have, all purchased from B&J Fabrics in New York City, haven’t done this. I’m not entirely sure what to do to fix this.

Disintegrating as I look at it!

Disintegrating as I look at it!

I suppose that it’s possibly better to not have a sewing project(s) distracting me this week, since there is other stuff going on. Plus, The Mechanic and I registered for the CASA River Ride in our favorite little town of Shepherdstown, WV. Again we will do a half-century. Short bike rides to work and not much else means that we both really need to start getting some miles in! I dusted off Donner, my long-neglected road bike, today, and went for a short spin. I forgot how light and nimble he is compared to Fauntleroy, the commuter bike. Four weekends to gear up for 50 miles?! We can do this! Road Bike

 

 

LaQuinta Pool

Soaking Up the Sun in SoCal

Over Easter weekend, The Mechanic and I flew to Southern California to visit friends in Palm Springs and Pasadena (okay, technically we were in La Quinta and Eagle Rock, but I think those cities are not as well-known as Palm Springs and Pasadena).

Palm Springs was our first stop, for the wedding of one of my bestest friends ever. The wedding was in the beautiful La Quinta Resort & Club, a Waldorf Astoria Resort. Talk about swanky! It’s probably the fanciest place we’ve ever stayed, but I have to say, probably the most gorgeous. The property was originally built in 1926, and was a popular getaway for Hollywood stars; Frank Capra and Greta Garbo, to name two. Our “casita” was a fairly large bungalow duplex, with a front porch, screened in back porch, huge tub and separate shower, and a fireplace – one of the original casitas in the center of the resort. We spent a fair amount of time sitting on our front porch, just admiring the gardens and watching the other guests. We did take a quick dip in the adults-only pool, which was absolutely heavenly. I’m still fantasizing about it. The weather was hot but with almost no humidity, it felt perfect.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My friend’s wedding and reception took place in Greta Garbo’s own space, called La Casa. Because the two buildings are not earthquake-safe, everything was outdoors, and we could only peek over the velvet ropes into her rooms. The wedding was lovely, of course, small, intimate and elegant. It was wonderful to catch up with friends and my parents, who were also wedding guests. Definitely swankier than ours, complete with a photo booth!

Because the wedding was the day before Easter, several of us stayed for the over-the-top Easter brunch at La Quinta. I have no words to describe this event, but I’ll try! Unlimited mimosas, over a dozen food stations, the Easter Bunny, a kids’ area with their own buffet, exotic fruits, pastel everything, even Peeps on the dessert tables. Yes, I said tables – more than one! An ice cream sundae bar! I think we ate for an hour and a half straight. Totally worth it. And so fun to see all the little girls dressed up in their Easter best. I wore my new floral reflective top; it hasn’t been warm enough here to wear it, but I made my entire trip all about the florals. And I wore my BikieGirlBloomers under my casual floral dress – haven’t had a chance to wear them either and love them!

After the wedding festivities were over, we drove to Eagle Rock, a tiny Los Angeles neighborhood squeezed in between Pasadena and Glendale, to visit other friends. It hasn’t changed much since I was there four years ago, although now there are bike lanes on each side of Colorado Blvd., and we saw several roadies out our last morning there. We weren’t there long enough to do much more than eat and play with my friends’ five dogs (!!!), but we did visit The Huntington Library and Gardens, which I just love. It was so relaxing to just stroll around and admire all the different gardens and sip on the amazingly fragrant jasmine iced tea served in the Chinese Gardens.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Southern California seemed to be a big contradiction – facing a severe drought and water restrictions, yet watering the lawns in the middle of the day. A car-centric area, yet bike lanes and shared sidewalks (huzzah!). And just outside of La Quinta, with it’s lush green lawns, a windmill farm, to power nearby homes. I suppose all cities are like that, but it seemed much more extreme in Palm Springs.

It’s hard sometimes to be environmentally aware and visit places that clearly are not. Ah tourism. The Mechanic and I decided that eco-conscious resorts will weigh more heavily in our future travel plans. But I can’t forget how wonderful the resort was, how relaxing and green and luxurious! And I would love to go swimming again.

Poolside at El Presidente Suite at La Quinta Resort and Club

Poolside at El Presidente Suite at La Quinta Resort and Club

Rear view is suprisingly flattering!

Clothing Review: Levi’s Commuter Jeans for Women

I mentioned earlier that I was chosen by Levi’s to test out/blog about their new Women’s Commuter Jeans and now the time has come to do a formal review. As you all know, Levi’s came out with their men’s bike commuter clothing collection ages ago, with no apparent interest in a women’s collection. At last, however, they have caught up with the times and demands of women who bike, and released a women’s collection of jeans, shorts, shirts and jackets, all designed with bike commuting in mind. This has been greeted in my circles with cries of relief and success.

I got a pair of the Commuter Skinny Jeans in “Cityscape Blue.” They are also available in “Monument,” a light gray, and black; Eleanor’s NYC got the blue blue pair that no longer seem to be available (I know I’d seen them on the website at one point!). At first glance, they look just like a normal pair of jeans, but they are full of bike-friendly details: “temperature control technology,” stretch, “odor repellent,” a high rise, reflective detail on the inside side seam, lined back pockets and flatlocked seams for comfort. And the all-important Levi’s leather patch on the back right hip is black, rather than traditional tan; it would have been cool if this was reflective! The little red tab is there though (I would have made that reflective).

I was a bit worried about the fit, to be honest, having seen an ad somewhere that said, “Our skinniest fit yet!” and therefore asked for a size 10, one size up from my normal 8. Glad I did! They are definitely the skinniest jeans I have ever tried on. They are tight on my calves! Really? But…. once I get them on, they are amazingly flattering, thanks, I’m sure to the high rise waist. These jeans don’t just have a higher rise in the back, they are higher all the way around. This is a trend that is creeping its way into our wardrobes, and I feel ready to embrace it now. I wish I had a longer inseam pair but there is plenty of reflective detail showing when i cuff them up over my ankle bone. The front pockets are not particularly deep, nor are the back pockets, and there is no U-lock loop. I don’t wear my U-lock but know some women like to, so if you are one of them, be aware of that missing feature.

Checking out a Little Free Library in my Levi's Commuter Jeans

Checking out a Little Free Library in my Levi’s Commuter Jeans

I have worn these jeans biking as well as being a tourist in the American History Museum on the National Mall, so I have had the chance to test them out in different scenarios. The denim seems to loosen up nicely the more you wear them, which I appreciate. They are easy to bike in, and the high waist holds in my tummy a bit more than my other jeans. I don’t bike in jeans enough to worry about the crotch rubbing thin, so I can’t say how I think that will turn out, but the denim seems sturdy enough. I’ve only worn them in the cold, so as of yet I can’t speak to the temperature control technology, and I have no intention of finding out how well the odor repellent feature works.

I had The Mechanic take photos on a not-quite-warm-enough day, and I tucked my turtleneck in to show the high waist. Taking another one for the team by sharing photos I’m not 100% comfortable with…

The high rise is flattering but I'd still never wear shirts tucked into my jeans.

The high rise is flattering but I’d still never wear shirts tucked into my jeans.

At $88, I think these are a good investment if you are looking to support companies that make women’s bike clothing; not too pricey, not too cheap. Levi Strauss & Co. is a company I’d like to support more because it is a company that is trying to be more sustainable. For example, they created a line of jeans (again, only for men) that use less water in the production process, but by encouraging consumers to wash their jeans less often to reduce water usage. Putting my money where my values are means that I will explore more Levi’s products, like this women’s Commuter bike shirt.

Overall, I am quite happy with these jeans, and very grateful to Levi’s for giving me the opportunity to test them out. I am interested to hear what you think of them, if you own them or have tried them on. Susi at VeloJoy is happy with hers as well – what about you? Levis 6

 

 

On a CaBi bike near Northside Social in Clarendon

ICYMI: March Mostly Clothing

March was full of clothing-related stuff, or so it seemed to me, but we did squeeze in some bike advocacy, to protest proposed cuts to the bike/walk programs. I haven’t really gone to anything like this before and was proud of The Mechanic and I for literally standing up for what we believe in, as we stood in support of all three speakers supporting our cause.  The Mechanic took some great video of my reflective pants but I haven’t had time to edit that to share. Soon.

It had been a long time since our bikes were out on the town together! A little advocacy brought them out.

It had been a long time since our bikes were out on the town together! A little advocacy brought them out.

In other news, here is what else happened in March:

Reid Miller is a woman I met at the National Forum on Women & Bicycling, someone who also is interested in changing the apparel market for women’s bike clothes. She is currently conducting a survey of measurements, to create more realistic sizes of women’s clothing. Although you might not necessarily look at the numbers, I urge you to take her survey and add your measurements to mine. Share this survey far and wide – the more women-who-bike that take this survey, the better representation there will be!

– Speaking of bike clothing, did you see this Bike League Tweet about Fiks:Reflective? What do you think about this quote? “Safety sells to mothers and then sits in the bottom of a drawer.” I agree with making reflective safety gear cool and hip and desirable, and enjoy their tee shirts and wheel stripes. I’d get the wheel stripes before I’d wear the tee shirts, but I love what they are trying to do. Bike League Tweet

– Another Kickstarter bike product caught my eye, thanks to a feature on the VeloJoy website: the Lux Bicycle Pedal. This is a strap designed with fashion in mind; in fact, the quilting on it was inspired by Chanel. Can’t go wrong there! I love this Kickstarter product because I love my Power Grips but they are getting worn out, and when/if I get Fauntleroy repainted, he’ll need something fancier. My birthday isn’t that far away – maybe I can talk The Mechanic into Kickstarting me a pair!

Lux Bicycle Pedal (image from website)

Lux Bicycle Pedal (image from website)

– I did some biking around on Capital Bikeshare bikes. Seriously, I love these bikes. They are pretty much everywhere, easy to use (especially if you have an annual membership. If you want one, get it before May 1, when the membership goes up to $85 a year. Still a bargain though!), seem indestructible (although I know they are not), and best of all – you don’t have to do any maintenance on them! Although that seems like a work pitch, I really love those CaBi bikes. And speaking of work, here’s a blog post I wrote for the work blog about my commute. Does the photo look familiar?!

On a CaBi bike near Northside Social in Clarendon

On a CaBi bike near Northside Social in Clarendon

– During our REI outting, we studied the new Ghost bikes. I pretty much love these bikes because they are German, a variant on my favorite color combination, and matte. Technical details, who cares?!? A woman’s bike that isn’t pink! Or perhaps women’s mountain bikes don’t have the pink-affliction that other genres do; I haven’t looked at enough. The Mechanic is familiar with these bikes, and we were excited to see them in person. So was Edgar. He likes them because he matches.

Now it’s April, and a busy month awaits. So too does Springtime weather, at least, we all hope it does! I’m looking forward to wearing skirts and dresses again. I can’t wait to try out my new Bikie Girl Bloomers, but I may also consider restocking my selection of Jockey Skimmies Slipshorts. Jockey has come out with a few variations, and the wicking ones are on my list for summer. Skirts are cool but wicking Slipshorts has got to be cooler!

Perfect for preserving modesty!

Perfect for preserving modesty! (image from website)

And looking ahead – if you are in Arlington (VA, not TX!), there are two women-specific events coming up that I encourage you to check out. One is next week, the BikeArlington Zen Around the City Yoga & Biking for Women event on Tuesday, April 7th. The one they hosted two years ago was a huge success, so make sure to check out this one! And I noticed that the Revolution Cycles shop in Clarendon had a sign out for a Ladies’ Night on April 15th. I’ll probably go to this, and see which non-biking friend I can drag with me. RSVP soon and see you there!

Really guys? Pink and purple? This is why I love the orange and teal Ghost bike.

Really guys? Pink and purple? This is why I love the orange and teal Ghost bike.