Comfort Map 1

Comfort Biking: Now Available in Map Format

I had grand plans to write once a month about Comfort Biking – the type of biking that I prefer to do, that doesn’t make me tangle with cars on streets too narrow to support decent bike lanes. And yet…. I haven’t done that much biking this summer, let alone biking in areas where I don’t feel as comfortable. So no Comfort Biking blogs.

Until now – with great fanfare, I present: The Arlington County Bicycle Comfort Level Map!!!!! This is a very exciting thing!!! BikeArlington and the bicycle planners at Arlington County have been working on this for at least two years. comfort_map_thumbThe entire point of this map is to show you which streets and roads in Arlington are “easy,” that is, more comfortable, and which are “difficult,” or less comfortable. The maps says, “It should be easy, intuitive, comfortable and most importantly, safe, to get around Arlington by bike for all residents from age 8 to age 88.” Acknowledging that not everyone feels comfortable biking close to motor vehicles is a very important step forward in making Arlington County more bike friendly, because once you publicly acknowledge this, it becomes easier to put the physical infrastructure in place to assist those comfort cyclists.  Comfort Map RankingsThe routes are color-coded: Blue routes are the easy ones, yellow “medium” and orange “difficult.” The back of the map shows definitions of each, with illustrations, to help map users determine which category they best identify with. Roads “strongly discouraged” are indicated in black lines. In one quick glance, it is easy to see which routes to take across the county – I can just look for the blue or yellow routes. And the “strongly discouraged” routes come as no surprise – Glebe, Lee Highway, Columbia Pike. All known for being pretty risky to bike on (although The Mechanic, of course, bikes on Glebe to get to work). Comfort Map 1The comfort level of streets isn’t the only thing marked on the map, but pretty close. Supporting bicycle features such as bike shops, drinking fountains, restrooms, libraries and community centers. Steep hills are marked with arrows, but can be found on any color road. Remember, this is about comfort around vehicles, not technical challenges. That would be an interesting map, however.

The reason why I initially wanted to start a comfort bike series was the unpleasant bike ride from Ballston to the REI just over the border in Fairfax. Sure, it’s in Fairfax County, where bike/ped infrastructure sucks at best, and just past Columbia Pike, which is pretty neglected, but even *getting* there is miserable, because there is really no way to avoid biking on S. Carlin Springs Road. Carlin Springs Road is a black line the entire way on the comfort map. Now I feel better – it is “strongly discouraged.” That doesn’t take the steep hill into account either. Steep hill to climb on a black routes? It’s been ages since we biked there and could stay that way. Sorry, REI.Carlin Springs RdI encourage everyone to get their hands on this map, even if you don’t live in Arlington. It’s a great example of how the County was willing to crowd-source feedback from residents, test out routes themselves, and basically recognize the demand. This map will help with that “interested but concerned” population that is always talked about but no one really knows how best to encourage them. I think this map will go a long, long way in starting that conversation, not only here in Arlington, VA, but in cities and towns all over the country. If you are serious about bicycles as transportation, you need to see this map. Order a copy or two here. Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to use mine to figure out the most comfortable way to bike to (hilly) North Arlington. Comfort Map 2

Pantone Fall 2015 Colors (I forget which website I found this image on, oops)

Assembling My Fall Capsule Collection Sewing List

It’s almost the end of August, the unofficial end of the summer, and I can’t stop obsessing over what I want to sew in the next few months. (Ignore the fact that I haven’t finished my summer sewing!) This season I am determined to stick to a “capsule collection” of items, to create basic garments that coordinate with each other. The idea behind capsule collections, or capsule wardrobes, is that you really only need a handful of pieces to create dozens of different looks. I really love the idea of hyper-focused collection of clothes, and this is why I constantly weed out my aforementioned closet. My challenge will be to create seven pieces that coordinate, can be worn in the office, and all have reflective details so that I will be extra visible as I bike home in the earlier sunset hours. Oh, and trying to stick to the plan will be a big challenge – I am sooo easily distracted by colors and patterns and designs and….

I already ordered this corduroy from JoAnn Fabrics - I couldn't help it, it was 60% off and I love the print! It is described as being gray and teal but that's not what it looks like online, so I guess I'll be surprised when it arrives!

I already ordered this corduroy from JoAnn Fabrics – I couldn’t help it, it was 60% off and I love the print! It is described as being gray and teal but that’s not what it looks like online, so I guess I’ll be surprised when it arrives!

I started hunting for patterns with some criteria in mind:

  1. I need some outerwear, since as the weather gets cooler, I always end up covering my fun reflective things.
  2. I really want to perfect pants fit, so I need to take the time to slowly make a basic pair of pants.
  3. I want a few tops that coordinate with both a skirt and a basic pair of pants.
  4. The patterns need fun ways to incorporate any of my reflective fabrics and trims.

I have had the Vogue 7910 skirt pattern for ages, so this is easily added. I decided that the McCalls Palmer & Pletsch 6361 pants are one of the best basic pants patterns out there, so that’s done. The Kwik Sew 4104 jacket, version B (minus the collar), offers a great way to use my new reflective digital camo fabric. Then, I sort of fell in love with Version C of the McCalls 6844 knit cardigan pattern; I love those drop peplums! For tops, I found two Simplicity blouses I like, in Simplicity 1779, Version C, and Simplicity 6187 Version B. Lastly, I am obsessed with Vogue 7160, which I plan to make colorblocked – look at the line in that skirt! So perfect for reflective trim.

There are a few other patterns that I’m in love with that I will save for more winter outfits, that is, after I’ve made some of these. The pants and Simplicity 1779 I expect to be more challenging – I’ve been avoiding button plackets, eek! But the rest should be fairly easy. I think I’ll add an expose zipper to the Kwik Sew jacket, since I dislike jackets that don’t actually fasten in some way. Plus, I have another glow-in-the-dark separating zipper, so why not?!

Now I am obsessively hunting for fabrics. It’s hard when your local fabric stores are limited to JoAnn Fabrics (the Virginia G Street Fabrics store closed over the summer, alas), so I’m haunting fabric websites. I’ve found some lovely, lovely options at MarcyTilton.com – I had no idea she sold fabric on her website! I love the black marble knit for the McCalls 6844 cardigan, and the Ashbury stretch denim for the Kwik Sew 4104 jacket, but since they are so similar, I can’t use them both. But which?!

Marcy Tilton Black Marble Knit (Image from website)

Marcy Tilton Black Marble Knit (Image from website)

Marcy Tilton Ashbury Stretch Cottom (Image from website)

Marcy Tilton Ashbury Stretch Cottom (Image from website)

While flailing about for fabric and color ideas, Simplicity suggested on Instagram that I look at the Pantone Fall 2015 color collection. Of course! So perfect! I love all the colors.

Pantone Fall 2015 Colors (I forget which website I found this image on, oops)

Pantone Fall 2015 Colors (I forget which website I found this image on, oops)

So I’ve decided that the Kwik Sew jacket will be Stormy Weather, since the reflective camo fabric is gray; the pants should be Reflecting Pond; the skirt will be Marsala; and Biscay Bay, Oak Buff and Cashmere Rose will be blouse and accent colors. Now I just have to find fabrics that fit! I think I want the skirt to be in corduroy, because I love that fabric and it can be 3-season fabric. I’ll probably use a basic twill for the pants, then branch out into nicer fabrics once I perfect the fit. I have reflective fabric that is practically Biscay Bay, and think that will be fun as the yoke on Simplicity New Look 6187. It will be hard to decide on the blouse fabrics, because I love big, bright prints – so many options!

Trying to work through and sketch out my ideas....

Trying to work through and sketch out my ideas….

I've already picked the fabrics for the color-block dress and can't wait to order them! I'm waiting to get the pattern first, to check fabric requirements.

I’ve already picked the fabrics for the color-block dress and can’t wait to order them! I’m waiting to get the pattern first, to check fabric requirements.

While I’m finishing my last two summer projects, I will take the time to think through what I want these pieces to look like. I will need to be super focused and not get distracted, so maybe the longer I hunt for fabrics, the more focused I’ll stay?!

What sort of plans do you have for this fall, biking or sewing, or otherwise?

Capture

Another Kickstarter – Sassy Cyclist

I first saw, and loved, Sassy Cyclist women’s bicycle jerseys at the National Forum on Women & Bicycles this past March, so when owner Becky Redett approached me last week and asked me if I’d share their Kickstarter, I said, “Of course!”

Love the Sassy Cyclist flow chart at the National Forum on Women & Bicycles!

Sassy Cyclist is a local business, out of Baltimore, MD, designed by women who love riding their bicycles, and who wanted more beautiful jerseys than they could find. I haven’t tried one on, so I can’t speak to the fit and fabric from first hand knowledge. Honestly, it’s the luscious prints that draw me to the jerseys. I’m completely in love with the “In Pursuit of Peonies” jersey – floral print, plum and raspberry… yes, this has my name written all over it. In Pursuit of Peonies Sassy Cyclist JerseySpecial touches that make me appreciate their jerseys even beyond just looks – the clothing measurements they use are intended to correlate more with regular clothing sizing, and they jerseys are cut a bit more relaxed than traditional skin-tight bike jerseys; AND each jersey has a reflective strip going down the entire center back. The hems are elastic-free, hallelujah, and I love the raglan sleeve look. I pretty much assume that any bike clothing company is going to use 4-way stretch, antimicrobial wicking fabric, and having them made in the USA is a nice touch, but what really sells me on these are the fabrics. They are floral but somehow, not too “shrink it and pink it.” Adding blue sleeves to the “Queen of the Road” jersey’s bold red flowers really makes it pop. Sassy Cyclist Queen of the Road

Now Becky has launched a Kickstarter to get her vision off the ground. If I hadn’t just supported Reid Miller’s Kickstarter, I would probably get a short sleeved “In Pursuit of Peonies” jersey, to inspire me to dust off my road bike. Instead, I encourage you, Dear Readers, to check out Sassy Cyclist and support them if you can (or at least follow the company on Twitter). It’s not an easy task, putting your heart and soul and bank account into a product you believe it, and I wish them luck. And I know that I will be mad with jealousy when I see one of these beautiful jerseys out on the roads and trails! Will that person be you? Capture

Mmmm... Harris Tweed...

In Which I Try on Reid Miller Apparel

Last week, Washington DC favorite bike shop Bicycle Space in Adams Morgan hosted an evening for Reid Miller Apparel, so we could go try on the pieces from her Kickstarter collection. Naturally, I was eager to go, and carefully plotted out my Capital Bikeshare route to Adams Morgan. I hadn’t been to the new location, and boy was it beautiful! Bicycle Space Adams MorganReid was there with her display set up right in front, when I arrived, already helping some women try on the tweed blazers.

I’m a sucker for tweed, I confess (raised on BBC murder mysteries. Jeremy Brett is still my god), and I love that Reid is using Harris Tweed for her tweed jacket.

Mmmm... Harris Tweed...

Mmmm… Harris Tweed…

Reid Miller 4

Don’t I look like I should be biking through fall leaves, on my way to pick apples and my Halloween pumpkin?

Even though wearing wool makes my skin itch like  you wouldn’t believe, I tried on everything – the tweed blazer, the merino wool waffle sweater, and the jeans. I love them all – but can only wear the jeans. So please take my comments with a grain of salt – if you love biking in wool, you will love these pieces! Reid Miller 10 Reid Miller 11The jacket is cut large so that it will fit over whatever bulky sweater and scarf you might be wearing, and the sleeves are long, to accommodate your wrists as you reach for the handlebars. I love the zipped pockets, especially the one in the center back. The waffle weave merino sweater is lovely – squishy textured wool in three lovely fall colors; I gravitated towards the burgundy, which coordinated quite well with the purple Danskos I was wearing. I love waffle weave anything, because I like the texture, and this was just thick and sturdy and clearly high quality wool. A classic that I’m sure you’ll return to again and again.

I love the jeans. The sizing and fit survey that Reid sent out earlier this year resulted in this, a pair of skinny jeans that are cut more generously for women with cycling thighs and calves. Several of us tried them on, and we all looked good in them, standing next to each other. The waist is high in the back, and dips slightly in the front – not enough to catch the pooch (not that any of us have that, right?), but not crazy high. The legs are really long, which I love – this means I don’t *have* to cuff the legs to make it less obvious that they are not long enough. The denim is stretchy yet somehow sturdy at the same time, and the fit, well, I was really in love with the fit. I have both the Ligne 8 jeans and the Levi’s Commuter jeans, and I like these better. They are not as tight-skinny as the Levi’s, which ironically I rarely wear while biking because they are too tight. They are stretchier denim than the Ligne 8, and the cut of the waist is more flattering than the Ligne 8s as well. There isn’t any reflective trim on them, but you know me – I almost always have something reflective on anyway, so no loss there.  Oh yes, the jeans also have a reinforced crotch. These jeans I just might wear so often that this feature becomes useful!

There are only a few days left for Reid’s Kickstarter campaign. The garments are expensive, but will last for years of bicycle riding. The jeans are made in El Paso, TX, where my brother and sister-in-law live, which was another reason I backed them (not that either work in the garment industry, but still, it helps their city’s economy); the sweaters in Los Angeles, and the jacket in San Jose, Costa Rica (I can only imagine what they must think of the heavy tweed!). I have my fingers crossed for the continued success of Reid Miller and her apparel line! It’s nice to have one more woman thinking of things women might want when they ride their bicycles, and then try to bring them to the market. I heard whispers of Spring garments and hope to see those out soon too. I wish her well, and look forward to biking around this fall in my Reid Miller jeans!

Good luck, Reid!

Twinsies! Good luck, Reid!

 

 

I love rick rack and think it works well here

Camo Doll’s Dress – A Sewing Adventure

Not only did The Mechanic and I have no idea what to get our niece when she turned 9 a few weeks ago, her parents weren’t really sure either. “She’s changing all the time!” they told us, but did say that she had been madly biking around her neighborhood, started rock climbing at a nearby indoor climbing wall, reads obsessively, doesn’t like anything princess anymore but still likes her American Girl Doll, and that her favorite color is Real Tree Camo.

Hm.

I did hunt around for children’s camo bike accessories – I really want to encourage this in her. Ironically, we haven’t been able to interest her in biking for years. I didn’t find anything I loved, and time flew by, so then it was too late. We decided a Barnes & Noble gift card was a bit lame, so started with ordering a full-size Nalgene water bottle for her; her parents said she wanted one. Then, at 11pm, five busy nights before we were due to see her, I had a brainstorm – I would make her an American Girl Doll dress out of Real Tree camo! The Mechanic and I ran to JoAnn Fabrics the next night so I could buy the fabric, and I bought a doll dress pattern that ended up not working. Then I spent all my spare time trying to make up a doll dress pattern.

Teeny tiny pattern pieces!

Teeny tiny pattern pieces!

The McCalls pattern I had used to make a carrying bag for her doll earlier this year, McCalls 6854, also had some clothing pieces, so I used the top pattern, then just added a length for the skirt. Suffice it to say, my idea didn’t translate into reality as it seemed in my head that it would. My excuse is that I was trying to hurry and didn’t think things all the way through….

Using my Samantha doll as a model, I discovered that not only was the bodice too long, it didn’t seem to close properly in the back. So I took it apart and shortened the bodice significantly.

Doll Dress 8

I was very pleased with the centered design in the front, but had to cut out most of it to shorten it.

Doll Dress 1

The too-long bodice apparently was too snug over the doll’s hips and it didn’t close in the back. Even dolls have these problems!

Much better the second time around! I added rick rack on the hem, but opted against the tiny wooden buttons I thought might be cute down the front. Originally, I had stitched the Velcro on the facing so that the stitching wouldn’t show but it didn’t line up right, so as I was getting ready to wrap the dress on our way out the door to give it to her, I redid the Velcro. Not as pretty, but worked better.

The shortened bodice meant less tree branch, sadly

The shortened bodice meant less tree branch, sadly

Don't judge the insides too harshly - check out the fancy facing, though. I had to tack it down because it refused to cooperate

Don’t judge the insides too harshly – check out the fancy facing, though. I had to tack it down because it refused to cooperate

Velcro pulling in the back

Velcro pulling in the back

I love rick rack and think it works well here

I love rick rack and think it works well here

Although our niece carefully folded the dress up and put it away, the look on her face made me think she was really excited. Ever the polite child, she thanked us, but I don’t know what she really thought. I hope that one day I’ll happen to notice the doll wearing the dress – that will be the best thank you. And will indicate whether or not I should try sewing doll clothes again.

Although camo isn't Samantha's thing, the dress looks good on her!

Although camo isn’t Samantha’s thing, the dress looks good on her!

Comfort Biking: When You Are a Beginner

Today’s Momentum Magazine email header was “Top 10 Tips for First-Time Bicycle Commuters,” and it made me think of a recent conversation at work with some women who are what I might call beginning bicycle riders. One was challenged to bike to work five days in a row, so that she might earn new bike accessories. Monday, I biked home with her; Tuesday, another woman who bikes everyday rode home with her (sadly, she had to bike home alone the last few days – sorry!). I was trying to coach her to get off the saddle at stop lights, rather than trying to balance on tiptoe while perched on her seat. She just felt more comfortable firmly on her saddle. I understand – I did it for ages too, until I met The Mechanic and he teased me about it. Escorting Pinky

The next day, we were chatting with another woman in our office, trying to get her to bike to work as well. She said she finally felt more confident about biking down the hill into Rosslyn, but she’s still really nervous about biking up the hill. When I asked why, she said, “Because of the buses.” I was confused, until she explained that she doesn’t want to have to stop going uphill (who can blame her?!), but she’s not comfortable going around a stopped bus (there’s a bus stop mid-hill on Wilson Blvd between Rosslyn and Courthouse), because that puts her into a traffic lane. So she’s trying to find a less hilly neighborhood street to take, so she doesn’t have to tangle with the buses.

See where the crosswalk is? That's about where the troublesome bus stop is located.

See where the crosswalk is? That’s about where the troublesome bus stop is located.

This got me thinking again about the things we tell beginning bike riders. I admit to being a chicken bicyclist, but I am less fearful about traffic than I was when I started. I’m not sure what made me more confident. Most likely, the bike lanes between Ballston and Rosslyn – even though there are cars in them on a daily basis (sigh – when will planners realize that parallel parking on the right side of the bike lane is a bad idea?), having my own space but still being around moving vehicles gave me the opportunity to work up the courage to mix with them. And although I want the most direct route, rather than the lovely yet out-of-my-way bike trail, I do pick routes that either have a bike lane or go through a neighborhood. As I mentioned in a blog post I wrote for The Discerning Cyclist, the biggest barrier to overcome is in our heads – we will always be our own worst enemies. It’s the gritting the teeth and saying, “I got this!” and then keep doing it, and sometimes that isn’t easy. Often it isn’t easy.

Biking between cars, even in a bike lane, isn't comfortable for some people. Cars trying to parallel park through the bike lane makes it more dangerous, and scarier.

Biking between cars, even in a bike lane, isn’t comfortable for some people. Cars trying to parallel park through the bike lane makes it scarier and more dangerous.

So I think that one of the best things to tell first-time bicycle commuters, in addition to practice cycling, plan ahead and go with a friend, is to remember to be brave. Be strong – act like you own it. And not to be ashamed if one day, you don’t own it. There will be other days. It’s just like dieting, or exercising, or starting any new habit: some days you won’t be your best, but that’s okay. The more you do it, the stronger you become. Repeat along with me: “I CAN do this.”

My lovely new holographic Old Navy kids' backpack is the carrot I'm following these days - of course, I can't stop staring at its lovely shimmer. Maybe I need more shine in my life to get me through the tough times.

My lovely new iridescent Old Navy kids’ backpack is the carrot I’m following these days – of course, I can’t stop staring at its lovely shimmer. Maybe I need more shine in my life to get me through the tough times.

And I totally need to take my own advice sometimes though….

 

 

Pattern Adjustments 4

Fall Fashion Begins Before Summer Sewing Ends

It’s August and suddenly my inbox and the stores at the mall are full of fall clothing. Eek! I’m not even done with my summer sewing yet! We still have a good two months of warm hot weather left! I’m simply not ready for cooler temperatures.

I was home this past weekend for the first time in a month, thank goodness! I love travel but back-to-back weekends away from home get a bit grueling. I spent most of the weekend cleaning the apartment, doing laundry, resuscitating neglected plants, and cooking (this is why I don’t sign up for a CSA – too many veggies to cook!). I really, really, really wanted to start the jumpsuit I’ve been dying to make since at least January, so consider my disappointment when I got the pattern adjusted and realized I don’t have enough fabric.

If you read my blog regularly, this will seem familiar. I've been wanting to make it for ages! McCalls 7099

If you read my blog regularly, this will seem familiar. I’ve been wanting to make it for ages! McCalls 7099

I have a long waist, and I know that jumpsuits tend to be short-waisted on me, so I carefully measured everything on the pattern and on me, and lengthened both the top and the rise and the legs. I also added some width to the legs, since the way they measured out would never comfortably fit my thighs or calves. I also figured that if I added too much, it would be easier to take in than to have minimum seam allowance to let out.

The Mechanic was doing bike maintenance at the same time. You can see why we need a bit more space! And I need a real cutting table that is the proper height. A cutting mat on the ironing board isn’t comfy. Pattern Adjustments 3Imagine my disappointment when I pulled the fabric out and decided to lay it out on the bed, just to see it. Thank goodness I did that before I started cutting out the pattern pieces, because there isn’t enough!!! Ack! Pattern Adjustments 5I ordered a bit more than the pattern called for, as I usually do, but apparently lengthening the torso, rise and leg was more that that, and the pieces don’t all fit together. I can only tighten up the spacing so much. Wah! So now I’m trying to decide how to recover – buy more fabric (which would mean buying three new yards, because it’s tie dyed, and different dye lots mean it would never match), or buy a new pattern. I barely have 2.5 yards, so there aren’t many dresses I can squeeze out of this lovely stretchy, swingy, bamboo jersey.

I found two pattern options – Kwik Sew K3489 and Kwik Sew K4026. I love K3489 because I love the careless wrap design and think it speaks well to this dye tied fabric. But the wrap doesn’t seem very bike friendly. Unlike Forest and Fin’s Bicycle Wrap Skirt, this doesn’t look like it wraps very far, and would most likely blow up as I bike. The skirt on K4026 would be perfect, and I like the drapy cowl neckline. But I just don’t think the fabric is appropriate for this more corporate design. So I’ll have to decide….  Although my new Bikie Girl Bloomers would be super cute under the wrap design!

Kwik Sew k3489

Kwik Sew K3489

Kwik Sew K4026

Kwik Sew K4026

The next two weekends are full of out-of-town guests so I’ll have plenty of time to regroup. But I don’t want to take too long to decide – fall is upon us, and I need to make this summer dress before it gets here!

In the meantime, I’m going to channel my energy into an Instagram challenge. Rachel, of House of Pinheiro, is holding a challenge to post something sewing related every day and tag her (@houseofpinheiro)  and #SewPhotoHop. I started a day late, but hope to post everyday. I’ve never done anything like this so I’m not sure how I’ll do, and I’m a bit unclear on some of the categories, but feel free to follow along to see what I come up with!Capture

RMA-098 (3)

ICYMI: Reid Miller Apparel on Kickstarter

There’s another bike fashion line in town! Reid Miller Apparel has recently launched on Kickstarter, and Reid will be in Washington, DC, in a few weeks to showcase her line. I’m excited about this line because I met Reid at the National Forum on Women & Bicycling this past March and we talked about the fit of women’s clothing. She conducted a survey on women’s bicycling clothing this spring, complete with detailed measurements, because she knows that the average woman isn’t actually shaped like a fashion model – you can read her thoughts on this here. I don’t know how many responses she got from her measurements, but I hope mine skewed the average on the fuller size. Skinny jeans for not skinny legs? Yes please!

Reid has created three pieces of clothing for her first collection, basics that many women will want in their wardrobe as classics for years to come – jeans, a crew neck sweater, and a tweed blazer – and pieces that can be worn together and stand on their own.

Although I don’t need another pair of bicycle jeans, I want to try these on because I know how much research she’s done on fit and sizing, and has designed skinny jeans that aren’t cut for skinny women (Levi’s Commuter Jeans, I’m looking at you). Also, I really like the stitch detailing on the back pockets. The jeans have a high waist in the back and a reinforced crotch, and are a nice classic dark denim. RMA-112 RMA-113 (1)The sweater looks lovely – except that I can’t wear wool (and before you ask, *yes* I have tried on cashmere and *yes* I have tried on merino and *yes* I’m old enough to know that wearing wool drives me nuts because it is SO ITCHY and I can feel it through linings). I know what many people who bike love wearing wool because it is natural, moisture-wicking and doesn’t hold the stink the way many tech fabrics do. And I love that she chose to go with a waffle weave for some texture. I’m all about texture. Actually, I really love that burgundy color and could see myself wearing that a lot. RMA-070 (3) RMA-081 (4)The most gorgeous piece, however, is the tweed blazer. I have such a weakness for tweed blazers! This one will last forever, because it is made with Harris Tweed, the king of tweeds. Only woven in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, this fabric is worth it’s weight in gold. Smart to create a blazer out of this. Even smarter, though, are some of the bike-friendly details in the coat: longer sleeves, center back box pleat for movement, extra buttons in front to snuggle against the cold and wind, zip pockets in the front, and I especially love the center back pocket – brilliant! RMA-047 (2)I want to try this on as well, because I want to see how it’s lined. Luckily I will soon get a chance to! Reid is doing a trunk show at Bicycle Space, one of the best bike shops in Washington, DC. I haven’t been to the Adams Morgan location yet, which is where the trunk show will be, so I’ll get to cross off another thing from my to-do list. That will be on Thursday, August 13, from 7-9pm, so if you are in the area, come join us! If not, look for a write-up afterwards.

If you don’t need to wait for my thoughts after seeing these pieces in person, get thee to the Kickstarter and pick your prize! There are a range of options (I want the handkerchief just because I like the design), from smaller support amounts to all three pieces at once. The Kickstarter page also has information about the production of each piece, her production timeline, and stretch goals. I’d really love to see what she has up her sleeve for the Spring 2016 line, so let’s help her get there! RMA-090 (1)All photos courtesy of Reid Miller

 

IMG_8165

Baltimore and TDM

I am in Baltimore, MD, at the moment, to attend the Association for Commuter Transportation’s annual conference. Attendees from across the country network, present, and learn about a range of Transportation Demand Management (TDM) topics, such as carpool/vanpool management, marketing campaigns, public policy, innovations and so on.  

 Today we started off with an inspiring, humorous and thought-provoking presentation by Andrew Evans of National Geographic. He walked us through his bus-only trip from Washington, DC, to Tierra del Fuego, where he hopped on the NatGeo ship to Antarctica, and challenged us every step of the way to rethink public transportation. I wish our lunchtime guest speakers, the Honorable Dennis R. Schrader, Deputy Secretary of Maryland DOT, and the Honorable Nicholas Donohue, Deputy Secretary of Virgina DOT, could have heard this presentation as well.  

 I enjoy seeing friends who work in other states whom I rarely get to see. We have been busy, and I haven’t seen as much of Baltimore as I’d hoped/planned. We did tour the four historic ships in the Inner Harbour, however. And we took pictures on the block with the crazy bikes lanes – a sharrows that turns into a sort of lane on a one-way street with a bike lane going the opposite direction. ?!? I’m sure it makes sense when you use it…  

    

 Love the dragon boats! And love this ad on a nearby bus stop –  

  “Remind your kids to ride, respect and relax when using public transit.” Nice.

The conference will be over all too soon but the lessons and experiences will stay.  

 

Lots and lots of kids bikes....

Arlington Bike Love

I’m feeling all warm and squishy about biking in Arlington, VA. Wednesday was a very bike love day – I wore my Bikie Girl Bloomers today, got a second pair in the mail, did a bike event with kids, The Mechanic and I had an impromptu bike date, we found out that our soon-to-be-nine-years-old niece has been tearing around her MD neighborhood on her bike, and we saw two parents and daughter groups out biking tonight. Yay bike love! Bikie Girl Bloomers in actionI helped organize a bike rodeo for some Arlington Public School Extended Day students at Jamestown Elementary – 40 plus kids learning their bike ABCs (Air – Brakes – Chainring), getting helmets properly fitted, practicing hand signals, and then riding bikes in the (roped off) parking lots! It was hot but it was so much fun for them! I was so amazed and impressed by the skill and experience with which Meg from Phoenix Bikes, Erin from BikeArlington and Gillian from Kidical Mass Arlington patiently and with humor wrangled and directed Pre-K through 5th grade kids. I was equally or perhaps more impressed with the way the Phoenix Bikes kids helped out – the four of them worked on bikes, directed kids on the biking parts, and gave high-fives during the awards ceremony. I know that whatever they did created a bigger impact that us adults and I am even more supportive of Phoenix Bikes’ youth program. And can we talk about Gillian biking to the school with a push car in her bakfiets?!?!

The Mechanic actually got off work at a reasonable time, so we met at his favorite cafe in Courthouse for a light dinner. While we sat there, a huge cargo van went by, and he fantasized about the number and range of bikes he could store in it. It’s been a while since we went on a fun ride together, regardless of how short a trip, and we definitely need to do it again. Bike Date Bike Van on SteroidsI’m excited to wear my new Bikie Girl Bloomers. They are the Leaping Lady print – I don’t normally do animal prints, but these are my colors, and besides, when I took a poll at work, these got several votes. (What, you don’t ask friends and colleagues about the clothes you buy?) Leopard bloomersI am buoyed by the Arlington bike love and bike love in general. It’s hard sometimes, when you do bike advocacy work (or TDM in general, which includes more than just bikes), to not get discouraged by the resistance or outright negativity, so having a bike love day will have to get me through some of those days. That’s part of the reason why I wrote this post, so I can look back and remember that there *are* good days.

You know what else makes me feel better? A gorgeous summer day with blue skies, white clouds, bright green grass and pink trees. Just looking at this photo makes me relax. Jamestown Trees