It’s the merry month of May! It’s a rather momentous month every year because of three things that always happen (and are important me): my birthday; Me Made May; and National Bike Month.
This year I am turning 47. I have no idea how I got to be suddenly so close to 50!!! Eek! I feel a sudden urge to figure what I should do with my life. I need to put a plan into place to help me focus the next three years. Maybe that’s the year The Mechanic and I will finally move overseas somewhere. Who knows, it could happen!
Early celebratory mermaid themed cupcake!
Me Made May
Me Made May is a personal challenge for sewists on Instagram. The idea is generally to encourage you to wear the things you have made, especially the pieces that get little use. Most sewists set their own pledges: I pledge to wear something #memade everyday; to work; not buy fabric; finish up neglected projects; etc. This year I plan to sew what I already have planned, and see what gaps I think I have by wearing as much as I can (depending on what fits). Loved wearing some #memade things in New York Cityast weekend! I got so many compliments on my coat, I was shocked!
National Bike Month
Yep, a whole month to celebrate biking. It will be a bittersweet month in the DC area as the bicycling community continues to mourn and fight for improvements. I pledge to bike as much as possible this month! It’s the perfect month to get serious about my regular biking. I plan to use this time to analyze my love of all things reflective. Does the reflectivity make sense on the things I’ve made? Are the trims in the right place? Should I give up making reflective tops, because they are covered up in the winter, or I’m not out late enough in the summer? These are things to consider.
Wore my new nail print skirt on a recent bike commute- it was perfect (but not reflective)!
All Together Now
Putting all these things together, May should be a month to plan, reflect, and celebrate. What do you plan to celebrate this month?
My goodness, life has gotten overly complicated and blogging has gotten away from me! Sorry for irregular postings. I’d like to promise that I’ll get more disciplined, but I suspect that won’t happen…
Here we are, staring down the last full week of April already! I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot of sewing this month, which is great. What isn’t so great is news about a local bike advocate getting killed, and the lack of support of Vision Zero by cities that have signed onto it. I’m a bit upset about it, so if you don’t want to know more, don’t read the end of this blog post.
I feel like I’ve been a busy little sewing bee! I have completed three projects since I last blogged about my sewing, among other things.
Made, then remade, the Simplicity 1369 skirt out of nail print cotton – designed to fit low on the hips, I took it in 4″, shortened it a tad, and now it’s perfect! Thanks to my Instagram fellow sewists for their feedback!
Finally cut out the Burda 6678 pants pieces, from a gray chambray I purchased at Stitch Sew Shop
Discovered “A Stitch in Time” on Acorn TV – a documentary series with fashion historian (and icon!) Amber Butchart, who selects garments from several historic portraits that a costume shop led by Ninya Mikhaila recreates using historically accurate tools and techniques. It’s 100% where I wish my career could have gone – history, research, sewing… It’s so wonderful to see pieces from paintings recreated! And of course, I’m terribly envious that they were all made to fit Amber.
I love Charley Harper art so much! Yes, I have it on my walls : )
I was very proud of myself – briefly. One whole week, I biked each way! Although I biked to work one morning, then biked home the next afternoon. So not full round trip rides, but a bit every day. This actually worked out really well, given weather, my work schedule, social outings, etc. Then the following week – nothing. Sigh. I did wear some of my #memades, though, but I didn’t get photos each time. But May is National Bike Month, so I plan to do as much biking as possible then – wearing reflective #memade garments, of course!In other biking news – the Washington, DC, bike community is reeling after a beloved bike advocate, Dave Salovesh, was killed in a car crash. I didn’t know Dave but I followed him on Twitter, and even with that distance, it hits close to home. I feel for the #bikeDC people I do know who knew Dave so well – their pain and anger is completely justified. I suspect that the only reason why his killer was charged with second degree murder is because he was speeding in a stolen vehicle. If he had been speeding in his own car, I doubt it would have been the same. It’s so frustrating and upsetting that a supposed Vision Zero city seems to do so little to support the goals of eliminating traffic deaths. i am not as qualified to talk about Vision Zero as some, like Dave, are, but from what I see in the news, American cities such as DC and New York City that have pledged to these goals are doing pretty much the exact opposite. Also on Twitter over the weekend, people in NYC were reporting that cops were confiscating bikes from kids and/or ticketing them for not having bike bells. Seriously?! Bike bells? When are they going to confiscate cars from drivers who don’t use their turn signals?! Gah!
I don’t post political stuff much because I don’t have the interest or energy for getting into social media spats with strangers, but these two things pushed me over the edge. We read and hear all the time about an obesity crisis, and climate change is pounding down our doors, but god forbid we actually embrace the easy and inexpensive ways to tackle both – active transportation. Some cities get it, like Vancouver seems to, but others just don’t really give a sh*t. I don’t know how long The Mechanic and I will live in the DC metro area, but I can tell you that we are making a list of cities that promote the things we value and we’ll consider them first and foremost.
National Bike Month
May is National Bike Month. I talk about it every year. But this year, I’d like everyone to think about some simple things they can do to promote the well-being of others. We really are all in this together, and we can only make it if we are careful of our actions. That means put down the cell phone and use turn signals, as well as cross at crosswalks and stop for red lights. You don’t need to bike to be careful of people on their bikes, or people walking. National Bike Month should only have to celebrate the joy of biking, not remind people that life is fragile and gone in an instant. And maybe, just maybe – try a bike ride yourself if you haven’t in a long time.
It’s the first bitterly cold day of 2019 and luckily it’s a holiday Monday (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), so I don’t have to leave the house. Instead, I’m dreaming about a warm vacation somewhere exotic – or at least maybe not in the US.
The Mechanic and I agreed that we need to stay home this year and not travel, because we did a terrible job at saving money last year. It’s the smart and practical thing to do. But I simply cannot sit home all year and not go anywhere!!!
Not that we don’t have travel lined up already – in February I am going to a work-related conference conveniently located at Disney World. It’s repeat of the leadership program I’m involved with that we launched last year. I can’t afford to spend much time there so I will have limited time in the parks. But considering it will be my fourth time in 13 months, I think I’m okay with that! Then in March, we are traveling to see siblings – The Mechanic’s sister ended up in the same West Texas town that my brother lives in. But after that…. nothing! Well, maybe a quickie weekend to NYC.
At Disney World last January for the Association for Commuter Transportation’s ImpACT! Leadership Program
What we really want to do is another European bike tour. We had such a wonderful time when we did the one for our honeymoon, and this year will be our five-year anniversary, so it seems like a good time. Friends brought us biking magazines from Germany, which is only adding fuel to the fire. Gah! All I want to do right now is bike through some gorgeous countryside in warm weather, stopping at cute cafes and biergartens, and perhaps attempt some rusty German language skills.
But we have to figure out when, how much to spend, and most importantly, which one?!?! There are so many we want to do! We’ve been talking about this Venice to Porec, Croatia one for a few years now, but then saw this Danube Delta Bike & Barge trip in Romania that looks *amazing*! Of course, it’s way more expensive than we originally had in mind, but neither of us have been to Romania, and a few days in Bucharest would be pretty fabulous as well. Then again, if we did the Ruhr Valley loop, we could visit friends who live in the area – plus that tour is half the price of the Danube Delta one….
Adding to the travel plans is the tentative plan with my mother and aunt to go to the 2020 Oberammergau Passion Play, in Oberammergau, Germany. The entire town takes part in this event, which has been going on for centuries, and only happens every ten years. This is something I first learned about in my high school German class, and despite not being terribly religious, I’ve always wanted to go. It’s also eye-wateringly expensive, due to the fact that the easiest way to go is with a tour group. The town is tiny and lodging books up fast – in fact, it probably already is. As much as I’m not a tour group traveler, I’d do it with my mom and aunt. The tours include other destinations, so it would be a fabulous time. It just means I need to be super careful with both cash and PTO, so I can do it.
I already failed my January goal of biking to work three times a week. I blame the weather. I blame my apparent inability to gauge cold and warm – how cold is it really, and how many layers do I need to wear to stay warm on a four mile bike ride?
The first day wasn’t so bad – not terribly cold, nice to be out on my bike, surprise new bike lanes on the route I normally take (makes me feel legit!).
Now my regular commute is legit!
The second day was colder, so I decided to wear my corduroy culottes with the reflective leg warmers my mother knit for me several years ago. This wasn’t too bad on the way TO work, but on the way home, the temperature had dropped and the wind had picked up. I got blown around on my bike, and the full legs of the culottes blew around my legs, so I wasn’t as warm as I wanted to be. I was certainly reflective though!
Here are my reflective winter touches, from outside, working in:
Nutcase helmet (not seen: reflective stickers on side and back)
Reflective lobster gloves (don’t remember where I got those)
Funflector reflector on my very old Basil pannier
Reflective leg warmers, knit by my mother
Navy corduroy Megan Nielsen Tania culottes with black reflective piping in the side seam, made by me
1. All a-glow, after I got home
2. Unpeeling the layers….
3. Ta da! This is how I looked in the office – respectable and not the least bit “bikey”
Then it got even colder and stayed windy. Although it meant I missed my third day of biking, I was fine with it. And now we’ve had the biggest snowstorm in three years, with 9″ of snow on our back deck alone, so I won’t be biking for a bit. Although Arlington County does a great job at clearing the bike lanes and trails, the same cannot generally be said for the conditions of streets. In years past, my bike route has been blocked by the giant piles of snow pushed aside by snow plows. I just don’t feel like the battle, so I opt not to, especially since the bus is so convenient.
9″ of snow on our back deck this morning, wow! Of the originally predicted 3-6″, I was hoping for 3″, haha!
I discovered something I’d forgotten in a year – after a 25-30 minute bike ride, my back is sweating and my fingers are freezing. So I plan to spend the rest of this month trying to balance out the warmth, and figure out how to keep my fingers warm and my core a bit cooler. I might just break down and make my own bar mitts – reflective, of course!
Okay, let’s try this again. It’s been at least *seven* months since I have regularly bike commuted to work, thanks to two major surgeries in that time period. I briefly started biking in the middle of that time period, right before the second, unexpected emergency surgery. After that, I tried really hard to not to ANYTHING to disrupt the healing process again (nope, not telling you what it was, sorry). And in that entire time period, as much as I missed biking, I began to get anxious about it.
Throughout the time I was off my bike, I had more time to read the news about pedestrian and cyclists injuries and fatalities here in the DC area. I also had plenty of time on buses and in Lyfts to observe drivers making a range of really dangerous decisions every single day. At the same time, electric scooters sprang from nowhere in our area, leading to litany of unsafe and reckless rider allegations. Nevermind the fact that the one fatality so far was a young man hit by a driver of a BMW – it’s those reckless kids on scooters that are the menace!
Somehow, being away from the bike lanes seemed to amplify all the dangers that come from not being in a car. It’s no wonder that people who don’t bike <ever – often- in a city> tell me that they are scared to try it. If I, a regular bike commuter for 8 years, can get anxious about returning to it after 7 months, of course someone who has never done it will be scared.
I am happy to report, however, that I biked three times this week and not only survived, I remembered how great it is! Somehow, in my head, the distances had seemed soooo much longer and seemed to take so much more effort. But my short 4 miles each way went smoother, quicker, and even safer than I’d built up in my head. I did start off slowly – Tuesday I biked to work then took the bus home. Wednesday I had a work event super early and i wouldn’t have biked anyway, but then my bike was waiting for me at the office so I could bike home. Instead, The Mechanic and I met up for bike date night – something else we haven’t done in ages. Friday I biked to AND from work for the first time since March. It all felt great!
I am sure our bikes enjoyed being out on the town together again!
Thursday, the remnants of Hurricane Michael swept through town, a rainy day I opted not to bike. But the following day, Friday, was surprisingly delicious cool, fall like temperatures, hooray! I was finally able to wear the reflective brocade bomber jacket I made ages ago but never got to wear on the bike. I paired it with a charcoal and yellow sweater vest I got last winter from Ann Taylor, and was impressed at how the colors looked together and on me. All of last fall and winter’s clothing was designed around my blonde hair, so I am sorting out what looks better on me-the-redhead. This was definitely a winning look!
I’m looking forward to my regular, consistent bike commutes again, now that I’ve taken the first steps back. Who cares that it’s just in time for cold, dark weather, haha?! It’s worth it. It makes me happy.
I think that everyone hunts for perfection – whatever their perfect is, and however they strive for it. Thankfully, we all have our own definition of perfect, so we aren’t all hunting for the same thing. The world would be a very boring place if we were all the same, my mother says all the time!
My hunt for perfection is rather laser-focused on clothing, shoes and jewelry. Pretty self-centered, I admit. But what I’m hunting for is the perfect personal uniform, the wardrobe that I can go to, blindy grab something, and look exactly the way I want to look and feel perfectly comfortable. It’s part of the reason why I sew – I don’t find perfection on the clothing racks in the stores in the mall. What I want is different, so I make it myself. See my Instagram account for #reflectivefashion, #bikefashion, #Bikestyle….
Sadly, I’m not there yet. And my concept of perfect changes all the time – I am currently obsessed with the perfect pants shape, but what I like now is not what I liked a year or two ago. But I did just finish another pair of the Burda 6770 drapy pants in navy blue linen, and I think they are currently pretty close to perfect. (These Danskos are pretty perfect too – I just got them recently and I think I’ve worn them almost every day since.)
Here’s the wearable muslin in red chambray. I added 2″ to the length on the navy pair.
To prove to you that I can find perfection, though, I want to give you the best example: Fauntleroy, my bicycle. There is nothing on this bike that needs to change. I love everything about it. I love the look of it, the accessories, and the way I feel when I’m riding it. In fact, it’s so perfect, that the only thing I think I could possibly change is the paint job and even then, I really want to repaint it in exactly the same color. And it really needs to be repainted – perfection does need to be maintained, after all! But I’ve been dragging my feet over the color. In my world, not being able to decide means I don’t love something enough, so keep the status quo. I think that means Fauntleroy needs to stay the same light shade of blue. Of course, The Mechanic painted Fauntleroy this color ages ago with spray paint he picked out from Home Depot, so I don’t know if a real proper powder coating place will be able to match it. Fingers crossed that I’ll find something same-ish. It is somewhat ironic that I’m constantly hunting for THE perfect ____XXX_____ that I can wear and love forever, considering the fact that I also sew because I get bored with what I have and want to make newer and flashier and more perfect things! ??? But Fauntleroy is proof that someday, I’ll find exactly what I’m hunting for.
I recently flew to Los Angeles and used my direct, 5+ hour flight to finish Bike and Bloomers: Victorian Women Inventors and Their Extraordinary Cycle Wear, by Kat Jungnickel. If you are at all interested in women bicycling, women’s fashion, fashion history, sewing, and/or equal rights for women, read this book NOW!
There is so much to unpack and process before Kat even gets into the details of the women’s cycle fashion patents that she and her team recreate that I think that will be an entirely different blog post. But let me try to summarize: Victorian women as well as Victorian men were excited by the independence and exhilaration that the new sport “bicycling” presented. However, centuries of assumptions that women were frail, unmechanical, non-sporty, homemakers, only good for having babies, and that their lower limbs should *never* be seen, presented a challenge for those early adopter women who wanted to bike in public. Kat used diaries and newsletters as well as information from the patents themselves to illustrate the nerve that was required for women to attempt to cycle in late 1880s and 1890s Britain. In her first chapter, she quotes a letter from Kitty J. Buckman in 1897 in which Kitty, a cycling fan, says that “… one wants nerves of iron.” (page 11).
I don’t doubt it – society then was much less used to norms being flaunted, unlike now when our choices are plentiful (although not always well-received). The choices faced by Victorian women when it came to cycling appear to have been: simply don’t; bike in corsets and long skirts; wear Rational Dress, the new and radical women’s fashion movement that rejected tight-laced corsets and layers of hoops and petticoats; or adapt or create something entirely new. Although some of the women Kat quotes in her book were comfortable in their Rational Dress, they recognized that not all women were. So they invented and patented outfits that made them look like ordinary Victorian women while biking safely (no long full skirts to get caught anywhere!), even while they were amazing, barrier-breaking wonder women.
This is the part where I get excited – I am totally inspired to make some Victorian women cyclist-inspired clothes. My long-time goal with sewing is to make clothing that works on the bike and in the office, without having to change upon arrival, without wearing spandex, and without looking “sporty.” Thankfully I live and bike in a time when I have choices – I can bike to work in gym clothes, traditional bike “kit” including padded shorts, a dress, jeans, skirts or whatever I like. That’s not to say that I won’t be judged for whatever I wear, because of course I will be – judging women based on their appearance is an international pastime now as it was then. But society has come to accept women in pants, jeans, and sports – even if we still have a long way to go, we can thank the women in Kat’s book for breaking down barriers for us.
ttps://tinlizzieridesagain.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=5865″ rel=”attachment wp-att-5865″> Check out this casual lady cyclist, gesturing with one hand as she tells her lady cyclist companion a story. I *love* this so much.
[/caption]But back to sewing. Although there are plenty of examples of “the ideal lady cyclist” in bloomers and blazer, what I really love are all the skirts designed to allow “bifurcation,” ie, two separate pant legs. Women invented ways to quickly and creatively convert their skirts into something bike-friendly, then just as quickly back into something that looked socially acceptable to bystanders. This is something I complete understand, although I realize that not everyone does. I don’t want to look like a “cyclist,” I want to look like a normal person who happens to get around by bike.
://tinlizzieridesagain.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=5867″ rel=”attachment wp-att-5867″> This design made me immediately think of the Folkwear Big Sky pattern.
/tinlizzieridesagain.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=5868″ rel=”attachment wp-att-5868″> This Big Sky Riding Skirt pattern looks like it would fit perfectly on a Victorian woman’s London bicycle.
inlizzieridesagain.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=5866″ rel=”attachment wp-att-5866″> Another convertible skirt-culottes design![/caption]Since
Since culottes have been having a moment this year, mainstream stores from Ann Taylor to Anthropology have been showing wide-legged pants cropped at various lengths, and I love my culottes, I was pleased to see that some of the designs look like modern culottes. I first made Vogue 9091 because it looks like a skirt but is “bifurcated” (the word makes me giggle, I can’t say it with a straight face), which makes it perfect for me. I made my first pair in raspberry linen in 2015 and another pair in navy suiting gabardine the following year, and I wear them pretty frequently in the summer. Every time I wear them, I remember how much I love them.
zzieridesagain.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=5869″ rel=”attachment wp-att-5869″> Fabulous office bathroom selfie… but I love this outfit, too, so I don’t care!
[/caption]Since reading this book, I’ve been eyeing all the sewing patterns out there to make something a bit more “skirt” and a bit less “trousers,” and I think I recently found something that might be exactly what I want – the Megan Nielsen Tania pattern. This pattern offers not only different “skirt” lengths but two different fullnesses, so the sewist can pick how much like a skirt she wants her culottes to appear. And shortly after I became obsessed with this pattern, I saw that COS has an almost identical pair of culottes on their website! Guess I’ll be super chic when I make mine.
ridesagain.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=5870″ rel=”attachment wp-att-5870″> So excited about this pattern!
COS Wide Leg Culottes
COS Wide Leg Culottes, split visible
I like these other patterns as well – this is just a sample from the McCall Pattern Company family, but many other pattern companies have made culotte patterns as well. As much as I like these, I’m more obsessed with the Tania skirt-culotte style – it seems like more of a secret, don’t you think?
Check out this casual lady cyclist, gesturing with one hand as she tells her lady cyclist companion a story. I *love* this so much.
My favorite, which are essentially Victorian culottes.
This design made me immediately think of the Folkwear Big Sky pattern.
This Big Sky Riding Skirt pattern looks like it would fit perfectly on a Victorian woman’s London bicycle.
Fabulous office bathroom selfie… but I love this outfit, too, so I don’t care!
So excited about this pattern!
Consider the politics of pockets in men’s clothing but not women’s
COS Wide Leg Culottes, split visible
COS Wide Leg Culottes
Although fall and cooler temperatures are on the way, I still want to make the Tania culottes. I think that out of a heavier yet still drapy fabric, maybe with a lining, they can still be a perfect office option – no one will know that my nice navy “skirt” is actually *pants* that allow me to easily swing my leg over my bike’s top tube and not crumple the fabric on that same piece of bike frame. Similarly to the way some Victorian women wished to appear that they were wearing skirts when they were off the bike, I too wish to appear to wear a skirt when I get off my bike. And now when I wear my culottes, and whatever else I feel like wearing when I ride my bike, I will think of those women who paved the way with their bike fashion patents, and sit up a bit straighter – no corset required.
Longtime readers of my blog know that it started off talking about biking, biking as a woman, biking while trying to stay fashionable, and making biking safer and more accessible. Over the years, my sewing has taken a larger role and some of the biking-as-transportation topics have dropped away. Although there are multiple reasons for the slow shift, lately, the reason why I haven’t been blogging about biking is because I simply haven’t been. Major surgery at the end of March kept me off my bike for almost three months, then emergency surgery three weeks ago put a stop to my slow increase back into the bike commuting world. It’s frustrating to not be able to bike.
This is what my commute should look like – my bike at the rack at work.
I suppose that most people now are thinking, “Oh, so you are driving to work instead.” Well, no. I don’t own a car. I haven’t had a car since 1999. And although The Mechanic now has a truck, A) it’s his hobby truck B) it’s a “vintage” fixer-upper C) it’s a manual transmission. I did learn on a manual transmission as a 15 year old but haven’t driven stick shift in 30-ish years, so I’m not exactly going to beg to borrow his car to get to work. Instead, I’ve been taking the bus. And Lyft. And I’ve been eyeing those dockless e-scooters that are popping up all over the area. I’m telling you, *those* are a game-changer.
Taking the bus to work is actually a pretty pleasant, convenient commute option. There’s a bus stop a few blocks from our house, and two blocks from my office. I’ve always managed to get a seat, although the buses do tend to fill up. I read the news (depressing) and Twitter (also depressing), post on Instagram, delete unwanted emails, write emails, and obsessively plan future sewing projects. Can’t do that on a bike.
Recent bus service updates included a real-time departure screen at my bus stop
Too bad I don’t take a Metrobus because now we all know when they are coming
But it’s not ideal. Buses don’t run all the time, and even when they do, you are still shackled to the timetable. No jumping on the bike and going whenever you feel like it. I don’t know what’s going on lately with the driver but I am getting seasick from all the herky-jerky driving, ugh. And I gotta be honest – there have been a few crazy people on the bus. Nothing like a relaxing ride home with the wild-eyed guy in the back cussing up a storm to no one in particular.
Never seen this before – a screen that rotates through camera views *inside* the bus – smile, your commute is on candid camera!
So I’ve been eyeing the dockless e-scooters like Bird and Lime. These electric scooters function similarly to dockless bikeshare – you download an app, agree to a bunch of stuff, enter a credit card, then use the app to locate the closest scooter. Because they are dockless, they can be found and left anywhere – preferably someplace responsible, please, and not the middle of the sidewalk! In April, the Washington Post reviewer said she couldn’t ever see a reason to use them and wasn’t sure anyone else could either. Well, I’m here to give you a reason.
Current and potential commute options
Post-surgery, I’m not allowed to bike, so even electric bikes, docked or dockless, are not an option. Riding the bus is getting on my nerves. I don’t have a personal car option. Lyft is too expensive for a regular commute and if I wanted to ride with other people in a Lyft Line or UberPool, well, I’ll take the bus. However…. an e-scooter is really appealing. I could just stand and let the scooter’s tiny motor get me where I need to go. And I could wear a pencil skirt.
I think the limited amount of effort required to make an e-scooter work is exactly what could make them so much more accessible by people who can’t or won’t bike. Older people, people with balance issues, people with certain mobility issues, people who don’t want to sweat on their way to work – all possible e-scooter users. We in the transportation industry who want to see fewer cars on the road need to find ways to reach beyond the brave, athletic, committed ones and I think e-scooters could be a solution.
Dockless bike saddle share?
Obviously there are many things that e-scooters can’t do, like haul three kids to school the way an e-cargo bike can, but that’s okay. It’s just one more option in the toolkit of carfree living. Because having a range of transportation options for all your different needs means having the flexibility to live without a car. Now we just need a single app to rule them all, Helsinki-style.
I haven’t yet tried an e-scooter but as they move into Arlington, I’m sure I’ll test one out sooner rather than later. I’ll let you know how it goes. It could be my non-bike car free answer.
Last week I finally started biking to work again, three months after my surgery. It felt really good to clean off the bike and get a few miles in. Rather than jump back into my 8 miles round trip immediately, I broke up the commutes, so I biked TO work on Tuesday, rode the bus home, then to work on Wednesday, then biked FROM work on Wednesday; repeat on Thursday and Friday. My muscles started complaining almost right away on Tuesday, so I’m glad I did that. It doesn’t matter than I only did half day commutes because I was just so happy to be biking again. And it’s not just that I haven’t been able to bike while recovering from surgery, it’s because I hadn’t enjoyed biking to work much at all in the months before the surgery. Frankly, I was privately grateful to have an excuse to *not* bike. Turns out that I am not alone in my loss of bike love. Jools Walker, aka Lady Velo, is a bike blogger, fashionista and expert in London, and someone I greatly admire. She recently blogged about how she had recently biked for the first time in six months. She had lost her love of biking – the thing her persona is so much a part of. Jools wrote a thing called “anhedonia,” which, like her, I hadn’t heard of before. It’s basically losing interest in the things you love and a symptom of major depressive disorder. For her, being able to identify this and connect it to depression and anxiety she’d felt earlier, made something click. Allowing herself to name it also opened her up to wanting to do it again. Jools wrote that she finally realized that she had needed the break from cycling and that she shouldn’t beat herself up for it, and I think she’s right. I also think that I too needed a break from cycling.
I also didn’t want to admit that I didn’t feel like biking, and used my crazy work schedule to excuse my bus riding, then the surgery was the perfect cover. I probably could have started biking again sooner post-op but had a bit of anxiety around it – too many days of reading about the horrible things that can ruin a simple, fun bike ride and I began to get a bit worried that I wouldn’t like it or be too scared. But something snapped, and the desire to bike again suddenly reared up and grabbed me. I’m glad and relieved that it did, because I had four days last week of just *happy* bike rides.
Fauntleroy at work again!
I feel like I’ve had a lot going on so maybe my schedule wore me out and wore me down, and biking was one less thing to worry about. Ironic, considering all the research and personally knowledge about how much happier I am when I’m exercising consistently. But I felt more in control last; there’s much to be said for being able to jump on my bike whenever, rather than racing to the bus stop to catch the bus.
I got a bit more inspiration on Saturday when I went to Clarendon and stumbled upon the Armed Forces Cycling Classic Clarendon Cup pro women’s bike race. I was early for my hair appointment so I watched them do laps for a while. It was inspiring and made me a bit wistful for my road bike and high speed cycling.
My bike commute to work isn’t anything like a pro cycling race but the feeling of euphoria is the same (okay, similar). I’m glad I had all that time off from my bike, because now I can feel free to love it again, and not dread it or feel anxious about not doing it when I felt like I should have been loving it all along. I’m glad we had the break, but now it’s time for summer biking! And Jools – I hope your mojo comes back for you, that the slow burn becomes a steady (manageable) roar that makes you happy and content.
May is my favorite month of the year. I’m a bit biased, of course, since my birthday is in May, as are the birthdays of many friends, my dad (who randomly has the exact same birthday – day and year – as The Mechanic’s dad. What are the chances of that?!??!), and some wedding anniversaries. But those aren’t the only reasons.
1. Birthday Books
Okay, I will start with my birthday and be blatantly self-centered. Aren’t birthday presents fun, though? I got two really cool books this year and I have to share them with you. Okay, one I bought for myself. My copy of Bikes and Bloomers by Kat Jungknickel arrived, hurray (blogged about last month)!
I haven’t gotten too far in yet but was surprised to see that over a century ago, Butterick Pattern Company produced women’s bicycling patterns! I wonder if they can find them in the archives and reprint them. Then I got a surprise package from my friend in Germany, with a wonderful sewing book! Trying to translate both the language and the metrics will be excellent practice to get my language skills back up a bit.
“Now I sew for me” = direct translation. Not sure that’s how a German would say it!
2. National Bike Month
National Bike Month is celebrated across the US every May. During this time, Bike to Work Day and Week is celebrated and National Safe Routes to School hosts Bike and Walk to School Day. Watching all the kids, especially at the elementary level, arrive at school on their small, brightly colored and well-decorated bikes is one of my favorite days of the month and year. Bike to Work Day is a second favorite in May. I love the excitement and energy that surrounds something as fun as biking and it always makes me feel better about my chosen mode of transportation. (Caveat: I’m still healing from surgery and not yet biking <sad face>.)3. Me Made May
Me Made May is a fun challenge started by sewing blogger Zoe to encourage people who sew, crochet, knit, and otherwise craft things to wear, to actually wear them, and to love them. I didn’t actually sign up this year but I’m participating anyway. I like the opportunity to analyze what I’ve made and figure out what the holes might be – and we never have the right thing to wear, amiright?! Beyond realizing how badly I need another way to get photos of my outfits other than my work restroom (eek!), I realize that my weekend wardrobe is a bit lame. And I need more plain white tops. Here’s a sampling of the first two weeks; follow me on Instagram @earletted as I keep it up for the rest of the month.
So basically May is a celebration of two of my favorite things, sewing and biking. What is your favorite month, and why?
PS – Another thing I love about May around here are the azaleas. Gosh they are so pretty! The colors are so vivid and bright and dense, and I just love them.