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

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!



Product Preview: Bicycle Wrap Skirt

I really had planned on being able to do a more in-depth review of this fun skirt, but I haven’t had the time and since the Kickstarter has now launched, I want to get something out there. So please excuse the brevity and poor quality of some of the photos. Stay tuned though! This probably won’t be the only review of this skirt!

I don’t remember exactly how I found about about Lara Neece and her company, Forest and Fin. I did buy my sister-in-law one of her tee shirts for Christmas last year, but that was *after* I read about her plans to design a Bicycle Wrap Skirt. Always interested in helping out designers, especially one doing bike fashion, I reached out to her, and we met for the first time at Northside Social, when she was in town, far away from Savannah, GA. I lured her to the Women’s Bike Summit to introduce her to some people, and have stayed in touch. At last, her Kickstarter launched this week! I’m so excited for her!

Here is Lara herself, modeling the skirt in dreamy Savannah

Here is Lara herself, modeling the skirt in dreamy Savannah

But about the skirt – It’s seriously the perfect summer bike skirt. Lara focuses on earth-friendly materials and production, and come up with a linen/cotton blend that is machine-washable. It has a high waist that is flattering on almost every woman, but the best part is the wrap. How many of you have wrap skirts and dresses that expose way more leg than you want? Yup, we’ve all been there, and some of us are not comfortable with that kind of exposure. But the Forest and Fin Bicycle Wrap Skirt wraps and wraps and wraps! So much coverage! It has some clever hidden fastenings in the hem to keep it from flying up, but it’s probably not necessary.

Wearing the Bicycle Wrap Skirt in Shepherdstown, WV

Wearing the Bicycle Wrap Skirt in Shepherdstown, WV

Other cool features include a hidden side pocket and two different lengths, a regular and a tall, which is 2″ longer. She has come up with a fun way to clip the skirt a bit on the sides, so if you don’t like the skirt fluttering around while you are biking, you can rein it in. The detachable pouch is adorable and yes, fits an iPhone 6.

More lovely Savannah shots of Forest and Fin models

More lovely Savannah shots of Forest and Fin models

Lara sent me a prototype (in the tall length) to wear on Bike to Work Day, a few weeks ago. Alas, it was a bit cooler than expected/hoped, so I had to put a jacket on over it. But I modeled it for a few women who stopped to chat. Then I wore it while I biked to several different schools around Arlington, so I had the opportunity to get some real testing done.

Then I continued to wear it when we drove to Shepherdstown, before the CASA River Ride. We took our road bikes and our commuter bikes, and scooted around town on our commuter bike, so the skirt was the perfect thing to wear that evening. Alas, we were having so much fun we didn’t get too many photos, and the ones we did get are blurry. I’m sharing them anyway, but with apologies….

Here are my initial thoughts:

  1. I love it. It’s so full that it feels romantic and summery. I love full skirts, so I’m totally a fan.
  2. As I mentioned earlier, the wrap is so full, I didn’t feel I needed any other “modesty” help, but I like the side clips and the sneaky snap tape. While biking my errands, I tried wearing it every way, unclipped, clipped, snapped and clipped… The clips do make a huge difference, since I was afraid the skirt would flap into the wheels (if I didn’t have skirt guards, at least). Looking at the photos later, I realized that the tall length is still short enough that it wouldn’t get interfere with the bike.
  3. The side pocket is great, and I love the little pouch, but I’m not sure I’d wear that too often. I usually always have a purse or at least my front basket to carry stuff.
  4. The tall length was perfect on me; I wouldn’t want it shorter. But it would be super cute shorter, as well. (I think it made my legs look good!)
  5. I wore my Bikie Girl Bloomers under this, but they really aren’t necessary. I never worried that it would blow up. I just like to wear “bloomers.”
  6. If you live anywhere that is humid in the summer, this is the garment for you!
  7. I support Lara’s sustainability goals, and want to support this product in part because of that. I know it’s being made in this country, with eco-friendly fabrics and dyes, and they will donate part of the post-Kickstarter profiles to ocean and forest conservation organizations. Part of practicing what you preach. I say Amen!

I’m not getting paid to say this, but I strongly encourage you to head on over to the Bicycle Wrap Skirt Kickstarter page and pre-order now! Forest and Fin Bicycle Wrap Skirt Press Photo 2

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



Bike Clothes Shopping with REI Dividends

This past weekend, The Mechanic and I found ourselves (along with everyone else in Arlington and Fairfax) at REI, 2014 member dividends in hand. Neither of us had earned much, but combined with the members-only coupon, I was definitely ready to spend! You will not be surprised when I say that I headed straight to the women’s bike clothing section and swooped up several things I’ve been studying on the website to try on.

I would like to apologize for the lousy pictures I took in the dressing room! I didn’t really think about it – the staging is sloppy, the lighting was atrocious, and could I have at least smiled?! Oh, and trying on stuff all day made me feel bad about my shape – I hated the way I looked in just about everything. I almost don’t want to share the photos but think it’s good to show what stuff looks like on a real person. Perhaps you are super athletic and never worry about your fat arms or your thunder thighs (which I had long before I started biking, btw) – but some of us do. So for the rest of us, these photos are for you!

I like REI’s Novara bike clothing for women. It’s fairly cute, has enough reflective details to make me happy, it’s usually made out of some stretchy, moisture-wicking material and it is fairly reasonably priced. Let me show you what I tried (again, remember, bad photos!):

Novara Glencliff Bike Top and Novara Brightwood Bike Skirt

Novara Glencliff Bike Top and Novara Brightwood Bike Skirt

First up – the Novara Brightwood Bike Skirt and Glencliff Bike Top. I really liked the skirt; it fit well, the fabric was nice and the pockets were deep enough. It felt short, but it’s no shorter than bike shorts. I didn’t like it enough to buy it and probably won’t, unless it goes on super-sale. The Glencliff top is cute but the sleeves are really narrow and made my arms look like overstuffed sausages. That will never happen.

The Novara Ardenwald Bike Top was really cute, even though I have an aversion to things with bikes printed on them. I like the way this fit, and honestly, the penny farthing print won me over. I tried it in a size Small because they didn’t have a Medium in stock, and it fit well enough that I’d probably buy it in that size. The fabric is pretty lightweight, but in the summer, that might be just perfect. I like the reflective shoulder tabs, too.  Novara Pants BlueThe Novara Tuxedo Park Bike Pants were not to be – I wanted to like them, since I always have a hard time finding pants I love, but it didn’t happen. I tried on sizes 8 and 10, and the 10 fit better over my curves, but the stretch fabric was comfortable and forgiving in either size. You can’t tell but I was trying to show the reflective belt loop on the waist. The inside cuff has reflective trim too, so you can roll them up for some added flash. I wasn’t excited. I want summer pants that are not super tight fitted. Guess I’ll have to make lots of drawstring pants!

I actually really loved the Novara Wicker Park Bike Top and bought it. On the website, the cut looked weird to me, slightly boxy, maybe too short, I don’t know, it just seemed off. But once I put it on, I was hooked. Okay, part of it is that it’s striped, and next to floral prints, stripes are my favorite pattern. The cut is indeed a bit boxy; I almost bought the Small instead of the Medium, but it was over an inch shorter and I prefer the longer length. The moisture-wicking fabric feels nice as well.  The reflective piping down the back seam and in the cap sleeves only made me want it more. I wish the neck was a bit lower, but the pink edging and buttons are a fun touch. I can see myself getting a ton of wear out of this.

Terry Transit Bike Top

Terry Transit Bike Top (geez, just smile, will you?!)

The last thing I tried on was the Terry Transit Bike Top. I wasn’t in love with the color, but liked the fabric and cut. Alas, the fact that the placket pulled and wouldn’t lay flat annoyed me, but the neckline is sophisticated, and I can see this being a really great business top in the summer.

I also almost bought the CycleAware Tour de Joy handlebar bag in silver – it is intended for kids, but it’s the perfect date night purse! Metallic purses are always fun in the summer.

CycleAware Tour de Joy Handlebar Purse (for girls)

CycleAware Tour de Joy Handlebar Purse (for girls)

Waiting in the mail for me was my lovely red striped Ligne 8 top, ordered last week from Bike Pretty. I’ve wanted this for a long time, and now that Bike Pretty is offering it with free shipping, I couldn’t resist! Although she has styled hers with a French beret, mine will go perfectly with my vintage J. Crew linen sailor middy jacket!

Striped shirts on our striped duvet cover - yes, I like stripes!

Striped shirts on our striped duvet cover – yes, I like stripes!

ICYMI January

How is January already over?! Or as good as – didn’t we just celebrate New Years?!

I was busy this month, despite my best efforts, and felt like I should share some non-bloggy things. You already know about our trip to NYC and my American Girl Doll adventure, but that’s not all I did this month. Here’s a breakdown:

The Mechanic and I also visited the Library of Congress, to see Magna Carta (one never says the Magna Carta, only Magna Carta, apparently). Not only was the 1215 Lincoln Cathedral Magna Carta on display, the exhibit followed the different ways Magna Carta, and its ideals, evolved over time – including popular culture! I’m really glad we made time to see that.

I love my Walnut Studiolo “Little Lifter” so much that I wrote a review of it for The Discerning Cyclist. Seriously, if you have to carry a bike up and down stairs on a regular basis, this might be just the thing you want. It makes a huge difference to me.

Staircase of Doom - thanks to my Lifter to make this easier!

Staircase of Doom – thanks to my Lifter for making this easier!

We had our first snowfall, but thankfully have dodged a major storm. I dislike biking in the snow, or more specifically, anything slippery, so I haven’t biked much with these little snowstorms. Snow 2

Our guppies had baby guppies. Lots of them. And they all seem to have survived. I wasn’t really expecting that, and as much as I’m enjoying watching them grow, my teeny 2.5 gallon tank can’t hold 16 guppies and a snail. And the possibility of more. So I’m on a fish tank redesign hunt.

Some of the baby guppies - about twice their original size now!

Some of the baby guppies – about twice their original size now!

Spectre Upside Down

Seriously, Spectre the Mystery Snail is the best pet ever – yes, he was climbing (?) down the leaf upside down!

We saw “Diner” at Signature Theatre in Shirlington, and really enjoyed it. An actor friend said she’s heard rumors that the production is Broadway bound. That would be a true triumph for the Signature! I’ll be watching for that. Diner Signature Theatre

The 2015 National Bike Summit is in March, and I’m hoping to be able to go again. This year, the first day is the women-focused day, which is nice to have it as part of the event, rather than the day before. Two of the sessions that interest me the most are “Powerbrokering for Women in Transportation and Advocacy” and “The Future of the Women’s Market.” I am also amused that one of the sessions is “How to Talk to an Engineer… and Be Persuasive.” I know it’s about bike infrastructure, but maybe it will have tips for me and The Mechanic! They’ve released an initial list of vendors for the women’s pop up shop, too. I am excited to see that Tandem NY will be there with their skirt weight, and I hope that Bikie Girl Bloomers will have her bloomers in a print I want. (For some reason, I can’t find the list of vendors on their website; I got the list in an email. Inconvenient to share.)

Bikie Girl Bloomers in Crazy Daisy (image from Bikie Girl Bloomers website)

Bikie Girl Bloomers in Crazy Daisy (image from Bikie Girl Bloomers website)


I was pretty happy to see that one of my blog posts inspired another bike blogger to try the reflective yarn: check out Red Riding’s projects! I hope her knee problems heal up before the nice weather arrives. (Don’t you just love her all-yellow bike?!)I’ve got a few sewing projects lined up, to keep me busy while I’m hoping for warmer, drier weather. I am ready to get out and get biking, but the cold temps and slick bike lanes/roads don’t inspire me to leave my cozy warm apartment. Maybe in February.

ICYMI: Jeans, Australia and Knitting

December is always a busy month, so I want to catch you up on all the other things going on other than my blog posts. Between the blog, Twitter and Instagram, it is hard to keep up, I realize, hence this ICYMI (In Case You Missed It) post. Highlights of the month were the Ligne 8 jeans, two packages from Australia, some sewing and lots of knitting from my mom.

  •  I reviewed the Ligne 8 Aubrey jeans for The Discerning Cyclist. I quite like these jeans, and will most likely buy them in the spring (since I had to send them back). I thought that the quality is really nice, and it makes me want to try out some of their other stuff. I really want the Camille red stripe long sleeve tee. I can see this being a really useful part of my wardrobe.
  • I got a fun package of reflective trim and zippers from Susan at Measure Twice/Cut Once, in Sydney. We have connected through the amazing world of social media, and she’s “in the business,” and able to send me some stuff. I can’t wait to play with these! I’m not sure what I’ll do with everything, but I have an idea for the glow-in-the-dark zippers already.
  • Another social media friend, Oanh at Unique Schmuck, coordinated a reflective fabric purchase, woo hoo! Oanh bikes and sews in Melbourne, and also makes clothing with reflective trim. I don’t know how she found the reflective fabric at King-Tech, but luckily for us, they were willing to sell her some remnants, which meant we got decent size chunks of some great fabric! Again, not sure what I’ll do with all this, but it will be fun to compare notes with Oanh as we go. Don’t worry though, I’m already getting ideas…
  • I retrieved my sewing machine and serger from the repair show. Neither were actually repaired, so I didn’t pay anything, but they weren’t even cleaned either. #annoyed. Immediately I made my first ever infinity scarf, and cranked out the skirt I’ve been dying to make for a while. I’m not in love with the scarf, since the fabric that seemed really cool is too limp to hang properly, but the skirt came out great and I can’t wait to wear it! I had hoped to finish it before The Mechanic and I went out to dinner on Christmas Eve, but I got sick and finished it Christmas Day instead. It will probably get its own post in early January, so check back for that.
  • My mom has done some fantastic knitting for us! The stuff she made with the Red Heart reflective yarn she sent earlier in the month, but then surprised us both with some lovely things for Christmas. I got a beaded shawl, which I love, and socks in my favorite color, while she made The Mechanic a hat and scarf. She even added reflective stuff to his hat, so while he is walking to and from work, he’ll have a bit of reflective detail on him. She makes the knitting look so easy that I’m tempted to take it up, but I still have bad memories of trying to learn it as a kid. I think I should stick to sewing.


  • Last but not least, The Mechanic got me the Christmas present I asked for – a nicer handle for my bike. No, there is technically nothing wrong with the 550 cord wrapped handle me made for me when we moved into our apartment… but there are nicer options out there. And now I have a lovely black leather “Little Lifter” handle from Walnut Studiolo. It matches my black leather handle bar wraps. Tres chic!

It’s hard to believe that 2014 is almost over; my, it has been a momentous year! Between The Mechanic graduating and starting a new job, our wedding, and our honeymoon, it has been very exciting! I think we are both looking forward to a slightly more low-key 2015. I’m not sure if that will happen, but I’m busy setting some goals anyway! Have you started your list yet?


Product Preview: Target Bike Tote Bag

Target is one of my favorite stores, but it just rose a notch in my esteem, after discovered a Target-brand bike bag! Imagine my surprise at finding cute tote panniers on an end rack in the sports section, and then discovering that they were on clearance – half off $20! What?! Not that I need a new pannier, but heck, it was cute, it was the right price – how could I not buy it?!

Although I love stripes and ditsy florals equally, the pink and blue is one of my favorite color combinations.

Although I love stripes and ditsy florals equally, the pink and blue is one of my favorite color combinations.

I haven’t actually used it yet, which is why this is more of a preview than a review, but I wanted to share this as soon as possible, in case anyone else is interested in buying a bag of their own (or buying it for someone as a Christmas present!).

It is a pretty decent size, although I prefer a more vertical shape, rather than the horizontal of this bag. I was able to fit a package fully into the bag, and made use of the pleated zip top, which adds a few more inches of height. Smart! As you can see, it is fairly comparable in size to my other panniers.

Notice a theme in my bike bags?!

Notice a theme in my bike bags?!

After playing with it for a while, I realized that there is a strap in the front pocket that can be used to hook over the bag and clip onto the rack. Because it is adjustable, this means I can fit it over tall things I’m transporting, in addition to making the bag a bit more secure. This is a pretty cool feature that my other bags don’t have.

The bag also fits in my front basket, which isn’t a requirement of any sort, just a nice feature. Target Bag 6It has pretty sturdy hooks on the back, with a zip panel that pulls up over them. The hooks are sturdy enough that I really had to pull to get the bag off the rack! This is the first time I have had this sort of hook cover, and I’m glad I have a skirt guard, because I might worry about the flap catching on the spokes of the wheel. Maybe it wouldn’t ever get that close, however.

It is lacking any sort of reflectivity, and has no inside pockets, which isn’t a huge drawback. I’ll have to figure out how to add some reflective trim without clashing with the design. Excuse to buy a new reflector from, perhaps?

See the reflective tape on these other bags? And nothing on the new bag. Yet.

See the reflective tape on these other bags? And nothing on the new bag. Yet.

Inside - no internal pockets

Inside – no internal pockets

This is probably not a bag I would use in rainy weather because that pink nylon doesn’t seem to offer any sort of water resistance. I probably won’t use this much in the winter and save it for the spring, but it’s cheeriness might be just what the winter needs. Now that it is officially winter!

I guess I’ll report back after using it a while to let you know how it’s holding up. I couldn’t find it on the Target website, by the way, so I hope Target doesn’t consider this a failed product idea and not repeat the concept. I think it is a good example of how mainstream bike transportation is becoming, for a huge retailer like Target to produce something like this. Maybe if we all rush to stores to buy what’s left, they will see the interest, and design new ones for next summer! I might just rush back to get another one anyway – can’t beat the price! Target Bag 13

Books for Girls, Not Necessarily Bike-Related

One of the fun perks of being married is that now I have a niece. I’ve known her for several years already, of course, and watching her change to the very grown-up age of eight has been fun. Of course, having always wanted to be an aunt, I get very excited around Christmas, because I can think of all kinds of fun things to get her, and it gives me an excuse to buy stuff at the American Girl Doll store (I can’t really justify buying clothes for my American Girl Doll, so this is a good substitute). However, I want to make sure she gets some smart, thinking-girl gifts as well.

Conveniently, my boss recently recommended A Mighty Girl, a website billed as “The world’s largest collection of books, toys and movies for smart, confident and courageous girls.” What a wonderful find! I love all the stuff, and not only does it makes me want some of the fun science kits, my reading wish list has just grown out of control. I continually strive to be a smart, confident and courageous girl, so even I find their recommendations inspiring.

A Mighty Girl, one of my new favorite websites! (Image from the website)

A Mighty Girl, one of my new favorite websites! (Image from the website)

My favorite books span my decades, and I still return to them when I’m feeling stressed. Their challenges and triumphs remind me that even though they and their challenges are fictional, they overcome their challenges with strength and humor and grace. Frances Hodgson Burnett’s book A Little Princess was my childhood comfort story, and no, I have not seen any movie adaption, because I don’t to ruin my mental images of the story (I also remain terribly loyal to the illustrations of my 1975 copy). Sara Crewe’s story is definitely one that few of us can directly relate to (diamond mines – I wish!), but the fact remains that she stayed gracious and positive and creative throughout her personal struggles. I think we can all learn lessons from that. Robin McKinley’s book The Blue Sword captured my early adulthood fantasies the way that no other book had, not even The Lord of the Rings. Harry Crewe, the woman warrior destined to wield the Blue Sword, was tall, blonde and independent, and the story of her birthright inspired me to be strong and athletic and powerful. And discovered maybe a decade ago by my mother, Elizabeth Peters’ character Amelia Peabody was not only a Victorian Egyptologist and lived part of the year in Egypt, but also over the course of several books and several decades, she solved murder mysteries, was thrown into at least one dire circumstance per book, was married to an eminent Egyptologist, raised a mysterious (yet sexy!) son, and strong-armed everyone she met into doing what she wished them to do. And in the best possible humor, whether intended or not!

These books may not seem very “grown up” to some people, but I love creative, well-written stories with strong female characters. I’m also looking forward to reading a new book, The Number 7, by new author Jessica Lidh. Written for teen readers, the book’s mystery, Holocaust past, and Swedish history during World War II make it of interest to me. It also helps that Jessica Lidh is my friend April’s sister! April has told me in the past about the book, and I’ve been awaiting its publication – this month! I haven’t read it yet, but it was on my list to Santa, so hopefully that will be next month’s reading. I can’t wait! The Number 7I don’t know if my niece will end up with the same love of books that I have, but I will do my best to make sure she at least gets exposure to strong girl stories. There are so many out there, all collected onto one website, that there is no way she should be at a loss for good role models as she gets older. One of her Christmas presents is a book listed on A Mighty Girl’s website. It isn’t Bicycle Madness, but if anyone wants a gift hint, well, here’s the link!

Do any of you have favorite “mighty girl” books or stories? Where did you get your inspiration from when you were young? Or did you find your might later in life? And what tips would you offer to an aunt of a young girl?

Only one of several packed bookcases - I can't help it, I love books!

Only one of several packed bookcases – I can’t help it, I love books!

Lighting Up the Night with Monkey Lights

That’s right, I said Monkey Lights! If you aren’t already familiar with the company MonkeyLectric, the onset of winter and early sunsets is the perfect time to become so. Founded in 2008 just outside of San Francisco, CA, the company focuses on making bike lights fun. Not intended to replace the front and back lights of bicycles, their “cutting edge digital art platform” has fancy electronic components with designs and patterns created by their designers to make bikes more visible, and to put a smile on everyone’s face. The lights are made in California, and were thoroughly tested by the company themselves, who are all avid bike riders and involved in the Bay Area bike community.

When I was offered the chance to review the MonkeyLectric M204 Monkey Light, I jumped at the chance. Adding a touch more visibility in creative and colorful ways?! Yes please! I’ve seen these lights before, and love all the fun designs you can create in lights on your bike wheel. I’m not sure I’d go for pink elephants, eyeballs, flames, or skull-and-crossbones, but I still think they are really fun.

All the different patterns for the M232 MonkeyLights

All the different patterns for the M232 MonkeyLights (fancier than what I have!)

Okay, I admit it – I was a bit intimidated when the set arrived and I unpacked everything. The key piece, the light board, looks much more high tech than anything I normally deal with, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to figure it out on my own. I read the instructions and watched the installation video a few times, but had The Mechanic on stand-by, just in case.

All the gadgetry that came with the light, including the anxiety-provoking light, center.

All the gadgetry that came with the light, including the anxiety-provoking light, center.

Turns out, I managed fine on my own. It was a bit tricky trying to get my pliers between the spokes, and I did need The Mechanic to help me cut the zip ties, but other than that, I did it on my own!

Not patient enough to go outside and see how it works, I had to test it out immediately. But naturally, I did go outside with it.MonkeyLectric 4

I really can’t tell when I’m on the bike how well it reads, but during one evening commute, a gentleman rolled up next to me on his bike and said, “Love your lamp! That makes you really visible!” The Mechanic also said how bright the light is from the side (he was taking video, so he’d know!), so I guess it works better than I can see. I have used it during my morning commutes, especially if it is overcast, but at night it is obviously more visible – and the most useful. I have been testing all the different light combinations, to see which I like best, but haven’t quite decided. I think it would be fun to color-coordinate the light to whatever I’m wearing. Be sure to watch to the end of the video below, because that’s when the lights start to do some crazy things!

I haven’t installed the metal “anti-theft strap” yet, because I was waiting to see if the light would slide on the spokes, but it hasn’t. I now feel pretty confident that I won’t need to adjust the placement of either the light or the batter pack, so I’ll probably add that strap soon. I’ve biked in the rain and light snow so far, with no negative impact, which is good, since the company says it is waterproof and can be used in all weather.

Overall, I am pretty happy with this light. The potential is there for this to be a gateway light to the bigger, fancier set up, but I will see how we get through the winter first, then decide. Bunnies on my bike wheels would make me pretty happy…