To Bicycle Bag or Not To Bicycle Bag?

I noticed this morning on Pinterest that GiveLoveCycle has bags out in two new classic colors – camel and black. Quite lovely!

GLC's New Bag Colors - Classic and Classy (image courtesy of the GLC website)

GLC’s New Bag Colors – Classic and Classy (image courtesy of the GLC website)

It got me thinking about mine, which is a special Capital Bikeshare edition red. I’ve had the large bag for a year now, and the small bag for about 10 months. Admittedly, I don’t use them for helmet bags, which is what they were designed for, but I use the small bag as my daily purse – and it’s beginning to look at bit, well, worn out. I’ve begun to think about what I might replace it with, which acknowledging that I don’t really want to replace it at all. And yet, it might be time for something new.

My GLC bags have been all over the world with me in the last year – the large one went to Copenhagen and New York City, and is soon going to Arkansas and Missouri when The Mechanic and I visit his family. The small one has been to San Antonio, Montreal, San Francisco (and on Bikeshare bikes in each of those cities!), Sacramento, Mendocino, and any number of local areas. Really, they are THE best travel bags, along with my fabulous Basil pannier tote. They look classy, too – I can carry my small GLC bag into a corporate client meeting and not feel like a bike-riding hippie with some shapeless, style-less bag. And I love the red!

But what to replace it with? Another GLC bag? I’m not sure what color I would choose. What about a PoCampo bag? They are also firm favorites amongst the bike-stylish, and I do like the colors and patterns they come it. But I’m not sure they look “corporate” enough for daily use. Basil has some nice options as well, but the colors vary – either way too wild for work, or too mundane. I’d kill for a Michaux bag, but they are sadly out of my price range (but those bags inspired my reflective fashion, so some day I will have one!).

I do like the blue striped Po Campo Logan bag (Image courtsey of the Po Campo website)

I do like the blue striped Po Campo Logan bag (Image courtesy of the Po Campo website)

I really love these Michaux bags...

I really love these Michaux bags… (image courtesy of the Michaux website)

There is much to consider when purchasing a new purse – size of course, material, color, number of pockets, how long the handle drop is (too short and you can’t get it on your shoulder, too long and it bangs awkwardly on your side), is it weather-proof? Does it look professional? Will it be office-to-happy hour appropriate? Since I carry one small-ish bag, I want it to move seamlessly through my life.

Anthropologie Bicycle Bag - I can't see myself carrying something like this, even to a client meeting

Anthropologie Bicycle Bag – I can’t see myself carrying something like this, even to a client meeting

I *adore* these Dooney Burke bags from last year, but I don't think they are big enough

I *adore* these Dooney Burke bags from last year, but I don’t think they are big enough – and they aren’t available anymore

I guess don’t really need a bike-specific purse, because I put it in my front basket anyway, rather than fasten it to the bike in some way. Picking something non-bike specific opens up a huge range of options, to be sure.

Dozens and dozens of options on! (image courtesy of

Dozens and dozens of options on! (image courtesy of

But if I am going to spend money on a product, I would like to support a bicycle company, especially one that is designing women-specific products. What are other stylish, professional, affordable options? Do I go the conventional route, or find something “bikey”?

Perfect fit!

Perfect fit!


National Women’s Bicycling Forum Recap

The day after I got back from NYC, I attended the National Women’s Bicycling Forum, part of the National Bicycle Summit. It was exciting to be part of any sort of bike event, but even better that it was women-focused. Getting women on bikes is a big challenge anywhere, even here in the DC metro area, where so many people bike. Although I occasionally see women on bikes, it’s mostly men in spandex (yes, the MAMIL we always read about!), especially on the bike trails.WOmens bike forum

The National Women’s Bicycling Forum, sponsored by The League of American Bicyclists, had some powerhouse speakers, namely Georgena Terry, of Terry Bicycles, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, and New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Kahn.  The breakout sessions also had some presenters whom I’ve known about from the Internet and Twitter stalking following, such as Robin Bylenga of Pedal Chic, in Greenville, SC, Susan Otcenas of, and Martina Fahrner of Clever Cycles in Portland, OR. The pop-up shop offered great opportunities to meet women and cycle chic companies I’ve followed and known about, like Elly Blue, Bird Industries, Cleverhood, Vespertine, GiveLoveCycle, Po Campo, Iva Jean, and Nutcase. I admit that half the attraction to going was to see some of these product lines in person!

I'd really like the Iva Jean skirt!

I’d really like the Iva Jean skirt!

The most interesting takeaway in terms of why we were there was that the message itself is mixed. Georgena Terry mentioned that she thinks women who ride bikes want to be treated like men, not as something special (I forget her exact quote and it was sort of an off-remark, not a strong point). But then in the panel titled “The Bike Shop Barrier,” the presenters all talked about how to make their bike shops more inviting to women – special treatment. So which is it? Although listening to Robin Blyenga of Pedal Chic talk about her crystal chandeliers in her women’s bike shop, and Zack Stender of Huckleberry Bicycles talk about the wood floor and custom tables for product made me want to shop there – they both have that boutique look that we, I confess, swoon for. Martina Fahrner of Clever Cycles suggested we think of bike mechanics as “computer geeks without the fortune” – they have the same attributes as computer geeks – detail oriented, focused, etc. Kind of a brilliant comparison, I think! And one panelist said that women respond to ads that inspire them and show them the goals they want to achieve, contrary to men who like the aggressive competitive ads. So I guess the question is, how to balance the line between our own unique motivations and interests, and moving away from being a “niche” market and mainstream?

Bikes as computers? Fewer pieces, same skill! (image courtesy of Merrian Weber)

Bikes as computers? Fewer pieces, same skill! (image courtesy of Merriam Webster)

But part of that niche market was why I was at the event – I wanted to shop! I had seen the vendor list ahead of time, and planned on getting the Vespertine skinny belt, which I’ve worn everyday so far. On a whim I grabbed one of the cute reflective flower bracelets as well – so cute! I admired Cleverhood‘s fantastic capes (I totally want one of these!), and then we got into a long conversation about fabric and designing and suppliers, which was very exciting for me, especially having just returned from fabric shopping in New York. I love talking shop with other designers! I have to confess, I was flattered by the attention my dress gained. A few women even came up to me because they recognized it from my blog or someplace else. I wish I could decide if I want to make a business out of it. If only I could find a company to just hire me to design and shop fabric!

Road ID and Vespertine Blossom! What do I do for a hobby?!

Road ID and Vespertine Blossom! What do I do for a hobby?!

The whole day gave me much to think about, and then, as I was leaving, there was one more thing – the other vendors were setting up for the beginning of the National Bicycle Summit, which was kicking off that evening. I was a bit insulted that they weren’t there all day, so that we could have seen them as well. I was especially interested in the bicycle counter, and would have liked to have more information on that. Did the League think we women wouldn’t be interested in the more “serious” stuff? That we’d only want to see the clothing and fun helmets and the jewelry? Here we were, once again being treated as a niche market, catered to in a different way. And who’s to say that there weren’t women at the Summit who might have wanted to buy a Cleverhood cape or a GiveLoveCycle bag or bracelet?

J'adore Cleverhood!

J’adore Cleverhood!

Perhaps I should be grateful that there is a Women’s Forum at all, and shouldn’t grouse about the way women who bike are treated. We are a diverse group, possibly more diverse than men, and have our own needs and desires, I admit. But that doesn’t mean that we need everything dumbed down, pink, sparkly, and girlie. If women really do mean business, (and we do!), then treat us with proper respect, show us the benefit of the doubt, and give us everything!

The Arrival

Today was a day of bike fashion!

It all started with an early birthday present from my parents (yay Mom and Dad!). I loved that my mom knew, without us ever discussing it, that I liked this necklace.

Bicycle Necklace from Etsy

Bicycle Necklace from Etsy

I was wearing it when I met with some colleagues and the designers from GiveLoveCycle, and the designers immediately zoomed in on it. These two ladies have designed some great tote bags with the express purpose of holding bike helmets in stylish and professional ways (two different sizes, and both can be worn as backpacks, as well as carried as totes).



One of the women is a huge fan of Capital Bikeshare, but realized the biggest problem of bike sharing systems: helmets. What do you do with a helmet after you get to a meeting, or what if you didn’t plan on biking yet find yourself needing a CaBi with no helmet? Voila, you have one in your super-stylish bag!  The quality of the sample bags they showed us is really lovely, nice materials and hardware, and you can tell alot of thought has gone into the design. I was pleased to hear that they are having the bags made in Manhattan, by a company that works for Coach and other high-end companies. Having worked in the Garment District when I work in theatrical wardrobe, I know how so many businesses went down because they couldn’t afford the rents. Keeping the work there is important. But I digress. GiveLoveCycle doesn’t have a website yet but you can check out their Facebook page. Stay tuned, I know there will be more from me on GiveLoveCycle in the future!

But the most exciting news from today was getting my Merrell Evera MJ shoes. Created by Merrell specifically for biking, these comfortable heels are cute but I’m not 100% sold on the “biking” specifics the company promotes.

Here is their list:

• Cement construction provides lightweight durability
• Full gain leather and Lycra® upper
• Perforated pigskin lining treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution
• Reflective detailing for a safe ride
• Comfort padding at strategic areas of the upper

• Pigskin covered Merrell Remember Me Foam™ memory foam footbed treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution
• Stability shank for efficient pedal push power
• Merrell CycleTread™ Technology offers rigid midfoot pedal power and flexible forefoot hiking performance
• Compression molded EVA footframe for stability and comfort
• Merrell Evera Sole / Sticky Rubber

Merrell Evera MJ

Merrell Evera MJ

Here is my list:

1. The reflective details “for a safe ride” are so minimal that you’d be lucky for anyone to see them. It’s just on the Velcro tab, that’s it. Not on the back of the shoe, nor anything bigger or more integrated into the design.

Reflective trim - the one small spot

2. The “stability shank” and Merrell CycleTread™ Technology which “offers rigid midfoot pedal power and flexible forefoot hiking performance,” means they expect you to hook your heel over the pedal.  This is a less efficient way of pedaling, because you simply aren’t using the full strength of your leg. At least I find that to be true. Besides, when your foot is in clip pedals, the straps I have on Fauntleroy, or clipless pedals, they all position the foot with the ball of the foot on the pedal.

Pedaling with the ball of the foot

3. Style-wise, I love this gray color, and ordered this style because the other style didn’t come in gray (or red either, not sure why). HOWEVER – the elastic on the top sort of screams “little old lady shoe”! Some of my colleagues gave me weird looks when I went to show off the shoes this afternoon, and I know why… I don’t know why Merrell went with this design, though.

Little old lady elastic

Okay, okay, I wore them home from work today and I really haven’t had a chance to play around with them more than that. I definitely appreciated the signature Merrell Sticky Sole, because my shoes stayed on the pedals properly; so many of my business shoes have slicker soles that slide right off the pedals, or would if I didn’t use the straps.

Love the Merrell Sticky Sole!

That being said, I’m pretty happy with them. I love the color, and they were very comfortable to walk around in. The heel is not too high, but still looks dressy/professional.  I’m sure I’ll get plenty of use out of them this summer. I may consider the Evera Band in black, too. But the jury is still out on how these as such great cycling heels.

I will be back in a few weeks with a report on how they’ve held up. In the meantime, I welcome other opinions on women’s heels and biking in them!