Today’s Dick and Jane Bike Commute

On my way to work this morning, I felt like this:

“Argh! I’m dirty and aggressive because I’m a boy!”

On my bike ride home, I felt more like this:

“What IS she wearing?!”

Let me explain.


  • I usually bike the Custis Trail to Ballston then take surface streets to work, then the reverse on my way home. Because I didn’t do any riding this weekend, I decided to take the Custis the entire way, because it is hillier, and thus a bit more challenging.
  • Because I knew it would be hot and sticky, and that I would shower at work, I wore shorts, my favorite moisture-wicking tee shirt, and sporty shoes.
  • I don’t know how else to explain it, but dressed down, cruising up and down the hills on the trail, and picking up some decent speed, made me feel like a boy. I felt tough, aggressive, strong… on a powder blue “sit up and beg” bike with Dutch pullback handles. It doesn’t matter what I looked like, it is what I felt like. And I liked it. I like the speed, I like the toughness, I love standing on the pedals as I bounce over the rough asphalt. This is why I think I will like mountain biking, even if I tackle it slowly and cautiously. Once I get comfortable, I’m free to be tough. And feel like a boy. Why is it that being “tough” and dirty equals acting like a boy?


  • Because it was hot and sticky, I rode my usual commute home, so I would have a kinder, gentler ride.
  • I left my business clothes on, as I usually do after work. I see no reason to change – either I’m going straight home, where I will change anyway, or I’m going out, and I want to look nice.
  • As I pulled up to one traffic light, I noticed another woman on her bike slightly ahead of me. She was riding a cute vintage looking white bicycle; I never got close enough to see what brand. I’m guessing an Electra. Matching fenders and rack, with what looked like the Ballard Market Pannier. She was also wearing a short black skirt and a cute ruffled white top, and ballet flats. Her helmet looked like one of the cute Nutcase “Street” helmets, with an all-over pattern, but again, I didn’t get a good look.
  • As I passed her, I caught myself eying her the same way women eye each other in bars, in stores, in restaurants, everywhere. Comparing what she was wearing (and riding) to what I was wearing (and riding). If you don’t know what I mean, ask a woman. Women always seem to compare themselves, and in fact, dress more for each other than for men (as if men will be able to tell where our clothes, shoes, and purses come from, duh!). It totally made me think of the 1939 movie “The Women.”*

    Dick and Jane in Stereotypical Roles

I laughed at myself – such a complex personality ride for a short 9-mile RT commute! Very Dick (if he was into mountain biking) and Jane (all girl) – if that is an appropriate bipolar comparison. Jekyll & Hyde didn’t seem right, since it’s not good versus evil, or even two personalities of someone of the same sex. I’m not the only woman to have this dual personality, am I?!

“My nail color? It’s ‘Jungle Red,’ dearie.”

Maybe it’s not feminist enough, but I like being able to label one part of me “boyish” and another part of me “girlie.” I’m not a tomboy, although I did like climbing trees as a kid, and like hiking and so on. But I’m also not one of those women who refuses to leave the house without a full face of makeup. I think it is okay to straddle both worlds – I do the same with other things as well. I’m creative but love structure; I need some repetition but get bored easily. I love short skirts, and clunky boots. Short hair and lots of jewelry. And so on…

Maybe this is why I’m trying to combine my two sides with bicycle fashion – sporty yet stylish. And all me!

*If you haven’t seen the movie, I strongly recommend it. It’s all about men, without a single man in the movie. It’s all about women being catty to each other, and learning about themselves. All while wearing Jungle Red nail polish. Brilliant!

Decisions, Decisions

After all my agonizing over fabric choices, I ordered the first option, and it arrived yesterday. And while I love it, I don’t love it for my dress.

(Are you admiring my Target Liberty of London duvet cover too?)

So after some debating, and a chat with a fellow bike fashion buddy, I looked again at the JoAnn Fabrics website.

The fabric I’d loved from much earlier was on sale! I decided I should just go get it instead, so I met The Mechanic after work, and off we went to JoAnns.

However… once in the fabric store… I saw a million different prints I loved! Well, maybe not a million, but several. It’s all so pretty! And I ended up with something totally different.

It’s an Indonesian batik print, full of blues and some gray, and some olive-brown-bronze color that is really great. It just “speaks” to me as a fabric appropriate to this dress pattern. It is so much more interesting, yet muted, complex, and seems like it will be very versatile. I can wear either my grey Merrell Bicycling heels or my bronze heeled sandals! Love having options.

It’s being washed now so I can iron it and take it to work tomorrow, to take advantage of the lovely large cutting table, I mean, work room table. Since I won’t be watching Germany play Spain for Sunday’s Euro Cup 2012 finale (%$#@@$*), I will have time to get started on this dress.

PS – this did end up being a pricey design choice though. The fabric I’d seen on the website was on sale, but naturally the one I wanted was not, at $12.99 a yard. Four yards, plus lining, interfacing, thread, and a zipper, means that this dress so far costs me $72, plus the cost of the pattern. I won’t include the first fabric – hopefully I’ll find something to do with that next!


Sewing Project, Part 1

It’s been several years since I’ve pulled out the sewing machine and the serger, but I’ve publicly sworn to make a bicycling skirt to wear on Bike to Work Day, so I guess I’d better get to it!

Because I believe in bicycle-friendly clothing that can be worn in an office (business casual, not a casual office where everyone wears jeans every day), I’ve thought of several items that can cover both categories. Some of them are highly complicated, and I won’t be tackling any time soon. But a knee-length, half-circle skirt in a subtle print and color, with some coordinated trim that happens to be reflective, seems like an easy place to start.

I mentally designed something, then went to the local JoAnn Fabrics to buy what I needed. Alas, the print I wanted wasn’t in the store, so I bought something else. Fabric, the pattern (Vogue 8295), thread, a zipper, interfacing, and a fourth of the trim I need came to almost $70! That is more than I would pay for a ready-made skirt, and I haven’t even begun to calculate the time it takes me to make it. Today I had to order the rest of the trim, which was another $38 with shipping and tax – yikes! So my $100 (so far) skirt had better be cool when it is done! This is always the problem with sewing – whatever I’ve made frequently does not turn out the way it looks in my head.

I cut out the fabric at work tonight, because the work table in our resource area is the perfect cutting table – tall and wide.  The big boss walked past me on her way out and laughed – “I knew I’d find you here cutting something out one day!” At least she’s supportive!

Stay tuned – I only have a few days to get this skirt made. It seems fairly easy, but I know from experience that “easy” never is. But I really want to wear it on Bike to Work Day, so I have my work cut out for me. Literally.

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!