Stylocycle’s Blog


Twenty Below
February 24, 2009, 1:58 am
Filed under: helmets, winter riding

The temperature this morning when I left the house was -12, but with windchill we had a -20 estimate. Nonetheless, with roads that were basically clear (though the bike lanes remain decidedly obscured  by snow and ice) there was no reason to avoid cycling into work today. I have decided that for winter riding I really prefer to wear dresses and skirts. Today’s choice was a pullover cashmere sweater-dress that I just got from the last-call clearance sale at Neiman-Marcus. Even with delivery and duties and exchange rates I can’t buy a gorgeous cashmere anything, never mind a knee-length, 3-quarter sleeve dress, for under $160 each — so I bought two. The one I rode to work in today is fire-engine red — though I toned it down with my black patent Fluevogs and a black vest over the top.

Here’s the link for anyone interested in a bargain:

http://www.neimanmarcus.com/store/catalog/prod.jhtml?itemId=prod63620050&searchType=SALE&parentId=cat980731&icid=&rte=%252Fcommon%252Fstore%252Fcatalog%252Ftemplates%252FET1.jhtml%253FN%253D4294947488%2526st%253Ds

Anyway — why dresses or skirts? For one thing, they don’t crease while I am pedaling, but more importantly, I can pull on my merino-wool icebreaker ‘long underwear’ and keep my legs completely roasty warm (and not sweaty!) for the ride. When I arrive at work I pull off the leggings and I’m ready to go. No problem.

I concede the fashion point to warmth and continue to ride with my downhill helmet and massive goggles. I know it does kind of fly in the face of the ‘we can be fashionable’ mandate, but the helmet does not wreck my hair, keeps me completely warm and is designed to protect the brain in high-speed full on impact… so for winter riding, I’m OK with the concession. I also love wearing my goggles for winter riding. I admit that I have to turn my head a little farther around to do my shoulder-checks, but I never have to worry about slush getting in my eyes, or having my vision impaired by road glare. Plus, the goggles and helmet combine to protect about 2/3 of my face from the cold. My neck warmer pulls up to take care of the rest of the exposed face.

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Photos from Today’s ride
December 17, 2008, 1:32 am
Filed under: helmets, winter riding
With helmet. Yes, people grinned broadly at me on my bike today.

With helmet. Yes, people grinned broadly at me on my bike today.

Under the helmet... "Intellecta" (comes with fork-shaped tongue)-- my alter-ego.

Under the helmet... "Intellecta" (comes with fork-shaped tongue)-- my alter-ego.

Stopped to admire the ice and rushing water

Stopped to admire the ice and rushing water

Heading for Home in the Afternoon

Heading for Home in the Afternoon

Leaving the house: -14 Celsius.



Back in the Saddle
December 16, 2008, 10:58 pm
Filed under: commute by bike, helmets, winter riding

I rode to work today for the first time since my splat-on-the-ice. One of the things I realised while I was nursing my back is that the long-term effects of a serious injury when I was just 12 are exacerbated by too much lazing around. That is to say: my hips begin to ache when I’m not cycling regularly.

So… with a temperature of -9 and a wind chill of -14 this morning, I hopped on the Blue Beauty and rode in. It was lovely. Because I hate being cold, and because we are now in the bone-chillling kind of winter cold I do actually wear a helmet at this time of year. …But… I wear my ski helmet because it’s the warmest thing I have and it is designed to keep my goggles secure so I can ride without getting freezing wind-burn on my face, and don’t have to worry about having my vision obscurred by blowing snow(or rain, sleet, etc).

I’ve also decided that my favourite clothes to waer at this time of year are my long velvet skirts. I can put my fleece lined running-tights underneath to protect me from cold and wind, and wear my usual professional wear in to the office. I just take the tights off once I get there.

I have also discovered that although I don’t find my cute “People Have Spoken” boots (A Canadian footwear and clothing manufacturer) very comfortable for walking, they are perfect for winter cycling. They are warm, the flat rubber soles grip my pedals and the tarmac nicely, and because they do up at the back they protect my feet from wind and slush that can penetrate traditional closures.

I am never the one who arrives at work shivering from the cold.

I still made my usual time into work: 20 minutes. I’m not pedaling very fast, just at a nice comfortable speed that keeps the bike upright and smooth in the running. One of the things that I love about the Batavus design is that the enormous wheels mean fewer revolutions are required to cover distance — and that’s part of the secret to the ride reminiscent of my dad’s 1960’s convertible land-yacht.

On my ride home I was able to stop of at Spouse’s office on the *other* campus, share some latte time with him in the middle of the day, and deliver some good news about a successful grant application. Hooptee!

From there I made my way home, stopping briefly to take pictures of the rushing water in the creek that is splashing up on the red dogwood branches that overhang the water’s edge, making frozen waterfalls off that pull the branches even lower.

I’ll post photos later when my camera batteries have charged.



Why ‘Stylocycle’?
November 18, 2008, 5:42 pm
Filed under: helmets, winter riding

The title for the blog was meant to have a tagline, but the layout I have chosen doesn’t permit me to include it. It was meant to say: ‘A woman about town, on a bicycle, with an urge to write’.

Thus the ‘stylo’ — but it’s also a play on words inspired mostly by the fact that when am riding around town I regularly get comments about my bike, or what I’m wearing to ride it, or on the accessories I have for it (the Van Gogh print rain-cover for me seat, or my nice basket, or my saddle-bag, for example).

Last week when I was riding across campus I rang my bell to urge a group of three young men to move to the side of the multipurpose trail so I could pass them. I was wearing a velvet skirt under my herringbone 3-quarter length coat, and had just swooshed by them when I heard one say with a kind of impressed and lighthearted expression, “STYLISH” — with lots of emphasis on the ‘ish’… and so it was that I came upon the name for the blog… writing about cycling with style.

Now, as an academic you might suppose that I would be ‘above’ considerations of style and aesthetics, or other such frivoloities, but here’s how I see it: if part of what prevents people from deciding to bike to and from work, or about town on errands is that they find it impractical to get all suited up in clothes that really don’t fit in with the way they live their lives, with their intended points of arrival and so on… if they don’t have access to showers and change-rooms at work, then style is, in fact, not such a trivial matter after all. The fact that I can get around town, even in below-zero temperatures, and arrive at work in my ordinary clothes, warm and dry and without needign to change out of goofy boots and layers of neon spandex is a central part of why I find it easy to integrate my cycling into my everyday life. It’s not an ‘add on’; it’s not a hassle… and in truth, it’s pretty fun to ride around, getting comments from people who admire my bike, my bags, and the fact the today I’m riding in a pair of 3-inch stacked heel Aquatalia boots, and ankle-length skirt, and my herringbone coat. I admit that my helmet is a little silly looking, but now that there is ice out there, I’ll make a safety concession to the integrity of my noggin. I am, however,  completely lusting after the helmet covers available from ridingpretty.com.