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3 Reasons to Connect Fashion with Bicycling

6 Bicycle Fashion

A guest article from Maria Boustead of Po Campo. Learn more about Maria at the bottom of the article.

First off, let me define what I mean when I say “fashion” and “bicycling” for the purposes of this post. By fashion I mean personal style, or how people choose to express themselves by the way they dress. I am not talking about runway looks or the fashion industry or too-thin models. And when I say bicycling, I am referring to using your bike to go from Point A to Point B, not bicycling as sport or purely for exercise or recreation.

We all agree that we want more people to bike for transportation because of the numerous benefits to our environment, our cities and ourselves. The main reason people give for not biking is because it seems too dangerous, or, in other words, they are afraid of being hit by a car. Bike lanes, especially protected ones, and better traffic laws do a lot to make people feel safer while on the road.

While physical safety is often foremost in our minds, we mustn’t neglect the element of emotional security. Bike lanes help with the former, and I believe that connecting fashion to biking can help take care of the latter. Here’s how:

1. You can see yourself doing it

commuter

Photo by Dustin Jensen © All Rights Reserved

We humans are highly social creatures and everything we wear/do/say communicates something about us. We are attracted to things that mesh with our sense of self and distance ourselves from things that don’t.

The desire to “fit in” is heightened when trying something new, such as riding your bike to work. When we’re not sure how to act or dress, we look to the people we identify with to follow their example (psychologists call this “Informational Influence”). So, if people can easily see other people that look like them riding a bike, they will more likely try it. We should be striving to get as many styles in the bike lane as possible!

2. It becomes an aspiration – I want to BE that person!

Here’s where imagery comes in. Media can be very persuasive because, done well, it taps into our inner desires of who we want to be. So, not only can you see yourself bicycling, but you can see your “best self” bicycling.

Today we generally lump people into four categories: The Road Warrior, The Hipster, The Dutch Belle and The Safety-Minded.

4categories
All four archetypes are effective at resonating with different people, and, while you might not be as lovely or as edgy as the imagery indicates, you like to think of yourself that way. I predict that as fashion and bicycling continue to comingle, we will see more of these archetypes start to appear to represent even more people, which will, in turn, get more people on the road.

3. It just simplifies things

Have you overheard this conversation as much as I have?

Person 1 says, “Maybe I’ll try biking to work on a nice day, but I’m not sure how to get started.” Then Person 2 says, “Oh that’s great! It’s easy. All you need to is…” and then goes on with a mindboggling amount of detail about what types of bikes (and components) are best for different types of rides, how you must have your bike outfitted with XYZ accessories, what you should wear, what you absolutely should not wear (like, jeans), etc. Dude, don’t over-complicate things – someone is just trying to get to work!

Photo by Loic Bernard © All Rights Reserved

Photo by Loic Bernard © All Rights Reserved

Conversely, fashion is familiar and therefore provides a reference point. You don’t have to learn all new jargon or start reading new magazines to see someone in an outfit similar to something you own to put two-and-two together and say “Hey, I can bike in that!”.
Connecting fashion to bicycling also hits home for me personally because, while I have always biked pretty regularly all over Chicago (and even founded a bike bag company there), I had never liked calling myself a biker. The word just carried too many bad memories of behaviors and styles that I didn’t identify with. But, now that fashion is entering the mix, and I am finally finding bicycling-related articles and images that interest me in publications of aIl types, and new bike brands and new apparel and accessory brands that speak to me. It feels good to feel included. I guess maybe I am a biker after all.

Maria Boustead launched Po Campo in 2009 because she needed a bag versatile enough to clip on to her bike while en route and attractive enough to take into her office or to a meeting upon reaching her destination. There were so few options for this; it just seemed like a major oversight and she knew other women would appreciate a fashionable and functional bag, too.

An Introduction to the 2013 Swobo Fillmore

0 Front Full Drive Side

A guest post by Laura of Loose Nuts Cycles in Atlanta, GA

I love a good mountain bike ride, but if I can’t make it out of the city, there are few things better than cruising around town on a beautiful, warm day with a great bike underneath you.  Atlanta had it’s first glimpse of spring this past weekend.  It was sunny, almost 70 degrees, just a little breezy, and quite literally the perfect day for city cycling.  I had several errands to run and was looking forward to being out and about on a new machine.

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Mountain bike night rides

3 Lights on the trail

A guest post by Laura Colbert of Loose Nuts Cycles in Atlanta, GA.

I am planning to do some mountain bike racing this spring and thus have been trying to get some extra miles on my mountain bike.  Living in the middle of Atlanta makes this difficult, especially during the week.  Luckily I’ve discovered a local Tuesday night no-drop trail ride.  I’ve ridden this ride a couple times recently and am pretty happy about the added miles that I’m getting without having to go too far or change my schedule too much.

I would like to say that when I first started riding a mountain bike, I thought that only insanity and a love of medical bills would cause someone to try this in the dark.  It was a challenge for me to make it through an entire ride in full sunshine, so why would someone make it harder by limiting what they can see?  As I’ve ridden more and mountain biking has become more intuitive for me, I’ve figured out why some cyclists choose to ride at night.  Night rides are great because:

  1. Winter days are short and dark.  Night rides provide the opportunity for mountain bike fun despite the short days.  Just make sure to bundle up, because the temperature gets colder the later into the night you ride.
  2. In the summer, when daytime temperatures are unbearable, riding at night decreases your chances of being disgustingly sweaty and getting  sunburned, thus increasing your chances of actually enjoying the ride.
  3. Weekends fill up quickly and 9-to-5 jobs leave little time for day time rides.  Night rides fit nicely into a busy schedule.  (I do get a little less sleep on night-ride nights.  I guess something has to give.)
  4. It’s a new challenge.  With just ambient light and a headlight to guide you, your brain has to adjust it’s depth perception and you have to react to the trail more quickly.  It requires you to step up your game.
  5. It’s fun to roam around in the dark woods.  It feels a little like being a high school hooligan (yep, I said hooligan), a little mischievous.
  6. (Don’t tell anyone that I said this, but it gives you the opportunity to ride trails that you might not be able to ride during the day–trails labeled “No bikes” or some private property trails.  Sshhhh…that’s a secret…I’m not saying it actually happens.  I’m just saying that it could hypothetically happen.)

I still consider myself a night-ride beginner, but every time I finish the Faster Mustache Tuesday night ride, I come home with new advice for myself, so I thought I might share some of that with those of you thinking about trying it.

  1. Plan ahead– I was planning on a night ride a couple weeks ago and got home to discover that I had forgotten to charge my headlight battery.  No light, no ride.  No plan, no ride.
  2. Be prepared–During a recent night ride I broke my derailleur hanger.  Luckily someone else had come prepared with zip ties and a chain breaker.  Otherwise, I would have had to walk the several miles home.  You should be fully prepared for every ride you go on, but the risk of walking home/back to the car in the dark and late at night underscores the importance of preparedness.
  3. Double check that your light is fully charged–Having ridden with a dying light before, I can tell you that it’s not fun.  Riding at night is already a challenge.  Not having a light makes it just plain dangerous.  Charge your light and if you think that your ride might outlast your light, bring an extra one.  I ride with the Niterider MiNewt Pro 750.  My night rides are about 3 hours and it hasn’t failed me yet.
  4. Know the trail or ride with a friend who knows the trail (and is the same speed as you)–I’m new to the in-town Atlanta night ride.  The other cyclists have generally ridden these trails hundreds of times or are pretty quick and can keep up with those who are familiar with the trails.  I am neither familiar or quick enough to keep up with the group (only girl on the ride usually…).  This makes for some frustrating moments sometimes.  I often get to trail intersections and have no idea which way to go.  I’ve discovered that I’m pretty good at either picking the wrong direction or not seeing the turn at all.  One of the guys usually comes to track me down or makes loud enough noises so that I can find my way back to the group.  I try to laugh about my adventures alone in the dark, but it can be frustrating.  That said, if you’re going to ride at night, pick a trail that you know pretty well or make sure your riding companions will ride at your pace or come find you when you get lost.
  5. Don’t give up after the first time–Night riding is hard.  Your brain will have to adjust its depth perception skills.  You can’t see as far ahead as you can in the daylight, so you have to react to the trail more quickly.  You might get lost at some point.  Don’t let those things convince you not to try it again.  Give it another shot.  It gets easier and more fun, I promise.
  6. Find a local late-night eatery–You know how hungry you are after every mountain bike ride? Night rides are no exception, so know where the closest late-night joint is located.  We always end our ride at a local pizza place and when we roll up at 11 pm, we’re always the last people in there.  A beer and some slices make the perfect midnight snack before we all split up to head home and go to bed.

For those of you who are night-ride experienced, did I miss anything?  What other advice do you have?

Preview of Louisville 2013–Cyclocross World Championships

0 Female cyclocross rider in Georgia.  Photo by Nathan Bolster.

A guest post from Laura Colbert of Loose Nuts Cycles in Atlanta, GA

Normally, I’ve just started making my weekend plans by this time in the week, but I’ve had this weekend planned for months…maybe longer.  This weekend I’ll be traveling to Louisville, KY for the UCI Cyclocross World Championships!  So stoked right now!

This weekend in Louisville is sure to be amazing for several reasons:

1. It’s the first time that the CX World Championships has been held outside of Europe.  Last year, UCI gave Louisville a practice run with the Master’s World Championships.  The masters returned to Louisville again this year and brought the rest of the World Championship events with them.  The first time for anything is fun and challenging and special.  This weekend will set the bar for US-hosted world CX events.  If it goes well, maybe the World Championships will come back to the US.  If it doesn’t, you can bet that Europe will be hosting all the major CX races for years to come.

2.  It’s taking place in Louisville’s Eva Bandman Park.  Bandman Park is the only park in the U.S. that is specifically dedicated to the sport of cyclocross, which means that the course should be great.  If you want to preview the course, check out this guy’s blog.  If you want to know what cyclists and officials think about the course, Velo News has a great article with thoughts from a lot of the top cyclists that have ridden it.  If this weekend goes well, maybe other cities will consider building their own cyclocross specific venues.

3.  European-style excitement about cyclocross!  The event organizers say that they’re expecting 5000-6000 people to attend each day of the event.  In addition to massive crowds, I fully expect that we’ll see some amazingly ridiculous cheering and fanaticism.  Cyclocross is not exactly America’s national pass time, so American cyclocross events don’t often elicit the same enthusiasm that they do in Europe.  That will not be case this weekend.  The U.S.’s biggest cyclocross fans will be out in full force, with some back up from European visitors and guests from around the world.  Expect awesome crowds, creative fans (I bet we’ll see some face/body paint despite the cold temperatures), and lots of noise.

4.  The possibility of home court victories for the American cyclists!  If you’re not familiar with the US’s world champion roster, check out USA Cycling’s report and 22-person roster here.  I do not usually shine with national pride, but I inexplicably swell with patriotism during sporting events.  I can’t help it.  The world championships are here, at home, and may never return to US soil.  Our American cyclists have to make the most of this moment and capture some podium spots.  Win on their home court.  Prove to the Europeans that America can produce cyclocross champions.  Velo News has a good analysis the American chances of winning this weekend.

If you have a weekend with few plans and live in any state that borders Kentucky (or are otherwise reasonably close), you should cancel your plans and make your way to Louisville.  If you aren’t able to make it this weekend, no worries.  CX Magazine is live streaming the event right here.  Also, check the Louisville 2013 Facebook page for updates.

I’m going to be taking lots of pictures, checking out the course, pits, and venue, and talking to as many cyclists and spectators as I can.  Next week, I’ll be reporting back about the weekend and the races.  Leave a comment if you want me to try to chat with a specific cyclist, or get a picture of a particular part of the course, or whatever.  I’ll do my best.

Photo credit to Nathan Bolster of Bolster Photography.

Ladies Night, a Guest Post

12 Michelle beer handups

I belong to a newborn bike team that was formed by a popular LBS as a way to bring more cyclists into the sport. I’m one of three women on the co-ed team and, through sheer terror that I will lose any fitness and no longer be able to keep up, I’m the most consistent woman on the group rides in town.

It’s certainly not because I’m the fastest. Not even by a long shot. I’m a forty-two year old mother of teenagers that only started riding anything more than a commuter bike in 2010. I believe in cycling for transportation and for health. I think cyclocross is the greatest sport ever invented and, someday, I hope not to crash my mountain bike every time I get on it. In other words, I’m just an average chick that likes to ride a bike. Yet I can’t seem to convince many other average chicks to join me out there.

I think it has to do with the fact that it’s intimidating to be a woman in a group of very fit guys. And when I say very fit guys, I’m talking about the fastest cyclists in our community. Nice guys, but very fast. Most of the group rides we do have a “catch-up” segment that allows the group to re-form before moving on down the road. I’m usually the last one in, or next to last if I’m having a good week, and often a few of the guys will swing around to accompany me to the end. This is what keeps me going. I love these guys and, though I hold things up, they always encourage me. Still, I will do just about anything to not have to be the one to ask them to dial it back a bit.

And they are guys. Though we may all keep a Lady Schick in the shower, cycling is a very testosterone oriented sport. With the one-up-manship, crude language and large amount of spitting, it’s hard to convince a girl friend that pedaling a bike for two straight hours in a harrowing pace line is sane, let alone fun.

I think women have a place here though. All of these guys have wives or girlfriends that only want a bit of encouragement to get them regularly riding. There are plenty of women in the LBS glancing at the zippy new road bikes, but talking themselves out of it because they have no one to ride with. Well, dammit, I’m going to do something about this. I’ve learned from the best how to be encouraging and supportive and it’s time I pay it forward.

March 2013 will see the start of a new Weekly Women’s Ride in our community that is fun, inclusive, and all female. No intimidation to keep up with the guys, no worries about how those funny shorts look, and no spitting. We will ride for the sheer joy of the wind in our faces and for the happy-hour margaritas we will consume when we’re done.

But I’m not done with the guys. As the year progresses, maybe I can convince one or two of the women to tackle the Thursday night group ride with me. Then, a few weeks later, maybe someone will try Tuesday Night Worlds. If I’m really successful, there will be a group of women enjoying cyclocross with me in September. The crowning achievement, however, would happen when another woman and I get on the front of the November gravel ride and we hear a masculine gasp from the back say “Can you gals slow it down a bit?”

Michelle Windmoeller Michelle Windmoeller first learned to ride in 1977 on a used gold chopper-style bike with a wicked banana seat. Since then she has toted schoolbooks, kids, household furniture, and, literally, a commercial kitchen sink on her bike. Based in Columbia, MO, Michelle owns Blue Cypress Solutions and writes about health and wellness issues. She officially invites you all to join her for a long, leisurely ride in Missouri sometime. She’ll bring the PBR. Photo Credit: Kate Woodard