Joy of Riding #1 : Cycling in a Skirt

Wearing whatever I would wear even if I weren’t cycling is my first joy of riding the WorkCycle Oma.

Because it was the not being able to ride in skirts and wide legged trousers that has been the biggest obstacle to riding everywhere I go on a daily basis.  If I had to dress up and there were puddles on the ground – should I ride?  Maybe not.  Now that obstacle is no more.

Here’s what I’ve heard these past two weeks, cycling in a skirt (and other fine duds):

Young Mother: What are you doing?

I: I’m getting ready to ride home.

YM: But what are you doing?

I: I’m riding my bike.  I’m having fun.

YM: It’s raining. What are you doing?

I: I’m pretending I’m in Europe.

YM: Oh.  Okay.

 

****

Older Lady: That wasn’t you, was it?  Riding past a few minutes ago?

I: You know it was.

OL: Tsk-tsk (but affectionately and with a vicariously gleaming enjoyment) – I figured it had to be you, sitting up so straight and easy on your bike.

Her Sister, bustling up: I had to see what you changed into.

I: No change.

HS: You rode here in a skirt! (slightly disapproving head-shaking)

I: I rode here in a skirt! (at which her sister and I both laugh)

***

Teenager: Why do you carry your helmet around? (like, I know people your age are weird and all . . .)

I: Well, I biked here.

Teenager: You don’t look like you did.

I: Well, thanks.  (we exchange wide grins  – Bless her heart!)

***

Older Friend, who’s battling chemo, when I trade her pile of books out for a fresh set:  I’ve got to see this (shuffling to the door). . . . So you can just step right over.  It’s like the bikes we used to ride. . . . Will you look at that!  You’ve even got a light!  (and the first genuine joyful laugh I’ve heard during the whole visit).  Be safe!  Have a fun ride!

***

After several years of riding most places in most weather, I’m used to the sales clerk who leaves off telling  about her diabetes – as she huffs and turns red just from bending over to fill my pannier bag – to warn:  “Now you be careful out on those roads. I would be afraid of my life to try to bike with those carzy  drivers out there.” (okay, she actually said “crazy” but the typo was too perfect to correct!)

By now I laugh off the shivers and eye-rollings when I head back out into the rain.

Or, like yesterday, my mother-in-law saying, when I swung by to drop off some primroses to plant along their walk before working at the school, “You’re sick! [a bad cold – sitting at home I feel miserable, but breathing the cool moist air out on the bike I feel fine] You’re wet! You’re all dressed up!  It’s raining!  And you’ve got a car at home sitting in the driveway!”

“My hair dries fast,” I tell her.  And it does.

I love being able to ride in a skirt, pedalling easy and upright.  Or like yesterday, in a nice sweater and wide-legged woolens – without having to tuck pant leg into socks or wrap it around my leg with an elastic band – without having to worry about mud-spackles from hem to knee.  I love the step-through frame.  I love my fenders and my mudflap that make it not just possible, but easy:

And when running an errand and someone exclaims with concern like they did yesterday, Why would you ride your bike on a day like today?  You’ll be soaked to the skin!”   I can’t help but laugh out loud, the fresh air still filling my lungs, the prickles of raindrops still enlivening my skin.  “I’d just rather be out in the rain and feeling ALIVE! then stuck, wrapped up in the house all winter long!”

They look at me with pitying eyes and shake their heads.  But there are others, on other days, who nod and glance at my ordinary, middle-aged build and lack of gear, “Don’t you wear clips?” they wonder aloud, “You don’t wear padded shorts?” and then, “I always used to like to ride . . . “

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9 thoughts on “Joy of Riding #1 : Cycling in a Skirt

  1. You look great on the bike in those skirts – gorgeous!

    I have a mortal fear of getting my hair wet in the rain, because I normally straighten it to various degrees. If I allow it to dry “naturally”, I will be transformed into this. But I tuck it under a hat when I cycle in the rain, and it’s fine. Also, I have a dressy but unbelievably waterproof trenchcoat that I wear in the rain. A good hat+trench+boots combo on my Pashley – and I look like I arrived by taxi cab. Not a speck of water on me underneath.

    • (I can’t believe you ever look even remotely like Richard Simmons – frightening memories of my childhood!)

      Being able to ride in the rain and step off the bike still looking like a civilized being is one of the things I am loving most.

      Though I’m regretting the pale yellow trench I gave away last year because I never wore it – it would be much better than the black silk rain poncho that makes me look like Miss Gulch pedaling after Toto!)

  2. Everything about this post is just beautiful. Beautiful words, beautiful pictures! I am happy for you and your new bike and look forward to reading all about your adventures 🙂

  3. I love your bike and your look! I live and bike in Portland proper, and I’ve been amazed to learn how many rainy days offer hours of rain-free riding–or, put another way, how often I’ve been able to ride to and from work in decent street clothes without getting rained on. Isn’t it the best feeling?

    • Amen. I actually have always loved riding in the rain, but it’s great to get to ride and then step off the bike and inside and no one the wiser – unless I’m carrying that helmet!

      Fenders are wonderful (I say this with feeling after years of fenderless riding). And we are so lucky with our weather – Oregon rain is more often than not just a fine mist – like the fog just got to heavy too hold itself up in the sky any longer.

  4. I spend my whole life trying not to envy others and their particular situations in life, and here I am, envying your beautiful bicycle and your bikable weather. You inspire me, though I do fear the frost bite (as my particular situation is the midwest) I would without question acquire if I attempted to cycle to my grocery store at this moment. But in a few months…

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