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?
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 . . . “