Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Notes from Bike Week

Went to the Harvard bike breakfast in the Holyoke center this morning.  The tuneup mechanic looked lonely in the misty drizzle, as everyone else was inside.  I was perusing the swag (bike maps, seat covers, little red blinkie lights that are great emergency lights of last resort)  when the woman organizing it came up to me and said,  "I'm sorry but this is only for people who rode their bikes"  Because there's no way a woman in a nice dress and heels could have ridden a bike right?   GRRRR.  I showed her my helmet and said,  "I bike all year round, almost every day."   I understand that she was running interference on free breakfast in an area where there are a lot of walk-through commuters, but I wasn't even at the free breakfast part of the setup, but at the information table.  God forbid someone who "doesn't look like they ride a bike" should have access to information about biking.

I "won" my choice of prizes in the little "raffle" they were running, and given the choices of a CO2 inflator, a mirror, and a cable lock, I chose a cable lock.   I don't actually own a cable lock, and maybe it would be good to have one for some occasions (locking to lamp-posts, locking my rear wheel,  locking to another bike).   Unfortunately it's likely that the times I'll need it, I won't have it, because I won't be in the habit of carrying it with me.

I sat down to a yummy breakfast of melon and chocolate croissant,  and was chatting with a nice lady at my table about panniers, when I saw a stereotypical "Bike Commuter" checking out my shoes.  He skeptically asked if I had riddenthere, and I said, yes, I had.  He asked, "how to you ride in those shoes"?  I said,  I ride using the ball of my feet, not the heel,  don't you?  He said, but don't you hurt yourself on the toeclips?  I said, I don't have toeclips, and he looked at me incredulously.

This kind of really clueless behavior IS becoming less prevalent.  At the Broadway Pancake breakfast, most people were in kind of hipster stuff,  the kind of clothes you could wear to an IT or biotech job without any comment.  The one guy at my table in lycra said, "Yeah, when I get to this part of town I feel like a bit of a weirdo because I'm the only guy in lycra."  He was riding about 10 miles each way from Winchester, so it probably makes sense for him to wear athletic clothes and then change.  But I think it's really great that people riding in "normal" clothes is becoming the norm, and I hope that I will not be an object of curiosity at these events much longer.

It started to rain as I headed off to work (a bit late).  I'd probably have been completely dry if I rode in at my regular time.   As it was, my legs and the bottom of my skirt got damp.  Legs are much faster to dry than any kind of pants,  and they work for me as "rain pants"  A quick brush off of road grit after they're dry and I'm good to go.   My shoes were fine for most of the ride, but by the end, my feet were slipping against the damp leather of the footbed a bit.  It was fine for biking, but when I arrived at work the elevator wasn't working, so I took them off to carry my bike up the stairs.  Fortunately our office is only on the 2nd floor, because carrying a 40lb bike up stairs is not much fun.

I'm testing a home-made skirt garter to keep my skirt in place while riding.  This is a beta version and has some issues.  It doesn't keep the skirt down really, but it does prevent it from flying completely up.
It tends to ride down, I need to create a version that's adjustable on my leg.  Am working on it, but having a hard time finding the right elastic. Need to try Windsor Button.

The rain is doing great things for my garden, if not for attendance at bike week events:

Tonight I'm going to the Ride Of Silence.  I don't like to dwell much on those killed while bicycling, because it's a pretty rare occurrence,  but I was very saddened by the death this year of a young MIT alum in an area I bike through regularly. He was apparently waiting at a light to turn left, when a tanker truck made a wide turn into his lane and ran over him.   The MIT Tech is doing a good job of keeping on the story, filing a Public information request for the records.  It incenses me that there will be no consequences for the driver for failing to stay in his lane,  when the consequences for the biker were so tragic.

I'm still processing my feelings about this, and hope to post on it someday, but in the meantime I plan to attend the ride.


  1. I was thinking about stopping at the Harvard event, as it is more or less on the way to work, but I was running late this morning, and with the rain and all it didn't seem worth stopping for an ABP croissant.

    I don't know why Stereotypical Guy was so surprised by your shoes, since the overwhelming majority of the commuters I see on my way to work across Cambridge are wearing normal shoes without any toe clips. I know my bike is the only one on the rack at my office with clipless pedals.

  2. Hey us Cambridge officials weren't judging! In the top photo the women to the far right in a red skirt (our new sustainability planner Jen) biked in carrying all the give-aways and I was busy unloading some more materials in the second picture (biked in with the tablecloth plus extras) (again far right, I apparently was moving quickly!) all without lycra or "proper shoes". We are firm believers in wearing whatever the heck you want to even if it is all black (so long as you have lights + reflectors. Black at night with nothing blinking is sometimes tricky for me to see and I don't have a windshield blocking my vision).

    Thanks for stopping by and sorry for the reception from the commuter choice folks. It was a very tricky spot to be.

    Ps love the yakkay helmet! I am fairly certain I saw you as I remember seeing one of those...

  3. Nano consequences for the truck driver??!!! Good god you live in a backward country :( poor kid.

    Lovely shoes btw!

  4. Lovely shoes, lovely toes! I get those comments too, but generally from friends ("you rode your bike? In THAT?") but not from bikers. Keep it up!

  5. Love this! I commonly encounter the statement, "You didn't ride in those shoes." It's not even stated as a question because they're so sure they're right. And they're wrong, whether "those shoes" are black patent-leather stilettos with crisscross straps and 3" heels, slip-on open-toed sandals, or kitten-heel pumps.

    My pedals are platform on one side, SPD on the other for weekend recreational rides, because I use my road bike as a commuter.

    The treatment I get using either side is pretty much 180-degrees difference, just like rotating my pedals. When I'm dressed up in a skirt and heels drivers are pretty courteous. Kitted out and clipped in? Not necessarily as friendly sometimes. So I find it pays to look girly much of the time. (Haven't had to fight for a croissant yet, though!)

  6. Oh, whoops--I wanted to share a shoe post I wrote a while back--forgot to include in my last comment.

  7. The "how did you bike in those heels" thing always kills me. But I don't mind, because apparently it's an easy way to impress people.

  8. With those shoes and that pedicure, I'd invite you into my peloton any day.

  9. I like the skirt garter idea ...but have you tried this- I ride wearing a kilt sometimes and I find the sporran is usually enough to prevent unwanted exposure. Something like that may work for you,and give you a place to keep your keys and wallet as well.

  10. OTOH, carrying a 20lb bike up a flight of stairs is a LOT of fun. If you instead keep running up and down the stairs, people will suspect you are practicing for cyclocross.

    Speaking of which, my oldest daughter has a book entitled "How to Walk in High Heels." I'm afraid to open the cover on that book. Cycling in high heels seems a lot simpler than walking in them. Particularly if stairs are involved...

  11. "I'm sorry but this is only for people who rode their bikes"

    Ooh, that would piss me off, too. How annoying. I don't know how John above could say they were not judging, when whoever said that obviously was.

  12. Hey Cycler:

    Did I see you at Fort Point Channel a little after 9:30 this morning? I was doing my crossword with my DL-24 parked and I glanced up to see a full gearcase black bike whiz by being pedaled by green wellies. Does Biking in Heels also do some Biking in Wellies?

    PS: Think I gave you my card a couple of weeks ago near South Station. Wd you be willing to contact me off-blog about meeting for coffee so I can pick your brain on advocacy? I may be getting involved in a local committee to advocate biking infrastructure in my benighted city.

    1. Hi Quincyclist, nope, not me- I've been sick and actually took the T to work today, no wellies either!
      I'll get your card from where I left it at home tonight and contact you about a good time to meet up!

  13. I wanted to chime in that people were looking at me incredulously as well (going off of John from NH's post above) - I was in a dress and high boots. Never wear lycra biking, but always wear heels and dresses! Ride on

  14. Re keeping your skirt down - you do know that's why all those drivers are "courteous"? They're actually slowing down to look at your legs. ;-)