Friday, 6 December 2013

Having the wear-with-all to give it a go.

Snobbers published this little gem last week:

The sum total of all of my street cred combined doesn't amount to a hill of beans, but I am a girl. I love clothes, and can dork out over what to wear any time, any day. In fact, "bike clothes," and how to dress when you're riding a bike, is one of those topics I get asked about a lot.  Needless to say, I can babble on and on and on about it, and I do. It only takes a moment to utter a motto, though.  

Dress up, show up, and live it up.

Vancouver is kind of bizarre when it comes to dress sense.  We won the never so coveted bronze medallion for the Worst Dressed City in the World in 2011, thanks in no small part to Chip Wilson's yoga pants.  He probably took a lot of flack when that little ditty of a story broke, and as a guy with a clearly defined sense of aesthetics, and in the true spirit of first world problems, he probably feels awful about it.  You can't blame him for saying that his yoga pants don't work for everyone. There is a kernel of truth in it.

 Don't get me wrong.  I love yoga.  It's crucial to my health and wellness and it's an important part of my daily grind.  Sometimes I even wear yoga pants when I practice yoga, but there IS definitely a time and place for everything, and perhaps some butts aren't the best place for yoga pants.  Even if I didn't agree with him, though, I would be inclined to give Chip a free pass on his faux pas, anyway, cause he's entertaining.  He makes for an interesting neighbour.

 Last August he had the Red Hot Chilli Peppers over for an outdoor playdate at his place, so that anyone on Kitsilano's beaches that evening got to enjoy a free concert.  That's kind of fun, right?  And besides. The ubiquity of yoga pants on Vancouver city streets? It's not Chip's fault that an enormous proportion of Vancouver women believe yoga pants to be the height of fashion and wear them anywhere and everywhere.  He created a superior product, and people came and bought them, till now you see them everywhere, doing everything BUT yoga, though they are designed exclusively for the yoga butt.  At least in this new era of  accountability and transparency, Chip is giving the people what they want. That's what you call sheer audacity.

The strange thing is that you can wear whatever you like on a bike, and yet people in Vancouver usually dress as if they are going camping as soon as they get anywhere near one. I love camping, as much as the next person, and I dress for it when I go. But bicycles are for every day, not just for camping holidays. They are a super-efficient way to get around, and Hey! Did you know they even work in the rain?  Yes, it's true. They do.  I can't tell you how many people are shocked when they notice that I ride my bike all year long, whatever the weather.  

People are so weird.  I was in Mountain Equipment Co-Op the other day, wearing my fredliest gear, with Ti Baby in hand, when I met a man wearing ski boots who was seriously pondering dropping five hundred dollars to walk out with them. Because he loves to ski. He clocked the bike and the fred gear and made a comment about how hardcore I am, because "Damned, it sure is cold out there!"

( * )

Excuse me?

I am left wondering whether our clever skier could possibly be living on the same planet as me.  I ride up mountains sometimes, and before that, I even lived in the Rockies for a few years, so I've spent enough time in alpine environments to know for a fact that it's always colder at the top of a mountain than it is at the bottom.  Always.  That's why pictures of mountains always have the white, snow covered icing thing on the top bit, not the bottom.  Right?  That means that little old me, riding my bicycle as I do down here in town at sea level, is actually in a warmer place than clever you, swooping down the pistes at woo hoo rates of speed. Clever you has clearly figured out that if you dress for the weather and keep moving you stay warm, even on the bloody cold top of a mountain, and you're afraid to ride your bike in the winter because why?
Never mind.  Listen. Everyone knows that if you look good you feel good, so dress for the weather, but remember to wear your favourite things. Don't let them sit neglected and unworn, till either they're no longer in fashion, or they no longer fit. Wear the clothes which put a smile on your face.

Don't forget your safety shoes.  
Seriously,  I meet more people over footwear than any other topic.  I don't understand why everybody is so amazed.  It's easier than walking in them! On your bike, you never have to worry about heel strike, so it doesn't matter one whit how high your heel is.  Platforms do complicate things a teeny bit, but only till you find the sweet spot.  

I wear heels, because mmmm ... pretty,

and suits, because they're best for work.  
It's important to always dress for the weather, too.
You want to be warm in the winter, 

dry in the rain

cool in the heat of summer

and covered in case of showers.

In the winter I just chuck my shoes in my bag 

and wear boots.

Mmm, boots.

I love boots.
Specially safety boots.

Mmm safety boots.

You probably noticed how often I wear a helmet on my head. 

Or on my bike.

 I have to wear one.  Mum said so, and she was right, because sooner or later, my helmets are always well used and appreciated.  I ride hard, and sometimes that means I crash hard, and this small skull of mine hasn't any extra braincells inside to spare so I need all the protection I can get. 

But having said that, helmet laws never did a single thing to make any cyclist's life safer.  Most of the helmets out there don't actually do everything they are cracked up to do, anyway.  They just make it easier to blame the victim when another speeding, distracted driver kills them with that lethal weapon they are piloting. Nope. The safest solutions lie in the way we design and police our roadways, so that the vulnerable are protected and the dangerous are held accountable. Those of us who actually need helmets know who we are.

Oh!  So after helmets and safety shoes, there is one more thing I'm wearing these days.  Remember how I told you about my constant tears of joy as I ride Ti Baby in the Lazer helmet, the continual brain drain?  Foam on the helmet actually made the situation worse, but never fear.
The solution is here.  

Groucho Babs at your service.

Yup. That's me... your friendly neighbourhood speed junkie slave to health, wellness, fashion and design.  

Look, you don't have to drop a ton of cash on cycling specific clothes in order to change your transportation habits.  The whole idea that you can't ride a bike without becoming one with the ubiquitous army of MEC cyclists on our streets is wearing a little thin, anyway.  

Have the wear-with-all to wear whatever you like.  Take it further, though.  Wear what you really like, so that you feel good about yourself and the way you look.  

Dress up!

Once you dress up, all you have to do is hop on your bike and show up to carpe diem.  
Therein lies happiness.

C'mon.  Give it a go. Join me in the bike lane.
It's better here.


  1. Haha, good for you for breaking from the MEC Army (hmm, not as cool sounding as Jens Voight's Army). Sadly, I'm a reluctant member of the infantry. I do try to avoid the spandex but I have the dorky yellow jacket - thankfully not fluoro-yellow. But it's functional and not getting replaced until it's old and tired.

    1. Truth is I love MEC and wear their leggings with pride on Ti Baby in the cold... in the end it comes down to yer bike. If you've got fenders, mud flaps and a chain guard you can wear pretty much anything you like. Without them, you're better off in the infantry, and there's nothing sad about it.

  2. Real canadians don't rub safety kippahs

    1. Yay! VANCOUVER! Man, that kid's good....

      I KNOW, right? I don't want to wear one, but mum sez I have to, cause I'm special. And honestly, I sure do make use of the damned things. I'd be the one starring in the epic fails version of that video.

  3. We all thank you for your helmet encouragement. I still don't know how you ride without a mirror. I. Could. Not. Do. It. Danger Will Robinson. But your boots. Lord. Surely you cause wrecks. Woe to the man who rides by you with no helmet. Woe to him.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I have a strange aversion to being passed! That's why I could never join the slow bicycle movement and instead spend my time travelling as fast as I possibly can. So woe indeed to the man who passes me, cause once he does, he'll have a helluva time trying to shake me off again!

      Do you have the mirror on your helmet or on your bike?

    3. It is on my helmet. Cheap twisty grabby thing, easy to shift around. I could see one working on the bike as well but I have not looked into it.

  4. ...don't have time to read the article but when i (re)view all those photos, i just gotta say - "you are so fucking hot, stylish & delightful that i wanna........."...
    ...hey, wait, this is family oriented, ya ???...
    ...have to use your imagination as to what i wanna do...

  5. Very nice article, I enjoyed reading your post, very share, I want to twit this to my followers. Thanks!.
    chip wilson