As you all know by now I commute these days in dresses, with spd sandals, and bike shorts underneath. I arrive at work, dressed for work, which I like. I can run errands in street clothes. I also like looking like a not-scary cyclist on the multi-use pathway.
I don’t quite look like this.
More like this,
There’s a speed limit of 20 km/hr and I work, most of the time, to stay beneath that. There’s also geese, and senior citizens, and moms with strollers doing baby and me fitness classes, not to mention long boards, kids learning to ride bikes, and off leash dogs.
So the dresses suit the mood of my commute. I’m low key, I’m enjoying the scenery, and I’m smiling. I have friends, fast cyclists, who don’t use the multi-use pathway because it’s too dangerous.
And here’s what my ride to work looks like.
Note that when the multi use path ends, there’s a stretch of road through a neighborhood next to campus, across the university bridge and up the big hill to the center of campus. Having gone slow all the way to that point I’m usually rested and ready to climb that hill quickly.
So my good day of bike commuting involved shaking one rider’s perceptions of what women on commuter bikes, wearing dresses, are capable of doing. Here’s my Facebook status: “Nothing like a young thin guy on a road bike giving you the “yeah I’m faster than you look” and going ahead of you at the light to get your second best time up university hill. The first best time wasn’t my commuting bike and I wasn’t wearing a dress. Sorry for passing you. It isn’t a race I know. I just hate that look and the judgement.”
What surprised me was that I came within a second of my personal best on that hill, achieved on a road bike, in cycling kit. That day in a dress on my commuting bike, with stuffed panniers, it took me 45 seconds. My best time ever up the hill is 44 seconds. That’s my PR on that segment. I won’t ever beat Kim who holds the QOM at 29 seconds but that’s okay. It’s a hill.
That was a good day on my commuter bike, riding in a dress.
Here’s my commuter bike, at rest, after a bike ride home. I often enjoy a coffee on the front porch, in the quiet, watching the world go by.
Now my bad day bike commuting in a dress happened when I was running errands after work. I had to go to the bank, to the glasses shop, and of course, the bike shop. Hi To Wheels!
While riding downtown this guy started yelling at me. “Hey, lady. Put on some pants!” Keep in mind I’m wearing bike shorts under my dress.
“You can’t ride a bike in a dress. Nobody wants to see that.”
See what? My bike shorts? I was confused. But not really. As a larger woman, an older woman, in cycling clothing there are always angry men ready to make it clear how much they hate seeing my body in cycling clothes. I’ve blogged about it here. My theory is that fat hate plus misogyny plus hatred of cyclists makes me a target for abuse. I push too many buttons.
But really, really, I don’t care. I love riding my bike to work and about town. And I especially love doing it in summer dresses. Screw them.
Here’s another picture of my very pretty and super sensible commuting bike.