Photo by Jen Downer/She Saw Things Photography
Rejoice! Spring is upon us! Flowers are blooming and there's bikes, bikes everywhere. Bicycling is a great way to get outside, get around town, and get some exercise, all while reducing your carbon footprint.
Though we love nothing more than hopping on a bike and feeling the breeze on a hot sunny day, there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to biking as transportation. We asked our own intrepid Queen Bee, Rebecca Pearcy, to give us some tips she has gathered from her time as a dedicated, all-weather bike commuter. We also hit up Leah Benson of Gladys Bikes for her advice. If you haven’t been in to Gladys Bikes, it’s definitely worth a stop. They focus on fit and comfort for women riders, and their legendary saddle library is not to be missed. If you've always wanted to try commuting by bicycle but weren't sure where to start, these two have got you covered.
Dress Right for the Occasion
I like to dress for the ride and my day and not have to change clothes after getting to work. I organize my closet with items that I can wear comfortably while riding all grouped together so if I'm riding to work that day, I can choose more easily. My favorite riding outfits tend to be a tunic (like these from Cut Loose clothing, available in the QB shop), leggings, boots or shoes that are comfortable to ride in (tending to be flat-soled shoes). Other good options are short, stretchy skirts, full skirts, or pants with a good amount of stretch in them. I love lightweight merino wool clothing for riding (and just living) in the Northwest. It is so comfortable, breathes really well, is genius at moderating your body temperature and is beautiful to boot.
Speaking of moderating body temp, layers are an essential component of any cycling wardrobe. The weather changes so much here that I like to be prepared for anything. In the winter, my riding uniform includes a lightweight wool hood worn under my helmet, waterproof boots, gloves, sunglasses, and an Otto Urban Poncho in hot pink for high visibility. In the fairer seasons, I wear a more compact Showers Pass waterproof jacket if needed, and switch to fingerless gloves. One of my favorite times of year is the first warm weather of Spring when I can start riding without a jacket on. Heaven.
Of course I rock the Queen Bee waterproof panniers nearly every time I ride. There's plenty of room to pack my goods for the day and they are easy to put on and take off. I prefer to use panniers rather than riding with a backpack. The bike is heavier but I don't have a sweaty back after my ride.
Buy, install, and use bike lights on the front and back of your bike. I also highly recommend a helmet light. I got mine from Portland Design Works and I love it. It is extremely bright, and it shines where I’m looking (as opposed to the bike light which shines where the bike is going). It is highly useful in the darker months, makes me much more visible to drivers and I can shine the light directly at a driver if I’m not sure that they see me.
Go For It!
Bike riding should be fun! Take your time, enjoy the ride, and smell the flowers as you go. Try different routes til you find one that is most comfortable and efficient for you. The more you ride, the more confident you will be. I was pretty nervous about bike commuting in the city, but recognized that if I didn't just DO it, I wouldn't overcome my fears. I've never been an athletic or super outdoorsy person, so it was a big leap for me to start bike commuting. Now, it is one of my most favorite things to do and it has become a big part of my life. I much prefer to ride my bike than drive the car. As a busy mom and business owner, bike commuting offers some precious me-time when I can think, clear my head, get some exercise and fresh air, and get from point A to B in a way that has much less impact on our environment.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
About: Leah Benson is the owner of Gladys Bikes, a women-focused bike shop in Portland that's committed to getting more people on bikes they'll love to ride. (www.gladysbikes.com)
Comments will be approved before showing up.