Ladies’ Night: Bikes, Wine and Shopping

I’m pretty sure all the women who showed up for Revolution Cycles Ladies’ Night event in Clarendon last night would have come without the wine incentive but it didn’t hurt. Neither did the chocolate or cheese. The event was sold out and then some – over thirty women who were interested in women-specific biking. And it was worth the $5 admissions price! RevCycles Ladies Night 8I’ve written before about how attending a Ladies’ Night at the same Revolution Cycles shop when I first started biking changed the experience for me: I bought padded bike shorts, I felt encouraged by the other women who spoke about their experiences, I worked up the courage to join the Rev Cycles Sunday morning group ride (on my 7-speed hybrid!), etc. I told general manager Katie how often I’ve talked about the impact of that event and that it’s why I support women-specific bike events. They will get more women onto bikes. I’m glad that Rev Cycles understands that. (no, I was not paid to say that!)

That's right Katie, I'm back in the front row again!

That’s right Katie, I’m in the front row again!

This event was different than the one years ago. We got gift bags! We sat on the floor! Items were passed around the group! There was a raffle with amazing prizes! We had tons of time to shop! And there were many more women employees – shout out for that! Katie said it was the first time the male employees were outnumbered by all of us. Heh heh.

Rev Cycles employees, including three women (plus Katie who was behind me)! Sooooo nice to have so many women in the bike shop!

Rev Cycles employees, including three women (plus Katie who was behind me)! Sooooo nice to have so many women in the bike shop!

We talked about women’s impact on safety and went over the differences between men and women and bike fit. Katie did her fantastic demonstration of how to use chamois cream, and women asked questions it – in the comfort of a group of women, we could. I don’t even want to have that conversation with The Mechanic. I was really pleased to see that most of us there ride our bikes for transportation – to work, to run errands, etc. Slightly fewer bike for recreation on the weekends, fewer still race, and only a handful do triathlons. Seeing so many women who use bikes as transportation, many who are car-free, gives faces to the idea bikes are not recreation “toys” used by wealthy white males. This was a diverse group of women of all ages and backgrounds.

With two of the women employees (sorry it's so blurry, ladies!)

With two of the women employees (sorry it’s so blurry, ladies!)

During the bike fit conversation, Katie explained center of gravity, how it is different on men and women, and what that means for different styles of bikes, especially as you get into the more aggressive bikes. Of course I know about the different centers of gravity, how women have stronger legs and men have stronger upper bodies, but how that translates into bike fit was not something I’ve seen demonstrated so well. So even though I’ve been biking for a while, I’m still learning new stuff! As it should be. I appreciated the set of chamois that were passed around; I probably need new padded bike shorts. “Diaper pants,” one woman called them.

Pick yer chamois!

Pick yer chamois!

I did mention a swag bag and shopping. I was NOT expecting a swag bag at all, nor such a generous one! My friends and I were surprised as we kept pulling stuff out of the bag – great catalogs of Electra bikes and Trek bikes, plus the cool “new bike” folder from Rev Cycles full of info, but also an Electra Solona Clutch full of more goodies: socks, a lever set, and sunscreen, pants strap and bell from BikeArlington! Then there were the raffle tickets – two saddles, two messenger bags and water bottles; one of my friends (the one who rides the least) won a saddle! I’m super excited about the clutch.

Swag bag items! I bought the bike gloves during the shopping part of the event.

Swag bag items! I bought the bike gloves during the shopping part of the event.

Shopping was part of the event, and women were in full shopping mode. I saw several trying on helmets, since Katie suggested we compare expensive and less expensive helmets to experience the difference (she said they are lighter weight; I didn’t try any on). Several were swooping up bike short and skirts, some like me headed for the gloves, others were trying on jackets. I think everyone appreciated the almost one-on-one employee attention, and I suspect that it encouraged some to spend more than they might have otherwise. Or maybe that was the wine helping. RevCycles Ladies Night 2I’d like to thank Revolution Cycles, owners Pinkey and Mike, Katie, and all the employees who were there tonight (yes, guys too!). One of the main topics of the Women & Bikes Forum was the importance of creating safe spaces for women to grow more comfortable, become more confident and really find their bike “voice.” Another thing that was talked about at the Forum was the fact that women like to do things in groups, that we are social, and place great weight on what our peers are doing. When I introduced myself to owner Mike on my way out, he said that he could host a beer and brats event for men, and they wouldn’t show up the way women do for a social/networking/women only event. I guess we just proved how important a safe space is for women.

Thanks Mike!

Thanks Mike!

 

Disintegrating as I look at it!

Spring Sewing Plans (Fail)

At last it’s turned into Spring!

Once again, I am completely in love with the giant flowering trees in Arlington. They make me so happy!

I wish my sewing projects made me as happy. I came back from SoCal ready to start the projects I have mentally lined up, and yet – complete fail. I don’t have enough of anything to get started! I really wanted to make the McCalls 7099 jumpsuit first; the fabric I have my heart set on was listed on Fabric.com as being back-ordered until April 3, so I was sure I’d be able to come home, order the fabric, and start altering the pattern. But no – now it’s just “temporarily unavailable.” I called and they couldn’t give me an ETA. Bummer. So down the list it goes.

Next on the list is Vogue 9087, which I want to make partially with reflective fabric and partially with some blue ditsy floral print – something more affordable than Liberty of London, my first choice. But I can’t find anything I totally love – my only local fabric store options, JoAnn Fabrics and G Street Fabrics, are disappointing and I’m not in love with anything on Fabric.com either. Or any other fabric website I’ve checked out. Of course, I don’t actually own this pattern yet anyway, so I’m clearly not in that big of a rush. Come on, Vogue Patterns, have a sale already!

Next on the list is culottes. Occasionally I think that the smart thing to do would be go to a store and try on some different styles, to see what I like best – longer or just below the knee; pleated front or gathered or plain; drapey or more constructed; solid or print. But I’ll probably just go with Vogue 9091, version B with the flat front and just below the knee. That length seems best for biking in, and since I have an aversion to 1980s-reminiences pleated fronts, I like the waist on this version. I was thinking of doing this in micro-suede, maybe tan or maybe burgundy. I can’t decide which color would work best with my existing wardrobe. I’ve ordered fabric swatches from Fabric.com (seriously, they should make me a spokes-stitcher at this point), but until I order this pattern, too, I guess I’m not in a hurry.

Vogue 9091 Culottes

Vogue 9091 Culottes

What, then, instead?! Good question. I have noticed a need in my casual spring/summer wardrobe for a blue skirt, so I might just make up a pattern for a lightweight denim elastic-waist skirt with pockets, and use some of my cool reflective rick-rack as a sort of petticoat trim, peeking out from under the hem. At least that fabric should be easy enough to pick out at JoAnn’s.

In other sewing fails, the orange reflective fabric that I used on my latest Liberty of London for Target duvet cover top is basically falling apart. I wore it for the first time on Easter, and just washed it this weekend (cold water, line dry). I’m completely disappointed at how the material is basically self-destructing! The other colored reflective fabric I have, all purchased from B&J Fabrics in New York City, haven’t done this. I’m not entirely sure what to do to fix this.

Disintegrating as I look at it!

Disintegrating as I look at it!

I suppose that it’s possibly better to not have a sewing project(s) distracting me this week, since there is other stuff going on. Plus, The Mechanic and I registered for the CASA River Ride in our favorite little town of Shepherdstown, WV. Again we will do a half-century. Short bike rides to work and not much else means that we both really need to start getting some miles in! I dusted off Donner, my long-neglected road bike, today, and went for a short spin. I forgot how light and nimble he is compared to Fauntleroy, the commuter bike. Four weekends to gear up for 50 miles?! We can do this! Road Bike

 

 

LaQuinta Pool

Soaking Up the Sun in SoCal

Over Easter weekend, The Mechanic and I flew to Southern California to visit friends in Palm Springs and Pasadena (okay, technically we were in La Quinta and Eagle Rock, but I think those cities are not as well-known as Palm Springs and Pasadena).

Palm Springs was our first stop, for the wedding of one of my bestest friends ever. The wedding was in the beautiful La Quinta Resort & Club, a Waldorf Astoria Resort. Talk about swanky! It’s probably the fanciest place we’ve ever stayed, but I have to say, probably the most gorgeous. The property was originally built in 1926, and was a popular getaway for Hollywood stars; Frank Capra and Greta Garbo, to name two. Our “casita” was a fairly large bungalow duplex, with a front porch, screened in back porch, huge tub and separate shower, and a fireplace – one of the original casitas in the center of the resort. We spent a fair amount of time sitting on our front porch, just admiring the gardens and watching the other guests. We did take a quick dip in the adults-only pool, which was absolutely heavenly. I’m still fantasizing about it. The weather was hot but with almost no humidity, it felt perfect.

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My friend’s wedding and reception took place in Greta Garbo’s own space, called La Casa. Because the two buildings are not earthquake-safe, everything was outdoors, and we could only peek over the velvet ropes into her rooms. The wedding was lovely, of course, small, intimate and elegant. It was wonderful to catch up with friends and my parents, who were also wedding guests. Definitely swankier than ours, complete with a photo booth!

Because the wedding was the day before Easter, several of us stayed for the over-the-top Easter brunch at La Quinta. I have no words to describe this event, but I’ll try! Unlimited mimosas, over a dozen food stations, the Easter Bunny, a kids’ area with their own buffet, exotic fruits, pastel everything, even Peeps on the dessert tables. Yes, I said tables – more than one! An ice cream sundae bar! I think we ate for an hour and a half straight. Totally worth it. And so fun to see all the little girls dressed up in their Easter best. I wore my new floral reflective top; it hasn’t been warm enough here to wear it, but I made my entire trip all about the florals. And I wore my BikieGirlBloomers under my casual floral dress – haven’t had a chance to wear them either and love them!

After the wedding festivities were over, we drove to Eagle Rock, a tiny Los Angeles neighborhood squeezed in between Pasadena and Glendale, to visit other friends. It hasn’t changed much since I was there four years ago, although now there are bike lanes on each side of Colorado Blvd., and we saw several roadies out our last morning there. We weren’t there long enough to do much more than eat and play with my friends’ five dogs (!!!), but we did visit The Huntington Library and Gardens, which I just love. It was so relaxing to just stroll around and admire all the different gardens and sip on the amazingly fragrant jasmine iced tea served in the Chinese Gardens.

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Southern California seemed to be a big contradiction – facing a severe drought and water restrictions, yet watering the lawns in the middle of the day. A car-centric area, yet bike lanes and shared sidewalks (huzzah!). And just outside of La Quinta, with it’s lush green lawns, a windmill farm, to power nearby homes. I suppose all cities are like that, but it seemed much more extreme in Palm Springs.

It’s hard sometimes to be environmentally aware and visit places that clearly are not. Ah tourism. The Mechanic and I decided that eco-conscious resorts will weigh more heavily in our future travel plans. But I can’t forget how wonderful the resort was, how relaxing and green and luxurious! And I would love to go swimming again.

Poolside at El Presidente Suite at La Quinta Resort and Club

Poolside at El Presidente Suite at La Quinta Resort and Club

Rear view is suprisingly flattering!

Clothing Review: Levi’s Commuter Jeans for Women

I mentioned earlier that I was chosen by Levi’s to test out/blog about their new Women’s Commuter Jeans and now the time has come to do a formal review. As you all know, Levi’s came out with their men’s bike commuter clothing collection ages ago, with no apparent interest in a women’s collection. At last, however, they have caught up with the times and demands of women who bike, and released a women’s collection of jeans, shorts, shirts and jackets, all designed with bike commuting in mind. This has been greeted in my circles with cries of relief and success.

I got a pair of the Commuter Skinny Jeans in “Cityscape Blue.” They are also available in “Monument,” a light gray, and black; Eleanor’s NYC got the blue blue pair that no longer seem to be available (I know I’d seen them on the website at one point!). At first glance, they look just like a normal pair of jeans, but they are full of bike-friendly details: “temperature control technology,” stretch, “odor repellent,” a high rise, reflective detail on the inside side seam, lined back pockets and flatlocked seams for comfort. And the all-important Levi’s leather patch on the back right hip is black, rather than traditional tan; it would have been cool if this was reflective! The little red tab is there though (I would have made that reflective).

I was a bit worried about the fit, to be honest, having seen an ad somewhere that said, “Our skinniest fit yet!” and therefore asked for a size 10, one size up from my normal 8. Glad I did! They are definitely the skinniest jeans I have ever tried on. They are tight on my calves! Really? But…. once I get them on, they are amazingly flattering, thanks, I’m sure to the high rise waist. These jeans don’t just have a higher rise in the back, they are higher all the way around. This is a trend that is creeping its way into our wardrobes, and I feel ready to embrace it now. I wish I had a longer inseam pair but there is plenty of reflective detail showing when i cuff them up over my ankle bone. The front pockets are not particularly deep, nor are the back pockets, and there is no U-lock loop. I don’t wear my U-lock but know some women like to, so if you are one of them, be aware of that missing feature.

Checking out a Little Free Library in my Levi's Commuter Jeans

Checking out a Little Free Library in my Levi’s Commuter Jeans

I have worn these jeans biking as well as being a tourist in the American History Museum on the National Mall, so I have had the chance to test them out in different scenarios. The denim seems to loosen up nicely the more you wear them, which I appreciate. They are easy to bike in, and the high waist holds in my tummy a bit more than my other jeans. I don’t bike in jeans enough to worry about the crotch rubbing thin, so I can’t say how I think that will turn out, but the denim seems sturdy enough. I’ve only worn them in the cold, so as of yet I can’t speak to the temperature control technology, and I have no intention of finding out how well the odor repellent feature works.

I had The Mechanic take photos on a not-quite-warm-enough day, and I tucked my turtleneck in to show the high waist. Taking another one for the team by sharing photos I’m not 100% comfortable with…

The high rise is flattering but I'd still never wear shirts tucked into my jeans.

The high rise is flattering but I’d still never wear shirts tucked into my jeans.

At $88, I think these are a good investment if you are looking to support companies that make women’s bike clothing; not too pricey, not too cheap. Levi Strauss & Co. is a company I’d like to support more because it is a company that is trying to be more sustainable. For example, they created a line of jeans (again, only for men) that use less water in the production process, but by encouraging consumers to wash their jeans less often to reduce water usage. Putting my money where my values are means that I will explore more Levi’s products, like this women’s Commuter bike shirt.

Overall, I am quite happy with these jeans, and very grateful to Levi’s for giving me the opportunity to test them out. I am interested to hear what you think of them, if you own them or have tried them on. Susi at VeloJoy is happy with hers as well – what about you? Levis 6

 

 

On a CaBi bike near Northside Social in Clarendon

ICYMI: March Mostly Clothing

March was full of clothing-related stuff, or so it seemed to me, but we did squeeze in some bike advocacy, to protest proposed cuts to the bike/walk programs. I haven’t really gone to anything like this before and was proud of The Mechanic and I for literally standing up for what we believe in, as we stood in support of all three speakers supporting our cause.  The Mechanic took some great video of my reflective pants but I haven’t had time to edit that to share. Soon.

It had been a long time since our bikes were out on the town together! A little advocacy brought them out.

It had been a long time since our bikes were out on the town together! A little advocacy brought them out.

In other news, here is what else happened in March:

Reid Miller is a woman I met at the National Forum on Women & Bicycling, someone who also is interested in changing the apparel market for women’s bike clothes. She is currently conducting a survey of measurements, to create more realistic sizes of women’s clothing. Although you might not necessarily look at the numbers, I urge you to take her survey and add your measurements to mine. Share this survey far and wide – the more women-who-bike that take this survey, the better representation there will be!

– Speaking of bike clothing, did you see this Bike League Tweet about Fiks:Reflective? What do you think about this quote? “Safety sells to mothers and then sits in the bottom of a drawer.” I agree with making reflective safety gear cool and hip and desirable, and enjoy their tee shirts and wheel stripes. I’d get the wheel stripes before I’d wear the tee shirts, but I love what they are trying to do. Bike League Tweet

– Another Kickstarter bike product caught my eye, thanks to a feature on the VeloJoy website: the Lux Bicycle Pedal. This is a strap designed with fashion in mind; in fact, the quilting on it was inspired by Chanel. Can’t go wrong there! I love this Kickstarter product because I love my Power Grips but they are getting worn out, and when/if I get Fauntleroy repainted, he’ll need something fancier. My birthday isn’t that far away – maybe I can talk The Mechanic into Kickstarting me a pair!

Lux Bicycle Pedal (image from website)

Lux Bicycle Pedal (image from website)

– I did some biking around on Capital Bikeshare bikes. Seriously, I love these bikes. They are pretty much everywhere, easy to use (especially if you have an annual membership. If you want one, get it before May 1, when the membership goes up to $85 a year. Still a bargain though!), seem indestructible (although I know they are not), and best of all – you don’t have to do any maintenance on them! Although that seems like a work pitch, I really love those CaBi bikes. And speaking of work, here’s a blog post I wrote for the work blog about my commute. Does the photo look familiar?!

On a CaBi bike near Northside Social in Clarendon

On a CaBi bike near Northside Social in Clarendon

– During our REI outting, we studied the new Ghost bikes. I pretty much love these bikes because they are German, a variant on my favorite color combination, and matte. Technical details, who cares?!? A woman’s bike that isn’t pink! Or perhaps women’s mountain bikes don’t have the pink-affliction that other genres do; I haven’t looked at enough. The Mechanic is familiar with these bikes, and we were excited to see them in person. So was Edgar. He likes them because he matches.

Now it’s April, and a busy month awaits. So too does Springtime weather, at least, we all hope it does! I’m looking forward to wearing skirts and dresses again. I can’t wait to try out my new Bikie Girl Bloomers, but I may also consider restocking my selection of Jockey Skimmies Slipshorts. Jockey has come out with a few variations, and the wicking ones are on my list for summer. Skirts are cool but wicking Slipshorts has got to be cooler!

Perfect for preserving modesty!

Perfect for preserving modesty! (image from website)

And looking ahead – if you are in Arlington (VA, not TX!), there are two women-specific events coming up that I encourage you to check out. One is next week, the BikeArlington Zen Around the City Yoga & Biking for Women event on Tuesday, April 7th. The one they hosted two years ago was a huge success, so make sure to check out this one! And I noticed that the Revolution Cycles shop in Clarendon had a sign out for a Ladies’ Night on April 15th. I’ll probably go to this, and see which non-biking friend I can drag with me. RSVP soon and see you there!

Really guys? Pink and purple? This is why I love the orange and teal Ghost bike.

Really guys? Pink and purple? This is why I love the orange and teal Ghost bike.

 

 

 

 

 

REI Novara Wicker Park Bike Top

Bike Clothes Shopping with REI Dividends

This past weekend, The Mechanic and I found ourselves (along with everyone else in Arlington and Fairfax) at REI, 2014 member dividends in hand. Neither of us had earned much, but combined with the members-only coupon, I was definitely ready to spend! You will not be surprised when I say that I headed straight to the women’s bike clothing section and swooped up several things I’ve been studying on the website to try on.

I would like to apologize for the lousy pictures I took in the dressing room! I didn’t really think about it – the staging is sloppy, the lighting was atrocious, and could I have at least smiled?! Oh, and trying on stuff all day made me feel bad about my shape – I hated the way I looked in just about everything. I almost don’t want to share the photos but think it’s good to show what stuff looks like on a real person. Perhaps you are super athletic and never worry about your fat arms or your thunder thighs (which I had long before I started biking, btw) – but some of us do. So for the rest of us, these photos are for you!

I like REI’s Novara bike clothing for women. It’s fairly cute, has enough reflective details to make me happy, it’s usually made out of some stretchy, moisture-wicking material and it is fairly reasonably priced. Let me show you what I tried (again, remember, bad photos!):

Novara Glencliff Bike Top and Novara Brightwood Bike Skirt

Novara Glencliff Bike Top and Novara Brightwood Bike Skirt

First up – the Novara Brightwood Bike Skirt and Glencliff Bike Top. I really liked the skirt; it fit well, the fabric was nice and the pockets were deep enough. It felt short, but it’s no shorter than bike shorts. I didn’t like it enough to buy it and probably won’t, unless it goes on super-sale. The Glencliff top is cute but the sleeves are really narrow and made my arms look like overstuffed sausages. That will never happen.

The Novara Ardenwald Bike Top was really cute, even though I have an aversion to things with bikes printed on them. I like the way this fit, and honestly, the penny farthing print won me over. I tried it in a size Small because they didn’t have a Medium in stock, and it fit well enough that I’d probably buy it in that size. The fabric is pretty lightweight, but in the summer, that might be just perfect. I like the reflective shoulder tabs, too.  Novara Pants BlueThe Novara Tuxedo Park Bike Pants were not to be – I wanted to like them, since I always have a hard time finding pants I love, but it didn’t happen. I tried on sizes 8 and 10, and the 10 fit better over my curves, but the stretch fabric was comfortable and forgiving in either size. You can’t tell but I was trying to show the reflective belt loop on the waist. The inside cuff has reflective trim too, so you can roll them up for some added flash. I wasn’t excited. I want summer pants that are not super tight fitted. Guess I’ll have to make lots of drawstring pants!

I actually really loved the Novara Wicker Park Bike Top and bought it. On the website, the cut looked weird to me, slightly boxy, maybe too short, I don’t know, it just seemed off. But once I put it on, I was hooked. Okay, part of it is that it’s striped, and next to floral prints, stripes are my favorite pattern. The cut is indeed a bit boxy; I almost bought the Small instead of the Medium, but it was over an inch shorter and I prefer the longer length. The moisture-wicking fabric feels nice as well.  The reflective piping down the back seam and in the cap sleeves only made me want it more. I wish the neck was a bit lower, but the pink edging and buttons are a fun touch. I can see myself getting a ton of wear out of this.

Terry Transit Bike Top

Terry Transit Bike Top (geez, just smile, will you?!)

The last thing I tried on was the Terry Transit Bike Top. I wasn’t in love with the color, but liked the fabric and cut. Alas, the fact that the placket pulled and wouldn’t lay flat annoyed me, but the neckline is sophisticated, and I can see this being a really great business top in the summer.

I also almost bought the CycleAware Tour de Joy handlebar bag in silver – it is intended for kids, but it’s the perfect date night purse! Metallic purses are always fun in the summer.

CycleAware Tour de Joy Handlebar Purse (for girls)

CycleAware Tour de Joy Handlebar Purse (for girls)

Waiting in the mail for me was my lovely red striped Ligne 8 top, ordered last week from Bike Pretty. I’ve wanted this for a long time, and now that Bike Pretty is offering it with free shipping, I couldn’t resist! Although she has styled hers with a French beret, mine will go perfectly with my vintage J. Crew linen sailor middy jacket!

Striped shirts on our striped duvet cover - yes, I like stripes!

Striped shirts on our striped duvet cover – yes, I like stripes!

Bucket Bag 3

Trend in Reflective: Bucket Bag

All the fashion magazines are singing the praises of bucket bags as *the* purse to have for Spring, and in fact, some editors are predicting it’s popularity through Fall. Even my latest Lucky magazine repeated the news. So I guess it must be true – and something to pay attention to. And by “pay attention to” what I really mean is “interpret with reflective fabric.” So I did. Twice.

Even the Lucky magazine editors say so!

Even the Lucky magazine editors say so!

I didn’t find a pattern for one, so I studied as many pictures as I could, and looked some up online to read measurements. Then I just sort of made it up, using for the bottom the pattern piece from my niece’s American Girl Doll carrying bag (McCalls 6854).

McCalls 6854, with my Samantha modeling the bag. Props to my niece for picking the awesome fabrics herself!

McCalls 6854, with my Samantha modeling the bag. Props to my niece for picking the awesome fabrics herself!

The first one I made I already shared with you, made with the reflective orange on the bottom and for the drawstring, and a camo print for the rest of the bag. I lined it in blue because that was all I had enough scraps for, but I don’t think my friend minded. In fact, she was pretty tickled with it.

But I learned a few things while making hers and tried to improve on mine, although I’m not 100% sure I succeeded. This time I sewed the  loops on before I put the lining in, but I wish I’d added more loops. I might add them later, and just stitch through – at least the lining is a busy print, so the stitching should be as noticeable. Somehow I had less webbing for the strap, which ended up fairly short, but I guess that it’s a big deal.

I picked the color combination because I love this plum reflective fabric (which I am now almost out of) and it goes so well with the Liberty of London for Target duvet cover/fabric I have. My original thought was to get blue microsuede fabric, but JoAnns didn’t have a blue I wanted, so I picked a light denim. It looks fine but is more casual than I’d wanted. I was sort of hoping I could carry this bag with the dress I’m wearing soon to a friend’s wedding. I may end up making (trying to make) a zippered clutch, but we’ll see.

I used fusible woven interfacing on all the fabric, including the lining, to give it a bit of heft; on the bottom I used a really thick, almost felt-like fusible non-woven interfacing that created a pretty firm base. I wish I’d known about that interfacing when I made my niece’s bag. It still doesn’t hold it’s shape the way I imagine the high-end leather bags do, but theirs aren’t reflective, so there you are.

Now I’m in a purse mindset – I want to make all kinds of bags! Especially since I have this cool metallic printed twill, silver and gold. I think the gold would be lovely as a foldover clutch to match my floral dress, but I can’t decide if I should mix in some reflective fabric. But I also can’t imagine sewing something that isn’t reflective anywhere – quelle horreur!  Stay tuned to see if I attempt something this weekend.

Future gold clutch purse?

Future gold clutch purse?

Flowers

Spring Time Bike to Blossoms

It’s now a few days into Spring, at last! Sure, it snowed on the first day of Spring, but at the following day was pretty lovely – 61*F! It’s only a matter of time now before everything is in bloom. After all, the Cherry Blossom Festival has started and Capital Bikeshare’s #bikeinbloom unicorn bike is already out for people to find.

Speaking of blossoms and blooms, I decided that I am going to institute my own “-euring” event this spring. Inspired by the Fourth Annual Chasing Mailboxes Coffeeneuring Challenge last fall, I think I will do something similar yet very different. It will be my challenge (but feel free to do it yourself!), so no rules, submissions or patches, and no coffee will be involved. Maybe tea. Anyway, my idea is to bike to a new Arlington County park every weekend. Because I specifically want to see the flowers and gardens, I used the filter function on the County’s website to find parks with “ornamental/rose gardens.”

Parks with "ornamental/rose gardens"

Parks with “ornamental/rose gardens”

There are 18! I did some further investigation and narrowed my list down to a few that look particularly interesting:

The Mechanic and I walk to Lubber Run fairly regularly, but we haven’t biked there. And we’ve biked past Glencarlyn Park but never stopped. And Powhatan Springs Park we have apparently passed, but never realized it was there. It has a bioretention area, so The Mechanic is especially interested in seeing that. The list is admittedly pretty short, but our weekends are pretty well booked already, so I don’t want to over-promise and under-deliver. By keeping our obligations minimal, we won’t be disappointed that we didn’t get more biking done.

Signs of Spring are popping up all over!

Signs of Spring are popping up all over!

I am hashtagging this Spring/Summer event #bike2blossoms, and I invite you to try it for yourself – hashtag your pictures on Twitter and Instagram so I am sure to see them! What better way to enjoy Spring than to bike to parks to see flowers? Nature and bikes – two of my favorite things. Flowers

The intersection side without the crosswalk.

Adding a Series: Comfort Biking

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Forum for Women & Biking, and the conversations surrounding how women don’t feel as safe or comfortable as men do, when it comes to biking, one of the reasons why fewer women bike. So I’ve decided to start a series called “Comfort Biking.”

By “Comfort Biking,” I mostly mean places and spaces that don’t seem to be comfortable enough for that 60% “interested but concerned” group to bike in. I run across them myself, or rather, I don’t – because I chose to go a different route. I think that we can start identifying what people might be insecure about, or unsure of, or nervous or maybe just downright scared. It might be physical but it could end up being about people, groups, dogs, or anything else. Anything that I run across that makes me think, “Oh, I don’t feel comfortable with this, I’ll do something else.”

"Increased Comfort = More Women Biking" - The League of American Bicyclists

“Increased Comfort = More Women Biking” – The League of American Bicyclists

I had a few experiences today that made me think of this. The first experience was this morning, when I was biking to a client location. While I was happily in the bike lane, headed north, I noticed a boy on his bike riding on the sidewalk on the other side of the street. At first I was annoyed that he was doing something clearly incorrect and potentially dangerous, but when I got closer and realized he was a student, I thought, “Well, we need to do a better job at education to make sure kids know to bike in bike lanes!” However… when we got to the intersection, I realized why he was biking where he was – the bike lane I was in ended, and not only that, there was no crosswalk on my side of the very busy and large intersection! If I wasn’t confident enough to bike through the intersection with the vehicular traffic, I would have had to cross in the crosswalk to the left hand corner, then cross on the left side. I didn’t see the boy cross, but I bet that’s what he did. I saw in that moment a true story about how we encourage kids to bike to school, but can’t provide the safe infrastructure to let them do so.

The intersection side without the crosswalk.

The intersection side without the crosswalk (taken from the left/west side of the street, looking east)

The intersection headed north on the west side of the intersection.

The intersection headed north on the west side of the intersection.

On my way home from a different meeting, I opted to bike down a further street towards our apartment, rather than the closer street, because the closer street requires a left-hand turn in the middle of the road with no light, and sometimes I just prefer to not have to do that. Sometimes, like today, I opt to keep going, and turn onto the street with the traffic light. It depends on my mood. Today, I didn’t feel like dealing with the oncoming traffic confused by a bike in the lane, trying to make a turn (it sucks for cars, too, but obviously I’m smaller and more vulnerable).

I think this series will only be once a month, but I think it is important. Surely those nine blog posts won’t change the world, but it will be a step in the right direct of talking about different needs.  finessecomfort

 

Levis Commuter Jeans 2

Denim, Blueberry Soup and Bucket Bags

It’s been a busy weekend! Whew, I’m tired – when is my weekend?!

First of all, I am so excited to have received my Levi’s Commuter Jeans for Women, woo hoo! There has been a lot of buzz about them lately, and I have been anxious to get mine. I’m sort of on a bike jeans binge right now, as I also got the REI Novara bike jeans the week prior. The jeans came in a big fancy box along with some other swag, as part of a special “kit,” since I was selected as a local blogger to, well, blog about them! It was an exciting moment to get a huge box in the mail during the day on Friday, and discover all the goodies in it – a pin, bag with reflective design, and some stickers. But check out the fancy packaging! Clearly I am sucker for the packaging.

Initial thoughts – I really like the high waist, since it holds my the 5lbs I have been too lazy to lose this winter, but man, the legs are super skinny! I can barely get them on over my calves, and I don’t think my calves are abnormally bulky! I wore them this morning to volunteer at the WABA Vasa Ride (see below), and they seemed fine, no major problems, just really skinny in the lower leg.

The Levi's Commute Jeans for Women are so skinny that they make my shoes look huge!

The Levi’s Commute Jeans for Women are so skinny that they make my shoes look huge!

Stay tuned for more details on the jeans!

I volunteered for the Washington Area Bicyclists Association‘s Vasa Ride this morning. The Vasa Ride is held in partnership with the Swedish Embassy in Georgetown, in tribute to the traditional Swedish vasaloppet ski race (check out the crazy history of the race!). The biggest draw, I think, is the warm blueberry soup in the embassy after the ride. I did the morning shift, checking in riders, so no blueberry soup for me, alas. It was nice to meet some social media friends (Hey Mary!), and a special shout-out to Jennifer, a reader of my blog. We met for the first time and chatted knitting. Thanks for saying hi! Of course, Rootchopper was there – I feel like I’ve seen him a lot lately… is he beginning to stalk me?!? About 500 riders braved what turned into a very blustery morning for the first ride of the season. I managed to get a few pictures.

I then spent the rest of the day trying to finish up a gift for a friend. Since bucket bags are really “in” for Spring, I thought I’d make one, and decided to use some of my orange reflective material in combination with some camouflage print. I just made up the pattern and directions in my head, with more or less success. I am pretty happy with the way it came out, and can’t wait to give it to my friend – then start my own! I also bought some printed metallic snakeskin fabric. I have no idea what I’ll do with a half-yard each of gold and silver, but I love it! And I have a bit of silver and gold reflective material left. My thinking cap is definitely on…

I hope this week is a bit calmer than the lat few weeks have been. I’m gearing up for a trip on Easter Weekend to Palm Springs, CA, for a friend’s wedding. I still want to finish altering my wedding dress into a skirt to take, but a bit worried that it won’t happen. Too much other stuff in my head!

So much to make, so little time, as they say!

So much to make, so little time, as they say!