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The Elkridgean Cyclist - Bicycling in Style

My bike fashion meme...
My bike fashion meme...
The new part of Columbia Mall features some new fitness-oriented fashion stores. Lululemon is one I've never been in, but from what I hear, it is the be-all and end-all for Yoga. My daughter is a recent graduate of Yoga Teacher Training in New York City, and she has told me all about it, though she is too sensible to over-indulge in such a luxury (yay daughter!). Athleta (also super-expensive) is another new member of the Columbia Mall family. I've been shopping from Athleta on line for a couple years, and today I experienced the actual store first-hand. It was so exciting that I was nearly hyperventilating. (Note that I'm not so sensible as my daughter.) Neither of these stores are specifically geared toward cycling, which is a sport known for its unattractive padded pants and colorful jerseys. In fact, that's one of the benefits of cycling: an excuse to wear bad fashion! But I'm stubborn. I like lycra leggings as much as the next girl, but I have enough padding in my nether-regions (at least for the 8-20 miles which constitute my normal ride for transportation or recreation). But sometimes I want to look "cute" when I get to my destination. I don't always want to have to change clothes for work, shopping, or church. So "skinny jeans" are my friends (albeit they are an oxymoron on my figure). They don't get caught in the chain, but they don't look like bike pants. Stretchy jeans with a butt-covering tunic is my favorite attire for bike-commuting in moderate temperatures (not too hot and not too cold).

But right now it's COLD outside! Have you noticed that jeans are not the warmest item of clothing? Enter fleece-lined leggings, intended for runners, but my best friends this winter. My favorite outfit on days below 40 degrees consists of these leggings and a wool-knit dress from Athleta. Yes, a dress! It's a sporty dress. It doesn't get in my way on the bike, and it is super toasty! I have two. One in black, and one in dark purple. They are too dark for bike-riding, but of course in winter I need at least one other layer anyway. Here comes the "bad" fashion, my day-glow yellow wind-breaker. I have a pretty and bright turquoise jacket from REI too. Sometimes I have to layer the yellow one over the turquoise one. On my feet, to complete the ensemble, I where my cozy smart-wool socks and my Ugg boots. Aren't I quite the fashion plate? I probably look like some sort of crazy cat lady (indeed, the wool dress is like velcro to cat fur) but in my imagination, I am cute, and that is all that really matters in the end. My family has to love me no matter what I look like, but I have to love myself, so they say, and feeling like the "Cat's Meow" makes me happy. I can also ride in my tall leather boots, and my short leather booties. (I don't clip in, so footwear options are only limited by my Barney-Rubble-style-extra-wide feet.) Oh, let's not forget my "Buff Wool Buff" from REI. I might look like a terrorist in it, but a cute one in my mind's eye.

I do have my limit as far as riding in the cold. The rule is "If it is too cold to fix a flat without freezing, I'm not riding." Everyone has their threshold. My official cut-off point is 40 degrees (or 50 if it the wind is over 10 MPH). However, a freezing but sunny day will draw me out if there hasn't been a warm spell recently, and my cut-off point has drifted down to 32 or maybe even lower if the day promises to warm up over 40. I don't like riding if there is a lot of ice around, or snow banked up on the shoulders. But even then, I got desperate enough to attempt some ice-biking at least once this year. It's been a brutal winter, I have to admit.

Back to fashion. In the summer, my ride to work, while much easier than the ride home, is too long to not change clothes when I get there, so in those cases, I can pull out the padded shorts and the spandex jerseys. But I still like pretty things. I just got four new sleeveless performance tops that are such pretty, but bright colors, and yet "unstinkable" (I think that is an Athleta-registered-word - sorry). They are not as clingy as the typical bike clothes. I bike in sandals in the summer. Sometimes I use sports sandals, and keep cute ones at my desk. Sometimes I just ride in comfy but cute leather sandals.

I love the bright colors that seem to be in fashion just now, at least at stores like Athleta. They have their share of black, white and grey, but there are myriads of oranges, apple-greens, and bright teal options. I hope it's always that way. Title Nine is another store I have patronized on line. I bought a dress from them. It is a real dress, not a sporty one like the wool dress mentioned above. It is sporty fabric, but a beautiful print. I can't tell you how happy a beautiful print makes me feel. I'm not sure I'd ride in this. Well, maybe to church. When it warms up, I'll report back.

REI is a paradise for the cyclist who wants real official bike clothes. Some of them are even pretty, but the pretty ones are not usually in my size (or maybe other women-of-size get there first). I did get my turquoise jacket, but that was from the Flagship Store in Seattle. Performance Bike in Columbia has some more traditional choices. But these stores seem to think that because a woman likes to ride a bike, she must be an athlete, and not have any hips. I got a new day-glow zipper-up sleeveless vest from one of them (or maybe it was Amazon... I did order it on line). It zips up... barely... and it is an XXL. That's why I'm loving the stores like Athleta and Title Nine, who seem to understand a woman's body better. Not everything fits or flatters my figure, but I'm finding more than I thought I would. I think I have an idea for a post-retirement job!

The fact that an XXL top only barely zips up (okay all the reviews said it runs super small so I can't feel THAT bad about it) has perhaps been a contributing force in my retaining a personal trainer from a local gym. He is trying to help me build my own internal girdle. We'll see how that goes. He is trying to kill me, in a nice quiet sort of way. The nice thing about this particular gym is that it is bike-riding distance from just about anywhere in Elkridge. I can ride there and be all warmed up for my work-out, in my cute unstinkable garb, and then cool down by riding home again.

Come on SPRING! I want to wear my new clothes!

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