#30daysofbiking : In regular clothes!

April is #30daysofbiking. Get in on the spring fun! This month I’m going to show you all a typical month of bike commuting attire for me…. Which maybe isn’t very exciting since I just wear my regular clothes.

So there you have it: #30daysofbiking in regular clothes!

Welcome to spring. Here in the Emerald City its been more of an April showers situation. Not to fear, I’ve been packing my poncho to keep dry when caught in surprise showers. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t constantly rain in Seattle. Spring is especially confusing because we can begin the morning with sun only to find it pouring at lunch and then sunny again for your commute home.

Even on the rainiest of days, I still want to wear my regular clothes and a poncho is the perfect cover that allows me to stay dry and not get too warm. For the lower extremities, waterproof boots keep the feet dry and tights dry out quickly if any water happens to splash up.

And if it gets really bad, there’s always the option of throwing your bike on the bus!

Monday Sunset

I stopped on 10th Ave yesterday to take this pretty picture. As I was getting back on my I looked down the hill to make sure it was clear for me to go.

What I saw was a man on a mountain bike cruising up the hill faster than I had thought possible. I was quite impressed, until I realized he was using electric assist.

Now I’m jealous.

Back in the Saddle?

Or something like that.

Last January. We didn't even have snow this winter!

Last January. We didn’t even have snow this winter!

I had a new bike built up (a Soma Buena Vista) back in August. I rode it most days through October. The holidays sort of start in October for us, and they really don’t calm down until after the new year. So I was lazy and/or had other things to do that somehow prevented me from getting on the bike daily. And the lack of daily riding had a strange effect on me…

I’ll call it nerves.

I was nervous to ride! And I can’t pinpoint why. I still feel it occasionally and somehow I find an excuse to get on the bus instead. So I’m riding two or three days a week and trying not to feel guilty about it. Once I do get on the bike I’m not nervous and I never regret it. It makes me happy.

So what’s the deal? Most people would think it’s the Seattle winter weather. Dark. Wet. Cold. But this week I rode on all of the rainy days and somehow decided to bus on the partially sunny and dry days. This has been a mild winter. And anyway I don’t get cold — I’m actually too warm when I ride. Maybe it’s the hills? There’s quite a bit of climbing for me on the way home and sometimes I just don’t have the energy.

But I want to get back in the saddle! I’ve got Streets + Beets coming up, and there are tons of fun training rides I’d like to participate in. Motivation!

On Riding In and Around Seattle #30daysofbiking

I like this video because it’s in Seattle, I can recognize places I bike all the time, and the people in it don’t seem to be hardcore “cyclists”. However, I do wish that they were dressed more normally. But then again, this is an REI piece so I suppose it makes sense that they would be “geared up”. Not to mention, many people here dress like that daily… Whether they are engaged in athletic adventures or not.

My daily commute brings me to the Udistrict and back via Capitol Hill. Generally, everyone I see on the hills in between is decked out in full on cycling gear. It’s rare to see anyone tackling the climbs and enduring the occasional rain shower in regular clothing. Once you enter the actual neighborhoods, however, it’s a different story. The Udistrict is full of students wearing whatever, riding with coffee in hand, and generally no helmets. In Cap Hill you’ll find hipsters heading over to Cal Anderson for some hard court bike polo or perhaps some beers over on some bar’s patio.

While it’s always great to be riding, and to see people of all types riding, I wish Seattle’s topography and infrastructure were able to support easy and carefree cycling between neighborhoods.

Today’s mileage: 10 miles
April total: 86.5 miles

2016: You Can’t Get Here Soon Enough

While I do sometimes enjoy working on my “thighs of iron” at the end of a long workday, being able to skip the hill and take the reliable Link (vs. unreliable bus which may not have room for bikes) is going to be quite amazing.

Already, you can get an intimation of how light rail can remap a cyclist’s idea of “accessible” Seattle; that “Link” appellation turns out to be functionally true. As each new section is added, anyone with a bike can make use of the transit backbone to move easily through Seattle from north to south, often from light rail to trail and back. You won’t need to have thighs of iron to conquer hills, or be kitted out in full bad-weather gear “in case” a squall blows in. All you’ll need is flat-tire fixin’s and an ORCA card.

The SunBreak via Seattle Bike Blog 

A Pretty Standard #30daysofbiking Day

I biked to work. I worked. I biked home and met the hubs for dinner along the way.

The evening featured nice shots of the church near home and a pretty moonlit evening. I went home over the Montlake Bridge, riding past the new stadium/light rail construction. The mountains were almost visible beneath the clouds.

On the way in this morning, I was passed on the University Bridge by the nice reflective gentlemen pictured above. Rather than just blowing past without warning (as most do), he called out a cheery “Good Morning!”. Must not be a native Seattleite.

Daily mileage: 8 miles
Challenge total: 19 miles

Early Spring In Seattle

It’s raining as I write this. But this week was mostly sunny..

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And so was I: 

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 The cherry trees are beginning to bloom 🙂

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 There were stripes and pink polka dots…

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 And views of Lake Union while waiting at stop lights.

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On our 60-degree day yesterday, a chunky sweater, tights (just one pair!), and boots were perfect for the clear and chilly morning ride.

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Over the University Bridge… 

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And onto campus! 

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I got “doored”

For the first time! Almost one year commuting pretty much daily to work through Seattle and this is the first time my bicycle and I have come in contact with a vehicle. That seems pretty good.

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[photo taken AFTER the incident] 

This morning I was riding as usual, loving this chilly and sunny morning (finally some blue skies!). I got to this one of the parts of my commute that always makes me a bit nervious. I’m approaching the intersection of Melrose and Denny (riding on Melrose and heading north). Most of the cars are going to turn left at the light, but I’m going straight and it’s “sort of” two lanes. I mean “sort of” in the sense that cars are parked by the curb in the second lane, but once you are closer to the light most people just use that second lane to either turn right or go straight.

So I often end up riding in the door zone, prior to getting to the light, and there are usually cars driving next to me on my left side. I always look for people in the parked cars and be alert and ready to use my breaks.

I’ve imagined what it would like to be doored. I’ve wondered what I would say or do and how much it would hurt. I’ve also wondered how it even happens. Wouldn’t you just react and move out of the way? Surely if you are paying attention you have enough warning.

Not today. Today I was riding and pretty much immediately as I come along side the car, I sense (more than see) the door opening. There is a moving vehicle to my left (closely) so swerving out of the way isn’t an option. Luckily I was going slow and had my hands on the breaks already. I braced for impact.

The most surprising thing was the sound. And the fact that it didn’t hurt. I hit the door with my right thigh/knee and my pinkie finger. The bike also crashed into the door (that had to have been what made the sound), but only the handlebars made impact. My finger ended up getting smashed between the door any my break lever. My bike tipped over, but we didn’t fall.

I think I yelled something like “Door!” or “Doored!” right before impact. Not really sure. The guy looked really scared/surprised/confused. I moved over to the sidewalk to check out the damage. My chain fell off, that’s it. The guy just got out of his car and started to walk away, as if nothing had happned. It was weird. So I called out, “Hey man, how’s your door?”.

Snapshots of Winter Riding

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[My first work commute on the Triumph, early January. It was sprinkling rain.]

People always wonder how it’s even possible to ride and be comfortable/warm/safe during the winter. The truth is, it doesn’t rain as much in Seattle as you think. And it’s not that cold. In fact, you don’t need to dress much differently than you would if you were walking to your destination or waiting out at the bus stop.

I’ve previously written about riding in the rain and some of the things I learned early on. Seattle has a pretty mild climate, so winter riding tips and attire don’t really differ much from the rest of the year. I really only have two tips (and, I apologize for the crappy iPhone photos).

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[going out on a Saturday night in January, the night before it snowed: two pairs of leggings, boots, skirt, wool cardigan, scarf. jacket and gloves appeared later.]

First, check the temperature. The trick is that if you are standing outside and slightly cold you’ve got it just right. Once you start moving you will heat up; so if you are hot just standing there you are going to be too warm once you start riding. I’ve found that for the winter mornings when it dips below 35 degrees I need my warmest winter jacket, thick waterproof gloves, and something to cover my ears and sometimes face if necessary. Wool leggings or tights under your pants or normal pair of leggings/tights is also helpful. In Seattle it warms up for the commute home; sometimes I find that the thick winter jacket is overkill and have to remove it halfway home.

Secondly, and most importantly, dress as yourself. You don’t have to buy hundreds of dollars worth of bike-specific clothing and gear. If you like that look and are comfortable with it, go ahead. For me, since I’m most often biking to get to a place where I’m not going to be doing anything bikey or active I wear my normal clothes. If I had to shower and change after every ride, it wouldn’t be the same convienent, time-saving activity I enjoy so much.

So, wear your skirts on your bike. It’s not a problem, I promise you. Besides, tights are warmer than pants every time.