There are many reasons why cycling is my main mode of transport, and one of the biggest reasons is that I enjoy it. Similarly, there are many reasons why other people will say ‘I’d love to take up cycling, but…‘ One of those reasons is clothing. You can roll eyes and call me vain but it’s a valid concern for women and men – if you wear a suit to work and your office only provides a toilet cubicle as a changing facility, how are you supposed to commute on your bike?
Here are a few tips from my experience. Tips, I must emphasise. Although I cycle most days I’m not an expert and still learning – I’m just an internet friend sharing my advice.
- Cycling in a skirt isn’t a problem for me. I don’t feel self-conscious about my legs, and doubt anyone is looking. Sometimes I hear someone shouting ‘hey sexy legs!‘ or similar as I pass, but I’m too busy concentrating on, you know, cycling. If you do feel self-consious, just wear trousers or shorts underneath your skirt, then change at your destination. When I’m wearing a longer skirt than the one pictured above, I’ll just roll it up or pin it together with safety pins. You can get skirt guards to prevent your clothes getting caught in the spokes.
- Wearing a helmet isn’t mandatory in the UK. We could spend a long time debating the pros and cons of helmet use, but I think it’s a good idea to protect your noggin. As you can see in this pictures, I’m not wearing one but I was on the off road Fallowfield Loop.
- Gloves will protect your hands – and not just from windchill. If you do unfortunately come off your bike, you’ll instinctively put out your hands to protect yourself. When rollerblading once I took a tumble, and was picking gravel out of my palms for days. Not pleasant.
- Shoes need to be sensible. Cycling in heels is not only possible, but also encouraged by some. I have a few pairs of flats that I cycle in because of the risk of puddle splashback. I especially like these studded flats as they have a T-bar – ballet flats would just fall off.
- Staying visible is important. When cycling after dark I have several lights and various reflective clothing. Even if you’re not cycling on the roads it’s safer to be seen, and you won’t be scaring pedestrians.
- I cycle in all weathers, and don’t mind arriving to my destination looking a bit windswept. It makes me feel like Eliza Bennet, rosy-cheeked and muddy-skirted, tramping across the countryside to Netherfield. If you do mind there’s no shame in being a fair weather cyclist.