Monday, August 8, 2011

Biking in Long Skirts is Entirely Possible

When I tell people that I've recently begun cycling and hope for it to become an important part of my lifestyle, I'm often asked how I plan to ride a bike wearing the long skirts/dresses/abayas/jilbabs that are a permanent part of my everyday wardrobe.

She's totally rocking it. So can I.
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Before I bought my bicycle, this was a major concern for me. I knew I didn't want to shift my entire wardrobe to fit into a cycling lifestyle, especially if I wanted to use my bike for more than recreation. I wanted to maintain the way I dressed while I made this slow lifestyle transition and I knew that for it to be successful, it had to be something I could keep up in the long run--and I'd only be able to keep it up if I didn't have to worry about what I was wearing every time I wanted to hop on my bike and go.

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I'm hardly the first person to think this way. There is a positive trend towards utility cycling that involves riders being able to commute to work without having to hike up their pant legs, or cycle in their "bike clothes" and then have to change into their work clothes upon arrival at work. Bikes conducive to utility cycling feature such wonders as fenders, mudflaps, chain guards (sometimes full chain cases) and dressguards/coat guards. These features prevent your clothes from getting dirty and from long coattails and skirts from getting caught in the spokes of your rear wheel.

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Dutch bicycles are paragons in this respect. These features are less common on North American bicycles though many manufacturers and bike shops have quickly caught on and are regularly importing Dutch bicycles (or designing their own) for North American riders, making them widely available for people who want to ride their bikes for transportation and not simply for recreation.

As I explained in this post, a Dutch bike is a hefty investment and as a novice cyclist, purchasing a vintage bicycle made in the 70s and upgrading it as needed was a more reasonable choice for me. One necessary element my bicycle was missing was a dress guard. Although they look very pretty on bikes, my desire for one was purely out of necessity (the looks were just a nice bonus!). Lovely Bicycle did a fantastic outline of their purpose and function in this post. I tried finding ready-made dress guards that I could purchase and snap onto my bike, but this proved too difficult. There are a few DIY tutorials on how to do this yourself, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

See this post to see how it turned out!

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