Yet more reasons not to wear lycra

Towards a more bikable/walkable US on this 4th of July, a nice quote about America’s silly relationship with cycling from bikesnobnyc:

“I may be naive, but I continue to believe that one day humanity will reach a point at which we will no longer need to feel special while we do something normal. Putting on pants will cease to be the subject of a feature article. The notion of a “bike culture” will dissolve like body paint in the rain. Riding a bicycle in street clothes will no longer be “cycle chic.” Best of all, we will no longer need to be cultural aspirants or fashion models to ride to the store, and the simple act of buying something at that store will not need to be a statement about “sustainability.” Instead, we will be regular schlubs doing regular crap, and we will be confident enough to do so without naming it and without baring our inner thigh sideburns in the process.”

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  1. well, I think Lycra is good for long distance rides…but I’m not really sure I’m much into long distance rides anymore.

    It always seemed strange to me to spend an hour riding in a car to ride a bike for 4 hours to then drive the car back home. I did it because I biked more when I was with those friends and I had something to prove to myself. These days I’d rather get in more shorter rides, you know like to the grocery store or a concert.

  2. You know I typically enjoy your blog… but today.. I just don’t get putting the picture of this guy on the blog… for whatever reason… it made me squirm uncomfortably in my chair.. I feel bad for the guy while at the same time at least he’s out there…. I wonder if he’s an example of “being confident enough” gone a bit askew. trying to “fit in” he ended up standing out and not in a good way…

  3. In Jacksonville, there’s three reasons you’re on a bike (according to the law of assumption, these are the only three). Anything that deviates from these three reasons should be honked at, or narrowly missed by your mirror as you speed by.

    1. You’re a Lycraman/Lycrawoman training for something. Or in plainclothes, you are getting a little leisurely work-out.
    2. You’re 15 or younger, usually a prepubescent boy, and you have nothing better to do
    3. You’re unemployed or had to sell your car to pay rent (or for some licker er drugs er somethin)

    Thinking it so very clever, I prepared an old high school silk screen and printed about 15 patches that say “Honk if you love bikes.” In this town, that’s what we call honk repellent. I don’t wear lycra or spandex when I’m running my errands, but I wouldn’t consider what I *do* wear to be chic by any standard.

  4. I hate to admit that one of the things that has held me back from using a bike for my everyday errands has been the dilemma of what to wear. I normally wear flowy hippie skirts, which don’t work for the purpose, and I didn’t want to buy something either uncomfortable (jeans, for me) or dorky (that would be Lycra on my hippy hippie body) just so I can ride my bike to the library.

  5. Teresa, I have that exact same issue. I wear wrap around hippie skirts all summer (a long time here in the Deep South). I usually end up tying it up in a knot around my thighs to keep it out of the way, but then it invariably comes undone while I am riding, and I have to stop. My husband thinks I need to change the clothes I wear, but I really don’t want to do that. I am considering A DIY chainguard/fender arrangement.

  6. Hmm I also didn’t appreciate the picture all that much–I found it irrelevant–but I did enjoy the paragraph quote.

    I have two biking personalities. 1: When it’s the weekend, and I’m just biking to enjoy the sunshine, or on weekdays when I am biking to work and hauling with me a change of business casual, I ride around in leggings and a tank with maybe a long sleeve shirt. No spandex, just tight clothes that are comfortable. 2: When I’m biking downtown to meet friends or run errands, the skinny jeans or leggings really do make biking ok (as our hipster friends have demonstrated)–they are easy to move in, don’t get caught in your gears, and you can hop off the bike and into society almost seamlessly (minus the sweat).

  7. The picture of the guy is like those that go around on the e-mail lists about how people who go to Wal-Mart dress: A reminder to look in the mirror before we go out!

    As for biking – been there, done that, way back when I used to live in NYC (30 years ago?), but now I live in varying terrain, no bike lanes, and bad knees! PLUS I wear long flowing skirts all year ’round!

    But yes, it would be nice that we could just be folks, doing stuff, and have it be “right”, rather than be part of some counter-culture . . of course we thought that would happen back in the late 60’s/early 70’s. Now we’re back in ‘style’

  8. Eh, I wear work clothes when I bike to work, casual clothes when I run errands and lycra when I go on fast or long rides. I ride every day and for lots of different reasons. Just wear what works.

    Regarding the flowy skirt comments, I’ve seen some really great DIY skirt guards around town. One of my neighbors made one out of what appears to be pink vinyl from an old piece of furniture and some zip ties.

  9. To those who quoted on the picture. Nobody cares what you like or don’t like. You are not special or unique so get over it.

  10. In some parts of the world the normalcy of what you are talking has been in place for a long time. I was working in the Netherlands about ten years ago. On a rainy April morning, I was standing outside my hotel when a young lady wearing office work clothes–including an above the knee skirt–came pedaling by holding an umbrella. She did it with all modesty. I was very impressed.

  11. Sorry about the cheap-shot photo–I meant it, in part, as a jab at the sordid goings on at the Tour de France.

    I used to travel to northern Europe on business frequently. On one trip to Belgium my hosts, a normal middle-aged couple, got quite a laugh out of the fact that I, as an American, would consider riding a bike with them. We rode from the outskirts of Bruges to a nearby medieval town for some Belgian waffles and beer. To them, taking the trip by bike was routine. To an American, including me, it’s a lifestyle choice. Their bikes were clunky and heavy but, with step through frames and chain guards, built to accommodate normal clothes.

    Belgians have dealt with considerable scarcity and crisis in their history. They never had the easy access to oil that we did. Now that oil is expensive here in the states I have a feeling we’ll see more “regular schlubs” on bikes. Hopefully we’ll have the infrastructure for those schlubs. I still feel like I have to use a fast road bike to navigate traffic here in crazy LA.

  12. I want to dress normally to ride, but Seattle is super hilly – the name of the neighborhoods that begin and end my commute say it all: “High Point to First Hill.” I don’t go totally spandex, but I also don’t ride that 650 foot elevation gain in jeans and a shirt I expect to wear all day. I arrive soaked in sweat even in January.

    Quick trip to the store for milk, or the farmers market? Yeah, sensible clothes and a sensible bike.

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