Adventures in Cycling Part III or What to Wear for the Casual Cyclist

So now that you have the bike, the question is what to wear for the casual cyclist.

For running errands around town, or a quick commute, no need to wear anything athletic-y. If you wear wide-legged or boot cut pants and don’t have a chain guard, fine some way to keep your pant leg out of the chain. In warmer weather, I roll up the pant leg on that side. In colder weather, I pull out the cuff clips. I have these flexible metal semi-circles that fit around my ankle and minimize pant flap-age. Other people have fabric circles with Velcro ends and a strip of reflective material. Either of these options should cost under $10.

If you prefer wearing skirts or dresses, keep in mind pencil or mini skirts tend to ride up, so you might want to wear leggings or even shorts underneath, for that middle school flashback. As for a-line or circle skirts, I use a clothespin to hold together the front and back hems. I learned from experience that fuller skirts and the breeze you generate by biking or comes off passing cars might force you into a Marilyn Monroe impression. Also, long flapping fabric can create a hazard.

When it comes to tops, I steer clear of anything low cut. Most bikes have you lean forward slightly, and when combined with the occasional bump in the road can create quite the show.

As for shoes, once again, just about anything goes. Technically you should be pedaling with the ball of your foot pushing down on the pedal itself. Therefore, it’s perfectly possible to bike even with heels. I’ve only done it with wedges and low pumps, but I’ve seen pictures of French women biking in stilettos. The only shoes I really steer clear from are sneakers whose laces come untied easily: I’m paranoid that one day my shoelace will get stuck in the chain and cause an accident.

Finally, in general wear layers. As I said before, you create your own breeze, and I often end up a little chilled. Then again, you are exercising, and in the summer I often strip down to a tank top.

Next week: what to wear for a long(er) ride.

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