How to Ride Where You’re Going Without Looking Like You Have

Rusty with her bike

We’ve recently cut down to one car and I’m enjoying the push to travel by bike. It’s a good time of year to ditch a car, when the sun’s shining and the daylight hours are long. You’re unlikely to arrive at your destination soaked by rain, splattered in mud, with frostbitten fingers.

Even in good weather it can be difficult to figure out what to wear, especially if you want to avoid the fully-clad lycra look. If you’re in the saddle all day you definitely want to have padded shorts, but when your bike is just your gas-free way of getting around, it’s nice to dress for your destination and not your ride.

I am by no means an expert in this department. It wasn’t until I looked at this photo that I realised how desperately I need some new cycling shoes (I’m tired of looking like a Smurf.) But, there are a few tips I’ve stumbled upon along the way.

1) Put a lid on it.
Helmets: not for protecting your skull but simply to keep your hair in some semblance of order. We might complain about helmet hair, but mine looks far worse when it’s battled with the wind unhindered. A plait is a good option for long hair, plus emergency bobby pins. (This is mainly for the kickass Mary Poppins vibe gained by having emergency hair slides in one’s bag.) Helmets are also handy off the bike, to carry as a mild excuse for a haphazard appearance.

2) Pedals, meet shoes.
It’s worth having your foot somehow attached to your pedal, be it with SPD shoes (minus the Smurf look) or with good old-fashioned toe clips. It makes stopping and starting at junctions much easier and generally improves your pedal power.

3) Don’t be a snail.
No one wants to arrive at their destination a sweaty mess. Carrying all your gear on your back will pretty much guarantee it. Getting a pannier/ saddlebag/ bar bag makes the ride easier and it won’t crease your shirt.

4) Be a snail.
Go slow, enjoy the breeze, stop for that IG photo, use your lowest gear up the hill.

5) Take your granny’s advice.
Wear a vest, so if you do work up a sweat going up that hill, your shirt is safe.

2 thoughts on “How to Ride Where You’re Going Without Looking Like You Have

  1. this is so timely! I’ve just been looking today at whether it would be feasible to start cycling when I switch locations later in the year, I would need a new bike first though, and a refresher course!