What Every Fabulous Girl Needs to Go By Bicycle II

Part 2: Make Your Cycling Life Easier

This list is for the essentials that make a fabulous cycle girl’s life easier. Be sure you have the necessities for cycling first, then gather these up if they resonate with your style!

  • Sunglasses: This is such an essential for me, it nearly made the “Absolutely Required” list. Squinting to see over the glare of pavement is SO not fun, nor is a headache from the light if you have sensitive eyes. If it’s cloudy, get a lighter-tinted pair– I have rose-colored, yellow for sunshine on a cloudy day, dusty orange, and of course blue-gray polarized lenses for when it’s actually bright out (not too many Portland days truly require these). UVA and UVB block will of course protect your eyes the best. And you look so much cooler, too! Sunglasses can really let your personality shine.

#Downtown #Aviators #BikeSelfie #Winter2011
  • Comfy Seat: All girls who have ever rode more than 20 minutes know exactly why this is a must! This one doesn’t need to break the bank, either: Local and online shops will sell seats that were used only a couple of times by professional bicycle racers before their sponsors provided them with a new one. That’s how I got my current one at a fraction of the original cost! Finding the right seat is totally worth it.
  • Bright Front Light/ Headlamp: This, too, nearly made the “Absolutely Required” list. While a standard front light helps cars, other cyclists, and pedestrians to see you, oftentimes the front light isn’t bright enough to help you see what’s in front of you on a poorly-lit street. A nice light will aid you to see street signs, potholes, train tracks, leaves and gravel, and even obscured parked cars or those cyclists who don’t have lights. The right one will be removable– in fact, all your lights should be removed and carried with you when you’re parked on the street, since they too are a target for theft. (In the past 2 years, I’ve had 4 or 5 lights stolen off my bike when I either thought they were safe or I was just popping in somewhere for a few minutes. The cost adds up!)

A fab cyclist in Santa Cruz with nice front light. Credit: Shelly Schroeder, RidingPretty.com
  • Rain Gear: I suppose if you live in Southern California/ the Southwest/ etc. that this is a non-issue. For the rest of us, riding in the rain is a reality. There’s always the option to relish the adrenaline of cycling in the rain (as I and many often do). But if you’re headed to work or out with friends and/or aren’t feelin’ the wet ride, protecting yourself from the elements is the job for some sturdy rain pants and a rain jacket. A hood will protect your hair if you aren’t the waterproof hat type. Some weather-proofing spray will do wonders to keep your socks and feet dry in your boots and riding shoes, too.
  • Chapstick: Protect your lips from drying and chapping with a nice protective balm. I’m partial to vegan-friendly Burt’s Bees Lip Balms, especially because some of them are tinted and some tingle (not to mention, budget-friendly at ~$3 per stick). For rain, snow, hail, and other elements, an all-weather sport balm with SPF is apropos.
  • Bell: Inner city cycling means it’s inevitable that other humans will cross your path. Should those humans be pedestrians who aren’t paying attention, slow cyclists, or absent-minded individuals getting into the path of your speedily approaching bicycle, it’s time to alert them. But no need to yell at anyone: A few polite **DINGs!** chiming to their ears from the bell on your handlebars should do the trick. And by the way, so should a $5-10 bell– no need to break the bank here.
    My “I ❤ My Bike” bell is a little cheez, but it gets the job done.
  • Basket, Crate, Panniers, or Bucket: I won’t delve into the controversy in this particular post, but let’s just stipulate that at some point, you’re probably going to want at least one of these. Each has their own advantages, but the point is that you’ll want to carry things while you ride. To be fair, a backpack will do, and I ride to work with a backpack myself. That said, I currently have a milk crate attached to my rear rack to stash my U-lock and to put sweaters, rain gear, groceries, extra shoes, and take-out in. For outings, I love just dropping my purse or day bag in the crate.
Cate riding to the coffee shop after work on Green Lantern, lanyard on neck, rain jacket in rear milk crate.
  • Lanyard: I received a “U of O Ducks” lanyard in the dorms when I first got to college, and I’ve been a big believer in riding with one ever since. Cringe if you want, but you’ll see even in my work clothes in the photo above, I’ve got my lanyard on for the ride. Why? Because it’s easy to get to your keys to unlock your U-lock and then lock it up at your destination. (After that, I hide the lanyard til I’m ready to leave again.) If you need work or house keys, you don’t have to search for them when you’re done with your ride. The only advice I have for picking one out is to make sure you get one that’s short enough that your keys won’t bump your knees going uphill. That can be *really* annoying. 
    • Phone Charger: For fun rides, hopping place-to-place, or going somewhere like your office or to a friend’s house where you’ll be awhile, bringing a charger is definitely something you’ll want with you! I’m still waiting for the ‘future’, when I can buy a charger (for a reasonable price) that will power up my phone using the kinetic energy of pedaling. C’mon engineers– I’ve seen these at fairs, let’s get them to the well-deserving bicycle-riding public already! 🙂
    • Phone Mount: This one’s on my and my boyfriend’s Wish List, because hands-free directions from your phone would be super awesome, not to mention you can talk on speaker with no hands, too. Also, I’m currently loving the Run Keeper app, and this would make it so much easier to track my ride pace, time, and route without hassle. (Right now I have to keep my phone in either a pocket or in the crate; way less handy.)
    On my Wish List. This bike has a bell too– Sweet! Photo credit: DBO Bike

    To wrap this up, I’m sure there are a lot more things I could add to this list, and I’m sure you have or will discover your own. Do share! Also, keep in mind that a slicked-out cushy ride is an ongoing process of adding and modifying a bike with a good frame. For most of us, that means picking a few must-haves at a time to go for, and paying attention as you ride to what would make your life a little easier.

       
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