Ok, I give. I’m calling this one out.
So, many readers of this site will be unaware of the fact that I am very into fashion. My look is understated, and I wouldn’t call myself a fashionista, but I follow the industry, know my brands, have a specific point-of-view, and always review runway shows. All this to say, I’m an avid reader of The Sartorialist and one of the things I love about his site is that he frequently shoots women on bikes.
These women are always wearing something effortlessly flawless, often with high-heels, dresses, big scarves and large sunglasses. I love them. It’s ridiculous, I know. But I do.
This site is dedicated exclusively to shooting fashionable women on bikes in Copenhagen. I don’t love the photographic style as much as that of The Sartorialist, but CycleChic never fails to deliver a steady stream of beautiful girl-bike pictures.
Why am I telling you all this?
I covet the cycle-chic bike look.
I am always striving to incorporate beautiful design into my otherwise rough-and-tumble super-jock lifestyle. I hate to compromise aesthetics for the sake of activity. This is probably part of the reason why bike-racing wasn’t a very tough sell for me – serious cyclists surround themselves with beautiful (very f-ing expensive) objects. My boyfriend has schooled me in this phenomenon many times over.
So, in the name of upping my bicycle commuting ante, and chasing my dreams of being one of the super-chic european-style commuters, I asked Sal to buy me a Batavus Old Dutch for my 30th birthday. (Mine is black, which is my opinion makes it look “more classic” but I’m just snotty like that :). We ordered it from our local bike shop, Veloce Bicycles (thanks, Dimitri!) and it came in just a few days before I left on the World Tour of Heidi.
As such, today was the first day I had a chance to try out this chic-commuting thing. I should preface this with the following caveats:
- I normally commute on my ‘cross or road bike wearing comfortable, messenger-like clothing appropriate to the task.
- I wanted this bike specifically so that I could attempt to ride wearing normal (read: businessy) work clothes usually consisting of tailored slacks or dresses with boots and scarves.
After my maiden voyage, here’s my take:
- I hate not being clipped in. Maybe this is a case of my jock-side having to make a compromise. Ok, I’ll make a compromise. (I still hate it.)
- It’s slow. This is not necessarily just another jock-compromise but, frankly, is a safety concern. I am used to being able to move quickly in and out of traffic situations. Being able to get across busy, uncontrolled intersections during rush hour means being able to get across the street quickly. Weighing in at probably 40 pounds, the Old Dutch is not exactly spry.
- I’m not sure three gears is enough. I did just fine coming into work this morning, but I’m not feeling good about getting back. It’s a slow grinder all the way home and I have a feeling it’s going to hurt. Again, this bike is almost twice the weight of my others. It seems like this bike would be killer for zipping around doing errands in a true city that is relatively flat. The mellow grades in an around Portland will definitely test its gearing. It might also be that I’m griping about this because my interval workout last night left me almost immobile with soreness this morning. 🙂
- It’s zen. Now that I have my three major gripes covered, I have to say that there is something to the whole “enjoying the journey” thing that happens when you are on this bike. The ride itself is an experience, and a cushy one at that. Going more slowly forces you to notice more of what’s going on around you. I like that.
- It’s hott. The bike is more beautiful in person than in pictures. It’s sturdy and solid and downright sexy. It rides like a Cadillac and has the same flavor of old-school class. I rocked wool trousers, boots, a short trench, and an old-man-style hat that I bought at a garage sale a few weeks ago. I felt completely comfortable and the enclosed drive-train meant that I didn’t have to worry about my trousers getting caught up in the gearing or rear wheel. Bonus.
- It’s easy. The self-locking rear wheel makes me feel better about leaving it in the bike corral on the main floor of my office building, though I certainly wouldn’t leave it on the street without actually locking it TO something. The kick-stand is fun in that way that only kick-stands can be. 🙂
In conclusion? The Old Dutch puts the fun-lovin’ back into bike riding. It forces you to slow down and enjoy your ride. It smacks of vintage charm and times gone by. It’s slow and heavy and smooth and sweet. It reminds me of being a kid, back when getting there fast was never the point.
I still don’t know how the European hotties manage to turn over those klunky pedals in their big-assed leather, high-heeled boots, but maybe I’ll get used to it? It seems that in this instance, as in many, I’ll just have to suffer for fashion.