Bicycle Togs — Travel Diary

With the availability of bicycle rentals in so many cities, travelers have the option of getting some exercise while seeing the sights from a different vantage point. Here in Chicago, Paris-style Divvy bike racks are popping up all over the city, and not just along the lakefront. I’m not talking about you hard-core folks who go to Provence on bicycling tours, but with soft-core city cycling comes the need for soft-core bicycle clothing and gear, and that’s where we’re traveling today.

Looks like Paris, doesn't it? But it's Chicago!

Looks like Paris, doesn’t it? But it’s Chicago!

As a middle-aged woman, the last thing I want to do is wear skin-tight bike shorts around town while sightseeing or going into a restaurant. I was thrilled when a friend referred me to Terry — the “original women’s bicycling store.” At Terry, I found the perfect solution to my dilemma, the padded bike skort.

Terry's Flare Skort is the perfect solution to bicycling in cities.

Terry’s Flare Skort is the perfect solution to bicycling in cities.

I own this skort in the print and in black. It has a padded bike short underneath with leg bands that are not too tight, and the skirt has two large hip pockets where I put my iPhone and use the Map My Ride app when riding around town. It comes in plus sizes and is comfortable enough to walk around in, even with the padded seat. It hits me just above the knee at my 5′ 2″ height, and is a respectful length. Normally I wash my bike gear in my washing machine, but this week I washed it in the bathtub (as I usually wash clothing while traveling). The padding took two days to dry, so be aware of that, but I probably could have squeezed out more water with towels. It will fold up into a small ball in the corner of your suitcase and come out looking brand new.

All over Europe, we have seen women commuting on bikes, dressed in their work clothes. I don’t know if they are wearing bike shorts underneath their dresses, but they could do that as well. With a simple bike short liner under your dress, you can pedal in comfort and modesty even in your cute sundress!

GotMyReservations -- Shopping by Bicycle

With a basket and my bicycle togs, I can get my exercise and my errands done.

I also picked up an old Vera Bradley small backpack at a garage sale this summer, and was really excited about it. It’s lightweight and breathes, so even if I actually carry it on my back, it’s comfortable. It’s big enough to put my wallet and my camera in it, leaving my removable basket for library books, groceries, or goodies from the farmers’ market. It’s a win-win, both at home and while traveling, but I would choose a more sedate pattern to use in Paris :).

Next time you are packing for a trip, try taking along a bike skort. Worst case scenario is that you will use it as a cute skirt…

I’m linked up today to Wanderlust Wednesday at Time Travel Plans,   The Tablescaper for “Oh, The Places I’ve Been”, Travel Photo Monday” at Travel Photo Discovery, and “Travel Photo Thursday” at Budget Travelers Sandbox, so stop by and get some more inspiration for your travel bucket list!


Chicago Day 3: Bike Trails

I’m linked up today and for the rest of the month in the 31 Days Challenge at The Nester. By clicking the tab at the top of the page, you can easily access all of the 31 Days in Chicago posts. If you’ve got a story to tell about your experiences in Chicago, I welcome guest posts. Join the fun by emailing me, or if you’re not ready to write, go to The Nester’s web site to follow some other stories this month.

Chicagoland runs amok with bike trails and bicyclists.

We even have a Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council which promotes the use of bicycles for short trips and also works to encourage safety for bicyclists.

The Bike 2015 Plan is the City of Chicago’s vision to make bicycling an integral part of daily life in Chicago. The plan recommends projects, programs and policies for the next ten years to encourage use of this practical, non-polluting and affordable mode of transportation.

Chicago’s commitment to bicycling can be both a good and a bad thing.

I drove downtown from my suburban home last week and could scarcely drive safely on Milwaukee Avenue in the Wicker Park neighborhood among all of the bicyclists. This video shows an underpass that I travel through almost every time I am in the city. Frightening, isn’t it? (If you click into the video when it opens you can also see the commentary about the dangerous intersection.)

On the other hand, Chicago’s bike trails are safe (most of the time) and give the cyclist an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery that one can find on Chicago’s lakefront and in forest preserves all around the area. There are also many bike trails that were converted from abandoned railroad right-of-ways.

We biked the Des Plaines River Trail a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed the late afternoon warmth from the sun as the forest preserve began to cool down. I got myself all kitted out with my bike shorts on under my stretchy pants and my new breathable helmet. Then I HAD to bring my camera bag, water, and purse things, so my basket was probably as heavy as my Trex bike! Still, it wasn’t very crowded and we had a wonderful bike ride.

But then I kept stopping to take photos. Music Man left me in his dust and went on to another part of the bike path while I reveled in the fun scenery.

The Chicagoland Bike Maps website shows the plethora of bike trips available around the Chicago area. No matter where you’re staying, there’s a bike path within easy reach, so bring your bikes to Chicago. Remember that it is a city and you will need to protect your valuable investment. Bike Chicago also rents bicycles (and does Segway tours as well as bike tours) and has four locations along the lakefront.

Biking in Chicago — it’s a good thing. 🙂

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