Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Business Casual Biking


It occurred to me as I was checking the tire pressure on my knock about commuter (Patty the Hybrid), that this was not going to be a normal day on the bike. Weather's cool enough to ride in my street clothes now, and today's street clothes happened to be work, errands and lunch wear. What the heck - good time for using that self-timer again.

Who says you can't commute without official cycling clothes?!

Proofs copied, bank deposits readied, and shopping bag ready... Oh! Almost forgot the red purse. Pulled my hair back, ready for the helmet. Didn't put the helmet on for the photo. I'm all for safety on the road, but I think I'm pretty safe in my carport. After, I'm the most dangerous driver on my little stretch of driveway.

I ride all the time in dress slacks and stacked heel loafers, but the skirt and heels was new. Took off for my first stop. Wind wasn't bad at all, so no worries about skirt flips. (Just in case though, I had pulled on a pair of spandex bike shorts.) The boots were comfier than I feared. I had enough room in the calf, and the narrower heel didn't cause any trouble. Pedal popped right into the arch of my foot, just like in the other shoes. In fact, the sole of this shoe does a slightly better job of gripping the pedals than the loafers.

I did ride a bit slower in the skirt. I don't think it had anything to do with the outfit being uncomfortable. I really think I was just being more "ladylike", and going into slow bike mode.

The ride to the bank was pretty normal. I got a few more comments than usual. Stupid things, yelled from the window incoherently. Sometimes, it's an attempt at clever comments, sometimes remarks about my usage of the driving lane, by people who don't know the white line painted at the shoulder does not a bike lane make. Sometimes it's outright rude. "Get a car!" is always one of my favorites. Today, some genius yelled "Where's Toto?" three or four times. I'm not sure how that's supposed to be clever, but... I hope it was the highlight of his day.

There's no place to chain up at Bank of America, so I pedaled into the drive thru lanes. A couple of the customers did a double-take, but the tellers were awesome. Extra cheery good morning, questions about my gas mileage (he asks me that every time), weather perfect for riding, be on the lookout for those crazy drivers on Roswell Rd, where was I off to next, etc. Conversations happen on the bike. I like that. Best part of being on a bike at the teller window? No worrying about being able to reach the tube.

Lunch at Rumi was excellent. Had the eggplant and veal stew with saffron rice. OMG, it was so very good. I ate too much, and was glad I'd be getting home using power from all the rice and flatbread. The valet was quite nice about helping me find a place to lock up. He and I chatted about Sandy Springs traffic, and he asked me a few questions about routes and how long it takes to get around. I like questions like that. Any chance to let people know how very easy it is to start is worth taking. They might actually give it a try sometime.

Trader Joes was next. Normal grocery shopping. A sweet little old lady mentioned how nice it was I did my shopping that way, and warned me (again) to watch out for the crazies on the road. She's lived in the area since long before there were shops on every corner, and I think she misses being able to get out without worrying about being run down. We complimented each other on our outfits, another fun part of seeing her. She's always so well put together. I hope I keep running into her, because I have the feeling she has some cool stories to tell. And even if she doesn't, her smile and hello brighten my shopping trips.

Home again. Groceries put away. I'm getting a bit more of a map drawn before I head off to pick up the kids at elementary school. I do wish there were bicycle lanes between here and there, because I'd love for my rugrats to roll over the crunchy leaves with me along the way. Until then, we'll have to pack the bikes up for path rides once every week or two. This weekend will need to be one of those times.

In summary:
Commuting by bicycle for multiple errands, instead of using car? YES
Commuting by bicycle great for inspiring pleasant conversations with complete strangers? YES
Commuting by bicycle in skirt and heels? YES
Commuting by bicycle to Rumi for big plates of delicious Persian cuisine? YES

3 comments:

Rebecca said...

I think you look really cute!

One thing: our bank drive-thru is posted that, for safety reasons, they won't serve bike customers. That bothers me on two counts: one, the inconsistency of considering bicyclists vehicles in some circumstances and pedestrians in others and, two, the lobby is not open on Saturdays.

Jett said...

Sharp! This makes me want to upgrade my cycling attire.

I have noticed that you get more respect the less lycra you show, but there are always more conversations with people when you're on a bike. It's automatic fun.

mappchik said...

Thanks!

Rebecca -
The bank where I have my business account won't serve me in the drive up window. The safety reasons thing. If they weren't so nice about me dragging the bike into the lobby with me, even when it's muddy, I'd fuss.

Jett -
So the street clothes being more noticeable and respected than brightly colored official cycling clothes - it's not my imagination? I swear, cars give me an extra foot of space when I'm not in lycra. Especially the minivan/suv driving moms on cell phones.