Cycling in heels: People who ride to work learn what works

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When Rachel Blakeman, compliance officer for the City of Fort Wayne, was telling me about this poster on her office wall last week, she said that some people assume it’s some kind of metaphor for life.

“But I really do bike in heels,” she said.

And most days she wears a skirt as well, though she’ll often have a pair of shorts underneath. “I know what I can get away with,” she says. 

Rachel scoffs at the notion that a special wardrobe is needed for cycling, noting that though she’s been riding to work for years, she owns no special biking gear other than a helmet, a neon vest for visibility and a pair of gloves.

“Do you have a helmet and a bike? Then you’re 99 percent of the way there,” she says. “The other 1 percent is to get on your bike and ride.”

Commuting by bike isn’t quite that simple, of course. It’s a problem-solving process. For this week’s News-Sentinel column, I talked to people who figured out how to drop their kids off at school during their cycling commute, carry a cake to work, bring their dog along to the bike shop, and adjust their route to account for traffic.

Still, the common theme was not how challenging it can be to use a bike for transportation in a country set up for cars, but how vital it is to make riding your bike part of the problem-solving process.

If you’re thinking about participating in National Ride to Work Day on Friday, May 19, go out for a practice ride this coming weekend to scope out your route.

Just about everyone I talked to said the route they use isn’t the same as the one they drive. There are shortcuts to be discovered, troublesome intersections that can be eluded, and sometimes, extra fun to be had by adding a couple miles of pleasure riding into the process.

But all of this is hard to foresee from your couch, or even the driver’s seat of your car.

“Just get on your bike and do it,” said Kurt Whited, project manager for an IT company.

Though his 15-mile roundtrip commute started out as a way to get in shape without taking time to go to the gym, he says it’s become “an addiction.”

“It’s part of my routine,” he says. “I miss doing it when it doesn’t happen.”

 

 

 

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3 Responses to Cycling in heels: People who ride to work learn what works

  1. bgddyjim says:

    Nice post! One thing I can add, the specialty clothing is needed to make long rides, 25+ miles, more comfortable. For anything less than ten miles, a decent bike fitting is more important than special clothing.

    Nice work.

  2. tischcaylor says:

    Thanks! Some of the people I talked to do wear specialty bike clothes, because you’re right, it does help. But most of them didn’t start out that way. And it’s getting started that is the biggest hurdle. I love that “just do it” could pertain to riding in heels.

  3. getwifed says:

    I’m a pretty decent mountain biker and commute in my village using my bike. I could not imagine that I could do it in heels? But now I’m going to try! Thanks for the great post.

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