Review – Hill and Ellis Dorothy bag

Is this the most beautiful bike bag ever?

Is this the most beautiful bike bag ever?

In my head, I have a picture of the kind of cyclist I’d like to be. Glamorous and perfectly styled, I would pedal effortlessly, arriving at my destination without a hair out of place and nary a drop of sweat on me.

While it’s unlikely I will ever achieve this completely, I can at least take one step towards making it a reality – thanks to the Hill and Ellis range of bags.

Launched earlier this year, the range was created by Catherine Ellis, a keen cyclist frustrated by the lack of attractive, well-made cycling bags that worked both on and off the bike. So she set about creating her own. Continue reading

Cycle chic? Mais non

Yes, this really is what I look like on my bike (helmet aside - I now have a lovely purple Bern one)

Yes, this really is what I look like on my bike (helmet aside – I now have a lovely purple Bern one)

Dear reader. I have a confession to make.

Almost every day I see lots of well-dressed women on their bikes. Women in leggings and short skirts, in skinny jeans, in peg leg trousers – even in leopard print dresses. Women riding rattling old road bikes, traditional uprights and shiny new step-throughs. Women, in short, who are the embodiment of cycle chic.

You may think, from reading this blog, that I’m part of this stylish sisterhood.

Alas, dear reader. You would be wrong. Continue reading

The perfect bike bag?

Is this the perfect bike bag?

Is this the perfect bike bag?

I was at the British Museum when I finally made up my mind. I’d cycled there, which meant I had my red Ortlieb bag with me – because wherever my bike goes, it goes too. On my bike, it’s incredibly practical. Off the bike, it’s cumbersome and awkward, and oddly far heavier than the sum of its contents. My shoulders ached at the mere thought of carrying it around the museum. What I needed, I told myself as I trotted off to the cloakroom, was a smaller, more portable bike bag. Something that worked both on and off my bike.

Since my last post on the subject, I’ve become obsessed with finding the perfect bag for cycling. Continue reading

Product review – Monkeysee Harness

The Monkeysee Harness in action

The Monkeysee Harness in action

I couldn’t quite work out what was going on at first. It was late – around 11pm – and I was on my way home after an evening stewarding at the Globe. I’d almost reached the lower end of Dalston, and was now caught up in the snarl of traffic.

This section of the road is almost always jammed, and ordinarily I have to weave precariously through the gaps. But not on this occasion. For some reason, I was being given more space on the road. What on earth was going on? For a moment or two I was thoroughly confused – and then I remembered I was wearing my new Monkeysee Harness.

It’s amazing what a difference a bit of reflective gear can make. Continue reading

The art of cycling in a skirt

Proper cycling gear?

Proper cycling gear?

It wasn’t, I have to admit, my finest moment.

I swung my leg over my saddle, as usual, only for the front of my skirt to get caught on the back of the saddle. Struggling to retain my balance, I hopped feebly on the spot for a few seconds before the inevitable happened. I toppled to one side, landing clumsily on all fours. My bike followed a fraction of a second later.

Though it may not have been obvious to the casual observer (a number of whom stood around sniggering as I picked myself up off the ground), there was actually a greater purpose to my actions. I wanted to see if I could cycle in a skirt. Continue reading

Spin London – 3-5 May 2013

And the award for blingiest bike goes to...

And the award for blingiest bike goes to…

“And you know what’s so amazing? There’s no Lycra anywhere!”

Indeed there wasn’t. If cycling is to be – to quote Boris – ‘de-Lycrafied’ – then the Spin London show was a big step in the right direction.

This three-day show, held over the bank holiday weekend, was billed as the world’s first urban focused bicycle show. Combining bikes, fashion, art, music, film and more bikes, it was about cycling as means of getting around the city – and looking good while doing so.

Even the location of the event spoke volumes: no soulless corporate exhibition halls here. Instead it was held in the Truman Brewery, in the heart of east London’s Brick Lane. Amid hipster crowds out enjoying the area’s buzzing mix of markets stalls, vintage shops, cafes, bars and curry houses, the show blended right into its surroundings (literally – I walked past the entrance twice before I finally spotted it). Continue reading

Cycling with heels goes to Copenhagen

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Almost every street in Copenhagen is lined with bikes

“Wow…just look at all those bikes.”
My friend sighed impatiently. “I’m hungry. I need food. Let’s find somewhere to have dinner.”
“But…bikes!”
“Food!”

We’d arrived in Copenhagen early Friday evening, just in time for dinner. As anyone who’s ever travelled anywhere will know, that’s never a good time to arrive in a strange city. After checking into the hotel, we headed out into the unfamiliar streets in search of some food. While my friend focused on the task in hand, I found myself being somewhat distracted. Almost every street we walked along was lined with bikes – red bikes, blue bikes, green bikes and black bikes, bikes with wicker baskets and metal baskets, bikes with big, Dutch-style frames, shiny new bikes and rusted old ones. Row upon row upon row of bikes. Continue reading

Wanted: the perfect bike bag

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There must be a more stylish way of carrying my stuff on my bike than this

I am a woman on a quest. It’s a simple enough quest – or at least I thought it was when it began. I want a bag that works both on and off my bike.

When I first started cycling I used to carry all my stuff in a small backpack. That was OK for a while, but then the amount of stuff I needed to fit in it just seemed to keep growing. I have – to use the proper medical terminology – a dodgy left shoulder, the result of an RSI incurred while shifting books in the university library when I was a student. Carrying my over-full backpack around with me, not only on the bike but off it, was getting increasingly painful. Continue reading

Tweed-le do

A metropolitan bike ride with a bit of style

A metropolitan bike ride with a bit of style

“I say, old chap. Why don’t we don our best tweed attire, and go for a little jaunt through the big smoke on our bicycles?”

“Hear, hear! That’s a splendid idea, old chap.”

I’ve no idea if that was the actual conversation that led to the first London Tweed Run, in 2009. It must have been something along those lines because, as far as I can tell, there’s no purpose behind the Tweed Run other than going for a ride and looking rather fabulous while doing so.

Tweed run 1
Continue reading

A thing of beauty is a joy forever

Bobbin Birdie

The most beautiful bike ever? Photo credit – Bobbin Bicycles

If Keats wasn’t thinking about a bicycle when he penned the opening line to Endymion, it was surely only because they had only just been invented at the time.  If he were alive today and happened upon a fine example of the form – such as a Bobbin Birdie, pictured above – I’m confident he would agree how apposite his words are.

That’s certainly what I thought when I came across a sky blue Bobbin Birdie locked up alongside my bike the other day. Up until that point, I’d been perfectly happy with my workaday wheels. But next to the irresistible curves, retro styling and delicate colouring of this most beautiful of bicycles, my trusty steed suddenly looked, well, somewhat prosaic.

As I stood there gazing in appreciation, I found myself swallowed up by lust. I wanted a Bobbin Birdie. Continue reading