Dear Father Christmas…

I wonder what will be under the Christmas tree this year?

I wonder what will be under the Christmas tree this year?

It’s December. How did that happen? One minute I was riding home from work in broad daylight, trying to find ways to cool off, and the next minute it’s dark and cold, and I’m wearing head-to-toe waterproofs on an almost daily basis.

And it’s almost Christmas. That kind of snuck up on me, too. Life has kind of taken over lately, hence why this blog has been so quiet. What with getting ready to be a student again in January, and sorting out a visit to my boyfriend in America for the new year, I almost forgot about that little thing called Christmas. Continue reading

Review – The Girls’ Bicycle Handbook, by Caz Nicklin

The Girls' Bicycle Handbook - a female-friendly introduction to cycling

The Girls’ Bicycle Handbook – a female-friendly introduction to cycling

When I first started riding a bike in London, I knew next to nothing about cycling or bikes.

I thought hugging the kerb would make me safer, and if I had to turn right I would get off and walk my bike rather than risk venturing further out into the traffic.

I couldn’t name most bits on my bike, let alone know what to do if anything wasn’t working. I couldn’t fix a puncture, replace a brake pad or even put my chain back on if it came off.

I thought wearing hi-viz and a helmet was compulsory; the idea that it was possible to look good while cycling never crossed my mind. Continue reading

Review – Cassandra coat, by Water Off A Duck’s Back

jacket-velovixenMy friend casts an admiring glance at me as she opens the front door. “Ooh, nice coat. Very smart.”

It’s not often I get compliments for a cycling jacket – but then the Cassandra coat is no ordinary cycling jacket.

Water Off a Duck’s Back was born out of owner Antonia Maybury’s frustration at the lack of stylish waterproof cycling gear. As she says, ‘I take care and pride in my appearance and I love cycling.  It baffled me that there was nothing out there that looked stylish and was waterproof, breathable and made you visible after dark.’ And so she set about designing her own. Continue reading

Review – Goodordering handlebar bag

It looks great - but how well does it work?

It looks great – but how well does it work as a bike bag?

Let’s face it – most bags designed for use on a bike are not particularly attractive.

The demands of practicality and function mean that aesthetics are usually the poor relation. For those of us who want a bike bag that looks like something we’d carry when we’re not on our bikes, this can be a little frustrating.

Thankfully, with the rise in urban cycling and cycle chic, an increasing number of companies are coming to realise there’s a market for bags that work both on and off the bike. Continue reading

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

Wanted: the perfect bike bag

DSC_0245

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