It's strange to admit it, but in the two years since I started getting around by bike, I have never ridden in a dress. I did, for the first time, tonight.
I mean, what's more deliciously urban, more Continental, more bohemian-beauty than a woman riding a bicycle in a dress? There's something about it, and for some reason riding in a dress has become, for me, a visual symbol of true bikesmanship. Forget relegating your bike to your grubby clothes and your leisure time, riding in style means that your bike really has become part of your life. And let's face it, it's damn sexy.
Yes? We agree?
Now the problem is that Mike's not really a girl's bike. He's a chunky, leggy, inelegant mountain bike. He's gauche. Brusque. Not high society at all. And me and Mike don't go at the sorts of speeds that are conducive to wearing a dress. But the thing is, it was 30 degrees or more out this afternoon when I left work to go to my friend Marie's book launch (for her book Warrior of Darkness, Hades Publications, go look it up and get the first book too) and I'd switched into the dress I brought to wear to the launch while I was at work, to stay cool.
Now, those who know me know that I don't wear dresses often. So this was weird enough. But then I was running late from work and needed to get to the event, and I hate coming into an event, saying hello to everyone, then running to the washrooms to get changed in a bathroom stall because I need to be wearing the pretty shoes. So I just pulled on my (mid-calf) biking shorts under the dress and headed over.
Yup. There really is something about biking in a dress. Something that says, "yes, world, I really am that artsy, independent, urban, and not only that, I get around without all that silly worrying about smudging makeup - and why? Because no matter what, I will look fantastic when I get there!"
Even if you do arrive sweaty, smudgy, and with helmet hair and wrinkles in the back of your dress. It's all worth it, just to change lanes on the way off the Laurier bridge over the canal and halt in three-lane traffic with your pretty painted toes touching down next to your bike. I know it's all selfrighteousness. But you still feel sexy biking in a dress, you do!
So on the way out of the book launch, and its ensuing dinner and drinks, I opted to leave the biking shorts off. It was dark, which made me bolder. The dress is a cotton sundress that comes down to a little above my knees. Once you're biking, and there's a breeze, that 'little above' becomes a lot above. But I know that generally, physics are kind, and I'm never as exposed as I feel like I am. (And if I am, really, who cares?) I had to go a little slower than I normally do, but not by much, and at every stop light the dress fell back down to a more comfortable level.
I certainly felt more urban-chic while I was still downtown: once I passed Lansdowne Park on the way south on Bank Street, and things started getting more... outer-city... my mental image of myself as one of those lovely Italian damsels you see in sepia-toned prints did kind of fade, but by then there was no one on the sidewalks anyway. And I still had pretty painted toes, and if anyone had a problem with seeing more of my legs than usual (I'm the first to admit, there can be way too much of my legs visible) it didn't matter to me!
Admittedly, on my morning hyperdriven commute to work down the River Pathway, I'm still not likely to wear a dress. But I now know I could, if I wanted to. Ha!
(Incidentally, Mike's not the most dress-compatible bike. I like the way his guy-ish frame and 2-inch tires jar with anything feminine, and with the distances I need to cover with him I wouldn't have him any other way ... but he does lack some of the grace of one of those gorgeous, long-lined, single-speed, pedal-braking beauties you see on downtown streets. You know, the ones with the wicker baskets and the arching handlebars. One of which he met this evening: they were locked at adjacent parking meters while her owner and I were at the book launch. Her name is Miss Scarlet. She's devastatingly lovely, and apparently has stories to tell...)