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Crunching the numbers on Portland bike fashion

Posted by Cathy Hastie (Lifestyle Columnist) on October 2nd, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Summer bike traffic-1
Fashion choices everywhere.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Cathy Hastie is BikePortland's lifestyle columnist.

"These were people who, with the easy addition of a pant-leg strap and the loosening of the tie, transitioned from high-powered client meetings to high-speed escapades down the Eastbank Esplanade in seconds flat."

What is working at our daily jobs if not an opportunity for us to look fabulous? Yes, there is that question of earning a living and feeling fulfilled, but aside from all that, it gives us the chance to adorn our bodies in clothing that makes us feel powerful, important, or at least interesting. If it weren’t for our daily occupations, how many of us would forget to change out of the appalling but comfortable sweatpants and shapeless college-era tees we prefer to sport around the house?

Yes, work is an excuse to look sharp. But looking good each day while riding a bicycle to work is a separate challenge, one that I recently discovered is more often than not forsaken by my fellow bike commuters. One crisp, sunny September afternoon, I left work early and biked to the east side of the Hawthorne Bridge to conduct a fashion study of Portland cycling. I parked my faithful two-wheeled friend alongside the bike path and wedged my Dansko platform clogs into the V of the metal fencing, hoisting myself up onto the broad, flat steel rail above. I swung my purple tights-clad thigh over the top. After a few brief moments of awkwardness – I’m sure no one was paying attention — I managed to turn around, arrange my silk, black-polka-dot skirt around my knees and cross my legs in modest reporter fashion. My view as I balanced on the fence rail encompassed the entire south bikeway looking west — the perfect data collection point for my research.

It was 4:45 pm. I would be able to evaluate and tally the biking wardrobe of every east-bound commuter coming at me from this strategic perch.

Random riders Hawthorne Bridge-5
Smartly dressed man on the Hawthorne.

I pulled my pen and notepad out from my handmade studded pleather backpack, and tucked an escaping wisp of hair back under the cute, flower-print Nutcase helmet I still wore. It matched my pink Anthropologie blouse and added just the right aura of local hip chic to the otherwise client-appropriate outfit I had picked for work that morning.

Hardly a minute passed before I was called into action by a small pack of riders approaching from the SW 2nd Avenue bridge ramp. My plan was to take a one-hour sample of bikers, counting and classifying their attire as they made their daily commute home after work. The timeframe, from 4:45 to 5:45, would capture slackers who sneak out of work early (like me) and give folks a chance to change after work if that is their thing. The first small group of riders consisted mainly of men in jeans and T-shirts. One rider wore logo-emblazoned tour gear a la Lance Armstrong. There were two women in black elastane biking pants.

For the next hour, bikers came at me in spurts or in long continuous lines of twos and threes jockeying for the pole position going up the slight incline to SE Hawthorne Blvd. At times, my tally marks couldn’t keep up with them all. The sheer volume of bike riders was impressive. After the first half hour, I had put pen to paper 187 times. I ride with this enormous pack every day — I line up behind them in the green box at the MLK traffic light, I feel their wind as they zip past me on the uphill at SE Clinton Street. But witnessing them now, each following one after the other like a rolling ant parade, drove home how robust this bike-centered life is here in Portland.

I have to admit I was a little surprised at what they wore.

The first 15 minutes brought almost all young people — in jeans. I personally never wear jeans to work. I rarely even wear them at home, preferring slouch-wear, pajamas or a pretty sundress. It dawned on me that this must be the student contingent. The servers from Starbucks and Pizzicato had punched out. The last class of the day at PSU had finished up. These were the pre-professionals, and jeans serve as everyday wear that is just as appropriate and convenient on the seat of a bike as in the seat of a classroom chair. Jeans dominated my non-scientific study — 35 riders wore them — until 5:00 pm, and by the end of the hour, I had counted 183 jeans-wearers; 119 men and 64 women. Obviously, the ‘Portland casual’ look played heavily outside of the classroom too, accounting for 23% of the bikers that hour.

The second noticeable wave of fashion was the shorts and T-shirts set. Mostly men, these riders swarmed a little later, between 5:10 and 5:30. I imagined office workers changing out of their slacks and dress shirts in office bathroom stalls. They donned leftover weekend clothes — whatever had been tossed on the bedroom floor Sunday night: multi-pocketed cargo shorts, barbeque-stained T-shirts, an occasional button up madras shirt — and were now sweating in them. In this same category, I lumped those who wore athletic attire of any sort. Women more often than men wore windproof, ripstop biking pants, stretch pants or full-length athletic tights. My favorite rider in this category wore super short blue running shorts, but kept his shirt and tie from the office. (Apparently, he only sweats from the waist down.) This sexy combination caused me to stare, and he waved at me, smiling big. I watched his royal blue tie flap in the wind and his nicely muscled thighs pump the pedals. The distraction made me miss the next five riders.

As should be expected, athletic gear and shorts dominated the hour with 46% of riders, 260 men and 115 women choosing them as the appropriate attire for a tranquil September afternoon ride home.

Interspersed among these groups was the occasional pro-biker wannabe. These riders looked serious; perhaps they live in Gresham, from the built-for-distance, multi-colored spandex shorts they wore. Their matching singlets, emblazoned with sponsor names and banana pockets, frequently camouflaged middle-aged paunches. These riders almost all carried panniers on their bikes instead of backpacks. Like I said — serious! 57 men and 15 women considered their ride grueling enough to wear only the finest in bike gear. As a fashion category, this group had a poor showing at only 9%. A mere 72 riders emulated the style of the pros. Could the de-throning of the allegedly drug-addled Tour legend, Armstrong, have something to do with these paltry numbers?

My favorite category was the well-dressed biker. These were people who, with the easy addition of a pant-leg strap and the loosening of the tie, transitioned from high-powered client meetings to high-speed escapades down the Eastbank Esplanade in seconds flat. Men wore dress shirts and ties; women wore slacks and flats. There were 86 men who did nothing more than roll up a pants leg and swing it over their bike to get on the road. Surprisingly, this is the only category where women out-performed men. 91 females of all shapes and sizes did away with the fuss and bother of packing a change of clothes for their commute. They wore what could be considered office clothing, including simple skirts, boots, slacks, penny-loafers, sandals and blouses. My favorite business-attire rider, not unlike my favorite blue-shorts-and-tie man, demonstrated the value of mixing genres. She wore a tight little black skirt and an elegant blouse, but underneath she had sensibly chosen hot pink lycra shorts that flashed with every turn of the crankshaft. In my one hour sample, I observed 146 people (22%) who found it unnecessary to change their clothes before their commute. Like me, they probably ride a little slower than the rest so as not to muss their dry-clean-only items.

Random riders Hawthorne Bridge-3
Serious.

During this study, I saw a man covered in bags full of plastic bags, a women in her hospital scrubs, a grown man riding a scooter in shirtsleeves and tie, a giant tricycle carrying mom, dad and child, two shirtless men, and a smattering of children riding behind their parents on variations of bicycles built for two. I learned that men ride more than women, at a rate of almost 2 to 1. I viewed a wide variety of work and fitness attire and inferred that those who changed into different clothing for their commute, about 54%, think of it as an athletic activity, while the remaining 46% don’t necessarily. Overall, I counted 807 thin, fat, tall, short, brown, white, hairy, bald, young and old people as they powered themselves efficiently and cleanly across our famously bike-friendly bridge. That averages 13 people per minute. Most of them wore shorts — and a smile.

I hopped down from my observation deck and stowed my research tools back in my cute little backpack. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed with the results. I was looking for fashion statements, riders who thumbed their noses at the concept that cycling and looking great are like oil and water. I was hoping to see patent-leather pumps and floral-print peasant skirts; pink ruffles with matching thigh-highs, Brooks Brothers jackets, suspenders and spiffy Dolce and Gabbana silk ties. Apparently, Portlanders are a little too practical — or they sweat more than I do.

So, with a sigh, I mounted my two-wheeler and merged with the still-heavy traffic streaming out of downtown, taking my familiar place amongst my pack. With my black polka-dots, my bright, flouncy, lace-trimmed blouse and my purple tights, I headed for home in the slow lane, a single point of eye-catching fabulousness in the thick of the crowd.

Want to see more bike fashion from Portland and beyond? Check out our People on Bikes column.

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Comments
  • Anne Hawley October 2, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    I have no numbers to back this up, but my impression is that these proportions have changed a lot in the four years since I started commuting by bike.

    Fun article!

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    • spare_wheel October 2, 2013 at 4:41 pm

      Yeah its great to see more comfortable bike-specific clothing these days. The pressure to ride in office clothing, skinny jeans, and scratchy wool was offf putting to many new cyclists.

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  • Todd Boulanger October 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Some good news...the trend to 1:1 continues: " I learned that men ride more than women, at a rate of almost 2 to 1."

    Versus 3:1 like five years ago or 10:1 ten to twenty years ago (gut guesses).

    Perhaps like in my last long trip to Paris (2003) ...Portland in 2030 the ratio will be reversed to 3 men:5 women riding

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  • Slammy October 2, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    LOL, great article... I'm curious where you think Rapha gear fits in here?

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  • Champs October 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    Just about on schedule, a few days north of one month later, it's official: that's enough for me.

    Champs August 28, 2013 at 6:04 pm
    I'll wait to pass judgment until the next column, which might take another month until we're done patting each other on the back here.

    Recommended Thumb up 9

  • clint October 2, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Nice read. Thanks for the upbeat story.

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  • Spiffy October 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    mental note: wear short shorts, a button down shirt, and tie if you want to attract the bicycling ladies...

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  • dan October 2, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    Fun column. I am blessed with a white collar job where jeans and a t-shirt are considered perfectly appropriate, and I bet there's a lot of knowledge workers who enjoy the same good luck. Given that bike commuting makes shiny spots on the seat of your pants over time, I'd be hard-pressed to wear anything nicer than jeans or shorts on a regular basis.

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    • JAT in Seattle October 3, 2013 at 11:09 am

      Blessed seems the perfect word to me, yet obviously there are some who feel that "work is an excuse to look sharp", who feel justifued in attributing sloth to the casually dressed in "leftover weekend clothes — whatever had been tossed on the bedroom floor Sunday night", who feel that those who dress in non-cycling/athletic/casual clothing are "out-performing" those who do.

      I hated this judgmental piece of pooh article - mind you I loved hating it, but hated it nonetheless.

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      • Richard Masoner October 3, 2013 at 3:11 pm

        I was gonna say. I work in an office with no dress code. I might be in jeans, or I might be slovenly dressed in what Hastie categorizes as "whatever had been tossed on the bedroom floor Sunday night," although in fact my clothing is laundered and pulled from the closet.

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  • gutterbunnybikes October 2, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    Humm, wonder which day it was? It's not often I get to be "number" in these kind of things.

    Last week was an extremely rare occasion where I got to bike commute to work a few times (didn't need my 1 ton of tools and equipment). Though I normally prefer button downs, shorts and loafers for riding, for the commute I was wearing work clothes - holey jeans, t shirts, and work boots (and for the ride home they would have been oily and quite dirty as well), welding hood hanging off my messenger bag.

    Was fun, came out to 24/25ish miles of riding each day, broken up into 5 mile (my house to downtown) and 7 mile (Hillsboro to North Plains) segments with a max ride in between each way. All on an old vintage 3 speed folding bike.

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  • davemess October 2, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    I get really annoyed with lines like this: "Interspersed among these groups was the occasional pro-biker wannabe. These riders looked serious"

    So some people wear cycling clothes to cycle in. Big deal. People wear cycling clothes because they're functional comfortable to ride a bike.

    i have absolutely no issues that people don't wear them, but I am tired of hearing commuters look down their noses at people that do.

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    • takeaspin22 October 2, 2013 at 4:04 pm

      I agree. If someone who wears lycra shorts and a jersey is a "pro-biker wannabe," then the fashion saavy riders that the author wanted to see must be "runway model wannabes".

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      • Slammy October 2, 2013 at 4:14 pm

        That's why I asked about Rapha... a little bit of both.

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        • spare_wheel October 2, 2013 at 4:58 pm

          Rapha is actually raced by pro cyclists but is coveted by the chic clique because it's "expensive" and...oh so..."haute". On the other hand, some poor slob wearing $30 tights and a $20 jersey is an intimidating "pro-biker wannabe" that makes us all look bad.

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          • Erinne October 3, 2013 at 1:39 pm

            What's wrong with $30 tights and a $20 jersey? That's more than I spent on my last "cycling gear" outfit. Thrift stores and clearance sales and naked lady parties are the best for finding gear that is still very good, though probably not the trendiest. But I guess I'm just a hopeless cycling slob.

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            • Erinne October 3, 2013 at 1:41 pm

              Though I should say I never wear any of it while commuting. I'm in the jeans and casualwear set. I'd feel embarrassed if my coworkers saw me in spandex.

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            • spare_wheel October 3, 2013 at 2:04 pm

              Nothing at all...that was my point.

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              • Erinne October 3, 2013 at 3:54 pm

                Ahh, I misread your comment. I see the sarcasm now. I still wouldn't use the word "slob." :)

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            • Champs October 3, 2013 at 3:37 pm

              Tell me more about these "naked lady parties"…

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              • Erinne October 3, 2013 at 3:53 pm

                BikePortland isn't the place for inappropriate suggestive comments--thanks!

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              • wsbob October 3, 2013 at 5:35 pm

                Erinne
                BikePortland isn't the place for inappropriate suggestive comments--thanks!
                Recommended 0

                Erinne...hey, it's you that brought up 'naked lady parties', getting people wondering what whatever kind of party that is, has do with snagging some great affordable fashion.

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    • gutterbunnybikes October 2, 2013 at 4:08 pm

      You do realize that it wasn't too along ago that it went the opposite way.

      Heck, my screen name is a cycling term referring to commuter and rec. riders by "more serious" riders. And it wasn't meant to be a compliment.

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      • davemess October 3, 2013 at 4:21 pm

        So does that make it okay?

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        • gutterbunnybikes October 3, 2013 at 5:34 pm

          No not really, I'm just pointing out that their are differences in rider styles and thoughts on how the bicycle is used, and that each type of rider tends to mock the others that aren't in their camp.

          As far as I see it, the goal of this blog - and for most of us here is to increase bicycle share on the roads. And if "fluffy" fashion pieces help get us there, and some of us take a few light hearted hits (myself included- I got a sense of humor) then so be it.

          This whole comment section of this post kind of reminds me of a stand up comedian (don't remember who or I'd give them credit) who stated if women really wanted to help the environment that they should all start riding the bus, because once the girls fill the buses they guys will line up too. Doesn't seem like it's that far off base for bikes, especially considering that women are a critical demographic for increasing bike share in Portland. And obviously guys (read a little farther down the comments, and count myself among them) like to look at women on bikes.

          Though honestly I think most the complainers are upset that some other dude got all the attention despite their tight fitting attire. I think the only thing people take more personally on this site is the great helmet debate.

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    • Granpa October 2, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      The graphs label "fancy spandex" but no descriptive in the other catagories.
      Is this ironic? derisive? judgmental? Clearly not "smartly dressed"

      Perhaps if the spandex was not fancy it might be smartly

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    • Hugh Johnson October 2, 2013 at 5:49 pm

      It's a shame once again BikePortland shows it's bias against people who choose to wear functional bike clothing. Not everyone wearing spandex is a "wanna be" racer. But some people do "wanna be" comfortable when you have a 15 to 20 mile bike commute (each way). BP needs to knock off the us and them attitude.

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      • Hart Noecker October 3, 2013 at 1:45 pm

        It's spandex. Everyone laughs at it.

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        • A.K. October 3, 2013 at 3:31 pm

          Says the racist hipster.

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        • spare_wheel October 3, 2013 at 3:42 pm

          So Hart...maybe you can refresh my memory. Wasn't Kris Chaisawat wearing spandex.

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  • TOM October 2, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    well written and probably great for a certain targeted audience , of which I am not one.

    Weather conditions are the main consideration for what I wear riding. I check the forecasts, look out the window and try to guess what the next 4 hours will be like. Oh, and all my upper gear is signal green or orange. I am warm/dry/comfortable.

    BUT I sure did enjoy dusting some guy in "head to toe" stylish cycle gear when we were both going uphill .

    IMHO .. clothes DO NOT make the cyclist. Portland isn't Venice Beach.

    OBTW: the "Smartly dressed man on the Hawthorne" ... slick shoes, no helmet, no gloves ...he MAY be smartly dressed , but he isn't a smart rider.

    go ahead, flamers.

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  • Kittens October 2, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Nicely written! Risky topic for all those pc types.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • ben October 2, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Speaking of 'fashion' does anyone know where I ca get a decent rain jacket? I already tried Next Adventure but they either do not have my size or too expensive.
    I would normally ask this in the forums, but it appears I not welcomed... Or the admin just hasn't given me permission to post a new thread. :(

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • gutterbunnybikes October 2, 2013 at 6:04 pm

      Not bike specific but check out Duluth Trading Companies Fire hose work wear. I work outside year round, and using this stuff I don't need rain gear to stay dry - ever. The sizes tend to run a little big so keep that in mind if you run in between sizes.

      If you want reflective stuff on it, it's not the place to look. But if you're more interested in functional water proof clothes they're worth it (and priced a lot less then "cycling" clothes too). And they include lots of extras like gussets in the crotch and shoulders, long backs of coats and jackets, some got vents, lots of pockets usually.

      I know I bring them up every time someone asks, and I'm not by any means associated with them. I've just been extremely happy with their products for the last two years since I discovered them.

      Down side is that once you're on their mailing list, they're pretty relentless with the email ads/catalogs.

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    • wsbob October 2, 2013 at 6:59 pm

      "...does anyone know where I ca get a decent rain jacket? ..." ben

      Need more information about what you define as 'decent' in terms of a rain jacket for biking. Good rain jackets for biking, or that work for biking, abound, both low priced examples and expensive examples. Do a search of bikeportland's main page stories...the topic has been discussed at length.

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    • was carless October 3, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      nau.com has some great waterproof jackets. They're nice and pricy, good quality, too.

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  • Peter October 2, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Phew, I'm so glad I'm not "Smartly Dressed"!
    I'll stick with my dumb helmet, disc brakes, blinking lights, and "fancy spandex".
    Especially for my 7-mile, daily commute through downtown, rain or shine.

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  • matti October 2, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    This post seems like so much fluff to me.

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  • Chris Sanderson October 2, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Wow! I must be the most unfashionable cyclist ever! Do Carhartt pants and thermal shirts score me some kind of grungy, blue-collar style points?

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    • was carless October 3, 2013 at 2:51 pm

      yes, you are rocking early '90's blue-collar grunge.

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  • shirtsoff October 2, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Excuse me but it's Lycra and not Spandex. C'mon!

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  • Ryan October 2, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    Lame article. I am not a racer wannabe simply because I wear lycra. My avg speed is 13.8 mph last time i checked. Hardly racing speeds!!! My daily round trip commute, monday through friday, is 27 miles. "Fancy spandex" makes my rides more comfortable...

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  • AG October 2, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    ick. Are you the Joan Rivers of cycle fashion?

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  • John Liu October 3, 2013 at 6:36 am

    Funny article. I was surprised the "athletic wear/shorts" group was so large, and the "office clothes" group relatively smaller. Lycra wearers seem pretty defensive . . .

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  • mikeybikey October 3, 2013 at 7:00 am

    interesting to see the numbers but i think I'd much prefer to see a set of pictures that follow a theme, for example, Grey Colors + Casual Office Attire or Non-Neon Athletic Wear. You can look fashionable on a bike in performance wear if you know what you are doing and you can look horrible in office clothes if you don't. Would be great way to highlight the ways you can be fashionable in each clothing style.

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    • Chris Anderson October 3, 2013 at 7:34 am

      More pictures please! And a little editorial (only publish pictures of people who look like they are having fun). Great coverage, I'm glad someone is on the fashion beat.

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  • oliver_whalen October 3, 2013 at 7:34 am

    I got caught in a downpour yesterday evening. When I got home, I hung my bibs, jacket, and leg warmers in the laundry room. This morning, I can put them on again, because they're dry. And my work clothing will (again) be clean, dry and warm when I arrive at the office.

    I don't think you need to work in the outdoor industry to understand the USP of technical fabrics vis a vis commuting in Oregon, but then It seems we have a lot fewer 'fashionable' people in the bike lanes now that October is here.

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  • aaron October 3, 2013 at 7:43 am

    Why do I feel talked down to after reading that?

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  • Granpa October 3, 2013 at 8:08 am

    If I lose myself in the cleavage of an oncoming summer cyclist, or become transfixed by the flexing buns of a 20 something cat-6 commuter as she drops me like a sack of dirt, then I am a misogynist pig. However if our ”lifestyle” columnist waxes prosaic about the package in a male cyclist’s short shorts she is a fashion consultant. HMmmmm….. I guess I’m not a pig at all!
    I don’t recall when fashion became a priority in the cycling lifestyle, but that movement bypassed me. I would rather be a competent cyclist and not have my knickers knot than parade around like a metrosexual fashionista . In fact I imagine that most cyclists consider cycling the lynchpin of the cycling “lifestyle” and attire would be in secondary importance in service to that activity.

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    • April October 3, 2013 at 10:59 am

      Oh god, not this hoary old chestnut of a non-argument again.

      1. A woman leering at a man is different than a man leering at a woman, because (generally speaking) men are not AFRAID of women they don't know, the way women are afraid of men. It's not fair, of course, but neither is women getting harassed on the street. When women see a man openly staring at them, they frequently brace themselves for some kind of unpleasant comment.

      2. You know you're allowed to find women attractive, right? What makes you a jerk is making it obvious you're leering at her. If I never have any idea that you've glanced down my cleavage or stared at my ass, it doesn't affect me and I don't care. If I can feel you staring and can tell you're following me just to get a good look, if you say something unpleasant, if you get into my space, that's what makes you a creep. Simply seeing a woman and realizing she's attractive is not the problem.

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      • spare_wheel October 3, 2013 at 1:18 pm

        "My favorite rider in this category wore a super short skirt, but kept her blouse from the office. (Apparently, she only sweats from the waist down.) This sexy combination caused me to stare...I watched hey mini skirt and nicely shaped thighs pump the pedals. The distraction made me miss the next five riders."

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        • q`Tzal October 4, 2013 at 11:54 am

          You know... this seems like obvious leering.

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      • Granpa October 3, 2013 at 2:14 pm

        I suppose it is creepy to pull out hoary old chestnuts.................

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    • gutterbunnybikes October 3, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      You do realize that the bicycle has influenced fashion since almost it's conception. In fact it was one of the most significant influences of women clothing since men invented and first wore high heels for horse back riding a few centuries ago.

      The bicycle in the 1800's was very much an empowering tool for women. No longer were they tied to a horse and carriage, which were usually busy working the fields during the day, allowing them to travel independently (thus influencing the suffrage movements - lots of great bicycle quotes from 1800's suffrage leaders).

      But more importantly, to fashion at least, it also made it acceptable for women of all economic statues to wear trousers. Just as bikeportland and the NYT run articles on bicycle fashion, back in the day there were articles and editorials on the fact that women were starting to wear pants so they could ride a bike.

      And feel free to search online old advertisements from the 1800's and early 1900's lots of bicycle fashion stuff there too. Look enough and you'll realize that not much has really changed (in bike fashion or bikes even) in over 100 years other than a few new selections in materials.

      And in case you haven't noticed, many bike shops have as much if not more floor space dedicated to "bicycle" clothes as they do bikes. It's generally got a better mark up and product turn over rate than the bicycles do.

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  • TOM October 3, 2013 at 8:12 am

    I need new brake pads , BUT there are some cute Argyle socks on sale at Nordies ...decisions, decisions .......it's soo tough :(

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  • spare_wheel October 3, 2013 at 8:38 am

    "It dawned on me that this must be the student contingent. The servers from Starbucks and Pizzicato had punched out."

    I guess if you can afford to "flounce" everyone else starts to look like a servant...[sorry]...server.

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  • Slammy October 3, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Wonder what this chart would look like this morning...

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  • takeaspin22 October 3, 2013 at 9:13 am

    I know this is a lighthearted lifestyle opinion article, but I find the underlying premise interesting: collect data on what people wear what they ride. I could see an enterprising grad student expanding this study to look at some other categories as well: waterproof outerwear, cotton, technical fabrics, style-oriented, functional-oriented, hipster, business casual, formalwear, etc. A good study would also look at clothing in all seasons and all types of weather. It would try to explain WHY and WHEN people wear various types of clothing on a bike, maybe through interviews. This information might be useful to policy makers. Of course, in the report, terms like "Lance Armstrong" and "wannabe" would not be necessary.

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    • Psyfalcon October 3, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      What a good article could be.

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  • pdxpaul October 3, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Thanks for the article. Made me smile. Don't let the trolls get you down.

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  • Patrick October 3, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Very nice writing style. Keep up the good work.

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  • Travis Fulton October 3, 2013 at 10:29 am

    I wear bike shorts because I was tired of blowing out the ass in my jeans.

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    • Opus the Poet October 3, 2013 at 6:20 pm

      Not just jeans but all my below-the-waist-above-the-socks attire loses the center seam in the back after a few hundred miles. Except the lycra.

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    • spare_wheel October 3, 2013 at 9:23 pm

      This. I initially started wearing spandex due to being fed up with my jeans and khakhis splitting at the seems.

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  • April October 3, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I generally love the idea of this article, but two things:

    1. Lots of professional jobs allow jeans these days--especially if you're working in the non-profit world or some kind of tech field, and there are plenty people working for one or the other downtown. Don't assume someone in jeans isn't working a professional job.

    2. On workdays, I wear thick leggings/yoga pants and a wool hoodie or a Showers Pass jacket to work--where I change into a mail carrier's uniform. It doesn't make sense to make myself look nice when I'm just going to change, so I dress for the journey, not the destination; especially since I often pull the uniform on over the thermal top and pants I'm already wearing. (IMHO the uniform is not very comfy on a bike, but I have seen other carriers who ride to work in part or all of the uniform anyway.)

    If I'm not going to or from work? I can be spotted on in frilly skirts and dresses, a lovely swishy coat, and I finally bought a pair of heels (yeah Danksos!) I like that I can bike in.

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  • tnash October 3, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    "What is working at our daily jobs if not an opportunity for us to look fabulous? Yes, there is that question of earning a living and feeling fulfilled, but aside from all that, it gives us the chance to adorn our bodies in clothing that makes us feel powerful, important, or at least interesting, " said the most shallow and least interesting person in Portland.

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    • JRB October 3, 2013 at 5:26 pm

      So she likes fashion. Please tell us what morally and spiritually uplifting interests you pursue that allow you to look down on the author, or anybody else for that matter.

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  • Beth October 3, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Fascinating article, surprising numbers. Thanks for this. I look forward to your fashion coverage at the WNBR next spring.

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  • Psyfalcon October 3, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    So if you change into running clothes or tights that don't look like bike tights you have athletic wear, but if you change into bike clothes you're serious and wearing fancy spandex?

    Aren't those two nearly identical categories?

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  • TOM October 3, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    tnash
    it gives us the chance to adorn our bodies in clothing that makes us feel powerful, important, or at least interesting, " said the most shallow and least interesting person in Portland.

    How can that possibly be ??

    She has a " $134 million monument to her "

    http://bikeportland.org/2013/08/28/mood-to-move-portland%E2%80%99s-134-million-monument-to-me-90096

    she writes:
    " I’ll let TriMet know when I decide if I prefer the "Catherine Hastie Bridge," or simply "Cathy’s Bridge." We’ll fix the paperwork in due time."

    from the tone of the article, I thought she was probably a 17 y.o mall rat* journalism student , wow was I wrong ....

    *or Valley Girl , depending on your perspective ... :)

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  • jered bogli October 3, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Depending on the time of commute my look will be different. In the AM I'll ride in my work cloths (jeans and a tee shirt to nice pants and a button down shirt) to the MAX for the ride to beaverton, on the way home I'll be rocking full roadie lycra cause I'm riding all the way home...

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  • Anne Hawley October 3, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    The hate in the comment thread is shocking. I don't know when I've seen so much vitriol directed at an essentially harmless opinion piece on this blog. It reads like OregonLive. I'm sorry if you plowed through this unpleasantness, Cathie.

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    • AG October 3, 2013 at 5:18 pm

      its a good indicator that most people don't come here to read that kind of, well...stuff.

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    • rainbike October 4, 2013 at 6:45 am

      Hate and criticism (or expressing a contrary opinion/position) are very different things. Just because I didn't like the article and said so doesn't make me a hater or a troll.

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  • sorebutt October 3, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    I was already getting depressed due to the shorter days and weather. Now I find out I'm unfashionable too. Thanks alot.

    At least my dogs will still love me. Although they did just get groomed and are looking pretty good.

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    • Opus the Poet October 3, 2013 at 6:22 pm

      Are you sure they love you, or are they just kowtowing to the person that feeds them?

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  • Opus the Poet October 3, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    I don't ride in PDX so my bike clothes tend to the "wicking and free-moving" comfort spectrum. I mean seriously what you guys call summer I'd pretty much our fall here in TX. We had low 90s to high 80s today in the area, with my town having a high of 91 at 4PM.

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  • Matt October 3, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    Let people wear, ride, and do what they want when commuting. If someone wants to ride their $4000 carbon fiber bike to a 4 mile job, let them. If someone has the desire to commute in their "kit" and look all super fancy pants, more power to em'. Carharts, jeans, old sneakers, sweatpants, sure! Also, you ever think the people dressed in spandex are actually riding up in the hills after work? I did all the time when I worked over there. I'd ride in spandex and look ridiculous for a 5 mile commute, but then I'd ride for a few hours after and it’d be completely functional and justified. We have a lot of fit people in this city that treat their commutes as exercise and “riding to work” as an after thought…

    Remember, we're all riding for the health of ourselves and each other.

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  • matheasmichaels@gmail.com October 6, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    I represent shorty short short shorts, and let me say, looking sexy on your bike is waaaay more important than being comfortable, safe, on time, or dry/warm. Get with it people.

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