I really enjoy wearing skirts when I cycle, which is really no surprise to those that know me or have heard about Penny in Yo’ Pants. While skirts do present a challenge to cycling, I’ve come to learn that they offer a huge opportunity to be creative on the bike. I’m forever on a quest to find the right length, fabric, and style of skirt which makes me feel confident and stylish on two wheels.
However, they have come to mean a lot more which I hadn’t realised until recently.
Last week, I was coming out of the Innocent Railway tunnel, it was pouring rain, and pretty miserable out. A mountain-bike man went to pass me and the following happened:
He said – ‘Not exactly skirt weather’
I said – ‘Any weather is skirt weather’
He said – ‘I seriously doubt that’
And he cycled on his way.
Now, this isn’t the first time someone has commented on my skirt-wearing bikeable style. When I first started cycling, a man told me that no one will ever take me seriously if I wear that (a skirt) on the roads.
These experiences bring up more and more questions and I’m not sure what they mean.
Why is what I wear on my bike up for commentary?
Would it be appropriate to comment on my skirt if I was walking past? I don’t think so. So why does being on my bike make it different and more acceptable to comment?
I realise he might have just been trying to make awkward conversation, but why my skirt and not the weather (as we often talk about)?
We talk about how our streets and politicians need to be more like Copenhagen, but maybe we should take a look at our hearts. The way we embrace each other’s cycling decisions and styles is also part of the greater ‘infrastructure’. It’s not just about bike lanes, but the way we feel and talk to each other on and off the streets.
Let’s not admire each other for our gear, but for our decision. I respect other cyclists for their strong legs, sense of adventure and for taking the streets back. Even if your gear is more ‘serious’ than mine – we have both made a powerful decision. The same decision.
Women’s comments about Penny in Yo’ Pants revealed that it was actually inspiring them to get back on their bikes. It became the coffee table book which got the conversation going about how skirts can actually be an enabler for cycling but also, that they represent so much more.
For me, my skirt shows that cycling isn’t a hobby. It is a lifestyle, well being, and way of life. I don’t need a change of clothes – this is who I am.
Wear your skirts. Or animal print lycra (which to be fair, I should comment on and never will). Or even better, wear whatever you like and that is awesome – as long as you feel confident, strong, and the wind in your hair.