My least favorite season has descended on Reno with a stifling hot vengeance. I ride home every day for lunch in addition to my regular ride during commute hours, so when temperatures are in the 80s and 90s as they have been for the past couple weeks, I feel the brunt of that heat. At this point in the year, wearing long, fitted pants is basically out of the question, so you can find me most days riding to and from work in a dress or a skirt.
A lot of people (and clothing manufacturers) make a pretty big deal about riding in a skirt. How can it be done?! Won’t yards of lace get tangled in the spokes? Won’t our dignity be impeached? Lucky for you, readers, I have put together an exclusive Reno Bikes two-step guide to riding a bike in a skirt:
Step 1: Put on a skirt.
Step 2: Ride a bike to your destination.
It really is that easy. A typical dress for me is semi-roomy (no yards of extra material but not skin-tight) and hits just above the knee, and I bike in these with no other special accommodation most days with no incident. In my experience, the dress rides up maybe to the mid-thigh level, still keeping things far more covered than an average pair of shorts. Occasionally, a sturdy gust of wind will introduce a little flutter into the skirt, such that a little more leg is exposed and I have to readjust the material. What can people see as I bike toward them in this getup? Not much. First off, I’m pedaling in a dress, not standing stock still in the nude. Even if they could see right up the old skirt, it would only be for an instant, and all they’d see was some fairly tame leg. Second off, all the information they’d get from this rare glimpse is readily available at your nearest public pool. This is just one fairly body-confident woman’s opinion, but I don’t see the presence of skirts as a good excuse to avoid riding, or as a reason to spend a bunch of money on very specific bike-friendly technical skirts with uncomfortable built-in shortlets to preserve the delicate modesty of my more uppity neighbors. If you are wearing a skirt and you want to ride a bike, you have my permission to just do it.
If covering up a little more when you’re wearing a skirt or dress would make your ride more comfortable and pleasant, then by all means, do it. On extremely windy (or cold) days, or with quite short dresses and pencil skirts that I have to hike all the way up around my bum just to get on the bike, I’ve been known to slip on a pair of bike shorts underneath so I don’t have to think about it. If you don’t have bike shorts, a pair of low-profile regular shorts will work just fine as well. The point is to just to wear whatever makes you feel comfortable in your own skin on the bike, and to know that your choice of attire doesn’t have to dictate your choice of transportation.