Friday Musings

Commuting in Jeans – Why I can’t be a hipster.


BIKING IN JEANS! Do you do it?! Image Courtesy of Cycle Kyoto.

Helloha saucy  Bike Commuters!  Since it’s only Wednesday, I don’t know if this counts as a “Friday Musing” but we’ll post it anyway.  Let’s just say if you’ve been reading anything authored by Meeee.r.I.Am this past year, then you’ll know that you are headed down WTF road, and there’s no turning back – YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

I often joke with my family that I can never wear skinny/hipster jeans because I have a “calf-top” – that’s to say a pair of skinny jeans in my waist size can never make it up to my muffin top, because my calf top gets in the way!!!  My brother agrees, he too cannot fit a calf through a skinny jeans leg!  This has prompted today’s musing up for debate: Commuting in work clothes vs. packing them in a bag, or more specifically Commuting in Jeans. I don’t know how many of you out there have casual work environments where jeans are appropriate for a work day like Jack, but I do!  As a bike commuter and a more utilitarian fashion-person, there are several things to consider each morning when I dress OR pack my bag for work in the morning.  Let’s consider my inner monologue on any given work day:


Me posing in my fave straight leg $35 jeans. With three pair sacrifices thus far to Bikelonius, I’ll be ready for some women’s Levi’s commuter jeans soon!


  1. Do I have any meetings first thing today? – Sometimes, if I am about to see a client upon arrival at the office.  In the morning, I’ll get dressed in office clothes first, make up etc., then ride “no-sweat speed” to avoid arriving in spandex or T-shirts with funny sayings on them only meant for commuting.  For me, “dressing” for work can mean jeans or business casual.  (Depende de… Numero 2!)

    LGRAB’s Dottie has got it down!

  2. What’s the weather like outside? – Of course, it’s been hot, showering, pouring, windy, and cold within the past few weeks of Oahu’s “Wimpy” winter.  If it’s wet butt commuter time, it’s jeans/dress clothes in the bag and Vanya chrome or anything quick dry on the bike.
  3. Laziness factor, do I really want to change clothes again?! – This one can go both ways, sometimes clean bike commuting outfit can double as PJs the night before (don’t call me a dirty hippie!) OR I can be too lazy to change at work and will therefore put on my jeans/dress and do the no-sweat speed thing to work.


  4. Holes in my pockets factor: Sacrifice your jeans to the bike saddle gods? – Everyone has heard of  Bikelonius the greek god of bike commuters, who requires periodic denim sacrifices.  Whether it be chain grease smears, cuff snags, or inconvenient  and embarrassing holes in the lower saddle butt area, forcing the Bikelonians to make repeated pilgrimages to the scary Gap clearance rack/local thrift store/etc.  I have sacrificed three pairs of jeans to Bikelonius over the past 6 years.  Anyway, sometimes I don’t want to ruin my jeans so I’ll change clothes at work to avoid the holy butt scenario.

Got an extra $205 to spare? How about some Rapha Cycling Jeans?

Sometimes, it’s more convenient to show up in jeans and already be dressed.  Sometimes it’s worth the jeans-seam crotch pain if it’s a short ride.  And sometimes I wish I could be a hipster and fit my big-o-calves into some friggin’ skinny jeans so they don’t snag on the chainring!  (You gotta admit, skinny jeans or leggings ARE the best for snagless commutes!)  I dunno about you Cycle Gentlemen out there, but for Cycle Ladies, a commuter jean would need to be women-specific (AHEM! Listen up, Levi’s!) and bike specific before I would consider shelling out mas dinero for commuter pants…(Considering some of these “cycling lifestyle” jeans from SWRVE or osloh would cost me halfway to a new bike.)  Can you grind it out on your commute in a pair of your fave blues and roll up the cuffs?  Or would you rather stick to bike-specific/workout gear?

Friday Musing: Crankin’ Out the Crankiness

TGIF fellow Bike Commuters!

Despite the warm-ups we’ve had here in Chicago, I’ve been battling the winter blues and all-around crankiness. Some of it could also be my dismay at getting sick again – just in time for last weekend’s Chicago Bike Swap.

The Swap went very well, but I was zapped by the end of the day and spent the next couple of days at home feeling “blah”. I’ve also been sick – but not quite too sick not to bike – during some wonderful near 70-degree days this past week and felt that much worse since I could not fully embrace and enjoy those days on my bike or otherwise. I should be be happy with this weather news and I am:

Our warm winter has been well documented. It was the third warmest on record for the state and the 4th warmest for the US. This winter tied for sixth place with the most number of days with a high of 40° or warmer. We enjoyed 50 40° degree days this winter. This winter also tied for sixth place for the least amount of days with 1 inch of snow on the ground or more. We had just 13 days this winter with 1″ of snow on the ground or more.

In all my negativity, I’ve also been wondering if all this great weather will spell doom for my spring.

Time to snap out of it!

Today – at long last – my head seems to finally be clearing and the fatigue subsiding, and I feel like it’s time for me to spring my head back up and beat this funk!

Riding my bike usually helps me battle the blues. It gives me an opportunity to crank out the crankiness (as I like to think of it) and arrive at work or home with more focus.

But sometimes my bike commutes actually crank up my level of crankiness, especially on days when I’m low on patience or my head is in a fog of congestion (as it has been most of this week). Doing battle with cars and pedestrians just gets me more riled up and I find that my frustrations build rather than dissipate.

My co-workers have suggested that I try taking a break from my bike. “A break from my bike?!?” Seriously? Never. The prospect of having to rely on the unpredictable schedule of public transit or get in my car (with the high price of parking and gasoline) quickly reminds me that biking is the best way for me to go – and that at the end of the day, it does calm me.

At least on my bike I feel the breeze (and sometime volatile winds) on my face. I feel a sense of control over my commute, while at the same time I sense the vulnerability of being so exposed on my bike. Most importantly, I feel the fullness of being alive.

I like what my bike commute does for me – on the good and the bad days. I guess it’s why I keep it crankin’…

Friday Musings: Childlike Heart

When I was a kid, I used to love riding my bike everywhere. It seemed like any destination I had became some sort of adventure and because of the great memories I had as a kid with bikes, I still long to relive some of those moments. Enter my bike toys. Check out these two items below. The one on the left is a motorcycle noise maker. The one on the right is called the Super Siren Bicycle Alarm, 3 Sound With Microphone.

As a young lad in the Philippines, only the cool kids had either one of those items. I remember one kid in my neighborhood had the motorcycle noise maker and because of it, I thought his bike was way better than mine. In fact I recall that we both had identical bikes, but because of the noise maker, his just felt more fun to ride!

Then there was the Super Siren — now this only the older kids had. It’s pretty cool, it runs off a 9 volt battery, you can use it as a PA or switch it to the various sirens: Ambulance, Fire or Police. When we’d play Cops and Robbers, only the kids with the Super Siren could play the cops and man…they were sooooo cool!

Fast forward 30+ years. I still love riding bicycles and because of the great memories I had with them, I want to own some of the items that I couldn’t afford as a kid. A few years ago, I started looking for those two items above, and I was amazed that I found both of them on for about $13 each. I’ve since installed them on my various bikes, yes including my commuter bikes. I’ll use the PA on the Super Siren to pretend I’m a cop as I’m rolling down the street, then I’ll rev up the noise maker so I don’t have to make the motorcycle sound with my mouth.

I gotta tell ya, not only is riding my bike practical, but it sure does help me feel like a kid! With the Super Siren and Noise Maker on my bikes, it just makes the whole riding experience so much better.

Friday Musings – Tiny awesome things about Bike Commuting

Happy Aloha Friday everybody!  Sometimes I make tiny mental lists of the tiny awesome things about bike commuting that I love including tips, hidden moments on the commute, commuter-specific nuances, and ultimate randomness.  Let’s get all loosey-goosey and see what we can come up with.  P.S. – some of these things are shared from others, so be sure to comment and fill in yours too.  Let’s roll out the red carpet for the little things we love about Bike Commuting:

It's Friday, and it's time to NERD OUT over Bike Commuting!

  • Front light/Front flip: One out of three of my commuter stallions has had the problem of anorexic handlebars!  What this means is that in ideal spot to mount my front light, the tube diameter is too small for thesmallest grippy-diameter of my Planet Bike Blaze front mount (even with piling up those rubber fillers).  The front light would tip forward after every big bump in the road, resulting in half my commute flashing a front-light strobe party pointing straight down on the ground!  So much for being seen!… Instinctively, each time Bumblebee and I rode over a lumpy-hump, I would reach for the front light and prop it back up.  It wasn’t until this past year that my co-worker spotted a neat trick on someone else’s ride: flip the light upside down so gravity is on your side!  Now my front light hangs underneath the bars, and I never have to readjust after humps and bumps!  Yay! No more front light push-up like pointdexter adjusting my glasses.

    The Front Light Front Flip!

  • Smell factor: This can be something good or something bad depending on where you are in your commute!  Two awesome smells I’ve been recording on my brain are ripe mangoes at Hotel and Maunakea St. and cinnamon rolls baking at the enormous warehouse-style bakery a block from my office!  I love the smell of my bike commute, better than the smell of the inside of the bus on a rainy day, or that weird Crayola smell in Volkswagen Jettas.  I’ll take “fresh” bike air any day…
  • Helmet Basket:  No shame in this, a quick trip to the grocery store to grab the makings for a FlufferNutter – why grab a plastic shopping basket when you can use your helmet upside down! I do this all the time at the grocery!  I also use this trick while locking up: I clip the helmet so it hangs from my top tube, and toss the flat bar with key of my U-lock into the helmet as I thread the cable through my wheels and line everything up for the final lock down.  I love dual purpose of helmets: stores my brains and knowledge, or Fluff and U-locks!  Elizabeth has her own trick for carrying groceries home.

Ok, I don't think it works well the other way around, buckethead!

  • Nightride Karaoke Solo: Whenever I work late and am riding alone on the streets, I love to sing really embarrassing pop songs like Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” out loud for no one to hear!  The streets are mine, and no one is around to give me the stink eye, so I enjoy it!

I want one that says Cycle Ladies like Bike Nerds.

  • Left-Turn Signal Habit: I know I’ve posted this before to the facebook, but to any new readers who didn’t catch it; you know you are a bike commuter when you left turn signal while walking back from lunch to your office.  NERD ALERT!  Another good one I heard from a reader is when you try to do a mirror check while walking in the hallway at the office.

Anyway guys, enjoy your Aloha Friday, Bike Commuters! Don’t be ashamed of nerding out, enjoy those tiny moments on your ride home this weekend.  What other awesome randomness do you enjoy on your commute!? Share it in the comments box puh-leeze!

Friday Musings: Share your bicycle memories

When I ride, I daydream a lot…some of you can relate to that based on our recent article. I sometimes think back on all the fond memories I have had on or around bicycles, and I began to wonder if our readers would share some of theirs.

It could be your first experiences as a child, or the feelings you had when you may have rediscovered bikes as an adult. Whichever the case, we’d love to hear about some of your bike memories. Here, we’ll kick this off by sharing some of ours:

Noah: I remember living in Nebraska, and upgrading from my first 12″ toddler bike to a 20″ Huffy Challenger BMX bike, and tackling a bunch of awesome dirt hills. I remember exploring the outskirts of town from sun-up to sun-down with my best friends, all by bicycle, and my parents didn’t freak out. I’d tell them of our adventures. As long as I was back home by the time the street lights came on, they were cool with it. No nanny-state for us as kids! The incoming generation of adults is going to be so messed up when they experience real life for the first time, without knee pads and safety harnesses.

Know the glory of the Princess BEAST.

Miriam: A magenta girl’s cruiser something like this! Let’s recall the first time I rode a bike as a tiny fetus… I think I was about 7 years old?! or 17?! I can’t remember. But I DO remember this awesome magenta banana-seat bike my mom got me at a garage sale as my first bike with no training wheels. Single speed, coaster brake, sun-damaged plastic basket complete with plastic flowers, sparkling paint job, and flowing glittery tassels at the handle bars. Needless to say, this thing was a princess BEAST. I was intimidated, “Wha? A bike wit onwee toooo wheelz? Where is the little wheelz, Ma?!” So I cowered in the driveway and decided that looking at the banana-seater and playing in mud was just as good as riding it. ENTER UNCLE JIMMY! Uncle Jim was like that cool younger uncle you had who was single and worked at the ice cream shop down the street, who let you climb on him like a jungle gym and liked to play outside with you… One weekend, Uncle Jim told me to quit being a sissy la-la and forced me to get on the bike. We “rode” up and down the street together as he ran behind me helping me balance on two wheels. He was holding the handle at the back of the banana-seat as I pedaled slowly; he told me he wouldn’t let go until I said so. After a few jaunts, I started to build up speed – with the sparkly tassels signifying light speed was just around the corner! “Don’t let gooooooooooooo!” I kept screaming, as I pedaled faster. I realized that he eventually let go and was running behind the bike pretending to hold it! And like, that, SHAZAM! I cruised off into the sunset at age 1907! (If by sunset you mean the ivy-covered chain-link fence at the end of Francis Court and by age 1907 you mean age where crashing into ivy results in crying disproportionate to actual injury). I guess stopping was a little too much for my fetus brain to handle with all that adrenaline…

Jack: So many of my memories of youth revolve around bikes…spending time in my grandfather’s garage/bike paradise, learning all the aspects of building and maintaining fine Italian machines at the hands of a man who approached his bicycles with the same care he took repairing Rolex and Omega watches (his “day job”). He taught me so much — including how to use a bench-mounted buffing wheel to polish up a beautiful pair of 1035 high-flange hubs just prior to him building a wheelset around them. I also remember spending a lot of time riding on the back of his tandem, with a brutally stiff Brooks saddle wedged into my nether regions. My most fond memory of him is the last bike ride we went on together: me, a teenager at the end of my lackluster road racing career, him in his mid 70s. After a leisurely 30-mile cruise, we decided to sprint back to the W&OD trailhead in Vienna, Virginia. The man dusted me like I was standing still. Humbling, to be sure.

The most vivid bike memory for me, though, is the transition off training wheels. Early on that day, a practice session ended up with me sprawled over the hood of a parked car, cursing that blasted two-wheeled monstrosity. Later that day, after some gentle persuasion by my father, I had another go at it and suddenly, EVERYTHING CLICKED…the balance, the steering, the braking. I was free, and I was more excited than I had ever been before.

Anyhow, enough memory-lane-action for us. Let’s hear YOUR stories, if you’re in the sharing mood. Just leave your comments below.