We came across this great letter from 1999, published in the Post & Courier and written by a tenacious woman named Mindy Spar. Read it and be inspired! (For the full text go to the P&C archives)
I want to ride my bicycle
BY Mindy Spar
The Post and Courier
Anyone who owns a car in this town knows that driving around here can be a headache. With all the one-way streets, pedestrians who don`t look where they are going, carriage drivers who don`t pull over when they are supposed to and tour buses that drive zero miles per hour, getting where you are going can be tough…..
I bought a bicycle about a year or so ago with intentions of riding it to work. Somehow, I kept finding excuse after excuse not to. First I didn`t want to ride home in the dark. Then when it stayed light later, I decided it was too hot. Then I couldn`t figure out a comfortable way to ride in a dress. Then I realized I had way too much stuff to schlep around and I couldn`t possibly carry it all on a bike. Then I kept hearing story after story of people`s bikes being stolen, and I figured my bike would be much safer if I didn`t use it.
After the bus incident, I decided to get real and put all of the excuses away. I spent the weekend gearing up: I bought a basket to carry my stuff in, bought a super-duper lock to protect my bike, I found some bicycle shorts to wear under my dress, and I decided to pull my hair back in a ponytail and to not be afraid of a little sweat.
D-day (or should I say B-day, as in bike day) dawned on Monday. I woke up early in anticipation. Every few minutes I checked the sky, but, alas, there were no rain clouds in sight. I pulled on my shorts, tied back my hair, secured my belongings in my basket, and off I went.
It was exhilarating. Even with the heat there was a bit of a breeze, and it felt great to be in the open air.
Usually, I drove the same route to work every morning, so I decided to weave through the back streets on my bike. I noticed new details on houses I`d seen a thousand times; the interesting way a porch curved on one house, the leaded glass windows on another, the latticed gate to a garden at yet another. I marveled at the amount of restoration and renovation that is being done in the downtown neighborhoods.
Before I knew it, I was at my destination. I was amazed that it took the same amount of time as driving had. And I felt great, albeit very sweaty. I was clearheaded and empowered to tackle the day.
Now, I ride to work every day. Instead of wishing for storm clouds, I dread them. (One day I had to drive to work and I appreciated my bicycle all the more; by the time I negotiated the traffic and bad drivers, I was a stress case before my work day had even begun.)
I vary my route and try to discover new things daily. I also watch the progress of the renovations and am excited by the new vitality in some of our older neighborhoods.
If I had only known what a great way this was to start the day, I would have thrown off those tired excuses ages ago. Granted, my sitbone and my legs were a little sore for a while, and my co-workers have had to deal with my outdoorsy odor, but those little inconveniences pale in comparison to the overall benefits.
Those benefits are endless; a chance to get some exercise, discover new things, clear the mind and body of stress, and do a little bit for the environment.
But the biggest benefit of all is, I feel as if I`ve given myself a gift. A gift of permission to take a few minutes every day to do something beneficial for myself. This is something in this hectic, rush-rush world we too often forget to do. Try it and see what a difference it makes.
I know that most of you out there thinking about Cycle Chic might assume that expensive bikes with expensive clothes makes Cycle Chic go round. But if you’ve been reading up, you know that this Cycle Chic-er loves all things that show a zest for life, so I had to include what you see below….
This picture was sent in to me by a reader, and let me tell you, I love it. It’s old school, new school and being-one-with-nature-school all in one. This is his ‘fishing bike’ and he and his 7-yr old daughter like to ride to the shore of the Wando river and try to catch anything they can.
Ladies and Gents, you don’t have to buy a fancy basket to get things done. Get creative in the spur of the moment. Try a tomato box strapped to the back if you can’t hold on to all your organic farmer’s market supplies. Or rummage up an old Coke Bottle container like this gentleman did to hold your fresh caught dinner as you ride back home smiling with your kids and feel good about being alive.
This great google map was put together by our Cycle Chic cohorts at Bike by the Sea in Santa Barbara. Isn’t it neat to think that 10s of 1000s of us are Cycling Chic all over the world, and that our marvelous little town on the Atlantic is part of it?? Pretty amazing…
View Larger Map
Now that the Pecha Kucha location has been revealed (The Music Farm!) I can reveal our ride route and meetup location for our October 21st Ride to Pecha Kucha Night Charleston
Start: Marion Square @5:45PM
Meetup: Chai’s @ around 6:30PM
Pecha Kucha: 7:15 @ The Music Farm (we’ll be locking our bikes here before we go to Chai’s)
View Larger Map
Yes it’s been several months since we had a fun Cycle Chic ride. The only good excuse was the heat. Pavement-melting, sweltering, Lowcountry heat. But it’s officially fall ya’ll and while those of you in Maine wouldn’t consider 80 degrees cool – for us, it is delightful.
So stay tuned for details about the next ride. All I can tell you now is that it will be after work on October 21st! So get your beautiful bikes polished up and ready to ride.
Ok so this post isn’t exactly about Cycle Chic in the ‘chic’ sense, but it IS about something near and dear to my heart (and the underlying motivation of Charleston Cycle Chic) – making a city more bike-friendly. This past weekend, the NY Times wrote an excellent article on how Boston, long known as a ‘cyclists’ minefield’, is turning itself around and implementing measures to become more bike-friendly. Now Boston was established much the same time Charleston was. It has historic buildings, narrow streets and is surrounded by water and bridges. It also has a history of moving a bit slowly to get things done. But not anymore. In fact, Bicycling Magazine recently cited it on it’s Five for the Future list.
What does it take to make a city bike-friendly? As I experienced so clearly on my recent trip to Boulder, CO – it’s about creating bike lanes that go from Important Point A to Important Point B. It’s about having bike racks everywhere (here’s a link to ours). It’s about businesses encouraging bike parking (like Charleston’s Downtown TacoBoy!), and educating drivers about what it means to share the roads.
But it’s also about having leadership that loves to ride. Boston’s Mayor Menino recently discovered the biking lifestyle and realized just how important it is to a city’s sustainability and enjoyment and so quickly got to work. He even started Hub on Wheels, a Citywide Ride and Festival.
So I get it. As much grassroots moving as we can do, it still has to come from the top. So Mayor Riley – here’s what I propose to you. Come ride with me around our beautiful city. If you don’t have a bicycle, I’ll buy one for you. That’s my commitment to you, to this city, and to this lifestyle. Try it! It just might change your life.
I just found this article on Treehugger.com talkin’ about all ya’ll Charleston Cycle Chic aficionados with a photo of our lovely Cara Kelly riding down the Battery. What do you say CCC ladies (and gents)? Are we going to live up to their vision of us? Our gorgeous fall is just around the corner and we can no longer use the excuse of ‘perspiration’. Let’s ride into the sunset, shall we??
By the way, if you haven’t seen Treehugger.com before, they have a superb collection of posts on all things ‘green’ and progressive – from Design and Architecture to Food and Fashion and everything in between. Check them out!
“Charleston Cycle Chic is making biking to work all the rage. Bonnie wrote about Cycle Chic in London last year and while it took a little longer to catch on here in South Carolina, the movement is gaining a foothold. In South Carolina and even in a more forward thinking Charleston, all too often you’ll see people hop in their cars to drive two feet and then have trouble finding a parking space which leads to them continually driving around the block…more
All ya’ll have to check out this great organization in New Zealand – Frocks on Bikes. They’ve got it going ON! They are fabulous, gorgeous and most importantly, they are pedaling for change. They’ve got events popping up all over the place – from workshops to Film Fests to Carnivals and everything in between.
From their website…“Frocks On Bikes spontaneously emerged in New Zealand, in a space of two short weeks in the lead up to the 350 Climate Action festivals being held in Auckland and Wellington. We mobilised over 350 frockers pedalling for change – making a beautiful point as we promenaded through our cities calling for action and awareness on climate change.”
Their Facebook Group
And the weirdest thing – I clicked one of their links about “6 Reasons The World Needs More Girls on Bikes“ which led me to Treehugger.com, the article written by a woman in Sweden and what do ya know – a picture of my red patent leather heels on my lime green bike came up. Flickr/Social Media blows my mind!! But really, after you marvel, read read read because what they have to say, has to do with you!
Best Quote of the Day – “Women…might find riding in high heels is easier than walking in them.” Amen sistah!
As I go about my daily business, biking, walking or just cafe-sitting, I always have my trusty IPhone camera ready to whip out a moment’s notice because you never know when a beautiful woman on a great bike is going to roll by. Here are a few recent examples of Charleston Cycle Chic in action. Note the bikes, note the outfits, note the lifestyle and the happy glow of a woman who knows she’s having fun.
While it was storming all around us, somehow the sun managed to shine down on the Charleston Peninsula and illuminate 50 beautiful women on their fabulous bikes (and a few stylin’ guys). We had hats and heels and skirts galore and even a couple of tandem bikes. Shiny pink fenders, white leather seats, and all the colors of the rainbow were out in force. Thanks to my friends Dustin Ryan and Jim Wallace (with their newly formed video company – Pedicab Productions) for all the fantastic photos and upcoming video. Check out the ladies! There are multiple links to multiple slideshows so you can get your fill of the gorgeousness. If anyone has others – send the links to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to everyone for coming out to ride in support of CharlestonMoves and to show this town we love the biking lifestyle – It’s chic to ride!
Stay tuned….we think there will be more….:)
Here’s the Cycle Chic Flickr PhotoStream
City Paper Pics (courtesy of Angela Hanyak)