Spring is in the air: The warm weather’s finally here, it’s light well into the evening, and the tube workers may or may not be striking. If you’ve ever flirted with the idea of adopting the bicycle as your means for getting around town, then the current climate is bound to make cycling seem a bit more attractive.
But for many people who’ve dabbled with the idea of peddling around London, the question remains where to start. Those are the people Caz Nicklin is targeting with her blog London Cycle Chic. Though primarily aimed at women with fashion tips and the latest trends, there’s still plenty of information on safety, bike shops, and events to benefit both sexes, plus photos of fashionable London-based cycling celebrities.
Caz’s inspiration for the blog was both style and practicality. She brought her bike with her when she fist came to London, but didn’t ride it much.
“I had a crappy mountain bike I didn’t like riding,” Caz said of her previous, less attractive set of wheels. “I wanted to buy a second-hand bike, I only had a hundred quid, and people only told me, ‘no, you need to buy a new bike, you need to spend £400...’ There’s no advice for people like me who just want a bike that looks cool and don’t care about performance.”
This is why visitors to London Cycle Chic will find listings for different bike shops where they can buy the second hand bike for a hundred quid or something new and shiny and a bit more spendy. Caz also scouts out different products for cyclists from helmets (which she now also sells through her site) and apparel for all price ranges to locks and accessories for storing your bike.
Her main objective is to make cycling seem normal, and not something that involves a huge commitment or wearing Spandex clothing. “Lycra wear is the sport,” say Caz. “There’s nothing wrong with that. People cycle as a sport, whereas I cycle to get around.”
But Caz knew it wasn’t just the Lycra that was putting people off cycling. “I took a poll before I started the site to find out why women didn’t cycle. The main reason was safety. The second was practicality; they didn’t want to get all sweaty. Third was image; they didn’t want to wear a stupid helmet.”
Caz addresses all of these issues, encouraging her readers to take to the bike lanes in style (“Helpful and pretty — that’s my ambition.”). For those who worry their riding might be a bit rusty, she suggests taking a brush up lesson. Many boroughs will offer these lessons either free or heavily discounted, so be sure to check with your local council. This can also help if you’re not one for driving and want to learn to manage traffic. “I don’t drive and I feel very comfortable on the road,” says Caz. And what about drivers that either don’t seem to see you or don’t seem to care? “Make eye contact and smile.”
As for practicality, there isn’t too much that an be done to avoid getting too sweaty, aside from choosing style over speed and taking your time on your bike. It is practical (and helps with the image, too) if you wear your regular clothing while you ride instead of something stretchy, neon, or a combination there of. And if you don’t like the average, aerodynamic helmet, well, Caz can suggest something a bit cuter.
“I always wear something quite bright,” says Caz. “Bright yellow t-shirt, white tights. It’s not about what you’re wearing as how you feel. Be bright and lovely. When you’re cycling, you’re on show. Enjoy showing off!” Caz would also like us to know that leg warmers are the new bicycle clips, and a light or bright coloured pair will also help with your visibility.
And while Caz herself bicycles almost everyday, there’s no need for every perspective cyclist to feel they would have to do the same. “You don’t have to cycle when you’ve got a hangover or if it’s chucking down rain,” says Caz. "There’s nothing wrong with being a fair-weather cyclist."
Visit London Cycle Chic for tips on safety, style, and upcoming events.
Photo of the LUCKY SADDLE collaboration between Cycle Chic, Bobbins Bicycles, and Sawako Furuno by Johanna Ruebel.