I want to buy a bicycle, I want to buy a bike

Every year when the weather starts to turn from ‘eternal hibernation’ to ‘life is good again’, I seem to get more questions along the lines of “so I’m thinking about getting a bike… where do I start?”

 

This is the best question you could ask me, and given the chance I’ll definitely talk your face off about it, but I try to keep in mind how far down the rabbit hole I’ve gone, and to channel my mindset from when I was bike-curious and exploring options without having any more than a very rudimentary understanding of what I was looking at. So with that in mind, I’ve tried to put this in layperson’s language so I can impart what I wish I knew years ago.

  1. You get what you pay for, so while you don’t necessarily need to go out and get all the bells and whistles, keep in mind that a bike from Walmart or other big box store will almost always be heavy, questionably assembled, and have low quality parts where it matters (resulting in a grindy, cumbersome, less fun ride). If you can stay flexible on price until you decide what you want to achieve with your bike purchase, you’re more likely to end up satisfied with your purchase in the end and less likely to have an unloved bike hanging out collecting dust in your garage.

  2. Ask yourself what kind of riding you want to do. Commuting to work or replacing some short distance car errands? Casual riding on paved trails or around the neighborhood? Do you want to be able to cut through dirt or gravel areas without wiping out? Are you looking to get a workout or would you prefer to sit upright and stay more comfortable? Do you want to be able to pull a trailer for bringing along a small riding companion or hauling large items?  A good local bike shop should be able to steer you in the right direction and give some suggestions for specific models; bike shops carry different brands so you’ll want to visit several to get a full picture of what’s available. Or you can ask me and I’ll talk to you ad nauseam about the various pros/cons of different models.

  3. Local shops offer test rides on their floor models, much like buying a car; I recommend going to several, describing what kind of riding you want to do, and taking a few out and going at least a few blocks. A lot of people don’t take advantage of this, and I didn’t feel confident enough to when I started out, but no amount of specs on a page or advice from other people can tell you what a few different bike rides will about what that bike will feel like for you. Some larger shops even have demo bikes that they’ll let you take out for longer rides – it doesn’t hurt to ask!

  4. If you go the online route, you can have the bike built at a shop, usually for $60-100 depending on the type of bike and number of features. A bike mechanic knows what they are doing and can save you from a disaster resulting from an improperly assembled bike. A nice bike mechanic will also tell you the pros and cons of buying a bike that you’re eyeing online. I almost bought a vintage bike on Craigslist once and I’m still so grateful to the mechanic I called up who warned me that replacement parts for that particular bike would be really hard to source. Dodged a bullet!
    Often, local shops will have a tune-up or maintenance policy when you buy from them, and it’s usually worth it to know what you’re getting vs. the headaches and impersonal nature of buying a bike online. Local bike shops will make riding your bike more fun by increasing ridership and advocating for bike friendly policies in your community, so if you can, support them!

  5. Once your bike is built and you’re rolling, check around for workshops and clinics at local stores (many are free) where you can learn some basics like how to change a tire or adjust your brakes, because it feels super empowering and badass when you’re able to fix something yourself.

  6. Ride your bike! Hopefully you’ve found something you love and enjoy riding. Down the line, you may change your mind or decide you want to try another type of riding (a single speed beach cruiser was just my gateway drug, after all). That’s totally normal, so stay open to new frontiers!

I want to buy a bicycle, I want to buy a bike

Pack it up, pack it in

Before I continue on to parts II and III of my 2019 tour summary, I thought I’d pause after part I to review my packing list and general thinking behind the setup I used for all my gear.

Because one of the most daunting tasks in tour preparation involves turning a big pile of collected gear:

Into a pared down setup that fits, is reasonably balanced, not too heavy, and is somewhat organized. It’s more or less a camping-friendly version of this.

I labeled the general locations of items on my Instagram stories (see next few photos). This setup worked for me given my particular trip itinerary, preferences and expected terrain, but will continue to evolve as I go on more tours and try out more gear.

 

I generally kept my gear divided this way during my entire trip, with a few items discarded along the way. I tend to bring clothing that’s at the end of its run vs. brand new, nice stuff after losing a favorite pair of cycling shorts on my last tour (don’t hang clothing up to dry when you stop for lunch, you will forget it). Overall I’m pretty happy with what I packed; the only things I didn’t use were my bear spray and my emergency blanket, but both of those are nice to have for peace of mind, and you can usually find a way to pass them on to other travelers at the end of your trip and pay it forward.

I more or less kept my gear organized by actions or activities, so that I could easily grab what I needed for campsite setup, or leave entire panniers in a garage if I had a warm showers host.

In an ideal setup, I’d have more weight distributed toward the front of the bike to make it less back heavy. It’s important to stay within the weight recommendations of your rear rack, so if I was carrying more water and food on tour I would add a front rack or put bottle mounts on my front fork. As was the case for my bike and gear that I had, sometimes it’s easier and perfectly manageable to load up the rear and strap the tent to the front. Not having a whole lot loaded on your front also has the perk of easier steering, and I find it’s easier to carry weight in the back. Next time, however, I’ll be using the Salsa Anything Cradle for easier mounting of my tent to the front, and will update with whether I feel it’s worth the $$.

Items marked with a * double as items I use for day to day commuting and producing less waste back home. That’s mostly to show that despite what looks like a huge shopping list, to go from commuting to bike touring I mostly had to focus on my sleep setup, cooking needs, and packing the right clothes.

 

CARRY

PoCampo Kinga Handlebar Bag* (use code “My-PoCampo” for 10% off!)
Spare Cycling seatbag*
Ortlieb Waterproof City Roller Panniers* (different sizes and colors available, but Ortliebs all the way!)
(unknown brand) expandable trunk bag, similar idea here
rear rack* (mine is a slimmer style and disc brake compatible)
Bike Lock* (I used an Ottolock for this trip since it’s light and small, but you could do more security if you’re going to be spending time in cities or higher risk areas. I like using the Ottolock for road rides when at home for short lunch or coffee stops)
Front and Rear Lights* (I use my front light as a flashlight at camp; the rear light I linked is pricier than many others but has great daytime visibility and the charge lasts awhile, so I’m quite partial to it)
Stuff sacks and dry bags for organizing clothes, food, etc.

SLEEP

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 bikepacking tent and footprint
Big Agnes Wiley SL 30 down sleeping bag
Thermarest NeoAir Sleeping Pad
emergency blanket (didn’t use, but not obtrusive and nice to have)

(in lieu of an inflatable pillow, I used my clothing in a stuff sack)

WEAR

2 pairs wool socks
cycling shoes
giro helmet* (same model, different color here)
wool baselayers (wore as pajamas)
windbreaker*
rain jacket*
rain pants* (I have the basic REI version and they do the job, but this pair gets much better ratings. I would recommend getting cycling specific ones that are more tailored around the ankles since baggier pants tend to get stuck in your chain.)
3 riding outfits
sun sleeves and gloves (the cyclist tan is cute and all, but seriously you will roast. summerweight sleeves will keep you cool as well on summer tours)
hat* (I have this one that fits easily under a helmet, and the brim is much better than a road cycling cap for keeping sun and rain off your face)
buff*
1 casual off the bike outfit
1 pair lightweight sandals (xero shoes are great if you want to go super lightweight; bedrock sandals if you like more support)
underwear and sports bras

WASH

2 bandanas*
toothbrush
toothpaste
face cleanser
floss
coconut oil (tons of uses)
comb
soap
shampoo/conditioner
sunscreen
bugspray
first aid kit
travel towel

EAT

Light My Fire double ended spork*
Portable Camping Stove (but I just got a JetBoil for Christmas and can’t wait to use it!!)
Lightweight Camping Cookware Set
MSR or similar brand fuel canisters (sold at most outdoor retailers; remember not to fly with them!)
MSR Trailshot water filter
Collapsible silicone mug*
Lighter
Small vial of olive oil
Salt packets
pocket knife
Snacks: including granola bars, dried fruit, cookies, candy, trail mix
Food/Meals – including Beans and Rice mix, mac & cheese, oatmeal, instant coffee
Water bottles* (3)

FIX

Icetoolz Swivel Allen Wrench*
CrankBrothers multi tool*
2 spare tubes*
Patch Kit*
Tire Levers*
Birzman Frame Pump*
Chain lube wipes*

CHARGE

GoPro Hero (I have the 5, newer ones are now sold)
backup battery pack*
wireless headphones*
iPhone with Quadlock Case and mount* – check out this post for why I love my Quadlock, and use code ‘REBEL10’ for 10% off!

 

I’m sure I forgot something in this list, so let me know if I left you wondering about anything! I’ll update this post if I need to make additions/clarifications.

 

Legal stuff disclaimer: I generously received a discount on my Big Agnes gear through my 2019 ACA Award with Adventure cycling. I am a brand ambassador for PoCampo bags and receive a discount on their items as well. I received additional Quadlock Case mounts for writing a review as an addict of their products. Amazon links are affiliate links.

Pack it up, pack it in

2019 Trip Recap: Canadian Rockies (Jasper to Banff)

As 2019 skids down a steep grade right into 2020, I’m using my winter break to finally get at least the first part of my 2019 Canadian Rockies trip summarized and posted. I like having these posts to refer back to for myself and others who may want to do a similar trip, but between the amount of pictures I take and the level of ADD I have, it’s a struggle to get these posted in a more timely manner.

As I plan for next year, the pattern of “hmm, well maybe next I can try ____”  is becoming quite clear. If you had told me just a few years ago that I would be embarking on solo self contained bike tours spanning thousands of miles, I would have laughed until I had side stitches (which wouldn’t take long, because I was not remotely in shape). I still remember when getting down the street to pick up a couple items at the store on the folding bike I kept in my car trunk was a triumph of logistics and braving the concrete wilderness – and I am here to cheer you on if you’re reading this and have any sort of goal of riding more and/or driving less. I honestly only bother posting my pictures and writing these posts because I am so grateful for others who inspired me along the way, and it is the most amazing thing to me when I hear from other people that they have been inspired by me to get out and do something on their bike. So I am here to tell you that if you have no athletic inclinations/ mechanical abilities/ real sense of direction and are terrified of igniting a camp stove, you can still do all of the things I am writing about, because I kid you not, that was me.

With that said, here goes:

 

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On July 5th of last year, I flew to Canada to meet my parents, who signed us up for the VBT Canadian Rockies Tour to celebrate my 30th birthday earlier this year. Given that this trip is only a week, I have a long bike-it list of places to see out west, and my job with a school district gives me an 8 week summer break, I flew out with my bike instead of using the provided VBT bike so that I could continue from Banff on my own solo self-contained venture afterwards (that will be part II).

The hardest (read: worst) part of bike touring to me is the planning and logistics beforehand. I went back and forth about shipping vs. flying with my bike, and due to timelines, the cost of international shipping, and the risk of my bike getting stuck in customs during the busy season in Edmonton, I ended up paying Delta $150 to fly with my bike (only a few weeks later, Delta changed their policy and no longer charges more than a regular bag for checking a bike. So it goes.) Flying with my bike was still half the cost of shipping it to Canada, plus the savings of not having to pay a shop for a build, and since international weight limit was (I think) 75 lbs, I was able to pad my bike with my tent, helmet, panniers, sleeping bag and other gear and therefore travel with just a carryon.

 

Unlike last summer where I assembled my bike in the airport and rode out of MSP, since my flight got in around midnight and I wasn’t traveling alone, we took a cab to the hotel and I assembled my bike there the next day after exploring Edmonton on foot.

 

 

If you can’t find one at your local bike shop, you can get one of these useful little tools here. It was all I needed to reinstall my handlebars, bottle cages, saddle/seatpost and SPD pedals, and unlike a multitool you can get some pretty good torque (which you’ll need for your pedals).

 

 

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Once I had reassembled my bike, I had a slight panic when I heard a weird clicking sound coming from my rear wheel and realized I needed to find a mechanic.. around 4pm on a Saturday. I hustled over to Red Bike and was relieved to find that I just needed new rear brake pads, which makes sense given the amount of death-grip-braking I did on this bike while riding the Appalachian Gravel Growler a month before… I guess I need to write a post about that trip too. Anyway, the folks at Red Bike were wonderful and if you find yourself in Edmonton, you should definitely check them out.

 

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I didn’t have as much time to explore Edmonton as I would have liked, but there are some great views and some enviable infrastructure including bike/pedestrian bridges and bike trails winding through parks along the river.

 

After the layover day in Edmonton, we loaded up on a VBT van for the transfer ride several hours west to Jasper National Park. It was overcast and misty, but the glimpses of mountains peeking out through the clouds still gave me chills.

 

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Our first afternoon, we had a short 11 mile ride up to a lake to test out our bikes (VBT provides guests with their choice of road bike, hybrid or e-bike for this particular trip) and get a feel for the area. I might have taken a slight detour on this gravel road to test out my freshly installed Rene Herse tubeless tires, but that’s just between me and Strava.

 

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Our first full day involved a trip to Maligne Lake; the official trip option was to get a van shuttle up and ride 33 miles down with a picnic lunch stop on the way, but not wanting to miss a second of riding in this incredible place, I and a few other guests opted to leave early that morning and pedal up instead of hitching a ride.

 

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We were rewarded by sightings of elk (sadly but not surprisingly, no caribou) and THIS BEAR CROSSING THE ROAD – I still have zero chill just thinking about it. It was so exciting and profoundly beautiful that I teared up as I stood there watching it (while my mother had a nervous breakdown behind me).

 

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The views climbing and on the descent were incredible and the car traffic was light. The clouds even parted later in the morning for glimpses of blue sky above soaring mountains.

 

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The rest of the trip did not disappoint. In fact, every day seemed to get more and more beautiful…

 

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I had been watching the weather for weeks leading up to the trip and had worried that the rain would continue into our trip week, but we really lucked out – the worst we got were clouds that only added drama to the mountains peeking out at us at every turn.

 

Despite being surrounded by these stunning peaks, the roads themselves were very reasonable grades, super smooth, and low traffic – at least compared to what I’m used to back in South Carolina. I didn’t really notice being at a higher elevation, but I was also riding relatively casually to better take in the scenery.

 

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For several of the days we got to ride to our next location down the road instead of being shuttled in the van or bus, but due to the length of the trip and the miles spanning between Jasper and Banff, we did have to take a shuttle in the middle of the trip. It makes total sense, but the part of me that likes drawing a line from A to B of where I’ve ridden was definitely disappointed.

 

 

However, you can’t *not* visit Lake Louise…

 

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… or Peyto Lake. The views are just incredible! The traffic and crowds surrounding them, not so much. At the same time, it’s easy to understand why they are so popular, and while solo travel is more my jam, I’ll admit that it was nice to not have to worry about logistics/passes/permits while checking these spots off my bucket list.

 

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The week passed by in a blur of incredible views, good food and steadily improving weather. Before we knew it, we were in Banff!

 

 

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On our last full day together as a group, I rode the trail from Banff to Canmore – despite being next to the highway, it was a pleasant ride with spectacular views of the mountains. We stopped at the Grizzly Paw Brewing Company and enjoyed a local outdoor craft fair before heading back into town for our farewell dinner.

 

… Except I had to sneak off for one extra little loop up to Lake Minnewanka. The miles are easy when the scenery is this level of gorgeous.

 

If you noticed our Jasper the Bear mascot hanging out in a few of these photos, I got the honor of riding around with him on our final day in Banff. Our group had a fun time passing Jasper around during the week, adding to his outfit and getting photos of his adventures. I don’t ride on tour with a handlebar buddy, but having Jasper around made me want to reconsider that.

 

Stay tuned for Part II, because the day after this last picture was taken, I ventured out on my own for a 1300 mile trek southward, and the real adventure began!

 

Legal stuff disclaimer: nothing mentioned in this post is sponsored or promotional, with the exception of the link to that allen wrench tool, which is an Amazon affiliate link. But again, support your local bike shop first if you can!

2019 Trip Recap: Canadian Rockies (Jasper to Banff)

Does this lane make my car look fat?

Earlier this year, Strong Towns shared this video from the Iowa DOT that I think provides an excellent visual for why and how changing a 4 lane road to 3 lanes including a middle turning lane can improve safety and road conditions with a minimal impact on traffic flow.

This especially hits home for me because there is a perfect example of a road that needs this kind of road diet right at the end of the street I live on. We have road studies to show the dangers and high collision rates on this stretch of pavement with 4 lanes crammed onto what barely has room for 3. Yet our state DOT and local county council continues to drag their feet and slap red tape on what should be an obvious solution – because a superficial understanding of road design says that more lanes means less traffic.

This is the kind of discussion that one would expect at a county council or neighborhood meeting, and is probably why attendance at said meetings is so low, but the fact of the matter is both drivers and pedestrians are getting injured and dying, businesses along these roads are suffering (the cars that aren’t speeding through are avoiding the area altogether), anything larger than a compact car is hanging over the lane (just imagine the school buses coming through!), and it’s all a matter of where you put the paint on the road for about half a mile.

It’s also the kind of discussion that cannot be contained to county council or neighborhood meetings. With more awareness and education, road diets and traffic calming can become the expected norm as common sense ways of helping our neighborhoods and communities thrive. I think that too often, biking and walking infrastructure is seen as a luxury and/or an inconvenience to drivers, when in reality, multi modal street design benefits everyone in immediate and indirect ways.

If you’d like to follow me down the rabbit hole, here are some resources that have totally changed the way I used to think about personal transportation:

Bikenomics

Jeff Speck, Walkable City

Strong Towns

American Public Transportation Association

Does this lane make my car look fat?

Carry that weight

As a commuter, the #1 question I get asked is “how do you get ____ on your bike??” – usually the question is about groceries, and the answer is panniers, but showing up somewhere with live plants or a kombucha starter has made me realize that there are a few more details and tips I can share from many rounds of trial and error over the years.

The number one answer to ‘how the heck did you carry that?’ is to have quality bags to attach to your bike. My go-to brand that I use and point people towards is PoCampo, an awesome woman owned bike bag company that has thought about everything (and I do literally mean everything) a commuter needs for schlepping their stuff around. I love their bags and while I do receive a discount for documenting how I use their bags, as a commuter with lots to carry, I would be buying their products anyway!

 

I used my PoCampo Kinga handlebar bag all summer on my self contained Rockies tour, and it’s great for everyday use as well – it’s the perfect size for stashing your wallet, phone, keys, chargers, and sunscreen. I love being able to easily detach it when hopping off the bike for a side hike on a trip or for popping into a store when I’m riding around town. This bag comes in several colors and doesn’t need a rack or special mounting system, and fits great on just about any type of handlebars – so it’s a great gift idea as well for the cyclist on your shopping list.

For larger items, it’s a relief to get rid of the backpack and make the switch to a rear rack with panniers (in the case of my Raleigh Port Townsend above, I have both a front and rear rack – I typically carry more weight in the back since it doesn’t affect steering). I use my Mardy Cargo pannier daily for my commute and love how its thoughtful features come together to make the ultimate work pannier: recycled materials, durable and easy to clean, compartments to keep you organized including a shoe compartment at the bottom, built in rain cover and light-up zipper pulls — I really can’t think of anything it doesn’t have!

I like to stash a spare bungee in the bottom of my pannier for certain random purchases that I might want to secure to a front or rear rack – I’m the queen of impulse purchases like house plants, “but they were BOGO!” grocery purchases, and even furniture. A clever upgrade to a typical bungee that is sure to impress is the Voile Strap, which lends a more secure fit to a variety of situations. I’ve used mine on everything from stifling a rattling tent pole on tour to securing a bottle of wine wedged into a water bottle cage for a quick trip home from the store.

Since I like to frequent farmer’s markets and gardens, I’ve made my share of spills inside of my panniers – and learned that it’s much easier to contain messier cargo than it is to scrub out a bag later. I absolutely love the Flip and Tumble reusable bags because I can use them for quick and easy shopping trips, but also to wrap up items that might spill since they’re machine washable – think small plants, jars of liquids that might leak, and lunch containers.

For the record, most plants I transport aren’t *quite* this large…

When you’re a full time bike commuting nut, you’ll go all in and get yourself a cargo trailer. The Burley Flatbed Cargo Trailer is a definite commitment, but for large grocery trips, furniture purchases, or even moving most of your junk between residences, I’ve found mine to be totally worth it. In the case of this fiddle leaf fig, it can actually move many tall or otherwise awkwardly shaped things than an average car can’t.

Wherever you fall on the spectrum of cycling, I genuinely hope you consider experimenting with different bags and transport options so that you can ride your bike more places, more easily. I’ve talked to a number of other commuters who have struggled with the limitations of being confined to just a backpack, and then experienced the freedom that the right bag/pannier/trailer setup can bring. Money can’t buy happiness, but riding your bike can – so get comfortable and go ride!

Carry that weight

Favorite things: Quad Lock phone mount

One of the most frequent questions I get while riding is ‘what’s that thingy on your stem?’, so I figured I would post about how much I love my Quadlock phone mount.

(They were nice enough to give me a discount code to pass on to readers, so be sure to check the end of this post for details!)

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If you follow me on Instagram, then you know how much I love taking pictures of my bike while out riding. That’s probably my favorite thing about the Quadlock, because it allows me to keep my phone handy and easily detaches with one hand for snapping a quick picture, no fumbling in pockets or advanced bike handling skills required.

 

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I frequently switch bikes for different types of riding, and although it takes just a few seconds to switch the mount to another bike using the included rubber bands on the classic stem/bar mount version, I’ve found it easier to just have one ready to go on each bike (I have enough things to remember trying to get out the door!). This mount type also zip ties on easily should you lose/break/otherwise struggle with the rubber bands.

 

Recently I got to try out the Out Front mount designed for road cycling, and I’m really enjoying that one as well. The release is slightly different and took a little getting used to, but still easy to do one handed and this mount type provides a comfortable angle for viewing my phone screen when glancing down at Strava or using my phone while on the trainer (oh hey, winter riding). 

Unlike most phone mounts that keep your phone handy by stretching around it and hugging the edges, Quad Lock sells a phone case (or adhesive mount that you can stick to a regular phone case or just about any flat surface), which easily and securely locks on to a base that stays right on your stem.

Mine has been secure enough to stay put on rough terrain and weather (pre-iphone 7 models come with a removable clear cover to protect from rain), yet it’s easy to take on and off with one hand (which is quite handy for snapping pictures while riding, and convenient for commuters who are on and off their bike constantly). A couple of times I’ve found myself stuck without a front light, so just to stay street legal while getting home I just turned on the flashlight on my mounted phone as an improvised front light. I’ve also found that by keeping my phone accessible and securely mounted, I haven’t had the urge to go buy a Garmin or Wahoo since my Strava recording and navigation needs are well met.

 

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If I had a magic wand, I would make the case available in more colors (celeste, anyone?), but that’s about all I could ask for. Like any phone mounting system, it’s more convenient to have one for each bike that you ride regularly, and upgrading your phone will mean changing out your case (I sell my old ones on ebay pretty easily). Given how much I use mine, I find the price to be totally worth it, and if you want 10% off, you can use code REBEL10 for 10% off (one time use per customer)! Thank me later – no really, if you’re a fellow QuadLock fan, let me know what you think!

Legal disclaimer stuff: QuadLock provided me two mounts to add to my collection in exchange for this product review. All thoughts and opinions shared are my own. 

Favorite things: Quad Lock phone mount

A Cleaner Commute

When I was in middle school, my parents basically forced me to ride my bike to school. Part of me liked the independence this afforded me, but another part of me really liked impractical clothes and was tormented by the results. It was 2002, so between my peasant tops sleeves flailing in the wind like a tube dancer at a used car lot and my bell bottoms snagging in my chain, my commute wasn’t the most graceful thing you’ve ever seen.

All that shopping at the Limited Too and Delia*s wasn’t great for my yearbook photos, but it was also not great for the planet. In recent years as I’ve learned more about the impact of the apparel industry, I’ve experimented with brands and practices that can lower my footprint, while also opting for more styles that lean more towards ‘classic’ than cringe-worthy.

Tapered ankles and sweat-friendly fabrics are my current MO

Being car free keeps me away from big box stores, but it does make online shopping more tempting, and I’m definitely guilty of buying and owning far more clothing than is necessary or practical. Some compelling statistics on the impact of our clothing choices has helped start to steer me away from my fast fashion habits:

That’s just the tip of the information iceberg on the mess we’re making in the name of clothing ourselves. So the real question is, what are we going to do about it?

Here are a few of my own suggestions:

  1. Buy less stuff. Earlier this year, I wore the same dress for a week straight to see if anyone would notice. Guess what? No one cares but you. Project 33 and ‘capsule wardrobes’ are great places to start on Pinterest if you want to see how some people structure a streamlined, simplified and smaller wardrobe.
  2. Swap! I’ve hosted two clothing swaps this year at my house, and it was not only a great way to try out new and different pieces for free, but also a fun time to hangout and catch up with friends. Here’s one of many how-to resources to get started on having your own.
  3. Learn how to fix things. Sewing a button, repairing a seam, or even some minor alterations are easy given a little practice.
  4. Thrift! Secondhand shops are overwhelmed with donations and full of treasures. Shopping secondhand saves perfectly good clothing from ending up in our landfills.
  5. When you do have to buy new, shop smart and support businesses with responsible, sustainable resourcing and production practices. Toad & Co Clothing is one such company, and they even sent me an outfit recently to try out for commuting and celebrating National Car Free Day. I was super impressed with their commitment to using recycled materials in their fabrics, reducing and carefully selecting packaging materials, and educating consumers about the importance of sustainable fashion. Their clothes fit and feel great, are built for an active lifestyle, and have a classic feel that defies fleeting trends that tend to drive up our clothing consumption.
Top: ReForm Flannel Shirt in Blue Moon
Bottoms: Earthworks Pant in Starfish

In short, I’m a big believer in making choices you can feel morally smug and superior good about. We can save the planet, save money, and enjoy more of the good life when we slow our roll and save our resources.

Disclaimer: outfit provided free from Toad & Co Clothing; opinions and reviews expressed are my own.

A Cleaner Commute