Looking at Velo-Vogue's spring selection of "bike wardrobe remixes," I realised just how drab and unspring-like I looked compared to the others.
My "spring wardrobe" when I rode Marianne on April 1st. Sure, gray on gray is my signature look, but spring is all about rejuvenation. So over the weekend I put together a new Wheeling Suit.
Floral shirt, slate-blue leggings, sky-blue cardigan, and navy shorts with white buttons. No black or gray in sight. Even the saddle shoes are cream and brown, with red soles and brown laces.
These shoes are actually a God-send and I recommend them if you are looking for a stiff-soled, comfortable cycling shoe with a vintage look. They are Bass, very reasonably priced, and come in several different colours - including the more classic black-and-white saddle shoe scheme.
The soles are textured, springy and stiff- a rare and wonderful combination. The leather is thick and structured, but didn't rub or pinch even the first time I wore the shoes. And the brown matches the darker shades of my Flyer.
Lest you be alarmed that my ensemble consists of shorts and such practical shoes, I will explain that the Wheeling Suit is specifically for sporty rides and light touring - something I hope to do a lot of this year.
A couple of days ago I raised the saddle on Marianne as far as it could possibly be raised so that I could still just barely touch the ground with one toe "en pointe" and the other foot on the pedal. Last year, this would have been impossible for me and I needed to at least touch the ground with a full toe in order to stop safely on the bike. But my balance is much better now, and I felt ready to go further. I still find it impossible to mount and dismount the bike "properly", but the "one toe en pointe" method is good enough, as even on the steep-tubed Motobecane my legs are almost 100% extended on the pedals now.
Amazingly, raising the saddle in this manner amounted to almost 2 extra inches of seatpost. And this little adjustment completely changed my relationship with the bicycle. The combination of my improved skills and this more aggressive riding position, has made me appreciate Marianne's steep geometry and extreme responsiveness. Rather than trying to reduce and "tame" these characteristics, for the past week I have been enjoying them - for the first time since owning this bicycle.
In addition, I have had a major "skill breakthrough": I have finally learned how to balance properly - including "steering with my hips" and riding hands-free (yes, even on this bike!). I'd read about how to do this countless times, but that didn't help me learn it viscerally. I think what finally helped me learn, was watching the velodrome cyclists doing laps hands-free when they were taking a rest. Something in the "imitation" areas of my brain must have clicked at that moment, and my body finally got it. And I didn't even realise that I had gotten this, until I noticed myself turning at an intersection by tilting my hips rather than using the handlebars - my body did it on its own, and the "Aha!" moment followed. I will stop myself from being too self-congratulatory about something most normal cyclists have been probably doing since age 10, but I am nonetheless excited. Clearly, there are many new things to learn ahead. Hope springs eternal!