Things I love: Bandbox bike helmets

Things I love: Bandbox bike helmets

Bike helmets. I know lots of people don’t like them, question their efficacy, and chafe against helmet laws. And while I appreciate how annoying they can be, I have also known a couple people who have avoided serious brain injury by wearing one. When you have a child and ride with them a lot, it is just easier to wear one than constantly argue about why they have to and why you don’t.

Bandbox bike helmet with beret cover

Bandbox bike helmet with beret cover

So – I’m going to wear a helmet, why not find a way not to hate it?

Bandbox is a small millinery/helmeterie (?) based on the east coast of the United States, and they make beautiful custom covers that fit over their bike helmets. I had been lusting over them for awhile, but let myself be deterred by cranky people on the Internet saying they looked weird. Why do I listen to these people? I will never know.

Bandbox bike helmet sporting their Hollywood helmet cover.

This is how it works:

You buy one helmet, and choose the strap colour that will blend in best with your skin or hair colour. Then, choose a cover, or covers. I have four covers for my helmet: a winter felt cloche, a wide brim blue straw hat with a big pink flower, a smaller brim black straw hat, and a black wool beret. I change them depending on what I’m wearing, or what the weather is like.

Changing hat covers is easy. Inside the hat is a drawstring-like arrangement, you just undo the cord and pop off your cover.

Bandbox bike helmet with their Louisville helmet cover and my own lily of the valley floral trimmings.

Bandbox bike helmet with their Louisville helmet cover and my own lily of the valley floral trimmings.

I love my Bandbox helmets, but the main downside is the cost. A helmet and cover will set you back 150 USD, and the covers on their own run from 50 – 80 USD. I started out with one summer and one winter cover, and only invested in two more a year later. Of course, once you own the helmet, you’re good. Could you just buy a big hat and put it on there…? Well, not really. I think you would need some millinery skills to fit it to the helmet, and affix the drawstring arrangement properly. The covers are all handmade.

For me, as someone who cycles every day and wears a helmet every day, I feel like my lovely helmet that looks like a hat was worth it.

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The gorgeous bike pannier Indiegogo campaign you need to check out

The gorgeous bike pannier Indiegogo campaign you need to check out

You know me, I am a bit, er, obsessive when it comes to bike panniers that look like lovely bags. I mean, other than super sporty things that look they’re going on a hike afterwards. I am an upright bike riding, wear my regular clothes that I’m going to work in kind of cyclist.

I have lusted after some of the gorgeous accessories from Polish bike shop Bike Belle for several years, and now they have an Indiegogo campaign to fund their new MIRA line of panniers. And you will want to get in there now.

 

au lait elston swing velvet

There are still some early bird pricing perks left, so pop over to Indiegogo and support them. I don’t really wear any purple, so the Swing Velvet is out for me, but the Au Lait has had me hovering over the Contribute Now button many times today. I mean really, look:

au lait 2

I particularly like how they’ve managed the pannier clips, with a zipped cover so they don’t snag your clothes as soon as it comes off the bike. It’s the one downside of the Bobbin Straw Pannier I have now.

pannier clip cover

So, which one would you choose? I need a winter bike pannier, right?

 

All images courtesy of Bike Belle

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Five essentials for my bike commute

Five essentials for my bike commute

Bike to Work week is coming up soon here in Vancouver, and this year I actually do ride my bike to work. Albeit a few days a week, and it’s only a 8-10 minute ride. However, thanks to some serious research and great gear, it feels easy. I am not a CYCLIST. I don’t change when I get to work, I don’t go super fast, I wear heels. My bike is a lovely Raleigh step-through with a basket. As with many exercise-related endeavours, it pays to get some bits that you love, that will also make doing the exercise easier. Here are mine:

Cleverhood rain cape. This being Raincouver, if I decided not to bike every time it rained, I would never bike. I have yet to find a raincoat that doesn’t make me feel like I’m slowly stewing in my own juices, so the open bottom of this rain poncho is ideal. Not only that, it allows me to wear all normal clothes underneath, including whatever layers I need for the cold. The houndstooth is woven with reflective fibres, so shows up clearly in dark rainy weather, but looks normal and cool in daylight. The hood fits under my helmet, and the thumb loops help me keep the cape on while cycling. I’ve had endless compliments on it whenever I show up somewhere, which is better than ‘whoa, it’s really raining out, isn’t it?’ the subtext being ‘you look like you waded through the ocean to get here’. The clincher for me: made in the US by decently paid workers. Cleverhood rain cape.

straw pannier, image credit: Le Vélo Victoria

image credit: Le Vélo Victoria

Bobbin Bicycles straw pannier. I love my pannier dearly, and it took months of research to find. I am not a sporty cyclist, as mentioned above. So, I didn’t want a pannier that was all rubberized and reflective-y. I saw photos of this straw pannier around Pinterest, but for the life of me couldn’t find a stockist anywhere. It seemed to be discontinued. I tracked it to Holland, but then got lost in a maze of Dutch bicycle sites. Finally, I found the wonderful Le Vélo in Victoria, BC, and they carry it. I was so obsessed, they emailed me as soon as the pre-order was available. I fit my laptop, a bento box, a small mason jar with snacks, a notebook, and my little Cambridge Satchel Company bag in here, with my rain cape folded on top. It’s treated, so a little rain is no problem. Super secure on my rear rack and it stands up well on its own, so loading and unloading it is simple. Bobbin Bicycles straw pannier, Le Vélo in Canada, Eleanor’s in the US.

jockies

Jockey skimmies. As I mentioned, I cycle in regular clothes. In the summer months, that means a lot of dresses. These little shorts are thin and light, and come in a variety of non-underwear colours, so when you accidentally flash someone, it looks like bike shorts and not, well, underwear. They are super comfortable to wear, and if you get any thigh rub, this solves that whole problem too. They come in longer and shorter lengths, and loads of sizes. Jockey skimmies slip shorts. Hudson’s Bay in Canadain the US.

Barista coffee cup holder. I often make my coffee before I leave, and then when I pull up to a light, I sit back and have a sip. People point at me from cars, they are so impressed with my set-up. I’ve had many people watch me walk up to my bike at the rack, plunk my half-finished coffee in my holder and get on with leaving, make that ‘ahhhhh – now that’s a good idea’ noise. I know, right? Why rush your coffee drinking if you don’t have to? Portland Design Works Barista coffee cup holder, from MEC in Canada, from PDW in the US.

CharlestonGoldS

Bandbox bike helmet with cover(s). There are opinions about helmets, and that’s fine. I wear one. This helmet is the one thing on the list I don’t actually own yet, right now I wear this super cute one. I am in love with these helmets though. You buy the base helmet, and then can choose hat-like covers for it. Straw hats! Wool felt cloches! I am obsessed with this, and I think I want about three of them. Love. It. Bandbox helmet and covers. image credit: Bandbox

Finally, if anyone has any leads on a decent skirt guard, let me know. Enjoy your commute!

PS – Panniers that look cool. Really.

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Bike helmet hair, popsicle recipes, summer veggies, and dry shampoo

Bike helmet hair, popsicle recipes, summer veggies, and dry shampoo

railspur alley

Oh it is hot here, my friends. And summer camps never seem to last long enough for me to finish a thought AND get food for dinner, so here are some things I’m finding pretty indispensable right now.

Five great bike helmet hair ideas from Refinery29.

I may have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to popsicle recipes.

Have an overload of summer vegetables? Oh My Veggies has a recipe (or six) for you.

Seven great dry shampoos and how to use them from BC Living.

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My new favourite cycling dress

My new favourite cycling dress

stripe-bottom dressIt’s just what I look for: a bit stretchy, just above the knee, breathable. Just above the knee is crucial, because it allows full leg movement without getting tangled in my rear brake pads (say) but doesn’t ride up enough to give the entire bike route a view of my knickers. Yay!

And only $24 at Joe Fresh.

My other secret weapon in the cycling in dresses department is Jockeys Skimmies Slipshorts. Ignore the naff name, enjoy the comfortable, non-chafing underwear. I particularly like these as they aren’t meant as shapewear, so there is no Olympics-worthy, sweat-inducing 20 minutes getting them on. They come in many colours and the bottom edge isn’t lacey or anything, so if you do accidentally flash a passing cyclist, you just look super prepared in bike shorts. They are also quite cool to wear.

 

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