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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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Where to get nearly bespoke shoes

Where to get nearly bespoke shoes

My thoughts have been turning to autumn shoes. I know, I can hear you clapping your hands over your ears and shouting at me that it’s not even August. But, just, bear with me.

I find myself looking for a very specific pair of boots or shoes these days. I get this picture in my mind, and it drives me crazy when I can’t find it. I have my summer shoe game down (thank you Worishofer and Salt Water) but winter… not quite.

That’s where custom footwear comes in.

It’s hard not to think of beautiful wooden lasts hanging in a panelled cobbler’s shop, all creaky leather ottomans and men in half spectacles and waistcoats when one thinks of bespoke footwear. And if I could afford it, I would be there, in a heartbeat. There is the slightly less expensive version, which are the custom footwear outfits popping up.

No one has your foot moulded and ready to handcraft a pair of shoes, but in this case, you can specify more elements than just your standard shoe size. Multiple calf width for boots, several foot widths, more colour and fabric or leather choices are all hallmarks of custom shoemakers.

Poppy Barley La Hacienda boot / Photo by Ania Boniecka and Tyler Stalman

Photo credit: Poppy Barley/Ania Boniecka and Tyler Stalman

Poppy Barley

A Canadian company that combines fair trade footwear with made-to-measure. They have some truly gorgeous options, and I have been thinking hard over which pair of their boots I’m going to invest in. The beautiful pair above is from their Fall/Winter 2015 line. Poppy Barley

 

DUO Fader biker boot

Photo credit: DUO Boots

Duo

A more affordable option in the made-to-measure game, DUO offers some chunkier options than the sleek Poppy Barley. If you’ve been searching for a biker boot that fits your muscular calves yet narrow feet, this could solve your problem. DUO

 

shoesofprey

Photo credit: Shoes of Prey

Shoes of Prey

I’ve written about Shoes of Prey before here, but I’ll reiterate. More of a custom design shop than made-to-measure, Shoes of Prey has the best selection of heel heights, shoes shapes, and leather choice I’ve seen. That being said, if you have very tiny or very large feet, they can do it: US sizes from 2.5 to 15 are covered. Shoes of Prey

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5 beautiful Apple watch bands

5 beautiful Apple watch bands

I’ve had my Apple Watch for awhile now, because I stayed up until midnight to preorder it. Because I am like that.

I have a space grey 38mm one, with the black sports band. The Apple sports band is very comfortable, and actually much less SPORTS than it looks in pictures. However, it’s hard not to start looking into replacement straps pretty much straight away. Here are my favourite options so far.

CASETIFY_greymarble

Casetify Make your own band with your own photos, or pick from their selection of patterns. Personally, I am loving this faux marble one.

MakerGrafix_leatherred

Maker Grafix Traditional leather watch bands have their own appeal. Get your initials stamps on the inner side too.

CUBIFY_bluefibre

Cubify Very tactile, these 3D-printed nylon bands come in several colours and a few different textures.

LEATHERSY_brownstrap

Leathersy Bespoke leather strap with minimalist single peg closure? Yes please. Vegetable-dyed, and gorgeous.

MONOWEAR_greynylon

Monowear The nylon strap with the multiple loops has a nice utilitarian thing going, a little bit tougher than the sports band.

 

Images courtesy Casetify, Maker Grafix, Cubify, Leathersy, and Monowear, respectively.

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Finally, track your period and your steps

Finally, track your period and your steps

bellabeat1
I bought an Apple Watch. More specifically, I decided my Christmas presents would add up to an Apple Watch. Before that, I supported the Pebble smartwatch on kickstarter. I had a fitbit for awhile.

So you know, I’m into this smart watch/tracking stuff thing.

I track my bike rides, the food I eat, the steps I take, how long I sleep. But for some reason, none of these neat little things track something all women I know have tracked since they were about 13: our periods.

Yes I know there are many apps for that, but how can the all-knowing Apple Health app offer to track practically everything, but not my menstrual cycle? Is it really just because there’s only men in the room when they plan these features?

Then there’s tracking apps themselves. Why are they all pink with flowers? Menstruating is not a big deal, it’s just a monthly biological cycle. I don’t like talking or looking at people’s teeth, but I don’t feel any need to make a huge deal about it when someone talks about their dentist appointment, toothpaste, or bleaching stuff.

bellabeat2

Now that we’ve all agreed we’re grownups, I have to tell you about this new tracking gadget. The Leaf by Bellabeat. It’s not sporty, it’s doesn’t scream TECH OBJECT, it’s wearable in several ways. You can track your monthly cycle, and see how your exercise, sleep, and breathing changes in relation to it. Doesn’t that sound interesting and useful? I have to say, this isn’t hard stuff, but somehow no one has bothered before now. Possibly my favourite part of this is the 6-month battery life. Yes, you read that correctly. Six. Months. All of this for about $130 US. The preorders are flying out the door, so if you’re thinking about it, do it now. I ordered mine yesterday.

Congratulations to Bellabeat’s Urška Sršen, and thanks for making a piece of tech that addresses our needs.

Images courtesy of Bellabeat. This post contains affiliate links. 

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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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