Staying safe while riding is important. Choosing the right gear is hard, but even more difficult is making yourself wear the gear when it’s hot, or when you’re trying to “look good” and impress someone. But in the end, most of us have some type of minimal essential gear that we find acceptable for our own ride. In order for me to feel “safe” on a motorcycle I need to at least be wearing: close-toed shoes, full length pants (preferably denim), gloves, and eye protection. I also typically wear my full face helmet, and some type of long sleeved item, preferably my leather jacket. Oh, and since I have long, beautiful, flowing hair, I also need to have my hair secured… not so much for safety on the bike, but to prevent HOURS of brushing and agony later.
While all of this gear keeps me safe while riding, it isn’t always the most desirable attire. There are times that I don’t want to be tromping around in jeans, tennis shoes or boots, with my hair pulled back. Sometimes I want to look girly! And more than once in these few years, my bike has been my primary, if not only, form of transportation. At first reconciling my two “worlds” was a challenge and I just resigned myself to never being in “cute” (i.e. girly) clothes. No dresses, or heels, and sometimes even worse no shorts. I made the best of what I could in my riding gear. I eventually got fed up and decided that I could have the best of both worlds; riding didn’t have to stop me from wearing dressy clothes. This is where the “bike-side” change came into play.
I first employed the change the very first summer I rode. I worked every single day and used my daily commute to get experience. My primary job was at a zoo, where I worked outside all day in the heat of summer. I wore jeans when riding to work, but was required to wear khakis at the zoo. I also preferred to wear shorts to work since I was going to be outside in the heat all day. Finding a bathroom or private area to change into my shorts once I got to work was not only annoying, it was time consuming, I am not a morning person so the quicker I can get things done in the morning the better. I needed a quicker, more convenient way to “change” clothes. It was only logical to wearing my shorts UNDER my pants, so when I arrived at work, I could just pull the pants off. At first it was tricky, trying to keep the shorts from being bunched up and super uncomfortable, but still it fixed my problem of needing to find a bathroom to change in, it allowed me to be able to “change” in public. Side note: Since I would get to work with little time to spare, many mornings I would head down to our meeting area, where we made our daily plans before heading out into the park, in my jeans. I would then stand in the back of the room and “change”. This eventually became a joke with my coworkers, though they were all 100% aware that I was in fact wearing shorts, and not just stripping in our morning meeting, sometimes it still caught them off guard.
Over time I perfected this technique and realized I could employ this technique for more than just quickly switching into shorts. It could be used for many things, including going to the beach, dressing up for a night out, and even dressing for a formal evening (seriously this happened once). I quickly began to know which jeans I owned would fit comfortably over shorts and leggings, and how to layer to be most successful. I could wear just about any top as long as I had a jacket over it. Skirts were easy because I could just wear jeans underneath them, dresses being slightly trickier due the length, but still very doable. Heels could just be thrown in my saddle bags and quickly switched over. The best part of the bike side change is that I have become so accustomed to having to do this, that I don’t think anything of it. Every so often I’m reminded of how odd it is though. One time I was putting jeans on underneath a skirt, and a man and his three sons came around a corner, and well it was awkward, mostly because it was not super clear why I was getting dressed in a parking garage. Another time I was getting dressed in an alley behind my regular bar, when one of the guys that works security (who is particularly attractive) walked out the back door as I was pulling a floor length skirt over my jeans. He looked at me questioningly, and I just greeted him brightly like it was nothing. I started to remove my boots, looked at his still puzzled face, laughed and explained that I was wearing pants underneath.
Clothes have became an easy transition, but hair and makeup still pose a bit of a challenge. For the most part I put my hair in a low bun, low enough that I can wear my helmet. It allows me to put my hair up quick, and then let it down, do a quick brush and then go on my way. (Sometimes it even adds a bit of a curl to my hair as well.) If I’m riding for a while, I’ll put my hair in two braids, looks nice if I leave them in or if I take them out adds a bit of style to my hair. I tend not to wear a lot of makeup, which is good, because if your going to be riding, minimal is really the way to go.
All in all I love not having to limit my form of transportation OR style. And while not ideal, it really is an effective way of doing whatever I want, which is really what it’s all about right?
And P.S. If you’re going riding, forgo the lip gloss until you reach your destination. 😉