In the 12 months that Ive lived in piping hot Phoenix, the best rule of thumb Ive learned for beating the very high summer time heat is to wear dresses and skirts. Nothing combats temperatures over 100 like the flutter of a skirt and a breeze running its fingers across my legs when Im pedaling over searing heat of asphalt.
The flowy-ier the hemline the better! People ask me how I manage to look as fresh as a daisy (truly, Ive been asked that question three times in the last week) when its 105 outside, and skirts and dresses are the reason.
“But Karen,” you ask, “what about the risk of overexposure of legs and lady-parts in a skirt or dress?” Dont you worry about appearing immodest or like a like a 50-year-old exhibitionist desperately trying to recapture her youth?
Well, not inordinately, I must admit, but there are times when the wind is a bit strong and I find myself patting down my fluttering hem. Dont get me wrong; if you have perfect thighs, knock yourself out. Who am I to judge?
If I was a tall, willowy Danish girl, I probably wouldnt give it a second thought. But Im not, and have thus concluded that a little modesty is probably a prudent rather than prudish choice. For that reason, when wind threatens to reveal way too much, Ive opted to cover up shorts.
At first I tried an old pair of running shorts but they were too bulky. Then I tried a pair of bike shorts, a cotton-lycra blend without padding and mid-thigh length. Unfortunately, the fabric clung to my skirt off bike, leaving me feeling not very cycle-chic.
After an ah-ha moment one morning early last fall (it was still really hot), I rummaged through my husbands underwear drawer and found a pair of Under Armour briefs, in a lightweight, black mesh fabric. Very breathable and a perfect fit. Under Armour briefs proved a great solution that, unfortunately, came to an abrupt end when the Hubs discovered he had been the victim of my panty raid and drew the line in the sand.
Apparently some things are not for sharing. Okay then.
My dear editor Ted, knows all about this story as I outed myself on my personal blog, She Rides a Bike.
Undoubtedly, he took pity on Bob, and when an opportunity to review Bikie Girl Bloomers presented itself to Commute by Bike, he threw me a bone. So here we are:
Bikie Girl Bloomers sent me the BGB Trio, which consists of the Wide Ride Bike Shorts, the Hitchable Flounce Skirt, and the Skitch. I requested a medium in the skirt and shorts. The skirt is made of a Modal, polyester and spandex blend. Its very light and fluttery, with an elastic waistband that can be rolled over to shorten the length, which is 19 inches. The cut is an A-line and it seems be designed to sit high at the waist. The skirt comes in purple, red and black. I requested black since it is classic and goes with everything.
The Wild Ride Bike Shorts are available in four patterns. I chose the Red Hot Aqua Dot pattern because I can neither see myself in flames or animal prints. All are trimmed at the waist and hem with stretch lace. The cut is a classic fit, sitting at the natural waist, and hit me an inch or two above the knee (I am only 51, so Id expect them to possibly hit close to mid-thigh on a tall woman).
The Skitch is a unique feature to the BGB Trio. The designers describe the Skitch as a handy garter that loops around the hem to the waste and secured by a coconut button located at the waist. The Skitch allows the skirt to be hitched up while riding or merely to expose the patterned Wild Ride Bike Shorts beneath.
Ive worn the skirt and shorts several times since I received them, both separately and together. I actually like being able to hop on my bike, windy day or not, and not have to be concerned with whether or not my hem has ridden up or been lifted by a breeze. The seams are flat and theres no padding so the I havent noticed any unwanted lines or bulk underneath my clothes. I really like that the shorts dont cling to the skirts of any of the dresses that Ive tested it with since pulling at one’s garments is anything but elegant.
The short is not especially breathable in my experience so far, but Ive also been testing them during the very hottest part of the year – and we do experience more extreme heat than most places.
Although I like the short, Ill put it straight out there: Im not wild about the patterns. I know a lot of recreational and hardcore sports cyclists whod love the patterns but they just arent my taste. The patterns make the short a novelty item that, in my opinion, appeal to a narrow audience.
Im not one to wear novelty clothing, be they holiday sweatshirts that light up or heavily-logo’d Coach products. I would love to see the product in a selections of solids, especially black, brown, white and beige. Im also not a big fan of lace, which made the shorts feel more like underwear.
I really liked the skirt. Breezy and very elegant, although I wished waistband sat mid- to high-hip and was cut straighter waist to hip. I paired the skirt with a shaped, red wicking t-shirt from Columbia sportswear, along with some black, leather Mary Janes from Dansko. (Bob thought I looked very nice.) I did hitch up the skirt with the Skitch a couple of times but it just seemed like a needless affection. Im not sure that I made any difference in riding so I guess using the Skitch is just a matter of personal taste.
The Bikie Girl Bloomer Website suggests dry cleaning the skirt. I washed it in cold water before noticing this recommendation, but hung it dry and havent noticed any problems. I also hung the shorts dry, as I think the dryer might irritate the lace trim.
On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being poor to 5 being excellent, Id rate the product a 3.5 based on the bike shorts being available in patterned fabrics. Granted, the Wild Ride Bike Shorts are all pretty wild patterns but in my opinion marketing only patterned short limits their appeal. The skirt is great, although it probably is not the best fit for a short-waisted, spark-plug-shaped woman such as myself.
The BGB Trio retails for $125. The Wild Ride Bike Shorts are available for $55; the Flounce Skirt can be had for $77 and the Skitch for $8. The prices seem a little high for me BUT according to the Bikie Girl Bloomer Website the products are American made in Los Angeles, with fabrics that come from local suppliers and manufacturers. The Hitchable Flounce Skirt is made of 67% Modal, a sustainable fiber made from cellulose extracted from beech trees. Beech trees are soil enhancers, breed naturally and do not need artificial irrigation. So there!
Karen Voyer-Caravona is a some-time city cyclist living in Phoenix, Arizona. She is a founding member of Phoenix Spokes People, which is dedicated to promoting bicycling as a viable transportation option in the city of Phoenix. When she is not conspiring socialist plots against her city’s infamous car-centric culture, she is studying for her masters degree in social work at Arizona State University.