27 May 2010

Planning Critical Lass: a Slow Style Ride

(Photo credit: LIFE magazine. These ladies are riding in 1950s France.)

The LFL ladies first started talking among ourselves about having a slow ride or style ride back in mid-January. We thought that rather than posting the event as a fait-accompli, it might be helpful both to us and to others organizing similar rides for us to talk about the nitty-gritty of the planning (below and in comments) - but first let us talk about the rationale.

We love the idea of bicycle fashion as advocacy, and we thought a ride in fashionable clothes would be a neat way to promote cycling as an approachable, fun, everyday activity. Since June is Bike Month in Edmonton and the weather will be pleasant enough to wear pretty clothes without needing extra layers, it seemed like the best time to do it for the first time.

Of course, a style ride is also about dressing up at least a little - but we mean 'dressing up' in the dateworthy-outfit sense, not the costume sense. Our aim is girly fun and everyday fashion - although dapper dans are also welcome to come along. Skirts and dresses and adorable capri pants are suggested; so are bike baskets and helmets decorated with flowers and ribbons and pretty stickers. Please wear a helmet, but leave the spandex at home (not that we have anything against spandex, but it's not how we roll.). If you need some ideas, check out Riding Pretty's recent post about fashion for summertime tweed rides and the Flikr Bike Wardrobe ReMix Pool for inspiration, then translate to your day-to-day wardrobe.

For more about the Slow Ride Movement, see this awesomely slow blog, and this series of posts on Riding Pretty. We think we'd like Critical Lass to be a new quarterly style ride, with the theme being the seasons - and we kind of hope that some of the people we meet through it will be interested in forming an informal social bicycle riding club (that is, a semi-regular thing more like the San Diego 3-Speed Rambling Society or the Petaluma Slow Ride or Chicago's Slow Ride Society's rides).

Now to the planning details:

So far our group of organizers and participants include the Loop-Frame Love blogging collective (Angel @angelzilla, Deborah @ecoDomestica, and Nicki @justNICKI), and our Edmonton Twitter friends and cyclists Marilyn (@tricotmiss), Sarah of Girls And Bicycles (@misssarahchan) and Fiona of Girl Can Bike (@terraskye). If you'd like to join in, RSVP below! We've chatted via Twitter and email about our ideas, then last night Angel and I met with Alexa and Victoria from the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society to talk about some details:

- Liability: Alexa and Victoria pointed out that the possibility of being sued has kept EBC from widely promoting some of their events in the past. EBC are looking into insurance for future events through an agency that provides that service for not-for-profit organizations, but for now they strongly advised that we keep it small and informal. That's fine with us since it will also help with the social, community-building aspects of the ride.

- Promotion will therefore be essentially word-of-mouth, through our blogs and twitter.

The Route: on level roads and paths without much traffic (to make it easy for new cyclists, and allow us to chat while we ride), starting at a convenient central gathering place - in our case, EBC's Bikeworks, where someone will give us some tips on riding as a group, and how this is different from a faster ride on main streets like Critical Mass, before we go. This location also allows people to meet for brunch nearby beforehand if they wish. Sarah also pointed out that too many stops or too long a route can be discouraging, so we're going to keep it to a couple of hours. We also need to make sure bicycle parking won't be ridiculously difficult at our chosen stops. 

Right now we're thinking Bikeworks to End-of-Rail-Park for photos, then in leisurely fashion through the residential area around the University, and ending at a little shopping area near the University that includes a LBS and several cafes. We'd like to have a loose schedule and route map so participants know in advance what the route is and where we'll be (or almost be) at any given time. 

Let's chat in the comments about the exact route to take and any other advice and ideas you might have. We're looking forward to this conversation!


  1. I think the description of date-worthy clothing is pretty much perfect!! Not showing up in sweats or spandex or jeans would be a plus....maybe cute sundresses/long shirts w/ leggings & cute shoes?

    Definitely need to go shopping for this!!

  2. Hey Girls - Not to get persnickity (sp?) about the description, but I think simple is best. The part where we mention we think it's too warm for tweed-ride-like stuff? I think we should axe that completely because I wasn't thinking about the tweed ride at all until I read that line. Maybe better if we stick to OUR message and leave out references to others?

    In other words, I'm interested in talking about what our ride is about, not talking about how we're NOT like somebody else's ride.

    Otherwise, this looks like fun times!

  3. Sarah - thanks for the feedback! Yes, totally agreed. If you reread now, you'll see that I've taken out the tweed-is-too-warm-and-theatrical sentence. Maybe I should be even more ruthless and hack out the no-spandex clause, and the link to the Riding Pretty seersucker-social post? But it's such a great link...

  4. Revised entry looks great:) I have it scheduled in my calendar too and if I can get over my hesitation meeting people in real time I'm totally there:) maybe volunteering at EBC will help too.

    Go Bike Girls of Edmonton!!!! :)

  5. Yeah, linking would be such an easy way to do it. Perhaps if you really enjoy some of Riding Pretty's photos you could ask her if we can borrow some for the post? Pictures says a thousand words?


  6. I can't wait to see how your ride develops!! In an effort for all us slow ride coordinators to keep in a loop, I'm organizing what I'm calling A Lovely Sunday Ride in Denver. I think (hope) there will be about ten gals on the first ride tomorrow! Info in my blog....http://bikingandbaking.blogspot.com

  7. Sorry I didn't comment earlier...it's looking really good Deb. I'm curious to see what happens about the insurance thing. I think the revised clothing description works well. Dateworthy is perfect. Yay! So exciting!

  8. http://www.bikeology.ca/bikeology-information/ 2010 event list now posted

  9. Deb, the posting isn't there on Bikeology...some fixing is needed. Also, do we have a time to start this loverly thing?

  10. I think "Dateworthy" will basically be "dress nice, don't wear your grubby jeans and tshirts, but if you have cute awesome jeans wear them!"

    For start time I think we were aiming for a 1pm start? Gives us all time for brunch/lunch & preparations before riding. I'm not sure on how long we need to allow for each event, ie: EBC to End of Rail park + photos? I might need to get out and test some timing points unless any of you have ideas?

    I know photos will take a long while if we have a larger group, but I think all of us would appreciate if we knew a general time line. Say being at the redbike / Transcend / Sugar Bowl area for 2pm so anyone who's running behind or coming from downtown and preferring to meet us there?

    This will all be decided in the OFFICIAL CRITICAL LASS post, which will be posted oh so soon!

    In the mean time if anyone has ideas on timing please share! We want to make this as easy as possible for all of us (since some of us - ME - are not the best travelled in that area/ at all)

    I believe that is all, my brain is going about a million miles an hour and I'm sooo excited about this ride!!

  11. This sounds fantastic! I love this idea so much I want to run into the street right now and dance with my bike in in a twirly skirt! Thank you so much everybody for organizing this. I'll be there! Though, because this immediately follows the EBC 24 hour repair-a-thon, I'll be there in a far greasier and more incoherent state than I'd prefer - but what a great excuse to roll out the Garry/CCM cruiser.

    Here's a few suggestions, learned from experience. Make sure that the places you want to stop are actually going to be open on sunday. This is my neighborhood, so I'm willing to do some scouting (Red Bike won't be open)& could check the bike rack situation while I'm at it. It's also a good idea to make sure that between us, we have a pump, patches, wrenches and some basic tools. We could also do quick mechanical inspections before heading out, which will be convenient at EBC. I'm happy to help with this (though sleep deprivation may make this slightly, um, interesting).

    For the route, it takes less than 10 minutes to ride from EBC to End of Steel, and then from End of Steel to Bicycle Bottleneck at minimum speed, so there is much potential for riding to other destinations or exploring. There's lots to see in Old Strathcona proper, but keep in mind that the side streets are in such horrible condition that they make Whyte Ave look relaxing. One nice (& scenic & lightly trafficked) route might be to take the full length of Sask. drive around Windsor park & Belgravia. We could also have a stop at Belgravia park or even End of the World for pics as well, then back up through campus to bicycle bottleneck.
    I wouldn't write off riding down Whyte Ave, either, if only for a few blocks. It's way safer to ride down it en mass than alone, we could take up the whole lane, and I'd be absolutely shocked if a single driver gets irritated at a large group of well dressed ladies out for a sunday ride. It would also be a great way for the ride to be visible (cheers from bystanders are a great perk) and it's a lovely feeling to relaxingly ride down a street that bikes usually get bullied off of. I don't want to put anyone out of their comfort zone, but I thought I'd put the idea out there just in case.

    As for latecomers/stragglers, schedules are good, but cell phones are better. I'd be willing to offer my number to give out to people who may arrive later or to text updates to people who can't be there at the beginning, though I wouldn't want my # publicly posted.

    This is going to be a superb event! Don't get too stressed about all the tiny little details - it's impossible to plan a leisurely ride down to the minute, and we'll have fun no matter what (well, unless it snows)!


  12. Hmmm...just realized that Whimsical Cakes is closed Sundays too...

  13. I vote Fuss...post rides so we can "justify" the extra icing :P

  14. Sugarbowl is also open on Sundays. We'll be fine. Cinnamon buns FTW!

    As you can see, in the end links won over photos, time constraints being what they are. In future, with more lead time, maybe we can do photos with permission if we need to use other bloggers' photos?

    Soooo the 'official announcement' post is now up, thanks to Angel! Take a look and see if you think it needs editing (We left the route vague so we can continue to discuss & refine.). Meanwhile we'll contact the bikeology people and see if they can add us.

    So excited! Soon I'll need to decide on possible outfits!

  15. I'll be there with you ladies on Sunday :-) thanks to @tricotmiss for the invite!

    - @brittanykustra


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