By Malaika Abernathy
If only biking in style was this easy.
As an urban planner in the District, I wholeheartedly embrace a walkable and bikeable model of urban life. I cheer as Walk Scores for the District’s emerging neighborhoods exponentially increase as bike amenities and services are introduced. I applaud our local pioneers who actually walk the talk by biking not only to work, but also to leisurely run errands and meet up with friends. I even smile with amazement when I see my boss, OP Director Harriet Tregoning, stepping into a meeting in upper NW with helmet and bike in tow (yes, I’ve actually witnessed her biking from our office in SW to points WAY north in the District!). So as I get amped to begin my own biking soliloquy, somehow I get stuck at the door looking for my car keys instead. I know, I’m a hypocrite… but a well meaning one.
The reality for me is far deeper than just biking itself. It’s the after effects of biking that leave me perplexed. The sweating, the change of clothes and the showering at work all require a level of dedication I’m simply not interested in. For those of us who remotely care about maintaining a business professional appearance during the day, I ask you, how do you do it?
Everyone has their own unique routine. I see the towels in the office shower air drying. I pass the bikers early in the AM with all their biking accoutrements from cute helmets to versatile biking shoes. Oh and the infamous rolled up pant leg, with the innovative Velcro fastener to secure it. And then I think, I can do this!
The last bike-to-work occasion I attempted required a fairly large back pack of necessities… shower gear, towel, deodorant, make-up and all other trinkets and essentials necessary to be work appropriate.
Somehow the list of essentials grew, and my knap sack quickly grew to the size of a small mountain. So with everything in tow, I managed to mount the bike without tipping over. Surprisingly, I arrived to work in about 20 minutes, but was completely drenched. On my way up to the shower, I noticed a colleague trekking behind me with not an ounce of perspiration visible. Off he went into the office as if he had just stepped out of a biking magazine. Then I catch a glimpse of my reflection and realize I’m definitely the nerdiest and sweatiest biker chick ever. Not a title I’d like to carry stepping into the office. And then I think, if this is embracing a bikable model of urban life, then I’d rather just cheer my peers on. Hip Hip Hooray, for those of you that have figured it out. Hip Hip Hooray.