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Why I Ride #13: Self Expression and Style

(Robin Bylenga is the founder of Pedal Chic, the nation’s first woman-owned, women-specific bike store, based in Greenville, South Carolina.)

Yes, there are crystal chandeliers in Robin Bylenga’s bike shop

Bike fashion … when I began cycling, that was a complete oxymoron.

Those were the days of awkward toe cages, heavy steel bikes, very few cyclists on the road (of any kind) and zero style on the bike. The choices for cyclists of every genre have finally (and thankfully) massively improved.

As an avid rider of city, road, triathlon and cruiser bikes, as well as a bike shop owner and self-proclaimed fashionista — I’m thrilled to experience first-hand the shift toward chic bike style. I thoroughly enjoy outfitting my customers in fashion-forward and cutting edge apparel, beautiful bikes and fabulous accessories.

I loved the day I watched my best friend cross the finish line of a race and the announcer proclaimed, “Congratulations Danette! You came in first and you’re wearing … a dress?”  Thank you Sheila Moon for that memorable moment and your stylish, colorful cycling apparel!

At Pedal Chic, I encourage my clients to “bling your bike”…. personalize it.  After all, your bicycle is an extension of your personality, so why not celebrate it?

On my Bianchi road bike, I color-coordinated my bar tape, cables, water bottle cage, put on a colorful seat bag and even a matching chain. Yes, it makes me look a bit “girly” but my bike is beautiful and I ride as strong as ever! On my city bike — a Linus Dutchie — I added a handwoven basket, headlamp, back light, an crystal “rock star” bell and my favorite Basil pannier. It’s so much fun to ride, and I feel elegant and sophisticated when I cruise around downtown running errands.

And I’m not the only one strutting my own style on two wheels.

One of my customers purchased the Nirve “Minx” bike — talk about a fashion piece and personality bike! This bike has leopard fenders, faux leopard suede saddle and matching handlebars. A matching bell and basket liner complete the ensemble – she even added a matching flask! The bike has garnered so much attention that she now has a toy box filled with additional accessories her friends have been sending her from all over the world. Hysterical and a fun story… but more importantly, she now loves getting on her bike and that’s what it’s all about!

Remember, Roadways are the new Runways! Enjoy Bike Month!!!

May is National Bike Month and this year’s theme is One Ride, Many Reasons. To highlight and celebrate the many benefits of bicycling, throughout May we’ll bring you the personal reflections and inspirations of a diverse collection of bicyclists from coast to coast with our daily 31 Days, 31 Reasons blog feature.


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