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Bike to elegant venues, including fine dining establishments — Also: HER Helmet Thursdays tips

Who says you can’t use earth-friendly transportation and still enjoy some of life’s little luxuries? Sure, you may prefer transportation other than bicycling on some dress-up occasions, especially if a significant distance from your departure point (although even that no longer hinders many people from biking, thanks to e-bikes).
Bicycling, or reaching your destination via bike-and-ride, can be a delightful addition to the specialness of an occasion. If not for an evening out, try it for lunch. Bike dates are fun!

Besides reading this post, you may also be interested in more tips on this site, e.g., Night Rides / Biking in the DarkWhere to Shower and Change in Monterey County; Consider riding an e-bikeBike Fashionistas: Dress-Up Challenge, or AnytimeBiking Chic á la Monterey County.

Above: Rosaleen Trambley of Carmel. Although she’d set aside her helmet for the photo, when it comes to pedaling, Rosaleen is a devotee of donning a helmet. Legally required for people under 18 in California, many adults wear them too, including Rosaleen. “Helmet hair? Who cares! I can fluff up my hair on arrival. No big deal!”

Every bike ride doesn’t need to be an arduous, sweaty one; enjoy cruising at a relaxed pace. Or if you are doing an intense ride before an elegant outing, you might find a nearby place where you can shower or otherwise freshen up en route.
The man below finds biking to work or other occasions isn’t a problem dressed in a suit, even when he has steep hills to climb, thanks to his riding an e-bike.

Learn more about e-bikes:

Below: Musician Laurel Thomsen of Bonny Doon in Santa Cruz County, stopping in at InterContinental the Clement Monterey.

“Madam, Sir, may I take your helmets?”

You may hear those words from a valet or other attendant at a fine dining establishment or other elegant venue.

Of course, etiquette calls for removing one’s helmet, or hat, upon entering a building. Often a bike-savvy host or valet will offer to take care of your helmet. And where valet parking is provided, they can take care of your bicycle too (more on that below).

If there’s a cloak checkroom or hat check station, your helmet can be checked just as easily. For those elegant places without that amenity, ask an employee to set your bike helmet aside for you. Or you can simply tuck it out of the way, e.g., perhaps under your dining table. There’s room to stash a bike helmet pretty much anywhere there’s room for a brimmed hat or similar item.

Valet? As in bike valet parking?

Yes! In Monterey County, many dining and lodging businesses that provide valet parking for motor vehicles provide bicycle valet parking too. Expect the same warm hospitality shown to people driving cars. From Monterey to Pebble Beach, parking attendants seem charmed to be providing bicycle valet service. As requests for bike valet parking have become more common, Monterey County valets are graciously taking it in stride. They can park a Bike Friday or Bilenky just as smoothly as a Dodge or a Tesla.

HER Helmet Thursdays evidence of biking

If you’re planning to claim a HER Helmet Thursdays discount, ask the valet to jot “helmet” or “bike” on your claim check. That way, you’re all set to show a dining server the claim check as evidence you biked there. (For info about evidence for lodging discounts, click here.)

Appropriate clothing

How to dress if you’re biking to an elegant place? Appropriate attire is still . . . appropriate! Showing up at a formal dining establishment in spandex shorts won’t earn you any points with the maître d’, whose responsibilities include ensuring an elegant ambiance.

You may think that people can’t bike in dressier clothing. Au contraire! Although not yet common everywhere, in many European and larger American cities, you’ll often see ladies and gentlemen bicycling in dress-up attire.

See “How to dress” section of Dress-Up Challenge for inspiration and tips.

Here in Monterey County, among people biking in dressier clothing are some bike-to-work commuters. For example, Jeff Perrine, who for years was director of sales for Sanctuary Beach Resort, often biked to work in suit and tie. For Jeff, there was no question: why hop on an exercise bike or treadmill after work and gaze at a TV screen. He’d rather get his exercise out in the fresh air, with beautiful Monterey Bay views.

A cross-body bag to carry your necessities, rather than a little daypack worn on your back, can prevent arriving with a sweaty back. Or, if using a backpack, put it in a bike basket on your ride.

Renowned Monterey County fashionista Maddox Haberdasher is out biking regularly. You may spot Maddox in a more casual jacket or pants, or find him dressed to the hilt. It’s unlikely you’ll see him in spandex shorts. (Learn more about Maddox in the Monterey County Herald.)

By the way, Maddox was at the center of a tweed ride in Monterey County in autumn 2017. Don’t know what those are? See some examples of tweed rides on

Skirts, dresses, helmet covers and such

Skirt guards are a great accessory for people who bike in skirts, dresses, or other long, flowing apparel. We spotted the woman below, with several companions, also biking in skirts or dresses. We noticed their skirts flying in the breeze, and we thought: They’re having such fun! And they sure could benefit from skirt guards. Soon after, we saw the same riders.

As you can see, a skirt can get tangled! The result may be that clothing gets greasy or torn, or the result may be even worse: an injury to the rider or to others nearby.

Skirt guards aren’t a common bike accessory everywhere, but they are in Copenhagen, where Monterey County native Sierra Dehmler a.k.a. Passport Voyager was visiting when she took the photo below in June 2017. (See more of her photos on

Photo below © 2017 by Sierra Dehmler. Used by permission.

Below, bike commuting in Seaside. “Biking in skirts or dresses? No problem!”

Sites such as Bike Pretty offer tips such as how to bike in a long dress. Riding Pretty and others tout fashionable helmet covers for ladies who like to bike but would not be caught dead in public in a typical bike helmet. (Pardon the double entendre.) Click here for some helmet discussion and tips on this site.

Isn’t special clothing necessary?

Whatever your gender, in most cases (unless you’re biking a long distance), it isn’t necessary to purchase clothing specifically for bicycling. Just open your closet and choose something you feel would work well. If new to biking, you may want to do a trial run in your neighborhood first. That may help make you aware of what to avoid. For example, long, flowing sleeves might get caught on a handlebar. Loose-fitting pant cuffs normally require a pant cuff band (or even making do with something such as a hair scrunchy), to keep a pant cuff from getting caught in your bicycle’s chain.

There’s one item you may not yet have and wish to add: a reflective sash or band. (Ask for one at a local bike shop.) These are small and lightweight and can be tucked away easily on arrival at your destination. One Carmel-by-the-Sea inn was stocking them for guests. Read on for why.

Photo by Scott MacDonald, © Californian. Used by permission.

High visibility on the road

Be visible and predictable. If you’re biking on the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail’s many miles of Class I bikeways, high visibility apparel and accessories may not seem important. But in a heavy-traffic area such as the intersection below, it can’t hurt—and may help—to make use of high-visibility items. It’s easy to add a reflective sash or band, or a neon vest or jacket, over your regular clothing.

For more on this controversial topic, see the 20-section Tips for Bicycling Monterey County guide’s section on More Bicycle Safety: High Visibility.

Learn more about safety

Look over Bicycling Monterey’s riding skills, safety, and bike laws section. It includes Monterey County sidewalk ordinances too; a related audio and tips are in sidewalk riding misconceptions and advisories.

Casual California: Keep in mind the right place and time for casual attire

Although casual dress is the norm at many Monterey County establishments and events, building a more bike-friendly world sometimes means you’re a better ambassador for biking if willing to slip on dressier attire. It’s usually easy to find out where that is preferred. Whether you’re a local resident or a visitor, if uncertain, phone ahead and ask about any preferred or required dress code.

Monterey County’s hospitality industry generally strives to be appropriately accommodating, including to visitors. Not only do tourists boost the economy, they are appreciated for how they enrich our lives in many other ways too.

Bicycling Monterey’s purpose includes to help improve the quality of life here while still welcoming the county’s visitors. For related information, see a history of the HER Helmet Thursdays Project solicited by the Monterey County Weekly for Earth Day 2010, “Wheel the Earth.”

HER Helmet Thursdays tips

The “LISTINGS, How to Get the Discounts, and FAQs about HER Helmet Thursdays” page includes the most current guide to all HER Helmet Thursdays discounts. For your ease of referral, here’s the new guide: HER Helmet Thursdays Guide – 8th Anniversary Edition – Participants as of 30 Nov 2017.

Where to buy high-visibility accessories and such?

Phone any of Monterey County’s local bike shops to ask what they have available. Cost-savings tip: Most local bike shops now give HER Helmet Thursdays discounts to people who shop by bike.

HER Helmet Thursdays participants pictured in this post

Some of the photos in this post were taken at HER Helmet Thursdays participating locations. Top to bottom, they are: InterContinental The Clement Monterey, also the home of the C restaurant + bar; Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa, home of participants Tidal Coffee, Schooners Coastal Kitchen and Bar, and Vista Blue SpaPortola Hotel, also home of Peter B’s Brewpub and Spa on the Plaza; and Sanctuary Beach Resort.

Questions, comments?

Want to share your ideas, experiences, or tips about biking to elegant places, bicycling in dressy attire, or other topics? Feel free to comment on this post. Or contact Bicycling Monterey.

Some related info on this site

This post was published on 2 December 2017. One or more changes last made to this post on 10 February 2022.

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