Posted by

Bike Fashionistas: Dress-Up Challenge, or Anytime

Short link to this post:

Photo above © 2017 by Passport Voyager. Used by permission.

Skirt guards aren’t a common bike accessory everywhere, but they are in Copenhagen, where Monterey County native Passport Voyager spotted the one above. See more of her bicycling photos on the Bicycling Monterey site:
The young women below, in the Monterey Peninsula city of Seaside, have a lot of experience with keeping skirts out of spokes. They bike in skirts or dresses regularly.

Later in this post, grab some tips on skirt guards (see “How to dress” section, then “Skirt guards”).

Bike to worship - Seaside young women

Bicycling attire? No spandex required!
The woman below agrees. “I’ve got it wired. I know which shoulder bag not only complements this dress, it also doesn’t interfere with biking safely.”

People who bike think of such things when shopping for a handbag/purse, etc. A strap long enough to comfortably go around their neck as well as shoulder—and even long enough to also be tossed to their backside—is great for biking.

Chic signaling

Above: Photographed on the Alvarado Mall, Monterey, the bike and pedestrian passageway connecting Custom House Plaza and the waterfront with downtown.

Below: This gentleman bike commuter in Greenfield knows biking needn’t not stop him from dressing in a suit for work.  Men in agreement include Jeff Perrine (click here, then scroll down). It isn’t just people of one gender who like to dress up and bike!

Biking chic - gentleman bike commuter in Greenfield, CA 2012

These Salinas women show that pulling clothes from the closet that reflect one’s individual sense of style works for biking just dandy!

Burrito ladies - 5-19-13 chic

For photos of more people biking Monterey County sans spandex, click here.

Need some tips on biking dressed up?  Lots of ideas under “How to dress” and “inspiration” below.

In this post

  • Why a Dress-Up Challenge?
  • How to participate
  • How to dress: inspiration for any gender, and even for expectant mothers
  • Bike valet parking
  • Safety
  • Long distance comfort
  • How to enter raffle
  • What kinds of prizes
  • Showers for commuters

Even though the contest is over, fashionistas will continue to find info in this post helpful year-round. Also see “Cycling chic a la Monterey County.”

No Bike Week Dress-Up Challenge  is scheduled for Monterey County for 2013.  (For another 2013 Bike Week activity in Monterey County, click here.) If you’d like to volunteer for events and activities, please contact me.  Ask me about other Bicycling Monterey volunteer opportunities too.

* * * * *
The info below was previously published 4/23/11.

A new Monterey County event is happening for 2011 Bike Week: Dress-Up Challenge! The challenge is for locals and visitors,  all genders, all ages–and all levels of cycling experience and fitness.

This is not a competition. It is a community awareness-building event to show that, most often, bicycling can be come-as-you-are transportation.  It also shows the variety of people who like biking in Monterey County–and who encourage others to join them on the bikeways!

The Dress-Up Challenge participants in this photo gallery are leading the way.  Join them in the fun, and have the chance to win a prize in the free raffle drawing for Bike Week 2011.

Annabelle Bull, a former Brit and now resident of Monterey County.

(Photo courtesy of Joanna Bull)


  • By 5/14/11, for the chance to win prizes, share a photo showing yourself  “dressed up” and riding a bike in Monterey County. Dress up only a bit, or a lot.  Prizes will be awarded by a raffle drawing. (Parents–see special “How to enter” note.)
  • Ride in any geographic location in such attire at least once during Bike Week.
  • Need some inspiration?  See “How to dress” below. Then, do it your way!
Sunday Ride

In conjunction with Dress-Up Challenge, you may want to participate in a group ride.  This fun and easy recreational ride will depart from the Embassy Suites area in Seaside at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 15, then head to the Custom House Plaza in Monterey.  The route will be along the bike/multi-use path–no cars in the way–so children are encouraged to participate.

Why a Dress-Up Challenge?

Because a bicycle can be a fabulous form of transportation, and fun!

Cyclists who bike long distances know the benefits of special fabrics and apparel design for pedaling many miles.  However, for most people, dressing in regular “street clothes”/bikeway clothes is just fine–and even preferable–for biking where they want to go.

For so many reasons, more people are biking.  And riding in fashionable style vividly demonstrates that bicycles are meant to be interwoven with daily life.  Check out examples below, under “How to dress.”

Show that people can arrive by bike looking as good–or better (check that glow on the face!)–as someone arriving by motor vehicle.  Biking is come-as-you-are transportation.  Show that biking doesn’t usually require putting on “cycling clothes.”

A Bike Week activity

Bicycling Monterey thanks the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, “Promoting the Bicycle for Everyday Transportation,”  for inspiring Monterey County’s Dress-Up Challenge.

Dress-Up Challenge is being coordinated for 2011 by Bicycling Monterey in support of the many other Monterey County Bike Week (May 9-15) activities, which are organized by the Transportation Agency of Monterey County.

Dress-Up Challenge prizes

Check out the list of prizes!

Laurel Thomsen on Cannery Row

How to participate in Dress-Up Challenge:

  1. Plan an outfit you want to wear during Bike Week that doesn’t look like “cycling clothes.”   Then, wear that dressier/jazzier outfit while you bike anywhere during Bike Week, to inspire others.  That’s it!
  2. Optionally:  To enter the raffle for prizes, submit a dressed-up-and-biking photo taken in Monterey County.  Details below.

How to dress

Feel free to express yourself–just take it beyond a plain t-shirt and sweats, and for this occasion, skip the cycling apparel that you’d wear to the start line at Sea Otter or another race.

You could wear your trendiest colorful fashion, the most traditional suit and tie, or any other clothing.  You may want to check out the Dress-Up Challenge gallery on this site–or not!  Be yourself.

Suits, dresses, skirts

Here are a few tips for biking in a suit. Here are tips on biking in a shorter dress, with link to skirt tips.  Here are some more tips on biking in skirts.  And skirt guards or skirt garters are another option; check ’em out, along with pants that have rear pockets you can tug out while biking–their linings are reflective tape–and other bike clothing and gear for bike commuters.

Skirt guards

Cycling in certain types of skirts work great–and others can easily get tangled up.  That’s why skirt guards are made!  They are common in Europe but not in North America–yet.   Not only are skirt guards sold, there is a Howcast YouTube that shows how to easily–and inexpensively–make a skirt guard: A quick-and-easy demo, on,  shows “how to make a skirt guard.”

Below, a skirt guard spotted in New Monterey.

Biking through pregnancy

If  you’re an expectant mother in good health, unless your health care provider has advised you otherwise, don’t hold back.  Many moms-to-be (like these Monterey County moms) bike through their eighth or ninth month of pregnancy, as I did.

Arriving fresh

Every bike ride doesn’t need to be an arduous, sweaty one. Enjoy cruising at a relaxed pace. Or, if you will be working up a sweat, you might find a nearby place where you can shower or otherwise freshen up en route.

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

Inspiration, for any gender

The list below offers some ideas to inspire you!

During Bike Week, bike or bike-and-ride to work or school; to church, mosque, synagogue, or other place of worship; to a concert, out on a hot date, to a civic event,  or any other destination.

You probably can’t find a bike valet more bike-savvy than Nick at Portola Plaza.  He is an avid cyclist who formerly worked at a local bike shop!

Bike valet parking

You may find it helpful–or just fun!–to make use of bike valet parking.  Most places are happy to park a bike if they already park cars.  No need to be shy about making that request at Monterey County places not already listed in Bicycling Monterey’s bike valet parking section.


Safety concern?  Some riders report they feel drivers show them more courtesy when they are dressed up; check out the Mary Poppins effect!

You may still wear a helmet (and they are required by law for those under 18). For those into making a helmet part of their fashion statement, see Yakkay helmets and other helmet info in Bicycle Culture and Youth on this site.

Feel free to wear a bike sash, vest, or other bright accessories.  See High Visibility:  Dress for Success.

Visit our local bicycle shops, where you’ll find lots of choices to help you get noticed anytime you’re not on an off-road bike path and must share a road with motor vehicles.  From neon sashes to blinky lights to flags–now available to complement your fashions–you can dress up in regular clothing and still be quite visible!  At night, items such as Cyclelogical’s spoke reflectors, which I found at Sea Otter’s Expo, can make a big difference.

Long-distance comfort

If you are long-distance commuter who requires special cycling apparel, you may still want to participate in Dress-Up Challenge!  If don’t already have such attire, check out special fashions made for cyclists from companies like Sheila Moon or Nonetheless.

Ask for such items at local bike shops first.  And if they are not in stock, check to see if the item you want is something the shop would want to special order for you.

Sheila Moon was in Monterey at the Sea Otter Classic 2011, sharing with Ladies Activities participants that there are many ways to dress for biking–even when you need special apparel for long-distance riding comfort.

How to enter raffle for Dress-Up Challenge prizes:

  1. Share a photo that can be posted in the Bicycling Monterey Dress-Up Challenge gallery.  (Or post it elsewhere on the web, such as, your Facebook page or personal or business website; then bring it to my attention.)  What kind of photo?  You dressed up and with a bicycle, taken anywhere in Monterey County.  Photo deadline:  May 14, 2011 (extended from May 7).
  2. To submit your photo to this site’s gallery, please first contact me for my email address (not posted, to prevent spam).  Then email me a jpg image of your photo.
  3. Also provide your name and phone number, as prize winners will be notified by phone.  See privacy policy.
  4. Parents,  your child or teen may be named or anonymous in the gallery.  (That’s true for adults too.  Your full name is needed for the raffle drawing, but not required to be published in the online gallery.)
  5. Optionally,  use Twitter to tweet a link to your photo @bikemonterey Include hashtags:   #dressup #mcbw11
  6. Prize-winners will be determined by a raffle drawing. Names of prize winners will be drawn by Megan Tolbert, Transportation Planner for California State University-Monterey Bay (CSUMB).  Winners will be notified after May 15.
  7. Prizes are to be claimed directly from the donors by June 15, 2011. Of course, anyone picking up an alcohol prize must show a valid picture ID when claiming their prize.

What kinds of prizes?

This is a brand new event for Monterey County, just announced April 23.  Prizes may be donated from April 23-May 14.  Click here for the current prize list!

If you would like to donate a prize or have questions, please contact me, 831-375-6278.
Twitter hashtag
Want to follow some of the Monterey County Bike Week events on Twitter, e.g., @bikemonterey @herhelmetthurs ? Use this hashtag:  #MCBW11
You do not need to have a Twitter account to read the Twitter feeds.  Simply go to:
* * * * *
Showers for commuters

People with long-distance commutes who prefer not to dress up until they reach the office appreciate that more and more workplaces are considering that their employees may bike to work.  Some are providing showers at the workplace, as does, NextSpace in Santa Cruz (see their CEO, Jeremy Neuner, in this cargo bike post).

Here in Monterey County, educational institutions, including the Monterey Institute of International Studies, Monterey Peninsula College, and the Naval Postgraduate School have showers/changing facilities for their students/staff.

For others?  Consider making use of the “Shower locations” in the “Tips” guide, or similar places.

This post was previously published Apr 23, 2011 with some subsequent updates.

This post was published on 19 June 2017. One or more changes last made to this post on 22 July 2021.

Leave a Reply