Sofia Redgrave

This year, I have decided to cycle to campus every day. This is for the sake of my fitness (which is pretty much non-existent at the moment) and to get to my lectures in only ten minutes instead of the painfully boring half an hour walk.

But the main reason why I am so keen to get on my bike is that I have finally bought a Pashley, which I coveted for many months over the summer.

These bikes are not cheap, brand new from Harrods they sell for £565, but I managed to pick one up off Gumtree (in perfect condition) for £150. Bargain. The Pashley Princess is a sit-up-and-beg vintage style bicycle, complete with brown leather saddle and wicker basket giving automatic style points wherever it goes. Bicycles, albeit pretty ones, seem to be taking the place of designer handbags as the ‘it’ possession of the season: Kelly Brooke was recently spotted pedaling on her Pashley wearing a silk dress and Louboutin heels, Elle Macpherson is often seen pottering around Notting Hill on her Electra, a style rival to the Pashley, wearing skinny jeans and ballet flats. Aggy uses hers to get from one show to the next at Fashion Week and Lilly Cole uses her Pashley to get to lectures in Cambridge wearing white jeans and oversized knits.

The best thing about Pashleys are that they reject the Lycra wearing, foul mouthed, aggressive, pointy helmet, everyone-is-in-my-way modern biking mentality. A Pashley for me is perfect as I have strong aversions to Lycra, and feel no need to wear aerodynamic shaped helmets.

Do you think speed is on my mind? The only thing on my mind is what to wear when on my bicycle, because if I’m not careful my own bike might outdo me in the style stakes.

This is a type of bike that you want to look pretty on; all floral skirts and flowing hair with flowers in the basket (look at for inspiration). But think again. The reality of life in England does not lend itself well to look good on a bicycle.
I know this because I have cycled everywhere all week to see if it is at all possible to look good at all times on a bicycle, which I can promise proved very difficult. It’s either so cold that you layer up to look like the Michelin man, or raining so you wear a huge poncho, or dark, which means reflective clothing and bike lights.

I had trouble with my lights as I cant seem to find any that actually fit onto my Pashley and even the buffs at Halfords are stumped. I have resorted to clipping the front one onto my handbag which sits in my basket – not the most practical of methods, but hey, it works.
I even cycled into town the other night to go to the Nouse social, and it was by far the best method of getting from a to b with six inch heels on; my feet didn’t have that searing pain in them which would have resulted from the 10 minute walk into town.

The downside? I had to squeeze my lights into my small elegant clutch for the evening! Lets hope things change in the spring with longer daylight hours…

One comment

  1. 11 Nov ’09 at 5:39 pm

    (getting old) ex-student

    Nice proper bike, you can look elegant even in waterproofs – those Danes manage (it’s colder and wetter there).

    But do your self a favour Halfords isn’t a bike shop, certainly not one for proper bikes. Try Cycle Heaven or York Cycleworks for the lights. The Pashley Princess (at least now) even has a built in dynamo hub so you could use it to power fixed, hard to steal, impossible to forget, lights.

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