What to Wear?

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Getting dressed to go out  into the world is so different without my climate-controlled,  Swedish chariot awaiting my every travel whim. Weather becomes a contact sport. With my new level of exposure to the elements, recent local weather patterns seem  rather moody perhaps even vindictive at times.

A few examples:

The  late March snowstorm in which my daughter and I got completely soaked just walking to the bus stop to go pick up a zip car.

The day in mid April when it was 91 degrees for my  first trip taking my daughter to her swim lesson via our bike trailer at noon!

The mid May unexpectedly frosty 42 degree temperature for my 4:45 am ride to the gym that made me wish I was wearing full fingered gloves.

My interest in weather apps went through the roof once I began to rely on my bicycle as my principal mode of transport. My awareness of temperature, wind speed and direction, hourly changes in the air temperature, humidity and precipitation have skyrocketed. Basically, I use all of this data to decide what to wear.

My other wardrobe consideration?  How can I be seen so that the drivers who are mesmerized by their own favorite apps on their devices might look up at the road for a moment to swerve out of the bike lane and avoid hitting me? This season’s must have fashion item? See the photo below in which I am wearing my bright yellow safety vest with reflective tape. It is not terribly attractive but it has become my safety blanket. My husband wears a matching one, so yeah, we are THAT couple.

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I thought we were trend setters, maybe future millionaires after introducing our  new line of brightly colored safety wear. As it turns out, these fashion statements already exist in droves. On the trails and in the bike lanes of Arlington, one can see a wide range of highly technical cycling and fitness wear in colors such as, ” Please Don’t Kill Me Pink”, ” Yes, I am on a Bicycle Yellow” and ” Out of My Way Orange”.  Although, I can’t say I have ever been a big fan of colors that are an assault to the retina, they are much better than ” I have a death wish black or brown” which are both so last season!

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Kicking and Screaming

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I did not embark on this “car-free diet” skipping and humming for joy. I was reluctant, skeptical and a complete whiny baby about the whole thing.

I had an excuse for everything:

Him – We have lived without a car before.

Me – But that was overseas, not here… in America.

Him – You bicycled across the United States.

Me – That’s different, I was 21 and now I am not AND I have a 3-year-old to get around.

Him – You can do this.

Me – But, how am I going to get to the gym in the morning?

Really?

Yes, my principal concern was how I would keep up my hard-earned habit of going to the gym at 5 am. Somehow, I could not fathom traversing the entire 1.5 miles between our house and the gym. A bit absurd, since I would happily push myself physically for an hour AT the gym. But, it IS cold and dark at that time of day. I was barely able to get myself to the gym WITH a car.  It was a worrisome prospect.

What finally pushed me over the edge to give up my beloved Volvo?

Was it that I realized I DID have experience being car free? Was it that I remembered we had chosen our location FOR its proximity to bike trails and public transit?

NO and NOPE.

It was the inkling that I was single handily paying for the college tuition of our Volvo mechanic’s children. A car that rarely leaves the boundaries of Arlington County and for which, a big day of driving is 20 miles, has no business needing THAT much mechanical attention! Yup, it was the money ($$$) that made the final sway.

I cried a little when I posted an AD on Craigslist to sell the car. I behaved poorly throughout the process. I had a serious buyer immediately and that freaked me out. I swooned about how much I loved the car as their family test drove it. I dragged my feet with vague contingencies on the sale and was extremely stubborn about terms.

For the final dramatics? My 3-year-old channeled my emotions and threw an impressive tantrum that included the kind of crying, screaming and kicking that I could only do in my mind. (Thanks, sweetie.)

When I finally signed away the title, accepted the CASH, cancelled the insurance, notified the DMV and declared our household car-free, to my surprise, the relief was immediate.

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My black beauty galloped down the road and our “car-free diet” began.