Melissa Balmer

Ode to My New Linus Dutchie, The Sartorialist & Garance Dore

Me on my brand new bike! Note I've coordinated my outfit to my bike for my first outing on her.

Me on my brand new bike! Note I've coordinated my outfit to my bike for my first outing on her.

I have a new bike! My family surprised me with a beautiful brand new Linus Dutchie 3 in cream with a gorgeous new brown and cream basket for my birthday! The bike was selected for me by my darling friend Nicole Maltz of The Bicycle Stand here in Long Beach - where she and her partner Evan Whitener grant their customers superb service and selection. They specialize in both vintage bikes and modern city and road bikes - and are the most female friendly shop I have been to yet.

Evan calls Linus the Lexus of bike lines and now that I have my new Dutchie I understand why. This bike is so amazingly easy to ride. Imagine being able to sit on your favorite most comfortable chair and pedal almost effortlessly down the street. The Linus comfort saddle in brown (I have the same one now as I had purchased to replace the seat on my old bike) is so popular that for the time being it's only available unless you buy the bike it goes with.

I began my bike riding career after a 30 year gap (so yes, if you've been away from bicycling for a long time you can happily return too) . I started with a cool but heavy vintage cruiser that I could barely carry up and down the 3 flights of stairs to/from my apartment. Yes, you can imagine the damper that put on wanting to ride. Next came a much much lighter 70's rebuilt city bike from Korea that I could easily carry up and down the stairs but I was not sitting quite upright and this put a strain on my neck, wrists and shoulders more than I wanted. That has almost completely disappeared with my new bike - and Evan and Nicole tell me it will completely disappear after we get the bike tweaked to fit me just right.

Here's Nicole on the right from 2012 in a promotional shot by Allan Crawford for our first bike and fashion show. On the left is Joseph M. Bradley of The Pedaler Society another Long Beach based bike minded company. They are wearing apparel from The Academy of Long Beach and hats by Yellow 108.

Here's Nicole on the right from 2012 in a promotional shot by Allan Crawford for our first bike and fashion show. On the left is Joseph M. Bradley of The Pedaler Society another Long Beach based bike minded company. They are wearing apparel from The Academy of Long Beach and hats by Yellow 108.

I cannot recommend taking the time to find the exact right bike for you highly enough, nor taking the time to find the right bike shop to work with as you do so. Test riding is so important. I've been privileged to get to know Evan and Nicole over the past few years - we've had Nicole model for us several times. Nicole knew exactly what I needed in a bike (she also has a very fabulous sense of personal style). And Evan and Nicole are always our go to people to talk about trends, events and yes, style. They understand so well that for bicycling to become what it has the potential to be here in the U.S. style really matters. I hope you'll take a look at their sleek new website!

So yes, now let's talk about style.

This beautiful image by The Sartorialist is on the top of the Linus press page.

This beautiful image by The Sartorialist is on the top of the Linus press page.

Which brings me back to Linus and two of my favorite style people who also love bikes - Scott Schuman aka The Sartorialist (who often rides his bike to get his gorgeous shots of streetstyle all over the world but mostly from his home base of New York) and his partner fashion illustrator turned style watcher/photographer and guru extraordinaire Garance Doré. The above shot is Scott's from the Linus press page. I don't mean to brag but well, the Dutchie is hot. Garance is a fan, as is Glamour and Lucky get the picture. Did I remember to share that Linus is headquartered right here in Southern California in Marina Del Rey with their showroom on Abbot Kinney no less?

Let's just say that I really consider my wardrobe now before I carry my bike out the door for appointments and errands. Now I need to make sure I keep up appearances with my bike. She turns heads and I don't want to embarrass her.

And frankly I'm at a time in my life where I want to delve into my more creative, artistic, stylish side. I've missed it dearly. Also, after struggling with my health and pain challenges more than usual over the past seven months and I'm finally feeling better again - and I want to celebrate.

So I'm delving more and more into the blogs, and images, and videos of talented people like Scott and Garance for tips on how we can make the bike conversation more appealing to a much broader audience. I love this short sweet video of Garance's on photography - imagine a beautiful video like this on someone's bike commute? Or a series of them? Imagine when bikes are so hot there are hoards of photographers around them the way they are around Garance in the beginning of the video!

Yes I'm an advocate but I don't think one needs to be painted into a one size fits all for what that means. Do you? I want to get as many people riding bikes as possible and I know style plays a key role in that. I look at the growing popularity of the bike in the press as "must have items," and the growing popularity of blogs like our own Janel Lafleur's popular blog One Woman. Many Bikes and San Francisco's Bike Pretty.

I have faith that very soon we'll be seeing wonderful inspiring stories about real riders in the popular lifestyle press living their lives fabulously by bike. Do you want to help us make that happen?

That's our goal here at Pedal Love, and a big part of our new Active Living Plugged In new media communications + leadership labs. We are now in the first stages of rolling out an official media strategy on bicycling for California. We want to move bicycling in the media in both California in the U.S. from being stuck in traffic mostly (meaning so much focus on law and infrastructure and pieces about "car vs. bikes") and into the lifestyle media where we can read inspirational stories about how the bike is revolutionizing the health and well being of everyday people.

Imagine when the press rooms of popular bike blogs and bike advocacy organizations will be peppered with mentions of being in not only their local and regional papers but outlets like The New York Times, and Time and Vogue. If you're attending the National Bike summit and are interested in how you can learn more about not only the power of the media but successfully engaging it they are hosting a free workshop that our own Maria Sipin will be a part of: Media Training for Bike Advocates.



How do we move from "must have" to "must experience?"

Two bike lines are really capturing the fashion and broader lifestyle media by storm this year.  The higher end Shinola is handmade out of Detroit (which is just one of the items in this gorgeous new handcrafted designer line that also includes watches as its flagship product and is the brainchild of Fossil brand founder Tom Kartsotis) and Martone Cyclery based in New York by fashion publicist Lorenzo Martone.

Above is Lorenzo's personal introduction video to the line and our front cover image is from his marketing video. It beautifully spells out how the current intensely sport focused sales and marketing approach of the bike industry intimidates even the most passionate (and successful) of casual riders and how someone with a fashion mindset approaches designing a product - which you mind find surprisingly practical and utilitarian.

I first saw the Shinola line at the 2012 Interbike show at the very cool "Hand Made" pavilion and made a bee line for it because they had bikes named "Bixby." I was so hoping that perhaps the Bixby family was into bikes even in Detroit. Alas no one in the booth could tell me the reason for the bike's name. I'm still hoping to find out - and I do think regardless of the reason Mark Bixby would have thought it very cool to have bikes with his family name on them.

In doing research for this piece I found both Los Angeles Times and Forbes articles on Shinola within about 30 seconds. Snap! Martone is in this month's Instyle Magazine and has an absolute dream list of media clippings (there are so many they have an easier time keeping up on them on their Facebook page than their website press room). Both are featured in the December/January issue of Bazaar Magazine as "must have" items.

I applaud both companies for their style over sport approach for those of us who either never wanted to wear lycra, or no longer wanted to wear lycra, or who actually are happy riding both road and city bikes. All are growth markets and I'm certainly looking forward to connecting with both companies about their take on the opportunities for "life by bike" in the U.S.

Because that's my big question. How do we best harness this talent for creating buzz by these types of beautifully crafted and well thought out lines to help catalyze the bike movement into a whole new realm of popularity across the U.S.? There will be many great answers to this question and I'd love to start a dynamic conversation about it. Are you in? Will you share your thoughts?

I'm throwing my own hat of ideas into the ring by testing them out here with Women on Bikes California and Pedal Love, and my involvement on the marketing and media committee for the League of American Bicyclist's Women Bike program. Here they are in a nutshell: 1) Bike advocacy needs to develop a comprehensive media outreach strategy for the lifestyle media - including fashion, design and health rather than just focusing on the media for transportation and law. This approach keeps us stuck in the traffic section. 2) We need to create compelling and well-trained storytellers to capture the imagination of both the media and the public.

To that aim here in California we're now developing the "Active Living Plugged In" new media leadership trainings which we'll roll out in 2014. We'll be focusing on training people in new media tools such as video, blogging, webinars and social media, media strategy and focused pitching, and utilizing the TED model to create a short emotionally engaging talks. One of my favorites below is Simon Sinek's talk on "How great leaders inspire action." Imagine if a talk about bicycling received 13,519,427 views. Just imagine the positive impact that would have.

It looks like we'll have a training for L.A. in mid February, Long Beach sometime in March or early April and Silicon Valley on April 12/13. I'll have more details posted about the "Active Living Plugged In" dates, how to apply, sponsorship opportunities and more this coming Monday December 9th. Want to know more? Send me an email with "Active Living Plugged In" in the topic line