As always, the design process begins with accentuating the positive, or the functional aspects of a garment, and eliminating the negative ones: the ugly, the uncomfortable, or the non-functional. This is also what we refer to as a sage approach to design.
Many of my early days of cycling were spent in my one and only pair of tolerable knickers. There was just something really unappealing about shorts that squeezed my thighs 4" above the knee. And on chilly days, the idea of donning knee warmers which segmented my legs into five parts was just......no.
Women do not want their thighs to be squeezed. Full stop. I thought, there has got to be a better way, a more comfortable way, a better looking way, and a more functional way. Let's just put some more thought and design behind this.
Armed with fierce determination to create knee warmers which stay in place without squeezing our thighs, the first step was to find an alternative to the tried and true elastic band. We sourced silicone backed fabric which eliminates the need for elastic bands. Hooray! Not only is this solution more visually appealing, but it is even more functional because it allows the warmers to stay in place with less bulk. It's almost like it molds to your skin as you ride. Sometimes, less is more. A gentle hug will do, as opposed to a vice grip.
We loved this fabric so much that we decided to use it for our arm warmers as well.
We added our favorite scalloped reflective trim around the wrist of the arm warmer, and on the front of the knee warmers. The hand-sewn elbow and knee patches add some visual interest as well as a little extra warmth for the joints. A small reflective logo on the left arm and knee add visibility.
In a world where automation and algorithms promise to find us everything from a cab to a soulmate, slowing down is antithetical to progress. We do like to ride fast but when it comes to design and production, we won’t succumb to the pressure to speed up.
Much like the Slow Food movement came into being as a backlash against the unsustainable fast food industry, the Slow Fashion movement is a response to fast fashion: the proliferation of brands that are able to churn out incredibly relevant and incredibly cheap clothes at such a fast pace. Slow fashion asks the hard question: what is the true cost of your constantly revolving wardrobe? If it's too good to be true, it probably is.
A search for "cycling shorts" is met with gloriously cheap and generic looking selections. Google can find you a cycling jersey with any logo from your favorite beer to your alma mater.
But where is the quality? When it comes to design, the cycling industry "reinvents" the jersey with sublimation printing, but not a whole lot of tailoring, or detailed construction. No matter what the words or logos are stamped onto your back, they don't make you go faster. They don't make your kit fit better. Words don't make the fabric wick sweat any more effectively.
And how do they manage to make all of this for so little? Countless tales of child labor law violations and dangerous working conditions illuminate the way to low price points.
Lexi Millercame about we wanted better clothes on the bike: better fitting, better looking, better performing, better lasting. And when we talk about sustainability, It's not just about the quality and the ethics behind production. We also believe in creating timeless yet relevant classic designs that will survive, impervious to the whims of fashion, season after season.
We'll always need the functional aspects of a cycling kit, and there will always be improvements that can be made in the tailoring, and we’ll always seek out innovation in textiles and trims. But cycling apparel is not as subject to the tumultuous whims of fashion as mainstream apparel is. Animal prints come and go, and while lace is in this year, it will fade out and be back in a while. The pencil skirt will always be around, but the peplum top is sooo 2013. Heels will continue to be a thing, but platform shoes and the pointy toed kitten heel will take turns eclipsing one another.
Black spandex, shorts and jerseys will always be our staples. We’ll always need pockets in our jerseys, and a chamois in our shorts. We work with these constants and integrate some fresh ideas without veering from the bones. It's not about creating what's hot right now, but finding that balance between relevance and timelessness. We are focused on creating updated classic silhouettes, but we are also open to how to make it better with the slightest adjustments. We like to say we're not reinventing the wheel--just tweaking it, making it look better, roll a little smoother.
In my early cycling days, I added up the cost of the "eh" jerseys and the "ok" shorts. For what I had spent on my search for great cycling clothes, I wished that I had had 2 really great jerseys and shorts that I would be able to wash repeatedly and use for at least a season. I wished that I had one brand to turn to that produced the quality garments that I needed, and actually wanted to wear.
When Lexi Miller was just a fledgling vision, plenty of people in the industry had a quick fix for us. From production houses who would handle the entire process, to fabric vendors who pushed the all too familiar pique scratchy polyester for sublimation printing, since, you know, that's what cycling jerseys are: white polyester stamped with splashy logos and garish patterns.
Um, no thanks. No short cuts here.
We chose to be involved in every stage of the process. We chose to manufacture in California using Italian textiles that are Oeko-TexⓇ certified as free of harmful substances. We chose to do the difficult things, because we believed they were right, even if that meant that they were more expensive. We developed relationships with all of our vendors from our patternmaker to the person stamping the logo on our back pockets. We sewed, we tested, washed, we repeated. Again and again.
We chose to slow down long enough to examine the status quo and ask questions. What about a jersey that doesn’t have a zipper? How about a great pair of shorts that aren’t bibs? What about sewing the contrasting elements and details into a jersey instead of stamping them on?
The result is a collection of modern, curated, quality women’s cycling apparel: a brand that doesn’t put women as an afterthought, an asterisk, or a smaller, pinker version of men. The result is a brand that cares about how we get there. There is a big ethical disconnect in enjoying weekends outdoors on the backs of children who labor for next to nothing. We design functional cycling apparel that is made intentionally and ethically by women for women. We believe in quality first: in our product and in the lives of the people who produce them.
Fear. We all know it. It’s been useful to our evolution and essential to our survival. It protects us from bad decisions. But it can also hamper our progress, most often when it is not based on reality, but the stories that we tell ourselves. Anyone who has ever ridden a road bike knows fear. For this month’s blog post we called upon our badass friend Brooke Wells, an accomplished runner turned triathlete who has confronted a bout of fear or two.
I have two tiny scars in the corners of my eyes from falling off my bike when I was six years old.
Wind in my pigtails, I was bombing down the driveway of my childhood home, hit a patch of loose gravel and flew over the handle bars of my Costco purchased Huffy and went face first in to the pavement. I was bruised and bloody, and clearly scared, but the fear of missing out on neighborhood bike rides had me back on that oversized saddle the next day.
Flash forward 20 some-odd years. After far too many seasons of consistent injury as a runner, I picked up cycling again thanks to the encouragement or friends like Lexi Miller. This go round, I harbored a different fear. I’d put so much pressure on myself to perform as a sub-elite runner, I was scared I’d be constantly comparing my efforts to those of my extremely talented Strava KOM comrades. Would they have to wait for me on every ride? Would I get dropped and spend hours on end alone? Am I wearing the right gear? What’s a power meter?
The fear of the unknown consumed me in those first few months, but I made a conscious effort to ride within myself, not get over my head in distance or intensity and become “one” with my bike. That precious Ridley came to feel like part of my limbs. I gained a confidence that made every ride a three-hour escape of any of the fears and anxieties of the day to day.
Then, New Year’s Eve, on a day that was far too cold and wet to be on the mountain, I was bombing down the hills of Marin in my new, adult home, and my wheels went out from underneath me. I tucked and slid as I scraped the skin of my right side along the pavement. I was lucky enough to walk away with aggressive road rash and a separated shoulder, and, as I’m told the badge that now, I was officially a “cyclist”. However, I also left that ride with a somewhat crippling fear to get back on my bike.
After years of being chronically injured, risking additional pain and management of that pain was just something that I was not interested in. I’d bought a new Triathlon bike and spent the next two months sitting on a trainer indoors. I went to a training weekend up north and watched my friends conquer the wind and cold outside and stayed inside sweating on a computrainer in front of what felt like an endless college basketball game. This was safe, but this wasn’t me. This wasn’t the young, brave six-year-old that tackled fear head on to make sure there was no fun lost. This wasn’t the rational, dedicated woman who built up a base of hard earned miles and comfort on her bike that she lived for those hours outside. In those sweaty minutes on the trainer, I realized that I am not my best-self when I am backing down from fear.
I am in my element when I’m in nature, I’m with friends, challenging myself and breaking down barriers.
So, yesterday, I took that shiny new triathlon bike outside. I rode so cautiously the first few miles I would have been passed three times over by my six-year-old self, but by the end of the day, I had an impenetrable smile on my face, and the frightened feeling in the pit of my stomach was gone.
Never let fear take you away from when you are your best self. Take small steps if you need to, but never sacrifice the opportunity to feel whole.
The Marin Headlands loop is one of our favorite local rides, so we popped a GoPro on the handlebars to show you around. It’s a place where I find peace, beauty, inspiration and challenge just by being there, slowly, repeatedly clawing my way up hills, and winding down descents. Every time I ride up these hills, I have a “pinch-me-am-I-dreaming” moment–even on the foggiest, soggiest summer days (yes, that is what summer in San Francisco is like). The day I stop having that feeling is the day I need to pack up and move, so that I never forget how lucky we are to have this magical place in our backyard. xo Alexis
If you find yourself like most of the country in a rain-soaked or frozen state, you might have to take your training indoors this month.
Hopefully you’re fortunate enough to live near a great cycling studio where you can train with power. I have been teaching spin classes at theBay Clubin San Francisco for two years. I started taking classes there in 2009 when I was told to stop running. Saddened by being trapped indoors, I fortunately had a couple of great teachers who gave me the fitness and the confidence to make the leap from a stationary bike to a real one. It changed my life. Now that I am leading my own classes, I only hope that I can encourage another person to discover the joys of riding a ‘real’ bike.
A huge part of getting the most out of any ride (indoors or out) is efficiency. Without proper technique, form, and FIT, efficiency is compromised. So we called upon our local expert,Pedro Dungo, bike fitter extraordinaire to walk us through setting up a spin bike. He gave us three great points to remember when setting up your bike:
1. Saddle height: I often see clients sitting too low. Here’s how to determine the correct height: place your pedals at 12 and 6. Back pedal just slightly so that your bottom foot reaches 5:30. Unclip and place your heel on the clip. Your leg should be fully extended (no bend in the knee) and the hips should be balanced.
2. Saddle fore/aft position: Clip in and place your pedals at 3 and 9 o’clock. On your front leg, locate the little notch just beneath your patella (knee cap). It should fall directly over the spindle that attaches the pedal to the crank. Have your neighbor double check this one for you.
3. Handlebar fore/aft position: I often see clients riding with their handlebars too close. This takes the work out of the core (meaning back extensors as well as abdominals), places more pressure in the shoulders and neck, and places them into too much lumbar flexion (the pelvis is sort of tucked under, instead of slightly rotated forward). Here’s the rule of thumb: the distance between the tip of the saddle and the handlebars should be equal to the length of your arm from your elbow to your fingertips. I tell most new clients to start with their handlebars at the same height as their saddle, or slightly higher. I encourage experienced riders to ride with a differential that is similar to their road bike.
As we count down the dwindling days of 2017, a lot of us think about the coming of a new year as a time to set new goals, and find new opportunities to change and transform. We invited Katie Feltman to tell her story about her own transformation. xo Alexis
Transformation. Change. It’s the time of the year when these topics inevitably pop up in our minds and surround us in conversations, on social media – everywhere we turn. My story of transformation didn’t start when one year ended and a new one began. If I’m being truthful, I loathe the concept of a New Year’s Resolution.
What is this magical transformation I speak of?
The before: At age 36 and after a particularly demoralizing trip to the doctor I realized I was dealing with all manner of emotional, mental and physical sickness. That I weighed close to 300 pounds I would come to eventually realize was a symptom not a cause. The gory details? Prediabetes. Thyroid disease totally uncontrolled. Hypertension. Heart arrhythmias. I was living life on mute and in a fog. I can with certainty pinpoint that day as the day when I finally decided to do something.
The after: Some 6 years later, I’m physically lighter by about 130 physical pounds (that’s like a whole person!) and am emotionally lighter by an unquantifiable number of pounds. I’m still me - but a more settled, happier me. A person who lives life with gusto. A better friend, sister, daughter, employee, citizen of the world. I could name hundreds of things that are different for me now. For the readers of this blog, I’ll just note how much I missed biking long distances when I simply couldn’t. Now I spend as much time and as many miles as I can cycling.
Before I get to the three things, a word of caution. Don’t romanticize weight loss. It’s not a panacea to all your emotional, professional, physical, relationship and whatever other woes you have. That kind of thinking is a dangerous - so dump it now. We’ve all been there - imagining if I could only change this I would be so much happier. On the surface when you imagine your life x number of pounds lighter you might think it’s the express line to happiness - the solution to all your problems. It’s not. It’s so not. You’ve first got to do the work on the inside to achieve that level of nirvana
Still with me? If so I am happy to report I am FINALLY getting to the three things
1. So yeah….about those New Year’s Resolutions or that BIG decision to make a HUGE change overnight. Doesn’t work. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know but try and listen this time. Internalize it. Believe it. Accept it. Accept that change won’t happen overnight. Waiting until the beginning of the year after engaging in the party/food/wine/gluttony marathon that starts around Halloween and rages on until we all wake up on January 1st filled with a truck load of self-loathing we can’t unload seems to be the way we all decide to go about conducting ourselves year after year. The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. This time, do something different. The biggest change and realization was grasping I had to make small changes in my daily habits and then doing them. Change is something you have to chip away at every. Single. Day. Know there will be setbacks, and things won’t happen overnight. And that’s why I don’t set New Year’s resolutions. Sure, I set short- and long-term goals (some are totally doable - and some are so aspirational it seems silly to even write it down or say it out load but you need those big goals) but I don’t set one giant resolution on January 1. Think about it like this: Every day is a resolution. The best thing about thinking like this? You get a fresh start every day. It’s manageable this way.
2. Self-care matters. Say it. Think it. PRACTICE IT. Yes I am shouting on that last one. Find ways to engage in self-care. Do it every day. That’s going to look different for everyone so spend some time figuring out what this looks like for you and get on it. Self-care should be viewed like change – it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Find the small things you can to do daily to take care of yourself. 2 easy places to start are move more, and get more sleep.
3. Why does self-care matter so much? Because self-love. Acceptance. No more self-loathing. You won’t take care of yourself if you can’t find a way to love yourself. If you take one thing away from my words today make it this. You won’t love yourself if you don’t make the time to take care of yourself and if you spend time hating yourself and your body, you’ll lack the will and motivation to do the work needed to care for your body and mind. We have one body. Take care of it. This one is critical. Essential. I hated my body. I felt betrayed by it. The self-loathing I felt had a vice grip on me. Once I learned to take care of myself and accept myself daily in where I was on my journey, and let go of my negative feelings about my body that is when the change really started to happen.
Frustrated I’ve not provide some magic list of specifics for how to transform? Is this a bait and switch? No. I’ve already talked too much and the specifics are missing on purpose. Everyone’s journey will look different – it has to. If you want to know more about mine, I’m using Insta to document how I practice self-love and self-care - when I’m not posting photos of my dogs or my cycling adventures Find me on Instagram.com/wanderingbella
As we close out November and get back into the swing of things after Thanksgiving, it seems only fitting that this month’s three things touch upon gratitude.
In recent years, sports have given me a lot for which to be grateful. Here are three:
1. [Ladies’] Locker room talk. I started swimming a year ago after a very long hiatus from any kind of organized swimming (as in like, 30 years). Before swim, the early bird crowd and I pass in the locker room, where we exchange our bleary eyed, tired hellos and brief life updates. These ladies are full of wisdom that only decades of living can endow. Post swim, my group, ranging from a new mom and a newlywed to single 30 and 40-somethings share our own banter and wish each other well as we head off to our respective jobs. It’s in these passing moments when we reveal (no pun intended) little pieces of ourselves, that we realize how much we all have in common as women, how much we can learn from one another, and how much we really need one another.
2. Being an amateur. Not excelling at sports as a kid (and yes, I’m the first one to say my lack of trying is to 100% to blame for that) is not something that I regret. Traditional team sports were never something I felt like I had to do to get in to college, or to please my parents. I didn’t burn out. I didn’t have a coach who made me hate running. I didn’t get hazed by older teammates. As adults I think we’d all agree that if we peaked in high school, that’s a shame. As a non-competitive amateur, I do what I do because Iove to do it, and I am so grateful for that.
3. Endurance. Despite having zero desire to compete, sometimes my schedule would resemble that of someone who is training for something. Why bother waking up at 5 am every weekday to workout? As one of my favorite cycling instructors and personal trainers says, “Life is the ultimate endurance sport” (Follow her on Instagram--she’s a total badass @fitnesslizbradley). When you are climbing a mountain, or swimming thousands of yards, one thing is essential: learning how to use your breath to keep your brain from losing its *%#@ while you stress your body out. Endurance isn’t just about getting from point A to point B, but it’s about the small victories and the many challenging moments which stand in your way and spoon feed you humility. It’s about being comfortable in the midst of discomfort, because you don’t have a choice. It’s about breaking the journey up into small, manageable milestones. Learn to do this while doing something you enjoy, and the skill set will serve you well for enduring the less pleasant aspects of life.
This month’s three things, courtesy of Dena Smith, author ofLeo with Cancer
As a breast cancer survivor and beauty blogger, I often get asked a lot of questions about how I knew that I was sick. The answer to that is complicated, but not intimidating. There are really three key things that I think everyone should do - regardless of gender, risk for cancer or age - to feel in control of their own bodies and well being.
1) Know your own body well enough to know when something changes.
Most people see a doctor maybe once every two years. You see and inhabit your body everyday. Whether it’s a twinge in your back, or a mole changing shape, or a lump in your breast, you can’t rely on anybody else to notice these things. You are in control of QA.
It starts with paying attention to your body when it's feelinggood.That may be the hardest part. Often times we only notice when the car isn't running right, not how the car feels when it's operating at peak performance. Yes, you are the car.
It can be really hard to diagnose an issue, and figure out the best way to treat it, if you don't know what it's supposed to feel like in the first place. All it takes is a little inward attention.
2) If you find something, say something.
Trust me, I know going to the doctor sucks. It’s scary. What if it’s so much worse? But also, what if it’s better? What if it’s easily fixable? What if by addressing the issue now you make it so that it’s about a million times easier to fix than if you keep trucking along acting like everything is fine?
9 times out of 10 it will be the latter. And if it's that first scary one you'restillbetter off going sooner than later.
If you dread going to the doctor that much, find another doctor. Find someone you trust. Find someone who will listen to you, because you are the expert.
3) Be nice to yourself.
If you have a cold, rest. If your (fill in the blank) hurts skip that workout. If you’re tired, sleep. Nothing good ever comes from being unkind to your body. It does a lot of work for you, it deserves to be treated well.
There is something wistful and significant about October that makes it feel like the time of year for new beginnings. Maybe it’s because it’s my birthday month. Perhaps it’s because October is our summer here in San Francisco: that time of the year when the oppressive marine layer goes away only to be seen after a winter and spring have passed. We emerge back into sunny days and rejoice with rooftop parties, less windy bike rides, and savor the slowly dwindling daylight hours.
There is also meaning to the number 3 for me. I’m the youngest of three girls. It’s not too much, not too little. It’s a prime number. It’s an odd number, odd in a good way.
So it seems fitting that this October, we begin a new tradition. Introducing a monthly blog post of 3 things: 3 things that relate to cycling, or not cycling. Some months we’ll talk about nutrition or fitness or fashion or skincare...all of the things that matter to us on and off the bike. Sometimes it will be from yours truly, and other times it will be from guest posters. Hey, you want to chime in? We’re all ears. firstname.lastname@example.org
As I write this, my Monday morning has been completely derailed: I woke up late, spilled a cup of coffee all over the counter and its items (fruit, wine bottles, my breakfast), and then I discovered a large puddle under the kitchen sink. The plumber is here now to fix the leaky drainpipe, thank goodness.
This is especially relevant because Lexi Miller, this little idea of mine came about when my life got derailed. In the beginning of 2009, I was working at my dream job at a residential interior design firm in San Francisco. I had just run my first half marathon in a pretty decent time and was preparing to train for the San Francisco Marathon. A few days after that finish, I couldn’t even run a block. Even worse, sitting was nearly impossible without excruciating pain, which made workdays very trying. I would go from physical therapy to work in tears. A disc injury was the culprit, and I was advised not to run anymore. Begrudgingly, I started swimming again and even more begrudgingly took up spinning--UGH.
Quite soon after that, San Francisco was feeling the effects of the recession, and new clients suddenly stopped coming in. I was laid off. Then, my dog suddenly died. He was my buddy, my weekend adventurer, and he was only 4. And then I had to give up gluten, which meant no more après-ski beers, and no more bagels and pizza; less tragic than the aforementioned events but still a tragedy for a Jersey-born girl!
I felt like I was losing everything that I loved. I had no choice but to find new passions, rebuild my life, and get the train back on track, but a new track. I got a new dog, and I started a new business planning and designing events. I took on interior design projects. Things were looking up, but I was itching to get outdoors. However, I was conflicted. The presence of road biking in the city was huge, and it was alienating. Guys in their electric blue, green, yellow, fuschia, logo-d out “kits” made me feel like it was not the sport for me. The few women I saw on the road sported hideous versions of pink-flowered, ill-fitting spandex.
But at the urging one of one non-pink-and-flowers girlfriend who rode, I went shopping for a bike, which was my first awkward experience with the cycling industry. Shop after shop was manned (no pun intended) by some hipster know-it-all who was all too happy to spout off a bunch of technical information and try to up sell me for reasons I did not understand, because my last bike was a purple 10 speed, circa 1987. When did riding a bike get so serious, so technical and so expensive? At one particular neighborhood bike shop, the sales guy sent me out on a test ride but he had the saddle set a bit high. So when I coasted to a stop, my foot was so far off the ground that I fell over and took the $3,000 bike with me. Condescending folks later told me that $3,000 was not a lot to pay for a bike…whaaaat??
Eventually I encountered a female sales associate, took the plunge, and bought a bike, clipless pedals and all. She warned me that I would have one “OH SH*T” moment where I would be unable to clip out fast enough and I would fall over. Just one, she promised. I did have my very public, very real “OH SH*T” fall right on the busy San Francisco Marina. I promptly scooped my body and my pride off the sidewalk, found some coordination and some confidence and I was off. I loved the freedom, the climbing, the descending, and the fact that a bike could take me for a 50+ mile journey on a Saturday. Within 5 months, I had ridden through Patagonia, completed numerous century rides, climbed tens of thousands of feet, and I was hooked.
Meanwhile, I was constantly searching for decent women's cycling clothes, not great women's cycling clothes, because there was no such thing. I sought out the best of the worst, meaning the plainest jerseys and shorts I could find among the flowery, fuchsia mess that saturates the marketplace. I was so disappointed. I just wanted to not be embarrassed to be seen by someone I knew. Was that too much to ask for?!
Out of frustration, I started casually talking about the idea of creating my own line of women’s cycling apparel. To my surprise, so many people knew someone who knew someone who had started a clothing line without any prior experience in the industry. The common thread among these women was that they started a business because the marketplace did not offer what they wanted. These women were solving problems and they were motivated by their passions. I had a chat with Jen Hinton ofCarve Designs, who so generously gave me enough information to be dangerous. Funny enough, she also started out as an interior designer. A google search for led me to my first textile vendor. A craigslist ad led me to my patternmaker. Slowly but surely, I was making progress.
One vendor gave me “the talk”: a cautionary tale of a now-defunct label’s demise. He told me that a particular women’s brand failed because women need to see a garment in 8 color ways, and that company could not keep up with the cost of producing so many color ways. I wholeheartedly disagreed (while feigning agreement, of course). Said company made ugly garments in 8 color ways, and had a horrible name. That is why they did not sell. I believe that women want to see something well made, technically sound, and beautifully styled in a few on-trend color ways.
So that covers the "how". Back to the "why". Lexi Miller has deeper meaning, beyond spandex and beyond cycling. I’m not sure if I ever would have gotten into road biking had my life not been derailed, but I do believe in silver linings, and making lemonade when life gives you lemons. Those beliefs in transformation, potential and resilience reside in the depths of Lexi Miller. I want other women to fall in love with road biking like I did, and feel like they have a place in the sport, even if they don’t race or belong to a team or a club. I want other women to realize their potential, to discover a new passion, and to get outdoors. I want them to feel like themselves, not a watered down version of men, not like 12 year old girls, but like the smart, sophisticated, multi-faceted badass, beautiful women that they are.