Growing up, my favorite thing about Halloween wasn’t the candy, it was the costumes. My sisters and I would come up with ideas, then dig into our closets and boxes of craft materials to see what we could fashion into something scary or pretty or goofy. I recall that a lot of Mom’s old dresses, cardboard, glitter, aluminum foil and duct tape were involved.
You’d think I would have outgrown it, but I still love Halloween and plotting my costume each year. As luck would have it, there’s no shortage of costumed bike events in our area. But that adds a whole new dimension: not just what to wear, but what to wear comfortably and safely on the bike.
Here are some things I always consider when working out a bike costume.
Ladies, Think Sexy
Not because looking sexy is required or even appropriate for most places, but because costumes labeled as “sexy” usually have shorter skirts that won’t get caught in your spokes. Most also have full or knit skirts that give you full range of motion for pedaling. As for modesty, that’s what bike shorts, tights and close fitting knit tops are for. Wear them under your costume and even your conservative auntie can’t complain.
Keep Your Head About It
Costumes that rely on hats or wigs to deliver the impact can be problematic, especially with a helmet. If you haven’t noticed, helmets are larger than your head, so you may have to slit that wig or precariously perch that hat on your helmet. I’ve had success attaching smaller items to the helmet, like cat ears, halos and wreaths. I also ripped apart a cheap gladiator helmet and reconstructed it on my helmet. Your best friends for helmet embellishment: zip ties, elastic stretch cord and double sided foam mounting tape.
Great costumes are “head to toe”. But if you’re headed to the coast to buy a pumpkin with a local mountain bike club, doing an all-day charity ride, or racing cyclocross at the annual costume race, your costume will likely include cycling shoes. Some commercial costumes, like my Batgirl costume, come with shoe covers that work just fine. If you’re doing a slower-paced urban ride like San Jose Bike Party, there’s more leeway with the shoes, so go ahead with the heavy boots or stilettos.
Accessorize (with care)
If the costume relies on a prop, make sure it works on the bike. The last thing you want is to be taken down by your own sword. While capes were banned for superheroes in The Incredibles, I found they worked ok even for a cyclocross race, so long as I did my running remounts into the wind.
Take One for the Team
If you’re lucky enough to convince a friend or family member to join you in a tandem team costume, make sure the captain’s wings, cape, sword or tail aren’t a slap in the face of the stoker.
Keep Cool, Stay Warm
As with all other outdoor activities, prepare for changes in the weather. Make sure your costume is not a sweat suit and that dressing to stay warm doesn’t ruin the look. How to do this: wicking base layers, bike-specific arm warmers, and leggings over bike shorts work as well for bike costumes just as they do with lycra bike wear.
What tips do you have for others preparing costumes for bike events? What was your a favorite costume?
San Jose Bike Party El Dia de los Muertos Ride Friday October 18, 8:00 pm http://www.sjbikeparty.org/
Silicon Valley Mountain Bikers Pumpkin Ride Saturday October 26, 10:00 am http://bit.ly/15QmFj1
Surf City Cyclocross Costume Race Sunday October 27, 11:30 am http://bit.ly/1bwE1cH
Photo by Jackie Link from Cinderella Century.