Archive for category commuting
Some of you might be of the school of thought that any jeans are riding jeans, why spend top dollar just because someone’s labelled them ‘cycling” jeans? Is it a form of hipster trap? Why do I even want to ride anywhere in jeans? These are valid questions. Here’s why…
I rarely wear anything besides jeans unless I’m going for a ‘proper’ road ride. I live and work in a town which is a perfect size to get around by bike, and as a result I have worn clean through the arse area of the following jeans: Seven For All Mankind, Superdry, 2x pairs of G-Star, and my Hudsons are getting dangerously close. I love my jeans and these were all rather nice ones… It’s depressing when they go, and it’s pretty much impossible to fix. (I have tried, both with a sewing machine and with iron-on patches) The G-Stars in particular were useless – a new pair wore through in less than a year!
A few weeks ago I stumbled upon Creux Cycling – an Australian urban cycle clothing brand – and fairly rapidly decided I wanted to own everything they made, especially their jeans. At a glance they just have a style I love, and on closer inspection they’ve considered everything to make these the ultimate legwear for living and riding in.
Fortunately while at Bespoked Bristol a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting the man behind (iL) Soigneur who has been hand-making really lovely musettes since 2011, and doing rather well at it. (iL) Soigneur now stocks a selection of Creux gear here in the UK and I took away a pair of the men’s and the women’s jeans to see which I’d get on with the most.
(Size info: I’m testing the Men’s Small and the Women’s Large (12), most of my jeans are a size 29-30 waist. My waist is 29 inches, and my hips are 40 inches)
The men’s version of the Soigneur Jeans are, on me at least, a slim fitting straight-leg cut which fit comfortably around my waist, higher than most of my jeans which are all low rise cut, these come to about an inch and a half below my belly button. The lower legs are just loose enough to turn up a couple of times to avoid your bike chain, but I couldn’t roll them up any higher than in the pictures. When riding, I prefer the men’s because of the higher waist. It feels just right in the bike position, no pants on show.
The women’s cut has a lower rise, and a much skinnier leg. I LOVE how these look when I’m walking around, but when I’m riding I found that once they’d loosened up a bit, they were coming down a bit too low at the back. It’s no biggie if your shirt is tucked in, but if not; PANTS CITY.
The fit is really quite different from the men’s, and I’m surprised by how well the men’s cut fits me – I do not have boyish hips. So it really comes down to your preference – do you want slim straight leg or skinny leg? Higher waist or low rise? Both are super comfy on and off the bike.
Two things I love about turning these jeans up: The cyan coloured tape sewn over the seams on the inside looks ace, and on the men’s version, the large reflective Creux logo inside the right leg, which massively increases your visibility in the dark. Never mind products with a tiny bit of reflective piping here and there, there’s nothing better than a huge block of the stuff to catch driver’s eyes. Plus it looks freaking cool. It’s not there on the women’s, no doubt because they’re a lot skinnier so you can’t really roll them up.
Both versions are very slightly stretchy, but to be honest I think they could be stretchier, because it’s such a heavy weight denim. When these jeans first go on they feel heavier and stiffer than most jeans. Unsurprisingly though, after wearing these for a few days they loosened up a fair bit, became less tight around the waist, and altogether more and more comfortable as the days wore on.
The denim itself is such a big feature of these jeans, it feels so tough that I can’t imagine ever wearing through the arse section. Even if the bum was one layer thick I don’t think I would – but as it happens Creux have built in a double layered seat, complete with lightly padded chamois! I was a little concerned this would feel bulky and even too warm, but when I’m not riding I just don’t notice it.
Then there’s the Schoeller NanoSphere treatment, which is unbelievably valuable. Living in the UK, if I waited for it to stop raining, I’d barely ever get to ride so I don’t tend to shy away from wet weather. After all, skin’s waterproof, right? Turns out these jeans are too. Close enough anyway. I live a short distance from work, but even a short distance will soak regular jeans through if it’s pissing it down as it often does. I’ve sat at my desk for several hours with wet jeans, patiently waiting for them to dry out after the 5 minute ride in. It takes about 3 hours, I’ve timed it. So since testing these jeans out, I’ve had it rain on me a couple of times, once while riding, not overly heavy rain, and once when it just absolutely shat it down for 5 minutes, so I went outside and sat in it. Just to see what would happen.
I’d say that in extremely heavy rain, 95% beads and splashes right off you, and 5% begins to dampen the jeans. Dampen, mind, not soak. I came back inside, brushed them off and sat at my desk, and within 10 minutes the jeans felt completely dry again. My hood stayed wet for the rest of the day.
The men’s jeans have a few little features which the women’s jeans don’t have, although I’m not entirely sure why. There’s an extra pocket on the right hip which is much easier to dig into then the front pockets when you’re sat down, there’s a little loop for keys on the left side waist band, and there’s a D-lock holding loop on the back, which is pretty handy if like me you often pop into town without a bag.
The only thing to be aware of is that these jeans are very heavily dyed, and it will transfer to your pale coloured couch. I’m hoping that it will wash off the cushion covers. I’m told the denim is designed to fade with use, so I fully expect a lot of loose dye to come out in the first wash which will probably stop the couch getting any worse.
There’s not much else to add, so I’ll summarise by saying that, like me, you can test these jeans out without buying them because (iL) Soigneur is offering a no quibble try before you buy scheme. So if you’re still not sure, try them out for yourself! I for one will be putting my money where my mouth is and buying them. I’m just not sure which ones…
Screw it. I want both.
Chrome Industries announced today two new bags, the Welded Postbag and Welded Rucksack, weatherproof, utilitarian packs made for the city commuter. The Welded Transport bags use the same technology as Coast Guard boats to deliver the most durable waterproof protection with the least amount of weight. Chrome’s 100% RF welded waterproof bags with versatile and can be worn over the shoulder, carried in hand or strapped onto a bike rack or basket.
Chrome Industries’ Welded Transport bags include:
Welded Postbag: Heritage inspired postbag with high-tech welded waterproof seams. The Welded Postbag has an adjustable shoulder strap for cross body wear and interior haul handles for off-body carry. It’’s designed to be worn over the shoulder or strapped onto a bike rack or basket. Features included welded waterproof seam construction to keep contents dry; removable, padded laptop sleeve that fits up to MacBook Pro 15 inches; Daisy Chain mounting loops on back panel; and quick access exterior pockets to fit U-lock, wallet, keys, and personal items. Made with waterproof 600 denier TPU coated outer shell and custom gunmetal finished hardware.
Available in Charcoal
Available in-store and online: 5/1/2013
Welded Rucksack: Heritage inspired Welded Rucksack features high-tech welded waterproof seam construction that keeps contents dry. Features include a removable, padded laptop sleeve that fits up to MacBook Pro 15 inches; Daisy Chain mounting loops on back panel; quick access exterior pockets for U-lock, wallet, keys, and personal items; shark tooth closures that adjust for different volumes and load sizes; ergonomic shoulder strap design; and industrial metal cam lock compression buckles. Made with waterproof 600 denier TPU coated outer shell and custom gunmetal finished hardware.
Available in-store and online: 5/1/2013
Welded Transport bags can be purchased in Chrome Hubs located in New York City, San Francisco, Chicago and Portland, OR and online at www.chromeindustries.com.
This concept helmet includes headlight, turn signal and brake light.
I’ve never really understood yoga pants. I’m not sure I’m supposed to. For a while I wasn’t even really sure what yoga pants were, then my wife discovered Lululemon. So, now I know and I’m broke.
All reports are that yoga pants are the most comfortable pants a woman can wear in public. This is why the world is suddenly filled with women who have never practiced yoga but are always dressed for a pop-up yoga class. It’s also, I think, a major reason why there’s a dress code at my office.
Last winter I splurged and bought myself a pair of wool cycling tights from the now defunct Lab-Gear. This winter, I’m beginning to understand just how women feel about yoga pants. I never want to take them off.
If it were acceptable for a guy to wonder around in what amounts to a pair of long underwear, I probably would. I’ve worn them under jeans at softball games and to the snow. I’ve worn them on my bike, of course.
In the winter, anyway, I couldn’t live without.
Pop by Lab-Gear’s new venture, Eleven Vélo. I’m not sure you’ll be able to convince them to make you up a pair of wooly bottoms, but I’m sure they’ll have something you’ll love.
There’s this guy. You might know one too. He’s a lot like you or I. He rides his bike on the same streets. He gets overtaken by impatient F-150s. He’s a cyclist. There’s one major difference, though. Unlike you or I, he tends to get hit by cars; frequently. Most of the time, he comes away without any serious injuries (which is more than I can say for his bikes – carbon fiber, it turns out is the real victim here).
When I first started riding I thought maybe this guy spent more time on busy roads than I did. But slowly, I began to think there might be something else, something that didn’t have anything to do with where he was riding or what he was wearing (more garish colors than I). It was when he told me about his 4th crash involving a car that I began to wonder if, perhaps, it was the way he rode.
It turns out, I might have been on the right track. Last month the City of Minneapolis published a study that examined 2,973 bicycle-motorist crashes that took place over a 10 year period and one of the many interesting bits of data they uncovered was that the cyclist involved is, at least partially, at fault in 59% of all crashes (motorists were, at least partially, at fault in 63.9%*).
If you’d asked me a few weeks ago I’d probably have guessed that cyclists were at fault in about 30% of all accidents. I’ve seen a lot of motorists do a lot of dumb things (I’ll even admit to being a motorist doing a dumb thing once or twice) and it’s easy to assume, because they’re the more vulnerable of the two groups, cyclists are always the victims. But, you have to admit, it sort of makes sense.
I consider myself a careful cyclist 95% percent of the time. During my commute, I’m alert and cautious and often yield even when I have the right of way. I check driveways and think about how to react when the unexpected happens. These things don’t make me invincible, I know that. It is nice to know, perhaps, they do make me a little safer.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming that guy who gets hit by a car once a year for everything. Some of it is bad luck and some if it is bad driving and, maybe, some of it is bad cycling. It is nice to know, as I’m riding my 25 pound bike next to a 2 ton truck, what I do makes a difference.
* Adds up to more than 100% as in some crashes both motorist and cyclist share fault.
I got an email today from the League (the League of American Bicyclists). First of all, let’s talk about how awesome it is that they go by “the League.” It sounds like some sort of group of cycling superheroes that rides around town painting bike lanes, handing out bike lights and using force to keep cars out of the bike lane.
Ok, but this post wasn’t about an idea for a crappy bicycle centric comic book, it was about being thankful for cycling. The League, in the email mentioned above, asked me why I’m thankful for cycling? So, I’m going to spend a couple of posts attempting to address that question.
1. The wind in my hair and all that jazz.
Seriously. I spend 9 to 10 hours a day in a cubicle farm. Under fluorescent lighting. Surrounded by people who may or may not have washed their hands the last time they used the restroom. Lately, I’ve been riding “the short way” to work. That’s about 15 minutes. 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the evening. And sure, it’s cold, it tends to be dark going both ways this time of year, and road grime is only slightly more appealing than touching the door handle of the men’s restroom, but I’m outside.
That’s right, for at least 30 minutes a day, I’m outside. On my bike. It’s fantastic. So, I’m thankful for that.
I’ve set out in the rain and come home dry, or mostly dry.
I’ve sat comfortably behind big men, the ones that are as wide as Volkswagen Beetle.
I’ve dropped those same men.
I’ve been dropped by women.
And old men.
I’ve set out in the sunshine and come home wet.
I’ve stopped, not because I needed to rest but because I wanted a moment to take it in.
I’ve sat up when the gap was too big.
I’ve had road rash.
I’ve run red lights.
I’ve been defeated by headwinds.
And Coleman Valley Road.
I’ve stopped for wildlife.
I’ve been honked at.
And yelled at.
And waved at.
And smiled at.
I’ve slowed down to chat with strangers.
I’ve taken turns at the front.
I’ve been stopped by the police.
But mostly, I’ve had fun.
At the end of a long, difficult day at work there’s the tendency to put my head down, get in the drops and crank; the effort and distraction is refreshing and welcome. Yesterday, after a tailwind assisted sprint down International and onto the canal trail I stopped briefly.
The steep, rocky embankment drops down from behind the warehouses and industrial buildings. The 2-lane service road which, at least to me, acts as a bike highway of sorts, forms a sort of step before another steep drop to surface of the water. Between the road and the water steeply angled cement slabs form the walls of the canal. The fence is rusting.
It’s hardly the most beautiful place I ride and on windy days it’s one of the most miserable because the trench feels like a wind tunnel. It beats battling the cars on Sunrise. The section I ride daily includes about four miles of uninterrupted, isolated road. At most I might see a handful of other cyclists (if the weather is nice) or a lone private security vehicle cruising along, yellow light flashing on the roof. Many days, it’s just me.
Yesterday afternoon, after crossing Sunrise and pedaling a quarter of a mile or so down the path I rolled over some debris that seemed to stick in my rear tire and click click as moved over the cracking pavement. So I stopped to check for glass. Then I just stood there a minute. It wasn’t silent. Highway 50 was probably less than a half mile to the north and behind me was the six lane Sunrise Blvd. But, with out the wind in my ears it was damn near. The clouds were high and fat with rain but none was falling. And, despite the few bits of cardboard that floated in the water below and the roofs of a dozen or so industrial buildings it was peaceful. Quiet. Beautiful.
As close as I was to the cars, the office, the end of a long day, I felt about as far away as I could. People often ask why I ride. That’s why.
After a week of rain we’re getting a break from the late winter this week (rumor has it that it might rain again tomorrow but, it’s going to be almost 70°). It’s about time y’all start thinking about commuting.
Lucky for you, between now and Sunday you can go to Santa Monica Mountains Cyclery and trade in that SUV for a bike.
Customers can pick out a new bike at the cyclery — which features a giant flat-screen TV, leather club chairs and an espresso maker, not to mention some sweet two-wheeled rides — then head over the Ford dealership. They’ll trade in their cars, get a check and head back to the bike shop. Any leftover money goes back to the customer.
If I only had an extra car.