Archive for category fashion
Every weekday – or nearly every – I pull on my Lycra shorts and jersey and I ride my bike into the office. At first, I think I mentioned, it made me a little self-conscious, the Lycra at work situation. It’s not like I wear my cycling shorts all day and wander around sitting on my co-worker’s desks to have a chat. No, like any normal person wearing Lycra to work, I head from the bike locker to the locker room and change as quickly as possible. But I still bump into people I know and they still look at me funny.
I see some people nod to their friends to look as they grin stupidly, holding back giggles.
At first it bothered me. I even toyed with the idea of wearing street clothes on the bike but decided wearing sweaty clothes all day and being uncomfortable on the bike wasn’t an option for me. I just decided I was dressed appropriately for what I was doing, riding my bike, which is more than I can say for some of the things people here wear to work.
Also, I thought about baseball pants and football pants and my old track singlet and shorts and realized that almost nobody talks about those things as too tight or embarrassing (of course, I admit that if someone showed up to work in football pants he’d probably be stared at).
Today I read this gem from BSNYC:
For example, the kinds of people who throw stuff at cyclists in form-fitting Lycra are perfectly comfortable cheering football players who wear pretty much the same thing—even though football players also spend like half the game lying on top of each other. So you’d think that if people can handle the spectacle of beefy men in tights humping as long as it’s on a gridiron, then at least in the context of elite competition—in particular the Tour de France—America’s “sporting industrial complex” could also treat cycling with a tiny bit of respect.
The snob was talking about some unfortunate comments made by a more influential and more famous Michael Smith, of ESPN, not specifically about the challenges of wearing cycling specific (read form fitting) clothing in public places, but the sentiment obviously stands.
Miss Rijcken was wearing a short frilly, grey skirt and short light brown boots at the time.
For one NYPD officer, that constituted too much skin, Miss Rijcken claims.
She recalled: ‘He said it’s very disturbing, and it’s distracting the cars and it’s dangerous.
‘I thought he was joking around but he got angry and asked me for ID.’
Way back in October, or September even, when I first read about Shutt Velo Rapide I was just getting tired of the obnoxious advertising that plastered the replica team jerseys I usually wore. Will someone please tell me which marketing genius figured out cyclists would pay $100 just to be a billboard? This blog was still in its infancy – or this version of this blog – and I wrote a quick note to Shutt Velo Rapide to get some information about their product. Eventually, a Signature Sportive found its way to my house and the only disappointment I felt was that it was late October and the weather was turning from nice to cold, wet and I knew I wouldn’t have many opportunities to wear the jersey before it was too cool for a summer training top.
My first impression of the jersey was favorable. It has a simple, stylish design with a little color and none of those disgusting graphics you find on so many jerseys. The jersey also has two standard pockets in back with a small zipper pocket in the center. It is hand sewn (in the UK) and made of high quality sport wool. At £79.00 I wasn’t exactly sure how much it cost (I’m pretty sure that works out to about $130.00 US) but I knew it wasn’t ridiculous.
So, I wore it once (not counting the times I wore it around the house just to see how it fit). After my second ride I was a little less impressed.
The zipper on the center rear pocket zipped vertically from the bottom up to close the pocket. The pocket itself had been one of the things I was most excited about; a safe place to put my, still new, iPhone 4. When I got back from my ride I was dismayed to find my iPhone stuck in the pocket. The zipper’s slider was stuck and the pocket was closed. I spent 40 minutes or so gently trying to finesse the slider down the zipper and free my phone. I wiggled it, twisted it, swore at it, and pleaded with it to it with no result. It was still stuck. Eventually, starting to feel iPhone withdraw, I changed tact and pulled the slider up, forcing it past the top stop of the zipper and then, once the slider was completely removed from the jersey, used my fingers to pry apart the teeth and free my trapped phone.
I was a little disappointed. In addition to the now useless pocket, the jersey itself had 2 small holes in the back, where the pocket was sewn to the rear panel, from my less than gentle attempts to free my iPhone.
A few days later I sent an email off to my contact at Shutt VR and told her about the issue. Her response was that I must of gotten a jersey with a defective zipper which would be covered under warranty:
Faulty or Broken Zips
We only use quality zips but they do break, if you believe the failure is due to quality or manufacturing fault please contact us immediately. If the fault is outside of normal wear and tear we will arrange either a repair or an exchange free of charge. If not then we can still arrange for a repair at cost.
Directly following the zipper incident I didn’t have much time to ride and when I did it was usually too cold for a lightweight jersey like the Signature Sportive. It was January before I got to start wearing the jersey again regularly – with a baselayer and a wind proof jacket on most days. Without even really thinking about why, the Signature Sportive became my everyday commuting jersey. I wore it rain or shine, with or without base layer, twice a day, three or four days a week. In that time I’ve washed it every day (delicate – line dry) and stuffed it in my bag rain and sweat soaked. We’ll just say it’s been well used.
If I ignore the issue with the zipper, write it off as a defective product – a quick Google search turns up only glowing reviews of Shutt Velo Rapide’s jerseys and no mention of any problems with any zippers – I love this jersey. It’s durable and shows very little wear considering the daily abuse it gets. It’s stylish. The sport wool is comfortable and does just what sport wool promises to do – wicks moisture away from the body.
In the end, I guess, the overall quality and durability of the Signature Sportive far outweigh the minor, warranty covered problem with the zipper. But if you all go out and buy one, then my favorite thing about the jersey won’t be true anymore – to date, I’m the only person I’ve ever seen wearing it.
All images from shuttvr.com.
Ok, so week 15 isn’t quite over yet. I’ll be riding into work in the next 30 minutes or so.
This week I’ve been working a later schedule. Arriving at around 8:15 and heading home at 5:30. At almost 4 months of commuting, I’m pretty comfortable wondering around the office in my cycling kit and was caught off guard the last couple of days when co-workers looked me up and down and said, “you riding your bike home?”
Decked out in my Lycra shorts, carrying a helmet & water bottle, I have to wonder what else these people suspect I might be doing. Perhaps they’re familiar with the OED’s definition of cycling shorts:
But I’m not sure anyone has worn cycling shorts as a “fashion item” since the early 1990s.
So I find myself explaining my commute to people who haven’t yet noticed that I’m that weird guy who dresses up in skin-tight clothes and actually pedals into work each day. “Do you ride everyday?” “How far is it?” “How long does it take?” How long would it take me to ride 25 miles? An hour?” I’m happy to talk about it, but mostly, I just want to get on with the ride.
Next week I’ll be back to my normal shift and the same people who are already familiar, if still not comfortable, with my morning and afternoon costume change.
An Oregon man was found guilty of public indecency for cycling in the nude.
“He told me he enjoyed riding his bicycle in the nude,” Goodwin said, adding that Lamb was also wearing a shirt at the time he spoke to the officer. “I asked him if he found that it turned him on, so to speak. … He said that it was a sexual feeling of excitement.”
I started this experiment a few weeks ago and jumped in with both feet. Sure, I’ve opted to drive in to work on more than a few occasions, but mostly I’ve been pretty dedicated to my mission. After six weeks I’ve identified a small handful of things I couldn’t commute without:
Lights – Leaving at dawn and coming home at dusk, sometimes in a asphalt gray jacket, lights are a must. It’s not so much about my ability to see the road as it’s about other people able to see me. I’m currently using Knog Boomers, mostly because they’re easy to put on and take off the bike - important because I use the same bike for commuting that I use for all my other road rides and lights in a paceline can really
mess with your aerodynamics make you look like a tool.
Jacket – Duh. It’s cold, it’s wet. Wear a jacket. I live in northern California where the summers are hot and dry – I’m talking ZERO inches of rain from June to September – and winters are wet and mild. As a result, dropping a few hundred dollars on a full winter kit including spiffed up yellow cycling jacket has never made a whole lot of sense to me. I
don’t didn’t ride as much in the winter and didn’t really need anything special April through November. For the last 6 weeks I’ve been wearing a light-weight waterproof shell that wasn’t specifically designed for cycling. Sure, you might get a slightly better on-the-bike-fit and better breathability with something designed specifically for riding, but the important thing is that you stay warm and dry.
Caps – Speaking of warm, is there anything worse than cold ears? A cycling cap may not be your style, but on a chilly morning something to go over the ears and block the helmet vents is required.
Bag – We already know I’m smitten with my Chrome Citizen. It’s a great bag that is holding up well to daily use. But a bag is a personal choice one that’s as much about style and personality as it is about comfort. Get a bag that fits your crap – chances are you might already have one. Just like the jacket, it doesn’t really matter if it was “made for cycling,” just as long as it’s comfortable on the bike.
Kit – Lycra and chamois. For me it’s the only way to go. I know that there’s an entire industry out there designing street clothes that also work well on the bike but that’s far too urban and hip for me. Dual purpose shoes and pants that don’t crease after seconds in the saddle might be good if you’re riding your bike short distances at a time and making several stops throughout the day, but for me it has to be cycling shorts and a jersey. Of course, I wouldn’t wear my top kit out as I drag my 17 pound bag through the gritty, greasy streets. Instead, I’m focused on comfort and durability.
Gloves – Of the long fingered variety. While I’m beginning to think along the same lines as Sam w/r/t fingerless cycling gloves, long fingered gloves are a completely different story. The pair I have aren’t particularly comfortable and seem to restrict finger movement but they do keep my hands warm – too warm on some mornings. The first pair I’d purchased were more comfortable and more flexible but also not even close to warm enough. I’m beginning to think cold fingers are, in fact, worse than cold ears.
Tires – Just before I started bike commuting I logged 3 flats – two rear and one front – in 4 rides. I promptly replaced my tires with a pair of GatorSkins – I’ve only been using them 6 weeks or so and withhold official judgment but hear, pretty consistently, that I shouldn’t have a problem with excessive punctures.
So that’s it, the six things you need to cycle commute…well, and a bike. But you don’t need a steel frame, single speed bike or a touring bike with panniers and fenders welded to the frame. You don’t need a comfort bike or a road bike or a mountain bike or a folding bike or an e-bike…All you need is a bike. The one you already have in the garage is fine.
When Cognition Caps sent a couple of cycling caps to review (disembodied head not included) I wasn’t all that excited. I’ve never much liked the look of cycling caps and hadn’t felt like I was missing out on anything in terms of head accessories. It turns out that now I’m slightly obsessed with hats.
Cognition sent a cotton cap and a wool cap with earflaps (which I’ve used far more often on my early morning commutes). Both caps have held up well in the month or so of testing – the wool cap did shrink a touch when it was accidently mixed in with my regular wash, but I was able to stretch it out to it’s orginal size and shape (more or less). Even before the shinkage, I found the earflaps on the wool cap just a touch short for my long ears, leaving me to deal with icy earlobes.
A style thing, I’m sure, but I also found the bills on both caps to be a bit short, leaving almost no protection from sun in the eyes. New to the cycling cap, I did a little comparision and confirmed that the bill was actually up to a full inch shorter than other caps I looked at. The short bill didn’t just offer little protection from the sun, it also made me look a little like a certain piece of the male anatomy.
Style questions aside, the hats fit well and are extermely durable – I even admit to using the wool cap to dry my legs after one rainy day commute. Both caps add comfort when worn under the helmet. The caps are handmade, come in a variety of colors, styles and materials and range from $24 – $30. The wool hat, specifically, is a good option if you’re looking for something low profile to wear under your helmet and keep your head warm.
I fell for it, just like everyone else.
When I was shopping for my first road bike – which was also my first new bike for well over ten years – and I was preparing to drop some considerable wedge, the salesman, Jason, took the opportunity to pad his commission by suggesting I invest in a few peripherals: cycling shorts (no argument there), a water bottle and cage (no thanks, I’ll take care of that myself), and gloves.
Gloves, he advised me, would make a huge difference to my riding experience. Gloves of the padded, fingerless variety would absorb road noise. Gloves would protect my hands if I fell. Gloves would make my naked paws feel complete. How about these ones? Made by Trek, $37. Sure, why not? The credit card is taking a beating this afternoon, so I might as well give it an extra kick (or slap) and leave the bike shop a better-equipped cyclist.
The problem is, I never liked wearing them. Never. I wore them all summer, sweating into the cheap, poorly stitched leather. When I washed them, they went crispy and had to be teased back into suppleness over the course of the next three rides. After a month or two, the padding which covered the meat of my hand shifted into an uncomfortable lump. But worst of all, wearing gloves in the Sacramento summertime meant that I developed tan lines; Caspar-white mitts on the end of my chestnut brown arms.
But I continued to wear them, out of habit more than necessity, through the winter months, even though they provided no relief against numb fingers. They became tatty, ragged and unbearably stinky despite my attempts to soak, bleach and perfume them. They would leave my hands smelling like roadkill for hours after a ride. I hated them, and yet I somehow considered them necessary to my riding experience.
Then I saw the Bontrager gloves. Sleek, un-padded and slimline, I had to have them, despite the $49 price tag. The lack of padding was a bonus – I had developed a deep dislike for the spongy feel of padded riding gloves. The new gloves were a good fit, looked great and I didn’t miss the rank odor of my old Trek mittens, but my joy didn’t last long. Within six months, after a couple of necessary washes, the Bontrager gloves started to come apart. Finally, during Gran Fondo 2010, around mile 80, I pulled the damned things off my poor hands and threw them into the rest-stop garbage can. They barely lasted a year.
Since then, I’ve ridden without gloves. At first it was a stop-gap until my sister bought me the Rapha Goatskin Grand Tour gloves for my birthday, but as the weeks trickled past, I began to realise that I actually preferred riding in the nude. Without gloves, I could feel the road better, every nick and pebble, the tension on a steep bend, the resonance of a fast descent. More importantly, on a stiff climb, where every item of clothing becomes an extraordinary irritation, from goggles to helmet to socks, not having to feel the gloves on your hands is an enormous blessing. Trust me, next time you approach a tough hill, take off your gloves and see how much more you enjoy the climb.
So even though I still rather covet the Rapha gauntlets, I’ll figure I’m happier riding with the wind careening off the flesh of my hands. I’ve never had so much as a hint of a blister or a sore, and I don’t even know what fatigue would feel like in the palms of my hands. I have fallen out of love with gloves, if indeed I was ever in love at all.