Years ago, I never imagined wearing lycra. Never imagined wearing tight, aero clothing. Never imagined there was any benefit.
I sometimes wore baggy, mountain bike style shorts, even on a road bike. And, I had a pair of cycling liners I might have worn under pants. Oh. I did have a pair of wool tights. With suspenders. Remember those. But bibs? Why would I want to wear them? And tight jerseys? Never. I like baggy clothing. Clothing that doesn’t restrict. Clothing that hides imperfections. Tight clothing is for the young with chiselled abs, quads, and butts.
I remember the first pair of bibs I purchased. A black pair with a matching jersey. Size large. I made certain they weren’t tight. Especially the jersey. I needed room to move. To stretch. Everyone teased me. Who do you think you are? A racer? Are you joining the tour next year? I was ridiculed at home, and everywhere else.
That was a decade, or more, ago. How things have changed. Now, I wear little else. Even when I’m not cycling. I don’t have that chiselled look. No, I have that older, rounder look. But who cares. Bibs are comfortable. They stay up. Don’t cut into my waist when bent over the bars. And, they stretch when I move. The jerseys may be tight, but they too move with me, and feel like I have nothing on. More importantly, they don’t catch the wind like a spinnaker, the way my clothes used to.
Now when I travel, I pack more cycle clothing than I do casual wear. I cycle when I travel, and I need the right clothing. And, I need a lot of it. I cycle a lot. Maybe twice a day. And, I don’t always have a washing machine on hand. I need a lot. Bibs. Jerseys. Socks. Caps. Arm warmers. Leg warmers. Wind jacket. Rain jacket. Long fingered gloves. Short fingered gloves. Booties. I need clothing for all weather conditions. And, the kits have to match. They have to be colour co-ordinated. Socks, bibs, and jerseys have to compliment one another. And, the bike.
I know. You’re laughing. I’m nothing more than a fashionista. A slave to clothing. No. Not at all. Cycling kits are practical. First of all, they are comfortable. That is the most important consideration. If you are going to spend hours on a bike, you need to be comfortable. Second, they are aerodynamic. They don’t catch the wind like a proverbial spinnaker. They make the cyclist more efficient, enabling the him (or her) to travel faster, more easily in all conditions. And, most importantly, they look good. If you look like a cyclist, you are more likely to ride like one as well.
These days, I would never consider riding without a proper kit. I’m a road cyclist, and I want to look like one, even if I can’t ride with the tour 😂