The above photo is an example of a properly fitting kit as demonstrated by both my wife and I. I am in the original club kit, my wife is sporting Pearl Izumi bibs because, well, she doesn’t appreciate having to completely strip down to tend to nature during a ride.
Please note the tight fit of the cycling jersey. This is not absolutely necessary, especially if you weigh more than 200 pounds or don’t like tight fitting garments. On the other hand, dear God in Heaven, what is completely unacceptable is a jersey that sags so much it covers your butt and acts as a mud guard for you rear wheel because you’ve stuffed 45 pounds of crap that you couldn’t possibly need on a 2,000 mile camping/cycling trip, let alone a 30 mile bike ride, in the back pockets.
If you happen to be one of those far too numerous few who suffer the delusion that this is okay, my condolences. Simply put, you look like a doofus who lacks the skill it takes to pick out a shirt. Here is another popular photo I like to use because I look quite smashing actually, but it illustrates my point:
This photo was taken on final day of a four day, 385 mile cross-state tour (we had about 40 miles left). Now, the bottle cage and tool keg on the back of the bike are arguably not cool, and I’ll concede that (it’s since been sent to my shop bench where it will collect dust for eternity – it’s still better than a saddle bag though). Please notice my pockets. In the right I have my phone. Nowadays, in the middle pocket I carry a pouch that contains my tire irons, a spare tube, a CO2 cartridge, some cash and a few other odds and ends. In my left I carry my onboard fuel, just in case. Note, please, how the jersey fits though.
Unlike in OJ’s case, a proper fit is a good thing.
Look, it would be easy to point an accusatory finger at me for trying to play Captain Obvious, especially in the humorous way I chose to do so, but don’t. Because I’m right. And you know it. Deep down, you know it.
Next we have the helmet. Look, they come in three sizes. Pick the right one. I wear a medium. A large is too big for my melon and it looks hilarious. Also, $50-$100 is a steep but decent price to pay for a good looking helmet. A Finding Nemo cap may only cost ten bucks but I guarantee you, it’ll look funny as hell with your Sky kit. Also, please refrain from those cheap helmets with the 3″ thick foam. You look like a mushroom. A cheap, funny lookin’ mushroom. They may pass the safety test, but c’mon, man. You’re not ten years-old. Have a little dignity, would ya?
Another fabulous cycling fashion faux pas is the thread bare and/or droopy cycling shorts. All things considered, it’s most important that you ride. Truer words have never been written. However, you’ve worked long and hard on those guns! Don’t let their awesomeness be spoiled by droopy or ill-fitting cycling shorts.
Finally, a note for the rotund. Dude, cycling is a skinny person’s pro sport. Cycling is also a sport for anyone, regardless of body type. If you can clip in, you can go. However, your jersey shall be big enough so that your bare gut and the waist band of the shorts/bibs is completely covered. We’ve all seen the internet photo of the big fella in the Lampre kit. Don’t be that guy or girl! Don’t do it. It doesn’t matter that you’re big, until it looks like you bought your kit at the Baby Gap.
Now this is where this gets interesting. The photo above is at the finish of our second day’s ride (53 miles). While we each look a little spent, it was obviously sunny and it was quite warm, we all still look quite good in our kit. No droopy shorts, no sagging jerseys.
A proper fitting kit will have you looking almost as good at the end of a ride as you did when you took off. Cycling can be an elegant sport when the proper clothing is worn. Ride hard my friends, and look good.
Well, you can’t win them all. I lobbied like a Congressman for a “B” Group on Tuesday nights. I’m trying, of course, to look out for those on or below the bubble. Those who show up every Tuesday night, just to get dropped in the first eight miles to be relegated to riding all the way back alone.
I’m also looking out for me at the same time.
I have no desire to be as fast as a Cat 2 or 3 racer and our Club ride has quickly devolved into a race rather than a club ride. At the heart of this mess, I can hang on as long as I want – if I don’t take any turns up front. In other words, if I treat it like a race and stay back, I have no problem holding on as long as I want.
The other side of that is my hatred of knowing that I’m not doing my fair share of the work. I hate feeling like a leech. I always end up going to the front to take three or more turns but I end up burning myself out and falling off the back. There’s usually only one or two “B” riders out of a dozen who can last longer than I do if we’re all taking our turns. Thus, the BS of hiding. Hiding is, for the most part, bullshit. There are indeed those who have earned the right to do so but I don’t consider myself one of them and therein lies the rub…..
Yesterday evening, a couple of the powers that be decided most of the B riders would choose to ride with the A’s even if it meant getting dropped so they decided we should just call a few intersections “neutral zones” so the group doesn’t get split up.
This led me to the conclusion that I’d simply treat the club ride as a race like everyone else does – I decided to hide in the back. With the lack of wind, we were hammering out a 24-25 mph average and I had no problem keeping up (though we did stay under the serious speed (29+ mph). Then one of the women who was counting on there being a “B” ride announced that she was out of gas about 10 miles in. It was my fault she showed up and I had plenty left in the tank so I fell off the back to pull her around the course. Shortly after I went, several of my friends dropped as well so I caught her up to that group and we formed a decent eight-person B ride.
We ended up rolling in with a 21.5 mph average, my conscience was clear and all of us B folks got to do our fair share anyway. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why this is so difficult but in the end, I roll with my friends so I just have to do what I can and let the rest work out in the wash.
Next week I’ll be taking a few turns up front though… Hiding the whole time was too easy. Never a dull moment. I think the trick will come down to being artful about hiding. Fade to the back at intersections but work myself up to the front from time to time until a few miles before the hills when I can sit at the back until we get through the hills. This has worked for me in the past, I just hated hiding even that much. So be it.