A new season means new kit. Depending on a few factors such as when you finalize sponsors, when your race season starts and how proficient your team’s leadership is at herding cats to get the order in, and of course, how long your clothing company really takes to get the clothing made, you may be receiving your new uniform anywhere from January to April.
Often times, I can barely remember what I ordered, how many bibs, jerseys—did I order a new vest this year—clothing orders vary when, unlike the PROs, you pay your own way.
The arrival of a new kit is one of those events like Christmas or seeing the UPS driver—the anticipation can leave you salivating like a dog who has just heard the can opener. No matter who the manufacturer is, when I tear the bag open on each piece there is a smell that emerges, part men’s department, part fabric softener, that excites my brain the way movie previews did when I was 12.
No matter what hour of the day it is and whether I’ve ridden that day or now, I have to try on my new duds. It always starts the same way: I tell myself I’m not going to try it all on, that I’ll just check out the gloves or arm warmers (don’t ask why), but soon enough, I’m in the bedroom undressing so I can see how everything fits.
And whether I’m alone or not, the very next move is mugging for the mirror. I check the fit of the bibs, the drape of the jersey over my shoulders, its length, the length of the arm warmers, the color matching of the colored Lycra to the sublimated Lycra. I even check how low the jersey falls over the butt panel.
I confess: I don’t preen this much when wearing my tuxedo.
Naturally, I can’t wear the kit out on a ride too soon. Whether I’m headed for a recovery ride on my own or out to join the biggest of the local group rides, I’m decked out in the full ensemble. And it is upon exiting my driveway that I’m reminded of something I forget each and every blasted year. New bibs are slippery on a saddle. Sitting on the saddle in new bibs is like trying to run barefoot on an ice rink.
That may be the key to my favorite part of new clothing. I’m happiest when the look is still new enough to be fresh in the peloton, but the bibs have enough wear to stay put in the saddle, which is to say when my new clothing isn’t brand new, but almost new.