Friday Group Ride #328

Friday Group Ride #328

Today is my wedding anniversary (16 years!!), so I’m going to torture that metaphor today. Cycling and I have been together for a long time, too. In the beginning, I tried really hard. I rode as fast as I could. I dressed the part (mostly). I was in love, and we do weird things for love like eat OG Power Bars off our handlebars, cause that’s a normal place to stick those. Malt nut anyone?

Weird things.

But the years passed, and at some point I began to perpetrate. Wearing mismatched kit is, in this already worn out literary device, the equivalent of wearing sweat pants in public. It tells everyone you just don’t care anymore. I cared, but I didn’t care, ya know? No one else seemed to care that I didn’t care, and you know where that led.

Caring even less.

There was a time when I’d pull on a pair of bibs to commute to work. These days I’ll wear baggies on a road ride. And a loose fitting shirt. There’s a chamois involved, but otherwise I look like a person, a normal person. With clicky-clacky shoes. I don’t feel I’m losing any of my previously realized incremental gains. And as we established two weeks ago that I don’t shave my legs, I might even look less creepy to civilians.

Not a personal goal, but…

Taken to its logical conclusion, my behavior turns me into Grant Petersen. Grant is so old-school he wrote a blog on paper and sold it as something called a “book.” The great conceit here, and in all the coverage of the “book,” is that old school is new school again. We have polluted cycling with our kits and our rules and our aerodynamics. Pull on your dungarees and ride your stupid bike. That’s the new thing.

Hipsters, loathsome as they may be, have made their own contributions here with ludicrous ideas like cycling-specific denim (a product which, as a tangent, makes frequent use of one of my favorite English phrases, “gusseted crotch”) and hoodies. These kids love bikes (sometimes), but also love not having to change clothes when they get wherever they are going. It’s a radical idea, but one that those of us who have spent an entire adult life carting our wardrobes around in a sweat stained backpack might just latch onto.

My words mock (lovingly), but the idea here is serious.

This week’s Group Ride asks, do you feel you HAVE to wear a full kit to ride a road bike, or any bike? Am I so complacent in my relationship with cycling that I’m not even trying to look good for it anymore? Have we reached that point of amiable companionship, cycling and me? Or am I on the cutting edge of a NEW AMERICAN CYCLING? Just behind Grant Petersen, and that old guy who wears gardening gloves on his ten-speed with the turned up bars.

Image: Michael Phams/Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Gabe

    I commute 38 miles. So yeah, bibs it is. Short easy rides are done in casual shorts.

    Couldn’t be bothered (or afford) to have all matching kits. That’s for the Rapha/Castelli/Assos types.

    1. Peter

      I do a 30 mile commute and that’s my stance too–bibs are necessary. If I could pull of a sub-10 commute I’d probably just do the ride-share bikes and call it.

      That said, I match everything in my kit. It’s how I carry myself in all other facets of my life, so the carry-over was inevitable.

  2. Barry Adam Johnson

    When you do not live by Rule #12 and you just have a road bike, you rarely ride in anything but kit. I guess I need a baggies and jeans bike!

  3. MikeG

    I used to commute about 15 miles to the local park & ride that had bike lockers. I wore full kit since I had several, and it was cooler riding home in the evening (important in PHX!). At least I did until an elderly Asian lady at the bus stopped looked at me and said “You might as well be naked!”. So to offend less, I switched to baggies over bike shorts and a tech-T. At least I now know why no one wanted to sit by “the scary bike guy” on the bus (not a bad thing on a city bus, mind you).

  4. Aar

    I tell myself I ride in Lycra due to the saddle and the pockets. All of my shorts are full black. If a brightly colored jersey over black shorts is a matching kit, I’ve ridden in something else once in 30 years. I always replace my kit when it wears out. Then again, I’ve never cared much about being one of the cool kids nor hip. 😉

  5. Les.B.

    Always wear bibs on the road bike. For comfort and convenience. When I wear one of my DeRosa jerseys then the jersey matches the bike, not the bibs.

  6. Dave

    Prior to retirement last year, I commuted to work in my US Army uniform for 6+ years at FT Campbell. Granted, the ride was less than 1.5 miles!

  7. Margaret

    Must still be in the honeymoon phase of the relationship as I ride with a full matching kit. It’s really a nice one and quite comfortable.

  8. David

    Always ride to work in kit (I’ve only got black bibs, so matching to the Jersey isn’t an issue) on a road bike. Why should I be uncomfortable? Admittedly I have a bit of an advantage- I’m an anesthesiologist, so I get to work, take a shower in the OR locker room, and since I can grab pair of scrubs I don’t have to consider bringing clothes along to change into.

  9. winky

    Full kit on my commute. Matching club kit, or black bibs and any jersey. I keep my work clothes at the office and have them laundered downtown just across the road. Our office has showers.

  10. GL

    Well, since my commute is a flat 2 miles, I wear whatever I am wearing to work (shorts or jeans and a tee shirt) and sneakers. Lately I have been riding my road bike, so it’s sneakers on SPDs, which is managable for a short distance. We have indoor secure bike parking, so no lock needed.

    When out for a fun or training ride, it’s always a kit, either black or team shorts with matching jersey. No mismatched shorts.

    Only rides where I am clipped in count in my tracking system.

  11. Lyford

    I have plain black shorts/bibs and logo-free (as much as one can these days) jerseys. Matching is not a concern. I wear bike jerseys instead of t- shirts because I like the pockets.

  12. Hoshie99

    It depends on length and type of ride.

    i appreciate nicely designed gear on my typical club rides but am also happy just cruising around on a 25 year old bridgestone mb-3 (Grant designed!) that has a 3rd life as a city bike when headed to the park w/ my daughter.


  13. Tom in Albany

    When I ride to work, it’s at least 15 miles and could be 23. And then, it’s 11 on the way home. It’s exercise, not a true commute. So, I kit up. When I ride with my kids, I wear what I’ve got on. You can’t take the chance they’ll change their minds during a wait or when they see what Daddy’s wearing LOL

  14. Calvin

    The sponsors keep me full of kit. I match all rides down to the socks and gloves… 60 mile (round trip) commute, local group ride, or solo training. I’m always flying the current colors.
    When the stuff doesn’t come free, I’ll be scraping by with any random piece of clean clothing I can find (it will still be a pair of bibs with a good chamois).

  15. Geoffrey Knobl

    I don’t mind wearing regular clothes, not bike stuff, on rides but only to the extent that I don’t want to sweat too much in it. ‘Cause if I do, it’ll have to be washed right away when I finish. And it wears in places or causes heat rash when my bike clothes don’t. I don’t usually go flat out on my commute to work because then I’ll sweat too much. And there’s no place to shower at work because the campus doesn’t really think through this alternate commuting thing, unfortunately. So, on humid summer days, I take an extra shirt with me to change into. If I wore my bike clothes, well some of them are permanently stinky anyway and that’s a lot of extra stuff to carry around every commute. Plus, with no showers (and lockers), there’s no place to keep enough spare clothes.

    Riding easily on a social ride is another thing. I LIKE that the bike clothes set us apart. It makes us easier to see too. I have ridden in regular clothes and if the pace is truly social, well, I don’t sweat much so it’s okay but I still try to use the bike clothes for the reason I just stated.

    About the only time I use my regular clothes on a ride is when I have to make a short, local trip to do or get something small. A grocery store and a few shops nearby make this happen several times a year but not often.

  16. Michael

    My commute is a bit over 2 miles, so I wear my clothes for work, and my only cycling-related accoutrement is the pants tie at my ankle. I figure that about 30 minutes is about the ride length where a chamois becomes necessary. A jersey – the pockets are handy and I wear them even when riding in the dirt because I hate carrying backpacks. On a bike tour, though, where I have all sorts of gear and bags and don’t need the pockets, I often ride in any athletic-material t-shirt I have handy. So I don’t think Robot is off track in any way – match what you wear to what you are doing, so that you are comfortable.

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