An increasing number of people are coming to me to ask why cyclists look so stupid. The first few I answered with a nod and a chuckle. The next few I took more seriously (and mostly agreed with, but caveated that most specialty sport ensembles look silly to normal people). Then finally, I changed the way I dress on the bike.
To be clear, I don’t much mind looking silly to other people. I’m sorta used to it. But I’m also willing to consider the ways I do things and change them for the better (or more reasonable) when it makes sense.
For example, I wonder how often I really need to wear a cycling jersey. My overarching experience of wearing cycling jerseys is that they’re sweaty. I’m a sweaty guy, and tight clothing exacerbates my perspiration challenges. On long rides, a jersey can make sense for pocket configuration, but on short rides, a gauzy shirt (maybe a pirate shirt) makes more sense. My commutes all happen in standard athletic type shirts now.
The good news is that the predicating factor for the conversations I’ve been having is a proliferation of cyclists at all the traffic lights in town. Some infrastructure changes have improved the town’s through put, and now Saturday mornings on Main Street look like the Etape du Burbs.
Since people have been approaching me about how my people look, I’ve paid extra attention. Roadies, we should admit, really do adhere to pretty strict costume guidelines that produce a sort of terrestrial astronaut look. Is the uniform functional or is it mainly a signifier to other in-group members that we’re ok, wink, wink, unsmiling nod.
I kid, because I love.
This week’s Group Ride asks, is the American conception of cycling too rigid? Is our American cycling “uniform” alienating possible cyclists by making it seem too weird or too involved to ride a bike? Has how you dress on the bike changed at all over the years? Do people ever ask you these insulting questions?