I know people who don’t wear T-shirts. They don’t make sense to me in the way that vegans don’t make sense to me. I get that they stand for something, that they have set high standards for themselves, but cool T-shirts are fun, full stop. Not wearing T-shirts, ever, is missing out on good-natured, low-key fun. Veganism is the same thing to me. Life without cheese—real cheese, not that imitation stuff—is something approaching pointless.
Me? I love a great T-shirt. And because I have a job that really never requires a suit or tie, let alone both, I can wear T-shirts just about every day. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve got plenty of stylish button-down shirts, stuff that makes me look entirely more presentable (not to mention professional) than any T-shirt ever will. But I live in California, which is laid-back the way George Clooney is cool. It’s as if laid-back hadn’t been invented until there was California; same thing for cool.
I’ve mentioned previously that the T-shirts we sell here on RKP were driven by entirely selfish concerns. They are shirts I wanted to wear, plain and simple. That a few hundred other people like them enough to buy one and (hopefully) wear it is what happens when luck collides with fun. Bam.
Reviewing T-shirts is reality-show lame, but with it being Christmas and all, I thought it would be fun to give a nod to some designs out there that have caught my eye of late. First up are a couple of designs from Stomach of Anger. As you have probably noticed, they are advertisers here on RKP. And judging from the out-clicks the ad has gotten, a great many of you have at least checked out their web site. I have to admit I was completely unfamiliar with them prior to them reaching out to advertise. I went and looked through their offerings and nearly laughed out loud when I saw the design above.
I like this Wiggins design because it riffs on another darling of England, The Who. It’s got a lot of my favorite qualities in a T-shirt: It is carried by an eye-catching design, depends on a certain amount of insider knowledge to make sense and most of all, it’s playful. And, of course, it’s a chance to make a statement about your views on your loves, or life in general. What’s not to like?
Of course, some shirts are less playful than just out-and-out irreverent, such as this shirt featuring Floyd Landis in a Santa Claus hat accompanied by his now-famous quote: “At some point people have to tell their kids that Santa Claus isn’t real.” It is perhaps one of the few ways I’ve seen to laugh at the fallout subsequent to the USADA Reasoned Decision.
Speaking of irreverent, the design above is being offered by Gage+Desoto. It was designed by the game studio Pajamahouse and takes a swipe at global warming. After all, if there’s no sea ice, the best option that polar bears, penguins and seals may have is the bicycle. I wish they had this in kids’ sizes; I’d get one for my son.
No one takes irreverence more seriously than the artists at Kukuxumusu (say Koo-koo-choo-moo-soo). They’re a Basque company I first ran across close to 10 years ago when riding through the Pyrenees. Many of their shirts use recurring themes; some play (prey?) on the longstanding tensions between the French and the Spanish, with the French portrayed as frogs with bulging eyes and the Spanish characterized as bulls. Others take swipes at the Catholic church for the sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the church worldwide.
Recently, Kukuxumusu released its first cycling-themed shirt. In celebration of this year’s Vuelta start in Pamplona, the company teamed up with Miguel Indurain to offer a shirt that celebrated cycling. Some of their designs (particularly the ones celebrating the Festival of San Fermin) are like something straight out of Richard Scarry’s children’s books, with a cast of dozens and a great many ridiculous things worth noticing, if only you slow down enough to really look.
One of these days I’m going to talk them into doing a design for RKP. I have no idea how I’ll do this, or what subject might be used as it’s starting point, but I love what they do too much to give up.
Much to my chagrin, some of the most read pieces on Red Kite Prayer are the product reviews. No matter that I sweat blood into my keyboard every week over each post I write. I understand. Not only do regular RKP readers click on links to product reviews and express their very wise and considered opinions, but people doing web searches, who are simply curious about those very same products, who may never have even heard of RKP, will end up here as well.
So, it doesn’t hurt my feelings that the posts concerning new wheelsets or chamois creams get more attention than my garbled, personal rantings about riding my bike up a steep hill. Chamois cream is compelling. I get it.
But there’s so much talk now of pay-to-play advertising in the cycling industry, it got me thinking. What bike products and people would I recommend unreservedly? Who do I want to see succeed? What about a little free publicity?
I don’t know about you, but I start every day with a cup or four of coffee. Two cups before I leave the house. One upon arrival at work. Two more in the afternoon. It’s both too much and just enough. And, coffee and cycling go together like asses and chamois cream, so I recommend High Cadence Coffee.
High Cadence manages two pretty spectacular tricks at the same time. First, the single-source and small-batch roasted beans make fantastic coffee. The Gavia Espresso will fix more or less any problem I have, even in small doses. Second, High Cadence donates $0.15 of every sales dollar to support and promote women’s cycling. What? You mean I get a great cup of coffee AND I support cycling? Yes, and yes. Jeff Ernst, who runs High Cadence, as well as the Ciclirati website, sent me a free bag of coffee once, just because. I recommend the coffee because it’s good and it’s good for cycling though.
I don’t know anyone at all who works at NiteRider. No one. But I ride home every night in a cone of daylight supplied by my NiteRider MiNewt 600 headlight. I love that light. It’s bright. It runs long on a single, USB charge, and it weighs nothing. I can’t imagine a better headlight. Of course, the name “MiNewt 650″ is goofy. 600 refers to the lumen output, which is fine, but “MiNewt?” Great light. Bad name.
My favorite t-shirt, maybe ever, is this one. Mike Spriggs, the man behind Gage+DeSoto, is the sort of guy who pops up here there and everywhere in the cycling world. When he’s not silk-screening the coolest velo-themed t-shirts on the internet, he’s working with Rapha or the Red Hook Criterium or, I don’t know what else. I don’t want to web-stalk him to find out.
This week’s Group Ride is all about FREE PUBLICITY! What people, places or things do you recommend to other cyclists? Who are the good guys? What are the indispensables?
Finally, this is Friday Group Ride #100. We’ve done this 100 times. It boggles the mind. Just wanted to take half-a-sec here to say thanks to everyone who has come along on the ride.
Follow me on Twitter @thebicyclerobot!