Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Ramblings from the saddle - Cycle Fashion

It's often on a bike ride I get ideas for my blog. My thoughts flit and change throughout a ride and I'd be hard pressed to tell you exactly what I think of all the time. But this is one I'm sure many of you can relate to. Fashion.
I'm not talking just about how bikes have changed but more how we dress for the occasion. Take me for instance. I'll commute to work on my road bike. I'll dress in my sky team lycra black helmet blue shoes. But unbeknown to the general populous I am making a fashion faux pas. My shoes are mtb shoes, full treaded with studs included. My helmet also betrays my origins as it has a peak. This is just not the done thing in the world of roadies but it begs the answer,


I'd agree it doesn't give as good a range of vision as you have to crane your neck to look further up the road but it seems its been outcast for much more deeper reasons than this.  Roadies v Mtbers, or stiffbacks v dossers depending on which camp you are from. Id consider myself both so care very little what others may think, but come on its got to be better than wearing a cycle cap under your helmet. Who the hell made that seem an acceptable alternative?

I should have better things to comment on but the trend for longer and longer socks seems to be to the point of just looking silly, they stretch well beyond 5 inches. I guess to me its like someone wearing socks with sandals, it doesn't look right. Don't even get me started on compression socks. You know the ones that go up to your knees. Think wearing tights but showing your knees. Practical yes, stupid looking.........(?)

 Lycra is another strange thing. To the majority of non cycle folk we look plain stupid its practical implications not considered and they mock us when our backs are turned. Yet we think we look fairly cool in matching regalia, our team or club colours.  There is a trend now that has rebelled over the tight figure hugging clothes.  So here's me again out in the forest dressed in the same kit as before but this time on my mtb.  I'm muddy after a few hours ride and pull into the parking area to have a break.  There is a usual mix of guys there with there bikes making ready to ride.  Baggy shorts, knee and elbow armour, casual jerseys and loaded hydration packs are the order of the day.  These guys aren't riding downhill but are out for the same kind of ride I've just done.  This is these days the more typical kit of the average UK mountain biker.

I feel a little out of place..........

In fairness I will also ride with baggies  when in the company of others but find for most riding that its just not as practical.  But for that one moment I felt like a roadie in the woods and not supposed to be there.  It is very apparent that fashion amongst cyclists is more and more pushed to the corners of which ever style of bike you ride.  Dare you care and just turn up in what you want?  And what if your riding is cyclocross.  Which camp do you ride for? 

I'm tempted to show up on a road club run in my baggies and peaked helmet with Camelbak and see their reaction...........

Talking of which, why is riding with a hydration pack for 60miles acceptable in mtbing and not in road cycling.  Has the branch of off road cyclists evolved so much leaving the unaccepting and slow changing roadies behind.  Or have mountain bikers evolved into a more laxed form of riding, moving away from the heat rate monitors and interval sessions, and their fashion just reflects this?

People do tend to stare if you turn up in a bar in lycra...........

At the end of the day I may baulk at weird fashion (you long socked wearers are marked!) but I shall continue to ride and wear what I want, a hybrid of both worlds.  If you want to mock then do so but just remember I'll still ride fast no matter what.



Don't even get me started! The funny thing is that since cycling is a male-dominated sport, I often get a good giggle over the fact that the pressure to look just right is toughest on the guys. I feel sorry for the poor guys that race multiple disciplines - do you shave your legs for road and then not fit in with the mountain men? And the poor crossers - stuck somewhere in the middle. One local CX rider embodies this: he is covered head-to-toe in tattoos, sports a Grizzly Adams long beard (fulfilling the mountain/hipster requirements) but rides a blingy carbon CX bike with roadie approved shaved legs...must be so confusing!

Were you aware that the UCI has actually banned knee-high socks? Apparently you aren't alone in your opinions of tall socks. The point of it was to cut down on compression wear (although I personally doubt that it gives that much competitive advantage). However, the many of the girl 'crossers in my area were taken aback, because we love tall socks for non-compression reasons. I guess the practical application is that tall socks add a little extra warmth in medium-cold temperatures and allow you to go bit longer without putting on knee or leg warmers that like to slip down during dismounts and remounts. The non-practical application is that there is an unspoken competition over who can wear the coolest/most ridiculous socks. Luckily, the rule only applies to UCI elite races, so the sock competition will go on for the regular season. I, for one, have already been compiling an arsenal in my bottom drawer over the off-season.

I wonder though Lindsay if you did other branches of cycling your socks would be condemned? I'm quite curious as to how cool/ridiculous yours are now!!

I too am a wearer of the high knee socks when I mountain bike. They keep your legs from getting scratched to hell by briars AND they keep poison ivy off of your legs. Not to mention they keep the mud and dirt off most of your legs which makes post ride clean up easier (keeps more mud off of your street clothes and out of your car.) I hope this new UCI rule doesn't kill the wearing of knee socks because I also think girls look super cute in crazy socks. LONG LIVE THE KNEE SOCKS!!!

Right well you ladies are starting to make me feel like a long sock kill joy! Long socks though have always been more acceptable on women. You only have to look at old school uniforms with skirts and long socks. But my question would be to any of you, what would you think to a man wearing a pair?

I'm 50 this year and despite having a reasonable BMI for my age I have not worn Lycra since my late 20's; this is my small offering to the world of modesty and I only wish that other males of my generation would follow suit. However, I have no qualms whatsoever in wearing any combination of non-Lycra cycling and non-cycling apparel when out on the bike. Whether I'm out on the Brompton or the road bike, Decathlon ski top with humvees and SPD sandals are my garments of choice this season. I just need to pluck up enough courage to add some long socks into the mix;)

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