Saturday, May 30, 2009

This is appropriate cycling clothing..

My local LBS has this great display at the front of their shop. It is a manequin, dressed in jeans, a shirt and flannel, with a sign on it which says "This is appropriate cycling clothing". That might seem like an obvious statement to some, but it was that realization that transformed cycling from a recreational sport for me to a mode of transportation.

I have been mountain biking for 15 years, and occasionally rode into work over that time, but it was really three years ago when I built up my fixie that I made the transition to using my bike as my primary mode of transportation. The biggest part to making that happen was realizing that I didn't need a shower at the other end of my ride, I didn't even need a bathroom. I just needed to roll up my pants and get on with it.

I ride to work virtually every day, and although not a particularly long route (~3 miles) it does have 400 feet of climbing in it, and I'm doing it on a 48/16 fixie. And I do it every day in my street clothes and the same shoes I wear all day long. I don't need to wash an extra set of clothes every week because my cycling clothes ARE my street clothes. I don't need to carry any toiletries in my backpack because I don't NEED them, I arrive at work, sit down and get to it.

Once you make that transition, that riding doesn't require extra gear, or extra conveniences, then suddenly your bike becomes your car. You can bike to your friend's house across the city for a party just as you would drive over. You can bike to dates, you can bike to shows, you can bike to the grocery store, all of these without any extra planning or fuss.

Now I admit we might not all work in positions where you can get away with jeans and a t-shirt, but a great many of us do, and a great many more could run their errands this way.

So keep that lycra in the closet now and then and just hop on your bike. You'll be amazed just how doable it is, and how much more frequently you'll find yourself riding instead of driving.


Ted Diamond said...

Agreed, 100%.

When I was in Ashland, I rode around in street clothes. Nominally because we weren't supposed to wear synthetics to class (fire hazard), and there really wasn't a convenient place to change; but mostly because everyone else did.

It's not something I am used to, but it was fine. It weaves cycling into the fabric of everyday life (pretty nice metaphor, huh?!). When you wear lycra, you are a cyclist, and you cycle, and your purpose is cycling, and everything else is secondary. When you wear street clothes, you're just going about your everyday business, and two wheels happen to be the way you get around.

All that said, because of how I got into cycling, I have a comfort with and affinity for lycra. It's a habit I just can't seem to break.

Rodrick Megraw said...

I've struggled to find some everyday biking wear that's comfortable yet says "I'm going to work" not "I'm going for a work-out". This winter I settled on rolled-up jeans over padded cycling shorts, and some kind of t-shirt (preferably synthetic, but sometimes cotton depending on my laundry situation). Then usually some kind of cycling jacket, weight depending on the weather.

For footwear, MTB shoes with clipless pedals. I would love to eliminate the clipless pedals and wear shoes that are better for walking, but they simply are more secure and I feel a lot safer knowing I won't slip off when I'm trying to avoid getting hit by a dump truck.

I highly recommend panniers for around town transportation; you can carry heavier stuff more comfortably and without the back sweat.

Ted Diamond said...

But you know, there is something to said for having a good full wardrobe of lycra. Spandex for every occasion. Wouldn't it be great to have formal lycra, so you could ride to that wedding or charity ball? Dark, somber lycra you could wear to funerals? Casual lycra, for that evening soiree on the patio? But most important, lycra PJ's, for 24-hour marathon rides. Preferably with footsies (cut out on the bottom for clips, of course)

Nic Pottier said...

There are some comfy (for walking) cycling shoes out there which take clips. I agree that clipless are way more functional so that's what I ride. I wear the same shoes all day that I ride in and they are fine. Of course they are super soft and not the best choice for your next crit, but they work great for commuting and are passable in most social situations.

My strategy for the spring/fall when it is raining is a lightweight cycling shell and shell pants that I can slap over my jeans. That seems to get the job done with minimal effort.

Scott from Sacramento said...

I've never even owned any spandex, and bicycling has been my primary form of transporation for almost 15 years. As long as you can avoid greasing/catching your pantleg, you're good. I've ridden to several weddings while wearing a suit - no big deal. I don't know the brand name of my pedals (my bike's a frankenstein) but they grip my street shoes just fine. They're a little rough on leather-soled dress shoes, but not too bad. My only cycling clothing is shell jacket & pants to wear over my clothes when the rain is heavy. (These items were a gift from my old boss; before that I wore a trenchcoat in the rain.)

Pulverized Concepts said...

This is a great subject. Unless it's very warm, I wear knickers and knee socks and whatever. Any kind of shirt and/or jacket. Most of my knickers (plus fours) are adapted from surplus military pants. They're great for that and can be turned down to have the length of regular trousers. I like striped knee socks so a lot of them come from the women's department. I prefer clipless pedals but a couple of my bikes don't have them so there are other options for footwear.

Anyway, if people can go around wearing football jerseys, hockey sweaters, and totally bizarre trainers, what's wrong with plus fours?

Theresa said...

I would agree if I had a shorter daily bike ride. 20 miles from Seattle to the east side and back gets me super sweaty and gross. I used to ride in jeans all the time and I've ruined 2 of my favorite pairs of jeans from the movement of my upper legs near the seat for biking in them the last year. D: I have huge lady thighs though, and a lot to learn about biking.

It sucks because my jeans are actually more comfortable than the spandexy stuff.

A plus side to spandex is it takes way less time in the dryer (none). So once you get home you can just hand-wash it or toss it in the washer and you're done. Jeans take so long to wash and can get expensive if you're commuting long distances every day.

My vote, when you're riding long distances, is to wear jeans but not your favorite jeans.

R.I.P. Joe's 'Honey' Curvy Fit Stretch Jeans

Nice article!

Phil Evans said...

No chamois-less shorts touch the saddle on my Ron Cooper, but I do ride my old Raleigh SuperCourse in jeans all the time. I'm hoping to build a choppe-- then I'm going to need a black leather vest and a metal helmet with the pointy doo-dad (and better get going on a waxed, curly-at-the-tips mustache)

ehmeelu said...

I applaud the sentiment - everyday clothes are definitely biking clothes . . . but jeans? I prefer skirts and heels :-)

big jonny said...

What's with the rearward facing bar end in that photo?