I have a slight obsession with footwear, which stems way back to my football days when I had numerous pairs of boots each season (or the collection of shoes in my closet, or the heels under my desk at work, etc). With cycling, this fetish has reincarnated itself in cycling socks. Below are some of my favourites and a few rules to adhere to when choosing socks for your morning ride.
First of all, as a cyclist and potentially as a human being, you must wear socks. Naked feet in cycling shoes is potentially worse than six year old white knicks worn in the rain. It is recognised that those strange people who engage in “triathlon” tend to neglect to wear socks, but do you really want to be seen to be a triathlete?
Secondly, and importantly, socks draw attention to your feet and your calves. If you have great legs, you have the right, if not the obligation, to wear amazing tall length socks. If you have cankles or hairy legs please be discreet.
As per the Rules, ideal sock height is quoted as being “Not too long and not too short”. How exactly does this translate?
– If the socks are so low they cannot be seen, please refer to the above. Either get some proper socks or give up cycling, it’s pretty simple.
– Ankle or “anklet” socks are the property of your 12 year old daughter. Please give them back, as she needs them for her PE class tomorrow afternoon.
– Short socks, made popular by the MTB brethren many years ago, are slowly being weeded out of clubs and races everywhere. Take this as your warning.
– Business socks will be allowed, especially when getting down to business, as length is generally in line with regulation
– Those STUPID calf guard / compression things that go up to your knee ARE WRONG. Be prepare to be heckled if you wear these riding a bike.
– In terms of length, aim for where the rounded bit of the calf meets the achilles. As discussed below, the better the rider and the better the legs, the higher you can go (to a point known as “cutoff”).
What about the socks themselves? What can you wear and what will cause grievous harm to your reputation? What do you do in extremely cold or rainy weather?
– They must be EQUAL in height, they must MATCH and they must be free from stains and holes (unless of course you get mud on them duirng the course of a MTB or CX ride)
– Tight socks are one of life’s little pleasures, like Cookie Dough and Tim Tams. Go on. Buy some.
– Merino socks are fine. Fluffy wooly socks are not, unless your name is Russell Coight and you are driving a 4wd in the desert.
– Booties rock. As long as careful consideration into length, brand and colour is taken. Oversocks are also totally cool, but must remain “fresh” and clean at all times. Toe covers, as long as they are subtle and barely noticeable, are allowed.
When choosing socks, you need to consider colour and/or pattern. The rules will allow any colour, however;
– As a general rule for the cyclist new to sock selection and outfit coordination, black shoes/black socks and white shoes/white socks is a safe bet. You can also try the inverse to start getting a little experimental.
– If you are a man or woman of style, socks can be used to compliment or provide juxtaposition to an outfit.
– The better rider you are, the more you can get away with. Don’t think you can wear awesome socks and then get dropped on a bunch ride. Do your socks justice.