Looking good on the bike comes naturally to some and not so to others. As cyclists, we are already misunderstood creatures – the general population don’t get why we wear Lycra and our partners probably don’t get why we wear bib-knicks (or like mine, likens you to a little Mexican wrestler). Let’s not make the issue worse by looking like complete clowns. Instead, follow a few simple rules around what you should and should not wear while riding your bike.
In contrast to some other sports, like football or basketball, team kit is for team riders only. If your name is Simon Gerrans, you can wear an Orica GreenEdge kit. If your name is Richie Porte, you can wear a Sky kit. If you ride for a team, go for it, otherwise steer clear. This rule also extends to National jerseys – you can only wear the stripes if you earn them. Sorry to break it to you every Englishman that rides a bike, but you are not actually Bradley Wiggins.
At a very minimum, your jersey should be matching your shorts – keeping in mind that most things match plain black. Worst case scenario is mixing team kits (breaking two rules at once) – I have actually witnessed someone mix an light blue Astana jersey with green Cannondale shorts. I was too busy throwing myself under the nearest car to take a photo.
I have previously written a very in-depth guide to socks, which you can read by clicking here. In summary, a tall sock is ideal and a mid-height sock is a pass mark. Ankle socks, knee high socks, compression socks and fluffy woollen socks are all frowned upon. Not wearing socks, a common practice by triathletes (strange human beings) is inexcusable.
One for the banned list. Your jerseys must ALWAYS have sleeves. They can be short or long (winter only), but your upper arm is always to remain covered. Riding in hot temperatures is not an excuse either – there are plenty of lightweight options available. I don’t see this very commonly on men, but I do see a lot of female upper arms. Trying to use your tan lines to give the impression of sleeves (as pictured) is only going to end in tears.
I could almost write as much about leg warmers as I did about socks, so I will attempt to summarise. Firstly, knee warmers are preferable to leg warmers, which should only be worn in extreme climates (i.e. riding in a blizzard up the French Alps, or in Canberra in winter). As with all kit, make sure the leg warmers match your shorts (black and black is the safest bet). Unless you are a team rider and are contracted to do so, do not EVER wear bright red, yellow or blue leg warmers. Always ensure the warmer sits under the short and that there is no gap between the two (the skin must never show – keep that gap closed).
This is really quite simple – don’t wear plastic bags as overshoes. I have heard of some cultures (the English in particular) placing plastic or tin foil on the inside of shoes, which is acceptable if evidence is never sighted. When looking to prevent wind or rain from infiltrating your shoes, your best bet is to buy some proper overshoes that are going to match your kit. Oversocks are cool too – just keep them clean!
Following on from the August List of Awesome Things, which included the very popular Chain Pig, here are some of my favourite accessories or kit I have either discovered or bought during September.
1. Rapha Essentials Case
This little leather case fits nicely in your back jersey pocket and can be used to hold cash, credit cards, your smartphone and a few other small items, like tyre levers or a cannister. Good sturdy zip and soft leather have made this a favourite of mine. I don’t use it in the rain, but it holds up to sweat really well (doesn’t seem to carry odour). I must admit, I’ll often use it as my wallet.
I hate having to carry a bag, jam a whole lot of stuff in my pockets or ruin the look of my bite with saddle bags and/or duct tape. Any nifty little ways of hiding necessary gear are always going to go down well with me. Specialized have recently released new side loading bottle cages with a neat little mounting for a multi-tool on the bottom – perfect for mountain bikers who have limited room. The tool itself is small and compact but solid in construction. On my wish list!
Last month I posted some wicked socks from these guys – this month, the kit I am spending most of my time in. The Bones kit is comfortable, unique and has a skull and cross-bones on it. Seriously. How can you not own this?
I am a cap wearer and proud to be one. I am also a cross rider and love the fact that Rapha have shown so much support for the sport. The Supercross range of gear is pretty cool – jersey, socks, cap and even the natty scarf.
I hate wearing gloves. In summer, I usually don’t (I’m so euro). I know I should wear them – I have fallen off and grazed my palms and I have experienced a bit of numbness on longer rides, but I simply don’t like the feeling of having them on. The Grail Mitts perked my interest as soon as I heard they were designed to be minimalist and feel like they weren’t even there.
The glove itself has a gel pad right in the middle of the palm, which fills in the space when you hold the bars. I must admit, this really helped with comfort in some recent 7 hour races. There seems to be a whole lot of technology behind them – but they are minimalist and I like that!
Attaquer are a small Australian company who make some unbelievably awesome kits and getting a fair bit of attention on a global scale. If you want something different and unique, but also comfortable as hell, look no further. They are race cut (no hiding that extra food you ate during your recovery week) and if you are wearing an Attaquer kit, don’t get overtaken.
Specialized claim this helmet can save me up to 46 seconds over 40km. It’s aero, but I think it still looks good enough to remove the chance of looking like a TT w#nker. Really light and with a unique cooling system, this is going to look the goods on the road.
In the first part of my Guide to Commuting, I looked at ten reasons why you should think about commuting to work. It might be the case that one, a few or even all of those reasons have got you thinking about setting your alarm a bit earlier. They might have you pondering a route that will get you from home to your office. You might even be starting to think about all the fluorescent clothing you can wear!
While matching fluro booties and gloves are VERY important, it is essential that to become a commuter, even just a part time one, you must work out your logistical plan. By this I mean showering, clothing, bike security and other important considerations you want to have sorted out before you turn up in the office in your knicks.
Let’s get started:
1. Get Your Timing Right
From the time that your alarm goes off, to the first meeting you need to attend, a number of sequential activities will occur. Here is a quick overview of my standard morning:
– Get up and Get Ready: 30mins
This is the time I allow for getting up, eating breakfast, brushing my teeth, putting on my gear and a small buffer for watching Fox Sports news (especially during EPL season, Grand Tour season, etc). I will usually have my breakfast in the fridge ready to go and I’ll put out all my gear and have my bag packed the night prior. I can do it in 20mins, but usually not much less.
– Commute: 60mins (25km)
My standard commute is about 60mins, which is mainly on back streets and bike paths with a group. Given traffic lights (and traffic itself when you get closer to the city or built up areas), you probably won’t be able to average much more than 24-25km/h.
– Coffee/Social Time: 20mins (optional)
Pull up at a cafe with my buddies, have a warm beverage (or breakfast number two after a big commute), generally have a chat, laugh, discuss critical commuting business (fashion, that jerk in the white ute, weekend racing) and sit around not wanting to go to work! Remember if the coffee shop you choose is 10mins from work, factor that travel time in.
– Shower/Get Ready Time: 30mins
Lock my bike up in the basement, grab my stuff from my locker, have a shower, wash my hair, dry my hair and do my make-up. If you are a man, this will probably only take 10mins. If you wear a lot of makeup or have difficult hair, this might take longer.
Once all these activities are completed, I get in the lift and appear at my desk usually at around 8:30, which is before most people get in anyway. Decide what time you want to be at your place of work and work backwards. If you are unsure, leave a bit of extra time at first.
2. Bike Security
Find out if your workplace has a special area to store bikes – you will probably find that most of them do these days, especially corporate offices. Bike storage will range from a pole with a BYO lock, to a CCTV monitored bicycle cage (made from recycled timber obviously) with a range of racks, a work-stand and a requirement to get building security to update your security pass.
If you don’t have a special storage area, look for a secure space in a carpark, dock or even LAN room, printer area or at your desk (I kept mine at my desk until my place of work built a better facility in the basement). Also check if you need to get special car-park access before or after hours.
3. Showers and Lockers
Do some snooping and find out where your workplace has showers and how you can get access to them. I have known people to shower with buckets or camping showers in standard bathrooms, but if you have trouble finding something, consider asking friends who work nearby or find a local gym. A cheap membership might be worth it for shower and locker access.
In terms of clothing/toiletry storage, lockers are perfect. If you don’t have access to these, you can store your things in the bottom of your desk drawers. Having OCD tendencies, I had the bottom of a filing cabinet sectioned for clean/dirty clothes and hung my shirts/jackets in a cupboard meant to be used for printer paper storage.
4. Clothing and Towels
While you can bring everything in each morning, it is much easier if you can limit this to underwear and do it once a week. Find a local dry cleaner and get them to take care of your major items. Plenty of places in Sydney CBD do deals like “5 shirts for $15”. I have all my shirts, tops and suits dry cleaned (the lovely ladies know me now and give me discounts) and I bring in underwear on Monday morning / take it all home Friday afternoon. My workplace is nice enough to have a towel service – before that, a towel would come in and go out with the underwear.
5. Make Up, Toiletries, Accessories
Grab a toiletries bag and either bring what you need in one day or buy it near your place of work. I have basically just duplicated what I have at home (given I shower 5 times a week at work, I think I go through it quicker at work). Again, my workplace now has hair-dryers, but prior to that I had a travel one in my kitbag that lived in the office.
6. Other Considerations What happens if you get rained on? Other than making sure you have a waterproof bag/case for your phone, what are you going to do with your wet clothes? This might be as simple as not riding when there is a chance of rain, or find an area to dry your gear. Warm areas such as LAN/server rooms work well, just don’t get caught by the IT guy.
7. Preparation is Key
Take the time to get yourself set up before you start. Bring in what you need before you start riding in. Get yourself set up, organise any additional access you might need, buy yourself a lock and plan your route and timing, leaving a bit of a buffer the first few times.
The other item of preparation which I have not yet mentioned is your wife/husband/partner/kids. Mainly because I don’t have kids and my boyfriend has his own routine which has no dependence on mine. For us it’s just a matter of someone remembering to feed the cat. I’m guessing you can’t treat kids the same way?
Once you get into a rhythm and you have a routine, it becomes incredibly easy. While it seems like a lot at first, it’s really nothing beyond what you would normally organise at home. You might need to get a bit creative in terms of showering, locking up your bike and storing your stuff, but hopefully it’s nothing you can’t work out!