So, as I’ve been doing quite a bit of biking to prepare for the Bike Across Kansas – I find myself getting into more and more things “biking”. Learning the gear, the terms, the different techniques to make riding more enjoyable – I find myself wanting to really embrace the entire experience.
But one thing is holding me back – the fashion.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the kind of guy who needs his outfits to be tailor fit and coordinated. In fact anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m the total opposite. I don’t like wearing anything too out there. So when I look at cycling clothes, they all look…..well….. like human sausage casings.
I mean, are there any cycling clothes or maybe clothes good for cycling, that don’t have my fat fighting to explode out – or my “man package” so out there for people to see – something where I don’t have to display to the world what side leg my penis prefers?? Shirts where maybe my nipples don’t direct traffic?
Before I get called prudish, I do tend to go “Full Monty” when having a massage. I haven’t got much problem walking around naked for the most part. But seeing myself in biking clothes, well I honestly don’t want to take a casual walk around town looking like that.
I understand that everyone has to start somewhere, and I was definitely not immune to being a noob in the biking community, but I also, no matter what my body shape happened to be at the time, wanted to look semi-cool.
Sadly, I had all the rookie characteristics: the massively large helmet that made me look like a T-Rex, the haggard looking shorts, baggy jerseys, the very hairy legs that showed greasy chain marks on my calves, bobbing posture on the bike – oh yes, I was indeed a dweeb.
Luckily, not all rookies have to be subject to ridicule. There is a way to look experienced without having thousands of miles under your legs; you just have to pay attention to the details. So this post is aimed at folks who are new to the sport of cycling and wish to navigate around any potential embarrassment that I suffered through.
Buy cycling clothes that fit you- PROPERLY
Biking can be an expensive pastime. Getting yourself on the proper bike is paramount to enjoying cycling. But, like so many other people – I spent plenty of money getting the right bike, and NO MONEY getting the right clothes.
It’s okay, if you are new to cycling, and you’re a bit uncomfortable about the whole lycra thing, but as I discovered, it’s a bad idea to go out and buy clothing two sizes larger than what I would normally wear everyday.
Now being a short, fat, middle-aged man, I didn’t feel comfortable walking around looking like I was about to enter a high-school wrestling match. But I quickly discovered that there are good reasons why biking clothes are designed the way they are.
Cycling is about aerodynamics. You need tight fitting clothes. Riding down the road with a clothes that make you feel like you are pulling a parachute will make quickly second-guess your decisions.
Never Wear Underwear Under Lycra
Boy did I find this out the hard way!
When I first started going on training rides to get ready for my trip across Kansas, I naturally felt like going “commando” under my bike shorts would be a bad decision. I’m not a ballet-dancer and I honestly didn’t have the body-type to try to wear those type of revealing clothes.
Let’s just say I wanted more “reinforcements.”
It only took one 20 mile ride with Dad and Kirk to realize why wearing underwear under your biking shorts is a horrible idea. After the first seven miles the rubbing was becoming very noticeable. By mile eleven I felt like I was sitting on a belt-sander.
The chaffing will get you in the end – literally. DON’T WEAR UNDERWEAR UNDERNEATH LYCRA
Buy the coolest helmet you can afford
When it comes to helmets, don’t skimp and buy some cheapo bucket to cover year skull. You need to be wearing this piece of equipment all the time and you want to be motivated to put it on.
If you buy one that is two sizes too small, or one that makes you look like one of the characters from Spaceballs, then you’ll never want to wear it.
As a kid, when I was young and stupid, I remember me and the gang riding around with no helmet and trying to look cool – well, it wasn’t.
My Giro helmet looks far cooler than my bare cranium, especially if it avoids having me hemorrhaging blood after a head-over-heels 25 mile per hour crash.
Pick the proper accessories
Look – I will be the first to admit that there are some accessories make a cyclist look really cool; those neat-o sunglasses, those really cool carbon-fiber wheels, playing cards clothes-pinned into the spokes to make that really cool motor-cycle noise.
But then there are those that will make you look like a first rate, bonifide tool. For instance, any saddle bag that you can actually fit your saddle into is way too big. Any more than two water bottle cages on a bike is overkill (unless you are in training for the Iron-Man) or wearing one of those huge Camelback water-carriers looks stupid.
I’ll admit – I’m a definite tech-nerd. I love gizmos and gadgets. But if a cycle-computer with more wires on it than your home PC – then move over Mythbusters, your in the wrong game.
Knowledgeable cyclists go wireless, and you should too. Companies like Garmin and Magellan make great wireless bike computers that Bluetooth right into your phone; that’s pro. Any kind of data imagineable is right at your fingertips – and can be shared and stored through the cloud so you can analyze until your heart’s content.
Also – for the love of God (a nod to my friend Mary) please leave off all the rear-view mirror related devices regardless of whether they mount on your helmet or handlebar – They don’t help and they just get in the way. Besides, do you really want to see yourself getting hit by a car? I’d rather not know
Don’t go hog-wild with all the safety gear & reflectors