“Sometimes jerseys are even uncool. The guys that have a bike and a helmet and that’s it, they’re my favorite mountain bikers.”Dave Wiens, US pro mountain bike racer
No, this is not a post about the World Naked Bike Ride. It’s about gear. Riding gear. What you ARE wearing rather than what you’re NOT WEARING…
What to wear?
There are those in the bicycling community who have certain “standards” about acceptable wear for riding their bicycles. And if you don’t conform, they look down their noses at you. For example, a popular magazine in the sport actually has articles occasionally about things like proper sock height; or about whether your sunglasses should go over or under the straps of your helmet.
Good grief. What’s the point, anyway? The point is to get some exercise. The point is to get to work. The point is to run some errands. The point is to reduce your carbon footprint. The point is…to ride your bicycle. That is all. And to do that you DON’T need any special (magical) sock height to fit in with the in-crowd. You DON’T need to worry about placement of the arms of your sunglasses.
What to wear!
What you DO need is serviceable clothes that will keep you comfortable and safe. That means you probably don’t need anything special! Depending on the weather, layers and wicking fabrics will keep you more comfortable than thicker materials. Lightweight gear for precipitation can be had without spending a lot of money, but the “style masters” will insist that you NEED high-end clothing for every type of weather. Nope.
Accessories are also available in unexpected places, and sometimes for free. For example, organizations like AAA give away slap bands to protect your pants leg from getting soiled by the chain. Also check out local bike groups, which sometimes give away seat covers to keep your seat dry in wet weather. Sunglasses and/or clear glasses from big-box hardward stores are significantly less expensive than “bicycling” glasses, and do just fine, thank you very much.
When to wear something else
Now this is not to say that special clothing has no place. Many riders who begin to ride more may find that some of the options that are available make sense. Like padded shorts. Like tops (and bottoms) made of wicking material that may keep them cooler/more comfortable. The choices are many. And they’re at all different price points, from reasonable to “you paid how much for that???”
But remember it’s not about any of that. It’s about getting on your bicycle.