Saturday, October 11, 2014

Your Questions: Do I have to wear one of those funny-looking jerseys?

My RIDE kit by Squadra - one of my favorites
thanks to its very bright accent colors
(and Gerhard, another one of my favorites)
I recently had the absolute joy of introducing road riding to an athlete as a way to build her endurance/fitness in her off season.

While she is super excited about learning all she can about bikes, components and even the nitty gritty things that come with proper training, she has yet to warm up to our funny cycling clothes. 

"Do I have to wear that jersey?" she asks.  The answer is of course not. Wear whatever you want. It's far far better to get on the bike than let something like wardrobe anxiety keep you on the bench. 

However, for me, a jersey -- with full zip, technical material, bright colors and three pockets -- is required equipment. The only time I wear something *other* than that is if I'm out for a "baggies" ride and carrying a pack, or if I'm just commuting. 

Here's why: 

Giro's new Halter Bib shorts go
with almost any top for
easier calls of nature.
As seen at Interbike
If you wear bib-style shorts (the kind that have straps like built-in suspenders) this is especially important. Because bathroom breaks. Jersey off, straps down, business time (although check out Giro's new bib shorts - halter top style really helps in this department, as do "uni strap" designs by Assos and Eliel).  

I also like a full zip in case I want to unzip the front for maximum cooling. California gets hot so being able to add all that extra venting is a very nice option. 

I know I said you could wear whatever you want on the bike, but I'll back pedal a little here and say "anything but cotton."  Yuck. Soggy mess. Technical fabric, unlike cotton, breathes and wicks away sweat for much more comfortable riding. 

Jason from RIDE models the new Eliel kits
in highly-visibly pink
Bottom line: I want to be seen. 40% of all collisions of cars and cyclists that result in the death of the cyclist occur in hit-from-behind situations. I do everything I can, short of a  safety vest, to be seen. I'd also recommend a red blinky light to go with that new jersey and stay safe. 

One note though. The yellow jersey is reserved for the winner of the Tour de France. So pick any other color for your jersey. I'm a fan of RIDE cyclery's kits by Eliel Cycling because they look bright and awesome, perform great, and they're made right here in California. 

If you're new to cycling, you may be surprised to learn you've gotta know more than how to ride your bike. It's a great investment in your future avoidance of frustration and anxiety to get some instruction on how to do some basic fixes. Like changing a tube, or adjusting your gears. 

Hero Kits are a great option for pocket-sized
solutions. I flatted on a BC Bike Race training
ride and thanks to these tools, I was able to
keep going with just a few minutes of
roadside maintenance. 
To help with these tasks, on every bike ride, I bring the following items: 
- spare tube 
- tire levers 
- co2 cartridges (2) and dispenser 
- multitool
- phone 

It's also nice to have some arm warmers (and a place to put them when you're done with them), extra sunscreen/chamois cream for those longer rides, and of course, snacks! 

All of these items fit in my pockets and it's MUCH more comfortable than riding a road bike with a pack. That's pretty much the worst. 

If you want to get really nerdy on jersey tips, I encourage you to check out "The Rules" number 7, 16, 17, 18, and 31. But for now, I hope this helps you to answer the eternal question in any situation, including bike rides: "What should I wear?"