According to Sir Chris Hoy, people like me should not be wearing lycra and while I found his comments to be a little fat-shammy, I did see through my rage mist and even though he has since retracted some of his comments, I did recognise that he raises a very good point.
Lycra is certainly no friend of mine
Earlier this year, I was presented with my fabulous but form fitting Pearl Izumi Champion Team kit and my first reaction was to walk out of the room in sheer embarrassment, before realising that I was part of a fantastic group of people and that Pearl Izumi had picked me for who I was and not for how I looked. So, I stretched the Lycra kit over my folds, waited for a lull in photographs and posed for my Champion profile pic, wishing that the photographer would finish quickly (and please note how I have carefully cropped the picture to hide my moobs).
However, since receiving this kit and wearing it on the Team ride on induction day, I have hidden it away in my “to wear eventually” drawer which has now become a set of drawers. Instead, I have found myself wearing my Pearl Izumi running and MTB kit for my commutes into town. The only mountain visible is that of weight that I am carrying, but at least in this gear, I do not worry about how I look (well, not too much) and it did not prevent me from riding 45 miles at the weekend.
This Wednesday is Cycle to Work Day and I thought that I would follow up on my “What you need to Cycle to Work” post with this “What to Wear on Cycle to Work Day?” which lists what I really look for and need in my cycling clothing. They have to be breathable, durable and above all else, comfortable (living in Glasgow, waterproof is also preferable). Shaving seconds off my Strava times as I commute into the city is not high on my list of priorities (unless I have once again left home late), so an aerodynamic suit or helmet are not needed, especially as I am on a big hybrid bike that weighs more than the combined Tour De France field. Wearing lycra cycling kit will not make me a faster or better cyclist and I am never going to be confused for an elite rider.
Cycling for me is how I get from A and B and how I get some time for me. I don’t really see it as a sport, so there’s no way I want to dress like an elite cyclist (although after the weekend’s Pedal for Scotland, I am a little more intent on cycling further and faster).
However, I do appreciate a good chamois and too often, too short shorts can get caught in the horn of my saddle which can make for some unfortunate rear end displays, as witnessed in Pedal For Scotland when I had to stop to unhook myself (it is ok, I will not post a picture), so longer shorts over a bib work better and in Glasgow in the winter, I tend to wear big Berghaus waterproof overtrousers (currently on sale!) over my bib and these save me from getting soaked, while still affording me some protection for my derriere.
Other than that, I simply tend to wear layers of clothing dependent on the weather and where I am heading to, but generally (in scotland at least) it is shorts or jeans (I have water resistant pairs) and a tshirt and a light breathable rain jacket (occasionally a fleece) that I can store in my bike frame bag.
There’s little worse than cold wet feet, so I usually wear a pair of my goretex running shoes and pack extra socks although I do have waterproof socks from Showers Pass for the truly horrendous days that we often have in the West of Scotland!
While never having been diagnosed with Raynaud’s, my fingers are like ice in the winter and even in the summer I tend to wear gloves when cycling, especially as I am an office worker with the hands of someone who has never seen a hard day’s work. However for on the upcoming seasons, I will be using my waterproof Sealskinz gloves (yes, there is a recurring theme of ombrophobia).
Under my helmet (yes, bloody wear one) I adorn my head with a buff. Not only does it keep my head worn in the colder days, but they are usually cheap and are now common giveaways at events. I especially love my Men’s 10K buff which can be bought from Baw Bag who donate a portion of their proceeds to cancer charities.
All across Europe those commuting on bike take it a stage further and cycle to their place of work in their actual work clothes. However, it is my experience that the roads of Glasgow are often dirty while I have been known to take the odd detour through Glasgow’s wonderful parks on the way home. There is nothing quite like ending a stressful day at work with a gentle ride through woods and along the riverside. Just thinking about it makes me want to get out on my bike.
While I will not criticise anyone for wearing lycra, it is not for me and if wearing lycra puts you off cycling to work on Cycle to Work Day or another other day, then please follow my lead and wear whatever makes you feel comfortable and whatever will help you continue cycling to work.