I know I need a new lens prescription for glasses and I was out and about in the world tending to that very issue, but I really did need to backtrack and take another look at the sign in the window. I wasn’t sure if I read that right. As I was leaving the outdoor mall I saw an advertisement on a store front. A belly you can try on. If only we could lose it with such ease.
A former co-worker is pregnant and she was subbing at school the other day. She came to chat and she’s showing more now than a month ago. She complained that she’s at the stage where she’s too big for her regular clothes but she hates buying maternity-wear because it’s overpriced and has limited use. Jokingly I said that reminds me of bike gear. We nervously laughed, neither of us knowing much about the other’s clothes. I’ve never bought maternity wear and she doesn’t ride a bike. Yet, we understood the issue. Paying top dollar for something that might not get much use beyond its intended purpose.
Several years ago I stopped wearing bike wear and started focusing on riding and being prepared for whatever the weather had in mind. There are times mostly June, July and August when I find it necessary to wear specific bike gear. You do want fabrics that breathe and items that can take the sweat and still make you look and feel cool. My road bike demands the kit complete with cleats and chamois pad and jersey with three stow pockets on the back. Heck yeah! I love cute bikey socks too, so I could very easily spend upwards of $200 or more getting the cute outfit/kit to wear. I might spend a little extra if I know there are others who might note what cute kit I’m wearing to match my bike. I try to find jerseys on sale and add the necessary pieces when I hit a Rapha sale or find some choice piece online. However, most of my weekly commuting ride is 10-25 miles in street clothes. On the bike to school, then off and I work and then on the bike and ride home. It’s not endurance it’s existence. There are times when I might wear heavier tights or layers that I peel off when I get to work.
For women the selection of clothes for road biking is better than it was 20 years ago, but it’s still a long ways from what’s available for men. Also, I know we pay more. I have favorite pieces and items I’ve accumulated over time. SheBeest is a favorite for cycling shorts and knickers. But again, price is $130+ for a decent chamois. I buy from Terry Bicycling and REI the most. I have a few pairs of Sugoi padded skorts that I love but can’t find again. Jerseys cost less unless up want something from Rapha or another high-end brand. I found a gorgeous Rapha wool jersey on eBay for $25 and when I wear it I feel like I won a race in the south of France and I’m on my way to my celebration party. Rapha’s gear is stunning.
There’s a Pearl Izumi outlet store about an hour from where I live and a few times I year I check out what they have in the shop but I’m always disappointed. There are walls and racks of gear for men and maybe a sixteenth of the store has anything for women. The prices are high, especially for an outlet.
It stands to reason that a pregnant woman would want to be comfortable and at peace with how she looks before, during and after pregnancy. The try-on belly would give a woman a chance to see how an outfit is going to look in her third month as well as the third trimester. Bike gear doesn’t work the same way. There are brands that we’ve all come to respect and their product is so good that we spend the money since we know we’ll love the item for a long time to come.
Writer Grant Petersen talks about something called beausage. It’s a combination of the words beauty and usage. He says, “Buy good stuff, use it, and enjoy the beausage.” Beausage is like the patina, the wear, the use that something achieves. For my pregnant friend maternity wear probably doesn’t attain beausage. But the GoreWear jacket I bought in 2009 for $200 is my favorite transitional weather jacket. I’ve learned that I can wear almost anything on a bike. I only use cleats to click into my road bike, otherwise, street shoes all the way, everyday. But I have different bikes and I tend to dress with the bikes in mind. Maybe that’s my version of a try on belly. I know I won’t wear jeans on my road bike because of the pant leg and the chain to say nothing of how uncomfortable it would be to ride with jeans hunched over the bars. But that’s me. Some claim that it works fine. Plus there are jeans that are made specifically for being on a bike. Guys have access to the Levi’s Commuter jean. Men, you can have your jeans because there is nothing quite as amazing as riding about it a skirt on a hot day.
“You can wear any casual shoe in your closet—whatever your mood, your outfit, and the weather calls for. You don’t have to go find your “cycling shoes” because you won’t have invested in techie two-hundred-dollar pedals that require them.” Recessed cleat or not, bike shoes need a bike otherwise it’s awkward. Biking should be as easy as when we were kids. Hop on and go! Now I think more about where I want to go and how I want to hit my Stava 75 each week and I try to do what Grant Petersen says and just ride.
I’d love to hear from you about your gear or “un”gear for your adventures. Next time I’ll tell you about the coat that put the “win” in winter riding.
Until then. Happy trails!
Get out there and ride.
Excerpts From: Grant Petersen. “Just Ride.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/9N5ZD.l