Sunday, October 13, 2013

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, Cyclists are from Uranus: The bike advocates wardrobe…

I'm a cyclist.  Oddly enough, that kind of makes things a little difficult for me when it comes to dressing correctly to do bike advocacy work.  Most events that I need to go to involve at least a 15 mile ride to get there, and a similar ride home.  Most comfy clothes for that for me come from the Tour de France wanna-be catalogue.  Trying to talk to people about cycling in such an outfit is about as effective as dressing up like a Martian and speaking using a vocabulary based upon variations on "Ack ACK ack!"  

Happily it appears that the summer heat is over.  I can dress in "human" clothes and not completely sweat through them 5 minutes after leaving the house.  Temps in the 70s or lower are my friend.  I can ride in jeans and a light shirt and arrive not entirely stinky.  I still don't do so well with cotton t-shirts.  They just turn into sweat sponges.

Why can't I just wear human clothes?  My other advocacy friends seem to do just fine in them.  The answer is that I can wear human clothes to some point.  Jeans, shorts and some casual shirts work well for me.  While I love cotton shirts, doing any kind of cycling in them makes me sweat enough that it makes me look like I'm entering a wet t-shirt contest.  No-one wants to talk to me in such a state.  As temps get cooler, I'm able to wear more and more human clothes.  I rode 25 miles in jeans today and was fine. 

I have found some things that work pretty well for me…. when weather is warm or cold.  

Shorts:  Roadie bibs work fine under cargo or casual shorts.  I like the cargo variety since they have big pockets and advocacy usually does better with pockets.  Again, if the temps are in the lower 70s or cooler, I can ride in them and not be too sweaty when I arrive.  Cycling baggy shorts never really look like real baggy shorts.  I've found few that really do at least. 

Club Ride Jerseys (  These are basically collared shirts that look like they're out of an 1970's Western shirt catalogue.  Mother of pearl snaps, yokes and interesting plaids.  They've also got the benefit of being well vented and have useful pickets.  They're made of material that wicks well and they look almost normal.  I grew up around Western wear… worked with horses when I was young and even knew how to rope a calf at some point in my life.  The latter is a skill that I seem to have lost over the years.  (When writing this, I attempted to rope my cat Mao!.  It took me 4 tries to get it right.  Wow did he flip out!  Totally a worth-while use of my time.)  What was I talking about?  Oh yeah… Western shirts.  I've worn them for years, so I'm okay feeling like a human in them.  People look at me weird, but at least they sometimes mistake me for species human.

Giro New Road clothes.  Okay… these are a new find for me.  I work at Freshbikes and they're one of the only stocking dealers of Giro's new casual clothing line.

The shirts are sewn in the US using Merino wool from New Zealand.  So is the base layer.  The base layer, by the way, is on par with the best I've ever used.  It reminds me of Ibex, but is lighter and deals with warmer temperature ranges.  Very well made and fits great.  The shirts range from wool jerseys to casual, collared shirts with a few cycling features… like a rear pocket.  

I got a casual rain jacket and vest from them.  In addition to being a nice quality, it is waterproof and well vented.  It is a cycling jacket that looks like a cool casual jacket when I'm off the bike.  The vest is kinda neat too.  I chose the white color for higher visibility.  They have some reflective elements on them that help with visibility, but I think the white definitely has a leg up on the gray color.  

Shoes are the hard part.  I like my clipless pedals!  I like carbon-soled racing shoes too.  Those just don't cut it as advocacy footwear though.  They scream "I'm a bike freak that you can't relate to!" way too loud.  

I've found three options that seem to work well.  Giro makes a shoe called the Republic that looks like a bowling shoe.  Bowling shoes are AWESOME!!!!  though I wish the Giro looked like rental bowling shoes… red, white and blue with a big #12 on the back.  These don't.  They look like normal, lace-up bowling shoes.  A human might wear such shoes outside of a bowling alley and they are kind of normal when worn with jeans.

Giro also makes a DH or freeride shoe called the Chamber that looks a lot like a sneaker.  They look comfy and will probably find their way into my world.  

I'm also lucky to work in at Freshbikes, a shop that sells Giro clothes and shoes.

Finally Keen ( makes a cycling sandal that looks like a modern incarnation of the Birkenstock.  If I wear them with wool socks, I'll be a granola.  

I just need to be very careful how I put these things together.  I find it extremely difficult to avoid dressing like a rodeo clown.  I know that would be totally counterproductive.  I'm sure I could mix granola, cowboy and urban hipster and come up with something utterly ridiculous.  I do, however, have the ability to resist such temptations and look like something semi-human when riding a bicycle.  That is my quest!

If you see me riding around downtown or catch my flickr feed (, please let me know how I'm doing.  




  1. Hey, just pack a dry shirt to change into when you get where you're going. I do that a lot when I want to wear my street clothes rather than bike gear and still be presentable,

    1. I've done that for years with commuting or going places by bike. The difference that I've found with bike advocacy is that many times there's nowhere to change or no time to change. Many of the events that I do involve arriving on cue by bike and I need to be rolling up in something other than spandex.

      I definitely do what you suggest when I can, Steve.