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Bike Angst

August 25th, 2008

Before I moved downtown, I’d have told you I had a love/hate relationship with my bike, and the hate was mostly due to the behavior of my fellow cyclers.

Now, I’m not feeling the love so much. It’s not the bike that’s the problem (I heartily recommend Marin bikes). The problem is cycling clothes are a rip off. If you decide to take up cycling to get around (and I do recommend it for a variety of reasons), don’t buy a stitch of dedicated cycling gear.

Rainy/cold season: Last fall my beloved Burley jacket finally died. And the company had been bought out, outsourced and discontinued their apparel lines (stupid hippies can’t apparently turn an excellent, popular product into a successful company, jackasses). So I invested in some new gear for the rainy season. This is when I realized that cyclers just expect to be miserable when riding, and I’ll never understand why. It was impossible to find an adequately ventilated jacket. Cycling gloves are Mickey Mouse thick and still not waterproof. If you get “rain pants” you end up with a mobile sauna that looks like something MC Hammer would have worn in a video (they inflate). If you get “trail pants” they’re not even marginally resistant to water. I found an actually excellent pair of booties, but I broke the zippers on three of them (the fourth pair is still going strong, but I haven’t needed them much lately.) I remember storming into the locker room at my work in an absolute rage, soaked with sweat on top and rain on the bottom and spending fifteen minutes venting to another bike commuter about the shit I’d just bought.

Then he told me he rides in mountain gear. Grrrrr.

Serious cyclers will tell you that it’s impossible to be waterproof and not too hot (or that waterproofing is impossible). I refuse to accept that. I didn’t go to krav last week because it was supposed to rain on the two days that my class is held and just thinking about it was depressing. I think I’ll take homeboy’s advice and hit REI. They have a generous return policy for members and I’ll return as many as I need. I’ll buy reflectors to put on them or something.

Summer: Cycling gear is UGLY. Seriously. The best expression of cycling fashion is that stupid beanie serious cyclers wear. What the fuck is that? Does that tiny little visor DO anything? It’s an inch long. What good is that? And it looks STUPID. When I first got my bike I picked up a few special shirts of a wicky material with that half zipper (you may have seen Lance Armstrong riding in ad-covered versions of this shirt). While it convinced me that wicky materials are the awesome, a: Target sells tees of the stuff for $12, REI for $18, a fraction of the price of something with a cycling label on it; b: these shirts look gay, but are so ugly no self respecting gay man would ever wear one. Then there’s those shorts. The “hey, look at my balls” shorts. Someone makes them with a normal looking shell, but I’m afraid to even think of how much those cost. Cycling shoes are ridiculously expensive and usually lock into the pedal (guess what happens if you don’t get your foot free quickly?) and if you wear normal shoes they get torn up by either the chain or by crap on the road. And two words: helmet hair.

So it would be Friday and I’d be thinking of stuff to do. I’m no fashion plate, but I’m working on it. So, do I ride my bike? Well, let’s see I’ll sweat my balls off, so I can’t wear any normal t-shirts, but I don’t want to walk around with visible sweat spots on a boring solid color wicky shirt. So I’ll have to cover that up, but then I’ll need a bag to take a cover shirt, because if I wear it riding, it’ll get sweaty, too. Then I can’t wear my awesome old school sneakers, because they’re suede, but my cross trainers are beat up FUCK IT I’ll take the bus or walk.


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