July 11, 2013
News-Press "Go Coastal" BikeWalkLee Column
You can usually tell the serious cyclists in the crowd (or on the road) by their attire. But is that just a fashion statement, or is there some practical reason for what they wear?
While looking the part may come into play, let us assure you that practicality is the primary reason for how long-haul cyclists dress. These clothing choices are driven by three very simple (and essential) concerns: Safety, comfort and functionality.
Consider each part of the cyclist's basic outfit:• Helmet: Not only is this serious protection for the one part of your body you do not want to injure (skin heals and bones mend, but brains may not bounce back as well), but materials keep it light and venting keeps it cool.
• Bike shorts: While spandex may not be the most flattering fashion for people of a certain age (or weight), the thin material vents off heat and sweat while limiting the chance of loose-fitting fabric getting caught on passing obstacles. And the padding? Well, if you’re pedaling for more than an hour on a road (or almost any) bike, you’ll certainly appreciate a little something extra between you and the seat.
• Bike gloves: Padding keeps your hands from getting sore or going numb while holding the handlebars, while the leather grip enables you to hang on more securely. And when you stick out a hand to break your fall, a decent glove can be the difference between healthy hands or a bad case of road rash you’ll be reminded of every time you reach for something.
• Bike jersey: The quick-dry fabric keeps you comfortable in the heat (or can be layered to allow for easy adjustment to a changing temperature). The back pockets give riders a place to store stuff where they can reach it during a ride. And the bright colors make cyclists more visible to other traffic (motorized and otherwise) with which they’re sharing the road. A jersey’s design is also a way to belong (say, to a bike club whose members all wear the same jersey) or stand out (since riders will often collect jersey from places they’ve been or events they’ve ridden).