Alan is a keen cyclist and guest blogger writing a series for us called ‘Cycling at 50’. You can see previous blogs in this series here.
I’m sure you’ve all heard of MAMILs (Middle Aged Men In Lycra), a sometimes derogatory term for a probably overweight middle aged man who’s trying to do something about being overweight and middle-aged but wears unflattering cycling attire. The reason for that is simple: It works, it’s comfortable and it’s efficient. People don’t cycle long distances in jeans – try it, you’ll find out why before you promptly nip out and buy some lycra longs and some soothing cream! I’m not a big fan of lycra but if I’m not in shorts, I’m in a pair of bib tights.
The clothes maketh the cyclist
Like all good couture collections(!) my gear is seasonal, although only for 3 seasons: Winter, Spring/Autumn, and those 3 days of summer when it’s hot! What to wear depends on temperature and you, so some experimentation might be required to get it right. I run a little hot so my clobber tends to be lighter. Being too sweaty will feel clammy and horrible so everything should be wicking and breathable with underarm vents/mesh if not. Here’s a wee table on what I wear;
|Warm||Baggy short sleeve top||See Warmish/Rainy||Baggy shorts|
|Spring/Autumn/Rest of Summer|
|Warmish||Long sleeve cycling top (or short sleeve plus arm warmers)||Wool baselayer and waterproof jacket||Shorts or maybe bib tights if wet|
|Coldish||Wool baselayer with long sleeve top or jacket||Long sleeve top and waterproof||Bib tights|
|Cold||Wool baselayer with long sleeve top and waterproof||Wool baselayer with long sleeve top and waterproof||Bib tights|
In winter, the difficulty is your extremities; add in a pair of gloves, a neck gaiter/warmer/buff and for the coldest days, a skullcap/bandana or buff for under your helmet. Pulling your neck gaiter up around your face and ears is great at keeping the chill off.
Most of my cycling kit is getting on a bit (kinda like me) but there are plenty of items out there with similar features so here’s what I find works:
Long Sleeve Baselayer – Merino wool every time; wicks great, doesn’t smell, warm when wet. I never wear synthetic baselayers anymore.
Tops – Wicking, zip at the neck for ventilation. My short sleeve is loose fitting and very airy, add some arm warmers if cooler. My long sleeve is a little fleecy and a little windproof.
Jackets – I wear a dry jacket which is an Endura Windchill II, windproof at the front but ridiculously breathable on the back and works great. It can’t be a unique idea but it is genius! I do love Endura, they’re a great Scottish company making quality products which have never let me down! For a rain jacket you are going to have to spend a bit of money I’m afraid, go for breathable and/or under-arm vented. It’ll be money well spent!
Shorts and longs – A word on padded shorts/longs, which is always an uncomfortable topic…! I don’t use them anymore, even on big trips. I have a couple of pairs of padded shorts but after breaking my bum back into cycling I find them uncomfortable. You may want to use them so some tight cycling shorts or undershorts to wear underneath. You should be able to dispense with them at some point. I got a pair of Endura Hummvee shorts last summer and they are great, since they came with a removable liner.
My bib longs are a good few years old now and owe me nothing. They’re super comfortable, stay in place thanks to the bib and stirrups, and keep you warm in all weathers. Stirrups seem less popular now and I worry a bit about the longevity of silicon ankle grips, but time will tell. I’m not keen on ¾ length trousers, they seem to keep catching on my bottle cage/pump when I get up out the saddle and I’ve not tried any of the newer baggier style full-length trousers yet.
Misc items – Shoes, helmets, gloves, glasses are all down to personal preference. You should try them on and/or ask for advice so get down to your Local Bike Shop (LBS) where they are always happy to help. When buying bike kit I always like to do it in person; I want to check the fit and feel and function of the item so I tend not to buy too much online and get myself along to my LBS instead.
Well, never saw myself as a fashion blogger, but the next instalment is a bit more fun: Bike and workshop kit!