A Fresh Look at “Snazzy” Cycling Outfits
Every year at this time the Valley Preferred Cycling Center staff has the fun task of introducing T-Town to a new crop of interns. Seldom do our interns have a strong knowledge of track cycling, so it’s up to us to bring them up to speed (no pun intended). It’s a refreshing reminder that, while we’ve been richly blessed with a strong cycling community, one of our core goals remains the attraction of a new fan. Our new intern Emily recently took a curious look at a cycling topic that’s hard to ignore: clothing.
To those who aren’t yet familiar with the sport, including myself, cycling’s tight garments and funky looking shoes just seem like a fashion statement on wheels. Watching a race from the sidelines for the first time at Valley Preferred Cycling Center, I could visibly see the mechanics of the bicycles and how perfectly adjusted they were to the rider. I knew that there were countless racing tactics and methods, but I never realized that the traditional cycling gear is almost as strategic as cycling itself. The cycling outfit has multiple benefits, other than just making the rider look good. Everything from the soles of those cleated cycling shoes to the seams on the jerseys has a function which assists cyclists on the track and offers unmatched comfort for riders. I thought the outfits played a role of course, but I didn’t know that without the form-fitting clothing, a cyclist’s repertoire for the track isn’t nearly complete.
Perhaps the most dreaded article of clothing for prospective cyclists is the form-fitting spandex shorts; the type of shorts any rider should not be without. Once you try them, there’s no going back to the loose ways if cotton gym shorts. Cycling shorts are made perfectly for cyclists and are incredibly but simply detailed. Seams are placed where they won’t constrict movement and will allow the shorts to flow fluidly with the motion of the rider’s legs. There is padding in all of the right places to make sure a cyclist can ride for a long time without discomfort. The skin-fitting design prevents friction between the rider’s legs and the bicycle as well as increases efficiency and decreases drag. The material also wicks that uncomfortable moisture away from the legs. The shorts alone could be considered one of the most important pieces of gear for every cyclist.
For those people who aren’t fully interested in tight fitting shorts and think they would feel more comfortable with more support, there is something similar to overalls in the world of cycling called a bib. A bib is a slick looking article of clothing which goes from shorts to suspenders and goes over the shoulders. Cycling also offers fashion choices and the clothing accommodates preferences. Bibs do not have elastic around the waist and may make a rider feel more comfortable when they are cycling for a very long time.
The look, of course, isn’t complete without a select cycling jersey. Cycling jerseys are also form-fitting. They are often longer in the back, just by a little, so that the arched position of a cyclist does not leave anything exposed to the elements. The material and close proximity to the skin increases aerodynamic performance and, just like those can’t-do-without cycling shorts, draw the moisture away from the skin. The jersey provides absolute comfort to cyclists and functions to benefit the cyclists. Even the cycling shoes are a must.
Cycling shoes provide comfort and protection to cyclists and slow down muscle fatigue. Cycling shoes have harder soles so that the shoes do not bend and feet do not cramp as often. The shoes are cleated and are matched with the bicycle pedal. The cleats clip into the pedal and are easily retractable so that the rider’s foot doesn’t slip and that the push and pull of the pedal is in one fluid motion. The shoes allow for a better energy transfer between the cyclist and the bicycle and are a great help physically. The protection for a rider’s feet is a must, but so is head-gear. Helmets not only look sleek and well designed, they provide full protection and can save a cyclists life.
Helmets are offered in a variety of colors and are made to fit snugly without slipping as to not impair vision. Helmets mesh right into the outfit and complete the cycling look. Helmets are made so that no head damage is sustained in a fall or cycling accident. They are the most important top off to a cyclist’s fashion statement.
Cycling gear is a snazzy accompaniment to any cyclist’s lifestyle. There are plenty of choices in color and design, but more important than the appearance is the functionality of the gear. Cycling gear not only looks great, but strategically benefits cyclists.
By Emily Nonnemaker
Photo by Anthony Skorochod of Cycling Captured