Often I recall things I’ve said or written and think, “Hmmm…maybe I could have expressed that in a better way.” On this week’s Paceline I said that everyone, no exceptions, looks ridiculous in bike kit. This was not meant to insult the vast majority of you who pull the lycra over your disproportionately large quadriceps, go clicky-clicky on the boa of your carbon fiber shoes, take a single, contemplative sip of an espresso, and then crush watts on the rocket sled of your choosing. Nor was it a cheap jibe at the rest of you/us, who challenge the aforementioned lycra to conform to the odd, oblong, consequences of (y)our life’s choices up to this point.
It takes all kinds. Your body is a wonderland. I love you just the way you are.
And while I do believe the de rigeur cycling costume is a bit silly, I also have a lot of it, from a variety of manufacturers, in a number of cuts and colors, most of it given to me by cycling friends who are very probably just trying to upgrade my appearance in whatever way is available to them. Everyone loves the chimpanzee bartender.
And while I despair at the prospect of ever looking properly good in my kit, some of it I have grown quite the affection for. I have a short sleeve wool jersey made by Woolistic given to me by Cory Farrer, former owner of City Cycle in San Francisco and current proprietor of Velofix Wine Country. I sorta laughed at the idea of a short sleeve wool jersey, like a sleeveless hoody, but I wear that thing a lot. Beyond it’s quality and usefulness, it reminds me of Cory’s generosity. I was new in the bike biz at the time, and it was instantly the nicest piece of bike clothing I owned.
The absolute best piece I own though, is a fleece lined base layer from Etxeondo. Padraig give it to me to review in the early days of Red Kite Prayer, because he couldn’t foresee a scenario in which he’d be cold enough to make use of it. Well, I have. It is the lights-out solution to core warmth on the coldest days. I’ve pulled it on for nearly every sub-20F ride of the last decade, as well as for the worst weather of recent ski seasons. That thing is so good, in fact, that I will check the weather for the week and plan which day to deploy it, so as not to waste it on a day that isn’t outstandingly cold. I can honestly say it has made 2-3 weeks worth of bad weather days into high activity days that I wouldn’t have enjoyed otherwise.
And so, this week’s TCI Friday asks, what is the single best piece of cycling kit you own? What makes it good? Does it have a backstory beyond its usefulness? Did it cost an awful lot but demonstrate its value anyway? Or was it a steal, a secret you only share with your best riding friends?