Is This The Meeting of Two Cultures?
Seems to me that there are two types of bikedom.
On the one hand, in countries and societies where the car / automobile is king, there’s the Adult Toy culture (no, Honey-Bunny, not THAT sort of adult toy). Lots of Lycra and carbon fibre and a fixation with gear ratios. They wear helmets and Camelbaks, and load their bikes on the back of their cars at the weekend before driving off to get away from all that traffic. If you ride a bike in these societies, you’re probably a bit of a radical. If you ride a bike without a helmet, you’re viewed as a pariah.
Then there’s the Dutch, the Danes and people like that, who treat a bike as a vehicle (with wicker baskets for luggage); a way to get about town; a chance to shoot the breeze with your friends, with the breeze in your hair. And they do have the breeze in their hair too, as they don’t wear helmets. In fact they don’t wear any special clothes - just regular clothes on their way to work, the bar, the opera, or just around town. Though those clothes often look a whole lot cooler and more chic than I (as an engineer) could ever manage.
Of course, the distinction isn’t THAT black & white - there’s always a little crossover between the two. For example, I race (because it’s fun) in Lycra, in the saddle for hours on end, but I’m happy to tootle into town wearing a shirt and tie. And I’m not at all unique in this.
Where I’ve always struggled is on somewhat longer rides in town. Those journeys of more than about 6 miles (10km), where regular trousers - especially jeans - start to show their limitations, and regular underwear just chafes. Sorry - too much detail there.
So when EcoVelo and Commute by Bike featured these Bike to Work Pants (fnaar fnaaaaar! ‘pants’ in the UK = ‘underpants’) , I was intrigued. I have to say that although I just lurve the other stuff that Cordarounds have on their site (corduroy - the perfect geek material, but horizontal stripes!) I’m probably a bit disappointed though. They have a nod to the kind of features that people might want, but when it comes down to it, there’s just no way I’d ride along with my back pockets turned inside out and trousers rolled up like that. Where would I keep my wallet?
Maybe it’s just my age. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve got a hankering form something more traditional. I’d like to see someone make real clothes for cyclists. A return to great materials from the past (Tweed!), suits with seamless seats, shirts made of wicking materials, smart shoes with stiff soles (or even cleats!), skirts with pleating to make sure they hang just so when cycling, smart briefcases with pannier fixings. Stuff like that.
What kind of clothes would you like to see for cyclists?