Guest poster Jeff Hemmel tries a new look.
Not just a white shirt, not a colored outfit with some white accents, but a white kit — white jersey, white shorts, heck, I even had on white socks. What’s the big deal? I’m not quite sure, but I can tell you it was the most self-conscious 30 miles I’ve ever spent on a bike.
Before this goes any further, let me clarify. No, I didn’t buy it. I’m working on a story on cycling gear, and Pearl Izumi sent this particular outfit. And truth be told, I really like it. The fabric is super comfortable, everything fits well, and the chamois is awesome.
So what’s the problem? I don’t know, but I just felt like, well …a poser. It was bad enough worrying about what people in their cars were thinking about a guy clad in a skintight white outfit, but the idea of coming upon another strong, legitimate cyclist? I was getting chills just thinking about it. (Well, not literal chills, but give me a little artistic license here.) As to what would happen had I needed to change a dirty tire or fix a greasy chain…I won’t even go there. The ridicule that would ensue should my tighty whiteys get slathered in grease might damage me for life.
So yes, the pressure was most definitely on. I skipped the call to a friend I ride with on weekday mornings and opted to go solo, I purposely chose a route where I wouldn’t see many people I knew in traffic, and I prayed I had timed everything right so that most people would be anywhere but on my intended route. If my name were Ted King or Mark Cavendish, I’d be wearing this outfit with pride. Heck, even if I was just the fast guy in the local club I might be confident enough to pull it off. But just Joe Average cyclist? I wasn’t worthy.
Silly? You tell me. I love the look of these outfits on the rack, or on pro race teams, but I just don’t think I could pull it off on a regular basis myself. Yeah, after a while I started to actually think I looked kind of cool, but don’t tell anybody, because I’ll deny it. My story is I was mortified…even if I did notice how tan and strong my legs looked offset by all that snowy white fabric.
Long story short, I love the gear, but I’ll probably mix-and-match from here on out. But I do have to admit, being the dude in the tighty whiteys did make me ride a little faster. Over the course of 30 miles, on a windy day with three bridges and three stoplights thrown into the mix, I averaged nearly 20 mph, probably an all-time best on this particular route when riding solo.
It’s amazing what a little embarrassment can do…