One afternoon last week I got home early enough that I thought I could squeeze in a bike ride before it got dark. But it was unusually cold for Central Texas — around 42 degrees. I decided to take my mountain bike out for a spin around the neighborhood, rather than hit the roads on my road bike.
But I didn’t want to wear my biking tights. For starters, they’re not cold weather tights — they work great when the temperature is in the 50s, but on an afternoon like this, I knew they wouldn’t be enough.
Likewise my bike jerseys. I like my long sleeve jersey with the brushed inside, and mostly, it works well when teamed up with a base layer and my windbreaker. But I thought I’d need something more substantial.
So I pulled a wool sweater out of the drawer, put it on over my long sleeved twill shirt, and put my windbreaker on over that. To cover my legs, I had my jeans. Instead of bike shoes, I wore my flat-soled sneakers (the mountain bike has platform pedals).
It all worked fine. I did 12 miles in about an hour. The wool sweater kept me warm, and the windbreaker broke the wind. A pair of light wool gloves substituted for my half-finger biking gloves, keeping my fingers from freezing, but without adding so much bulk that shifting and braking would have been a problem. Okay, the blue jeans weren’t the wisest choice for legwear — my thighs were pretty chilled when I finished the ride — but I’ve got alternatives to those for future similar rides.
Since I started my “serious” biking about two-and-a-half years ago, I’ve taken to biking clothes. I like my padded shorts and my lightweight lycra jerseys. It’s become second nature to me to rummage through my bike clothes drawer (yes, I have a whole drawer dedicated to them — don’t you?) to pick the best combination to wear when heading out.
But for the half-century before I started “serious” biking, I didn’t bother about that. I just rode, wearing whatever I happened to have on at the time. In fact, my wife and I both thought the cycling getups were over the top — and we’d chuckle at some of the kits people wore when we were out riding rails-to-trails bike paths.
Street clothes can do very well for a biker under most circumstances. I’ll be doing neighborhood rides in them again. How about you? Cycling kits are fun, but are they really necessary?