Commuter-hipster cycling apparel. Losing on the road again.
Two things came across the Twisted Spoke desk today as I drank my La Loggia latte and prayed for blog inspiration. (Personally I just can’t get too worked up about the Eneco Tour — it sounds like bike racers playing with Legos.)
Then behold and shazamm, I happened to see two thematically related stories on cycling fashion. First, the extensive review on CyclingTips of small companies making unique road kits. There are plenty of small, willfully creative designers turning out all manner of kits that pay homage to the fluorescent 80’s look, Mondrian knock offs, inspired nods to the fixie roadie crowd or their own freak impulses. Many thanks to CyclingTips for the comprehensive round up.
I continue the fashion extravaganza with a Bicycling Magazine story on the new urban chic and the trend for more casual and yet still high performance road kits. This year Giro launched their uber-publicized New Road line and put enough money behind it that you know we have an unavoidable trend. (In fact, I can’t wait to get my hands on some of those duds for a review on TS. Here in Norcal, people live in the stuff, going from coffee shop to coffee shop with their laptops and tenuous work schedule.)
Now, first, I’m all for the wide expansion of sartorial boundaries — to borrow the clever Bicycling mag term. I’m profoundly in love with with any trend that furthers the continued rise of bike culture, no matter how silly or cool, creative or overpriced. When I wake up in the morning to discover even more treasure, my day is off to a dynamo start.
Part of the appeal of casual cycling apparel was pulling it away from the relentless loud lycra and integrating it with our normal everyday biking life, whether that’s a commute, coffee run, living the fixie-tatto0-craft-beer hipster artist routine or ferrying kids to school on your Yuba. (Check their homepage for the wonderful quote from the Wall Street Journal — “cargo bikes, the new station wagon.”)
That’s all great and we have nothing but praise but there’s something funny about presenting this causal cycling fashion with fashion photography, a hair stylist and make-up. To say nothing about the outrageous prices for some of the “cycling lifestyle.” You may have to sell the Pinarello and downsize to an old Bridgestone with cruiser tires in order to afford all this chic.
Sure, there’s a range of prices but my head snaps back when I see the Women’s Vespertine Reflective Jacket goes for $536 and the Sawako Furuno Faux Crocodile Bicycle Helmet has a $185 price tag. Swank-o, Swacky? That isn’t casual, that’s rich folks who stop by the bike shop to have them pump their tires for them.
Likewise the Fifo Cycle Reversible Cycling Cap at $68 — can I get it just one way for half price? I will need to triple my freelancer day rate to afford the Rapha Lapelled Jacket, $450 and get my hands on the Brooks Eton Leather Satchel, $470. My satchel will be empty and I will be carrying it to the nearest IRS office to declare bankruptcy.
Then again, that’s your tip-off. The Bicycling mag story is simply showing you how to “always ride in style.” This is GQ and Vogue on two wheels, the New Your Times fashion section for those with the $1500 Paisley that take in Central Park three times a year when the weather clears and the homeless have been quarantined.
I wish I looked half as cool as these folks because my faded Big Mat bib shorts just don’t match well with the old Kelme jersey. I have failed to win what the magazine called the “race for personal self-expression.
That’s a tough thing for me to deal with. I’m almost 56 and losing muscle mass at an alarming rate. On my gut, I carrying an extra 10 pounds of craft beer up the mountain and that is no way to get a personal best on a Strava segment. And now I find I have not only lost on the road but I have failed on the fashion runway. I am so shamed I may not be able to show my face at Levi’s Grand Fondo — of course, Levi himself may also be too ashamed.