My first cycling clothes were either bought second hand from the battered and blown out cycling section of Next Adventure, or scrounged from the “seconds” rack at Performance bike. Nothing matched, jerseys were either too large, or gut hugging tight, and the bibs (washed at least twice before being worn) were often stretched thin, and their chamois long past its useful life. The colors and logos were a study in westword migration–teams and clubs from other parts of the country–as well as a showcase of Portland’s history of teams.
At the time I was marginally employed with temp work, and prone to long stretches without work. So sartorial correctness took a back seat to riding with some level of comfort. This was just before the boom in outragaous Amatuer kit that now sets the agenda for cool, before the color and pattern of your socks mattered as much as they do now, even still I looked like what can only be described as a “Hot Mess”.
A small bit of relief came that first March when my first team kit arrived: Green bibs, green and white jersey with Guiness across the front, and a vest that matched the jersey to a T; only a select few pairs of the socks matched the kit and I wore, washed and used those items with such frequency that bibs only survived six months before holes started to appear where the chamois met the shorts. I eventually bought a pair of black bibs, on sale of course, from performance, expanding by wardrobe a bit, but it wouldn’t be until I secured a low paying industry job–my first steady job in two years–that I was finally able to seperate myself from the old second hand stuff, thanks to the ability to buy stuff at wholesale. It also allowed my collection of kit to balloon.
I thought of those days this weekend when as I tore through my closet, tossing items that, while perfectly fine, I no longer wear. It’s now in a contianer, some good stuff too, and hoping to find a good home. It’s mostly matched, old team kit, but there are some gems in there as well. What’s the point of holding on to it, if it is just taking up space in the closet?
I have spent an inordinate amount of hours over the past couple of weeks thinking about how I consume cycling.I don’t mean watching races, or reading race reports or keeping up with what the cool kids are doing. But the way I buy and toss away bikes, what the constant accumulation of gear means for my relationship to just going out and riding your fucking bike, and also, somehow wrapped up in all that, how those issues look to the outside world and perhaps more importantly, how they appear to people just getting into the sport for the first time.