Last week I met a man with a broken pelvis who had been pushed under a car by a “fellow” cyclist. And one of my colleagues fell in front of a van when another cyclist forced him to pull out. His broken leg is healing but will never be the same again.
I tell these tales of cycling woe and danger to explain why my cycling is restricted to weekend parkland tootling around on a Boris bike. Lots of fun and low on danger. I wear my weekend outfit – jeans, trainers, a jacket and gloves. With a hat if it is cold and sunglasses if it warm. We jump on the sturdy hire bikes, cycle madly across Hyde Park, and dock them conveniently close to an art gallery or museum. We have taken the odd cycling holidays in France where, although it is a country which embraces the cyclist like none other, I felt a bit embarrassed about getting my lunch in padded shorts and a fitted T shirt.
What if you are a cycling commuter (we have 70 or so at my workplace)? Do you ride in cycling gear then shower and change at work? Or do you try to find a set of clothes that work for cycling and everyday life? Here are five Polish cyclists wearing the national flag. I think they look very strange. One’s eye is inevitably drawn. To the helmets.
The most comfortable version of the Lycra cycling shorts (originally made with padded chamois) are those (like my camisole skirt) without a waistband. Here are a pair – obviously posed by a cyclist rather than a professional model.
But for stylish cycling we only need to consider the days before performance wear was invented. Shorts, divided skirts, ankle socks, polo necks, attractive blouses, sensible footwear and possibly a jaunty hat. They look great. So what is the answer for today’s cyclists?
If you cycle long distances to work, and want to use it as your main exercise then obviously wear exercise clothes. They don’t have to be black, and it is possible to look attractive in sportswear.
- cycling shorts with sufficient padding (these are invariably black, unfortunately)
- light weight top
- waterproof jacket
- hat and gloves for colder weather
- safety helmet
- cycling shoes
- waterproof backpack
If you are more of a leisure cyclist, or cycle at weekends, then style should be a consideration.
- shorts or trousers with some lycra in them
- leather trainers in dark colours
- stretch top – long sleeved T, lose-fitting shirt or jumper
- jacket that doesn’t constrict you when cycling
- hair band
- small backpack or handbag that can be secured to the bike when travelling
This outfit is sufficiently “street” to look quite normal when you park your bike and go to the shops. The trainers (rather than cleets) mean you won’t have to hobble around with bandy legs.
Of course if you don’t know what to wear you could always join the annual naked bike ride through the streets of London.