Archive for the 'cycling apparel' Category

Charity Rides: Make them Cool.

Is it only Tuesday? Seriously?  In my quest not to fail in life, I’ll make this short. I thought I’d share some more images, this time from my personal collection.  For the past couple of years I’ve done the same charity ride each summer.  Two days on the bike for a great cause.  We’re always organized in teams, and it’s always our goal to win best team name.  Fortunately, charity ride participants tend to gravitate towards names like “the old cranks,” or “team pedal power.”  So, we kill it.  Our t-shirts are always the best, too.

The Richard Gears. Ya dig?

Two years ago we were the Richard Gears.  We won.  Obviously.  I can’t find a picture of the tshirt, but you get the idea.

"Are you tellin' me that this sucker is nuclear?"

Last year we were “Cycle J. Fox in Bike to the Future.”  Serious points for incorporating the best trilogy ever, and I had a lot of fun putting the logo together.  However, I think we should have been docked a few points for using “bike” as a verb.

Red shirt.

Aside from generally looking awesome, our team also managed to be the sole participants to visit the LCBO upon arrival and wander through a small town drinking from inconspicuous brown bags.

The “Wheelin’ Wonders” never stood a chance.

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Nude Zealand: Ride in Style

Wind tunnel approved.

Sometimes this blog writes itself.  The stories are just too good to pass up.  For example:

A 40-year-old New Zealand man has asked the High Court to rule that it is okay to ride a bicycle naked on a public road. Nick Lowe, a Wellington builder, appealed to the court against a NZ$200fine and conviction for offensive behaviour, saying there was evidence that New Zealanders had become more tolerant towards nudity.

Lowe was reported in Wednesday’s Dominion Post newspaper as saying there was nothing offensive about his ride on a quiet rural road in Upper Hutt, 32km north of Wellington, on last year’s World Nude Bike Day. He was charged after a passing motorist objected and called police.     “It’s a lifestyle thing,” Lowe told the paper. “To put clothes on is uncomfortable. It’s not about exhibitionism, I’m just uncomfortable in clothes.

“I walk around the house naked, I mow the lawns naked, I’ll do the garden naked. A lot of smelly, sweaty clothes – why do that when you don’t need to?” Lowe cited nudity in street parades, National Nude Day, Naked Wedding Day and a recent naked cycle on the Central Otago Rail Trail as proof that “we’re not as puritan as we used to be.”

He described himself as a natural athlete, said he regularly trained nude and had completed a Coast to Coast triathlon naked from the waist down and nobody had complained. The judge reserved his decision.

There’s a really good chance that New Zealand could make Portland look like a conservative haven.  Perhaps the best thing about this story is the purely human element of promoting nudity.  That, and the fact that nudity, when not airbrushed and sexualized, is pretty funny:

Justice Denis Clifford reserved his decision. At one point he apologised after chuckling at a photograph of naked people in Christchurch’s Cathedral Square.

Fight for your right (to chafe).

Go for it, Nick.  At least no one will want to steal your seat.


Advice for Apparel Companies

Go fast.

Here’s a pretty sweet t-shirt from Howies, which is a great British clothing company.  It seems like every day a new urban cycling company is launched somewhere in North America.  For the most part, these companies are making pretty cool t-shirts. Here’s an example:

Simple. Effective.

Zlog’s t-shirts are popular.  Everyone likes catchy slogans that combine encouragement with veiled threats. And, at $26 (US), this is a good deal.  So, what’s wrong?  Well, the problem is that most urban cycling apparel companies (especially those focused on t-shirts) order their clothes in bulk from a manufacturer.  Then they design a cool logo and silk screen it on.

Some of these shirts are poly-cotton blend, some are 100% cotton, and therein lies the problem.  Cotton is one of the worst materials to ride in.  If you, or someone you know, wants to design cycling t-shirts, please do everyone a favour and use merino wool.  Yes, this will make the shirts more expensive.  But they will last for ages, they will feel fantastic, and they won’t turn into a sweaty, clingy (and smelly) rag after 20 minutes of riding.

Howies is doing its part to lead the way, offering its trademark “Howies” t-shirt in merino wool:

Feels good. Looks good. Costs a fortune.

At £50, this shirt is way too expensive.  But, all Howies clothing is too expensive.  Outlier’s got a black merino wool t-shirt for $75.  Mountain Equipment Co-op has them for $44.  Merino is an expensive material, but its increasing popularity will undoubtedly lower its price.  Hopefully American Apparel will start carrying it.  Then anyone with a silk screen kit and a love for bikes can make t-shirts that actually feel good when worn for cycling.

We are what we watch: YOUTUBE!

In Canada, all stock images of watching TV feature hockey. It's the law.

As avid cyclists, the one thing we like almost as much as riding bikes is watching other people ride bikes.  Ever since Mark Zuckerburg invented the internet, we’ve had an unending supply of videos to watch.  Thought I’m tempting to suggest that the kind of videos we watch reflect our personalities, I don’t think that’s always the case.  Based on my own experience, I might favour old-timey races and “classic” moments in cycling history, but I’m also likely to watch Vimeo trailers for track bike tours and bar spinzzzz.

Some videos appeal to almost all cyclists for one reason or another.  Usually it’s because the video represents something we can’t attain, either because we can’t go that fast, or because we can’t afford to take time off, purchase expensive clothes, and hire a camera crew.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Other videos are harder to watch.  For example, deep down we are troubled by fighting in cycling.  Though fodder for the “is cycling gay” debate, these altercations provide no real answers.  It is only when professional cyclists fight that we can truly witness ambition tempered by ability.  These men seem to want to hurt each other.  They just can’t.  I’m guessing they both had cyclist fathers who, tragically, taught their sons to fight in the same way: “Now son, remember to keep your arms straight, aim for the ears or the back of the head, complete at least one full spin, and for the love of God only close your fists when you get tired!”

Cycling fans, however, are another story.  Put simply, don’t fuck with them.

But what about taking inspiration from cycling?  What if we want to know why people race bikes professionally, but aren’t satisfied with the answer “because we get paid to. Why do you go to work every day?” Most importantly, what if we’re totally disappointed in the amount of cycling featured in Love Actually?

And then, of course, their are the videos that simply seem as if they were made for you alone.  In all likelihood, cycling is tangential to the video and it strikes at something deeper.  In this case, a dark, dark sense of humour.

Maybe we are what we watch, we just hate to admit it.

Getting What You Pay For: The Carradice Bike Bureau

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You're sooooo good lookin'.

At some point not too long ago, I quit wearing messenger bags.  As my days of student-hood draw to a close, and the glinty glare of an academic career comes into focus (which is really just an extension of student-hood, but I digress…), certain changes are necessary.  It is no longer appropriate (or practical) to sling a fakenger bag over my shoulder.  Sadly, this leaves me with few options: a backpack? a briefcase? one of those super sport pannier-to-shoulder bag combos?  Obviously, none of these would do.  After a little soul searching (the “soul” is what I call the internet), I found myself back at the Carradice website. It did not disappoint.

The Carradice Bike Bureau isn’t “hip” so much as “classic.”  I paid about $160 (including shipping and customs), so it wasn’t cheap but also wasn’t prohibitively expensive.  Cotton Duck, leather straps, and thoughtful design made it an easy choice.  It’s a pannier-to-shoulder bag that looks as at home on a bike as on your back, which is no small feat.

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Back view. Pannier clips covered.

When used as a shoulder bag, a flap (for want of a better word) covers the clips.  This is a zippered compartment, which I have used to store a rain cover (thus providing extra padding over the clips, which dug into my back a little).

Flap (held by velcro) flips over to reveal clips.

The mounting system isn’t the easiest I’ve used, but it’s no real challenge.  The important thing is that once on the bike, the bag feels secure.  The velcro flap folds over to help protect the bag and keep it as clean as possible.

Visible. Nice.

So far I’ve been using the bag with my winter bike (a modified Dahon Jack) with a standard rack, but I’ve also tested it out on my Surly LHT (with the beefier “Nice Rack“), and it fits like a charm on both.  I had to slide it all the way to the back of the rack, but once positioned there I had lots of foot clearance.

Sweet slippers.

Most importantly, the bag feels good to wear (especially with the extra padding), and looks devilishly handsome.  It doesn’t look like a pannier, which is key.  It also holds a tonne of stuff (26 litres worth, to be exact).  Not pictured is the padded laptop compartment, which is removable (but when installed suspends the computer a little to ensure you don’t smash it up if the bag falls). This is a huge benefit for pretty much everyone, because who doesn’t have a laptop?  It will also work well with a tablet, if you’re one of those early adopters.

Contents. Including retina-burning rain wear.

Here’s what I had in the bag.  And it wasn’t full, or too heavy.  Needless to say, this bag can pretty much handle whatever you throw at it.

So, for those of us for whom the messenger bag simply no longer fits the bill, there are other options.  Better options, I dare say. Yes, you will have to install a rack on your bike, but that’s not the end of the world (even if you, like Dubya, fawn over the clean lines and simplicity of a fixed steel frame).  Racks are awesome, get over it. Less back sweat and fewer shoulder aches are well worth it.

In conclusion, some things take more than four sentences to review.  Others agree.

Rapha-related product surprisingly affordable: Subscribe to Rouleur

Will lighten, but not eviscerate, your wallet.

When I lived in Europe (Paris and London, for a too-brief 6 month period), I enjoyed the easy access to cycling material.  When in London, I would often get off at King’s Cross station (alight! I mean alight!) and walk to Condor Cycles, where I found lots of gorgeous bikes and all the Rapha gear I could drool over.  I could only look at the clothes and bikes (save for one time when I treated myself to the Fixed Jersey), but I had no problems justifying buying issues (and back issues) of Rouleur Magazine.  When I prepared to fly home, I had to shed a few pounds of baggage and the magazines sadly were left with friends.

Magazine box. Overkill perhaps, but the upside down 13 is a nice touch.

I have often looked into subscribing to Rouleur, but the shipping and handling was, in their words, prohibitively expensive for North Americans.  Well, that seems to have changed.  On a whim last week I visited the Rouleur site and was thrilled to learn that subscribers now pay nothing extra for shipping and handling.  A one-year subscription is £36 ($61.25 CAD), which isn’t too bad for 4 issues.  For those of us more interested in the history and intrigue of road racing (instead of the power-meters and discussions of “junk miles” that are the focus of most bicycle magazines), you’d be hard pressed to find a better read.

While it’s easy (and quite enjoyable) to make fun of Rapha, I’m glad it exists.  There’s nothing like treating yourself once in a while; although a new jacket isn’t in my future, some good reading is.

Big Day for Canadian Cycling: A Canadian Pro Team

Sweet hipster hairnet.

Jim Balsillie can’t buy his way into the NHL, but maybe he can help Canadians make a showing at the Tour de France.  The Globe and Mail is reporting that the BlackBerry boss is now involved in Canadian cycling.  According to the G&M, Steve Bauer (Canada’s most successful cyclists, who finished 4th in the 1988 TdF and won 14 Yellow Jerseys over the course of his career) has been pushing for a Canadian team for years.  His efforts had met with various obstacles until last year, when a relatively unknown America cyclist named Lance Armstrong sent Balsillie an email.

Apparently an email from Lance Armstrong gets results, because Bauer met with Mr. BlackBerry and good things happened.  Today, Bauer will announce the line up for his Canadian team, which hopes to compete in the Tour de France in a few years.

This should be fun to monitor.  Let’s hope the team jerseys don’t look like this:

This jersey tastes like shit.

Thanks, Lance.