What's the deal with...

By Phill Melton

 Phill giving the Brompton a taste of cross in the  Anything Goes  category 

Phill giving the Brompton a taste of cross in the Anything Goes category 

Cyclists can be a weird bunch. Sometimes, we do things that don't always make sense.

What's the deal with the spandex? Yeah, it's ugly as sin. I'd never wear it off the bike. On the bike, though, there's nothing more comfortable. Good kit's like a second skin; it moves with you, never against you. Loose cloth finds the most obnoxious places to bunch up, get wet, and then chafe - and lemmietellya, chafing is Bad. Plus, jerseys usually have pockets for stashing things like pumps, bananas, and spare kittens, and bike shorts & bibs often have a bit of padding to make all that saddle time unpainful.

That said, there's a reason I keep my Hawaiian shirts handy in the summer - they're subtle by comparison - and I'm never giving up that practical-but-Classy merino wool jersey.

Drop bars? Aren't those for racing? I mean, I guess some bikes with road-style drop bars are used in races, and some racers do use drop-barred bikes, but not really. Mostly, they let you move around on the bike and change your position while you ride. Back getting sore or climbing a hill? Sit up on the tops and breathe deep. Going downhill, into the wind, or your bum getting numb? Grab ahold of the hooks, let the wind blow over you, and the blood return. Because you're not stuck in a single position all the time, they're actually more comfortable than flat bars if your bike's fitted to your body properly. There's no reason to be in a super aggressive position if you don't want or need one, but there are lots of reasons to be in a more comfortable one.

What's with the hard saddles? Wouldn't something with more cush be better? Ow. Just Ow. You know that whole "chafing" thing I mentioned? You know, like what happens when you sink into a nice, soft overstuffed sofa of a saddle that rubs against you and your damp, sweaty skin as you make the same set of motions with your legs over and over again? Yeah. About that. It's not helped by gel's uncomfortable tendency to squish and squirm its way into places it's very much not welcome. Oh, and that padding tends to compress and degrade, leaving you unsupported...well, except for the ends of the saddle rails you feel poking through at you.

If you'd like padding, put it in your shorts so it moves with you, not against you, and find a supportive saddle that fits your body and how you ride. Save the sofa cushion for the sofa.

Why do cyclists drink Coke/coffee/beer? So Google seems to think I'm more likely to drink Coke than coffee. I'm not sure what to make of this, but okay.

So, what's the story here? For Coke, it's the sippable sugar and caffeine boot during a long day that fits into a jersey pocket friendly 7 ounce can and tastes way better than any energy gel. Coffee's not just important as a pre-ride early morning pick-me-up, but also as an excuse for a ride (hello, #coffeeneuring!) or, given that coffee shops are usually open early on weekend mornings, as a place to meet before the ride. And the beer? Recovery ales are for recovery. One part bitter, bracing refreshment, one part post-ride hydration, and two parts motivation for when you're fighting the crosswinds with only the cows for company thinking of how good that Atlas is going to taste when you finally beat that last hill.



Seriously, who thought those tiny little hats were a good idea? Hey now, bike caps are awesome. They keep the sun out of your eyes, the wind out of your face, the rain and sleet off your glasses, your hair unmussed, the dripping sweat off your brow, and they look cool, too. Yes, yes they do. You can't convince me otherwise.



Okay, we'll ignore your cap collection, but those socks? Those are HIDEOUS! Yeah, I'm not sure if there's a reason behind #sockdoping or if having a rad sock game is just A Thing. I have my guesses - a rebellion against button-down, conformist, and eminently respectable workaday life, perhaps, or bucking the trend of Tasteful cycling kit - but you're not taking my knee-high rainbow striped merino wool abominations away from me.