Friday, June 03, 2016

Some thoughts about regional cycling culture

In Michigan, looking cool on a bicycle meant several things. First and foremost, it meant sporting a variety of cycling clothes (jerseys, shorts, socks, etc) from the various events you had previously completed. Started riding DALMAC (the Dick Allen Lansing to MACkinaw) in 1971 when it originated? Then wear that vintage jersey from the first year they made them to show just how awesome and dedicated you are. Secondly, although there were probably small subgroups of cyclists that favored the matching kit, where the jersey and the shorts are made to match, the vast majority favored mixing it up, perhaps to demonstrate the wide range of interesting pieces of cycling gear available to the enthusiastic rider. My rides would leave me asking questions along the line of, "Huh, I wonder where I can get those bright crazy shorts that guy had, so that I can wear them with my florescent pink jersey with the little devil on it from the ride through Hell, MI?"

In San Francisco, and I suspect in most of California, the approach is completely different. Fitting in and looking like you mean it on a bicycle requires a matching kit. You may select a pattern or color, and if you are part of a professional or amateur cycling team, it is acceptable to wear that jersey, but otherwise black is the preferred color. All of the fancy cycling clubs seem to produce all-black cycling gear, perhaps with accents that attempt to prevent accidents and make you more visible. While my training rides here have also prompted question asking, they have been more along the lines of "Why would you market a line of black, solid colored cycling garments in a city with so much fog?"

While I'd like to avoid high inference statements about cycling clothes that demonstrate that you have money rather than cycling clothes that demonstrate that you have fun, this difference seems stark. Am I missing something? Is there another obvious reason to eschew mismatched cycling gear in favor of the all-black kit? Help me out, dear readers. Perhaps needless to say, I continue to pair pieces of my maize and blue University of Michigan kit with other random bits, like the bright pink jersey I mentioned earlier, and my Menstrual Cycles team jersey, all with the primary goal of making myself as noticeable as possible to cars on the road, and the secondary goal of wearing clean things while riding. Look for me on the roads in an awesome kit comprised of colors and patterns that were never meant to be!

 Looking out over the Marin Headlands

 Finally biked up to Muir Woods

Clouds from Twin Peaks

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