Caution…bike-related clothing malfunction

Each year, around September, there is a period of two or three weeks when I forget how to get dressed properly.

You might think this is a strange admission for a man in his late thirties. You might wonder what my workmates think of this sudden implausible inability to kit myself out correctly for the day. Some of you may be considering alerting the authorities.

But fear not; this is a bike-related clothing malfunction, and the police are unlikely to be unduly concerned by reports of an inappropriately dressed cyclist pedaling the lanes of northern England.

After all, there are a lot of us about.

Even during the kind of sad excuse for a summer that we’ve had here up north this year, I ride for 95% of the time in shorts and short-sleeved jerseys, and a windproof gilet is the most I ever need to help me deal with the weather conditions.

About the right kit for September? (Image: public domain via Wikimedia)
About the right kit for September?
(Image: public domain via Wikimedia)

But during September there is always a tipping point; that day when I head out for an early evening ride and find myself racing the sun as it plummets over the horizon, and wishing I was wearing an extra layer or two against the definite chill in the air.

For the next handful of rides there is never more than a 1 in 3 chance of me kitting myself out correctly for the conditions.

First I overdress, blinking first in the face of autumn and ferreting out the knee-warmers a couple of weeks too soon.

Then I overcompensate and ride far too far wearing far too little, risking the first chesty cough of the season.

Sometimes, about every third ride, I wear just the right amount, but it’s a hit and miss affair.

The easy mistake to make, having left my internal weather vane dormant for a few months, is to make my kit-related decisions on the basis of what the BBC weather app on my smartphone is telling me.

So I analyse air temperature, wind direction, and cloud cover from the comfort of my living room, pull on what seems like a sensible combination of clothing layers, and pedal off down the road satisfied…

…only to find that the weather feels a bit different to how it looked on the screen, causing me to turn around and head home for a costume change and curse the BBC and their fair and impartial weather forecasting!

Eventually, of course, all the old sensations come back and I find I’ve re-learnt the dark art of layering up, knee-warmers, overshoes, and sometimes cancelling the ride and going out tomorrow instead.

But let’s keep this in perspective: if I were truly malfunctioning in the wardrobe department things would look very different indeed.

Be-suited bike rider (Image: photo by Noboyuki Taguchi)
Be-suited bike rider
(Image: photo by Noboyuki Taguchi)

I might turn up for the Wednesday evening ride with the lads wearing full office attire, tie flapping in the breeze, and suit jacket demonstrating all the aerodynamic properties of…well…a suit jacket. It might only be after I’d finally given up trying to clip my best work shoes into my Shimano pedals that the inappropriateness of my attire would dawn on me.

At work, wearing lycra bib-shorts, knee warmers, and a pink merino wool base layer, the sniggers and pointing should be enough to alert me to the error of my ways.

Despite this, being a fan of stats I might persist for a while with recording my office movements on my Garmin GPS device; after all, a decent Garmin doesn’t come cheap and I might as well get my money’s worth. The challenge of trying to better my PB on that tricky stretch of carpet between my desk and the photocopier might be a good way to spice things up a bit anyway.

I’d probably stop short of logging my workplace achievements on Strava though.

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