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All the Gear and No Idea - Deloitte RAB 2012

Please can someone reassure me that I will never have to ride topless??


First things first, I er need a bike.....oh and a helmet, water bottles and cages, lights, little computer thingy, spare inner tubes, puncture repair kits, those little plastic lever thingys and oh so much Lycra....really?  Is there no other way?

So the bike was easy, borrowed from a kind friend and luckily the right size.  The clothing however is another story!  To windproof or waterproof, to compress or not to compress, to neon or not?  Longs or shorts, sleeves or sleeveless, leg warmers, arm warmers, sunglasses - dark or light, socks-how many colours do they need to be??  How many layers, how thick or thin?  British weather of course being extremely unhelpful on this front, it turns out you need pretty much all of the above!  Who knew there could be so much involved?

Also, a couple of questions: Having been on a certain website looking for clothing, please can someone reassure me that I will never have to ride topless??  I mean those girls are brave, it's got to be cold out there some days and do they have to defy gravity by riding with one hand and covering with the other or do they just let them...hang out so to speak?  Terrifying.

Secondly, can someone clarify why it is that the comfortable (and admittedly bottom saving) gel pad has to be attached to my butt rather than the seat of my bike?  I know which option I would prefer and it's not the one that makes me look like I'm wearing a nappy...

And then of course the dreaded cleats....those have caused a lot of amusement to my sons and not a small amount of pain to me as I have practised at home.  It has in fact been a bit of a recurring amusement and I'm still falling off occasionally, especially near the end of a long ride. Owwww, please tell me it will stop!

So, after literally hours on numerous websites deciding what shape, size, combination of layers and of course colours I think might be best, I have officially reached that cringeworthy next stage of 'all the gear and no idea'. 

I'm ready....just please don't show these photos to any of my clients.....

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Jax Fanshawe | 12 years ago

Hey GOB!

Wow, you've really been sucked in  3 I have a long way to go to catch up, but the scary thing is.... I'm sure I will as it is, as you say, a snowball effect.....and then the economy will surely be saved??!

I love the cleats now and find them so much help and I'm going to hold you to that promise! Thanks for the plastic bag tip too, a good one and very economical!

I have actually joined the Chippenham Wheelers just in the last couple of weeks and when I can get over there it is great to ride with them, what a difference it makes to pace and mood!

The topless issue is an intriguing one and promises to be used in only the direst of circumstances,  13 none of which I can think of just now...

Thanks for your comments, advice and good luck


Grumpyoldbiker | 12 years ago

Great posting, you are getting right to the heart of the cycling issue!
As I get more and more "in" to cycling I'm convinced that all these supposedly technical reasons and different bits of "stuff" are just our excuse to go into more bike shops and onto more web sites and buy more thingamebobs and bikes.
I had been a sensible economy cyclist all my life until about 10 years ago when I decided that my modest mountain bike simply wasn't good enough, so I spent about three times what I had ever spent previously on a reasonably good MTB.
I was sceptical about the cleats, but the extra confidence they give you when riding far outweighs the occasional embarrassment (which will soon become history, I promise.) The higher spec parts and the necessary research simply drew me in to more understanding of what it was possible to buy.
A couple of years later I convinced myself I needed a road bike since I was using the MTB mainly on road. (Embarassing moment when I tried it out - I had to go back to the shop during the test ride and say "... err excuse me could you tell me how to change the gears?"
I had never seen combined brake/gear levers before!)
Anyway moving to a new job I decided to commute by bike, but of course the MTB "was not suitable" and the road bike "would get ruined and was far too good for commuting" so a hybrid was required. (Modest spend this time but - another bike!)
Retirement is now looming and long distance touring is on the horizon, so I'm in the market for - yes you guessed - a "proper" tourer. I mention just the bikes but along the way I've also acquired a house full of bib tights, gilets, jerseys, "windstoppers", waterproofs, muffs, gloves, mitts, bootees, computers, lights, locks, bottles, cleats, pumps (track and portable), spares, racks, bike hangers etc. I only evr ride one bike at a time and use about one tenth of of all the "stuff" I have. (How can the economy be in recession when I'm spending so much!?). Even with all this "stuff" I occasionally get it wrong and have to pop into a newsagent to ask for a plastic bag to shove down the front of my jersey on cold mornings when I set out with not enough "stuff"
On the "bottom" thing there are so many postings on the issue I won't even try to offer any advice in this limited space.
On a serious note, my advice would be try out different "stuff" and just wear/use what you feel comfortable with.
If you haven't already done so I'd recommend joining a friendly cycling club, you will have lots of fun along the way.Good luck with your ride.
P.S. On the topless thing, no you definitely do not have to ride topless, and I cannot believe that anyone would make such a sexist suggestion to you. (However, if you ever decide to, please let us know.)

Edgeley | 12 years ago

The clothes aren't just for speed. They are mainly for comfort, and in particular avoiding chafing. I'd rather look silly in lycra than look sensible and sore.

mike the bike | 12 years ago

I think you're brave Jax, but it's for a great cause and when it's all over you won't mind the odd bit of falling off and nappy wearing.

In truth we cyclists do look an odd lot as we hobble across the cafe floor and our Max Wall trousers cause a certain amount of merriment in the uninitiated. But believe me, it's all for a reason and every part of our gear is the result of years of testing and refinement. What you have is the best at its job, and the job is making the bike go faster. Nothing else matters; vanity, embarrassment and sensitivity are all sidelined in the pursuit of speed. I am 0.1 mph faster than you means I am better than you. It can all get a little wearing.

That's why most of us take an occasional break from Lycra and ride out on the straight-barred bike in a tee-shirt and baggies. We look like ordinary people and enjoy the ride rather than the speed. Of course, this means you have to buy more tees and shorts, there's no end to the consumption.

And if the kids give you a hard time, race them up the road and beat them by a mile. That should wipe the smile off that teenage face.

Jax Fanshawe replied to mike the bike | 12 years ago

Hey Mike!

There's a fine line between brave and well....mad among other possibilities! You're right of course and I have just about managed to dispense with vanity all in pursuit of that extra speed. A couple of miles an hour faster could save me hours over 9 days so I figure the slinky look is worth it! Might try the baggies for a change though, sounds good!


batch | 12 years ago

FYI...topless is optional  19

I've collected a whole wardrobe of cycling gear...just waiting for all that weather to come around now  3

Good luck!


Jax Fanshawe replied to batch | 12 years ago

Haha thanks, Batch! Good to know its optional!

Huge wardrobe of cycling kit now! Luckily UK weather will no doubt throw it all at us at some point, looking forward to it....well some of it! Thanks for the luck, I will definitely need it!


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