Guest Article: Just give me something – something I can use

A Pile of Kits

In our continuing guest article series, @eightzero weighs in on the modern cycling jersey. It’s made of some unholy material which has a half-life of fifty years and unless you crash in it, it’s still in your kit drawer.

Yours in Cycling, Gianni

As the song goes, “we need dirty laundry” so goes the pile of road gear. While the preferred kit is the Sacred Garments of the Velominati, it is also true that said SGs need periodic washing. Nothing is worse (and potentially dangerous to one’s health) than pulling on yesterday’s bibs and jersey. I know the commandment to heed Rule #5 at all times, but staph infections are taking it to the extreme. I suspect even The Keepers would not endorse throwing one’s self to the pavement intentionally to acquire road rash just so we can look like Jens. Since giving the Machine a quick rub down after the ride is a priority, getting the SGs through the laundry often requires a delay.

Thus, most Velominati have a store of various bibs, base layers, gloves, and jerseys. And the latter is what gives me pause. Oh, what to do with those jerseys acquired with stars in my eyes – when those same jerseys and logos were adorned by the True Giants of the Road I so wished to emulate? A certain Texan made buying postage stamps cool, and then I had to have shark week on my TV. My sister-in-law was afflicted by MS, so it was natural that I show my support for the Tyler Hamilton Foundation, and his teeth grinding rides with CSC. And then, I had to look like Floyd. Had to. He was the Guy That Got Screwed. The guy that stood up to the alphabet soup groups. The guy that was going to make a difference and provide the hardmen with fairness.

Yeah, that turned out well.

I do my level best not to think that I have more invested in cycling clothing than I do in Machines. This clothing stuff is expensive. And, even though I now know that USPS was likely defrauded, that THF spent donations on Ty’s legal defense, that I can’t afford cable TV anymore (much less a science-y channel on the premium lineup) that CSC… well… hell, I don’t even know what CSC makes. And of course, Floyd has moved on to something called NASCAR, something I don’t even think of as sport. (I know I am going to catch hell for that, but really, driving in circles isn’t even exercise. What will be next? Olympic bus riding?) But I still have all these perfectly functional cycling kits and jerseys. They will function just fine, but somehow they always seem to find their way to the bottom of the stack, far, far below the SGs. I seek the path of the Velominati, and it is oh so hard to feel the guiding hand of Merckx upon me when resplendent in the wardrobe of… douchebags.

I guess I can be a little philosophical – I did resist the urge to buy Rock Racing’s kit – the most expensive of them all. Sure it looked pretty jazzy – I even met Michael Ball once – but $280 for a jersey? No wonder the dude has more money than, well, the United States. And I just never did get around to a Bahati Foundation jersey. I think my internet connection was down the day Floyd was on that team. My dad does like his Phonak hearing aid I got for him though. So I got that going for me.

So, off I go to eBay again looking for bargains. I see BMC kit prices are way, way up. For now. Sigh. Guess I’ll have to have one. La vie Velominatus.

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126 Replies to “Guest Article: Just give me something – something I can use”

  1. The only pro kit I’ve ever been tempted to buy is the BMC kit. I think it’s classy and not totally blinged out with labels. It doesn’t even really look like a pro peloton kit to me in the sense of advertising shit all over, more like a kit one could wear riding a BMC. But alas, the Witte Kit has arrived and my wardrobe is nearly complete.

  2. @gaswepass

    @DerHoggz
    I had a similar but different question. As far as baselayer, we did yesterday over 4 hours in 0-4 C weather with some climbing n sprinting and stopping. Had a thicker smartwool baselayer on (under a normal cycling polypro jersey and gore windstopper light jacket). At the end, no clamminess, a little bit of hypothermia, and some exhaustion. Used it and a thinner version this past cross season, which was a bit warmer and drier than last year. Always wicked like a champ, short/long rides, aerobic/anaerobic times. So I will be asking VMH for more of those base layers (and they don’t pill much at all). AND NO POLYPRO FUNK!
    So my question is, those old school wool jerseys- do they perform like smartwool, or do they get soggy and funky?

    Don’t be modest. You guys rocked almost 6hrs yesterday.

  3. So does smartwool do well in the summer as well, or are base layers not really used? I’ve heard good things about bamboo as well, anyone with experience?

  4. @paolo

    @rhys

    as long as you’re laying down some V.

    Rhys this is not aimed specifically at you but this idea of everything being cool as long as you lay down some V is becoming far too common place in my opinion. In the sock thread, in the shoe thread. It all stems from the wording in the rule about leg shaving. We cannot and should not be using the “as long as you’re laying down The V” as some kind of “catch all” get out of jail free card. By all means people debate the points, there are cases to be made. Classic team kits..yes? no? maybe..black shoes, white shoes, black socks. Eveyone can make a riveting and eloquent point BUT if we keep repeating the mantra ” it doesn’t matter as long as you’re laying down The V” then we might as well all grow beards and ride fixies in fucking flip flops..fer fucks sake.
    Rant over…sorry.

    Duly noted, paolo. I realise it wasn’t directed at me, but perhaps I should clarify my reason a little more.
    Many of my friends ride MTB pedals, black socks, black shoes, and hairy legs. I’m not going to tell them what to do. They were my friends before cycling, my friends now, and they’ll be my friends after cycling.
    Being new here I was worried about coming off as a pretentious snob, which is why I added the caveat of laying down some serious V (because at the end of the day, it’s the one thing we all have in common).
    Now that I realise the company I’m in, I understand this caveat is no longer needed, and I feel warm of heart.
    Fair weather!

  5. Cycle jerseys are big business – especially in the custom jersey market. We recently made a batch of jerseys for work as part of a marketing campaign.

    No one want’s to be seen in the same jersey as someone else, so the more ‘custom’ the jersey, the more special we/they feel.

  6. @DerHoggz

    So talking about kit, merino/sportwool is a good all-weather base layer, more or less?

    It’s awesome. I come from the land of icebreaker, and am replacing all my baselayers with merino.

  7. @DerHoggz

    So does smartwool do well in the summer as well, or are base layers not really used? I’ve heard good things about bamboo as well, anyone with experience?

    I wouldn’t use a base layer in summer but a sportwool jersey is fine if it is a good one like Rapha.

    I’ve used cheaper imitations and I reckon I’ve ended up carrying around an extra half kilo of sweat. (I’m not making that number up, I weighed it).

    Some people swear by the mesh vests (Giordana, Castelli, Craft) as base layers in warm weather. They are like old-fashioned string vests. The theory is that it helps wick the moisture from your skin to the jersey and because the jersey is slightly off your skin it can evaporate more easily.

  8. @gaswepass
    Look at REI or similar retailer for a product called Sports Wash. It was designed to remove the funk from climbing and hiking clothes. Works great on Jerseys and shorts.

  9. Speaking of the V, I had to use copious amounts of it over the weekend.

    I did a 90km ride, which made me go into survival mode – headwind all the way. Yes, i know thats not much compared to what some folks do, and it’s supposed to be an enjoyable distance for me too. But I just haven’t been able to do a long ride in months and this was my first decent ride back.

    Calves started cramping at 30km, followed by the quads at 60km. The last 20kms were torture. I couldn’t even stand and pedal.

    Anyway, my point – its easy to talk about the V, but actually going through it is quite another thing. It’s only enjoyable after it’s all done. As someone mentioned…it’s not something we do everyday.

  10. All this talk about kits, but no mention of the fact that the cuffs must match the collar.

    To me there is overriding importance for the kit to match the bike. Not necessarily the brand, but certainly the colours. From the helmet to the shoes, to the bike, colours must compliment each other.

    And while I am at it people, please…..no more flouro colored jawbones.

  11. @minion

    @DerHoggz

    So talking about kit, merino/sportwool is a good all-weather base layer, more or less?

    It’s awesome. I come from the land of icebreaker, and am replacing all my baselayers with merino.

    +1 on the merino. I’ve got a LS Howies merino base layer which gets a lot of use, on and off the bike. I’ve also got a pair of matching long johns (getting those on under bib tights without bunching would be no mean feat). Friday’s ride was a shade under three hour at 3°C with a good headwind or crosswind for most of the ride. I was perfectly toasty, but not too hot (my cycling sensei was giving me a bit of a beasting to see how training is working out), with the merino base layer paired with the LS V-Kit and apart from my face, would have been happy if it had been a good bit colder.

    I occasionally ride with a cheap Nike base layer in the summer if I’m setting out early, more for warmth in my arms than my core – haven’t got round to arm warmers yet. I can’t imagine you’d want anything like the merino in the summer but having spent longer inside wearing it than planned, I know that you don’t overheat in it in the same way that you wood with man-made layers.

  12. Wow, the Cipo photos are always awesome. I have a few questions about them.

    What wheels are those on the middle bike? Third dude seems to be riding Campagnolo Shamals, middle look kind of like Shamals, but what is the red streak?

    Does Cipo have shoe covers on? Or are his shoes just really damn white? His mane is great. Even better: all three riders on gum-walled tires. Nice! And I love those Brikos. Those shades alone made me want to get into cross country skiing, since I first saw them on Olympic skiers.

    Second photo in the list – is that a Bianchi he’s on? Doesn’t look to be, but the color is confusing. And those are some slick Diadoras he has on. Very nice.

  13. @ChrisO

    Some people swear by the mesh vests (Giordana, Castelli, Craft) as base layers in warm weather. They are like old-fashioned string vests. The theory is that it helps wick the moisture from your skin to the jersey and because the jersey is slightly off your skin it can evaporate more easily.

    I wear a base layer all year – different weights for different seasons, and this seems to be the case. In summer I use a thin wicking layer, and in winter a nice wool base. Always sleeveless, by the way, to keep from bunching in the arms.

  14. @GPdomestique
    Welcome, but indeed, what @RedRanger said is right. Keep it cool, keep it casual. For example, here’s Hushovd, as world champ, WAY over-matched:

    Here’s LeMond in the same bands, looking sharp as a tack.

    Case closed.

  15. @Ron
    I think the middle wheels are Shamals, but they could be something custom. The hub looks to be Campa, so I’m guessing his wheels were just painted red to match his red frame. In the second pic, he is on a Bianchi, I think possibly the cool Ti frame they had for a while, with triangular tubes, but I’m not sure.

    Those Brikos were like a mustache with titties. We Nordic Skiers loved them for their coverage, photo-chromatic lenses, and the strap that came with them so you could chuck them up to your hat when you needed them off, without worrying that they were going to come off.

  16. I used to be a Jersey Junkie – needing as many jerseys as I could lay my hands on. But seeing the V-Light has turned me into a Kit Whore/Snob – I won’t wear a jersey unless I have matching bibs (and hopefully socks) to go with it. I’ll only wear my Assos bibs on the trainer now or under the winter bib tights. And now that I have the V-Gillet and LS V-Jersey I’m a complete, total pimp.

    Speaking of the V-Gillet – I have found that for temps around 0c an Under Armour “Winter Mock” under the LS V-Jersey and the V-Gillet is just right if there is no wind.

  17. Speaking of Nordic skiing, I am completely fascinated by Biathlon. To me it is a lot like cycling- especially mountain bike racing in that you need to be super fit to win- but if you cannot shoot well (descend technically) you will lose. It appears to be a very cerebral/strategic event (how hard you push into the shoots/how fast you shoot)…. the more I watch..the more my utmost respect becomes a skibone

  18. @mblume
    Imagine doing hill repeats at full tilt and having to stop at the top in the red each time and shoot at a small target. It’s all about heart rate and calming the fuck down. Arguably easier to just stay in the red then go in an out of it while having to do something that requires calm.

    Nordic skiing is awesome and breeds hardass athletes. I’d be skiing my butt off by now but we’re in the middle of a strange winter with virtually no snow. Ugh. Too shitty to ride as there’s been enough snow to fuck up the roads and render them unsafe, too cold to melt the shoulders, but not enough to ski on. And fuck if I take up running. Lot’s of frustrated people around here.

  19. @mblume, @Marko
    Biathlon is awesome; I used to race it for fun when I was fit, and I’d just shoot my gun off my back, do my penalty laps, and still do well; the quality of the skier was (at that time) much lower than the pure racers, and that showed. I think its changed, though. We watched some of the Biathlon events at the last Olympics; we had seats right on the range, very cool to watch. I guess they do Yoga and mentally drop their HR from 160 to 80 or lower to shoot and then move on. Amazing to combine those disciplines.

    Nordic skiing is awesome and breeds hardass athletes. I’d be skiing my butt off by now but we’re in the middle of a strange winter with virtually no snow. Ugh. Too shitty to ride as there’s been enough snow to fuck up the roads and render them unsafe, too cold to melt the shoulders, but not enough to ski on. And fuck if I take up running. Lot’s of frustrated people around here.

    This is precisely why I left Minnesota.

  20. @mblume

    Speaking of Nordic skiing, I am completely fascinated by Biathlon. To me it is a lot like cycling- especially mountain bike racing in that you need to be super fit to win- but if you cannot shoot well (descend technically) you will lose. It appears to be a very cerebral/strategic event (how hard you push into the shoots/how fast you shoot)…. the more I watch..the more my utmost respect becomes a skibone

    One of the main reasons I am looking into living in Jericho/Underhill area of VT when I leave the military is b/c of the biathlon range/course right near there. I grew up racing nordic in junior high through college and I whole-heartedly second Marko’s comments. HARD [email protected]#K’ing sport but now I am stuck in TX pining for the snow.

    Someday I will be back in Vermont for good, though and can ski in the winter, ride CX in the spring and fall and ride road as much as possible the rest of the year!

  21. The Herminator’s foray into cycling, albeit interesting, wasn’t really comparing apples to apples. It’d be more interesting to take a Petter Northug or Bjorn Dahle (highest Vo2 max ever recorded) and put them on a bike just to see what happens. Especially a nordic skier who does consistently well in marathons.

  22. @frank

    @mblume, @Marko
    Biathlon is awesome; I used to race it for fun when I was fit, and I’d just shoot my gun off my back, do my penalty laps, and still do well; the quality of the skier was (at that time) much lower than the pure racers, and that showed. I think its changed, though. We watched some of the Biathlon events at the last Olympics; we had seats right on the range, very cool to watch. I guess they do Yoga and mentally drop their HR from 160 to 80 or lower to shoot and then move on. Amazing to combine those disciplines.

    Nordic skiing is awesome and breeds hardass athletes. I’d be skiing my butt off by now but we’re in the middle of a strange winter with virtually no snow. Ugh. Too shitty to ride as there’s been enough snow to fuck up the roads and render them unsafe, too cold to melt the shoulders, but not enough to ski on. And fuck if I take up running. Lot’s of frustrated people around here.

    This is precisely why I left Minnesota.

    Don’t tell me u ended up in Ballard, home of Minnesotan expats…

  23. @Souleur
    I find The Articles and accompaning discussions enjoyable and an important part of my education as a cyclist but more photos of this type will make me an ex-reader, having gouged my eyes out.

  24. @frank
    True enough but you moved from the southern part of the state. Hardly Minnesota at all. I live in an entirely different climactic zone. One which is dependably snowy in the winter and pleasant in the summer.

  25. @Marko

    The Herminator’s foray into cycling, albeit interesting, wasn’t really comparing apples to apples. It’d be more interesting to take a Petter Northug or Bjorn Dahle (highest Vo2 max ever recorded) and put them on a bike just to see what happens. Especially a nordic skier who does consistently well in marathons.

    Daehle’s approach to racing was so great; just go á bloc from the start and see how far you get, As a junior, it was 5K, then 7K, then 10k. Then he graduated to the 15K and 30K. And never really made it to 50K. He would either win, or he’d run out of steam before the finish, put ‘er in reverse, and get 30th. Not to mention his signature finish-line collapse. He just V’d it up every time.

    Most exciting ski finish of all time:

    @Marko

    @frank
    True enough but you moved from the southern part of the state. Hardly Minnesota at all. I live in an entirely different climactic zone. One which is dependably snowy in the winter and pleasant in the summer.

    An having your own island on a lake doesn’t really hurt, either.

    @RedRanger

    @Marko
    I miss the hell out of Twin City summers. Winters not so much.

    I don’t get so nastalgic for the 98*F heat with 99.999999999% humidity. Lift a fork and break out in a sweat. Yuck.

    @gaswepass

    Don’t tell me u ended up in Ballard, home of Minnesotan expats…

    No, no. Not at all. Phinney. A solid three minute ride from Ballard.

  26. @frank
    The dude took second in a photo finish in 2010 in the American Birkie classic race. He’s still killing it. That video is awesome. Those guys are so fast.

  27. BTW, if we’re going to venture into other sports talk aside from cycling, this is apropro. No ball sport honeybear footballer bullshit that doesn’t equate.

  28. @frank
    Good point on that humidity. While I lived there I worked in south saint Paul in the beef slaughter house. Those fuckers get hot what with being elbow deep in dead cattle. Got down to 62kilo @ 178cm. Damn I miss being that slim.

  29. @rhys

    @paolo
    Duly noted, paolo. I realise it wasn’t directed at me, but perhaps I should clarify my reason a little more.Many of my friends ride MTB pedals, black socks, black shoes, and hairy legs. I’m not going to tell them what to do. They were my friends before cycling, my friends now, and they’ll be my friends after cycling.Being new here I was worried about coming off as a pretentious snob, which is why I added the caveat of laying down some serious V (because at the end of the day, it’s the one thing we all have in common).Now that I realise the company I’m in, I understand this caveat is no longer needed, and I feel warm of heart.Fair weather!

    I quite understand old chap. While not telling my fellow cycling buddies what to do I do give them the odd little jibe about things like socks or mtn bike pedals. A joke with a jag as I think they say in Ireland.

    I am quite guarded about overstepping the mark too especially in fairly new company. I am quite new here myself but it seems most everyone has a great sense of humour and its mostly taken in fun and nearly always funny. I’m glad you see some kinship here, hopefully you stick around even if like me it’s to mostly lurk.

    I would argue though (and this was the reason for my original post)that whilst we might make an attempt at maximizing our own subjective level of V what we really all have in common here is either having or wanting to aquire a sense cycling asthetics, etiquette and attention to the minutia of our sport that goes beyond that of the casual or regular cyclist. It’s fascinating and it’s the very discussions and diffferent ideas of what constitutes looking “pro” , casually deliberate or just fabulous on a bike. Or the debates of what the ideal mini tool should have on it or the detailed discussions in the “Anatomy of a photo”, these are the things that keep us coming back here to read and join in with the discussion. So when people say,as they have had a tendancy over the last month to,that it doesn’t really matter, I think to myself, yes…it does matter. That’s exactly why we are here to have these discussions which we all find fascinating but which other people would regard pointless. To us it matters. And this is part of what sets Velominati apart from mere cyclists.

    Sorry for the long winded post. Wow..cheers keeps for the kit dealy…is that permanent or like a weekly thing?? I guess now I feel almost obliged to get the real thing.

  30. @Frank: My favorite biathlete has been Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway, and heck the whole Viking team…always have been my one of my 2 favorite non home country nations is winter sports along with Switerland. This was only strengthened by a trip to the Holmenkollen and seeing one of the shrines of the Nordic world.

    @Marko: I had forgotten Herminator’s flirtation with cycing- that never had any realistic chance with his body type. I have colleagues that were former national level alpine skiers- it was fairly unanimous in these circles that the Herminator was on the juice as well as being a sick skier.

  31. Trying to find cheap jerseys that aren’t loose fit is nearly impossible, anyone have suggestions?

  32. @DerHoggz

    Try a size down from the size you think you should be wearing? I’ve certainly found inexpensive jerseys that seem to fit very well, but are not made with as nice of fabric as their expensive counterparts.

    Also look for keywords such as “race fit” (tight) instead of “club fit” (loose).

  33. @Nate

    @frank
    Skate-skiing technique is all about The V, obviously.

    The strokes are called V1, V2, and V2-Alternate. Not shit. Fucking hardman’s sport, bitches.

    @Marko

    @frank
    The dude took second in a photo finish in 2010 in the American Birkie classic race. He’s still killing it. That video is awesome. Those guys are so fast.

    I won Sectionals one year using the same lunge. We came into the stadium and I was cooked because I was using the race as training for the State Champs the next week and didn’t really care if I won or not, so I did the idiot tactical thing and just lead this other guy the whole way around the course because it was better training for my goals. We came into the stadium and he passed me and I was fried so I let him go; we came around the last bend and he hit a snow drift (it was a cold, windy day) and being heavier I just kind of rolled up within range and I gave the sprint a shot. Full-on sprint right to the line, he used a V2 and I used a V1. Most people think the V2 is faster for sprinting, but I could always sprint better in a V1 because of my ludicrously long legs covered a lot of ground during the jump between strokes. Pipped him on the line.

    That was unquestionably the most fun I’ve ever had in a race. The stadium, the crowd, the narrowness fo the win. It felt totally Pro.

    @mblume

    @Frank: My favorite biathlete has been Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway, and heck the whole Viking team…always have been my one of my 2 favorite non home country nations is winter sports along with Switerland. This was only strengthened by a trip to the Holmenkollen and seeing one of the shrines of the Nordic world.

    He didn’t do so well at the last Olympics, but the VMH and I had dinner up on Blackcomb Mountain in this hut that you have to take the now mobile to. We got there and most of the tiny chalet had been reserved by the NORWEGIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE. The chairman for some reason took a liking to us and spent most of the night getting hammered and telling us stories about Bjoerndalen and Daelhe. Man, they worship those dudes.

    Anyway, he gave me his NOC sweater before we left. Pretty fucking cool. Oh, and Dale of Norway’s founder was there too, and we met her as well. That was one stunning woman, even at 65 or however old she was.

  34. @DerHoggz
    Bamboo is a joke – it’s really just rayon. A microweight merino wool layer is great in summer, if you need a base layer.

  35. @Oli

    @frankRight on both counts, Frank. Although the Shamals are decalled up rather than painted. And @Ron they are socks as shoe covers.

    (Putting his big boy pants on) Right whatever. I’m calling you on that, looks to me like it’s a mavic cosmic hub. Yes you heard me, Oli, everyone, you’re WRONG! Five minutes of googling images for Saeco and Mavic were a wheel sponsor at some point. Dunno when but that doesn’t look like a campy hub to me.

    (Prepares to be taken down a peg or 6.)So there. Big boy pants over and out.

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