Lycra Is not a gimp suit, I promise

lycraYesterday was the first day of the year that I donned my lycra.
Normally I tend to “cycle chic” as in I just wear my normal clothes. But now it is getting chilly again. In winter, particularly if I am traveling for more than 20mins I will wear lycra. For years I didn’t use it and I have to be honest, that was a mistake. You don’t need it, but if you are a super commuter, as in your commute is more than 45mins, and you do that “super commute” by bike, then I think it is worth shelling out for a bit of geek chic.
In 2002 when I started cycling, if you told people you were buying a bike, they would ask you “Are you going to wear all that lycra?” Aware that I was really being asked: “Are you going to become a sexual deviant, who commutes in a gimp suit?” I would quickly respond, “No, I am not into that stuff. It is ridiculous and unnecessary”.
Still to this day the word “lycra” is used to fetishize cycling and identify us as a weird out group but it is clear that the sting has gone out of the tale of the lycra prejudice.
Now a typical discussion goes like this. Q:”Do you wear all that lycra?” A: “Yeah, of course I do.” Q: “Why?” A: “Well my commute is over an hour, and the shorts have padding in the seat and it is more comfortable”. Q: Oh, so you don’t wear the full body lycra then (laugh)? A: Yes I do. Q: (some shock) Why? A: Because in winter, at some points in my journey I am doing more than 30 mph and the wind chill is unpleasant. So I prefer to be warm and comfortably dressed. The lycra means I don’t over heat if I ride fast and don’t get cold when I am on a descent.
Convinced? Well Lycra is clearly still a very divisive issue. It you want to buy it then I think the best place to go is Wiggle. Their DHB range is cheap and has served me well through a few winters now. I always rode my bike all year round but now I am perfectly comfortable whatever the weather.

A good kit list for the all-weather cyclist is:
Thick walking socks

Clip in shoes

DHB over booty things

Onesie lycra

Shorts

Cycling jersey

A cable knit sweater (one that lets the air through, so you can open your jacket and let the icy winds in if you are over heating)

Jacket

Lycra beanie

Helmet

Gloves: absolutely essential, riding without them in winter is hellish.

Normally, I would say, wear normal clothes and only wear a helmet if it makes you feel more comfortable on the bike. But in the depths of winter which will creep up on us fast, I am glad I have this stuff.

Lastly if you really can’t abide any of that then, the only thing left to do is head south. Next week we are off to the Loire Valley. :-p
Yes, sorry for the boast but I am really looking forward to our own little cycling adventure!
Seriously though, don’t let the bullies put you off. If you are thinking of getting lycra, just do It. I use to worry about what people would think, but now I never even give it a moment’s consideration. You know it’s great, it works well and you won’t look back.