Now that autumn is properly underway, I’m having to back off a little from my ‘cycling in ordinary clothes’ stance. Not, I hasten to add, that I am togging myself out in luridly coloured lycra – I have almost no actual cycling gear of the sort you might buy in an actual cycling shop – it’s just that slowly I’m finding I have to change out of my usual sitting-around-the-house-writing clothes* into things I only ever wear when heading off on my bike.
The first to go were my jeans. Generally I wear no other kind of trousers, and probably always will until I get the notification from the fashion police that I’m officially too old for them, but they are not practical on a bike. Even when they’re dry, they’re too stiff, and when they’re wet they most closely resemble setting concrete which, as you can imagine, makes cycling a little tough. And a bike is tough on your jeans in return, particularly in the seat, which can work out pretty expensive after a while. So my cycling trousers are a pair of lightweight summer walking trousers which not only fit, miracles of miracles, but have a handy drawstring at the bottom so they don’t get caught in the chain. (They also have those zips round the legs that mean you can transform them instantly into a pair of unstylish shorts OR a pair of unstylish capri pants which appeals greatly to my inner dork. I know. Don’t worry, I won’t actually do it, not in public at least, but I like knowing I can).
Next up is my top. This is my only actual proper piece of cycling kit apart from my scary yellow jacket: a slim cut, elegant and long-sleeved plain black merino wool jersey from Howies which is not only the most stylish piece of cycling clothing I’ve seen, it’s in contention for being the most stylish piece of clothing I own. It’s warm, breathable and surprisingly non-itchy, and this from a woman who can’t even wear wool socks. In fact, the only reason I don’t wear it off the bike is because it would show up the rest of my wardrobe.
On top of that goes an ordinary cotton denim jacket to cut the wind until I warm up, ordinary black leather gloves from M&S, my waxed cotton cap to keep my head warm and dry and the rain off my glasses and my normal shoes – for someone as uncoordinated as myself, clipping my feet to the pedals on my bike makes as much sense as tying my shoelaces together before I go for a run. The end result is something that’s practical on the bike but doesn’t scream ‘cyclist’ when I’m off it. All right, so I’m not as stylish as these people – but then I’m never that stylish at the best of times, bike or no bike. And cycling in heels? I’ll get back to you when I’ve worked out how to walk in them.
So, all you cyclists out there – what do you wear?
* currently trending towards my usual winter outfit of as many of my clothes as I can put on at once and still move.