Awesome Cycling Chic – is it Possible?

Knowing what to wear has been a battle all my life.  Hiding 13 stone (82 kilos) was always a nightmare and often very traumatic.  The very best tip I was ever given was to wear what I felt like wearing which changed my whole approach forever.  This allowed me to consider dressing for the occasion but also focussing on how I feel in said outfit.  It was and continues to be a life changer.

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Since taking up cycling, the additional factor for wardrobe consideration is the weather.  Once I know whether the forecast the next decision is always about my feet. Having chosen the footwear the outerwear is next.

Waterproof jackets and overtrousers will keep you dry.  All things Gore and Castelli work best for me, excellent technical fabric, great fit and long lasting.  I never leave home with Gore overtrousers and Castelli jacket.  Both have rescued me in sudden changes in the weather, not just the rain but also the cold.

Waterproof socks not so much – although the Sealskinz works well over another pair of woollen socks.  The most waterproof gloves I have found are Giro leather gloves.  Amazing.

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Then the focus is on the destination which need to go with my shoe choice. At a push I might take another pair with me but that is cumbersome and not always practical.

My base layer will always be a (fitted) sports bra and seamless knickers.   Next layer is always padded shorts.  Never underestimate the comfort of Lycra. It stretches and moves with you. It also doesn’t reveal your butt!  Merino wool tops are excellent base layers as absorbing sweat is crucial.   The layer over that is purely what I feel like wearing.  The only cycling consideration is to ensure that coats, skirts and dresses are not too long to be caught up in the pedals, wheel or chain.  Laces are tucked into themselves for the same reason.  I avoid scarves as they always move!

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For longer rides the development in fabric technology makes a real difference to the enjoyment of the bike ride.  Maintaining the right temperature, wearing clothes that accommodate movement without rubbing is crucial.  Cotton, Linen and silk are extremely impractical for cycling.  Cotton, unlike wool, absorbs the sweat but keeps it sitting on your skin which will make you cold and smelly.  Linen and silk have the some problem but worse they crease.  You may look marvellous on the bike but as soon as you dismount you will be a smelly, creased mess!

More and more manufacturers are at last realising that women like cycling and are beginning to develop their own women specific range.  Although too many of them are pink, several are keeping ahead of the rest by offering ranges that don’t make you look androgynous or be only available in pink! Velorution, Velovixen and Queen of the Mountains  are worth keeping an eye on. Definitely, top of the range and top choice Castelli and Gore are my recommendations for long distance riding. All weathers.

Walking the bicycle

It always amazes me how much criticism and judgements are voiced to describe people riding bicycles.  If the cyclists were people without bicycles just walking along the pavement to their destination no one would bat an eyelid but if you are on a bicycle everybody else becomes the equivalent of Gok Kwan!

Top Tips for Short Trips:

  • What do you feel like wearing
  • Weather forecast
  • Shoes
  • Jacket/Coat/Outerwear
  • Dress for the Destination
  • Base Layers

Top Tips for Longer Trips:

  • What do you feel like wearing
  • Weather forecast
  • Shoes
  • Jacket/Coat/Outerwear
  • Emergency back up (overtrousers and windstopper/waterproof top)
  • Dress for the Ride
  • Base Layers

What is your favourite wardrobe item?  It would be great to know.