New kit! You’ve probably figured out by now that a large part of the allure of cycling to the average MAMIL is the almost endless possibilities it presents for kit. All of a sudden you can’t imagine how you made it this far in life without a carbon wheel upgrade or … (in fact at this point just insert the word ‘carbon’ in front of any bit of a bike you can think of) … upgrade. But it’s not just the hardware. There really can be no other sport where perfectly sensible, and probably not completely unstylish, individuals get excited about dressing up in the most absurd clothing. Somehow though, when you’re on a bike or surrounded by other MAMIL’s outside the Box Hill cafe, it just works and you can more or less get away with it. Step away from the bike though … and it’s a disaster. A stylistic car crash. Take the shoes for example. On the bike it’s appropriate footwear, plus they make you feel a bit Wiggo and that’s not such a bad thing. Step away from the bike however, and you find yourself waddling around on your heels with your toes in the air as if you’ve just trodden in your dog’s finest and need to get across to the other side of the sitting room without getting anything on the carpet! And it’s the same for every other bit of clothing you pull on. Socks, gloves, gilets, cycling jerseys, helmet… and don’t even get me started on leg warmers and arm warmers or those overshoes that make you look like a clown. If you’ve pulled it on, you only have two options – get on your bike quickly or surround yourself with other people in similar garb because there’s some safety in numbers.
And this is why I have steadfastly refused to post any pictures of your resident MAMIL dressed up. But regardless of what I think of the non-cycling properties of bike kit, there’s no escaping that it is functional and if I’m going to spend 3 consecutive days in the saddle in France I realised I was going to need one more change of clothes. I’m not sure if it’s exactly a cartel, but I do shake my head at the price of bike clothing. Technical stuff like Gore-Tex jackets etc I can sort of understand but a pair of lycra bib-shorts (google it if you’re wondering what they are) … how can they possibly cost more than £100? And the jersey… you know the sort of thing … highly flammable, three elasticated pockets at the back for your banana, wallet and phone …. £80 and up. Just go here (the Rapha store) to see the cost of dressing up like Cav or Wiggo on the weekend. But what to do? It’s either that or pulling on a salt encrusted set of kit on day 3 so I delved a little deeper into the internet and found myself a bargain. With hindsight it might have been a bargain because it says ‘Argos’ in big letters across the front… I’m guessing it’s not a huge seller among the brand conscious UK cycling fraternity. But in this case ‘Argos’ actually refers to a Dutch oil company and the kit is the same used by the Shimano Argos pro racing team. No I don’t suppose anyone will get the subtle distinction either but I just thought I should practice my sartorial self-defence. It’s also almost entirely white which I’m hoping I’ll be able to carry off by the time day 3 rolls around since by then I’ll have a sun tan and because I’ve already lost 10kg doing this cycling lark I don’t have to worry about the muffin roll anymore …. well, not as much as before anyway! Best of all though, it’s delivered to your door for £85 all in. Pro quality bib shorts and matching jersey. It’s a steal.
So to recap, I’m excited about having dropped £85 on a tight, white lycra outfit with Argos splashed across the front. I despair of myself!
Oh alright then …. see for yourself here.