The Standard “Kit”

I field a fair number of emails originating from readers of The Early Morning Cyclist. Every now and then I get questions about gear I’m using, or my “kit” – the stuff I wear when I ride. With three questions fired at me in as many days I’ll go out on a limb and call this a trend that needs to be addressed.

I don’t write about these things much because, frankly, I really don’t think about them much. (At least not nearly as much as our local groups of matching-kit Lycra roadies apparently do.) Oh, I certainly have my share of jerseys. Some commemorate events, others were picked up as mementos on vacation, and at least one was a gift from my wife and is emblazoned with an “Old Farts Cycling Team” graphic.

I just don’t wear them all that often.

I dress for comfort when I ride. Knickers and sweltered layers when it gets cold. And although my “kit” isn’t set in stone, during the summer it’s kind of standardized:

The Lid. I know I should probably be more diligent about wearing a helmet, but likely as not I’ll be found cycling in a grungy, sweat-stained cycling cap. I’ve got dozens of ’em, but my favorite is a gray cap made by Swift, the same fine craftspeople who made my Ozette bag. I rather think this hat was a “one and done” project, and that they were only available for a really short time. This is why I sort of freak out when I misplace my lid: there’s likely no way to replace it.

The eyes. I need glasses to read signs, or a map, or my phone. A couple years I ago I invested in a pair of prescription Ray-Bans and those have become a de facto part of my outdoor adventures. The other item that I feel a bit naked without is a Bike Peddler “Take A Look” Eyeglass Mirror. I really want to know what that smoke chugging truck creeping up behind me is up to, so I won’t leave home without my eyeglass mirror.

The hands. For short jaunts I won’t wear gloves at all. I really like the feel of my bare palms against shellac-coated bar wrap. But if I’m going to be out for more than an hour, the gloves will definitely be part of my kit.

The jersey. It’s a 100% cotton t-shirt, occasionally stained with smudges of paint, or chain grease, or both. I spent too many years as a graphic designer to be able to stomach the truly awful graphics that adorn most shirts, so I consider the embarrassing designs to be optional.

The legs. Instead of Lycra bicycle shorts, I’m rather partial to lightweight padded under shorts – as in “worn under normal shorts.” I like hiking, camp, or cargo shorts. Lots of pockets for important stuff like money, fountain pen, sketchbook, etc.

The feet. I’ve got a pair of mountain bike shoes for when I ride clipped in. A recessed clip is the only pure cycling shoe I care to wear because it allows me to walk around off the bike without looking like I’m in a Monty Python skit. I also like to use trail runners or my Keene sandals. That way I look semi-normal off the bike, and I can stroll in and out of a diner or grocery store or even a bike shop. I’m kind of picky about socks though, and will avoid cotton at all costs.

What’s nice about this “kit” is that I don’t have to pack a lot of specialty clothing when I travel. My ride clothes and my “everything else” clothes are pretty much one and the same. As a matter of fact, it’s also pretty much what I’m wearing as I type these words, and pretty much what I’ll be wearing when I begin cooking dinner tonight. It’s pretty much the only thing I wear from the time summer vacation begins until the time I report back to school.

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2 thoughts on “The Standard “Kit”

  1. William B. Winslow says:

    Great post as I can relate to most of your kit these past couple of years! Though, consider purchasing some Road Holland jerseys, since they’ve announced their demise and have significantly discounted their gear (sad). This reminds me of the Keen Austin Pedal shoe, which is no longer made. I do however email Keen (annually) asking if they’ve reconsidered producing the shoe again 🙂

    • I was saddened to read about Road Holland’s imminent end last week. And yes, you’re right, I really should consider ordering something from them, if for no other reason than to extend the well wishes and support.

      You mentioned the Keen Austin Pedal shoes. I have a pair of Keen shoes with recessed SPD clips.

      I’m not sure if they are the Austin model or not, and I’m not seeing them on the Keen website either. They’re a bit too hot for summer months in Missouri, but they are good for cooler weather. I’ve even worn them as a casual shoe from time to time, although the clicking noise from the clips makes it seem like I’m wearing tap shoes!

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