The current, seemingly endless, rise of the mamil is no doubt a good thing for cycling. It’s bringing money into the sport, it’s fuelling an increase in trade for local cycle shops, and, indeed, it seems to be driving a trend towards new shops opening. It is even making more car drivers aware of cyclists on the roads.
Okay, so that’s all the good points out of the way, now I can look at the flipside…
When mountain biking was the young upstart, riders wore whatever came to hand; a mish-mash of road kit, running gear and outdoor clothing. Over the years, it settled down and definite styles have been established, much in the same way that there have always been unwritten style rules for riders on the road.
Well, there used to be unwritten rules for road riders before road cycling became the new golf. Now it seems that road cycling is a free for all where very few riders give as much thought to what they are wearing as to how their Strava times are doing. It’s like the start of mountain biking all over again.
This is the only reason I can think of for the continually rising number of riders I see out and about wearing trade tops from teams whose bike sponsors are different to the bicycle they are riding. It would never have happened in my day. On any Sunday you’ll see a plethora of riders kitted out in the latest Sky apparel from Rapha while riding bikes from the likes of Trek, Cannondale, Bianchi, and Boardman, but never a Pinarello in sight.
Staying with the jersey theme for a bit longer you can always spot someone new to the road by the fact that their jersey of choice is frequently a replica of one of those awarded in the Grand Tours!
I have a confession to make here. In a previous life working in retail I would take great delight in selling polka dot jerseys to unsuspecting members of the public who had wandered into the shop and explained in great detail how they don’t normally ride much but as they were about to do the annual London to Brighton charity ride they wanted to look the part. Oh, how I would chuckle thinking about them pushing their bikes up Ditchling Beacon while wearing the polka dot jersey.
Getting back to those style rules, and after the jersey it is the shoe and sock issues that offends most…
When I was a student I rode on the road with mountain bike shoes and pedals, not because I didn’t know better – the error of my ways was frequently pointed out to me by fellow club members – but because that was all I could afford.
My argument is, if you can afford a carbon road bike don’t tell me you can’t afford the correct shoe and pedal combination to go with it. And while you’re shopping make sure the socks are white and cycling specific. Novelty socks are only acceptable off-road, and that is off-road as in mountain biking, not cyclo-cross. In cyclo-cross road rules still apply.
However, mountain bike shoes and pedals will be excepted for cyclo-cross racing…