Why You Don’t Need to Wear "Biking" Gear

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - 1700 block of 2nd Avenue NW


Earlier this spring I bought myself a bicycle. I had wanted one for years but didn’t go for it until this year. After the unnecessary and completely my own fault delay I am the proud owner of a beautiful turquoise blue totally restored vintage CCM bicycle (shout out to @RathBicycle). Not wanting to waste anymore time, I took the advice of Freddie Mercury of Queen and got on my bike and started to ride.

After only a few days riding I started to see that there appears to be two tribes among bike riders: the sporty, serious commuter and the give zero fucks cruisers.

The first group can be easily seen. They are geared up head to toe as if they are an advertisement for MEC. They have the shoes, the pants, the windbreaker, the waterproof backpack with whistles and reflectors affixed, the aerodynamic helmets and the tinted lenses wrap sunglasses. Basically they look as though they could do a multi-day cycle through Europe ready for all four weather seasons.

The second group is easy to spot, too. Aside from a helmet they aren’t wearing any gear; they’re simply wearing their clothes and just happen to be biking. 

Not surprisingly I am a part of group two. I live in Kensington and head downtown daily. For the most part my ride is flat and paved. There are a few hills but nothing to get worked up about. So I don’t. I simply dress as I would any other day and bike to my destination. The same way I did as a kid going to elementary school.

I didn’t think much about my lack of commuter gear until I heard people chime in. As an aside, people know that we can hear you when we are in the bike lanes, right? We’re not in some sound vacuum. We’re outside; just like the folks walking.

People have asked silly, rhetorical questions like,

“You can bike in those heels?
You don’t LOOK like a biker?
You commute wearing THAT?”

 

I typically respond with,

“You can cycle in nearly any shoe, except horse shoes, maybe.
What do you mean I don’t look like a biker? I’m on a bike looking at you!
And yes, your eyes are not tricking you. I commute in this. Right now.”

 

I understand that certain activities call for certain gear. One shouldn’t alpine ski in a swimsuit or swim in a parka and ski pants. That said I don’t think cycling for 20 minutes qualifies. If you want to gear up from head to toe and lug a second change of clothes around everyday, go for it. Just know you’re not required to.

Not only is it not required, it’s expensive to have all that sports stuff if you aren’t wearing it over and over again. The cost per wear on many sporting apparel items is astronomical. I’ve been judged for the amount of clothing I have. That’s fine. But I would like to challenge that nay-sayer by seeing if I wear my clothes more than his (her) sixth windbreaker-esq jacket in bright yellow and silver reflective stripes. Plus, by not buying gear for every activity under the sun, I’m saving money for more beautiful items. Ha!

Vent complete I am starting to ponder a theory that many Calgarians believe that sporting related clothes are the most desirable type of clothes to wear and purchase. Think for a minute if you have bought a $100 pair of sweat pants without blinking an eye. Now have you spent $100 on a quality pair of trousers? Or have you bought a pair or sneakers for $150? How about a good pair of oxford shoes? I get it (nawt). Any chance to get on stretch pants, eh? 

Unscientific consumer research inquires aside I’ll make one last point. Dressing in sporty gear, especially when it’s not required, makes you look dorky. No one looks good wearing tight bicycle knee length shorts. No one.