Friday, August 23, 2013

To Match, or Not to Match

Blurry Grass Walk
"So are you, like, allergic to matching kit?"
"Hm?"
"Well it's just that I know you own shorts and jerseys from the same manufacturers. But you never wear them together."

Caught off guard by being thus scrutinised, I quickly take stock of what I've got on. Between the shorts, jersey, jacket and various warmers I count 5 different brands. Okay, the man's got a point. But hey, at least it's all vaguely the same colour. And what does it matter anyway?

I confess that my choice of what cycling clothes to don on a road ride is largely determined by what's clean. I ride a lot and don't have time to constantly be doing laundry. And since shorts and jerseys have different "can keep wearing it without washing" cycles, it just so happens that the clean jersey/short combo appropriate for that day's weather often won't match.

But while I don't intentionally go for the mismatched look, upon giving it some thought I realise that I am comfortable with it. More comfortable than with the slicker, more polished matching look. Because on the bike I am neither slick nor polished, it seems somehow appropriate - even "correct," if you will - that my style of dress reflect that. 

One day early this summer I was out riding and passed a couple of cyclists on a gentle descent. They were skinny boys on nice bikes, who must have been lost in conversation and taking it easy. On the next uphill they caught up to me and we got to chatting. One of them looked over my shorts and jersey. Trying to make out the writing (it was my club's name - Ride Studio Cafe), he said with a straight face: "So who is that you ride for?" For, not with. I thought he was mocking me and turned beet red (Come on, how the hell could I ride "for" anyone, spinning uphill at 10mph?). I am still not sure whether he was joking or not, but in a roundabout way that illustrates why I shy away from wearing the matchy stuff - especially with my club's name on it. 

There is all this talk among roadies about "looking pro." It is said ironically, but nonetheless meant seriously. It covers lots of things, including clothing - which, according to the rules, ought to match. In that vein, I guess I am quite happy to leave looking pro to the pros - while myself mismatching my cycling clothes with abandon. 

67 comments:

  1. I don't rent out my body, so I don't wear advertising. I am even less inclined to do so for free! That even includes my own company, Compass Bicycles. (It would be easy to make a "Compass" jersey.) I prefer to wear my club's (ad-free) jerseys these days.

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    Replies
    1. I agree. I'm not a human billboard. If a garment has a small, discrete logo somewhere then that's fine, but I'm not going to spend my money on cycling outfits emblazoned with logos. I stick to plain black shorts and make my own jerseys.

      BUT, I have absolutely no problem with someone else wearing whatever combination of logos they are most comfortable in. Because in the long run, that's what counts. Being comfortable and having fun. :)

      Delete
    2. I don't see why I have to commit commerce every time I climb on my bike either.

      I don't have any gear branded for my own cycling related business and so don't understand why I should accept the job of shilling for whoever made the shoes I bought on closeout. I get awesome deals from the friends I have that own shops but that doesn't mean I can't take a sharpie to the big red S on the stuff I pay for.

      No body that matters cares what I wear anyway.

      Spindizzy

      Delete
  2. Fascist and rigid people. People who have no clue about how to put their clothes together so they stick with one brand which is very apparent, and/or people who used to say you can't wear white after labor day, mix brown and black, etc. etc. These are all just trends.

    I say mix with abandon because the world is not going to end if you wear a rapha and terry brand together.

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  3. Oh my God. Assuming this is a recent photo, just how cold is it in Ireland in August?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, this is from a few days ago. Anywhere from 50s to, on a hot day, low 70s.

      Delete
  4. Cycling clothes are a lot like furniture. They should go together but not too "matchy matchy" or else you look like a cheap hotel.

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  5. Don't take the "for" word personally. I don't think it was meant in any particular way other than as part of cycling, and perhaps racing, vernacular, like using any other common phrase. And "good on ya" for not caring and being comfortable with who you are.

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    Replies
    1. Yes. The dude was simply curious what club was stamped on V's body. I think this encounter is similar to V's piece on being non-plussed by "you look good".

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    2. Hey now. It's embroidered, not stamped.

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  6. Yeah, Rodies Meh.. Mind I was looking at the Ralph store longingly the other day now me a Mrs Eirelover both have racers now. (arn't they great!)

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  7. Unless its your own club or your paid to wear it, I always think matching kit look like your though about it too much

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  8. I they're sold together (e.g., team kit), you should wear them together. Otherwise, what the hell?

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    Replies
    1. Out of respect for the seller?

      Spindizzy

      Delete
  9. Ah, com'on. . . . You're totally in control of how you look, whether matching or not. I've followed this blog, and viewed your photos, enough to know you are very particular in everything about yourself and only choose clothes which are both flattering and comfortable. As an artist and blogger your focus is on style...again, whether matching or not as long as it fits within you sense of style...The list of sponsors on the right only re-enforce your bent on this matter.

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    Replies
    1. In blog photos, oh yeah. Although with cycling clothes the visual control is hard work - profoundly unflattering stuff for a woman, most of it, unless you're shaped like Pamela Blalock.

      In real life? Jeez, it would drive me insane if I felt "on the job" and like I had to look decent every time I went near my bike. Like most people with unathletic bodies, I don't look good in cycling clothes. Nothing really to be done there but ride and not worry about it.

      Delete
  10. While riding on a charity ride my bike at the time was an orbea with lots of orange and my shoes were red and a group of guys on a pace line pulled up beside me and the guy says doesn't that suck that they don't make those shoes in orange. Had never even thought about it of course they had matching kits on I am usually a hot mess of whatever I grab.

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  11. "looking pro"
    "ride for"

    racing sickness abounds

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    Replies
    1. Oooh the roadie hate! You're going to love it when I start racing next year : )

      Delete
    2. Ironically, some of the least "Pro" looking riders I know, kit-wise, are the actual pros. They might look super legit on raceday, but on their own time they can sort of look like the children of alcoholic playwrights.

      I've got a few hand-me-down parts from some pretty well known racers on mine and my daughters bikes, but you wouldn't want to be seen dead in any kit they've decided to cast-off. I remember a pair of safety-pinned Trek team bibs that Jeremiah Bishop was still riding in 3 years after he went to Cannondale. Pretty scrofulous.

      Spindizzy

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  12. Rapha bib shorts and a Beretta long sleeve seersucker shirt.. a very calculated mismatch for sure. Thankfully, most folks do lack the desire for a coordinated cycling fashion sense.

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  13. Thank God you've resisted the ridiculous concept of "looking pro." Nothing is more off putting than recreational riders trying so earnestly to emulate professional athletes through superficial appearance.

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  14. I hope you turned beet red with anger. Silly, condescending git. I make a principle of un-matching, having given up lycra and synthetics some 10 years ago -- clingy and clammy in hot weather, clammy and cold in cold weather -- in favor of wool in winter, street shorts and rayon shirts (Hawaii!) in hot weather. I do wear synthetic jerseys in summer, but only when I want the rear pockets -- as when I ride my gofast which has only one water bottle cage and I need a pocket for an extra bottle. Otherwise, the only "team kit" I favor is retro: I have various retro caps (Molteni, BP) and some favorite retro wool jerseys (Cycles Wolfe repro, Bianchi). Best combo is the Molteni cap and the Wolf jersey, with old, ratty Shimano shoes.

    http://www.vintagevelos.com/52-129-thickbox/wolf-long-sleeve-wool-jersey.jpg

    http://www.cyclingnzshop.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/c/l/clah044.jpg

    http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTaBE_5jKV3tNP7iN9MDdBZaexy_ZLNbho9VYvz717fsP4VhRcE

    (mine are a lot rattier)

    My image of the "serious" cyclist: frown with matching kit. Gawd 'elp us.

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  15. All your kit is adverts = looking pro.

    Looking pro is silly.

    Looking classic is timeless: black shorts, whatever else.

    Some kids like to make fun of black shorts... I'm still riding, they're going to the gym or getting fat after a bit. Huzzah.


    Black shorts. That's it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Black shorts in overcast Ireland for sure.

      After the wettest six months on record, Chicago area has moved back to drought. Light colors stay cooler in direct sun light.

      Warm weather I ride Shcoeller fabric shorts. As far as I know, none of racer style companies use it.

      Delete
  16. Matching? Are you serious? You really get asked this? Most of us are not 'club' members and rely on whatever charity ride jersey or clean stuff we have at hand. There is no kidding or scrutiny...what's the point? I even had to look up what 'kit' meant. We're mostly just glad to be out riding. Of course we talk bikes, kids, work, movies, but never clothes and we frankly wouldn't know what matching is...It's a sad state when one feels a need to look the part as opposed to just participating...Sad.

    One only needs to look like a pro on game day. It's always been that way.

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  17. Totally with you on the mismatched thing. I'm not allergic to matching kit, but am definitely allergic to advertising brands who aren't paying me to do so. And since no-one sponsors me, that means I ride no-logo. Personally I find subtle or stealth branding on gear, a la Rapha, to be as difficult to wear as OTT pro team branding.

    Exceptions can be made, in my personal value-system, for defunct bike brands, but even then I feel pretty naff about wearing the brand of the bike that I'm on. But I could be persuaded to wear matching kit if it was advertising a charity and I was on a charity ride.

    Nowadays I've settled into a comfortable rut of black shorts, wool jersey (variety of colours but un-branded), white socks and black leather shoes. I suppose I'm a reverse snob! b

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  18. I don't want to look pro either. So I look for a plain colored jersey, bright for visibility, or one that has a minimum of letters in it.

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  19. This is the milieu you've chosen to inhabit. Get used to it.

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  20. Another vote for black shorts. Where do you wipe the dirt after the flat tire if you don't have them?
    I used to get lots of club kit for free and kinda tried to keep that matched out of respect for the guys. But even the club jersey I designed myself was/is not always matched. Too much like work.

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  21. The other day I walked down the street with a Middlebury hat and a UC-Santa Barbara t-shirt. Someone pointed it out to me and was I ever embarrassed...not! Is my memory bad or did this blog more or less begin as stressing that enjoying bicycling did not mean one had to buy into one way of thinking over another. Just be yourself and do what makes you happy, which includes cleats or platforms, jeans or what-ever-the-hell kits are. Matching just seems silly, unless you think it's important :)

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    Replies
    1. I don't think your memory is bad. Roadieism is an insidious cult.

      Delete
    2. One thing I've learned from spending time in Texas and Oklahoma is that you don't want to wear a piece of clothing from one of the sports teams in the competing state. Additionally, you *never* wear both at the same time. It came to mind when I donned my Sooners apron along with my Longhorns cap as I was barbecuing some ribs yesterday. I immediately changed my cap to match the apron. Problem solved.

      Delete
  22. I rode the 19 miles rt to the bike shop and back today (filling in half a day for someone; it's a hobby job) in very comfortable Lands' End khaki cutoffs (baggy, pleated shorts with low crotches are best) over nylon boxers with a dark blue T-shirt of my brother's design reading, "One Ring, one Cog, One God", the single "O" formed by an old 144 bcd Campy outer (I rode the '99 Rivendell custom gofast fixie, 75" gear, dark blue to match). And old, black Sidis. And custom yellow cap by Littlepackage.com. Quite stylish, though no one asked me about the T-shirt.

    Who says Freds can't be stylish?

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  23. Btw, surrounding yourself with high end equipment and clothing like you do makes it hard to mismatch too much, especially for the trained eye. Now if you were wearing a cowboy hat, or had a nascar jacket on, that would qualify for a fashion faux pas.

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    Replies
    1. "surrounding yourself with high end equipment and clothing ...makes it hard to mismatch too much"

      Oooh I don't know about that! The things I've seen...

      Delete
    2. There's your next blog post....photos of mis-matching cycling outfits. Curious to know what you see as such.

      Delete
  24. One very hot day I wore an worn, soft, cotton button-down with black spandex to the club ride. It was a lot cooler than a nylon jersey, although I got a lot of strange looks from the pros. I do have standards though - never mix plaids with stripes.

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  25. Matching kit with a bike that isn't up to the minute or on a rider who isn't training 20 hours a week and has a bit of a gut to prove it, just reminds me of my friends who wear camouflage 12 months out of the year and then hunt from the cab of a truck.

    Even when I was doing some races every year I usually only wore a jersey to events and rode in tees and running tops the rest of the time. I was deep enough into it to know what it was really about and that I wasn't the "real thing". Not ever going to masquerade in front of those who are, for several reasons, partly because some of them tend to be D%#@heads. The only times anyone has ever commented about me being fat has always been other thinner, faster, younger racer or wannabe racer types. Sort of hurt my feelings you know. In every other situation I'm just a middle aged bald dude with grotesquely overdeveloped thighs and a giant head. You know,normal. I caught more hell for wearing a nice navy blue long sleeve jersey I got for designing a logo for a friends shop, than for shaving my legs a couple of years ago when a frame builder I know wanted some catalog photo's(I used to at least look the part from the hips down).

    So it's always been black shorts and solid colors for me. I would even go as far as to say that the basic utility and comfort of a real Cycling Jersey is compromised by having more than about a 10 pound gut. I remember how comfy they used to be and how handy the pockets were, but now that I'm more "robust"(a regrettable but very real 25 pound counterweight) they don't work as intended for me anymore. Fortunately, the local scene nowadays is mostly people who just ride the hell out of their bikes and are all for anyone else out doing the same. So we tend to wear whatever keeps the soft dangly bits happy and out of the weather and ride whatever bike is closest to the door on your way out.

    Spindizzy

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  26. Who cares what the snobs think?

    I am always of the opinion that as far as cycling goes, legs speak louder than bikes and (mis)matched clothing do.

    "Fortunately, the local scene nowadays is mostly people who just ride the hell out of their bikes and are all for anyone else out doing the same. So we tend to wear whatever keeps the soft dangly bits happy and out of the weather and ride whatever bike is closest to the door on your way out."

    Love it. This sums up the attitude of my friends and I very well.

    Life is too short to get bent out of shape by what someone thinks or thinks of you.

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  27. I wear all kinds of bikes and clothing from a local team kit to charity ride stuff to casual and work clothes on my 40 year old Schwinn. I see no conflict in any of these. The common denominator is the love of bikes and cycling of all types and cultures. Viva la difference!

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  28. I totally don't get the allure of cycling clothes. I ride in what I'm going to wear to work or on the other end, or whatever clothes are seasonally and weather appropriate. Can you imagine this question being asked of a man? Did he finish the question by calling you "little lady?"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Can you imagine this question being asked of a man? "

      Yes, definitely - this was not a gender thing at all.

      There is no allure to cycling clothes. It just feels more comfortable than street clothes for certain types of riding.

      Delete
    2. "Yes, definitely - this was not a gender thing at all."

      I'm glad then.

      Delete
  29. As a junior racer I always trained in black shorts and a tshirt and raced in my club jersey. Now I commute in cheap C9 workout Ts from Target and sport hawaiian shirts for social rides. I DO love catching the wheel of logoed up faux roadies and staying with them on neighborhood climbs on my 15 year old cannondale mt. bike commuter with panniers and lights.

    I only wish you could get team supporter tshirts, so you could support a racing team without looking like a doofus.

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  30. This guy knows how to dress:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lee_toma/9586778002/

    D2R2, no less.

    Somewhere along the way he caught up with Peter's pink bike.

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  31. Personally, I'm just happy to be out on a bike. Whether I have matching kit is the least of my worries.

    Since a fair bit of my riding is on one of our four tandems, I'm simply can't be worried about whether my kit matches and then if my kit matches hers. Is that what separates the serious cyclists from those that aren't? I certainly hope not.

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  32. In a short steep race to a place high on a mountain in southern California, with more than 7000 feet of gain in about ten miles, riders wearing pro-style clothing mounted on shiny carbon bikes snickered at a fellow racer in his sixties wearing old tattered shorts, a sleeveless shirt, and sneakers - no clipless pedals. His bike was also disgraceful in their disdainful eyes - old, steel, beat up. One impeccably costumed carbon rider snarked, "Who is this fool?" 350 riders began the race. The old man in the wrong clothing, on the wrong bike with the wrong pedals, finished 12th. His critics were stunned, and I imagine, ashamed at the own performance, at having been beaten badly by the old man in rags on a steel bike who mashed his way far past them on his fast climb to the top.

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  33. This is all pretty interesting. Reminds me of a time I played golf in a foursome with the best player in the city where I grew up (John) and a serious albeit mediocre player who had been a good enough athlete to play football for Oregon State U (Ernie). This was some kind of clubby, team format competition. Just social golf, for fun. Ernie butchered the ninth hole and was on the green in seven. In those days (1960-70s) Jack Nicklaus started removing his glove to putt. It’s an affectation and a waste of time unless your one of the best players in the world but we all copied it and now it’s a convention. Ernie got set up to putt for his eight and realized that he was still wearing his glove. So he steps away, takes off the glove, goes back through is pre shot routine and two putts for a nine. I thought it was hysterical but John had seen enough nonsense for one day. He walked straight to the parking lot, got in his car and went home.

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    Replies
    1. As an old golfer, I love this story! Today, golf is worse than bicycling with regard to clothing, or kits if you will. I was even asked to leave one course, while watching my son play in a tournament, b/c I was not wearing a collared shirt and I had a pair of jeans on!! I played DI golf back in the 70's and after that my curmudgeon personality emerged and I refused to look pro even though I was on the verge of being one...Took a lot of peoples money who drove up to the course, opened the trunk of their fancy car and got out their expensive clubs, dressed to the hilt with the latest fashion, and actually intimidated me until I watched them swing a club....:) Some things never change. I still enjoy the pure thrill of hitting a golf ball and of walking outdoors but the game has gotten completely corporate and I refuse to participate. I hope bicycling does not go the same route.

      Delete
    2. and downhill skiing worse again. i once had someone on the chairlift beside me tell me i needed to ditch my very expensive, down filled,top of the line ski jacket because the colors were out of date.

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    3. Yes..It's part of the fun to be chided by friends but when strangers judge and make one feel unaccepted it's gone too far. We're all snobs about something but reigning it in is a good skill :)

      Delete
  34. You should have just given the brief and truthful response of 'yes, I am allergic to a matching kit' :)

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  35. I recently read a wannabe style arbiter (pretty sure it was in Bicycling Magazine) saying it was a no-no to wear different BRANDS of bike wear. So, even if the logos were tiny and difficult to read from more than a few feet away, I'm forbidden from wearing a pair of black Castelli shorts with a blue Rapha jersey, for instance.

    I understand matching when it relates to avoiding clashing styles, patterns, or colors. And I'm not going to wear a Sky team jersey over BMC bibs, either.

    But slavishly matching the brand of socks, shorts, jersey, and arm warmers that you wear on a ride sounds like OCD mixed with an unhealthy dose of conspicuous consumption douchebaggery.

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  36. Wear whatever is comfortable and forget what others think. Same rule applies to anytime you leave the house for work or play.

    As for kits, I see no need to pay to advertise for someone. RSC is over the top like most.

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  37. Well - I sewed three pockets on the back of some donated bright cotton t-shirts and I'm good to go.

    Regular shorts with padded cycling shorts underneath.

    Don't like kit? Modify or make your own. Don't like the logos? patch 'em.

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  38. So, that crack about racing next year(!?) For reals or are you just messin' with us...

    Spindizzy

    (Not that it would be remarkable or something there would be any great interest in discussing at great length on this blog or anything...)

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  39. Until last year a Kit to me was a model plane or car. Don't ever worry about the cycling gear you wear. Don't give a thought to the snobbs who comment that your bike isn't good enough, At least your riding. And "Kits" it makes cycling clothes sound like "Grananamls" for adults.

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  40. re-reading this item and reflecting on exactly what is being discussed here, I am reminded of groucho's famous line :"I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member". It's exactly this kind of thinking that turns so many people off cycling. pathetic!

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  41. Personally I like to match (socks-bibs-jersey), I like when the drape match the carpet. When I buy something it is always with no name, brands, logo or the less visible as possible.
    Although I do not like to look “pro” and I make an effort at not looking “pro”. The reason is very simple I am not an advertising sign but most important I do not ride like these riders. This always makes me laugh when I am wearing my wool jersey and I pass someone with a full Astana kit who obviously wants to look like a pro but need a lot more training to get there and need to lose a few pounds.

    At the end of the day the most important thing is make sure you are comfortable

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  42. Sorry, but I always think: Are you a sponsored racer, participating in a bicycle race? If not, why are you wearing a racing uniform? Do you put on a helmet and full pads to toss a football around the back yard with your 11 year old daughter?

    Especially when the old fat guy riding - in sneakers - a bike with fenders and a saddle with springs passes the guy in full "imitation Tour de France" apparel and $3000 plastic bike.

    I am coming at this from the far side of the racer-wannabe phenomenon, having spent untold thousands of hours obsessing during my 20s. You know what? When it's all said and done, it's not really that interesting.

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  43. I'm looking at all the Cycle Oregon photos and am really enjoying the mis-matched clothing choices! Some are down right beautiful. Use what works and ignore the peanut gallery.

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