Category Archives: Gear

Jerseys, Shorts, and Shoes for Long Rides

Occasionally someone asks me about clothing or gear for cycling so I thought I’d provide a bit of a basic “bike ride outfit” update. Generally, I don’t do cycling-specific clothing unless I’m on a rando ride or bike touring because I don’t find it to be necessary. However, on rides od a century or longer, my body becomes more sensitive to and, over time, I have come to use certain gear as my “go-to” pieces.

I’ve written some on this topic before, but since it’s been a while I’m doing an updated post with a summer riding head-to-toe focus.

1. Caps

During the summer, caps are a mixed bag. A cap can easily become too warm to wear on hot humid days, but a cycling cap’s bill can be just the thing to keep the rain from pelting my face and coating my glasses. For summer riding, I’ve been using Rothera cotton caps, as well as Walz technical fabric caps. Both are lightweight and made in the USA, although I find the Rothera caps have a reinforced brim, as well as a bit more style to them.

Road Holland jersey and Rothera cap on me. Not sure what's on Chris, maybe Vulpine? Photo by Felkerino
Road Holland jersey and Rothera cap on me. Not sure what’s on Chris, maybe Vulpine? Photo by Felkerino
2. Buff

A lightweight Buff is a versatile touring piece. It can be used to cover one’s head and neck, and it effectively prevents sunburn on these areas– helpful, since our necks are so exposed to sun throughout the day on a bike.

You could also use a Buff to protect your mouth from dust, if need be, or wear one around your neck if it’s a bit cool. This has not been the case in our neck of the woods this summer, given that it’s hot every day and raining practically every other day around D.C.

Colorado tourin'. Photo by Felkerino
Colorado tourin’ in Ibex and a Buff. Photo by Felkerino
3. Jerseys

First, let me tell you what I don’t like so you have a sense of my biases. I dislike jerseys with a lot of multi-color design or art on them so I tend to look for mono-color jerseys. I’m also not a fan of sleeveless jerseys for all-day riding, but other people love them. I ALSO don’t like jerseys that have tight elastic along the waist or shirt sleeves.

I like three rear pockets, especially for brevets. I’m a fan of wool jerseys, especially for touring and randonneuring. They don’t require the same sort of washing as a polyester fabric, and when they become wet from rain they don’t develop the same icky clamminess as a synthetic. That said, wool is rather unforgiving and it will cling to every curve– especially if you are wearing 100% merino– so that can be tough on my vanity. It also doesn’t dry as quickly as a light synthetic.

I generally use Ibex summerweight wool for summer touring and for late-spring brevets. However, I know that wool is not for everyone. Also, I notice that Ibex does not seem to be offering cycling jerseys this year, which is unfortunate.

While Ibex sometimes attempts to overly style their offerings, they make (or at least they did make in the past) reasonably-priced, well-fitting, 100 percent merino, solid color, USA-made jerseys.

Ibex on tour. Photo by Felkerino
Ibex on tour. Photo by Felkerino

My preferred synthetic brand of late has been Road Holland. They don’t have a lot of color choices, but I like the fit and feel of their women’s jerseys, particularly the Aalsmeer.

The Road Holland summer jersey is really quite nice– lightweight, not overly detailed, fitted but not too snug. When will you be running a new batch of the Nantucket Red, Road Holland? People (i.e., me) want to know! Road Holland is also made in the USA.

I’m actually on the hunt for another quality lightweight synthetic jersey that doesn’t break the bank to buy, so if you have discovered one I’d love to know about it.

Road Holland Aalsameer and Sugoi RS shorts. Photo by Felkerino
Road Holland Aalsmeer and Sugoi RS shorts. Photo by Felkerino
4. Biking Shorts

The Sugoi RS shorts continue to be my favorite. A fellow randonneuse recommended that I try them a few years ago, and ever since, they have been my go-to shorts for long rides.

The compression they offer is good, but not too much, and my legs don’t feel like their squeezed like sausages. The Sugoi RS chamois is not thick, but provides adequate padding where I need it AND it does not dry out and chafe like other brands I have used.

I also apply Chamois Butt’r to those areas subject to chafing or discomfort. Like jerseys may be to some degree, the ideal cycling shorts and chamois combo varies from one person to the next.

5. Gloves

I’m currently at a loss for cycling gloves. I used to wear Specialized gloves, but they turned against me one day. I have been unable to use them for rides longer than a century because they cause blisters along my palm. Since then I’ve tried other brands, including Pearl Izumi and Canari, but have met with similar results.

During the summer months, I like to wear gloves on long rides because my hands sweat up and this can make them a bit slippery on the bars. And it’s always a bit of insurance if, say, you know, you fall down. So in conclusion, I’m on the hunt for new cycling gloves. If you have any to recommend, please let me know.

Can't resist, but it does show Sidis!
Can’t resist, but it does show Sidis!
6. Socks

Forever Smartwool. That is all.

7. Cycling Shoes

Over time, I have acquired more cycling shoes than I ever imagined. Not that I have a ton, but I have several shoes that I use for commutes and long rides. My cleat system is SPD. SPDs are easy to install and widely available. I use SPDs because they were the first cleat system I tried, and I never had any problems with them, so why switch?

For brevets and multi-day touring I use Sidi Dominators. They are stiff in the sole, but not so stiff that you can’t walk around in them. You would probably not want to walk around in them all day, but for little jaunts they’re perfect. Sidis are expensive, but they are also incredibly long lasting. They last for many miles and years!

I also have a pair of Giros, which are really good, but which I do not like to use them on brevets or hilly rides because I don’t find the platform stiff enough. This leads to foot pain along the balls of my feet during rides longer than a century.

I tend to like the triple strap shoe models because you can customize the fit more specifically to your foot. I think laces are a pain when it comes to cycling shoes, and you cannot adjust them on the fly.

Everyone’s preferences are different. What have other readers found works for them on a century-plus ride? Also, if you have any insight on the women’s specific summer-weight synthetic jersey, please let me know!

Mood and Safety Enhancing: M204 Monkey Light Review

Our hours of daylight may be lengthening, but I still find myself doing plenty of night riding in the city. Melissa over at MonkeyLectric asked if I’d be interested in trying out a set of their M204 Monkey Lights, a multi-colored battery-operated light that attaches to one’s wheel spokes.

Monkey Light

Generally, I’m not much for doing product reviews, but the Monkey Light intrigued me so I said sure. I’ve now been using the Monkey Light on my Surly Long Haul Trucker for three months and my short summary of this light is: Continue reading Mood and Safety Enhancing: M204 Monkey Light Review

Commute Essentials: Klean Kanteen Cages

Quickbeam at the grocery. Klean Kanteen on the ground.

A few years ago I began commuting with steel Klean Kanteen bottles. I liked using the steel bottles, but because Klean Kanteens are narrower in circumfrence than a standard plastic water bottle and I use stainless steel cages almost exclusively, the metal on metal made the Kanteens rattle away on city streets like nobody’s business.

I suppose I could have put some kind of fabric covering over the bottles to diminish noise, but instead I purchased a plastic cage specifically designed for the Klean Kanteen bottle. I installed one on my Surly LHT and another on my Rivendell Quickbeam.

Continue reading Commute Essentials: Klean Kanteen Cages

The Camelbak: A Reluctant Brevet and Touring Necessity

Camelbak with reflective cover. Photo by Bill Beck
Camelbak with reflective cover. Photo by Bill Beck

I generally like the look of most of my cycling clothing and gear with the exception of a few items such as booties, balaclavas, and the topic of today’s post, my Camelbak. However, much as I dislike the overall aesthetic, you will not see me on a brevet or bike tour without some kind of hydration pack.

Continue reading The Camelbak: A Reluctant Brevet and Touring Necessity

Make Your Own Cue Sheet Holder

Someone recently asked me what I use for a cue sheet holder when I ride. There are a variety of ways to affix a cue sheet to your bike, but the method I’ve been quite happy with over the years is one that Felkerino taught me.

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Felkerino makes cue sheet holders that affix to your stem by using the following items:

  • One binder clip
  • One small piece of rubber shim; and
  • One zip tie

These cue sheet holders are simple to make and the necessary ingredients are easy to find.

Continue reading Make Your Own Cue Sheet Holder

Winter Weather: Testing Your Mettle and Your Wardrobe

It is unusual for D.C. to go into the deep freeze, but it happened this week. We’re experiencing the coldest weather we’ve had since March 2009, according to Capital Weather Gang.

Winter commuting on the Surly

Given that we seldom have snow or ice during the winter months, the cold and wind are the primary deterrents to riding, as opposed to the actual street conditions. Now is the time when commuters test their tolerance of the frigid conditions as well as their gear.

Regarding tolerance for cold, I confess a big fail. I am still riding, but each day I find myself procrastinating my ride to work in the cozy warmth of my home. I don multiple layers and it’s only after I begin to overheat that I reluctantly roll my bike out of the house.

This morning, while parking in my building, a fellow commuter arrived saying, “We’re hardcore. The cold can’t stop us.”

Continue reading Winter Weather: Testing Your Mettle and Your Wardrobe

BikeWrappers: Review and Giveaway

With the arrival of fall, night creeps in a little earlier to push out the daylight. Time to think about nighttime riding and making yourself even more visible to traffic.

While a head- and tail-light are critical for rides after dark, there are other accessories worth considering for your bike, too. A couple of months ago, the people at BikeWrappers asked me if I’d be interested in reviewing their product. I agreed, and they sent me a set to test out.

BikeWrappers are three fabric panels that affix via Velcro to three different sections of your bike: the top tube, seat tube, and the down tube. BikeWrappers are two-sided. One side of the BikeWrappers is for decorative purposes and has a pattern or is mono-color. The other side is made purely of reflective material.

Continue reading BikeWrappers: Review and Giveaway

Getting Comfortable in the Saddle

One of my blog readers, Trish, recently asked the following question about comfort in the saddle:

I searched your blog to see if I could find your thoughts on comfort in the saddle, which is my biggest obstacle to long rides. I’ve been doing metric centuries every weekend, but beyond that I think my rear end would be in too much discomfort.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

I know the saddle itself is highly personal, but do you have a favorite chamois? I like the Castelli Kiss chamois, not crazy about my Pearl Izumi, but haven’t tried all that many as experimentation is an expensive undertaking! Do you use Butt Butter or the like?

Obviously the position each rider finds comfortable varies by person, but the methods we use to achieve it are generally the same. Here’s what goes into making my saddle setup the best it can be.

Continue reading Getting Comfortable in the Saddle