While it’s true that special clothing is not required for riding a bicycle, sometimes a particular article of clothing can make a ride that much better, especially a long ride like a brevet or fleche.
During Team Table for Five’s fleche ride last month, one of my teammates and I got to talking about what we had chosen to wear on our ride. We kept referring to our wardrobe choices as clothes we reserved for “special rides.”
One of the essentials of my spring and early summer special ride closet are my short-sleeve merino wool Ibex jerseys. These jerseys have proven to be the most durable and comfortable of all the wool jerseys I’ve tried. I bought my first Ibex jersey in 2005, and I’m still using it on brevets. Since that time, I’ve collected a fair number of their jerseys and I’ve been extremely pleased with their performance. As an added bonus, the majority of Ibex jerseys are made in the USA.
I prefer to wear wool on brevets because I think it handles sweat better. That is, it does not get as stinky or show sweat stains as easily as a synthetic jersey will. I also prefer the aesthetic of wool, and think it looks more like a regular top than some of the synthetic crazy-print jerseys I’ve seen.
Compared to synthetics, wool will not get as clammy when it is wet and it can also be worn through a wider range of temperature swings. For these reasons, it makes an ideal day into night jersey.
The Ibex jerseys I’ve owned have also had two or three rear pockets. I think two are sufficient, but three is fine, too. The important thing is that, when I fill the pockets up, they don’t make my jersey sag. Ibex jerseys pass the non-sag pocket test.
I’ve also owned several Swobo jerseys. I liked the texture and style of the Swobos, but found they did not stand up to the wear and tear of brevet riding. They eventually lose their shape and will shrink up a little. Ibex stands up well to regular trips through the washer. Just throw it in the washer on cold, add wool wash, and hang dry. Voila!
Ibex offers wool jerseys in various thicknesses. For cool spring brevets (rides that start in the 40s), I’ve found the Giro fabric to be ideal. On warmer spring rides (that range between the 60s and 80s) I like the Indie fabric. Any hotter than that, and I favor a synthetic. For example, if I had been riding this past weekend, I probably would have ditched the wool for a light synthetic.
Sometimes Ibex has struggled with their color selection and overstyling. Recently, they have returned to a basic look that does not bring to mind any uniforms from Star Trek seasons past. They are simply designed with three rear pockets and mostly solid colors.
If I’m going to be spending all day (and night) in one jersey, I want it to be one that fits well, stows what I need without sagging, and feels comfortable. My Ibex jerseys have served me well in all these aspects.
If you have suggestions for other wool jerseys, please let me know. I always have an eye out for new special ride clothing.