“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.”
One of the beautiful things about the sport of cycling is all the different facets to the actual ‘art’ of riding a bike. It starts with your choice of clothing, to how you wear your hair under your helmet, then your sock height. I wouldn’t say in ‘normal’ clothes I follow any trends and am certainly not what you would call fashionable. But on the bike, I want to make a statement and feel good whilst I am riding. With everyday clothes, I don’t put much thought into what I wear, it takes me two minutes to get dressed and out the door. When I was a pro, the same thing, I had one set of kit to wear, no need to think, no ability to ‘express’ myself… make a statement. Nowadays, it takes me a good 30 minutes to decide what to wear on the bike. I think I have more cycling clothing than normal clothes these days. It certainly helps that I am kitted out with the best of the best. Velocio + Ridley is a hard combo to beat and to be honest, I think I look best when I am riding.
Cycling can be as simple, and as cheap as you like, or as expensive and complicated as your desire. From the simple act of kitting up, jumping on your bike, clipping in, and turning your legs over, to as complicated as figuring out the pressure or skin drag when it comes to being as aero as possible with your clothing choice. It is a sport that I believe is truly accessible for everyone, slow or fast, young or old. You can do it on the cheap for under €1000, or go all out and splurge €15,000 on a bike. The same applies to your clothing choices, cheap and poor quality, or expensive and high quality. Whilst most of us can’t afford that amount of money on a bike, and can only froth over the thought of a pro bike, there are plenty of options to be almost as kitted out like the pros, for less money. That being said, for those who can, why wouldn’t you want to have lightest, slickest, most aero machine out there!?
The best of the best you just can’t beat
Having ridden top of the line bikes throughout my career as a professional cyclist, I find it hard to settle for anything less than the best. That sounds arrogant, I know, but the truth is, when you have spent 5-6 hrs day after day training on your bike, you can feel the slightest difference on your machine. When you jump on a bike that isn’t yours, it feels awful. For 7 months back in Australia I was riding an old thrown together bike. Bits and pieces, I found around the house. The original plan was to visit Australia for a short period of time, so Auralie, my Ridley Aura, stayed home in Belgium. God how I missed Auralie over those 7 months. I think my friends got sick of me complaining about my ‘old bike’, which was only a 2014 model, which in the world of cycling is kind of old. I blamed the bike quite frequently on my slow pace uphill… when realistically I think I am just slower these days.
You always remember your first
When I started out as a 13-year-old, I was given a hand me down old titanium bike from older my brother, which I thought was the greatest thing ever. It was a no-name brand, something out of China, which I got my dad to spray paint in a metallic dark ocean blue color. This was back in 2002 when a lot of people were still riding titanium bikes. I didn’t get my first carbon bike until I was in U/19’s, in 2005, and wow, what a difference it made climbing uphill. I felt invincible and came close to winning a national title in the U/19 road race, if not for a mistimed mechanical. Nowadays, you can get entry-level carbon bikes pretty cheap, and the alloy bikes to be fair are still pretty light, a lot of people are going back to alloy. Trends will be trends, and often will sway our decision to a certain brand, or bike. There is a point in time where you decide you want something a bit more than what you have already. You like your bike, but it’s not giving you everything you need perhaps, or you’re just a bit bored with it and feel like something new and fresh. An upgrade.
To upgrade or not to upgrade?
So why would you spend the money on upgrading your bike? Well quite simply, it is the experience. I liken it to how I approach buying jeans. Odd analogy, but hear me out. I LIVE in jeans, I spend hours upon hours, days upon days in my jeans, just like you probably spend hours on your bike. Therefore, with my jeans, it’s important for me to find the right fit, and being pretty tall, I always struggle to find jeans with enough length, width for my thighs and fitted enough around my hips so they don’t fall off. Finding the right jeans is tough. Thankfully I have found a brand that works for me, which took some years, let me tell you! So, every couple of years now I splurge on jeans. At the register, I always have a mild heart attack, but to be fair, I live in them, so I figure I should always invest the money in quality, as quality lasts, and the experience in the jeans is worth the price tag. Same applies to buying a bike. If you’re invested in cycling, and it is going to be your sport, something you love to do, something that adds quality to your life, then budgeting to spend a few extra €€€ is totally worth it! Now, I need to start thinking about my next upgrade, and I am leaning towards a Jane I think 😉
Also read: ‘Ride-pause-think-repeat’ from Loren!