I don’t often ride in purpose-made cycling clothes anymore. This isn’t a political statement as much as it’s a statement of personal preference; I simply no longer have a desire or need to wear specialized “cycling wear”. And although I think there may be some merit to the idea that people riding bikes in normal clothes present a positive image of bicycling to the general public, I certainly don’t look down on those who choose to wear cycling-specific clothing. I suppose when it comes down to it, I’m pretty much an agnostic on the Cycle Chic versus Lycra question.
My routine in the winter and spring is to wear my work clothes and simply layer up over the top with various fleece vests and coats. It’s usually cold enough when I leave for work in the morning, and I ride slow enough on my inbound commute, that I’m not concerned about perspiration. As the year progresses and the weather warms, I shed layers until I’m down to just a shirt and slacks in the spring.
When the temps approach triple digits like they did yesterday, I switch over to a garment swapping routine that puts me in progressively lighter and cooler clothing as the day warms: on the morning commute while it’s still relatively cool, I wear slacks and a long-sleeved shirt (this could be a tech-T or a lightweight wool shirt ); then, when I arrive at the office I clean up and change into a short-sleeved, lightweight, work appropriate shirt; and for the ride home, I swap the slacks for a pair of lightweight, breathable shorts. On the few days of the year when we’re actually in triple digits, the work clothes are packed from the start and it’s shorts and a breathable shirt on both the inbound and outgoing legs of the commute.
We’re lucky to have such mild weather here in Northern California; by mixing-and-matching the “normal” clothes in our closet (for us that’s a mix of cotton street clothes and all-purpose, REI-style “outdoor” clothing), we’re able to stay comfortable on the bike throughout the year. I’m guessing that in other regions where the weather is more extreme, clothing choices are more difficult and specialized bike clothing is more of a requirement.
What about you? Do you wear specialized, bike-specific clothing on your commute, or do you just wear the street clothes that are already hanging in your closet?