Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Dressing for the Road

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  • tussock,

    Shorts, loose, big pockets, and covers the knees for warmth. Polyprop longs under in very cold weather. Bike top, often with a loose long-sleeve open-front shirt over for sun/wind protection and because it's brighter than my bike tops. Flouro overjacket in dim light or night rides. Cheap-ass shoes.

    Gloves, fingerless. Silly pretend-helmet, legal. Light, awesome. Drinks, up to three. Bike, hardtail trail, goes anywhere but the big drops. Off for a week on the trails at Naseby tomorrow. Really must get to bed.

    Seems a lot safer to put more visible parked cars between cyclists and motorists.

    It's not. They're getting rid of them in various countries already, the turning vehicles don't see you at all. Safest solution is shared space, no road markings at all, lines just make the drivers act like they own the place.

    Since Nov 2006 • 609 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Grevers,

    Since I now live 26km out of town (and 450m up, with probably 1000m of climb), cycling isn't an option any more - it's beyond the range of most electric-assist bikes too. When I lived and worked in town, my commute was about 2km, with route chosen as being the flattest, and the coastal walkway as a scenic option. New Plymouth isn't very cycle friendly, as you can't go anywhere much without encountering a mean hill.

    So I basically wore office clothes, and (unless I was running late) cycled at "chinese cycling speed" - 2-3 x walking pace, which is reportedly the most energy efficient means of transport known. I did find that a backpack tends to cause a sweat area where it touches. I would succumb to a lift home on days where the rain was at Taranaki intensity. A tucked in sock replaced cycle clips (I still have my old clips somewhere).
    Had the distance been longer and hillier, the lack of facilities (changing, bike storage) at the office would have been quite a disincentive.

    New Plymouth • Since Jul 2011 • 143 posts Report Reply

  • jeremy stewart,

    For me, i have been cycling in Auckland for some time, and like some of you padded cycling shorts are just a must!!! Without these my arse would hurt even on my 40min commute. Cycling gloves a a must, stops hands getting that ache in them, and like Russel think they look cool to. I wear cycle tops just because they take the sweat away form the sweat machine that I am. Just as well my employer has a shower or my colleagues would really complain about me. Also never go out without a bandana under my helmet to keep sweat out of my eyes.
    Having ridden in street clothes, really do not recommend in Auckland apart from short distances, as you turn up sweaty and smelly and quickly become nigel-no-mates!

    Auckland • Since Apr 2013 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Richard Grevers,

    "chinese cycling speed" - 2-3 x walking pace, which is reportedly the most energy efficient means of transport known

    I'd believe it. Occasionally I've rambled around like this for 3-4 hours without feeling noticeably tired at all - it's less effort than concerted walking for the same amount of time, and 50km slips behind you. Somewhere around 15km/h on the flat is like walking around at a shopping/dawdling pace, without getting sore feet. Can get a sore bum though.

    It's barely exercise at all. I only do it if I'm browsing around looking at stuff, rather than riding for fitness. It was pretty much how I cycled in Holland, for instance. It's a bloody great way to see a whole city without costing much, or getting exhausted. I also felt unusually safe, because if someone is hassling you, they won't do it for long once you jump on the bike. Beggars, scammers, and annoying hassly salespeople following you for miles don't bother with cyclists. I wish I'd had one in Bangkok.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • James Green, in reply to BenWilson,

    I’d believe it. Occasionally I’ve rambled around like this for 3-4 hours without feeling noticeably tired at all – it’s less effort than concerted walking for the same amount of time, and 50km slips behind you.

    We did 40 something kilometres of the Central Otago Rail Trail yesterday at this sort of pace (~13km), and it's achievable for someone who hasn't been on a bike in months. Of course helped by the fact that we were also heading mildly downhill most of the way.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    As a sort of aside, I’d be interested to know what the crowd and the council think of bike lanes which go between sidewalk and parked cars.

    I thought this would be ideal, but I suspect it presents problems for the cyclist - you need to be able to access the road to get into lanes, turn etc, you can't do that if trapped behind cars. And traffic turning across the lane would be a problem too.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Heading out for a ride to buy paneer and stuff, thought I might put on a light long-sleeve top. Forget it. 21º at 85% humidity. Switched back to a tee.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    So that’s me. What does everyone else do? I’m genuinely interested, because I have to write a column about this in the next few days and I want to presume from a sample of greater than one. So please, share with the group …

    Hopefully you can share the column back here, be interesting to see...

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Christopher Dempsey,

    Hopefully you can share the column back here, be interesting to see…

    Oh, here’s the funny thing … the column got CANCELLED as part of a redesign.

    Red Bulletin was a nice gig while it lasted. Anyone want a multiple-award-winning columnist?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Meanwhile, Tony Abbott shows just how bad a man can look in lycra.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Meanwhile, Tony Abbott shows just how bad a man can look in lycra.

    Unexpectedly pointing his party in a more leftward direction?

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 889 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey, in reply to FletcherB,

    Meanwhile, Tony Abbott shows just how bad a man can look in lycra.

    Unexpectedly pointing his party in a more leftward direction?

    Really no different from oh, say women in 'uniform' at Olympic beach volleyball. It's not a bad look at all. Not at all. Indeed, a fine look.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson, in reply to BenWilson,

    Richard Grevers wrote :

    “chinese cycling speed” – 2-3 x walking pace, which is reportedly the most energy efficient means of transport known

    Ben Wilson replied :

    I’d believe it. Occasionally I’ve rambled around like this for 3-4 hours without feeling noticeably tired at all – it’s less effort than concerted walking for the same amount of time, and 50km slips behind you.

    Was out cycling with my son and mentioned that cycling was more efficient than walking. He was a little incredulous. Four hours later, after exploring the Northwestern bikeway, and the Rosebank peninsula and the tunnel construction site, I reminded him of it, and he could immediately tell that he was a lot less tired than if we had been walking for that amount of time (and we covered at least 5x the distance as well).

    Cheers,
    Brent.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 615 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Was out cycling with my son and mentioned that cycling was more efficient than walking. He was a little incredulous.

    I'm pretty sure my boys already know it, even at 3 and 7. They have balance bikes and several times we've gone for long trips with them riding and me on foot. I have to jog to keep up, and they can go on for half an hour. There's no way they could keep up with me jogging at all, let alone for that length of time. That's without any of the efficiency of pedaling, just the pure effect of having a seat on wheels.

    ETA: Well, actually they could probably go a lot longer than that, but I'm not really willing to push a 3 year old along like some kind of sadistic coach. And I don't really like jogging.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    I've used pretty much the same kind of cycling attire for the last seven years in Auckland: lightweight breathable tees (I have a couple of cheap but effective Diadora tops and another no-name version in white, my preferred commuting colour), sneakers with either ankle socks or longer ones folded down in a pinch, and a pair of Matix shorts which work as comfy, quick drying bike clothing despite actually being designed for the beach.

    If it's raining I'll pack an extra pair of socks and shorts in case the other ones don't dry over the day at work (most of the time they do). If the rain's likely to drench rather than just dampen I have a nylon shell jacket but anything more just soaks from the inside out thanks to Auckland humidity + perspiration.

    Yes, I do have an orange vest for city riding, but a close-fitting one in a decent colour which I flatter myself almost looks smart. I also have a helmet mounted Cateye lamp set to flash - great for catching peds and drivers' eyes.

    I was interested to read the comments upthread regarding cycle chic. I admire those who can pull it off and feel that people dressed fashionably on bikes can do a great deal of good for perceptions of the mode - but I'm suspicious of the way it can sometime slip from a call for freedom and sartorial fun to promulgating (however politely and cheerily) a minimum dress code along middle-upper class lines, below which you're a "road warrior" cycle prole and not really a valued supporter of the cause.

    I agonised over what to wear to a recent CAA conference for exactly these reasons, but finally decided I might as well go in my usual tee and shorts mode - if we're talking about cycling in your everyday clothes, that's how I most authentically exist for at least half of the year anyway. If anyone ever insists that I ought to raise my standards, I will happily invite them to either pick up my tab at the nearest mens' outfitters or get over themselves. Hasn't happened so far...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

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