Category Archives: Clothing

Looking for something different?

There are so many options in cycling kits out there, but unfortunately, I find that so many of us end up in team or replica kits, and honestly, I far prefer unbranded loud and fun kits, so I am always looking at other kits out there. So, for the next few weeks we are going to be posting some links to some really fun kit vendors as we stumble across them.

Todays is KOMRaid. We haven’t had a chance to give the product a test, but they are certainly hitting the loud and fun vibe just about perfect.

Expanding Upon Spandex Theory

Not too long ago, a friend linked a brilliant blog post called (“The Spandex Theory”)[]. If you haven’t read it already, you really ought to take the time to do so. I admit that when I first read through it, I thought it was a great human interest story, but the idea behind his Spandex Theory didn’t sit very well with me, probably not for the reasons you would think.

So first let us discuss the theory itself. It takes him a couple of rambling paragrapsh to get to the point defining what the theory is, but the crux of it comes from the following:

While wearing spandex on my bike, I started to love myself and fix my self. It also helps me deal with my depression because spandex is honest. It makes me honest with myself and with others. This is why I think the cycling world is so open; when people can accept themselves for who they are they can also accept others and help them to be their self. You can’t help others if you can’t accept and help your self. You make the spandex what it is, not the other way around.

Taking from that, I get this this:

Spandex Theory

The act of wearing spandex in public removes layers of protection and exposes a level of physical honesty that is reflected in the mental and emotional state of the wearer.

On the surface, it sounds good. So why did it not sit well with me? Because when I looked at it, I did not like something I saw in myself. It exposed an aspect of my behavior that I don’t particular care for, and in typical fashion the gut reaction was to dismiss the theory because I didn’t like what it showed. Fortunately, it sat there in the back of the brain and percolated over a couple of weeks, and eventually I circled back to it, and concluded that not only is there remarkable merit to the theory, but when you really get down to it, you also start to see some really deep truths tucked away in to the idea and concept.

What did I not like that made me dismiss this? Turns out, I am a judgemental ass. Probably not in the way you think though. Turns out, it’s not the spandex that makes me judge you, but it may be the choice of the spandex that triggers something in me. Show up in pro gear on a pro bike, and you better have the skills to ride at a pro level. When you fail at basic riding skills, decked out in pro gear, there is a really good chance I may judge you to be a pretentious ass. That judgement may be true, but it is not my place to make that jugement. This really hit home for me this year. I showed up to a group ride that I had not ridden before. It was early in the season and I knew the ride was tri bike friendly, so I grabbed the tri bike, and whatever kit was at the top of the drawer. It happened to be one of race kits, and when I started prep for the ride, one of the other riders walked over and asked if I was aware that this was not a fast ride. I knew, I wasn’t out for a fast ride, just a casual spin with some other people. The route was one I wanted to hit, because on the tri bike, it would present some good work at low speeds, and it was a chance to get to know more of the community in the area.

The question though, made me ask myself what triggered it. It wasn’t until I was out an spinning along that it gelled. I looked “Pro”. I was rocking a team tri kit, on a bike that looked to someone not deeply in to the triathlon bike world like a very high end bike ( it is and it isn’t. high end frame, mid-level components, low end wheels ). Early on, I would have made the same snap judgement, and I would have been wrong. It turned out to be a great ride, and an even better community of cyclists, and I blended right into the group, despite my tendancy to ride off the back of groups because I am basically a mother hen in a group, nobody gets left behind or isolated.

As the season went on, I kept circling back to this idea that cycling is the way it is because of the spandex effect, and that outsiders that judge cycling so harshly do so, also because of the spandex effect. The more I watched, the more I started to believe, and I started to see another dynamic that just fascinates me.

It Is Not The Activity

At first, I really wanted to ascribe the behavior to the bonding that people with a shared activity do. We all ride bikes, so that is the common ground. Runners have these bonds too right? Swimmers? Team Sports? Interestingly, not so much. In fact many of the communities for these activities are quite the opposite. If you look at cycling itself, you find that it can be quite the same, with some petty nastiness going on between the spandex wearers and the non. The mountain bike cyclists and road cyclists have some long standing issues, and not surprisingly, spandex is one of them.

Though I have cycled for a long time, I am actually fairly new to running, and very new to triathlon. I have only been running for about 4 years now. Runners, particularly male runners, are not spandex wearers. Even amongst female runners, there seems to be two distinct groups, the spandex wearers that run in spandex shorts and sports bras and the non-spandex wearers that seem to operate under the belief that only the hyper-fit rock hard bodies can wear spandex and the sports bra. When you get to know a lot of runners, you quickly learn that the line is not about the body, but the mind. It is a confidence thing, which circles back to the spandex theory.

But then came triathlon, and the wake up call that is the triathlon age group community.

Age groupers come in every shape, color, size and skill level. They all train for this crazy support, and you know what? the age group community is beyond welcoming. Judgement is left on the outside, and supportive is the only thing brought in. Yeah, on the race course, they race hard while still finding time to encourage others along the way, but before the start, and at the finish line? It is game on for some hard core support and cheering.

The runs over the last 4 years where the the runners gather up in the start corral, chat a bit about past races and food, and then when the gun goes off, shove to the front and off they go. At the finish, most of the runners get thier freebie, and many only hang around if they have a shot at an award, otherwise they are done and gone in their cars within minutes of finishing.

I can’t tell you how many bike races I’ve done over the years where the athletes show up, spin on trainers or rollers with headphones on pre-race, gather in the start and then go full gas until the finish line, throwing elbows if needed to get there. They’ll hang around at the finish line, but there isn’t much cheering going on. There will however be drinks and foof afterward for the friends that knew each other pre-race day. The thing is, not many cyclists race, but a huge number do organized events like Grand Fondo’s and Century Rides, and these are where the real spandex theory starts to show.

The more I looked, the more I concluded that he is on the right track.

But what really cemented the idea, and warranted the expansion of it for me? the realization that I know literally hundreds of triathletes, and cyclists around the area. People that I can identify from a hundred yards away out on the bike or run. Out of those hundreds, the number that I could identify from 5 feet away in street clothes probably numbers in a number I could count on my fingers, perhaps with the assistance of a couple of toes, and that stems from the other side effect of the spandex effect.

Once you shed the layers of disclosure, you create communities, clubs and active groups, clubs and those groups become very welcoming, and that is what led me to conclude that the spandex effect is real. Locally, we have a couple of medium sized running clubs, that will typically have 4-10 runners show up to a given week. Within the same community, I can name 6 different cycle clubs with upwards of 20 active riders at every event, and they just keep growing.

So here is my addition to the Spandex Theory.

The level in inclusivity of a group is directly proportional to the amount of spandex being worn during group activities.

I have an additional addendum though.

The same effect does not apply to a remove of clothing. Quite simply put, nudity increases sezual tensions that are usually erased in the cycling communities, not because they don’t exist, but because the “creeps” of both genders that make it uncomfortable are weeded out pretty quickly.

Shopping – Road Holland

We here at the OGRE HQ ( otherwise known as the Swamp ), have a strong bias towards shopping local, shopping small, and shopping made in USA. It is hard to do all of the above these days, but with care, you can usually hit 1 or 2 out of the 3. In addition, we like to add a 4th category, and that is shop with quality people.

Road Holland

Shop Small: Yes — Shop Local: Sorta — Shop Made in USA: Yes

Today we are profiling a small apparel vendor from the Palm Beach area of Florida. They are sorta local, though they do not currently have any retail dealers in the Atlanta area (though they do have a small collection of dealers around the world). In addition, they hit the Made in USA category pretty well, with their fabrication being done in the US. Keep in mind, sourcing the fabrics is mostly likely from overseas, the assembly is on shore, so they earn the Made in America badge.

What makes them different is a philosophy. Road Holland is trying to create cycling gear that is not overly loud and garish, while hitting the high points that serious cyclists want and need. The mission is to create cycling kits that didn’t look absurd. Looking at the product on the website, they certainly hit the sweet spot on creating something that looks nice.

We decided to give them a try, despite knowing no one who had done so yet. Ordered a Carolina Blue Hilversum, a lightweight full zip jersey with a club fit with the idea that it would be a great commuter and club ride jersey for the summer and early fall rides. The online ordering process was pretty generic, but worked well. The email confirmation is a little on the simple but effective side, which I for one love. Spend the money and time on the products. Shipping was prompt and the product arrived in just a couple of days.

Keep in mind, this is not a cheap jersey at $100+, so we had certain expectations.

Upon arrival, the jersey came out of the packaging and looked exactly as represented, which is a great start. The fabric itself has an interesting feel. It is not like so many of the current jerseys with a super tight weave of elastane and lycra moisture wicking fabrics. In terms of texture, it actually feels more like a high end polo shirt than a cycling jersey. This is not a bad thing, and when you put it on, it looks sharp, and fits very true to size, with a slightly athletic cut. If you carry a little weight around the middle, you might want to size up. The real test though, is getting out on the bike with it.

We wanted to hold off on writing about the product until we had several rides in the hot and damp summer heat. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t terribly cooperative the first couple of weeks so it took longer than expected to get some weather appropriate for testing out new gear. While I am happy to get out and ride in the rain, I generally prefer not to test out new gear in the rain until I’ve seen how it holds up in good conditions.

Riding in the Hilversum proved to be an interesting experience, for unexpected reasons. First, for as heavy as the fabric feels, it is far from warm. During a 65 degree morning commute, it can get a little chilly at speeds over 25 mph. The fabric does a great job of leaving just enough moisture on the skin to cool in a hurry. The afternoon rides in 95+ degrees offered another interesting experience. The runners in the crowd will understand this one. The fabric itself has a slightly abrasive and gritty texture to it. This is fine most of the time, but when you get into the 95+ temperatures and you start sweating faster than the air is evaporating it, the wet fabric turns to sandpaper. This doesn’t bother some people, but for others, like myself, nipple chafing can become an issue. For running, I often use compression tops as a base layer for this very reason.

This is not a deal breaker, and honestly with the excellent design, best pockets in the business and hitting so many of my other criteria, the one negative really doesn’t create a huge challenge on the bike. The reason? Bib shorts. The first couple of rides just happen to be days when I wore traditional shorts. Subsequent rides with bibs and the chafing issues simply go away, as the bibs protect the sensitive areas. In addition, I suspect that a slight tighter fit would ease the problem as well.

Are there things I would like to see improved? sure, but understanding the size of the company and the costs associated with them, well, I think that Road Holland has a product that is a good value for the price, and a service level that exceeds expectations.

So at the end of the day, I can see adding a fall and winter jersey to the collection from Road Holland, and I have enough confidence in the brand that I will look to pick up a pair of their excellent looking bib shorts in the coming months.

Bike Alpharetta Kits & Fundraising

For all the local riders, I want to remind everyone to get their orders in soon. Before July 31. This is a great opportunity for us. First, we can pick up these fun kits, with the Share Our Roads logo on the back. The colors are vibrant, but not garish. Second, these are very good kits made my Castelli Cycling. If you don’t know your size, Endurance House next to Publix in Alpharetta has a sample fit kit you can go try on for sizing. Lastly, this is a major fundraiser for Bike Alpharetta. Purchasing these kits helps them fund their counting advocacy and vocal support for our growing cycling community in the Alpharetta area.

Bike Alpharetta Kits

Yes, when I say advocacy, I mean advocacy. They are directly involved with the city, they have worked hard to support RAMBO and the mountain bike trails on the Greenways. They worked with REI and the City of Alpharetta to create, publish, mark and put up signage for the designated bike routes in Alpharetta. What they have accomplished on a small budget to date is remarkable. What they can do go forward should be fun to watch and enjoy the results of their work. If you can’t be involved as a volunteer, take the time and get involved with a few dollars for a great kit.

In the words of Woody from Toy Story. “If you don’t have one, GET ONE!”