Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Fashion Update: Pants

With the warm weather approaching, it's time to think about cycling fashion; specifically pants. For my British audience (there might be one person over there reading this), I'm not talking about women's undergarments, since we all know those are uncomfortable for the long climbs. I'm talking about the things that keep your lower half comfortable in a harsh wind, and help hide your hairy legs when you walk around your place of work or take a break in a cafe.

Personally, I've been sticking with a pair of khaki hiking pants made of a sort of soft nylon. I wear them just about every day. They're comfortable in cooler weather, have an extra zip pocket for my keys, and are thin enough that they're comfortable on my saddle area. They're clean looking other than the chain ring stains on the right leg, and somehow also on the left leg.

I'm not exactly one for huge clothing variety. I have an office clothing rotation that sometimes repeats after 3 days. (This may make you wonder why I'm writing a "fashion update", or why you should read it.) I've been considering branching out.

Last year, I started out spring cycling by wearing a pair of spandex padded bike shorts. I was under the impression that the only comfortable way to cycle was to wear a set of these. When I arrived at work, I would put a pair of regular shorts over top to avoid waltzing around the office and offending my coworkers. Plus, I thought: even if the aerodynamics don't help too much, they put me in a fast frame of mind, making me go faster. Eventually, I just started wearing loose-fitting shorts, which turned out to be a lot more comfortable and no less fast. I was happy since the breeze was nice, and, well, they were loose.

On the weekend I tried branching out by wearing a pair of loose cordoroy pants. After 45 minutes of cycling, I tore them on my crank arm. Now I have lots of cordoroy bike cleaning rags. So I need something a little different, not fancy, that's not going to get in the way of my chain or my crank arm.

This leads me to capri pants. For a year now I've had many of my closest friends like Eddie B, American E, Old N and my buddy G, telling me that these are the way to go. They will lead to lots of happy times spent with other people wearing capri pants. Fortunately, they look very practical for riding a bike. I would get a bit of air on my legs; they can have lots of pockets; they are loose and comfortable; and most importantly, they would keep out of my chain without needing to be tucked into a sock. On top of all that, I think they would make me look taller.

My concern with capri pants is that they have never looked very masculin to me. And lately I've been reminded that the plethora of gears on my bike should make me very concerned about my masculinity.

So I'm leaning towards getting a new pair of pants similar to my current ones, but maybe a little bit stiffer so I can roll them up instead of tucking them in my socks. And if I feel like blowing the budget next month I'll look for a pair of long shorts (totally different from capris!) made of a thin material, maybe synthetic, much like my current pants. The thick cotton that most khaki shorts are made of is never comfortable when it gets sweaty.

Oh, that's Jeanne Becker on the line ... This is your cycling fashionista, I mean fashionisto, signing off.

Darren J 3/28/2006 02:35:00 p.m.


Darren, you are looking at it the wrong way! Get a bike with a chain guard (or put one on your current ride) and wear whatever pants your like, masculine or not ;) I’m sure you need another reason to spend some money on something cool like an internal gear hub after saving on your auto insurance ;)

What about knickers? They used to be 'in' for cross country skiing.

Seriously though, in cooler weather I wear cycling shorts under some MEC tights. Only they are not-so-tight - the cuffs have been caught on the FD more than once. I now use a velcro strap to keep the dive side cuff snug.

Before I splurged on the tights, I would wear my thermal underwear, with a pair of cargo shorts over that. I’m not sure where that puts me in the fashion spectrum, but it sure worked fine.
Yeah, I sort of feel the same way about capri pants. I'm pretty sure people are going to notice the style of your pants rather than how many gears you have on your bike. Not that it matters... some people give me weird stares for just carrying around a bike helmet in stores.
Us women have it so easy.. capri pants are great!
As a UK ex-pat, I can say pants in the UK are the same as in Canada - tubular leg coverings. It's also a mild form of derision - as in "that computer is an absolute pile of pants".

Knickers, on the other hand, are women's underwear (called, I think, panties over here).

Another fun one is "fanny", which in the UK refers to female genitalia. The phrase "fanny pack" often leads to much sniggering.
Word of warning, then... "fanny" means your arse over there, not your minge.

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