It’s getting cold here in the Northwest — cold enough that yesterday when I went out for a ride, I only made it as far as the end of the block before I turned around and came back into the house, hunting for another layer up top, and some warmer gloves for my hands.
I started by looking on the shelf in the garage I have for ultra-stinky biking clothes (gloves, shoes, helmets, shoe covers). Nope, not there. I then went on to my dresser in the bedroom. The two bottom drawers are reserved for biking clothes. I found a good thick long-sleeved jersey to wear, and became hopeful that the gloves would have the good sense to hang out near the jersey.
OK, I was getting a little annoyed. I moved over to the bottom three drawers of my wife’s dresser — yes, she has ceded the bottom three drawers of her dresser to my bike clothes stuff. The warm glove liners and one of the gloves I wanted were in the first drawer I checked; the final glove I wanted was in the second. So, in a way, this constituted a minor victory: I had found everything I wanted, but hadn’t had to check all of the drawers. This victory is augmented by the fact that I hadn’t needed to go into my "last resort" bike stuff spot: the closet.
To recap: I have a garage shelf, five drawers, and a closet shelf dedicated to bike clothes. Clearly, I have too much stuff.
What Do I Have? How Did I Get So Much of It?
It’s tempting to say I don’t know how I wound up with so much bike clothing, but that would be a lie. And as everyone who reads this blog knows, I never lie. (Unless I think it would be funny or self-serving to lie, in which case of course I’ll lie.)
Here are the highlights of what I’ve got, bike clothing-wise:
- 3 RLX Bib Shorts: These are my favorite bike shorts for warm weather riding. They’ve seen heavy use for years and years. I don’t feel at all bad about owning three pair.
- More than 30 Jerseys: Why do I have an obscene number of jerseys? Well, because bike jerseys have a number of unique properties that, combined, have led to what is known in scientific circles as the Infinite Jersey Accumulation Syndrome (IJAS). To wit:
- Many races and events give jerseys away either for starting or completing. You don’t have to buy jerseys to accumulate them.
- Occasionally, you’ll buy jerseys anyway, because you like the way they look, or you want to look like you’re sponsored, or because you want to look like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
- You need many different kinds of jerseys to suit the weather: long sleeved, short sleeved, sleeveless.
- Sometimes, a marketing campaign hornswoggles you into believing that their jersey material will actually make you warmer, or cooler, or whatever — even though it’s really just another minor variation of polyesther.
- Jerseys never wear out, so you feel bad throwing them away.
- Old jerseys cannot be converted into rags, the way cotton t-shirts can, so you can’t get rid of them that way either.
- As discussed before, jerseys get permanently stinky, so you can’t exactly give them away.
In short, there’s nothing you can do to stop accumulating jerseys, and there’s no practical way to get rid of them. As the number of cyclists increases, IJAS is becoming a serious problem. Top scientists predict that by the year 2018, the entire world will be waist-deep in cycling jerseys. That should smell nice.
- Biking Shorts I Never Wear: I have three or four pair of old Pearl Izumi biking shorts. I have not worn them since I started wearing bib shorts. I do not have any idea why I keep these.
- Knickers: I have a pair of biking knickers, too. I believe my thinking was that these would be useful on the days when it was too cold for shorts, but not cold enough for tights. The thing is, days like that come once every three or four years. Plus, if I recall correctly, these knickers have the worst chamois in the world.
- Too-Tight Tights: I bought a pair of Cannondale (Coda brand) bib tights about two years ago. This is the only cycling item I have ever bought that shrunk. Over the course of five wearings, these tights went from fitting well to being waaaaay too short for me. Cannondale has not earned many loyalty points from me this way.
- More Biking Shorts I Never Wear: I bought a pair of baggy mountain bike shorts, about two years before they became popular. My early-adopter attitude was rewarded by a pair of shorts that rode low, and had a wimpy chamois that does not stay put. These are, to tell the truth, not my favorite shorts. And yet, I still have them. What is wrong with me?
- "Lobster" Gloves: The idea for these cold-weather gloves was pretty sensible: Keep as many fingers together as possible, but have splits where necessary, so you can shift. The result? The goofiest-looking mitten/gloves in the world, keeping your hands in a permanent Star Trek "Live Long and Prosper" salute. They’re not warm, either. And yet, I still have them.
- Lots and Lots of "Air-E-Aetor" Socks With Holes in the Big Toe: I really like Air-E-Aetor brand socks. They’re cool and comfortable in the summer, and warm enough to use into moderately cool weather. But I wear through the big toe well before I wear through the rest of the sock. And for some reason, I don’t throw them away. This is especially stupid, because I am constantly putting on a sock, finding it has a hole in it, and having to find a different sock. And then I do and extra-double-stupid thing: I put the sock I just took off back in the sock drawer. I need help.
- Five or Six Windbreaker Jackets / Vests: I never wear vests. Why do I have any at all? And do I need more than 2 jackets (one to keep at work, one to keep at home)?
Here Comes the Irony
The thing is, I only rarely open these drawers at all. Since I’ve developed the technique of throwing my dirty bike clothes directly into the washing machine, filling the machine up with other clothes from around the house (with four kids, there’s always a load of laundry to do), and starting the machine (I transfer these clothes to the dryer as I put the twins down for bedtime; the drone of the machine helps them go to sleep), I’ve always got a complete set of clean biking clothes in the dryer each morning.
So yes: while I have enough biking clothes that I could wear different stuff each day for about a month, I tend to wear the same thing each day.
A Second Helping of Irony
OK, I’ll say it: there are more bike clothes I really want right now. Specifically, I’d really like to get a couple pair of windproof, water-resistant bib tights for cold-weather commuting.
These would make a terrific Christmas gift, for example (size Medium).
And Now for the Part You’ve Been Waiting For…
For today’s Banjo Brothers Bike Bag Giveaway, tell me one or more of the following:
- Recommendations for what to do with all this stuff I’ve accumulated
- Impress me with how much bike stuff you have
- Impress me even more with how little you have, in which case by all means, explain your brilliant strategy for keeping your bike stuff from taking over the house
PS: My review of The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles is up on Cyclingnews now.