Confessions of a Cycling Kit Addict

By Andrea Champredonde

I’m ready to accept the facts and confess something to my family and the cycling community. They say the first step is admitting it to yourself. I’m doing it here. It’s difficult to open yourself to criticism. But the physical evidence is undeniable. I’m a cycling kit addict.

Do I and others like me need to justify their addiction? Addiction may be too strong a word. It means a habitual activity that is often injurious. There’s nothing injurious about owning an impressive cycling wardrobe other than the space it takes up in my closet and drawers. I prefer to see its positive side. You’ll make up your own mind in the end.

The progression

When I started road riding, the choice of proper cycling clothing for amateurs of the sport was limited and didn’t include women’s-specific gear. Now I’ve got more of it than my everyday wear. I regularly give in to the temptation of one more pair of shorts, a colourful jersey, and the accessories that go with it. Over the years, I’ve accumulated helmets, socks, sunglasses, vests, shoes, leg and arm warmers, and more. My closet and drawers are bursting. There’s enough to outfit a good-sized peloton and then some.

My collection of cycling clothes has taken on a new meaning. Each piece is a badge of honour, a proclamation to the world that I’m not just a cyclist, but a connoisseur of velo chic. After all, if you can’t be fast, look good, right? As I survey my extensive collection, sometimes I step back to marvel at the absurdity of it. But in this seemingly shameful habit lies a treasure trove of benefits that might make you consider becoming a cycling clothes-a-holic too.

Never the same twice

We know, or should know, it’s a “no-no” to wear the same gear again without washing it. You gotta put on a clean kit every time you ride. The outright number and variety of cycling clothing in my boudoir has several advantages. One of them is I never have to worry about wearing the same outfit twice in a week.

I’ve got a rotating wardrobe. Each piece communicates how I feel on any given day. Solids on Mondays, bold prints on Tuesdays, stripes on Wednesdays. You get the picture. I dress to my heart’s desire. And because it’s never the same twice, the laundry can pile up without the need to mix techy cycling kit fabrics with daily wear cottons. I protect my clothes, save money, water and energy by doing one dedicated kit load per week.

Ready for anything

Not convinced yet? There are still more benefits of owning a wardrobe worthy of a cycling superhero. Its utility goes beyond fashion. I’ve got garments for every weather scenario imaginable. For example, while I no longer intentionally choose to ride in the rain, my job as a cycling guide occasionally requires me to do so. But it’s no problem. I have a waterproof jacket that would make a duck envious.

When the sun is blazing in summer, I beat the heat and simultaneously avoid a sunburn while upping my style points in ultra-light shorts and jerseys that keep me cool. When Jack Frost comes calling, my vast collection of thermal tights, jackets, booties and gloves keeps me toasty warm in winter. Bring it on Mother Nature. I’m ready for you.

Woman cycling
You need to be ready for anything. © Profimedia

Cycling ambassadors

To me, those that pedal in their finest cycling duds are unsung ambassadors of the sport. Perhaps your sharp cycling kit addict look of the day will turn heads and inspire others to get on two-wheels. Who knew the sport could be so fashion conscious? This is a vibe you can relate to. What a contrast to the riders you usually see wearing torn or threadbare cycling shorts with overstretched elastic around the knees and sun-faded jerseys from the 80s. Shield my eyes!

Whether you’re into audacious brand labels and colours, or prefer a more discreet look, there’s something for everyone on the road. When kit addicts ride past other cyclists that reflect their sense of fashion, the connection is instantaneous. You share a silent pact, a mutual understanding of the importance of looking good on the bike. How you dress on two-wheels is a testament to the joy, freedom and fun you feel pedalling through life with style. Be that beacon, a rolling colour of canvas on asphalt.

Give unto others

So my fellow cyclist, now that I have confessed my kit addiction, let me tell you the rewarding and positive thing I do when the stockpile gets too big and the drawers and closet doors no longer close. I donate them to a junior rider I know or to local developmental cycling clubs and organisations. What do you do with your cycling clothes when they lose your favour?

Cycling is an expensive sport. This philanthropic action with your old cycling kit is a good deed all around. You get space for something new, and your old duds go to those who can use and appreciate them. This lightens the expense for young or newer riders who aren’t sure if it’s the sport for them, yet. Or recycle older jerseys into something cool. Frame former favourites into art or turn a bundle of them into a unique quilt. It’s the perfect gift for the cyclist that already has everything.

What’s important

In the end, whether you’re a professed cycling kit addict or not has nothing to do with it. It’s about enjoying yourself, feeling good and confident on the bike. So go ahead, feed your addiction and dress for success. You do it for other parts of your life, so why not on the bike? If being a cycling kit addict motivates anyone to get out on their bike more, I’m all for it and you should be too. May your cycling adventures be as vast, varied and colourful as your wardrobe.