Words by Jesper Grundahl
Pictures by Kristof Ramon & Jesper Grundahl
Over the past few days I have with great interest followed an online discussion between friends debating what is right and what is wrong in wearing Navy Blue bibs, and even more so if you can wear Navy with Black at all. Those who hold onto historic cycling virtues claim Black bibs are “de rigeur”, the right thing, and it doesn’t go well with Navy, while those eager to break traditions, claim Navy is the thing and goes well with Black.
So who is right? And who is wrong? And is it at all important?
At La Passione we carry Black and Navy bibs for the very reason that BOTH are incredibly stylish and classic. We care about style, but not without substance, as we cater for an endurance sport and not a fashion show. So where am I going with this, you might ask yourself? My point is, no one is actually right, and no one will ever be right, because in the end, whatever you choose, it is a question of personal choice, taste and style.
Cycling has throughout history been obsessed about detailing and style. And still is. The last 7 years has seen an explosive growth in high-end, stylish cycling apparel with thousands of riders migrating from cheap team wear to more subtle, stylish, and often overpriced, cycling apparel. And I haven’t even mentioned the bikes yet. This explosive growth has also seen rise of the everyday “Mr. Wrong & Right”. Your everyday personal peloton critique who claim the right to comment on whatever in your, or any others, appearance he dislikes. Be it cycling kit, bikes, accessories, position on the bike or whatever. A right usually only reserved for old, hard-nosed 80’s Pro riders.
I believe we all know “Mr Wrong & Right”, and you have likely met him several times.
It usually goes like this. “If I was you I would change…….”:
- That stem
- Those socks
- That saddle
- That bar tape
- Those wheels
- Those tires
- That jersey
- Those bibs
- That water bottle
- Your position on the bike
- Your position in the group ride
- Your entire appearance
- Your bike
- Insert other stuff here yourself……
I believe there are very few sports where you can happily turn up and immediately be informed something is completely wrong with your equipment or your appearance. I doubt anyone will comment on your socks, bar tape, shorts, football, swimming trunks or whatever turning up for Tennis, Badminton, Football, Golf, Swimming, or whatever other sports, but in cycling you can almost count on someone voicing their opinion. Even if it hadn’t been called upon.
Cycling derives historically from the working classes, but some riders believe it is an elitist sport. The fact is, cycling is a common people’s sport and not solely an upper class, business network one as some might believe today. Anyone can take part in the sport. No matter what level. Rich, poor, thick or thin - as long as you can ride a bike, and have a certain amount of clothes on your back to keep you from getting arrested. The rest will come over time as newcomers settle into the sport, and decide for themselves what works for them and their personal wallet. However, I find it difficult to understand why the sport is driven by incessant correction of newcomers, and why some of its participants, find it important to comment or knock new riders for wearing wrong kits or ride lesser bikes. Surely such comments and corrections can’t be for “Marginal Gains” at the level people are at in your local peloton, and they hardly seem motivational.
Riders and cycling should embrace any newcomers with open arms for wanting to take part, and help raise awareness for the sport. Encourage them. We should accept people for whoever they are and whatever they decide to wear for a ride. I care about my cycling appearance, it is a part of my job description admittedly, but I have personally also stopped caring about other people’s opinion about my appearance, and is eternally happy as long as it works for me.
So, if you are new to cycling, and reading this, and you have your finger on the mouse to make a purchase for new kit, stop worrying about what is “in vogue”, and stop listening to “Mr. Wrong & Right” in your local peloton. Choose what works for you. Be it Black bibs with Navy or Navy bibs with Black. In the end your legs will do most of the talking anyway.
Everything is not wrong, but everyone has a right.