Funky Bike Shorts
Most cycling clothing serves only one purpose, to get you from point A to point B efficiently. Bicycle touring clothing must serve two purposes, of course the A to B thing, but also to get you into and out of Bubba Dukes Feed and Seed Store without getting beat up or offending the local church ladies.
Having clothes that can be rinsed out by hand, dry quickly and pack away in a small space is a plus as well. Bike shorts can be a problem. Chamois dry slowly and if not rinsed after a sweltering eight hour day in the saddle can turn funky. On our last tour I carried three pair of bike shorts and one pair of baggy nylon outer-shorts. That combo seemed to work well for me. Each chamois had two days to completely dry and the nylon outer short was thin enough to dry overnight.
I also carried two long sleeved quick drying white camp shirts from Campmor. They offered great sun protection and had vented backs for good air flow. A pair of thin packable hiking pants and a pair of sandals finished my touring wardrobe. I easily could have done without the hiking pants and sandals, but it was nice to have something to change into at the end of each day.
We crossed paths with a few tourists who were touring in spandex shorts and jerseys (both on and off the bike). They seemed uncomfortable and out of place in convenient stores and restaurants. I like to blend in as much as possible when I get off the bike and I think I’m more approachable if I’m not decked out like a bike racer.
I’m not saying there’s isn’t a time and place to wear more technical clothing for cycling, just that when we deck ourselves out like a spandexed version of a superhero (bananas sticking out of secret pockets, high-tech wrap around eyewear, unsightly bulge in the crotch area, aerodynamic Styrofoam hat) and walk into the local coffee shop we are sending an unspoken message: “I’m different than you, so approach with caution”. For me a big part of touring is interacting with the folks I meet along the way.
Thanks for reading, Jack