Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Nekkid

When I first started riding back in the early 90s I easily saw the need for cycling shorts. Seams? waistbands? wrinkled cotton underthings with extra elastic in spots that would be bending and flexing over n over n over n over? Lycra with chamois took away all the aches and chafing and made total sense after I got used to the idea: What? WITHOUT undies?? I had to admit there was logical sense, but the first time? nekkid. I felt nekkid.

And everyone who was any kind of cyclist KNEW I was nekkid underneath.

And I knew they knew.

So I wore my t-shirt long and baggy.

Of course as time passed, I adjusted to the idea that all cyclists are basically riding around nekkid underneath and no one cares, so the concept lost its allure...er, its novelty.

And then one summer I took a week long ride through the Canadian Rockies. And I wore a long-sleeved t-shirt. And I carried bread bags for the inside of my shoes if it rained. And I carried an extra t-shirt if it got warm and another extra if one got wet... thus was borne the rationale for a cycling jersey and shoe covers (and a road bike, for that matter). Soon, I got one long-sleeved jersey. Then one short-sleeved. Solid colored....

I dabbled in racing. I traded in my floppy, dark purple, pilled Performance jersey for something more form-fitting that screamed in red, white and green and was covered in sponsor logos. I matched-up my socks and helmet. I didn't think twice about it. The kit was at once an identifier and an obligation: sponsors had footed the bills for some of my equipment. Spreading the word was the way to say thanks.

Then? The skinsuit. I guess a skinsuit doesn't leave a ton to the imagination...to an outsider, anyway. At time trials, we all must have looked as if we were nekkid wearing Depends, but to us nekkid was far from our minds. We noticed the team colors, how others had pinned their numbers, and whether or not someone had decided on arm warmers that day. I was confident of the fact, when someone once commented to me, Hey, great skinsuit, that he meant the season's new design, not the body that was wearing it. It's the way racers think.

It's been years since I've raced, but I haven't made a total transition back to cotton and floppy shirts. If I'm riding to supper or to the store, I'll toss travel pants over the cycling gear and I'll wear a sweater instead of a jersey.

Last Sunday, we rode over to see George for the afternoon. As usual, I wore my merino and tights underneath my pedestrian clothing, but the March temps were hitting the mid 50s by the time we were headed home. I needed a stop to switch out the jacket and to peel off the travel pants. As we got rolling again, I realized it was the first time all winter that I was riding with nothing flapping around my legs, with nothing cinched at my ankles, with nothing bunching up where it shouldn't. I could feel breeze...e v e r y w h e r e. ...

Nekkid, I tell you.

And everyone who was any kind of cyclist KNEW I was nekkid.

- tob I have GOT to get out more.

11 comments:

LimesNow said...

OB, that is pure poetry. The evolution of a racing cyclist!

jeff said...

I love it! I never raced, but evolved from baggy shorts, t-shirts and tennis shoes to lycra, jersey and Sidis. I still evolve each year from solid color jerseys that draw no attention. When I'm in better form, only then will I don the jerseys proclaiming I've ridden through the mountains and lived to tell about it. :)

standing on my head said...

nekkid is best. whenever, wherever!

Mike J said...

I think I went through the exact same evolution. That was a great piece of writing. Thanks for sharing.

Human Wrecking Ball said...

I'm nekkid right now! WHOOOO HOOOOO!

Vito said...

Well stated, very poetic. I like "nekkid". :)

WheelDancer said...

I forgot about this, I should have let you pull.

BIGWORM said...

Leave it to springtime to bring out thoughts of nekkidness! I enjoyed your story, TOB. It took me back to my first lycra experience, oh so many years ago. Thanks.

Notorious T said...

Damn, just a bike story? I clicked over quickly when I saw "nekkid" in my RSS feed. :)

I think it was Jeff Foxworthy who said "naked" means ya got no clothes on.

"Nekkid" means ya go not clothes on, and yer up ta somethin'!

Groover said...

There is only one time when nekkid becomes a problem. It's when lycra wears thin. Plenty of time when I drafted in a tidely packed paceline, looked up only to stare into a ... barely covered crack. :0

Bluenoser said...

Or OB, you could put up a post like I did saying I was wearing kneewarmers at -2°c and said "I was only wearing kneewarmers" to which Jacquie Phelan was quick to point out the error.

-B