This isn’t a casual commute or a Sunday spin, this is a sportive, so it’s time to get into the spirit of the event with some decent pro-style kit.
Would you turn up to a parkrun in a pair of Doc Martins? Would you enter a triathlon in a lounge suit? Would you address the gym’s squat rack in top hat and tails?
Well you could, but probably only once.
Our previous sportive guides have covered training, nutrition, techniques, tips, and etiquette, so now you’re physically and mentally prepared we’re going to look at how you can feel part of the road cycling community.
It’s easy to dismiss cycling clothing as an indulgent fad, but as we’ve mentioned before, quality gear provides a number of significant benefits in terms of performance, practicality, and how they make you feel.
Remember, sportives like The Fred Whitton Challenge, L’Etape du Tour, or Dragon Devil in Wales, can be extremely tough. Attempt these in tracksuit bottoms and polyester t-shirt and you’ll be in for a mangling. This is where quality gear can really make its mark.
Flattened seams and a race ready-fit reduces wind resistance, while specialist materials ensure warmth without the weight or the bulk. Venting and sweat-wicking properties will also keep you cool and dry. And don’t underestimate the necessity of a decent chamois for tackling those long miles.
There are practical advantages too. Thin fabrics allow you freedom of movement for an efficient technique, while pockets on the back of jerseys provide the perfect storage place for energy gels.
Then there are the mental advantages.
Looking like a cyclist will help make you feel part of the community, which is really what the sportive is all about.
Of course, if you’re determined to be a black sheep, there are ways to express your individuality within the parameters of the pro-cyclist look. However, if you still want to toss aside the long-established rigour of road cycling regalia, then know it’ll come at the cost of comfort and performance.
Wearing quality cycling kit is enough to overcome the practical and performance limitations of non-cycling-specific gear.
But at some point the practical must meet the aesthetic.
So before we go on, it should be pointed out that you can wear whatever the hell you want and ignore all the conventions of style.
Some people don’t give two, or even one, hoot about fashion. If that’s you, then great.
However, cycling has a long, rich tradition, while both the historical and modern sport has been graced by some of the most dedicated exponents of any pursuit in the world. It’s respect for that heritage that the well turned-out cyclist honours today.
So if you want to pay homage to those towering figures of fitness and finesse and you’re not sure how, then what follows is some practical advice.
Looking good isn’t as easy as picking different gear at random; a bit of planning and good taste goes a long way. There are also a number of long-standing dos and don’ts.
The Hub has scoured the latest cycling gear for spring summer 2018 and highlighted some of its top picks for your sportive clobber. We’ve also provided some advice on how to create your own slick sportive outfit.
Get the pro look: Match the colour of your lid with the bike itself for good results. Also, consider your helmet and eyewear as a combination. All things being equal, white helmets tend to be a tasteful choice.
The Bell Zephyr features a relaxed, aerodynamic style that is effortless yet impressive.
Get the pro look: A proper cycling cap with peak up or down is a nice addition to your garb, and useful if you’ve got long locks to worry about. Subtlety is key here, and avoid wearing while off the bike.
The Alé sunny cap is a classic.
Get the pro look: This is where you can do to town, especially if you’ve been conservative throughout the rest of your gear. It’s good practice to match the colour or of your jersey (or one of the colours) with a panel on your shorts, and or with the colour of your gloves or socks. If you’re yet to attain a whippet-like body shape and uncomfortable with the second-skin fitting of cycling jerseys, look for ‘club fit’ or ‘relaxed fit’ in the product description. It’s also ‘pro’ to keep a rain jacket or gillet rolled up neatly in the middle back pocket.
Nalini’s pro-style designs for 2018 are outstanding, and this one caught our eye.
Get the pro look: You don’t wear underwear under your Lycra shorts, let’s just get that out of the way. Go for dark colours, black is standard, while navy is enjoying a surge in popularity. Again, reflect the detail and panel colour in your jersey and ideally match the brands for that ‘pro’ look. Bib shorts are standard.
Subtle, sharp, and built for performance, Castelli’s new Aero Race bib shorts are too good to overlook.
Get the pro look: Absolutely no football socks. Socks should be above the ankle but under the widest part of the calf. Again, reflecting the colour of the jersey can look great but there is flexibility here. Go white or black if unsure.
Nalini is a well-respected brand throughout cycling circles and their quality socks look great on anyone’s feet.
Get the pro look: No one expects you to have different shoes to match different outfits, so flexibility is generally exercised. If your shoes are black, at least they’ll match your shorts. White shoes, however, tend to look good with everything. MTB shoes are a hard no on the road bike.
Get the pro look: Gloves are by no means a must-have, but they do have a certain ‘pro’ zing to them, especially if finger-less. They should generally be a continuation of your jersey’s colour scheme, match your shoes, or be black.
Sportful’s Bodyfit gloves come in a variety of different colour combinations and can work with any kit.
Get the pro look: The frames of your eyewear should match your helmet, as mentioned above, but beyond that the eyewear world is your oyster. Feel free to experiment with styles, shapes and lens colours. The one rule is that they should always be on the outside of your helmet straps.
The POC DO Blade AVIP sunglass are among the sharpest in the market.