Archive for category By Bike
Some of you might be of the school of thought that any jeans are riding jeans, why spend top dollar just because someone’s labelled them ‘cycling” jeans? Is it a form of hipster trap? Why do I even want to ride anywhere in jeans? These are valid questions. Here’s why…
I rarely wear anything besides jeans unless I’m going for a ‘proper’ road ride. I live and work in a town which is a perfect size to get around by bike, and as a result I have worn clean through the arse area of the following jeans: Seven For All Mankind, Superdry, 2x pairs of G-Star, and my Hudsons are getting dangerously close. I love my jeans and these were all rather nice ones… It’s depressing when they go, and it’s pretty much impossible to fix. (I have tried, both with a sewing machine and with iron-on patches) The G-Stars in particular were useless – a new pair wore through in less than a year!
A few weeks ago I stumbled upon Creux Cycling – an Australian urban cycle clothing brand – and fairly rapidly decided I wanted to own everything they made, especially their jeans. At a glance they just have a style I love, and on closer inspection they’ve considered everything to make these the ultimate legwear for living and riding in.
Fortunately while at Bespoked Bristol a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting the man behind (iL) Soigneur who has been hand-making really lovely musettes since 2011, and doing rather well at it. (iL) Soigneur now stocks a selection of Creux gear here in the UK and I took away a pair of the men’s and the women’s jeans to see which I’d get on with the most.
(Size info: I’m testing the Men’s Small and the Women’s Large (12), most of my jeans are a size 29-30 waist. My waist is 29 inches, and my hips are 40 inches)
The men’s version of the Soigneur Jeans are, on me at least, a slim fitting straight-leg cut which fit comfortably around my waist, higher than most of my jeans which are all low rise cut, these come to about an inch and a half below my belly button. The lower legs are just loose enough to turn up a couple of times to avoid your bike chain, but I couldn’t roll them up any higher than in the pictures. When riding, I prefer the men’s because of the higher waist. It feels just right in the bike position, no pants on show.
The women’s cut has a lower rise, and a much skinnier leg. I LOVE how these look when I’m walking around, but when I’m riding I found that once they’d loosened up a bit, they were coming down a bit too low at the back. It’s no biggie if your shirt is tucked in, but if not; PANTS CITY.
The fit is really quite different from the men’s, and I’m surprised by how well the men’s cut fits me – I do not have boyish hips. So it really comes down to your preference – do you want slim straight leg or skinny leg? Higher waist or low rise? Both are super comfy on and off the bike.
Two things I love about turning these jeans up: The cyan coloured tape sewn over the seams on the inside looks ace, and on the men’s version, the large reflective Creux logo inside the right leg, which massively increases your visibility in the dark. Never mind products with a tiny bit of reflective piping here and there, there’s nothing better than a huge block of the stuff to catch driver’s eyes. Plus it looks freaking cool. It’s not there on the women’s, no doubt because they’re a lot skinnier so you can’t really roll them up.
Both versions are very slightly stretchy, but to be honest I think they could be stretchier, because it’s such a heavy weight denim. When these jeans first go on they feel heavier and stiffer than most jeans. Unsurprisingly though, after wearing these for a few days they loosened up a fair bit, became less tight around the waist, and altogether more and more comfortable as the days wore on.
The denim itself is such a big feature of these jeans, it feels so tough that I can’t imagine ever wearing through the arse section. Even if the bum was one layer thick I don’t think I would – but as it happens Creux have built in a double layered seat, complete with lightly padded chamois! I was a little concerned this would feel bulky and even too warm, but when I’m not riding I just don’t notice it.
Then there’s the Schoeller NanoSphere treatment, which is unbelievably valuable. Living in the UK, if I waited for it to stop raining, I’d barely ever get to ride so I don’t tend to shy away from wet weather. After all, skin’s waterproof, right? Turns out these jeans are too. Close enough anyway. I live a short distance from work, but even a short distance will soak regular jeans through if it’s pissing it down as it often does. I’ve sat at my desk for several hours with wet jeans, patiently waiting for them to dry out after the 5 minute ride in. It takes about 3 hours, I’ve timed it. So since testing these jeans out, I’ve had it rain on me a couple of times, once while riding, not overly heavy rain, and once when it just absolutely shat it down for 5 minutes, so I went outside and sat in it. Just to see what would happen.
I’d say that in extremely heavy rain, 95% beads and splashes right off you, and 5% begins to dampen the jeans. Dampen, mind, not soak. I came back inside, brushed them off and sat at my desk, and within 10 minutes the jeans felt completely dry again. My hood stayed wet for the rest of the day.
The men’s jeans have a few little features which the women’s jeans don’t have, although I’m not entirely sure why. There’s an extra pocket on the right hip which is much easier to dig into then the front pockets when you’re sat down, there’s a little loop for keys on the left side waist band, and there’s a D-lock holding loop on the back, which is pretty handy if like me you often pop into town without a bag.
The only thing to be aware of is that these jeans are very heavily dyed, and it will transfer to your pale coloured couch. I’m hoping that it will wash off the cushion covers. I’m told the denim is designed to fade with use, so I fully expect a lot of loose dye to come out in the first wash which will probably stop the couch getting any worse.
There’s not much else to add, so I’ll summarise by saying that, like me, you can test these jeans out without buying them because (iL) Soigneur is offering a no quibble try before you buy scheme. So if you’re still not sure, try them out for yourself! I for one will be putting my money where my mouth is and buying them. I’m just not sure which ones…
Screw it. I want both.
I got an email today from the League (the League of American Bicyclists). First of all, let’s talk about how awesome it is that they go by “the League.” It sounds like some sort of group of cycling superheroes that rides around town painting bike lanes, handing out bike lights and using force to keep cars out of the bike lane.
Ok, but this post wasn’t about an idea for a crappy bicycle centric comic book, it was about being thankful for cycling. The League, in the email mentioned above, asked me why I’m thankful for cycling? So, I’m going to spend a couple of posts attempting to address that question.
1. The wind in my hair and all that jazz.
Seriously. I spend 9 to 10 hours a day in a cubicle farm. Under fluorescent lighting. Surrounded by people who may or may not have washed their hands the last time they used the restroom. Lately, I’ve been riding “the short way” to work. That’s about 15 minutes. 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the evening. And sure, it’s cold, it tends to be dark going both ways this time of year, and road grime is only slightly more appealing than touching the door handle of the men’s restroom, but I’m outside.
That’s right, for at least 30 minutes a day, I’m outside. On my bike. It’s fantastic. So, I’m thankful for that.
I’ve set out in the rain and come home dry, or mostly dry.
I’ve sat comfortably behind big men, the ones that are as wide as Volkswagen Beetle.
I’ve dropped those same men.
I’ve been dropped by women.
And old men.
I’ve set out in the sunshine and come home wet.
I’ve stopped, not because I needed to rest but because I wanted a moment to take it in.
I’ve sat up when the gap was too big.
I’ve had road rash.
I’ve run red lights.
I’ve been defeated by headwinds.
And Coleman Valley Road.
I’ve stopped for wildlife.
I’ve been honked at.
And yelled at.
And waved at.
And smiled at.
I’ve slowed down to chat with strangers.
I’ve taken turns at the front.
I’ve been stopped by the police.
But mostly, I’ve had fun.
At the end of a long, difficult day at work there’s the tendency to put my head down, get in the drops and crank; the effort and distraction is refreshing and welcome. Yesterday, after a tailwind assisted sprint down International and onto the canal trail I stopped briefly.
The steep, rocky embankment drops down from behind the warehouses and industrial buildings. The 2-lane service road which, at least to me, acts as a bike highway of sorts, forms a sort of step before another steep drop to surface of the water. Between the road and the water steeply angled cement slabs form the walls of the canal. The fence is rusting.
It’s hardly the most beautiful place I ride and on windy days it’s one of the most miserable because the trench feels like a wind tunnel. It beats battling the cars on Sunrise. The section I ride daily includes about four miles of uninterrupted, isolated road. At most I might see a handful of other cyclists (if the weather is nice) or a lone private security vehicle cruising along, yellow light flashing on the roof. Many days, it’s just me.
Yesterday afternoon, after crossing Sunrise and pedaling a quarter of a mile or so down the path I rolled over some debris that seemed to stick in my rear tire and click click as moved over the cracking pavement. So I stopped to check for glass. Then I just stood there a minute. It wasn’t silent. Highway 50 was probably less than a half mile to the north and behind me was the six lane Sunrise Blvd. But, with out the wind in my ears it was damn near. The clouds were high and fat with rain but none was falling. And, despite the few bits of cardboard that floated in the water below and the roofs of a dozen or so industrial buildings it was peaceful. Quiet. Beautiful.
As close as I was to the cars, the office, the end of a long day, I felt about as far away as I could. People often ask why I ride. That’s why.
After a week of rain we’re getting a break from the late winter this week (rumor has it that it might rain again tomorrow but, it’s going to be almost 70°). It’s about time y’all start thinking about commuting.
Lucky for you, between now and Sunday you can go to Santa Monica Mountains Cyclery and trade in that SUV for a bike.
Customers can pick out a new bike at the cyclery — which features a giant flat-screen TV, leather club chairs and an espresso maker, not to mention some sweet two-wheeled rides — then head over the Ford dealership. They’ll trade in their cars, get a check and head back to the bike shop. Any leftover money goes back to the customer.
If I only had an extra car.
First, let me apologize for how quiet it’s been around here recently. Kurt and I happened to go on family vacations at the same time this year (not together) and that, a week or so off of work, always comes with a week of frantic preparation and a week of frantic catching up. Or, at least, that’s my excuse, I think Kurt’s probably still lost on some beach in Hawaii.
I spent about 8 days on the California Central Coast and, between beaches, drives down to Big Sur, trips to the aquarium and shuttling around my wife’s 15 year-old half-sister, I managed to get out for a couple of bike rides in pretty fantastic weather.
I returned home only to find that the rain we’d been missing all winter was due to arrive just in time for my (now dark) morning commutes,
Thirty minutes (or just under) is about perfect when you’re talking about riding in the rain. At 50° it’s not cold enough to get the chills and just as the water starts to slosh around in your shoes and breach the “water resistant” barrier jacket you’re wearing, you’re pulling into the parking lot at work and (careful not slip due to the wet tile, cycling shoe combo) heading into the locker room to change into some dry clothes.
Then, after you’ve hung up socks and jackets and laid out your shorts and jersey to dry in the back of your cubicle, people walk by your desk and say, “you didn’t ride today, did you?” And suddenly you become a hero, at least temporarily, for braving the elements and showing dedication to the cause. Or, maybe they add it to the list of things that make you weird, right after “wears Lycra in public.”
At least, that’s my experience.
Last night I had a dream that I was vilified on local news for jaywalking with my daughter. In the dream, my daughter and I appeared on the local news, first waiting to cross a street at a stoplight. On the news, the image was of my daughter and I and apparently came from one of those traffic cameras they use to spy on citizens. The voice over on the TV was about negligent parents. I knew that my family was with us as the news cut to another
spy traffic camera of my daughter and I walking, diagonally across an empty street and the legs of my wife, mom and brother just at the edge of the frame. There was a sound of a horn and a squeal of over inflated tires which, I knew, had been added to the video by the news station. The voice over told viewers about the dangers of walking and crossing streets in particular.
This morning I woke up and found this in my Google Reader Feed:
Also, I read this (from an article about a high school student who was killed last Thursday when she was struck by a car walking to a bus stop):
“You really have to wave the flag at the bull, so to speak,” he said, “because drivers are really self-consumed, and it is hard to get them to stop.”
A superstitious person would lock himself in his house for a few weeks and wait for the bad omens to be forgotten. Perhaps, give up walking and cycling all together. Sleep in his car. Because, as we know from all evidence that is available, your car is the safest place you could ever be. I mean that with absolute sincerity.
Really. Using my advanced graphing skills, I’ve drawn a bar graph* of my own to demonstrate:
As you can see, cars are not dangerous at all which is why it makes sense to compare walking on a public street to the safest and most sane of all sports: bull fighting.
*Information based entirely on the data above making many assumptions about the data that are probably inaccurate and shortsighted.
It was dry in Sacramento for the morning commute today but the rain should get here by the time most of us head home, so, from the CHP:
- Drive with headlights on.
- Apply brakes more slowly; they may pull.
- Leave extra distance between your car and the next motorist/CYCLIST!.
I’ve made a little addition, did you notice?
We got a small amount of grief last night regarding Heather’s post I’m talking about you @SchwankyTown. So, I thought I’d expand on the comment I made in response to the post and pull it out here for all to read.
I’ve rolled through stop signs. Both on my bike and in a car. Intentionally and because I wasn’t paying appropriate attention while driving or riding. Same with stop lights. Also, I’ve been pulled over, both in a car and on a bike.
Of course, there are a few laws I think could be improved. I’m a big fan of the Idaho Stop Law and wish we could implement something similar here in California, and, with a few exceptions, red turn arrows have always seemed pointless to me (I won’t go into detail, let’s just say they only add value if there at an intersection with a blind approach). None of that gives me license to break the laws I disagree with and not expect consequences.
What I mean here is that I’m not trying to defend cyclists who break the law. They shouldn’t do it.
But, even if a driver sees ME blow through a red light, he doesn’t earn the right to knock me down with his car door (which, I’m sure, isn’t what Heather was saying) and he certainly doesn’t earn the right to knock some other cyclist down with his car door. That driver also doesn’t have the right pass closely, honk, drive in the bike lane, or yell at every cyclist he passes (again, not what Heather was saying).
Cyclists, too, need to get over it. Some Lycra clad roadies will run red lights and some skinny jean wearing hipsters will ride the wrong way down one-way streets. We should be encouraging not criticizing. So, scofflaw or not, get out and RIDE.
One of the things that happens when you show up to the office in Lycra shorts everyday is that people, those who aren’t busy scoffing at or ignoring you, ask, “so, how far is your ride?”
I suspect this is, in part, a bit of posturing; an attempt to indicate that the person asking the question is, indeed, a hip, open minded individual who has no problem with any other person, even if that other person’s idea of a good time is riding around on a bicycle with very tight shorts.
Either that, or they’re just curious (but simple curiosity doesn’t fit into my current world view in which all people have strong opinions about cyclists and what they wear).
The question doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, and this may be surprising to hear, I very much enjoy talking cycling. So I tell them, as casually as possible, “oh, about 8 miles.” They sometimes follow-up with, “about how long does it take?” To which I respond, “a little less than an ½ hour.”
You’ll notice, I do not say “7.9 miles here and 8.05 home,” or, “on average 27, minutes. My PR, with fully packed bag, mind you, is around 25:42, that was going home. I find it a bit more difficult to warm up in the morning.” I don’t say all of that because I’m worried I might feed this person’s idea that all cyclists are elitist, self-absorbed snobs who will sacrifice life and limb to be ranked first on some random Strava segment.
We wouldn’t want any of that.
“About 8 miles.” I don’t even specify that’s each way, it’s a subtle message that I don’t care if they think my commute is half as long as it actually is. “A little less than half an hour.” Or, I don’t even care how long it takes.
In fact, I do care about those things which is why I don’t want to talk anymore when the response is, “oh, that’s not too bad.”
Indeed, it’s not too bad if you’re pro, semi-pro, weekend warrior, daily bike commuter or my daughter on her Skuut, but when you’re the dude who complains about having to park too far from the building, an 8 mile bike commute is, almost certainly, pretty damn far.