Of all the crimes against cycling fashion that can be made, I seem to have been literally exposed to the worst one of all over the past ten days. No it’s not black socks; I actually think that can be pulled off by the right type of rider. Nor is it Briko sunglasses, nor even matching yellow, green or Polka dot shorts.
No, the worst crime a Lycra clad so called ‘professional’ rider can make is all in the state of their shorts. Nowhere else on a cyclist’s uniform takes as much strain nor can have such a pronounced affect on how the rest of the world sees that rider.
It’s not the grotesquely coloured or badly patterned shorts I’m railing against, sponsors corporate colours decree we can’t all be as cool as to have black shorts. What upsets me is the state of the shorts in the continental level peleton. It seems at this particular level of racing, I have had to endure the unpleasant sight of grown men’s backsides all day.
I think the UCI should, in fact, make a standard number of pairs of shorts per registered rider, then there would be no excuse for the sights I’ve been witness too. It’s not just Continental squads either, this cautionary tale should be taken on board by all; make sure you do some serious Lycra quality control before slipping on the chamois. It is one thing to have one (and only one) pair of rain shorts (i.e. a pair that has already seen a rainy day or two and may be one shade at most greyer than the usual issue), but apart from that old shorts belong in the bin.
It only takes a moment of reflection to know that if you can see daylight through the lycra before the shorts are stretched around your backside then they are only going to become more transparent once on. Some other unseemly examples are when the Lycra on the shorts themselves has stretched beyond the point of elasticity leaving a sagging see through tea bag thin layer covering the rider’s derrière.
The other prominent and equally awful crime is to wear shorts when the stitching has clearly come away from the chamois making for small holes where the shorts are most stressed, right across the gluteus maximus, and on both sides too. There are fewer things I’d rather see in my moments of sufferance than white Belgian buttocks.
Now I don’t know if these guys are all just particularly slack when it comes to the state of their kit, or only care for what they can see in front of their eyes. It can’t be a simple nation/team issue. I’ve seen Kazak’s, Swede’s, Germans, Chinese, and Italians, all ignoring this simple rule: Wear good shorts everywhere except the home trainer. It does matter, not just to you the rider in terms of having any dignity, but also for the poor folk who may have to happen to be behind you in the bunch.