No matter that Iím overweight and donít have a muscular build. When I put on my cycling clothes, I always feel stronger and more athletic. Itís pretty rare that I ride in street clothes. Even for a 10 Ė 15 mile ride, I find Iím more comfortable in my padded cycling shorts, cool jersey and cycling shoes. Having comfortable, functional clothing is far more important to me than how others think I look.
No matter that theyíre functional, too; Iím always a sucker for a cute jersey. Of all the cycling clothes one can wear, a jersey is likely to give one the least hesitation. Women tend to balk at wearing tight lycra bike shorts if they have a less than perfect figure. Cycling shoes, especially ones that clip to the pedals, may be the source of worry and fear. Jerseys, however, should present none of these issues.
Before I further wax rhapsodic about cute jerseys, letís discuss why youíd even want special clothing for cycling. The key word is performance. Unless all you do is an occasional leisurely pedal about town, you probably work hard enough to sweat. If you do, cotton is the enemy, and most of our casual shirts are made of cotton. It has a tendency to get wet and stay wet. Cotton shirts can take a long time to dry, and if the weather is at all cool, youíre likely to get cold once you stop riding. Cotton is also more likely to contribute to chafing in areas that rub, although this is not generally an upper-body problem when cycling.
Proper cycling jerseys do not present these problems. Jerseys are usually made of polyester, happily a much better, more attractive product than it was in the 1970s. Some may also be made of other synthetic materials. What all of these materials have in common, however, is the ability to wick moisture away from your skin, helping to keep you cooler during exertion, and then to dry quickly. I always sweat profusely on my back when I do any sort of physical activity, but I seldom find that my jersey is damp, even after a long, hard ride.
Cycling jerseys have another key practical feature as well: pockets along the back hem. These pockets my look odd to the uninitiated, but a cyclist knows they are the perfect place to store an energy bar or other snack, keys, wallet, or whatever other small objects you want to keep on your body.
There are many jersey manufacturers, some of which specialize in womenís styles and sizes. As a result, nearly any body type can find a jersey that fits properly and is in a style one can be proud to wear. Jerseys come in sleeveless, short-sleeved and long-sleeved versions for riding at different temperatures. To maximize the wicking and cooling effect, a jersey should fit close to the body, but not be tight.
Now, letís get back to the cute factor. My favorite places to shop for cycling clothes are Team Estrogen (www.teamestrogen.com) and Terry (www.terrybicycles.com). Both carry only womenís clothing and a wide variety of sizes and styles. Youíll find jerseys in every color imaginable, and in a huge array of fantastic prints: bicycles, flowers, girl power, polka dots, animal prints, inspirational designsÖ you name it, youíll find it.
I could happily own dozens of jerseys, each more fantastic than the last, if it werenít for the one drawback to any sort of specialized clothing: price. Full-price jerseys usually cost $60 to as much as you are willing to spend. Pay attention to your favorite websites, however, and youíll often find good sales that make the purchase more affordable.
If youíre a serious cyclist, or even a weekend rider who wants to be comfortable and look good, I highly recommend investing in good jerseys. Indulge your whimsy and purchase ones with fun designs. Wear them proudly and have fun riding!