The other day I took stock of my riding wardrobe. Or rather, finding myself ready to go earlier than my still-faffing ride companions (for a change), I stared at my feet and did some sums.
Goretex boots: £150. Thermal bib tights: £60. Waterproof shorts: £70. Base layer: £30. Micro-fleece: £40. Goretex jacket: £150. Gloves: £30. Helmet: £100. Eyewear: £150. Camelbak: £80. Tools and get-you-home stuff: £120.
I’ll spare you the mental arithmetic: that’s nearly £1000. Oh, and I’ve got spares of most of this stuff at home – in some cases, quite a few spares. Because, you know, sometimes you can’t do the laundry before you want to go out for another ride.
It’s a far cry from when I started riding, wearing the only pair of Lycra (TM) shorts I could afford. Plus a t-shirt, a pair of trainers, a dayglo helmet and the obligatory pair of fingerless roadie gloves. I’d spent about £100, and I was having the time of my life.
Somewhere down the line, things got a bit out of hand. Sure, as the mercury rises and the layers drop off, it all gets a bit more affordable. Conversely, when it’s cold and wet and utterly dreich out there, you won’t separate me from my expensive Goretex gear. Whoever coined the ‘no such thing as bad weather’ cliché had a point.
But still. Mountain biking has never been a poor man’s sport, but lately I wonder if it’s all got a bit out of hand. One of my best rides in the past year was on my nearly 25 year old Kona cruiser with rigid forks, hub brake and seven (count ’em) gears, wearing jeans and an old fleece.
It’s not about the kit you wear, it’s about the memories you create with it. So there.
This article first published in Cranked #5