More than a KIT
By: Lori Nedescu
Cyclists love fashion. At least when it comes to socks and spandex. For me, it goes a little beyond that… I truly LOVE getting dressed up for the occasion, whether thats a trip to a beach resort, proper hiking attire, a night at the opera, or a day on the bike. So I wasn’t at all upset about choosing a sport that is very particular about its attire.
The type of kit you choose tells the riders around you who you are minimalist, old pro enthusiast, ebay shopper, classics lover… Beyond style, the kit you wear shows which, if any, group, club, team or sponsors you are associated with.
Details like sleeve length and sock height are not just preferred styles, but signifiers of your status as a cyclist. While silly… it is so true!! Rise your hand if you wore a sleeveless spaghetti strap ‘jersey’ at one point (meeee! I mean I did live in Florida… but still…. )?! Many newbies make choices like this until they learn the ropes and commit to the culture. Not only are kit options a status symbol, but they separate the cyclists from the triathletes. Sunglasses over the helmet straps = cyclist, under = triathlete. High socks = cyclist, ankle socks = triathlete. Basically a kit shows off what kind of athlete and person you are.
Personally, as I transitioned from triathlete to cyclist, from beginner to elite, my choices in kit changed drastically. I tossed that spaghetti strap jersey and shorts for bibs and sleeves. I save my ankle socks for running and opt for a nice mid calf length for riding. These choices go beyond style… they are part of my identity as an athlete. They make me feel like I belong; giving me confidence to show up to group rides and races with an attitude of ‘LOOK AT ME! I AM HERE TO RIDE!’. Just like you obsess over an outfit for a first date or job interview, an outfit to crush a ride or race is an important decision that ramps up your self or worth and projects an image you want others to see.
My race kit signifies my team. Putting it on is more than just getting dressed; it’s a commitment to a work day and my co-workers (teammates). I put it on because I am thrilled to represent such a strong group of women who show up smiling and ready to give it their all. I put it on because I believe in, support, and want to display the sponsors who have invested in us. This representation of sponsors is what lead Femme Équipe to revamping the kit for a mid-season update. We wanted to more boldly display the brands and companies - SWISSE WELLNESS / Q+M AGENCY / HUNGRY FOR RESULTS / CASTELLI that back us. The new design is flashy in a refined way. It stands out in the peloton & flatters the body. Beyond that, no one will be confused about who we ride for!!
Of course, I support my team whether racing or training, but sometimes its nice to ditch the ‘work outfit’ and put on something more fun and casual. And honestly, wearing a team kit can sometimes come across as intimidating depending on who you’re riding with. So for those rare moments I put a kit on that isn’t my Femme Équipe p/b Swisse Wellness, I opt for one of my bright, colorful and super comfortable designs from PEPPERMINT CYCLING. The PEPPERMINT kits I have are so fun and everyone on rides asks where to get one. I enjoy showing off and giving fashion advice so this is really fun for me! The creative colorful patterns inspire me to go play on my bike which is perfect for when I just need a mental break from pushing my limits and want to feel free and explore. Also, these kits are Canadian and every time I ride with a Canadian female cyclist, they immediately recognize the kit, gush about it, and ask if I’m from Canada. I’m not, but I do love maple syrup… so ya know, almost.
So keep in mind that when you’re choosing your kit and cycling accessories that they influence your mood, riding style and represent who you are as a person and cyclist!!