What Story Does Your Kit Tell?

On the Group Ride this morning (Palo Alto, Tuesdays @ 6:15am), it was cold enough to wear the only winter thermal cycling jacket I own. I bought it about 5 years ago when I was racing for Cycles Veloce in Orange County. I wasn’t sure why I bought it at the time. Unless it’s in the 30’s, the jacket’s like a sauna and it only got cold enough once to actually wear it down south; but I hung onto it just in case. Fast forward, we live in Northern California now and it gets cold enough to wear it a few mornings a week this time of year, so I’m glad I hung onto it.

Simple Green is the main sponsor and the team is better known outside local circles as the name of the sponsor, not the name of the club. Team Simple Green. I’m still relatively new to the Tuesday morning ride and if you’ve ever been a newcomer on a Group Ride you know that it takes some time to build rapport with riders who’ve been doing the same morning spin for 10+ years. Turns out, one of the alpha riders on the Tuesday morning ride has raced all over the state and recognized the Simple Green kit. He must’ve thought I’m from the Bay Area because he rolled up next to me and asked, “Isn’t that a Southern California team? Where did you get it?” On my old Group Rides, there were up to 20 of us Simple Green folk on any given day, but not here, so it sparked some interest.

As I shared a bit of my story, it generated a good conversation for the rest of the loop about the different rides and experiences we’ve had on and off the bike. Turns out, we may have even raced against each other at some point. He filled me in on the local scene, epic rides, great climbs, and told me about which races to avoid and others that I couldn’t miss. I learned more in a 30 minute conversation about my new cycling landscape than I had in months.

Unless a rider is wearing a plain REI cycling shirt, many riders don a jersey or kit that tells a story. A favorite bike shop, a Century ride souvenir, a racing team, a favorite cause – our kit reflects a bit of our history and experiences. If you’re new to a Group Ride, find a particularly interesting kit, ask about it. It’s a great way to break the ice in your new community. If you’re a veteran and notice a newcomer in your group with kit from some far flung place, inquire. On one Group Ride a few years ago, I asked a local pro about his team’s new kit and spent the rest of the ride listening to great stories about the life of a professional bike racer (added benefit: keeping him talking instead of attacking). Group Rides are inherently social, everyone has a story to tell, and we’re richer for the conversation.

Riders love to share their experiences and the kit we wear reflects part of that journey. What story does your kit tell?

Ride on…

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