Cycling bibs are weird, scary, awesome and amazing. Working at Pearl Izumi and hanging out with cycling dudes all day, I get all kinds of suggestions and advice on what to wear, what to ride and where to ride. Some of the advice is good and well some of it I just take while smiling and nodding.
I have resisted wearing cycling bibs for a long time. I have many reasons for the resistance, the main reason is the dreaded port-a-pottie. It’s hard enough to go to the bathroom in cycling gear, once you start sweating — tight lycra shorts are as easy to put on and take off as a pair of too tight leather pants, I know you smell what I’m cookin’.
I didn’t want to add in more difficulties to my rides and port-a-pottie experiences by adding in cycling bibs. I’m always stressed out that my phone will end up in the pit. I also feel like I have to earn the right to wear a matching cycling kit. If I dress in miss-match pieces then I have nothing to prove and no one expects me to perform in a certain way, ride a certain speed or have skills I may not have yet. I have the same restrictions when it comes to dressing for triathlons, I have yet to participate in a triathlon in a matching kit.
I wasn’t into wearing regular cycling shorts anyway, I usually wear my triathlon shorts because I like the slim chamois and don’t feel like I have a weird appendage between my legs when I wore them.
Then one day, I was given a super cool, match-y kit that was limited edition and only the Pearl Izumi women’s triathlon team received. The likes of IM Texas winner Angela Naeth and Xterra World Champ Flora Duffy have the same kit! It’s very cool and I’ve never owned anything quite like it. This is motivation to try out the dreaded cycling bib and also a regular cycling chamois.
Everyone always says “don’t try anything new on race day”, well the Courage Classic isn’t really a race, it’s a ride or tour. It’s a three day event that supports Children’s Hospital of Denver and the rides each day are fully supported and not timed. (my favorite events by the way are NOT timed!)
I was gearing up to ride my second Courage Classic and had decided to ride the long distance the first day, which is 80 miles and includes 3 mountain passes (known in Colorado as “the Copper Triangle”, you ascend Fremont pass, Tennessee pass and the dreaded Vail pass). I decided that since I had this new job at Pearl Izumi, I needed to represent and my first day ride I decided to rock the matching kit with cycling bibs.
My solution to the port-a-pottie situation? I realized that when I ride, I always have on a sports bra so taking my jersey off in public isn’t really that big of a deal (no one is really looking at me anyway, they are just saying “wow, look at that bad ass chick in those cycling bibs!”, at least in my head that’s what they are saying.) So I decided, just take your jersey off and hang it on your bike — then your phone and your food are safe from the port-a-pottie pit. The bonus is you don’t have to perform any contortionistic moves in the hot, smelly small confined space trying to take your jersey off, hold it so it doesn’t touch anything discusting and then repeat said contortions to put your jersey back on again.
Pearl Izumi does make cycling bibs for women that have this clever drop tail design so that you don’t have to worry about taking your jersey off. However, all of my new favorite Pearl Izumi custom kits are traditional design. I don’t mind the strip tease act and love wearing my bibs.
The end result? I was shocked that in my 80 mile ride the one thing I DIDN’T think about was my bibs, my girlie parts or the weird chamois. The only thing I thought about was how much fun I was having, how much pain I was in on every mountain pass and how nervous I was going over 40 mph down the mountain passes. I’d say that’s success.
I’m now a true believer in cycling bibs and wear them for all rides over 20 miles or one hour of riding. The bonus? There is no waistband to dig in while you’re riding (so nothing is bulging out of place) and you look hot and fast and totally legit when you wear them. Why wouldn’t you want that?