There are three groups of people who have historically worn spandex: Superheroes, Professional Wrestlers, and cyclists. Unlike Superheroes and Wrestlers, though, we’re wearing that stuff in public without hiding our identity. We know it might seem weird.
It’s not. Not completely, anyway.
Few, if any of us, wake up one morning and think it would be a great idea to put on stretchy pants and roll around on a bike. Actually, most people resist it as long as possible. The reality is, though, that the spray-on pants and shirts have a lot of benefits. Put on your tighty-whiteys, a pair of basketball shorts, and a cotton shirt and go ride around for 5 hours. Let us know what doesn’t hurt or isn’t chafed when you’re done. We’ll be here with the band-aids waiting.
Then try it in a proper set of cycling kit. It’s a much more pleasant experience. That’s why so many people on the team love stuff made by Assos. Yeah it’s expensive, but when you ride as much as we do, how it does the job is often times more important than saving $20. You only have to live through bad saddle sores once…
It’s not just about function, though. Superman might have had to wear spandex, but he didn’t have to wear red underwear over his blue spandex tights. Why did he? Because he needed something red to tie it all together with the logo and the cape, that’s why.
We’ve had a pretty rockin’ team jersey throughout the years. We started it off with the first generation of the jersey. It was loud. Man, was it loud.
That’s what made it awesome. See, in any race there’s going to be a time where you need to find your teammate. You’ll find yourself staring at a sea of rider’s lower backs. At the end of the race, when you can’t breathe and you’re seeing through tunnel vision, it can be hard picking out your guys when everybody is wearing the same general colors.
Our first jersey was most definitely not the same general stuff. The original jersey was celeste and royal blue, with white and black accents, and the signature BH Wheel/Wings logo. It was easy to spot in the pack, and looked good in the mud at the Leland Kermesse:
The second version brought only a minor aesthetic change, but an important change for the team. We swapped the sleeves from celeste to black. More important, our longest running supporter, Doctor Donald Fee (D.D.S.) put his faith in the team and his name on the jersey. And the team quickly put Dr. Fee and the new black sleeves on the podium.
Just like Batman and his Bat suit, though, the jersey needed to come along with the times. For the 2011 season, the team was forced to make wholesale changes. Over the previous few seasons, many other teams had increased the amount of both light blue (which can look like celeste), and royal blue in their jerseys. Consequently, it became a little more difficult to find our teammates amid all the other spandex-clad non-superheroes. So, we adapted.
The third version of the jersey lost most of the celeste, and went to black with blue on the front and celeste highlights. There wasn’t a lot of black in the local racing scene then, so it was easy to pick out BH riders. The Wing/Wheel logo was also modernized and made more angular.
But, if you really want to go full-on superhero, you don’t wear the jersey and bibs. You wear the onezie. Or, as we call it in cycling, the skinsuit. The new skinsuit was extremely aerodynamic as it lacked any back pockets, was made out of a more aerodynamic material, and was snug in every place it could be snug.
Another thing different about racing bikes is that it doesn’t just happen in the mornings. It happens all day. So, while your 5k run or beer-league softball game might be over by noon on a Sunday in July, the bike races are just getting fired up. And, if racing bikes in 107 degree heat is painful, racing bikes in a black jersey getting baked by the sun in 107 degree heat is even worse.
While the jersey didn’t undergo another revision, we did offer an alternate color. We swapped out the black for white. Many members of the team opted to purchase the white for general riding, and races where it’s so ungodly hot that the black jersey is a disadvantage.
Oddly, there is still a lot of blue and light blue on the jersey of local teams. This year, a lot of black started popping up as well. Being again confronted with the difficulties of finding teammates in a swarm of black, we’ve gone to a new version of the jersey. We’ve taken all of the blue off the jersey and replaced it with the much-more-bright celeste. More importantly, where the back of the jersey was all-black with “Bicycle Heaven” written in block lettering, we’ve put a celeste stripe under the lettering. The new jersey was unveiled at the Monsters of the Midway crit this weekend (also note the new variety of new bib colors: black on the left and celeste on the right):
So, there you have it. Over the years the only consistent thing has really been the support and logo of Dr. Fee. There’s a reason for the spandex and a reason for the bright colors, though. Only some of that reason is fashion. The next time you see a cyclist wearing something from the tight-and-ugly section of the local spandex mart, keep in mind that it could be worse. He could be wearing red underpants on the outside of his bibs. And, do you really want to see Hal throw red underpants over this outfit?
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