Well it’s that time of the year again, the first group ride of the year and with every year the guys that cycle is increasing. Whilst Gavin and Flynn were out of the country we still managed to round up 8 guys and unlike last year’s ride (which didn’t make it past the pubs of Richmond) we had an 80+km route dialled in.
As my bike stolen at the beginning of this year and with so much travelling and work I have really purchased any new cycling kit so I had a search through the cycling Lycra draw to fine bibs and a jersey that looked not to worn. I decided on my trusty Castelli 3/4 quarter bibs and a white jersey.
It was an early start and as I pulled up outside the tube station there was already another large group of cyclists there all kitted up. I spotted Tim & Rich waiting off to one side so luckily, I wasn’t as late as I thought. We didn’t have to wait long until Liam turned up on his best road bike and all kitted out in his Lycra and whilst it wasn’t his usual Lycra kit it certainly fitted him well.
As we stood there waiting for the others to turn up it was hard not to check out everyone’s Lycra cycling kit in the other group and with Tim and Liam in front of me. In the other group, there was a mix of Rapha Kit and club but they were all clad head to toe in cycling kit.
Rich was in his jersey and had mountain bike shorts with Lycra liners so that just left myself, Liam and Tim in full Lycra kit. Tim had his Sky jersey and Castelli Lycra shorts on and he has a body and build like Brad Wiggins and so the Sky jersey is probably the best jersey for him to wear but he has always opted for cycling shorts instead of the bib version.
When Liam turned up earlier I could instantly tell that he wasn’t wearing his usual kit, so whilst we waited I was able to get a better look at his new kit. His bib shorts were black and were cut differently to the multi seamed bibs and they had an extra band/panel at the bottom of his thighs which had a penny farthing logo on the left leg band. Besides the logo they were basic black and looked very well crafted as they hugged every part of Liam just like his Craft or Rapha bibs do.
As my eyes moved up his bib shorts and the tight black Lycra that was tightly clinging onto his skin disappeared under the white fabric of the bottom of his cycling jersey (I found out later that his new bibs and jersey were from Refined). His jersey was teal around the shoulders and faded to a white at the bottom. The jersey was quite fitted and as the fabric stretch across and around his torso, you could see the outline of the bib shorts straps and base layer underneath.
As my eyes traced over his jersey I could see that he was wearing the white honeycomb design base layer that Mike had given him.
The coloring of his jersey was so light that I could also see that the black Lycra of his bibs stopped a little bit before the straps started and the straps were actually white Lycra that continued up over his chest before disappearing over his shoulders.
A little while later Simon, Mike & Howard turned up for a quick chat before we finally got under way. Howard wasn’t a regular cyclist and didn’t own any cycling kit so I was wondering if he would be in borrowed bib shorts as Liam was warning him that 80km without padding might be a bit much. At a quick glance though he was wearing just a pair of loose gym shorts and a t-shirt.
It had also been a while since I had seen Simon on a bike but true to form he did have basic black Lycra bibs on but hidden under a pair of loose sports short.
Mike was on his newly service bike and in his MAAP kit but unfortunately, he had kept a pair of Rapha commuting shorts on so only his jersey and the bottoms of his bib shorts were visible.
We finally set off as Oscar was joining about 20k into the ride.
As we set off through south London heading south the difference levels of riding experience/confidence came very apparent straight away so a couple of the more experienced riders took turns at the back to the pack making sure that the guys that weren’t as confidence or didn’t have a computer with the route in didn’t get left behind.
We were certainly on a well-traveled cycling route as we saw the group that were at the tube station earlier not to mention all the groups of club cyclists doing their Saturday morning runs.
We finally made it to around the area we had planned to meet up with Oscar, but he had gotten there earlier than expected so had started to work his way back over the route to find us. We finally met at junction and like Liam, Oscar had brought his best bike out for the ride and he was also sporting brand new cycling kit.
We only had a quick chance to chat when we first met up with Oscar before setting off again but there would be stop just a bit further up the road which would allow me more of an opportunity to catch up with Oscar.
We ended up stopping at a pub a couple of kilometers later which allowed everyone a chance to sort things out and a couple of the guys who hadn’t had breakfast to get something in the tank. We weren’t the only one with that in mind as shortly after arriving the group that we saw earlier at the tube station also turned up to refuel.
Whilst we were stopped we spread over a couple of wooden benches on the lawn out the front. Initially Oscar was sitting on another bench across from me and this allowed me an interrupted view of him in his new cycling kit.
I could see instantly by the Blue logo on the side of his Lycra shorts that his bibs were from DHB but they weren’t his normal plain black pair as at the bottom of each leg had a band of bright different colored blue. In all the time, I have been riding with Oscar he doesn’t really stray far from DHB or Rapha bibs and with this new pair he seems to have got a perfect fitting pair as I am yet to see him wear a pair of cycling bib shorts that don’t look painted on over his thick thighs and small waist.
His jersey was navy throughout the body and sleeves, but then has bands of bright green and blue around the collar and cuffs. The navy fabric of his jersey reflected in the sun but unlike Liam’s light-colored jersey it was hard to see the outline of his bib shorts underneath.
After refueling and watching everyone’s cycling kit shine and shimmer in the sun it was time to head off.
We jumped on our bikes and headed out onto the road and whilst initially there was quite a bit of spacing between us it was long before I had hooked onto the back of Mike’s and almost immediately I could see that he had taken off his Rapha commuting shorts and his full MAAP cycling kit was on show.
Initially I was pleasantly shocked that he had now taken his commuting shorts off, my mind started to race trying to pin point when he had taken them off and why he hadn’t started off like this, but after cycling on his wheel for a couple of seconds and watching the tight navy Lycra move and shimmer in the sun as his legs pumped on the pedals my mind was silenced.