I don’t know about you, but I’m the kind of person who ruins my brand new clothing in seconds, usually by dribbling food or smudging something all down the front. The same goes for new kits, somehow I’ll manage to get grease on them when I’ve barely even taken the tags off. So here are my five ways to ruin your kit and, more importantly, how to avoid them.
1. Having a crash on the road or falling into blackberries whilst riding the trails
We’ve all done it, crashed our bike and torn a hole or scuffed the fabric and ruined a new kit. It is heart breaking.
Tip: Don’t debut a brand new kit in a place where there is a high risk that it will be torn to shreds. Wear an old favourite whilst riding the trails, just in case you have an encounter with the shrubbery. Also, for those who are superstitious, never ever wear a new kit in a race.
2. Letting someone else wash your kit
Your mother-in-law may not be versed on the intricacies of washing lycra. She probably doesn’t know it falls into the category of delicates, that it requires a cold wash and that you shouldn’t wack it in the dryer on hot.
Tip: Wash your own kit, that way you are the only one responsible for how it ends up on the washing line. It will also save any inter-family heartache over your treasured new riding clothes melting in the dryer.
3. Doing bike maintenance in your kit
Changing a flat, washing your bike or fiddling around fixing your bike whilst wearing full kit are all sure fire ways to get grease all over it.
Tip: Carry some of those little packs of wipes you get from fast food outlets or gloves in your saddle bag for changing a flat, or putting a chain back on. This will save your hands from getting greasy, and hopefully your kit too.
4. A mixed washing load
Don’t wash blacks with whites. It may seem obvious, but the last thing you want is the colour to run out of your black knicks into your white jersey.
Tip: Do the zippers up, close the velcro on gloves etc. so that the edges and velcro don’t scuff the fabric.
5. Riding in terrible weather
Riding in the rain and mud will only lead to one thing, a very discoloured black and messy kit, socks included.
Tip: Save black or dark kit and socks for bad weather, and wear shoe covers to protect your white shoes. Save your light kits for sunny days.
But if all this is coming too late and the damage has already been done, or you just can’t avoid taking out that light gear in wet muddy weather, these suggestions might be what you need.
Five ways to salvage and protect your kit
Every cyclist should have a bottle in the laundry. Degreaser is the best thing to get out those pesky chain ring marks, grease smudges, and road grime. Simply spray it on, and put it in the washing machine.
2. Master the art of patchwork
Get the sewing kit out and get creative. Small nicks and tears are easy to sew back together. Put a hole in the elbow of your long sleeve skinsuit? No worries, just cut the sleeves off to make it short sleeve and it is as good as new.
3. Break out the nappy soak detergent
This is particularly handy if your kit is covered in mud or is dirty from the rain. Soak it in warm water for a few hours, then whack it in the washing machine like normal.
4. Use a mud guard or ass saver
If it is raining an ass saver or mud guard can save your butt from road grime. Minimising the dirt halves the cleaning battle.
5. Spray your new shoes with a leather/fabric protectant
This will mean that the stains from the road won’t stick into the fabric and will allow you to wipe off grime with ease. It will also increase the water-proofing of your shoe, which is an added bonus.
Finally, know when to let go
I once crashed wearing a brand new long sleeve skin suit, I ripped a gaping hole in the hip fabric and took the right elbow and shoulder out. The ingenious solution was to cut the sleeves off to make the skin suit short sleeved, then get the sewing kit out to patch the hip and shoulder back together using the fabric I saved from the sleeve.
There is always a creative way to salvage a kit, but this was a border line save. There are those situations where the kit can’t be saved, when the white jersey has turned grey or there just isn’t enough fabric left to sew it back together after a crash. It is these unsalvageable situations where you just have to let go, cut the fabric up and (gasp) use it to clean your chain.
How have you ruined your kit?
About the author
The tagline to Verita Stewart’s personal blog reads: “Not a professional cyclist, yet” and it’s the “yet” that’s most telling. Verita is a Melbourne-based cyclist riding for Specialized Women’s Racing. She has quickly made the jump from commuting to recreational riding to racing.