With all the drama going on in professional cycling right now, I’d like to finish off the week talking about something that means a great deal more to the rest of us than doping controversies: Socks. There’s nothing to them, right? Well, funky cycling socks are the new fad this season and cyclists can waste more time talking about them than almost anything else. Long or short? Black or white? Over or under the leg warmers? Track versus road…it can go on for hours.
You’d be mistaken in thinking that you can do anything you want with your cycling socks without breaking any rules. Beginning on October 1, 2012 the UCI issued a new sock-height Rule (no joke):
Socks (and shoe covers) used in competition must not exceed the mid-distance between the ankle and the knee.
However, the Official Rules of the European Cyclist have veto power over all UCI rules which state (sections 6 & 8, appendix 0):
6. The Socks must extend no less than 2cm below the main bulge of your calf muscle, and shall never extend further than 1cm past the primary calf muscle bulge. All socks SHALL BE WHITE in colour with prominent logo placement.
8. If white cycling shoes are not available where the Euro Cyclist resides, white booties (or “shoe covers”) with prominent logos shall ALWAYS be worn. When booties are worn, socks shall protrude approximately seven (7) cm. above the ankle, and shall always protrude at a minimum one (1) cm. from any booties worn.
Lance was innovative with his single minded focus toward the Tour de France, diet, high cadence, blood transfusion techniques, the Edgar Allan Poe, and most importantly, trying to bring black socks back into cycling fashion. Back in July of 2009 when he was still 7-time TdF champion, Armstrong tweeted: “one of the coolest things about [Bradley] Wiggins, black socks.”
Back in the day it was said that black socks are for training, white socks are for racing. Legend has it that Coppi wore black socks until he became successful enough to afford white socks. Some say that black shoes go with black socks, and white shoes go with white socks.
I’m a white-socks kinda guy, but it all has to do with the size of your calves. Black socks make your calves look bigger. As Kristian House (Rapha-Condor Sharp) pointed out in his Instagram photo:
Cutting Edge Sock Brands
There seems to be a massive gap in the sock market, and it seems to me there’s definitely a market within that gap. Mountain bikers and cross racers have traditionally had more fun with their socks than us stuck up roadies, but a few brave ones are beginning to buck the trend and have a little fun with it. Brands like Capo, SockGuy, Rapha, DeFeet, 4Shaw and various bloggers are catering to this need for better and more funky sock designs:
It’s a great sign that socks are becoming fun again and that roadies are beginning to break all the rules. Despite the landmine of fashion faux-pas and rules that can be broken in cycling culture, socks are one of those little things that you can have fun with and individualise to make your own statement.
Have a great weekend and I look forward to seeing lots of funky socks on the road this summer.