No, I'm AmFIBBING!
I admit it. I am affected. I am afflicted. I am addicted to evaluating, and too often, buying biking gear. Back in July I decided to start cycling to work each day as long as I and the elements could get along. The idea was to simplify my life, slow down a little, get some exercise, walk my talk with respect to sustainable living, and to save some money on parking and gas.
As Fall weather has descended upon us, I find that I have to make adjustments to my gear and on-street attire to deal with what Ma Nature is throwing at me.
Back in the Summer, it was stay-dry technical fabric shirts to replace my cotton t-shirts. Then gloves to maintain a tight grip on the sweaty handlebars while helping to prevent my hands from numbing. Then the rains came and I had to get a rain jacket. When the cooler temps hit, I learned about technical baselayer (high-tech long-johns) and layering with extra shirts. I saw the magic of SmartWool socks that can be worn for days before needing a wash. (Yeah, I didn't believe it either until I tried it)
Seeing and soliciting advice from other cyclists, I convinced myself to get a convertible Vagabond cycling vest/jacket to break the wind (ahem) and keep the Autumn rains off my core.
This past week saw me wearing AmFIB tights. This strange and wonderful article of clothing is designed to keep a cyclist's legs both warm and dry in cold and rainy weather. The AmFIB tights worked great last week during some of the cool rainy mornings, but between the tights and layering underneath the Vagabond jacket, I found myself getting toasty by the time I neared work. The heat retention was very noticeable in my afternoon rides and while riding some during the late morning on Saturday and Sunday.
Incidentally, I wore the tights into the Hy-Vee off the Keystone today for some grocery shopping. I got either strange looks, or admiring glances. I'll go with admiring glances. :)
Looking at the weather forecast for the next couple of days, I see the 7am temperatures are predicted to be mid to low 20s. With that, I pedaled myself once more to the Trek store today and got some new Gavia gloves, also made with AmFIB material. I don't know if I need any thick, lobster-claw style gloves just yet, so the salesman's advice on the Gavia gloves was enough for me, at least for riding in the 20s.
Now recall that cycling to work and on errands is supposed to be a money saving venture. Why is it that I need/want more gear? In my mind, I justify it by knowing that if a purchase keeps me on the bike for one more month, getting exercise and promoting self-sufficiency, then it's money well spent. But why do I ride past the K-Mart, the Sports Authority, and end up at the Trek store, or virtually at Amazon.com buying Pearl Izumi products? Is there a hint of (dare I say) fashion consciousness or brand snobbery? Am I vain when I try on the PI AmFIB Gavia jacket or Insulatour jacket and think about how great it looks and how awesome it would be to ride the cold days with it on?
I don't think so. I am careful with my purchases. I ask advice from the local cycling community on what very specific products work with specific riding conditions. Often the answers are specific brand or products: "SmartWool," "AmFIB," "wear baselayer," "get a cycling vest." So far I've found that the recommended specific technical products are superior to making do with department store clothing.
I also understand that these technical products should last for a while. I expect my AmFIB tights to last at least a few seasons, perhaps more. I expect all of the gear should be reasonably durable. If I do need to replace worn out gear, then I can compare the cost with gas for my truck, oil changes, tires, and other consumables. In the end, I (at least in my own mind) can justify the cost of cycling gear.
Am I fibbing myself, or does this make sense to the rest of you cyclists? What's your story?
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