Cycling is much more diverse in Iowa where there are roadies, mountain bikers, commuters, fixies, fatties, baggers and just about everything in between. In Tucson, there are a few commuters, especially at the college, but other than that it's about 75/25 road vs. mountain bikers and not much in between. I haven't spent enough time in SoCal to figure out if it is a diverse, but I'm guessing it probably is.
In Southern California just about everyone who rides on the road has a fancy bike and lots of racing clothing. Whether they race or not, everyone is on a racing team. Old, young, tall, short, skinny and fat - everybody likes to dress up like a bike racer. Group rides are huge in SoCal. On Saturday Mornings in LaJolla, UC Cyclery hosts several rides - all starting from their shop at 8:30. There is an "A" ride for the fast guys. The are also B,C, D1 & D2 rides for everyone in between. On any given Saturday morning there are 2-300 (or more) people who amass in the parking lot all dressed in racing kits.
It doesn't matter whether you're in Iowa, Arizona or Cali, part of being a real bike racer is learning the fashion rules. Some of them are practical, others make no sense at all but it makes for some great people watching. I'm talking about the guy riding the black Cervelo S5 with blue accents; matching bright blue sidewall Michelin tires, and blue handlebar tape, with a rear view mirror on his $300 black Oakleys Jawbones with blue lenzes and a matching blue dew rag flapping in the wind.
Here are just a few that make me smile (in no particular order).
Helmets are most beneficial when worn properly. They should be worn low on the forehead. Straps should be adjusted to fit snuggly and especially the ear clip adjustment must be properly fitted around the ear. I've seen people who let the ear clip fall all the way down to the chin clip. When this happens, the temple strap, that should go back toward the ear, instead goes from the temple straight down the cheek and side of the face. This makes me smile! I have stopped strangers on group rides and demanded they let me adjust their helmet. They usually give me a deer in the headlights stare and then realize that I'm just trying to help - like if they had a piece of toilet paper stuck to their shoes.
One more important thing about helmet straps, especially if you ride in warmer climates; wash the salt off the strap after every ride!
Dew Rags are for Harleys
I get it, if you're riding a Harley. It's the "live free or die" mentality. You don't want to be told to wear a helmet but your bald head will explode from the sun unless you cover it with something. But when worn under a vented cycling helmet, nothing screams "tool time" louder than a the two loose ends of a cotton knot flapping in the wind behind your ears. Most premium helmets are fitted with pads that not only provide comfort but also absorb sweat. If you're sweat is dripping into your eyes, you probably don't have your helmet adjusted property (see Helmet Straps). If you must carry a hanky, keep it in your jersey pocket.
Jersey over the Butt
This guy usually has a pot belly requiring him to wear a jersey designed to fit a taller guy which ends up being so long that it stretches past his lower back and extends halfway around his buttocks. A properly fitting cycling jersey should fit snuggly against the shoulders, arms and torso. Usually the "Jersey over the Butt" guy also likes to carry several items of warm weather gear such as jacket, leg and arm warmers tightly stuffed into his 3 rear jersey pockets drawing further attention to this fashion faux pas.
Strap On iPhone
Please don't spend $10k on a bike, $300 on clothing, $300 on shoes and a helmet and then suction cup your iPhone to your handlebar stem.
Oh, and speaking of strap-ons - let's talk about Bento Boxes for a sec. In case you don't know, a Bento Box is a small soft sided container that is attached with Velcro to the top tube of your bike, right behind the headset. First off, no serious cyclist would ever use one. Second, it is designed to be handy so that you can access stuff while riding - like gels and other nutrition. Usually when I see someone with a Bento Box I like to ask what they are packing inside. It's usually a woman and she's almost always carrying assorted flavors of Chapstick, Kleenex and a spare tube. I'm still hoping to see someone change a flat while riding.
The only proper (and when I say proper, of course I mean cool) way to zip one's jersey is all the way up. Wait, let's back up. A jersey must have a full zipper. No such thing as a cool half-zip jersey. The worst thing ever is an over the butt, half-zip jersey with an image of a skeleton riding a bike or US Postal Jersey. In fact, all USPS jersey's should be collected and burned. Not because I hate Lance, but because during the glory days of USPS, every recreational rider went out and bought one. And they all wear em' over the butt. I digress.
Don't unzip your jersey and try to create a collar either. A jersey doesn't have a collar. Jerseys are supposed to be fully zipped at all times. Unless you're Andy Schlek and have .05% body fat, in which case you can either wear it fully zipped, or completely unzipped and flapping in the wind, showing off your ghost white chest and 7 chest hairs.
I could go on and on. But a much better, more comprehensive list can be found here: The Rules of the Velominati
No fashion mistakes here. This is our Thursday Coffee Ride group assembling at Starbucks this morning. Nothing but a bunch of fit retirees in this pic. Notice that we have the 2015 Overall State TT Champ (Doug Perry) and the 2014 State Hill climb Champ (Rick Ellwanger). Both guys are super strong. Doug is the more cycling fashionista though, I believe.
We had around 15 people and worked on some skills and drills today as we rode out to Dove Mountain. This ride is more social than training, but we do have a couple of kick-ups mixed in with lots of chatting. 9:30am Thursdays. All are invited! No dew rags please.