Monday, December 21, 2009

Wool Bicycling Jersey

I have read on various blogs the merits of the wool cycling jersey.  From adventuring to hardcore training to bike camping, bicyclists sing the wondrous properties of the wool jersey.  It breathes, it keeps you cool, it keeps you warm, it's naturally odor-resistant, it looks better than Lycra/Spandex, its natural, its "green", by god, it damn near a miracle shirt.  Put one of these on and you will shave a minute off your mile, will attract members of the opposite sex in hordes and will be so perfectly the right temperature that you will wonder how cotton became the "fabric of our lives."

So after reading page after page of  praises and glowing testimonials of the wool, what else could a beginning cyclist do, but Google it and try to buy one of her very own.  Being as it is winter and the cold months upon us (well, those of us with seasonal weather at least), a long sleeve jersey is of course the only real option.  So what are the options?  Well, there's this, and this and this.

But after looking at those options you might notice that the wool jersey may end up being the ONLY piece of clothing you get to buy this year!  Well, at least if you are on a budget or the recession has you thinking about how you spend your money.

Well, I'm here to offer an alternative.  Sure some of you may cringe, or scoff or turn up your clearly-richer-than-I-am noses.  But there's no need to be that way.  Just as there is no reason to spend hundreds of dollars just to be able to ride in comfort.

May I present the overlooked:




Each of these sweaters is 100% wool.  Some are name brands, some are unknown.  Some are thick and warm, some are thin enough for early summer riding.  Some are pretty and some are rather ugly.  Some are a little scratchy, most are soft enough to wear against the skin.  All were about $4.50.  That's 6 pure wool sweaters for $27!  That's less than half the price for a new one.

I found all six in 3-4 different trips to thrift stores over the last few months.  I know that might skeeve some people out.  Some might think it's gross to wear something that isn't brand spanking new (even though the "new" whatever has probably been tried on by 38 people before you bought it).  A simple handwash was all that's need for most of these.  Had I been a little more discriminating, I would not have gotten the few that require dry cleaning.  As it stands, I can still afford the dry cleaning bill because these were all so affordable!

The best part is that all the things that are said about wool are true.  It's really a great fabric and perfectly suited for bicycling.  And with second hand wool, you don't end up being a billboard for some company that is only interested in revenue dollars.  You look just as good running into the library or post office as you might going into your favorite coffee shop or your cubicle.  You don't smell like a racehorse or gym sneaker.  You really do stay both cool and warm.  So next time you find yourself drooling over a $150 wool jersey that is out of your financial reach,  remember this post and google your nearest thrift or second hand store.   Maybe it'll be within riding distance.  Go prepared for a little treasure hunt and remember to check for damage to anything you are interested in buying.  If you can't stand the thought of handwashing, get the "dry clean only" ones.  If your independent bicyclist streak affects the other areas of your life, then take 30 minutes and handwash your newly found friends.  The first time you ride in one, you will feel both remarkably comfortable and proud of yourself for finding a great value.  And no one will ever know you didn't buy it at the mall. 
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1 comment:

Courtnee said...

I totally agree with your thrifty instincts, but don't buy anything that you think is remotely ugly. Surely, another, more attractive sweater, will turn up at that thrift store or at another thrift store .