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Get your Lycra out; it’s the Women’s Tour of Britain!

The Women’s Tour of Britain cycle race is the first international level stage race for women in the UK (hooray!). It started on Tuesday and, true to British form, waterproof jackets have been a valuable item in their kit so far.  However, for any keen cyclist, the most important item in your kit is your shorts.  Bib shorts, to be exact.

Investing in any sports gear requires careful consideration and you need to take into account the following: support, fit, comfort, fabric (breathable, waterproof, lightweight, etc.), indoors or outdoors and the cost. There is also the style factor, looking good in your workout gear helps motivate you.

Cycling has seen a huge growth in recent years, especially since the success of our medallists at the 2012 Olympics. The current average spend on Lycra runs into the hundreds (not to mention a new bike which is over £1,000). Yes, you can spend hundreds on a Lycra wardrobe (or on a pair of Louboutins, right?).

According to, “Few sports require as much or as varied clothing as cycling, in the UK at least.”  They assure you that you can rely on bad weather for the best part of the year so you must invest in clothes that keep you dry and warm. They also advise that whilst you can easily spend a fortune “constructing a cycling wardrobe, an outfit of base layer, short-sleeved jersey and bib-shorts, paired with arm and knee warmers, gilet and lightweight packable rain jacket should see you through all but the deepest winter”.  (For winter they recommend more layers, of course, including gloves, long-sleeved jersey etc.).  How’s that for an excuse to buy a bigger wardrobe?

Back to the Lycra bib shorts. These are the foundation of a cyclist’s wardrobe.  If you are going to be in a saddle for long periods, you certainly want comfort and that’s what the bib shorts provide.  Then we come to the fabric; Lycra.  Do you find yourself grimacing slightly at the mention of Lycra?   Do you instantly think of aerobics classes, 80’s legwarmers and… cyclists?   It may not be a look you want to embrace.  An amusing article in The Guardian last year wrote how cyclist-haters (motorists) use Lycra to make up derogatory nicknames for them such as “Lycra loonies” or “Lycra louts”.    They may still carry a bit of a stigma, but these are the shorts you want for cycling. Not only that, you have a choice of Lycra and/or other fabrics.   Today, manufacturers combine spandex with other yarns to ‘promote moisture transfer and breathability’.  Some fabrics can apparently help to improve your aerodynamics and blood circulation.  Naturally, the more you pay the better quality and performance of your shorts.  Of course, we are not experts, but there is no doubt that the Lycra short has a well-earned place in sport and maybe it’s time that we all embraced it for its brilliant design, even if it’s not our style.

Cyclists know that Lycra  feels good and does the job, which is more important than how it looks. Besides, you can simply invest in a cycling top or a rain jacket in a flattering colour to attract all the (right) attention.

Good luck to all the teams!

Fiona Wellins

Colour Me Beautiful

Cycling gear Information from:

Article from The Guardian