By Christopher Cudworth
Back when I started cycling in 2003 or so, I headed to the store and purchased some Pearl Izumi stuff that was real cycling gear. Some nice Descente shorts too. Kits that fit.
Yet somehow the jerseys always felt itchy and blousy..
There was that rather generic looking Nike jersey, red with black accents. It tended to billow and pull up my back.
And the bright yellow Pearl jersey. It also flapped in the wind a bit. But they had to do. That was my initial cycling gear along with the Red Trek 400 and mountain bike shoes with SPD pedals. A half geek you might say. That approach worked for about 2 years as I learned to ride. I even shaved my legs that second year.
Then I got a real road bike (the Felt 4C carbon) and upgraded my shoes (Specialized) and my kits in order to be able to ride longer and better.
The gear upgrades included a really thin zip-front Giordano (Italian) cycling jersey that looked pretty spiff once I got into shape. The material in that base layer moved with your body and wicked off sweat in the worst of conditions. It also made a really great base layer when the weather got cool. Best of all, it did not itch, which can be a real pain when you’re riding.
That $80 jersey lasted about 5 years before the zipper stuck at about 1/3 of the way up. Then the material tore along the zipper when I tried to fix it. The perfect base layer jersey was no more.
That meant searching or a new base layer. Which is important to own. But I could not find a suitable replacement for years. I made do with various running shirts underneath the cycling kits when the weather got cold.
Then last year I purchased two Under Armor workout shirts on sale at Dick’s. The base layer problem was instantly solved.
Understand I don’t rep for Under Armor or anything like that. I don’t get any money for promoting any of these products. But I have to tell you: Under Armor works like it says it does.
Given the criteria for good cycling gear, Under Armor fits all the key elements. It is skin tight. It drains off the sweat. It can function in all temperatures, even within a single ride, which is often the challenge on early spring cool days that turn hot as you go.
So my mourning is over for the original base layer. It’s nice to have a replacement that works, and to know that more can be found when the time is right.
Just a hint about all performance gear like Under Armor. I avoid putting all that stuff in the dryer. Nothing turns a nice running or riding top into an itchy piece of worthless material faster than dry heat. It’s one of the tarsnakes of performance gear.
I let all my cycling and running stuff line dry for that reason alone. Sure it takes longer, but having ruined a few nice kits over the years tossing them into the dryer, I’ve learned my lesson. The great thing about the whole Under Armor approach is that you kind of get a 2-for-1 deal when you buy a shirt like that for a cycling base layer. You can use it for running as well, and it makes a nice shirt to work out on weights at the gym. Just don’t wear your Under Armor to a wedding. That’s not a good look for guys or gals.
So now I’m a happier guy on the bike. I have a base layer strategy that really works. Of course Nike and a whole lot of other manufacturers now copy UA. They all offer stretchy clingy base layer-like garments for athletes. So you don’t have to go out and buy Under Armor. But if you haven’t tried a good base layer and don’t want to pay $90 for the cycling base layers from some overpriced supplier, you can find a cross functional base layer for $30 and be a happier cyclist and runner too.