If you spend any time performing an activity outdoors someone has said that to you in the past year. It might have even been you, which in that case you are “that guy.”
Here’s the thing. Cotton is actually pretty damn comfortable, it doesn’t end up with those funky synthetic fabric odors, and I do not look like Dwayne Johnson when I am riding the three miles to work on my bicycle.
It’s ok to wear cotton. Heck, I even prefer cotton t-shirts to performance wicking t-shirts on any bike ride save my long days in the saddle when the mileage creeps up around the fifty mark.
It’s ok to wear cotton. We all do not need to be kitted up like pseudo-Tour de France racers for a quick pedal around town with the kids. Sure, your jersey, shorts, socks, and handlebar tape are all color coordinated but you still look like a tool when you are following behind tottering children struggling to finish the ride.
It’s ok to wear cotton. When we step off the bike and stop in for a beer no one wants to look like a pack of MAMILs (Middle Aged Man In Lycra). It’s a thing and it is not pretty.
It’s ok to wear cotton. We all probably have several cotton t-shirts sitting in a dresser drawer waiting to be worn. There is no need to head out to the shop and buy a special shirt just to ride a bike. Dig into the dark recesses of your forgotten cloths, pull out that t-shirt from vacation a few years ago, and wear it with non-ironic pride on your next ride into work.
It’s ok to wear cotton. If we want cycling to be anything other than a niche activity pursued by enthusiasts we need to stop telling people that it is wrong to wear a simple t-shirt. We want people out of their cars and on bikes. People are healthier, the air is cleaner, and our communities are more resilient when people drop the keys and start pedaling. Too often the people who should be helping get others onto saddles are the same ones who are scaring people away with their mantras about cotton.
Join me this summer in putting away the wicking fabric for just a moment and taking a ride in a simple cotton t-shirt. You might actually feel like a human being again.