I’m not really the type to wear tights. Not running or biking. I just feel better in loose-fitting gear, preferably in muted colors. Maybe that’s partly the reason I’m more of a trail runner and mountain biker than a road runner and road cyclist. I prefer to seek out experiences and mini-adventures off-road, instead of pushing tempos and setting personal bests. I search for secluded, wild spots instead of running and biking through concrete canyons and racing along smoothly surfaced asphalt. Still, as a few road races have crept into my schedule, I’ve inched a bit closer to the road cycling scene.
About six months ago, I actually bought a cross bike. For my first “official duty” for GORE BIKE WEAR®, there was a road cycling media event in Mallorca to introduce the Oxygen Bib Tights 2.0 with its new, patent-pending seat pad.
Colorful packs of cyclists make photographers happy
All of my colleagues together selected the outfits for the media participants. In addition to the tights came the OXYGEN WINDSTOPPER® Soft Shell Jersey that works in an extremely wide range of uses and temperatures with just one single layer of fabric. Both are sensational products with top-rated performance. While you don’t necessarily notice that face when looking at them, you do really notice the jersey’s color, as well as the tights’ side panels: “Giro Pink!”
I earned unbelieving looks from the journalists when we handed out the test product. Skepticism on their saleability was loud and emphatic. One safe bet: Demand in the southern regions would be higher than in the north, since Italians in particular seem like bolder colors. But to be clear, for everybody else, the shirt is also available in many other colors, and the tights are also available in classic black, among other choices. But even in our group there were a couple of pink fans. I also learned that road cyclists are pretty fashion-oriented. For example, trim on shoes must match the handlebars, or socks have to match the helmet.
By late afternoon, we are ready for our first ride. Ten handsome guys in Giro pink – not only the journalists and bloggers but also representatives from our event partners, Polar and Ultrasports, as well as our hosts, the “Rose Vaujany” professional mountain bike team. And when it comes to style, the guys on this team don’t hold back. The women in pink tights and shirts from the POWER TRAIL line, the guys in a “Jamaican look” (officially called “fresh green/cadmium yellow”) from the ALP X-PRO collection. Our Dutch photographer Irmo was beside himself.
Fast and painless: what makes cycling fun
The first thing I notice is that cycling in a pack is dang fast. Drafting off the professionals Steffen Thum and Simon Gegenheimer, I feel a bit like a pro myself with the speed, I feel good. Then suddenly the pros peel off and suddenly David from “RennRad” magazine and I have the full headwind.
The second thing I notice that I didn’t really notice: The tights fit perfectly. Nothing pinches, nothing pokes or presses. Absolute comfort. Strangely, as an inexperienced road cyclist, I don’t have any little owies on my behind after three days. The secret is of course the new seat pad that with its patent-pending design that has a type of “cup” and thus doesn’t cramp the male anatomy like can be the case with traditional pads and their full-length foam inserts. Plus, this pad is windproof and extremely breathable, which increases the comfort and protection quotient.
Biking for connoisseurs: from Sa Calobra port to Coll dels Reis summit and back
The highlight of our excursion comes on the second day: a wonderful ascent to the “Coll dels Reis” summit at almost 700 meters (2,300 feet), followed by a rapid, snaking, 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) descent back down to the coastal town of Sa Calobra.
This is one of the best-known and beautiful routes for road cyclists on Mallorca. Right away, the first cyclists come toward us in the opposite direction, one in full attack, gasping loudly, riding out of the saddle and rocking side-to-side fighting the climb. It’s as if he is expecting a screaming crowd like there would be at a summit finish at the Tour de France. Another is perched at the side of the road exhausted, shoving an energy bar into his mouth. For us, however, the ride was such a pleasure. The region is sensational. There aren’t a lot of cars this early in the season so we literally can just let it all out without leaning on the brakes of our ritzy bikes, or worrying about gravel or sand in the corners. Something like that could put an abrupt end to the fun. I even manage to pull off the ascent up the road halfway athletically, which certainly is helped along by the sporty little featherweight Rose carbon fiber numbers we’re riding.
Whether I turn into a passionate road cyclist is still an open question. But I admit the thrill of the speed is pretty enticing. The amazing roads and so little traffic at this time of year on Mallorca makes you want more. And as a road cyclist you can tick off distances that allow you to explore new spots that may otherwise remain out of reach. If I will ever cruise through the Bavarian foothills on my cross bike in “Giro pink” is still doubtful. So, as a precautionary measure, I have snagged some tights and a shirt in more “middle European” colors: black and red.