If you call yourself a true cyclist then you’ll probably find you have some sort of obsession with socks. I’ve had this discussion with a few cycling mates and the obsession differs in many ways but it’s always there lurking just under the surface ready to pop out in some scary form. Cycling sock obsessions range from the need to co-ordinate socks with every piece of clothing or equipment, to the more severe obsession of needing to name and number each sock so they’ll identically match after each wash.! It’s a bad day when a cyclist loses a sock or the pure whiteness of the sock is ruined during washing and comes out grey. However, cycling is all about image and real white cycling socks around 2 - 5 inches above the shoe (AND NO MORE) seem to be the only way to go.
After escaping the confines of the Institute I found myself in Geelong, Victoria with the rest of the AIS girls. Here we’d compete in our first tour together amidst much discussion, conversation and bitching all over the subject of the humble sock.
On the morning of the first day of the tour we had an 8km prologue to complete followed by a criterium in the afternoon. The entire double stage day was at Port Arlington surrounded by gale force winds and the wrath of a few of the women `profies’ (girls- or guys - in the professional cycling teams). It seems a few of the `profies’ from a particular pink team were pretty put out and offended by the sock length of a few of the Queensland cyclists!!!
These `profies’ didn’t hold back their opinions of the sock length greater than 5 inches from the top of the cycling shoes and asked us to have words with one of the offending Queensland cyclists. Other comments made on the `sock issue’ even prompted one of my team mates, Nikki Egyed, to do an emergency cycling store stop to purchase more suitable socks for the next few stages of the tour. You can’t upset a cycling `profie’ as you never know when you may need their assistance or friendship in the future, so my team mate really didn’t seem to like my advice to `buy some even longer socks and see what happens!’
We all set off for day two of the tour, including Nikki with her more appropriate socks, to complete the Lara to Lara road race stage. The 80km stage really only included one climb however this hill was known as `the wall’ and totally lived up to its name. Today’s ride was the first official road stage and there was excitement from the beginning. Girls crashed everywhere and someone even lost a seat until finally things settled down. Then Queensland Academy of Sports (QAS) rider and friend Louie said `it’s so nice now everything has settled down and some of the bunters* are out the back’. Soon after that comment a girl lost her chain and another girl attempted to push her along to give her momentum and dropped herself in the process. The world went in slow motion for me for a few seconds and girls fell until I found myself sailing through the air to land on a couple of bikes and riders. Amazingly enough I jumped back up with no scratches and only a few bruises, I pulled bent levers out to a more rider friendly position, put my chain back on and kept cycling. By that stage, on a windy day, I was left to ride the remaining k’s with Louie and my AIS team mate Jen McPherson. Louie had come out of the crash with a bunch of scratches and was covered in mud but finished the stage feeling pretty superstitious, saying, “we’d never make another `bunter’ comment like that again”.
The tour finished on day three with an 80k stage at Barwon Heads where there was more trouble through crashes. The field split several times. In the front pack myself and Amanda Spratt and later Nikki Egyed were called back to assist our team mate, and young riders jersey holder, Kate Nichols to help get her back to the lead. It was an awesome team effort by AIS, to tow, unassisted, a large group of riders within 20 seconds of the first pack but unfortunately we still didn’t make it and lost our jersey. It was however, great to see the poor form of the sit in riders in the second pack who actually rode, or sprinted past us to gain, maybe 30th position in stage 4….NOT!!!!
Anyhow, bitterness aside, it seems that after the Geelong women’s tour some of the more `amateur’ riders in the pack who had the audacity to wear inappropriate socks are now put right in their ways of cycling accessorising. Never again should we see socks greater than 5 inches past the shoe and hopefully these rules will help to reveal more sock obsessions throughout the world of cycling.
*NB: I am happy to report that the Lifecycle socks seem to be loved by many and accepted into the peleton with open arms. Breath easy knowing you are officially `cool’ in the cycling world for owning these socks, and that I am actually under orders to bring several pairs over to Europe this year for some of the SA.com riders.
*Bunter - a below average cyclist