February 13, 2020 § 9 Comments
It’s amazing what a big difference small things can make.
Take socks, for example.
A rotten pair of roughly made socks makes you want to cut your feet off at the ankles and take up life on crutches. An ugly pair of socks makes you want to buy new shoes; $450 down the drain for a $12 pair of socks. If the socks are too tall you look like a Scotsman missing his kilt. If they’re too short you look like like a triathlete, or worse, a track racer.
What if your socks are droopy, like a loose condom? Yecccch. Or what if they used to be snappy white but are all gray, like old liver? Double yecccch.
And on the other end, a sock that’s snug, silky, thick but not bulky, thin but not sheer, a sock that covers just enough calf to make your leg look long, but no so much that you look like a dwarf, ah yes, the holy sock grail. Most of us are still looking …
It didn’t used to be that way. If you raced track you didn’t wear socks because, track. If you raced road you wore white socks, short ones that came up a couple inches above your ankle until they turned gray, at which time they became chain rags. They were cotton/poly blend and they were white. Did I mention they were white?
The gold sock standard used to be Descente. Remember those? A tiny bit tallish, comfy, and radical for those days because they were white BUT they had a little black Descente arrow on them. Oooooooh. FU, UCI. Those socks hinted at what was to come, cycling shorts that were something other than black, in other words, heresy.
Buying socks was simple. You bought the white ones in the shop or the white ones that were also in the shop. No one imagined a sock that had a football logo on them. I guess a better way of saying it is that no one imagined. We just rode.
Wasn’t so bad, was it?
I thought this was going to be a pitchie for some brandy newie blackie South Bay cycling Socksies. Sign me uppie.
Em me your address.
The gold standard was REALLY those slightly off white 100% wool socks that came in a thin cardboard box by the dozen. They were made in Switzerland. Bob Hansing used to import them at EuroAsia Imports out of Montrose. You bought them in a size range that corresponded to your shoes (like 41-43). They were plain, and they were compliant with UCI rules. They just covered the ankles, none of that tall nonsense currently in vogue…(Today’s non-racer club rider likes the new fangled ones because, well, style, and better for advertising, right?!).. I gave my last new pair of the olkd cool ones to Brian Bayliss before he passed away. I kinda felt like he would appreciate them, and he did….
Moth avoidance used to be a ‘thing’ we worried about.
There was something that I came across a few years back, and because I basically F’d up, I submitted my order for 10 pairs at 1.99 a pair, twice. So I ended up with 20 pairs of a gray sock that rose above the shoe a few inches. There a lot of them, and neither I nor my friends ever paid much attention to them until one say I was wearing a pair at the track, and a junior who was waiting to race noticed them, probably because he was thinking “That old leaky prostate man as some really ugly socks!”, when he noticed something written on them, and then shouted “Those are breaking away socks!”. “Huh?” I asked. “Breaking away! The movie. Cutters. You know the local kids were all Cutters. So I looked at my socks and sure enough, they had the word “Cutters” printed plainly upon them. Now of course, I notice those all the time, though no one else does.
Doubly embarrassing that a kid knew about Breaking Away and the significance of your socks before you did … triply, even.
I can remember when USCF had rules requiring white socks and black shorts. So that’s what racers wore. Even after the rule was removed, people stuck with them, or at least ones that were primarily white and black.
My socks of choice are the Panda Power ones made by the sock guy, I buy them because I know Amanda and it supports her racing. I really like the smart wool ones because they never get too warm or hot. I liked the Seth ones but as I have XL feet and they shrank in the wash I can’t use them any more.
The old testament (ABLA rulebook) made no mention of white socks:
1.61 Racing costumes shall be such as to cover the shoulders and, breeches must reach within six (6) inches of the knees. All breeches (leg tights) must be black in color, though shirts of any color may be used. These requirements must be strictly enforced by the Referee.
Note: All terminology and punctuation is correctly transcribed. Yes, that includes the comma following the “and”.
The new testament (USCF rulebook) changed that (and updated the language and punctuation):
1.61 Racing jerseys shall be such as to cover the shoulders. Jerseys of any color may be used. Cycling shorts shall be black in color, and should reach within approximately 8 inches of the knees, or approximately mid-thigh. Socks shall be white and shall be worn on the road, though no socks need be worn on the track.
Oh, and if you’re too young to know what the ABLA was, well, get off my lawn!
Too good! Breeches & costumes … so true!