Back in May, I moved to London. While I don’t recommend moving countries in the middle of pandemic, I did so for a combination of work and personal reasons and found the entire experience to be much less stressful than expected. Empty airports and planes were an absolute delight, although I am not sure it remains that way a few months on now.
I, of course, brought my bike—road bike to start—so I could avoid public transport and ride around London to stay sane. I found it a bit stressful at first to go from the quiet, open roads of Northern California to the busy streets of London but I am slowly learning to embrace the chaos. I even thought about cargo bike delivery for a moment but that’s another story.
While most days I head to the regular cycling hotspots of Richmond Park or Regent’s Park to get in a relatively stress-free couple-hour ride, I have been pushing myself to go on at least one longer ride each week to explore the cycling areas around London such as the North Downs, Surrey Hills, and along the Thames Valley.
My go-to kit for these longer rides includes a pair of cargo bib shorts as they offer a great way to store just a bit more gear than what fits in your jersey pockets—namely your phone and a debit card for those coffee and snack stops now that the cafes and convenience stores are back open (at least for the time being). Having pockets on your bib shorts also means you are free to wear a non-bike specific top like a wool shirt or even T-shirt which is great when you don’t want to look like a Lycra-clad road cyclist all the time.
I own two pairs of cargo bib shorts—the 7Mesh WK3 Cargo Bib Shorts and the Pearl Izumi Interval Cargo Bib Shorts. The 7Mesh cargo bib shorts feature four pockets—one on each leg and two at the back. The pockets at the back are big enough to store a light wind or rain shell and make a good place to store your pump out of the way for those just in case moments. While I love the deep and secure pockets on the legs to store my credit card and as a place to quickly stow granola bar wrappers while riding, my one issue is with placement. The pockets sit a bit too low down on your thigh, creating an unfortunate self-esteem-killing bulge of the saddlebag area as you pedal.
The Pearl Izumi Interval Cargo Bib Shorts by comparison place the leg pocket a bit higher up the thigh so they add compression to the saddlebag area instead of pinching in the wrong spot. These are my go-to bibs for long, all day rides as the ELITE Escape chamois is just so dang comfortable. You don’t feel like you are wearing bike shorts at all but the chamois still protects your backside for hours on end.
A key feature of any bib short is that they are pee-break friendly. Both the Pearl Izumi and 7Mesh cargo bib shorts feature stretchy straps that enable you to easily pull down your shorts without having to remove any of your upper layers.
On top, I’ve been wearing the short sleeve 7Mesh Horizon Jersey. It’s a minimalist jersey made from a soft, non-Lycra, antibacterial fabric that doesn’t scream “I’m a crazy roadie.” The jersey looks more like a nice form fitting, stylish T-shirt that happens to have five pockets—three rear and two zippered side pockets.