After much begging and pleading, Laura is going to start contributing every Wednesday, giving a female perspective on gear/touring, etc., So, for you female readers, I hope you find these helpful and insightful (rather than my constant oggling of handlebar bags :)
It’s January in Southern California, which naturally means that it’s 80 degrees outside. Strange, yes, but it means I get to dig out one of my new favorite riding shirts… the Indian silk tunic.
Last fall, we took a ride up to Little India (aka Artesia, CA), and I took the opportunity to browse some shops for a shirt or two. I figured that folks in India are used to hot, humid weather, so surely their traditional fashion must be designed to withstand these conditions. In this small little shop, I worked with a very friendly saleswoman who pulled a whole pile of shirts for me to try on. I ended up walking out with two of them, the green one above and it’s bright blue cousin, because they were only $15 each.
Now, I don’t think the print on this shirt could possibly be any busier. But, the more I wear it, the more I’m convinced that I’m onto something. Silk is one of those magical natural fibers that breathes well and keeps you cool when it’s hot out. And because this shirt is a tunic style, it fits really loose, allowing the wind to flutter its way through and provide some nice natural air conditioning while you ride. And the fact that it covers my shoulders means that I don’t turn into a lobster while I’m riding. Plus, it’s actually a relatively flattering and almost-stylish look, provided you don’t mind standing out in a crowd.
All of this is to say that, sometimes, non-traditional and not-meant-to-be-technical gear can work just as well as the expensive stuff. :)
Unfortunately, the very nature of how I purchased this shirt means that I can’t put up a link here so that you can go buy your own. If you happen to live near a Little India enclave, or if you happen to be fortunate enough to travel to the real India, then by all means hunt one out. Otherwise, might I suggest thinking about other cultures who live with a lot of heat and humidity? Perhaps there’s an Indonesian shop near you or a Moroccan stall at the local farmer’s market.
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