I never bothered to ask anyone the point of a cycling jersey. It never dawned on me to think that they were functional as well as a fashion statement of sorts.
So when I registered for RAGBRAI and I had the option to buy a $50 jersey, I declined.
It wasn't until weeks later that, in an unrelated conversation, an experienced biker told me how jerseys are built with ventilation and pockets; and it wasn't until months later that another friend told me they're designed to have extra length to prevent tramp-stamp sunburns.
Oops. I might've missed out on an opportunity to look smart and stylish.
But fortunately, this is when being an undersized adult suddenly came in handy: All of those shirts that were unisex small, rather than women's extra-small or youth extra-large, are the perfect length to cover my lower back even as I lean forward.
Some of those shirts are high school ones — nothing says cool like "High School Class of 2004" or "Student Council 2003-04" — and some are race T-shirts. But hey, I've got a glut of them, and they've saved the small of my back from a third blistery burn.
The downside, at first, seemed to be the sleeves. The farmers tan on my upper arms, born of unseasonably warm weather in early 2012 onward and of wearing two identically cut T-shirts while running, has stubbornly survived the abnormally gloomy start to 2013.
Dangly, droopy sleeves on these outsized T-shirts were not helping the situation. But you know what did? Safety pins.
Cuff those sleeves about four or five times, use old race-bib pins to secure them, and the mid-upper-arm tan line will be gone by RAGBRAI. (Only to be relocated to the shoulder ... I know when to cut my losses.)
Yes, a cycling jersey is technically a better choice than a cotton tee that's nearly a decade old. I'm not trying to argue against them — pockets and wicking are awesome features.
Also awesome, though, is $50 extra for pastries and ice cream. I'm not humblebragging about frugality ... but I won't apologize for reusing shirts I already have, either.