I don’t have any sponsors. As an MXA test rider I’m not allowed to be sponsored by anyone. It’s a good rule for two reasons: (1) It avoids any issues of favoritism between test riders and the products they test. (2) Apart from Metamucil, Lipitor and AARP, I’m not really sponsorship material anymore. Since I am not bound by any contracts, I can use whatever I want—afterall, no one is actually emulating my person tastes or riding style. The pages of the magazine are where we test products, bikes, tools and paraphernalia with a critical eye. What I actually use when no one is looking won’t make me a fashion icon?
I DON’T REALLY BELIEVE THAT KNEE BRACES PROTECT WHAT’S WRONG WITH MY KNEES ANY MORE THAN PUTTING A PIECE OF TAPE AROUND A JAR OF OLIVES STOPS THE OLIVES FROM GETTING BRUISED.
Knee braces: I’ve worn every brand of knee brace during my career. And, I hated almost everyone of them. They clank when I walk, make we feel like Frankenstein’s monster rampaging through a Bavarian village and irritate my legs. However, I accept the tradeoff because without the knee braces I wouldn’t clank, I would creak.
I don’t really believe that knee braces protect what’s wrong with my knees any more than putting a piece of tape around a jar of olives stops the olives from getting bruised. I wear them so Lovely Louella can never say, “You should have been wearing knee braces.” What kind of knee braces do I wear? Mobius. I forgive you for thinking that I’m Star Wars fan, but I do admit that they have a fairly close resemblance to what the Imperial Storm Troopers wore. I, unlike the Troopers, don’t wear them on the outside.
Socks. I wear Skull 2N1 knee brace socks. I don’t know where I got them. I’ve had never seen or heard of the company before, during or after I started wearing them. But I like them so much that I actually sit down on the couch with a needle and thread to sew up any seams that have blown out. I asked Lovely Louella to sew them on her fancy sewing machine, but she gave me some song and dance about not having elastic thread for the stretch compression material.
WHEN I’M GOING 40 MPH IN ONE DIRECTION, I DON’T WANT FIVE POUNDS OF BOOT TO BE GOING 40 MPH IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION. THE PENDULUM EFFECT OF HEAVY BOOTS PULLS MY DAMAGED TENDONS APART AND THEY NEVER GO BACK TOGETHER IN THE SAME WAY.
Boots. When I’m going 40 mph in one direction, I don’t want five pounds of boot to be going 40 mph in the opposite direction. The pendulum effect of heavy boots pulls my damaged tendons apart and they never go back together in the same way. Alpinestars’ Gabrielle Mazzarolo’s father used to make me special, all-leather, white boots with all the plastic internal parts removed. He would make me three sets at a time to insure that I never ran out. They are a trimmed-down version of Hi-Point Champions or Alpinestars Super Victorys—depending on what decade you are from. Each boot weighs three pounds less than most modern boots. Best of all, I still have spare sets in my barn.
Underwear. My choice of what to wear under my racing pants has changed every decade from commando to boxer to boxer briefs to Toolshed three-quarter shorts. The Toolshed shorts are basically boxer brief underwear with some extra length, more ventilation and a custom waistband with the MXA logo on it. They were part of a subscription promotion about ten years ago — and even though I didn’t subscribe, I snagged a couple pair and have been wearing them ever since.
Gloves. I take gloves seriously and once I find a pair that I like I hoard them out of fear that the gear company will change them in the next model year. I don’t care that they don’t color-match with whatever brand of gear I’m wearing—because they are white. My two go-to gloves are old school Sinisalo, Thor Core or Troy Lee Designs XC gloves from several years ago. I draw on them with a paint pen so that I know which set is which. I dread the day when my stockpile of treasured gloves dries up.
Goggles. Like a lot of people I dabble in goggle switching. When something new comes out I try it. I race in my new fave-and-fab goggle for two races and then return to my tried-and-true love—Oakley O-frames. And I’m not talking about the current O-Frame, but the old school small model from the 1990s. When Johnny O’Mara worked at Oakley he gave me a giant box of old school O-Frames when the new O-Frame was introduced because he knew that I liked the old ones better. At one time I had enough Oakley O-Frames goggles to last a decade and when I finally ran out (in less than a decade), I went looking for a goggle that captured the feel, size and ethos of a simpler time. I don’t want $150 goggles with $50 lens in them. I go through goggles like Mariah Carey goes through pizza and I can’t justify spending big money on something that is going to get roosted in the first 50 feet. I wear EKS Brand goggles—they remind me of old school Scott 93s.
It is wonderful that products get better with each passing year—especially wonderful for young racers who are looking to find their perfect combinations. As for me, I found mine a long time ago.