Category: Accessories

It’s About Time We Had the “Sox Talk”

You talk a big game, but are you a #Sockernaut? If you’re not familiar with the term #Sockernaut, that’s because I made it up. The definition is: a huge, powerful, and overwhelming force or institution pertaining to socks. Now you know.

Joking aside, when I worked in bike shops, one of the questions I often heard from people purchasing their first bike as an adult was, “I’ve got a bike, what’s the next thing I should get?” Over the years, my answers have changed quite drastically. When I was young I liked BMX, Freestyle, and riding in skateparks so I would have probably suggested something like pegs, or shin guards. In other years, it may or may not have been spandex — don’t judge. Fast forward 15 years, and my answer would unequivocally be socks. A pair of socks can make or break my ride. If my feet aren’t happy, I’m not happy.

Now you’re probably thinking, “How much difference could there possibly be in socks?” And the short answer is a lot! There are socks made from different materials such as cotton, lycra, silk, and my favorite, wool. Specifically Merino Wool for it’s wicking capability, sustainability, and natural ability to not stink! There are socks with arch support, padding for the bottom of your foot and many other anti-fatiguing designs. There are socks for cold weather, warm weather and everything in between. The truth is, we could talk for hours on the different design aspects of socks and how it translates to riding your bike, but the main reason I love a great pair of socks is they have the potential to improve your comfort no matter what kind of riding you do. We all know, if your feet are hurting, wet, cold, cramping or in any other kind of discomfort, you want to be off the bike, and studies show that this leads to overall less fun. If you ride road or mountain, you’ve probably already scored you some decent socks, but even if you’re not an “avid” cyclist, you can still benefit from a good pair of socks. Urban riders, commuters, BMXers, runners, hikers, and even mall walkers can get the same benefits as anyone else. Comfort.

Now that I’ve convinced you to up your sock game to achieve #sockernaut status, the question is, “What kind of socks should I get?” Wow, I thought you would never ask!

I recently had the pleasure of meeting some great people and touring a sock factory in good ol’ Mt. Airy, NC. Also known by the name “Mayberry,” and home of The Andy Griffith Show; it’s an enchanting glimpse into the past. You can eat at diners that are straight out of the 50’s, or catch some of the best musicians Bluegrass has to offer. If that’s not already awesome enough, you can get a BBQ plate from Aunt Bee’s (Lexington style of course), take one of the most scenic and rewarding bike trips you’ve ever done, or stop in at Cycleworks Performance Bicycle Shop and see Robert Marion — a Cyclocross legend. And if that’s not enough to impress you, now Mt. Airy is also producing the best socks ever made under the brand “Farm To Feet.”

From my visit, I could tell you everything you would need to know about their eco-friendly manufacturing process, or about how they use knitting machines with more needles than any other US sock manufacturer for a finer, smoother feeling sock. I could tell you about how they have been in the sock business since the early 90’s making some of the socks you know and love, or about their lifetime guarantee, something none of their competitors offer. I could also tell you about their seamless toe closure which reduces the bulk inside your shoe and eliminates blister-generating friction, but you can find all of that on their website.

I want to tell you about their commitment to America. As the name implies, they source all of their materials and labor from America, but it goes beyond that.

Meet Jason

Farm to Feet Facility

Jason is a NC local, born and raised. He was born in a small town near Mt. Airy called Backwater. He has a wife, two kids, and likes to buy, sell, and trade Oakley sunglasses. After working eleven years for Nester Hosiery — Farm to Feet’s parent company — he says it’s more like a second family. It was very clear from talking to Jason that Nester Hosiery has really promoted a pride in the craftsmanship their employees provide. Sometimes, when he and his wife are out shopping, he “likes to compare [Farm to Feet] socks to the competitors.” He makes note of things they do better and gets ideas of ways to improve their line-up.

Farm to Feet is the epitome of good American manufacturing. Continually in search of ways to make a better product; they’re aware of their environmental impact and aim to reduce it at every step. They have a corporate conscience, and believe investing into their employees and community benefits everyone. And that’s why they’re the best socks money can buy.

What you really need to start riding

Cycling is one of my absolute favorite pastimes, and for good reason. It doesn’t matter what kind of mood you’re in, what day of the week it is, what problems are going on in the middle east, or how long it’s been since you’ve ridden last, you can always go for a ride. Nature will always welcome you, fresh air will always be good for your lungs, riding will always be good for your heart, and sun will always increase your happiness.

It’s time to get back to the basics.

I’ve worked at a lot of different bike shops for a lot of years. During those years there were many questions asked and many questions answered. One question that often seemed to pop-up in some form or another is, “What do I need to get started?” The short answer is, “Whatever is going to get you riding.” There’s not a magic list of things that you need, there’s no magic equipment that is going to make you ride.

Here’s the list of the things you need:

  • A bike
  • A route (optional)
  • Determination to push yourself

A bike

Picking out a bike can be overwhelming for people who are just getting started. I used to get questions about, “How much do I need to spend?” Also, questions about, “What kind of bike should I get?” Both are great questions, but there seems to be too much emphasis on them. What you need is a bike. Two wheels, a frame, some good brakes, and it can have gears… or not. You can get a single speed if it’s what you want.

One of the greatest things about a bike is how malleable it’s form can be. You can spend $75 at a yard sale and have all the bike you may ever need. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Ultegra Giant TCR Carbon, but do I need it? Nope. I can have just as good of an experience on an old 12 speed, steel, no name road bike with a good tune-up.

The only two things I would truly recommend is a good seat and a bike that isn’t way too big or way too small.

A route

This is totally optional. Go on an adventure. When’s the last time you went on an adventure? It amazes me what I find sometimes.

Determination

Riding bikes is classified as exercise. I know this concept is strange to a lot of people, but you will be rewarded for it. I promise.

You will need to push yourself. There will be moments that you will feel like you won’t or can’t make it, but you can. Maybe not at first, but hang in there. Again, you will be rewarded.

It’s time to complicate things

After you get the basics, anything that you want to do is awesome. If you want to be a roadie, wear spandex, and buy Gu and recovery drinks in bulk, cool! If you want to only ride on dirt, and drink beer for recovery, shoot me an email and we will hang out sometime. If you want to be a Stravasshole, well, we can talk about this later. Whatever you do, do it on a bike, you’ll be happier that way.

Nau Clothing

Pacific Northwest company, Nau, donates money to Bikes Belong. A charitable organization dedicated to getting more people to spend more time on bikes. We support companies that support cycling, will you?

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