Team TWC Cycling Gear of the Year 2013: Rachel Sokal

We ask our contributors to share their favourite cycling outfit of 2013. No guidelines, no limits, just what our lovely bloggers have enjoyed riding in over the past 12 months. It seems every outfit has a story!

Given my laissez-faire attitude to clothes and fashion I feel rather uneasy about detailing my favourite cycling gear in case I unwittingly make some style faux pas.

This also probably explains the fact that if Total Women’s Cycling had asked me about my favourite clothing of 2012 it would be essentially the same.

Winter in the Peak District. Beautiful! Image copyright Ant Jordan

In my own defence, it’s not just because of my lack-lustre approach to clothing that my kit hasn’t changed, it’s also because I absolutely love a few bits of kit which means I rarely ride in anything else – so much so that when writing this I’ve come to realise that I own multiple – and some might say excessive – numbers of each item.

My absolute favourite piece of kit is my Gore Phantom jacket. It copes amazingly well in loads of different temperatures and I wouldn’t be without its windproofness (yes, I’ve decided this is a word). It once was red but has been washed so many times it’s now referred to as pink with dark accents (grease marks). I do only have one of these though.

Underneath I wear a Gore long-sleeved base-layer and have just treated myself to two new ones to give my washing machine a rest – bringing the total to five. They wick brilliantly so never get damp and fit really nicely so it’s easy to layer up.

A creature of habit…? Image copyright Ant Jordan

I’m pretty fussy about my gloves and my favourites are Specialized long-fingered numbers. I justified buying three pairs of these to protect my hands against future design changes.  The day these need replacing will not be a good day.

I wear Bontrager shorts which have a really comfy chamois and a nice fit – my original to pairs are getting a bit translucent on the bum so I’ve just added to my collection to protect my modesty.  When it’s cooler I wear Bonty tights over the top or my Endura Singletrack shorts which are great for keeping the off-road crud out.

And finally, if it wasn’t for my jacket these would be the winner of my best-bit-of-kit award; my Gaerne shoes. I’ve never had a pair of bike shoes that have fitted well and were comfortable before these. I bought them on the off-chance as I saw them reduced but as soon as I put them on I loved them and so bought another pair. On the downside, they’re white which isn’t particularly practical for MTB shoes although they do scrub up well.

And in case you were wondering I have two of my favourite helmets and three pairs of socks.  I know what I like and I like what I know….

Before and after the application of water and a scrubbing brush. Image copyright Rachel Sokal

Rachel Sokal is a mountain biker and racer with a passion for endurance and cross-crountry racing, and one of our contributors. In 2012, at her first 24hour solo race, she won – becoming the 2012 European and UK 24 hour solo champion. No mean feat!

Follow her on Twitter @24hrSokal or read her blog at


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