Lessons Learned in Leather

I’ve been agonizing over what to buy for my upcoming road racing school experience, since I can’t go to the track wearing my Scorpion Savannah pants with my butt crack hanging out. Even if I could, it’d be too much of a hassle later when they’d blame all the crashes on me… But in all seriousness, my riding style has gone past the gear I’m currently wearing, and it is time to upgrade: New gloves, boots, pants (with knee sliders) and jacket. I did extensive research online, and picked out a few things, but I wasn’t going to unload THAT kind of cash without trying something on first. A lady at the We Ride ladies-only motorcycle forum mentioned CycleGear.

Ok, so I went to Lawrenceville, GA to the CycleGear store with hubby in tow to try on some racing leathers. Holy crap, what a chore that was. And a total blow to my ego, too. LOL I go in there, with measurements in hand and ask them to let me try on the Dainese in a 44 (it’s not the Yu, but the Dominia in white, which has better armor, so I think I’m over the fashion thing of the Yu), which just so happened to hang right there in the front at the end. Dude gets his hook to get that thing down and hands it to me. First thing I notice the freakin’ suit seems to weigh like 50 pounds. Joe remarks offhandedly that I can always replace the stock cans on the bike to keep the weight down. I give him the ‘look’. I get him back later for that one though, and two guys who were overhearing us busted out laughing. Anyway, so I take the cow hide to the changing room and try to wiggle into it. OMG! It takes me 5 minutes just to get my knees in there right, so the armor is in the right spot. Now, after 5 more minutes of doing the pants-dance I finally decide to give up, since there’s no way I can get this thing over my fat JLo ass and thighs. Dang it, man! Defeated I yell to hubby and sales clerk that this is NOT gonna happen, I need a 46. Nik goes and fetches it, but they only have it in black. Round 2. 5 minutes to get the freakin’ knees in, then wriggle, jump, dancey-dance, stick and arm into one of the sleeves to get more leverage and pry myself into the thing. Holy shite! I zip it up and stand there, looking at myself in the mirror. WTF? I look like SuperDork! Joe wants to know if I’m done so he peeks through the curtain where the vecro is holding the two halves together.
“Come out here and let me see you.” So I reluctantly do. I’m standing there, Nik’s sizing me up (not to worry, he’s gay, so I don’t mind it at all… he’s using his critical eye, unlike a straight dude, so at least this curbs my embarrassment), and I tell them that there’s way too much material everywhere and the armor is poking me in back, middle of the shoulder blades. Nik tells me to ‘make a motorcycle shape’. So I squat down, and assume the position. This is ridiculous. But the stuff does straighten out and it feels better. Now I look like SuperDork riding an invisible motorcycle. All the leather in the front around my midsection is bunched up. As I straighten back out, I tell him as much. I can’t stand it. Otherwise the thing fits perfect, as Nik tells me. I guess when you have to make concessions for a JLo bum, something else is gonna have to give. I can’t deal with it. Nik suggests we try an Alpinestars, so I do. According to the online size chart, I’m a 38 in Aplinestars (which coincidentally is also my European clothing size), we start there. He only has the one-piece in a 40, I tell him, with previous experience, it’s probably a good thing. He goes and undresses a mannequin. Nope, can’t do it. This thing’s even tighter than the Dainese. No go. Plan C. He’s got a two-piece Alpinestars, but it’s a 38. I’m thinking there’s no way, but Nik says they fit differently than the one-piece, so it’s worth giving it a shot. Yeah, but no. Up to the knees, that’s all she wrote. So, now I have my ego completely crushed, I’m hot and sweaty (which really hinders sliding into leather) and I tell them that I’ll never eat again. This experience has taught me two things: Getting into a one-piece is a pain in the ass, so I’m probably gonna get a two-piece. And it better be perforated! Those things are hot as hell. How do people stand wearing this stuff in 101 degree weather in GA on their track days? No way I could fit my RPCM vest under that! And now I go diet my ass off, so I can fit into a 44 without having to deal with the bunch of unused material around my midsection. Then I’ll blow the $1200 (for Dainese) or $800 (for Alpinestars).

Update: I scored myself a Dainese Dominia (in black) on eBay from Germany for $390 less. It was one of those Buy It Now or Best Offer deals, and I didn’t think they would accept my offer (since I have a 100% failure rate in those, because I have an extereme tendency to lowball it) and just send me a snide message back in response. But they did and I got to test it in Helen, GA during my Redneck Cornering School (I have yet to blog that) It is too big, but I’ll have to live with it now. I’m just happy to know that I really am a 44! Maybe I’ll get the Yu one-piece after all… I’m such a gear whore!

There’s a lesson to be learned here: When planning on trying on leathers somewhere, bring your Under Armour (or equivalent base layer), bare skin and leather don’t like each other much, even though most suits come with a liner built in, that doesn’t help getting into them at all. I wear compression-fit Under Armour HotGear long-sleeved top and ankle-length running tights (and in the winter I switch to ColdGear) under mine when I go riding and you can slide right on in, without problems and being left feeling fat as hell.



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