How do we keep socks clean?!?

I have a lot of socks in different heights and colors, but I wear white socks almost exclusively. I like to wear pure white socks. Goal: It’s impossible to keep it that way.

This morning I left my house at 6:45 to meet a friend on tour. I got to the spot at 6:55, uncovered while waiting for my boyfriend to roll over. I grabbed my water bottle, looked down, and there it is. Chain lubrication, grease, and whatever combination of substance, were huge black streaks on the outside of my left leg’s crisp white sock.

Somewhere between getting ready to ride, getting the bike out the door, and starting to roll, I wiped the chain unknowingly and within less than 10 minutes.

Before seven in the morning, I was ruining a new pair of socks. It’s not the biggest deal in the world but it’s annoying. Socks aren’t cheap, but I really just want to know why I can’t keep my white socks crisp.

As one does when looking for answers (or support), I turned to Instagram to find out why this happened to me. “Is that just me? I literally wrote every flight, every pair of white socks, I don’t know when it’s happening, no warning signs.

The responses varied:

“Me too. It just happens.”

“I switched to lubricating with wax instead of oil and it has helped me a lot.”

“You just… then again I wore black stockings yesterday.”

“I must love those 5 cats tattoos.”

“Every time I’ve ridden any bike for the past 30 years.”

“This happens until it stops happening. It is an experience thing.”

Sure, black tights might hide the problem, but that’s not a solution. Saying that it depends on experience also does not solve the problem. Nobody tells me why. So I ask, is it when I cut or loosen the lip? Is it when I carry my bike onto the road to get into my driveway? The answer to these questions is what I was looking for. But I realize no one knows because no one gave me real feedback. I mean, I’m there and I don’t know the moment this happens.

However, with the help of old riders from our staff, I came up with some solutions. This turns out to be a problem for lifelong cyclists, and across all spectrums of experience, but it’s especially a pest to those closer to the beginner stage. And while the right leg gets hit most of the time, with people like me, both legs are at risk.

Here are some tips for avoiding or dealing with signs when you do get one:

  • Concentrate on using your non-driving side foot—the one on the side of your bike without chains—to stop (at signs, lights, or any other time you get off your bike) until it becomes a habit to become unconscious. We often mark our calves when we stop pedaling and put a foot down, inadvertently rubbing our leg into the chain or chain. Over time, you’ll develop better spatial awareness (seriously!) so that if you use your side foot, you’ll avoid rubbing against the greasy parts. Until that happens, the best way is to simply use your other foot.
  • Likewise, when walking alongside your bike (or carrying it, in this case), try to do so from the non-riding side. If, for some reason, it is convenient or practical to maneuver your bike from the right side, be especially vigilant about leg contact when passing through doors or around turns, or lifting your bike.
  • Keep your payment system clean! This is the most obvious and most overlooked solution. A sloppy sloppy chain seemed to spew grease all over our legs. A clean string requires more connection.
  • If your driving conditions allow it (not a lot of wet riding), use dry lube, which is less likely to result in a thick, greasy buildup.
  • If a mark appears on your leg or sock and you want to remove it halfway, do not attempt to do so with water. Some sort of dish soap, wet wipes, or even something like olive oil will help you wash it better. I once saw someone use clear soda, and it kind of worked!
  • If all else fails, and you’re a person with bold flair, embrace the mark and act like longtime cycling superstar Sky Yaeger – get a chain mark tattoo on your right leg!

    Note: Can a sock company make a white sock with a pre-applied black string tag?

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