The beginning (a historical summary, part 1)
I’ve been working on starting a mountain bike apparel line for a long time. I’ll be posting installments of the backstory for those of you that are interested, even though they’ll mess up the chronology of the blog for a bit. -Matt
Conation Collective started from a frustration over the current offering of mountain bike clothing. Coming from a racing background, I was used to apparel designed with function over form. For as silly as it looks, lyrca has some great technical features.
As I got out of the racing scene I started wearing baggy garb because it was more versatile. Riders in Boulder, CO have the unique opportunity to take public transit from town, gain 2000ft of elevation, and then ride all day on beautiful single-track trails back down to town. Sitting on a public bus in skin tight clothing is awkward. So is stopping by the local coffee shop where most riders meet, stopping for a lunch snack, and grabbing a post-ride brew with friends.
The more I rode in baggy apparel the more I hated it. The chamois (I confirmed the plural of that word with Merriam-Webster) sucked and were barely worthy of the name. The fabrics were heavy, and the ventilation was controlled by a plethora of breakable zippers that looked almost as goofy as spandex. My friends and I resorted to riding in a road bib with a pair of casual shorts and shirt over it.
We worked in the best bike shops in one of the biggest cycling towns in America – we had access to any piece of riding wear in production, and we were pedaling around in a horrendous amalgamation of road bike gear and casual clothes in the hope that it would all add up to passable mountain bike wear.
My personal breaking point came when I realized the best fitting and most comfortable mountain bike shorts I had found were built of a cotton-based fabric. Cotton is one of the worst materials for outdoor apparel because it absorbs water quickly and takes a long time to dry leaving people cold, wet, and at times hypothermic. I was furious that a company would claim to make technical sportswear, and then make garments about as technical as jeans.
This was the impetus of the Conation Collective.