This is my confession: I am a cycling sock whore.
I have 47 pairs of cycling socks.
No, really. Forty-seven pairs. I counted them last night. Oh, and that does not include the number of pairs of cycling socks that fill two Hefty trash bags sitting in my garage waiting to become yard sale fodder.
It all started many years ago with DeFeet. They were acceptable, but I knew there was a better pair of cycling socks out there somewhere. So, I searched and searched. Sock Guy, Endura, Pearl Izumi, Champion System, Assos, Giordana, Louis Garneau, Swiftwick, SmartWool, Performance, Sportful, Zoic, Twin Six, Giro. I tried them all, but came away unfulfilled. Eventually, I found Capo – light, comfortable, and sorta stylish. I was satisfied… for awhile.
Then, I discovered Castelli. I vividly remember the first time I put on a pair of the Castelli Free 9 cycling socks. Rays of light burst forth from the firmament to shine down upon me. Angels sang out glorious jubilations in the heavens. I cried tears of joy. My feet were cradled in airy, luxurious comfort. I could ride for miles and miles without experiencing sweaty feet, painful hot spots, irritating abrasions, or numbness. The socks looked great, held their shape, remained brilliantly white after months of washing, and were tall enough to be Euro chic. Plus, Castelli made several different color combinations that matched the standardized colors in their custom team clothing. Bonus! Oh, it was so good.
I still enjoy Castelli Free 9 socks. They have become a staple item in my cycling kit – like that greatest hits compilation from your favorite band that you can listen to over and over again (and never get tired of the music). But, just as the experience of listening to classic rock is, well, classic, there are times when you want to try something new and different. Something modern and upbeat. Something stylish and flashy.
Enter the Northwave Extreme Tech sock!
I am a long-time fan of Northwave shoes. I bought my first pair of Northwave cycling shoes in 1997. They were mountain bike shoes with carbon soles, Velcro straps, and the left shoe was red while the right shoe was yellow. Yeah, each shoe was a different color. Different. Very different. Today, the Italian company keeps itself on the cutting edge of cycling shoe form and function by embracing new materials and technologies. (Watch for a review of the 2014 Northwave Extreme Tech neon-green mountain bike shoes coming soon to Better-Biking.com!) While the company’s cycling product line focuses on shoes, they also make jerseys, shorts, gloves, and… socks!
Northwave’s Extreme Tech line of shoes and clothing include their flagship, top-of-the-shelf products. Like the Northwave Extreme Tech shoes, the Extreme Tech socks are packed with features including:
1. A substantial ribbed knit with enough elasticity to ensure that the socks do not droop or sag and you can get them on and off your feet with ease;
2. A wildly-stylish 16 cm tall cuff that protects your lower shin from road debris and trailside bushes with sharp thorns/stickers;
3. Flashy colors attract open-mouthed, bug-eyed stares on the road (or trail) as well as in the coffee shop;
4. A reinforced toe and heel, including a low-weight compression knit around the middle of the foot, provide a secure fit with no slippage or wrinkling.
The result of these design features is a well ventilated and comfortably-cushioned foot. The socks perform well in all conditions including rain and 100+ degree temperatures. Of course, the outrageous Euro graphics and colors add oodles of bike nerd style points to any pair of cycling shoes. However, extra bonus bike nerd points are automatically added to your riding couture if you pair the Northwave Extreme Tech socks with a pair of Northwave Extreme Tech shoes. So pro! And, the socks come in a variety of absolutely garish colors like lime green (my favorite!), aqua blue, white, black, and neon-yellow. Bonus!
There is only one problem with the Northwave Extreme Tech socks: they are hard to find. Most bicycle retailers that carry Northwave shoes do not stock the Extreme Tech socks. So, look online. Several online bicycle retailers located in the United Kingdom carry the Extreme Tech socks.
The time and energy required to locate and secure a pair of Northwave Extreme Tech socks may be too much for many cyclists. But, if you are a cycling sock whore like me, that extra toil and trouble is well worth the personal gratification of pulling on a pair of these incredibly comfortable, insanely stylish, and immensely functional socks.
About The Author
Aaron Hanson (a.k.a The Cap’n) is manager of the Southern California Colavita-US VETS Regional Amateur Team. A 27-year veteran of the sport and lifestyle of cycling, Aaron has raced both road and mountain bikes, advocated for bicycle transportation funding and facilities at the city, county, state, and federal levels, planned and facilitated numerous bicycle events, and helped several municipalities and counties create viable bikeway master plans.
Aaron has been honored by IMBA, CORBA, Clif Bar, the City of Los Angeles, the County of Ventura, the City of Simi Valley, the United States House of Representatives, and the United States Senate for his bicycle advocacy work. He has even been on the race podium a few times.
Aaron can be contacted via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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