Thursday, January 10, 2008

Whats In Your Athletic Wear?

I was away in Olean, NY for an intensive 2 day interview with Dresser-Rand (I got the job!). I'm back in Buffalo, and I have rocketed into my base building for the season. (Is it just me or do I think one legged intervals are awesome, especially for building some ripped obliques?!)

In a perfect world (at least for me), the microfiber jerseys, shorts,running pants, under armor and base layers we wear would be odor resistant.The stink that they carry after a session of training or racing comes really from sweat and bacteria, that love to thrive in moisture (think socks). While its nice that this problem can be simply avoided by soaking in detergent water, it'll be better still that odor can be taken care off on the spot, while we train and ride.

In this new era, we have moisture wicking jerseys and shorts. You pay a premium for them, but I really question how good they are. How about our base layers? Its really those pieces that are sticking to our bodies that need a small revolution in odor free properties.

An interesting article in Wall Street Journal dated December 29,2007 addresses how sports wear companies are realizing the need for this change. "Tree Huggers" will be perhaps interested to know that metals, particularly silver, was being used to treat odor in fabrics but environmental concerns have been provoking the need for better, more 'green' materials. For instance, silver ions are bonded to the thread of the BioActiv Italian Chamois popularized by RaceFace in their clothing line. Some of these organic tools are very interesting. For example, Cocona fabrics use carbon derived from cocunut shells to fight odor, while chitosan (derived from Crab shells) is another idea being used in Capilene fabric promoted by Patagonia.

Courtesy WSJ

The article doesn't say whether cycling wear companies are looking at these new solutions (I wish they did), but it does mention the superiority of Merino wool in natural odor fighting.

Another reason to go retro and avoid petroleum-based synthetics?


Donald said...

Funny that your post was on this topic. I was just putting Spray N' Wash in the armpits of one of my older jerseys. I know... to much info. I think this fits what David was talking about with the aging and build-up of detergent in the fabric. It's time to engineer something new...

Ron said...

Interesting trivia about activated carbon :

One gram of it has the surface area of two tennis courts! I think this is the stuff that'll absorb odors..