Katie Archibald column: A tracksuit can be a bother but it doesn’t bother me

The obligatory team tracksuit means not having to think about what to wear

There’s a lot of pride attached to wearing the GB tracksuit. When you’re travelling through a public place as a group of 20-plus, there’s also a lot of attention attached to wearing the GB tracksuit.

People like to comment to show that they notice this tracksuit and what it means. For the taxi driver it’s, “Shouldn’t you be riding to the airport?”; for the fellow hotel guest it’s, “Shouldn’t you be taking the stairs?”; and for the person behind you in the queue at the cafe it’s, “I didn’t think you lot ate cake.”

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I love it, though. Not for the questions that are meant to be jokey ice-breakers said with good intent, but that I always manage to take offence to — those I hate. I love the not having to think about what I wear most days of the week.

I’m either in Lycra or tracksuit 75 per cent of the time, which leaves 10 per cent lying naked on my bedroom carpet beaten down by existential angst, and 15 per cent killer outfits.

‘Killer outfits’ might include the one day a year I wear my floral velvet blazer, but most of the time it means jeans and a funny T-shirt. How funny you find it depends on whether you’re me (very funny), the maker of the T-shirt (presumably at least kind of funny) or anyone I’ve ever spent any time with (not funny at all).

It’s the expression of intent that’s the important bit, however, not the follow through. And that’s why I like being told I have to wear a tracksuit most of the time: it takes away any expression of intent on the days you just can’t be bothered.

If you don’t care about what you wear and think people shouldn’t be judged by their appearance, I expect you’ll wear something that says, “I don’t care what I look like,” and that’s what you’ll be judged by. So, although my tracksuit lets someone know I ride a bike, that’s pretty much all it says.

Not that I’m a weirdo, not that I’m asking for it, not that I got dressed in the dark; it’s just my profession. And that’s information I can handle people making a judgement on. Even if the judgement is, “Carrot cake? Really?”

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