The Subic-Masinloc-Subic audax, December 2022: A postmortem

Waiting seven years before my repeat of the Subic-Masinloc-Subic 200 km audax, one could say I spent a large amount of time and money preparing for it. Where my first attempt was frankly quite amazing in that no ride-ending occurrences happened despite myself, this second outing was much more deliberate and intentional. How so? One could just read all my posts in 2022.

So then, after doing all sorts of prep, what exactly worked on the day, and what didn’t?


The biggest issue I had during the audax, by far, was lower back pain.

This was not something I had to contend with in 2015. One could be lazy and simply chalk it up to “hey, you got older,” which is true, but bike fitters would most likely rule it out as the root cause.

Zambales province has your typical provincial highway surface of chip seal and concrete, but on some stretches you do get relief in the form of smooth asphalt. Those are more the exception rather than the norm, however, and most of the route will subject you to the kind of road vibration that will take its toll on you over time. My lower back was especially sensitive to it this year though. I found relief at the checkpoints, where I dismounted from the bike and tried to walk around. The motion generated by walking had helped quite a bit.

Video footage from Manny Illana and a few other friends yielded what the root cause was. They showed me rocking laterally on the saddle while pedaling, which was even worse whenever I rode in the drops. This is a dead giveaway that I had set my saddle height too high. I felt it the night prior, and also during my 100 km solo ride attempt, so I lowered the saddle by 3 mm. Turns out that wasn’t nearly enough.

Riding with the saddle set too high meant that I was introducing – even forcing – extra movement and instability out of my back just so I could push the pedals like I wanted. It’s unwanted play and slop, in engineer terms. Ideally, one’s waist and hips should be a solid platform from which to anchor all pedaling.

Yeah. Riding in the drops, that hip rocking is pretty bad. Right leg’s traveling at quite an angle, too

This fundamental mistake may have stemmed from riding indoors for much of the year. I had gotten used to climbing up to sit on my bike Hyro while he was clamped to the Wahoo KICKR SNAP by the rear dropouts. For some reason, I took this to mean that I should sit progressively higher, which was incorrect. On the contrary, I should really have been sitting at least 13 mm lower, and I didn’t ride outdoors frequently enough to check that my riding position still worked in “real” riding.

Three days and a deep tissue massage after the audax, my back was better, but still pretty sore. It went away after a week, and I’m back riding on the indoor trainer, now with the corrected saddle height, although I still need to verify my position in outdoor riding. Speaking of which…


As I am a recreational non-competitive rider with a day job and a family to go home to, I’ve had to change my riding and training regimen to fit how I live. Bad saddle height tendencies aside, the Wahoo KICKR SNAP has been indispensable in this regard, as I can train much more consistently and within limited time, less subject to externalities such as course features and other road users.

Having the hardware is well and good, but what makes it much more useful is in learning how to use it. Making sense of using power as a training tool can be daunting for newcomers, but once you get around to doing FTP tests every six weeks and setting power zones, you get a very good foundation to make real fitness gains from. Having raised my FTP to 217 W the weekend before the audax, it showed in how much faster I was at all-out climbing, despite having gained weight since 2015.

Software such as Elevate or Golden Cheetah can help you analyze your training over time. This shows the nine months leading up to the audax, showing a distinct lessening of training load from October to just before the ride.

What did my training look like? Believe it or not, I had only one 100 km ride in the months leading to the audax, which immediately got followed by my brush with COVID19. However, I kept riding at least a cumulative 100 km over three times a week for many months, where I concentrated on fitness gains until October. Following coach Dylan Johnson’s advice, I periodized my training so that I could spend the last four weeks mainly within Zone 2 power, as a sort of training “taper” so that I could ride the audax in a relatively rested state and not too fatigued.

All the folks who tell you to ride an audax to Zone 2 heart rate are correct, but in the real world, heart rate is subject to so many external factors that it just isn’t very reliable as a pacing tool and it’s easier said than done. Nothing wrong with not being able to afford a power meter, but once you get one and learn how to use it, heart rate is useful less as a pacing tool and more as a real-time indicator of your physical condition – subject to some delays and interference. Riding the audax to your Zone 2 power is much more useful, in my opinion.


For 2022, I continued with granola bars as my primary energy source, which rode within my Revelate Designs Mag-Tank top tube bag – perfect for quick access to my food. In addition to the old reliable Growers NutriBar, I had two other kinds of bars on board – Sante Crunchy and Carman’s, a fancy Australian brand. The latter…was not a good fit for me and the state I was in during the third leg of the audax. As good as Carman’s is, its fatal flaw as a mid-ride food is just how dry it feels to eat. Chowing it down pulled more water and saliva out of my mouth simply to chew on and swallow it. That extra water drain is not something you want when riding on a hot, humid day.

Any future attempts at an audax will be best served by granola bars that are much cheaper than Carman’s, but also moister. Carman’s is probably a good checkpoint or after-ride treat, but that’s it.

Next to the Bivo Trio, every other bidon is obsolete IMHO.

The other major change I did to my fueling was bringing a lot of Pocari Sweat. I’ve known for a long time that this mild-tasting Japanese “ion supply drink” has the peculiar effect of making me feel full when I guzzle it – something other sports drinks just don’t do. I had set regular 45-minute alerts on my ELEMNT BOLT for water and food, but I found Pocari Sweat could do the job of both for most of the ride. A side effect of this fueling strategy was that I never felt like I had to take a dump, since I think I may have eaten just four granola bars in total.

One notable downside to Pocari Sweat though is that if you’re already dehydrated, it doesn’t help much. If anything, the mild sweetness of the drink can make you feel even more dehydrated, as I felt when I rode to the third checkpoint in the punishing heat with one bottle half-filled with Pocari Sweat, and the other empty of its water.

Our SAG wagon was a Mercedes-Benz GLK.

The SAG (“supplies and gear”) wagon we had, courtesy of Manny and driven by our new friend Zaldy Ferrer, was a huge help. Essentially, this was the same minimalist amount of “assistance” the Audax Randonneurs Philippines vans provided back in 2015: in addition to the drinks and ice they carted around, you could give them a small bag of spares or extra food, which you could then only access at the checkpoints. With Zaldy driving the SAG wagon (and picking out very good spots to park within 500 m of the checkpoints), we effectively just increased the size of our bags. Manny dedicated one cooler for carrying ice alone, with nothing else inside – meaning it could hold more ice and keep it cooler at the same time, since nothing else drew out the cold. Each of us then brought our own drinks aboard the SAG wagon, in separate containers within, to refill our bidons with. Many of us also brought a change of kit, to account for the changing conditions as the day progressed. Manny also had a vacuum flask on board filled with very warm Campbell’s tomato soup, which was a welcome belly-filling treat at the Masinloc checkpoint.

Lastly, speaking of ice and bottles…the Bivo Trio insulated bidons were excellent at keeping their liquid contents cold for the entire ride, as long as you loaded them up about 1/3 full of ice. When I ran out of water, I misjudged the balance between ice and actual water (I didn’t have enough of the latter), and the black silicone coating had chipped off one bidon from sliding in and out of my bottle cages, but otherwise they were champs. Highly recommended, and well worth the expense.


Not too long ago I double-wrapped a portion of my handlebars with bar tape – this length being the curved shoulder from the center stem clamp section up to the hoods. I hoped the additional cushioning would help without being too bulky otherwise. It did, but not by much. Even when wearing my most comfortable pair of mitts, and softening the elastomer setup on my Redshift Sports ShockStop stem, there was just no way around hand numbness brought on by all the road vibration that had accumulated over 100 or more kilometers.

The Selle SMP Hell saddle refurbished by RGSkills was excellent, though. Somehow it had become even better suited for the task of a 210 km audax, despite foolish old me setting it too high. It worked especially well with the Pearl Izumi Expedition Pro cargo bib shorts, which were freakishly expensive, but well worth their cost in long-ride comfort and carrying capacity. I could feel the beginnings of a couple of saddle sores each time I remounted Hyro past Masinloc, but once pedaling, the bib shorts kept any chafing at bay and I finished the ride without being bothered by them. In hindsight, perhaps I should have taken the (risque?) opportunity to apply a fresh smear of Chamois Butt’r at the checkpoints, since our SAG wagon was carrying my tube of the stuff.

Expensive, but was it worth it!

Finally we come to my feet, which were shoehorned into my aging Specialized S-Works 6 XCs and further bolstered by Ergon x Solestar’s IP3 insoles. Considering I was sidelined by sesamoiditis of my left foot yet again in 2022, any pain on the balls of my feet was a definite non-issue during the nine hours of riding. The only issue I had was on the lateral forefoot, but it was more of a dull ache and nowhere near as painful as with my old Shimano XC5s, since the entire width of my feet was supported properly. There was none of the “foot contorting around cleat” feeling from seven years ago, either. My Look X-Track pedals were a little sticky to clip out from at times, but chugged along like champs.


The route loaded into my Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT as it synced with RideWithGPS. However, at some point along Govic Highway on the northbound jaunt, it just stopped giving turn-by-turn directions, which was strange. It seems like it was waiting for me to ride through a certain point that was stored in its route data, but no longer existed in real life. Given that my ELEMNT BOLT is of the first-generation variety, and doesn’t have onboard route recalculation like its successor does, I guess this is just one of its limitations.

While route navigation was a letdown, all the sensors the ELEMNT BOLT was connected to were firing on all cylinders. I had zero problems with the Magene heart rate monitor, the Wahoo wheel speed sensor, and the 4iiii Precision gen2 power meter, which meant I had zero problems being frustrated with the blustery headwinds as they dragged us backward and capped our speed to 18 km/h even when pedaling a sustained Zone 2 power of 135 W.

The Cygolite Hotrod 90 (R) next to Redshift Sports’ Arclight LED module

To cut through the night, my bike Hyro has a Cat Eye Volt 800 up front, mounted directly under the ELEMNT BOLT, and a Cygolite Hotrod 90 at the back. Given the number of other riders with their own LED lights, I didn’t need the Volt 800’s full power and ran it mainly at half its output, which was sufficient. The Hotrod 90 out back is quite bright, even when used in the daytime.

I wore the AfterShokz OpenMove bone-conduction headphones primarily as a hands-free headset for my phone in case someone called me mid-ride (either my wife, my riding buddies, or Zaldy in the SAG wagon). After the second checkpoint, though, I used it to play some choice high-BPM Super Eurobeat music on loop, which was a good way of keeping my spirits high in the grueling return to Cabangan. At the same time, these things allowed me to keep my all-important situational awareness, and they easily lasted the whole length of the ride. I was firmly in the “no music while riding” camp before, but things have progressed greatly since, and these are currently the best way of listening to music or spoken-word content while riding.

To date, this is the sternest test of the American Classic Timekeeper tubeless tires, and they held up very well to the demands of the day. I ran them at 60 psi rear and 55 psi front, about as low a pressure as I dared, and added 40 mL of fresh Orange Seal Endurance sealant. The tires kept good grip, even through the sandy, dusty areas of Zambales national highway, yet were still comfortable enough. While I fortunately never had to test the effectiveness of the sealant, the “endurance” moniker is pure truth in advertising – after breaking the bead on the front tire to reinstall it, there was still quite a bit of the old stuff sloshing about after at least four months of use.


Meeting the grupetto the day prior.
(L-R) Carlo Malantic, Manny Illana, yours truly, Zaldy Ferrer, Brendell Fortunato, Girard Banaga

I had met most of these guys the day prior or on the day of the audax, and I didn’t really have any expectations since they rode together on more occasions than I did. I was simply a straggler along for the ride. Even then, though, we worked pretty well. It was inevitable for our little group to fracture in places, given our differing abilities and specialties, especially on the return trip south where fatigue, heat, and blustery headwinds all conspired against our progress, but we ended up finishing within six minutes of each other.

Since I was the lone repeat randonneur, I mostly deferred to the group’s decisions about pacing and rest periods at the checkpoints. In hindsight, we perhaps took the first half a little conservatively, and we could have taken advantage of our freshness and the cool midnight temperatures to raise our pace. What’s important is that we finished as strongly as we could.


(L-R) DJ Cantor, Manny Illana, Brendell Fortunato, Girard Banaga, yours truly, Carlo Malantic, and Gio Aguila
  • Manny Illana, Carlo Malantic, Girard Banaga, Brendell Fortunato, Gio Aguila, and DJ Cantor for inviting me into the group.
  • Our SAG wagon driver, Zaldy Ferrer, for taking the opportunity at short notice, yet doing an excellent job.
  • The team behind Audax Randonneurs Philippines for hosting the event. Many areas for improvement still, but overall a great weekend.
  • The many friends who rode this event, even though we missed each other along the way: Chester Yap, KR Malonzo, John-John Torres, EJ Uyboco, my new acquaintance Chaz Garcia-Angan of Ciclo, and long-distance riding legend Julito “Popong” Anchores, who did the 300 km AND the 200 km the very next day. Congratulations to all of you!
  • Mango Valley Hotel 5 for the accommodations.
  • My wife Mav for the love and support.

Riding comfort and nature break convenience for less? Rodeo Adventure Labs Explorts 1.1 review

I’ve written before about bib shorts and their inherent incompatibility with the biological functions we humans need to perform, and that, over on the women’s side at least, cycling apparel manufacturers have started addressing this concern in a variety of ways. With the Pearl Izumi Expedition Pro bib shorts, we got a representative of the “highly elasticated drop tail” variety, and it was notable in bringing this same technology over to the men’s side. But what if, say, you wanted the same nature break convenience, but didn’t feel like spending $265?

Rodeo Adventure Labs – purveyors of gravel bikes and supporters of that lifestyle – may have a solution.


  • Meant for gravel riding and all-day rides
  • Drop-tail design for easier nature breaks
  • Quick release buckle system on bib straps
  • Bar tack stitch on rear bib straps for easier reattachment of buckles
  • Gender-specific “Ultra Distance” medium-density chamois pad by Elastic Interface rated for 10+ hours of riding
  • Choice of three fabrics
    • Dark Bronzite fabric has lighter weight and more compression for riding in warm climates
    • Black Tuxedo fabric has slightly more weight, softer feel, and less compression
    • Black Thermal fabric for riding in colder temperatures
  • Size options: S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL
  • Storage: One mesh pocket on each leg
  • Reflective tags
  • Price: US$148 (PhP8,325)


Out of the packaging, the Explorts cut a good impression. I got mine with the Dark Bronzite fabric, which definitely looks unique next to all my black bibs with its rich chocolate hue. It’s a nice dash of subtle, unexpected color, without attracting unwanted attention the way that, say, white bib shorts would.

My old phone, a 2017 Samsung Galaxy A5, stuffed into the right pocket.
My current phone, a Galaxy S20 FE, is slightly larger but fits about the same.

The mesh pockets on each leg are adorned by the “R-A-L” lattice graphic, giving away that these are version 1.1 of these shorts, with improvements over the original model which I have no experience with. The pockets have no problems swallowing my phone, a Samsung Galaxy S20 FE that measures 15.7 cm (6.2″) diagonally. If anything, they appear slightly longer than the equivalent pockets on the Pearl Izumi Expedition Pro shorts and hide the full length of my phone better. Each leg terminates in an impressively wide gripper band which I felt was well-judged when the shorts are actually on your person, although they can make putting on said shorts a bit of a challenge.

Those are some seriously beefy leg grippers.

In basic overall construction, the Explorts feel more like waist shorts that ditched the elastic waistband and grew a pair of slightly stiff-feeling bib straps. There is a distinct stop to the fabric a bit above the waist. From here go the wide, white bib straps that just so happened to also grow a pair of in-line buckles connecting them to the shorts for nature breaks. These buckles are impressively slim and unobtrusive; it’s easy to keep riding in these shorts and forget they’re even there. While the straps feel a little plasticky, they aren’t bothersome, and I think their construction also helps in avoiding any undesired bunching up within the loops of the buckles.

On my person, once I’ve finagled the leg grippers into their final position, these bibs feel…pretty racy. They are a little more compressive than most other pairs I’ve had, and that appears to have been designed into the Dark Bronzite material. The leg grippers’ width ensures no undesirable “sausage thigh” while keeping their position tenaciously. The cut of the waist is also rather high up front, similar to the abdomen-covering front panel of Le Col’s bibs.

Rodeo Labs makes a big deal of the Elastic Interface chamois pad being suitable for very long days on the bike. For the uninitiated, Elastic Interface is a firm that specializes in chamois pads, padded gloves, and other related applications of closed-cell and open-cell foam. While I don’t have any reason to doubt that claim, I got along with Pearl Izumi’s Levitate Pro “suspension” chamois a little better on the saddle despite its noticeably increased bulk. That, in particular, is just uncanny in how well it takes the sting off and goads you into riding longer.

In the Explorts’ defense, they’re about as good as a more traditional high-endurance chamois gets. It certainly doesn’t have the bulky diaper-like feel of the chamois on a brand-new pair of B’Twin bibs, which needs a half-dozen rides to break in and mold against one’s bum and taint. By contrast, this medium-density pad is something you could crank out the hours on right away, and it’s well-located within the shorts.

So – how well does the nature break drop-tail function work on these?

Undoing the buckles and dropping the tail is remarkably easy, and true to the claim that no removal of your jersey or upper garments is required. As slim as the buckles are, their generous width makes them an easy target for your fingers to squeeze, even through your jersey. With both undone, dropping the tail on the Explorts is almost as easy as taking off any normal pair of shorts. This is where they unequivocally win over the Expedition Pro bibs; because the straps are effectively disconnected, there is a lot less tension your neck and/or shoulders have to resist while you are jackknifed and seated on the toilet.

Reattaching these buckles, however, isn’t as easy or as quick. One improvement Rodeo Labs made with Explorts version 1.1 was to stitch the two straps together as they crisscrossed at the rear, in a bid to make it easier to consistently locate the buckles for reattachment – a welcome touch. However, I’m not sure they could do anything specifically to address the whole rear straps-and-buckles arrangement hiking up your back while on your nature break, so it takes some doing to pull down the straps so that they could mate with the buckles on the waist. It’s not ideal, and the less limber among us will struggle a bit, but I guess better to have this added complication of reattachment if it means easier, quicker dropping of the tail – especially if you encounter Tom Dumoulin levels of gastrointestinal distress that, uh, require immediate attention.


In terms of ultimate quality and ability, Rodeo Labs’ Explorts 1.1 definitely play second fiddle to Pearl Izumi’s Expedition Pro bibs. I return to the question at the beginning of this review, however: Are you willing to pay US$265 (PhP14,900) for those?

When you consider that the Explorts deliver many of the Pearl Izumi bibs’ benefits at a whopping US$120 (PhP6,750) less, they’re a lot more impressive. Fundamentally, they’re just great bib shorts. Rodeo Labs bakes a degree of customization into them with three different material choices, along with gender-specific tailoring and chamois, and the Explorts’ sizing is more accommodating of rider body types and sizes – something rare to see with most cycling apparel brands. You could comfortably ride in these and never even think about using their toilet break functionality, which doesn’t even exist yet on many a cycling bib short at this price level. While that feature isn’t quite the home run I was expecting it to be, I reckon it would be perfectly acceptable for most of us mortals who aren’t concerned about saving one or two seconds.

There’s still an early adopter tax with nature-break-friendly bibs like these, and the Explorts definitely still command a premium. However, Rodeo Labs’ offering is the most approachable of the lot I’ve seen yet, and it’s a pretty good one all things considered. That you can buy two of these Explorts – in different fabrics, even – for the price of one Expedition Pro bib is just icing on the cake.

Would Tom Dumoulin approve of these shorts?

One of my favorite posts from 2021 detailed just how jealous I was of the innovations being made with women’s cycling bib shorts – specifically, the multiple ways to facilitate bathroom breaks for the female anatomy while keeping jerseys and modesty intact. Because yeah, we all know and remember – with a chuckle, I might add – how Tom Dumoulin got caught out by sudden gastrointestinal distress while he was leading Stage 16 of the 2017 Giro d’Italia…

I still can’t believe just how quickly Dumoulin stripped off his jersey to lower his bib shorts and empty his bowels. Man deserves an award for that.

Realistically speaking, traditional bib shorts were never designed from the outset to account for the very natural biological task of defecation. Ladies have it worse, since bibs make either call of nature much more awkward. Which is why I was so interested in these frankly amazing modern women’s bib shorts that took all of that into account.

Was there no analog for the men? I wondered.

It turns out, someone somewhere at Pearl Izumi was reading my mind. For 2022, they revamped their Expedition Pro bib short line, and snuck in this exact feature – along with a few other tweaks.

That “dark ink floral” print is very gravel, I guess.
Photo credit: Pearl Izumi


  • Meant for gravel riding and all-day rides
  • All-new Levitate Pro chamois design and construction
  • Drop-tail design for easier nature breaks
  • Italian PRO Transfer fabric
  • PI Dry water-shedding coating
  • Storage: One pocket on each leg; one pocket at the back
  • Color options: black or dark ink floral
  • Size options: S, M, L, XL, XXL
  • Suggested retail price: US$265


I didn’t pay full price. Thank goodness for Strava challenges

I got these bibs on Competitive Cyclist, assisted by a discount code I won on a Strava challenge so that damage to the wallet is a little more palatable. Because holy smokes, this thing is premium. Had I not wanted to test the drop-tail design badly enough, these would just not be on my radar.

So what does all that moolah get you? Quite a lot. None of it goes into packaging though as this pair of bibs was shipped to me in a simple plastic bag.

Photo credit: Pearl Izumi

Unworn, the Expedition Pro bibs have a pretty unusual construction. The back of the bibs eschews the traditional center strap in favor of a H-bar configuration. The rear also has a strange partial overlap of material panels around where the bibs would sit against the small of a rider’s back; without the tension of being worn against a human torso, this droops loosely. This is to facilitate the drop-tail function for bathroom breaks, which I will talk about later.

That PI logo on the hip is the only bit of reflective on the shorts.
Photo credit: Pearl Izumi

Coincidentally, this overlap panel also plays host to the bibs’ rear pocket, which is a decent size for a wallet or an energy bar or two. A phone could go there, but my Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, measuring 15.7 cm (6.2″) diagonally, would have about a third of its length peeking out.

The leg edges and grippers are just really nice on these.

These are, appropriately, some of the most luxurious bibs I have ever worn.

That Italian PRO Transfer fabric makes up almost the entire thing – no mesh anywhere to act as an “extender” – and it is fancy stuff. The wide straps are practically borderless, with no edge seams or piping like on most bibs. When worn, the material feels very supple next to the skin, with a slight hint of compression. Finally, the leg edges are cut cleanly, backed by some very effective silicone grippers.

Photo credit: Pearl Izumi

Given the popularity of so-called “cargo bibs” nowadays, the Expedition Pro pair fits this bill. While the back pocket was a slightly precarious location for storing your phone, the leg pockets will swallow my S20 FE with ease, with just a sliver of the phone peeking out. I have no doubt it’d pass Rapha‘s infamous banana test too.

Photo credit: Pearl Izumi

Central to any bib short is the pad, or chamois. Pearl Izumi takes a page off its more premium competition, such as Assos, and anchors the Levitate Pro chamois’ inner, higher-density foam pad with front and rear stitching such that it is free to shimmy sideways.

This chamois is thick, certainly, and you will feel it once you put the bibs on. When in place, however, it just disappears under you and molds to the contours of your undercarriage, helped by the lack of odd folds and how the chamois tapers off at the edges. This is in contrast to Decathlon’s ultra-affordable bibs, which need at least a half dozen “breaking in” rides before the chamois becomes truly comfortable and molded to your bum.

Nether-region numbness is kept at bay very well, too. Normally I’d be inclined to stand up out of the saddle for 30-second spurts every now and then when on the indoor trainer, but with these I found I could keep seated for much longer. Seems like it’s a combination of the fit of the shorts and the construction of the chamois.

So, returning to the main question: Would Tom Dumoulin have appreciated these bibs back in the 2017 Giro d’Italia?

Photo credit: Pearl Izumi.

The drop-tail function does work. You put your thumbs to the “corners” of the two back straps where they meet the waist of the shorts, then pull down. The first time you do so, it feels wrong, as if you’re asking the shorts to do something they’re not supposed to. Fight that urge though, keep pulling until you can “sit over” the dropped tail of these shorts, and you will successfully moon someone – er, expose enough of your bum to do your business. All without having to take off your jersey!

This might not be the most comfortable position to hold for prolonged periods, though, since you’re bent over jackknifed and fighting the elasticity of the (now slightly twisted) bib straps the entire time you’re doing your business. After all, male cyclists will be familiar with “dropping the front” of their bibs and bending over to take a wee; this is simply the inverse.


There is definitely a “first adopter” tax to these bibs. I wanted to vote with my cash to tell cycling apparel companies like Pearl Izumi that there is a demand on the men’s side for bib shorts that will make answering the call of nature easier. I can confirm that the drop-tail concept works well enough. (If these kinds of shorts take off in popularity, you’re welcome.)

Paying too much attention to that aspect ignores everything else about the Expedition Pro bibs, though. These are genuinely wonderful shorts, and everywhere I looked, it’s obvious Pearl Izumi didn’t hold back. The fabric is so good, the chamois excellent for purpose, and the three available pockets are pretty well thought-out, allowing you to carry stuff without wearing a traditional jersey, if you so choose. Doing away with any mesh and strengthening key areas with more stitching, it feels these shorts will last quite a long time, strange construction aside.

These are the bibs I’d snatch from my wardrobe if I had an audax to ride. I’d get another pair had pricing been much friendlier – which is a good segue into my desire to see the drop-tail concept applied at lower price points.


As an aside, Tom Dumoulin is calling time on his pro cycling career at the end of 2022. He leaves the pro peloton as one of my personal favorite cycling athletes. If the thought of sampling some gravel ever crosses his mind, I think he’d approve of these bibs.