a blog by Dave Boutkan
Shit Kit Friday started off as a bit of a joke ride back in December 2016, with a smallish group of BBCC 6am training group riders. It’s gained a bit of an unexpected cult following over the past few years, with interest in the events infamy steadily growing.
So, what’s SKF all about? Around 7 or 8 years ago, I was noticing that the members of our club seemed to be changing. Well, they weren’t really changing, they’re a terrific bunch of people! But what they were wearing and the types of bike they were riding were changing. I don’t have a problem with people upgrading their kits and bikes. It stands to reason, given the demographic shift in our small country town over the past 10 or 15 years. But why were we upgrading our bikes and kits so regularly and where is all that stuff going?
Back in the Day...
I started road cycling close to 20 years ago, when our family moved from Sydney to Suffolk Park. I was initially more involved with triathlon and was looking for some regular training rides. I soon started riding with Byron Bay Freeriders, that’s what the club was called back then. Six o’clock training rides with local legends Freckle (as tough as they come), Pratty (tactical genius) and a few other mere cycling mortals like myself. The bikes most of us rode were old and the kits we wore were made of thick fabric, and seemingly indestructible. I still have some of the first items of riding gear I bought. Yes, we called it gear back then, not kit.
Over the past few years it started to occur to me that cycling was tending to be more about new bikes and flash kits. I guess I never really got over it being about learning a new craft with well-worn tools, hard training and the camaraderie formed through tough training sessions and races.
I’ve tried to move with the times. I really have. But I’ve had an internal struggle with the trend toward replacing stuff that still has a lot of life left in it. I guess that festering boil burst into SKF.
In recent years, I’d noticed a new phenomenon, which I coined “kit shaming”. I know it’s all in good fun, yet somehow it bugged me, and I couldn’t work out exactly why. SKF is a light-hearted reaction to kit (and bike) shaming. All be it a somewhat contradictory, confused and sometimes unflattering reaction.
But that’s the fun and mystery of SKF, a part of its ephemeral nature and roguish charm. That, and the lack of any governance structure or rules. A dictatorship with no rules – what could go wrong? Hold on, there are guidelines, but they can shift and change at a whim, or even just disappear, soon after the apparent usefulness has been exhausted. SKF is an unregulated, free-spirited free for all. Enter at your own risk.
I was recently reminded of a controversial incident in SKF18. A potential competitor sent me a photo of a jersey he was planning to wear in the contest. It had a Disney character montage plastered all over it. My god it was hideous. In my mind at the time, it was at unbackable odds, and a living certainty to win the SKF Roadhouse Jam Jar Cup. DP however, decided making a living pouring coffees was more important than turning up to win SKF18. And to further insult the judge, he gave the jersey to another competitor (Ant) to wear. Unbelievable! Just not in the spirit of the contest. He was promptly disqualified. “How is that a rule!!??” Ant protested. How indeed…
SKF is a cruel and unforgiving test of true character. You need to be supremely resilient to back up year after year. Embrace the danger.
SKF is fiercely independent, speaking truth to power and feeding bullshit to the gullible. It will never sell-out. Well, there was that year Scott Campbell agreed to sponsor the event. Apparently, the cheque is still in the mail. So, SKF will never sell-out!
SKF is not just a contest. It’s a state of mind, an active choice.
The SKF manifesto is simple: reduce, reuse, recycle – just cut back. Love your old stuff, keep using your kit and bike for a bit longer. Don’t take yourself to seriously, and think about the incredible utility and beauty of this wonderful sport and what it’s given you.
Previous winners and new women category
Previous winners don’t only have striking cycling attire, they embody the true spirit and style of SKF. Dave Scully 2016, Charles McDonald 2017, Matt Jones 2018 and Paul Evans 2019. Chapeau!
All old white men (like me) – I know! Don’t be fooled, SKF is a diverse and inclusive movement. Female participation has been a little thin in recent years, I take full responsibility for that. Corrective action is warranted, and it’s only fair that there will be male and female SKF champions crowned in 2020. Over to you women cyclists – live dangerously.
Tip for new players: there is a fine line between shit and chic. This is not the Milan catwalk nor is it a suburban fancy dress party. I’m sure you get the drift. So giddy-up, dig deep into your old kit archive, defiantly step up to the challenge and add your name to the pantheon of SKF greats!
Are you shit enough to compete in the premier BBCC event of the year?
HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?
SKF20: Friday 4 December, 6am Byron Bay clock tower. No drop ride. Presentation at the Roadhouse about 7:40am. Free coffee for all competitors. All welcome.