The bizarre saga of the EF Cycling Team socks

Uni Watch’s reporting has always been very socks-centric. Heck, our logo is a stirrup! But until now I don’t think I’ve ever written about it To go biking socks. But the situation that unfolded with American cycling team EF Education-EasyPost is strange enough to merit a full post.

Here’s the deal: EF’s current kit includes a darker right foot sock and a lighter left foot sock (as shown above). This led to the creation of an amusing Twitter account dedicated to tracking which team members wore the socks in the correct configuration and which members got it wrong. The Twitter feed that made liberal use of the hashtag #linkslichtrechtshellwas itself the subject of some media coverage.

All just for fun, right? But then things got even more confusing, as longtime Uni-Watch reader Bernie Langer summarized in Sunday’s ticker (which you might have missed because we have fewer readers on the weekends):

On all press photos at the time of the kit’s release, the lighter colored collar was on the left side, matching the jersey’s shoulder panels. However, it turns out that the team has two different types of socks – regular socks and aero socks. The Aero socks actually have the ‘L’ and ‘R’ designations denoting the correct foot – and they are the opposite of what was shown in the press photos. American Neilsen Powless finished second in a stage of a race earlier in the season [on Saturday]. The Twitter account noted that his socks were on the wrong way round:

Powless replied that no, he used the L/R markings on the socks as a guide [with an excellent use of “actually”! — PL]

So that was the situation on Sunday. Now Bernie Langer is back with an update:

Our national mid-calf nightmare is finally over. The team published a blog post clarifying the issue, saying that according to the shirt’s designer, there is no right or wrong way to wear the socks. The designer says: “For us, the design journey doesn’t stop when the kit is produced. We want riders and fans to interpret the kit in their own way and add a little personal style to the bike. We want to give people the opportunity to express themselves through their clothes, and all through a pair of socks.”

This is very disappointing for a university observer, as it gives us one less detail to follow. It also adds to the problematic trend across the universe that socks don’t require the same level of standardization as the rest of the kit.

However, the blog post contains two interesting details. First, it turned out that the team’s socks didn’t match either, which escaped everyone’s attention. Last year’s discrepancy wasn’t based on color – rather, the team name ‘EF’ was split between the socks, so one had an ‘E’ and the other an ‘F’. Because branding was involved, left-right compliance was strictly enforced. (This year’s socks both have “EF”.)

Second, according to the blog post, team member Łukasz Wiśniowski has his own system: “He leaves it to the weather. When it rains he wears light left and light right, and when it is sunny he wears light left and light right.”

Even if you don’t follow or care about cycling, this story strikes me as very symbolic of where the universe is today. First, as Bernie points out, it speaks to the declining status of socks as a fully fledged unitary element – not just in cycling but in most sports. (Thank goodness for hockey!) Additionally, the kit designer’s comment that riders should “express themselves” and bring “a little personal style” to the process fits very well with the increasing focus on the individual as opposed to the team . something we see everywhere in the sports world these days.

Meanwhile, the heroic tweeter who followed the pink socks now got pink slipped:

Maybe we should hire him to track NFL socks.

Super Bowl preview reminder

In case you missed it on Wednesday, I’m excited to announce that the annual Uni Watch Super Bowl preview is now live for you on Substack. At nearly 3,000 words, it contains a main vein of varsity-related storylines and subplots on this year’s Super Bowl teams, as well as annual microgranular data from Super Bowl expert Jay Braiman, making it the perfect resource to surprise and support your annoyance your friends while you watch the game this Sunday. (For example, did you know that this is the Eagles’ fourth Super Bowl appearance and each of their starting quarterbacks wore a single-digit odd varsity number? Or that KC used a condensed nameplate font for three of the taller players’ last names?)

You can read the first part of the Super Bowl Preview here. In order to read the full article you will need to become a paid subscriber to my substack, which I hope you will consider doing. Thanks!

design observation

Something I’ve been implicitly aware of for many years but never really thought about until yesterday: Various types of oil used to be routinely sold in these elliptical cans. It’s a very convenient shape, but I don’t know what this canned shape was usually called, if anything. The elliptical trainer can? The oval box? Something else? (To be clear: I do not own any of the tins shown in these photos. The images are all from eBay.)

I posted the same observation on Facebook yesterday, and some of my friends pointed out that toothpowder – a precursor to toothpaste – has a similar standard packaging shape:

And also talcum powder:

I’m not sure why, but I really like this shape – especially for the oil cans! Is it still used for current products? I can’t think of any. hmmmm


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