there are rules to cycling jerseys.
really, it's just a shirt. but teams and clubs have their own shirts. and a club may draw from a diverse group of riders but everyone in the club can wear the shirt. if you are a sponsored rider, you are required to wear the shirt your sponsors give you.
some professional teams make available consumer versions of their team kit so that weekend riders can show their admiration for their favorite teams. there's even "sporn" (sports porn) that features hotties in team kit.
the UCI is very fussy about how their rainbow jersey is worn, but the basics are pretty much that in the year after you win the world championship, you wear your rainbow jersey in all sanctioned races in the specific discipline in which you won. if you are the road race champion, you may wear your rainbow jersey in stage races, excluding any time trial portion unless you are also the reigning time trial champion.
as the world champion your pro team makes you a special version of the rainbow jersey that incorporates your sponsors with the required design elements. there was a flap last year about mark cavendish and a rules violation involving the shirt.
once you have been the world champion, though, you are entitled to wear spiffy banding on the sleeve and collar of your regular uniform for the rest of your life.
moving down the ladder, there are jerseys for national champions and jerseys for specific races and a complicated set of protocols that vary in strictness according to how elite a rider you are, but the short version is that if i ever win a national championship, i will be entitled to wear a special version of my club jersey with spiffy banding on the left sleeve and collar.
i ride in a catamount cycling jersey. catamount has had its own shirt since before it was an official club and then it shared a jersey with the green mountain bicycle club during the merger years and now catamount isn't a cycling club but still has a shirt.
here's a picture of my catamount shirts up until the first year of the merger. not pictured is the second merger jersey or the new handsome shirt.
the one in front is my eastern cup championship series jersey, which i won in 2004. its design is based on the catamount red shirt.
i'm thinking about jerseys this week because wednesday night lea davison showed up to the race in her olympic uniform instead of her usual specialized kit, and everybody stood a little straighter.
there were a couple of guys there entitled to wear some fancy bands on their jerseys but it's a small d democratic race venue and current champions and former champions and maybe someday champions ride all together with housewives and schoolteachers and little girls and first timers.
we all put on our numbers and we all go around the course and we all trade stories after and at the end of the season they don't give us prizes for winning the race but for how often you show up.
i have shown up for every wednesday night race since 1999.
there's no official record kept, no prize and no special recognition from season to season, but i hold the record for showing up the most. it is an invisible crown, but one i wear proudly.