Yer man nudged me and pointed his nose to the rider in front –
“A mess- breaking all the rules”
I nodded and did a closed-lips laugh, and was instantly ashamed of doing so.
I was turned out beautifully so could ridicule the mess in front. My deep black tights with knee trim, matching not only my gloves but the hidden socks. The reflective strip on my overshoes seamlessly joining the highlight on my calf and lined up with the rear jacket stripes in perfect parallel. I looked like a magazine advert for cycling clothing- if they were doing a sympathy feature for the larger rider. Even my completely non-fictional club mates, commented on how smooth I looked. The ‘mess’ was a past, great rider with old, washed out shorts. The gloves would be more at home in a 1990s rave club and the overshoes were from two different brands, and were two different colours.
The ‘Rules’ he spoke off, were Velominati tongue in cheek guidelines of how a road cyclist should appear on the planet.
I think originally written in jest, they gained traction, expanded and on some spins now referred as law. Newish riders consult and some slightly more experienced riders worship the words. The police are the pompous cyclists among us- the punishment is exclusion. The ‘mess’ – the past, great rider, although that too is unimportant – his old and washed out shorts were still hugging his arse cheeks, so functioning at 100%. The rave gloves offered perfect insulation for the ambient temperature and the overshoes, from two different brands, I bet kept his feet warm and dry. He was here for the ride, not the shop window reflection.
For life on two wheels, we (the cycling community ) all have a general look, as we buy from companies, who wish to remain trading, so must adhere to trends. The garment designer, keen to be rehired for the 2022 collection; rarely autofills purple Lycra into his design for jerseys. They retrofit the collection with rehashed, safe garments, thus, inadvertently, adhering to the laws. Perverse garment descriptions are added including the snared adjectives ‘iconic’ and ’homage’ making sure we all desire the things pro riders are paid to use.
Galibier are no different. If a garment doesn’t sell, children go unnourished and tyres go patched and unchanged. But, this doesn’t mean we or any rider has the soapbox to point the finger at anything different.
We wish to promote liberal, democratic cycle culture. Say it with me panto style “Liberal democratic cycle c…”
The Purple and brown shorts from 1999 may look awful, but if the chamois is alive, they will sing a glorious solo in a peloton of striped monotony.
Wear what you want, when you want and how you want.
My own fashion courage has waned with age. I design and dress for function and protection first. Every spin is begun with a consultation of the forecast: seeing what is required to be sheltered from nature and friction. Then my decision rests on what is available: checking for a dry chamois on the clothes horse in the back hall. Only lastly, will colour and composition be even an element in my appearance.
The effort of some of my riding buddies presents is nothing but epic. Power hosing white shoes to go out on damp roads and staring at a tumble dryer waiting for an orange jersey when the dry, red top just won’t do. I haven’t the mental strength for it and commend their commitment. They do not look a mess. They look lovely. They are NO quicker.
Liberal, democratic culture is inclusion.
Unwritten laws should remain that:- abstract and unenforceable. A guide at best. Once they are written, exclusion occurs to those who don’t adhere.
Group pressure is a barrier to entry for our sport. Even if the passing insecurity of a new rider…What will they think if I wear? …fuck ‘em- Acceptance is freewheeling beside all cyclists.
We are all brothers and sisters in the saddle. If you are in green shorts and a aging Superconfex jersey, the coffee stop conversation will definitely be more interesting. Real nice people are boring. I mean, they’re nice, but their stories are dull. The bloke with the new, freshly ironed winter jacket will tell you about his new lawn mower, the bloke with the green shorts has a mental story about trying to make a space ship from a lawn mower.
I once road a stage race with Peach coloured shorts. Peach shorts, and it rained. I look at the picture sometimes and just find myself gagging with internal embarrassment so strong I just roar in an empty room. I’m not even sure if the Peach shorts came from my bike shop or the wardrobe of an 80s dance movie, but now they reside only in my nightmares. That particular race outfit was finished with a pink jersey and dyed pink hair. I was great craic. Now I bike in black with don’t-kill-me-car, colour highlights and I am the third dullest person I know.
Today, I will head out for a spin warm and matched and slightly envious of the mess in purple and brown.
New rules for road cycling:
1, Don’t be a dick- No half wheeling to annoy your riding partner, no breaking lights to annoy other road users and ride safe.
2, Ride safe, no filtering in moving traffic, point out road obstacles and be nice. Nicer. %*£@ the rules