Look Pro, Part II: Casually Deliberate

Look Pro, Part II: Casually Deliberate

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Looking Pro is a delicate art rife with paradox and enigma. Aesthetics in a sport as difficult as cycling is itself a contradiction; surely anything wrought with such suffering should be driven by function and function alone. Yet cyclists are both some of the hardest people in sport and the most vain. For a cyclist knows better than perhaps any other athlete that Morale is a fickle beast that lives upon a knife’s edge; it can drive us on to incredible heights yet squash us at will like an insect for little more than spotting grime on a freshly laundered jersey or dirt on the bar tape. In order for us to ride well, we must have good Morale.  In order to have good Morale, we must look Fantastic.

The argument could be made that the best way to improve your riding is to meditate extensively on Rule #5; some might even suggest that aesthetics dilute it’s purity. On the surface, that may be a seductive thing to believe, but it ignores the single most important fact of cycling: looking Fantastic is the best anesthetic available. Just imagine how you looked there, standing on the pedals, dishing out The V. I was magnificent and didn’t feel a thing; I looked Pro.

Along with the vital The Three Point System, mastering the art of being Casually Deliberate is one of the key principles to Looking Pro. A professional gives the impression of having been born on their bicycle; they are one with their machine. When riding, their Magnificent Stroke exudes grace and power. Movements on the bicycle are deliberate yet effortless. Standing, sitting, climbing, cornering – rider and machine form a cohesive union.

Even when not riding, the Professional exudes an air of calm. Sitting across the top tube, the rider rests easy, precisely familiar with the movements of their loyal machine, trusting in the motion and balance. The bicycle is as familiar and connected to the rider as the very air they breathe.

In your quest to master the art of the Casually Deliberate, keep these pointers in mind:

  1. A pre-ride espresso is the perfect casually deliberate means to prepare for a ride. Fully kitted up, loyal machine leaning patiently against a nearby wall, cycling cap carefully disheveled atop the head, sunnies perched above the brim.
  2. Never look like you’re too eager to get on with the ride or the race. After all, the ride is a daily companion and while it is cherished, you are tranquillo in the knowledge that the ride will start soon enough. This is the genesis of Rule #80; energy is to be saved for the right moment and is not to be wasted on pointless things like standing under your own strength.
  3. Once the ride begins, the first twenty minutes are to be taken at a luxuriously slow pace. A rider is confident in their powers and never too anxious to show their hand too early. When riding with others, this is the time to ride two abreast, chatting about simpler times.
  4. Light conversation is to be taken up casually near the top of the first several climbs of the day. If not at the top, at least during the more difficult bits. As the other riders in the group begin to feel the pressure in their legs and Doubt begins its steady march into the bit of the morale where they do their worst damage, a casually deliberate comment which show no signs whatsoever of labored breathing can do much to hurry that march along.
  5. Never show how much you’re suffering. Ever. Even when inhaling a wasp, the effort that shows on your face is less than you are truly suffering. Unless, of course, it is the finale, and all thought has vacated the mind in the solemn journey into the void. Only then is it acceptable to cease being casually deliberate.

// Etiquette // Export // Look Pro // Nostalgia // Technology

  1. @Marko
    Yeah. My VMH loves her horses. Has two.

    The family pet is a bullet proof seal brown quarter horse. He came off a cow/calf operation in Nebraska. Smart, efficient, working stock, top of the food chain at the stables. Absolutely casually deliberate. My daughter rides him at hunter-jumper events. He picked up English riding very quickly. And he’s amazingly kind to people.

    The other is an old Hanoverian. We found him abandoned in a pasture in northeast Texas. Someone who lived a financially overextended life finally ran out of credit and left a wake of destruction. He was one of the victims. He is registered, from Germany. We can’t quite make out his neck brand number, but his Hanoverian brand stands out beautifully on his left rear hip. We don’t have his passport. If we can get his brand number right, the registry in Germany can at least tell us who he is.

    He came with all the buttons installed for both dressage and jumping. He had to be a Grand Prix level horse. Just amazing.

  2. Damn, Sean Yates is a big fella, eh?

    Odd, my girlfriend grew up riding horses and still would love to, but grad school life/earnings doesn’t really allow much money for that these days. But, the first time I got her on one of my road bikes a few years ago she commented that it was the closest thing she’d felt to riding a horse. I’m happy – the older steel road bike I bought her is much cheaper than a horse!

    It’s 20*F warmer here than it has been the past three days. Can’t beat that. Friday afternoon/early evening ride…with some beer in the bidon to boot…

  3. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    We’re in a similar boat. The horse my VMH “bought for me” is a mellow, kind, smart brown quarter who’s name says it all, Buddy. He’s been good for me to learn on as he teaches me everything I need to know. The other two are a 17 1/2 year old Arab mare dressage queen who’s pretty long in the tooth but still moves as pretty as anything and a 3 1/2 year old Swedish Warm-blood named Gino who’s bigger than a moose and a total punk. Gino’s problem is he needs a job and now that he’s old enough to have one he’ll get sold off for some proper training by someone with the time. His older half-brother Grecco is a great warm-blood with all the buttons that she sold. He’s competing regularly again and supposedly racking up points. Cool horses, those dressage ponies. The VMH is getting out of competitive riding and wants something with a few tricks but is still a good trail horse, like your quarter.

  4. @Ron
    No shit about the expense. Bikes are waaaaayyyy cheaper whether they’re carbon, steel, or unobtainium. Bikes don’t eat.

    Me, I like to ride my bike more than I like to ride a horse. I like the physical effort. Riding horses lacks the aerobic/anaerobic output that makes me feel so much better when I’m done. Riding horses is much more cerebral. It’s all about communicating with a herd animal that doesn’t want to be eaten.

  5. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    You can’t have too much float with Time pedals. They put you in your natural position.

  6. @Jarvis
    Incidentally, those are the shoes we’ve been talking about, yeah?

  7. @frank
    yeah. That’s ’92 as Yate’s is in the National Champs jersey, so they’ll be the Equipe version 3.

    Just wanted to check when he was National Champion so I looked it up on Wikipedia, and I found this:

    For a rouleur Yates climbed very well for his weight.

  8. Love that word “tranquillo”. Chapeau to use of that liberally.

  9. @Jarvis
    Holy Mother of Hinault, that’s some serious turnout for a natural position. If the bike racing thing hadn’t worked out for Yates, he could have been a ballet dancer.

  10. @ZachOlson
    This just became my new desktop wallpaper. Guns are locked and loaded, safeties off.

  11. @ZachOlson
    I wonder how many extra pairs of sunnies Pippo has in his pockets.

  12. I loved it, so very, very true, we really are the most vain athletes!

  13. Is this a case of “when I was young we walked to school, up hill, both ways” or a sign of the coming extinction of the hardman?


  14. Jeff in PetroMetro :
    @frank Right. My contribution was just a humorous diversion. Back to the work at hand.
    Merckx, what is up with Yate’s left foot in the above picture? That can’t be his cleat position. His heel is in his spokes. A little too much float with the old Time pedals?

    Man, I was thinking the EXACT same thing when I saw that picture. Got to love the float in Time pedals!

  15. Marko :
    Is this a case of “when I was young we walked to school, up hill, both ways” or a sign of the coming extinction of the hardman?

    Just read that piece an hour ago. Yeah, I’m sure that Coppi, Binda, Merckx, Kelly et al would probably have laughed at how “easy” Riis had it!

    Seems to me that there is some veiled reference to Contador in their to me, even though the article says that no one was specifically targeted by his comments.

  16. @ZachOlson
    Another rule, here: sunglasses should never EVER be held in your mouth. These studs can’t pull it off and you’re not them.

  17. OK, indulge me for a moment. I know that I’m a soon to be 50, slightly overweight Cat 5 but I eat, sleep, and breathe all things road racing. I love the thought that somebody with brains can beat somebody that is stronger than them. I like that I can lay the V on guys 15-20 years my junior. I love the concept of a team working together to deliver somebody to the podium and would be a willing domestique if the opportunity arose. The problem is that I live in southeast Idaho. Not a hotbed for road racing. I’ve been banging my head against a wall for the past couple of years trying to get the concept of team tactics and the like across to some of the guys in our local cycling club but it falls on deaf ears. Last year, however, a Cat 3 moved into town and he “gets it”.

    As we’ve recently started shaking off winter around here and meeting for some group rides a Cat 2 and a Cat 4 who had just both moved to town have been showing up too. Two weeks ago we had an actual “training ride”. The Cat 3 had the 10 or so of us whipped into a double pace line and I spent the next 2.5 hours tempoing along in wannabe europro arrogant roadie prick nirvana. Then last night it was cold and windy and the only ones to show up for the ride were the the aforementioned three racers and me. Everybody looked “pro”. Proper cold weather gear. No mis-matched kits. No European man satchels. It was sweet. After over an hour of echeloning in the crosswind we made the turn for home and it happened. A real high speed rotating pace line. With the nice little tailwind our “four man break” bombed along for kilometers on end at 45-50 kph. Even though I was on the ragged edge I was happier than a Frenchman in a yellow jersey.

    Man, I love road bikes.

  18. @Cyclops

    Good stuff. Getting a club ride organized into anything resembling a paceline is like herding fucking cats… there are a few of us who constantly try to organize our Saturday club ride, usually to no avail. Occasionally we can get a break working, but it takes commitment from everyone to pull through, plus a feel for the paceline to make sure no one gets popped. When it works, it’s alchemy.

    And a four man rotation downwind at 50 kph? Money.

  19. @ZachOlson
    I had no idea Dr. Manhattan was a bike racer.

  20. Eet’s Rolf Sirrisin!

  21. @Oli Brooke-White WINNER! That whole crew looks like they eat nails and shit carpet tacks.

  22. @Marko

    @Oli Brooke-White


    Yes, yes and hell yes!

  23. Hows this for casually deliberate, bitches?

  24. @itburns
    If he was doing that while leaning on a dude next to him, moving at 30kph, then he would be approaching 1/5 the Casually Deliberate of Freuller!

  25. Really, really casual.

    This is Pascal Poisson, in the 1982 TdF, I think.

  26. @itburns
    What’s PRO is when you can line up the seam of your shorts with the muscle definition in your thigh. Socks are goddamn awful though . . .

  27. It may have been said before, but waiting at a light, still on the saddle with the unclipped foot resting up on the curb (or kerb if you must) is NOT casually deliberate.

  28. Another great picture from BRR. Guy on the right is so casual he is about to fall over.

    BRR link

  29. Thought I’d bring this one to the top of the list again, for the benefit of any newcomers to the site. For some reason, this article more than any other one on this site makes me itch to get out and ride.

  30. Sprezzatura – The effort made to disguise the fact that you’re making an effort. Nice word.

  31. @Fintan Mac Coitir I just read this thread for the first time today and was surprised no one made mention of that word, “sprezzatura”. My relief when the last post on the thread brings it up. I think it embodies the notion of “casually deliberate”.

    “Dolce far niente!”

  32. @The Oracle

    Thought I’d bring this one to the top of the list again, for the benefit of any newcomers to the site. For some reason, this article more than any other one on this site makes me itch to get out and ride.

    As that newcomer, Sir. I thank you.

  33. An excessive amount of coolness (imho)

  34. @Pedale.Forchetta

    An excessive amount of coolness (imho)

    Indeed. The perfectly perched eyewear and foot planted on the top tube are the epitome of Casually Dliberate.

  35. Saw this image and immediately thought of casually deliberate.

  36. Bam.

  37. @ChrissyOne Ironic?

  38. @andrew

    @ChrissyOne Ironic?

    You misspelled “awesome”.

  39. @ChrissyOne

    This one made me laugh

  40. The perfect pre-ride espresso would be perfect from a La Cimbali or Saeco machine!

  41. @Palma

    The perfect pre-ride espresso would be perfect from a La Cimbali or Saeco machine!

    Rancillio makes a mean espresso, my friend.

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