Look Pro, Part V: The Power of Hair

Look Pro, Part V: The Power of Hair

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The power of hair is not to be underestimated. Especially when it comes to having it carefully disheveled, with little bits poking out of the vents of your helmet. Indeed, hair sticking out of your helmet vents can be thought of as a conduit to The V; the strands reaching into the Ether, channeling its power like a lightening rod into your very being.

Anybody watching Amstel Gold on Sunday would have seen that Andy Schleck dangled off the front of the bunch until 500 meters to go, before being swallowed whole by a certain speeding Gilbertron. Granted, the final 500 meteres happen to be the longest meters in any race – even more so for the guy hanging off the front – but never-the-less, it is uncommon to watch the Grimplette get passed going uphill. There was something missing from his pedal stroke, a certain fluidity was gone that normally rests easy within his legs. Then I saw it: his hair was too short with not enough of it left peeking through the vents.  Look for yourself, disaster. I am convinced beyond contestation that had he worn his hair as he does during the Tour de France, he would have stayed away.

For all you baldies out there who are jumping over to the Rogaine website in a panic, I raise this for your consideration: your hairless head does not preclude you from the possibility of channeling The V. Indeed, lightning does strike where there is no rod; it’s just not as predictable.

When it comes to having your hair sticking out of your helmet, keep these considerations in mind:

  1. The power of hair only applies to the hair growing out of your planter. Shave your legs. No beards. (Note: Never shave your face on race day or any other day on which you will demand more from your legs than they can reasonably provide.) Goatees only when your are intentionally or unintentionally bald, and even then it’s suspect if you don’t go by the moniker, Il Pirata. See Rule #50.
  2. Hair growing long upon the guns is a conduit for the Anti-V; unregulated hair growth on one’s legs will soon cause you to spill burrito guts on your already dirty t-shirt on your way to a Critical Mass gathering.
  3. The Goldilocks Principle applies to hair as well as to shorts and socks. It may not be too long or too short. No ponytails. No Mullets. No exceptions.
  4. Being Casually Deliberate applies here as well; your hair should not stick out of every vent. Instead, shoot for 25% to 50%.
  5. Having a few curls sticking out between your ears and helmet can also help to channel The V, but be careful not to wander into Mullet territory.  See item three above.

A few samples for review and consideration.  You can see from this listing that this technique has been tried and tested for some time.

Freddy Maertens, rockin’ a Five and Dime in Rule #9 conditions on the Muur de Huy.


Here we have a young Hinault being squarely crammed into the hurtlocker by three bullies with hair in their vents. The look on Merckx’s face says it all: take that shower cap off and ride your bike, puppy dog.


Bungo’s casual expression and Mottet’s pain face tell you all you need to know. It’s the hair.


Johan van Summeren showing an almost perfect hair distribution; nice vent exposure, good ear curls. The cobblesone was a formality.

// Etiquette // Folklore // Look Pro // Nostalgia

  1. More evidence. Dude in front looks scared shitless. Planckaert, with hair through the vents, not only looks rock solid, but will win the race.

  2. @Marcus
    Well, I’m not saying you can’t lay it down, but the hair helps.

    We seem to have a follicly-challenged readership, I’m noticing.

  3. @mcsqueak
    Ah! Thank you, Nikon for sure a d700 in one hand and a f6 on the other, something like steel and carbon fibre.
    And thank you Frank!

  4. @minion
    Fighting words, those. Cipo was not a douche. How can you say no to those baby blues?

    And a gratuitous cigarette photo.

  5. @Pedale.Forchetta
    I use a D70 as well; love that camera. So much more control than I need or understand, but fantastic output. Like you say, steel and carbon. Or, vinyl and mp3. Both good if you understand their purpose.

    We recently picked up a Lumix LX5 for pointin’ and shootin’; amazingly handy little camera. It’s low-light settings are mind-boggling.

  6. We’re clearly on different sides of the line in the sand: my side, with increasing foreheads, and unorthodox applications of sunscreen, stand looking enviously at those on the other side of the line, folically gifted, careless, schoolboy charm being thrown around with abandon. Bastards. You get Cipo, we get Schumacher.

  7. minion:
    This is going to be controversial, especially since Rebellin, and Schumacher, it seems baldness seems to coincide with boosting or drug use. For every Pantani (gloriuos, glorious baldness) there’s a Cipo (oily, greasy lothario.) Still, as I’m more Bettini than Bruce Willis in the hair stakes, I can look on Matt Achbold with envy.
    New Zealand Track Rider, think he’s won the Omnium in one world cup round this year, and i’ve seen the mullet in the flesh at the Tour Of Wellington.


  8. @Pedale.Forchetta

    Very nice. I’m still using a D100 I purchased new in 2003. That thing just keeps on rolling. I have no idea when it will break so I can justify a new body.


    Lumix is a nice line of point and shoots. I want to get a small one I can shove in my pocket while cycling… taking pictures while moving, while holding an iPhone is an art.

    And related to the actual article, a lot of NHL players and European footballers seem to rock the long-ish hair as well. I keep mine fairly short, which I’ll use to blame my mediocre cycling.

  9. Love it. Had me laughing after my morning ride. I am lucky to still have some V Conductors left, but fear I will soon be looking like the Professor.

    I would include some of the helmet hair photos from P-R but dam work won’t let me.

  10. Handsome much?


    This is doing nothing for my self esteem.

  11. Disagree. Caps rule.

  12. No cause for alarm…Andy’s hair is just two months away from peaking.

    @ramenvelo – Agreed!

  13. @ramenvelo
    Nothing wrong with wearing a cap in appropriate conditions, but the behind-the-ear tufts will need to be more awesome.

  14. @frank
    D70 my first digital reflex! The Lumix is great but you already know that.

    D100 I’d love have one!

  15. This is where I get off. Or at least, I should have got off the train before we hit hair style station.
    I am completely against the trolls who have posted here suggesting that discussions of style are irrelevant to cycling and that we should all Rule #5 and just ride. Style is so much a part of cycling. I love the small, and large, things that become more apparent as you ride and observe.
    Literally, this is a post about hair styles.
    Cliched as it is, Frank just strapped the waterskis on and jumped the shark.
    Sad day.

  16. Check out Schumy’s distended noggin. Shade him blue and he’s Megamind. Was he on HGH as well as CERA?

    I am with Blah (and not just because I am running the Stuart O’Grady, not by choice I hasten to add). Hair? Really? How did it come to this?

  17. “…jumped the shark…” Awesome.

  18. Wait, I didn’t even realise sharks had hair…

  19. Ezra Taylor rocks the beard and the guns and the SWEET steed in the USGP Singlespeed race here in Louisville last year.

    You know how you make a RULE? You win. He won.

    Just like Gilbert and his flipped-brim. A win can break a rule.

    No one has done it yet in the PRO road peloton, but that don’t mean it ain’t gonna happen.

  20. I agree that winning can transcend such trivial Rule Violations as flipped caps, but beards? Never! That’s against not only the Rules but against the Laws Of All That Is Good And Right!

  21. @ben
    God DAMN! Speaking of trolls. Are you sure that this race was not held in New Zealand as that dude looks like an extra from the “Lord of the Rings” series.

  22. @Blah

    Frank just strapped the waterskis on and jumped the shark.

    Solid, 24 carat gold, that. Just wait til the next piece; we’ll totally redeem ourselves.

    I am very sorry, though, that you can’t grow hair.

    I just googled “power of hair”. Check it out:

    “When your hair looks great, you feel confident, attractive, more alive. You project self-confidence. You attract energy.”

  23. @Buck Rogers

    Are you sure that this race was not held in New Zealand as that dude looks like an extra from the “Lord of the Rings” series.

    Ha!! You’re on fire!

    @Oli Brooke-White
    The bearded rider is a problem. It all started with American Flyers, and the fat russian guy who is obviously a jerk.

  24. My bike is white carbon (Bianchi L’una), my magnificent beard is also white carbon…I think I could claim an exception on the grounds of “elemental color coordination”?

    BTW, my cycling has improved since it’s growth, I think I lull the youngsters into false security when they see an old man…Fools!

  25. be careful w/the hair

    some have it & others do not, Anquetil and Coppi had it, Brouchard didn’t and whoever the douche is above (i hope it pasted)

    its a slippery slope, between having style and a greasy mullet and unfortunately self-perception and a healthy dose of self inflicted narcissism can lead to the death of a personna

  26. i am an unrepentant sinner when it comes to beards. I’ve had one on and off pretty much since I was 22. It’s making up for the distinct lack of hair on the top of my head.

  27. @andy
    I hear that Andy. I have opted for a foo man chu style stash to compliment my buzzed bean. The main advantage I have found is that it draws the attention away from the less populated area of hair to the north of the eyebrows. Conveniently it also gives the impression of questionable mental stability à la the crazed white supremacist look.

  28. Forgive me Merckx for I have sinned. I have a full beard and I have no intention of shaving soon.

    I am losing weight, and wanted to do something that would sort of keep folks from saying when they see me “Wow, you are losing weight.” So I grew a full, nasty, hobo trim beard. That way they focus on that.

    Plus, I bloody hate shaving. I have a two spots on my neck that will not be A)Hairless and B)Razor bump free at the same time.

  29. @Souleur
    Thank Merckx for creases.

  30. Bearded. Last summer, I had the full-on mountain man beard going (the Canadian version of @tomb‘s hobo beard). I’ve since cut the mass of hair down to a tidy, helmet-friendly style, and the beard is a tight trim. But I have A). the same issue tomb discusses, and B). Bulldog jowls underneath the beard that don’t look V at all. The beard also keeps the face warmer in the still sub-zero temperatures I’m typically riding in.

  31. @marko, not sure the crease cut anything off or not

    in terms of beards, there is something about a beard and ‘hardman’ that seems just synonymous to me. So perhaps I am a sinner as well especially since mine grows in winter for the explicit reason of having snot hanging off it frozen, and the gals just love seeing me come in to the office w/frozen crystals hanging off it in winter. It sure beats the balaclava thingy.

  32. Great write up!! I have to admit that am very follically un-challenged and keep my length fairly long, but just short of the mullet/ ponytail neighborhood. Definitely not at the length that my avatar used to have. Just the other day while on a long ride without a cap under the helmet due to slightly north of 50 degree temps, I had the idea of going to the woman who trims my hair and asking her to cut it while wearing my helmet. That would ensure just the right amount of vent protrusion.

    The hair evolution of the Rug Merchant:



  33. @frank
    Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

  34. That’s one smug expression on Schumacher’s face so it is. “I’m doping up to my eyeball’s and I’m getting away with it” he seems to be saying. Given the baby gut he’s got it also looks like he’s two months from peaking or too fat to climb, hard to say which . . .

  35. I know the subject is helmet hair (and the more the better), but while considering some of the stuff I’m seeing about body and facial hair:

    1. Podium girls like a clean deck. The only exception to this rule is Faboo. You are not Faboo. Shave around the cake hole boys or sleep with your S-works in the spare bedroom. Beards are for mountain bikers and hippy fixies. Even Bobke shaved his porkchops a looooong time ago. If Bobke doesn’t have porkchops, then neither should you.

    2. Shaving the guns is for babies. The toughest among us wax every 6 weeks. Makes for a much smoother glide across the asphalt while still clipped into your Speedplays and there is no stubble. No one likes scratchy legs under the sheets, so unless you shave the guns daily, no good.

    3. If you DO shave (instead of waxing, as hairy guns are right out), for the LOVE of Eddy Merckx, gentlemen, PLEASE do NOT stop at the bottom of your bib’s leg elastics. All the way to the chamois, please. I almost horked up my Gu last week upon seeing one of my teammates hairy upper thighs. GACK!

  36. @Velo Kitty
    Horked Gu hahaha!

  37. @Mikeweb
    Has Karpets abducted Wiggo’s stylist?

  38. Nate :
    @Mikeweb Has Karpets abducted Wiggo’s stylist?

    Very 90’s Brit pop though

  39. @Velo Kitty

  40. @Nate
    Definitely possible. Interesting that they’re both tall and skinny and fairly good in the ITTs as well…

  41. @frank

    Dude in front isn’t scared. That’s Allan Peiper. He was a baller. And, as a team-mater of Planckaert, his job was to rail it. Hair or no hair, don’t disrespect Peiper.

  42. @Souleur
    It is Ken Souza, biathlete (now called duathlete) from the late 80s early 90s.

  43. You seem to forget that “puppy dog” Hinault won that race… against Merckx, De Vlaeminck and Maertens. Liege-Bastogne-Liege 1977

  44. @frank Cipollini is definitely not a douche. Maybe an asshole, but only in the Team America definition of an asshole. The world needs ’em. I once found a Mario Cipollini world champion jersey in a used clothing shop and it was so cheap it was worth buying even though I can never wear it less violating Rule #16.

  45. @ben Wow, that is a nice beard. Did he get the tattoo? He looks like he woulda been down.

  46. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and very broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

  47. @anna frozen dress Stick with it @anna frozen dress. We never don’t not want these things to go back to the way they were or could have been without your contribution.

    And I love your dress!

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