The Tightness of Being

Sprezzatura. Leave it to the Italians to dedicate a word to trying to Look Fantastic without looking like you’re trying too hard. I’ve haven’t spent much time in Italy, but I automatically love a country where an entire nation holds aesthetics in the same high regard that I do. Not to mention their dedication to drinking espresso and wine. A bottle of wine at lunch? I can work with these people.

Sprezzatura for the Velominatus applies to every aspect of the sport; how we set up our bikes, our style and technique when riding, and how we select and wear our kit. Looking good in the summer isn’t very complicated; any fool can look good in short-sleeved kit adorned with tanned guns. Where things start getting tricky is when the cold and wet sets in and we need to add more kit to the equation. How does one control the chaos as leg warmers, long-sleeve jerseys, caps, gloves, rain jackets and overshoes are added to the mix?

The basic concepts have already been covered under the principles of wearing one’s Flandrian Best; always wear as little as possible, never wear an accoutrement below when a complimentary set is not worn above (i.e. no knee warmers without arm warmers), and never – under any circumstances – wear full-length leggings.

Which brings us to today’s lesson: how to wear full-length leggings and still look as Fantastic as possible. Sometimes it is simply too cold for three-quarters and there is no denying the Pro-ness of casually wandering about sipping a pre-ride espresso in sandals, full length leg warmers, and a long sleeve jersey – especially on a warm summer day. Sprezzatura is an art, and it should not be taken lightly.

The fundamental problem with leggings is that they make the guns amorphous; lots of fabric without any points of definition give the eyes nothing to focus on. If you have amazing calves (which I don’t) then you may be able to break up the monotony with your bodacious leg curves, but the rest of us are going to need some help.

  • Always go with leg warmers and not one-piece tights. The reason for this is simple: the legs of your shorts will provide the first visual delineation for the eyes to grab ahold of.
  • The leggings should also always have an elastic gripper around the ankle, not a stirrup. This is Cycling, not ballet. Better yet, the ankles should have a short zipper to ease pre-departure removal of said leggings and also to provide a little more delineation.
  • When it comes to materials, the more matte the better. In fact, I prefer wool. Thick materials are also handy, as they add some bulk and make the guns look less spindly. All good things.
  • Look for some leggings with good, thick seams. Again, this makes wool a strong candidate. Align the seams carefully to accentuate whatever curves your leggs can muster up, and make sure both legs are symmetrical. We are not savages.
  • Wear a contrasting color sock. White is preferable, of course, as demonstrated by Diego above but any color works so long as its not the same as the legging (which should obviously be black).

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117 Replies to “The Tightness of Being”

  1. @minion

    @minion

    @frank

    @PT

    Disgraceful.

    Aaaaaaand he won so suck it/

    Aaaaaaand he won wearing those tights over the line. So suck it twice.

    Aaaaaaand if you think you can ride and never wear full length tights you don’t live somewhere that cold. I’ve started rides at -7c and finished them at -5c. If you want to ride in that shit in knee warmers go right ahead. But you’d be an idiot.

    More or less my thoughts. I had the water in my bidon turn to slush last week. No way I’m doing a ride like that in knickers.

  2. @frank

    @MangoDave

    @ChrisO

    I grew up mainly with metric and have trouble working out what’s hot or not on the Fahrenheit scale but… I do get why people like it.

    In everyday usage Celsius is only good in a narrow range. Zero to 40. After that… I don’t care what temperature the water for my tea is, I just need to know whether it’s boiling or not.

    If I understood it I think I would probably be happy to go retro on the temperature, just as I still do on height with feet and inches. Although I’m fine with km and km/h, despite being old enough to remember changing over from miles.

    I’ll adhere to Rule #24 in discussions, but it’s only after doing a mental conversion.  I have no plans on changing the units to km on my cyclocomputers, mainly because I have almost 25 years of hand written training logs all in imperial measurements and I’m going to be consistent.

    Nice demonstration of the Masturbation Principle. Apart from the admission, obviously.

    Busted!  Though, to me it seems like a pretty tame admission.  It’s not like I’m using an EMPS, FFS!

  3. @MangoDave

    Busted!  Though, to me it seems like a pretty tame admission.  It’s not like I’m using an EMPS, FFS!

    Keepers with EPMSs, classics winners sporting full beards and warmers pinned over bib shorts…

  4. @Joe

    The easiest part in removing legwarmers on the move is pulling them out from under the bibs. If you’re pro enough to unclip a leg and remove the warmers without stopping, you’re pro enough to wiggle them out from under a bib’s gripper.

  5. @tessar

    Again I refer you to Sep’s twitter feed.  I believe he qualifies as being more ‘pro’ than most.  Correct URL for the first photo with warmers over shorts whilst ready for sign on/team presentation and then racing can be found here

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B_A2XA9VEAAqr6w.jpg

    Though I have to disagree with your opinion that leg warmers are more easily removed whist under bibs.  I’ve found the gripper at the top catches the skin more if you try to tug them downwards, and it is easier to take them off from over bibs as the grippers don’t catch the skin.

  6. @Joe

    Plenty of pros think otherwise, and don’t find themselves dropped two climbs out from the finish of their goal race.

    I didn’t say easier – I said easy enough. As in, sure it’s a bit harder, but it’s not so hard it justifies looking less fantastic. For that matter, Kwiatkowski managed to unto his warmers in the hectic run-up to the Poggio without missing a beat.

  7. @SamV

    @minion

    @minion

    @frank

    @PT

    Disgraceful.

    Aaaaaaand he won so suck it/

    Aaaaaaand he won wearing those tights over the line. So suck it twice.

    Aaaaaaand if you think you can ride and never wear full length tights you don’t live somewhere that cold. I’ve started rides at -7c and finished them at -5c. If you want to ride in that shit in knee warmers go right ahead. But you’d be an idiot.

    More or less my thoughts. I had the water in my bidon turn to slush last week. No way I’m doing a ride like that in knickers.

    To those who weren’t looking, here’s the link to G-V gallery.

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/races/gent-wevelgem-2015/results for tights over bibs. Not suggesting that’s why he won, but you know. If you disagree with me you’re welcome to be fucking wrong. About everything, ever.

    As you can see living in Australia’s really agreed with me.

  8. @Owen

    So what’s the ruling on toe covers for those days when it’s too warm for shoe covers, but cold enough for knee warmers and wool socks? Those toesies aren’t going to stay warm on their own.

    Belgian booties if its dry mate, allow breathing from the inside so don’t get too hot, but shield more wind again. Or double up with a thin liner sock. Toe covers are like condoms for your shoes.

  9. @tessar

    @Joe

    Plenty of pros think otherwise, and don’t find themselves dropped two climbs out from the finish of their goal race.

    I didn’t say easier – I said easy enough. As in, sure it’s a bit harder, but it’s not so hard it justifies looking less fantastic. For that matter, Kwiatkowski managed to unto his warmers in the hectic run-up to the Poggio without missing a beat.

    Agreed, if I can fucking do it, anyone can! If you find the grippers grab too much, roll the top over first. I find having them rolled up they go over your shoes easier as well.

    I’m off to go find that footage of the WC pre-Poggio!

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