Kelly waddles on the podium at the '84 Luik-Bastenaken-Luik.

La Vie Velominatus: Ugly Ducklings

by frank / Jan 29 2014 / 67 posts

We’re an odd bunch, us Cyclists. Shaved legs, scars, tan lines, muscular legs paired to scrawny upper bodies. These things that make us stand out are some of the things I take great pride in. I marvel at my freshly shaved guns and how smooth they feel under my dress clothes when I’m stuck at the office. I’ll stand in front of the mirror each morning and gauge whether I’m getting fatter or skinnier. I’ll constantly feel my legs to check that they haven’t started to get soft since the morning’s ride. Being a Cyclist, it seems, is a full-time occupation.

Everything in our lives is biased towards riding. On the bike, we are a picture of elegance: perfect kit, tanned guns, Magnificent Stroke fluidly propelling us along the avenue. Remove us from the bicycle, however, and the graceful Cyclist is transformed instantly into an awkward creature; our legs suddenly look too big, our bodies too small, and we waddle about hopelessly on cleated shoes.

One of the most satisfying experiences of Cycling is to walk in my road shoes. Not only is it a thrill to avoid wiping out down a flight of stairs or in a café, but it marks the start and end of my ride. Kitting up before leaving, I’ll wander to the living room with my shoes in hand. Standing up after strapping them on, I’ll clomp out to the bike, my awkward gait signaling the sweet anticipation of the ride that awaits. Similarly, I cherish clomping back into the house afterwards, the clip-clop of my shoes echoing through the living room and signaling to anyone who is home that I’ve returned from my mission.

I embrace those things that make me strange to the rest of society; we are Cyclists and the rest aren’t meant to understand our ways. But a time will come when we ugly ducklings will blossom into skinny swans.

// La Vie Velominatus

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