Whenever I do anything, I try my best to project the confidence of Han Solo leaving the cantina after cooking Greedo which has been scientifically proven to be the maximum possible score on the Casually Deliberate scale. Being Casually Deliberate comes down to two fundamental units of knowledge that you must hold unwaveringly within your heart: That you Look Fantastic and that You are Awesome at What You Do. Greedo never stood a chance; he hardly had a name tag.
I consider it my personal and professional responsibility to Look Fantastic at All Times whether on the bike, at the office (nothing but Maison Martin Margiela touches this body), at home, or at social engagements (at which times I will allow Rick Owens to mingle in the palate). The secret being, of course, that if you Look Fantastic, you appear twice as competent as you actually are to the casual observer – which is almost everyone these days because no one pays attention anymore.
The Cogal of the Falling Leaves was a cruel mistress, almost sinister. I dreaded the ride a bit, cursing Midsummer Frank who chose such a tough route, basking in his Midsummer Form, oblivious to what kind of horrible shape October Frank would be in. Midsummer Frank is a dick.
Courage is knowing what suffering lies down the road and setting forth nevertheless, but Courage is also a clueless twat about how humbling it is to helplessly watch the group ride away from you on hill after hill, a sensation I’m not entirely accustomed to. Each time, I could barely manage bridging back up just in time for the next hill so I could slip uselessly away again like a teflon-coated stone.
Eventually, the hills were too close together for me to bridge up, and I was cut adrift like a dinghy at sea.
I set off down the road alone while the group refueled at a rest station, not wanting to stop and lose whatever rhythm I’d regained, knowing full well that I was beyond a point where refuelling would be of use. Here it was just me, alone with the hum of my tires and the completely detached sense of ownership of my legs. I wish I’d grabbed the Good Legs from the garage today, but alas I hadn’t.
What kept me going, more than anything, was the knowledge that however slow I was going, I still looked a proper Cyclist, with my kit perfectly in place, my sunnies tucked neatly away in the vents of my helmet, jaw agape, and my perfectly curated machine carrying me along the way. I knew I looked resplendent while pedalling smoothly, the muscle-memory of countless hours accumulated pedalling a bike during my lifetime took over; shoulders steady, head low, legs on autopilot.
Being out of shape at this time of year, with the cold and wet months approaching is a solemn reality. There is nothing welcoming to the common Cyclist: the days are short and cold and getting out during the workweek is an act of true dedication. Kitting up in my finest Nine Kit or my Flandrian Best, emulating the Hardmen is what encourages me to set out onto the road to start the long journey back to fitness.
Looking Fantastic might not be all there is to Cycling, but at times like this, it’s all I got.