On Looking Fantastic

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.

VLVV.

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114 Replies to “On Looking Fantastic”

  1. This is the frame he was working on when I was there…

    This came to him as salvage.  He polished and re-chromed it.  The whole bike is polished chrome and then he applied a number of tinted candy coats to give it this look.  Pure genius.

  2. Here’s some of my cycling heritage. This was taken in the 1890s and the monkey sitting on the handlebars is my great-great-great(?)-uncle Bob Murie.

    And here’s his bike shop in 1904.

  3. @kixsand

    @universo

    Noah Rosen is a fucking genius/artist and all around wonderful guy.  If you’re going to use Noah though, you kind of have to come up with something unique and special to do to your bike.

    we are already talking about translucent black over chrome _ still working things out to be a different sort of original

  4. @David

    I’m sure this topic has been covered in some detail in the past, but would a tightly-wound, tastefully discrete tool-roll, carefully coordinated and complementing the overall bike aesthetic, be considered an EPMS?

    More room for mid-ride refreshments, bananas et al in the jersey pockets. Perhaps a sleeker look?

    All ridiculing thoughts and criticism welcome.

    David,

    I do not condone any sort of EPMS. I however, have used the space between my seat rails combined with a spare bit of MTB inner tube backed with velcro to secure my spare tube back there. It is subtle an unobtrusive, means I don’t have to carry the tube in my pocket (or risk forgetting it) and IS NOT AN EPMS.

  5. @Barracuda

    They toured with various circuses and performed at track carnivals, which in those days were huge events here. The monkey suits were just a gimmick, I believe.

    Bob was a real character; as well as being a trick cyclist he was a champion on the track and road circuits, he was an accomplished hot-air balloonist (even using his balloons to advertise his bike shop!), he owned one of the first private motorcars in NZ, he owned and flew one of the very first privately owned aeroplanes here, and he was a big game hunter in the days when that was regarded as a brave and adventurous thing.

    I wish I knew more about him, but sadly there’s not many of the family left to ask, and the records are scant.

  6. @kixsand

    I sincerely doubt I could ever polish the guns enough to be worthy of throwing them over a frame that beautiful. That is just absolutely stunning.

    @Barracuda & @Oli

    Strong lineage. The monkey suit seems somewhat appropriate for @Oli, cheeky monkey that he is.

  7. “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.”

    I relate to this a lot. I’ve always been scared but then I just dive in an surrender myself to the hills. Sometimes it feels like I won’t come back alive. But then someone drops back and paces me up the hill. You just lose yourself. There’s a comfort in that moment. Surrendering yourself.

  8. @Gianni

    @litvi

    @Gianni

    @RedRanger

    I didn’t realize that pro’s ever used triple!

    I don’t think PB was a pro. I think he was more a bike model for Bridgestone. This lead photo might have been a catalog shot.

    I don’t think pros could get away with a triple. Even a compact would be a stretch for the rudest stage.

    Just like pros transcend some rules because of sponsorships, you can’t really fault PB for the triple here. Bridgestone paid him to ride something, and he rode it. Good for him. The EPMS on the other hand…

    Believe me. I don’t fault him for anything. If I hadn’t grown up on a relatively flat part of the USA I might have had a damn triple. PB had some je ne sais quoi style in his look. As far as I know Bridgestone was not selling kit, just bikes, so PB probably got to put his kit together his own bad self. Chapeau.

    Didn’t @cyclops know him from his Bridgestone days? Where is @Cy? Tenn? Ky?

    Yes, and Kentucky

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