Looking Pro is a delicate art rife with paradox and enigma. Aesthetics in a sport as difficult as cycling is itself a contradiction; surely anything wrought with such suffering should be driven by function and function alone. Yet cyclists are both some of the hardest people in sport and the most vain. For a cyclist knows better than perhaps any other athlete that Morale is a fickle beast that lives upon a knife’s edge; it can drive us on to incredible heights yet squash us at will like an insect for little more than spotting grime on a freshly laundered jersey or dirt on the bar tape. In order for us to ride well, we must have good Morale. In order to have good Morale, we must look Fantastic.
The argument could be made that the best way to improve your riding is to meditate extensively on Rule #5; some might even suggest that aesthetics dilute it’s purity. On the surface, that may be a seductive thing to believe, but it ignores the single most important fact of cycling: looking Fantastic is the best anesthetic available. Just imagine how you looked there, standing on the pedals, dishing out The V. I was magnificent and didn’t feel a thing; I looked Pro.
Along with the vital The Three Point System, mastering the art of being Casually Deliberate is one of the key principles to Looking Pro. A professional gives the impression of having been born on their bicycle; they are one with their machine. When riding, their Magnificent Stroke exudes grace and power. Movements on the bicycle are deliberate yet effortless. Standing, sitting, climbing, cornering – rider and machine form a cohesive union.
Even when not riding, the Professional exudes an air of calm. Sitting across the top tube, the rider rests easy, precisely familiar with the movements of their loyal machine, trusting in the motion and balance. The bicycle is as familiar and connected to the rider as the very air they breathe.
In your quest to master the art of the Casually Deliberate, keep these pointers in mind:
- A pre-ride espresso is the perfect casually deliberate means to prepare for a ride. Fully kitted up, loyal machine leaning patiently against a nearby wall, cycling cap carefully disheveled atop the head, sunnies perched above the brim.
- Never look like you’re too eager to get on with the ride or the race. After all, the ride is a daily companion and while it is cherished, you are tranquillo in the knowledge that the ride will start soon enough. This is the genesis of Rule #80; energy is to be saved for the right moment and is not to be wasted on pointless things like standing under your own strength.
- Once the ride begins, the first twenty minutes are to be taken at a luxuriously slow pace. A rider is confident in their powers and never too anxious to show their hand too early. When riding with others, this is the time to ride two abreast, chatting about simpler times.
- Light conversation is to be taken up casually near the top of the first several climbs of the day. If not at the top, at least during the more difficult bits. As the other riders in the group begin to feel the pressure in their legs and Doubt begins its steady march into the bit of the morale where they do their worst damage, a casually deliberate comment which show no signs whatsoever of labored breathing can do much to hurry that march along.
- Never show how much you’re suffering. Ever. Even when inhaling a wasp, the effort that shows on your face is less than you are truly suffering. Unless, of course, it is the finale, and all thought has vacated the mind in the solemn journey into the void. Only then is it acceptable to cease being casually deliberate.