Window Shopping

One of the great dichotomies of being a Cyclist is that of our commitment to suffering paired against our fastidious attention to our appearance. We sacrifice endlessly for the sake of our craft, suffering hours on end in horrendous weather and diverting any money saved on depriving ourselves of food into maintaining and improving our equipment. At the same time, our morale hangs in the balance, governed by the silence of the machine we ride, the precision and coordination of our kit, or the state of our handlebar tape.

It has long fascinated me, the control that morale holds over our condition as riders. Training is obviously a fundamental component to our performance, but the edge of our form is sharpened or blunted by our mental state. Bad weather is a major lever for me personally; the more rubbish the weather, the better I feel about myself just for being out there and thus the better I ride. Which brings to light the underlying principle: it isn’t about vanity as much as it is about genuinely feeling good about ourselves, an idea concisely captured by Fournel’s Theorem: to look good is already to go fast.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that I take great pride and put a tremendous amount of energy into my appearance, both on the bike and off. Don Walker, who built my Hour track bike, remarked that if I spent half as much time training as I did worrying about the paint job, I’d stand half a chance at beating the record. (That’s two halves, are they additive or multiplicative?) The notion is nonsense, of course, although the observation does have a certain logical resonance. But what he is missing is the amount of Awesome I’ll feel climbing aboard the bike with matching VLVV skin suit; enough Awesome to power ten morons, plus two. You can’t train against that kind of Awesome, you have to fabricate it.

When out training,  I shamelessly peer into every plate glass window I encounter, taking in how Fantastic I Look. In fleeting observations more akin to stop-action motion than live-film, I study my position, my weight, my stroke, and how my kit looks and fits. I’ll repeat this: shamelessly. And I’m willing to bet you do, too, even if you’re not willing to admit to it as flagrantly as I am. We never get to see ourselves busily at work at our craft; who doesn’t like a serendipitous acknowledgement of the fruits of our labor?

If you’re not window shopping, you’re doing it wrong. Or you’re lying.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

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64 Replies to “Window Shopping”

  1. @frank

    @Haldy

    @frank

    Does this mean I should station a few mirrors around the track during your Hour…so you can keep reminding yourself how Fantastic you look…and therefore be reminded to try and keep the speed up?

    During your training…will you position your rollers near a mirror?

    They arrive on Tuesday, courtesy of @Marko. And yes, I will have a mirror. I’m not a savage, after all.

    First off…did you notice that your reply was #43 in the string..secondly…stash the mirror for awhile. I may be experienced enough to look sideways and see how Fantastic I look while out of the saddle on rollers…but..maybe you should just worry about lookng straight ahead and staying on the rollers before you break out the mirror.

     

  2. Oli – I do my best!

    Nah, it’s natural. I think my brain/thoughts function essentially like having one of those grocery store machine Super Balls bouncing around in my head. I can focus intensely on a task, but in general, my mind is constantly moving.

  3. @frank

    @Ron

    Frank – are those the Jawbreakers? File a report, if so! Have they outdone the Radars? I find that hard to believe, as the Radars are fucking incredible cycling shades.

    They are custom Jawbreakers. I’ve got both the new Radar EV’s and Jawbreakers and love them both. Prefer the Jawbreakers just because of my giant face and how they look on it. But they get a tad warm so use the Radar EV’s in warmer conditions or more stop-start conditions like CX.

    Good info! I have a small face, since I’m about half as tall as you. Will pick up some of the new Radars for summer riding. I have a pair with a black frame, need a pair in white as well.

    I also just did myself a huge favor. Hate putting in contacts for my relatively brief work commute. Went ahead an grabbed some prescription shades. Will make things a bit easier, one less thing to do before heading out the door.

  4. West Seattle filter: one of the nice things about riding around the north tip of Alki from the sound towards the city is that just after the traffic starts to thin out and you can’t draft the cars anymore, there’s a series of big windows that let you admire just how awesome you are/look.

  5. @frank

    @Haldy

    @frank

    Does this mean I should station a few mirrors around the track during your Hour…so you can keep reminding yourself how Fantastic you look…and therefore be reminded to try and keep the speed up?

    During your training…will you position your rollers near a mirror?

    They arrive on Tuesday, courtesy of @Marko. And yes, I will have a mirror. I’m not a savage, after all.

    Are they Kreitler 2.25 inch rollers???  Those are the BEST!  I have a set and we have become VERY good friends over the last four years!

  6. I prefer window shopping with car windows.  this way i can catch a glimpse of my awesomeness while still staring down unsuspecting drivers.  this must be done with caution, as some drives take personal affront to being stared down.  also, my shadow makes me sad, he reminds me of all the winter beers i haven’t lost yet.

  7. @Ron

    You have, however read my mind with the post on clothes/food/fit. Instead of looking at shop windows, (which I do, obviously)I tend to interpret how good I look on the bike by looking down. How many sharp edges can I see on the calves? How hairy/hairless are the legs? How’s the muscle definition above the knee, can you see more than one muscle there, or is there a sausage casing full of custard poking out your shorts? Basically the better the guns look, the better the rest of the ensemble looks, so long as you’re following the rules.

    Aaaaannnnnd as someone who packs lunch every day, and keeps a French press at work for the caffeination, it is ridiculous how much folks spend on lunches/ cafe/snacks. Also, in terms of on the bike food, I’ve got the Scratch lab cookbooks, (read rice, bacon, and cheese, chilled and in the back pocket) and am not averse to water with honey, or water with lemon juice and a small pinch of salt, in the bidon.

  8. What about riding behind a flat backed box van, preferably with blacked out windows. I’ve crawled through many slow rides home due to finding one of those in traffic. Mobile mirror.

  9. Did a bit of window shopping on our Ronde van VVellington ride today, and I must admit, I did Look pretty bloody Fantastic.

     

  10. “If you’re not window shopping, you’re doing it wrong. Or you’re lying.”

     

    Or you’re a self absorbed, narcissist. Jesus, man. This article is incredibly de minimis.

    -Dinan

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