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, I have had a bad episode with yahoos that don’t care to start on time (2 weeks in a row) establishing a new ride that I mapped for them. All I can think – Fuck off! So I rode off (technically 1min after time) solo and rode with an *extreme* Coefficient of Difficulty such that those bastards would be left to their own devices. So for you it is #9 and with me it is *not* starting late.

  2. Why would we spend so much time to Look Goddamn Fantastic if we can’t check out the look for ourselves?

    @universo Starting late pisses me off, especially on the evening shop rides this time of year. Burning daylight fucking around deciding on the route. 6:15 means 6:15.

  3. Not too many plate glass windows on my tracks.  I guess I could try checking my reflection in a cow’s eye but suspect that won’t work too well – or at least may not have the planned outcome.

    The mean part of the article is the kit you are wearing as a teaser.  Still on track for the end of this month?

  4. And when there are no windows to be seen in, one’s late afternoon or evening shadow suffices. Fleetingly nearby or distant as the corn stalks and hay will configure, form in both senses can be glimpsed as the Man with the Scythe closes in for the harvest.

  5. @starclimber

    And when there are no windows to be seen in, one’s late afternoon or evening shadow suffices. Fleetingly nearby or distant as the corn stalks and hay will configure, form in both senses can be glimpsed as the Man with the Scythe closes in for the harvest.

    As long as it’s the corn stalks he’s harvesting and he’s not the Man with the Scythe that says HELLO.

  6. I’ll vagrantly admit that I look like a bum whenever I catch my reflection, yet I still seek it out wherever I tramp, er, ride.

  7. @Oli

    I’ll vagrantly admit that I look like a bum whenever I catch my reflection, yet I still seek it out wherever I tramp, er, ride.

    And I look like my grandfather, who I’ve always suspected was the inspiration for the song “Mr. Five-by-Five.” But, yeah, gimme a big wide window, and I’m the fucking Badger for three nanoseconds.

  8. @Oli

    In case Frank misses @PeakInTwoYears and my subtle digs, you mean “blatantly”, bud. *winky-face emoji*

    I think he might have unknowingly meant “flagrantly,” as in blazingly or resplendently.

  9. enough awesome to power ten morons plus two ??? That is muy classic but I can’t help but think of:

    which of course, as everyone knows, rep’s the strength of ten grinches plus two. And that’s a lotta grinch power. Moron power or grinch power? I’ll take the green fuzzy dude. I wouldn’t mind being a grinch. At the end of the day, the grinch is/was a pretty cool cat. But a moron? No thanks.

    Cheers!

     

  10. guilty as charged. clearly the architect who designed reflective plate glass was a pre-cursour to the Velominatus…

  11. I rode past a car the other day and caught a glimpse of the Michelin Main in the windows.  Does that count?

  12. @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?

  13. @Barracuda

    Aye, that’s why your shadow is best seen in profile, merely half-wheeling you at worst. Better still, the later the hour, the leaner your eternal twin, until he vanishes into sudden and utter obesity.

  14. Plead guilty, caught red handed. I still need to find me a route along a big shop or factory with many windows at the appropriate height and not reflecting the sun at the right time of day. Or just ride in bad weather.

  15. Guilty as fuck. At it’s best on the last sections of a long ride, where you’re eking the last energy from your legs into burst of flat out speed, deep in the drops or Beligian-style, back flat as a pancake…

  16. @litvi

    I rode past a car the other day and caught a glimpse of the Michelin Main in the windows. Does that count?

    The above mentioned Fournel’s Theorem: to look good is already to go fast, can be supplanted by Fournel’s False Theorem: To believe one looks good is already to feel fast.

    If you are going to operate on that basis, I’d suggest avoiding any reflections whilst on the bike as your riding position is worst in terms of suspending disbelief. You might be able to maintain the illusion walking past the cafe window or in front of your bedroom mirror* when you can pull it all in but not on the bike and certainly not in the drops.

    *it’s important to practice ordering your double espresso in front of the bedroom mirror without actually breathing.

  17. @PeakInTwoYears

    @Oli

    In case Frank misses @PeakInTwoYears and my subtle digs, you mean “blatantly”, bud. *winky-face emoji*

    I think he might have unknowingly meant “flagrantly,” as in blazingly or resplendently.

    I saw that in the bit below the picture, the um…. article, that’s it, and assumed Frank was intelligent enough to know the difference.

    A joke, for all intensive porpoises.

     

  18. You can’t train against that kind of Awesome, you have to fabricate it.

    This just went into the number 1 spot on the queue, as soon as I have reason to fit it into a conversation.

    I couldn’t agree more, looking good is essential to cycling (and most other things in life).  I could run to break a sweat and get a workout and maybe even meet a very angry Man with the Hammer wondering where the hell my bike is.  But moving my appendages wildly in some aggravated attempt at a workout while not actually doing it to save life or limb just sounds like a complete waste of time.  Not to mention that pretty much no one looks Fantastic running.

  19. @Barracuda

    @starclimber

    Problem is, I can never catch up

    Oh yeah, that’s it right there! There’s only one hill for me that I can get that kind of shadow on – usually heading for home on fall rides. I do seek it out.

    As for windows, not many around my way, but coming home through Kewaskum offers several big glass storefronts. It’s eyes right heading home, eyes left heading out.

  20. @ChrisO

    I assumed so, too, at first, but the harder I thought about it* the less “vagrantly” made sense as a joke. Still, a nice article and one that resonates with any Cyclist. “Ten morons plus two” made me smile.

    *This was probably my error.

  21. “Is my back flat?”  “How’s my leg extension?”  “Heels down?”

     

    Not a fan of using the term “moron” however ….

  22. Fuck, man!  Between all the Selfies you take and now all the “Window Shopping” you’re admitting to, it is a fuck’in miracle that you have not ridden off a cliff or into a pond yet.

    But, that being said, when we look this glorious, it is distracting, isn’t it???

  23. @Mitch

    Not a fan of using the term “moron” however ….

    Only if you discard its history and concentrate on its more recent (medical) usage.

    Moron: from Greek mōron, neuter of mōros ‘foolish’

  24. @Buck Rogers

    Fuck, man! Between all the Selfies you take and now all the “Window Shopping” you’re admitting to, it is a fuck’in miracle that you have not ridden off a cliff or into a pond yet.

    But, that being said, when we look this glorious, it is distracting, isn’t it???

    Agreed, distracting and downright dangerous…the only area around me with a decent row of reflective windows is the historic area of town, with brick cross walks, pedestrians who believe they have the right of way, and stoplights every 50 meters, not to mention the cars who are against bikes taking the lane….its only safe to get a proper look early on a Sunday morning.

     

  25. Unfortunately plate windows are scarce in my parts. Though on a sunny day I will ride with the big orb to my left and examine my stroke via shadow. This has also extended to checking out smoothly I can fetch, gush, and return my bidon.

  26. How about purposefully not getting undressed when you get home after a ride until you’ve stood in front of the mirror and admired yourself? Or going into the bathroom at work to check your look after a morning ride in?

    Had some photos taken this weekend with the VMH to capture the impressive size of her huge belly. It might have been the size of hers…but I seem to be down to spring riding weight. Excellent! Pants are all loose, bibs don’t feel like a girdle, being in the drops feels good, not bad.

    Oh, and as for looking good off the bike. I tend to wear the same clothes, shoes, etc. over and over because I am completely unable to feel good and calm unless what I’m wearing fits perfectly. It’s bad. Serious OCD comes out. I have shirts that I think look awesome, but they don’t feel right, so they’ve been in my closet for years.

    And saving money. I absolutely cannot believe how much money most folks waste on silly drinks (energy/detox/wimpy caffeine) and purchased foods, whether pre-cooked or at restaurants. $5 drink in the morning, $10 lunch…that’s a nice new bike in the course of one year! I’ve cooked professionally, so enjoy making most of my own food. And we have a productive garden too. Eating well doesn’t have to cost much, though most people pay too much to eat poorly.

  27. 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.

     

     

  28. HoooolleeeeeeFACK! One of my long-standing fears is being crushed in the Achilles by an old granny at the grocery store. If not moving, I stand with my back to the shelves and I never let cart pushers walk behind me. And now I see this…

    “[Yves] Lampaert has an inflamed Achilles tendon after his girlfriend hit his heel with a supermarket cart on Monday.

    “He had a Lidl accident,” Lefevere joked, referring to the team’s supermarket sponsor Lidl. “He shouldn’t have been in the supermarket with his girlfriend on Monday but on his couch. His girlfriend ran into his heel. Vanmol said it wasn’t possible to ride with it. It’s a rider we’re missing here. He asked not to ride in San Remo to be good here.'”

     

  29. @Ron

    HoooolleeeeeeFACK! One of my long-standing fears is being crushed in the Achilles by an old granny at the grocery store. If not moving, I stand with my back to the shelves and I never let cart pushers walk behind me. And now I see this…

    “[Yves] Lampaert has an inflamed Achilles tendon after his girlfriend hit his heel with a supermarket cart on Monday.

    “He had a Lidl accident,” Lefevere joked, referring to the team’s supermarket sponsor Lidl. “He shouldn’t have been in the supermarket with his girlfriend on Monday but on his couch. His girlfriend ran into his heel. Vanmol said it wasn’t possible to ride with it. It’s a rider we’re missing here. He asked not to ride in San Remo to be good here.’”

    What’s the old cyclists motto? Don’t stand if you can sit and don’t sit if you can lie down. I see no mention of grocery shopping with a girlfriend in that wisdom. There was another bit of  advice about the amount of time a pro should abstain from sex before certain races like tours and classics. Some wag remarked that it was a wonder Kelly’s wife was not still a virgin many years into their marriage.

  30. @Oli

    In case Frank misses @PeakInTwoYears and my subtle digs, you mean “blatantly”, bud. *winky-face emoji*

    Or blatantly! What a gigantic brain fart that was. Funny thread here as a result, got me chuckling a bit for sure.

  31. @wilburrox

    enough awesome to power ten morons plus two ??? That is muy classic but I can’t help but think of:

    which of course, as everyone knows, rep’s the strength of ten grinches plus two. And that’s a lotta grinch power. Moron power or grinch power? I’ll take the green fuzzy dude. I wouldn’t mind being a grinch. At the end of the day, the grinch is/was a pretty cool cat. But a moron? No thanks.

    Cheers!

    I didn’t want to call myself a Grinch, but I’m delighted you caught the reference.

     

  32. @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.

  33. @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.

  34. @wiscot

     

    As for windows, not many around my way, but coming home through Kewaskum offers several big glass storefronts. It’s eyes right heading home, eyes left heading out.

    Ah, so there is a reason to go through Kewaskum!

    Also guilty as all the rest here.  Re: watching shadows, I’m always wondering if the angle of the sun/ground etc is making me look better or worse that the real thing….  but I never fail to at least go for a glance.

  35. @Mitch

    “Is my back flat?” “How’s my leg extension?” “Heels down?”

    Not a fan of using the term “moron” however ….

    Now we can’t use moron? This madness has to stop!

    @Buck Rogers

    Fuck, man! Between all the Selfies you take and now all the “Window Shopping” you’re admitting to, it is a fuck’in miracle that you have not ridden off a cliff or into a pond yet.

    But, that being said, when we look this glorious, it is distracting, isn’t it???

    When you look this good, it’s our responsibility to spread the love around!

  36. @teleguy57

    @wiscot

    As for windows, not many around my way, but coming home through Kewaskum offers several big glass storefronts. It’s eyes right heading home, eyes left heading out.

    Ah, so there is a reason to go through Kewaskum!

    Also guilty as all the rest here. Re: watching shadows, I’m always wondering if the angle of the sun/ground etc is making me look better or worse that the real thing…. but I never fail to at least go for a glance.

    A reason? It’s the “Gateway to the Kettle Moraine”! It’s also on the way to/from some of the best low level traffic riding around!

    If my shadow looks bad, it’s never my fault, it’s the angle of the sun.

  37. Pretty much down to summer weight, getting in a bit of altitude training but not many shop windows around here.

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