The Mirror

Winner on the road, loser in the mirror. Photo: Gian Mattia D'Alberto
Winner on the road, loser in the mirror. Photo: Gian Mattia D’Alberto

Have you ever been told to take a good look at yourself? Usually it infers that you need to smarten up your ideas, get your shit together, shape up or ship out. If Viagra eyedrops had an advertising campaign, (or indeed existed), their tagline would be: “Take a long, hard look at yourself.”

Most Cyclists need to take a long hard look at themselves. Ourselves. We could do a lot better in the public relations sphere if we took more care to use our playgrounds, ie the roads, as road users rather than pseudo-racers. And we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves every time we kit up and head out the door for a ride. Because what you see in the mirror is what others see also, and we should present ourselves as smart, tidy and sensible, rather than walking fluoro billboards or wannabe Pros.

The mirror is one of the most overlooked pieces of a Cyclist’s kit, and one that needs to be looked into a whole lot more than I suspect it is, going by the rolling messes I see out on the roads on every ride. Of course I’m not endorsing a Rule #66 violation, no sir. Offensive attire isn’t exclusive to the slovenly who go shopping in their tracky pants and Crocs, or the mostly smartly-dressed professionals who top off their neat-pressed pants or skirts with a fucking sleeping bag. You’re not George Costanza, so don’t bother.

It shouldn’t be necessary to tell you how to dress for the ride; you should know that yourself. That’s why The Rules were forged; to educate, yet sometimes to berate is necessary. If you are too clueless to put a helmet on your head level, to wear clean and matching kit, or to buy a pair of socks that don’t expose your fucking ankles, you’re either a hopelessly sloppy individual or a completely lost cause. These are the type of people who go out to dinner with their partner or take long haul flights while wearing rolled-up denim shorts, boat shoes and a t-shirt. Even if you have such little respect for yourself, you, as a member of society, should at least show some for those who have to encounter you.

Let’s smarten things up people. I know for the main part I’m preaching to the converted here, but it’s our duty to spread the knowledge and help ourselves by helping others within our ranks. It’s easy. Pick and choose kit carefully, pre-plan well in advance so you don’t end up just throwing whatever isn’t dirty on, and make sure it’s all adjusted properly. And if you’re in with a show of winning a Monument, straighten up that goddamn helmet!

 

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140 Replies to “The Mirror”

  1. Lounge pants? What is the Mercan definition of these please? Is it what we would call track-suit pants or trackie bottoms?

    No need for pictures, we can do this by words I hope.

    In the UK a number of schools have recently had to send notes to parents asking them not to drop off children wearing pyjamas, dressing gowns and other sleepwear. In my view this serves a higher purpose by identifying people you just want nothing to do with.

  2. @Marko

    @ChrissyOne

    @Rules Be Damned

    I do get a laugh sometimes with earnestness shown by many on this site around the importance of The Rules. Trust me Brett, no one in their car thinks about what we cyclists wear beyond “lyrca” and the last thing that Kristoff should be thinking about during a sprint finish for a Monument is whether his helmet or any other part of his kit is up to Velominati standards. Lighten up and ride more. The ride is always greater than the kit.

    And this is why you fail.

    Cycling is a psychological endeavor. Not only is it necessary for one to manage one’s own mental state to deal with the rigors and challenges of the road to pump power through the guns efficiently, but one also has to project cool, calm, confidence in order to reduce challengers to withering oblivion when The V hits the tarmac. Nothing in my mind compromises this more than a crooked helmet. As shown clearly above, it can take even the mightiest competitor from titan to toddler in the blink of an eye.

    Look at these helmets. You couldn’t have set them straighter with a laser…

    If I knew how to decipher Frank’s badge code thingy while he’s on vaca I’d give this girl a +1 badge here. If for nothing else than the style in the pic.

    This is all true but where do the keepers stand on the use of graveurs/cross bikes on rides that stick to paved surfaces and pave? Especially when ridden by someone who should no better having ridden their road bikes across the pave of northern France and the kassien of Flanders.

  3. Mark Rickshaw straightened his helmet during the sprint and paid a high price for maintaining his Look Fantastic.

  4. @ChrisO Pajamas were also banned from Tescos a couple of years ago.

    I blame Minion, Marcus and their ilk for the introduction of Ugg boots. It all went downhill from there.

  5. @wiscot

    @cyclebrarian

    @wiscot

    Excellent stuff! Looking good should be as important as a well-maintained machine. It’s really not that difficult to do a bit of coordination – you simply buy clothing/gear based on a few colors/patters, etc.

    This extends beyond the bike. I regularly wear a suit and tie and feel damn comfortable doing so. Whether “smart” or “casual” well-fitting clothes are comfortable. I hate the excuse that baggy, formless shit is “comfortable” if worn in public. No, it’s just lazy. Many airport users never fail to stun me with their slovenliness. To paraphrase David Sedaries who was talking about an American couple on the Paris metro, “Never visit someone else’s country dressed as if you’ve come to mow the lawn.”

    Or my personal favorite…lounge pants in public. I’m a huge fan of the lounge pants and put them on the second I get home from work, etc., but I would never in a million years wear them to shop in or go to the library (where I work and see them all too often). My favorite is when these people come in dressed like that to fill out a job applications – it wouldn’t surprise me if these same people wore them to a job interview.

    Oh don’t get me started ranting at this early hour . . . had a person visit my place of work last December. She bent over. I really didn’t want to see what I saw. Really? Jeans that fit too much to ask? Folks who think their personal “dress code” is fine and dandy for all occasions. Actually, it’s not, I hate to tell you. I’ve been to funerals where folks seems to take a break from yard work to attend without changing. Mind you, I live in WI where a recent funeral notice encouraged all attendees to wear Packer gear. “sigh”

    I’m as big a Packer fan as anyone, but I refuse to wear Packers gear year-round. It is reserved for Sunday afternoons between September and January/February.

  6. @ChrisO

    @Rules Be Damned

    The ride is always greater than the kit.

    The rider tricked out from top to toe in perfectly matched expensive gear or pro-team kit is just as much a douche …..

    So herein lies a quandary, cos you’ve just suggested that all of us who ride in V Kit are douches. But I’m fairly confident that’s not quite what you were getting at, I hope.

  7. @Chris

     

    This is all true but where do the keepers stand on the use of graveurs/cross bikes on rides that stick to paved surfaces and pave? Especially when ridden by someone who should no better having ridden their road bikes across the pave of northern France and the kassien of Flanders.

    Probably best to err on the side of all that’s good and decent here, so no. Not sure how much we’ve talked about this. You know as well as I do that regular road bikes are the way to go on the stones. I could see riding a cross rig on a muddy version of Roubaix though I suppose, can’t you? But not these dusty ones.

  8. @Ron

    Whenever I teach a college/university course I tell the students on the first day, along with passing out the syllabus, that pajamas, pajama pants, slippers, or house shoes will not be tolerated in the classroom.

    I see people going around town all the fucking time in slippers. Damnit. And these aren’t old folks who’ve slipped security at the retirement center.

    There aren’t enough +1 badges to go around. I will, and have, soundly berated students during class for this. Of course when I did, they all showed up the next time wearing their pajamas. I love my stoodents.

  9. @Marko

    @Chris

    This is all true but where do the keepers stand on the use of graveurs/cross bikes on rides that stick to paved surfaces and pave? Especially when ridden by someone who should no better having ridden their road bikes across the pave of northern France and the kassien of Flanders.

    Probably best to err on the side of all that’s good and decent here, so no. Not sure how much we’ve talked about this. You know as well as I do that regular road bikes are the way to go on the stones. I could see riding a cross rig on a muddy version of Roubaix though I suppose, can’t you? But not these dusty ones.

    I can certainly see the point of a cross big on a muddy Roubaix but I’m not sure it’d be right and might best be left as something the Pros do like frame pumps and EPMSs.

    I know that if I do a muddy Roubaix it’ll be on a road bike on Vittoria Paves or FMB Roubaixs. Because that is the way it was done.

  10. @wiscot

    @cyclebrarian

    @wiscot

    Excellent stuff! Looking good should be as important as a well-maintained machine. It’s really not that difficult to do a bit of coordination – you simply buy clothing/gear based on a few colors/patters, etc.

    This extends beyond the bike. I regularly wear a suit and tie and feel damn comfortable doing so. Whether “smart” or “casual” well-fitting clothes are comfortable. I hate the excuse that baggy, formless shit is “comfortable” if worn in public. No, it’s just lazy. Many airport users never fail to stun me with their slovenliness. To paraphrase David Sedaries who was talking about an American couple on the Paris metro, “Never visit someone else’s country dressed as if you’ve come to mow the lawn.”

    Or my personal favorite…lounge pants in public. I’m a huge fan of the lounge pants and put them on the second I get home from work, etc., but I would never in a million years wear them to shop in or go to the library (where I work and see them all too often). My favorite is when these people come in dressed like that to fill out a job applications – it wouldn’t surprise me if these same people wore them to a job interview.

    Oh don’t get me started ranting at this early hour . . . had a person visit my place of work last December. She bent over. I really didn’t want to see what I saw. Really? Jeans that fit too much to ask? Folks who think their personal “dress code” is fine and dandy for all occasions. Actually, it’s not, I hate to tell you. I’ve been to funerals where folks seems to take a break from yard work to attend without changing. Mind you, I live in WI where a recent funeral notice encouraged all attendees to wear Packer gear. “sigh”

    I know, I know. It’s unreal. I remember when my gf graduated from college. Her Dad (who’s a biker and I do like) and brother both wore jeans – the latter finishing it off with a visor. Ugh. I wore a suit. I’m sure they both think I’m snobby or what ever, but it’s not about that – it’s about how I present myself to the world (I do the same thing when I write something, speak, and also ride my bike). I realize that her Dad and brother are ‘blue collar’ guys, but so was my Dad who would NEVER show up to formal events (weddings, funerals, graduations, etc.) in anything but a suit. Oh, and then there are men (even professionals) who don’t wear an undershirt under their dress shirt…another one of my pet peeves. My mother would KILL me with her bare hands if I ever tried to get away with that!

  11. Well obviously someone figured out the +1 badge, and again I am honored. I love that photo (shot by Frank, and that’s me on the right) and I can’t stop thinking about that wonderful day.

  12. I’ve just noticed the rider second in line behind @ChrissyOne, adjusting his Oakley’s for the photo. Good job you didn’t feather your brakes Chrissy.

  13. @cyclebrarian You were doing so well until you got to the bit about your mum still making you wear an underhsirt under your dress shirt. Does she still iron your underwear?

    My grandad was a bricklayer

  14. @Mike_P

    @ChrisO

    @Rules Be Damned

    The ride is always greater than the kit.

    The rider tricked out from top to toe in perfectly matched expensive gear or pro-team kit is just as much a douche …..

    So herein lies a quandary, cos you’ve just suggested that all of us who ride in V Kit are douches. But I’m fairly confident that’s not quite what you were getting at, I hope.

    Indeed not, but I don’t think (and certainly didn’t intend) that V kit falls in either of those camps .

    By perfectly matched expensive kit I mean the rider who is in a complete Assos system designed for whatever micro-climate is forecast that day or a head to toe Rapha-Paul Smith limited edition collabo.

    And I deliberately mentioned pro-team kit, not team kit which is how I would classify the V kit.

    Carry on as you were…

  15. @Mike_P

    I’ve just noticed the rider second in line behind @ChrissyOne, adjusting his Oakley’s for the photo. Good job you didn’t feather your brakes Chrissy.

    I know it’s difficult to tell, as we’re all looking so casually deliberate, but we’re moving along at a healthy clip here – a good 30 kmh at least. Panic braking would have been certain disaster.

  16. @Ron

    Whenever I teach a college/university course I tell the students on the first day, along with passing out the syllabus, that pajamas, pajama pants, slippers, or house shoes will not be tolerated in the classroom.

    I see people going around town all the fucking time in slippers. Damnit. And these aren’t old folks who’ve slipped security at the retirement center.

    Where’s Professor Steampunk’s opinion on this? I suspect it’s the same. A few years ago I was at the Art Institute of Chicago in February. It was insanely cold with the wind chill being dangerous. A woman at the AIC was wearing strappy summer-type sandal shoes. Really? You thought “Hey, it’s only 1 degree and the wind chill is -15, I’d better wear something substantial instead of flipflops cos it’s cold out there.” I guess what pisses me off is that the innate stupidity of these people often requires sensible ones to have to go out of their way to save the dumbasses from the error of their ways.

  17. @Mike_P

    I’ve just noticed the rider second in line behind @ChrissyOne, adjusting his Oakley’s for the photo. Good job you didn’t feather your brakes Chrissy.

    I know it’s difficult to tell, as we’re all looking so casually deliberate, but we’re moving along at a healthy clip here – a good 30 kmh at least. Panic braking would have meant certain disaster.

  18. @Chris

    @cyclebrarian You were doing so well until you got to the bit about your mum still making you wear an underhsirt under your dress shirt. Does she still iron your underwear?

    My grandad was a bricklayer

    Not sure what happened there…

    my granddad was a bricklayer and he always wore a tweed jacket to work.

  19. @ChrisO

    Yes but there is absolutely no need for them to compromise each other.

    Casually Deliberate is a tranquil medium.Trying too hard is just as wrong as not trying hard enough.

    The rider tricked out from top to toe in perfectly matched expensive gear or pro-team kit is just as much a douche as the grunge rocker with baggy shorts and hairy legs or the wannabe in an ill-fitting mismatched assortment drawn at random from the depths of a cupboard.

    When I was taught to tie a bowtie it was impressed upon me that it should never be perfect. If you want perfect buy a ready-made clip on. The slight imperfection of one side being ever so slightly asymmetrical, for example, makes it clear that you have taken the trouble to do it yourself.

    Safe in the knowledge that I have put exactly the right amount of thought and effort into my kit and equipment I can then apply my tranquilo state to my ride.

    Goddamn, a lot of wisdom right here! Yep, the more everything is in order, the easier it is to find that tranquilness. Exactly!

    I like bowties but I am holding out on wearing one until I finish my degree. Then, anchors away! Also, I taught around 40 dudes on my uni sports team how to properly tie a necktie. Most of those bastards would tie it once, very poorly, and then just do the loosen/retighten waltz the rest of the season. That pissed me off. I also told some fuckers that dress shirts, neckties and a blazer are not complimented, but ruined, but cargo pants. I can’t even imagine thinking it would be a good idea to put cargo pants on with a tie.

  20. @Ron Cargo pants? Don’t get me started on those!I had to wear a tie in 1st grade. I was 4 years old. I learned how to tie it back then. And the guys who wear cargo pants with a jacket and tie? The jacket is at least a couple of sizes too big as is the collar of the shirt. I’ve had to keep my mouth shut in stores as I see a wife/girlfriend give “sizing advice” to her man. “Oh yes dear, the cuff of the jacket should extend past your knuckles when your arms are straight so that it pulls back when you bend your arm. Yes, a 46″ jacket is just right for your 5′ 6″155lb frame.” Maybe some people should stick to sweats . . .

  21. @Chris

    Ha! I meant to put ‘when I was a kid’ on the end of that sentence. It’s funny when I go to fancy events with my gf and people ask if she picked what I’m wearing out…she just says ‘ummmm…no…he dresses himself.’ I feel like saying ‘I’m a grown ass man!’

  22. @wiscot

    @Ron Cargo pants? Don’t get me started on those!I had to wear a tie in 1st grade. I was 4 years old. I learned how to tie it back then. And the guys who wear cargo pants with a jacket and tie? The jacket is at least a couple of sizes too big as is the collar of the shirt. I’ve had to keep my mouth shut in stores as I see a wife/girlfriend give “sizing advice” to her man. “Oh yes dear, the cuff of the jacket should extend past your knuckles when your arms are straight so that it pulls back when you bend your arm. Yes, a 46″³ jacket is just right for your 5″² 6″³155lb frame.” Maybe some people should stick to sweats . . .

    Yeah, I’ve seen the cargo pants/jacket and tie – not a good look. Next will be lounge pants/shirt and tie.

  23. @cyclebrarian

    Oh, and then there are men (even professionals) who don’t wear an undershirt under their dress shirt…another one of my pet peeves. My mother would KILL me with her bare hands if I ever tried to get away with that!

    Does a mesh base layer count?  I try to make all the stuff I get I be as multifunctional as possible.

  24. @andrew

    @cyclebrarian

    Oh, and then there are men (even professionals) who don’t wear an undershirt under their dress shirt…another one of my pet peeves. My mother would KILL me with her bare hands if I ever tried to get away with that!

    Does a mesh base layer count? I try to make all the stuff I get I be as multifunctional as possible.

    Perchance are you talking about a string vest?

  25. Absolutely, but you have to imagine it on a 1.89m, 68kg frame to do me justice.  Kind of the opposite of this:

    But under a dress shirt?!

  26. @andrew

    @cyclebrarian

    Oh, and then there are men (even professionals) who don’t wear an undershirt under their dress shirt…another one of my pet peeves. My mother would KILL me with her bare hands if I ever tried to get away with that!

    Does a mesh base layer count? I try to make all the stuff I get I be as multifunctional as possible.

    Fantastic. I’m sure there’s a Rule about that, Andrew.

  27. @Rules Be Damned

    I do get a laugh sometimes with earnestness shown by many on this site around the importance of The Rules. Trust me Brett, no one in their car thinks about what we cyclists wear beyond “lyrca” and the last thing that Kristoff should be thinking about during a sprint finish for a Monument is whether his helmet or any other part of his kit is up to Velominati standards. Lighten up and ride more. The ride is always greater than the kit.

    Well, Niki managed to keep it straight, and he FUCKING KILLED IT the last 6K last Sunday.

  28. @ChrissyOne

    @Mike_P

    I’ve just noticed the rider second in line behind @ChrissyOne, adjusting his Oakley’s for the photo. Good job you didn’t feather your brakes Chrissy.

    I know it’s difficult to tell, as we’re all looking so Casually Deliberate, but we’re moving along at a healthy clip here – a good 30 kmh at least. Panic braking would have meant certain disaster.

    If you’d been there, you would’ve decided that with this group there was nothing problematic being done in that photo. The guy behind Chrissy had fantastic bike handling skills, and Chrissy wasn’t about to do anything squirrelly. It was a Good Ride.

  29. Jesus Hilarious Christ. Who is being “earnest” in all these (brief) exchanges about the rules?

    Oh, right. The people who aren’t paying enough attention to fucking get it or who are missing whatever lobe in the brain it is that handles the irony and humor functions.

  30. @scaler911

    @Rules Be Damned

    I do get a laugh sometimes with earnestness shown by many on this site around the importance of The Rules. Trust me Brett, no one in their car thinks about what we cyclists wear beyond “lyrca” and the last thing that Kristoff should be thinking about during a sprint finish for a Monument is whether his helmet or any other part of his kit is up to Velominati standards. Lighten up and ride more. The ride is always greater than the kit.

    Well, Niki managed to keep it straight, and he FUCKING KILLED IT the last 6K last Sunday.

    Those gloves… I’ve been wearing dem’ straight palm time-trial’n gloves simply because there is no closure at the wrist and no padding. Those gloves allow my to feel the road — all of it. And they look subtly refined.

  31. @wiscot

    @Ron Cargo pants? Don’t get me started on those!I had to wear a tie in 1st grade. I was 4 years old. I learned how to tie it back then. And the guys who wear cargo pants with a jacket and tie? The jacket is at least a couple of sizes too big as is the collar of the shirt. I’ve had to keep my mouth shut in stores as I see a wife/girlfriend give “sizing advice” to her man. “Oh yes dear, the cuff of the jacket should extend past your knuckles when your arms are straight so that it pulls back when you bend your arm. Yes, a 46″³ jacket is just right for your 5″² 6″³155lb frame.” Maybe some people should stick to sweats . . .

    And the problem is?

  32. @sthilzy

    @unversio

    “euro as fuck” rolls off the tongue like “muthafugga”


    Badass!

    This is a rider (whether he really exists or not) from the 2012 ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA MINI-COGAL. Apparently this kit also killed the link to the archived article.

  33. @unversio

    @scaler911

    @Rules Be Damned

    I do get a laugh sometimes with earnestness shown by many on this site around the importance of The Rules. Trust me Brett, no one in their car thinks about what we cyclists wear beyond “lyrca” and the last thing that Kristoff should be thinking about during a sprint finish for a Monument is whether his helmet or any other part of his kit is up to Velominati standards. Lighten up and ride more. The ride is always greater than the kit.

    Well, Niki managed to keep it straight, and he FUCKING KILLED IT the last 6K last Sunday.

    Those gloves… I’ve been wearing dem’ straight palm time-trial’n gloves simply because there is no closure at the wrist and no padding. Those gloves allow my to feel the road “” all of it. And they look subtly refined.

    What helmet?  What gloves?  All I see is Belgian Toothpaste.

  34. @Nate I was thinking the same thing. I LOVED watching him flog it in full TT mode to the finish. I like to imagine his thought process was something like

    [quick glance behind at the gap]

    No…

    [settling in to the V-locus for the next few minutes]

    Fucking…

    [hard right into the velodrome]

    Way!

  35. @ChrisO

    @Mike_P

    @ChrisO

    @Rules Be Damned

    The ride is always greater than the kit.

    The rider tricked out from top to toe in perfectly matched expensive gear or pro-team kit is just as much a douche …..

    So herein lies a quandary, cos you’ve just suggested that all of us who ride in V Kit are douches. But I’m fairly confident that’s not quite what you were getting at, I hope.

    Indeed not, but I don’t think (and certainly didn’t intend) that V kit falls in either of those camps .

    By perfectly matched expensive kit I mean the rider who is in a complete Assos system designed for whatever micro-climate is forecast that day or a head to toe Rapha-Paul Smith limited edition collabo.

    And I deliberately mentioned pro-team kit, not team kit which is how I would classify The V kit.

    Carry on as you were…

    Better  give me a ruling on my Rapha get up then if that’s how we are playing this game – refer earlier pic for your critique

  36. @PeakInTwoYears

    @ChrissyOne

    @Mike_P

    I’ve just noticed the rider second in line behind @ChrissyOne, adjusting his Oakley’s for the photo. Good job you didn’t feather your brakes Chrissy.

    I know it’s difficult to tell, as we’re all looking so Casually Deliberate, but we’re moving along at a healthy clip here – a good 30 kmh at least. Panic braking would have meant certain disaster.

    If you’d been there, you would’ve decided that with this group there was nothing problematic being done in that photo. The guy behind Chrissy had fantastic bike handling skills, and Chrissy wasn’t about to do anything squirrelly. It was a Good Ride.

    True words. It was my first group road ride, but I have plenty of experience riding close quarters and exponentially faster on the moto corse. The whole group exhibited top notch skills from the start. After that first section of trail, it was obvious to me that no one was going to do anything stupid or twitchy. Lines were held and communication was clear.

    If I could just get you guys to descend faster…

  37. @unversio

    @sthilzy

    @unversio

    “euro as fuck” rolls off the tongue like “muthafugga”


    Badass!

    This is a rider (whether he really exists or not) from the 2012 ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA MINI-COGAL. Apparently this kit also killed the link to the archived article.

    Ok, unless this was taken on the way to a costume party or was the result of a lost bet, it gets filed under “Fuck no.” There are just too many things wrong here.

    If done as a joke: well done sir, well done.

  38. maybe its me but does part of that ugly thing on Cippo seem to disappear into the background? Maybe its a stealth suit?

  39. @sthilzy Good fucking lord. Yes Cippo can get away with it in a certain leve (he got fined for that discretion, no?) But the word douche now has a new picture in the dictionary. Sad to see one of my brethren stricken with such an affliction.

  40. @wiscot The absurd head wear was relevant to the topic but I guess some would say Rebellin as a podium accessory is equally unwelcome. If I’m honest, I only stumbled upon this pic as I was watching De Brabantse Pijl and during the pre-race segment they showed Rebellin and I had no idea he was still racing, I did a little searching about him and lo and behold this god awful podium display.

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