Look Pro: Pre-Ride Afficionado

My office is organizing a holiday 12K run, an invitation to which I replied that one is only to engage in running when one is being chased, and even then only fast enough to avoid capture. I am a Cyclist, not a savage fleeing a beast in the jungle. I walk as little as possible because I hate walking, I carry as light a load as I possibly can to improve my climbing, and I only engage in core-building exercises because I am given to understand it will make me a stronger rider. We are, of course, occasionally required to participate in non-Cycling activities like “working”, but if you’re anything like me then you just use that time as an opportunity to get more psyched for the next ride.

Most of the time, I have spent the day (or evening before) thinking about what kit I’ll be riding in, and which bike I’ll take out that day. I’ll have made up my mind long before I descend the stairs to the basement where my bikes patiently hang in wait. Still I inspect them all as if the choice were not already made; I’ll pinch their tires, perhaps flick a pedal on its spindle or take one down from its hook to test the tightness of a headset. I’ll feel a tinge of guilt at passing over the others, but that guilt is offset by the excitement of taking the chosen steed down, pumping its tires up, and shifting through the gears in confirmation of the perfectly tuned drivetrain. I will be unable to resist the temptation to turn the barrel adjuster in the desire make the shifting even more perfecter.

Then, normally, it’s straight into my kit, out the door, and onto the bike I hop in Casually Deliberate Cyclocross style.

It is a rare occasion that I am afforded the luxury of being kitted up for the ride prior to departure; these rare occurrences are usually on Race Day or before a group ride when pre-ride espresso is sipped while we universally engage in shit-talking intended to intimidate or dupe our fellow riders. These are cherished times where one is allowed the opportunity to wear Cycling caps, pre-ride sandals or sneakers, long sleeve jerseys and full leggings (irrespective of the time of year) and practice being Casually Deliberate. But take note: the utmost care must be taken to every detail of our appearance:

  1. As mentioned in Dress Like an Onion, this is the time for long sleeve jerseys and full leggings. The leggings go under the bibs and over the socks. The long sleeve jersey goes over the jersey. This serves to preheat the Engine Room and bring the guns to a rolling simmer.
  2. This is also the time for a casquette, worn in accordance to the Three-Point System. The visor may be flipped up or down, and it may be won backwards provided you ooze style and class ala Roger de Vlaeminck or Robert Millar.*
  3. Sunglasses may under no circumstances be worn, but instead should be perched on your head. The Goldilocks Principle applies here; don’t perch them too high or too low, but just at where your hairline is – or was, for the follically challenged.*
  4. Be wary of the winter Cycling Cap in these circumstances. Le Professeur is kindly demonstrating a mastery of this most mysterious of arts, but it is exceptionally difficult to pull off.*
  5. Slide Sandals or sleek running shoes should be worn until the very last moment before the ride starts, at which time the leggings and long sleeve jersey are doffed and Cycling Shoes are put on. Immediately mount the bicycle and roll back over to the start or meeting point, never again dismounting the bicycle until the ride is over or you crash. If you are forced to endure the indignity of waiting for a tardy rider, then this waiting shall be done properly while resting upon the top tube of the bicycle.

Merckxspeed, my fellow Velominati.

*Wearing of the casquette, sunglasses, and in particular the winter Cycling Cap should be practiced at length in front of the mirror until wearing them perfectly becomes muscle memory. Recall that in order to be Casually Deliberate, one is to give the impression that all this awesome just happened by accident.

Related Posts

54 Replies to “Look Pro: Pre-Ride Afficionado”

  1. @davidlhill


    I’ve loved riding the boards every time I’ve done it, and I’ve serious considered getting a track bike. In fact, I was looking at track bikes before I was looking at road bikes.

    But what put me off was that I love being outside and track riding is an indoor sport, which only involves going round and round in circles. I think I’d struggle to maintain motivation for that.

    I’m with you re the outside bit. However, the sensations are so different it’s almost a different sport altogether. I want to get licensed, and then see if there is some sort of masters series of races I can get involved with.

    In an almost ideal world I can leave the office at 6, race at 7, be home at 9.

    I’ve been thinking along similar lines, it’s easy to get to from my office but a bugger to get home from afterwards (back into London and then 40 minutes north on the train). I need to research this more (pick your brains at the Lowlander in January).

  2. Goddamn, that is a nice sweater Laurent has on.

    I only run when there is a ball involved. Otherwise, I get bored after mere minutes. Walking. I prefer not to, unless my dogs are involved.

    Road and cross kit are dialed in, right now I’m perfecting my commuter look. Just as with the roadie gear, I try to have 1-2 set outfit alignments that provide the most versatility and the ability to ride in on a cold morning, and home on a mild early evening.

  3. @wiscot

    Good stuff. I imagine your reaction to your office colleagues was a bit mixed on this one: one one hand, appreciative of their use of the metric 12 instead of the imperial 7 1/2, yet revulsion at the thought of “running.” 12 kms sounds far more impressive than 7 1/2, however, most Americans have no idea how far a kilometer is whereas they do know how far a mile is and that’s like twice the length of a mall parking lot. The former sounds impressive, the latter just horrible.

    People ask me if I do triathlons and I gently tell them no because my legs don’t have gears or a freewheel and it’s hard to look casually deliberate in a speedo. (particularly if one has a typical cyclist’s tan lines.)

    The Fignon bunnet is a classic. I have a couple old school ones like it myself: a red wool Denti one from Italia and an acrylic red and blue one. Both can, of course, be worn forwards or backwards, but much practice is needed to get the right angle.

    The jersey reminds me of one of my most prized pieces of cycling gear – a sweater in the same style but with La Vie Clair colors – all black with the Mondrian blocks on the upper chest and shoulders. 30 years old and still fits. Only worn on special occasions.

    I’ve signed up for a 25 kms fat bike ride on the frozen tundra of Lake Winnebago in mid February. Nothing worries me except how to dress warmly and not look like a big bag of unsorted laundry.

    As always, a great post from ya. One of the things I truly love about cycling is the built-in fitness aspect. I’m no longer a teenager, but I’m also not a blimp. Why? I have to carry my arse along on the bike wherever I go. When you reach for the drops and the belly says, “Hold on a minute”…that is when it’s time to get the house in order.

    I can respect a 12 k. A 5 k is kinda a joke to me. Good for folks to get out, but…. 5k shouldn’t really be a challenge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.