Gunslinger

It is well known that knee warmers look better than leg warmers. Which isn’t to say leg warmers can’t look the business as well, but they will never look as good as knee warmers. The science is very clear on this.

Nevertheless, I’ve been enjoying wearing full leg warmers even when the weather doesn’t necessarily require them. Something about the orange bands getting nice and cozy with my orange Bonts has me mesmerized. But, since they were designed for the Classic V-Kit with the chevrons running along the cuffs, they don’t properly match the VLVV V-Kit. Which presents a small challenge because then the cuffs on the jersey doesn’t match the cuffs on the leg warmers, so that shit needs to be covered up. Which means if I’m riding in that kit with leg warmers, I’m compelled to wear overshoes irrespective of the weather. Which are also orange and also mesmerizing.

This is all very natural, there is nothing mysterious in it.

But what has always been mysterious is how a rider with the kind of impeccable taste, style, and class like Tom Boonen could suffer the indignity of wearing his leg warmers over the legs of his bibs. Everyone knows they go under the bibs and booties, and over the socks. Basic laws of Physics, right there with gravity and e=mc2. Tom often wears them properly in training, so it is obvious he understands this. It has, until recently, completely dumbfounded me.

Thanks to me being a strangely obsessive individual with a unjustifiable willingness to ask near-strangers to clarify things that should not be kicking around in anyone’s head in the first place, I have managed to gain clarity on this matter. One evening during the Rouleur Classic at a noisy hotel bar, the question was loudly posed to none other than Chris Juul-Jensen, whose approachable nature made him seem like the right guy to ask. He raised an eyebrow and immediately agreed that it looks completely rubbish and he would never do it himself. But he went on: it turns out that the big boys in the bunch do this as a statement that their race does not start until 50 km from the finish. In a race of 250 kilometers, only the last fifth matters, and it is more important to Look Fantastic on the finish line than on the start line. Particularly if you happen to be the one with their arms in the air. Until then, the gunslingers are just sitting in and trying to stay warm while the domestiques are flogging themselves to bits on the front.

If you’re a gunslinger, and you’re bringing your game to the party, then this is how you tell the wee folk that you’re what’s going to happen.

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80 Replies to “Gunslinger”

  1. I have a fair amount of confidence in my ability to dress and undress the upper half of my body whilst riding a bike, but the idea of removing anything below my waist while turning the cranks is a skill that, presently, escapes me.

    Mostly because I’ve never tried….

  2. Just wanted to say thank you! I am a newcomer to this beautiful sport and this website has become my beacon. I feel like I am a better cyclist after reading your posts (yes, I am getting rid of my full-length tights with “stirrups”!). Hoping maybe one day I will be a real Velominatus. One day…

  3. @Frank That is a sound reasoning for his transgression. Also bear in mind good sir Tom suffered a head injury this past Fall, potentially damaging the parts of his noggin responsible for fashion sense. Which part of the brain exactly responsible for this skill has not been fully identified but judging by observations of some people’s horrid ideas about style, it is a frail and easily compromised part of the cerebrum.

  4. You had me at fucking hello.  Of course I have not read the article at all but the photo has won already.

     

  5. I’m not going to defend Tommeke’s transgressions, but I will offer up a justification. For mere mortals (well, me anyway) if I start a ride in knee warmers or leg warmers and/or booties, that stuff stays on the whole ride. For the pros, things are different. I expect the legwarmers are over the shorts so as to be a) easily removable, and b) easily removable without messing with the position of the shorts which will be worn just so as to keep tan lines sharp. Tommeke doews have the good sense and style to keep the affair all black, unlike a certain Katusha rider who looks like a bag o’washin’.

    BTW Ccos, that pic was taken long before Tommeke’s unfortunate fall that cost him some of his hearing.

  6. @wiscot

    Oh I know, but clearly he hit his head before he commissioned this beauty (and again when wrecking the damn thing).

    Tom Boonen’s freshly crashed Ferrari.

  7. CJJ is an absolute gentleman and one hell of a rider. Very impressive last season. Strong in this one, the V is.

  8. The guy holding up the tree with the merkins on his elbows knows Tom is going to rip the legwarmers off.

  9. these guys can stop take off their leg warmers, take a piss, comb their hair and still not miss the final.

  10. @Haldy

    I find it fascinating that he has leg warmers and shoe covers…but no gloves…

    An ex-domestic pro once told me “no gloves feels fast”.

    If that’s anything to go by…

  11. @Haldy

    He is Belgian – the combination of a lifetime of riding in shite weather, over cobbled roads, probably means he has f’ all feeling in his hands anyways.

  12. Waiting for some retro-grouch Flandrian to cobble up the gutters on the Taaienberg. Boonen has been gutter bitching up there for years. Its wrong. Offensive even.

  13. @Puffy

    @Haldy

    I find it fascinating that he has leg warmers and shoe covers…but no gloves…

    An ex-domestic pro once told me “no gloves feels fast”.

    If that’s anything to go by…

    This is absolutely true.  Bernoulli’s laws of thermodynamics prove it.

    Plus, the wrists are one place where the body regulates temperature and keeping them free of detritus like gloves and watches allows a more natural control of oneself.

    It also looks boss.

  14. @Harminator

    Waiting for some retro-grouch Flandrian to cobble up the gutters on the Taaienberg. Boonen has been gutter bitching up there for years. Its wrong. Offensive even.

    Classic. Fill ’em with gravel.

  15. @wiscot

    I’m not going to defend Tommeke’s transgressions, ….

    But wait a second, I’ve finally got around to reading Frahnk’s scribbling and isn’t the whole point that Tommeke is not transgressing any rules b/c he is Fucking Tommeke and for him (and Sparty, etc) the ride/race doesn’t even start until 50 k to go.  It is the ultimate Badassness to ride looking a bit shit b/c you know that it is just a warm up and fuck everything until the ride starts proper when you appear on the dusty street at 5 minutes to noon and fucking shoot everyone in sight.  Maybe it is b/c I have only had one espresso, but that is my read of it.

    By the way, fucking great read!

  16. So, why is he on the front with his leg warmers on if “his race hasn’t started yet?”

  17. Maybe his are made like those Chippendale dancer pants and thy just whip them off?

  18. The leg warmers over bibs is a track riders thing……. don’t know why, but it is.

  19. I’ve slipped legs warmers off during a competitive group ride. Not easy, but can be done. I have leg warmers with a 1/4 zip and assumed most did.

    Fred. He’s not racing yet, just trying to kill some others’ spirits.

    Also, note who is on his wheel. Another Belgian. Gotta love how hard he rides, despite his baby face. (I’m baby faced too; it can be hard to exude hardness when you still look like a teenager)

  20. @Harminator

    Waiting for some retro-grouch Flandrian to cobble up the gutters on the Taaienberg. Boonen has been gutter bitching up there for years. Its wrong. Offensive even.

    This is Tomeke’s berg and this is not The Ronde. He is just marking his territory for future victories. We saw him finish with tights on KT12 in the Wednesday race between the Ronde and P-R. The tights said I’m not really racing, I’m just training.

  21. @Buck Rogers

    And at least he is not fucking Paulini!!! No getting around that shit.

    Paulini? Are you referring to the guy with the awesomest beard in the peloton? That guy is pure stud, even if he doesn’t always make the best personal or fashion choices.

  22. @Philonius

    @Buck Rogers

    Paulini? Are you referring to the guy with the awesomest beard in the peloton? That guy is pure stud, even if he doesn’t always make the best personal or fashion choices.

    Or best choice of when to re-infuse a blood bag that had some coke left in it from when he had it extracted earlier in the spring.

  23. @Philonius

    @Buck Rogers

    Paolini.

    Right.  The guy who has had an amazing resurgence to his career at the ripe old age of 38 who tested positive for coke at the TDF which most people think was probably secondary to re-infusing a blood bag that he had drawn off sometime this spring and stored, not realizing that he had coke in his system when it was given.  Then he re-infused it during the Tour and popped positive.

    Of course, that’s just a theory.  I personally think that it was Tyler’s unborn twin that used the coke.  Of perhaps Contador’s rangy beef???

  24. @Buck Rogers

    @wiscot

    I’m not going to defend Tommeke’s transgressions, ….

    But wait a second, I’ve finally got around to reading Frahnk’s scribbling and isn’t the whole point that Tommeke is not transgressing any rules b/c he is Fucking Tommeke and for him (and Sparty, etc) the ride/race doesn’t even start until 50 k to go. It is the ultimate Badassness to ride looking a bit shit b/c you know that it is just a warm up and fuck everything until the ride starts proper when you appear on the dusty street at 5 minutes to noon and fucking shoot everyone in sight. Maybe it is b/c I have only had one espresso, but that is my read of it.

    By the way, fucking great read!

    Yep, this, got it in one.   The other players have to look good all day as that’s their only play.

  25. @Buck Rogers

    @wiscot

    I’m not going to defend Tommeke’s transgressions, ….

    But wait a second, I’ve finally got around to reading Frahnk’s scribbling and isn’t the whole point that Tommeke is not transgressing any rules b/c he is Fucking Tommeke and for him (and Sparty, etc) the ride/race doesn’t even start until 50 k to go. It is the ultimate Badassness to ride looking a bit shit b/c you know that it is just a warm up and fuck everything until the ride starts proper when you appear on the dusty street at 5 minutes to noon and fucking shoot everyone in sight. Maybe it is b/c I have only had one espresso, but that is my read of it.

    By the way, fucking great read!

    @Buck Rogers

    @wiscot

    I’m not going to defend Tommeke’s transgressions, ….

    But wait a second, I’ve finally got around to reading Frahnk’s scribbling and isn’t the whole point that Tommeke is not transgressing any rules b/c he is Fucking Tommeke and for him (and Sparty, etc) the ride/race doesn’t even start until 50 k to go. It is the ultimate Badassness to ride looking a bit shit b/c you know that it is just a warm up and fuck everything until the ride starts proper when you appear on the dusty street at 5 minutes to noon and fucking shoot everyone in sight. Maybe it is b/c I have only had one espresso, but that is my read of it.

    By the way, fucking great read!

    Fucking this Fucking that ,thought we were supposed to have some class FFS

  26. Well fuck, and here I thought class was not using the “C” word around here.

  27. @Buck Rogers

    Kudos to Paolini for wearing the same colour leg warmers as knicks. If you need to wear them then they should match.

    The designer of Katusha kit is obviously colour blind but the D/S is really the one who should be shot for allowing red knicks.

    Maybe this is why Paolini got so whacked out… saw his team kit made him look like one of those clowns that get shot out of a cannon in the circus and just couldn’t face it.

    I can only assume the safety pin has come from his dealer.

  28. @Fred

    So, why is he on the front with his leg warmers on if “his race hasn’t started yet?”

    His may not have started yet, but he can certainly end the race of a few others fighting for the gutter a hundred riders back. That’s where the real gutterbitching goes on…

  29. @Buck Rogers

    Well fuck, and here I thought class was not using the “C” word around here.

    What, Chipollini?  Or was it Chiapucci? Surely not Coppi?

    Whatever….what the fuck did they ever do to us?

  30. I don’t know the name of the climb in the lead photo, but isn’t it a bit of a tradition that Tommeke “stretches” his legs here and strings out the peloton?

    Also, I think Boonen prefers no gloves. Doesn’t wear them in Paris-Roubaix. Maybe he believes that he can “feel” the road better? I don’t know, I’m just making this stuff up.

  31. @wiscot

    I don’t know the name of the climb in the lead photo, but isn’t it a bit of a tradition that Tommeke “stretches” his legs here and strings out the peloton?

    Also, I think Boonen prefers no gloves. Doesn’t wear them in Paris-Roubaix. Maybe he believes that he can “feel” the road better? I don’t know, I’m just making this stuff up.

    Yeah, the “Hardest” thing in this photo for me is the no gloves.  I have always ridden with gloves, it seems so strange to me to go without.  Suppose I should try it sometime.  Kind of like my helmet.

  32. @Buck Rogers

    @wiscot

    I don’t know the name of the climb in the lead photo, but isn’t it a bit of a tradition that Tommeke “stretches” his legs here and strings out the peloton?

    Also, I think Boonen prefers no gloves. Doesn’t wear them in Paris-Roubaix. Maybe he believes that he can “feel” the road better? I don’t know, I’m just making this stuff up.

    Yeah, the “Hardest” thing in this photo for me is the no gloves. I have always ridden with gloves, it seems so strange to me to go without. Suppose I should try it sometime. Kind of like my helmet.

    Agreed. For me riding without gloves is like riding without a helmet or leaving the house not wearing a watch. It just feels weird, like something’s missing.

  33. @wiscot

    @Buck Rogers

    Yeah, the “Hardest” thing in this photo for me is the no gloves. I have always ridden with gloves, it seems so strange to me to go without. Suppose I should try it sometime. Kind of like my helmet.

    Agreed. For me riding without gloves is like riding without a helmet or leaving the house not wearing a watch. It just feels weird, like something’s missing.

    Riding without gloves is all V, hard man, and cool … until you crash. Been there done that. Not so much fun. When I was still riding sportbikes, one of my mentors always said, “Dress for the crash, not the ride.” While bicycles aren’t nearly as dangerous as sportbikes, at least when it comes to gloves I abide by that same rule.

  34. Can someone please misspell another Italian name? It has been a few posts since that happened.

    Wear gloves if you want, or don’t wear them. But if you think I’m going to base my estimation of your Vness on that, you’re wrong.

  35. @Ron

    Can someone please misspell another Italian name? It has been a few posts since that happened.

    Bafungu!  Which is the Americanized slang and should really be Vaffanculo!

  36. @Buck Rogers

    @Philonius

    @Buck Rogers

    Paolini.

    Of course, that’s just a theory. I personally think that it was Tyler’s unborn twin that used the coke. Of perhaps Contador’s rangy beef???

    Solid, 24 karat gold right there!

    @DavyMuur

    @Philonius

    I’m with you on this one. Paoloni is a legend and one of the most individual riders in the peloton. Plus, he’s my excuse for flagrantly breaking Rule #50.

    I don’t understand how it’s possible that he looks so good in that fugly helmet and fugly shades. That is style, my friends.

    @Buck Rogers

    Well fuck, and here I thought class was not using the “C” word around here.

    There are only two situations where its acceptable to call someone a cunt. When they are one, and when they’re not.

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