On Looking Fantastic

Whenever I do anything, I try my best to project the confidence of Han Solo leaving the cantina after cooking Greedo which has been scientifically proven to be the maximum possible score on the Casually Deliberate Scale. Being Casually Deliberate comes down to two fundamental units of knowledge that you must hold unwaveringly within your heart: That you Look Fantastic and that You are Awesome at What You Do. Greedo never stood a chance; he hardly had a name tag.

I consider it my personal and professional responsibility to Look Fantastic at All Times whether on the bike, at the office (nothing but Maison Martin Margiela touches this body), at home, or at social engagements (at which times I will allow Rick Owens to mingle in the palate). The secret being, of course, that if you Look Fantastic, you appear twice as competent as you actually are to the casual observer – which is almost everyone these days because no one pays attention anymore.

The Cogal of the Falling Leaves was a cruel mistress, almost sinister. I dreaded the ride a bit, cursing Midsummer Frank who chose such a tough route, basking in his Midsummer Form, oblivious to what kind of horrible shape October Frank would be in. Midsummer Frank is a dick.

Courage is knowing what suffering lies down the road and setting forth nevertheless, but Courage is also a clueless twat about how humbling it is to helplessly watch the group ride away from you on hill after hill, a sensation I’m not entirely accustomed to. Each time, I could barely manage bridging back up just in time for the next hill so I could slip uselessly away again like a teflon-coated stone.

Eventually, the hills were too close together for me to bridge up, and I was cut adrift like a dinghy at sea.

I set off down the road alone while the group refueled at a rest station, not wanting to stop and lose whatever rhythm I’d regained, knowing full well that I was beyond a point where refuelling would be of use. Here it was just me, alone with the hum of my tires and the completely detached sense of ownership of my legs. I wish I’d grabbed the Good Legs from the garage today, but alas I hadn’t.

What kept me going, more than anything, was the knowledge that however slow I was going, I still looked a proper Cyclist, with my kit perfectly in place, my sunnies tucked neatly away in the vents of my helmet, jaw agape, and my perfectly curated machine carrying me along the way. I knew I looked resplendent while pedalling smoothly, the muscle-memory of countless hours accumulated pedalling a bike during my lifetime took over; shoulders steady, head low, legs on autopilot.

Being out of shape at this time of year, with the cold and wet months approaching is a solemn reality. There is nothing welcoming to the common Cyclist: the days are short and cold and getting out during the workweek is an act of true dedication. Kitting up in my finest Nine Kit or my Flandrian Best, emulating the Hardmen is what encourages me to set out onto the road to start the long journey back to fitness.

Looking Fantastic might not be all there is to Cycling, but at times like this, it’s all I got.

VLVV.

Related Posts

114 Replies to “On Looking Fantastic”

  1. @frank

    @brett

    Yes indeed Frank. Sometimes it’s hard when you’re so out of shape to Look Fantastic, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. White legs after winter are a bane on the Look, hairy ones even more so. Curating the bike and kit helps no end, and gives one hope that the body will soon follow.

    Pineapple Bob, haven’t seen that name for a long while… where is he now I wonder?

    Might have to wear the suit to the office tomorrow… fuck the vitriol I’ll receive from the skater boys who share the space!

    Word up! Fuck the the skater boys for sure. A suit is always called for, even when going for a bit of a run. Just ask James Bond.

    Tom Ford’s 2012 line of athletic wear was done correctly and is demonstrated very well here.  I like this shot because 1) you can glimpse the elastic straps Tom built in to keep the cuffs down as much as possible, which I had heard existed but never confirmed; and 2) you can see that a proper fitting pair of slacks need no belt, unlike your tan 3 piece example, which have entirely too much additional weight from superfluous bits like belt loops.  It’s the little differences that count.

  2. @litvi

    @Gianni

    @RedRanger

    I didn’t realize that pro’s ever used triple!

    I don’t think PB was a pro. I think he was more a bike model for Bridgestone. This lead photo might have been a catalog shot.

    I don’t think pros could get away with a triple. Even a compact would be a stretch for the rudest stage.

    Just like pros transcend some rules because of sponsorships, you can’t really fault PB for the triple here. Bridgestone paid him to ride something, and he rode it.  Good for him.  The EPMS on the other hand…

    You’re confusing “transcending” with “getting paid”. Transcending is making something that should look complete crap look rad, like Pantani and the bandana, and possibly PB here with the triple and the EPMS.

    A Pro who looks shit wearing their sponsors kit is not transcending anything apart from a paycheck. Which is not a knock; I celebrate people getting paid for doing stuff.

  3. @frank

    The cut is a little more loose than the castelli jersey, but the fabric is also not as stretchy, so it doesn’t need to be as tight. The fabric is amazeballs.

    Oh yeah. Just got home. Le gilet est énorme. Love it.

  4. @litvi

    @Gianni

    @RedRanger

    I didn’t realize that pro’s ever used triple!

    I don’t think PB was a pro. I think he was more a bike model for Bridgestone. This lead photo might have been a catalog shot.

    I don’t think pros could get away with a triple. Even a compact would be a stretch for the rudest stage.

    Just like pros transcend some rules because of sponsorships, you can’t really fault PB for the triple here. Bridgestone paid him to ride something, and he rode it.  Good for him.  The EPMS on the other hand…

    Believe me. I don’t fault him for anything. If I hadn’t grown up on a relatively flat part of the USA I might have had a damn triple. PB had some je ne sais quoi style in his look. As far as I know Bridgestone was not selling kit, just bikes, so PB probably got to put his kit together his own bad self. Chapeau.

    Didn’t @cyclops know him from his Bridgestone days? Where is @Cy? Tenn? Ky?

  5. @Gianni

    PB probably got to put his kit together his own bad self. Chapeau.

    looks like Bridgestone logo mark on the sleeve

  6. @Gianni

    @litvi

    @Gianni

    @RedRanger

    I didn’t realize that pro’s ever used triple!

    I don’t think PB was a pro. I think he was more a bike model for Bridgestone. This lead photo might have been a catalog shot.

    I don’t think pros could get away with a triple. Even a compact would be a stretch for the rudest stage.

    Just like pros transcend some rules because of sponsorships, you can’t really fault PB for the triple here. Bridgestone paid him to ride something, and he rode it.  Good for him.  The EPMS on the other hand…

    Believe me. I don’t fault him for anything. If I hadn’t grown up on a relatively flat part of the USA I might have had a damn triple. PB had some je ne sais quoi style in his look. As far as I know Bridgestone was not selling kit, just bikes, so PB probably got to put his kit together his own bad self. Chapeau.

    Didn’t @cyclops know him from his Bridgestone days? Where is @Cy? Tenn? Ky?

    Yeah they def had some clothing. I was handed a wind jacket by a rep one day and I had to wear it or get in trouble with the boss because we’d just picked them up.

  7. @wiscot

    Yeah, his gumwall tyres are the shit. The EPMS is an abomination, but he looks so fucking casual and badass in all other regards I say let him rock the pink EPMS. Maybe that is where Bob puts your soul after he crushes it….

  8. @frank

    All this is true. Except before the days of the compact, I caught the hints of rumours of the Pros riding triples up that stupidly steep climb in the Vuelta whose name escapes me at the moment.

    You’re thinking of the Angliru in the Vuelta, although the same was said about Monte Zoncolan in the Giro.

  9. May I point out that, with respect for a brand I admire, all Rapha is doing is to emulate Pinapple Bob’s kit and general aesthetic? It’s like The White Stripes just trying to emulate Son House.

  10. @litvi

    @frank

    @brett

    Yes indeed Frank. Sometimes it’s hard when you’re so out of shape to Look Fantastic, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. White legs after winter are a bane on the Look, hairy ones even more so. Curating the bike and kit helps no end, and gives one hope that the body will soon follow.

    Pineapple Bob, haven’t seen that name for a long while… where is he now I wonder?

    Might have to wear the suit to the office tomorrow… fuck the vitriol I’ll receive from the skater boys who share the space!

    Word up! Fuck the the skater boys for sure. A suit is always called for, even when going for a bit of a run. Just ask James Bond.

    Tom Ford’s 2012 line of athletic wear was done correctly and is demonstrated very well here.  I like this shot because 1) you can glimpse the elastic straps Tom built in to keep the cuffs down as much as possible, which I had heard existed but never confirmed; and 2) you can see that a proper fitting pair of slacks need no belt, unlike your tan 3 piece example, which have entirely too much additional weight from superfluous bits like belt loops.  It’s the little differences that count.

    Ah, a sartorialist, I’ve been waiting for you. 

    You are a step above me knowing about this TF athletic line to the point that I humbly admit I don’t know if you’re taking the piss. TF might just do that kind of awesome. Rick Ownes definitely would but it would be more flagrant than that. Margiela (although he can do no wrong) would never be that kind of formally imaginative (see what I did there?)

    I would counter only with that a belt should only ever be an accent, not a necessity, even on a perfectly tailored suit. Belt loops are not evil, they are a choice. They are also a crutch for those who have no taste, to @Ron’s point.

  11. @cognition

    @frank

    All this is true. Except before the days of the compact, I caught the hints of rumours of the Pros riding triples up that stupidly steep climb in the Vuelta whose name escapes me at the moment.

    You’re thinking of the Angliru in the Vuelta, although the same was said about Monte Zoncolan in the Giro.

    This.

  12. @frank

    @litvi

    @Gianni

    @RedRanger

    I didn’t realize that pro’s ever used triple!

    I don’t think PB was a pro. I think he was more a bike model for Bridgestone. This lead photo might have been a catalog shot.

    I don’t think pros could get away with a triple. Even a compact would be a stretch for the rudest stage.

    Just like pros transcend some rules because of sponsorships, you can’t really fault PB for the triple here. Bridgestone paid him to ride something, and he rode it.  Good for him.  The EPMS on the other hand…

    You’re confusing “transcending” with “getting paid”. Transcending is making something that should look complete crap look rad, like Pantani and the bandana, and possibly PB here with the triple and the EPMS.

    A Pro who looks shit wearing their sponsors kit is not transcending anything apart from a paycheck. Which is not a knock; I celebrate people getting paid for doing stuff.

    I think we’re more or less on the same page.  I was mostly thinking in terms of liability.  There are those among us to whom we give a pass* and we turn a blind eye to their transgressions.  Obviously you count PB among that group, and I might too.  That is, if I wasn’t too embarrassed to say I should have known him but never got the chance.  I stood outside the window of Jitensha a few times, but never went in.  Let alone hung out… Cal Cycling was sponsored by an LBS and I felt it was a matter of loyalty.  So I stood and gawked instead.  Admiring from a distance, hoping I wouldn’t be spotted in my flagrant violation of what I assumed were unwritten rules of a turf war that existed only in my own mind.  But damn that shop was sweet.  Their reverence for the V glowed like a lantern, and its essence just oozed out onto the street.  It was intoxicating.

    *viz., Wiggo wears long socks and we equivocate and demur; COTHO wears socks half that high and we say ‘of course his socks are tooooooooooooo long… he’s a total douche!’

  13. @litvi

    *viz., Wiggo wears long socks and we equivocate and demur; COTHO wears socks half that high and we say ‘of course his socks are tooooooooooooo long… he’s a total douche!’

    Just going to correct this:

    Wiggo wears long socks and we equivocate and demur say he shouldn’t.

    COTHO wears socks half that high and we say ‘of course his socks are tooooooooooooo long AND he’s a total douche hateful cuntbag!’

  14. @RobSandy

    @litvi

    *viz., Wiggo wears long socks and we equivocate and demur; COTHO wears socks half that high and we say ‘of course his socks are tooooooooooooo long… he’s a total douche!’

    Just going to correct this:

    Wiggo wears long socks and we equivocate and demur say he shouldn’t.

    COTHO wears socks half that high and we say ‘of course his socks are tooooooooooooo long AND he’s a total douche hateful cuntbag!’

    Just got around to watching The Armstrong Lie on dvd. A lot in there for sure. One thing stands out. LA is assuredly a sociopath. You can just imagine him in a non-bike situation being charming, witty, fun and good company – so long as you’re not a threat. Bring the bike into the mix and add some rivalry and all bets are off. He’ll happily kill you.

  15. @chuckp

    Decaf for Merckx? OK, it’s all about getting paid for by the sponsor, like Pineapple Bob for sporting an EPMS. Or is Merckx “transcending”, as Frank points out, making something which is crap taste good with Belgian toothpaste?

  16. @chuckp

    This.

    The fact that it’s decaf might explain the rather tired look on the Prophet’s face. As always, the Prophet is superbly dressed. Did you see how some of the riders showed up at the Tour presentation? Sure, be hip and Euro but Gesink wore jeans FFS. Pinot, on the other hand wore a bow tie. Chapeau.

  17. MX Leader [ Columbus MXL ] frame is needing a new look and attention to detail inside and out _ so arranging to get with Velocolour’s Noah Rosen for an almighty black transformation _ small white design elements _ new life

  18. @wiscot

    I did not see the presentation of the riders but I agree that jeans is nogo. However a suit does not suit either: We want guns without sneakers. Similarly soccer players in suits and ties, nahhh.

    Reminds me of a story by Krabbe about seeing a cyclist in normal suit on a commuter.

  19. Someone with better photoshop skills should have combined the two threads already……

  20. TGIF! Today I’m thankful I can ride my #1 to work and lean it against the wall by my desk all day long. We’re both waiting for Saturday.

    I enjoy dressing nicely, but damn, I can’t wear a full suit very often. If I’m in more than one shirt sleeve shirt when indoors, I’m a fucking furnace. At 172 cms, I blame the lack of surface area.

    MangoDave – nice! They had Pineapple Bob, we have MangoDave. Pretty cool.

  21. @frank


    I would counter only with that a belt should only ever be an accent, not a necessity, even on a perfectly tailored suit. Belt loops are not evil, they are a choice. They are also a crutch for those who have no taste, to @Ron’s point.

    Hmm, interestingly enough I really love belts and have a whole bunch, and yes, I consider them a nice touch to complete a sharp outfit. Also…my two biggest fears are having my Achilles bashed by an old lady blindly pushing her shopping cart around the store and…missing a belt loop. Nothing worse! It’s like a badge of not really caring.

  22. I’m sure this topic has been covered in some detail in the past, but would a tightly-wound, tastefully discrete tool-roll, carefully coordinated and complementing the overall bike aesthetic, be considered an EPMS?

    More room for mid-ride refreshments, bananas et al in the jersey pockets. Perhaps a sleeker look?

    All ridiculing thoughts and criticism welcome.

  23. @David

    I’m sure this topic has been covered in some detail in the past, but would a tightly-wound, tastefully discrete tool-roll, carefully coordinated and complementing the overall bike aesthetic, be considered an EPMS?

    More room for mid-ride refreshments, bananas et al in the jersey pockets. Perhaps a sleeker look?

    All ridiculing thoughts and criticism welcome.

    Gianni tried……….see this

    http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/rule-29-when-is-an-epms-not-an-epms/

  24. @universo

    MX Leader [ Columbus MXL ] frame is needing a new look and attention to detail inside and out _ so arranging to get with Velocolour’s Noah Rosen for an almighty black transformation _ small white design elements _ new life

    WHY THE FUCK IS YOUR BIKE LAYING ON THE GROUND???

    Pardon me. Just a bit taken aback by this photo.

  25. @David

    I’m sure this topic has been covered in some detail in the past, but would a tightly-wound, tastefully discrete tool-roll, carefully coordinated and complementing the overall bike aesthetic, be considered an EPMS?

    More room for mid-ride refreshments, bananas et al in the jersey pockets. Perhaps a sleeker look?

    All ridiculing thoughts and criticism welcome.

    I have one of those, and it fits very nicely inside my jersey pocket; although a bit bulkier that it’s predecessor (the Lezyne Caddy Sack) that was thieved from me at a charity ride.

    While the strap it comes with is inexplicably designed to strap the tool roll beneath the saddle like a tubular tire, it is not a tubular tire and therefore has no business beneath my saddle.

  26. @Gianni

    @MangoDave

    Back in the day, I told my riding buddies I wished I could be like Pineapple Bob.  They rode Bridgestones (I didn’t), so they deemed me unworthy of PB and started calling me Mango as a joke.

    That is funny you are a descendant of Pineapple Bob. Respect.

    He was one of the first non-euro racers who was put up as a cool cyclist. And he was a mystery as he never showed up anywhere but in Bridgestone ads.

    Respect?  Thanks, though not really earned.  Mrs. Mango just thinks I’m an idiot.  And she probably doesn’t appreciate me calling her Mrs. Mango.

  27. @frank

    @MangoDave

    Back in the day, I told my riding buddies I wished I could be like Pineapple Bob.  They rode Bridgestones (I didn’t), so they deemed me unworthy of PB and started calling me Mango as a joke.

    That photo is from the ’91 Bridgestone catalog. I had a major crush on the girl in that catalog. Bridgestones ruled. I still have one.

    You must mean Pineapple Karen.  She rocked.  Probably still does.

    Here’s a few throwback photos I dug up…

    1) The Bridgestone boys… MB-Zip on the left.  He tried to sell it to me but I stupidly declined, I was looking out for a Bontrager Race Lite.

    2) MB-3 in flight.  Bridgestone was such a cool company.  This frame was sent back under warranty, they replaced it with the MB-Zip. A whole ‘nother story is that I crashed on this same jump a few minutes later.  Short version – don’t drill out your components to shave weight.

    3) The other MB-3 rider, originator of my “Mango” nickname.

  28. @Teocalli

    Someone with better photoshop skills should have combined the two threads already……

    Really it should be a pile of The Rules that he’s sitting next to.

  29. @David

    I’m sure this topic has been covered in some detail in the past, but would a tightly-wound, tastefully discrete tool-roll, carefully coordinated and complementing the overall bike aesthetic, be considered an EPMS?

    More room for mid-ride refreshments, bananas et al in the jersey pockets. Perhaps a sleeker look?

    All ridiculing thoughts and criticism welcome.

    That is an EPMS with lipstick. Still and EPMS.

    @DeKerr

    @universo

    MX Leader [ Columbus MXL ] frame is needing a new look and attention to detail inside and out _ so arranging to get with Velocolour’s Noah Rosen for an almighty black transformation _ small white design elements _ new life

    WHY THE FUCK IS YOUR BIKE LAYING ON THE GROUND???

    Pardon me. Just a bit taken aback by this photo.

    Oh, I see the problem. It’s in the little ring.

  30. @MangoDave

    There is SO MUCH RAD in that set of photos. My brother @spankles had an MB-2. I rode it and was blown away by how it rode. I was on a Schwinn Sierra which I loved but handled like a boat and weighed like a tank due it’s sand-filled tubes.

  31. @Oli

    @Oli

    @RedRanger

    Yep, even Indurain did at times in the Giro and Vuelta. I’m not saying it’s right, though …

    Hello? Can anyone hear me?

    Dude, I hear you!

    I’ve seen photos of it but I’ll be fucked if I can find any of them…there is also a shot of whoever won the ITT up the Plan de Corones a few years back who rode one. Can’t find that either.

  32. @David

    @frank and others

    Thanks for the unambiguous clarity on the EPMS. I have backed away from the ledge.

    Heheee, yeah, I tried it and didn’t get away with it. Walk away, just walk away…

  33. @DeKerr

    @universo

    MX Leader [ Columbus MXL ] frame is needing a new look and attention to detail inside and out _ so arranging to get with Velocolour’s Noah Rosen for an almighty black transformation _ small white design elements _ new life

    WHY THE FUCK IS YOUR BIKE LAYING ON THE GROUND???

    Pardon me. Just a bit taken aback by this photo.

    THE BIKE WAS TIRED [ during 200mi effort last October ] _ actually this is a proper way to lay your bike down _ rather than have pictures of me during that effort, I took pictures of no.1

  34. @universo

    I can’t believe you didn’t step into the Star Wars conversation sooner. And your bike is perfect, I don’t know why you’re talking crazy about having it repainted.

  35. @frank

    i’ve always joked that even though it is “original paintwork EDDY MERCKX” on this custom black anniversary issue, that some new employee was given the task of painting it as a rush order_ never liked the shark skin design around the bb _ there are signs showing on the chain stays and other minor areas _ and [ big emotional swallow ] i allowed physics to ding the underside of the top tube while handling (mishandling) near a corner of my solid steel desk _ Noah Rosen will also repair the chain hanger that was removed by some unknown barbarian

  36. @universo

    Noah Rosen is a fucking genius/artist and all around wonderful guy.  I went out to his shop a couple of months ago to buy one of his jerseys and got to snoop around the shop to see some of the works in progress.  Follow him on Instagram for a regular dose of his work.  If you’re going to use Noah though, you kind of have to come up with something unique and special to do to your bike.

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.