Quick, somebody get this guy a username and password! I reckon this guest post from Paul Wilkinson puts him beyond guest designation.
There are many of us that simply call Paul The King …or King …even Kinger …if you are into that sort of thing. He sort of rules things from afar, has strong opinions and is generally right about everything. Pretty regal, that.
So here it is …advice from The King. …wait, is that a tongue in his cheek?
I feel good today. Also a little cheeky. A good day to tackle the sometimes controversial subject of looking good on the bike. But controversial it is no more. I mean, you can disagree with me if you want, but you’d be wrong.
Looking good on the bike is a cultural thing. Like in any culture one follows the rules or looks like a tool. You can break the rules if you want but you’ll be seen as a tool. Like eating pasta with your fingers, or answering your cell phone during a meeting, or wearing a NASCAR jacket at an Italian wedding; you’ll look like a tool. So, I offer, free of charge, the following guidelines to help you not look like a tool on the bike. Indeed, looking good on the bike. There are possible exceptions, but they are rare. The list is also not inclusive… but I don’t get paid enough to not forget some stuff.
1. Clean bike. Clean your bike. No excuses. I don’t care if you rode in the rain yesterday. Nobody does. We’ve all ridden in the rain. It doesn’t make you special. If you are tight on time you still must give your bike a quick wipe with a rag. Then properly clean it… soon. A dirty bike makes you look like a tool.
2. Kit. Several issues here. Cycling clothing is skin-tight to start. If your stuff flaps in the wind you are a tool. It should also reasonably match, be very clean, and not look worn. If we can see your butt crack through worn out shorts you will be slaughtered. If you must go pro-replica, obscure teams are best. Mainstream TdF teams are a fast-track to looking like a tool. Rock band and cartoon kit are way out. And don’t pull the bottom of your shorts down to your knees, and don’t go sleeveless.
3. Chain grease on legs. Okay, when you put your foot down do it on the left. If you walk alongside your bike do it on the left. Do not get grease on your legs. This is a major tool issue.
4. Facial hair. Cyclists shave.
5. Hairy legs. Cyclists shave. You decide. If your legs have hair you’d better have a good reason for it.
6. Socks. First, wear them for Heaven’s sake. Even girls. Wanna look like a tool? Easy, go sock-less. Wanna look cool? Wear long socks that match and are clean.
7. Position. This is tricky and there are many ways to kill a cat here, but you must have a good position to not look like a tool. In general, not too upright. Look at some pics of pros on line. There are many variations but none of them look like tools. If you think you have a special need, (e.g. “oh, my back is stiff and I need bars three inches higher”) don’t, you’ll look like a tool. And stretch. Flexibility is essential for a nice position. Really.
8. Souplesse. Be a good pedaller. Nice and smooth and about 75 to 95 rpm. Watch any pro. Need to stretch here, too. And keep your upper body still. Lots of long, slow distance will make you a good pedaller.
9. Rolled shoulders, elbows in and knees in. Now we’re reaching the advanced class. No tools here, pal.
10. Hold your line. Relax, keep calm, no shouting. And all the other points in the Peterborough Cycling Club’s ride participant guidelines. Break them and you’ll be, and look like, a tool.
11. Body shape. Lastly, if you wanna look really good on the bike, you need to be slim and lean.
This is what it all looks like; made cooler by taking on roads like this gem in Delaware.