Today is my wedding anniversary (16 years!!), so I’m going to torture that metaphor today. Cycling and I have been together for a long time, too. In the beginning, I tried really hard. I rode as fast as I could. I dressed the part (mostly). I was in love, and we do weird things for love like eat OG Power Bars off our handlebars, cause that’s a normal place to stick those. Malt nut anyone?
But the years passed, and at some point I began to perpetrate. Wearing mismatched kit is, in this already worn out literary device, the equivalent of wearing sweat pants in public. It tells everyone you just don’t care anymore. I cared, but I didn’t care, ya know? No one else seemed to care that I didn’t care, and you know where that led.
Caring even less.
There was a time when I’d pull on a pair of bibs to commute to work. These days I’ll wear baggies on a road ride. And a loose fitting shirt. There’s a chamois involved, but otherwise I look like a person, a normal person. With clicky-clacky shoes. I don’t feel I’m losing any of my previously realized incremental gains. And as we established two weeks ago that I don’t shave my legs, I might even look less creepy to civilians.
Not a personal goal, but…
Taken to its logical conclusion, my behavior turns me into Grant Petersen. Grant is so old-school he wrote a blog on paper and sold it as something called a “book.” The great conceit here, and in all the coverage of the “book,” is that old school is new school again. We have polluted cycling with our kits and our rules and our aerodynamics. Pull on your dungarees and ride your stupid bike. That’s the new thing.
Hipsters, loathsome as they may be, have made their own contributions here with ludicrous ideas like cycling-specific denim (a product which, as a tangent, makes frequent use of one of my favorite English phrases, “gusseted crotch”) and hoodies. These kids love bikes (sometimes), but also love not having to change clothes when they get wherever they are going. It’s a radical idea, but one that those of us who have spent an entire adult life carting our wardrobes around in a sweat stained backpack might just latch onto.
My words mock (lovingly), but the idea here is serious.
This week’s Group Ride asks, do you feel you HAVE to wear a full kit to ride a road bike, or any bike? Am I so complacent in my relationship with cycling that I’m not even trying to look good for it anymore? Have we reached that point of amiable companionship, cycling and me? Or am I on the cutting edge of a NEW AMERICAN CYCLING? Just behind Grant Petersen, and that old guy who wears gardening gloves on his ten-speed with the turned up bars.