Road Cool

A light hearted look at how to be Road Cool

Helmets: Nothing looks cooler than the pros cruising in formation with nothing but a cycling cap on there heads. Unfortunately slurred speech and dribbling from the side of your mouth ain’t cool, so wear your helmet. When wearing a helmet it should be tilted as far forward as possible but never at a sideways angle – this is a sure sign of an amateur. And please, take your helmet off when you get to the café-stop. To look uber cool, slip a cycling cap on the moment you take the helmet off. Fellow cyclists will think you look cool, mere mortals will think you’re a prat, but then you are dressed in lycra and funny shoes!

Legs: For road cycling they have to be shaved don’t they? You too ladies.

Kit: The jersey just has to match the shorts (YOGi apparel available here). Under no circumstances should ANYONE wear replica pro team kit and DEFINITELY not national or world champion jerseys unless they actually won it. The jury’s out on retro wool jerseys….unless your French.

For uber cool status wear the kit of some obscure continental team but you must have a story of how you spent a month training with them in Majorca during the winter break.

Sleeveless jerseys on a road ride – NO! You’re a cyclist; you’re supposed to have a two-tone tanned/untanned body. For extra points, and if you’ve been putting a lot of miles in under the sun (yeah, right) like the pros, you should also have white panda eyes where your sunglasses were.

If the thermometer’s reading 15 degrees or less you should at the very least be covering your knees – the pros would be wearing full leg warmers (on training rides). If the temperature’s 10 degrees or below and you ride in shorts, your not tough, you’re just an idiot. Have a look at the hard cycle commuters heading along the Embankment on a freezing winter’s morning in flappy running shorts, oh yeah that’s cool all right.

Also there is no such thing as ‘shorts’, bibs are the only option. Oh and no long socks either – even Lance Armstrong couldn’t make them look good.

Please throw out your old bib shorts when they’re worn-out, lycra reveals enough of the human anatomy as it is without having to see a transparent butt panel!

iPods: Not cool. Again slurred speech and dribbling ain’t cool – you need to hear the car that’s about to hit you. Somebody turning-up on a group ride wearing an MP3 player says two things; (1) You people are good enough to ride with but not good enough to talk to, or even listen to and (2) I’m not concerned about my own safety or yours for that matter.

Accessories: To look cool, ride without a saddle pack, just put a small pump, a tube and a tyre lever in your back pocket. To look uber cool ride with nothing in your back pockets, as this must mean that you have a team car following you at all times – just make sure you’ve got some money for that taxi home when you puncture.

Don’t put the stickers that came with your new shoes or sunglasses on your bike or helmet unless you have a sponsorship deal with said companies.

Tattoos: The classic tattoo left by an oily chainring on the back of the calf screams ‘novice’ even if you’re not. To be uber cool; take your chain off once a week, degrease and soak in paraffin wax simmered in your mum’s (or wife’s) best saucepan – no then again, don’t – you’ll burn the house down.

There’s nothing that says; serious racer better than a good road rash down the side of the leg.

Carbon Wheels: Don’t turn-up to a training ride with carbon wheels, they’re for racing only. You should be using the heaviest wheels available and not telling anyone about it – you’re THAT strong.

The Track-Stand: Pro’s don’t need to unclip at traffic-lights; they just do a track-stand.

The Group Ride: You’ve seen the photographs of pro teams bowling along two abreast shoulder to shoulder and inches separating each wheel. Then there’s the club ride; riders all over the place spread over a distance of five miles!

So here are the golden rules to make the ride uber cool: (1) Never ride more than two abreast. (2) Never allow more than 6 inches distance between your front wheel and the rider in front. (3) Maintain a distance of no more than 12 inches from your shoulder to the shoulder of the rider alongside. (4) It only takes one rider to call out instructions – the one at the front. A point of the hand or a gesture behind the back is all that’s required to signal obstructions.

So to look cool; keep the group tight. To look uber cool; only ride with cyclists wearing the exact same kit. If this is impossible then make sure there are no more than three different kits in the pack and there are at least three riders wearing each kit.

The Hero: Getting dropped isn’t cool, unless you pretend you’re taking it easy to recover from the weekend’s race. But the best way to be uncool is to sprint off the front of the group at inappropriate times, only to dangle on your own, up the road as the group ignores you. Another no-no is sitting behind a dropped rider as they slowly claw their way back the group only for you to suddenly sprint past giving them no chance to get on your wheel.

So remember folks; if you can’t ride good, you might as well look good. How many of these rules have we all broken at sometime or maybe all the time?

Kim Wiltshire

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