I'd forgotten about this image. It's one of my favorites from this year's Tour of California. Jonathan Patrick McCarty riding for Ouch rockin' the Rubbermaids during Stage 2. I'm quite sure there was no mention of the kitchen brand on his jersey, and there's no photographic evidence anyone else in the peloton was volunteering to do the dishes.
Then there's Mr. Armstrong sporting a mtb visor on his Giro Ionos as he heads for the start line of Stage 3. I wonder if this was a simple re-purposing or whether the F1 team cooked this up in the wind tunnel.
Both challenge the established stylistic rules of the road, and while it's unlikely either will catch on, to me there's something confidently PRO about the choices. Wear what works for the conditions and carry it off with panache.
I thought about these two images last night as I responded to a question from a new convert to our collective obsession concerning shoes and pedals. In essence he wanted to know if wearing mtb shoes and using SPD pedals with a road bike violated the Velo-cratic oath. Flashback: You remember McQueen tossing the baseball over the trip wire in The Great Escape to see whether any of the guards would notice. "To cross the wire is death, you know that" Well like Hilts, I just want to get my baseball (and I'm not talking about bringing the Oakland A's to San Jose... though I'm for that too.)
NewtoCycling established he had decent taste by volunteering he'd be satisfied riding in Rapha's Touring Shorts paired with any of their jerseys. He wondered why I chose mtb shoes. I told him that premium mtb shoes (mine have full carbon soles and, except for the treads are indistinguishable from their road counterpart) sacrificed a few grams and possibly (depending on pedal choice) a small margin of platform integrity in exchange for a better contact point with the ground when unclipped, and the flexibility to walk normally for distances that you'd not attempt in road shoes.
I went on to say that for my riding I was happy with the trade offs and he should make up his mind based on his own routes and habits. Willy, Velodramatic regular, and randonneur extraordinaire echoed the sentiment and added a few practicalities of his own.
As I typed I also thought back to Andy, the inked, board-shorted, Vans-wearing rider on last year's Best Buddies Century or Erik, who Tim and I met at the top of Tunitas Creek... Rivendell, knickers, musette, Chuck Taylors and toe straps and then I drifted back to Portland, where every facet of bicycle culture thrives, cross-pollinates and resonates with individuality.
There is art in cycling, it takes years and thousands of miles to absorb its nuances and traditions. Lore is passed from rider to rider in a long, unbroken paceline. We share hard won secrets encrusted with sweat, stained by blood and tempered with suffering, and still there is room for self expression. Remember that the next time you pass someone in tubes socks and cyclo sandles perfecting his aero position on a TT-modified hybrid.
Velodramatic Images, 2009