Saturday, June 28, 2008

How to look your best whilst cycling to work

Questions non-climber won't give a shit about: should you place your own quickdraws on a redpoint? If you fall off and pull your ropes, should you strip the gear as well? And if you do so, have you then blown the ground up? These are things that 99.9% of the population really don't care about. It's the same with cycling - although there it might be only 99.3%. So Campagnolo, not Shimano. Obviously. If that's not so obvious check this rather good guide to cycling etiquette that got posted on UKC last week. But it is very roadie. For those of us who do most of our miles on the way to work and back through urban settings, unfortunately these rules just aren't practical so we, on UKC, tried to come up with some for the urban-commute cyclist:

1) Wear cycle clothing - you're gonna smell and this will make you take a shower and change when you get to work. Think of your colleagues. Plus you look cooler.
2) Thinking of colleagues, don't wear lycra shorts. Baggies are the only acceptable leg wear. If cheap, wear cycling shorts under a pair of normal shorts.
3) If you don't get sweaty enough to need a shower on arrival at work, you're not a proper cycle commuter. Move house further away from your office.
4) Always wear eyewear - reflective wraparounds are best - cars will always win against bikes in a collision but you must NOT let the driver know that you realise this. See the whites of their eye, don't let them see yours.
5) Satchels and courier bags are good, rucsacs make you look like a mountain biker. Fine at the weekend in the woods, but not for commuting - we gotta look more hip when others are looking.
6) leaving the reflectors on your wheels or bike because the bike shop put them there is a no no.
7) wrapping your bike lock around your waist makes you look like a tit.
8) Don't EVER, EVER, EVER wear reflective tabard, or any other neon reflective accessory. Total punter giveaway. Small silver strips (or similar) on courier bag acceptable.
9) No d-locks attached to frame, or worse, the chain stay.
10) Panniers. Very practical, very naff.
11) Roadbikes are cool (but please note rule 2), real mountain bikes are not. Again, fine for the weekend in the woods but not commuting thank you. People who only ride expensive mountain bikes in the city are the SUV-drivers of the cycling world.
12) Cyclo-cross bikes are extra cool.
13)Whateverbikes professional couriers ride are always going to be cool, even if it is likely to kill the rest of us (fixers with no brakes etc).
14) there is very fine line between a cool hybrid and a non-cool hybrid, but suspension on commuting bike is always a no-no - it suggests your heart isn't really in it and you'd prefer to be on a comfy bus.

There was a wee bit of discussion on some of these; I begged exemption on rule 6 on the basis that it is dark in Finland for half the year and hence reflectors seem like a good idea. And Lummox wanted an exception on 14, the no suspension rule, for on the basis that this beauty only has a little, tiny bit. If you commute and have any other suggestions - please leave a comment.

Anyway, spotted on Pinch Flat News, this picture of Barak Obama breaking just about everyone of these rules:

That looks somewhat uncomfortable but fortunately, for Barak if not the environment, once he wins the presidency he'll ride around in the back of something that looks like a car but is actually a tank, surrounded by dozens of similar vehicles and cop cars, and he won't need to ride to work anymore looking so un-hip. Pinch Flat lays out pretty much everything that is wrong with the picture. I'm frankly disappointed that his team that is so focus grouping everything else about Barak's image let him out on that ugly steed. So if the Obama campaign wants a cycling image consultant, I'd happily take the job.


Anonymous said...

If you're going to commute on two wheels, you might as well ride something with a 150 hp engine strapped to it. That's what roads are for.

Mountain bikes are a whole different story.

Matthew said...

Commuting 25 km each way with a satchel. Hmmmm, large backpack necessary in my case. D-lock on the frame (mainly because I need 2 of them to stop the thieving bastards at work, a university, and the other is attached to my bag). Dealing with traffic means I also need a mountain bike, though I only have a hard-tail, to hop on and off pavements constantly. Sunglasses, yes, but I think definite eye-contact has saved me several times, that and the ability to swear at the top of my voice in several languages while out of breath. Agree with pretty much every other point.

Lenoclimb said...

Tucking your jeans into your socks in a no-no.

The correct way to ride your bike in jeans is to roll one or both legs up - with chunky turnovers.

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

I definitely like the one jean leg rolled up look - but with cycling shoes for your SDPs! Very "courier-chic". But my ride is a bit too long, so I need shorts! I can only do the one rolled up leg thing if I need to pop into the city centre at lunch time.