Thursday, August 26, 2010

Miss Ann Thrope

An Americano and a Chickpea Roll from Just Us. Just the thing to warm me up after a jaunt in typically British weather for this morning's ride.

It was misty, foggy and a bit drizzly, but despite the absence of a real source of water (drizzle just doesn't count) it was soaking wet. Squeezing 120 into my Contis before leaving just left me with a bike with the handling characteristics of Salé and Pelletier (or if you're my British reader, Torville and Dean). Despite the Britishness of the morning, oddly, I was in Canada. Of course this is Nova Scotia, Nouvelle Eccosse, so maybe that was it instead. Training perhaps for Worlds in ten days. Not that I need to train riding in the dreck, I just need to train standing around in it.

At least I wore black socks, white ones would have been ruined.

Nice Roubaix though.

More-so than the changing of the leaves, I think this is the cue for cyclists that 'cross season is around the corner.

I think on a day like this the Roubaix is a badge of honour that says, however subtly and slightly grimily, yeah, I got out. You?

Speaking of getting out, I had the occasion to actually get dressed the other day too.

I don't mean I habitually walk around stark bollock naked all day, but I mean an occasion to get dressed in the big-boy clothes. The ones made of natural, non-breathable, slow-drying fabrics. The ones where the seams are sewn, not glued. The ones with proper fasteners; buttons, frame-style buckles and yes, even cuff-links and not Velcro, full-length zippers, ratchetting plastic buckles, snaps and elastics.

Are cufflinks too much for a random Monday morning? Can you ever go wrong with a simple silk knot? In Evolution David Duchovny asks Orlando Jones of Jullianne Moore "Garters? For a day-function?". Same reasoning. I would say why not?

I also crashed. Not on the bike (I didn't even touch the damn thing Monday) but physically. I'm not sure why, maybe a reaction to the long weekend. In fact a series of long weekends. The funny thing was, even in the depths of my crash I found myself being punctiliously polite. I'm normally a please-and-thank-you and holding doors open for people (of either gender) but somehow being in the misanthropic depths accentuated this rather than making me a psychotic social misfit. Go figure.

In the Right Stuff (I think), Tom Wolfe describes the counseling potential astronauts received on how to dress and how to behave. For example, if you must put your hands on your hips, fingers forward. Only women and interior designers place place their thumbs forward. Really? Am I being judged on how I stand with my hands on my hips? And do I care? The answer to the first may be yes but the answer to the second is most definitely no. I'm secure enough in myself not to worry how I'm perceived.

He then goes on about socks, of all things. How they should be dark and sober and above all mid-calf length, so there is no visible skin. Now that's where I diverge with Tom.

The "uniform" for guys not in an actual uniform is regrettably uniform. It's drab, it's bland, it's samey. There's very little leeway to change it up, dress it up, to allow your own personality to come through. The only way to personalise it is to change up the little things. You look mostly normal to the casual observer but it's only on closer examination that the casual observer notices there's a little of you there.

The way I do it, not surprisingly, is with socks. I wear cycling socks. Not the white ones, that went out in the 80s, but the coloured and patterned ones. The ones I wouldn't wear on the bike. A little more understated than novelty ties, not to mention more mature, and a little less ostentatious than cuff-links, tie-pins and the like. Not that I dislike cuff-links, I like them, but always try for the understated rather than hit you over the head with them.

Plus I think my legs don't actually look all that bad, especially when they're shaved, and a little glimpse of smooth calf between the sock and trouser-cuff? not quite stocking-top territory I grant you, but it's enough for me.

So, that was nearly all dressed up in the big-boy clothes then!


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