What's Cool In Road Cycling

You Look Mah-velous: Cycling Style Etiquette 2

It seems that last month’s article on cycling style has resulted in a firestorm of shout-outs, quizzical head-shaking, moral outrage, righteous indignation, and questions about whether one teensy-weensy exception might be made. Before we return to actually riding our bikes, Josh gives us a final checklist of what’s cool.

By now, I was hoping I’d be back to my usual droll habit of writing insightful, serious-minded, scientifically researched training articles. However, I received so many e-mails (some supportive and some not so much), regarding last month’s etiquette article, that my editors have coerced me into writing a follow-up piece. I suppose since the first article was all about being elitist, snooty and pretentious, what could be more fitting than for me to write a rebuttal to my very own words?

Here are a few notes from our loyal readers. Names have been changed to protect the innocent and the letters have been changed to help the author be funny.

I realize your writing is combination serious and tongue-in-cheek, but under “Ornaments and Accessories,” I would argue that reflector strips and sunglass mounted mirrors make a lot of sense. Anything that helps the rider in an era of increasingly electronically-distracted car operators is good. Performance and style thoughts are eminently welcome, and are entertaining enough, but dismissing safety items because they are not cool probably isn’t your best tactic. Best wishes in the future.


Why stop with just a sunglass mirror? Why not mount a mirror on your helmet and your handle bars as well for the ultimate in safety? Now the ultimate in cool would be getting Lightweight wheels with customized glow-in the dark decals, but that would contravene the no carbon wheels on training rides rule. Again, the complexity of cool helps to explain why cyclists reach their prime later than swimmers with minimal clothing and gear, although the fast-skins might put an end to that.

I’ve got to know why my helmet must be white?


Good question Chad. I believe the white helmet is a derivative of the Euro points system. You get one point for a white helmet, two points for a white saddle, three points for white bar tape and so on. The reason for this is that if you actually ride your bike, you will find that it is very hard to keep your white accessories clean. In fact, the only riders who can do so effectively are the pros who have full time personal mechanics. So white means pro, pro means cool and therefore white means cool.

By the way, as soon as your tape has the slightest grease smudge or a smattering of dead bugs from sitting your bike on top of your car at 80 mph on the freeway (real pros get their bikes transported inside the team truck), rip it off and start again. If your white tape is dirty, you might as well be riding goofy marbled tri-coloured Fred tape.

(Some of our more observant readers pointed out that yes indeed, I am wearing a blue helmet in my byline pic at the end of the first article. Please remember the exception to all these rules which is that anything required to be worn by a sponsorship contract is allowed and indeed that helmet was supplied by Rudy Project as part of their sponsorship of the Liquid Racing Team. Nonetheless, I had this month’s picture changed to avoid any further confusion.)

Dude, you don’t know me, but that has to be one of the funniest articles I’ve ever read. I keep cracking up, even after reading it for the 3rd and 4th time. Hilarious!

Your number one fan!

You read the article four times? That’s two, maybe three intervals you could have done in that time. Perhaps I forgot to mention the most important rule, which is to actually ride your bike now and then, when you do, ride it fast!

WHAT A FABULOUS PIECE OF WRITING!! I loved it and it was hilarious!


My head isn’t going to fit into my new white helmet.

Amen! …..except for the sleeveless tops for women!


I got a lot of e-mails like this. Readers who agreed with MOST of the rules, except of course for the one that they regularly break. Let me remind you, this isn’t a pick or choose kind of thing. It’s an all or nothing proposition, and you either live by these rules or you don’t. For instance, if your legs are cleanly shaven, your bar tape is sparkling white, your bike is free of adornments… but you’re wearing a replica Tour de France yellow jersey with the sleeves cut off on the Friday coffee ride, you might as well be wearing underwear under your shorts and have a number sticker pasted to your helmet from a triathlon you did six months ago.

Oh, thank goodness, you wrote this! See, I told this to the people on the AIDS Ride when I was a training ride leader some years ago, but they called me the Bike Nazi or just plain b!#ch-.


Tough love. Good for you. They needed to hear it. Sure, they might be trying to save lives, but who says they can’t look good while doing it?

I ride through mostly rural farm lands (alone) and I have gotten in the habit of singing out to the animals as I ride past. Songs for sheep, turkeys, cattle in all forms, even dogs. One day, while in a rare group ride, I sang a chorus of the “Mr.Ed” theme to a herd of miniature horses and everyone laughed. I wasn’t sure if they were laughing with me, or at me. Should I just keep it to myself?

Thanks in advance.


Huh? Well if you must sing, there is clearly only one choice. It must be an aria and it must be from an Italian opera. Preferably something by Giacomo Puccini, Ruggiero Lenocavallo or Giuseppe Verdi.

Ok, that’s it for now. Hopefully this will resolve any lingering doubts you might have about your cycling wardrobe, accessories and behavior on the bike. Now go out into the world, my children, and spread the gospel! Make the world a more stylish place for all of us and let me get back to my real job as a cycling coach.

About Josh:

Josh Horowitz is a USCF Certified coach and an active Category 1 racer. For more information about his coaching services and any coaching questions you may have, check out his website at LiquidFitness.com.

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