The Mechanic has cycled for many years, devising his own code of conduct for cycling, combined with the Velominati charter of rules, he has very clear and rather strict ideas on what is appropriate attire.
As such I have my very own live-in ‘cycling-fashion police’.
Over the years I have been advised and picked up on the nuances that differentiate a ‘pro’ from the ‘jonny-come-latelys’, and find myself assessing fellow cyclists commitment to the sport by the length of their socks. I abide by many of the rules – not always understanding them – but I know their importance if I am to have any hope of earning respect.
The rules are complicated and numerous…
Kit needs to be considered with one’s bike, so that the combination of rider and steed is aesthetically pleasing. However it must not be ‘over-matched’, the co-ordination must appear effortless. Last year I purchased pink suede cycling shoes to match my Chris King hubs. Just the right pink, not quite the same, that would be far too predictable, they’re so lovely I have not worn them for fear of getting them wet or marked.
Championship and Race Leader Jerseys must only be worn if you’re the winner. This suits me fine, as I don’t like yellow, and cannot see myself in a polka dot jersey. Similarly team kit is only to be worn by team members. Although with the recent popularity of Team Sky, whilst frowned upon this rule is flaunted by many. If they are to be worn, then under no circumstances can team kits be mixed, the full garb should be worn so that the wearer appears to have just stepped off the team bus ( and I hope for their sake they are good.) Shorts should always be black, I’ve never really understood what is acceptable regarding short length, but as I don’t race, I’m permitted to wear three-quarter length. The correct sock height is a challenge, although any colour is permitted, providing they co-ordinate, the length is crucial, not too short, not too long, and wearing no socks is completely unacceptable.
Which brings me on to the next fashion dilemma, I’m not keen on having a tan-line half way up my calf, or half way down my legs or arms, and yet a true cyclist must cultivate a razor-sharp line. It’s not permitted to roll up my sleeves or shorts to avoid getting lines, therefore I have resorted to applying sun-block.
There are rules for accessories too, arm warmers can be worn without leg warmers, but not vice-versa. Cycling caps are for cycling only, mainly to be worn under a helmet if it’s raining. If you are having a post-ride coffee, and remove your helmet, it’s just about acceptable to keep your cap on. You must never wear a cycling cap, when not in cycling clothes. You are allowed to put a cap on under your helmet, and yet it is completely forbidden to have a visor on your helmet, if you own a road bike.
Eyewear must be cycling specific, you cannot wear your Aviators or your old Wayfarers. The arms of your eyewear must be worn over your helmet straps, and if you need to remove your eyewear then they should be placed in the vents of your helmet upside down, or you can poke one arm into the back of your jersey collar.
There are a whole set of other rules for the bike, for any self -respecting cyclist, such as no saddlebags, and hanging your helmet must be from the stem of your bike not the handlebars…. but they are for another day.
In the meantime, as it’s the beginning of May, I’m about to paint my toe-nails Giro d’Italia pink…not sure what the rules are for Grand Tours co-ordinated nail-varnish. Do I dare ask Velominati?