By Ria Roberts and Luke Batten
Cycling is without question a highly aestheticized occupation. Cyclists are able to discuss the color, function and fit of bibs, jerseys, arm warmers, gilets, shoes, etc for days, weeks, possibly years. It occurred to us this consumptive side of cycling is also extending to those moments when lads & lassies step off the bike. Whether one appreciates it or not, the “après-ski” moments of our sport seem to be gaining with every new collection released by the good folks at Rapha. So much of its mythology is wrapped up in the visual and by visual we mean capturing the mood of Fausto Coppi walking the streets of Milan, not the contemporary bleached locks of Heinrich Haussler (HH’s hair is deserving of an in-depth article by Rouleur we think).
This brings to mind media theorist, art critic, philosopher Boris Groy’s statement that “the modern subject now has a new obligation: the obligation to self-design, an aesthetic presentation as ethical subject.” While we Heroes by no means classify ourselves as fashionistas, we certainly give careful consideration to our self design– a reflection of our particular beliefs, interests and attitudes, as well as a mood enhancer– experiential MSG if you will. Remember, most Heroes live in Chicago so touches of color during the five grey months of the year become necessary booster shots. Take for instance, our Ellsworth Kelly inspired club jersey, a homage to our art school obsessions and a sheer appreciation of lush color fields. It is inarguable that wearing such a jersey heightens the joy of a ride down the Chicago lakefront or through Ghent’s cobbled streets.
TSH’s favorite venue for meditating on self design is Cork Grips, a cycling/fashion blog that rejoices in the object fetishism of the perfectly crafted cap or saddle bag. What makes the blog so delightful is its attitude towards cycling as lifestyle, as a channel for joie de vivre. Cork Grips grants attention not necessarily to the most technologically advanced gilet, but to a Gant Rugger jacket that would be perfect on a ride to your favorite Belgian bar to watch the tour with friends.
The Heroes are travelers. We take great pleasure in traipsing the cultural landscape. To us, there is equal enjoyment in sleeping on the side of the road on the way to the next tour stage and staying at discounted 4-star hotel in off-season Bruges. A Hero cannot live in just one of these realms, and living in different landscapes requires different outfits. Luckily for us, Bob Myaing, the blog’s founder, understands this and put together three separate looks for Tenspeed Hero that wonderfully equip us for any species of wanderlust that may strike us this spring. The outfits– for the city, town, and country cyclist– are unified in attitude, all styled for pursuit of the best of all possible worlds. The difference is in the details, a cannabis leaf print sock for city, a Fjällräven parka for country.
At the end of the day one’s measure is taken by what you give to the world in terms of joy, friendship, and grace but to forget one’s vanity would be a mistake as the genuine theater of one’s life is well served by a versatile closet. Cork Grips does their best to remind us of this fact.