Monday, January 4, 2010

Bradley Wiggins has superpowers. I wish I did also.

To kick off 2010 Cycling Inquisition is finally presenting its first "Stylish Cyclist Of The Year Award".

While other sites debate the merits and finer points of looking like a professional athlete, even though you are not one, here at Cycling Inquisition we have taken a different approach. We are interested in the avant garde, those amazing few individuals who are willing to break down the walls of style and fashion within the world of cycling. So who is the winner of our prestigious award for pioneering unmatched advances in cycling style in 2009?

Bradley Wiggins.

Wiggins is mostly known for looking like a cravat-wearing extra from Quadrophenia, and for breaking contracts due to flimsy EU labor laws...but there's so much more to admire. Do you want to be more like Wiggins? Here are some easy steps to follow:

1. Buy a pair of glaringly white tennis shoes that are so disgusting, even a midwestern housewife would dry-heave upon seeing them.

2. Put on the baggy shorts that you found behind your nephew's twin bed.

3. Wear the free t-shirt you got as a result of signing up to do a charity ride. In this case, Wiggins is wearing a Tour de France shirt...since he sent in his $39.95 entry fee on time. Remember your power meter.

Funny how a guy that looks like this, white tennis shoes and all, would kill ALL of us on a bike huh? That is, unless your name rhymes with Sarmstrong, Fschleck, or Scontador. Yes, he would kill all of us, baggy Tour de France shirt and all. It's for that reason that seeing these pictures reminded me of something I used to think about when I was a kid.

I used to dream about having superpowers.

You see, I was not the most popular kid in school. Hard to believe, I know. When I lived in Colombia, some of that unpopularity was manufactured. When I was 10 years old, I began to wear my Iron Maiden shirt and rocked a severe mullet because I wanted to. I didn't have to, but I must have enjoyed the uneasiness with which my fellow students and teachers saw me. My friends and I looked completely crazy, particularly within the context of a nice private school in Bogota. We wore black leather boots with chains on them...along with our standard-issue school uniform. Please don't think I'm kidding when I tell you that the picture below perfectly illustrates what we were trying to look the tender age of 10.

Can you imagine having a son that tries to look like this at ten years old? My poor mom was a saint.

Once I moved to the United States, my fashion sense only got nuttier as I discovered punk rock, hardcore music and skateboarding. To make matters worse, I was the latino kid who couldn't speak English, and whose family was so poor that 11 of us (two families) lived in a two bedroom apartment. Unlike my manufactured weirdness back in South America, I had now become a real oddball. I couldn't help much of what made me weird, and so I became the human equivalent of kryptonite to girls.

So what about those superpowers? Well, through most of that time, I remember daydreaming of having some kind of amazing talent or ability, one so great that it would almost count as a superpower. Perhaps flying was too much to ask for, but maybe the ability to play drums or any other instrument really well...something (anything) that I could demonstrate at a crucial moment...thus leaving everyone in school oooh-in and ahh-ing. Maybe I would be like the Susan Boyle of my school...the ugly duckling who could sing beautifully. Perhaps I could have the ability and courage to go into the burning school...and save everyone. That would show them. Like Superman, I would suddenly tear my shirt open to reveal the superhero outfit that had always been there. I had always been that great/amazing person, and none of them knew. After the cool or heroic act, everyone would love me...but it would be too late. They had never liked me before, when they didn't know how awesome I was. That would show them.

This is all ridiculous, I know. But these were the thoughts of a young kid. In retrospect, I'm mostly amused by the range of things I qualified as a "superpower". The whole thing was idiotic, and so was the self conscious drive behind such thoughts. But I was young, and eagerly dreamt of heroic abilities that could somehow lurk inside my tiny frame. I wanted everyone to like me, but I also wanted to put others to shame in the process. What would unbelievable amounts of love be worth, if they didn't come with the ability of rubbing people's faces in it?

I'm now in my 30s, and I'm happy to say that I've outgrown much of my awkwardness (and thus my dreams of superpowers). Still, a tiny something inside of me looks at those pictures of Wiggins and thinks back to my days of sporting a mullet. Wouldn't it be cool to show up to a stupid local group ride wearing the very outfit that Wiggins has on, only to be made fun of? Baggy shorts? Tennis shoes? A t-shirt on a Time carbon frame with an SRM? You have to be kidding me. But little would they know of the abilities that lurked inside. His superpowers would be unleashed, and they would all learn their lesson.

I was mocked rather badly this spring at a local group ride...and I was wearing cycling clothes too. Compared to Wiggins, I was downright stylish and properly dressed. SPD road shoes? No good. "If you're going to ride on a trail with your wife I guess", is what I was told. My aluminum frame? Not good at all. Old/vintage eBay wool jersey? REALLY not good. "Oh my god, where did you find that jersey? Ha ha,". I was 12 years old again, and this time I was being tortured by chiropractors and dentists with mustaches on Serottas. I gave it right back to them, but to be honest, they were hitting me were it hurt the most. You can mock my abilities all you want...but giving me hell for what I can or can't afford is maddening. Consequently, I was not bummed as much as I was angry. I made a few comments about their bikes, saying that I hoped they put such fancy frames to use by going faster than 15 mph. It didn't matter, I was still angry.

I knew that if my life were a movie, all arguments would be put to rest during the actual ride. I would annihilate them all. But my life, I'm sad to report, is not a movie. As much as tight cycling attire may resemble a superheroe's outfit, we are all rather vulnerable while wearing it. As such, right before the big climb on the ride, I got a pinch flat and watched the pack ride away. Life, it would appear, has a tendency to be rather anti-climactic. No annihilation on the climb, just a guy changing a tire in the rain, and heading back home mumbling to himself about stupid superpowers.

So imagine showing up in the white tennis shoes, being laughed at...and not just hurting, but slaughtering everyone. It's insanely childish to think about this, I know. I'm pretty ashamed to admit it in writing actually. Who on earth cares about the local dentists on their Cervelos? I swear that I don't ...but it would still be funny as all hell. Sadly, I guess by the time you're good enough (like Wiggins) to have such an ability, you're sort of past the point where you want to shame your opponents while wearing white tennis shoes.

Too bad. What a waste of superpowers.


  1. Hahaha. I was on that ride, Brad turned up with his team kit but I think there was some sort of decision not to wear it as it was about promoting the TDF, not Cofidis so he rode in that kit. Still left us for dead though going down Whitehall.

  2. I'm in my 30s too and still dream of superpowers :(

  3. My wife is gunna be pissed that you are picking on her imaginary boyfriend.

  4. Robert,
    Is Wiggins her pick? Interesting. I believe my wife mentioned once that Boonen was good looking, and that Hincapie had good bone structure or something like that.

  5. She likes the accents, I think. David Millar does it for her too.

  6. if i had a woman, she'd prolly like cavendish. think about it, she'd like ME... you know?

  7. Triumph, the Insult Comic DogJanuary 5, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    wiggins' haircut is pretty nice... for me to POOP on!

  8. I'm reminded of this story, which is dear to my heart.

  9. Andy,
    I love that story...but perhaps the most amazing part about it is his description of lots of people at the race in Botswana using Zipp 404s. I'm not suggesting that everything in Botswana is backwards, I"ve never been there before and I myself am from a "third world country". Having said that, having Zipp 404s in a country where only half of the population are above the international poverty level is kinda nuts. you think having Zipps and a Serotta is ostentatious in the US, Europe or places like Australia? have not lived my friend.

  10. There's actually a guy who shows up on our Monday night rides ocassionally. He's a former MTB guy who used to race the pro class. He shows up in July with wool pants, and an old alloy Trek road bike...and CRUSHES people. I love to hear other guys mumbling things to each other about him and then they're dumbfounded when he lights em up. Awesome. Also had the pleasure of watching the dude tear up a cross race on his single-speed against all the geared guys. Radness.

  11. Ohhh...winning on a single speed against guys with gears. ouch.

    i heard from a NYC rider that in the group rides he goes to, everyone knows not to give ANYONE hell for what they ride or wear. the reason? NYC will oftentime have oddball visitors in those rides, crazy Polish guys in high tops who will kill everyone. a week later, they'll find out the guy was the U23 polish champion five years prior and was in town visiting a cousin or something, and borrowed a bike from his niece. this happens often enough, i was told, that you just shut up and ride. love that.


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