There's been some kind of pandemic lately of naming me the "xyz of 'cross." It's been pretty funny, actually. I've heard icon, godfather, professor; I even got a Yoda figurine shouldering a bicycle in the mail from Myles Romanow last year. 'Cross Yoda?
Today, however, I am going to be the Mr. Blackwell of 'cross, considering this post from Heidi Swift, one of my favorite people to flirt with on the internet. Heidi is an example of everything's that good about Portland, Oregon. Passion, intellect, analysis, enthusiasm, sincerity, perspective. She knows what to take seriously and what to let go, without weakening any of her own motivation to be good at life with the Portland poison pill of irony. She's ok if she's not the fastest on the block, but that doesn't lead her to treat cycling like an adult kickball league as so many do. Cycling is important. It's ok to train for it. It's ok to want to be faster, because that's actually more fun than sucking completely. At the same time, being fast doesn't make you better than anyone else, and she knows that, too.
In that Tumblr post, Heidi wrote:
Dear @adammyerson, Can we still be friends?
From the “at least the Giro Ionos helmet and FMB tyres look good” files:
Shit. I think I broke about 70 of your rules this past Saturday. Adam - maybe you should make a new video series to teach all the Grasshoppers your cyclocross fashion basics.
No skinsuit, long-fingered-gloves-with-short-sleeves, kit is a size too big, what else?
And so, in honor of the late Mr. Blackwell, we will evaluate Ms. Swift's ensemble from this past weekend. We'll go with a DOs and DON'Ts approach, starting with the don'ts, since I adore Heidi and want this to end on a positive note.
Pictures, again, are here.
1 + 2. Heidi already pointed out what would have been number 1 and 2: jersey and shorts in a 'cross race, and long-fingered gloves with short sleeves. Horrible. Good driving in 'cross requires touch, and gloves interfere with that. Unless it's so hot your hands sweat and slide off the bars, or it's so cold you need them for warmth, gloves should be avoided. Particularly when it covers up whatever pretty color Heidi has usually painted her nails. We'll give her a pass on the jersey and shorts, since I know her new team kit is still on the way.
3. Quick release position. That front QR has to go behind the fork. Facing forward, it's exposed and more likely to get flicked open in a crash. Plus it's like nails on a chalkboard. The rear QR isn't completely closed and also looks to be outside the triangle. It should always close inside the stays where it's protected.
4. Number placement. Too low. Some sponsor paid good money to be on that side panel (hopefully). Use the top seam of the panel as the bottom seam for the number placement. Your number will still be visible from the side.
5. Canti set up position. The straddle ends and brake pivot should be in the same level plane for the right balance of braking power and mechanical action. Open those brakes up, and move the posts further in. (Straddle cable height is perfect, however.)
6. Hood and bar angle looks appropriate for road, but not for 'cross. Tilt those bars up a little, so the wrist angle is straight, not angled down. You want to hold your hoods in your hands like a pair of baseball bats you plan to smash the course with, not places to gently rest your hands while you think about how good you look in your Rapha kit.
7. Single ring set ups should have two guards, not one guard and a chain guide. The chain guide will work most of the time, but that one time the chain is partially off and you pedal it straight past and under the guide, where you then can't pull it out because the guide is now in the way, you'll wish you just had an inside guard. Plus, some traditions should be respected for their own sake. A chain guide just ruins the lines, and certainly this should matter to Heidi.
8. Shorten up that rear derailleur cable from the shifter.
1. Colored electrical tape on the bars. I debated if I was happy with the red, but because the bike is a flat color, the red matches the tips of fork, head badge, downtube logo outline, and I believe, FMB stamp on the tire. Subtle. Successful.
2. Non-knee high socks. You see what Heidi's got going on here? High socks. Even kind of cute, argyle high socks. But NOT socks pulled all the way up to her balls, making her look like Pippi fucking Longstocking, because 'cross is a joke and I'm a girl and I should be cute and not act like I'm taking this too seriously because I'm afraid of failure AND success.
Whew. Sorry. Got excited. But that's what knee high socks in 'cross say to me. Mr. Blackwell of 'cross says high socks are ironic and stupid and irony is FUCKING OVER, KIDS! DO YOU HEAR ME? IT'S OVER!
3. Unzipped jersey, because it's hot. (Oh, you see what I did there?) If you're a female athlete, you shouldn't have to worry about being attractive while you're playing sports. You're playing sports, and that makes you attractive in the first place. But when is being attractive ever a reason to play sports? If it's hot out, you should be able to unzip your skinsuit or jersey without worrying about what it signifies. And in doing so, it signifies that you're hot, nothing more. And that in itself, the not caring, is hot. You can't escape the patriarchy, you just have to do your best.
4. The dangling necklace. I have always been a fan of those pictures of Italian climbers burying it on some pass, jersey open, crucifix swinging low. It's one of those things you don't think about while you're racing, but is so striking in photos. You don't stop being yourself when you're racing bikes. It's a way to express yourself.
5. Going hard, and reading the course. In both photos, you can see Heidi is trying. She's going hard. She's not out racing 'cross because it's cool. She's trying to go fast. And in one of the photos she's looking ahead, evaluating the course, thinking about her next turn, being focused. DO.
And finally, most importantly:
You're Heidi Fucking Swift. You're a tastemaker. You do whatever the fuck you want, and let people deal with it or not.