The PRO LIFE
I wish I was a PRO cyclist! I’m not, I’m a tubby mental patient with a nice bike. In fact I couldn’t really be any further away from a PRO cyclist but then I also wish I was an ASTRONAULT but knowing I’ll never actually be one doesn’t stop me staring at the night sky every night and my general lack of health will not stop me or being the best PRO cyclist in my head either. To me being a PRO cyclist is about living the PRO cyclist lifestyle inside you mind and never forgetting the love of riding a bike. Marco Pinotti is a PRO cyclist, Carlos Sastre is a PRO cyclist, Michael Barry is the PROest of PRO cyclists and Bradley Wiggins is THE PRO cyclist. All of theses actual PRO’s have all the best stuff at their fingertips and live the dream, however during a recent conversation, Michael Barry told me that everyday he realises just how lucky he is to do what he does, and that, makes him PRO, not just doing a job, not just shouting your mouth off that you are the fastest, the best and the strongest but still, after all those cobbles, mountains and crashes he still loves riding his bike and never wants to do anything else.
Whilst I try and buy the best things that my money can afford me and even though I love to brag about my new VELOFLEX tires and stuff like that there are somethings that I need to ride my bike that don’t cost that much, haven’t been developed by German maniac scientists in a carbon built bunker and none of them make me a member of any exculsive members only club. I get them from the chemist or from a hardware shop but they help me be the best PRO cyclist i can be (inside my head).
Here are those things:
My Bill Hurlow Marlboro Athletic’s Club 1951 Road Champion’s Medal. Ever since I was given this medal by Bill’s friend John after Bill’s death it hasn’t left my side. Every PRO needs a lucky charm, just look at Fabian and his lucky angel! This medal goes with me everywhere even if it is just down the road. Ever since I have had it my climbing has improved and my pedaling has got faster and stronger. Therefore its staying with me as long as I ride my bike.
The Italian National colours. A lot of people say, “Why don’t you ride campag? Why isn’t your bike Italian?” An actual PRO rider rides whatever their team gives him to ride and then the subtle changes take place and the bespoke bits get added along with sponsorship deals and the like. Pretend PRO’s like me just try and buy the best stuff their money can buy, that to me meant a Canadian bike, made in the far east, with Japanese Shimano components. I actually don’t give a shit where my bike is made, what makes a one eyed Italian man with a hairy back better than a chinese one at making bikes. Authenticity comes from what you believe. I ride whatever I think is the best I can afford regardless of where it comes from. However the “Bel Paese” will always find its way onto my bike however small and insignificant it is in this case some coloured electrical tape.
White Bartape. In America they say something about never wearing white after Labor day or something. Well a PRO rider never rides their bike WITHOUT white bartape after Milan San Remo. This was perfectly illustrated by Team SKY who since their launch at the start of the year all rode with black bartape until San Remo when the whole team rolled out with white tape on their bikes. Black tape in the winter, white tape from spring. Get it right.
Vim professional white bartape cleaner. Referencing the above post and due to the fact we hardly have the same weather as San Remo and added to the fact that I don’t have a personal mechanic to constantly change my white bartape as soon as it gets dirty get yourself to the supermarket and buy this. I’ve tried everything and this is the only thing when mixed with water and scrubbed well on dirty bartape brings it up clean and shiny like new.
Pro Issue Team Waterbottles 500ml. Only commuters, weekend cyclists and vegetarians go out riding their bikes with big water bottles. PRO cyclists use small 500ml team issue one because these little babies weigh a lot when filled with juice and they just send a minion back to the car to get some more when empty. Pretend PROs like me do exactly the same thing but just stop and buy more water when they run out. Never go cycling with a big water bottle and definitely not one that doesn’t have team logos on it. It smells of commuter. OH and also make sure it clean, a dirty water bottle is like a dirty set of balls. Wash your balls, wash out and clean your water bottles you minger. They only cost £4 if it gets too dirty buy a new one you tight wad.
Armwarmers. Pros ride with short sleeved jerseys and armwarmers if its a bit cold. End of story. Longsleeved jerseys are only allowed if you are riding down from a mountain and only over your short sleeved jersey. I love my armwarmers and these were brought for me by my little sister Jo who “quite liked the colour” how smart is that LAMPRE armwarmers sister bingo!!!!
Team issue accessories. Like I said I’m not a real PRO however much I dream of being one. Also I’m a tubby git who is desperately trying to lose the pounds I put on whilst being very ill. In a year I have lost nearly 5 stone but I still have a long way to go. Therefore I have developed a system where I can still wear PRO ISSUE clothing but don’t have the problem of it becoming too big for me every couple of months which luckily is beginning to happen lately. Also wearing PRO accessories with plain cheap black jerseys also makes you look, like my great friend Bianchista said, “like a PRO rider on a doping ban trying to ride undercover”. Now that is RICCO PRO!!!!!!!
My essentials case. Rapha sell really nice leather essentials cases that I would like but cost £40. My essentials case cost £2 from MUJI so saved me £38 and that in my book is PRO. As you can see in the photograph it contains everything I need on a ride. If I find I need anything else I simply give up and get the train home just like a real PRO would simple climb into their team car.
Electrical tape. Any PRO mechanic uses this stuff more than anything else in his tool kit. Covering unwanted logos, Strapping Garmins to frames ETC. Mine obviously comes in Italian National colours and was £1 from POUNDLAND. Buy your national colours and get busy.
Decent chain lube. Punctures you can’t stop! Ive found that out the hard way. I’ve tried every combination and brand of tires out there. However, the one mechanical I can control is good working gears and brakes due to keeping my bike clean and using good chain lube. This stuff is the best I have found but like everything in life we all have our personal opinions and I suppose this chapter is more about caring for you bike rather than what is best to do it with. I clean my bike after every ride just like I take a shower too. If you don’t you’re a minger…. end of story.
Massage oils and Embrocations. I make my own massage oils and embrocation because everything I brought was expensive and crap. Its not hard to do and can be a very inexpensive way of looking after yourself and improving your riding experience. I love making these things and testing them out on my friends. It all makes even the smallest ride a PRO ride. I’m going to be selling them properly too soon which I am very excited about. Massaging my own legs and taking care of them before and after riding my bike has helped me massively for not much effort. OH and shave your legs massaging hairy legs is like picking hair out of the plughole in the bathroom its just gross and makes me gag.
Personal Hygiene. My good friend Paul at C3 products sent me some of this Century Riding Cream and Elements Cream by Sportique to see what I thought of it. Also this tub of Sudocrem I nicked off of my little niece Trashcan when I was changing her nappy and noticed just how good it was at stopping her nappy rash. Well unfortunately Trashcan still has a sweaty nappy butt but mine is as smoother than a, ergggggh, baby’s. She’ll get over it, she is young she doens’t even notice it’s missing. Anyway lets just say these three products, two of which are aimed at cyclists one of which is aimed at babies have basically transform my riding experience. Also lets just say and leave it at this, my general ballbag, gooch and butt area is a much nicer place since these three little treasures have found their way into my life. I’m not going to say anymore.
My Blackberry phone. Well this isnt really about the Blackberry it’s more about social networking and twitter. I can honestly say I have met the most amazing people on twitter who have completely been responsible for transforming a very sick person into someone who doesn’t wake every morning wanting to kill themselves. You know who you are!!!! because we talk and ride together everytime we can and I wouldn’t be alive without you. The authorities recently said that social networking was responsible for growing numbers of poor mental health. Well authorities Vaffanculo! I’m living, breathing, recovering proof that is not true. Stop being so negative with your approach to mental health studies and start to listen to us fruitloops a bit more carefully.