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Soup of This Day #263: My Kind Of Wonderful, That’s What You Are

November 9, 2012

Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood, protected by comfortable slacks, a pink knit vest and a sand wedge, narrowly avoids being taken out by an opposing player’s drone strike. Golf is a sport to be taken seriously – Photo: SN#1 (Steven Newton), 2008. SN#1 is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

A couple of days ago I was driving in to work when I saw a cyclist.

This fact in of itself is not way out there – I drive in to work alongside a fair network of bicycle paths and there are numerous 2-wheeled creatures in my peripheral vision for my morning and afternoon commutes. Some appear singly but many more roam in packs of up to 20 or so lycra-clad zephyrs, arrowing along like they’re auditioning for the next Tron movie.

This 1 cyclist though stood out from the crowd.

Not in person – He was relatively unremarkable to look at, dressed in standard cycling attire – A replica race jersey and shorts, cleated shoes shaped like an F1 car’s nose-cone and most likely made of the same ceramic tiles that protectively lined the bellies of Space Shuttles. Then there was a a trademark sculptured lightweight racing helmet perched above a face sporting wickedly-angled sunglasses. The whole had the effect of making him seem in motion, even though he was in fact stationary. I wasn’t fooled though by that visual conundrum – I can confirm with confidence that he wasn’t moving when I came across him.

Mostly because his bike was partially folded up.


He had a fold-up bike. 1 of those 1s with smaller wheels so that the whole can be tucked neatly away in your apartment, or car boot, or even on the bus. This was that kind of bike – Although it was not necessarily as compact as it could have been – The electric motor did seem to take up a bit of room.

Now I’m not saying that it’s wrong to wear pro cycling clothes. I’m a grown man who wears Liverpool FC replica jerseys while never having got remotely close to the standard that would require me to wear them in anger.

And I don’t look good in red.

Nonetheless, life is too short to do anything but what feels right and comfortable. And if that means dressing for the Tour de France on your ride to work then so be it – Good luck to you.

It’s not wrong to have a fold-up electric bike either. I’m assuming it’s better for the environment than a car plus it’s easy on the legs. Who hasn’t got halfway up a hill on a bike and wished they couldn’t get some help to the top, before gliding down the other side?

I guess what caught my eye is the incongruity of the 2 aspects together. Attire that bespeaks energy and drive from the wearer. And a bike that bespeaks energy and drive from lithium batteries.

It’s sort of like putting on your golfing duds for a trip to the miniature links and then handing your club over to someone else for the difficult shot through the windmill blades.

Then again, all golf seems a little incongruous to me.

Don’t get upset golfing people – I know that golf is a legitimate sport. It’s just that it’s a sport played in comfortable slacks. They used to play tennis in comfortable slacks too back in the day. Then they worked out that wearing slacks, however comfortable, wasn’t the most efficient thing for playing tennis, either in terms of freedom of movement or keeping yourself cool.

And I mean ‘cool’ in reference to temperature and style. Sure, your boys down there need a roof over their head but it’s more of your beach-house kind of thing than a monastery.

Of course there isn’t the range of activity in golf that you’ll get in tennis. You’re pretty much out there, strolling around and, once every 5 minutes or so (15 if you’re Longworth72 and that’s with a motorised cart) you pull out 1 of your exquisitely balanced clubs, take a few practice swings, and then whack 7 kinds of hell out of a tiny dimpled ball.

Nope, not a lot going on there. Let’s face it, you’d be wearing pyjamas if you could get away with it.

But you can’t. Because golf is a serious sport and that kind of thing calls for polo shirts, knitted vests and comfortable slacks. Anything else, like board shorts and an ‘FBI – Female Breast Inspector’ tee and you won’t be taken seriously.

Mind, if you’re the kind of guy who wears an ‘FBI – Female Breast Inspector’ tee you’re to be taken with a grain of salt anyway. I’m guessing that women in general aren’t really turned on by that wryly mocking sense of humour you’ve got and – This is a little ironic – you’re probably not going to get to inspect actual female breasts any time soon. Unless you pay for them.

Here’s a tip – The real FBI, the US Federal Bureau of Investigations, doesn’t ‘pay’ to check out stuff.

Not only will you not be taken seriously if you’re not knitted out correctly, you’ll probably be taken off course through the back gates. The flipside is true as well – If you’re found off course in golfing threads, you’re liable to be hauled to the nearest links for 19 holes of fashion lectures. Because, when you’re not playing golf a polo shirt, knitted vest and comfortable slacks just makes you look like a git.

Now you might be wondering why this is so for golfing attire, but not for the cyclist I cited above and this is a valid concern. Fortunately, the reasoning is simple – Cycling you see is good for the environment and constitutes some healthy exercise (Even with supplemental electricity) – Plus, once you’ve bought a bike, it’s largely free and you can do power-slides to your heart’s content.

Golf is not good for the environment – It requires a lot of arable land to be tied up and a lot of precious resources, like water, to be ploughed into landscaping and maintaining the fairways and greens. Then there’s the cost – Aside from the clothes, there’s the titanium clubs with their exquisitely tailored balance – And there’s the membership fees.

Also, power-slides are out. Particularly in motorised buggies. People don’t appreciate that at all.

Nope, golf is not your regular person kind of thing and so you’re setting yourself up for mockery if you wear your duds outside of friendly confines.

This rule though does not apply wholesale. Take the following example – It’s an ad based around motorsport and it features Australian car racing legend Dick Johnson and world motorcycling god Barry Sheene. Bazza deserves a post of his own and 1 day I’ll try to write it – He put the ‘play’ into playboy, although he’d mellowed into an elder statesman of all things that go vroom by the time this ad was shot:

See Dick go into the servo shop. See Dick wear his racing suit.

Keen eyes will have noted that Dick Johnson, an Australian V8 touring car icon, is wearing his full race suit. He is however not getting mocked for it. This is because: a. Dick is a likeable man; b. Australians are, in general, pretty amiable regardless; and c. It’s a scripted ad and those are professional extras.

This was just 1 of many ads in a series featuring these 2 and in all of them Dick is wearing his racing suit – Even 1 where Barry rocks up to Dick’s house late 1 night, only to find his mate wearing a racing suit under his dressing gown. Which is perfectly ok and just a little funny, but in a laughing with Dick way, rather than a laughing at Dick kind of thing.

That’s not my favourite of those ads though. Instead the 1 that stood out for me was 1 I haven’t been able to find via the interweb, so you’ll just have to go off my memory on this:

Dick is at the petrol station bowser, in his racing suit of course, filling up his V8 Ford Falcon, when Barry roars up in a Ferrari. Some banter follows as Sheene attempts to convince his mate that his car is better – It’s got 12 cylinders he says. Quick as a flash Johnson dismissively fires back with:

‘That’s 4 more than you need.’

And maybe in this day and age of conservation and obesity he’s right. If so, I’d like to extend his advice to that cyclist – By all means wear the pro-gear mate, but that electric motor stuff…

That’s 200 Watts more than you need.

My Kind Of Wonderful, That’s What You Are

  1. In our neck of the woods, the cyclists appear to have more rules in their favor these days than those of us who drive cars along the same “paths.” In fact, there has recently been somewhat of a backlash against the numerous concessions drivers are now being asked to make to compensate for cyclists…who have no better clue how to navigate their vehicle of choice as most of us who choose automobiles. It is a deadly, toxic mix as more and more people take to the streets…in their bikes. Yikes!

    • Few things more frustrating than having to edge around a cyclist on the road, only to have them race back past you illegally at the traffic lights. We need more cycle paths here…

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