An Amusement & Diversion for The Genteel Cyclist. Daily.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Why do 'cross racers wear fag bags?


It's one of the great conundrums of cycling, and we're indebted to anonymous reader for suggesting that we tackle it.

While the skinsuit is an expected accessory at the velodrome -- along with lots of other depredations like motorcycle exhaust on the track, the handholding "slingshot," and cranks that are shorter than Bob Roll's ponytail -- we sort of expect that. Track racing is to cycling what the hamster wheel is to the Appalachian Trail. I'm not saying the hamster wheel doesn't have its selling points. But they are selling points that appeal to riders who can't manage difficult manuevers like the right-hand turn or the hand-brake modulation.

That all said, track racing shares another thing with cyclocross besides the skinsuit: it's a lot more fun for the spectators than it is for the competitors. You get to find a comfortable place from which to survey the entire scene, you get to drink alcohol, and you are free to mouth off to the same competitor in the same dopey skinsuit each time he passes you on the course.

The long-sleeved skinsuit is only marginally better than the long-sleeved long-legged skinsuit -- the ultimate fagbag normally reserved for skiers. But one could make the argument that the long-sleeved, short-legged skinsuit is fundamentally a fashion faux pas, rather like the short-sleeved suit jacket, or wearing socks with sandals.

On the upside, the skinsuit speaks to a brand of stripped down minimalism -- no pockets, no visible zippers -- that we can appreciate. You will not see a skinsuit dude sporting one of those scrotal saddle bags, any more than you will see a roadie wearing a camel-bak or a dirtbag sporting barends on his risers.

Other than this question of style, I can't think of another reason why 'cross racers humiliate themselves by wearing such gay clothes. Since most serious cyclists have now fully bought into the various myths around the superiority of bibs over shorts (Hey, Eddy Merckx never wore silly suspenders on his Molteni woolens, I guarantee it), it's not like you'll catch the seat of your pants on your saddle, and if some part of your bike is getting stuck between your separates, you've got much bigger problems than fashion.

No, the only thing that makes sense to me is that 'cross racers are by nature masochistic, and skinsuits are like hair shirts for martyrs. They draw the opprobrium of tasteful regular people sure, but they also require a specific mortification of the flesh: There is nothing more humiliating than having to get completely naked in order to take your pre-race constitutional in a freezing cold porta-potty. Those of us who suffer from redundant bouts of the pre-lineup skitters know this better than anyone, and insist on old-fashioned, Merckx-approved shortpants for quick access and easy cleanup.



And one more thing: If skinsuits are not completely and inherently gay, why do "they" (You know, they) go through such pains to make them look like separates?

(Actually, I take that back about Eddy Merckx. And I'm ordering my vintage Molteni skinsuit right now, with my left hand.)

7 comments:

Pinchie said...

frye suggested in the previous comments that skinsuits are worn to avoid the tangle-up of clothes with crossbike. I'd buy that, if skinsuits weren't also worn by TT and track dudes and dudettes.

Anonymous said...

Thats it Pinchie, I'm bustin out the 1999 State Champ Superteam issue skin suit for the Thirstday night dirt ride. Just for you.

fast freddy

verlaine said...

Sweaty men wearing skintight suits to show off their bulges to other sweaty men in skintight suits? The whole thing is pretty obvious.

In fact, scientists have found that biking as a whole has been proven to be popular almost totally due to being an acceptable outlet for men in this judgemental society to express their love for other men. There is nothing wrong with that.

Anonymous said...

yup, you're right verlaine. Skin suits are endorsed as official attire at NAMBLA functions all across north america. Whooo Raaaay for fag bags!!!! Don't you just love the words..... F A G B A G !!!!

AdamB said...

where there's spokes there's sodomy!

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