Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Personalization and Flare

How do you know when you have achieved the pinnacle of success within your profession?  Occasionally, our society lures us toward promotional gain with certain perks and fringe benefits that await the top rung of the ladder we are attempting to climb.  Not infrequently, those accolades take shape, not in the form of a bonus, but rather an alleviation of something undesirable.  For example, I knew I had advanced in my place of work when I got to switch my office away from the one which shared a wall with the women's bathroom.  I refrain from calling it a 'restroom' because the wall betwixt my office and the bathroom stall was thin, and to be sure, very little 'rest' occured in that room.  The doors to my old office and the ladie's room were side by side, such that I became the "gatekeeper" for the loo which must have only possessed a single stall.  I know this only because I would frequently hear a knock on my door with an anxious looking female co-worker in my doorway asking me if anyone was using the can.

However, if you are a professional cyclist, success seems to be rewarded through personalization of your stuff, which is all the rage, these days.  This seems fairly ironic since, as any professional cyclist succeeds more, they instantly become more recognized by the spectators and sports writers alike, so why the need to further personalize everything they own?  Ours, obviously, is not to question, but rather to report...

We previously mentioned the recent personalization of Mark Cavendish's Scott bicycle for the 2009 Tour de France which he had adorned with a World War II era pin-up girl.

Aside from his name accompanying the scantily clad brunette lounging on Cav's headtube, I've recently learned that this particular piece of flare has a deeper level of personalization for the Manx Missile, in that the original version bears a striking resemblence to his girlfriend, according to artist and Rapha graphic designer, Justin Greenleaf.  This original version is a bit racier, thus prompting me to cover the nippular areas with double fezzed-Shatners to render this image safe for work.

If, however, a fezzed-Shatner is frustrating you and you want to see the original version in all of its titillating glory, you can do so here.  Just can see it here.

Cavs is not the only top-dog who is into the personalization craze.  As everyone (especially the child laborers in Thailand) knows, Nike is a major sponsor for Lance Armstrong and the Livestrong campaign, despite the fact that they no longer make cycling shoes.  Yet LA is issued special "one-off" Nike cycling shoes decorated with the "Livestrong" name across the heel.

And even though the ankle-high dark sock is old-school cycling fashion at its finest, when worn with white shoes with gold decoration, it makes him look like he will be running for the presidency of La Boca Vista retirement community in Florida.

As Cav keeps his flare on his head tube, and LA on his feet, British cyclist Ben Swift of Team Sky likes to keep his personal touch a little closer to his taint, so tucks a Union Jack between the sit pads of his Prologo saddle.

Cadel Evans on the other hand chooses not to discriminate between locations to flaunt his personal touch, and has thus adorned multiple sites with the World Championship rainbow stripes, like his helmet, seat stays and socks.

As well as his choice of lip gloss....

Perhaps personalization is less a sign of achievement, however, and more about making a statement about one's self.  Certainly, a case can be made for the desire for self-expression and such activity might be encouraged as long as it doesn't border on the obscene.  Take the bicycle that the GEEC and I found one night after dinner last week on Broadway:

Yes the many layers of deteriorating stickers all over the frame were unique and might reflect the personality of the cyclist, but not as much as what was jammed up under the seat.

For reasons unbeknownst to me, tucked up under the Brooks saddle was a spare stem, hanging loosely from the saddle rails.  Carrying spare tubes and tires is a given amongst most cyclists, but finding a spare stem is a unique finding.  As this stem seemed to be rather weathered, it first occured to me that perhaps the cyclist stole this part from another bike and adorned theirs with it as a prize, much like some tribes of cannibals would wear necklaces made of fingers or toes taken from their fallen enemies.  Similarly, there is currently a company in Australia that sells jewelry made of human teeth.

I'm not sure where the teeth come from, but I have hesitant feelings about carrying around someone else's yuck mouth on my fingers, personally.

Or maybe this cyclist is familiar with the 2006 Paris Roubaix when George Hincapie's stem failed resulting in this and thus always wants a spare handy.

At any rate, I'm thinking of joining the trend and personalizing my new Pinarello.  I've asked the GEEC if she will let me paint a nude pin-up-style image of her on my head tube like Cav's but she was less than enthusiastic about other cyclists getting to look at her naked image as they blow by me this season.  Thus I've come up with another idea...

Pedal on!

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