The last of these three views of my bike is not upside down. It is as I will view it tomorrow when I am out of the saddle and wanting to know I am in the right gear to sprint. I’ll look again when I am so breathless I can’t hold my head up, and at that point take heart that no dirt is slowing me down. More importantly though, I will see something beautiful. Any cliche you care to toss at it is most likely valid: man and machine, poetry in motion, the whole being more than the sum of the parts.
Those who do not clean their bikes for race day are denying themselves an aesthetic moment they have paid for—and needn’t thus sully with road grime—with every hot flush they have felt through their legs during the past week of training.
Degreaser and a rag, then some wet lube and a wipe, every weekend before race day, is all it takes to keep your equipment as clean as a scalpel, and make you feel equally deadly to your opponents. Cleaning also reveals the irreducible elegance of this most refined of prosthetic devices—correction, the most refined of prosthetic devices, as not even titanium replacement hip joints have been invested with so many hours of prototyping and finessing as each piece of a bike has received over the years.
Some in the racing fraternity demonstratively turn up on Saturday with leg hair and road grime, as though to tell their opponents they could of course win, but they’re not really trying. It’s rather like taking ones lady to dinner without showering and putting on a clean shirt. It is disrespectful and not be let by unchecked.
Saint Thomas Aquinas saw nature as evidence of an intelligent creator. The bicycle is a tower babel, standing for our quest to be gods. And just when bicycle developers have brought us to the summit, by making greater things from titanium and carbon fiber than god ever dreamed of, a cult of ascetics appears, with leg hair and blackened cassettes. Let it be known that behooving moving does not approve.