Tuesday, November 22, 2005


When I was in high school our economics class took a field trip to Chicago to visit the stock exchange. Our high school teacher dressed himself in suit, carried a briefcase and walked at least twenty feet ahead of his students, completely ignoring us and trying to disassociate himself from us. He obviously was living out his fantasy of working on the trading floor instead of just being a visitor. You could tell that he wanted to shed his regular persona and pretend that he too was making million-dollar deals and working in this prestigious environment with high-stress and high stakes instead of a high school. At the time I didn’t wonder that he was regretting choices not taken or experiencing a crisis of some sort: I just saw a pathetic man, lacking the courage to run from his unhappy life, and as a poor substitute, running from his students in a sad attempt to pretend for a few hours that he was a stock broker.

On Monday I rode the Mint Julep, my fixie, into work for the first time since I hurt my knee in September. It felt great to ride her again and my knee feels almost as good as new. Yippee! However my glee quickly died when our reflection in a window revealed the following details:

Sweet fixed gear bike w/ streamers (sweet in my opinion, at least),
Messenger bag,
Skater style helmet,
Arm warmers (brrr....must. tape. bars--raw metal is cold in freezing temps!)
Cropped pants,
Striped knee socks

I look like the wannabe love child of an indie rocker and a bike messenger.

Fuck – I am a Poser.

History reveals that the changes have been small but steady since April........

First my beloved hybrid, The Tank got stolen and replaced with the Bianchi and I was introduced to both road bikes and clipless riding. Then I signed up for a workshop to convert a bike into a fixie and the Julep was born.

The Julep doesn’t have a rack, so I began using backpacks and satchels instead of my sensible paniers. A few weeks ago there was a sale on messenger bags and I finally took the plunge.

The helmet was offered by my bro, when I mentioned that it was the time of year to sew my super-great, but super-dorky, fleece earflaps back onto my helmet. He offered me his too-small rock-climbing helmet, that looks like a skateboarder helmet except is has built-in earflaps. I have since received gads of compliments on it, to the point that I feel like I am committing fraud by wearing it without some sort of message disclaiming my unworthiness.

The socks as arm warmers aren’t new, nor are the cropped pants or striped socks. I wore them when it got too cold for riding bare-limbed last year, too.

The combination of all of these incremental changes is startling. Instead of looking like a clueless dork – I look perilously similar to those whom often exude a cooler-than-though attitude. My boring hairstyle is all that saves me from being a total fraud.

Despite my fake messenger/hipser appearance, my riding style is anything but messenger-ish. I stop for red lights and then wait for the green with a foot firmly on the ground because I am too chicken to even attempt a track stand. Skid stops – Ha! --I don’t foresee ever riding without a front brake. I signal before changing lanes in traffic and wait my turn at all-way stops. Sure, I curse at misbehaving cars or men who yell sexual stuff at me, but the only time I responded physically, I hurt my hand. All signs point to ‘Dork’ as the most accurate description of my riding style.

Now the question becomes, ‘what to do?’ Do I continue to perpetrate this fraud? Should I put paniers on the Julep? Create a disclaimer on the helmet, "Warning: the wearer of this helmet is less cool than she appears?" Start wearing more lawyer-garb to destroy the whole illusion? Get my ass back on a squishy dork hybrid seat where it belongs? Do nothing and wait for someone to call me out?

I don’t want to be a poser like my high school econ. teacher.


At 7:17 PM, Blogger Sascha said...

Jojo, I love you. I want to be like you when I grow up.

At 7:22 AM, Blogger George said...

All I gotta say is.........be your own bad self.

If riding with streamers, spokie-dokies, a Prussian War helmet or *whatever* floats your boat....go with it.

Shit, I'm 46 years old and I ride a Kona chopper around. I might look like an idiot, but I really don't give flying f*ck-ya know?

At 9:54 AM, Blogger Thomas said...

Maybe I'm just inclined to go easy on you, but I would say there's no reason to feel like a poser. The messengers all wear that gear because it works. You wear that gear because it works. It's a utilitarian decision that also happens to be a fashion statement. So?

At 10:35 AM, Anonymous Jeremy said...

I know how you feel. This morning on my commute i was wearing cycling tights underneath workpants cutoff into knickers, a bright LS euro-jersey and of course my messenger bag (with a "one less car" patch for added affect). this may be the uniform of your typical bike-messenger but while i like the aesthetics of the clothes, i like the comfort they provide while cycling even more. and a shoulder bag is the simplest way to transport my stuff through the city while making multiple stops. and i'm sure messengers feel the same. function before form.
one day i got stopped by a real messenger as i was entering my office building with my bike. he thought i was a fellow messenger who had forgotten his lock. i felt like my great lie was being exposed. truth is though, most messengers don't care that you resemble them. besides, i'd rather be mistaken for a bike messenger than an suit (no offence; i work a 'suit" job too).
so rock those steamers and tights and messenger bags with pride!

At 4:52 PM, Blogger jojo said...

Sascha only met me once (adorned with the cool helmet) and already she loves and wishes to emulate me.

Proof positive that the helmet makes me seem far cooler than I am on my own.

This is a power that I must learn to wield wisely, or else wreck havoc on the world.

At 10:07 AM, Blogger KM said...

At least you wear a helmet. Love the streamers.



At 1:18 PM, Anonymous super rookie said...




These are just a few of the terms that I am sure went through every messengers head. But, who wants to be one of those kids? I was one for three years and it isn't all that. If you want to get treated like crap for a living then you should be a messenger.

If you want to use what works than you just happen to look like a person that knows what is going on!


At 12:29 PM, Blogger Fritz said...

A poseur is one who makes a decision to emulate somebody and seeks it out for the sake of looking the part. It sounds like you just happened to land on "the look" because it happens to work for you.

I have a fixie because it was cheaper to go that route rather than trying to upgrade all of the components on my ten-year-old Centurion. I have a messenger bag because my little backpack broke while I was in Austin on business (using a bike and bus to get around), and the messenger bag was all the bike shop had available. I wear cut-off pants because the cuffs got so mangled in the chainring.


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