A lit­tle ex­tra on the leg, Sir?

Cyclist - - The Rules -

Dear Frank

What is the cor­rect length for bib­shorts? Some brands stop just above the knee, while other (mainly Ital­ian) brands are barely more than hot­pants. Richard, by email

Dear Richard

The Rules are about cul­ti­vat­ing a pas­sion for rid­ing our bikes to gain the max­i­mum en­joy­ment pos­si­ble. This re­quires hu­mil­ity, for one thing, and de­vo­tion, for another. It re­quires a bal­ance be­tween fo­cus­ing on progress and en­joy­ing the jour­ney. It de­mands a rev­er­ence for our his­tory paired with a hunger for evo­lu­tion. The Rules teach us bal­ance, to em­brace the con­tra­dic­tion of op­pos­ing forces for the pos­i­tive that each can bring us.

And so it could be said that The Goldilocks Prin­ci­ple is one of the fun­da­men­tal tenets of Rule Holism. Along our jour­ney to La Vie Velom­i­na­tus, we will swing like a pen­du­lum from left to right be­fore we find our nat­u­ral rest­ing place be­tween two ex­tremes, whether in our train­ing, our po­si­tion on the bike, our kit or even our very com­mit­ment to cy­cling it­self. No one can tell another where this point of bal­ance lies or how to find it. We may be shown The Way, but the path is ours alone to walk.

The Goldilocks Prin­ci­ple ap­plies to many as­pects of the sport, and the wear­ing of our kit – in par­tic­u­lar the length of sleeves, shorts and socks – is no ex­cep­tion.

Lance Pharm­strong, whose rac­ing record was more eas­ily ex­punged than was his in­flu­ence on style, started a trend by rid­ing in longer and longer bibs and socks as his ca­reer pro­gressed. Arm­strong’s re­la­tion­ship with bib­short length was a chal­lenged one through­out his ca­reer – early on he was in­flu­enced by Sean Yates, who rode with his bibs pulled up high to avoid show­ing off his tan lines while wear­ing Ber­muda shorts around his house. This strikes me as a pre­pos­ter­ous goal, but nev­er­the­less this is where his am­bi­tions lay and he passed them on to young Lance. It wouldn’t be un­til af­ter his re­turn from can­cer that Arm­strong’s shorts length pen­du­lum would swing in the other di­rec­tion.

The down­ward trend has con­tin­ued af­ter his ex­ile, and rid­ers to­day are wear­ing them nearly down to their knees. I can’t un­der­stand this trend as I’m much too vain and proud of my legs to be will­ing to cover them up. But on to the ba­sic ques­tion at hand: how long should your shorts be? The an­swer is, of course, not too long and not too short.

Whether worn with knee­warm­ers or not, the grip­pers on the legs of shorts must fall some­where be­tween the mid­point of the thigh and the base of the rec­tus femoris. This is the mus­cle on your thigh that, to­gether with the vas­tus lat­er­alis and vas­tus me­di­alis, form the shape of a V on your guns. Un­der no cir­cum­stances should your shorts cover this point, as it is one of the pri­mary fo­cal points of The V. The more mas­sive your can­nons, the higher the ac­cepted line can be, al­though it should be noted that the re­verse does not ap­ply to low­er­ing the line to cover up a pair of pins like lit­tle starter pis­tols.

Look to the likes of Bernard Hin­ault, Laurent Fignon and Greg Lemond for the gold stan­dard in choos­ing their bib length to max­i­mally show off the im­pres­sive­ness of their guns.

A fi­nal note is that you’re not hostage to the length of the bib­shorts as they are sold. It seems to have es­caped the pub­lic’s aware­ness that Ly­cra is stretchy, which means you can place the grip­pers wher­ever you choose. If they’re longer than de­sired, sim­ply place the grip­pers where you want them and smooth out the ex­cess ma­te­rial. It’s OK if the fabric bunches a bit at the hip as it will make your thighs look even more mas­sive than they are.

I would have in­cluded a photo of my­self get­ting dressed prop­erly but the ed­i­tor wouldn’t have it. Some­thing about re­tain­ing read­er­ship and nu­dity.

Long, short or some­where in be­tween? The de­bate over bib­shorts length has cy­clists di­vided, but Frank Strack is here to of­fer guid­ance

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