Laying it On Thick: Your Epidermis is Showing

As you've probably noticed in the cycling press, the fantabulous product showcase known as Interbike is now well underway. While this is certainly an important event for those people directly involved in the making and selling of bicycles, from the perspective of the everyday rider whose only job is to ride the things it's mostly just "same stuff, different decals." Sure, even the most ornery fusspot will come across something he likes when perusing the coverage, but for the most part the stuff that emerges seems to fall under one of three categories:

1) New wheel gimmickry;

2) The latest mass-produced iterations of the previous year's NAHBS trend;

3) Increasingly, dumb "collabo" fixies.

However, every so often a cycling product emerges during Interbike time that is so compelling, so revolutionary, so I-would-flush-my-kitten-down-the-toilet-to-have-that-right-now awesome-tastic that it's enough to drive you mad with frothy desire. Such is the case this year, for clothier to the "I have a flat tire on my Serotta--do I need a new wheel?" set Rapha have finally ladled out ("ladled out" is skincare jargon for "dropped") their long-awaited skincare range:

I mentioned that this was imminent awhile back, and a reader recently forwarded me the above article. Obviously, like most people, I thought this was some kind of elaborate April Fool's joke at first, but I checked my trusty Just Miniature Dachshunds 2010 wall calendar and noted that April 1st had passed some time ago (or, if you're an optimist and just assume you'll live to see another April Fool's Day, has yet to arrive). Then I thought that, since the Jewish New Year had just passed, maybe it was now Jewish April Fool's Day. (Jewish April Fool's Day comes just before Jewish Easter, which should not be confused with a Jew'easter, which is a kind of kosher storm.) But this wasn't the case either, which is unfortunate, since few things are funnier to me than the old "short-sheeted tallis" trick. Finally, I checked the Rapha site and determined that this is indeed real, and that they are apparently aiming to become the Keihl's of the cycling world:

Here's what they have to say for themselves:
Apparently, these fragrant goops are "designed to protect your skin against the elements," which is interesting because I thought that was the point of wearing clothes. Somehow, though, these unguents are "an essential addition to a rider's kit," which to me is a tacit admission that their clothing is somehow inadequate. This would make Rapha Performance Skincare the equivalent of that "bumper" that's supposed to help your iPhone 4 do what it's supposed to do--except Apple gives it away for free.

Now, I certainly realize that, in cycling and in life in general, judicious application of creams and ointments can be both necessary and helpful. For example, chamois cream (whether it's actually marketed as chamois cream or is simply any one of the drugstore staples that will do pretty much the same thing) can be instrumental when it comes to taintal preservation, especially on long rides. Also, if you are the type of person who shaves one or more body parts, some sort of razor lubricant or "shaving cream" can be very helpful in this regard. And obviously, unless you're some filthy hippie and/or a person from Portland, you wash yourself with soap from time to time.

But it seems to me that, in recent years, cyclists--especially of the road-going variety--have developed a preoccupation with lotions, cleansers, and embrocations that would make a cosmetologist blush (or at least apply blush), and the Rapha Performance Skincare line would appear to be cycling's preening, delightfully-scented "Sex In The City"-on-wheels watershed moment. I mean, I'm all for cleanliness and comfort, but do we really need the smell of our crotches to be "inspired by the scents of the plants and herbs growing on Mont Ventoux, including Atlas cedar, lavender, pine needles, rosemary, juniper berry and lemon"? And in terms of paceline roll-out chatter, I'm not sure which is worse: the endless nonsense about "watts;" or, "You smell quite lovely this morning--like lilac with just a hint of fromage du frumunda."

Yes, thanks to cyclists' obsession with expensive clothes, designer bags, and now, skin creams, the only difference between cyclists and the typical Bergdorf Goodman shopper is that most cyclists' bags don't contain Yorkies--or maybe they do, for a member of the Twitteroni recently notified me of this:

If you look closely, you'll notice the label says it is made in Portland, Oregon. Is this really necessary? Is there any other place from which a line of cycling-themed dog accessories could possibly have emanated? And of course you can turn your poor pet into a "hipster service dog" by using it to open your beer:

Given that every single non-competitive cycling component and accessory manufactured after 2007 integrates some sort of bottle-opening technology, it's clear that the "bike culture" lives in constant terror that it will somehow find itself unable to open a beer. This is why the typical bike dork strolling around Interbike probably has, without even realizing it, no less than seven bottle openers on his or her person--and that's not including the bike, which would put the total well into the double digits. I even hear the Rapha chamois cream was specially formulated to open a bottle of Duvel if you slather it on the cap.

Speaking of slathering, I wonder if some customers might find auxiliary uses for certain Rapha Performance Skincare products, possibly while perusing literary bike porn:

(Hand model clearly not using Rapha Performance Skincare)

While a gnarled old hand might not be arousing to most people, for the seasoned connoisseur of highbrow bike pornography, the mere thought of the exquisite lugs these crooked digits have caressed in their lifetime is more stirring than a thousand Victoria's Secret catalogues. Indeed, this scenario has become all too common:

Really, all that's left at this point is to conquer the fixed-gear market, which has already become enamored of the Rapha "epic" aesthetic. I'm looking forward to the black-and-white videos of "epic" bathing sessions in "vintage" clawfoot tubs, and to the "unmarshalled and unsanctioned" Gentleman's Baths which will undoubtedly follow those Gentleman's Races. Then, Rapha will finally ladle out it's special fixed-gear chamois cream:

Coasting is for "woosies," and so is removing your shorts.

Meanwhile, from Rapha to Ralph's, another member of the Twitterino alerted me to what may be the lamest incident of two-wheeled rebellion of the year, which occurred when a bunch of cyclists rode into a supermarket:

You may recall that video "To Live & Ride in L.A.," which claimed that "they ride the most dangerous streets in America:"

Well, I guess they now ride the most dangerous supermarket aisles in America too:

I can't wait for video of some tarckster elephant trunk-skidding his way through the produce section, while another narrowly avoids getting hit by a full shopping cart being pushed by a mother of three. Or maybe they'll just have a hardcore fixed-gear freestyle session in the frozen foods section so they can have an excuse to wear their overpriced "collabo" jackets and hoodies.

Maybe they can hold Interbike 2011 at the Piggly Wiggly.

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