Sarcastic Compliments

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Over Leffes and Flemmish stew – a Ricky Gervais’ look-a-like with a company named after foxes. And he’s obsessed with cycling…

I've been obsessed by pro cycling since I was a bony 13 year old, when the Tour was on Channel 4 in 1986. I'd never seen Flanders though. I had launched Vulpine and then 2 weeks later I was in Flanders, at the very loose invite of Neal Rogers. I was contacting anyone who listen to me. Neal listened. In fact, as all Americans (rightly, I realised) think that Europeans can just pop over to watch races, he invited me to show him my wares at the Ronde. Was it worth a go? ARE YOU F****** JOKING ME??
So he picked me up on a stretch of cobbles and proceeded to drive very fast to Bruges, with a journalist called Dan… We had dinner with husband and wife photographers Jim & Iri from Brakethrough Media. And dark, mysterious, half asleep through jet lag journalist Dan. That night our worlds collided and new galaxies were born.
Every few weeks I declare Dan to be the funniest man on twitter. If you're not really into pro men's cycling, he isn't. He's rubbish. If you are, he is. 
Here are a large selection of his best tweets. The first, with Sagan, truthfully made me cry with laughter and get shouted at for scaring our son. 
Non pro cycling fan? Leave, or trawl as best you can. 
Pro cycling fan? Pour a large whisky, kick back, relax and enjoy. Unless you're in work, in which case, stuff your mouth with wading. 

– Nick

 

On the eve of the 2012 Tour of Flanders, Velo editor Neal Rogers and I set out for Bruges on a mission to retrieve our race day credentials. 

Having arrived in Belgium from the U.S. only hours before, I wasn’t thrilled by the prospect of a 90-minute road trip. But jetlagged though I was, I soldiered on in hopes I might avoid entering REM sleep mid-sentence. As we hopped in our rental car, Neal dropped one previously unannounced detail about our afternoon’s agenda. 

“Oh, we’re picking up this guy, Nick. I haven’t met him, but he’s starting a clothing company in England. Wants to show us some of his stuff.”

 

I tried to hide my disappointment. I could hardly hold my eyelids open, much less entertain some strange Brit. But minutes later there he was by the side of the road, a garment bag slung over his shoulder. 

Nick had a classic British accent, a three-day-old beard and immaculately styled hair. I concluded he could be Ricky Gervais’ metrosexual brother. 

 

But he had a lot to say, which I quickly realized was a Godsend. Without the pressure of trying to squeeze a word in edgewise, I could focus 100% of my energy on remaining conscious. 

And so that afternoon, against the backdrop of one of the world’s most breathtaking cities (and eventually a delicious bowl of Flemish Stew and a couple of Leffes), we heard the story of Nick’s startup, a brand he’d named Vulpine. 

“It means foxlike,” he explained, noting my puzzled look. 

As he spoke a couple of things stood out to me about Nick, apart from his outgoing nature. First this was a guy who loved cycling. I mean really loved cycling. Second, this Vulpine thing was clearly an obsession. Over the course of the evening, Nick described what seemed a pathological attention to detail, from concept to manufacturing. 

Being generally clueless about how these things work, I found the whole night an unexpectedly fascinating window on both the clothing industry and our new friend’s undiagnosed mental illness. Not surprisingly, Nick’s samples really were terrific though. I returned to our hotel that night wishing I’d been able to bring them home. 
In the years since, I’ve watched Nick’s vision grow and thrive. And while we’ve not truly spoken since, we’ve continued to admire one another’s work from across the Atlantic, trading the occasional nicety online – he admiring some quip or photo and me his merino wool boxers. Well…you know what I mean. 

When Nick dropped me a line to ask if I might be willing to repackage a few of my favorite tweets as a blog post for Vulpine, I accepted immediately, recognizing – as before – that it was a task in which I’d hardly have to say a word. It’s just as well, I suppose. The best way to ruin a bunch of jokes is to start explaining them in a blog post. 

Enjoy. 

 

 

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