Each PRO has a style that is unique unto himself: Bartoli's careless drape of his hands on the tops, Der Jan's preference for the 53x12 on any course, Johnny Tomaction's fluidity, and LA's cadence when in the mountains. When I am out on my machine, whether my mountain or cross bike, in my mind's eye I envision these PROs and I can not help but be influenced by their style. Back in the 80s when skateboarding was experiencing its second big boom, Natas Kaupas came on the scene and brought with him the future of the skate industry and a style that was distinctly his own. Back then, I was an impressionable young lad and someone like Natas provided a style that I admired and could mimic. When I stumbled into road cycling, there were PROs whose style both as fashionistas and as cyclists I really admired (Merckx, of course, and De Vlaeminck, Vanderaerden, and Lemond were a few). I rode as much as I could and, in addition to trying to go fast, I tried to do it with style. I tried to do it like the PROs. I rode slowly by storefronts to size up my position, my style, the flatness of my back and height of my saddle.
Over the past 20 years, the style I tried to emulate helped me to form my own, and it came not from practice, but from discipline and mileage. High-mileage single-handedly has the greatest effect on a cyclist's style and, as we have seen from many old PROs, once you achieve it the form never goes away. It is as much earned as is the ability to ride a two-wheeler and once you master it, it's yours forever. I have seen plenty of OGs show up to a group ride and through experience, brains, and the pride that they use to propel them, hang in and not get dropped (despite being 25 pounds over weight and having only hundreds of miles in their legs).
I still watch the PROs in awe, the new guys and the old. The fluidity of their style that's almost effortless is intoxicating, and it is always a pleasure to watch those who are truly exceptional.
High Mileage = High Stylage