Joe Staples is Executive Creative Director at Mother, one of the world’s most respected independent creative companies. He was also the original creative force behind the inGamba brand
It’s a weird time. I’m either bummed that the world is falling apart of incredibly happy because I’m finding time early in the morning to ride my bike, and then feeling guilty for feeling so good. I’m missing my friends. Just the silly moments between things. I miss chatting shoulder to shoulder with someone as we climb. I love those chats because they are never about work and they are usually on a subject that I know nothing about. I’ve learnt about the history of Fire Fighting, about the body language differences between dogs and cats, I’ve talked about theories of breastfeeding and 1000 other things.
As I sit in my home office now, between meetings I look for things that make me connected to the culture I am missing. I thought I’d write about some of them, to either start a conversation with anyone listening or get you to look around and see what things are keeping the dream alive.
The Idiocracy jersey
This jersey is 100% the opposite of every jersey I’ve ever owned and I really should hate it. It’s covered in every logo from every brand in the movie Idiocracy and it makes me giggle whenever I wear it. Also it freaks people out. Is he sponsored by all of them? By Crystal Pepsi and Coke, and Blockbusters?
I work in advertising, and cycling and advertising have a weird relationship. Without a brand a pro team literally doesn’t exist. In almost all sports a team is a team and sponsors come and go. Heck in America, the world’s most corporate country, the three main sports don’t even allow advertising on jerseys. These are the kinds of rambling thoughts I have when I ride and apart from friends, these are the kinds of things I’m missing right now.
I like how riding slows my chattering brain off. I like how things become clear, new connections of ideas are made. I really miss this.
I remember the first time I rode with João and he had custom DMT shoes, they were literally the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I was working with Nike and had lot and lots of great sneakers but his shoes were another level. I remember instagramming a photo of them and saying “name on shoes = don’t fuck with.”
A while later Joao called me from Italy to ask my shoe size. I knew exactly what he was doing and I’ve been grateful literally every ride since. When I first got these I was riding 10-15h a week and always felt like I had to represent them on every climb. Pressure from shoes… my ego is obviously very fragile.
A painting of Eddy
I worked with a fantastic director called Stacy Wall, one day on set we were talking about hero and moments they resonate with us and I talked about the motor pacing scene in the classic documentary, La course en tête [that was released the year I was born].
I talked about his style and his amazing cadence and his general souplesse. About month after the shoot I received a package from Stacy, he has painted me a portrait of Eddy and it’s now framed in my work room.
I think now is a time to rewatch these classics films. The bike cleaning scene from A Sunday in Hell is incredible. Also, while we are talking films, La Haine [The Hate] and Le Monde est à toi [The World is Yours] are also worth a visit.
This is a photo of the GPS computer I use.
I don’t use one and especially now I think it’s nice to go computer free. I follow the logic that unless you are paying your bills from cycling, it’s only about happiness and power meters can’t make me happier.
I’ll also say that when I’ve had the privilege of ridden with current pros, there is alway a moment when someone tries to out kick them. This to me is bananas. It also kind of disrespectful. It’s like someone work shadowing you and trying to tell you how to do your job. I don’t ride with a computer because it’s an acknowledgement that I’m just riding.
I should say that I have nothing at all against anyone who does, nothing at all. As long as you don’t mess with the pros. If we ride together, ask me the story about when my buddy Ben Lieberson rode with Danilo DeLuca.
If you haven’t ridden without a computer for ages, now is the time. Don’t compete, be safe, have a nice ride and stop for views. Be careful and don’t crash. Don’t be the dill turning up at a hospital in Lycra.
I have had this for a few weeks and it’s brilliant. “Wait, this hypocrite just told us he didn’t like computers”, hear me out.
This is a strap, it doesn’t have a screen. This is important. It’s not about performance as much as health. It tracks sleep [recovery] and effort [strain] and shows how connected they are. Right now where we have time to get enough sleep, where we aren’t traveling and where we have time to meditate and to do yoga is really awesome time to get a baseline of how your body should feel.
It’s already made me better at sleeping, it’s made me better at understanding when to train hard and when to have a couple of days off. And if this actually still is contradicting my no-GPS policy, sorry. Life is complicated.
A picture of my Dad
My Dad raced bikes. I grew up being told race stories as bedtime stories and being able to spot “keen men”, riders out training who rode with style.
I looked for how their knees tracked and how they sat on their bikes. We went to bike races and we talked about gear charts. When I built a fixed road bike in 1995 it was my dad who told me to ride no more than 65inches “it will feel wrong at first, but it’s a good winter miles gearing”.
I love this photo.
What are your things?
These are some of the things I’m reminded I love. Some of the things that make me feel thankful of the things I have and the friends I miss.
What is keeping you going? What new things have you enjoyed? Let’s ride together sometime and have a chat.
Joe has worked with an impressive list of high-profile brands including Nike and Coca Cola. He was also the Creative Director of brands including Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep and Ram – despite not having a drivers license at the time. He loves Jiu-Jitsu, bike riding and rebuilding fruit from fruit salad. You can find him at @mrjoestaples on Twitter and Instagram.