La Vie Velominatus: Life Gets in the Way

La Vie Velominatus: Life Gets in the Way

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There’s no doubt I live La Vie Velominatus. Sometimes I think I live it maybe a little too much, as I’ve been told by independent observers that bicycles and all associated with them dominates my very existence. And it’s true; I work in the industry, dividing my time between editing Spoke magazine, writing (not nearly enough lately) here, and a couple of days a week in the shop. Whenever there’s a spare moment, it’s usually spent surfing the web, and nine out of ten sites I’ll view are in some way bike related. To end the day I’ll settle down with a book or a magazine in bed. No need to tell you the subject matter. (It’s not porn… really.)

Is this healthy? Cycling is by definition a healthy activity, but when one becomes all-consumed by a solitary pursuit, it can be seen as unhealthy in itself. An addiction. Addictions are usually construed as being bad things, but surely an addiction to something so pure can’t be harmful?

Well, not if you aren’t actually riding. If the only link to cycling is from sitting in front of a computer, writing about riding, reading other’s articles about riding, and making a magazine about riding, all to the detriment of actually getting on a bike and doing it, that takes its toll, both mentally and physically.

It’s a Catch 22 situation. You don’t ride, and you lose fitness. And when you lose fitness, riding becomes harder. So you shy away from hard rides. Consequently, you lose even more fitness. Then you get to the point when you say fuck it, and just get your ass on the bike. You ride with your usual crew, you lag on the hills, but you feel stronger the farther you go, drawing on the energy from the simple act of being out, turning the legs and breathing fresh air into the lungs. You get caught up in the little sprints and KOMs, and find you still have something in the tank. Deep, buried reserves forged from la vie. You finish the ride feeling rejuvenated, tired but refreshed. You vow to ride again tomorrow. But there’s a deadline to meet, proofing to be done, a last mintute article to write. Life gets in the way. And so it goes.

I know. I have ridden my bikes probably on average twice a week for the last six weeks. I was supposed to be doing a race this weekend. I’m glad I’m not. The principle reason for not doing it was money, the very coin I’d spent on getting a bike to race on conspired against actually racing. That, coupled with a grand in dentist fees, a visit from an Aussie friend which helped drain the bank account, then an ensuing illness and my race fitness, which was well on track those six weeks ago, has now all but disappeared in a cloud of debt and lethargy.

Yep, life gets in the way of having a life. A life of riding. But I still have a life of cycling, it’s just being lived through other means right now. And that’s better than not having a life at all. I will be back. Vive la vie Velominatus.

// La Vie Velominatus

  1. @MrBigCog

    I can relate to this article, at least in the sense of getting back on the bike after a hiatus. I recently got over a flu that kept me off the bike for about 2 weeks, the most I haven’t ridden in probably 3 years. Although, it was only two weeks, and thus, I didn’t lost a whole lot of fitness, I was still pretty weak once I got back in the saddle. This forced me to do some easy rides and to be honest it gave me some perspective. I was reminded that I used to ride my bike just to ride my bike. For the last 3 years all I have done is ride to suffer and sometimes being forced to take it easy can remind you how much fun it is to just ride and not always being training.

    What you’re describing here is what I call the Paradox of Maturity…we fall in love with the sport for a reason, and then get so into riding and training that we forget those reasons. For me, though, each Fall gives me the chance to settle back into the basics. Thank goodness for having seasons.

    Welcome – working at home has the significant downside of meaning you lose the easy delineation between work and home, but it does give the freedom to ride instead of commuting. Good on ya!

  2. I’m not sure I’d have the focus to work from home full-time. When I was in school and had serious projects to get done, I’d always hoof it to the nearest coffeeshop with the laptop and hunker down with some coffee. For whatever reason I’d always get more done there with less slacking off than at home. Or I’d just hang around the university before/after class and work there.

    I like having defined areas. To me, home is for relaxing and for personal pursuits. Work is for work. If I owned my own company I could run from home, I think I’d still like to have some sort of office away from home.

    Regarding cycling/life balance, since I’m not pro and don’t race I just try to follow the simple rule of not forcing myself to ride more than I’d like as “training”. Training for what? I just hope to keep getting faster and being able to ride further if I keep riding, I’m not going to be making money from it.

    If I don’t feel like riding on a day I thought I was going to ride, I don’t. I figure the best way to make yourself dislike an activity that is fun is to force yourself to do it even when you don’t feel like it. I just try and remember that and not beat myself up for forgoing a ride that could be making me a “stronger” cyclist.

  3. @frank


    I tell my wife that the only affair I will ever have is with my bike! Luckily, she loves to ride too so that eases the crunch to ride. With my work schedule I spend significant time travelling in my car to and from work. My bike is like American Express, I don’t leave home with out it! I eek out a ride at lunch everyday to allow me to spend time with family. I always long for those long rides of epic proportion but the lunch rides and occasional weekend long rides will make due.

    Ha!! This has happened several times: VMH catches me starting at a car with a beautiful bike on the roof and a pretty woman behind the wheel. “I saw you checking that girl out, you know.” “There was a girl?” And the killer is, I’m serious – never saw her, too busy checking out the specs on the bike.
    I also have a busy work schedule with travel and, if I head to the office, a long commute. Thankfully, I’m working at home alot and I use the commute time to ride my bike instead. A very nice tradeoff for being overworked and underpaid.

    You mean like this Coppi?:

    WARNING: probably barely safe for work, and I mean no offense to our lady friends around here!

  4. @Cyclops

    We need pictures, man!

    Mrs./Dr. Eightzero on Mt. Baker 2011:

  5. @scaler911

    I wonder if Frank noticed more than the bike in that picture.

  6. @scaler911
    Interesting. You don’t often see crank bros. pedals on a fixie. And, unless I’m very much mistaken her footwear isn’t compatible.

  7. @frank


    This rings so true on may levels. I’m lucky in that my time is mine and no one knows how much time I spend on my bike. I’ve lurked her for a while but had to comment on this one.
    (I will say up front that when I race I swim before the ride and run after it. But the bike is by far my favourite. That fact that I just acquired my second bike supports this fact.)

    First off, welcome. Many of us come to the sport through other means and for most of us, we end up more connected to the bike for whatever reason. Don’t rush away from the other sports if you’re not ready, but I’m guessing that the bike will eventually squeeze out all others. Vive la Vie Velominatus.

    Thank you for the welcome.

  8. @paolo

    I wonder if Frank noticed more than the bike in that picture.

    me too!

  9. @frank
    thank you

  10. @eightzero


    We need pictures, man!

    Mrs./Dr. Eightzero on Mt. Baker 2011:

    Sweet!! I bet she kicks your butt up all the hills too, huh?

  11. @Cyclops



    @eightzeroWe need pictures, man!

    Mrs./Dr. Eightzero on Mt. Baker 2011:

    Sweet!! I bet she kicks your butt up all the hills too, huh?

    Every. Time. She turns a racing 53×39 on a much smaller cassette too. It’s a simple matter of thrust to weight ratios. However, on Mt. Baker this year, I was able to suck her wheel all the way up. We got to about 3km from the finish line when The Deal Was Struck. She started to put the pressure on, and I was starting to crack. I told her “hey. Pull it back just a notch and we can finish together (!) but I’ll let you take the stage win.” She acquiesced, and we did the LeMan/Badger high handshake at the line, with her wheel a few centimeters in front of mine. It was a good day.

  12. @frank

    It breaks my heart to see the imbalance between dedication and results.

    This is indeed insightful, and bears some deep consideration. But before you do further analysis, imagine somone looking deep into their soul and pondering this word:


  13. @frank

    We’ve got a mutt and a Great Dane (well, a moderate to fair one anyway) – she was into the vet recently for a bike frame, and before that she bloated and cost me a very nice full carbon bike on that one, since it was also an emergency visit. She has had various other episodes that have, over her life, cost us a small bike stable.
    But I’m happy with the bikes I have, and how can you say “No, I’m going let you suffer while I’m off to buy a new bike?”
    Look at that poonum!

    When the last of our old dogs took his final long sleep, my wife expressed an interest in getting one of the larger breeds. I’d been after a Newfie (got a soft spot for them) but one day she was looking through the classifieds and said “How big are Great Danes?”
    We now have two, hers looks identical to yours, mine is jet black with white patches and weighs more than my sister. They might cost several spare inner tubes worth of food a week, but I’m pretty sure if they’d been at my rented room instead of back at the house I wouldn’t have had my bikes stolen…..

  14. Mouse, where’s that pic?

    Yes, I AM expecting you to do my dirty work. Outdo yourself.

  15. I blame @Minion.

  16. @mouse
    that’s just wierd

  17. ….maybe it’s just me, but can nobody else see a strange sparkly aura eminating from the Prophet’s suit, like some sort of phosphorescence?

    Maybe I’m taking too much of this stuff

  18. @mouse

    What, you blame @minion for getting you pregnant or getting you painted up like a cat?

    I sincerely hope your child never sees that photo!

  19. As it’s too late to stop Mouse, we might as well have a real cat !

    Shuriken is my Abu Dhabi rescue cat and a very friendly boy. Great hunter too – a rabbit is his best so far – and even though he’s had his balls chopped off he still goes out fighting all night.

  20. @ChrisO
    bit sick that, taking a photo of a cat whilst it’s being castrated

  21. @Dr C
    No, it’s not just you. On my screen at work I’m getting the same aura but on my laptop and the desktop at home, the aura has disappeared. Perhaps it is only visible at those moments of clarity where the prophet bestows further wisdom on a velominatus?

  22. I know it’s the off-season and we’re all a bit bored, but really guys, anyone want to post pictures of babies or cute wee kids?

  23. @wiscot
    Please, and dressed up in Halloween costumes as well.

  24. @wiscot
    Will thisdo?

  25. @il ciclista medio
    That’ll do a lot better than some of the stuff that I’m anticipating . . .

  26. @wiscot

    I know it’s the off-season and we’re all a bit bored, but really guys, anyone want to post pictures of babies or cute wee kids?

    Oh alright then, since you insist… warning though, it is slightly cycling related.

    My favourite pic of my daughter Lillian (probably about 4-5 years ago – she’s 9 now) modelling my Rapha Belgian Winter Cap. I don’t wear it much these days but when I do I am extremely appreciative of it.

  27. you wanna see the pumpkin I prepared for my son’s Sppoky Fun Night at school – second fucking place only – travesty!! I’m lodging a formal complaint

    anyway, I know you are all on the edge of your seats with anticipation, for this extended period on non-cycling related irrelevantobilia, but I can’t upload on this PC – will do it later

  28. Quick, someone post a picture of a baby bear.

  29. @Marko

    Brilliant… and Rule #33 compliant too

  30. @Marko

  31. @ChrisO

    Thanks, gents. Certainly my best work and that of which I am most proud.

  32. @Marko

    Thanks, gents. Certainly my best work and that of which I am most proud.

    You’re talking about the custom V-Kit jumper you made, right?

    Kidding, kidding! Cute ‘lil bugger you got there.

  33. as threatened – can’t believe we only came second – took me/ Johnny nearly 4 hours to make!

  34. @Dr C
    Way to podium, Dr. C!

  35. @wiscot

    I know it’s the off-season and we’re all a bit bored, but really guys, anyone want to post pictures of babies or cute wee kids?

    It’s the off season in the northern hemisphere. In the guts of it here.

  36. As long as we are on the subject, I took my young padawan out for a V-lesson on the gravé this afternoon. If you look carefully you’ll see that the road has been engraved with Velomiskrit markings.

  37. @mouse
    Thanks Mouse. At least we’ve moved on to kids from Pets.

    I’m gonna start all my conversations in prison with that one.

  38. @minion
    Heh, heh.
    Nipple Lube.

  39. @Nate

    As long as we are on the subject, I took my young padawan out for a V-lesson on the gravé this afternoon. If you look carefully you’ll see that the road has been engraved with Velomiskrit markings.


  40. @Marko

    Quick, someone post a picture of a baby bear.

    How come I can’t find the V-Onesie on the Gear page?

  41. It should also be stated that the amount of cycling many of you are able to pull off is quite impressive! I have far fewer commitments than many Followers & it gives us lads hope that there is still a V-Life after one dives into a career, a family, et cetera.

    The passion, kilometers, and enthusiasm many of you still exude is awesome. Makes me realize I can “grow up” and still ride bikes!

  42. Oh well, why not?

    My little girl at the Bay Crits in Geelong in January, and

    In Brugge in April this year.

  43. @Blah
    Dude, now that’s just showing off.
    Nice work!

  44. @mouse
    Why thank you. She’s pretty awesome.
    We got her a scoot bike a while ago. Second day with it she was sitting on it, watching TV, absently practicing track stands. Real ones, too. 5 seconds or so at a time. Nice for a two year old.

  45. @Ron
    indeed, you’d be forgiven for wondering if any of us do any work at all!!

    One of the joys it that for 3 hours of exercise, you leave the house and 3 hours later you are back “holding the baby” (they don’t care that you haven’t had a shower yet) – that equates to 4 hours for 3 hours in the gym (oh the boredom!!), 5 hours for 3 hours of golf, 8 hours for 3 hours sailing, and if you think of going fishing, you are S+1 and in trouble!

  46. As someone suffering from an extreme lack of riding recently, this article couldn’t have posted up on my ‘recent reads and popular articles’ section at the bottom of the home page.

    Life is friggin’ in the way right now, and the vie has been put on hold. Driving me crazy to not have that outlet to even suffer on my own, not to mention with friends who also seem to be behind in the live versus bike battle.

    Thanks for the article, it is good to know that the circle begins again.

  47. Well, if we are sharing kids pics, I did without the weekend road riding to go camping & mountain biking with my varmints in Fruita, CO last weekend. Instilled the V with them and we all had a blast. They had a blast and as far as I’m concerned, that’s all that counts.

    [dmalbum: path=”/”/]

  48. Thanx for this one Brett. I am right at the edge where I know I am riding 4 to 5 days each week (now), — but — wanting to point my career at the cycling industry. This is a good reminder (or lesson or mistake to learn from) to keep looking over my shoulder and not allow either to overcome my career goals or my bike passion. This was a good article double-header. Frank (addiction) and Brett (life).

  49. @Ron

    a few years ago 15 miles seemed far.

    Rule #24

  50. @brett That was such a refreshing read Brett, thank you. I’m finding it ever harder as I get older to balance time on the bike v time with the famly v time at work. Commuting isnt always an option as my job demands that I have a car with me at work. I’ve settled into a pattern now where the best time for me to ride is out the door for 6am for about 90 minutes. Then back, sort the kids breakfast, shower and kiss the wife. This is Kool and the Gang in the Spring and Summer months but Winter means that all my riding, with the exception of the odd group ride at the weekend, is done in the dark. I don’t care about the rain, hey, I quite like the rain, but riding in the dark is one thing that I don’t much enjoy. Still beats the Turbo though! Your article made me feel better about myself Brett, it’s good to know that other Velominati are in the same boat.

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