La Vie Velominatus: Saleté Sacrée

Sacred Flemish grime covered our bikes.
Sacred Flemish grime covered our bikes on Keepers Tour.

A Velominatus maintains their machine with meticulous care, doting over it daily. A bicycle is a tool, but it is also a work of art, and serves us loyally in pursuit of our craft. We love them as though they were alive; as we grow together, the cracks and lines formed upon both our skins signifies the journey that has passed beneath our wheels.

A clean bicycle with a boastful luster inspires pride; I find myself constantly fighting the urge to carry mine upstairs to sit by the dinner table each time it has been cleaned, the bar tape freshly wrapped, or any old component swapped for a new one. I’m sure a psychiatrist would have a thing or two to say about it; I know the VMH does.

And yet, there are times when it pains me to clean my machine. After our first day on the Cobbles of Roubaix on Keepers Tour 2012, I left my bike dirty for two days because I couldn’t bring myself to rid her frame of the sacred dust that had accumulated after a day’s hard riding over some of the most hallowed roads in the world. A week later, I suffered the same condition the day after riding the route of De Ronde through hail, rain, and wind which left our machines covered in mud, manure, and Merckx knows what else. I think some part of me hoped the Flemish spirit held within all that grit would somehow be absorbed by my bike, that it would somehow help complete her soul.

But this kind of sacred dirt, the kind we don’t want to wash from our steeds, isn’t found only on the holy roads of Northern Europe. I found myself with the same reluctance to clean my Graveur after riding Heck of the North this year; a race held outside a small Northern Minnesota town nearly half a world from Flanders. I also serendipitously found photos Pavé William took of his Rosin after riding the Strade Bianche, documenting the covering of white dust upon its tubes. This condition afflicts us all, it would seem.

Any dirt becomes holy when we’ve suffered through it, when it took something from us in order to find its way onto our bikes and clothing. Sacred Dirt it is created spontaneously after prolonged exposure to The V.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

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169 Replies to “La Vie Velominatus: Saleté Sacrée”

  1. @sthilzy

    Sacred dust in 2014 TdF?

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/five-mountain-finishes-for-2014-tour-de-france

    Stages in northern France are expected to remember the 100th anniversary of the start of the first world war, while also remembering Tour de France riders Octave Lapize, Francois Faber and Lucien Petit Breton who all died in the conflict.

    Up to six sectors of pave could be included in the stage according to Tuttosport, possibly including the terrible long section of the Forest of Arenberg.

    YES, YES, YES!!!  The Pave’ will feature in ’14’s TDF!!!  15.4 k’s of pave’ and, although they have not supposedly officially announced which sections, they are supposed to include Arenberg, carrafour de l’arbe and mons-en-pevele.  If those are truly sections included, this will be EPIC!!!  No hiding on those stones, boys!

    Also some great mountains top stage finishes, no TTT, a decently long ITT, and one narrow laned 12% grade at one point in one stage.

    Sounds like it will be one HELL of a race!!!

  2. Gruson au Carrefour, Ennevelin à Pont Thibaut, Mons en Pévèle, Bersee, Orchies à Beuvry-la-Forêt, Sars-et-Rosières Ã  Tilloy lez Marchiennes, Brillon à Warlaing, Wandignies Hamage à Homaing et Helesmes à Wallers mais La Trouée d’Arenberg, non. Je suis très triste.

  3. @Buck Rogers

    @sthilzy

    Sacred dust in 2014 TdF?

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/five-mountain-finishes-for-2014-tour-de-france

    Stages in northern France are expected to remember the 100th anniversary of the start of the first world war, while also remembering Tour de France riders Octave Lapize, Francois Faber and Lucien Petit Breton who all died in the conflict.

    Up to six sectors of pave could be included in the stage according to Tuttosport, possibly including the terrible long section of the Forest of Arenberg.

    YES, YES, YES!!! The Pave’ will feature in ’14″²s TDF!!! 15.4 k’s of pave’ and, although they have not supposedly officially announced which sections, they are supposed to include Arenberg, carrafour de l’arbe and mons-en-pevele. If those are truly sections included, this will be EPIC!!! No hiding on those stones, boys!

    Also some great mountains top stage finishes, no TTT, a decently long ITT, and one narrow laned 12% grade at one point in one stage.

    Sounds like it will be one HELL of a race!!!

    This sounds like an amazing tour. The forest of Arenberg will be truly amazing to watch.

    Is it spring yet?

  4. @scaler911

    During the Monsoon we had a few weeks back, some ‘cross racing happened and some gear got destroyed.

    (photo by Matt Lasala)

    Its certainly customary for a cross race to have a sand pit, but this is the first race I’ve seen with a chocolate pudding pit.  What’s next – JELL-O run ups?

  5. @Chris

    Gruson au Carrefour, Ennevelin à Pont Thibaut, Mons en Pévèle, Bersee, Orchies à Beuvry-la-Forêt, Sars-et-Rosières à Tilloy lez Marchiennes, Brillon à Warlaing, Wandignies Hamage à Homaing et Helesmes à Wallers mais La Trouée d’Arenberg, non. Je suis très triste.

    Damn, damn, double damn!  What a missed chance.  Are you sure?  No Arenberg???  At least they have Mons en Pevele and Orchies.  You have “Gruson au Carrefour” listed.  Is not Gruson the section after Carrefour de l’Arbre?  Are they running them together in reverse?

  6. No forest of Arenberg. And I’m glad they’ve skipped it. Yes, borrow some of the sectors from paris-Roubaix. But leave some of the most special to be raced just that once a year.

     

    Rather excited that the tour is passing little over 1km from the desk I’m sat at at work right now. Though I’ll be taking the day off to try the mission of being at the start in Cambridge and somewhere near the finish in London. Should be a fun day.

  7. @Buck Rogers

    @Chris

    Gruson au Carrefour, Ennevelin à Pont Thibaut, Mons en Pévèle, Bersee, Orchies à Beuvry-la-Forêt, Sars-et-Rosières à Tilloy lez Marchiennes, Brillon à Warlaing, Wandignies Hamage à Homaing et Helesmes à Wallers mais La Trouée d’Arenberg, non. Je suis très triste.

    Damn, damn, double damn! What a missed chance. Are you sure? No Arenberg??? At least they have Mons en Pevele and Orchies. You have “Gruson au Carrefour” listed. Is not Gruson the section after Carrefour de l’Arbre? Are they running them together in reverse?

    Am I sure? I’ve no idea what I wrote there, it’s in French.

    It looks as though they are working their way backwards from Gruson to somewhere close to Arenberg. The Helesmes à Wallers secteur finishes just to the south east of Arenberg whilst Google has the Communauté d’Agglomération La Porte du Hainaut on the road that leads into the the forest before you get to the old coal mine on the left. 

  8. @ped

    Stage 5

    Boy, without knowing enough about the specific roads and how they’re looping around to all the secteurs, it looks like they’re riding the route backwards. Carrefour would be much easier in this direction, as would Mons en Pévéle as they both finish with slight uphill sections in the normal direction. But they will be faster and more dangerous.

    It does seem like since they are finishing at Arenberg, they could easily have put a bunch sprint up the trench as the finish. Feels like a missed opportunity.

  9. @frank

    @ped

    Stage 5

    Boy, without knowing enough about the specific roads and how they’re looping around to all the secteurs, it looks like they’re riding the route backwards. Carrefour would be much easier in this direction, as would Mons en Pévéle as they both finish with slight uphill sections in the normal direction. But they will be faster and more dangerous.

    It does seem like since they are finishing at Arenberg, they could easily have put a bunch sprint up the trench as the finish. Feels like a missed opportunity.

    On section thought, Mons en Pévéle is normally 3km long; I think they are exiting at the halfway point, or entering at the halfway point. If they enter at the halfway point and ride to the traditional entrance, it will be pretty tough, although short. The traditional entrance is all downhill and rough. It will be a bugger to ride that direction, so obviously that’s what I’m hoping they will do.

  10. @DerHoggz

    @frank

    I admit to doing the same when commuting by bike in winter; a full cleaning just seems to pointless. But none of that dirt or grit is sacred, it’s just nasty crap that should be pulled off the machine as soon as you can get to it.

    My usual winter cleaning amounts to just clearing the ice/slush off of any moving surfaces (drivetrain and wheels mostly). I do also do complete frame-off overhauls periodically with degreaser baths and such.

    Rides like a dream after that, eh?

    @frank

    @eightzero

    Two words: ritualistic washing.

    These is much more to this than meets the eye. I too obcess over keeping a pristine machine. I scoff with some indigntaion over the popular notion that you shouldn’t use high pressure water to clean a bike, because “the pressure will force water and grit into places where lube goes.” Well, just get the dirt of out those places, and put new lube in where it belongs. Yes, this can take a while. Clean, yes. Destroy functionality, no.

    However, dirt in mechanisms degrades their performance, and shortens their lifespan. But news flash – all the moving parts will need to be replaced eventually anyway. Ride your Fucking Bike, and accept that parts can be replaced. The memory of those rides is *forever.* The dirt, as you say, is a badge of sucess.

    There is no such thing as an uncleanable bike.

    Awesome post.

    One point, the problem with the pressure washer is that for the most part, the bearings are sealed and the water molecules are smaller than the dirt, so the pressure washer doesn’t remove any dirt from the bearings (because it wasn’t in there) but the water pushes in past the seals and rusts the balls inside.

    But you’re in good company; the pros use them all the time – although they swap bearings more regularly than we do.

    This is why cup and cone is better than cartridge. I actually enjoyed redoing the BB and wheels on my old bike. If I ever get around to wheelbuilding, it is going to be cup and cone for me.

    I disagree with that assessment, but Campagnolo agrees with you; their hubs still use loose balls as far as I know.

    @eightzero

    But hey, all the pros had to start somewhere, right? I mean, nobody who is rich just becomes a pro? She put in all her dues as a working girl first, right?

    But she has crow’s feet, which I learned from this discussion makes her real! Seen here in this photo where she is obviously foreclosing someone’s house.

    Or just being released from prison for Wallstreet shenanigans?

  11. @Al__S You’re going to have to ride fairly hard if you want to make it to the finish. I can’t make up my mind whether to do the start, a point in the middle or head for the finish for a Cav win.

    I fancy doing a couple of days in Yorkshire spectating on the bike and riding a stage so the Cambridge London stage will have to be avec les enfants.

  12. @scaler911

    During the Monsoon we had a few weeks back, some ‘cross racing happened and some gear got destroyed.

    (photo by Matt Lasala)

    On Monday the owner of Van Dessel bikes said his favorite ‘cross courses were the ones that required file treads.

  13. @G’rilla

    Boo.  Though so far this season, all our local races here in NE Ohio have been on the dry side – not necessarily file tread dry, but dry enough that I’ve only had to wash my bike twice.

  14. I think that Lasala photo might help me complete a cyclocross poster I’ve been wanting to put together: BIKE, RUN, SWIM.

  15. @frank

    @ped

    Stage 5

    Boy, without knowing enough about the specific roads and how they’re looping around to all the secteurs, it looks like they’re riding the route backwards. Carrefour would be much easier in this direction, as would Mons en Pévéle as they both finish with slight uphill sections in the normal direction. But they will be faster and more dangerous.

    It does seem like since they are finishing at Arenberg, they could easily have put a bunch sprint up the trench as the finish. Feels like a missed opportunity.

    It does seem like since they are finishing at Arenberg, they could easily have put a bunch sprint up the trench as the finish. Feels like a missed opportunity.

    Man, I must have missed the bit in the interview with Froome when he said the same thing. Or maybe I didn’t . . . Glad to see some cobbles in there. Pity there’s only one tt and at 54kms it’s still too short. 80+ is what’s needed I say. Twice. In the same race. Fucking mountain monkeys always get too much of their own parcours. I’m lookig forward to the stage already. If Spartacus rides with Abandy, will he neutralize things if the skinny one gets into trouble?

  16. @zeitzmar

    You know, that’s a happy looking bike. It’s been ridden hard and is looking forward to a nice wash before bedtime. It’s like a kid who’s been outplaying all day getting grubby but having a blast.

  17. After my final 200K of the season my steed has sat in the living room several days. The water bottles are probably festering, and grits falls gently to the carpet when I brush by…but I can’t bring myself to clean her up and acknowledge that the ass end of the season has arrived in N Minnesota. Soon it will be the indoor trainer and cycling work-out DVD’s where complete strangers yell fitness slogans at me from the screen of the basement tele. The grit and sticky spots of gel on the top tube are my last connection to a season I don’t want to end.

  18. @gregorio

    After my final 200K of the season my steed has sat in the living room several days. The water bottles are probably festering, and grits falls gently to the carpet when I brush by…but I can’t bring myself to clean her up and acknowledge that the ass end of the season has arrived in N Minnesota. Soon it will be the indoor trainer and cycling work-out DVD’s where complete strangers yell fitness slogans at me from the screen of the basement tele. The grit and sticky spots of gel on the top tube are my last connection to a season I don’t want to end.

    Alas the long stretch of winter is coming and my rollers are ever so slightly peeking from below my bed… they are the monster I fear for the next 4 to 5 months. The boredom already eats at me… the drench that accumulates. The loss of the feeling of speed and freedom we long for will be but a memory. I will luckily get in some rides through out the winter months but they are few and far between.

  19. @wiscot

    Fucking mountain monkeys always get too much of their own parcours. I’m lookig forward to the stage already. If Spartacus rides with Abandy, will he neutralize things if the skinny one gets into trouble?

    Here here. 

    Abandy…what genius thought that up? They deserve a damn apron or a nice house dress or V-smock. Whatever that is.

  20. Late to the party, but great article… I love the look of a bit of road grime, on the bike, on the legs, on the kit.

    On KT12 I brought home my shoe covers which were coated in Roubaix/Flanders grime, and kept them in a plastic bag so I could mount them one day in a case or something for prosperity. Then, when we were off to KT13, I cleaned them and packed them so they could get a new coating. Then the fucking airline lost all my luggage, and with it my little piece of history.

  21. @DeKerr

    @frank When can we (I) get that photo of the sacred-soiled golden ticket as a VVallpaper? I don’t ever want to stop looking at it but I either have to a.) get back to work b.) go ride a bike or c.) pay attention to the wife.

    I have it all set up for a VVallpaper, in fact I have about a half dozen laying around all set to go; I just have to upload the fuckers…apparently I’m something like a year and half behind schedule on that particular action item.

  22. @DCR

    Alas the long stretch of winter is coming and my rollers are ever so slightly peeking from below my bed… they are the monster I fear for the next 4 to 5 months. The boredom already eats at me… the drench that accumulates. The loss of the feeling of speed and freedom we long for will be but a memory. I will luckily get in some rides through out the winter months but they are few and far between.

    @DCR doesn’t check for the boogeyman under his bad; he checks for his rollers.

  23. @brett

    Late to the party, but great article… I love the look of a bit of road grime, on the bike, on the legs, on the kit.

    On KT12 I brought home my shoe covers which were coated in Roubaix/Flanders grime, and kept them in a plastic bag so I could mount them one day in a case or something for prosperity. Then, when we were off to KT13, I cleaned them and packed them so they could get a new coating. Then the fucking airline lost all my luggage, and with it my little piece of history.

    Let me get this straight: you kept dirty socks in a plastic bag for a year?

    That part doesn’t surprise me. What surprises me is that you still got girls to sleep with you.

  24. In my young and wayward days of high school and college I ran cross country.  While it’s a heinous set of violations of rule #42, I have to admit that I still look back on those days fondly.  Racing over hills in mud, snow, and melting muck; running a race in shorts and t-shirt at eight degrees C…  there’s a familiarity there, right?

    But one of the rules of my cross country team, passed down from upperclassman to underclassmen, was that clean shoes were a sign that you weren’t out training hard enough.  Nor could you go out and intentionally get your shoes dirty — you had to earn the wear and tear, putting in the miles, on the good days and the bad, in the sun and in the shit.

  25. @frank I tried to put words with this but on my phone’s firefox I could only post picture or video, no text.

    @G’rilla this is what happens when you have to turn your #1 into your graveur with the help of some 30mm cx clinchers. Velominatus Bugetatus.

    @scaler911  This was a ride I did around Lake Sammamish. The Eastlake Sammamish trail is gravel. Unfortunately, they’re planning on paving it at some point in the near future, but for now it’s the closest and most accessible gravel trail for me.

    I love gravel riding and the necessary bike deep cleaning that comes afterwards. I’m hoping to ride the Iron Horse trail at some point this spring if I can muster up a few comrades willing to traverse the mountains on gravel.

  26. @frank

    @DCR

    Alas the long stretch of winter is coming and my rollers are ever so slightly peeking from below my bed… they are the monster I fear for the next 4 to 5 months. The boredom already eats at me… the drench that accumulates. The loss of the feeling of speed and freedom we long for will be but a memory. I will luckily get in some rides through out the winter months but they are few and far between.

    @DCR doesn’t check for the boogeyman under his bad; he checks for his rollers.

    Brilliant!  Ha!  This needs repeating!

    I was on the rollers today as it was dark on the way to work and dark on the way home.  Took a break at lunch, went home, loaded the big fan, rollers, roller rug and bike into the car and brought them all into my office and squeezed a 35 minute roller ride in between the morning and afternoon clinic.  Thankfully I also have a shower in my office.

    Better than running!

  27. @wiscot

    @frank

     

    It does seem like since they are finishing at Arenberg, they could easily have put a bunch sprint up the trench as the finish. Feels like a missed opportunity.

    Man, I must have missed the bit in the interview with Froome when he said the same thing. Or maybe I didn’t . . . Glad to see some cobbles in there. Pity there’s only one tt and at 54kms it’s still too short. 80+ is what’s needed I say. Twice. In the same race. Fucking mountain monkeys always get too much of their own parcours. I’m lookig forward to the stage already. If Spartacus rides with Abandy, will he neutralize things if the skinny one gets into trouble?

    Awesome post that sums up what I think, or wish that I had thought after seeing your thoughts!

    Love how everyone was calling the ITT a SUPER LOONNNGG ITT.  What the FUCK???  They used to have them over 80 k all the time.  Was watching the ’78 tdf on youtube during my lunch roller session and they had one that Hinault won by 4 minutes that was over 80 k.  When did a 50 k ITT become soooooo long???  Hell, even my Cat 4 ITT back in the ’80’s were a minimum of 40 k?

  28. One thing I’ve been loving after about 15k’s of this stuff on the weekend is the faux whitewalls I’ve had all week thanks to the white dust still lining the side of the tires.

  29. @frank

    @scaler911

    Is it still sacred if it’s more on your face than on your whip?

    @gaswepass (l) @scaler911 (r). hangers on in the background. Photo by J.L. (used without his permission, but he probably won’t care or will make me suffer on his wheel at a later date)

    You’ve done well with your Pedalwan there; @gaswepass doens’t look nearly the tit he did on the Cogal a few years back. Strong work.

    um, thanks?
    that was before the gravel, too. good times.

  30. @G’rilla

    @zeitzmar Knobby tires and caliper brakes. How is this possible?

    Geometry isn’t what it used to be. I can’t fit 25mm tires on my R3 without a zip tie to get the fd cable out of the way. Bikes from bygone eras (like @zeizmar’s) could handle a lot of tire.

    In fact, I think the original CX bikes were just road bikes with wide (32mm) tires. He’s playing it Old Skule.

  31. @Mikael Liddy

    One thing I’ve been loving after about 15k’s of this stuff on the weekend is the faux whitewalls I’ve had all week thanks to the white dust still lining the side of the tires.

    Fucking perfect. That’s a worthy of a VVallpaper right there.

  32. @gaswepass

    @frank

    @scaler911

    Is it still sacred if it’s more on your face than on your whip?

    @gaswepass (l) @scaler911 (r). hangers on in the background. Photo by J.L. (used without his permission, but he probably won’t care or will make me suffer on his wheel at a later date)

    You’ve done well with your Pedalwan there; @gaswepass doens’t look nearly the tit he did on the Cogal a few years back. Strong work.

    um, thanks?
    that was before the gravel, too. good times.

    Dude, you had a YJA and a visor on your helmet. Seriously.

  33. @Mikael Liddy

    One thing I’ve been loving after about 15k’s of this stuff on the weekend is the faux whitewalls I’ve had all week thanks to the white dust still lining the side of the tires.

    Nice road and scenery!

    Ooo! Ooo! Ooo! One for the photo comp?

  34. @zeitzmar Having moved into the area (Burien/West Seattle) this past June, I drove across the city and into the hills to check out the Iron Horse Trail in August.  Brilliant ride until you get to the tunnel, at which point the gravel that had been an interesting challenge turned into giant loose rocks and pitch darkness.  I swear you’d need at least a mountain bike or even one of those Frankenstein’s monster fatbikes to ride it with anything approaching decency.

    I keep trying to figure out a loop that would go up the access roads and dirt roads right near I-90, then return via the Iron Horse trail.  I’ll figure it out someday.

  35. @frank

    @Mikael Liddy

    One thing I’ve been loving after about 15k’s of this stuff on the weekend is the faux whitewalls I’ve had all week thanks to the white dust still lining the side of the tires.

    Fucking perfect. That’s a worthy of a VVallpaper right there.

    Wow. Yeah. I like this pic in seven ways.

  36. @frank

    kickin and screaming the whole way. s’ok. sometimes better to not look the part when u can’t represent.

    when u gonna come down and race in the dirt with the men? @scaler911 still shy about gettin that dirty, needs a little stab in the ass to make that happen.

    have to give u credit- seeing that picture inspired to go reprise that ride tomorrow

  37. @Mikael Liddy beautiful picture!

    @G’rilla I’m definitely down although we’ll need to talk some logistics. I don’t want my eagerness to belie my relative novicehood. I was definitely dropped on the Casually Deliberate VVhidbey Cogal, and I will need to get serious about mileage if I want to do a gravel jaunt over the mountains. From what I’ve read about the trail, though, it sounds really cool.

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