Sacred Flemish grime covered our bikes.

La Vie Velominatus: Saleté Sacrée

La Vie Velominatus: Saleté Sacrée

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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.

// La Vie Velominatus // The Bikes

  1. @zeitzmar

    Nice! Where is that?

  2. 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.

  3. @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.

  4. @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.

  5. 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.

  6. @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.

  7. @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.

  8. @scaler911

    @zeitzmar

    Nice! Where is that?

    Must know immediately, particularly as it is most likely somewhere around here in the Seattle area.

  9. @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.

  10. 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.

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

  12. @zeitzmar

    Quite a fuss you’ve stirred up over this dusty whip. . . he said with feigned disinterest.

  13. @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.

  14. @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!

  15. @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?

  16. 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.

  17. @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.

  18. @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.

  19. @Buck Rogers

    Better than running!

    Based on your Facebook page, you’ve been doing a lot of that, while not being chased – as far as I can tell.

    Remediate this as soon as absolutely possible, Pedalwan.

  20. @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.

  21. @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.

  22. @frank it’s nice having a professional photog who knows how to use their gopro along as part of your group.

  23. @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?

  24. @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.

  25. @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.

  26. @zeitzmar Pick me, pick me! I wanted to ride the Iron Horse trail for over a year but never got around to it.

  27. @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

  28. More dirt goodness.

  29. @Mikael Liddy

    @frank it’s nice having a professional photog who knows how to use their gopro along as part of your group.

    Wheres the Go Pro mounted ? Chest strap ?

  30. @Nate shit that is a great photo! print it and frame it.

  31. @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.

  32. @zeitzmar

    @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.

    Aren’t Casually Deliberate rides supposed to be ” no drop” ?

  33. @cognition Thanks for the tip. The tunnels sound pretty hairy. Maybe you want to join me and @G’rilla for a ride there, once we figure out a good route?

  34. @Barracuda nah he just had it in his jersey pocket & held it in his hand when he wanted to take photos, hence the upside of him being a pro. There’s another couple of shots in the photo uploader article.

  35. @cognition

    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.

    I think we’re on the same page here. A true velominatus cognoscenti will see a gleaming well-maintained machine and kit but notice the telltale signs of wear, use and tiny bits of crud in those hard-to-reach places. Tires may have a little less tread than they ought to. Very much the same with shoes and clothing: clean and in good nick, but the white or colored parts (if any) will not be as pristine as they once were.

  36. @Buck Rogers

    @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″²s were a minimum of 40 k?

    I know, I know. I was a TT rider in another life. A 25 mile (40kms) TT was one of the two shorter standard distances. 50 milers (80kms) were where the real testing started. That was generally around 2 hours of pure effort. Kids today, they just don’t know how good they’ve got it. Luckily for ASO, Anquetil isn’t around to call bullshit on their “long” TT.

  37. @wiscot

    @Buck Rogers

    @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″²s were a minimum of 40 k?

    I know, I know. I was a TT rider in another life. A 25 mile (40kms) TT was one of the two shorter standard distances. 50 milers (80kms) were where the real testing started. That was generally around 2 hours of pure effort. Kids today, they just don’t know how good they’ve got it. Luckily for ASO, Anquetil isn’t around to call bullshit on their “long” TT.

    EXACTLY! Those young whippersnappers have no idea how soft they have it nowadays!

  38. @Nate

    More dirt goodness.

    If this photo doesn’t make you want to drop every fucking thing that you are doing at this instant and get on your bike you had better check your pulse or you are on the wrong site. Brilliant Photo!

  39. @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    Better than running!

    Based on your Facebook page, you’ve been doing a lot of that, while not being chased – as far as I can tell.

    Remediate this as soon as absolutely possible, Pedalwan.

    Hey! At least I have not been masturbating on this site. I only talk about it on faceplant. And I have 34 k’s left to, ahem, do what I have to do by November 16th, in order to reach a 12 month goal and then no more of the … you know what.

  40. @Buck Rogers

    @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    Better than running!

    Based on your Facebook page, you’ve been doing a lot of that, while not being chased – as far as I can tell.

    Remediate this as soon as absolutely possible, Pedalwan.

    Hey! At least I have not been masturbating on this site. I only talk about it on faceplant. And I have 34 k’s left to, ahem, do what I have to do by November 16th, in order to reach a 12 month goal and then no more of the … you know what.

    Masturbation?

  41. @wiscot

    @Buck Rogers

    @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    Better than running!

    Based on your Facebook page, you’ve been doing a lot of that, while not being chased – as far as I can tell.

    Remediate this as soon as absolutely possible, Pedalwan.

    Hey! At least I have not been masturbating on this site. I only talk about it on faceplant. And I have 34 k’s left to, ahem, do what I have to do by November 16th, in order to reach a 12 month goal and then no more of the … you know what.

    Masturbation?

    I believe he meant talking about the act, a la the masturbation principle, not performing the act itself…at least I hope

  42. @Nate

    More dirt goodness.

    Is this a descent? I don’t think I would have the guts to do a descent on gravel/dirt with those tires…

  43. @wiscot

    @Buck Rogers

    @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    Better than running!

    Based on your Facebook page, you’ve been doing a lot of that, while not being chased – as far as I can tell.

    Remediate this as soon as absolutely possible, Pedalwan.

    Hey! At least I have not been masturbating on this site. I only talk about it on faceplant. And I have 34 k’s left to, ahem, do what I have to do by November 16th, in order to reach a 12 month goal and then no more of the … you know what.

    Masturbation?

    And you call yourself a Velominati???

    See the comment below yours. Spot on Velovita.

  44. @Buck Rogers

    @wiscot

    @Buck Rogers

    @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    Better than running!

    Based on your Facebook page, you’ve been doing a lot of that, while not being chased – as far as I can tell.

    Remediate this as soon as absolutely possible, Pedalwan.

    Hey! At least I have not been masturbating on this site. I only talk about it on faceplant. And I have 34 k’s left to, ahem, do what I have to do by November 16th, in order to reach a 12 month goal and then no more of the … you know what.

    Masturbation?

    And you call yourself a Velominati???

    See the comment below yours. Spot on Velovita.

    Had emoticons been allowed, I would have inserted one after the remark!

  45. @Buck Rogers

    @wiscot

    @Buck Rogers

    @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    Better than running!

    Based on your Facebook page, you’ve been doing a lot of that, while not being chased – as far as I can tell.

    Remediate this as soon as absolutely possible, Pedalwan.

    Hey! At least I have not been masturbating on this site. I only talk about it on faceplant. And I have 34 k’s left to, ahem, do what I have to do by November 16th, in order to reach a 12 month goal and then no more of the … you know what.

    Masturbation?

    And you call yourself a Velominati???

    See the comment below yours. Spot on Velovita.

    Thanks for clearing that up. I was hoping you wasn’t taking bike porn the wrong way…

  46. @Steve-o

    @Buck Rogers

    @wiscot

    @Buck Rogers

    @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    Better than running!

    Based on your Facebook page, you’ve been doing a lot of that, while not being chased – as far as I can tell.

    Remediate this as soon as absolutely possible, Pedalwan.

    Hey! At least I have not been masturbating on this site. I only talk about it on faceplant. And I have 34 k’s left to, ahem, do what I have to do by November 16th, in order to reach a 12 month goal and then no more of the … you know what.

    Masturbation?

    And you call yourself a Velominati???

    See the comment below yours. Spot on Velovita.

    Thanks for clearing that up. I was hoping you wasn’t taking bike porn the wrong way…

    cyclophilia?

  47. @Barracuda It wasn’t so much that I was dropped as I met the Man with the Hammer and couldn’t ride him off my wheel.

  48. @Buck Rogers Thanks, how I feel too. Only problem is after a massive ride like that my everyday roads are feeling a little ordinary.

    @RedRanger Thanks dude.

    @DCR It is near the top of the climb, at this point a bit more than a false flat after some very tough climbing. I was on fumes at this point and I shudder to think what would have happened if I had tried to descend on gravel.

  49. @gaswepass

    @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

    If @scaler needs “a little stab in the ass”, I’ll leave that to you and your little prick.

    @Nate

    More dirt goodness.

    You posted that somewhere else, and it was just as awesome. Top marks. And I assume those are the FMB Roubaix tires?

  50. @Nate

    @Buck Rogers Thanks, how I feel too. Only problem is after a massive ride like that my everyday roads are feeling a little ordinary.

    That’s the same problem we have with the cobbles.

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