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JC Rolls dirty. Photo: AP Photo/Laurent Ciprian

On Rule #81: Crash Test Dummies

by / / 63 posts

We don’t like to talk about crashing. Talking about crashing before you crash feels a lot like tempting fate and talking about it after you crashed feels a lot like a fisherman bragging about his catch. But crashing is the worst part of our sport apart from getting hit by a car, which has all the worst…

Classic witte socks

Lock, Sock, and Two Smoking Barrels

by / / 104 posts

It used to be that you could choose any color shoes you wanted, so long as they were black and any color socks, so long as they were white. Easy times, those. Then Gianni gave me his White Ladies and all of a sudden my life was complicated. First of all, the shoes were so beautifully white in…

Pantani shows how to do it.

Look Pro: Baller

by / / 87 posts

Whenever something tries to be something it isn’t, you wind up getting into trouble. Those Cutlass Cruisers in the 70’s and 80’s with vinyl wood panelling weren’t fooling anyone. Neither are those linoleum tiles in my kitchen; not one person in history has ever mistaken them for being marble. And Lycra has never tricked anyone into believing…

The Lion King was once a Pedalwan cub, just as the rest of us. Guide the uninitiated.

The Book and the Cover

by / / 45 posts

I rode with a rider I know from work a few weeks ago. The first time we sat in a meeting together, we immediately pegged one another as a Cyclist the way Cyclists always peg one another; nothing specific or obvious but everything nonspecific and nonobvious. It’s what we do, you can’t learn it and it can’t be…

Chuck Flop had some of the best guns in the business.

La Vie Velominatus: Gun Envy

by / / 50 posts

Three things define a Cyclist: their ability to crush fools, their ability to Look Fantastic, and the Magnificence of their Guns. If you are lacking in one, it is mandatory that the other two are increased in compensation. In the immortal words of Paul Fournel, “To Look Good is already to go fast.” Thank Merckx for that, because…

The weight of fatigue is taking its pound of flesh

Something from Nothing

by / / 61 posts

If the only kind of wind they have in Belgium is a headwind, then the only kind of flats they have in Northern France are false. In Vlaanderen, they specialize in a delectable combination of the two. (Everything that isn’t a windy false flat, it appears, is a windy cobbled climb.) The most obvious way to get…

It is time to confess your sins.

On Rule #3: The Apocalypse

by / / 110 posts

With The Rules being officially published in three languages (English English, American English, and soon Dutch) and now also being offered in a large full-color format by Rouleur, it is time for the Keepers to accept the reality that Rule #3 is perhaps the most important Rule of all and one which must be enforced vigilantly, even…

Moser: All legs, no body. Photo by Photosport Int

Look Pro: Stay Still

by / / 50 posts

“It’s Francesco Moser, with his distinctive style, his still, aerodynamic position on the bicycle is an imposing sight of almost effortless rotary action.” Whoever the narrator in A Sunday In Hell is*, he got that little nugget spot on. If you want to know how to pedal a bicycle, you can do no better than to…

Diego Caccia demonstrates how to make tights work. Photo: Pedale.Forchetta

The Tightness of Being

by / / 117 posts

Sprezzatura. Leave it to the Italians to dedicate a word to trying to Look Fantastic without looking like you’re trying too hard. I’ve haven’t spent much time in Italy, but I automatically love a country where an entire nation holds aesthetics in the same high regard that I do. Not to mention their dedication to drinking…

Rossi, patron saint of the Dangle

The Dangle

by / / 103 posts

As surfing is to skateboarding and vice versa, so is motorcycling to cycling and… yes, ok we’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating, or at least elaborating on, as I’ve been experimenting with a crossover technique gleaned from the world of MotoGP racing: the Rossi Leg Wave. Or, as I like to call it for the…

Hinault in his element

Five Face

by / / 31 posts

Why is it that all the greatest riders look strangely happy when they are suffering the most? Hinault says he still hasn’t regained the feeling in some of his fingers from racing off the front that day in Liege in 1980. He wanted to get someplace warm as quickly as possible, he said. That’s why he went…

Respect is a cornerstone of La Vie Velominatus.

The Past and the Future

by / / 112 posts

I’m struggling with how to open this conversation without sounding like what I’m assuming my grandparents did when I was growing up. Maybe it’s because I’m just now clawing my way into some of the wisdom they had, or maybe I’m just less of an idiot than I was when they were moving their lips and…

Every path has a beginning...

The First Step

by / / 87 posts

I’ve spent my adult life believing that Mario Cippolini was the first rider to soil the Rainbow Jersey with matching bibshorts. Granted, Super Mario could pull off even the worst soilings with the most possible class, but nevertheless it kicked off a trend of matching bib shorts to jerseys – which is something I cannot abide unless they match because…

Climbing used to be all about disco; in Flanders, it still is.

De Vlaamse Disco

by / / 108 posts

I’m not a good dancer. I’ve come to this conclusion not through study but through ridicule and injury. Apparently it demands the ability to exhibit control over your limbs in some rhythmic capacity where “rhythmic” is defined both as “not chaotic” and “not stationary”. To make matters worse, this extends to all your limbs, not…

Spinal Tap Black

The Dark Side

by / / 184 posts

White is a troublesome color; hard to keep clean. I have a white dress shirt that I never wear because even if I manage not to spill on the front of it, the cuffs and collar will look crap by the end of the day regardless. I mean, I can keep from eating something all…

It's not just for going uphill

Riding on the Tops

by / / 59 posts

Going fast and looking good while doing it is our Velominati creed. Riding on the tops is the domaine of going uphill, where braking and aerodynamics are unimportant. In most other situations that position is too slow. The pros are usually flattened down in the drops or flattened down on the brake hoods. When us…

Not for the faint hearted: the Winter Cycling Cap.

Experts Only: The Winter Cycling Cap

by / / 98 posts

We just finished a thorough examination of the Cyclist’s marquee accoutrement, the Cycling Cap. Today’s lesson is about the Cycling Cap’s red-headed step brother, the Winter Cycling Cap. This is a toque born of necessity; the thin cotton cap is nowhere near warm enough for the demands of the Flemish winter training season. Form should follow function,…

Gimmeeawheel!!!! I have a flat!

On the Road Again: Keepers Tour 2015

by / / 66 posts

We want to look like Pros, sure, but what we’re really after is feeling Pro. All the aesthetics are just a tool we use to fuel the fickle internal combustion engine of Morale. In the end, there is little that will make you feel Pro more than clattering along a stretch of cobbles in a small group;…

The last masters of the Cycling cap passed into the night at the close of the 20th cetnury

Les Maîtres de la Casquette

by / / 130 posts

It doesn’t take a genius to see what’s going on here. Rule #5, Rule #9, Rule #10; every rider in this frame Looks Fantastic (most other Rules). The riders are in short sleeves and shorts while the public apparently has scavenged materials from rubbish bins and the local grain elevator in a very visually unpleasant…

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