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Darkness

Darkness

by / / 91 posts

Yesterday, Seattle was dark for 15 hours 34 minutes and 37 seconds. Let us not count how much it was light– it is of no use to us. I rode to work in the black, and in the black I rode home.

The darkness is good to me. It shields my filthy chain from those who would judge it. It casts anonymity over the creaking of my bottom bracket. It erases your matching kit to shear black, pretty socks and all. It calls you to simply pedal. And, on the best of days, it gives me the jump on a fellow commuter just asking to be dropped like a pedal wrench in a two-year-old’s hands.

Today will only be one second less dark. Come feel the power of the darkside.

// Defining Moments // La Vie Velominatus

  1. @mcsqueak

    @frank
    I lust after those Rotundo bars (or the ones that G’phant says are 50g lighter), but I guess that means I need to buy a matching stem too, eh?

    Is that the “if it gets any longer it’ll be a tandem” stem?

  2. Nice one jim. Thankfully we don’t have that length of darkness down here in Sydney. At the moment it’s unseasonably cold and wet with a high humidity while the sun’s shining thrown into to boot. Four seasons in one day; not sure if I’m in Melbourne at times…

    and frank, you have shiny bits

  3. @Frank – what tyres are you running on Bike No. 3? Love the retro tan side walls – Vittorias? Veloflex? Glad to see you pay as much attention to that bike as No. 1 and No. 2… sweet, old skool wheels

  4. @Chris
    It’s scary stuff indeed

    I’ll link to the vids when they get into some gnarly stuff – it’s basically just insane, bordering on suicidal

    Good to respect hardmen from other sports (just can’t include golfers and cricketers in that (no matter how hard getting a full toss on the hand may appear to them))

  5. Brutal commute on the south coast of England this morning, by far the worst of the year. Riding into a 35kmh rainy headwind. I started laughing at one point because it was so ridiculous, then I saw that the surfers were in at the marina break so I figured the weather couldn’t be too bad for cycling. What this does mean is that I’ve got a massive tailwind waiting for the dark ride home, should be great.

    A small point about the sounds a bike makes when its dark. To me it always sounds noisier than in daylight, I assume its because you aren’t using the full range of your sense of sight and so your ears are working harder.

  6. @Dr C
    Plenty of hardmen in cricket. I will Open the batting with Rick McCosker – or should I say I will put him in at 10?

  7. Just like to add my congratulations to Mark Cavendish who won BBC’s SPOTY 2011 with almost 50% of the vote. Only the third cyclist to have done so, after Tom Simpson and Chris Hoy.

    Cav has matured from boy-racer into a true champion. Although his victory speech wasn’t his most eloquent, as always he paid a big tribute to all his team mates. Not only that, he saluted everyone who goes out to ride including the humble cycle-commuter. Top man!

  8. @motor city
    Bloody surfers, do they never do any work!!

    One thing I would do if I could do it all again, is live upwind (prevailing) of my work

    My commute is like yours – frigging headwind all the way in, just what you need on a cold morning with a full belly of Crunchy Oats and Golden Graham’s (breakfast cereal!)

    Much rather take my anger out on the headwind on the way home

  9. @Jim

    thanks for the article. I hate riding in the dark, but maybe your roads are better maintained …

    btw “a fellow commuter just asking to be dropped” = it’s not a race …

  10. @Dr C

    I reckon Boonie could have chewed up Jens and washed him down with his 52nd beer.

  11. I am only at Level 4 but with diligence and hard work I hope to achieve Level 3.

    Here is my first post, so go easy please.

    Congratulations to Mark Cavendish on winning BBC Sports Personality of The Year Award. Note to those not in Britain or the BBCs catchment area, this does not mean the Best Sports Person it means the Best Sports Personality. They are different – or at least the BBC thinks so. This has resulted in previous years on some rather odd choices and it also helps if BBC have the franchise to cover your sport for non paid viewing. Well it doesn’t for Cycle Road Racing (that belongs to ITV in the UK) but it does for Track Cycling so that is near enough I guess especially as Mark is from a track background. (It also helps if you have a royal connection – enter Zara Phillips, daughter of Princess Ann, pretty much an unknown horse rider until her escalation to SPOTY a couple of years back. Nicole Cooke came about 10th despite me voting for her).

    Talking of previous SPOTYs, I am old enough to remember cyclings first, Tom Simpson, in the days of glorious black and white of the mid 60s. Tom was not a great speech maker either but in true fashion he was able to make people laugh with some gentle humour. But we didn’t expect our sports men and women to be great talkers back then. Nowadays you can’t shut some of them up !

    A great site and a great fraternity. Thank you Keepers.

  12. @ChrisO
    Pretty tough to chew concrete, which I’m pretty sure Jens is harder than …

    Hardmen in cricket? Perhaps its the colonial in me, but I have a hard time with that concept. I’m sure you are right, I just don’t see the sport of cricket sprining to mind when the discussion of “hardmen” comes up.

  13. Managed a couple of rides in the daylight this week, handy given that my front light seems to have given up the ghost, like @Clips and Straps they’ve had some vicious head/cross winds. Today’s included 40km two up with my sensei. In 1983, he averaged 45kph over a 160km time trial on a regular drop handlebar road bike. Even when he’s going easy, it can be a bugger to hold his wheel.

  14. temp: 30* today
    NW wind 20kph
    took the day off to ride 3hr, in the light but lone wolk unlike chris who is hanging with the PRO stud. anyone who does those speeds, those distances are PRO

  15. @Chris
    that should have you in good shape for the Hell of the North in April – did you book a room yet?

  16. Got out for 60 km yesterday, crystal clear sunny with crazy 40kph katabatic winds for the first hour and a half of the ride. It was 16 C at home, and at 400m elevation it was maybe 10, with the wind even stronger over exposed parts of the ridgetops.

    First ride in the V-kit to boot. Love the way the sleevecuffs hold up my armwarmers. No other jersey does that. Good stuff.

    Merckxy Christmas everyone

  17. @roadslave

    @Frank – what tyres are you running on Bike No. 3? Love the retro tan side walls – Vittorias? Veloflex? Glad to see you pay as much attention to that bike as No. 1 and No. 2… sweet, old skool wheels

    They are Gommitalia Calypso clinchers – very supple, very nice feel to them.

    @il ciclista medio, @Gianni, @mcsqueak, @Dr C
    Thanks – I clean all but my rain bike every time I ride them. The rain bike just gets a good rub-down, but no full cleaning. Also, and this is especially true with the steel, it only graces the road on truly dry days.

    That steel, with the shiny hubs, is mesmerizing. I’ve caught myself staring at the hubs and not the road on more than on occasion!

    @mcsqueak
    I love the Rotundos – I had other 3T’s on there and the bend/drop was within a millimeter on them, but they felt totally different. Pick either bar, but just make sure that you match all the bars on all the bikes, or you’ll go crazy.

  18. @McTyke

    Cav has matured from boy-racer into a true champion. Although his victory speech wasn’t his most eloquent, as always he paid a big tribute to all his team mates. Not only that, he saluted everyone who goes out to ride including the humble cycle-commuter. Top man!

    I’m starting to warm up to the little fucker. Especially after his firm declaration that he’ll ride “team-issue shorts only” with his bands. It almost felt like he was quoting the Rule in his tweet. Its hard to hate him when he does that.

  19. @Frank @McTyke

    I started liking him after watching Chasing Legends and then I purchased Boy Racer – now I really think for the most part he’s a good bloke except I don’t like how things panned out with his ex-girlfriend that was with him for years.

  20. @Nate

    Got out for 60 km yesterday, crystal clear sunny with crazy 40kph katabatic winds for the first hour and a half of the ride. It was 16 C at home, and at 400m elevation it was maybe 10, with the wind even stronger over exposed parts of the ridgetops.
    First ride in The V-Kit to boot. Love the way the sleevecuffs hold up my armwarmers. No other jersey does that. Good stuff.
    Merckxy Christmas everyone

    Awesome, glad you like the kit! Did a 60k ride with G’rilla the other day, in nearly windstill conditions and sun. Was a bit chilly, though. My Pedalwan has come far, but he did show up in 40 degrees with insulated booties and tights. He has more to learn, yet. No issues, though, on his putting the hurt on me as usual.

  21. @frank
    What’s up with the Rules? I can’t get them to come up at all. Makes it difficult to go back to them for reference from time to time …

  22. @Mikel Pearce
    Shit. I don’t know. And they work in test, so this will be a matter of production-debugging. Always fun.

  23. @frank

    I love the Rotundos – I had other 3T’s on there and the bend/drop was within a millimeter on them, but they felt totally different. Pick either bar, but just make sure that you match all the bars on all the bikes, or you’ll go crazy.

    Ha, matching the bars on all one bike that I ride on a regular basis won’t be too much of an issue. I ride my second bike too infrequently for exact matching fit to be a big concern, but I do need to grab a used set of Speedplay Zeros from Ebay for it. Can’t stand riding without my Speedplays now, and I’d probably ride it more frequently if I had some on there.

    I’m hoping sometime in 2012 I can give my ride a bit of an upgrade with some sweet new wheels and Rotundo-style bars (be they 3T or Ritchey).

  24. One of my favorite days of the year is when the days inch back towards getting longer. I love the texture of that post, Jim. Kind of a NIN, The Cure goth feel: I wear Zwarte on the outside because Zwarte is what I feel on the inside. Nice.

  25. @G’rilla

    This article is a metaphor for life and for The Rules.

    Yesterday, Seattle was dark for 15 hours 34 minutes and 37 seconds.

    The author mentions a specific amount of time, but “yesterday” refers to the author’s entire life up to this point. It could be 15 years, it could be 55 years.

    I rode to work in the black, and in the black I rode home.

    Wherever you go, there you are. The author is surrounded by blackness not because of the environment, but because of himself.
    “Black” symbolizes The Rules that the author has broken. He feels guilt. It is inescapable.

    The darkness is good to me.

    Sometimes, breaking The Rules benefits us. Insulated MTB boots warm our smallest toes. Winter tights keep our bits and pieces from permanently shrinking in the frozen wind. Fitting a softride post to our mountain bike tells other mountain bikers that they should avoid us, thus keeping us true to road cycling.

    It shields my filthy chain from those who would judge it.

    We are afraid to meet other Velominati because we fear that they will judge us.

    It casts anonymity over the creaking of my bottom bracket.

    The author is more concerned with the uses of nipple lube than other kinds of lube.

    It erases your matching kit to shear black, pretty socks and all.

    We leave the house with appropriate white socks, but the darkness turns them to black. Even when we try to Obey the Rules, we later find that we have not.

    It calls you to simply pedal.

    The author finds redemption. Colors, measurements, and bubble levels are outward signs that any hipster could adhere to. The true Rules are inside you.
    One may grasp the noodles of death yet still exhibit The V. Even those who wear both the polka dot jersey and polka dot bib shorts are allowed to stand on the podium.
    Why? Because they pedal.

    And, on the best of days, it gives me the jump on a fellow commuter.

    The “fellow commuter” is also the author. He has transcended not only The Rules, but also himself.

    Come feel the power of the darkside.

    The author has been transformed and no longer uses the darkness to hide or deny. He has found strength inside himself. He can obey the rules or make his own.

    Chapeau, G’rilla!

    Life is like an analogy. La vie Velominatus is also like life in that it is an analogy.

  26. @frank

    We’ve had amazing weather here. Cold, but dry. Amazing Fall, and while I’ve had to ride Bike #3 the most, I have gotten out on the TSX and R3 regularly.

    Full Screen

    Merckxdamn, the TSX is a gorgeous piece. Looks almost as fab with @Frank on it as @Marco does. :-)

  27. @frank
    your brave for pulling out your phone while riding

    @mcsqueak
    Im lusting after the 3T Ergosum with matching stem and seat post

  28. Just a piece of information…today here in São Paulo, Brazil we had around 36°C (around 97F) and now we have a nice storm with small ice rocks…kind of typical weather for this partof the year (summer).
    This means road bike only at maximum 9am, and no mountain biking unless you love mud and carrying your bike on the back…

  29. @Roberto Marques
    Didnt realize we had a Brazilian around here. I have family in Campo Grande. The Last time I visited I went illegally, crossing the border from Paraguay in a Taxi.

  30. It’s allowed to say that there is not exactly a border between Brazil and other countries in S. America…but you also know that in Campo Grande 36°C is “winter time”!

  31. @Roberto Marques

    I don’t think we have a Brazilian of them, only one.

  32. Oops that should have been @RedRanger.

  33. Speaking of darkness, there are rumblings and musings that Vitamin D needs to be added in a big way to foodstuffs in Scotland as residents of North Britain get so little sunshine that the collective health of the country is suffering. A strong link has been suggested between lack of vitamin D and multiple sclerosis which has astronomically high rates in Scotland. Maybe a fluoride in the water scenario might suffice . . .

    I’m about to head back to Scotland for a couple of weeks. I kid you not, but it will be a surprise if we ever get a sunny day!

    Got my last ride of the year in today. 52kms on a cloudy, cold day (temps must have been in the mid 20s). Not the prettiest ride but gave a great sense of satisfaction.

    Happy hols everyone, see you in the new year.

  34. @Roberto Marques
    your right. after we took the bus from Asuncion to the other side of Concepcion we just walked across the border. being a gringo and not having a visa I couldnt get on a bus to Campo Grande, hence hiring a taxi to drive us the entire way and not get stopped at 3 check points.

    @mcsqueak
    Im what most people call a latin mutt, unfortunatly I only speak Spanish as a second language

  35. @frank

    @Nate

    Got out for 60 km yesterday, crystal clear sunny with crazy 40kph katabatic winds for the first hour and a half of the ride. It was 16 C at home, and at 400m elevation it was maybe 10, with the wind even stronger over exposed parts of the ridgetops.
    First ride in The V-Kit to boot. Love the way the sleevecuffs hold up my armwarmers. No other jersey does that. Good stuff.
    Merckxy Christmas everyone

    Awesome, glad you like the kit! Did a 60k ride with G’rilla the other day, in nearly windstill conditions and sun. Was a bit chilly, though. My Pedalwan has come far, but he did show up in 40 degrees with insulated booties and tights. He has more to learn, yet. No issues, though, on his putting the hurt on me as usual.

    I headed out with armwarmers, a merino base layer and a light embro on the legs. I felt that the V bibs should be anointed for their first ride. I was a bit warm in the valleys but thought I had nailed the kit. Up top I was deeply feeling the lack of kneewarmers and worried about damage to the guns, it was so much colder. Live and learn. Today there is not a breath of wind.

  36. i personally like the darkness. i enjoy silently humming along back roads, a wraith, invisible.

  37. @wiscot

    Speaking of darkness, there are rumblings and musings that Vitamin D needs to be added in a big way to foodstuffs in Scotland as residents of North Britain get so little sunshine that the collective health of the country is suffering. A strong link has been suggested between lack of vitamin D and multiple sclerosis which has astronomically high rates in Scotland. Maybe a fluoride in the water scenario might suffice . . .
    I’m about to head back to Scotland for a couple of weeks. I kid you not, but it will be a surprise if we ever get a sunny day!
    Got my last ride of the year in today. 52kms on a cloudy, cold day (temps must have been in the mid 20s). Not the prettiest ride but gave a great sense of satisfaction.
    Happy hols everyone, see you in the new year.

    Doctors prescribe it here in Seattle all the time. We have some in the cabinet. Vitamin D is also a good weightloss drug as it promotes metabolism. Win-win.

  38. Being on the dark side of the moon – Northern Alberta, we are planning a true rarity, a Christmas afternoon ride. It will be about 5C, so as long a we are done before 4pm and darkness, it will be a nice ride!

    And 5C! I can go bare-legged!

  39. @Mikel Pearce
    Think about your country! Rick mccosker centenary test. Jaw busted by bob Willis in the first innings. Goes out to bat in second innings with no protection other than a bandage. Makes 25 (or so). I would say that facing 150kmh projectiles with no helmet is tough enough. Doing it with a busted jaw to boot? Well I think I would prefer to ride with a busted c/b.

    And what about the Australian “no rub” rule against w

  40. @frank
    That stem is freakishly long.

  41. The Seattle weather has been great – cold and clear. I’ve barely been riding in it however – shame on me – thanks to a crazy workload lately. I’ll be out soon, really soon…

    Frank – cool pics on the post.

  42. Our first day of “winter” in central NC was 67*F and sunny. Coming from upstate NY, not what I’m used to at all. Oh well, I guess it’s silly to complain about it being too nice out for cycling. I love winter riding though. With good lights and nice clothes, I don’t even notice a hiccup in my riding.

    On another note, I’m visiting the future in-laws for the holidays. I joined the local shop ride. My Merckx, I’ve never seen so many Rules violations in one pack than I saw yesterday. It’s as if living in the country makes these folks feel as if they are perpetually riding in the dark. Steel Colnago with a mile of spacers plus a flipped up stem. Arm warmer-jersey gaps all over the place. Dirty kits. Baggy kits. Some dude with two bottles on the bike plus two behind his saddle. Who needs four bottles in the winter?

    As if all the Rules violations weren’t bad enough, the “casual” Christmas Eve ride was a constant series of attacks and sprints. Huh? Half the group got dropped. I’d be pissed if the LBS owner invited everyone out, billed the ride as “casual” and then allowed that to happen. He was at the front most of the ride so could have controlled things.

    The ride was capped with a crash/tip over as we returned to town when the group tried to roll a red light. Goodness. I split off and headed home.

  43. Did anyone here do the Rapha 500? – I had to look to this article for inspiration to twice get out of bed at 6.30 and start a 90kms ride in the dark. I also had to meditate on Rule #5 many times and take solace in my serious compliance with Rule #9 (6 degrees, serious rain and 20+mph headwinds at times) but was pretty chuffed to complete the 500kms in six rides yesterday

  44. @Ali McKee
    Welcome. Oooof, the Rapha 500, I’m glad I didn’t know about it as I’ve never tried consecutive rides of that kind. Good on ya for doing it.

    (6 degrees, serious rain and 20+mph headwinds at times)

    That is uncool. Getting up in the dark, cramming down oatmeal, I do not like that. I do like actually riding when the sun is rising but I’m on Maui so when the sun comes up it’s magic anyway.

  45. @Gianni

    Thanks for the welcome.

    I kind of wish I hadn’t read about the Rapha Festive 500 but once I did, and combined with fine articles such as this one and Frank’s ‘Love The Work’, I knew it had to be done.

    This website and the Rapha one are the best motivation in the winter months.

  46. @Ali McKee

    @Gianni
    Thanks for the welcome.
    I kind of wish I hadn’t read about the Rapha Festive 500 but once I did, and combined with fine articles such as this one and Frank’s ‘Love The Work’, I knew it had to be done.
    This website and the Rapha one are the best motivation in the winter months.

    I’ve been reading about it on a few different blogs and I’ve thought “meh… 500 in 8 days; big deal”. But your last comment reminded me that most on here are in the northern hemisphere and it’s somewhat cold and wet. 500 in 8 days is a piece of pie down here, not so much up in the bizaro hemisphere. Respect.

  47. @Ali McKee
    Well done- I joined in, but think I only got about 350k down. Should have banished the mountain bike for the duration. I spent about 4 or 5 hours on it that week going 11kmh… Should have been on the Cervelo goin 30! Congrats!

  48. I thought i was doing well to get it done riding solo in the wet and windy weather but then I started reading about guys doing it on singlespeeds, off road and on ice and snow in Scandanavia – hardness is relative! The winner, Kristian House no less, clocked 1,200+kms!?
    @Anjin-san

    @Ali McKee
    Well done- I joined in, but think I only got about 350k down. Should have banished the mountain bike for the duration. I spent about 4 or 5 hours on it that week going 11kmh… Should have been on the Cervelo goin 30! Congrats!

    Hard work on a MTB! fair play for getting 350 done

  49. I understand that darkness and rain is good for cycling: it gets the riff-raff off the roads.

    So I was recently told.

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