La Vie Velominatus: Addiction

La Vie Velominatus: Addiction

by / / 116 posts

I feel it in my bones. I feel it in my breathing. I fixate on how much I feel it in my legs to the point where I find myself in a meeting, rubbing them to gauge how soft they’ve gotten. (Must learn to stop doing that in public as it can’t possibly improve my social standing. I’m tempted to cite the fact that I’m a Cyclist and it is normal in our circles, but I’m afraid that will only serve to drag the rest of you down with me rather than prove my case.)

For most uf us, life gets in the way of Cycling when we’re not careful to ensure it doesn’t, and having a goal sketched out before you can be helpful in keeping focus. In the run-up to Keepers Tour, I managed to stay disciplined and make room in my schedule to get on the bike regularly enough to get fit. But goals also have the effect of leaving a void once attained. In the aftermath of the trip, I’ve been hopelessly caught between conflicting priorities as I struggle to catch up after those few weeks away; without a goal in sight to make sure the bike gets assigned its due importance, I find myself riding the bike less than I’ve become accustomed to.

Of course, I do find satisfaction with each ride I manage to get out on, and I take comfort in the knowledge that things will settle down again and balance will be restored. It is during these times, however, when the feeling in my legs, lungs, and bones serve to constantly remind me that I’m a little less fit than I was yesterday that I realize what the bicycle is: an addiction.

I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but I wouldn’t be able to make a convincing argument against anyone classifying me as having an addictive personality. And, based on the assumption that you’re reading this and relate on some level to what I’m saying, then you probably have one, too; it seems to be a bit of an occupational hazard for the Velominati. Consider the following from WikiPedia, which represents a body of work by people whose credibility and identity is impossible to verify. Everything but the bit about “weak commitment” and “stress” rings true:

An individual is considered to be at the risk of developing…addictions when he/she displays signs of impulsive behavior, nonconformity combined with a weak commitment to the goals for achievement valued by the society, a sense of social alienation, and a sense of heightened stress. Such a person may switch from one addiction to another; or even sustain multiple addictions at different times.

The article goes on to define this condition as a “brain desease”. That sounds more “insulting” than it does “scientific”, but I have no choice but to submit to the authority of those whose credibility I can’t disprove. So, in the face of an overwhelming lack of evidence of being incorrect, it has to be assumed that we (or at least I) have broken brains, though as I write this I suppose this fact shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying any attention at all. On the other hand, we already aspire to be heroin-thin, so I suppose it’s fitting that we have an addiction to go along with the appearance.

Having told you now what you presumably already knew, I’ll close with the following sentiment: so long as I’m destined to be addicted to something, I’m glad it is Cycling, which I consider to be something healthy and positive, instead of something destructive like crack or reading.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

// Defining Moments // La Vie Velominatus

  1. @minion
    Steampunk?

  2. @minion

    Crazy!

    That reminds me of what is perhaps the critical component of judging whether any behavior is addictive: harm to other areas of life due to the behavior. Damage to health, family/social relations, career and finances should all be considered.

    For a cycling enthusiast, financial harm is an easy area to point the finger to. I myself walk a fine line with that one. But with few bills to pay, and no wife or kids, prioritizing my finances towards what I am passionate about seems justifiable enough. I tell myself, if I one day have the ‘wife and kids budget’, I will be glad I amassed a small mountain of bike schwag while I could.

  3. Great as usual Frank!
    Yesterday, I got out for a short ride. It was sunny, warm and a bit windy. I’ve had a awful spring in regards to training; Pneumonia during the PDX Cogal, followed by tearing up some tendons in my wrist from splitting wood, then a unexpectedly long and tough recovery from a otherwise common surgery for the VMH. So during this time off, I’d get out to the shop and at least stare at the steeds daily. To be back on now is fantastic. I’m in horrible shape, but I know that fitness will come in no time.

    When I got home put my stand up in the driveway and laid out the parts for my buddies new SS (photos over on “Bikes”) and started assembling it the VMH said “you’re totally in your element now aren’t you?” My friend has had the frame for over a year and been slowly gathering parts. As I was wrapping the Fi’zi:k bar tape, I could sense the excitement he had for putting the tires to the road. In a sense, I passed the addiction on to another. I’m not sorry about that at all, and the last thing on my mind was spring. With absolutely no offense to anyone recovering “I got my fix” and I can’t wait for the one I get today.

  4. This latest question here about obsession and addiction is interesting. I am not qualified to make an assessment of the line that divides the two, which means I will do so in a moment.

    I think the two are definitely closely related, and I suspect the difference has to do with control and the associated negative impact of the dependency. And, I think addiction implies a chemical dependency so I think the only time that’s really true is if our bodies are producing a chemical or if someone is overly attached to their electrolyte mix.

    But @ChrisO – I would say your description shows a lot of control that I don’t naturally have. I definitely want to keep drinking beer or wine until the supply is gone. Its only discipline that keeps me from doing that – in that regard, I have an addictive personality. I’m not one for half measures, and I do everything to the absolute maximum I can get away with. Am I actually chemically, physically, or physiologically addicted to Cycling? Probably not. But I’ve also never tried to quit and I don’t want to.

  5. All-consuming passing that dominates every waking hour? Check. [Why else would we log on here as soon as we came in from a ride?]

    Adverse effects on friends and family? Check. [Rule 11. Need I say more?]

    Encourages dangerous behavior? Check. [Anyone NOT been knocked off by an SUV, separated their shoulder, had their foot slide under a car wheel when crashing on a main road, subjected both wrists to more x-rays and MRI scans than they care to recall after a spill, lost skin, hurt back and strained neck … all in the last two years?]

    Distinctive appearance which differentiates the addict from “normal” society? Check. [Lycra. I rest my case.]

    Self-help support groups exist to assist? Check. [Er, isn’t that why we’re here?]

    Obvious and embarrassing side-effects? Check. [Rule 33. ‘Nuf said.]

    Terrible side-effects of withdrawal? Check. [Seven weeks and counting off bike with a broken foot – I am past the irritable stage and well into the fat one.]

    But, as the posts here attest, if it’s an addiction it is one more people should get. I would rather spend my money and time on bikes and physios [and the occasional orthopod (operation on foot looking increasingly likely)] than on golf and cardiologists; I would rather look at a hill with a wistful “I’d love to suffer up that” thought than a “fuck that, let’s drive” thought; I would rather have people laugh at my shaved legs than at my fat arse. Besides which, above all else, I love to ride.

  6. @il ciclista medio
    Hi il ciclista medio. It has been 5 hours since my last fix.

  7. @G’phant

    But, as the posts here attest, if it’s an addiction it is one more people should get. I would rather spend my money and time on bikes and physios [and the occasional orthopod (operation on foot looking increasingly likely)] than on golf and cardiologists; I would rather look at a hill with a wistful “I’d love to suffer up that” thought than a “fuck that, let’s drive” thought; I would rather have people laugh at my shaved legs than at my fat arse. Besides which, above all else, I love to ride.

    Amen! Good luck on the foot.

  8. @Velosophe
    Thanks. Good luck with the build!

  9. @eightzero
    Nice job! When’s the production run?

  10. @frank

    @RedRanger

    @mcsqueak
    We’re does school fall in there? That’s my biggest obstacle. Then I gotta work cause I have bills. Then I gotta study cause of school. Then I gotta clean, do laundry and sleep. I’m royally fucked guys. Every time I look at my bike I have pangs in my heart. I keep hoping to turn that around soon.

    When I was training for Keepers Tour, I was working 50 or more hours a week for my job, writing for the site, making all the arrangements for the trip, getting the flag, V-Pint glasses (which have resurfaced by the way), V-Shirts etc designed and made up…another 40 or more hours went into that easily. I found the only way I could get on the bike was by treating it like a work activity and just scheduling it with everything else. Its the only way.

    Or do as @mcsqueak says and commute. Problem solved. And you’d be amazed at how little extra time it takes.

    My standard work week is 55 hrs without overtime and with two kids under five, training has always been a challenge. I am amazed you can hold down a day job and run the site, chapeau! About a year ago I started commuting to work on the bike (30 mins each way) and then getting on a spinning bike for 40 min interval sessions at lunch, plus one 3 hr ride per weekend and my times and fitness have improved immensely. For me it’s all about finding a balance that I can maintain but also being brutal ie: if someone tries to book a business lunch telling them that unless they want to eat on the bike next to me not a chance. I do agree however that when you have a goal, it makes choosing the bike against all the other demands easier so the group I cycle with does one monster ride each 3 months with bragging rights to keep us all motivated.

  11. @eightzero
    Very nice!

  12. @G’phant

    All-consuming passing that dominates every waking hour? Check. [Why else would we log on here as soon as we came in from a ride?]

    Adverse effects on friends and family? Check. [Rule 11. Need I say more?]

    Encourages dangerous behavior? Check. [Anyone NOT been knocked off by an SUV, separated their shoulder, had their foot slide under a car wheel when crashing on a main road, subjected both wrists to more x-rays and MRI scans than they care to recall after a spill, lost skin, hurt back and strained neck … all in the last two years?]

    Distinctive appearance which differentiates the addict from “normal” society? Check. [Lycra. I rest my case.]

    Self-help support groups exist to assist? Check. [Er, isn’t that why we’re here?]

    Obvious and embarrassing side-effects? Check. [Rule 33. ‘Nuf said.]

    Terrible side-effects of withdrawal? Check. [Seven weeks and counting off bike with a broken foot – I am past the irritable stage and well into the fat one.]

    But, as the posts here attest, if it’s an addiction it is one more people should get. I would rather spend my money and time on bikes and physios [and the occasional orthopod (operation on foot looking increasingly likely)] than on golf and cardiologists; I would rather look at a hill with a wistful “I’d love to suffer up that” thought than a “fuck that, let’s drive” thought; I would rather have people laugh at my shaved legs than at my fat arse. Besides which, above all else, I love to ride.

    Brilliant.

    My guess is we all have a bit of an addictive personality otherwise why do we all keep logging in every day…..

  13. @G’phant

    All-consuming passing that dominates every waking hour? Check. [Why else would we log on here as soon as we came in from a ride?]

    Adverse effects on friends and family? Check. [Rule 11. Need I say more?]

    Encourages dangerous behavior? Check. [Anyone NOT been knocked off by an SUV, separated their shoulder, had their foot slide under a car wheel when crashing on a main road, subjected both wrists to more x-rays and MRI scans than they care to recall after a spill, lost skin, hurt back and strained neck … all in the last two years?]

    Distinctive appearance which differentiates the addict from “normal” society? Check. [Lycra. I rest my case.]

    Self-help support groups exist to assist? Check. [Er, isn’t that why we’re here?]

    Obvious and embarrassing side-effects? Check. [Rule 33. ‘Nuf said.]

    Terrible side-effects of withdrawal? Check. [Seven weeks and counting off bike with a broken foot – I am past the irritable stage and well into the fat one.]

    But, as the posts here attest, if it’s an addiction it is one more people should get. I would rather spend my money and time on bikes and physios [and the occasional orthopod (operation on foot looking increasingly likely)] than on golf and cardiologists; I would rather look at a hill with a wistful “I’d love to suffer up that” thought than a “fuck that, let’s drive” thought; I would rather have people laugh at my shaved legs than at my fat arse. Besides which, above all else, I love to ride.

    As much as this whole article was written with tongue firmly in cheek, there is an element of sincerity to it (as with most of what happens here) – and you nailed it perfectly. Once again, you have put down in a few thoughts what I was trying to say in a poorly articulated load of paragraphs. Ah well, we all work to our strengths. I do, after all, have a full head of hair.

  14. @G’phant
    Oh, and I’m sorry you have to have your foot fucked, but if you’d just come on KT like you should have, you’d be riding right now.

  15. @seemunkee

    @eightzero
    Nice job! When’s the production run?

    There is a company that makes bar plugs as a one-off run for anyone. 8-0 made up a set for him and for me (*blush*) but they are hella pricey. There is also a nutter in Oz who has worked out how to manufacture these things in a 3d printer and the samples are on their way to me. They will almost certainly be cheaper, but I haven’t seen them. Can’t wait, obviously. Maybe we will even offer them both. V-plugs are coming either way, or from two sides.

  16. this is so true…I have minimized (if not stopped) my social interaction with people to be able to accommodate my cycling schedule with work and university.
    now my days are this way: wake up – ride hard – go to university – work – come home – clean bike – sleep early and do it all over the next day…

  17. @Velosophe
    keep your head down, you’ve earned your pile of gear. Happy wrenching.

    @G’phant
    Spot on. Sorry to hear about your foot, heal up fast.

  18. @seemunkee

    Like @frank pointed out, they are hella spendy. But…I had to have a set, and given all that @frank has given me by having this site, I figured he had t have a set too. But…if you gotta have em, contact Kristina Bowcut at purelycustom.com.

    They do look fucking great. Now I just gotta get up the guts to get the Man With the Hammer tattooed on my right gun:

  19. @frank

    @seemunkee

    @eightzero
    Nice job! When’s the production run?

    There is a company that makes bar plugs as a one-off run for anyone. 8-0 made up a set for him and for me (*blush*) but they are hella pricey. There is also a nutter in Oz who has worked out how to manufacture these things in a 3d printer and the samples are on their way to me. They will almost certainly be cheaper, but I haven’t seen them. Can’t wait, obviously. Maybe we will even offer them both. V-plugs are coming either way, or from two sides.

    I think I know that nutter in Oz. He posted samples earlier here;
    http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/#comment-86490

  20. @frank
    Yeah, I know. The cycling gods are punishing me.

  21. @Rob
    Yeah I asked myself that too … Steamy any confessions to make?

    quite reasonable till you realise his hips are fucked.

    @Velosophe

    I frequently ask myself the deathbed question – when I’m on my deathbed, what will I regret/what would I have rather been doing? Cycling doesn’t get answered in the negative at all.

  22. I can relate to this article big time Frank.. My cycling addiction has carried me across to the other side of the world where I am lying on a bed, in a dive hotel in Grenoble, with my pulse racing contemplating riding Alpe d’huez tomorrow. This feels like an important and profound moment- I’m fully aware I will be riding in the wheel marks of giants of the road. My time to the top is not relevant to me, all that matters are the sensations of that climb..
    Will be giving it some V for sure..

  23. @Rigid
    Going right to the source for your fix. Have a great ride.

  24. This is my first time to try posting with my not smart phone. That’s sort of indicative of my cycling addiction, I think. I haven’t ridden today because of Mother’s Day commitments. So I substitute with surfing Velominati. And I watched the Giro today. And I’m agitated. It’s a stunningly beautiful day.

    Thanks for letting me vent. I feel a little better now.

  25. @Rigid Make sure you enjoy the views, but give it hell on the Alpe – very envious… hope you get good weather. Remember, the first three bends are the worst…that first ramp, god! after that, it is just stunning. Go crush it. Feed the habit.

  26. @Rigid
    Ride that thing into submission!

  27. @Rigid
    Look forward to reading about it. Have a blast.

  28. Addiction? Whatever.

    So I finished out last season with a Cat 5 RR State Championship (doesn’t say much for the state of Idaho I guess) and an upgrade to Cat 4. The winter was spent not putting on any extra pounds. Plodding away on the trainer 2-3 hours at a time watching old VCR tapes of various Grand Tours and Spring Classics. A Christmas present of six months of coaching from a racer that was seen driving the front of the peloton at the U.S. Pro Cycling Challenge a time or two had me chomping at the bit for the local racing season to begin to try out the larger caliber guns and see what double the training hours had wrought. Whoever said that Cat 4 is not much different than Cat 5 must not have been 50 years old and 25 pounds overweight. First race: DNF, second race: DFL (Dead Fucking Last). Yesterday was my third race – a race that I have won before. Last year I got in a ten man break and finished fifth in the bunch sprint. What did I get yesterday? Off the back and DFL!

    What have I wanted to do all day (but can’t because it’s Mother’s Day)? Ride my fucking bike.

    I need help.

  29. @Cyclops
    If you havent read it already, get hold of a book called Ten Points by Bill Strickland. There is a lot of writing about his racing progression – which is measured for a long while by how long he can hang on to the bunch. There is also some other personal stuff in there which I hope doesnt ring true for you (you will understand if and when you read it).

  30. Normally takes about 3 weeks of racing to get used to the intensity of racing after off season training, in that time frame expect to suffer. The good thing is you’re not going to be a January star, (Or June star I guess in the northern hemisphere) where you’ve burnt all your matches in the first month of the season and spend the rest of the race calendar going backwards through the pack.

  31. @cyclops, I prescribe attendance at the Seattle Summer Cogal. It will put you in the right frame of mind. In?

  32. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    A-Merckx. No ride for me today either, and a good but too short ride yesterday. I’m about to go out of my skin.

  33. Addiction demonstrated for me this weekend by a friday night spent vomiting for no apparent reason leaving me f*cked and unable to race on saturday, so I did a gentle training ride solo after failing to convince anyone to join me, where I promptly fell off for the first time in twenty years. Oddly, I view this as a good thing, because the last time I crashed it really hurt and I was dreading this, inevitable folow up on the grounds that I don’t bounce as much as I used to and therefore it would be infinitely worse. I slid about fifteen feet, scuffed my shoe, removed three stitches from my favourite mitts,got dirty enough to look heroic, and that was about it. Didn’t feel anything the next day, so did an hour of intervals in preperation for this weekend’s treat – two day /3-stage race. After a nearly 20-year racing hiatus, I am loving being back in the ring.

  34. @eightzero

    @cyclops, I prescribe attendance at the Seattle Summer Cogal. It will put you in the right frame of mind. In?

    Maybe, if I don’t live in Kentucky by then.

  35. What an great article frank, you really have excelled yourself. I don’t know where you get this stuff from but it really strikes a chord, after a long, hard ride yesterday with plenty of v that left me lying on the floor with my eyes closed for a few minutes i am thankful that cycling is my addiction.

  36. @mcsqueak

    Office jobs have a “special” way of making you feel xhausted even though you generally sit on your ass infront of a computer all day…

    Completely agree. I have no idea how this happens, but I feel less like doing anything when I come home from my office job than when I come home from doing construction or landscaping.

  37. Where is the line between pursuing something that seemingly brings you lots of positive things, despite risk of negative outcomes that you probably ignore, and being addicted to it?

    I came across some research recently that says that people who exercise a lot, are actually at a higher risk of falling into other addictions. It’s about the order. Starting to exercise can help you get over addictions, but if you have exercised for a long time, you are at risk of getting addicted to other things.


    How Exercise Can Prime the Brain for Addiction, NYT, April 11, 2012

    A 55-hour a week job with travel, and a family with 2 small kids keeps me in check.

  38. This cycling addiction feels like destiny. And glad to reach the point where it is all or nothing. Without cycling would feel like nothing. I would be nothing without my kids, my wife, my work, and I would not be the same without cycling.

  39. @Simon

    Addiction demonstrated for me this weekend by a friday night spent vomiting for no apparent reason leaving me f*cked and unable to race on saturday, so I did a gentle training ride solo after failing to convince anyone to join me, where I promptly fell off for the first time in tenty years.

    Classic withdrawl symtoms, matey.

    Didn’t feel anything the next day, so did an hour of intervals in preperation for this weekend’s treat – two day /3-stage race. After a nearly 20-year racing hiatus, I am loving being back in the ring.

    Exceptionally strong work. Welcome back!

  40. @MJ Moquin

    @mcsqueak

    Office jobs have a “special” way of making you feel xhausted even though you generally sit on your ass infront of a computer all day…

    Completely agree. I have no idea how this happens, but I feel less like doing anything when I come home from my office job than when I come home from doing construction or landscaping.

    That feeling of exhaustion is the feeling of your soul being slowly crushed into a fine powder. Happens to all of us. Nothing even a quick jaunt on the bike won’t fix.

  41. @Fredrik
    Interesting, and without having read that (yet) it doesn’t surprise me much that this might be the case. I wonder, though, how much of that is just that people who really get into exercise are already inclined to addiction.

  42. @frank

    I’m glad I sidestepped that landmine, and congratulations on being 16 years sober.

    Thank you, sir!

    @eightzero
    That is a thing of beauty, man!

    @ChrisO

    And are there other non-addictive Velominati, or am I the weirdo ?

    You are, as we say in 12-step meetings, a “normie”. I find that to be a great quality. Enjoy it until senility steps in. =)

    @minion
    Okay, I thought I was bad, trying for the Strava Twice the Tour challenge and spending 4+ hours a day trying to get my minimum mileage in… (until being forced to take a rest day) This guy is completely mental. I’d hate to see what happens when (not if, but WHEN) he gets injured.

    @Cyclops

    What have I wanted to do all day (but can’t because it’s Mother’s Day)? Ride my fucking bike.

    Mother’s Day, Schmother’s Day. I went out and rode 106 miles. (I did, however, have dinner with mum the day before.)

  43. @Xyverz

    Mother’s Day, Schmother’s Day. I went out and rode 106 miles. (I did, however, have dinner with mum the day before.)

    Sorry for the Rule #24 violation. That should have read 171km.

  44. Hi, My name is Fred, and I’m an Velominaddict.

    Step 1) We admitted our guns were powerless, and that our lives had become unmanageable without The Rules.
    Step 2) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves (The V) could restore us.
    Step 3) Made a decision to turn our will and our rides over to the care of The Keepers as if we understood The Five and Dime.
    Step 4) Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of our Guns.
    Step 5) Admitted to , to ourselves and to another Velominati the exact nature of our weakness.
    Step 6) Were entirely ready to have The Keepers point out all these defects of cycling etiquette.
    Step 7) Humbly asked Fränk to forgive our Rule Violations.
    Step 8) Made a list of all cyclists we had harmed (Rule #2 & #3)and became willing to make it up to them at the next Cogal.
    Step 9) Made direct amends to said cyclists with a Recovery Beverage, except when to do so would be also be a Rule #43 violation.
    Step 10) Continued to take personal inventory of our Guns when we were weak promptly admitted it and went for a Rule #9 ride.
    Step 11)Sought through meditation on Rule #10 to improve our Guns and understanding of being a Hardman, praying only for course knowledge of the the next ride and The V to Ride like a Lion!
    Step 12) Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of The Rules, we tried to carry this message to other cyclists, and to practice these principles on all of our Rides.

    A-Merckx

  45. @mtnbikerfred
    Well done, Fred (clapclapclap).
    Merckx, grant me the temerity to accept the things I cannot shave, the courage to shave the things I can, and the lycra to hide the difference.

  46. @mtnbikerfred
    Oh, snap. Step 5 has a typo. I’m thinking it should read, “Admitted to Merckx, ourselves, and another Velominatus…”

    @xyxax
    The Velominatus Temerity prayer. I love it!

  47. @Xyverz

    You are correct (or close enough). I *might* have used “The Prophet”. I dunno. I think I just meant to delete the 2nd “to” and blew it.

  48. Frank, What’s your source of this awesome photo? Would be a damn fine wallpaper for the computer…

  49. @Jenks
    You will find it and others here: VVallpaper

  50. Do you have a spam problem on this website; I also am a blogger, and I was curious about your
    situation; many of us have created some nice procedures and we are looking to swap methods with other folks, be sure to shoot me an e-mail if
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