René Privat wears yellow as Master Jacques reads a newspaper and tries not to notice.

Youth

I’ve never been afraid of imitating my heroes, they always seemed like the best examples available and as a student of life (as every child is) it seemed normal to me to copy every aspect of their lives that I had visibility into. I copied my dad’s handwriting as I was learning to write just as I copied Greg LeMond’s position on the bike as I was learning how to get serious about Cycling. None of my friends recognized my dad’s handwriting; they all thought my handwriting looked different from everyone else so they figured I had “cool” handwriting. All of my friends who rode bikes recognized Greg Lemond’s riding style; they all figured I was a copycat.

It was an early lesson; neither the complement nor the criticism meant terribly much to me; I was busy learning and that was good enough for me. I have to say, though, that as I’ve grown older, I’ve become more fond of my younger self, that version of me who didn’t feel the influence of what others believed so much. As we age, we “know” more and we “believe” less. Preserving the ability to believe is what keeps us young; for that reason alone, I refuse to grow up and insist on believing in everything I find beautiful, however irrational it might be.

Which brings me to Cycling; Cycling is the perfect way to stay in touch with the more delicate aspects of what we love in our lives. Riding in the first place is already enough; breathing the air and indulging in the tension of strength in our muscles and body as we ride brings an awareness that most people don’t have the opportunity to experience. As we develop in the sport, we start to test the limits of our bodies and equipment; testing is the way we experience growth and the development of our skill.

Every time we climb aboard a bicycle, we are testing our limits the same as we did as children; to be a Cyclist is to be young again. Vive la Vie Velominatus.

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92 Replies to “Youth”

  1. I’ve said it before but – You can’t help getting old but you can stay immature for ever.  My Teddy Bears also agree.

  2. I recently (December) started cycling again after 13 years without a bike in my life.  I used to ride fat tyred downhill bikes and viewed road cycling as the domain of lunatics and drug abusers.

    Having purchased my first road bike, I love it, the speed it accelerates is amazing, the feeling of taking corners far quicker that my 700×25 tyres should (in my mind) cope with and gunning it both up and down hills.

    Getting back on the bike has given me a new enthusiasm (even in the depths of British winter) to get out there and blast around, even if its just the 5 mile sprint to work.  I find myself making some very childish sounds as I ride down hills, swerve drain covers and overtake (stationary) cars.

  3. Having recently purchased my first ever road bike, it’s taken me back to being a teenager again, the tires are a lot skinnier than my downhill bike, but I love being on a bike again

  4. I’m looking at that photo and first thing I notice is the purple bike. Okay. Then I see the guns. Wow ! Then I think to myself, thank goodness we’ve evolved and have moved beyond the black shoes white sox thing exhibited here…

    Cheer all

     

  5. oh… and if that pic were snapped today we can guess what they’d be looking at? Such a natural pose. Staring at the phones and txt’ing/snapchatting/instagramming…

  6. Photo angles can be deceptive but those frame seem to have way different geometries.

  7. @Teocalli

    The purple bike’s seattube looks more angled back – but the saddle looks like it’s pointing up so perhaps the front wheel is slightly raised on something.

    I want a new bike. Racy, carbon, Ultegra (but not Di2), not too pricey. What should I look at? More concerned with stiffness, aerodynamics and position than weight.

  8. Awesome! I thank heavens that I’m able to ride a bike every day. It’s incredible. Have you ever seen an unhappy cyclist? Nope, we’re too buzzed on oxygen (and recovery ales!). It certainly keeps you young, and I think some sort of other athletic pursuit that involves a bit more play, creativity, etc., is very helpful too.

    I keep on wondering when I’ll grow up! I’ll do something and think “Heck, I’ve been acting like this since I was a teenager, aren’t adults supposed to stop finding humor in _____?” Oh well.

    On a cynical note, the one unfortunate thing about getting old is definitely knowing too much and not being able to believe that bullies and idiots and selfish assholes will mature and grow out of it. Nope, they just grow older. That’s been the one big disappointment of adulthood for me.

  9. @Randy C

    oh… and if that pic were snapped today we can guess what they’d be looking at? Such a natural pose. Staring at the phones and txt’ing/snapchatting/instagramming…

    When I’m cycling around town I sometimes can’t help myself…when I see someone completely ignoring the world and/or me approaching them on a bicycle, I’ll yell “Oh my god! Would you look at that!” Usually gives them a pretty good reminder that you shouldn’t walk around oblivious to the world. And, I guess this is proof that I haven’t outgrown enjoying a simple prank.

    AND…YES! We have a new article. Youth following Dead Tired. This is exciting!

  10. @RobSandy

    @Teocalli

    The purple bike’s seattube looks more angled back – but the saddle looks like it’s pointing up so perhaps the front wheel is slightly raised on something.

    I want a new bike. Racy, carbon, Ultegra (but not Di2), not too pricey. What should I look at? More concerned with stiffness, aerodynamics and position than weight.

    Sarto are sweet and you can customise the tubes for not a lot extra.  http://www.sartoantonio.com

     

  11. A bit of a counterpoint. Youthful exuberance and openness to new beliefs and points of view are certainly qualities one should continue to foster as one gets older.  However, let’s not discount the value of experience and wisdom that comes with age (for some of us, anyway!).  There are a lot of things that I “believed” as a younger man, without necessarily having the experience to know if those beliefs were valid.  Many of those beliefs have been tested throughout my life, and many have fallen by the wayside.  However, there is a certain joyousness when life’s experience affirms a long-held belief.  It’s a way of sorting through this mess we call life and finding a way in the world and peace within ourselves. I’ve had occasion over the past year to examine and sort through a lot of what I believed about myself, the people around me and my life.  While that work is never done, I feel more more free and at-ease as a result.

  12. @Ron

    Exactly my thoughts!  Youth after Dead Tired; Hopefully, suggesting a turn for the better. Thank you Frank and I hope you are feeling and doing well.

     

  13. @RobSandy

    I just got this

    https://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/tcr-advanced-1-disc

    but I don’t race. Super solid bike though as I’ve had it out on some pretty rocky two tracks, short sections of single track, and tons of dirt road with no issues. It just barely fits 28mm continental clinchers. I’m 1.88m and 84kg (6’2″, 185lbs). The bike is a size M/L. This is an “Ultegra” bike, but only the FD, RD and cranks (comes with compact) are Ultegra. Brifters and brakes are somewhere between 105 and Ultegra, cassette is 105, chain is KMC. It has thru-axles so that may not work for racing either, but ups the stiffness factor. It’s not bespoke, but Giant’s factories make frames for lots of other brands so in theory their crap should all be ironed out. YMMV.

    Good luck.

  14. Great piece! The pic is from, I’m pretty sure, the 1957 Tour. Four of the ten man French squad are there, but besides Privat and Anquetil, I’m not sure who the others are! The team comprised: Roger Walkowiak, André Darrigade, future world champion Jean Stablinski, Gilbert Bauvin, Louis Bergaud, Albert Bouvet, Francois Mahe, Rene Privat, Jean Forestier and Jacques Anquetil.

    There were six French teams in the race: France, France North East-Centre, France Southwest, France-Ile de France, France-West and France South-East. Nothing like a little competition!

    I suspect the purple Mercier bike is Privat’s and the blue Gitane (?) is likely Anquetil’s. Privat won stage 2 and held the maillot jaune until stage 4 when he lost it to Anquetil who would win the race overall for the first of his five tour wins. He was only 23.

  15. @Oracle

    A bit of a counterpoint. Youthful exuberance and openness to new beliefs and points of view are certainly qualities one should continue to foster as one gets older. However, let’s not discount the value of experience and wisdom that comes with age (for some of us, anyway!). There are a lot of things that I “believed” as a younger man, without necessarily having the experience to know if those beliefs were valid. Many of those beliefs have been tested throughout my life, and many have fallen by the wayside. However, there is a certain joyousness when life’s experience affirms a long-held belief. It’s a way of sorting through this mess we call life and finding a way in the world and peace within ourselves. I’ve had occasion over the past year to examine and sort through a lot of what I believed about myself, the people around me and my life. While that work is never done, I feel more more free and at-ease as a result.

    Hey Oracle. I hope you’re well. Will you drop me a line at greid@wisconsinart.org please? Thanks!

  16. @RobSandy

     

    I want a new bike.

    Don’t we all !

    I was/am so tempted to pick up a new CAAD12 Ultegra bike just because I suspect it’s a awesome combo of great bike and price, I dig the color (yep, black, go figure)  and I love my CAAD10.  I’m sure the bike would be a blast to ride fast and race and a mech Ultegra you know is gonna be buttery smooth. And so far I’ve successfully resisted that temptation. You know what’s stopped me ? I was looking at the junction of the seat stays and seat/top tube and w/the alloy welds it looks like they’re all attached with a big blob of bubble gum. Seriously.

     

  17. Frank: I like this essay and you express in it thoughts that many of us probably also think.  But, I have another view of my bicycle and riding it.  My bike is a time machine.  When I ride it I am often transported back to my youth and the feelings that I enjoyed while riding my bike, at least in a metaphysical sense.  That is the best part of riding for me.  I am chasing my youth and while I will never capture that, I can recapture those feelings and I will do so for as long as I am able.

  18. @Randy C

    Then I think to myself, thank goodness we’ve evolved and have moved beyond the black shoes white sox thing exhibited here…

    Cheer all

    Ha!  Now don’t start that again (b/c we all know that it does not get any more classy than pure white socks with pure black shoes!)

  19. @Buck Rogers

    @Randy C

    Then I think to myself, thank goodness we’ve evolved and have moved beyond the black shoes white sox thing exhibited here…

    Cheer all

    Ha! Now don’t start that again (b/c we all know that it does not get any more classy than pure white socks with pure black shoes!)

    agreed!

  20. @RobSandy

    @Teocalli

    The purple bike’s seattube looks more angled back – but the saddle looks like it’s pointing up so perhaps the front wheel is slightly raised on something.

    I want a new bike. Racy, carbon, Ultegra (but not Di2), not too pricey. What should I look at? More concerned with stiffness, aerodynamics and position than weight.

    Don’t know the pricing in the UK, but the Focus Izalco Max might be worth looking at. Same frame all the way through the range, pricing changes pretty much come down to wheel & group combo you choose.

  21. @RobSandy

    @Teocalli

    The purple bike’s seattube looks more angled back – but the saddle looks like it’s pointing up so perhaps the front wheel is slightly raised on something.

    I want a new bike. Racy, carbon, Ultegra (but not Di2), not too pricey. What should I look at? More concerned with stiffness, aerodynamics and position than weight.

    Looks fucking sexy too

  22. That Focus is a gorgeous bike as shown in that pic. But I’m a sucker for any bike in black I guess. Still, that’s a hot bike.

    I’m also a sucker for alloy bikes. Just love the price/performance idea. Both my CX and road bikes I race are alloy ‘dales. And really, nowadays with the modern wide rim-bed wheel sets and high volume low p tires one can get a pretty good ride on any decent well engineered bike. I’ve bombed the CAAD10 down miles and miles of dirt roads and pounded out fast century rides over chip seal with no comfort issues. And I also have a C Roubiax. So I’ve compared the two “ideas” over a bazillion miles. The C bike is just a little lighter. I’d posted a little back about the idea that a CAAD12 had to be a damn good bike for the money and a blast to ride fast and I wanted one. But there is the aesthetic quality about this:

    that I just can’t get past. See what I’m talking about ? Seriously, does that look like a wad of chewed bubblegum that the tubes are all joined up with?

  23. No matter how they feel, I think cyclists look younger on the bike. I also think I (and most people) look heavier when on the bike for some strange reason. The Gorilla for example looks well, like a gorilla on the bike and like a little kid on the podium (if you don’t look at his guns that is).

  24. @Randy C

     

    I’m also a sucker for alloy bikes.

    I was/am so tempted to pick up a new CAAD12 Ultegra bike just because I suspect it’s a awesome combo of great bike and price, I dig the color (yep, black, go figure) and I love my CAAD10. I’m sure the bike would be a blast to ride fast and race and a mech Ultegra you know is gonna be buttery smooth. And so far I’ve successfully resisted that temptation. You know what’s stopped me ? I was looking at the junction of the seat stays and seat/top tube and w/the alloy welds it looks like they’re all attached with a big blob of bubble gum. Seriously.

    If you want to be tempted by a new alu bike, check out Bond Bikes. Beautiful frames. One of the co-founders is my fellow PEZ contributor Lee Rodgers. If I had the $$$ lying around for another bike, I’d be seriously tempted to get one.

    https://www.bond.bike/

    https://www.facebook.com/bondbikes/

    https://www.bikerumor.com/2016/11/30/newcomer-bond-bikes-touts-customizable-frames-wont-break-bank/

  25. @Jay

    Frank: I like this essay and you express in it thoughts that many of us probably also think. But, I have another view of my bicycle and riding it. My bike is a time machine. When I ride it I am often transported back to my youth and the feelings that I enjoyed while riding my bike, at least in a metaphysical sense. That is the best part of riding for me. I am chasing my youth and while I will never capture that, I can recapture those feelings and I will do so for as long as I am able.

    In a similar vein, I know I’m old(er) but when I ride I don’t feel quite so old. Not quite chasing my youth, but feeling younger than my actual chronological age. And always nice when I’m able to hang with the young(er) guns.

  26. My bike is a time machine for me due to the fact that whether I ride for 30 minutes to get to my office or for a few hours for pleasure, I’m always transformed, calmed, and of a better mindset than prior to the ride.

     

  27. Was playing soccer last night when a sweetheart of a Youth decided he wanted to kick around my spare ball on the sideline. He and his pal kept on coming onto the field, interfering with the game. Someone told him to cut it out. He proceeded to punt my ball into the woods, then try to walk off. Told him to go collect it. He did, then threw it into the middle of our game. I told him to quit being a puke. He gave me the finger and told me to fuck off.

    I imparted some wisdom to the scrawny teen: You’re going to do that to the wrong person one day soon and it’s gonna hurt. Badly.

    I cannot imagine acting like that to a field full of much larger adult strangers. Good god.

  28. @Ron

    Was playing soccer last night when a sweetheart of a Youth decided he wanted to kick around my spare ball on the sideline. He and his pal kept on coming onto the field, interfering with the game. Someone told him to cut it out. He proceeded to punt my ball into the woods, then try to walk off. Told him to go collect it. He did, then threw it into the middle of our game. I told him to quit being a puke. He gave me the finger and told me to fuck off.

    I imparted some wisdom to the scrawny teen: You’re going to do that to the wrong person one day soon and it’s gonna hurt. Badly.

    I cannot imagine acting like that to a field full of much larger adult strangers. Good god.

    The kid is lucky you were not the “wrong person.”

  29. @Ccos

    No matter how they feel, I think cyclists look younger on the bike. I also think I (and most people) look heavier when on the bike for some strange reason. The Gorilla for example looks well, like a gorilla on the bike and like a little kid on the podium (if you don’t look at his guns that is).

    Agreed. Off the bike in street clothes I look pretty decent (6′ 1″ and around 190lbs) but I’ve seen pics of me on the bike and I look like Lampre man. WTF?

  30. @wiscot

    @Ron

    Was playing soccer last night when a sweetheart of a Youth decided he wanted to kick around my spare ball on the sideline. He and his pal kept on coming onto the field, interfering with the game. Someone told him to cut it out. He proceeded to punt my ball into the woods, then try to walk off. Told him to go collect it. He did, then threw it into the middle of our game. I told him to quit being a puke. He gave me the finger and told me to fuck off.

    I imparted some wisdom to the scrawny teen: You’re going to do that to the wrong person one day soon and it’s gonna hurt. Badly.

    I cannot imagine acting like that to a field full of much larger adult strangers. Good god.

    The kid is lucky you were not the “wrong person.”

    Many years ago in the era when I used to play Rugby, 3 guys went to mug a chap who happened to play for another Rugby club in the area.  They picked on the “wrong person”, 2 ended up in hospital with broken bones and the 3rd ran off while he was dealing with the other two.  In those days the Police were able to say “they got what they deserved”.  They still charged them with attempted mugging though.

  31. @Teocalli

    @wiscot

    @Ron

    Was playing soccer last night when a sweetheart of a Youth decided he wanted to kick around my spare ball on the sideline. He and his pal kept on coming onto the field, interfering with the game. Someone told him to cut it out. He proceeded to punt my ball into the woods, then try to walk off. Told him to go collect it. He did, then threw it into the middle of our game. I told him to quit being a puke. He gave me the finger and told me to fuck off.

    I imparted some wisdom to the scrawny teen: You’re going to do that to the wrong person one day soon and it’s gonna hurt. Badly.

    I cannot imagine acting like that to a field full of much larger adult strangers. Good god.

    The kid is lucky you were not the “wrong person.”

    Many years ago in the era when I used to play Rugby, 3 guys went to mug a chap who happened to play for another Rugby club in the area. They picked on the “wrong person”, 2 ended up in hospital with broken bones and the 3rd ran off while he was dealing with the other two. In those days the Police were able to say “they got what they deserved”. They still charged them with attempted mugging though.

    I’m told, “he had it coming” was (or perhaps still is) a legitimate plea in Texas courts for when you’re charged with killing someone…

  32. @RobSandy

    @Teocalli

    The purple bike’s seattube looks more angled back – but the saddle looks like it’s pointing up so perhaps the front wheel is slightly raised on something.

    The top tubes seem to be running parallel but I think it’s just the angle and that the bike behind is further forward.

    Any idea what the thing on the bottom of the down tube on the blue bike might be? A sort of canister. Maybe for tools or something but it seems an odd place to put it.

  33. Looks to me like the purple frame is sitting more upright, and the blue is leaning over at a greater angle against the car.

    To me the canister looks like some sort of Wile E Coyote rocket apparatus.  i’d like to think that is what it is anyway.  I loved Road Runner.

  34. @ChrisO

    @Cameron W

    The canister is a CO2 inflator. I think they were first used before WWII, and you can see Bartali carrying one behind his seat tube in photos from the 40s.

  35. @ChrisO

    Any idea what the thing on the bottom of the down tube on the blue bike might be? A sort of canister. Maybe for tools or something but it seems an odd place to put it.

    Probably that is the canister where they kept La Bamba back in the day.  They did not have to be so discrete in those days, ya know.

  36. @Buck Rogers

    @ChrisO

    Any idea what the thing on the bottom of the down tube on the blue bike might be? A sort of canister. Maybe for tools or something but it seems an odd place to put it.

    Probably that is the canister where they kept La Bamba back in the day. They did not have to be so discrete in those days, ya know.

    The boring bit is that it might be a CO2 canister as they did use them way back and given that they have their own spare tubs under the saddle they were obviously not depending on the team car.

  37. @ChrisO

    @RobSandy

    @Teocalli

    The purple bike’s seattube looks more angled back – but the saddle looks like it’s pointing up so perhaps the front wheel is slightly raised on something.

    The top tubes seem to be running parallel but I think it’s just the angle and that the bike behind is further forward.

    Any idea what the thing on the bottom of the down tube on the blue bike might be? A sort of canister. Maybe for tools or something but it seems an odd place to put it.

    It’s the motor.

  38. @Cary

    @Buck Rogers

    @Randy C

    Then I think to myself, thank goodness we’ve evolved and have moved beyond the black shoes white sox thing exhibited here…

    Cheer all

    Ha! Now don’t start that again (b/c we all know that it does not get any more classy than pure white socks with pure black shoes!)

    agreed!

    You got the same shoes as me. Except mine are white, obviously.

  39. @Mikael Liddy

    @RobSandy

    @Teocalli

    The purple bike’s seattube looks more angled back – but the saddle looks like it’s pointing up so perhaps the front wheel is slightly raised on something.

    I want a new bike. Racy, carbon, Ultegra (but not Di2), not too pricey. What should I look at? More concerned with stiffness, aerodynamics and position than weight.

    Looks fucking sexy too

    You’re right, it looks an awesome bike. But about double my hypothetical budget.

    Any thoughts on the more budget end aero road bikes? I’ve seen bikes by Sensa and Boardman that both look awesome, full aero carbon frame and mostly Ultegra kit, for roundabout £2k. Granted, you’d probably want to replace the wheels pretty sharpish.

  40. @RobSandy

    1500GBP for a Speshy Allez sprint with 105. Seems like a reasonably priced bike yet I betcha would be a lot of fun to ride fast and put the hammer down in some crits. Especially after you upgraded the wheels yes. Doesn’t look like Speshy is offering up the Allez sprint frame sets alone in the UK. They have some cool color ways available in US that would be fun to build up.

  41. Ha Ha – I think my posts re the cylinder on the frame are being filtered out by a spam filter on the site so (assuming this posts) search on Pennine CO2 Pump on ClassicLightweights.  Can’t think why that is being filtered out!

  42. As an Arsenal-mad lad, my favourite player was Liam Brady. I had the yellow away kit circa 1979, and whenever I played it had to be all left-footed like him, even though I was naturally right-footed. He just looked cooler than anyone else, and I still think lefties look more stylish than right-footed players. If I was a kid today, I’d have to be Mesut Ozil. Style is everything.

    Great picture, by the way.

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