Velominati Keepers of the Cog Mon, 14 Jul 2014 20:53:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Rule #33 and the Summer Barbecue Mon, 14 Jul 2014 20:53:58 +0000 It's a drag It’s a drag

Rule #33Legs are to be carefully shaved at all times.

This is one of the Rules that really defines the term Cyclist to the Velominati. Discussions about Rule #33 flare up on the site occasionally, burn brightly then smolder out. Between faces and legs, it is a lot of man-scraping. Rule #33 is a task master. Compliance is one thing, defending it to the unenlightened is another.

It is during that troublesome extended family summer barbecue where the Velominati earn their stripes when defending shaved guns to the grandfathers of the world. The greatest generation doesn’t get it. They didn’t fight the Japanese and the Germans so you, a grown man, could shave your damn legs. 

Usually, your shaved, tanned, naturally glistening Guns of Navarone need no defending, they are just there, twin defenders of freedom, loaded and ready. The greatest generation certainly should understand that, but they don’t.

Aesthetically, the issue is won already. I don’t bother getting into the hand-waving explanations of massage or road rash. Looking down and seeing hairy sweaty legs above my white socks just makes me sick. It’s depressing. It is a violation of all we hold dear. Looking down, 100km into a sweaty suffering ride and seeing glistening, shaved legs, doing the work: all is well with the world. 

The wise @G’phant offered up the Tribal thesis years back and it clicked with me. Yes, we are all members of the same tribe; we know each other by our shaved legs. See that guy ahead in the security line at the airport, when security makes him drop his pants to his ankles, look at those legs, those crisp tan lines! He is one of us. He is my brother. It’s a pretty great tribe to be in and no need for tattoos. 

Say things are going badly at the extended family barbecue. You have not impressed the soon to be father-in-law with a reasoned argument of how bitchin’ shaved legs look. The tribal argument has only generated a blank stare that questions why his daughter needs this (you). Pull out your smart phone, pull up this movie and tell him to watch this while you go fetch two more drinks (both for yourself).

Form, function and looking fantastic are intertwined and here is the proof.

Thanks to Dave E for the video. 

Click here to view the embedded video.

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Guest Article: Ride Like a Rock Star Fri, 11 Jul 2014 17:37:59 +0000 Looking pensively into the distance. Or is it thoughtfully? Photo: CorVos/

Yes, this makes three Guest Articles in three weeks, but we run the show around here and we do what we want. Especially when it comes to solid, 24-karat gold Cyclist/Rock star comparisons. Especiallier when it comes from none other than Keeper Jim’s lovely wife and food-writer celebrity, Jess Thomson. Its cute seeing the family come together to uphold Jim’s twice-annual Article quota.

And speaking of Keeper Jim, he is rumored to be making a cameo appearances at tomorrow’s Ride and Book Signing at Branford Bike in Seattle in support of our book, The Rules, The Way of the Cycling Disciple. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Yours in Cycling, Frank

When German giant Marcel Kittel stomped across the finish first on Corsica last year, there was no ambivalence. He had power. He had grace. There wasn’t anyone faster. And in just a few pedal strokes, as Kittel pushed Cavendish from his long reign atop the sprint headlines (in my uneducated spectator’s mind, anyway), I developed an obsession.

Last year, I broke a collarbone in a crash on the first day of the Tour, which meant I had time to obsess from my cozy spot on the couch. Still, given that I’m a happily married woman teetering toward middle age, and that I’m the kind of sometimes cyclist who breaks every single Rule, and that I really only get excited about cycling when there are sprints, climbs, or crashes, the concept of an infatuation was unusual and embarrassing enough that I hid it. I don’t have the pedigree or the personality for a Tour crush. (My Keeper husband might, but that’s a different story.) But the blonde coiffe, clearly cared for off the bike. The wry smile. The crying, for God’s sake.

Last week, when Kittel crossed the line first in the first stage once again, this time in Harrogate, I realized with a blinding flash of the obvious that I’ve had no choice but to crush. I have no choice, because Kittel has the genetics of a rock star. I have the genetics of a former teenaged girl. I am–and millions others in my general age group also are, I assume–deeply and helplessly programmed to swoon when Kittel doffs his helmet because Marcel Kittel is the Vanilla Ice of cycling.


When I saw Ice, as I think we called him, perform live in 1990, there was no questioning whether he was talented. No man who comes up with lyrics as perfectly simple as Ice, Ice Baby can be questioned. He embodied perfection. He dripped young, infectious energy.

Wait. Wait, I’m totally wrong. Vanilla Ice was a terrible artist that I’m ashamed to have listened to at all. So call Kittel Vanilla Ice plus, one might hope, more popular longevity. And more talent.


Intrinsic value aside, the correlation holds visually. Look at them, people. The nose. The lips. The hair. Even the hairline. And alas, the heinous shades. I’ll give you that the lower halves must not look anything alike, but the similarities are undeniable. They might as well be twins, separated by a mere two decades and the Atlantic Ocean. Imagine Kittel as his lead-out train sweeps aside: I’m on a roll, and it’s time to go solo.

I’m not saying Kittel should get cocky (or Coquarded, as the case may be), offend the masses, and ride into history as a two-Tour wonder. Ride like a rock star, pretty boy, for as long as you can. Just remember, when you’re older than Voigt and Voeckler, that you may have a second career waiting for you. Clearly, given that you reported the toughest part of Stage 3′s day being when an airline employee confiscated your hair gel, you have the capacity for the intense self-care stardom requires.


And, you know, if Ice isn’t your style, don’t feel hemmed in. Just keep cultivating that inner Macklemore, which I’ve seen, too. In fact, better start now, maybe with some white-walled tires, while While Walls is still on the radio. Who knows who you might bring to cycling.

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La Vie Velominatus: Transcension Wed, 09 Jul 2014 18:41:09 +0000 Having a laugh at The Rules. Photo: Pedale.Forchetta

When it comes to Rule Compliance, we have at our disposal three viable options. The first is to Obey the Rules. That one is pretty straight-forward because we wrote them down for you and also went to the great length of writing a book on the subject, partly as a public service to those suffering from insomnia. But The Rules are full of apparent contradictions and paradoxes, so you will have to do some thinking, justifying, rationalizing and flailing about like you’re swinging a stick at a piñata or something. All equally. But if you’re willing to do that, you can be Rule Compliant. Oh, and you should ride your bike a lot and not be a giant sissy as often as you can manage.

The second option is to be an ultra stud/studette who is so comprehensively badass that no one gives two shits about The Rules or anything else except trying to figure out ways to make you notice them so they can tell their friends or take a selfie of you doing something else in the background and them grinning away like they accomplished something just by standing close to you. And in case you’re wondering, you’re not that badass. Not even close. So don’t even think about it. Except if you happen to be Eddy Merckx, Roger de Vlaeminck, Freddy Maertens, Bernard Hinault, Greg LeMond, or Jan Ullrich. Or a handful of dead guys like Coppi, Bobet, or Pantani but being dead is probably a Rule violation in itself. So this option is out, for most of us anyway.

That leaves the third option, which is found via the Masturbation Principle, assuming you’re not squaring up with Option 1 or Option 2. Its kind of like what I assume Catholic confession is about, except you don’t have to confess anything to anyone; instead you do whatever you like while pretending like you don’t and just hope no one sees you. And definitely don’t brag about it unless you’re in Las Vegas, in which case you’re just being creepy.

In summary:

Option 1: Don’t be a sissy, ride lots, and do whatever you need to be compliant.

Option 2: These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Move along.

Option 3: Do your best and shut your pie hole about your violations.

But let’s go back to Option 2 for a minute. This is really where the subtlety in the whole mess is found; this is the gray space that I love so much. Rule Transcension is the True Way; The Rules are there to help us find our way along the path to transcension, but they lie at the beginning of it, not the end. The Apostles who helped forge The Rules knew nothing of them, of course; it was just The Way of Things. And most of the Pros who are Rule Compliant today are so without being aware that they even exist; just as the Apostles were, they are Rule Compliant because they are doing as those who before them did and recognize that ours is a civilized sport.

But it begs the question. Which current rider is most Rule Compliant? Who is the hardest and Looks most Fantastic?

Fabian Cancellara and David Millar are way up there, to start. They Look Fantastic enough both on and off the bike to each have featured in the Men’s Style-centric website, Mr. Porter. They look the business on the bike and, Fabian more so than David, deliver the goods when it comes down to the business of winning a race while still Looking Fantastic, today’s performance on the cobbles notwithstanding.

Marianne Vos and Lizzie Armitstead sit at the top of the list as well, the apparently irresistible temptation to wear white shorts notwithstanding. There have also been some flirtations with excessively long socks in the ladie’s bunch just as with the blokes, but these two stand proud among an impressively Rule-Compliant women’s peloton.

But if I had to name the most Rule Compliant rider in the peloton today, it has to be Big Tom Boonen. The man was poured out of pure V and cut with Rule #43. And just try to tell me you don’t want his legs.

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Vive Le Tour Mon, 07 Jul 2014 23:24:43 +0000 The Prophet solos in the mountains wearing the Yellow Jersey." width="620" height="494" /> The Prophet solos in the mountains wearing the Yellow Jersey.

Maybe it’s the narcissist in me or maybe I never really learned how to share properly, but I prefer my birthday over Christmas. My birthday is the one day of the year where everything is about me. No feigning interest in other people’s gifts, no getting distracted by any greater meaning. Just me and my loot, as it was meant to be. Speaking of loot, getting older may mean the lure of presents is less strong than it was as a child – because I buy most of the stuff I want anyway – but with age comes into sharp focus the pleasure in not having to answer to anyone else, even if for only a day. Being king for 1/365th of the year, it’s undeniably glorious.

Christmas, on the other hand, isn’t supposed to be about anyone. Its about peace and love and hope and a bunch of other stuff that isn’t going to bring you any closer to Rule #12 Compliance or trimming enough grams off your steed to offset the numerous post-ride Recovery Ales that get consumed after even the shortest of rides. World Peace is lovely, but I’d prefer to set a new personal record on Haleakala without changing my lifestyle or needing to make any personal sacrifices, thank you very much. But Christmas does have one massive thing going for it: you spend the whole month thinking about it, outfitting your house with festive paraphernalia and slaughtering a perfectly healthy pine tree in order to briefly pitch it in a bucket in your living room. We call this process “Getting Into the Holiday Spirit”. In other words, my birthday may well be more spectacular in its purity, but there is no denying the excitement of spending an entire month being consumed by an event.

When it comes to Grand Tours, I liken the excitement of the Giro to my birthday, the Tour to Christmas, and the Vuelta to a coworker’s birthday. The Giro is raw; a race where everything happens without a script. The geography of the country makes it nearly impossible to link too many flat stages together in series like the Tour does, and the lower prestige of the event means the field tends to, on balance, yield a more open and exciting race. And, I’ll be the first to admit, loving the Giro above the others gives the irrational indulgence of feeling that I’m in on a secret, that I’m sufficiently cultured to look past the shiny exterior, kind of like preferring mutts to pure-breeds.

The Tour, on the other hand, has all the trappings of its shiny exterior, even if it still boasts the substance to merit its popularity. But too many Tours have been too predictable. Indurain was a fantastic rider but an unimaginative one. Then after a short series of one-off winners, we dove headlong into Pharmstrong’s string of strangled Tours. Not so much the doping, mind you, but the style in which he controlled the races gave us some fleeting excitement until Stage 10 when all interest was wiped from the event with a first-uphill-finish-wiping of the floors. If I’d been the one pushing the pedals, I’d have done it exactly the same way for as long as I could get away with it (minus the degree in pharmacology), but it makes for unexciting spectating. The following uninspiring wins haven’t helped to liven things up much, culminating with the Spider’s number-watching. Again, I have to say that if I was the one staking my career and life on it I’d endeavor to make the margins as big as possible as early as possible. But I’m not racing; I’m here to be entertained, damnit.

Nevertheless, the Tour is the only event of our great sport that peaks the interest of those even outside the sport; its the only time of the year when I get a fresh batch of people to bore with in-depth explanations of the different jerseys, why stage winners aren’t normally winning the Tour as well, and why it’s much more sophisticated a sport than just mashing away at a set of pedals. (My dear Grandmother, Merckx rest her soul, one day remarked that Cycling seemed easier than tennis because you get to sit down the whole time.) The news outlets will comment on the racing (and, infuriatingly, the doping if they are given even the slightest excuse). Then there’s the Live, afternoon, evening, and Prime-Time coverage of the race. All in High Definition. No pixelated streams which always seem to freeze up with 500m to go. Just pure, unadulterated coverage of bicycle racing on our biggest stage.

The Giro may well be the purist’s Grand Tour, but there is nothing like the Tour. And, like a college student on a weekend bender, I’m not giving any thought to the massive coverage-hangover I’m bound to suffer when its all over.

Vive Le Tour, it’s going to be a hell of a month. Vive la Vie Velominatus.

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Guest Article: Joaquim Agostinho Fri, 04 Jul 2014 19:03:22 +0000 agostinhoalpe The Bull

Who learns of their cycling potential while in the military, serving in Africa? @wiscot is once again serving up some great cycling history in his post about  Joaquim “The Bull” Agostinho. As dangerous as cycling seems, surprisingly few professionals get killed racing or training. Agostinho was one of the unlucky few. He was a man for the Tour de France and the Tour is almost upon us so let us reflect on a man who loved the Tour and died racing his bike.

Yours in Cycling, Gianni

Teams are comprised of many components from the mechanical to the human. Bikes, trucks, soigneurs, mechanics, cooks all exist to serve one thing: the riders. The latter are the most visible part of a team and the one that gives the team its personality and insinuates its way into the hearts of the public. Some teams just have a certain aura that others lack. In recent memory the TI Raleigh, Renault-Elf, La Vie Claire, Sky and Omega Pharma are teams that have dominated the sport. (I could cite US Postal, but personally I never warmed to them). However, one team that arguably outshines all these is the various iterations of the Flandria team. Has any team in cycling history ever had in its employ so many stars and bona fide hard men? I can’t think of one. Who wore the iconic red kit and rode the matching bikes? Briek Schotte, Freddy Maertens, Joop Zoetemelk, Marc DeMayer, Roger deVlaeminck, Rik van Looy, Sean Kelly, Herman van Springel, Peter Post, Walter Godefroot and last, but not least, Joaquim Agostinho.

If one name sticks out, it should. All are northern Europeans except Agostinho who was from Torres Vedras in warm, sunny, temperate Portugal. Don’t let the place of origin fool you though, this short, powerful rider was as hard as they come and shockingly deceptive in appearance and ability. Don’t let the wins of Ruiz Costa and Chris Horner lead you believe that Portugal and old age are currently in vogue when it comes to top podium steps: Agostinho stood highest no less than 107 times in his career. Even that simple number is misleading. This was not some young phenom who started wining early. No, Agostinho turned pro at 27 and died (as a result of a racing accident) at 42. A fifteen year career you say? Nope, he retired in 1982 for a year to look after his farm after a fall had wrecked his confidence, yet he came back to win again.

Those impressive victories are a testament to a rider of superb consistency and mental fortitude but also an attitude that saw the bike as a job, as a way of earning a better living than might otherwise have been available. (His one-time teammate Sean Kelly and he would have had much in common: a love of working the land and both used cycling as a way to fame and fortune, but in Agostinho’s case it was a way to secure a farm, not escape it.) Perhaps part of the reason Agostinho saw cycling as a job was that he knew any such career could be short, but that he had other life experiences that put things into perspective. From 1961-74 the little-known Portugese Colonial War raged in the former colonies of Angola and Mozambique. Agostino had obligatory military service to perform and fought in both places for three years. It was this unlikely scenario that propelled him towards the bike as a living. Jean-Pierre Douçot, who became his mechanic as a professional, said: “It was his captain during the war in Mozambique who discovered him. When he carried messages on a heavy bike, he took two hours to ride 50km when the others took five.”

Agostinho was feared by many – none more so than The Prophet himself. Merckx knew that he had to keep a sharp eye on the stocky, swarthy Portugese man; once he went on the attack, you’d better respond or wait until the finish to see him. In 1969, when he and Agostinho made their Tour debuts, Merckx said that the wee man from Torres Vedras was the only one who worried him. He was justified in doing so: Agostinho rode the Tour 12 times, finishing eleven, made the top 10 eight times and stood on the podium twice.

Raphael Geminiani, no slough in dissecting a rider’s potential and character remarked of Agostinho:

“He didn’t know his own strength. He was a ball of muscles of out-of-the-ordinary power. He was built like a cast-iron founder. Having come to cycling fairly late, he had trouble integrating with it. It’s a shame he didn’t want to dedicate himself 100 per cent to being a professional cyclist. Now and then he showed his very great physical powers, but no more often than that. He didn’t want to do more. The peloton scared him, which is why he fell so often. More than that, Tinho was never aggressive enough to impose himself totally. He had a legendary kindness and his only ambition was to be good, gentle Tinho. If he’d been ambitious, he would easily have written his name into the records of the Tour de France.”

Writing in International Cycle Sport in 1984, the year Agostinho died, Pierre Martin wrote of the rider’s frustrating inconsistency and unconventional attitude that Geminiani also addressed: the fact that cycling was a means to an end rather than the be-all-and-end-all of life.

“He loved the Tour de France. There were few other races which he took seriously, indeed he raced relatively little during an average season – enough to pay for and maintain life’s dream, but no more. On the roads of the Tour, nobody ever knew when he would suddenly burst into action. He might be quiet for days on end, when suddenly the racing fever would grip him, not always in the mountains, and away he went. When he went, those with serious ambitions went with him, knowing that, otherwise, they would see him no more until the end of the stage. He didn’t take cycling too seriously. It had brought him wealth and security, had allowed him to buy and stock a large farm about 20 miles from Lisbon. The farm and his family were his life; cycling was his hobby. When he was riding the Tour d’Indre-et-Loire once, news reached him that 20 cows had been stolen. Off he went, in mid-race, back to Portugal to organize a posse to hunt the cattle, chartering a light plane for himself to direct the search.”

If Agostinho should be remembered for a ride that exemplified his unconventional abilities, it’s his win at Alpe d’Huez in 1979. Built like a sprinter, he was paradoxically a superb climber, using his natural strength and power. Unbelievably, the tour that year did L’Alpe twice on consecutive days: first up was 118.5kms won by Joop Zoetemelk in the green jersey making a last ditch attempt to defeat Bernard Hinault. The second day was 166.5 kms and that became Agostinho’s time to shine. On the stage he rode away from the bunch, negotiating each hairpin with grim-faced determination to win by 3:40.

Agostinho died tragically in 1984 at the tour of the Algarve. Near the end of a stage a dog was loose on the course and he hit it, crashing badly on his head. He got up, remounted and finished the stage; after all, he was leading the race. Eventually it was discovered he had fractured his skull and went into a coma, never to regain consciousness. His funeral attracted thousands.

Cycling, like most sports has changed dramatically over the years. Most riders today have come up through the ranks as cyclists and many have known no other occupation. Joaquim Agostinho was Portugese, but his two years with Flandria and their fearsome reputation as a team for hard men was a natural fit for him. For Velominati, professional bike riders are simultaneously people we can admire and try to emulate, but know deep down that we are mere mortals to their god-like status. Agostinho is someone I feel we can identify with: for all our love of the bike, we have other aspects of our lives that sometimes—and often—take precedence. We ride hard when we can and want to, but I think we know that if our cattle got loose, we’d drop everything to get them back.

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Riding Tempo Wed, 02 Jul 2014 22:00:46 +0000 More of this next week? photo-Team Sky More of this next week? photo-Team Sky

Tempo means time in Italian. Riding tempo means riding steadily, like a metronome. It is an important skill to have and since it’s Italian, it sounds cool. What it does not mean is riding at a constant speed, half-wheeling or killing it at the front. Riding at a constant speed is like having cruise control on in a car; the car seems to accelerate on the uphills and rides the brakes on the downhills. One would never purposefully drive a car or ride a bike like that. Riding tempo means riding at a constant effort, ticking over the pedals. Without getting back into the topic of power meters, riding at a steady wattage would be a good starting definition. 

Tempo predates watts or heart rate or even The V-meter. If you are good at riding tempo, then you are good at keeping a group moving along as a group, eating up the road but not shelling riders on every hill the road offers up. Tempo implies some amount of pace. Riding piano is how every flat stage of the Giro d’Italia used to unfold. Riders would roll off the front to visit family waiting on the side of the road; riders would abscond with trays of pastries to be passed around the peloton. Then, with forty kilometers to go, the pace would accelerate endlessly until some Italian threw his arms up in victory. It was as predictable as today’s formula: break escapes, leader’s team rides tempo for a few hours, sprinter’s teams then ride hard tempo to catch break, and a field sprint ensues. I like the first formula a bit more. It is now a rarity for a rider to discuss his personal agenda with the Patron and then be allowed to ride solo off the front for a teary roadside reunion with mom, dad, family and cousins as the race passes through that rider’s village. 

Riding tempo should be a sustainable effort. When your teammate asks you to go to the front and ride hard tempo, that is a different thing all together, or maybe not all together. Someone is going to get hurt now, most likely you, unless you have a few friends to share the work. 

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Velominati Super Prestige: Tour de France 2014 Wed, 02 Jul 2014 19:00:37 +0000 Marcel's tan lines are crisp Marcel’s tan lines are crisp

Attention all Velominati. The Tour VSP is going on line and it should be a good one. Sure, between Froomy and Bertie a person could hedge their bets but Moviestar is all in for Valverde, BMC for TeeJay, Astana for the Shark and Garmin is finally committing to a team leader in Talansky. Some other teams (ahem…Trek Factory Racing for one) have resigned themselves to hunting stage wins. The Tour swings through the Yorkshire Dales, everyone but the riders can enjoy some excellent ales. As the Tour continues to Lille, Norther France and Belgium, the quality pints continue. Yes, it’s hot and the VSP generator has beer on its mind.

The route, the sprints, the climbing and even the final time trial should make this a decent Tour. Here is a start list. Everyone will have a vial in their jersey pocket, but don’t worry, it’s legal.

It is still not too late to win the overall 2014 VSP and we have made it worth your while.

  • First place overall wins a Veloforma Strada iR Velominati Edition frame in addition to the customary VSP winner’s VVorkshop Apron
  • Second place overall wins a set of hand built CR Wheelworks Arenberg wheelset in a custom Velominati paint scheme laced to orange Chris King hubs. (CR Wheelworks is Café Roubaix’s new wheel goods brand.)
  • Third place overall wins a full Velominati V-Kit with accompanying custom orange Bont Vaypor+ road shoes.

Refer to the VSP page for details concerning scoring and rest day swaps. If you want to call yourself Pedro Delgado, you will only have yourself to blame. The VSP banner on the homepage has the countdown clock, refresh your browser and don’t be late. Good luck and good picking.

Provisional Race Results
1. NIBALI Vincenzo
2. PORTE Richie
3. VALVERDE Alejandro
4. BARDET Romain
Provisional VSP Standings
1. oldensteel (35 points)
2. Dave R (30 points)
3. frank (30 points)
4. Two Ball Billy (23 points)
5. slideorama (20 points)
6. BaltoSteve (20 points)
7. RedRanger (13 points)
8. schall und rauch (13 points)
9. Rhodri (13 points)
10. Ron (13 points)
11. John Bau (13 points)
12. Ccos (13 points)
13. Chris S (13 points)
14. justinevan88 (13 points)
15. DCR (13 points)
16. VeloVita (13 points)
17. CJ@178 (13 points)
18. taon24 (13 points)
19. Bianchi Denti (13 points)
20. dyalander (13 points)
21. LIIIXI (13 points)
22. Haldy (13 points)
23. ramenvelo (13 points)
24. dancollins (13 points)
25. Noel (13 points)
26. Tartan1749 (13 points)
27. tony macaroni (13 points)
28. Tom Mc (13 points)
29. dpalazzo (13 points)
30. razmaspaz (13 points)
31. Teocalli (10 points)
32. Timojhen (10 points)
33. Stuart Raybould (10 points)
34. eenies (10 points)
35. TOM.NELS2120 (10 points)
36. HMBSteve (10 points)
37. Patrick (10 points)
38. Bikemeister2000 (6 points)
39. Xponti (6 points)
40. Barracuda (6 points)
41. sthilzy (6 points)
42. simonsaunders (6 points)
43. geoffrey (6 points)
44. piwakawaka (6 points)
45. Shlumpen (6 points)
46. JBailey (6 points)
47. Badger (6 points)
48. Maurice (6 points)
49. ped (6 points)
50. Blah (6 points)
51. ped (6 points)
52. seemunkee (6 points)
53. girl (6 points)
54. CanuckChuck (6 points)
55. Rom (6 points)
56. Duende (6 points)
57. il muro di manayunk (6 points)
58. Nate (6 points)
59. foggypeake (6 points)
60. Domane5.9 (6 points)
61. VeloSix (6 points)
62. JCM (6 points)
63. Lukas (6 points)
64. Fausto Crapiz (6 points)
65. Emsworth (6 points)
66. Yagerbomb (6 points)
67. Steampunk (6 points)
68. blue (6 points)
69. the Engine (6 points)
70. il ciclista medio (6 points)
71. TheDon (6 points)
72. Roobar (6 points)
73. Steve G (6 points)
74. roberto (6 points)
75. Stephen (6 points)
76. Kevin (6 points)
77. The Grande Fondue (6 points)
78. GogglesPizano (6 points)
79. zeitzmar (6 points)
80. Wardy (6 points)
81. therealpeel (6 points)
82. Fins (6 points)
83. RHE218 (6 points)
84. ChrisO (6 points)
85. Heusdens (6 points)
86. Fausto (6 points)
87. xyxax (6 points)
88. xyxax (6 points)
89. Father of Four (6 points)
90. Dave Lominati (6 points)
91. Rigid (6 points)
92. Bat Chainpuller (6 points)
93. el gato (6 points)
94. winterismyseason (6 points)
95. Tobin (6 points)
96. Matho (6 points)
97. Doug Smith (6 points)
98. Al__S (3 points)
99. Vectra (3 points)
100. VeloJello (3 points)
101. godsight (3 points)
102. Deakus (3 points)
103. JohnB (3 points)
104. chrismurphy92 (3 points)
105. Jose Eduardo Storopoli (3 points)
106. unversio (3 points)
107. KW (3 points)
108. Rob (3 points)
109. RossArmstrong2014 (3 points)
110. Buck Rogers (3 points)
111. R00tdown (3 points)
112. Sauterelle (3 points)
113. The Badger (3 points)
114. Neil P. (3 points)
115. MPL (3 points)
116. Floridian (3 points)
117. BoogieStudio22 (3 points)
118. imakecircles (3 points)
119. Erik (3 points)
120. Ralexmiller (3 points)
121. VirenqueForever (3 points)
122. plynie (3 points)
123. strathlubnaig (3 points)
124. Beers (3 points)
125. Mikael Liddy (3 points)
126. Harminator (3 points)
127. Beercycles (3 points)
128. Jay (3 points)
129. Daccordi Rider (3 points)
130. LA Dave (3 points)
131. Knotty (3 points)
132. Geraint (3 points)
133. bunji (3 points)
134. HeinrichHausslersHairstyle (3 points)
135. moondance (3 points)
136. wiscot (3 points)
137. scaler911 (3 points)
138. Minnesota Expat (3 points)
139. BatDan (3 points)
140. G'phant (3 points)
141. AD (3 points)
142. Euro Fluro (3 points)
143. Chica (3 points)
144. norm (3 points)
145. Tim Mathews (3 points)
146. Facetious_Jesus (3 points)
147. VbyV (3 points)
148. Island Bike (3 points)
149. Bill Chris (3 points)
150. eric ferris (3 points)
151. freddy (0 points)
152. TheVid (0 points)
153. DeKerr (0 points)
154. LeoTea (0 points)
155. minion (0 points)
156. Right Knider (0 points)
157. ErikdR (0 points)
158. Dan_R (0 points)
159. Chris (0 points)
160. Bodhi Bacon (0 points)
161. kyle (0 points)
162. Kedan (0 points)

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Velominati Super Prestige: Giro Rosa 2014 Wed, 02 Jul 2014 17:00:11 +0000 Mara Abbott in pink 2013 Mara Abbott in pink 2013

Why are women’s races run concurrently with men’s races? I would get it if it was the women’s Tour de France, but I don’t get it when it is the women’s Giro in July. Since the Tour de Swiss there has been a lack of stage racing (in my TV watching schedule) and seemingly a perfect time to present a women’s stage race. What do I know? Evidently, not enough, but it is here and we should appreciate it, if it is properly covered, which it won’t be, because of the TOUR de FRANCE, FFS.

The 25th Giro Rosa  includes 953 km of racing from Caserta to Santuario Madonna del Ghisallo with starts around noon, every stage, how civilized. American Mara Abbott will be defending her 2013 victory. It was gained on her climbing ability, a skill Ms. Vos has but somehow could not match last year. To be racing in Italy in summer; everyone will be lining up their bikes for this stage race. I imagine the women will be enjoying La Dolce Vita more than the men of the Giro in May. My impression is the women race just as hard but have more fun throughout the days of a stage race.

Podium Café always has some good lead-in coverage for women’s racing here. A provisional start list complete with rider’s twitter and instagram accounts is here, the kids. As we all know, points scored for women’s VSP races count equally for the overall 2014 prizes. Prizes you ask?

  • First place overall wins a Veloforma Strada iR Velominati Edition frame in addition to the customary VSP winner’s VVorkshop Apron
  • Second place overall wins a set of hand built CR Wheelworks Arenberg wheelset in a custom Velominati paint scheme laced to orange Chris King hubs. (CR Wheelworks is Café Roubaix’s new wheel goods brand.)
  • Third place overall wins a full Velominati V-Kit with accompanying custom orange Bont Vaypor+ road shoes.

To be clear on the Delgado issue, the time clock on the VSP banner is it, not the actual start in Italy. Refresh your browser to make sure you are still in pre-delgado status.

Final Race Results
1. VOS Marianne
4. ABBOTT Mara
Final VSP Results
1. blue (19 points)
2. andrew (17 points)
3. xyxax (16 points)
4. JohnB (15 points)
5. Lukas (15 points)
6. plynie (15 points)
7. Rob (15 points)
8. RedRanger (15 points)
9. Blah (15 points)
10. justinevan88 (15 points)
11. taon24 (14 points)
12. il muro di manayunk (14 points)
13. Buck Rogers (14 points)
14. VeloVita (14 points)
15. Sauterelle (14 points)
16. zeitzmar (14 points)
17. LA Dave (14 points)
18. Deakus (14 points)
19. the Engine (14 points)
20. dpalazzo (14 points)
21. Barracuda (13 points)
22. Steampunk (13 points)
23. Stephen (13 points)
24. Ccos (12 points)
25. chrismurphy92 (12 points)
26. CanuckChuck (12 points)
27. TheVid (12 points)
28. Bianchi Denti (12 points)
29. Xponti (12 points)
30. Two Ball Billy (12 points)
31. freddy (12 points)
32. dyalander (12 points)
33. Chris S (12 points)
34. R00tdown (12 points)
35. Erik (12 points)
36. foggypeake (12 points)
37. eenies (12 points)
38. Floridian (12 points)
39. VirenqueForever (12 points)
40. LIIIXI (12 points)
41. Father of Four (12 points)
42. Gianni (12 points)
43. Wardy (11 points)
44. unversio (10 points)
45. girl (10 points)
46. DCR (10 points)
47. KW (9 points)
48. Fins (8 points)
49. BoogieStudio22 (8 points)
50. Yagerbomb (7 points)
51. TOM.NELS2120 (7 points)
52. DeKerr (7 points)
53. geoffrey (7 points)
54. simonsaunders (7 points)
55. seemunkee (7 points)
56. Minnesota Expat (7 points)
57. scaler911 (7 points)
58. Jay (7 points)
59. Kevin (7 points)
60. Ron (6 points)
61. Mikael Liddy (6 points)
62. JCM (6 points)
63. moondance (6 points)
64. Tom Mc (6 points)
65. VeloJello (6 points)
66. Rhodri (6 points)
67. Duende (6 points)
68. tony macaroni (6 points)
69. LeoTea (6 points)
70. roberto (6 points)
71. The Grande Fondue (6 points)
72. Haldy (6 points)
73. Chris (5 points)
74. Nate (4 points)
75. sthilzy (4 points)
76. dancollins (4 points)
77. Beers (4 points)
78. Roobar (4 points)
79. Shlumpen (4 points)
80. Harminator (4 points)
81. piwakawaka (4 points)
82. Fausto Crapiz (4 points)
83. HMBSteve (4 points)
84. TheDon (4 points)
85. anthony (4 points)
86. ramenvelo (4 points)
87. strathlubnaig (2 points)
88. Rom (2 points)
89. il ciclista medio (2 points)
]]> 113
Don’t Make Me ‘Cross Mon, 30 Jun 2014 14:00:51 +0000 'De Snor' on the Kopppenberg ‘De Snor’ crosses the Kopppenberg

Cyclocross could be the most perplexing of all the cycling disciplines. To me it’s  at once the most beautiful and the most unappealing. The beauty comes from the great European races, and of course by ‘European’ I mean ‘Belgian’. The lack of appeal stems from the fact that I just don’t want to do it. It looks hard.

Watching the pros ply their craft is one of the great spectating pleasures. Though all I have to go on is the online coverage of the races, you get a sample of the full sensory experience that comes from a cold, muddy field full of drunken, baying fans yelling their lungs out in what could only be an attempt to ward of frostbite by clapping and jumping up and down for an hour, before retreating to the bar from whence they came to thaw out and top up the already well-stocked beer reserves. Then there’s the riders, who sometimes might feel relegated to bit players in the big show, but in reality are the stars, the heroes, as well known in the motherland of cross as a TV soap star might be in the Colonial backwaters. The skills and fitness of these riders is, I think, superior to any other type of competitive cyclist, full stop.

To be able to go from a standing start, after waiting statically for five or ten minutes in sub-zero temperatures, to sprinting at maximum heart rate, then sustaining it for an hour is truly impressive. Not ony that, but to ride thos inappropriate machines in those crapulous conditions takes a special character. It’s like someone handed you a bowl of dishwashing liquid and an apple and told you to knit a cardigan with it. Skinny tyres, drop bars, shit brakes, off-camber corners, sandpits, fucking running for gods sake, it’s everything that should be kept well away from each other thrown into a blender and then force-fed, and you’re expected to give the thumbs up and a “ooh, that’s delicious” appraisal. It’s fucking ridiculous.

I was talking to friend and Kiwi cross champion Alex Revell over beers last week, and asked how crazy the crowds were and what the tunnel of noise that the riders must navigate is really like. He responded with a look of “well what the fuck do you think it’s like?” before more diplomatically answering in his dulcet manner. “It’s just crazy, it’s so loud it hurts your ears and gives you a headache.” Alex is used to probably more support from the mad Belgians than most backmarkers at a World Cup are accustomed to. After scraping up enough money for an airfare, he threw himself into the Euro ‘cross scene right at the deep end. Armed only with one bike, a bit of free kit and the moustache from hell, he stood out like dog’s balls. Who was this fool from New Zealand with handlebars on his face wider than those on his bike, slipping and sliding around just waiting to be lapped out? He’s our new hero, that’s who!

Back here in Wellington, he can walk down the centre of town and he’d be regarded as just another young guy with fancy facial hair. In Belgium, he’s mobbed for photos and autographs while trying to buy bread. And that’s why I believe cyclocross is a paradoxical discipline; I can sit and watch this year’s men’s World Championship race over and over, and marvel at the classic battle that unfolded. I’ll study the Svenness and Like A Vos videos and get much pleasure and insight from the race analysis that they provide. I’ll go to the local races and heckle my mates as they roll around a park for an hour and I’ll have a great time. But when they repeatedly ask “when are you gonna come race?” or “why don’t you get a bike?”, well I just want to slap them around the chops and ask my own question: “Do I look fucking insane?”

I just don’t see the appeal of pinning myself to within a whisker of a heart attack, on a bike that is sketchy enough just riding on a flat, smooth surface, on terrain that has no appealing features like corners, descents, roots or rocks, in the middle of winter while wearing a diaper filled with what equates to wet sandpaper. I can do that at the local Gentleman’s Club. But damned if all my mates, who ride all forms of bikes, aren’t hooked like junkies on this odd drug. Maybe I’m afraid I’ll get addicted too, such is my personality.

So I’ll resist as long as I can, and keep my belief that cross is fantastic to watch when done by pros in Belgium, but a little bit wrong when done by me, at the wrong time of year in the furthest part of the world away from where it belongs.

For now.



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Guest Article: Saddle Sore Galore or Taint Misbehavin’ Fri, 27 Jun 2014 22:44:33 +0000 Chamois leather Chamois leather

Chamois leather used in cycling shorts looked like this only once, before the first washing. After that one had to slather cream onto it to attempt to restore it to its former soft smoothness, which was impossible. I have written a reverence article on chamois cream and I vowed then to never google “saddle sore images” again, hence a beautiful image of chamois leather. @optimiste remembers this nice smooth leather and all that comes after it.

Your in Cycling, Gianni

Although Looking Fantastic is de rigueur for all Velominati, it is not about adopting a certain style as would a poseur. Rather, it is a byproduct of continually pursuing and applying previously unimaginable doses of The V. The Rules are a guide along this path, but they are not The V, and will not by themselves make one Look Fantastic. Essentially, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

The same can be said for one’s cycling shorts (or bib shorts, which I prefer). In my formative years, I was fortunate enough to be mentored in all things cycling by a friend’s older brother, who ALWAYS looked fantastic, and is still the benchmark I use in that regard. When I donned my first pair of cycling shorts (made of natural materials, before they were considered retro), he was quick to advise me on how to stop embarrassing myself. His advice was akin to the 1980 Calvin Klein Jeans commercial featuring Brooke Shields: “You wanna know what comes between me and my chamois?  Nothing.” I got the point and ditched the underpants/briefs/tighty-whities (which I believe were also made of natural materials).

Nearly thirty-five years later, that advice has served me well. In fact, last season was the first time I ever developed a saddle sore. Looking back, I can trace its occurrence to simultaneously acquiring new bib shorts and a new saddle shape at the start of the season. At first, I thought I was experiencing muscle pain in the groinish area, but stretching didn’t help a bit.

Next, I used a mirror to examine the area in question, which I must say was not at all pleasant. It was clear I had developed a subcutaneous cyst, on the verge of erupting. In all my years of cycling, I had never really used chamois cream with any regularity, but soon became a product tester of just about every brand out there. I wish I could say the Assos stuff was inordinately expensive (so I could quip they should call it Assos for Asses), but it wasn’t. DZ Nuts cost more per ounce and the camphor often made me wonder if I was inadvertently applying embrocation cream to my nether region. Chamois Butt’r was half the cost and seemed to provide some relief, so I slathered it on by the handful. But as with the others, the saddle sore remained.

It was mid-season by now, so taking an extended break from riding was not an option. The greatest relief came by following a teammate’s advice he had received from a former pro he used to ride with.

Teammate: “After every ride, get out of your shorts ASAP and either shower or use baby wipes to clean the undercarriage.”

Me: “No problem.”

Teammate: “Go commando (naked) at bedtime to let things air dry.”

Me: “Awesome!”

Teammate: “And most importantly, after showering, apply copious amounts of Gold Bond Extra Strength Medicated Body Powder (the one in the green bottle).”

Me: “Isn’t that for old or sweaty people?”

Full disclosure: I have no financial interest in this product or its manufacturer, just that it’s awesome.

In less than two weeks, the saddle sore relented; however on rides longer than 120 kilometers, I would still feel a twinge of discomfort return. It wasn’t until early spring this year, while inspecting my bib shorts, when I noticed an unusual wear spot on the edge of the chamois. The chamois turned out to be slightly smaller than my previous one, and it seems I not only dress left, but also ride a bit left in the saddle as well. Purchasing new bibs wasn’t an immediate option, so I pushed the saddle back a touch and removed the chamois edge from the equation. Complete relief at last.

I use chamois cream (of various brands) regularly now, but in far less quantities. I am thinking of buying stock in Gold Bond. And since I’m not constantly bothered by the pain of a saddle sore, I can focus on applying The V, as I willingly enter the pain cave, in my continuing pursuit of Looking Fantastic from the inside-out.

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Rule#74 Conundrum Wed, 25 Jun 2014 20:01:03 +0000 SRM prototype power meter SRM prototype power meter

Maui Velominatus Dave is Tapering for this Saturday’s Cycle to the Sun. It is more mass start, time trial to the sun as there is nothing like 3.3 km of continual climbing to sort everyone out by their power to weight ratios. After 2 km of climbing there is no pack and no draft. Everyone climbs as hard as they can and almost everyone is riding alone. 

Dave has been training like a bastard. He doesn’t have a coach but he does have a power meter and an analytical mind. As we talked about his up-coming race he could not contain himself any longer, “I don’t know how you and Frank can train without power meters. They are fantastic. They make your bike an extension of your body.”

What? I had never considered this as a possibility. Isn’t this something we all want; the rolling centaur? This is a feedback loop: the brain to the legs to the cranks to the strain gages to the head unit to the eyes to the brain. The bike is getting involved here. The bike is telling you how hard you are riding it. Dude. 

Presently I’m just riding with a V-meter. I’ve used heart rate meters and cyclometers but got tired of seeing how slow I was. I wanted to simplify; I wanted an unadulterated ride. Also, I obviously didn’t want to formally train anymore, just do rides that I barely made it home from. Is that training? To quote Roy Knickman*, “you are what you train.” His admonition is something Abandy should take to heart; if all you do is train in the mountains, that’s all you are going to be good at. I might have been just training to barely make it home but really it was not training. Training should be more work and less play. 

 We all need cycling goals. We all need something to get fitter for, even if the goal is as simple not to get shelled as quickly on that same climb. 

Let us be very clear on the idea of training rides versus other rides. A training ride may not be too much fun and most importantly there should be a clear plan for what will happen, see Rule #71. This is where the power meter has to shine; it is the most reliable, direct and accurate instrument for monitoring effort on the bike. The prices are coming down and the model choices are going up. Here is a nice amateur guide for them. 

The head unit stays at home on the weekend group ride to the café and back. That ride is why you did the training ride(s) earlier in the week. Don’t try to mix the two or you will be abused. We do the training rides so we can drop our friends on the weekend, that’s what friends do. And nobody wants to be accused of staring at their power meter when they should be looking where they are going, no matter how well they ride.

I am intrigued by the concept of the bike becoming more of an extension of the body through the power meter. Does this violate The Rules? Does this make you a stronger cyclists?

*Who is Roy Knickman? American Hardest of Hardman of the 7-Eleven and La Vie Claire era, FFS. 

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Sur La Plaque, Part Trois: Monkey in the Middle Mon, 23 Jun 2014 19:42:48 +0000 The irresistible Sa Calobra in Mallorca. Photo: @roadslave525.

Climbing is something I enjoy more than I am good at it; any time I see a new road pointing up to the heavens, I find myself irresistibly drawn to explore where it leads. Every season I come to the conclusion that my training routes are all very hilly and I arrive at the brilliant idea that I should plot out a new course which seeks out the flattest roads in town, allowing for an easy spin every now and again. As I ride happily along my new, rolling route, I will notice a twisty road snaking its way toward the sky and I will be helpless to resist exploring it. Before long, the route is as hard as any of the others. I simply can’t stop myself seeking out new climbs.

The beauty of climbing is found in its contrasts, in the beautiful duality of suffering and being in control – of burning muscles which somehow still feel strong and powerful. At 80 kilos and 193cm I will never be a good climber, but there is a magic zone of gradients between six and eight percent where I can get the guns turning over easily despite the pressure in my lungs and legs. At those gradients, I can feel myself sitting steady in the saddle, raising out of it occasionally to keep the gear ticking over or to offer some respite to my muscles. Beyond eight percent is a zone of gradients upon which I never feel comfortable; to maintain the tempo requires all my concentration; I feel the hill clawing at my jersey, pulling me back down to the valley. I can never seem to find the right cadence in this zone; either I’m spinning too much or I’m falling behind the gear. But beyond 12 percent, I find a renewed strength; despite my grotesque weight I am somehow still able to find the power to keep the wheels turning round. At these gradients there is little you can do apart from pushing on the pedals; skill and elegance have less little to do with it than does being stubborn and a bit dim.

The Prophet once said that to ride a time trial, you should start as fast as possible, and finish as fast as possible. When asked about the middle, he said to ride that as fast as possible. And so it is for climbing. In part one of Sur La Plaque, we examined how to ride the end of a climb; you go as hard as you can. In part two, we examined how to approach a climb and how best to tackle the base. Again, you go as hard as you can. We left it a mystery as to what one should do when riding the middle of the climb. Guess what? You go as hard as you can.

The middle part of a climb is mentally the hardest. At the top, you can easily wrap your mind around what needs to be done: push as hard as you can and embrace the lactic acid as it floods over you; the effort will be over soon enough. The bottom can be intimidating, but you are generally fairly fresh, though you may need some time to find your rhythm. The middle is where you settle in and focus as concentration and momentum mean everything. Breathing deeply in harmony to your cadence, the key is to make sure you don’t lose your concentration as you and your bike are urged to slow ever down by the Man with the Hammer’s loyal servants: Gravity and Fatigue.

The loss of tempo happens very gradually as a gear that was smoothly turning over begins to move a little heavier. In response, the cadence slows ever so slightly until finally you need to shift gear. It is a never ending cycle that leads irrevocably to plodding along in the lowest gear. Combatting this process takes complete and total focus. Concentrate on the rhythm and your breath, and if the gradient kicks up, rise out of the saddle to keep the pace up. If the gradient requires a downshift, do so before you fall behind the gear; once you allow yourself to become overgeared you will be on the back foot for the rest of the climb.

Climbing through the monkey in the middle is as much about mental strength as it is physical. Find a steady, fast tempo, and commit everything you have to maintaining it. Also, for the purposes of this article, Sur La Plaque is a state of mind more than it is a chain ring. And also remember that the only reason Merckx invented the inner ring is to give us a place to store the chain while replacing the worn-out Big Ring.


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Legal Doping: Musings from the V-Bunker Fri, 20 Jun 2014 23:03:19 +0000 Un Caffè Un Caffè

I’m not even talking about all the pseudo-asthmatics out there, vaping their way to better breathing. My breathing is just fine. It’s my little citron sized heart that is slowing me down. Is there a street-legal injection or vacuum pump for heart enlargement, or a trip to a doctor in the Congo that would transplant a badass Mandrill heart for me? That would have to improve my uphill sprint. The transplant shouldn’t be illegal; possibly unwise- but not illegal. I digress.

We can’t all do up a block of training on Tenerife so I rely on un caffè, an espresso. This is legal doping at its finest. One can do it in public. There is no shame attached to drinking an espresso with your teammates before a ride. Faema, a company that Eddy Merckx rode for is still in business, in the espresso business. It’s sort of like Amgen, a producer of EPO sponsoring the Tour of California. The UCI limit is 12 micrograms per ml in urine which is a lot of espresso, like ten of them. That much espresso would just make one a wild slavering beast (a mandrill for instance) who would burn very brightly and then be found trembling in a ditch when the lights went out. I’m sure there are some kermis racers who get all jacked on coffee and burn up the course. That might be the only way to actually dope with caffeine; a race that only lasts an hour and never slows down.

If I enjoy a pre-ride espresso, am I doping or am I just feeding my caffeine monkey (or mandrill) that rides on my back and needs to be serviced? It’s not effective doping if you dope every day of the year,  just to get to nine AM, is it? My dose is just to get me back up to baseline functionality. I can’t even tolerate much caffeine in the middle of a long hot ride. After dosing mid-ride, I get a very uncomfortable hypo-glycemic out-of-body experience and my brain detaches. My brain and eyeballs floats above and I can see that poor suffering bastard down below, with the pre-adolescent sized heart, barely in control of his bike. 

I will, on occasion, do a morning ride sans caffè. Some rides start too early in the morning for me to even think about brewing up and sometimes the ride’s terminus is a café so I hold off. It is never good. A long climb without coffee is much less fun than a long climb with a little caffeine pumping around the nervous system. That small does of caffeine makes the sweating, front wheel staring, and bartape chewing so much more fun and interesting. A jour sans (coffee) is no fun unless one is into a ride so exciting and exhausting (and that started before sunrise) that the lack of buzz is completely unnoticed. Espresso and climbing go well together. Is that why the Colombians are excellent climbers? Espresso and cycling are a good match, like cycling and beer. I’m not saying one needs to develop a coffee or drinking habit to be a cyclist. If you already have them, chapeau, here is a sport that embraces both, completely. 

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Motoman Wed, 18 Jun 2014 19:44:26 +0000 Bob 'Hurricane' Hannah circa 1977 Textbook Bob ‘Hurricane’ Hannah circa 1977

Before Tomac and Ned, before LeMond and Big Mig, there was Bob Hannah. For a young lad obsessed with motorcycles as well as bicycles, the ‘Hurricane’ was the epitome of style on a bike. His bright yellow Yamaha YZs and matching head-to-toe kit set the bar and inspired me to emulate not only his style on the bike, but off it too. If only I could sport those long, flowing blonde locks now…

Motocross in the 70s and 80s was somewhat how mountain biking in the 90s was.  The technology stepped up rapidly, with suspension travel and shock design developments allowing the bikes to corner as well as go like a bat out of hell on the straights. From my first bike, a YZ80B (yellow of course) with its twin coil shocks, drum brakes and steel frame tank to my last one, a Kawasaki KDX250 with Uni-Trak suspension, alloy frame and disc brakes, the difference in performance was more night and day than the 10 or 15 years it actually was. The same could even be said with road bike technology from as recently as the late 90s/early 2000s.

Just as Tomac brought style, flair and function to mountain biking with his fast and flowy riding, skin suits, disc wheels and custom painted helmets, so too did Hannah with plastic boots, body armour and his own range of kit and products. And like Tomac, he could back it up on the track. Every photo in every mag I saw, he just looked fantastic; head always in the perfect position, leg extended in the berms, a bit of turn bar over the jumps. I’d try and ride my YZ and my 20″ Dragster the same way.

Today, there’s a lot of crossover between moto athletes and mountain biking and BMX. The moto helps develop confidence at speed and in the air for most of the top downhillers, and the fitness that comes from pedalling is embraced by many motocross stars. My formative years on two wheels were shaped by a healthy mix of the two, and while I haven’t kicked over a two-stroke for a long time, the skills learned and the parallels between infernal combustion power and legs and lungs still resonates. But mainly it’s just cool to look back at photos of a golden era.

How many here have a moto background, or still ride?



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Urban Riding: The Sanctity of the Bike Lane Mon, 16 Jun 2014 19:01:34 +0000 Stay on your toes: you’re in the bike lane now.

There was a time when the world was painted in hues of black and white. Right and Wrong were separated by lines painted in such a thick, heavy paint that even to wander close was to already alter your very nature. The Elders taught us on which side we were to dwell and what evils would descend upon us if we were to transcend into the void. Little was known of what dwelt on the other side; the mind imagines the most horrific beasts in the unknown.

As Cyclists, we dwell in the space between black and white; everything we know is confined within the shades of gray that exist between two absolutes. Nowhere is this more true than when we subject ourselves to the roads to ply our craft at the mercy of motor vehicles, pedestrians, and the department of transportation’s ability to place potholes and manhole covers in the most inopportune locations. A moment’s inattention and our fortunes could shift dramatically.

The bike lane is shrouded in an air of false security. The white line painted a few meters from the edge of the road offers little by way of providing a barrier or any other kind of physical protection. Nevertheless, we wrap ourselves in a blanket of wishful thinking and pedal merrily along our way. The biggest problem with the bike lane is the total disregard that people, traffic, and road crews have for how few options we have outside of our narrow strip of tarmac in the event that the way is blocked, often unaware of the dangers their behaviors impose upon us. These are normally not intended as threats; it is simply a lack of exposure and appreciation of the risks we as Cyclists endure. In the spirit of Rule #3, I will outline some of the greatest risks.

  1. The bike lane is not a turning lane. In many cases – at least in Seattle – the bike lane will be sandwiched between traffic on the left and a parking lane on the right. Traffic will use our humble strip as a turning lane, or use it as a runway for their futile efforts to parallel park.
  2. The bike lane is not a parking lane. If there is no dedicated parking lane, the bike path serves double duty for this purpose in the eyes of the driver. I have had the unpleasant experience of entering a suddenly stopped car through its rear windshield; it is an experience I prefer to limit to a single occasion.
  3. The bicycle lane that was crossed in order to park your car may occasionally contain a person riding a bicycle. Please look behind you prior to opening your door.
  4. Bike lanes are not construction tool collection areas. Cones, shovels, gravel, loitering workers have all sent me diverted into traffic. What’s so attractive about using the bike lane for this purpose? Surely the grassy bit between the sidewalk and the street is equally suitable.
  5. Please repair the tarmac with the same care given to the car lanes. I understand that water mains, power lines, and sewers might need to be accessed by way removing the tarmac in the bike lane. But that lumpy patchwork with the long seam along the edge that runs parallel to the direction of travel is lethal.

Too many Cyclists are being killed doing what they love. We all understand what we risk and accept those rather than not ride our bikes, but I think I speak for all of us when I say I’d rather live to ride again tomorrow. We all have to come together with our fellow motorists to understand how best to work together. But most of all: be careful and diligent, my fellow Cyclists.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

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Guest Article: On VMG Fri, 13 Jun 2014 20:01:37 +0000 In pursuit of the wind… Photo:

I hate to distract from Marko’s defense of his POC helmet and shades photo but @snowgeek is weaving cycling and sailing together here. It may never have been done before so please read carefully. The two activities have almost nothing in common except the wind and being wet and miserable. @snowgeek is not dwelling on the wet and miserable part. 

Yours in Cycling, Gianni

There is a concept in the sport of sailing called apparent wind.  It is the wind that you and your boat and your sails experience – the sum of the true wind speed and direction and the boat speed and direction (vector sum, for the geeks in the crowd). This is vaguely relevant here, as cycling is commonly employed in explanation of apparent wind to those not familiar with the concept, usually in some form akin to, “When riding your bicycle on a calm day, the apparent wind is from directly ahead and equal to your speed.”

I introduce apparent wind primarily as a subtle diversion, to make a preliminary connection between the sport of sailing and the sport that is the focus (locus?) of Velominati, to soften the blow, as it were. What I really want to discuss is this, there is a term in sailing called VMG. It stands for Velocity Made Good, and refers to the portion of a vessel’s speed (and direction) that gets it and its passengers closer to their destination, (I suppose the remaining speed and direction is velocity made bad?)

(Even the least astute in this crowd will at this point have already done the mental substitution, and inserted into VMG the concept of The V in place of Velocity.)

To continue, sailing vessels use the aerodynamics of sail shape and the hydrodynamics of hull shape to progress forward through the water, the basic details of which often preclude sailing directly toward one’s destination, either because it is directly upwind, or because one could get there more quickly using a faster point of sail (direction relative to the wind).

By example, if one’s destination is directly downwind, but your boat sails faster 120 degrees to the wind instead of directly 180 degrees downwind, it may be faster to get where you are going by not sailing directly there (sailing, like cycling, is an endeavor virtually overflowing with metaphor) – total elapsed time is reduced by sailing a longer, but faster course, whereby VMG is maximized.

By concentrating on maximizing VMG (there are GPS-based computers that calculate this for you in real-time), one is accounting for all the vagaries of wind speed/direction, boat speed/heading, currents, and boat performance on different points of sail.

Enough explanation. Most of you are already well ahead of me here, so let me put it to you bluntly:

When you are laying down The V, how much of it is VMG? Are you at Mach V?

I, for one, being perennially two months from being not Too Fat To Climb, tend to express proficiency in inefficiency even when I am shopping at the Five and Dime. My VMG in most cases is a fraction of what it could be, in stark contrast to the truest displays of mettle which are lore around these parts.

Yet, could we not define all effort expended in pursuit of The V as VMG? I propose that Made Good, in cycling (as opposed to sailing), be defined less in terms of a physical destination as in terms of pursuit of the state of being that is epitomized in LVV – and therefore every effort to make a deposit in The V-Bank is VMG.


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The Cycle of Style Wed, 11 Jun 2014 18:44:44 +0000 af13
There are two ways in life to be good at something. The first way is the most obvious, which is to actually be good at something. This is harder than it sounds because you need things like skills, talent, fortitude, and light sabers. The other way doesn’t require those things but it has its own challenges; basically, you have to be holistically awful at the sort of levels that make all the suck turn inside out on itself until it becomes awesome. American Flyers did that, and the fashion industry routinely uses this principle to their advantage, regurgitating fads and styles first as kitschy retro cool and then tricking us into thinking it actually looks good.

Cycling has happily been immune to this because our aesthetics were driven by function first through advances in technology; never in our history have we been so advanced that we felt the inclination to revert a step or two simply for the novelty of going backwards. The Velominatus may well be inclined to look to steel frames and three-cross box-section wheelsets for their durability and ride quality, but that is a luxury that we as amateurs enjoy without the demands of racing at the top level of our sport where events are won by fractions of percents gained through marginal advances in technology.

But apparently we’ve reached the stage now where Cycling style is being influenced by kids helmets and skateboard attire. I went for a ride with a good friend a few weeks back who was riding in Giro’s new baggy line of clothing. It flopped around like a sail in the wind generated by our own speed, and basically sent him backwards in the breeze that was blowing in along the coast. It looked good in the café before the ride, I have to admit, but last time I checked, Cycling clothing was supposed to be designed for Looking Fantastic while riding, not while sipping a doppio macchiato. (But let’s not understate the importance of looking good while sipping an espresso. We are not animals.)

And the helmets. There are accounts supported by doctored photographs floating around the internet of me wearing an ugly helmet, something I categorically deny ever happened. Nevertheless, let the record show that the lids the Pros are wearing these days are an abomination of style, culture, aesthetics, and progress. My Aeon is so light that I had to put on a few extra pounds just to make sure it doesn’t carry me off when I go outside. And guess what? It’s actually well-ventilated which means my sweet shades don’t fog up when I climb like the Evade makes them do. (Theoretically, of course. Because those photos are fakes.) And speaking of shades, I’m wearing a pair of Oakleys with photosensitive lenses that go from completely clear to black anodized depending on the light conditions. Also well-ventilated. That’s progress right there.

Riding a bike wearing an ice bucket on your head in baggy shorts and shirts with aviator sunglasses isn’t fashion forward, it’s Cycling – the most aesthetically independent sport in history – taking its cues from kids who think a long skateboard is an effective way to navigate through traffic. There may well be white space in the market for it, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be filled. We are the Velominati and we have standards, for Merckx’s sake.

Oh, and seriously, enough with the fucking beards. Rule #50, people. Sometimes you’ve just got to stand up and say we look like hell and I’m not gonna take it any more!

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Velominati Super Prestige: Tour de Suisse 2014 Wed, 11 Jun 2014 07:57:13 +0000 Need more cowbell!  photo: Moses Mexia Need more cowbell! photo: Moses Mexia

The Tour de Suisse can be everyone’s warm-up for the Tour de France, including all you VSP dreamers. The big show seems to be the Critérium de Dauphanié this year, as far as Tour de France contenders go but the Tour de Suisse still has some big guns showing up. Twiggo is here, not for a Tour warm up, unless people are worried about Richie Porte’s lack of form. If Wiggins was drafted, we would have the potential for another Stephen Roche-Roberto Visentini affair. That would be the best but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Swiss tour is a proper mix of time trialing and climbing but one might lose more time in the climbing than the time trialing. Rui Costa, the defending champion, has the need to win in his new white kit. Twiggo may have a need to win just to make Sky management sleep badly between now and July. Cancellara has won his home tour but he would need some special mojo to win this one. The racing may well be more interesting than the Critérium de Dauphiné as the eventual winner most likely won’t be decided on the very first day.

As always, look to the countdown timer to avoid a Delgado situation. Here is a start list.

Prizes, we remember the prizes don’t we?

  • First place overall wins a Veloforma Strada iR Velominati Edition frame in addition to the customary VSP winner’s VVorkshop Apron
  • Second place overall wins a set of hand built CR Wheelworks Arenberg wheelset in a custom Velominati paint scheme laced to orange Chris King hubs. (CR Wheelworks is Café Roubaix’s new wheel goods brand.)
  • Third place overall wins a full Velominati V-Kit with accompanying custom orange Bont Vaypor+ road shoes.

Final Race Results
1. DA COSTA, Rui
2. FRANK Mathias
3. MOLLEMA Bauke
4. MARTIN Tony
Final VSP Results
1. Rhodri (17 points)
2. GiantBars (17 points)
3. roche kelly (17 points)
4. Jay (17 points)
5. LA Dave (17 points)
6. VeloJello (15 points)
7. Rom (14 points)
8. tony macaroni (12 points)
9. Gianni (12 points)
10. Minnesota Expat (11 points)
11. zeitzmar (11 points)
12. Yagerbomb (11 points)
13. William Blasingame (10 points)
14. LeoTea (10 points)
15. il ciclista medio (10 points)
16. Nate (9 points)
17. il muro di manayunk (9 points)
18. dyalander (9 points)
19. bunji (9 points)
20. BoogieStudio22 (9 points)
21. Geraint (9 points)
22. Father of Four (9 points)
23. The Engine (9 points)
24. wiscot (7 points)
25. therealpeel (7 points)
26. scaler911 (7 points)
27. moondance (7 points)
28. Mikael Liddy (6 points)
29. The Grande Fondue (6 points)
30. Blah (6 points)
31. foggypeake (6 points)
32. habswin1 (6 points)
33. LIIIXI (6 points)
34. sthilzy (4 points)
35. VirenqueForever (4 points)
36. Steampunk (4 points)
37. freddy (4 points)
38. JCM (4 points)
39. JohnB (4 points)
40. Wardy (4 points)
41. RedRanger (4 points)
42. blu (4 points)
43. VbyV (4 points)
44. Ccos (4 points)
45. HMBSteve (4 points)
46. Fausto Crapiz (4 points)
47. Fins (4 points)
48. eenies (4 points)
49. Haldy (4 points)
50. TheVid (4 points)
51. VeloVita (4 points)
52. xyxax (4 points)
53. unversio (2 points)
54. Bianchi Denti (2 points)
55. Barracuda (2 points)
56. Kevin (2 points)
57. TOM.NELS2120 (2 points)
58. andrew (2 points)
59. Dr C (2 points)
60. KW (2 points)
61. roberto (2 points)
62. DCR (2 points)
63. Buck Rogers (2 points)
64. Erik (2 points)
65. ramenvelo (2 points)
66. Teocalli (2 points)
67. geoffrey (2 points)
68. justinevan88 (2 points)
69. plynie (2 points)
70. dancollins (2 points)
71. oneninefiveninesix (2 points)
72. Steve-o (2 points)
73. Rigid (2 points)
74. anthony (2 points)
75. Tom Mc (2 points)
76. Albert Lam (0 points)
77. Shlumpen (0 points)
78. Chris (0 points)
79. Island Bike (0 points)

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In Memoriam: The LBS Mon, 09 Jun 2014 13:48:00 +0000 4a26689a Metzger Bicycle Shop, Detroit City Gas Co, circa 1912. Photo: Detroit Publishing Company

There was a time when I held down ‘real jobs’. Jobs with (a little) stress, with (some) responsibility, but without soul. And while dealing with the great unwashed public never held much appeal, I always envied the guys who worked at my preferred LBS. They seemingly had it all––an endless supply of cheap bikes and parts, hanging out and shooting the breeze with other riders, and getting the heads-up on the latest and greatest developments and industry gossip. It was the epitome of the dream job for a bike rider.

They weren’t just the guys who fixed my bikes and sold me parts at mates’ rates; they also became my friends outside of the shop environment. We’d go to the pub, to parties, and to see bands. We had more in common than the obvious bike factor.

One of the guys had started out as a shop rat straight out of school, then eventually branched out and started his own shop with another riding mate. While I was spending my nights getting trashed and playing in a punk band, my empty daytime would be spent sitting around in the workshop, swapping tales from the road and picking up some tips from the mechanics on how to tweak my bikes. When anyone was sick or had to go away for some reason or another, I’d be asked to fill in. It was almost a real job, but one that was just as much fun as jumping around on stage at night.

With business starting to boom, necessitating a move to larger premises, I was offered a full-time position. Of course I took the opportunity. After all, I was always spending my paltry band earnings on bike bits anyway. The more successful the shop became, the more time the boss would spend away from it, buying expensive clothes, driving his fast car and chasing even faster women. His business partner must have seen the writing on the wall, and promptly sold his share.

The brother of the now sole owner was recruited to look after the financial side of things, while me and the mechanic looked after the sales and service sides. Now, the brother, being an ex-used car salesman, had the gift of the gab. But he didn’t know a lot about bikes, and not much more about business as it turned out. Most mornings he’d turn up to work looking dishevelled, reeking of cigarettes and booze, complaining of another hangover. He’d gruffly send one of the BMX groms, who hung out in the workshop, down to the takeaway to get him a bacon and egg roll and a Coke.  “Make sure the egg’s not runny,” he’d always bark at them. When the roll would inevitably contain a less-than-firm egg, the groms would hastily make their exit under a hail of abuse. One of the part-timers would gladly retrieve the discarded mess from the bin and scoff it down. The mechanic and I would get much entertainment from this.

By early afternoon, the hangover would be too much for him (and us) to endure, and the lure of the pub and its poker machines would be even greater to resist. We’d offer our helpful advice, encouraging him to take a few bucks from the till and go and enjoy the afternoon. His arm was easy to twist. We’d then be free to get the repairs done, play some music we actually liked and ride the scooters around on the concrete floor, honing our tricks and seeing who could wheelie the furthest and do the longest skids.

Thursdays were late trading nights, and usually they were pretty quiet, especially in winter. Left to our own devices, we’d invite mates and girlfriends around, grab a 6-pack or two, and have a little party before hitting the pub after we shut. The empty bottles littering the workshop combined with the aggressive music blaring probably scared any customers that ventured in, but we were usually too baked to notice, or care.

Meanwhile, the boss’s car was becoming way more pimped, his hair was falling out due to constant trips to the salon (and from the stress of his failing business, no doubt), and suppliers were reluctant to supply because they weren’t getting paid. We still were, but increasingly in cash, which was likely so they could avoid paying tax on our wages.

Not surprisingly, the shop went under only a few years after its inception, with the brothers returning to the used car game, never to be seen again in the bike industry. But looking back at those memories, I know that they were some of the best years of my working life, even if it was obvious our days were numbered and we’d soon be looking for alternative employment.

Today, the LBS is a dying breed, and only when it’s finally extinct will we realise that we helped kill something very special. I hope it doesn’t come to that, because the best memories aren’t going to come from hitting ‘Add To Cart’.

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Walk Don’t Run Fri, 06 Jun 2014 20:22:22 +0000 Outta the way, fatboys! Outta the way, fatboys!

That any cyclist can enter the same arena with the same equipment as the professional helps to make cycling an awesome sport. True, the same thing could be said for golf or tennis but as a fan you can’t stand a meter away from any of those pros and scream encouragement. “Come on Tiger, RIP THAT FUCKER!” And if you attempt entry into Wimbledon wearing a super-fat inflatable sumo wrestler outfit, good luck to you.

Just because you can does not mean you should. Fan behavior has spun out of control on the Grand Tours. I breath a sigh of relief when the riders make it to the protection of the barriers toward the top of each mountain stage. I swear it started with Americans, as usual, during the Tour of California. People were dressing up and acting obnoxious, in hopes of getting on tv. Obviously this has been going on long before the Tour of California but before it seemed these were spectators who were there to watch bike racers go by yet felt compelled to dress up like giant…somethings. At TOC it was all about themselves. 

Now that behavior has spread to Europe, perhaps it is Americans on vacation but we can’t afford to travel anymore so I’m afraid the cat is out of the bag. Literally, I saw a giant cat pawing the air at the Giro. 

Obviously I don’t understand any of this and I sound like a crank. So be it. I love watching a bike race from the side of the road and I am usually silent, mouth agape when riders go by, holy shiet, they are fast, they are skinny. I approve of yelling and cowbells. I don’t know what compels people to run along side a rider and scream into his or her face. Why?

I have huge respect for professional cyclists, maybe more than they deserve. They are the current embodiment of all the pros that have gone before them. I can’t cheer Fiorenzo Magni going by, and I wouldn’t ever want to get so close as to disturb his line. I afford any current pro the same respect and fully endorse any racer who stiff arms some drunken fan who gets too close.

Here is my starter list for fans that need to be held in small tents with drunk Dutch when the riders pass by. Oh, these people have had their chances and they have abused them.

Cheap bastards who use the tv coverage for their cheap motor home ads

Religious nuts who flash biblical verse toward the tv moto

That guy with the antler helmet

The human sized bike bottle fool

The devil, that’s right, he has had his run

The inflatable sumo people

The four year olds running unleashed 

I think we should not crush the ambitions of the Borat-in-mono-kini crew, I don’t know what drives them but somehow, for some unknowable reason, I like them.

Some argue professional cycling is just entertainment, adults riding bikes, but I know there are many cyclists out there who see it as more than just entertainment, it’s, in some way, a reflection of life, and it deserves a little respect.

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Reassessment Wed, 04 Jun 2014 14:30:15 +0000 This. photo: Stefan Haworth This. photo: Stefan Haworth

Maybe it’s the milestone of aging that I recently reached. It could be an awareness of the unique foibles of this sport/activity/pastime that I practice. Possibly, I just woke up one day and realised that this is a weird thing for a middle-aged man to be doing. The time for reassessment hit me, involuntarily and without warning. And I’m in a bind over it.

I’m sure I’m not the only one here who is over half a century old… of course the big man Gianni is a few more years advanced than I, and nothing seems to have phased his resolve to continue doing what he has done for so long. Like a priest who suddenly thinks that maybe this whole God thing is a crock of shite, I too am ruminating on the concept of Cycling and what it actually is to me, what it provides for me, and how it affects my everyday life. Thing is, my everyday life is 100% Cycling.

Over the summer, I rode my mountain bike a lot more and my road bikes a lot less. There were some outside factors affecting my decision, if it actually was a decision. The lack of a Keepers Tour meant that my previous two summers of avoiding the dirt through fear of injury was no longer a concern. A new bike that was just a total blast to ride meant that it was more often than not the one I reached for when trawling the shed for a steed on any given day. And the requirement, nay, duty, nay, obligation… oh fuck it, the desire to Look Fantastic was waning inside me. Not that I shirked my responsibility in this department, after all, I am not a savage.

When it came time for the inevitable road FRBs after weeks of dirty indulgence, The Mirror was sending me mixed signals. Everything was perfect kit-wise, but underneath the cloak things were decidedly less than neat and trim. Was I becoming a parody of everything I stood for, the very person whom The Rules was meant to be guiding? I started to get if not an understanding, then an empathy with the general population who sees not a late 40s guy in better shape than they, but a shaved-legged, sweaty poser clomping around a café in ballet shoes and clad in a thin layer plastered in logos that leaves way too little to the imagination. I was becoming the guy I hated.

So much so that I began thinking of giving it away. Not Cycling per se, but the Lycra, the cafés, the duelling with tonnes of metal piloted by those who, if given the chance, would gladly run us right over just so they can make it to the supermarket 15 seconds quicker. It seemed that mountain biking, even though there are more variables in terrain to catch you off guard, more obstacles placed in front and all around you waiting to rip skin from bone or even shatter those very bones, was a far safer option. And while not really of the opinion that mountain bikers can wear whatever the hell we want (once again, not savages), at least there is a modicum of modesty afforded by baggy shorts, loose(r) fitting tops and shoes you can actually walk in. Hell, the thought of actually growing my leg hair back seemed appealing.

But not for long. Luckily, I have a good support group of riding friends, who share my passion for both tarmac and dirt. They know how much the tradition, the purity of the road means to me, and rather than let me concede defeat, encouraged me to continue to fight the good fight. The turning point came last night, when our regular Tuesday after-work ride was being discussed throughout the day by email. Who’s in, who’s out, why? I had an overwhelming proclivity that a bunch of guys who predominantly wear black, even in the dark of a winter’s evening, choosing to do battle with peak-hour traffic for the simple pleasure of riding a bike seemed a little, well, crazy. They could’ve belittled me, questioned my manhood, or even outright insulted me, but a few words of encouragement, underpinned with empathy of my thought processes, helped me realise that this is just what we do. So we did it.

And it was good.

So very good, that I wanted to do it again today, something that has been weeks absent. Ok, I went for a mountain bike ride, solo, but the joy of being on my bike was the same as I felt last night, last month, last year. And as I reached the top of the peak, a group of different friends were there, almost by some twist of fate handed down from Mount Velomis. We descended together, and while they knew nothing of the inner demons that I was slaying on the way down, they were well aware of just how much fun I, we, were having.

Never forget the reason we ride. The answer is in the question.

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The Curse of Four Millimeters Tue, 03 Jun 2014 02:01:18 +0000 This isn’t the height you’re looking for.

I don’t know how a guy who shows off the better part of a half meter of seat post comes to the conclusion that his saddle is too low, but that precise thought occupies an enormous amount of time. Ever closer looms the minimum insertion point on my seat pin, yet I am irrevocably bound to explore its limits.

I actually wish my legs were shorter; long legs are only useful for the anorexic models who distort our youth’s self-image and for skipping steps on staircases. At the same time, I’ve spent the majority of my life wondering if my seat post was slipping; has my saddle always felt this low? In previous years, I have known better; the question will claw its way into my mind, usually when I’m struggling on a climb, and I will look at the strip of tape I’ve stuck around my seat pin just above the clamp and note that it has not curled up due to the pin sliding through. The saddle is at the right height.

These days, I’m riding a fi'zi:k seat post and fi'zi:k seat posts come with this cool little sleeve to mark the height. It works perfectly, apart from the fact that it doesn’t curl up like the lowly electrical tape does; were the seat pin to slide, the sleeve would simply side with it. Which means I have to judge the distance between height demarcations on the post to decide if it’s slipped or not. It used to be higher; I’m climbing this badly because the saddle slipped down a bit.

These are easy lies we tell ourselves; that the lack of performance is borne of a problem in our setup – our position or our equipment. Merckx was famously obsessive about seat height, why shouldn’t I be? I just make a Casually Deliberate stop at the roadside, swiftly raise the saddle a bit, and stage a Cyclocross Remount – the only way a Cyclist should ever board their bicycle once the ride has begun.

But then I got better at judging the marks on the fi'zi:k post, and was sure it wasn’t sliding. But still my power was waning and surely it wasn’t my form because I’ve been riding like a thing that’s been riding a lot. Perhaps my position on the bike is evolving, perhaps I should reconsider my stem length and slide my saddle forward to get more over the bottom bracket. Except that I’ve ridden happily in roughly this position for years – and in roughly the same form.

Then came the rains; they had been lacking this Spring, almost to a fault. It had been several weeks or even a few months since I’d been astride my Nine Bike. I set off, and was struck instantly by how comfortable I was, how fluidly the pedals were spinning, and how easily I gobbled up the climbs. Was I peaking today instead of in the usual Two Months, or was there something more sinister going on? There was no question of longer stems and saddles sliding forward; I had the usual sensation that I was in my element, that I was born to be in this position on two wheels and that walking was a locomotion I was leaving behind in my short-lived evolution as a human being.

Knowing the geometries of the two bikes – #1 and The Nine Bike – are virtually identical, I decided to revisit the measurements on #1. I measured the Nine and checked them against #1; the only difference was that the saddle on the #1 had crept up a whopping 4mm. Four millimeters over a saddle height of of 830. I climbed aboard her and set off, amazed at how good she felt. Immediately the power was back, the inherent comfort of riding a bike returned.

All over a lousy 4mm.

Fellow Velominati: we are all students of La Vie Velominatus. We must look to the future and seek to evolve; to experiment with new positions, new techniques, and with new technology. But we must also look to the past and recognize what worked well, when did change affect how well we ride our bikes or how much we loved it? To recognize the boundary between the evolution within us as athletes and to adapt to what feels good over time and those that erode our capacity as riders can be difficult. Sometimes we need a Sensei to help us recognize the difference, other times it will come to us through solitary meditation.

Embrace change, but also keep it at a distance. We should always be ready to return to the past and rediscover what worked before and apply it to the chance we face in the future. Vive la Vie Velomiantus.

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Guest Article: Proposed New Rule #96, the Marcellus Rule Fri, 30 May 2014 12:20:40 +0000 Roof racks Rule.  photo-Honda Roof racks Rule. photo-Honda

This note arrived to the Velominati Bunker back in April. It was a confession. It was a cautionary one. Everyone knows someone who has done this. I nearly did it myself*. I replied to Alex, not sympathetically enough yet his message has stayed with me. Is this worthy of a New Rule? 

Yours in Cycling, Gianni

Dear illustrious members ,

I wondered if the members had a Rule for irregular removal of bikes from roof, off vehicle? I feel the need to explain a little incident that occurred after picking up my two Specialized bikes from storage after having moved house.

Both  bikes  were sitting comfortably on the Thule roof rack and we were making good headway back to my new residence in Bourne end. I had both my boys in the car and was a little distracted with a conversation with my eldest. Mentioned in the conversation was the issue of lunch. So it made sense to pull into Waitrose to get a bite to eat. Err need I go on? We entered into Waitrose at a good speed.

There was a horrendous noise that I cannot describe and still haunts me, followed by the sound of breaking glass as both bikes and roof rack hit the ground after briefly entering the boot through the rear window.

Some of you will remember an incident, many years ago, to a chap called Marcellus. I remember thinking I would never be stupid enough to drive my car through a barrier with a bike on top of my roof. Well I have exceeded this by wrecking my bike and my girlfriend’s bike. oops

Training is on hold for the moment.

Proposed Rule #96 -Twatting your bike.

Driver and also owner of bikes on roof of car, removes bikes from roof of car by driving through a barrier. Owner of bike shall be referred to as a twat until bike has been replaced, or repaired. Exceptions are if wife or girlfriend is driving car in which case a possible conspiracy theory may have to be investigated. This confirms the need for Rule #12: the number of bikes owned should be N +1. You can at least be sure of a spare available.

Waitrose are suing me for damaging their barrier


*Two identical Alan CX bikes on the roof of my car as I delivered a racer to the airport after he won the cyclocross nationals many years ago. Luckily the handlebars lightly hit a warning sign as I ripped into the departure drop off. Had that gone badly, I would have had to find another sport.

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The Fire and the Moth Wed, 28 May 2014 22:58:00 +0000 The Prophet enroute to Pra Loup." width="620" height="473" /> Bernard Thèvenet and The Prophet enroute to Pra Loup.

In my journey through life, I’ve been struck by the near universal existence of the competitive spirit amongst people. Even people who claim not to be competitive in nature are seemingly competitive about how uncompetitive they are. I’m more uncompetitive than you. We find it everywhere, between old friends and perfect strangers alike; during official tournaments or imaginary ones. The Commuter Grand Prix is a perfect example as the hairy-legged, YJA-wearing horde thunders from stop light to stop light, each trying to beat the others to some imaginary finish line.

It’s a curious thing where this competitive drive comes from for each individual. It appears to me that there are two principle types of competitive energies: one which burns by a flame borne of a desire to become the best and one of a desire to be better than others. It seems on the surface as though those are the same thing because competition is always about fighting over a single place within a hierarchy. But some people seem to compete out of a desire to be as good as they can be and use winning as a measure of success. Others seem to compete out of a desire to demonstrate that they are the best and use winning as proof positive. I admit it’s a hopelessly thin line, and I’d forgive you if you stopped reading right now, if you’ve even managed to wrestle your way this far.

I’m not a psychologist, but as a Dutchman I understand perfectly well that being loud and stubborn is all you need in order to talk about things you know nothing about. Both types can be incredibly fierce competitors, but those who focus inward often seem able to find a sense of satisfaction in defeat when they’ve competed at their maximum and come up short. They may well be disappointed or even angry at the thought of losing, but they will try again, and they will keep fighting and work to get better based on a willingness and desire to overcome their failings in previous attempts.

Those who focus outwardly typically hate losing, no matter how well they performed. Excuses will be made and others will be blamed in an attempt to justify to others (if also themselves) why they lost. I might even be tempted to perform the Standing Broad Jump of Logic (if you can accuse any of this of being logical) and suggest that externally focussed competitors are more likely to cheat than internally focussed ones because an internally focussed competitor would feel first and foremost that they are cheating themselves before others.

As Cyclists, we fly like moths to the fire of competition. The Pros are the extreme, and I personally wonder if the choice to dope or cheat is fundamentally made easier or harder based on where the core of each individual’s competitive spirit rests. We know now that all sorts of athletes dope and cheat, but how close we fly to the flame and what we are willing to sacrifice along the way to winning might be a function of where we find satisfaction in competition.

I love the heat, I love the things that I forgot

I loved the strings that tied me down and cut me off

I was a king, I was a moth with painted wings made of cloth

When did the flame burn so high and get so hot?

- Chris Cornell, Moth

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Reverence: Pedro’s Bike Lust Mon, 26 May 2014 17:24:28 +0000 Glossy shiny goodness thanks to Pedro’s Bike Lust

I met a nice character a few weeks ago on a magnificent ride through the Bay Area. He rode a Colnago C-50 which was so filthy that I was unable to ascertain with any degree of certainty what color it was painted. I spent most of the ride suppressing the impulse to lead him and his bike through a local car wash. As it turns out, he’s based out of Asia, and the monsoon which is in full swing has the  effect of turning white bikes black on the roads surrounding his adopted home of Hong Kong, which I always thought was an ape but apparently is also a city.

I’m what some people might call “obsessive” about keeping my bike clean. Even my Nine Bike gets a thorough washing if not after each ride, then at least after every other. A clean bike is easier to maintain, shifts more precisely, brakes better (if for some reason you want to go less fast), and the components wear more slowly. Not to mention that a clean bike is a beautiful bike. The secret to being able to clean your bikes often is a fifteen minute cleaning routine which I’ll detail another time. For now, lets leave it at having the right brushes and tools in place to quickly and easily get into all the hard-to-reach areas on a bike.

For many years, I assumed I had reached the high water mark in bike cleaning. Ego, it would seem, infects us all at one time or another. To quick I was to believe that cleanliness is godliness. There I sat, lonely upon my high horse of pride and arrogance, until my friend Charlie on Maui introduced me to a product called Pedro’s Bike Lust. And just like that, I was sent back to Earth in the knowledge that I still had much to learn.

This stuff is incredible; it sprays onto carbon, steel, aluminum, or rubber. It cleans and wipes off without leaving any residue. A little bit of rubbing and it brings out an as-new polished finish, covering and filling small scratches – it even diminishes the big scratches caused when, hypothetically speaking, your bike is blown over in the wind on Mount Saint Helens and scrapes along some jagged volcanic rocks. Hypothetically. I also spray it liberally on my saddle, which makes it very slippy and good for sliding forward and back as-needed for crushing fools.

At this point, I’m a complete junkie; I can hardly resist a little bump before each ride, just to get my head right and make my bike gleam beneath me as I set out on my ride. The only downside is the silicone-covered surface makes it harder for grit and mud to stick to the frame and show off how hard core your Rule #9 ride was.

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Anatomy Of A Photo: Point And Shoot Fri, 23 May 2014 20:13:14 +0000 Joe-Breeze-Repack

“You ruined a heap of photos!” Not the words you want to hear when the photos in question are ones you didn’t shoot, but were in. “How?” “You’re too low, too compressed.” At least he didn’t say I was ugly. “And you’re ugly.”

When you work with professional photographers, you pick up a few tricks of the trade along the way (and then reject them, it seems). ‘Ride slow, look fast’ is a favourite tip, but usually just ends up with me looking like someone who is slow and desperately trying to look fast, but just looking slow. Getting your elbows, knees, ass and eyes all pointing in the correct (but completely different) directions is something that comes easily for gifted riders, and not at all for the rest of us.

Joe Breeze don’t need no tips on how to look perfect for the camera. He just tells the photographer where to stand, then lays down a one-take lesson in feet-up drift cornering technique that remains the benchmark to this day. His clothes, hair and moustache, well they deserve a complete chapter in the Book of Cool all their own.

Modern mountain bikes may have come a long way, but clothing could do worse than take some cues from the 70s (not just for biking, either). This is the way to dress for a ride. Just make sure you’ve got Breeze-perfect form to back it up.

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Maglia Nera Wed, 21 May 2014 12:15:41 +0000 Bartali and Coppi on the front of the Giro. Bartali and Coppi on the front of the Giro.

On our trip to Paris, my wife and I, in need of culture, rode The Vélib bikes to Cycles Laurent. This was our first French bike shop visit and excitement was high as we navigated our helmetless headed way through the city traffic. 

The shop is a classic; it’s crammed with bikes and clothes. There is no room to move. My wife immediately dove into the sales bin and came up smiling with a Pinarello maglia nera jersey in her size. What is the maglia nera jersey? It’s the lantern rouge of the Giro. For a brief period it was an officially awarded  jersey, which led to riders hiding in bars and behind hedges to finish last. Giovanni Pinarello was awarded it in 1951 and here it was reissued. Maybe Giovanni was hiding in bars or maybe he was just hanging on like grim death on every stage and barely made it to Milan. Giovanni Pinarello was the last official owner of the jersey. Riders and fans alike disapproved of a contest for last place and 1951 was the final year of the maglia nera. Since then, riders don’t try to finish last but they do try to finish.

When asked by Cycle Sport magazine what he would like his epitaph to be, he said “Here lies Eros Poli, famous for being tall and coming last in the Giro d’Italia”. -wikipedia

 This is a man who won an Olympic gold medal, a most incredible climber’s stage in the Tour de France, and an amateur TTT world championship. 

Unless one is actively hiding in bars and riding with a calculator to always finish within thirty seconds of each days time limit, finishing last means one is barely finishing each mountain stage, tailed off the grupetto, fighting to beat the time limit, on more than a few days. 

When is finishing the Giro last not an embarrassment? I would say every time. There is a select subset of humans that could ride the Giro at the speeds it is ridden and finish it. Nearly every day a rider climbs into the team car, most likely in tears, exhausted, ruined, crushed. Their number comes off their jersey, it is reported to the commissar and that rider cannot start the next day. But there also must always be a rider who just barely makes it to the finish during those mountain stages, in tears, exhausted, crushed and is back out there the next day. To finish in Milan, even in last place must be infinitely better than not finishing. 

Finishing any event last is always better than not finishing.

If I was awarded that jersey, I’d wear that into every bar and restaurant for the rest of my natural life. That’s right fools, I finished the Giro, d’Italia, we covered 3500 km at an average of 37 km per hour. I’ll take my free vino rosso right over there, grazie.     

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European Posterior Tubular (EPTB) Mon, 19 May 2014 19:25:45 +0000 EPMS." width="620" height="465" /> The European Posterior Tubular, tied on by a toe strap. This ain’t no EPMS.

The divisive nature of Rule #29 is not to be underestimated. It is but a humble satchel, but our rejection of its use sends people completely out of their minds. One fine gentleman even threatened my editor at Cyclist Magazine with cancellation of his subscription on the basis that they published an article wherein I espoused the virtues of going EPMS-less. If I recall correctly, the reader felt my writing was, “a black eye on an otherwise flawless magazine.” Some people, it appears, really love their saddle bags.

Nevertheless, the truth remains: they are ugly and there is no need for one if you choose your tools carefully and maintain your bicycle appropriately. Granted, if you prefer an al fresco lunch mid-ride and therefore require room for a baguette, some brie, and a nice bottle of Burgundy, you may require more than a jersey pocket. Similarly, if you are of the mechanical inclination that requires you carry a press for on-the-road headset replacements, you might also require some additional storage. That said, if your mechanical skills are at a level that your bicycle is in such a state, I might argue that carrying a cell phone and an emergency contact list is really all you need because the tools are unlikely to help.

But I digress. Ugly though the EPMS may be, it is obviously perfectly acceptable to tie a spare tubular tire under your saddle. This is for the obvious and irrefutable reason that riding tubs is for the more cultured Velominatus and strapping a tire under the saddle is the traditional way the Europeans have handled carrying a spare tire ever since they stopped carrying them strapped over their shoulders. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by the fact that a European Posterior Tubular is often mistaken for an saddlebag. One is a nod to our heritage, the other an abomination sense and style. Trust me on this.

But carrying a spare tub does pose a challenge: how do you roll it up into a small enough package that it (a) doesn’t sway (b) doesn’t rub the insides of your pistoning guns and (c) doesn’t fall off and get tangled up in your wheel.

The first two are a matter of what style of tire to carry. The natural inclination is to carry a spare tire identical to the ones you are riding on your wheels, but that is likely to be a 23 or 25 mm tire and will be rather bulky when rolled up. Instead, the spare should be considered an emergency tire intended to get you safely through the rest of your ride; you’ll be pulling it off and gluing it on properly when you get home, so it can be chosen for its folding size and weight rather than to match it to the tires you normally ride. Then comes the question of how to roll it up into a tiny package which can be neatly strapped under the saddle (see photos). Finally – and I learned this the hard way – if the tire does come loose over some unusually rough roads (say, washboards on a high speed gravel descent), you will want it to stay in the small bundle rather than unwinding and getting tangled in your back wheel.

European Posterior Tubular Guidelines:

  1. Find a light, 19mm tubular tire. I use one by TUFO; it has no inner tube so it is skinny and light and rolls up tight.
  2. Pre-glue the tire and follow the below procedure to roll it up (photos).
  3. Wrap an industrial strength rubber band around the tire. This will keep it in its rolled up bundle with or without a toe strap, meaning it will stay in said bundle even as it tumbles from your saddle.
  4. Us a leather toe-clip strap and a leather toe-clip strap only to affix said tire to saddle. No pouches, not fabric straps. Make sure it is tight and secure the loose end of the strap.
  5. Respond to all accusations of violating Rule #29 with a defiant but tempered disgust which subtly hints that the accuser is an unsophisticated clincher rider who doesn’t understand the greater nuances of our sport.
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Ride Report: SFO Book Signing Sun, 18 May 2014 17:42:49 +0000 The Golden Gate into Cycling utopia. The Golden Gate into Cycling utopia.

Last week we completed the second stop in the tour for our book, The Rules; The Way of the Cycling Disciple. For the first two, we partnered with Rapha to do a five-to-six hour ride and then sign the books at the shop afterwards. In both cases, I was amazed by the quality of the riding and by the ride leaders themselves, Robert in NYC and Eric in SFO. Between the two, I have to say SFO takes the crown for an amazing ride outside a city; the views were stunning, we got to ride up a gravel road up to Mount Tam, and rode like howler monkeys on fresh tarmac on the way down. 

Another great bonus from the ride was that I finally got to meet @Nate, who has been part of our community since 2010 or so. We’ve had several near-misses over the years but this time it finally worked out. He and Bicycle Time‘s editor Gary Boulanger took me for a lovely ride around the bay on Friday and a nice dinner in Cow Hollow. It was great meeting two longtime friends in one sitting. The next day was 100km covering about 2020 meters of climbing along breathtaking scenery with a great group of riders. Here is @Nate’s report from the ride and signing.

Yours in Cycling,


The Rules booksigning juggernaut rolled into SF last weekend, in the person of Keeper Frank. I’ve been trying to get @frank down here for a ride for a couple of years, and it finally came to pass.

Friday evening Gary Boulanger and I took Frank for a ride over the Golden Gate Bridge. Once we got off the bridge I thought we’d be out of the wind, but there was still a good bit of it. Thankfully we had the Dutch Monkey with us to punch a hole in it. There were some postride refreshments but no staying up till 1 am drinking this time around.

Back at the San Francisco Rapha Club on Saturday morning the Giro was being shown in HD on two large screens, and espresso was consumed. @HMBSteve was there, along with a large contingent of Rapha club ride regulars. In celebration of the Rules, the start of the Giro, and the recently-offered Rapha Pantani jersey (beautiful piece of kit, if you have the scalatorissimo to pull it off) we had some serious climbing on tap.

After a briefing by Eric, our able ride leader, the group of about 30 headed out, once again across the Golden Gate Bridge. Our double paceline soon found itself strung out on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais. The second half of the climb was on Railroad Grade, a gravel fire road, which was a blast – feasible on road bikes, but in sections you had to pick your line, and often the surface was quite rough. The only thing for it was to hammer as hard as possible so as not to lose momentum.

After a stop at the top of the mountain, we descended to the ocean, rode along the coast, worked our way back over the flanks of Mt. Tam, and headed back to San Francisco. Passing through the Presidio, Eric took us by the headquarters of Lucasfilm, where Star Wars obsessions were duly indulged.

Back at the Rapha Club, @frank, aided by some Chimay, signed every copy of The Rules in the club. It was very cool to see how the Rules resonate with so many fellow cyclists, whether they have only recently taken up the sport, or have been at it for most of their lives. And it was a blast to share our fine local roads with @frank.

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Guest Article: Willem’s Experience Fri, 16 May 2014 17:51:05 +0000 Start 'em young. The Junior Dropouts Cycling Team as an example. Start ‘em young. The Junior Dropouts Cycling Team does.

This guest post was sent to us from Frank’s sister about her son Willem. When I read the post I was thinking Frank’s sister had written it and that all Stracks have the same dreamy cyclo-centric writing style, damn them all. But, as usual, I was wrong. Frank’s sister did write this:

This was written by my friend Dan, who took Willem with him on the Rough Ride in Washington, VA …

I had the pleasure of meeting Willem and his dad in NYC during the book signing at Rapha. They were in the city for the Five Boroughs of New York City ride the following day. Willem is a fourteen year old bike racer now.  At dinner he wolfed down his pasta and loaded up on bread. He was loading the guns (if fourteen year olds are allowed to have guns). 

Many of us wished we had discovered bicycle racing earlier in our lives, so I was thrilled to meet a funny, smart, bike obsessed  fourteen year old who is, of course, a Velominatus. 

Yours in Cycling, Gianni.

As I sit and the warmth begins to re-enter my extremities, I reflect on the day’s ride. It was cold, it was wet and it was everything that makes cycling so great. Emotions are fluid when you are on a bike. They move from high to low for a myriad of reasons, or for no reason at all. Rarely do we ever see this fluid within ourselves when on the bike. We are too taken by the excitement or brought down by our bodies failing us when we need them the most. Today I was able to see from the outside the emotional journey of a young rider as he rode through and conquered his first competitive ride.

As Willem mounted his bike and the start was moments off, I saw the butterflies trying to escape from deep in his belly. He was wide-eyed and nervous as the race started. He settled into his saddle and got comfy with the peloton and I asked if the butterflies were gone yet. His grin said ‘yes’ but his words said ‘no.’ Ah, the conflict between his body and mind had begun and Willem was yet to realize it.

Malfunctions of any kind can take even the most seasoned rider out. Willem discovered this as he battled with his Road ID, which refused to stay cinched. Finally calling out in frustration, we stopped and he secured it in his jersey pocket…all he could muster was “We have to make up this time.” I smiled as we rode off.

Elation filled him as we passed a more seasoned cyclist. This was Willem’s race and so it was his pace. We knocked along at a good clip, along some rollers and descents. He was riding high as the rain came down. His face was clear…nothing was going to stop him! Then the climbs hit us. Willem was about to meet the Man with the Hammer. It’s crushing, the first introduction, because it seems to not be when you expect him. Along a cat-4 climb I saw The Man riding side-by-side with Willem, ready to strike and seemingly pulling at his bike back down from where we rode. At the top it was clear; elation was an emotion that Willem would not see again for a long time.

Another cat-4 climb and a turn that was either never there, or missed by his navigator, had this fine young man on a tight rope. Everything in his body said that he had enough, but he trekked on, following unquestioningly the person he trusted to know the way. Again I say “not marked” but when you’re on the side of the road and feel lost, blame is irrelevant.

Soon enough the correct route was discovered and the final emotion of the day, the best emotion of the day, was revealed. Willem experienced it crossing the finish line. All the climbs, all the pain was instantly gone. Nothing but pure pride in knowing he did something that most can’t or refuse to try. I joked with him after the race; years from now the seven extra miles will become a century. I hope that I am around to hear the story first hand. I am humbled to have been allowed to experience this with a true cyclist during his initiation into the world of racing, and the worlds of pain, frustration and satisfaction they can bring.

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On Rule #59: Hold Your Line Wed, 14 May 2014 23:07:40 +0000 LeTour

Anecdotal research suggests that people are being let off-leash without adequate training to perform basic activities such as walking on sidewalks or through airports and busy city centers. I’m assuming this expands to shopping malls, but I never go there so I can’t be sure. It’s easy to blame the mobile phones which apparently grow from our hands, but even when no phone appears to be involved, the same problem exists: people wander about without any apparent awareness that anyone else might be in the vicinity.

Take, for instance, the gentleman who wandered off the Plane Train at SEATAC airport the other day. As he detrained, he stopped to investigate which of the 4 identical escalators best satisfied his fancy. I’m not one to criticize someone’s escalator scrutiny – you can’t over think these sorts of things – my issue is with the choice to stop just outside the exit of the train, completely unaware that he was blocking the way for the other passengers still left on the train.

It isn’t that these are bad people. We’re a product of our society and society teaches us that being a self-absorbed asshole is the right way to go about your life; there’s no limit to what you can accomplish when you don’t give a flying fuck about how those accomplishments impact other people. Which brings me back to my original point: we’re not getting the right training in order to avoid being assholes.

Riding a bike in general and riding in a group in particular teaches you all sorts of things about external dependencies and the trickle effect that our actions have on those around us. Rule #59 extends beyond just riding in a straight line, but to riding predictably and informing those riders who are dependent on you of dangers and obstacles. Cyclists develop a situational awareness that becomes second nature with practice.

I therefore propose that we modify our free-ranging policy to include a provision that mandates all humans be required to take a bicycle racing class and spend significant time riding in a group at speed before being allowed into the wilds of society. Don’t change your line when walking on a sidewalk without peeking over your shoulder. Don’t stop dead in your tracks without checking if someone is behind you. Don’t take a right-hand turn without warning when driving in the far left lane. Don’t block doorways. Don’t knock people in the head when you’re walking with a 2×4.

And for the love of Merckx, take off your headphones.


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Getting Dropped Mon, 12 May 2014 21:59:29 +0000 Phil Anderson tries in vain to hold Le Blaireau's wheel. Phil Anderson tries in vain to hold Le Blaireau’s wheel.

I can can feel his cold breath on my back, like a shadow drifting through an alleyway. He’s not yet upon me, but the Man with the Hammer is lurking nearby. I’m not even sure he has the intention to strike; he’s just staying close, cruelly reminding me that my fate is in his hands.

I feel the heaviness in my legs from the first turns of the pedals as the road tilts upwards; its not the usual resistance that I know will spin out once I find my rhythm because finding my rhythm will be impossible when the pace is as it is. I’m not on the rivet yet, but the pressure foretells my future; no graceful arcs of the pedals, I’ll soon be pedaling squares in search of the power I need to hold the wheel in front of me.

The pitch changes, not steeper but the change disrupts whatever grasp I had on the rhythm and the gap opens a bit. Handlebars are chewed and the gap is closed again, for now. I know it, and the shadow knows it: this is a temporary fix, not a long term solution. The end is coming, but I’m determined to hold it off for as long as possible. The next symptom is that I can’t find a gear that works, I’m shifting constantly, back and forth between the same two gears trying to find the magic ratio that lets me hold the tempo more easily.

All the shifting of gears has broken my concentration and I as I look up I discover I’ve let the wheel go without even noticing it. The shadow reminds me that I hadn’t even cracked yet but I let it go just because I let my tired mind occupy itself with a detail like what gear I’m in when what really matters is pushing on the pedals. The price I pay is more handlebar chewing and clawing back onto the wheel. The effort means the end is just drawn that much closer, but still I will do anything to delay the inevitable.

I’m starting to wonder if I’ve dug too deep already, that if after the inevitable happens will I be able to limit my losses? Maybe the smart thing to do – I try to convince myself – is to let go and find a steady tempo to ride to the top. If I do that, I can probably bridge up on the false flat at the top, or on the descent. Failing that, I’ll catch them back on the flats.

But there is no catching back after letting go; it is the reality of our world. These are just the things we tell ourselves in order to face the harsh reality of getting dropped. The only thing that truly exists is the fact that I will be dropped, and that there will be a long, lonely road home.

The wheel in front moves a few centimeters ahead. I see it and push harder on the pedals but still the gap opens. It is only a meter now, but it might as well be a kilometer; the wheel is gone and I am alone.

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The Swanny Fri, 09 May 2014 19:30:52 +0000 Coppi gets the treatment from his blind soigneur, Biagio Cavanna (Photo: Olympya/Olycom)

Behind every great rider, there’s a great soigneur. The right hand man, the go-to guy, who tends every whim of his rider, feeding, watering, mending and massaging. Behind the humble Velominatus Regularus, however, there’s a string of injuries, tight muscles, bad posture and aching guns. We are our own soigneurs, and if you’re like me, that’s not a great thing.

Heading towards a half century on the earth and most of that on two wheels, you’d think an old dog would pick up plenty of tricks along the way. Basics like stretching and self-massage, drinking plenty of water, and not as much beer are learned early, but virtually ignored totally. I never stretch; no matter how many times I’ve been advised to, I just seem to lack whatever disciplinary gene that encourages me to put aside half an hour after a ride or whenever I feel tight (ie always) to roll around on the floor and pull a few limbs into strange positions. After particularly long or hard rides, I might give the hammys a cursory tweak in the shower or rub the legs a bit once out. I have one of those trigger-point rollers, but it hardly sees out from under the bed. It feels good and no doubt helps, but it’s just way too easy to flop on the couch with a beer and zone out on the idiot box.

As I increasingly find it harder to get out of bed, or walk up the stairs (there’s about a hundred to my house) it seems the only time I’m comfortable is when I’m on the bike. As soon as I dismount, I’m like a foal with a hunchback trying to take its first steps. But it’s about time to get real and help prolong an injury-free riding life. I see guys my age or even younger nursing injuries and think maybe I’m just lucky, and surely my time will come if I continue my lax routine. The same care that goes into my bikes needs to go into myself. Stretching every day, maybe some core exercises, self massage after rides, might even try some yoga.

And my own swanny.

My friend Josh, a recently graduated massage therapist, has offered to try and ‘sort me out’ with a round of treatments over the next month or so. When he asked what area needed work, I replied ‘everywhere’. As he’s been gently reminding me for years that I need to stretch, he knows what sort of state I’m in and what I put myself through on the bike. It’ll be interesting to see what regular massage can do for a regular Cyclist, even if it’s once a week rather than the everyday luxury of the Pro. And if nothing else, I hear there are some pretty good looking women at the yoga place…

I’ll keep you posted over the next few weeks as to my progress. What sort of self-soigneur techniques do you all employ, if any?



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Something Beautiful Wed, 07 May 2014 13:49:12 +0000 Despite the proclivity towards being all-knowing that comes as a consequence of my being Dutch, the most beautiful things in life are discoveries that come as a result of not knowing. We are quick to answer but slow to think; the easy solution lies at our fingertips while the true mystery lurks […]]]> <a href=Graveur" width="620" height="377" />

Despite the proclivity towards being all-knowing that comes as a consequence of my being Dutch, the most beautiful things in life are discoveries that come as a result of not knowing. We are quick to answer but slow to think; the easy solution lies at our fingertips while the true mystery lurks just beyond, ready to reveal her secrets if only we are willing to venture into the unknown. Beauty is found in the journey, not the destination.

As Cyclists, we start our journey with the simple joy of pedalling a bicycle and escaping the clumsy limitations of bipedal locomotion – walking quickly loses its luster when you can pedal a bike instead. First we pedal to explore the limits of our range, then the limits of our speed. Finally, we pedal to explore the limits within ourselves as speed and range are tested together.

When we free ourselves from the confines of our local and familiar roads and point the bicycle towards parts unknown, we rediscover the childish beauty of exploration that came when we first started riding a bike. Not knowing what lies around the next bend is a mysterious sort of riding completely different from the regimented training we have become accustomed to. The familiar pressure will be there in our heart, lungs, and legs, but with it will come an element of nervous excitement at the anticipating the unknown. Whether we encounter a dead end or a gravel road; none of it matters in the scope of discovery.

One of the amazing things about a competent rider aboard a bicycle is how much distance can be covered in a day. After 8, 10, or 12 hours away, we can look at a globe and see the stretch of land we covered. The mind will be tired from the effort from having pushed the body and wondering about what will be coming next. The body will be empty, the lungs will have that familiar tension from supplying oxygen-starved muscles with fuel. The look in the rider’s eye will be one of the exhilaration that only comes as a result of total exhaustion.

We need this sort of emptiness in order to feel fulfilled. There is something beautiful to be discovered when we push into the unknown.

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The Rules Goes on the Road-NYC Mon, 05 May 2014 17:46:11 +0000 What's wrong with this picture? What’s wrong with this picture?

Here are a few lessons learned while in New York City.

  • I’m sure leaving a bar at one o’clock in the morning is not how the serious riders prepare for a ride with a 9 o’clock morning roll-out. I am sure.
  • Conversational pace for a group ride means different things to different people. Eddy could talk your ear off at 40kph.
  • Lezyne mini-pump owners, listen up. Grease up those aluminum threads on your pump. It’s inflating effectiveness is diminished when the inflator tube is corroded in place and the group disappears up the road.
  • @xyxax is the single best draft I’ve ever hunkered behind, until he wasn’t.
  • Signing books and interacting with strangers is better with pints on the book signing table.

The Rapha store is an excellent place to begin a ride. It’s a killer bike shop with no bikes for sale. Once in the door there are ample places to rack a bike. Behold beautiful espressos, fresh croissants, bike racing projected on a whole wall, seats, tables, a WC, and evidently some nice kit for sale too. They are welcoming to riders who just want to hang out for a coffee and watch a race. Did I mention it has two Belgian-style beers on tap? It is a beautiful place. 

Saturday dawned sunny and warm. The Rapha Club-Velominati Saturday ride was on. Riders assembled, the place filled with carbon wheeled beauties, Rapha clad youth and us. The V-Kit stood out in contrast to the understated Rapha colors. I outfitted Frank with the oldest and heaviest bicycle there. It was a thirty year old steel bike with heavy but aero aluminum wheels. The best part was it was geared for Roubaix when we were riding Flanders; it had a 44 tooth inner ring and a mostly inaccessible 23 tooth inner cog on the back. I was hoping it might slow him down but it didn’t, nothing does. 

The ride was awesome. Some of us represented the kit better than others, let us leave it at that. Our Rapha Club leader, Rob, did a beautiful job getting thirty-plus riders out of Manhattan and eventually back, safely. He is a stud. 

The book signing was heart warming; people buying The Rules and us writing something obnoxious in it, for them. Riders were coming into the store and whipping out their copies for us to sign. The New Jersey boys drove two hours to join us on the ride and buy a pile of books. It is simply amazing to me: this Velominati community which has grown across the world, all people who love to ride the bike. To meet some of them at a Keepers Tour, or Cogal or in the Rapha store, it makes this whole endeavor worthwhile. 

The San Francisco Event is happening this weekend and I encourage all nearby to venture into the city for the riding and signing. 

Mr T was bold enough to shoot photos while riding. Grazie for sharing.


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Velominati Super Prestige: Giro d’Italia 2014 Mon, 05 May 2014 12:00:58 +0000 Johan Vandevelde wears a snow helmet on the Gavia during the '88 Giro. Johan Vandevelde wears a snow helmet on the Gavia during the ’88 Giro.

For the simple reason that the Cobbled and Ardennes Classics are behind us, I have not alternative but to get back on my soap box about the Giro being the best of the three Grand Tours. Well, usually, at least. Last year’s race sucked the big one (even if it was supremely Rule #9), but for the most part it is the race that is the most closely contested of the three. There are mountains everywhere Italy meaning there are less bunch sprints, the weather is completely unreliable, and the slightly lower calibre of rider seems hungrier. Or maybe the reduced pressure means riders aren’t quite as stressed out and are able to funnel that extra energy into the race.

My favorite Giro is a hard one to pick out, but its either the 1988 Giro when Andy Hampsten took the win after freezing himself stiff with Erik Breukink on the Gavia or when Pantani took his in 1998. I’ve been watching the ’98 Giro during my morning turbo sessions and Merckx-oh-me, that was an All-Drugs Olympics nail-biter. ’98 is also an interesting contrast to ’88; in just a decade, the technology had changed so much but more than that, the doping atmosphere in the sport transformed completely. From Hampsten’s Giro, EPO went from just being dabbled with on the fringes to being abused by leaders and domestiques alike by the time Pantani won. Hampsten wrote a nice piece about racing against dopers in Tyler Hamilton’s book, The Secret Race. He described the various side-effects that the popular drugs of his era had, such as bloating and a tendency to make the user over-estimate their abilities. Amphetamine made the riders do stupid things, cortisone made them retain water, and steroids made them heavy; a clean rider could use those factors to their advantage. A far cry from the rocket fuel that allowed humble domestiques to big ring up major alpine passes.

Why am I talking about drugs? There’s a race starting in a few days, people! This is our first Grand Tour, and the picks are worth more points, not to mention that strategy starts to play into things with the chance to swap your picks out on either of the rest days – at a certain point penalty. Remember that points are not accumulated; the standings on the last day of the race are what kinds, so keep the long game in mind.

Any points you win count towards the overall prizes plus the winner of this event also gets to post for the rest of the year in the pink jersey badge. So check the start list, review the VSP Grand Tour Scoring Guidelines and get your picks in by the time the countdown clock goes to zero at midnight PDT on Friday, May 9th. If you think we mapped one of your picks wrong, use the dispute system and we’ll review it. Also remember to be precise enough in your description so we know which rider you mean; in other words, if you enter “Martin”, we will use our discretion (read: wild guess) to decide if you mean Tony or Dan – and that choice will not be negotiable once the the countdown clock goes to zero. There has also been a recent scourge of people putting a rider in more than one place. Two words: Piti Principle, people! Don’t make me do a bunch of extra programming to keep you from being allowed to submit such an obviously unsportsmanlike set of picks. We will mercilessly clear out all your entries should we find you have attempted this.

Also don’t forget we’ve got three major prizes for the season-long VSP:

  1. First place overall wins a Veloforma Strada iR Velominati Edition frame in addition to the customary VSP winner’s VVorkshop Apron
  2. Second place overall wins a set of hand built CR Wheelworks Arenberg wheelset in a custom Velominati paint scheme laced to orange Chris King hubs. (CR Wheelworks is Café Roubaix’s new wheel goods brand.)
  3. Third place overall wins a full Velominati V-Kit with accompanying custom orange Bont Vaypor+ road shoes.

Good luck, have fun with it, and don’t lose your Rule #43 spirit.

Final Race Results
1. QUINTANA ROJAS, Nairo Alexander
2. URAN URAN Rigoberto
3. ARU Fabio
4. ROLLAND Pierre
5. POZZOVIVO Domenico
Final VSP Results
1. il muro di manayunk (40 points)
2. anthony (40 points)
3. Ron (40 points)
4. Harminator (38 points)
5. Patrick (38 points)
6. blue (38 points)
7. G'phant (38 points)
8. sthilzy (35 points)
9. Steampunk (35 points)
10. bunji (35 points)
11. t-Dot-toronto (35 points)
12. boudewijn (35 points)
13. boomboom-84 (35 points)
14. Gino (35 points)
15. actor1 (35 points)
16. napolinige (35 points)
17. Geordi (35 points)
18. the Engine (30 points)
19. DCR (30 points)
20. Gianni (30 points)
21. Beers (28 points)
22. Barracuda (28 points)
23. The Grande Fondue (28 points)
24. zeitzmar (28 points)
25. tony macaroni (28 points)
26. Emsworth (28 points)
27. LIIIXI (28 points)
28. Facetious_Jesus (28 points)
29. xyxax (28 points)
30. ramenvelo (28 points)
31. Chica (28 points)
32. GiantSmokey (27 points)
33. TOM.NELS2120 (26 points)
34. freddy (26 points)
35. meursault (26 points)
36. VeloVita (26 points)
37. Rhodri (26 points)
38. LA Dave (26 points)
39. Two Ball Billy (26 points)
40. stickyjumper (26 points)
41. Bill Chris (26 points)
42. JohnB (23 points)
43. KW (23 points)
44. andrew (23 points)
45. la plaque (23 points)
46. Chris S (23 points)
47. Buck Rogers (23 points)
48. JCM (23 points)
49. Fausto (23 points)
50. foggypeake (23 points)
51. Xponti (23 points)
52. Rom (23 points)
53. minion (23 points)
54. bigbailey (23 points)
55. simonsaunders (23 points)
56. dyalander (23 points)
57. seemunkee (23 points)
58. Tartan1749 (23 points)
59. polka-dot palmarès (23 points)
60. lindrop (23 points)
61. Tom Mc (23 points)
62. aaus (23 points)
63. ErikdR (23 points)
64. norm (23 points)
65. Brian McAndrews (23 points)
66. scaler911 (23 points)
67. spoderman (23 points)
68. habswin1 (23 points)
69. Jay (23 points)
70. jeyrod (23 points)
71. roberto (21 points)
72. kixsand (21 points)
73. Sauterelle (20 points)
74. Owen (20 points)
75. Jee-O (20 points)
76. BoogieStudio22 (18 points)
77. chrismurphy92 (18 points)
78. Mikael Liddy (18 points)
79. V-inden (18 points)
80. Fins (18 points)
81. Blah (18 points)
82. schall und rauch (18 points)
83. Wardy (18 points)
84. Haldy (18 points)
85. Dave R (18 points)
86. Weldertron (18 points)
87. Minnesota Expat (18 points)
88. Bianchi Denti (16 points)
89. Yagerbomb (16 points)
90. Nate (16 points)
91. CanuckChuck (16 points)
92. ChrisO (16 points)
93. justinevan88 (13 points)
94. strathlubnaig (13 points)
95. SimonH (13 points)
96. Rob (11 points)
97. atze (11 points)
98. Stephen (11 points)
99. taon24 (11 points)
100. dancollins (11 points)
101. Mirko (10 points)
102. harminator (9 points)
103. TheDon (9 points)
104. cal (9 points)
105. Bat Chainpuller (9 points)
106. Spencer (9 points)
107. LeoTea (9 points)
108. therealpeel (9 points)
109. Duende (8 points)
110. oneninefiveninesix (8 points)
111. Jeff simmons (8 points)
112. DeKerr (6 points)
113. HMBSteve (6 points)
114. the-farmer (6 points)
115. Shlumpen (6 points)
116. Badger (6 points)
117. Floridian (6 points)
118. ten B (6 points)
119. RedRanger (6 points)
120. Brianold55 (6 points)
121. V-olcano (6 points)
122. San Tonio (6 points)
123. Deakus (6 points)
124. ped (6 points)
125. Ccos (6 points)
126. VbyV (6 points)
127. Skip (6 points)
128. imakecircles (6 points)
129. asyax (6 points)
130. frank (6 points)
131. geoffrey (6 points)
132. R00tdown (6 points)
133. PT (6 points)
134. Luis G (6 points)
135. el gato (6 points)
136. Wilpheston (6 points)
137. Steve-o (6 points)
138. plynie (6 points)
139. Geraint (6 points)
140. RO (6 points)
141. Father of Four (6 points)
142. Chris (6 points)
143. eenies (6 points)
144. wkleik (6 points)
145. Al__S (4 points)
146. razmaspaz (3 points)
147. Mantis Style (3 points)
148. Daccordi Rider (3 points)
149. RossArmstrong2014 (3 points)
150. Mike_P (3 points)
151. Erik (3 points)
152. Darren H (3 points)
153. BaltoSteve (3 points)
154. Dr C (3 points)
155. brett (3 points)
156. starclimber (3 points)
157. unversio (1 points)
158. piwakawaka (1 points)
159. wiscot (1 points)
160. Island Bike (1 points)
161. Teocalli (1 points)
162. Roobar (1 points)
163. Lukas (0 points)
164. Adrian (0 points)
165. Mr fabulous (0 points)
166. VirenqueForever (0 points)
167. GogglesPizano (0 points)
168. dpalazzo (0 points)
169. kplarkin (0 points)
170. fignons barber (0 points)
171. Tobin (0 points)
172. TheVid (0 points)
173. Chui (0 points)
174. VeloJello (0 points)


]]> 874
RIP: Jim Oberstar Mon, 05 May 2014 11:00:03 +0000 A true Velominatus A true Velominatus

This week we mourn the loss of a true Velominatus, Jim Oberstar. The vast majority of you will have never heard of Jim but if you ride a bike in the US you have him, in large part, to thank for the infrastructure you ride. Jim died this weekend, unexpectedly, at a spry 79.

Mr. Oberstar served a nearly 40-year tenure in the US House of Representatives from Minnesota’s 8th district, my home. His contributions and legacy to Minnesota are hard to understate. Without going into detail about his political career it’s worth noting his commitment and action to cycling. Jim unabashedly, vehemently, and systematically included bikeways into legislation he championed as head of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He led from the front on this issue. To him, bike paths, cycleways, and lanes were not included into transportation plans as an afterthought or only if the political desire was there. Jim planned roads, rails, and busses around bikes. He believed we needed to move transportation from a “hydro-carbon based system to a carbohydrate-based system.” I’m proud to say I voted for Jim on numerous occasions and had the pleasure of riding with him one time at a charity event.

What strikes me lately is all the conversation, links to news stories, and heated debates we are all embroiled in concerning cycling and sharing the road. The recent uptick in cycling globally has meant that there are more conflicts and sadly more serious and fatal accidents on the road. On the weekly, we see stories from Australia, to North America, to the old world about this tension and these tragedies. We also see a global obesity epidemic. Fat people raising fat kids developing Type II diabetes at 12 cannot be ignored. People like Jim Oberstar saw this coming and did something about it.

We all contribute in our own way to a better place as we walk the path. The mere act of kiting up and going for a ride makes cycling more visible and may inspire someone to dust off their whip and check out the local trail. Taking a Pedalwan on and acting as a Sensei may have a multiplier effect. Teaching a local kid how to fix a flat may lead to a lifetime of riding. People like Jim Oberstar, especially at the time of his passing, remind us how riding a bike can be more than looking fantastic and having a blast while we take the piss out of ourselves.

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Guest Article – Recovery Rides Fri, 02 May 2014 13:10:14 +0000 This ain't no recovery ride This ain’t no recovery ride.

I would have to start training to even do a recovery ride. And I would have to own a cyclometer, HRM, and the unavoidable watt meter. And all that would tell me what I already don’t want to know. Ignorance is bliss until some teenager on a mountain bike gets by you and at that point you better not have a watt meter on your bike. Still, we have to train and we should do it scientifically, like @Teocalli here. 

Yours in Cycling, Gianni

I have a problem with Recovery Rides. I understand them but I still have a problem with them. Let me try to explain.

First (and to all experts here – forgive me for a simplistic view of this) let me level the ground by clarifying the concept by using the 5 Training Zones model. In this model the Maximum Heart Rate Reserve (MHRR) is based on the value derived from the difference between your Maximum Heart Rate and your relaxed Resting Heart Rate. So for a subject of say 50 (not me) we have:

Age = 50

Resting HR = 48

Max HR = 174 (note there may be different opinions on this depending on where you look it up and whether you have actually had it measured scientifically)

Which gives:

  • 50% Zone 0.5 x 126 + 48 = 111
  • 60% Zone 0.6 x 126 + 48 = 124
  • 70% Zone 0.7 x 126 + 48 = 136
  • 80% Zone 0.8 x 126 + 48 = 148
  • 90% Zone 0.9 x 126 + 48 = 161
  • 100% Zone @ max HR = 174

The 5 Zone model then becomes defined by:

  • Zone 1: Warm-Up Zone based on 50-60% of MHRR typically related to warm-up or cool-down.
  • Zone 2: Recovery Zone based on 60-70% of MHRR used for long slow rides and recovery rides.
  • Zone 3: Aerobic Zone based on 70-80% of MHRR used for overall cardiovascular fitness.
  • Zone 4: Anaerobic Zone based on 80-90% of MHRR used for training to increase lactate threshold.
  • Zone 5: Redline Zone at 90-100% of MHRR used by the very fit for short periods for example in interval training.

A buddy once equated these to the following for those who do not use a Heart Rate Monitor.

  • Zone 1: Barely awake
  • Zone 2: Can hold a normal conversation while riding
  • Zone 3: Conversation becomes restricted to single sentences
  • Zone 4: Gasps single phrases
  • Zone 5: Conversation?  Are you serious?!

The basic concept behind a Recovery Ride being that when training or post a significant event (cycling-wise that is) you should plan in complete rides in Zone 2 within your training diary.

Simple enough? So what’s my problem? Well, if you ask anyone who knows me well whether or not I am a competitive soul they would probably fall over laughing. If I go out on a solo ride and see another rider up ahead I have to try to catch them. If I get caught then, after giving the rider due kudos, I have to try to hold position on them. Not wheelsucking but give them a respectful space and try to hold their pace. If I’m out on my vintage steed it’s a target to pass riders on modern rigs – almost like adding a badge on the top tube for each carbon rig notched off.

carbon rigs

As I think someone else noted elsewhere, if I simply get blown away I just assume they have not gone, or are not going, as far as I am. Somehow it never seems to cross my mind that they may be 30-40 years (or more) younger than me and darned well should be going faster.

So you may now be getting the drift of why I have a problem with Recovery Rides. How can one simply cruise along and let people breeze past without feeling that they have notched you up as a slower rider – particularly if I am out on my carbon fantastic?  However hard I try it simply does not seem to happen. I set out with the intention of a nice quiet ride and somehow still end up trying to attain warp speed and/or hammer up the steepest climbs on the route at max bore. A Recovery Ride just does not seem to fit in my psyche.

However, finally I think I may have come up with a solution. I’m going to have a jersey made with the following on the back:



Then again my condition may be so bad that my psyche may latch onto this in the wrong way. What would be the effect of someone breezing past you with the above on their back? Hmmm…

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Look Pro: Drink Properly Thu, 01 May 2014 00:16:21 +0000 Minnie Phinney takes a swig. Photo: Pedale.Forchetta Minnie Phinney takes a swig. Photo: Pedale.Forchetta

Riding a bicycle involves much more than just pushing the pedals around in a perfect sweep of muscular elegance while Looking Fantastic at all times. There are all sorts of soft skills involved like learning to shift properly, learning to corner properly, learning to crash properly, learning to criticize a fellow rider’s puncture-repair technique, learning to chide a struggling rider in a language you don’t speak, and learning to drink from your bidon1 while in full flight.

One of the cornerstones of being Casually Deliberate is the art of gracefully sipping from your bidon while riding butt-to-check-to-shoulder-to-elbow in the bunch at 50 kmph or while suffering on the wheels in the gutter. Ain’t no one gonna wait for your sissy ass while you ask everyone to slow down because you’re a bit parched. Whats worse is having to look down and take your eyes off the road and the rider in front of you as your hand flails about in search of the bidon.

To drink from a bidon is to sip from it in a graceful and fluid manner while maintaining direction and speed without making an embarrassing faux pas such as looking down at your hand as you reach for it, not holding your line, slowing down, allowing a bit of precious fluid to escape somewhere other than into your mouth, or – Merckx forbid – dropping it. Just like the art of sensing what gear you’re in or being aware that your tires are about to slip while cornering or climbing, we must learn to retrieve our bidon from its cage, take a drink, and return it without your eyes ever leaving the road or rider in front of you or swerving.

On the rivet, one must also learn to drink in a manner that allows for breathing while avoiding the aspiration of fluid, resulting in what Science calls “choking”. There is no set technique for this; for me I usually drink in frequent small sips, but I will also chug in massive bursts of bidon-crushing squeezes when the occasion calls for it.

As for whether one is to grab the bidon upside down or rightside up, I grab mine rightside up but the population appears to divided along what I call the “Hamburger Divide”. This divide is defined by the inexplicable tendency for people to flip their hamburgers over and lay them upside down on their plate, twisting their hands around, and flipping the burger over during its journey to the mouth where it is (hopefully) eaten. This technique seems woefully rife with superfluous movements. Nevertheless, preliminary survey data suggests that those individuals who eat their burgers this way also grab their bidon upside down. Admittedly, Jan Ullrich made drinking from a bidon in this fashion look hella tough, so I’m not about to impose a new Rule insisting on its abolishment. I’m also betting he made eating a hamburger look pretty awesome, mostly because everything he did was art.

1Pronounce it correctly: bee’ don

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Convergence of the Two Fives Mon, 28 Apr 2014 20:48:36 +0000 Hinault explores the second of the Fundamental Fives: technical skill. Hinault explores the second of the Fundamental Fives: technical skill.

Physics tells us that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The conservation law extend beyond the physical world and into mystical where The V and Anti-V are also in a constant fight for balance. The Ancients on Mount Velomis understood this well, and taught that The Anti-V expresses itself within the universe as two principle kinds of weakness and that in response there are two fundamental Fives to counter them.

The first is weakness of the mind; this sort of weakness is expressed through pain as it the weakness is converted into muscular and mental strength through Training Properly and quieting the signals that tell you to stop as you learn to use your mind to drive your body beyond its perceived limits.  This is the First Five, and the most commonly recognized form of The V.

The second weakness requires introspection and discipline: it is recognition of the flaws in our technical skills. To be a complete rider, we must be skilled in all aspects of Cycling, we must find areas where we need to improve our skills and work hard at them until they become a strength. These weaknesses can be difficult to recognize and usually requires a Sensei for guidance. It takes humility, practice, and a willingness to fail time and again until finally we break through and conquer them. The willingness to shed our pride and fail in pursuit of perfection is the Second Five; it is never ending - as we improve in one area, we must find another weakness and work to raise our skill in that area. It is only through total commitment to always recognize our flaws that we will continue to improve to become a better Velominatus.

May 5th approaches, V.V. The Ancients called it Die Congnoscentus, or the Day of the Five. It is the Velominati New Year and a chance for reflection, a chance to celebrate the convergence of the Two Fives. We must always remember that we are all Pedalwans, that we all have much more to learn, and that improvement is a journey with no end. It is a day to renew our resolve to work at our weaknesses until they become strengths.

Go with Merckx fellow Pedalwans; Vive la Vie Velominatus.

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Anatomy of a Photo: The Look 2003 Fri, 25 Apr 2014 20:48:32 +0000 Liège-Bastogne-Liège Battle. photo THIERRY ROGE Liège-Bastogne-Liège Battle. photo THIERRY ROGE

If Lance won seven Tours then maybe Tyler Hamilton did win a Monument after all, or not. Finally Hamilton had a chance to measure up to Armstrong in a big one day race. That alone must have felt good; riding against him instead of for him. Johann versus Bjarne, Lance versus Tyler, this was a proper knife fight. Tyler looks ahead and Lance looks at Tyler.

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Rule #94 and The Evolution of the Pedal Wrench Wed, 23 Apr 2014 19:07:43 +0000 The Best Tool for the Job The Best Tool for the Job

Given the fact that everyone over-tightens their pedals to the crank arms, one needs a long lever to get too much torque. Rule #94 decrees using the correct tool and using it correctly. While the proper tool has always been available, it is up to us to evolve, to understand the difference between right and wrong, between vice-grip and open-ended wrench. And to understand that there is a large gulf between the right tool for the job and the best tool for the job.

Early in the Velominatus life cycle, the bicycle and its pedals arrived as one, fully formed. We were not removing and rebuilding our tricycle pedals. Our first “starter bike” ten-speed also came with “starter” pedals but the pedal, as an obvious point of contact with the pavement, might have demanded replacement. Replacing a pedal would happen long before rebuilding one. Removing the ruined one would only require a wrench and assuming The V-father was not a mechanic, the  adjustable wrench was the only tool in the box. Here the Pedalwan uttered his or her first curse words. The jaws of the adjustable wrench may have been a bit too fat and a bit too loose to do the job. Turning the left pedal ever tighter (the wrong direction?), instead of looser, a wrench might slip, a pedal surface damaged and perhaps blood was spilled. What better reason to curse your god? What better reason to wonder about a better tool while holding your bloody hand under the faucet?

If you had a savvy father who owned a set of open-ended wrenches and entertained the possibility that a pedal could be reverse-threaded, you were of the chosen few.

The correctly sized open-ended wrench is the right tool for the job.

Campagnolo made a bottom bracket fixed cup/pedal tool. Though not their most beautiful one, it was the right tool. When over-torquing a pedal, one gripped the fixed cup end of the tool. Biomechanically, it was imperfect. Park Tool improved on it by including a comfortable and longer hand grip for efficient over-torquing. Not unlike General Motors, at some point Park Tool quietly modified their pedal wrench. I don’t think they came right out and said “For the unfortunate many who now have permanent scarring on their right hand from driving the big ring teeth deep into your flesh, we are sorry.” If the Velominati were still “saving themselves” from using the worst kind of anglo-saxon curses uttered in their lives, misusing the Park pedal wrench would guarantee a trip to Father Flavin’s Confessional Booth. “For fuck’s sake Father, pardon me Father, but I’ll have a greasy tattoo scar across my knuckles forever because of this shiet, pardon me Father, wrench”.

Incorporating a beer bottle opener into various tools did not occur to the engineers at Park Tool. And this is why we love Lezyne so much. Yes, it is more expensive and yes, it is a better pedal wrench and yes, they mill a beautiful bottle opener into it. To hold it is to love it. It is Rule #94. It is not just the right tool for the job, for there are many functional pedal wrenches available but it is the best one for the job. Even without the bottle opener it would still be the best pedal wrench. Its handle and heft make it an item one would happily wield to slaughter the advancing hoards of the undead. If, in the slaughtering, either the handle or the business end gets worn down, it comes apart and one end or the other could be replaced. When the slaughtering is done, at least for now, (because that job is seemingly never really done), one can open a fine cold beer with it and debate if this tool is the correct one for this job.

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Velominati Super Prestige: Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2014 Wed, 23 Apr 2014 07:24:33 +0000 Roche and Criquielion Roche and Criquielion battle at L-B-L

The 100th running of Liège-Bastogne-Liège takes place this Sunday. Danny-boy Martin will be marked heavily as the defending champion. Malmerde, and Phil Gil have shown they are peaking too. Froomy has thrown his hat into the ring, as he did last year but after last years 26th place, maybe it’s training. 263 kms, past winners include a long list of known dopers, again, the pot belge mix paid off to keep riders cranking through those last climbs. Cancellara talked of slimming down more in to add this Monument to his palmarès but this might be the farthest from his grasp. This is a very tough race course. You need to be a fondisti, someone with staying power, a Phil Gil or a fully doped Moreno Argentin to finish this race off successfully. Last year Red Ryder went ballistic, blew up the field and opened a way for his teammate, Danny-boy. Let’s hope for some equally exciting fireworks this Sunday.

Here is an imperfect startlist.

The points from the LBL VSP count towards the overall prizes. So check the start list, review the VSP Scoring Guidelines and get your picks in by the time the countdown clock goes to zero at 00:00 hours PDT on Sunday the 27th. If you think we mapped one of your picks wrong, use the dispute system and we’ll review it. Also remember to be precise enough in your description so we know which rider you mean; in other words, if you enter “Martin”, we will use our discretion (read: wild guess) to decide if you mean Tony or Dan – and that choice will not be negotiable once the the countdown clock goes to zero, so be sure to give yourself enough time.

Don’t forget we’ve got three major prizes for the season-long VSP:

First place overall wins a Veloforma Strada iR Velominati Edition frame in addition to the customary VSP winner’s VVorkshop Apron

Second place overall wins a set of hand built CR Wheelworks Arenberg wheelset in a custom Velominati paint scheme laced to orange Chris King hubs. (CR Wheelworks is Café Roubaix’s new wheel goods brand.)

Third place is you’re fired or overall wins a full Velominati V-Kit with accompanying custom orange Bont Vaypor+ road shoes.

All Hail Cosmo!

Click here to view the embedded video.

Final Race Results
1. GERRANS Simon
2. VALVERDE Alejandro
4. CARUSO Giampaolo
5. POZZOVIVO Domenico
Final VSP Results
1. dyalander (12 points)
2. chui (9 points)
3. eightace (9 points)
4. ErikdR (9 points)
5. Rhodri (9 points)
6. velobrowny (9 points)
7. Ccos (9 points)
8. GiantBars (9 points)
9. starclimber (9 points)
10. The Grande Fondue (7 points)
11. habswin1 (7 points)
12. il muro di manayunk (6 points)
13. Bikemeister2000 (6 points)
14. andrew (6 points)
15. Two Ball Billy (6 points)
16. Floridian (6 points)
17. seemunkee (6 points)
18. Ryan Dietrich (6 points)
19. Chris S (6 points)
20. elmeltone (6 points)
21. el gato (6 points)
22. Steve-o (6 points)
23. Jeff simmons (6 points)
24. Haldy (6 points)
25. girl (6 points)
26. ten B (6 points)
27. piwakawaka (6 points)
28. eenies (6 points)
29. chrismurphy92 (6 points)
30. polka-dot palmarès (6 points)
31. Xponti (6 points)
32. imakecircles (6 points)
33. mse (6 points)
34. TOM.NELS2120 (5 points)
35. zeitzmar (5 points)
36. Tobin (5 points)
37. Bianchi Denti (5 points)
38. bunji (5 points)
39. Anders (5 points)
40. Duende (5 points)
41. Rob (5 points)
42. tommy5tone (5 points)
43. VeloVita (5 points)
44. razmaspaz (5 points)
45. DeKerr (5 points)
46. stickyjumper (5 points)
47. Geert Jan Kroon (5 points)
48. Geraint (5 points)
49. G'phant (5 points)
50. freddy (5 points)
51. Steampunk (5 points)
52. Heihachi (5 points)
53. Emsworth (5 points)
54. napolinige (5 points)
55. zot (5 points)
56. DCR (5 points)
57. Patrick (5 points)
58. blue (5 points)
59. dpalazzo (5 points)
60. spoderman (5 points)
61. Alex (5 points)
62. Marko (5 points)
63. ramenvelo (5 points)
64. Nate (5 points)
65. Facetious_Jesus (5 points)
66. Chica (5 points)
67. the-farmer (4 points)
68. Lukas (3 points)
69. Geordi (3 points)
70. Harminator (3 points)
71. Roobar (3 points)
72. Bat Chainpuller (3 points)
73. V-olcano (2 points)
74. sthilzy (2 points)
75. Cajun Pseudo-Belgian (2 points)
76. Stephen (2 points)
77. VirenqueForever (2 points)
78. Rigid (2 points)
79. foggypeake (2 points)
80. Wardy (2 points)
81. Sauterelle (2 points)
82. LeoTea (2 points)
83. taon24 (2 points)
84. KW (2 points)
85. schall und rauch (2 points)
86. fignons barber (2 points)
87. BoogieStudio22 (2 points)
88. Buck Rogers (2 points)
89. TheVid (2 points)
90. HMBSteve (2 points)
91. Owen (2 points)
92. Chris S (2 points)
93. wkleik (2 points)
94. Brian McAndrews (2 points)
95. wiscot (2 points)
96. Father of Four (2 points)
97. JohnB (2 points)
98. Yagerbomb (2 points)
99. Skip (2 points)
100. Dave R (2 points)
101. Fausto (2 points)
102. TheDon (2 points)
103. geoffrey (2 points)
104. Heusdens (2 points)
105. RondeVan (2 points)
106. Tom Mc (2 points)
107. Badger (2 points)
108. Al__S (2 points)
109. tony macaroni (2 points)
110. Jay (2 points)
111. Island Bike (2 points)
112. therealpeel (2 points)
113. Darren H (2 points)
114. San Tonio (2 points)
115. scaler911 (2 points)
116. R00tdown (2 points)
117. atze (2 points)
118. CanuckChuck (2 points)
119. boudewijn (2 points)
120. Donnie Bugno (2 points)
121. Minnesota Expat (2 points)
122. LIIIXI (2 points)
123. Ron (2 points)
124. kixsand (2 points)
125. moondance (2 points)
126. Kevin (2 points)
127. Dave Lominati (2 points)
128. anthony (2 points)
129. Dan_R (2 points)
130. oneninefiveninesix (2 points)
131. boomboom-84 (2 points)
132. Bill Chris (1 points)
133. JCM (1 points)
134. Mirko (1 points)
135. Gino (1 points)
136. the Engine (1 points)
137. Mike_P (1 points)
138. Blah (1 points)
139. sgraha (1 points)
140. Deakus (1 points)
141. PT (1 points)
142. RedRanger (1 points)
143. V-inden (1 points)
144. meursault (1 points)
145. Beers (1 points)
146. Rom (1 points)
147. Teocalli (1 points)
148. Chris (1 points)
149. roadslave525 (1 points)
150. aaus (1 points)
151. BatDan (1 points)
152. Adrian (1 points)
153. roberto (1 points)
154. strathlubnaig (1 points)
155. simonsaunders (1 points)
156. jeyrod (1 points)
157. dancollins (1 points)
158. Weldertron (1 points)
159. norm (1 points)
160. justinevan88 (1 points)
161. BaltoSteve (1 points)
162. xyxax (1 points)
163. ChrisO (1 points)
164. Brianold55 (1 points)
165. unversio (0 points)
166. plynie (0 points)
167. VeloJello (0 points)
168. Mikael Liddy (0 points)
169. Gianni (0 points)
]]> 328
Book Release: Events and New Rules Mon, 21 Apr 2014 15:00:07 +0000 The Prophet hands down the New V-Estament The Prophet hands down the New V-Estament

The Rules lie at the beginning of The Path, not the end. In pursuit of La Vie Velominatus, we know of no end to the Path; each of us journey through an endless evolution of understanding and reverence. As such, The Word continues to be handed down from high upon Mount Velominis and The Rules continue to be expanded upon. Today we present you with two new Rules, in addition to the announcement of the first two Rules Book Signing Events.

The Rules will be released in the United States on May 5, known as Die Congnoscentus or V.V in old Velomiskrit. In support of its impending launch, we’re very excited to announce the first of our book signing events. The first will be in New York City’s flagship store on Saturday, May 3rd; the second will be held in Rapha’s store in San Francisco on Saturday, May 10. Both events will start with a ride leaving the Rapha store at 8:30am, returning around 2:30pm. The signing will take place in the respective Rapha store starting at 3:00pm. See the respective event pages for the NY Rapha Event and the SFO Rapha Event.

We took the opportunity to correct some issues and improve the quality of the photographs with respect to the UK version that came out last June. That’s not to say we fixed all the errors and didn’t introduce new ones; as long as I’m involved in any project you can be sure there will be problems. But in addition to being refreshed, we also gave the Prologue a facelift and Greg LeMond – the only American Tour de France winner – graciously wrote the Foreword. The US Release also contains four Rules which were not included in the UK release; two of them appeared on the site as they were divined, but the other two were reserved for the release of the book.

Rule #94 // Use the correct tool for the job, and use the tool correctly.
Bicycle maintenance is an art; tools are designed to serve specific purposes, and it is essential that the Velominatus learns to use each tool properly when working on their loyal machine.

For anyone who has ever tried to do something as simple as cut a brake cable or install a headset, this one doesn’t really need much explanation. Without the proper tools, you will certainly massacre the part and likely deface the bicycle itself. At worst, you will cause irreparable harm. The tools and learning to use them is as much a part of La Vie Velominatus as riding itself.

Rule #95 // Never lift your bike over your head.
Under no circumstances is it acceptable to raise one’s machine above your head. The only exception is when placing it onto a car’s roof-rack.

None of the Keepers understand why people are lifting their bikes over their heads. A road bicycle is meant to leave the ground as much as a Cyclist is meant to walk. It is an unholy thing and this behavior must come to a stop immediately.

For a full explanation on the origins and justification of these Rules, I suppose you will have to consult the latest release of the book or join us in New York or San Francisco.

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Velominati Super Prestige: La Fleche Wallone 2014 Mon, 21 Apr 2014 14:50:24 +0000 Photo: sjaradona via

Midweek in Belgium in Spring is a wonderful thing. Hordes of people come from seemingly nowhere to fill the bars and line the roadsides when presumably they’d usually be working, or at school, or some such. That the only ones who appear to be working are the bartenders and frites dispensers reinforces my belief that Belgium is the greatest country in the world.

You can bet your bottom dollar that the town of Huy will once again be heaving on Wednesday when the riders of La Fleche Wallone tackle the horrible, beautiful Mur de Huy three times in the afternoon (whether you regard the climb as horrible or beautiful largely depends if you’re on a bike or in the pub). While three times up the Mur is never going to be fun, the last ascent has to be one of the most brutal finishes to any race, on any climb, anywhere. It truly is horribly beautiful.

I guess the talk will now centre on Dr Phil and whether he can repeat, threepeat or maybe even Steve Peat his way into the history books after his wins in Brabantse Pilj and Amstel Gold in the last week.  The way he’s riding, the only surer bet you could make is that Abandy doesn’t show up. So with that thought, get thee to the start list, watch the timer (if we’ve managed to work it out) and get your picks in to stay in GC contention for the greatest prize pool in internet based cycling related tipping competitions.

First place overall wins a Veloforma Strada iR Velominati Edition frame in addition to the customary VSP winner’s VVorkshop Apron

Second place overall wins a set of hand built CR Wheelworks Arenberg wheelset in a custom Velominati paint scheme laced to orange Chris King hubs. (CR Wheelworks is Café Roubaix’s new wheel goods brand.)

Third place overall wins a full Velominati V-Kit with accompanying custom orange Bont Vaypor+ road shoes.

Good luck and bottoms up!

Final Race Results
1. VALVERDE Alejandro
2. MARTIN Daniel
4. MOLLEMA Bauke
5. SLAGTER Tom-Jelte
Final VSP Results
1. unversio (12 points)
2. V-olcano (12 points)
3. piwakawaka (12 points)
4. dyalander (12 points)
5. KW (11 points)
6. HMBSteve (11 points)
7. Chui (11 points)
8. Chris S (11 points)
9. Mirko (11 points)
10. taon24 (11 points)
11. Kevin (10 points)
12. kixsand (9 points)
13. Father of Four (9 points)
14. TheVid (9 points)
15. justinevan88 (8 points)
16. plynie (8 points)
17. Gino (8 points)
18. Tobin (8 points)
19. roberto (8 points)
20. TOM.NELS2120 (7 points)
21. Tom Mc (7 points)
22. Floridian (6 points)
23. boudewijn (6 points)
24. Roadslave525 (6 points)
25. el gato (6 points)
26. Duende (5 points)
27. napolinige (5 points)
28. sthilzy (5 points)
29. zeitzmar (5 points)
30. Facetious_Jesus (5 points)
31. elmeltone (5 points)
32. Shlumpen (5 points)
33. Darren H (5 points)
34. LeoTea (5 points)
35. Minnesota Expat (5 points)
36. Geordi (5 points)
37. Wardy (5 points)
38. Fausto (5 points)
39. xyxax (5 points)
40. Bill Chris (5 points)
41. ramenvelo (5 points)
42. andrew (4 points)
43. BoogieStudio22 (4 points)
44. Rom (4 points)
45. VirenqueForever (4 points)
46. Simon (4 points)
47. wkleik (3 points)
48. Geraint (3 points)
49. Yagerbomb (3 points)
50. RondeVan (3 points)
51. CanuckChuck (3 points)
52. tony macaroni (3 points)
53. Dan_R (3 points)
54. the-farmer (3 points)
55. dancollins (3 points)
56. Dave Lominati (3 points)
57. boomboom-84 (3 points)
58. Chica (3 points)
59. San Tonio (3 points)
60. Buck Rogers (2 points)
61. JCM (2 points)
62. Steampunk (2 points)
63. freddy (2 points)
64. Teocalli (2 points)
65. GiantBars (2 points)
66. RedRanger (2 points)
67. Skip (2 points)
68. sgraha (2 points)
69. BatDan (2 points)
70. geoffrey (2 points)
71. Chris (2 points)
72. Heusdens (2 points)
73. Rob (2 points)
74. JohnB (2 points)
75. chrismurphy92 (2 points)
76. dpalazzo (2 points)
77. Xponti (2 points)
78. bunji (2 points)
79. moondance (2 points)
80. DCR (2 points)
81. Mikael Liddy (2 points)
82. LA Dave (2 points)
83. Spencer (2 points)
84. Beers (2 points)
85. aaus (2 points)
86. R00tdown (2 points)
87. BaronArron (2 points)
88. Adrian (2 points)
89. Marko (2 points)
90. il muro di manayunk (2 points)
91. VeloVita (2 points)
92. Alex Miller (2 points)
93. Blah (2 points)
94. therealpeel (2 points)
95. Steve-o (2 points)
96. jeyrod (2 points)
97. Ron (2 points)
98. Brian McAndrews (2 points)
99. Jeff simmons (2 points)
100. dkroep (2 points)
101. G'phant (2 points)
102. zot (2 points)
103. blue (2 points)
104. MJ Moquin (2 points)
105. scaler911 (2 points)
106. habswin1 (2 points)
107. Two Ball Billy (2 points)
108. TheDon (2 points)
109. tommy5tone (2 points)
110. Haldy (2 points)
111. starclimber (2 points)
112. Bat Chainpuller (2 points)
113. The Grande Fondue (2 points)
114. anthony (2 points)
115. simonsaunders (1 points)
116. seemunkee (1 points)
117. razmaspaz (1 points)
118. eenies (1 points)
119. wiscot (1 points)
120. Ccos (1 points)
121. LIIIXI (1 points)
122. the Engine (1 points)
123. foggypeake (1 points)
124. Weldertron (1 points)
125. cal (1 points)
126. Stephen (1 points)
127. Bianchi Denti (1 points)
128. Mike_P (1 points)
129. Sauterelle (1 points)
130. ten B (1 points)
131. Nate (1 points)
132. spoderman (1 points)
133. Dave R (1 points)
134. Roobar (1 points)
135. Barracuda (1 points)
136. Island Bike (1 points)
137. benno6391 (1 points)
138. D.Stef (1 points)
139. ChrisO (1 points)
140. Gianni (1 points)
141. Brianold55 (1 points)
142. oneninefiveninesix (1 points)
143. Harminator (1 points)
144. Lukas (0 points)
145. PT (0 points)
]]> 239
Velominati Super Prestige: La Fleche Wallone Feminine 2014 Mon, 21 Apr 2014 13:14:52 +0000 Mur-de-Huy-ProfileWednesday sees the return of the women to the VSP. More notably, we see the return of Marianne Vos to the road. She’s won this race five of the last seven years. It makes me wonder if the rest of the field have already resigned themselves to racing for second. On the other hand, Vos hasn’t been racing of late and may not be as sharp as her competitors. Nah, that’s crazy talk. She’s Vos.

It’s been a few weeks since the women’s Ronde when Ellen Van Dyk soloed to victory from 27 km’s out. It’s unlikely we will see similar antics stick in la Fleche but we can expect some action on the way up the Huy to the finish. Click on the start list and have a look. It seems like the strong women are all toeing up.

This week we learned that Emma Pooley will make less money in her entire career than Tom Boonen probably paid for a shitty paint job on a Ferrari he subsequently crashed. We’re not entirely sure what to do with that information other than to say Tommeke probably has too much of it and Pooley probably deserves more. Sure, first world problems. They both race $15,000.00 bikes for a living and get to travel the world. There are bigger fish to fry than gender pay-equity in pro cycling to make the world a better place. But we can at least give the ladies a fair shake. As a cyclist and the father of two daughters I’d like to see more women and more coverage of women’s cycling so my daughters have heroes who are women too. A good place to start is by paying them a living wage.

Pick wisely, roll the bones and best of luck. The standings are tightening up so whatever you do, don’t Delgado. Points are points whether they be gained from the men or the women and you’ll need all you can get. There’s a sweet Veloforma frame, some killer wheels, fantastic shoes, and some other shit on the line.

Final Race Results
2. ARMITSTEAD Elizabeth
4. STEVENS Evelyn
5. MOOLMAN Ashleigh
Final VSP Results
1. Spencer (10 points)
2. Kevin (10 points)
3. seemunkee (9 points)
4. the Engine (9 points)
5. geoffrey (9 points)
6. xyxax (9 points)
7. sthilzy (9 points)
8. ten B (9 points)
9. Skip (8 points)
10. zeitzmar (8 points)
11. Bill Chris (8 points)
12. il muro di manayunk (7 points)
13. JCM (7 points)
14. Mike_P (7 points)
15. tony macaroni (7 points)
16. Geordi (7 points)
17. Dave R (7 points)
18. Fausto (7 points)
19. therealpeel (7 points)
20. LIIIXI (7 points)
21. Dave Lominati (7 points)
22. dpalazzo (7 points)
23. GiantBars (6 points)
24. Duende (6 points)
25. BoogieStudio22 (6 points)
26. piwakawaka (6 points)
27. elmeltone (6 points)
28. VeloVita (6 points)
29. Wardy (6 points)
30. Blah (6 points)
31. Ron (6 points)
32. TheVid (6 points)
33. Brian McAndrews (6 points)
34. taon24 (6 points)
35. Minnesota Expat (6 points)
36. The Grande Fondue (6 points)
37. freddy (5 points)
38. V-olcano (5 points)
39. boudewijn (5 points)
40. plynie (5 points)
41. Beers (5 points)
42. Simon (5 points)
43. Sauterelle (5 points)
44. D.Stef (5 points)
45. Bat Chainpuller (5 points)
46. Buck Rogers (4 points)
47. moondance (4 points)
48. Steampunk (4 points)
49. JohnB (4 points)
50. foggypeake (4 points)
51. Yagerbomb (4 points)
52. RondeVan (4 points)
53. Mikael Liddy (4 points)
54. Marko (4 points)
55. Tom Mc (4 points)
56. Facetious_Jesus (4 points)
57. Chica (4 points)
58. HMBSteve (3 points)
59. Ccos (3 points)
60. the-farmer (3 points)
61. Xponti (3 points)
62. Bianchi Denti (3 points)
63. LA Dave (3 points)
64. Adrian (3 points)
65. jeyrod (3 points)
66. blue (3 points)
67. Island Bike (3 points)
68. boomboom-84 (3 points)
69. ramenvelo (3 points)
70. Haldy (3 points)
71. KW (2 points)
72. razmaspaz (2 points)
73. Floridian (2 points)
74. Father of Four (2 points)
75. VirenqueForever (2 points)
76. RedRanger (2 points)
77. simonsaunders (2 points)
78. wiscot (2 points)
79. fignons barber (2 points)
80. chrismurphy92 (2 points)
81. bunji (2 points)
82. dyalander (2 points)
83. CanuckChuck (2 points)
84. Stephen (2 points)
85. Lukas (2 points)
86. aaus (2 points)
87. el gato (2 points)
88. Chris S (2 points)
89. LeoTea (2 points)
90. Tobin (2 points)
91. Dan_R (2 points)
92. zot (2 points)
93. Chris (2 points)
94. MJ Moquin (2 points)
95. roberto (2 points)
96. Roobar (2 points)
97. Barracuda (2 points)
98. R00tdown (2 points)
99. Two Ball Billy (2 points)
100. San Tonio (2 points)
101. ChrisO (2 points)
102. Harminator (2 points)
103. Gianni (2 points)
104. starclimber (2 points)
105. unversio (1 points)
106. andrew (1 points)
107. tommy5tone (1 points)
108. Rob (1 points)
109. justinevan88 (1 points)
110. wkleik (1 points)
111. Nate (1 points)
112. eenies (1 points)
113. sgraha (1 points)
114. Weldertron (1 points)
115. cal (1 points)
116. DCR (1 points)
117. TOM.NELS2120 (1 points)
118. Darren H (1 points)
119. Rom (1 points)
120. dancollins (1 points)
121. scaler911 (1 points)
122. habswin1 (1 points)
123. benno6391 (1 points)
124. Steve-o (1 points)
125. TheDon (1 points)
126. anhtony (1 points)
127. Geraint (1 points)
128. napolinige (0 points)
129. oneninefiveninesix (0 points)
]]> 173
Guest Article: On Suffering Fri, 18 Apr 2014 14:10:29 +0000 Sean Kelly in his home Tour Sean Kelly in the Tour of Ireland

What, another guest post? Seemingly yes, but in fact we are keeping to our every-other Friday guest post schedule. We must Keep The Schedule! @Harminator’s post about pigs was the little seen “pop-up” article; a confluence of Paris-Roubaix, Orchies pigs and Jupiler beer. These things go very bad, very fast if not served quickly.

@Ccos is serving up some thoughts on suffering; coming from Rhode Island, he knows something about it. Right now his roads have a winter’s worth of sand and salt still on them. Every corner is dangerous. Every ride means a gritty bike. Every driver is already fed up with cyclists.

VLVV, Gianni

We cyclists are a unique lot. There are myriad reasons why, but the most striking is our habit of seeking out something that most people in their day-to-day, and even sporting lives try very hard to avoid. We seek out suffering.

We seek out suffering like no one else, not every time we ride, but certainly when we are trying to become better. Pain and suffering are not unique to the sport of cycling by any stretch of the imagination, and occur with great regularity in any number of causal and professional sports. Elsewhere though, pain or suffering is usually brief, unexpected, unplanned and many times leads to a time out or other some such break. Suffering for the cyclist, however, is a very different animal.

As cyclists, it is our approach to, embracement of, and dependence upon, suffering which makes us unique. It is the only way to become faster, stronger, thinner. Without suffering, we cannot improve and of course, without it we cannot ever win.

Talk of suffering suffuses our vernacular. Read any article of an important race or listen to any television commentator and something will be said of the suffering of the riders, of their pain, of their agony. You probably use the same words when you describe your epic rides especially if climbing is involved. Suffering is our unit of measure, our currency, and yes, our virtue. It is also the single most difficult thing to explain to the non-cyclist.

Our greatest champions have mastered suffering and only by doing so can inflict it on others. It is not unusual too to learn of the struggles of these people outside of cycling which have allowed them to endure the necessary suffering to become champions. Many toiled as farmers, laborers or miners when younger and there learned the toughness from which to endure their self-inflicted suffering later on the bike.

Well brothers and sisters that road can be paved both ways, because sometimes life can be 200 kilometers of potholes, headwinds and angry rednecks. Spending time in the pain cave, if you pay attention, can teach you many things about yourself well beyond how many watts you can generate. Suffering makes us tough beyond words. Sometimes we have to rely on this toughness to get us through events in life, which would otherwise cripple us. Rule #5 has applications off the bike too.

Of course, suffering has many benefits; it is why we seek it out. It leads to greater joy on the bike. Joy, which can come from the increased speed to win, from the gained ability to drop some jackass on a group ride or from the sheer pleasure of that moment when the suffering stops.

We are cyclists. We find the good in suffering and we are much better for it. VLVV.


]]> 38
Velominati Super Prestige: Amstel Gold Race 2014 Thu, 17 Apr 2014 07:21:59 +0000 Jan Raas, 5 time winner, not drinking Amstel Gold. photo-Peters, Hans / Anefo Jan Raas, 5 time winner of Amstel, not drinking Amstel Gold. photo-Peters, Hans / Anefo

The Amstel Gold Race, 251 km from Maastricht to Valkenburg, the hard way. There appears to be no flat sections longer than ten meters. There are thirty-four mean little climbs to ruin the legs. We have moved on from the real Spring Classics. There is no rest in this VSP; The Ronde and Roubaix were amazing but we must continue. Legs that are smoked from those races are not lining up for Amstel. We are moving into Phil Gil territory. Regard the former winners from 2004 to 2008.

  • 2008 | CUNEGO Damiano
  • 2007 | SCHUMACHER Stefan
  • 2006 | SCHLECK Fränk
  • 2005 | DI LUCA Danilo
  • 2004 | REBELLIN Davide

Obviously, having the right pot belge mix working for these climbs paid off back then, especially for Schumacher, not a rider who would have been an obvious pick for any race. I’m not implying Phil Gil is on the juice but I am implying this is a race for the powerhouse speed climbers, like him or Valverde. Again, not implying, just saying.

For those who wished to squander a pick on Gesink (I’m looking at you Strack), you have been saved. He is out. Maybe Laurens ten Dam, Velominati Rules reader will represent the home country and win it all, or not. Here is the start list. Veel succes!

The points from the Amstel Gold VSP count towards the overall prizes. So check the start list, review the VSP Scoring Guidelines and get your picks in by the time the countdown clock goes to zero at midnight PDT on Sunday the 20th. If you think we mapped one of your picks wrong, use the dispute system and we’ll review it. Also remember to be precise enough in your description so we know which rider you mean; in other words, if you enter “Martin”, we will use our discretion (read: wild guess) to decide if you mean Tony or Dan – and that choice will not be negotiable once the the countdown clock goes to zero, so be sure to give yourself enough time.

Don’t forget we’ve got three major prizes for the season-long VSP:

First place overall wins a Veloforma Strada iR Velominati Edition frame in addition to the customary VSP winner’s VVorkshop Apron

Second place overall wins a set of hand built CR Wheelworks Arenberg wheelset in a custom Velominati paint scheme laced to orange Chris King hubs. (CR Wheelworks is Café Roubaix’s new wheel goods brand.)

Third place is you’re fired or overall wins a full Velominati V-Kit with accompanying custom orange Bont Vaypor+ road shoes.

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The Mirror Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:00:21 +0000 Winner on the road, loser in the mirror. Photo: Gian Mattia D’Alberto

Have you ever been told to take a good look at yourself? Usually it infers that you need to smarten up your ideas, get your shit together, shape up or ship out. If Viagra eyedrops had an advertising campaign, (or indeed existed), their tagline would be: “Take a long, hard look at yourself.”

Most Cyclists need to take a long hard look at themselves. Ourselves. We could do a lot better in the public relations sphere if we took more care to use our playgrounds, ie the roads, as road users rather than pseudo-racers. And we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves every time we kit up and head out the door for a ride. Because what you see in the mirror is what others see also, and we should present ourselves as smart, tidy and sensible, rather than walking fluoro billboards or wannabe Pros.

The mirror is one of the most overlooked pieces of a Cyclist’s kit, and one that needs to be looked into a whole lot more than I suspect it is, going by the rolling messes I see out on the roads on every ride. Of course I’m not endorsing a Rule #66 violation, no sir. Offensive attire isn’t exclusive to the slovenly who go shopping in their tracky pants and Crocs, or the mostly smartly-dressed professionals who top off their neat-pressed pants or skirts with a fucking sleeping bag. You’re not George Costanza, so don’t bother.

It shouldn’t be necessary to tell you how to dress for the ride; you should know that yourself. That’s why The Rules were forged; to educate, yet sometimes to berate is necessary. If you are too clueless to put a helmet on your head level, to wear clean and matching kit, or to buy a pair of socks that don’t expose your fucking ankles, you’re either a hopelessly sloppy individual or a completely lost cause. These are the type of people who go out to dinner with their partner or take long haul flights while wearing rolled-up denim shorts, boat shoes and a t-shirt. Even if you have such little respect for yourself, you, as a member of society, should at least show some for those who have to encounter you.

Let’s smarten things up people. I know for the main part I’m preaching to the converted here, but it’s our duty to spread the knowledge and help ourselves by helping others within our ranks. It’s easy. Pick and choose kit carefully, pre-plan well in advance so you don’t end up just throwing whatever isn’t dirty on, and make sure it’s all adjusted properly. And if you’re in with a show of winning a Monument, straighten up that goddamn helmet!


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In Search of Power Mon, 14 Apr 2014 15:35:05 +0000 Pantani finds his power in the drops. Photo: Tom Able-Green/ALLSPORT Pantani finds his power in the drops. Photo: Tom Able-Green/ALLSPORT

It’s no secret that I’m prone to riding in the big ring as much as possible, mostly on account of my not being a giant sissy. In accordance with the ISO Non-Sissy Standard, I also never read instruction manuals or ask for directions when lost. I make sure to only rarely ask my VMH to turn up the radio when Adele comes on, usually followed quickly by an ernest explanation of how I thought it was Metallica, and how Rolling in the Deep ripped off the opening to Enter Sandman. The record does show, however, that I occasionally fly into hysterics when surprised by an insect or amphibian – but that’s just good common sense.

Pantani’s in-the-drops climbing style has always impressed me, but he’s only one of the riders who won races going down in the drops looking for more power on the climbs; Jan Ullrich was often climbing in the drops as well as our mate Johan Museeuw – not to mention Richard Virenque and so did Frank Vandenbroucke. Looking at that list, I wonder if the UCI should explore adjusting the test for EPO to examine time spent climbing in the drops.

Riding the route of Liege-Bastogne-Liege with Johan last Keepers Tour, I noticed a pattern in his riding style. Whenever the gradient increased on a climb, instead of changing gear he just moved his hands to the drops and rose out of the saddle to casually push the same gear over the steep. It looked so easy, it was impossible to resist trying it myself. At first, there is a strange sort of sensation, like you’re dipping your nose into the tarmac. But then when you switch to the hoods, you notice an immediate loss of leverage. After practicing it, it becomes second nature.

Someone once told me that the key to going fast is to try to break your handlebars, and that’s just what I’ve been trying to do lately although I hope I’m ultimately unsuccessful. Since gleaning this trick from Johan’s riding style, I’ve been staying in the big ring longer and climbing  out of the saddle in the drops, pulling hard on bars and feeling them flex. Its not always faster than spinning a low gear but it has the benefit of taking the load off your cardiovascular system and putting it on your muscular system – a handy thing if your form is missing something or you’ve got massive guns (which I don’t).

This has brought another notion to light: the lower the hand position, the better able you are to find the leverage you need to turn the pedals. This is one of the principle issues with the Sit Up and Beg epidemic, apart from it looking crap and being less stable. But hand height seems to impact power; I’ve noticed that when I’m climbing on the tops, I can breath easily and I’m able to maintain a speed well, but acceleration is difficult. To accelerate or hold a pace up a steep gradient (which is almost the same as accelerating), I’m better served riding on the hoods where my position is a bit lower. But when I really need power, I go looking for it in the drops.

All this brings into question the current trend towards compact bars and flat hand positions between the tops and hoods, with the drops only a bit lower. Compare that to the deep drops ridden in the past, in the style of Eddy Merckx and Roger de Vlaeminck where the hoods were halfway between the tops and the drops. The modern bar shape and hood position seems to reduce the riding positions to as few as possible, while in the past, they were designed to provide as many as possible.

In any case, big sweeping drops look the business and I’m pretty sure they are in complete compliance with the ISO Non-Sissy Standard.

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Guest Article: Follow the Pigs Fri, 11 Apr 2014 17:58:32 +0000 All Hail The Pigs All Hail the Pigs

@Harminator just submitted this little gem of a tale. It is too timely not to share with Paris-Roubaix looming.

VLVV, Gianni

I imagine that some people who decide to fly 17000kms to watch a bike race might plan every little thing down to the finest detail. We didn’t. We believe in the maxim that the best adventures are planned on the back of an envelope. All we had was a vision of standing drunk beside an ancient cobbled farm track as the cream of cycling’s hardmen suffered past in clouds of dust and pulverized cow manure. How that might eventuate was clearly filed under “fuck knows”.

And on the Seventh Day our approach was vindicated. Despite several campervan near-misses, we made it to the austere town of Orchies. But finding the town does not equate to finding the obscure cobbled farm track and our pidgin French was only un petit-peu helpful. It was then that the powerful tradition of Paris-Roubaix came to our aid – in the form of the pig. Two pigs actually. About 5 meters tall, dressed like farm folk and being wheeled through the streets. For a moment we stood there perplexed until it dawned on me that on That Sunday, in that town there could be only one explanation.

“Follow the Pigs!” I half shouted. And we did. And yea! They did lead us to the cobbles of Orchies. And the beer tent. And the frites. All hail the pigs!

And a couple of hours later I was standing drunk beside an ancient cobbled farm track when Turgot and Tommeke and JVS powered past in a cloud of dust and pulverized cow manure: Past the giant pigs standing sentinel to the cobbles of Orchies: Past two heaving lines of temporary maniacs swept up in a bona fide celebration of cycling. In that moment I became a true follower.

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Velominati Super Prestige: Paris-Roubaix 2014 Thu, 10 Apr 2014 23:14:29 +0000 Phinney takes flight in the Trouée d'Arenberg. Phinney takes flight in the Trouée d’Arenberg.

It has been a brutal week for us Keepers, having decided not to hold a Keepers Tour this year. Watching the action from half a world away has been almost too much for us to bear, and I know most of the participants from last year must be feeling similarly. On Sunday, we would be escorted by our friends and guides, William and Alex of Pavé Cycling Classics, shooting from one location to another to watch the race, eating Genevieve’s homemade sandwiches and pounding Malteni like its going out of style.

We may not be there this year, but that doesn’t change the question on everyone’s mind: can Fabian do the double a record three times? Personally, I hope not – I want the double to stay special. Until 2003, the previous winner of the double was de Vlaeminck who had managed it in 1977 at which point it had only been done six times previously. But since Van Petegem pulled it off in ’03, Boonen and Cancellara have done it twice each – that’s 4 doubles in the last 10 years.

Come Sunday morning, I’ll be gunning for Boonen. He’s been behind his form just a tad, but he forced the selection on the Koppenberg last Sunday, so he has the power. Maybe a day of killing it in de Ronde was last touch he needed and he’ll be peaking for Sunday. Fabian of course will be strong, but Sep and Greg had strong showings last week and Vanmarke is now proving to be Flecha’s replacement – hopefully he’ll have more luck taking a big win Sunday.

The points from the Paris-Roubaix VSP count towards the overall prizes plus the winner of this event also gets to post for the rest of the year in the cobblestone badge. So check the start list, review the VSP Scoring Guidelines and get your picks in by the time the countdown clock goes to zero at midnight PDT on Sunday the 13th. If you think we mapped one of your picks wrong, use the dispute system and we’ll review it. Also remember to be precise enough in your description so we know which rider you mean; in other words, if you enter “Martin”, we will use our discretion (read: wild guess) to decide if you mean Tony or Dan – and that choice will not be negotiable once the the countdown clock goes to zero, so be sure to give yourself enough time.

Don’t forget we’ve got three major prizes for the season-long VSP:

  1. First place overall wins a Veloforma Strada iR Velominati Edition frame in addition to the customary VSP winner’s VVorkshop Apron
  2. Second place overall wins a set of hand built CR Wheelworks Arenberg wheelset in a custom Velominati paint scheme laced to orange Chris King hubs. (CR Wheelworks is Café Roubaix’s new wheel goods brand.)
  3. Third place overall wins a full Velominati V-Kit with accompanying custom orange Bont Vaypor+ road shoes.

Good luck, have fun with it, and don’t lose your Rule #43 spirit.

Final Race Results
5. STYBAR Zdenek
Final VSP Results
1. tony macaroni (11 points)
2. John (10 points)
3. Teocalli (9 points)
4. unversio (8 points)
5. Ron (8 points)
6. Mike_P (7 points)
7. scaler911 (7 points)
8. Cajun Pseudo-Belgian (6 points)
9. Wardy (6 points)
10. the-farmer (6 points)
11. Dr C (6 points)
12. RondeVan (6 points)
13. godsight (6 points)
14. chrismurphy92 (6 points)
15. brett (6 points)
16. stuart Witkowski (6 points)
17. foggypeake (6 points)
18. Geordi (6 points)
19. Gianni (6 points)
20. Beers (5 points)
21. boomboom-84 (5 points)
22. gaswepass (5 points)
23. aaus (5 points)
24. Chris (5 points)
25. Adrian (5 points)
26. Ccos (5 points)
27. wiscot (5 points)
28. Skip (5 points)
29. Simon (5 points)
30. JohnB (5 points)
31. Dan_R (5 points)
32. Facetious_Jesus (5 points)
33. spoderman (5 points)
34. ten B (5 points)
35. Giles (4 points)
36. Roobar (4 points)
37. DCR (4 points)
38. teleguy57 (4 points)
39. Steampunk (4 points)
40. DeKerr (4 points)
41. atomicmanatee (4 points)
42. oneninefiveninesix (4 points)
43. TheDon (4 points)
44. San Tonio (4 points)
45. simonsaunders (4 points)
46. slatanic (4 points)
47. Duende (4 points)
48. R00tdown (4 points)
49. Blah (4 points)
50. Brian McAndrews (4 points)
51. plynie (4 points)
52. Thomas van Maanen (4 points)
53. Kevin (4 points)
54. blue (4 points)
55. imakecircles (4 points)
56. Mirko (4 points)
57. @roadslave525 (4 points)
58. VeloVita (4 points)
59. torrefie (4 points)
60. MJ Moquin (4 points)
61. anthony (4 points)
62. ralexmiller (4 points)
63. Minnesota Expat (4 points)
64. pakrat (4 points)
65. RedRanger (3 points)
66. sthilzy (3 points)
67. JCM (3 points)
68. il muro di manayunk (3 points)
69. asyax (3 points)
70. Buck Rogers (3 points)
71. Bianchi Denti (3 points)
72. Tartan1749 (3 points)
73. piwakawaka (3 points)
74. Xponti (3 points)
75. Conrad (3 points)
76. Shlumpen (3 points)
77. andrew (3 points)
78. geoffrey (3 points)
79. V-inden (3 points)
80. Gino (3 points)
81. bunji (3 points)
82. seemunkee (3 points)
83. CanuckChuck (3 points)
84. razmaspaz (3 points)
85. moondance (3 points)
86. Floridian (3 points)
87. TheVid (3 points)
88. stickyjumper (3 points)
89. strathlubnaig (3 points)
90. dpalazzo (3 points)
91. el gato (3 points)
92. KW (3 points)
93. skagitteam (3 points)
94. Bill Chris (3 points)
95. HMBSteve (3 points)
96. Tom Mc (3 points)
97. ped (3 points)
98. boudewijn (3 points)
99. wkleik (3 points)
100. LeoTea (3 points)
101. Harminator (3 points)
102. fignons barber (3 points)
103. Island Bike (3 points)
104. Deakus (3 points)
105. taon24 (3 points)
106. ramenvelo (3 points)
107. zot (3 points)
108. kixsand (3 points)
109. Tobin (3 points)
110. m_demartino (3 points)
111. Geraint (3 points)
112. schall und rauch (3 points)
113. BatDan (3 points)
114. LIIIXI (3 points)
115. norm (3 points)
116. habswin1 (3 points)
117. revchuck (3 points)
118. xyxax (3 points)
119. Steve-o (3 points)
120. Nate (3 points)
121. Heusdens (3 points)
122. girl (3 points)
123. LA Dave (3 points)
124. ChrisO (3 points)
125. Captainsideburns (3 points)
126. Mikael Liddy (2 points)
127. Sauterelle (2 points)
128. Beers (2 points)
129. elmeltone (2 points)
130. The Grande Fondue (2 points)
131. freddy (2 points)
132. Rob (2 points)
133. Two Ball Billy (2 points)
134. tommy5tone (2 points)
135. Daccordi Rider (2 points)
136. Marko (2 points)
137. justinevan88 (2 points)
138. Mycle78 (2 points)
139. VirenqueForever (2 points)
140. Lukas (2 points)
141. zeitzmar (2 points)
142. Yagerbomb (2 points)
143. Al__S (2 points)
144. the Engine (2 points)
145. american psycho (2 points)
146. Spencer (2 points)
147. Badger (2 points)
148. Rom (2 points)
149. PT (2 points)
150. V-olcano (2 points)
151. Father of Four (2 points)
152. ErikdR (2 points)
153. Patrick (2 points)
154. Darren H (2 points)
155. Erik (2 points)
156. Chris S (2 points)
157. BoogieStudio22 (2 points)
158. Fausto (2 points)
159. napolinige (2 points)
160. LastBoyScout (2 points)
161. VeloJello (2 points)
162. roberto (2 points)
163. Gervais (2 points)
164. TOM.NELS2120 (2 points)
165. D. Stef (2 points)
166. Chris S (2 points)
167. Heihachi (2 points)
168. Brianold55 (2 points)
169. sgraha (2 points)
170. GiantBars (2 points)
171. Jeff Simmons (2 points)
172. meursault (2 points)
173. Dave R (2 points)
174. Rhodri (2 points)
175. Bat Chainpuller (2 points)
176. Donnie Bugno (2 points)
177. Haldy (2 points)
178. dancollins (2 points)
179. therealpeel (2 points)
180. BaltoSteve (2 points)
181. Jay (2 points)
182. Emsworth (2 points)
183. jeyrod (2 points)
184. starclimber (2 points)
185. Chica (2 points)
186. G'rilla (1 points)
187. cal (1 points)
188. Barracuda (1 points)
189. Stephen (1 points)
190. dyalander (1 points)
191. velobrowny (1 points)
192. gallilano (1 points)
193. Dave Lominati (1 points)
194. Alex (0 points)
195. eenies (0 points)
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The Hail Mary Shift Wed, 09 Apr 2014 18:55:08 +0000 Gino Bartali looking for a gear Gino Bartali looking for a gear

The grade is long and I am climbing away. I’m not going to Pantani this: I am not out of the saddle, not in the drops and not leaving everyone in my wake. The climbing gear was engaged a long time ago. There is progress, but I am not dancing up this climb. A little more cadence would really help here. If I could just get this mother-lover spinning just a bit, I could get somewhere. Maybe I’m not in the  granny gear, yeah, maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I do have one more gear, the gear that will solve this whole thing.

The right middle finger drops to the shifter and pushes. No. Nothing, just the feel of the derailleur hitting the limiter screw. Idiot. You knew you didn’t have another gear didn’t you but you couldn’t resist, could you? Why do I even do it? I know the answer already but I still do it. Hope springs eternal when one is too big to climb. I did it with downtube shifters too; crank that shifter back hoping for a little more action.

I bet Gino did it when he only had three speeds and a hand lever running down the seat stay to manipulate. “Mamma Mia, sto fumando come moto di un Hippie. Ho solo bisogno di una marcia in più.” *

The only time I look down and am surprised at what gear I’m in is the rare occasion when I am in my climbing gear and crossed on the “big” chainring. And that would be the only justification for wondering what the hell is going on “down there”.

My mountain bike actually has gear indicators, which are embarrassing. What are we, three year olds? On that bike I just keep pushing levers until I can’t, or I just fall over. Maybe, in a few years, when we are all forced into electronic shifting, a soothing voice will emanate from the lever. “Really? You want an even easier gear? You don’t have one so get your fat ass off the saddle, get in the drops before I auto-shift you into the big chainring and leave you there. And you call yourself a Cyclist.” The possibilities are endless.


* Loosely translated- “FFS, I am smoking like a Hippie’s motorbike. I just need one more gear.”

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Balance Mon, 07 Apr 2014 23:08:32 +0000 Fabs and Vanmarke make the split on the Kwaremont. Photo: Alexandre Voisine

I had always imagined that de Ronde van Vlaanderen must be hardest race in the world. The way I worked it out – having never ridden the course of either event at the time – was that de Ronde had the same cobbles as Roubaix, but with 20% grades thrown in. It makes enough sense so long as you don’t know what you’re talking about, but what you quickly discover once you have ridden them both is just how bad the cobbles of Roubaix are: the worst kasseien in Belgium are about as rough as the best pavé in France.

Both routes are so hard you need to experience them in order to appreciate their difficulty; words are hopelessly inadequate in describing the separation the rider feels from their bicycle while simultaneously feeling more connected to it than at any other time. It is through breaking down the illusion of control that the Cyclist is finally allowed to truly bond with their machine.

The element that makes Vlaanderen a slightly easier race is the most counter-intuitive: the bergs. On most routes, the hills are what separate the wheat from the chafe. Yet because of the brutality of the cobbles, they allow a rider to hide. The secret to riding cobblestones is speed; the faster you go, the better the bike is able to skim over the top with the effect of smoothing them out. This requires big, big power to sustain over the distance of a secteur of cobbles, let alone over the whole of a race. But the bergs neutralize the speed somewhat; how fast can anyone go up a 20% grade – on cobbles, no less? The answer is none fast, so the gaps between the strong and the weak are reduced somewhat until the final decisive moments when the pressure is so great that every chink in the rider’s armor is ruthlessly exposed.

To ride the cobbles is to dance with paradox: ride full gas while keeping something in reserve for the crucial moment  - not when the odds are stacked in your favor, but the you are at the smallest disadvantage. During Sunday’s Ronde, we saw a Cancellara who was not at his best; he won both his previous two Ronde by being so superior that he could drop his adversaries on the last of the steep grades. This year, he made his move on the one section of the finale where his power was a definite advantage, despite his relative weakness on the day; he attacked not on one of the two steepest parts of the Kwaremont, but on the cobbled false flat between the two where speed could make a real difference. He then hung onto Vanmarke over the steep Paterberg before being dragged patiently to the sprint finish to take his third Ronde. 

Cancellara is learning tactics as his strength steadily wanes; before last few year, there was no need for such subtlety. Now he is patient; he is calm. He knows both his strength and weakness, and doesn’t let the antics of the race affect his action. It reminds me of Neruda:

I like you calm, act as if you were absent, and you hear me far-off, and my voice does not touch you.

- Pablo Neruda

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Guest Article: In V We Trust Fri, 04 Apr 2014 20:19:47 +0000 Bianchi Denti and Rigid on the Muur Bianchi Denti and Rigid on the Muur

One of greatest cycling pleasures is riding with a mate. Riding ten centimeters off each other’s rear wheel for hours; trust is a beautiful thing. You swing over, ease your effort slightly so your mate rides through, you then tuck behind, in the draft, close and fast. It is the best. @Kah touches on this and other transcendent benefits from a ride with a mate.

VLVV, Gianni 

I sometimes wonder if the Rules were meant to be followed backwards, from 93 to 1. For example, the Principle of Silence in Rule #65 decrees that the bicycle should be silent. The mechanical benefits of a well-maintained steed are clear: respect for the machine and in return, speed and efficiency. Now, a silent bicycle with a smooth rider on board is well on his or her way to achieving Rule #6: a free mind via fluidly harmonic articulations.

I went for a road ride with my friend Brett today. The weather forecast wasn’t great, but he had spotted a gap in the passing showers and we meant to make the most of it.

After the usual early gasbagging we navigated traffic through town and settled into single file, and I was led towards the highway. For the most part we’re close enough that he fills my immediate field of vision, and I’m afforded to admire the ocean at my periphery and trust him with the road ahead. As I follow, I don’t really have to think twice about what I’m doing, but rather just respond to body language interlaced with hand gestures. We didn’t speak for a while, both seemingly left with our own thoughts as we swapped turns seamlessly.

As my legs started to settle into their own rhythm I got a chance to watch him ride. The cliche joke is that cyclists spend a lot of time staring at each others’ arses while out on our bikes (a thought commonly shared by the most homophobic). There are so many better things to look for when following a fellow Cyclist who knows what he’s doing. Brett has still shoulders, a good position, and an elegant supplesse to his pedal stroke. Similarly, watching his hand gestures gives a glimpse into his mood for the day too.

When I take my turn on the front, I try to emulate this stillness while maintaining our silent communication of the road conditions ahead. When I’m looking ahead at him, I’m not staring at his arse, I get to see through him – his experience of cycling means I am never surprised by the road conditions and for the most part our speed ebbs and flows rather than jerks and surges. This trust means eventually, slowly, finally – my mind cleared itself from the chatter that the typical work week leaves me with and a stillness follows.

I guess the difference between the tacit knowledge embodied by my riding buddies and the explicit knowledge that the Rules are trying to impart is the same as my Gran being a phenomenal chef; instinctively knowing just when and how to do the right thing, and how I have to Google how to hard-boil an egg. Obviously the difference is in our relative amounts of experience preparing food, but also in our interest and care in cooking. At some point, we just have to head out and learn through doing, transforming the theory of the Rules into innate knowledge.

As we rolled back toward the city, my legs burning from our earlier effort, my mind maintains that same stillness. Except now I’m more aware, awake, alive. I’m looking closely at my ally and adversary knowing he’s going to jump at any moment. When he doesn’t go, I have a dig (only friends attack friends right?), and this time I know whether he’s following when I hear the click-thunk of the derailleur engaging the sprint cog as we headed for the town-line sprint.

My world shrunk to the immediate visceral sensations of hurtling towards the end of the ride, tucked into The V-locus with my legs burning as I desperately try to gasp in air, I didn’t even care who got to the line first. For a few glorious moments, my mind was free.



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Velominati Super Prestige: Ronde van Vlaanderen 2014 Thu, 03 Apr 2014 17:59:05 +0000 Eddie Boss Eddie Boss

This needs no introduction. The Spring Classics are truly upon us. The course has been modified yet again, it is tougher? The riders make the race and the 2014 Ronde van Vlaanderen is loaded with racers who could win or make the Velominati VSP placings. Just to pick the winner will not be nearly as easy as it has been recently. There are small clouds hanging over Boonen and Cancellara, neither have had a dominant run up to this race, nor has Sagan. Boonen’s team is extremely strong, other teams would kill to have Quick Step’s plan B and plan C.

As always, the Ronde and Roubaix sort out who is the strongest. The final burn up Oude Kwaremont and the Paterburg will hopefully kill any chance for a sprint finish, but if it comes down to a sprint, it shall be awesome. As always, we shall be praying for rain on the Koppenberg and maybe a quick view of a friend drinking a Malteni on the Kwaremont. Here is a provisional start list. So do your Belgian beer shopping, make sure your counter-top frite deep fryer won’t burn down your home and then and only then, contemplate your VSP picks. If you Delgado this you may be cut off for the rest of 2014, because you suck.

The points from the Men’s RVV count towards the overall prizes plus the winner of this event also gets to post for the rest of the year in the  Lion of Flanders badge. So review the VSP Scoring Guidelines and get your picks in by the time the countdown clock goes to zero at midnight PDT on Sunday the 30th. If you think we mapped one of your picks wrong, use the dispute system and we’ll review it. Also remember to be precise enough in your description so we know which rider you mean; in other words, if you enter “Martin”, we will use our discretion (read: wild guess) to decide if you mean Tony or Dan – and that choice will not be negotiable once the the countdown clock goes to zero, so be sure to give yourself enough time.

Don’t forget we’ve got three major prizes for the season-long VSP:

  1. First place overall wins a Veloforma Strada iR Velominati Edition frame in addition to the customary VSP winner’s VVorkshop Apron
  2. Second place overall wins a set of hand built CR Wheelworks Arenberg wheelset in a custom Velominati paint scheme laced to orange Chris King hubs. (CR Wheelworks is Café Roubaix’s new wheel goods brand.)
  3. Third place overall wins a full Velominati V-Kit with accompanying custom orange Bont Vaypor+ road shoes.

Good luck, have fun with it, and don’t lose your Rule #43 spirit.

Final Race Results
5. KRISTOFF Alexander
Final VSP Results
1. VirenqueForever (14 points)
2. Skip (13 points)
3. JCM (12 points)
4. freddy (12 points)
5. Jay (12 points)
6. Harminator (11 points)
7. JohnB (11 points)
8. Sauterelle (11 points)
9. TOM.NELS2120 (11 points)
10. fignons barber (11 points)
11. scaler911 (11 points)
12. Heusdens (11 points)
13. Rob (11 points)
14. V-olcano (11 points)
15. LIIIXI (11 points)
16. Dave R (11 points)
17. Noel (11 points)
18. dancollins (11 points)
19. therealpeel (11 points)
20. Nate (11 points)
21. gallilano (11 points)
22. ChrisO (11 points)
23. piwakawaka (10 points)
24. Patrick (10 points)
25. DCR (9 points)
26. justinevan88 (9 points)
27. Mirko (9 points)
28. dpalazzo (9 points)
29. the Engine (9 points)
30. GiantBars (9 points)
31. spoderman (9 points)
32. american psycho (9 points)
33. strathlubnaig (9 points)
34. Buck Rogers (8 points)
35. Beers (8 points)
36. velobrowny (8 points)
37. stickyjumper (8 points)
38. Rom (8 points)
39. ralexmiller (8 points)
40. Duende (8 points)
41. Steampunk (8 points)
42. Kevin (8 points)
43. asyax (8 points)
44. ten B (8 points)
45. tony macaroni (8 points)
46. Darren H (8 points)
47. Floridian (8 points)
48. blue (8 points)
49. LeoTea (8 points)
50. weags (8 points)
51. Yagerbomb (8 points)
52. Endurimil (8 points)
53. Lukas (8 points)
54. Rigid (8 points)
55. Ron (8 points)
56. Barracuda (8 points)
57. Blah (8 points)
58. R00tdown (8 points)
59. xyxax (8 points)
60. el gato (8 points)
61. Heihachi (8 points)
62. roberto (8 points)
63. UptheTrossachs (8 points)
64. G'phant (8 points)
65. Two Ball Billy (8 points)
66. Emsworth (8 points)
67. simonsaunders (8 points)
68. Thomas van Maanen (8 points)
69. sgraha (8 points)
70. Fausto (8 points)
71. Bill Chris (8 points)
72. Fins (8 points)
73. imakecircles (8 points)
74. BaltoSteve (8 points)
75. kidpinarello (8 points)
76. bunji (8 points)
77. CanuckChuck (7 points)
78. RedRanger (7 points)
79. Badger (7 points)
80. elmeltone (7 points)
81. Minnesota Expat (7 points)
82. zeitzmar (7 points)
83. aaus (7 points)
84. Shlumpen (7 points)
85. Teocalli (7 points)
86. Wardy (7 points)
87. norm (7 points)
88. chrismurphy92 (7 points)
89. KW (7 points)
90. wkleik (7 points)
91. taon24 (7 points)
92. LastBoyScout (7 points)
93. skagitteam (7 points)
94. Giles (7 points)
95. gaswepass (7 points)
96. Roadslave525 (7 points)
97. napolinige (7 points)
98. Geraint (7 points)
99. Donnie Bugno (7 points)
100. Joe (7 points)
101. Island Bike (7 points)
102. Collin (7 points)
103. Gianni (7 points)
104. Chris S (6 points)
105. Tom Mc (6 points)
106. unversio (5 points)
107. il muro di manayunk (5 points)
108. Gervais (5 points)
109. zot (5 points)
110. boudewijn (5 points)
111. BoogieStudio22 (5 points)
112. moondance (5 points)
113. D. Stef (5 points)
114. Bianchi Denti (3 points)
115. sthilzy (3 points)
116. The Grande Fondue (3 points)
117. Daccordi Rider (3 points)
118. Adrian (3 points)
119. velocepedia (3 points)
120. V-inden (3 points)
121. Spencer (3 points)
122. Jeff simmons (2 points)
123. Brian McAndrews (2 points)
124. Rhodri (2 points)
125. VeloJello (2 points)
126. plynie (2 points)
127. Brianold55 (2 points)
128. San Tonio (2 points)
129. thatsplainsoppy (2 points)
130. Xponti (2 points)
131. dyalander (2 points)
132. PT (2 points)
133. the-farmer (2 points)
134. Mike_P (2 points)
135. wiscot (2 points)
136. HMBSteve (2 points)
137. ped (2 points)
138. ErikdR (2 points)
139. Marko (2 points)
140. andrew (2 points)
141. Haldy (2 points)
142. BatDan (2 points)
143. geoffrey (2 points)
144. El mateo (2 points)
145. seemunkee (2 points)
146. LA Dave (2 points)
147. Father of Four (2 points)
148. edster99 (2 points)
149. ramenvelo (2 points)
150. Deakus (2 points)
151. TheVid (2 points)
152. Chica (2 points)
153. foggypeake (2 points)
154. Alex (2 points)
155. Tobin (1 points)
156. Chris (1 points)
157. razmaspaz (1 points)
158. Ccos (1 points)
159. TheDon (1 points)
160. Mikael Liddy (1 points)
161. RondeVan (1 points)
162. Stephen (1 points)
163. atze (1 points)
164. Karsten Niemann (1 points)
165. schall und rauch (1 points)
166. Rork (1 points)
167. il ciclista medio (1 points)
168. tommy5tone (1 points)
169. Doctor Kono (1 points)
170. VeloVita (1 points)
171. David Barker (1 points)
172. atomicmanatee (1 points)
173. Andrew (1 points)
174. Steve-o (1 points)
175. Gino (1 points)
176. cal (1 points)
177. Owen (1 points)
178. eenies (1 points)
179. Dan_R (1 points)
180. Bat Chainpuller (1 points)
181. jeyrod (1 points)
182. Conner (1 points)
183. habswin1 (1 points)
184. kixsand (1 points)
185. DeKerr (1 points)
186. bugleboy21 (1 points)
187. starclimber (1 points)
188. oneninefiveninesix (1 points)
189. girl (1 points)
190. anthony (1 points)
191. Roobar (0 points)
192. Simon (0 points)
193. brett (0 points)
]]> 307
Velominati Super Prestige: VVomen’s Ronde van Vlaanderen 2014 Thu, 03 Apr 2014 17:28:42 +0000 Ellen van Dijk scales the Oude Kwaremont Ellen van Dijk scales the Oude Kwaremont

Vlaanderen. Its no accident the Flemish word for Flanders starts with a V; there is nothing simple or easy about riding a bike here. If it isn’t wind, its steep bergs. If it isn’t tarmac, its cobbles. Most of the time, its all three. Oh, and the weather there sucks. In fact, Flanders doesn’t have weather – it has VVeather.

De Ronde and Roubaix are the hardest races of the year, and the natural inclination is to assume de Ronde might be the harder of the two due to the combination of cobbles and steep roads. But the cobbles in Belgium are flatter and better laid than those of Roubaix, and the climbs are short enough that you can hide on them. I say you can hide here, but there really isn’t any hiding on cobbles – what I mean is that you can drift through the groups and stay in contact even if you’re a little bit behind your form. I think that’s the secret to the men doing the double – hiding here while still looking for the last 1% of form – then then peaking for Roubaix.

But who gives a flying fuck about the Men? We’re here to talk about the women, who get to race this course a few hours earlier in the day. Elizabeth Armistead knows how to ride a bike, and she’s been winning or getting second places all season long. For her efforts, she’s racing in the World Cup leader’s jersey on Sunday. Lizzy is a waify little thing and I have my doubts she can put up the power you need on a course as demanding as this, but when you’ve got the form you can make anything happen. I’m also putting my money on a timely Evie Stevens performance. But no one can deny Vos will try to repeat after taking the win last year.

The points from the VVomen’s RVV count towards the overall prizes plus the winner of this event also gets to post for the rest of the year in the oh-so-sexy Lioness of Flanders badge. So check the start list, review the VSP Scoring Guidelines and get your picks in by the time the countdown clock goes to zero at midnight PDT on Sunday the 30th. If you think we mapped one of your picks wrong, use the dispute system and we’ll review it. Also remember to be precise enough in your description so we know which rider you mean; in other words, if you enter “Martin”, we will use our discretion (read: wild guess) to decide if you mean Tony or Dan – and that choice will not be negotiable once the the countdown clock goes to zero, so be sure to give yourself enough time.

Don’t forget we’ve got three major prizes for the season-long VSP:

  1. First place overall wins a Veloforma Strada iR Velominati Edition frame in addition to the customary VSP winner’s VVorkshop Apron
  2. Second place overall wins a set of hand built CR Wheelworks Arenberg wheelset in a custom Velominati paint scheme laced to orange Chris King hubs. (CR Wheelworks is Café Roubaix’s new wheel goods brand.)
  3. Third place overall wins a full Velominati V-Kit with accompanying custom orange Bont Vaypor+ road shoes.

Good luck, have fun with it, and don’t lose your Rule #43 spirit.

Final Race Results
1. VAN DIJK Ellen
2. ARMITSTEAD Elizabeth
5. VAN VLEUTEN Annemiek
Final VSP Results
1. Tom Mc (19 points)
2. seemunkee (19 points)
3. Rom (17 points)
4. Mike_P (16 points)
5. cal (16 points)
6. moondance (14 points)
7. CanuckChuck (13 points)
8. roberto (13 points)
9. il muro di manayunk (12 points)
10. ralexmiller (12 points)
11. Minnesota Expat (12 points)
12. blue (12 points)
13. Island Bike (12 points)
14. foggypeake (12 points)
15. Nate (12 points)
16. piwakawaka (11 points)
17. Spencer (11 points)
18. skagitteam (11 points)
19. San Tonio (10 points)
20. TheDon (10 points)
21. ten B (10 points)
22. il ciclista medio (10 points)
23. Floridian (10 points)
24. VeloVita (10 points)
25. taon24 (10 points)
26. Blah (10 points)
27. Rob (10 points)
28. Haldy (10 points)
29. G'phamt (10 points)
30. jeyrod (10 points)
31. Tobin (9 points)
32. JCM (9 points)
33. Steampunk (9 points)
34. wiscot (9 points)
35. boudewijn (9 points)
36. BoogieStudio22 (9 points)
37. ErikdR (9 points)
38. Gino (9 points)
39. Owen (9 points)
40. Deakus (9 points)
41. Alex (9 points)
42. JohnB (8 points)
43. DCR (8 points)
44. Bat Chainpuller (8 points)
45. Roobar (8 points)
46. zot (8 points)
47. Chris (8 points)
48. Skip (8 points)
49. R00tdown (8 points)
50. ramenvelo (8 points)
51. Thomas van Maanen (8 points)
52. dancollins (8 points)
53. anthony (8 points)
54. Kevin (7 points)
55. dyalander (7 points)
56. Shlumpen (7 points)
57. the Engine (7 points)
58. UptheTrossachs (7 points)
59. Emsworth (7 points)
60. gallilano (7 points)
61. bunji (7 points)
62. Lukas (6 points)
63. sthilzy (6 points)
64. freddy (6 points)
65. zeitzmar (6 points)
66. Adrian (6 points)
67. velocepedia (6 points)
68. HMBSteve (6 points)
69. wkleik (6 points)
70. Yagerbomb (6 points)
71. geoffrey (6 points)
72. Heihachi (6 points)
73. eenies (6 points)
74. Two Ball Billy (6 points)
75. V-olcano (6 points)
76. LIIIXI (6 points)
77. habswin1 (6 points)
78. BaltoSteve (6 points)
79. ChrisO (6 points)
80. the-farmer (5 points)
81. razmaspaz (5 points)
82. RondeVan (5 points)
83. chrismurphy92 (5 points)
84. Endurimil (5 points)
85. andrew (5 points)
86. dpalazzo (5 points)
87. sgraha (5 points)
88. Ron (5 points)
89. DeKerr (5 points)
90. unversio (4 points)
91. Dan_R (4 points)
92. Beers (4 points)
93. The Grande Fondue (4 points)
94. TOM.NELS2120 (4 points)
95. asyax (4 points)
96. Stephen (4 points)
97. elmeltone (4 points)
98. aaus (4 points)
99. Chris S (4 points)
100. atze (4 points)
101. tony macaroni (4 points)
102. tommy5tone (4 points)
103. Steve-o (4 points)
104. xyxax (4 points)
105. Roadslave525 (4 points)
106. simonsaunders (4 points)
107. scaler911 (4 points)
108. LA Dave (4 points)
109. Father of Four (4 points)
110. TheVid (4 points)
111. imakecircles (4 points)
112. gaswepass (4 points)
113. Donnie Bugno (4 points)
114. Buck Rogers (3 points)
115. KW (3 points)
116. Harminator (3 points)
117. Brian McAndrews (3 points)
118. justinevan88 (3 points)
119. stickyjumper (3 points)
120. Ccos (3 points)
121. Mikael Liddy (3 points)
122. Patrick (3 points)
123. Duende (3 points)
124. Xponti (3 points)
125. VirenqueForever (3 points)
126. Wardy (3 points)
127. Darren H (3 points)
128. V-inden (3 points)
129. LeoTea (3 points)
130. GiantBars (3 points)
131. ped (3 points)
132. Barracuda (3 points)
133. el gato (3 points)
134. Rhodri (3 points)
135. napolinige (3 points)
136. Geraint (3 points)
137. Jay (3 points)
138. Fausto (3 points)
139. therealpeel (3 points)
140. Chica (3 points)
141. girl (3 points)
142. Gianni (3 points)
143. RedRanger (2 points)
144. Bianchi Denti (2 points)
145. Simon (2 points)
146. Rigid (2 points)
147. LastBoyScout (2 points)
148. norm (2 points)
149. Dave R (2 points)
150. plynie (2 points)
151. Fins (2 points)
152. kixsand (2 points)
153. strathlubnaig (2 points)
154. starclimber (2 points)
155. oneninefiveninesix (2 points)
156. Sauterelle (1 points)
157. brett (1 points)
158. bugleboy21 (1 points)
]]> 204
Gravity Wed, 02 Apr 2014 16:49:49 +0000 In defiance of Gravity In defiance of Gravity, we touch the heavens

Gravity is the most unavoidable force on Earth, with the possible exception of Stupidity. And like with Stupidity, you can take measures to reduce its influence on you, but you won’t get rid of it completely, assuming you’re staying on this planet. From the very moment we’re born, Gravity takes its unrelenting hold on us – which isn’t altogether bad because I learned from watching Despicable Me that as soon as someone is smart enough to invent anti-gravity serum, someone will be stupid enough to leave a skylight open.

We Cyclists protect a secret from the rest of the world: we can defy gravity. Riding allows us to float a few meters above the ground, suspended in a cloak of V. Add a little speed to the mix and a maybe few sweeping switchbacks and we are as close to achieving human flight as we will ever get.

Once we trade flat roads for the hills, Gravity reveals its true secret to us: the mind can overcome physical limits when we form the cohesive unit of bicycle and rider. There is a symbiotic bond that forms; Gravity pulls us down toward the bottom of the hill, and we require our strength to counter its force and scale the heights. The strength required to achieve this takes a heavy toll on our body, and it is only through focus and determination that we keep the legs turning over smoothy. Riding back down the other side, we learn to fool Gravity and explore the intersection of centripetal force, friction, and our old friend Stupidity.

With practice, we learn that our mind can drive us to overcome the the physical limits of not just our bodies, but Gravity itself. Its hold on us remains, but the effects are greatly diminished. In defiance of Gravity, we rise to touch the heavens and ride where angels fly.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

]]> 68
The Reflective Bike of Authority Mon, 31 Mar 2014 19:17:53 +0000 Black reflective tape on the Rain Bike Black reflective tape on the Rain Bike

Everyone knows you need at least three road bikes – two if you’re absolutely determined to make a point about minimalism. Bike Number One is reserved for good weather and events, and the Rain Bike for inclement weather. Just like our guns need to be pampered and rubbed down whenever we’re off the bike, any time Bike Number One isn’t being used as a weapon of Mass V-struction, it should be pampered and polished lovingly. Best to leave the dirty work of training in Rule #9 conditions to a dedicated, loyal workhorse with less expensive componentry. It isn’t so much that a bike can’t handle getting wet – don’t be ridiculous – but rather that everything wears more quickly; road grit gets into the drivetrain, water seeps into bearings, and brake pads and rims wear like butter on a grindstone.

I find myself in the enviable position of having my repaired Cervélo R3 holding rank as my current Rain Bike. Having such a steed at hand any time the rain falls makes riding in bad weather all the more enjoyable. I did make some modifications to it, however. For starters, the cassette and chain are both Veloce instead of Record; not only are the less expensive, they appear to be more durable as well. As for hoops, a pair of Mavic Open Pros can’t be beat for durability and reliability.

But perhaps the most important modification centers around making the bike elegantly hi-vis. In addition to Lezyne flashers front and back for visibility, I have also applied strips of black 3M reflective tape to the chain stays, seat post, crank arms, down tube, and head tube. When a light isn’t shining on the tape, you can’t even see its there, but under the shine of a car’s headlights, the bike springs to life.

Riding in bad weather is all about durability and safety; the bike should be outfitted with reliable parts, and the rider should take care to be safe and visible. So whenver you’re riding in Rule #9 conditions, remember these safety tips:

  1. Assume the cars around you do not appreciate the dangers of being on a bicycle in the rain. If you find yourself being followed by a car at a point where it is unsafe for them to pass, either be assertive and take the lane to prevent them making a move that could put you at risk, or pull off the road completely to allow them to pass.
  2. Ride with confidence and make predictable movements. Always signal clearly when making turns. Make eye contact with drivers at intersections and clearly indicate your intended direction of travel.
  3. Always assume cars around you do not see you. Use flashers in any low light situations and give plenty of room to allow for increased stopping distance.
  4. When riding at night, the use of both a helmet mounted light and handlebar mounted light helps drivers realize you are a bicycle and not a motorcycle. I’m not sure why this is, but experience has proven this to be the case.
  5. Avoid riding through puddles, especially ones you can’t see the bottom of; potholes can be bigger than they appear or hidden completely by standing water.

Riding in bad weather means you’re a badass, but it also means cars are less likely to see you or expect to find you out on the road. In accordance with two of The V Tenets of the Velominati, we are to Look Fantastic at All Times, and Return Home Safely To Ride Again Tomorrow. My Reflective Bike of Authority plays nicely in both respects.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

]]> 114
Le Graveur: The Margins Fri, 28 Mar 2014 18:34:07 +0000 1606807_10203488203186136_27587732_o

I just got turned back from a ride. 5k from the house I realized my bits were getting too cold not only for comfort (in which case, apply Rule #5 and move on) but safety (i’ll take my vasectomy in the hospital, thank you very much). It’s a lovely sunny day, the only problems being the minus 12C temp, biting headwind, and leg warmers that stop mid-thigh. Having to pull the plug on a ride is a bummer. Thankfully, it doesn’t happen all too often and I’ve still got the rollers set up in the house. But the silver lining here is that it was only my 4th or 5th training ride of the year for the Heck of the North which is still 7 months away.

Some would say gravel riding is here to stay. Others would say gravel riding has always been a part of cycling and all we’re doing now is applying intention to it. It’s undeniable though that the gravel scene has taken on a prominent role in cycling of late. From open-registration races all over the world to the Strade Bianche, graveling has ignited a passion in many of us. Riding dirt roads has a certain unique aesthetic, an aesthetic that is best described as taking place on the margins.

The tarmac, as we move further from the center of town, gives way increasingly to gravel. As the rider begins to stitch together longer gravel stretches of road he needs to go further out on the margin of the city until finally, any reminders of the city are gone. This is where the margin is blurred between “civilization” and “wilderness”. The Graveur’s bike is marginally a road bike. Road bikes can be fitted with wider tires but are limited by frame and fork design as well as clearance at the caliper. Cyclocross bikes can run with skinny tires which is usually preferred and then we’re left often with a higher BB, heavier bike, and a position that’s closer to Sit Up and Beg. Only just recently have bicycle companies begun to manufacture equipment intended specifically for the booming gravel scene. But even still, the rider has to select a hodge-podge of gear from road, cross, and even MTB that will suit his needs and the particulars of the course.

This year, I’m experimenting with new bars. I’ve decided to give the Salsa Cowbell a spin. Maybe you’ve seen bars like this on Randoneur and drop-bar 29er’s common in the adventure bike and UltraCX scene. I’m trying to achieve a few things with these flared bars: flat hood-to-top area while maintaining horizontal drop, more upright position with a shallow drop, lot’s of drop for secure grip, and leverage provided by wider-than-Lampre-Man 46mm span. Gianni recently referred to the geographically curated bike as a “Terroir Bike”. I like this turn of phrase.

Toeing up to the start of a gravel race can result in sensory overload of Rule-breaking gauche.  Riders operating on the margins of The Rules show up with frame bags and EPMS’s, Camelbaks, zero saddle/stem drop, facial hair, MTB shoes, and even aero bars. The list goes on of Rule violations. Be mindful though that Rules are often bent consciously and  broken for geography, practicality and self-reliance. The most Rule compliant of Velominati on the road may seemingly be found out on the margins of decorum riding gravel. Don’t be too quick to judge.

It is the margins that attracted me to gravel riding and is partly what keeps me excited about it. For one, I have little choice in terms of the roads I have to ride. I live on a gravel road that mostly leads to other gravel roads. I’m closer to the margin of wilderness than civilization. Graveling is a necessity if I want more places to ride. Keeper status aside, I’ve always been one to eschew rules and authority and go against the grain. Gravel riding allows me a damn good reason to blur the Rules from time to time to see what works. Here are a few Rules worth breaking when it comes to gravel road riding:

  • Rule #29. If you’re way out on the margins you just may need the extra space for tools or food.
  • Rule #32. Two bidons won’t cut it often times. So unless you have the ability to filter or treat water, try a hydro pack or frame bag.
  • Rule #34. You will find yourself walking or running out there. Wear shoes that allow this.
  • Rule #44. I’ve found, especially on technical trails and ultraCX, that less drop reduces fatigue and improves visibility over a long ride.
  • Rule #50. I live in the woods, hipster. I’m growing a fucking beard and riding my bike if I damn well please.
  • Rule #52. Pfft.
  • Rule #54. I haven’t done this and won’t. But the guy that won the Heck in 2012 had aerobars and used them. Just sayin’.
  • Rule #61. I ride a fi'zi:k Antares VS on my gravel bike and appreciate the extra padding (although the saddle is compliant).
  • Rule #68. It’s been said riding gravel saps an additional 10% of energy and thus requires an additional 10% of V over a course of the same distance of tarmac. Therefore, the quality of your ride will be 11% more on gravel. That’s one higher.

Vie la vie Velominatus

]]> 94
The Roundness of Being Wed, 26 Mar 2014 18:43:06 +0000 To Q or not to Q that is the Q. To Q or not to Q that is the Q.

Evolution doesn’t really seem to be part of the picture anymore, at least not where humans and our direct reports are concerned. We control an astounding number of genetic defects in ourselves, our pets, and agriculture while Science and Technology give Natural Selection swirlies in the locker room.

Take exercise-induced asthma, which is a condition I suffer from. Evolution suggests that if running from a predator invokes a crippling airflow obstruction, you were meant to be eaten. And even if capture was avoided through some staggering failure of circumstance, the predator should locate you wheezing away somewhere under a nearby bush and make a leisurely meal of you.

In my early teens, I saved my money to buy my first real race bike, a black and hot pink Cannonwhale SR600 with Shimano 105 and BioPace chainrings. BioPace chainrings weren’t the original non-round rings – they have been around since the turn of the twentieth century, shortly after some bright spark stumbled upon the fact that we were evolved to walk, not ride a bike.

I’m not a scientist, but I am given to understand that based on our complimentary pairs of muscles, as Cyclists our legs are only really good at pushing and pulling. The more lateral the movement involved, the less efficient we are at applying the strength of our muscles into the movement. This fundamentally flawed architecture results in a powerful downstroke and a strong upstroke, but with “dead spots” near the bottom and top of the pedal stroke. In other words, our muscles are designed to walk rather than ride a bike. Whoever made that decision should get fired, but it seems I don’t have the authority to “fire” Evolution. I think the Church is also trying to get it fired, also with no luck. Apparently Evolution is tenured.

To solve the problem of the dead spot, non-round rings seek to change the diameter of the chainring by ovalizing it so the rider experiences an effectively bigger gear at some points of the stroke and an effectively smaller gear at others. The problem with BioPace was that the rings weren’t the right shape and were set up so the effective chainring size was biggest where the lateral movement of the leg was also greatest. In addition to being a mind trip, they gave a peculiar feeling to the rider, as though they were riding on a perpetually softening tire. The rings went the way of the Dodo.

In Science and Technology’s ongoing effort to show Evolution the door, component manufacturers continue to experiment with non-round rings. Enter the modern incarnations: Q-Rings and Osymetric Rings. Q-Rings use a similar (but not identical) shape to BioPace but allow for changing the position of the rings based on the rider’s individual pedaling style with the idea that the largest effective gear aligns with the rider’s power stroke and the smallest effective gear with the dead spot. Osymetric uses an insane-looking shape which they claim better matches the irregular application of power caused by the dynamics of our poorly evolved legs.

I’ve spent the last month or so riding Q-Rings, and I have to admit you don’t feel any of the dreaded “biopacing” hobble. But in the long term, they also didn’t seem to offer any tangible advantage; after adjusting them according to their instructions (which takes some time), I found that depending on the day and the terrain, they were good, but never great. On any given ride, I might power up a grade with V in reserve for a surge at the top, and then find myself slipping into the little ring on a climb I normally ride Sur La Plaque. On the next ride, the scenario would reverse and I’d motor up a climb in the big ring that normally requires the 39 and little ring some faux plat into the wind a little later on. On balance, I found myself struggling to find power. One point to consider is all this is based on feel and knowing the gear ratios I use on familiar terrain – my use of a V-Meter and my avoidance of power meters means there is no tangible data to support or counter my conclusions. In other words, I’m not distracted by the facts.

I noticed that of the riders whose use of Q-Rings inspired my own experimentation – Marianne Vos and Johan Vansummeren – both have a relatively forward position with respect to their bottom bracket while I sit quite far back; maybe the rings favor such a position over mine. In any case, switching back to round rings, I’m able to find power more easily as well as being better able to maintain a cadence and accelerate. In other words, I’m more comfortable more often on round rings.

Maybe my pedaling style uses too wide a power band not suited for the Q’s, or maybe I have trascended evolution to favor rotational locomotion over bipedal. That last notion is not outside the realm of possibility because I can confirm I am pretty terrible at walking. The idea behind non-round rings continues to makes sense, but for me Q-Rings don’t do the job. I’ll give Osymetric a go if I get the opportunity but until then, I’m glad to be back in the round.

]]> 149
Velominati Super Prestige: Gent Wevelgem 2014 Wed, 26 Mar 2014 17:57:02 +0000 IMG_0415 2

The Kemmelberg is a brute. In my opinion, its the hardest of the cobbled climbs in the Spring Classics; it has a high speed tarmac approach that saps the guns of their snap. The transition from tarmac to cobbles is awful, the stones are very badly laid throughout and if you don’t hit it just right, you’ll come to a standstill. The cobbled part of the climb is long enough to make you consider a plea-bargain with any deity willing to listen before it ends with a brutal 23% ramp with good cobbles. The length, the camber, the gradient, and the way the stones are laid combine in a way that makes you feel every centimeter of the climb.

Gent Wevelgem is considered a sprinters classic, but it’s a shock considering how many climbs are along the route. I can’t imagine the Italian curses that must have escaped Cipollini’s mouth along his bumpy way to winning the race. No wonder he chucked the odd bidon at a motorbike.

I miss the old setup of the Cobbled Classics, with the Ronde on Sunday, Gent on Wednesday, and Roubaix on Sunday, but on the plus side, now we get to drool over the racing for three weeks instead of just one. So, check the start list, review the VSP Scoring Guidelines and get your picks in by the time the countdown clock goes to zero at midnight PDT on Sunday the 30th. If you think we mapped one of your picks wrong, use the dispute system and we’ll review it. Also remember to be precise enough in your description so we know which rider you mean; in other words, if you enter “Martin”, we will use our discretion (read: wild guess) to decide if you mean Tony or Dan – and that choice will not be negotiable once the the countdown clock goes to zero, so be sure to give yourself enough time.

Don’t forget we’ve got three major prizes for the season-long VSP:

  1. First place overall wins a Veloforma Strada iR Velominati Edition frame in addition to the customary VSP winner’s VVorkshop Apron
  2. Second place overall wins a set of hand built CR Wheelworks Arenberg wheelset in a custom Velominati paint scheme laced to orange Chris King hubs. (CR Wheelworks is Café Roubaix’s new wheel goods brand.)
  3. Third place overall wins a full Velominati V-Kit with accompanying custom orange Bont Vaypor+ road shoes.

Good luck, and don’t lose your Rule #43 spirit.

Final Race Results
2. DEMARE Arnaud
3. SAGAN Peter
Final VSP Results
1. boomboom-84 (16 points)
2. xyxax (12 points)
3. LIIIXI (11 points)
4. Steampunk (11 points)
5. freddy (10 points)
6. dyalander (10 points)
7. Harminator (9 points)
8. the Engine (9 points)
9. seemunkee (8 points)
10. il ciclista medio (8 points)
11. Nate (8 points)
12. Lukas (8 points)
13. Fausto (8 points)
14. Island Bike (8 points)
15. Marko (7 points)
16. ralexmiller (7 points)
17. colluphid (7 points)
18. Owen (7 points)
19. weags (6 points)
20. Chris S (6 points)
21. Conrad (6 points)
22. ChrisO (6 points)
23. piwakawaka (5 points)
24. Xponti (5 points)
25. atomicmanatee (5 points)
26. slatanic (5 points)
27. the-farmer (5 points)
28. Jeff simmons (5 points)
29. Brian McAndrews (5 points)
30. Bianchi Denti (5 points)
31. roberto (5 points)
32. Skip (5 points)
33. taon24 (5 points)
34. GiantBars (5 points)
35. Andrew (5 points)
36. atze (5 points)
37. il muro di manayunk (5 points)
38. Emsworth (5 points)
39. simonsaunders (5 points)
40. tony macaroni (5 points)
41. Darren H (4 points)
42. Barracuda (4 points)
43. unversio (4 points)
44. Two Ball Billy (4 points)
45. San Tonio (4 points)
46. D. Stef (4 points)
47. Rob (4 points)
48. Tartan1749 (4 points)
49. zot (4 points)
50. V-inden (4 points)
51. scaler911 (4 points)
52. Facetious_Jesus (4 points)
53. ramenvelo (4 points)
54. Mikael Liddy (3 points)
55. sthilzy (3 points)
56. The Grande Fondue (3 points)
57. Simon (3 points)
58. nesimunko (3 points)
59. Spencer (3 points)
60. KW (3 points)
61. justinevan88 (3 points)
62. Gaelic Laird (3 points)
63. The Oracle (3 points)
64. DCR (3 points)
65. Thomas van Maanen (3 points)
66. Tom Mc (3 points)
67. Andrew Brown (3 points)
68. Smithers (3 points)
69. chrismurphy92 (3 points)
70. Adrian (3 points)
71. eenies (3 points)
72. afroturk (3 points)
73. bunji (3 points)
74. Yagerbomb (3 points)
75. Chris (3 points)
76. blue (3 points)
77. aaus (3 points)
78. TOM.NELS2120 (3 points)
79. Gervais (3 points)
80. Kevin (3 points)
81. sgraha (3 points)
82. Blah (3 points)
83. skagitteam (3 points)
84. Joe (3 points)
85. Dave R (3 points)
86. Bat Chainpuller (3 points)
87. stickyjumprt (3 points)
88. velocepedia (3 points)
89. imakecircles (3 points)
90. Minnesota Expat (3 points)
91. Stuart witkowski (3 points)
92. Heihachi (3 points)
93. TheVid (3 points)
94. moondance (3 points)
95. LA Dave (3 points)
96. tommy5tone (2 points)
97. Sauterelle (2 points)
98. Chris S (2 points)
99. Geraint (2 points)
100. Father of Four (2 points)
101. Beers (2 points)
102. RManneck (2 points)
103. JCM (2 points)
104. Bill Chris (2 points)
105. Brianold55 (2 points)
106. RedRanger (2 points)
107. razmaspaz (2 points)
108. swillgil (2 points)
109. zeitzmar (2 points)
110. Shlumpen (2 points)
111. tessar (2 points)
112. Mirko (2 points)
113. Alex M (2 points)
114. VeloJello (2 points)
115. brasco1033 (2 points)
116. wiscot (2 points)
117. plynie (2 points)
118. UptheTrossachs (2 points)
119. velobrowny (2 points)
120. fignons barber (2 points)
121. SimonH (2 points)
122. Russ (2 points)
123. asyax (2 points)
124. TheDon (2 points)
125. gallilano (2 points)
126. Wardy (2 points)
127. Rom (2 points)
128. therealpeel (2 points)
129. Dan_R (2 points)
130. lindrop (2 points)
131. BoogieStudio22 (2 points)
132. Badger (2 points)
133. VeloVita (2 points)
134. Si Birch (2 points)
135. CanuckChuck (2 points)
136. napolinige (2 points)
137. foggypeake (2 points)
138. Steve-o (2 points)
139. boudewijn (2 points)
140. Haldy (2 points)
141. Chica (2 points)
142. R00tdown (2 points)
143. Dave P (2 points)
144. Roadslave525 (2 points)
145. Rhodri (2 points)
146. habswin1 (2 points)
147. dmpalazzo (2 points)
148. Collin (2 points)
149. MJ Moquin (2 points)
150. Fins (2 points)
151. jeyrod (2 points)
152. dancollins (2 points)
153. Jay (2 points)
154. Dave Lominati (2 points)
155. Ron (2 points)
156. Gianni (2 points)
157. Endurimil (2 points)
158. gaswepass (2 points)
159. Rigid (2 points)
160. strathlubnaig (1 points)
161. JohnB (1 points)
162. Ccos (1 points)
163. Duende (1 points)
164. Teocalli (1 points)
165. PT (1 points)
166. LeoTea (1 points)
167. Buck Rogers (1 points)
168. Al__S (1 points)
169. anthony (1 points)
170. Dr C (1 points)
171. andrew (1 points)
172. VirenqueForever (1 points)
173. Tobin (1 points)
174. V-olcano (1 points)
175. geoffrey (1 points)
176. schall und rauch (1 points)
177. el gato (1 points)
178. Roobar (1 points)
179. RondeVan (1 points)
180. Geordi (1 points)
181. wkleik (1 points)
182. kixsand (1 points)
183. norm (1 points)
184. G'phant (1 points)
185. Donnie Bugno (1 points)
186. oneninefiveninesix (1 points)
187. starclimber (1 points)
188. Benny (0 points)
189. Deakus (0 points)
190. Stephen (0 points)
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Velominati Super Prestige: Trofeo Alfredo Binda 2014 Wed, 26 Mar 2014 07:32:42 +0000 Race of the Leather Toe Straps. Race of the Leather Toe Straps.

This is the kick off of the VSP for women’s racing, though the women have already kicked it off with the Ronde van Drenthe in the Netherlands. Now it’s down to Northern Italy, Varese, by Lago Maggiore, but this is a climbers course, more in the mountains than by the lake. And yes, Sunday is also Gent-Wevelgem for women but Trofeo is part of the women’s World Cup so it is the race of choice (unless you are a sprinter who likes cobbles and wet Belgian weather).

If you fancy doing well in this year’s VSP then you had better be studying up on the women’s racing. Podiumcafé always has some well informed articles on women’s racing, in addition, velofocus is worth a visit. Last year’s winner was Elisa Longo Borghini. This year’s winner will have to be a strong climber, descender and if last week’s Milan-Sanremo’s weather was any indicator of anything, tough as nails.

If any well informed individual would like to submit a guest article on women’s professional racing in 2014, we, in the Velominati Super Bunker would be open to that. Lastly, we hate whiners, so if you get confused about your time zones and nap schedule, and miss placing your picks, Rule #5. Start list is here.

Final Race Results
2. ARMITSTEAD Elizabeth
Final VSP Results
1. Yagerbomb (13 points)
2. dyalander (12 points)
3. Rob (12 points)
4. Duende (12 points)
5. MJ Moquin (12 points)
6. boomboom-84 (12 points)
7. Beers (11 points)
8. velocepedia (10 points)
9. JCM (9 points)
10. Father of Four (9 points)
11. scaler911 (9 points)
12. dancollins (9 points)
13. LeoTea (8 points)
14. JohnB (8 points)
15. VeloVita (8 points)
16. the-farmer (8 points)
17. Bat Chainpuller (8 points)
18. Tom Mc (8 points)
19. Steve-o (8 points)
20. Rhodri (8 points)
21. Blah (8 points)
22. skagitteam (8 points)
23. starclimber (8 points)
24. freddy (7 points)
25. sthilzy (7 points)
26. Dan_R (7 points)
27. Tobin (7 points)
28. foggypeake (7 points)
29. il muro di manayunk (7 points)
30. ten B (7 points)
31. therealpeel (7 points)
32. strathlubnaig (7 points)
33. Dave R (7 points)
34. unversio (6 points)
35. Thomas van Maanen (6 points)
36. zot (6 points)
37. seemunkee (6 points)
38. Chris S (6 points)
39. Ccos (6 points)
40. blue (6 points)
41. plynie (6 points)
42. taon24 (6 points)
43. DCR (6 points)
44. Ron (6 points)
45. habswin1 (6 points)
46. R00tdown (6 points)
47. TheVid (6 points)
48. Roobar (5 points)
49. Haldy (5 points)
50. Chris (5 points)
51. justinevan88 (5 points)
52. Facetious_Jesus (5 points)
53. Bill Chris (4 points)
54. Heihachi (4 points)
55. Bianchi Denti (3 points)
56. Deakus (3 points)
57. Wardy (3 points)
58. CanuckChuck (3 points)
59. Darren H (3 points)
60. xyxax (3 points)
61. chrismurphy92 (2 points)
62. Mikael Liddy (2 points)
63. The Grande Fondue (2 points)
64. Adrian (2 points)
65. eenies (2 points)
66. Xponti (2 points)
67. the Engine (2 points)
68. bunji (2 points)
69. Sauterelle (2 points)
70. andrew (2 points)
71. KW (2 points)
72. Brian McAndrews (2 points)
73. GiantBars (2 points)
74. VirenqueForever (2 points)
75. BoogieStudio22 (2 points)
76. razmaspaz (2 points)
77. Geraint (2 points)
78. roberto (2 points)
79. Skip (2 points)
80. aaus (2 points)
81. boudewijn (2 points)
82. piwakawaka (2 points)
83. TOM.NELS2120 (2 points)
84. RedRanger (2 points)
85. el gato (2 points)
86. zeitzmar (2 points)
87. dpalazzo (2 points)
88. RondeVan (2 points)
89. Geordi (2 points)
90. sgraha (2 points)
91. kixsand (2 points)
92. simonsaunders (2 points)
93. tony macaroni (2 points)
94. Fins (2 points)
95. Gianni (2 points)
96. Jay (2 points)
97. Island Bike (2 points)
98. Minnesota Expat (2 points)
99. Owen (2 points)
100. Emsworth (2 points)
101. Endurimil (2 points)
102. Rigid (2 points)
103. UptheTrossachs (2 points)
104. Two Ball Billy (1 points)
105. San Tonio (1 points)
106. il ciclista medio (1 points)
107. Rom (1 points)
108. Buck Rogers (1 points)
109. moondance (1 points)
110. Andrew (1 points)
111. Lukas (1 points)
112. V-olcano (1 points)
113. Nate (1 points)
114. Stephen (1 points)
115. napolinige (1 points)
116. geoffrey (1 points)
117. Chica (1 points)
118. Barracuda (1 points)
119. Fausto (1 points)
120. Kevin (1 points)
121. wkleik (1 points)
122. Harminator (1 points)
123. Steampunk (1 points)
124. stickyjumper (1 points)
125. jeyrod (1 points)
126. imakecircles (1 points)
127. Dave Lominati (1 points)
128. D. Stef (1 points)
129. Stuart witkowski (1 points)
130. ramenvelo (1 points)
131. gaswepass (1 points)
132. ChrisO (1 points)
133. LA Dave (1 points)
134. TheDon (0 points)
135. tommy5tone (0 points)
136. oneninefiveninesix (0 points)
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Terroir of the Bike Mon, 24 Mar 2014 17:53:05 +0000 Honomanu photo:Blue Hawaii Helicopters Honomanu photo:Blue Hawaiian Helicopters

This winter Shimano showed up on Maui with a flotilla of Colnago C-59s set up with disc brakes. The lucky Shimano people tested the bikes on some of the nicest routes on the island, including some descending down the Haleakala volcano. Unbelievably they didn’t invite me along (!?). If they had I would have suggested a different place to ride, one that is usually wet and full of descending corners. Any brake system and any tire works well on dry roads, maybe Shimano was here for the riding, not the testing.

Haleakala’s windward coast road is a sinuous mostly two lane magic carpet ride through rainforest. The road gains and looses elevation as it dives in to cross a river then climbs up out around the next headland, again and again. And it is often wet. If you want to find out if you trust your tires, this is the place.

I already know caliper brakes on machined aluminum rims are nearly worthless when it’s raining on this route. I have a theory that brake pads here get hardened by heat on steep dry descents and then they become hard grit holders, not good for braking when wet. Shimano should have done this ride in the rain.

There is a 10km section of this route that is mostly all down, 3-4% grade and there are many corners, a few a little off-camber. Two of us have lost it in different corners here. Both were the result of wet brakes, too much speed and a little inattention. The point is, caliper brakes suck in wet twisting descents.

To remedy this, the grand master of this ride, @mauibike, put on an ENVE road disc front fork on his Madone. His bike deserves its own article but suffice it to say his bike has some north shore Maui terroir. He is the only old school racer I know who never switched to clincher tires after his racing license expired. He is also now all Carbone wheels, all the time. He has a bike that has been adapted to the terrain and it’s very cool.

I’m thinking about this because I would like to go all Carbone wheel, all the time too. If Cancellara can race Milan-Sanremo, the Ronde and Paris-Roubaix all on the same carbon wheelset, I’m already persuaded. But carbon clinchers on Maui seem like a bad idea. There are a few steep descents with ninety-degree corners where one can’t help but get on the brakes long and hard. I foresee bad things happening to my front wheel and my beautiful face. I’ve used sew-up tires for years so I don’t fear them but I do like the simplicity of tire patching not involving sutures and a field operating theater. I think carbon tubulars are better for Maui but road disc seem much smarter. Why involve the carbon fiber rim in the braking at all? Steel seems like the material we want, it won’t wear and it conducts heat beautifully. Rain would only cool it down and improve its braking.

As a rider of SMP saddles and now Bont shoes, I’m clearly going for function over form and I don’t think I have large aesthetic issues with disc brakes. I do have a problem if they violate any principles of silence. No one needs to hear that screech on a road ride.

In my continuing series of “endorsing things I’ve haven’t used yet” (see tubeless tires). I’m liking the idea of a terroir bike, a bike that speaks to the roads it rolls on, and for Maui, that could include a front disc brake.

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Guest Article: The Butler Fri, 21 Mar 2014 18:19:09 +0000 The Claud Butler The Claud Butler

For many Americans, their first ten speed bike was a Schwinn. It was heavy. Everything about it was heavy. It was the bike that was going to survive outside the bomb shelter. No one put a better crankset on a Schwinn. When we moved on that old bike languished in the garage and it was not coming back out. Not so for @Teocalli, for starters he didn’t start off with a Schwinn.  

Yours in Cycling, Gianni

As the younger brother many of my early possessions were hand-me-downs. The first bike I recollect was red with stabilisers. I was a lazy starter and would just ride on the stabilisers till they bent. Eventually my Dad simply removed them out of frustration. The next was a trike, green with a boot (trunk) between the rear wheels and rod brakes. Quite how we ended up with a trike I can’t remember – but I do remember it was lethal and turning the thing over quite a few times. Then there was the blue Sit Up and Beg, again with rod brakes. I had a major crash on that one chasing my brother down a hill on his first racing bike. Much Red Sauce involved and I still have the scar on my head.

Finally came the day, the first major item that was to be all mine from new, my first Racing Bike. I still remember coming home from school in the summer of 1967 “There’s something for you in your bedroom”. Rushing upstairs there it was, a gleaming Moss Green, 5 Gear, Claud Butler. From that day bicycles had a name, identity and purpose – to look great and to go fast.

After the obligatory period sitting on my bed staring at it, I simply had to take it out for a ride. It was mine so I couldn’t ask for help and that was nearly my (first) undoing. I was struggling halfway down the stairs and on the verge of loosing it and falling in a tumbling mess, which would have had pretty disastrous results for the bike, the staircase, the door at the bottom and me (in that order in my thoughts), when my Dad appeared through the door in the nick of time and saved the day, just as Dads are meant to do.

I’m not exactly tall now and I was even smaller for my age in those days, so the setup must have been “dual slammed”, both stem and seat post slammed. Looking at the bike now I’m surprised I could reach the pedals and/or the bars at that age. I must have had a horizontal back just to reach the hoods. It was definitely a bike to grow into.

My next recollection regarding the bike was over the subject of mudguards. It came with full mudguards and according to Dad all bikes must have mudguards, “but Dad, Racing Bikes don’t have mudguards, I’ll be laughed at”. Compromises have to be made and that is why the bike still has the stubbies that were agreed upon. Do not quote any Rules at me over those mudguards, they stay in memory of my Dad and that compromise.

Anyway, from that point I was independent and I could get out and see my friends without needing a lift – and I could also get into trouble in a whole new way by being late home for meals. It’s only years later that you realise those silent glares and the blunt “Where do you think you have you been?” are a mix of anger and relief when “I’m just going out for a ride” leads to you being gone all day with no food till you come home late for dinner with blissful lack of comprehension as to how worried your parents have been.

The first rite of passage for a cyclist is starting to clean and service your own machine. I remember one day not long after getting the bike and not really knowing what I was doing, using my dog bone spanner I had taken apart all the bits that were easy to remove and clean, including removing the brake blocks and sliding the brake blocks out of the carriers to clean them. On the following ride I applied the brakes, something hit me on the calf and suddenly – no brakes. I’d put the blocks back the wrong way round and they all came out. Forty odd years later I can still picture in fine detail the back end of the low loader (flatbed) lorry I narrowly missed at the road junction.

At school we had a small cycling club and became proficient in servicing our bikes and every second weekend or so we’d strip them down completely. Dismantle the hubs etc, clean all the bearings and get them “just so” so that the weight of the valve would turn the wheel to settle at the bottom of it’s own accord.

After leaving school the bike sat in the garage for some years while I went through the rites of riding motorbikes and my first old banger car and the home servicing that came with motorbikes and old cars in those days. Cycling was then chiefly for maintaining summer fitness for playing Rugby in the winter  - a game incidentally that also involved the study of copious quantities and types of Fine Malted Recovery Beverage.  The Claud Bulter received an upgrade to 10 Gears with a Huret front mech and Suntour Crankset and rear mech in place of the Campag Gran Sport 5 Gear mech that it came with. After the early 80s the bike was essentially unused. There are many times I could so easily have got rid of it but somehow I never did. It became one of those Old Friends that, while you don’t use them, neither can you part with them.

My return to cycling in the early 90s was via Mountain Biking with a string of bikes from Big S, complemented by a couple of Bianchi Alu Road Bikes (the first was totalled by a car). I was mainly a mountain biker wandering in the undergrowth of darkness until I upgraded the Bianchi for a Pinarello last spring, came out of the darkness of the undergrowth and saw the light and the path (well the road actually) and discovered the Velominati.

Throughout all this time the Claud Butler was stuffed in a corner of our garage – or more latterly in my brother’s garden shed when he had an unfulfilled intention to take some exercise and get fit.

It was on a ride one beautiful evening last summer on the Pinarello that I was doing a typical Rule V evening ride and I was thinking that it would be nice sometime to take it easy and cruise the lanes in a different style. Somehow a Carbon Pinarello demands to be gunned at warp speed at all times. Around that time I was rooting around my office looking for something when I came across the original sales brochure for 1967 Claud Butler, I didn’t even know I had it. At that point the plan to renovate it was born. Thinking back to the school-day cycling club and all those magazine ads we used to browse and plan for upgrades we could not possibly afford, I decided to go for a period Gruppo upgrade that would have been the stuff of dreams for me as a schoolboy.

Recovering the bike from my brother some of it was in a bit of a sorry state but it was basically solid and, most surprisingly, the wheels would still turn of their own accord to settle the valve at the bottom.

After many hours mainly searching and biding on eBay and also via a couple of specialist period bicycle outfits, finding a few bargains and probably paying way too much for other items, I collected a box of Nuovo Record and other period components and the frame went off to Mercian cycles for re-spray and re-decal as near per original as possible. It has been something quite special to have had the bike for so long and to be able to put it back to what would have been the bike of my dreams way back as a schoolboy in that cycling club in the early 70s. I hope you like the result. I’m very much looking forward to riding in some vintage events next summer. It can’t be often one gets a chance to put a boyhood dream into reality in this manner. It has been a special experience for me.

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The Dig Wed, 19 Mar 2014 14:00:34 +0000 “I’m not really feeling it today, guys…”

“Are you havin’ a dig at me?” It’s a good old phrase that one. I hear it occasionally, usually in response to some jest, part of the banter that me and my friends enjoy on a regular basis. It can be used as an off-the-cuff remark, clearly meant in a jocular way, or can carry with it a more sinister edge, a way to make a point that just needs to be made, but wrapped in enough humour to soften that edge but still prick the skin ever-so-slightly and deliver the message. “You sure you’re not havin’ a dig at me?”

The Dig is a beautiful thing when it’s employed in Cycling. Every ride will contain a dig. No matter if you’re out on a supposed cruisy lap, or a long and hard slog, there will always be a dig waiting to be unleashed, or perhaps unfurled. The way it is delivered can be predetermined, even conspired with another, or it can be completely desultory and spontaneous, taking everyone by surprise, even the schlepper making the despatch. It can be timid, or tumultuous. It can be the most subtle of moves, gracefully administered from the saddle with nary a hint of movement or sound to indicate that it is even happening, or it can be more apparent, yet never a violent, aggressive action; that would be an attack.

The Dig is meant to test rather than defeat. It’s a way of saying “there’s more to come, suckers” or to find out what others may have in reserve. Or it’s just a way to niggle, to tease and tempt, to draw a comparison between you and your comrades, who could at any time transform into adversaries, either by your or their doing. It can be one of your most valuable weapons when deployed correctly, or, like holding the grenade and throwing away the pin, a dangerously inept move should you not treat it with care and respect.

All you need to do is pick the right time. Tactics, a trump card for the smartest if not strongest rider, come into their own here; looking for the right opportunity to throw in a Dig is as important a skill as the Dig itself. Most will expect that if the gradient goes up even a small amount, that someone will be willing to Dig. Most though will, all too predictably, want to attack. You can nullify the attack through vocalisation, using the mouth rather than the legs. “We should just take it easy today” is an age-old and proven nullifier. “I’m not getting involved in that” as the first accelerations come. When you’re sure that your comrades have taken the bait, don’t make it blindingly obvious that you are going to up the pace… just a slight increase in tempo will do the trick, and even if only one or two are sent scrabbling for the last wheel, then the Dig has been successful. That small amount of energy used to get back on is a withdrawl from The V-bank, yet leaving just enough to instill a belief that there’s sufficient to cover any more bills that may need to be paid later. It’s a false sense of security that will be the downfall of the economy when further Digs are deployed. And like shareholders in Lehmann Brothers, they won’t see it coming until it’s too late and the coffers are empty.

After a rolling series of Digs, then it’s allowable, and advisable, to pick the last bits of rotting flesh from the carcasses, and hammer the final nail into the collective coffin. If you’ve dug properly, you will have much more Essence of V left than your now tiring and mentally confused adversaries. You can attack. But if you’ve not been absolutely discerning with your digging, then all you will appear to be is an asshole who couldn’t cash the cheques you were so willing to write at will earlier, and you’ll be left desperately scrabbling on the ground for the fives and dimes scattered at your feet.

*One of the best examples of The Dig employed by Bjarne Riis at Hautacam in Le Tour 1996. The way he torments his rivals, goes back to check them out three or four times, then delivers the killer blow is classic Digging.

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Velominati Super Prestige: Milano Sanremo 2014 Tue, 18 Mar 2014 20:37:58 +0000 Merckx takes his first of seven MSRs. Merckx takes his first of seven MSRs.

Het Volk (it will always be Het Volk to me) and now the Strade Bianche may well mark the sentimental beginning to the season, but those are specialized, pre-season races that appeal mostly to riders who are preparing for bigger objectives later in the year, such as the Cobbled or Ardennes Classics. Same goes for Tirreno Adriatico and Paris-Nice; there are preparatory events – none of the marquee names have these events in their programme as primary objectives.

The season doesn’t really start until Milano Sanremo, the first Monument and the first race of the year that any Pro would proudly define their career by winning, and so that’s where we start the fifth installment of the Velominati Super Prestige. Last year saw our biggest turnout yet, with sponsors kicking in some serious prizes for the Tour de France VSP. This year we’ve built on that momentum to offer three major prizes for the season-long VSP:

  1. First place overall wins a Veloforma Strada iR Velominati Edition frame in addition to the customary VSP winner’s VVorkshop Apron
  2. Second place overall wins a set of hand built CR Wheelworks Arenberg wheelset in a custom Velominati paint scheme laced to orange Chris King hubs. (CR Wheelworks is Café Roubaix’s new wheel goods brand.)
  3. Third place overall wins a full Velominati V-Kit with accompanying custom orange Bont Vaypor+ road shoes.

So, without further ado, check the start list, review the VSP Scoring Guidelines and get your picks in by the time the countdown clock goes to zero at midnight PDT on Sunday the 24th. If you think we mapped one of your picks wrong, use the dispute system and we’ll review it. Also remember to be precise enough in your description so we know which rider you mean; in other words, if you enter “Martin”, we will use our discretion (read: wild guess) to decide if you mean Tony or Dan – and that choice will not be negotiable once the the countdown clock goes to zero, so be sure to give yourself enough time.

Good luck, and don’t let these awesome prizes ruin your Rule #43 spirit.

Final Race Results
1. KRISTOFF Alexander
3. SWIFT Ben
Final VSP Results
1. Island Bike (8 points)
2. The Grande Fondue (7 points)
3. Haldy (7 points)
4. Duende (7 points)
5. bugleboy21 (7 points)
6. ScottyCycles62 (6 points)
7. Sauterelle (6 points)
8. Brianold55 (6 points)
9. atomicmanatee (6 points)
10. Barracuda (6 points)
11. zeitzmar (6 points)
12. Velodeluded (6 points)
13. Owen (6 points)
14. Mohamed (6 points)
15. Frank Cundiff (6 points)
16. Steve-o (6 points)
17. Vanir (6 points)
18. Yagerbomb (6 points)
19. Father of Four (6 points)
20. SimonH (6 points)
21. tommy5tone (6 points)
22. Minnesota Expat (6 points)
23. Emsworth (6 points)
24. Wardy (6 points)
25. howell.evans (6 points)
26. Dave R (6 points)
27. Adie (6 points)
28. el gato (6 points)
29. MJ Moquin (6 points)
30. T Garvey (6 points)
31. Weldertron (6 points)
32. ramenvelo (6 points)
33. JCM (5 points)
34. boudewijn (5 points)
35. Keith Rousseau (5 points)
36. lokerola (5 points)
37. seemunkee (5 points)
38. jpneely94 (5 points)
39. md3000 (5 points)
40. R00tdown (5 points)
41. billybones (5 points)
42. schall und rauch (5 points)
43. clivity (5 points)
44. the-farmer (5 points)
45. Jeff Simmons (5 points)
46. Luis G (5 points)
47. James Turner (5 points)
48. sluggo (5 points)
49. Endurimil (4 points)
50. taon24 (3 points)
51. kixsand (3 points)
52. Jaia (3 points)
53. Alex M (3 points)
54. gaswepass (3 points)
55. strathlubnaig (3 points)
56. Erik (3 points)
57. BoogieStudio22 (3 points)
58. Gino (3 points)
59. skagitteam (3 points)
60. frank (3 points)
61. Adrian (3 points)
62. August (3 points)
63. Heihachi (3 points)
64. Chris (2 points)
65. piwakawaka (2 points)
66. Ccos (2 points)
67. Ccos (2 points)
68. brianmcg321 (2 points)
69. sthilzy (2 points)
70. Mike_P (2 points)
71. justinevan88 (2 points)
72. wiscot (2 points)
73. jesse coyle (2 points)
74. jarbite (2 points)
75. Beers (2 points)
76. freddy (2 points)
77. nezonic (2 points)
78. Blah (2 points)
79. Shlumpen (2 points)
80. aaus (2 points)
81. chrismurphy92 (2 points)
82. CanuckChuck (2 points)
83. KW (2 points)
84. Darren H (2 points)
85. Andrew Brown (2 points)
86. Floridian (2 points)
87. Chris S (2 points)
88. TheVid (2 points)
89. VirenqueForever (2 points)
90. meursault (2 points)
91. razmaspaz (2 points)
92. Andrew (2 points)
93. Bat Chainpuller (2 points)
94. velobrowny (2 points)
95. plynie (2 points)
96. Two Ball Billy (2 points)
97. Uri (2 points)
98. Ray Wright (2 points)
99. leadout (2 points)
100. the Engine (2 points)
101. nickinco (2 points)
102. ralexmiller (2 points)
103. drcraig (2 points)
104. Skip (2 points)
105. torrefie (2 points)
106. RondeVan (2 points)
107. sgraha (2 points)
108. il ciclista medio (2 points)
109. lindrop (2 points)
110. Deakus (2 points)
111. Fausto (2 points)
112. imakecircles (2 points)
113. Smith (2 points)
114. pakrat (2 points)
115. foggypeake (2 points)
116. Jhortua (2 points)
117. 936adl (2 points)
118. Rigid (2 points)
119. UptheTrossachs (2 points)
120. Geordi (2 points)
121. habswin1 (2 points)
122. Buck Rogers (2 points)
123. il muro di manayunk (2 points)
124. LeoTea (2 points)
125. jeyrod (2 points)
126. Jay (2 points)
127. Rob (2 points)
128. Dave Lominati (2 points)
129. mcsqueak (2 points)
130. Marius Marchis (1 points)
131. Mikael Liddy (1 points)
132. unversio (1 points)
133. pink (1 points)
134. Roadslave525 (1 points)
135. JohnB (1 points)
136. max columbus (1 points)
137. xponti (1 points)
138. jeff (1 points)
139. boomboom-84 (1 points)
140. Bianchi Denti (1 points)
141. James Sullivan (1 points)
142. asyax (1 points)
143. Daccordi Rider (1 points)
144. oneninefiveninesix (1 points)
145. colluphid (1 points)
146. Teocalli (1 points)
147. Thomas (1 points)
148. Timojhen (1 points)
149. chui (1 points)
150. PT (1 points)
151. LastBoyScout (1 points)
152. rosiusyves (1 points)
153. johnthughes (1 points)
154. Tom Mc (1 points)
155. tessar (1 points)
156. redleader215 (1 points)
157. The Oracle (1 points)
158. DeKerr (1 points)
159. GiantBars (1 points)
160. HMBSteve (1 points)
161. Steampunk (1 points)
162. Iain Wilson (1 points)
163. weags (1 points)
164. Brian McAndrews (1 points)
165. Andrew Friend (1 points)
166. Chris Salsman (1 points)
167. GSoroos (1 points)
168. Al__S (1 points)
169. zettjh (1 points)
170. godsight (1 points)
171. James (1 points)
172. V-olcano (1 points)
173. Xponti (1 points)
174. Kevin (1 points)
175. Simon (1 points)
176. G'phant (1 points)
177. velocepedia (1 points)
178. Badger (1 points)
179. Rhodri (1 points)
180. dyalander (1 points)
181. nathan_woodstock (1 points)
182. bunji (1 points)
183. roberto (1 points)
184. Fins (1 points)
185. blue (1 points)
186. Tobin (1 points)
187. Nate (1 points)
188. Stuart Witkowski (1 points)
189. moondance (1 points)
190. Stephen (1 points)
191. Dan Sink (1 points)
192. TheDon (1 points)
193. TOM.NELS2120 (1 points)
194. Smithers (1 points)
195. napolinige (1 points)
196. Gianni (1 points)
197. VeloJello (1 points)
198. gallilano (1 points)
199. eenies (1 points)
200. Phil C (1 points)
201. stickyjumper (1 points)
202. V-inden (1 points)
203. tony macaroni (1 points)
204. D.Stef (1 points)
205. Ron (1 points)
206. soxfan04 (1 points)
207. m_demartino (1 points)
208. El Mateo (1 points)
209. scaler911 (1 points)
210. Patrick (1 points)
211. zot (1 points)
212. Harminator (1 points)
213. Bossanove (1 points)
214. Thomas (1 points)
215. ten B (1 points)
216. LIIIXI (1 points)
217. DCR (1 points)
218. brett (1 points)
219. ped (1 points)
220. titirangisi (1 points)
221. Chica (1 points)
222. swillgil (1 points)
223. Arjen (1 points)
224. Captainsideburns (1 points)
225. simonsaunders (1 points)
226. Thomas van Maanen (1 points)
227. Jarvis (1 points)
228. ChrisO (1 points)
229. hamboneIV (1 points)
230. Tartan1749 (1 points)
231. Nanar (1 points)
232. xyxax (1 points)
233. Geraint (1 points)
234. Conrad (1 points)
235. Bill Chris (1 points)
236. Rex (1 points)
237. spoderman (1 points)
238. BaltoSteve (1 points)
239. therealpeel (1 points)
240. Sugnabott (1 points)
241. Alex H (1 points)
242. StuartWitkowski (1 points)
243. dancollins (1 points)
244. brad_the_dean (1 points)
245. Poppyseed (1 points)
246. LA Dave (1 points)
247. PBatch (1 points)
248. Giles (1 points)
249. conner99 (1 points)
250. Optimiste (1 points)
251. Donnie Bugno (1 points)
252. RedRanger (0 points)
253. Kyle V. (0 points)
254. Dan_R (0 points)
255. Mirko (0 points)
256. Dirty Harry (0 points)
257. geoffrey (0 points)
258. Viejo (0 points)
259. Roobar (0 points)
260. Rom (0 points)
261. norm (0 points)
262. fenlander (0 points)
263. Benny (0 points)
264. RorkSteijn (0 points)
265. anthony (0 points)
266. Gervais (0 points)
267. ErikdR (0 points)
268. atzeatzeton (0 points)
269. Kyle (0 points)
270. San Tonio (0 points)
271. BatDan (0 points)
272. Marko (0 points)
273. afroturk (0 points)
274. Dennis (0 points)
275. Facetious_Jesus (0 points)
276. starclimber (0 points)
277. Roobar (0 points)
]]> 528
The Janus of Suffering Mon, 17 Mar 2014 19:32:52 +0000 Time for a different kind of suffering. Time for a different kind of suffering.

I came strongly into the Fall, stronger than in other years thanks to a late-season objective to do well at my first Heck of the North gravel classic in Minnesota. I was light and I had built good power and endurance by riding the steep gravel roads that pepper the North Cascades and suffering through brutal interval sessions on the windswept stretch of road along Shilshole Bay. I was good at hurting myself.

With the race behind me and the first of the next season’s objectives many months away, I entered into what in many ways is my favorite time of year to ride: Winter. The months between objectives at that time of year provides a kind of serenity on the bike that is hard to find when goals are looming. Focus shifts away from building a sharpness in the muscles and towards putting in long base kilometers at steady speeds. There is no need to push hard on the climbs, just slip into a nice tempo and explore the beautiful quiet of a steady rhythm.

With that serenity comes a different kind of suffering; not so acute but where the cold winds and rains harden the mind against the long hours of discomfort and somatic pain. Simply staying on the bike all day, riding from sun up to sun down, is suffering in itself. The willpower and discipline needed to hold the course and do the Work is itself an entirely different but very real kind of suffering – even if the suffering is not intense at any given moment.

But as Winter slowly loosens it grip and the days grow longer, so too do the objectives for the coming season loom nearer. It is time to pull myself out of steady rhythms and once again build towards the sharp sensations of a hard effort. I find I’ve nearly forgotten how to do it; my body resists the signals coming from the mind; its first impulse is to employ the Scotty Principle, I’m givin’ ‘er all she’s got captain! It seems my mind has forgotten that whenever it gets that message, there is always another 10 or 20 percent left to to be taken from the body.

Janus is the Roman god of beginnings and transitions; he has two faces – one looking to the past and one to the future. I’m transitioning from one kind of suffering into another; the work I did yesterday will make tomorrow’s ride a little bit better. My mind navigates through the mixed signals it receives, and the body responds and adapts. To transition is to explore the boundary between two seemingly separate entities. Science explores the boundary between ignorance and knowledge; art explores the boundary between reality and imagination; Cycling explores the boundary between the mind and body.

We are Cyclists. The rest of the world merely rides a bike.

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The Rules: Coming to the US May 5 Fri, 14 Mar 2014 17:47:04 +0000 The Rules endpapers The Rules endpapers

We recently lost our beloved Great Dane, Kirki, who we nicknamed Beene for reasons that elude logic. She was a good dog, more sweet than clever. A sad side effect of big dog breeds and their short lives is that it wasn’t until nearly the end of her life that she made certain key discoveries about the world. Such as that weighing nearly 65 kilos meant she didn’t necessarily need to be terrified of things like shadows and doorways. Nevertheless, throughout her life she somehow managed to skirt through challenges completely unscathed, utterly oblivious to her shortcomings. In an effort to immortalize her spirit, the VMH and I have taken to referring to situations where we succeed despite our breathtaking incompetence as being “All Beene”. For example, on the occasion that I skied over a cliff I had failed to notice, subsequently rode my tails through a stand of pine trees at unprecedented speed, and emerged the other end without so much as a hair out of place – that was All Beene.

You might say that Velominati itself is All Beene. We Keepers didn’t intend to become the stewards of class, style, and etiquette on the bike; we just mainlined the Word of The Prophet and the Apostles and jotted it all down. The rest just happened because of the Community who caught on to the fun we were having and joined in. Same goes for our writing; we’re just passionate about this stuff; we obsess about it all the time and want to share our love for the sport with others in the hopes they might identify or – better yet – catch the bug themselves. All the while, the truth is that we have no idea what we’re doing. English isn’t even my first language, for Merckx’s sake.

But the journey continues. The Rules: The Way of the Cycling Disciple was originally released in the Commonwealth on June 20, and surprised us with how well it was received despite various mistakes and errors throughout. In fact, it did well enough that some bright spark got the idea to release the book in our home US market as well, and we subsequently duped WW Norton into bearing that cross.

The Rules will be officially released in the United States on May 5th, 2014. We’ve put quite a lot of work into the US Edition with the following results:

  1. Greg LeMond, the only American Tour de France winner, graciously wrote the Foreword.
  2. We added four new Rules and supporting content, bringing the tally to 95.
  3. We revised some sections like the Prologue because we do what we want.
  4. We stayed sober during the editing process.
  5. We actually proofread it this time (also sober), so we are reasonably sure we got the mistakes out. (Many thanks to the scathing review on Amazon and its comprehensive listing of the errors in the book, it was a great convenience having all that work done for us and neatly catalogued in one place.)

There will also be several book events across the country which is part of the reason we are not doing a Keepers Tour this year due to the time constraints the book tour imposes. Each event will start with a group ride and conclude with a signing at a local bike shop. Events are planned for the Rapha stores in New York City and San Francisco, as well as one in Minneapolis, Boulder, Seattle, and Portland. Details forthcoming as the event schedules are confirmed.

From the bottom of our hearts, we’d like to thank everyone in our Community, those who bought (and didn’t burn) the book in the UK and Commonwealth, and everyone who comes by here every day to read our musings. This is all a lot of work, but it is work we gladly do because of each and every one of you and the fun you bring to what is Velominati.

Tune in during April as we’ll be publishing one new Rule per week in the lead-up to the book’s release. We have also added a landing page for both the US and UK editions of the book including information on where to buy; post insults and corrections on there.

All Beene.

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Speed Wed, 12 Mar 2014 18:20:46 +0000 Pozzovivo goes more faster at the 2013 Giro d'Emilia. Photo: Pedale.Forchetta Pierre-Roger Latour goes more faster at the 2013 Giro d’Emilia. Photo: Pedale.Forchetta

I wasn’t anywhere near old enough to hold a driver’s license but my dad had already bought me a motorcycle. It was a late seventies BMW R100 RS, dark blue. I loved that bike; I polished it fortnightly even though it never left the garage. I spent hours sitting on it, twisting the throttle and squeezing the clutch, diving in and out of turns on a twisty road somewhere in my imagination. My dad sold the bike not long after I got serious about Cycling, making the shrewd observation that if I was able to land myself in the emergency room as often as I did under my own power, then from a Darwinian standpoint my chances of survival would be dramatically decreased by the introduction of a 1000cc engine.

To this day, I love speed. I feel it in that layer between skin and muscle that science will tell you doesn’t exist but that anyone who has ever taken a risk will tell you does. On a bicycle, it doesn’t even have to be high speed; descending, cruising along a valley road, or climbing – any speed that comes as a result of that familiar pressure in my legs and lungs is a thrill.

Cornering at speed will amplify the feeling of speed as your muscles press against the change in tangental velocity. But even the slower speeds of climbing can produce the exciting effects of speed; diving into a tight switchback on a fast climb can provide the distinctive exhilaration that comes with needing to brake and lean while climbing. There is no sensation in Cycling that will make one feel more Pro than needing to control your speed while going uphill.

Cobblestones and gravel also provide their unique doorway into the feeling of speed. The bouncing of the machine under you as you push a big gear along the road will amplify the sensation of going fast with the transitions from tarmac to rough roads and back again playing their own part to demonstrate speed through the power of contrast.

Riding along a road that has a lot of shrubbery or tall grass that hugs the roadside, my peripheral vision will quietly inform me that the blurred motion at my side is the direct result of my own burning engine and the effort I’m putting into the pedals. To experience under our own strength that which others require a motor to accomplish is what makes us stand apart. We are active participants in speed. We are Cyclists.

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La Vie Velominatus: Rebirth Mon, 10 Mar 2014 17:00:37 +0000 Spring blossoms in Seattle

Wind is an asshole. I have no patience left for it. It has all of it been used up, gone, finished. It is the only force that I’m aware of (with the possible exception of gravity) that is more stubborn and less willing to listen to reason than I myself am. It blows me around on my bike, it embezzles speed from my Magnificent Stroke. No matter how emphatically I lose my temper with it, no matter the unprintable curses and insults I hurl in its direction, it just keeps on blowing like a big stupid blowing thing.

The weather systems that move in and out of the Puget Sound Convergence Zone are accompanied by a gale and, and as every Cyclist knows, gales blow exclusively against the direction of travel. With the changing seasons come the frequent storm systems and the unreliability of the meteorologists is amplified by the complexity of the weather patterns. Taking Bike Number One is a gamble during any of these times, but sometimes living dangerously feels better than it is sensible. Every now and then, taking #1 when you really shouldn’t can offer a bit of much-needed redemption.

Fall winds steel us for the arrival of colder, darker days. Winter around here comes with less wind, but with annoyances of its own. Our friends in more harsh climates than mine will agree: we have had a dark Winter here in the Northern Hemisphere. Seattle is a mild place to live, but even here the damp, cold, short days have taken their toll. The sun is down when I arrive at work, and it is down when I leave for home. With vitamin D in short supply, our moods sour, the chickens stop laying their eggs (there is no creature more entitled than a clucking chicken who refuses to lay an egg), and alcohol, food, and sloth start looking like viable plans of remediation.

But as Winter makes its slow exit, the winds begin to blow once again and Spring starts to dot hints that she is about to make her entrance. The redbud trees are in blossom, and the Earth is letting loose the green stalks of tulips and crocuses. The work we did over the winter was supposed to make us feel strong and fast; instead, trees bow to our arrival as the wind pushes against our face and robs us of the free flight that a Cyclist in form works so hard to achieve.

Nevertheless, this weekend I rode with bare legs, the strong headwind filling my senses with the fresh smell of damp, life-giving earth and budding blossoms. Rebirth is infectious and like the trees and plants around me, so too have I been reborn. 

Wind might well be an asshole, but when it signals warmer, brighter days it somehow seems more tolerable. Vive la Vie Velominatus.

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Guest Article: BC – Before Cancellara Fri, 07 Mar 2014 17:53:39 +0000 Grand Prix des Nations 1983 courtesy of Miroir du Cyclisme Grand Prix des Nations 1983 courtesy of Miroir du Cyclisme

@wiscot is at it again. He is the Velominati historian and I’m always pleased when more of his writing arrives at the bunker. Luckily for all of us, cycling has a long history, most of which we are unaware of. This was not taught at school. Any article that includes the words Spartacus and Hour Record in the first paragraph already has my attention. Read on.

Yours in Cycling, Gianni

When Fabian Cancellara inevitably retires, his palmares will be astounding: the grand tour stage wins, the leader’s jerseys, the multiple wins in the monuments, but above all, he will be remembered and revered for his powerful time trialing abilities. On his day, the big Swiss turbo could fly over a course faster than anyone with ample style and class to spare. Indeed, when it comes to panache and power, few equal Spartacus. If rumor is to be believed, he is going to attempt the Hour Record before he retires and only a fool would bet against him.

However, as in all things cycling, there are precedents and precursors. For Fabian, I’d like to put up one Daniel Gisiger as Exhibit A. Born in Baccarat in 1954, this Swiss rider had a highly respectable career with 44 listed wins. If it comes to pass that Cancellara begins the last few years of his career with an hour record attempt, Gisiger began his in June 1977 when he set a new amateur record of 46kms 745m. Bear in mind that this was only 1686 meters less than Merckx’s 1972 record that was done at the height of his career and at altitude. Gisiger did his at the Hallenstadion in Switzerland – high, but not as high as Mexico. And, as we know, Cancellara will have to use a bike very similar to that used by Merckx and Gisiger and will likely go to altitude.

Over his career Gisiger excelled at the race of truth just as the art of competing against the clock was becoming a highly specialized aspect of the sport. No more the jersey tucked into the shorts and a pair of light wheels on the regular road bike for the TT. By the early 1980s skinsuits were becoming de rigeur and manufacturers were coming out with more and more special aero gear to cater to the TT boys. (By the mid-to-late 1980s the “funny bike” craze was red hot but the UCI finally ensured that that kind of out-of-the-box thinking and development had its lid firmly shut).

In the early 1980s pedigreed time trials such as the Grand Prix des Nations and Baracchi Trophy were still mainstays of the calendar and the big names took them seriously. A quick review of the past winners of both reads like a “who’s who” of the sport. These races were not some Tour of Beijing/Japan Cup-type end-of-season filler for those looking for an autumnal jaunt to save a season or a contract, but hard fought races that carried huge prestige.

Indeed, before there was an official World Time Trial Championship race the Nations was the de facto world TT championship. When Gisiger rode it it was held over two laps of a brutal circuit in Cannes. How tough? In 1988 I watched the race from the roadside and to be fair, it should have been classified a hilly TT. This was no settle-into-your-rhythm race, it required massive concentration, quick reflexes and great bike handling skills as it snaked and twisted around the city. Gisiger excelled in both races winning the Nations in 1981 and 1983. In 1982 he was second to Bernard Hinault by a scant 2 seconds; third place finisher was Bert Oosterbosch at a whopping 2:29 back. And when he won in 1983 he beat Lemond by 1:47 and Oosterbosch (again) by 2:53. The Swiss tester also won the Baracchi in 1981 (with Serge Demierre), 1982 (with Italian ace Roberto Visentini) and 1983 (with Silvano Contini).

So, let’s look closer at the evidence that Gisiger was a top tester. His wins are written in the record books, but the images complete the story. The physique: muscular, lean and powerful; the position: sweet flat back; the bike stripped to the bare minimum with half-taped handlebars which are drilled to allow the brake cables to be hidden and keep the cockpit clean. The early aero brakes. No helmet, no shoe covers, no disc wheels. There’s something beautifully elegant and minimalist about this which is marvelously appropriate: it is purely man against course and clock. The helmets, sunglasses and aero bikes of today give the riders a somewhat otherworldly appearance that I feel engenders a disconnect between spectator and rider. It’s like watching Formula One: you see the car and driver but not the full human effort required.

If his TT abilities weren’t enough, Gisiger rode—and won—in all other aspects of the sport. In addition to the TT wins cited above there were 4 Swiss National track championships, 6 Six Day races (including the Zurich six day race with fellow Swiss powerhouse Urs Freuler when both rode for Atala), 11 criteriums, 5 road races and 5 road stages. And, to top it all, that 1977 Amateur World Hour Record. As if this was not enough, Gisiger rode his prime years in the Malvor-Bottechia, Cilo-Aufina and Atala team colors making him one of the lucky riders who spent most of his career in classic team kit.

Daniel Gisiger’s career will never match that of Cancellara. There are no monument trophies or yellow jerseys in his closet. What we do have is a rider who was a versatile champion of the sport. He rode in an age of transition, between the tried and true ways of cycling that had changed little from the 50s and 60s, into an age of great technological development and a more scientific approach to performance. To wit: his trainer was Paul Kochli, the Swiss guru who would go on to work with the likes of Bernard Hinault, Steve Bauer, Andy Hampsten and Greg Lemond at La Vie Claire, honing the physical potential of his charges with a more scientific approach to diet and training. Known to be a staunch anti-doping advocate, Kochli left the sport in the early 1990s as the drug scene became too rampant to ignore. Gisiger was an early beneficiary of his tutelage and made a bold mark upon the sport. His name is rarely head these days but should be remembered more fondly: all sports have their eras and associated champions, but there are always transitional figures who get swept aside by the narrative of history. Daniel Gisiger was one such rider: a fearsome competitor against the clock be it on the boards or the road. If and when Cancellara goes for the hour, I hope Gisiger is watching his countryman with the satisfaction of knowing that he helped pave the way.

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Every Day is Leg Day Wed, 05 Mar 2014 20:34:56 +0000 At work or at rest, it's leg day At work or at rest, it’s leg day. Photo: Tom Boonen

The proclamation is heard in the office, on social media, at the bar with friends; “It’s leg day.” When someone utters “it’s leg day” the accompanying tone of resentment and even dread is usually followed by an audible “ugh”. This exasperation belies one fact, the person making the utterance is not a cyclist. It’s likely they are a part of the Crossfit cult or on a fitness regimen to tone up and look good in a swimsuit. My immediate thought is, no shit it’s leg day, isn’t every day leg day?

As Cyclists, we cultivate our legs ritualistically. They provide the power that propels us deep into the pain cave, to freedom and to exaltation. Sure, we can talk about building the engine that is our heart and lungs. We do intervals, hill repeats, and sprints to increase aerobic capacity but the act of pushing on our pedals is what makes us move. It is our guns and our guns only that provide the visual evidence of our deposits into The V-Bank. The following is a simple list of acts the Velominati partake in that demonstrate that Every Day is Leg Day:

  • Shaving ( Rule #33 )
  • Crisp and clean tan line cultivation ( Rule #7 )
  • Not taking the stairs when the elevator goes to the 2nd floor
  • Recovery Days
  • Getting a Happy DeVlaeminck
  • Not lifting weights, grocery bags, or small children if it can be avoided
  • Gun-oriented narcissism
  • Riding bikes at the exclusion of any other form of exercise except sex (in which case you’ve gone Post-race Kelly and it’s a recovery day and therefore, Leg Day)

The Pros go to great lengths in not using their legs to power anything but their bicycles. Coppi used to have his soigneur carry him up flights of stairs to the hotel room. Hincapie would make sure his phone, remote, and other personal needs were at arms’ length on Recovery Days so he wouldn’t have to get off the couch. I wonder if he looked for apartments in Gerona with the toilet in the living room.

Of course most of us are endomorphs who look to be prepubescent boys with bald legs, baby smooth faces, and farmer’s tans. But our legs, our legs are bronzed and chiseled works of effort that would inspire Michelangelo and be worthy of any swimsuit edition (as long as it focuses on the waist down). So regardless of our buggy-whip arms and pencil-necks, let’s celebrate. The next time you hear someone bemoan their own personal leg day hell, remember that for you as well it is leg day. Take pride in the fact that you are a Velominatus and that for you, Every Day is Leg Day. Because on that day, regardless of the day of the week or where on your training calendar it lands, you have done something to honor your pins.

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Hunger Mon, 03 Mar 2014 22:28:58 +0000 This Hunger is insatiable

My favorite feeling is perhaps the empty hollowness of hunger. That statement, in itself, is a declaration of the privileged life I’ve led; it is borderline obscene to boast of such a thing in a world where 842 million people don’t have enough to eat. Nevertheless, being lucky enough to have been raised in America and just competent enough to hold down a job, I find myself in the enviable position of needing to invoke “discipline” in order to experience this sensation.

All that aside, I love feeling hungry, both physically and metaphorically. Physically, being hungry brings something primal out in me; there is an edge that awakens which feels dormant when I’ve eaten. I’m sharper, more alive somehow.

When I eat or drink too much, I feel it in my flesh; I feel the lethargy that comes with food everywhere. I feel it on my back, I feel it in my limbs, I feel it in my eyes – everything is weighed down and blurred. When I am overweight, I find I can go all day without eating and hardly give it a thought. When I’m training and riding well and my weight is down, I can eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner and never feel sated. That is the feeling of hunger to which I refer; not a desire to starve, but a physical condition where sustenance feels impossible to achieve. This is a beautiful state where everything feels alive and there is a sharpness and precision in every motion.

There is also a metaphorical hunger, which I don’t think we can achieve without the physical sort. The metaphorical sort is borne of desire and need. This is what drives us to achieve more than we normally would. Sean Kelly talks of this hunger in his book by the same name; in his opening chapter, he says he would rather fall into the any of the greenhouses below the sweeping hairpins along the descent from the Poggio into Sanremo than face defeat by Moreno Argentin. That is hunger in the metaphorical sense.

I am a better person when I feel hunger; I have drive, I have humility, I have courage. When hunger stirs, we come alive with an urgency we don’t otherwise find. Without it, there is no compulsion to act, to fight, or to endure.

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Cogal Report: Fleurieu Peninsula Sun, 02 Mar 2014 16:11:03 +0000 The V flag in OZ. The V flag in OZ.

Fleurieu Peninsula – Velominati Cogal 8th Feb 2014.

Notable quotes to sum up the ride that nearly wasn’t.

“You’re in pretty good shape for the shape you are in.”

Dr. Seuss -“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.”

Albert Einstein -“When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.”

Albert Einstein -“I’ve never known a man worth his salt who, in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn’t appreciate the grind, the discipline. “

Vince Lombardi -“ Fuck it’s hot ! “


Dwayne “@Barracuda” Cox

The above quotes pretty much sum up some of the feelings of the recently run and won Fleurieu Peninsula Cogal.

My own personal timeline goes something like this

  • Email to Gianni in September 2013 to float the idea of the cogal, next thing I know it’s on the website, things get real, really quickly.
  • Now that its in print I’ve actually to step up and organize this thing
  • Email back to Gianni to see if the flag pictured over the cobbles of Roubaix is real and if it’s real can I get a hold of it to fly proudly at the Tour Down Under, then on our Cogal.
  • Flag arrives from Haiku on the island of Maui.  The thing smells of France and Belgium and cobbles, it’s real alright. (actually, smells more like Gianni’s closet-ed.)
  • Following months of excitement and worrying ensue.
  • Day gets closer and I finalise pre-ride espresso venue with the generous Simon of Nino’s of Victor Harbor.
  • Route is all set and all appears to be well planned, then ……
  • The day of – weather forecast to be in the mid to high 40 degree Celsius range, of which I say to myself that the forecasters never get south coast weather right and all will be good.
  • Well, to shit me to tears, they got it right, and right from the gun the 20 starters  pushed into the heat, which as others have said, claimed its first victim.
  • Poor old Dan from Willunga coughed up a lung and half of the previous nights tea on a sharp little prick of a climb we call Nettle Hill.
  • We pushed on as a group with a couple of flats and a blown tyre through to a water refill point at Myponga.
  • At this stage with temps already soaring in the 40’s we decided on the mercy clause and cut 25kms off the ride which would of seen us go down and then back up Willunga Hill ( TDU fame ).
  • It was the right call but still disappointed me as I wanted all to have such a great day and this climb formed part of my planning from the beginning.
  • It was at about this time, some 50kms deep and some 45 degree Celsius that my personal battles of brain versus body started.
  • Massive cramp in left leg had taken hold, I’m assuming due to the previous nights lack of prep and the ensuing panic that I wanted all to have a good time. Could also be due to the fucking heat.
  • We all got to Mount Compass unscathed, some faster than others and refuelled. To my amazement – we are 60kms deep at this stage and the heat was stifling – Justin decides it’s a good idea to drop back a hot meat pie.  Now that’s dedication to the cause.
  • I was cooked and mentally the leg had beaten me, others had pulled the pin long before but I was determined not to let my fellow riders down.
  • A plan was hatched whereby I would skip 20 kms and go straight to Goolwa via team car and rejoin for the final 20km push back to Victor.
  • Unbeknownst to me, that 20kms that I missed was the easiest of the day.
  • We all regrouped (10 of us by this stage) in Goolwa near the mouth of the mighty Murray River and made the turn towards Victor Harbor.
  • That last 20kms is the hardest conditions Ive ever ridden in. Heat and howling northerly wind had us crawling back to base.
  • Needless to say the Coronas and Stellas tasted superb and the pizza’s didn’t even touch the sides.

Points to note regarding the Rules :-

  1. everyone of the 20 starters could be forgiven for the rule infractions sighted given extreme conditions.
  2. Rule #5 was well and truly displayed by all.
  3. Rule #9 was well and truly displayed by all.

Special mentions

@Mikael Liddy – being dedicated to the cause enough to ride the 100kms+ the night before in the dark to front up on the Saturday morning – Chapeau

Hugh Moore – taking some great photos along the way – refer his Flikr  link


Justin (pie man) V

Thanks to Mikael who invited members of Adelaide Cyclists to join in on a cogal put on by Dwayne and Velominati. I had a most enjoyable day, as I was met by cooler conditions when I arrived at Victor. Whilst waiting prior to the ride it was great to see a fellow Lynskey rider as we both told our tales of love for the bike.

I hadn’t ridden much of the route prior, so just played follow the leader for the entire route as the temperature soon soared as we headed inland to our only real hill for the day, which took its first casualty. After a pucture and a blowout the group settled into a nice rhythm, and we ended up for what I thought was lunch at Mt Compass. It was there that I enjoyed my pie with sauce, which was to power me to the end of the ride.

Although we had stopped a couple times on route and filled our water bottles, the heat had really kicked in by the time we road along the coast from Goolwa to Victor in a very angry cross wind which had the temperature rising well into the 40′s. The water in the bottles was almost boiling, but I figured I still had to drink it to keep some fluid running through my body.

I bid thank you to Mikael for the invitation and to Dwayne for organising the ride (and post ride pizza slices). Hope to ride with you guys again soon.


@Mikael Liddy

“Be prepared” say the scouts, well I can only assume that the scouts know fuck all about getting ready for a cogal, for all the good my preparations served. Here’s a quick timeline of the ups & downs of trying to arrange my attendance on Feb 8th.

Sept 2013 – Article posted, VMH approval for a weekend away with the cycling crew & partners granted, and family friend approached about borrowing their holiday house for accommodations. All is good.

Oct 2013 – Family friends fall through as apparently their son & his 30th birthday trump our needs for the house…no biggie, we’ll share the costs of hiring a place between everyone.

Dec 2013 – Body attempts to put all weight on left foot getting out of bed after a severe bout of charismatic poisoning before left foot has actually found the ground, hit the deck quicker than Sir Twiggo on a wet Italian descent & tweak left knee quite significantly. Pre TDU & cogal riding is reduced dramatically, but hopes are still high.

Jan 2014 – Knee is behaving(ish), finally riding again & suffering god awful Rule #65 infringement from seat post/saddle area. Bike goes in for service & source of the rule breach is identified as the carbon layup delaminating at the seat post insertion…bike is fucked 2 days before biggest week of riding of the year & unlikely to be repaired/replaced by the cogal (yes I know this is why the minimum value for N should be 3). Attendance looking shaky at best.

Jan/Feb 2014 – Based on the assumption I wouldn’t have a bike, the VMH accepts tickets to a music festival the day before the cogal (the day that would have been spent driving down, wine tasting, etc.). I’m now on parenting duties until a babysitter can relieve me (6.30pm), and as such the last 2 from our initial group of 10 bail on the weekend. This will require some creativity to work out well.

Feb 5th – Demo bike sourced from Giant store (hello TCR Avanced 0 with 11 speed Ultegra Di2), babysitter & additional lights secured for a Friday night ride, cabin booked in the local tourist park and VMH convinced to drive down Saturday afternoon basically for the purpose of driving home on the Sunday. It’s on like Donkey Kong!!!

Feb 7th – It’s going to be how hot? 45 degrees with a stinking hot northerly gale blowing all day? Fuck it, I’ve come this far, I’m riding the bloody thing!

After the trials & tribulations involved in actually getting to the cogal, the day itself (despite the conditions) was reasonably uneventful. We started with a solid group of 20 made up of a few locals, some guys from a bike shop about half way back to Adelaide & a couple of other city boys I’d convinced to ignore the forecast cos “it’s always cooler down at Victor.” That statement rang true for the first 20 minutes until we turned inland & decided to ride in a furnace for the next 4 hours.

High Points

- The ride down the on perfectly still mid 20’s evening through the SA countryside & watching night fall with only the thoughts running through my head for company. Was just blissful.

- Finally meeting @Barracuda in the flesh after many a month of online commentary

- The V-Flag in all its glory flying proudly at the start & finish of the ride (it really does smell of Flanders)

- @Fiasco Steve and his seemingly endless reserve of energy…maybe those vegans are on to something?

- Riding completely new roads with all but a few complete strangers & feeling at home immediately, somehow Cogals just work.

- Pizza & beer after 100kms in stupid hot conditions, I’m convinced I will never taste a better beer in my life.

Low Points

- The weather. In all honesty we were fucking stupid for doing what we did, I was still feeling dehydrated 4 days later.

- Related to low point 1, seeing @Barracuda get destroyed by the conditions & have to skip a portion of the route sucked given the effort he’d put in & how pumped he’d been in the lead up. The fact that he got back on the bike for the hardest part of the ride (50 degree temps & a brutal cross/headwind) was a testament to Rule #5 and we waited til after the ride to tell him that the part he missed was the only tailwind all day!

All in all it was a great event with good riding, great people and awesome food & drink put on before and after by the crew at Nino’s.

p.s. We discovered later that night that baby Panadol is like EPO for babies, one minute you’ve got a vomiting, feverish baby and then the next he’s ready to take on the world(that’s a story for a whole other time)!


@fiasco steve

Ah, the Cogal through the tranquil Fleurieu.

This was my first experience with all things Velominati, the anxiety that this presented was apparent. What shall I wear? Does my kit match? Are my biddons of correct volume?

All these were of no concern as we embarked on a ride into 30km head winds with the air temp at 40 degrees at 8.30am. It was a war of attrition as slowly the gallant troops pushed through to keep the wheels turning. The route was excellent, perhaps the highlight very early into the ride was Nettle Hill, this cheeky little lump with was enough to see one rider decide that leaning his breakfast on the hill was a good idea. We are still unsure if this was a mark of respect for the hill by leaving some DNA behind, or he felt that this would lighten his load for the rest of the battle.

A great day, it was hot, but this was just part of the fun. The watermelon in Goolwa was excellent.

Highlight was Morgan and his Dad from Murray Bridge doing the ride together.




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The Illusion of Transparency Fri, 28 Feb 2014 17:43:32 +0000 pokerface Mah-mah-mah-mah-mah poker face – mah poker face.

The illusion of transparency is perhaps the most important tool the Velominatus has in their toolbox, apart from having some measure of competence, being Casually Deliberate at all times, Looking Fantastic, and being able to dish out and endure heaping helpings of The V.

Cycling is suffering, and one of the most crucial lessons we have to learn is that we are rarely the only one who hurts. When the pressure is on or the group is heading uphill, every rider in the bunch is dying a thousand silent deaths. The rider on the front, while doing the most work, does enjoy a slight psychological advantage of being responsible for the pain disbursements, but they are suffering perhaps more than anyone else. Because everyone is momentarily cohabiting in the hurt locker, those riders who are best able to give the impression that they are in fact at ease maintain a distinct advantage over the others; there is nothing more demoralizing than feeling like a pig on a spit while the rider next to you is smiling and talking about the amazing view.

It turns out that as a species, we are really bad at judging other people’s emotions by their facial expressions, and generally over-estimate how good we are at it. In other words, everyone has a poker face and everyone sucks at reading them them. This plays into our advantage as Cyclists because it means it’s not all that hard to hide your suffering from other riders or, in fact, make them believe you’re suffering even when you’re not.

The most common tactic in this area is to keep your facial expression neutral and your pedaling smooth and relaxed despite how hard you’re pushing yourself. This takes lots of practice, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature. Another tactic is to look about the bunch casually, take in the scenery, or futz about with your kit; this builds the impression that you are so completely at ease that you are distracted from the heavy work at hand.

My favorite approach is to engage in casual conversation during the hardest parts of a climb. There is a real art to this, because all that talking will get in the way of the most important element of climbing: your breathing. But you can work around that problem by being the one driving the conversation; you can choose your words to make sure they are short so you can continue to breath even as you’re speaking. The best thing to do is to fake an interest in the rider personally and ask them loads of questions. Seduced by the opportunity to talk about themselves, their ego will step in and force them to answer your questions at length, sending them into a spiral of accelerated hypoxic fatigue. It’s all bollocks, of course – you could give two shits about where they went to school or what their view is on the protests in Kiev – but they won’t catch on because they suck at reading your facial expressions while you carefully regulate your breathing and prepare to drop them. At which point you feign surprise that the pace was high enough to cause any damage.

Its gotten to the point where I don’t even realize I’m doing it. The more I’m suffering, the more likely I’ll be to strike up a conversation. And, should my Too Fat To Climb ass be successful in somehow dropping my companions, I’ll gulp in air like a rabid monkey at the top to make sure I’ve fully caught my breath by the time they catch back up so I can make idle conversation about how nice that climb is and how much I love that road and its so amazing that when I moved here I thought that was a tough climb but now I hardly even notice it and I’ll probably install a 42T because the 39T just feels so small.

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Raining in My Heart Wed, 26 Feb 2014 17:29:07 +0000 Heaven in Hell

Not one to subscribe to the slew of text speak or acronyms that permeate the modern vernacular (well, not too much, I guess YJA is one used fairly regularly), I am harbouring a severe case of FOMO right now. And the catalyst for this? The lack of a KT14. Shit, I did it again. WTF?

As Gianni wound up the excitement and anticipation for the real start of the real races, ie those on the cobbles and bergs of Belgium, my heart is heavy with emotions and my head is filled with bittersweet thoughts about the imminence of the Spring season, and the Classics in particular. This is my absolute favourite time of the racing year, and this one promises to be one of the best of recent times. Just like the past two seasons, the anticipation of a Tommeke/Faboo showdown is present, but maybe this time both will stay wreck-free and we will witness the winners of the past two Flanders/Roubaix doubles going at it at their peaks. And surely it will rain this year. It has to rain this year…

While standing around in the cold rain at the side of a shitty farm track isn’t the epitome of a good time for the general population, I place it at the top of my yearly holiday wishlist. The past two Aprils have been nirvana for me, and not being there this year leaves me with a feeling of having a part of my very being ripped out. Like my soul has been stolen away, an appendage removed, a limb hacked off. The complete experience of being there in those weeks when the whole of the cycling world is centred around Flanders and northern France, when there’s a race never more than an hour’s ride or drive from you, it’s something that embeds itself deep inside, and damned if it wants to ever leave.

This is what makes these races special, the anticipation, the unknown quantities of weather, form and luck, all factors which add up to the most unpredictable racing; anything can happen on the day, the riders know it, as do the fans. Rather than packing the wet weather gear, warm jacket and wooly hat and drinking copious amounts of Malteni at the side of the Kwaremont or Carrefour, I’ll be sitting in the dark in the middle of the night, watching online, yet still imbued with the same raw enthusiasm for these monuments among Monuments. The fact that I’ll be half a world away will no doubt sting a little still, but if it does rain, then at least I’ll get half of my yearly wish. And that is something to look forward to for sure.


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Let the Season Begin Mon, 24 Feb 2014 21:11:38 +0000 OmLoop Omloop Finish

Omloop het Nieuwsblad is fast approaching on March 1st, Strade Bianche goes off the next weekend; finally, ladies and gentlemen, we have a season. For me the racing season really has to start in cold, wet Europe. I like the Tour Down Under just fine, I watch it, but it’s too early, too sunny and too hot to signify the start of the racing season. The races in the desert, though I’m sure they are windy and tough, hold no interest for me. Camels and embrocation do not compute. The endless speculation about Faboo’s lack of perfect February form only means every reporter is bored and has no real stories to write.

The most interesting thing about the racing in the Middle East was seeing that Tom Boonen is whippet thin and ready to bring the pain in 2014. Knowing that Boonen is back lets me sleep better at night. He is lining up for Omloop, his team is ready to rumble on the Taaienberg, all is right with the cycling world. Please let it rain, but don’t let Tommeke get hurt.

I need to see some racers with every bit of wet weather gear on, riding into a hell storm off the North Sea. Cold and wet and in Belgium; that is the way we start the season.

The other thing that is great with the cycling world is the Strade Bianche the following week. A gravel race for the professionals? The race is new, not even ten editions have been raced, but it seems so right. San Gimignano to Siena, rolling up and down across the Tuscan countryside, many secteurs of white gravel, this is a stroke of Italian genius.

Another reason to be excited is Peter Sagan. The wheelie poppin’ curb jumpin’ bad boy comes into this season a year wiser. He has watched both Fabs and Tommeke ride away from him in different editions of the Ronde but they aren’t getting any younger and Sagan is only getting better. The younger generation of riders would like to topple the reigning twin kings of the Spring Classics but Boonen and Cancellara are still there because they are the two best Spring Classic riders of their generation. They aren’t going to go without a battle.

If no one breaks bones in the feed zones or gets infected elbows, this all portends a beautiful spring.

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Guest Article: All the Bikes in my Life Have Come from my Father Fri, 21 Feb 2014 18:16:36 +0000 Colnago anyone? Colnago anyone?

Lucky is the cyclist who has a parent cyclist. Early mentoring about the pain cave, guidance gluing on tires, these are worthwhile lessons a parent could lecture a child on. If one has to listen to a parental lecture, better it be about Eddy Merckx and how you are no Eddy Merckx than balancing your checking account. For the rest of us, our parents maybe helped in the purchase of our first bike to get us out of the house, then we were on our own N+1 quest, making our mistakes as we went along. @davidbeers is lucky, his father is a cyclist. 

Yours in Cycling, Gianni

The first one was on Christmas Day, 1960. I got on the bike in the driveway and he gave me a push, no training wheels. I just rode down the street, until it was time to turn around. Since I couldn’t turn, I fell off. After that I never fell off until I was 13.

My Dad had a really cool racing bike called a Lentin Clubman. It had dropped bars with no bar tape, and he rode it with the leather saddle perched way up, on account of his long legs. One day I tried to ride it, without asking. I was flying down Old Chester Road before I realized that my hands were too small to reach the brake levers. My Dad appeared out of nowhere to stop me at the crest of the big hill. Smashed right into his chest; It must have hurt but he didn’t let on.

I had a 3-speed English bike called a Dunelt. It was a Raleigh knock-off with upright bars. I wanted a racing bike, a 10-speed. My Dad helped me get a real compromise: dropped bars and a derailleur kit to make it into a 9-speed. I put a lot of miles on that bike. The second time I fell off a bike was on the Dunelt, when I ran into a parked car. My thighs smacked the trunk so hard I couldn’t walk for a week.

My Dad taught me to tie a bow tie without a mirror. He used to ride his Clubman to work in downtown Washington; he had a rack on the back and he would lash his briefcase to it. On our way to the bus stop, we would see him cruise by, bow tie undone and flapping. I asked him once, if he tied it at the office. No, he explained with great amusement, the goal is this: First, to ride into the tunnel under Scott Circle, no hands, with the tie flapping, and then to emerge from the tunnel into the sunshine of K Street, no hands, straightening it.

Like all boys we wanted new, cool bikes, but we never got the one in the shop window. My Dad was always finding another route. For him the cleverness of the find was as important as the components were to me. It’s the same with furniture, and sportcoats, and houses. He sought out the advice of a dope dealer who also was my first riding mentor. That led to the first great bike I rode. The Mercian: Columbus tubing, Cinelli bars, Shimano drivetrain because Campy was out of the question.

I won some races on the Mercian, and placed well enough in some others to be named “Best New Member” of the National Capital Velo Club, sponsored by Georgetown Cycle Sport. They spelled my name wrong on the award I got. My Dad framed it, and “Dave Banks” has a place on the basement wall, next to my brother’s Ambassador’s Cup running trophy.

One thing we had in common was our understanding of the pain of losing bikes to thieves. The Mercian, The Clubman, The Legnano, a pair of  Supercourses, all disappeared and the sorrow was joined by bitterness. At least with the Mercian I had put enough into it by then, a lot of Campy, that an insurance claim was worthwhile. It paid thirty cents on the dollar, so I bought a Bianchi with much lesser parts and started over.

For my thirtieth birthday my Dad got his dealer to find me a used Colnago frame. A work of art by itself, I hung it on the wall for two years and just looked at it. Then I got a big bonus from a house I built, and I blew it all on a Campy Record Grouppo. I was going to keep the Bianchi for riding in the rain, but then I had a better idea. I gave it to my Dad; fanciest bike he ever rode.

For my fiftieth birthday my Dad got my long-time riding partner Clemson and my wife to get me another used Colnago, all dressed up with Campy Record. Now I have two, kind of like Ferraris: a very fast new one, and a sweet vintage one, both turn heads.


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The Thin Black Line Wed, 19 Feb 2014 17:50:18 +0000 RIP Kristof Goddaert 1986-2014

Every time we get on our bikes, we are playing a game of Russian Roulette. We take care to maintain our machines, to make sure they are in perfect running order, we look after our bodies to maximise our performance, and we, hopefully, abide by the rules of the road to keep ourselves safe from the dangers of other road users. But ultimately, our lives are in the hands of fate, destiny, or even other people. Ours is a sport fraught with danger, and every now and then, and increasingly all too often, we are reminded of the thin black line between life and death.

Such a reminder came today with the news that yet another Pro Cyclist, Kristof Goddaert, lost their life when going about their everyday job. Maybe we are less at risk in our own day-to-day lives than these athletes, but we shouldn’t take with a grain of salt the dangers that are inherent any and every time we cover ourselves with a thin shield of lycra, mount an 8kg piece of plastic, alloy and rubber, then surround ourselves with tonnes of fast-moving metal often operated by less-than-accommodating drivers. We should regard every motorist with caution, never knowing if they themselves are a cycle-aware operator or one of the increasingly common outspoken anti-cyclists that seem to crawl out of the woodwork to vent their disdain for us every time an online article regarding any aspect of sharing the road appears. Make no bones about it, there is a lot of contempt and anger towards cyclists from many drivers.

There’s only so much we can do to minimise our risk of not returning from a ride. Wearing a YJA is not going to help. Having a foam lid half-encasing our craniums will only do so much (let’s not get into a helmet debate here though). Not putting ourselves into a dangerous situation by flouting road rules, running red lights or riding erratically in traffic should be a no-brainer. Yet just by joining the arterial flow of cars, buses and trucks we put ourselves at the bottom of the transport food chain, and like a hyena in a lion-filled savannah, we need to be alert and aware of our surroundings and regard everyone around us a potential predator.

We’ve lost many of our own, and it’s often I think about our community friend @itburns when I kit up. Every time I read about another cyclist tragically killed, the reality of the dangers of our passion hits home, again, hard. Having met Kristof on KT12, when he gave up his time to talk to us before Paris-Roubaix, answering our questions, humouring us as he prepared for one of his most important days at work of the year, it feels that little bit more personal, even though our worlds were so far removed from each other. And now, he is removed from our world completely, a victim of bad luck, a tragic accident of circumstances that we might never consider could happen to us. Which only serves to remind us that it can.

Be careful out there, friends.


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Post-Ride Recovery Ales Mon, 17 Feb 2014 20:41:41 +0000 Recovery Ale Recepticle The cause of – and solution to – all of life’s problems.

The most important moment in a man’s life is the first time they have a beer. I place it on the list above sex and having a child because sex usually only happens as a direct result of drinking beer. As for having children, I’m given to understand they are poop factories at first, then promptly become loud, and then obnoxious before they resent you for the next fifteen years. If my math is right, it isn’t until after about twenty-five years that you can stand them and the investment starts paying off. Given the instant gratification of beer verses the ROI on child rearing, its not even a close. But the real clincher is that men love solving problems and there is no chance of solving problems if you don’t create them first.

As Cyclists, beer also forms an important part of our training regimen; after a day of crushing our opponents and laying down enormous helpings of The V, it is critical that we give our muscles the rest and nutrients they require in order to rebuild and become ever stronger. Required nutrients include things like carbohydrates, sugars, and proteins. As it happens, beer is made of things like – wait for it – carbohydrates, sugars, and proteins. According to alcoholic nutritionists I’ve spoken to as well as some recent studies, beer taken in moderation is the ideal recovery beverage after a hard workout.

But there’s that annoying word again, “moderation” – always with the moderation, these scientists. Apparently, you can’t go and get hammered every time you ride a bike or the alcohol will have other effects like making you fat, stupid, and bloated. Alcohol slows your metabolism and lowers your impulse control, which forms a double-whammy as after you get drunk and stuff your face, your body will have a harder time burning those extra calories.

When I started getting serious about losing weight and improving my climbing (this was immediately after my first ride up Haleakala), I completely ignored the possibility of giving up on booze as I’d much rather starve myself than stop drinking. But the fact is that dieting and training only yielded limited results. When I finally accepted the notion of reducing my alcohol intake, my weight started to drop and my riding immediately improved. The most surprising side effect was how much better my sleeping patterns became which also feeds into post-ride recovery.

I’ll never give up beer completely because I’d hate to be without problems to solve, but for anyone who is struggling to lose weight, take note: diet and exercise are key elements, but you won’t get there without taking a hard look at your alcohol consumption. I’m not suggesting you stop drinking altogether; drink a beer or two after riding to help your recovery, but beyond that alcohol will get in the way of reaching your goals. Unless your goal is to drink more, in which case I remind you that your liver is the only organ that can regenerate itself.

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In Memoriam: Il Pirata, Ten Years Gone Fri, 14 Feb 2014 16:58:02 +0000 I don’t know if its because I see something of myself in them or if it awakens some kind of nurturing instinct, but I always seem to find myself drawn to tragically flawed figures.

Layne Staley and Marco Pantani strike me as two halves of the same whole; incredibly talented yet tortured with mortally addictive personalities, both set loose into a world of over-indulgence. Everyone – including themselves – saw the writing on the wall in the months or even years leading up to their deaths, but everyone seemed helpless to stop the inevitable: a lonely death. To hear Staley sing is to watch Pantani climb; beauty is to witness an artist pouring their anguish into their trade.

I’ve been watching the 1998 Tour and Giro during my morning turbo sessions, and even with the lens through which we now view those rides, his talent was undeniable, but so was his fragile psyche. You can almost taste his self-doubt even as he flies up the mountains like a soaring eagle.

Today, St. Valentines Day, marks the tenth anniversary of Marco’s death, and with that we dive into the archives for a Kermis on Brett’s look at our fallen hero. See also a previous year’s Valentines Day Memorial.

May you go with Merckx, Marco.

It’s always a let down for a fan to realise his or her idol is not all that they were held up to be. And while I was somewhat a fan of Marco Pantani, it was neither a surprise nor a let-down to read about his troubled life, and his subsequent sad, lonely death.

It wasn’t a surprise, or a let-down, to read that possibly his whole career was fueled by a dependence on recombinant EPO, among other performance enhancers. I knew it while watching him win the Tour in 98, I knew it when I watched him vainly struggle to hold the wheel of a super-charged Armstrong in the 2000 Tour, and I knew it when I saw him valiantly try to re-capture his former climbing prowess against the lesser gifted, yet somehow superior Simoni and Garzelli et al in the 2003 Giro, his ultimate swansong as it would eventually transpire.

Did I care that he was loaded? No. All his contemporaries were, it was no secret. Did I get an invigorating thrill from watching him fly up iconic mountain passes while holding the bars in the drops, sitting, standing, always accelerating, striving to get to the summit as quickly as possible, to shorten the suffering as he often stated? Hell yes. He was an entertainer. He was a craftsman. An aesthete. And he was a loner, foregoing any real support from a team that lacked talent and panache, something that probably pleased him as he loved to be the centre of attention.

And just as he rode alone, he lived alone. Although he was surrounded by an entourage who all claimed to be doing their best for him, ultimately he was neglected by them, and left to die a lonely, depressed, paranoid and disturbed man.

The Death of Marco Pantani doesn’t try to dispel the notion that his career was based on deception, nor does it try to glorify it. It is a stark assessment of the facts, and only the staunchest of tifosi could argue against those facts. But it still hits hard to read of such a spectacular fall from grace, the downward spiral from the pinnacle of the sport, and indeed from the pinnacle of celebrity, to a demise that one would normally associate with that of a rock star or actor. Maybe that’s how he saw himself, and how he thought it would be befitting for him to be remembered, like an Elvis, a Jim Morrison or even a James Dean.

Just as we still listen to The Doors, and watch Viva Las Vegas or Rebel Without a Cause and take pleasure from the experience, so too will we remember Les Duex Alpes in 98, or l’Alpe d’Huez in 95 and 97, not because we were watching a flawed individual, but because we were being entertained by a consumate showman, a master of his craft at the height of his profession.

And for that I can only be appreciative. RIP Marco.

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Climbing Tips for the Non-Climber Wed, 12 Feb 2014 20:43:44 +0000 Magnus Bäckstedt, 195cm, 90kg Non-Climber Magnus Bäckstedt, 195cm, 90kg

I’m a non-climber who enjoys climbing. I’d enjoy it more if I was good at it. And “enjoy” might be too strong a word, “tolerate” might be better. But dragging 89 kilos up a volcano gives one time to contemplate the cycling life .

Let us define non-climber. It’s someone either too fat, too big (gravitationally challenged) or a fast- twitching sprinter. Not liking to suffer does not make you a non-climber. As the moto camera drifts down the peloton on the Ventoux, it’s still the guys at the back who are dying the worst. Finishing within the time limit for the non-climber requires a trip deep into the cave-o-pain.

For the cyclist, the power-to-weight ratio (watts generated/body weight in kg) is king, especially when the road goes up. A large improvement in the power side of the formula is tough, we have already chosen our damn parents and cursed inheriting their vestigial hearts and lungs. Yes, this number should be honed to its finest edge, it can be nudged up but not a lot.

The weight side of the equation is completely changeable and under our control.

Lose some weight, you fat bastards. Yes, I’m talking to you. The most important thing to improve climbing, by far, is to lose some weight. Do you need dramatic proof? Put a known weight (2 liter bottles of water) into a knapsack and do a regular route. The hills will be bad, very bad. Now imagine losing that same two or four kilos. The difference can be just as impressive. When I’m at a decent riding weight, climbing out of the saddle for extended periods is not a problem. I’m still slow but gravity is not demanding I put my ass on the saddle. Losing body weight is free; one looks better on and off the bike. Your friends will hate you. What is the down side? Oh right, it takes self-control and not drinking as much alcohol as life requires.

Don’t carry extra weight on the bike. If you really don’t need a second large bidon, don’t carry that 0.8kg. That’s more than the difference between super-light climbing wheels and regular road wheels. For reasons I’ll never understand, a bike that is one kilo lighter seems noticeably faster than the one kilo saved from a bidon. So yes, N+1 can be invoked but it’s much cheaper to just leave that second bottle at home.

LeMan said the key to climbing was to relax…easy for him to say when he had the heart and lungs of three Velominati. But Rule #10 is Rule #10 so meditate on relaxing while dancing uphill. Find a little rhythm. Click up into a longer gear, pop out of the saddle, shift back down, park it back in the saddle.

Find a gear you can turn over comfortably. As we all know, Dr Ferrari was the one to get Lance to spin up climbs. It’s tough to know where the EPO stopped and the spinning started but it did seem to work for him. While some may argue for climbing in the big chainring, for us non-climbers, climbing in the saddle and spinning a gear will get us up faster and with less collateral damage.

The best part of climbing as a non-climber is that we are out there, doing it. The Stelvio, hell yeah, it’s going to take a little longer to get up there but we will do it. We don’t stop, we don’t put a foot down. We suffer like you-know-who on you-know-what but we still do it with a stupid smiles on our faces.


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To Look Good is Already to Go Fast Mon, 10 Feb 2014 22:17:48 +0000 Looking fast. Photo: Pedale.Forchetta Its no coincidence he looks as fast as he is. Photo: Pedale.Forchetta

To look good is already to go fast.
-Paul Fournel, Vélo

My approach to research is pretty straight forward. First, I develop an opinion – usually in a cognitively compromised state. This is the first step in the process for the simple reason that it avoids the bulk of the hard work involving things like reading and thinking. Next, I cherry-pick evidence from my experience and what few materials I have read on the subject in order to support my opinion. Finally, I defend myself with whatever dirty tricks or facts I need to invent in order to maintain my position.

It is only on rare occasions that I will be unable to guess at the evidence I need to support my claim, but in those cases I already know I’m right, so not finding evidence that contradicts my position is almost the same as finding some that supports it. I consider those circumstances validation of my opinion and thus fortify the resolve that I’m right.

Over the lifetime of The Rules, numerous bright sparks have popped up out of the ether like some sort of internet Whack-A-Mole to point out that many of them are all about aesthetics. The point is true enough, but the Velominati have always understoodd that Looking Fantastic is the fundamental building block to finding the motivation to get out on the bike day in, day out – Rule #9 or shine. The fact that the hard work of training is what actually makes you faster is glossed over when you get excited about kitting up in your Flandrian Best, echoing the summoning of Flemish hardmen who have come before you, and using their image to inspire you to get out and lay down The V. Its basic, really.

Despite how certain I’ve always been that this is Truth and that The Rules have been handed down by Merckx from high on Mount Velomis to inspire the masses, an Austrian professor, Dr. Erik Postma of the University of Zurich, recently conducted a study to see whether Looking Fantastic really does indicate athletic prowess.

The results confirmed that Science is unnecessary when you’ve already guessed the truth, but nevertheless it is handy to have a scientific study support my assumptions in case I can’t make up facts as quickly as I need to during an argument. It also strikes me as interesting that the study found that women on the pill are about as good at identifying attractive males as men are.

Thanks to Shaka Mitchell for sending this validating study along to us.

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The Perfect Amount of Dumb Fri, 07 Feb 2014 17:44:56 +0000 Welcome to the Kermis. It’s not a recycling, it’s a reintroduction. The idea is to repost an old article that still resonates today and see where it goes. We will endeavor not to abuse this feature.

I’ve referred to Frank’s fantastic Perfect Amount of Dumb article at least five times in my own posts. My reference is usually that I’m dumb but it’s cycling related dumb. I’ve got the dumb part covered, not the Motorcus part. I so love his unexpected title and the post, it needs to do another lap.

I was just watching Tyler Mini Phinney’s post Dubai TT interview thinking, this kid has the perfect amount of dumb to be great. He shops at the Big and Tall shop, so I like him already. And his brain is way up there, in the thin air, so he choses his words carefully, like climbers at 8,000 meters. He’s got It.

No American Cyclist has won a Monument. Abandy has won more Monuments than LeMan? Merckx forgive me for uttering that last sentence. Greg was our last best chance but this new Phinney-Carpenter hybrid might somehow, someday get on the stones, get really incensed, and prove he has the perfect amount of dumb.

I find professional athletes – cyclists in particular – an impressive bunch.  They are hard, disciplined people who ply their trade in some of the most atrocious conditions imaginable.  To become professionals, they have to be good at what they do, and smart enough to learn how to continue succeeding despite the gaps between the top of the sport continually narrowing.    They have to learn to live right and train right.  They have to listen to their coaches.   They have to learn to control their mind and to override the signals their bodies are sending.  They need to be smart enough to read an ever-changing race and smell the right moment to make their move; disaster and glory can be separated only by a split-second reaction born out of intuition mixed with experience and intelligence.

But the best athletes are also a little bit dumb.  Men like Fabian Cancellara, Jens Voigt, or Tom Boonen; these are the men who flog themselves for hours on end and, when their bodies are about to break, dial it up a notch and lay it all out on the road.  A smarter man would, under those circumstances, say, “You know what?  This is nice, but I can also go less hard.”

Not asking that sort of question after dropping the flashlight deep in the pain cave is the perfect amount of dumb.

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Look Pro: Dress for Success Wed, 05 Feb 2014 17:47:50 +0000 A cold morning ride on <a href=Keepers Tour 2013. Photo: Brett Kennedy" src="" width="620" height="413" /> A cold morning ride on Keepers Tour 2013. Photo: Brett Kennedy

I recently overheard someone say that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. This is the kind of statement that makes me want to hate people as a species a little bit. Of course there such a thing as bad weather. There are also bad people (loads of them), bad ideas (even bigger loads of them), bad advice (especially on the internet) and, despite what your mother told you, there certainly are stupid questions.

Despite being so clever as to render itself useless, there is a sentiment behind the claim that should be taken seriously, and that is the notion that if one is to venture out in bad weather, one should give some consideration to dressing appropriately for it. For example, I routinely see photos of Spanish Pros riding the trainer indoors in wooly hats and leggings. I would never ride indoors with leggings because the most redeeming quality of riding indoors is that you get to stare at your guns shamelessly without worry of being spotted doing so.

A Velominatus should take care to ensure they have a complete wardrobe of kit for different kinds of weather; bibs and jerseys, of course, but also arm and knee warmers, gilets, long sleeve jerseys, overshoes, gloves, caps, winter caps, knee warmers and leggings, and even jackets or rain coats depending on where you live and what kind of weather you encounter.

Always remember that the more you’re wearing, the worse you look. That’s not an opinion – that’s science. Perfection starts with bibs and a jersey, tanned guns, and a sweet set of shades. Next in line is the Flandrian Best, but after that, it’s all downhill, ending with the unfortunate invention of thermal bibs. They may be a necessity under some circumstances, just know they look complete crap, so you will too.

Still, its better than not riding, so as you’re getting ready to kit up for the day, I advise you take into account the following considerations.

  • Overdressing is as bad as under dressing. Getting too hot is just as miserable as being too cold, so unless you’re deliberately overdressing in order to lose weight, dress like Goldilocks, not too hot and not too cold.
  • Start out cold. Dress for how hard you’ll be riding that day; I like to dress such that I am chilly for the first 15 minutes of the ride because after the blood starts pumping or you hit the first hill, your core temp will rise and you’ll be perfectly dressed.
  • Choose layers over bulk. Layers have the advantage that they can be combined in different ways to tune their effect. For example, a jersey with arm warmers and a gilet can be as warm as a long sleeve jersey, but allow you to shed the gilet and arm warmers if you get too warm.
  • Windproof is more important than waterproof. If it keeps the water out, it will keep your sweat in as well, no matter what the label says about breathability. Which means you’re getting wet anyway. Windproof layers, on the other hand, will keep the wind from getting through to those wet fabrics so you can stay warm, and breathe much better than do waterproof materials. Unless its the kind of downpour that starts the animals lining up in twos, you won’t find me in a rain jacket.
  • No ear muffs. If your ears get cold, get a proper winter cycling cap. We’re not savages after all.
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On Rule #6: Resistance Mon, 03 Feb 2014 22:37:23 +0000 This man isn't about to quit; that's V Face right there. This man isn’t about to quit; that’s V Face right there.

Strength can be a fickle thing this time of year, when the training isn’t as consistent as it should be; it comes and goes, sometimes several times in the span of a single ride or even a climb. Like a rosy-eyed dreamer I keep awakening as I train, thrown like a rag doll between a state nearing euphoria and one resembling purgatory.

My mind is what drives me as a Cyclist, it is what allows my to keep going despite the burning in my legs and lungs. It is what pushes me to leave the comfort of my home to climb aboard my bike when it is dark, cold, and rainy. But there are times when the legs won’t go or the body fails in some anomalous way when we are struck by the reality that we are but puppets, pushed and pulled by forces that exist outside outside the jurisdiction of our will.

Whether or not the body fails, the mind can still resist. It can resist easing back. It can resist turning around. It can resist turning the bars to steer away from the extra climbing loop. Giving in is the worst kind of weakness we have in Cycling. With time all the acute reasons why we want to quit will pass; the acid will flush from our muscles, the gasps for air will give way to steady breathing, the cold will leave our bodies. But quitting, and the doubt it cultivates can last much, much longer.

Quitting begets quitting. It wears down your confidence and makes you question yourself. It asks questions of you that you will struggle to answer when the 2am Ghosts of Lost Opportunities come calling. Worst of all, quitting gets easier the more you do it.

Before my rides, I will decide if it is to be a hard day or an easy day; whether I will do the extra loop with the big climbs or look for the flatter roads. Once on the ride, I will shut off the part of my mind that asks those questions and simply shut off the part of my mind that processes those considerations. I will not stop until I am done.

Our strength may be fickle, but our minds are steady.

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Guest Article: Along for the Ride Fri, 31 Jan 2014 20:37:47 +0000 The yellow jersey The yellow jersey, overall winner, Kiwi pro Roman van Uden

ChrisO is back with another installment of Suffering in the Desert. Enjoy. 

VLVV, Gianni

A year after my first stage race I’m doing it again. I just have to remember who had permission to shoot me if I did…

The Tour of Sharjah has become the Sharjah International Cycling Tour. It’s now a UCI Asia Tour 2.2 event, in other words a Professional race with UCI ranking points, and a 20,000 Euro prize pool.

I’m a bit more Pro too, though we’re talking about a sliding scale here OK. Last time I was 87kg having never done a multi-day race. Now I’ve lost 9-10 kilos, done stage events and races, even won some. I’m riding better and faster than ever. I have a power meter and a new team with a sponsor. Ride my own bike ? Alors, I have a team bike. I even have a coach, who tells me how wonderful my numbers are.

I’ve trained hard to be selected. Before the race I have dream-like moments where I imagine sneaking into a breakaway, the classic ‘no threat’ rider, and finding myself somehow featuring in the day’s reports. Sigh…

Day 1 – Sharjah Corniche Circuit 70km

Desert, what desert ? The previous day every school in the country shut to avoid a massive storm and today is no better. It’s a 2pm start and I need my 4WD to get through great pools of water and stranded vehicles. When it only rains once or twice a year drainage isn’t a priority. Months of dirt and diesel on the roads, and we’re supposed to be doing a crit.

We gather at the race hotel for an early lunch. There are grim looks all round. Ryan, over from Doha, says the Qatari team think it’s dangerous and don’t want to ride. Some of our Brit riders think the bad weather is to our advantage. Maybe they’re right but I’m with the Qataris.

The start is near the hotel. The rain stops briefly and we roll out but quickly find our way blocked by flooded streets. Eventually we pick our way across pavements and carparks only to be told it’s been put off for an hour and shortened to let the roads dry a little more.

Annoyed, we roll back again, chill out and return for the official start. Mario Cipollini is here courtesy of our team sponsor who is selling his bikes, so we have a photo with the great man. Touched by Cipo before a race – surely a good omen.

The teams are much the same as last year. Strong national squads – professionals and full-time athletes – from the UAE, Algeria, Iraq, Egypt plus new arrivals like India and Pakistan, and of course our local clubs both the Emirati and the expat versions. The Afghan squad is really Iranian (tip to undercover cyclists, don’t wear ‘Iran’ shoe covers). My former team has brought in a ringer, Roman van Uden, a Kiwi pro rider with a top level British Continental outfir Node 4 Giordana, and clear favourite to win.

The start is neutralised until we get onto the proper circuit. We get a taste of things to come. Water is up over the rims and the bunch tries to squeeze through the dry bits, with spray flying even at a modest pace. As the flag goes the pace quickens and we’re in it for real. This is hairy stuff. The first day is always nervous and the combination of twitchy riders with sketchy surfaces and dangerous obstacles is on everyone’s mind.

But I’m hanging in there OK. I even find I’m in better positions, making my way from one side of the bunch to the other as we change direction and the wind shifts, using the water to gain better positions. There are lots of “whoaaa” moments as riders ahead apply brakes or shift position to avoid the flooding.

No surprise then when the inevitable happens and there’s a massive pile up about halfway down. I’m not in it but I am behind it. Right behind it, no getting around. As I pick my way through bodies and bikes I quickly scan for the red and black of our Ride-GMS jerseys. I don’t notice anyone but it later turns out we’ve lost Josh to some busted ribs.

By the time I’m through the bunch has disappeared. I catch a few ahead and a few others catch us to make a sizeable pack as we try to reel them in. After a few kilometres however it’s clear we aren’t going to rejoin. Most accept the inevitable but a few seem determined to throw away their energy, making sudden efforts and forming small breakaways which last no more than a few hundred metres. It’s a long circuit rather than a crit but we pass the lead group in the other direction often enough to see we’re losing time. Sit in, save the strength.

We make it home, but only after being misdirected three times around a roundabout under a foot of water. We look like we’ve done a cross race on a muddy day in Belgium. Our bikes are covered in crap and lord knows what we’ve swallowed. It’s at this point the thing that makes me feel most Pro happens – my bike is taken, in a good way.

Our sponsors are an offshore services company, GMS (ever need your oil rig looked after just let me know, mate’s rates) and Ride, a Dubai bike shop. With mechanics. Smiley, happy, can’t-do-enough Sherman and Juhn (who also drives the support car) whisk our bikes away to be cleaned and oiled and prepared for the next day. This happens every day. Cross the line and I don’t even have to find somewhere to lean my bike. I get off and I see it the next morning. Tyres cut to shreds by road debris? Two new tyres. Brakes rubbing? Let them out. I could get used to this.

Day 2 : Batayeh to Khor Fakkan 97km / 500m

They’ve swapped the long climbing stage scheduled today with tomorrow’s shorter rolling stage. The forecast is more of the same so maybe it’s to avoid a tricky descent.

The start is out in the desert. The roads are straight but lumpy and roll over big dunes. The wind is the bastard – strong and at our right-hand side. There’s no neutral start and the pace goes crazy from the beginning.

Where last year I was being spat from front to back in 30 seconds I’ve now got pack sense. It’s not just about looking at your space. It’s about the space in front of the space in front, and the spaces and riders around you. Every gap is my gap. Unless it’s going to cause a crash, move into it. Get your bars in front of the next guy’s and let him be the one to drift back.

We’re riding at 40 something km/h in the gutter, full of road debris and with a concrete wall inches to my left. As we go over the rollers there’s a classic echelon at the front with a long tail strung behind. There are cracks ahead and it takes several big efforts to get around the gapped riders and latch on again. One time I lose the contact but a group comes from behind and we chase on again, although it takes about 10km to get back.

Today is very fast. We do nearly half the stage at an average of 51km/h – the average for the day, with 600m climbing, is over 45km/h. To make matters worse the rain starts again and the roads are slippery and wet but fortunately this bunch is only about half the field so it’s relatively sane and safe. At one point my former teammate Youcef is next to me and says hello but we’re doing 65km/h on a fast descent in the wet in a bunch of 50 riders and I think it best to chat another time.

After a while our team leader Jamie drifts back and calls me up. I’ve been sitting mid-pack but there’s a dangerous break and he wants us to help set the pace. There are only four of us left here. As the bunch moves around and it gives me a chance to come up on the sheltered side and get on the front.

Another thing I’ve learned – gatekeeping. To work the front you need your riders to come off but not go all the way back, and you don’t want intruders breaking it up. So someone is the gatekeeper – anyone they let through has to work, anyone not working is shut out. You just have to spot the keeper.

So I do some decent turns, I get in, I get around and I’m doing OK. I’m thinking I’ll finish easily with the bunch but as we get near the end, while I’m on the very front I go over a speedbump and can’t see the pothole on the other side. Pssss… pinch flat and that’s me done, just as it will start to wind up for the finish.

With our team car following I get to do the pro thing. Hand up, pull to the side, car comes screeching up, change wheel, off I go again. I don’t get back but I follow the cars and more importantly the breakaway is caught right on the line so no time is lost. Job done.

It’s a 90 minute drive back to the hotel. I know from experience that not eating causes me all sorts of problems so I am determined to cram it in. We spot a Subway on the way back – I’ve never had a Footlong Sub before and maybe never will again but I start from there and in 8 hours I eat:

Oreos x 2
Electrolyte recovery drink
Subway Footlong – tuna, cheese and salad
Orange juice
Banana cake
Nuts and dried fruit
Malted soy milk
Digestive biscuits
Tea with sugar
Chocolate soy milk
Chicken parmigiana sandwich
More orange juice
Salad plate and bread
Main plate – rice with chicken and vegetables, stuffed pasta, moussakeh, grilled lamb and chicken
Chocolate cake, chocolate trifle, apple pie
Protein recovery drink

I can’t believe I’ve eaten this much. I have to write it down.

Day 3 – Sharjah American University to Al Daid 161km / 1400m

I’m tired now. Even my attempts at food-based recovery have not given me much energy as we start what promises to be a long and tough stage. Originally 174km it’s been shortened to 161km. We don’t know exactly where it turns but it’s somewhere in the hills.

Despite that the day again starts fast and furious along similar rolling terrain and the same side winds. Always those bloody winds.

It’s harder today to stay where I should be. Harder to make the efforts to get far enough up the bunch and not be cut off. Harder to get around the people in front who drop back on the inclines.

Soon, too soon, comes the dreaded break. The cracks in the pack ice. There may only be a few metres between each slab but it’s a hard swim from one to the other, and I’m feeling more panda than polar this morning.

I’m now in the third group. We can see the groups ahead, echeloned across the road, but there are only seven or eight in our group of 20-30 who are working at the front. Every time we get near to the group ahead some fools try to break away and bridge the gap. Time and again they sink in the icy waters. If everyone paddled together we’d catch them. People at the back yell to ‘Stay right’ but then don’t come through to work. There’s much yelling and cajoling but after a while it’s clear this group isn’t going to happen.

Number 31, from the Afghan-Iran team comes past doing 60km/h uphill holding on to his team car. This is no sticky spanner, just blatant cheating, and our suffering grupetto howls its disapproval.

My teammate and roommate Paul comes up. He had a good second day, and was up there in the sprint and overall, at 8th. He was. I didn’t know it but a crash has wrecked a wheel and he’s chasing back. It’s bad timing, just as I was needing to save some energy for the hills. and he goes cruising past. I try to come up and help but I can’t. I feel bad about it but a few others go with him and they gradually edge away up the first climb leaving me with an even more hopeless task.

Soon after comes an uplifting sight. I hear cries of Allahu akbar from the front and Arabic chatter. Then I see the cause. Number 31 has come a cropper, presumably with one hand for the car and only one on the bike he lost control. Nasty. They say Allahu akbar, I say schadenfreude. We don’t wait.

In the support van now I see Tim and Rob. Tim is my training partner and a strong rider, as is Rob. I see why riders go in the broom wagon now. Seeing teammates in the car is a mixed emotion. On the one hand there’s pride that they’ve quit and you haven’t… on the other hand the fuckers are sitting in a car with food and drink – it’s becomes a real option for you as well. They do a great job of supporting us though, handing out drinks and gels and food as we struggle to the end.

I’m so tired that afternoon I sleep for a few hours. I know I have to eat but I struggle to force it all down. I’m sick of eating now. Sick of plates with pasta, rice AND potatoes. I want a salad and some soup and fruit. Amazingly when I weigh myself the day after the race I will find I’ve lost another kilo.

Day 4 – Sharjah Velodrome to Sharjah Airport 133km / 660m

The final day and it’s a flat(ish) and windy stage. The only stage that follows the race guide.

We’re at the start nice and early so I can have a good warmup. That’s been part of my problem with these fast starts. Us old guys take a bit longer to get going. In fact we have a really good warmup because it’s delayed again.

I’m not feeling great. My stomach is churning from all the food but once I’m on the bike I feel OK. Funny that. My legs are sore but it could be worse. I’ve managed not to have any bad cramps or rub anything raw so that’s a positive. It starts fast again and the echelons form but I’m in a reasonable position. My jour sans over I reckon I can hang on with the pack today. I’ve not got much left in the tank though, no heroics.

After about 20 minutes back comes Jamie and asks me to go to the front. I can’t say no, and I really try to get forward but the bunch is packed together in the gutter. The only way up is the windy side. I have to make 500 watt efforts just to pick up 20 places and then elbow in before having another go. By the time I get to the front I’ll be exhausted and no use.

I’m wrestling with this when I see Jamie to the side, hand up. I pull towards him expecting to have to help him rejoin. That’ll be my contribution today then – it’s actually a relief to know what you have to do. But our car is nowhere to be seen. Paul has punctured, again, and they’re out of position.

“Front wheel, front wheel,” Jamie yells. I stop and dismount, undoing my skewer as Jamie does his. Quick swap and he takes my wheel – I don’t even think twice about handing over my finest Enve carbon – and then he’s off before the cars have even passed so I’m reasonably certain he’ll get back. I, on the other hand, am left flailing a flaccid wheel until the car reaches me. Too late, I’ll not be getting back today.

It’s 16km into a 133km stage. I could quit and nobody would think worse of me. Some friendly managers give me a little draft. Paul comes past behind our car – he’s got better legs than me today and I don’t even try to keep up. A couple of our remaining guys, Bruce and Julien, are also back but lack the energy to get in the car drafts. At one point I’m nearly back up to Paul and our car, just as he gets a very sticky spanner and zooms off.

A little later the car comes back to use the same spanner on me. It gets me up to a little group of two Lebanese riders and two Pakistanis. The Lebanese are friendly – Saleh and Hassan. We rode together in the suffering group yesterday and I know Hassan from Cyprus. Habibi ! We will suffer together for 100km.

Our team cars share drinks and food among the group and Bruce and Julien are now in our van, having dropped out. At one point a Pakistani loses a spoke and we wait while it’s changed. No longer a race. We’re just cyclists, stragglers trying to get home now.

In the end Jamie got back and Paul rejoined the group, and even better our other top rider Ryan nearly broke away but still took fifth on the stage. Their results make us the best-placed UAE club team. Roman gets a run for his money from UAE champion Yousef Mirza but keeps yellow throughout. Of our 12 who started (in two teams) only four finish. In total more than 120 started and just 78 finish, with me in 72nd. Far below what I hoped for and probably about the same as last year, but  this was definitely a level above. At least I stayed upright this time.

I said after last time I could have pro equipment and pro legs but never have a pro-head. Maybe now I can compete in that too, and if nothing else I can now say I finished a pro race. Look up ProCyclingStats and I’m in there.

It’s the pro will I still don’t have. That ability to shut out pain and say Shut Up Legs. At least I know what I have to work on.

Last time I had Five Things I Learned, so how would I change that now.

  1. Riding is still not the same as Racing.
  2. Other people climbing off is demoralising and motivating at the same time.
  3. The three most important positions are the ones around you.
  4. The gap is yours. Take it before someone else does.
  5. The things you do can make you a better rider and racer. New wheels are your reward.


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La Vie Velominatus: Ugly Ducklings Wed, 29 Jan 2014 21:49:34 +0000 1984Kelly_Liege Kelly waddles on the podium at the ’84 Luik-Bastenaken-Luik.

We’re an odd bunch, us Cyclists. Shaved legs, scars, tan lines, muscular legs paired to scrawny upper bodies. These things that make us stand out are some of the things I take great pride in. I marvel at my freshly shaved guns and how smooth they feel under my dress clothes when I’m stuck at the office. I’ll stand in front of the mirror each morning and gauge whether I’m getting fatter or skinnier. I’ll constantly feel my legs to check that they haven’t started to get soft since the morning’s ride. Being a Cyclist, it seems, is a full-time occupation.

Everything in our lives is biased towards riding. On the bike, we are a picture of elegance: perfect kit, tanned guns, Magnificent Stroke fluidly propelling us along the avenue. Remove us from the bicycle, however, and the graceful Cyclist is transformed instantly into an awkward creature; our legs suddenly look too big, our bodies too small, and we waddle about hopelessly on cleated shoes.

One of the most satisfying experiences of Cycling is to walk in my road shoes. Not only is it a thrill to avoid wiping out down a flight of stairs or in a café, but it marks the start and end of my ride. Kitting up before leaving, I’ll wander to the living room with my shoes in hand. Standing up after strapping them on, I’ll clomp out to the bike, my awkward gait signaling the sweet anticipation of the ride that awaits. Similarly, I cherish clomping back into the house afterwards, the clip-clop of my shoes echoing through the living room and signaling to anyone who is home that I’ve returned from my mission.

I embrace those things that make me strange to the rest of society; we are Cyclists and the rest aren’t meant to understand our ways. But a time will come when we ugly ducklings will blossom into skinny swans.

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Anatomy Of A Photo: Screen-grab From A Golden Age Mon, 27 Jan 2014 19:17:48 +0000 tomes tinker

Even though in today’s mountain bike world the bikes are better, the clothing more appropriate, and there are more trails to ride, there’s no denying the early 90s were the Golden Age of Mountain Biking. Just look at these fellas, and tell me I’m wrong.

Tomac knew what was up. You don’t get such a badass Rainbow Jersey by accident, and his year in the bands (’92) was probably the last time the jersey looked that good. Plain black shorts, white socks, back flat as a pancake. And who else would you expect to be the first to rock a Troy Lee paint job on their helmet?

Tinker, well he’s a man unto himself. Probably the crowd favourite on the strength of recognition, being the only dreadlocked Hispanic riding a fluoro green or purple bike at the time making him easy to spot. That and his cadence, crunching the big ring where others, even Tomac and Ned, feared to tread. Legend has it that Tinker would fill a backpack with the biggest rocks he could find then set off into the mountains for a six hour training ride. Even if it’s an urban myth, the fact that it’s an urban myth about Tinker makes it more than a bit plausible.

Gumwall tyres, polished silver rims, colour matched forks, Campa… Campa? Multicoloured Sidis, Tinker made it all work. Even the Etto helmet looked good on him. Tomac was arguably the most Rule Compliant mountain biker ever. Even with limited resources to work with, these guys set the bar. Not many have reached it since.

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Frame Job Fri, 24 Jan 2014 19:17:30 +0000 This looks OK This fit looks OK

Last year we read that Philippe Gilbert is riding a 50cm (top tube of 535mm) BMC frame and he is 1.79m (5’10”) tall. Now it’s reported in Cyclingnews that Ritchie Porte’s Pinarello is a 46.5cm frame (top tube of 515mm) and Porte is 1.72m (5’8”) tall. He is no Nairo Quintana but somehow he is on Quintana’s old bike. Porte is just one inch shorter than the average Australian male, he is not short. And I used to think Sean Kelly’s bike was a tiny bit small for him.

Taylor Phinney was moved down from a 60cm to a 58cm frame when he joined BMC. He is 1.96m (6’5″) so it’s not a radical move, I can understand a very tall person wanting a less whippy frame, not that a BMC 60cm carbon frame is in any way loose. And they are getting the advice of people who know what they are doing, so there are some solid ideas here just ones I haven’t thought of.

What are the advantages of riding such small frames? Really, I don’t know and would like to understand. Ritchie Porte is 1.72m, rides a kid’s bike and has a 120mm stem on it, how is that a good bike fit? Has everything we learned about bike fitting been with a huge caveat: after many measurements and calculations, here is what frame you should ride but if you want to throw all that out the window and go down six centimeters, that works too. And yet, Mr Porte looks pretty good on it so tell me, oh wise ones, what am I missing?



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Les Choix Wed, 22 Jan 2014 22:56:24 +0000 A 10 speed cluster; too many choices or not enough? A 10 speed cluster; too many choices or not enough?

I’ve never been able to decide if choices are a gift or a curse; a lack of choices introduces simplicity but also with it the risk that the simple choices do not meet the demands of a complex world. An abundance of similar choices, on the other hand, often reduces the impact of getting things a little bit wrong, but also decreases the thoughtfulness in decision making. Finally, having many divergent choices mostly just leads to a lot of planning and ultimately indecision, assuming my experience in Corporate America is anything to go by.

These days, we tend to ride bicycles with 10 or 11 speed clusters made up of sprockets that are closely matched to their neighbors. This development removes the rider somewhat from the art of gear selection, a fact carried further by bar-mounted shifters; as  gradients increase and decrease, we glide from gear to gear maintaining our cadence with hardly any consideration given to the ratios hard at work for us. It is a beautiful freedom to ride like this, but it is also another degree of separation between rider and machine.

I recently read an interview with Sean Kelly, who was discussing his defeat at the hands of Greg Lemond during the 1989 World Championship Road Race. With only seven sprockets at his disposal over a route slightly too hilly for a rider of his ilk, he was faced with a difficult choice: spare the legs on the climb with a 25T at the bottom end, or hamper his sprint with a 13T at the top end.

Kelly faced a tough decision: mount a gear that would carry him over the climb to contend the finale with the handicap of a 13T, or overload the cannons on too big a gear for the climb and never have the chance to go for the win in the first place. He deliberated over the decision while training on the course and finally decided for the low gear. Kelly made it over the climbs to contest the sprint, but his 53×13 was hopelessly outmatched by LeMan’s monster 54×12.

More recently, the Cycling world was aflutter about Tony Martin’s choice to ride a 58T front chain ring during a time trail. This wasn’t a display of bravado but rather a highly refined choice of chain line: knowing the speeds he wanted to ride, he chose his big ring in such a size that would provide the straightest chain line in the gear he’d be riding in during the majority of the race. The result was less friction, and a Tour de France stage win under his belt.

There is an art to gear and cluster choice that is nearly lost with today’s expanding sprocket ranges, but it remains within our grasp if only we are willing to seek it out. Don’t settle for knowing the maximum and minimum size gears in your block; know exactly which gears you have across the board, and understand what sizes you’ll be missing and gaining when switching between 11-23, 12-25 and 13-26 – there is more to it than just taking one off one end and slapping it on the other.

It might not make any material difference to your Cycling, but it will show the quality of your character.

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Reverence: LeMond Revolution Mon, 20 Jan 2014 22:34:41 +0000 The LeMond Revolution The LeMond Revolution

I read recently that a number of Pros like to ride the turbo for an hour or so before having breakfast in the morning to jump start the old metabolic system. Which means that now I ride the trainer for an hour in the morning before breakfast. I think the Pros probably do it to lose weight, and I do it partly for that reason but also to burn off the hangover which comes as a result of my status as a semi-professional drinker.

I used to ride an old Tacx trainer, but I found riding the device only slightly preferable to shoving bamboo shoots under my fingernails. Then I got a LeMond Revolution and now I actually look forward to my morning sessions. I’d been interested in the LeMond Revolution trainers for some time, but it wasn’t until I discovered that the device is based on a direct-drive trainer that Greg’s coach built for him in the 80′s that I decided to embark on my new morning ritual at the mercy of one. After all, if it was good enough to help LeMan become a Tour de France winner, then surly it was good enough to help me get less fat and become less of a weakling.

The first thing you notice about these little numbers that you remove the rear wheel from your bike and mount the Revolution in its place. This means no wheel slippage on the mag and what amounts to a remarkably pleasant ride feel. The second thing you notice about the trainer is that its bloody hard to spin up; I start crossed in a 53×26 and can hardly turn the pedals at first, but there is no way I’m shifting into my little ring on a trainer on account of my not being a giant sissy. The third thing you notice is that it’s actually fun to ride; I turn on some old Cycling movies and before I know it, I find my buzzer going off indicating the hour has already passed. I had no idea riding a trainer didn’t have to suck.

But lets be clear: we are road cyclists, and we ride on the road. A long ride in the cold wind and rain is preferable to even an hour on an indoor trainer. But trainers do represent an important training tool and as such should be a part of every Cyclist’s arsenal. I’m on it every morning, and as the season looms I’m looking to it more and more for intervals and power work. Not to mention that as I prepare for my Hour ride on Festum Prophetae, I’m training Obree Style on my Revolution.

Before we get too carried away with this indoor riding business, let’s review some examples of acceptable reasons to ride a trainer:

  1. Strength and/or interval training.
  2. Pedaling technique work.
  3. Hour Record simulation training.
  4. Pre-breakfast rides to help lose weight, assuming you still hit the road after breakfast.
  5. Recovery from injury.

Examples of unacceptable reasons to ride a trainer:

  1. Its raining outside and you don’t want to get wet.
  2. Its cold outside and you don’t want to get cold.
  3. Its windy outside and you don’t want to get blown around.
  4. Its cold and wet outside and you don’t want to get cold and wet.
  5. Its cold and wet and windy out and you don’t want to get blown around while getting cold and wet.
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Guest Article: Rule #9 Festivus Fri, 17 Jan 2014 18:50:53 +0000 Antwerp at night  photo: S.N. Severinghaus Antwerp at night photo: S.N. Severinghaus

One of the finest things about Velominati is it attracts the crazy bastards. Cyclists are slightly unhinged anyway but there are more than a few out there who have no fear. Crazy is not constrained by nationality. Crazy knows no borders. Sure the Randonneurs would do this just to make sure they were happy with their choice of headlamp strap but @bas is not one of those. 

Rapha and Strava sponsor something called the Festive 500. Ride your 500 km between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve for bragging rights and a stinkin’ badge. If you live up North, this is a noteworthy thing to do. Most don’t try to do it all at once, that would be crazy.

VLVV, Gianni

On December 24th, me and three riding friends embarked on a trip from Paris to our hometown of Haarlem in the Netherlands. The idea was to see if we could ride all of the Festive 500 in one ride and ‘get it over with’. We picked a starting location that was approximately 500 kilometers from home and pretty much rode with it from there.

A friend and documentary maker decided that he wanted to see if he could capture us killing ourselves in front of his camera and shot the whole thing.

Click here to view the embedded video.



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The First Ride Back Wed, 15 Jan 2014 14:36:53 +0000 Cookie, crumbled. Photo: Sirotti/Cycling Fans

It’s the ride you’ll do the most. The hardest ride you’ll ever do, too. You’ll do it so often that it should be easy, but it never is. Its frequency is such that it really should morph into all the other rides of its ilk, therefore negating the actual nexus of this necessary, evil ride. But it never does, it’s always stuck out there on its own, no matter what the duration between it and the next one is, could be months, could be only a week, but it’ll never leave, like that mate who stays for a couple of nights yet really should be paying rent after the first month, or at least offering a 20 for some food. This is the modus operandi of the First Ride Back.

As you get older, the FRB becomes more regular, unlike yourself. Jesus, my latest FRB really shouldn’t have qualified for its status at all, but such is the fickle nature of fitness at an ‘advanced’ age that just six days off the bike is enough to send one into panic, that the hard earned fitness is somehow leaving the body at a rate many times faster than it was acquired. Even with a pretty solid few months of riding under the belt, the effects of six days off, caused by an errant finger meeting a spinning disc rotor, sounded a death knell to me. A couple of opportunities came and went, adding to the mental mire as well as the (mainly perceived) physical one. Jumping back into the Tuesday night jaunt brought the daunt. Begging for hostilities to secede always falls on deaf ears, and plea bargaining for no hills is as well received as a stripper at Sunday school.

I recall reading an article by recently retired Baden Cooke some years ago where he spoke of his own FRB, an annual rather than weekly or monthly occurrence for him. Unlike mere mortals, he would no doubt have a pretty good base to draw upon, and even after a month or two off the bike (and probably partying hard as Cookie was known to do), he would still have the kind of condition most of us could only dream of. Yet he suffered the same mental and physical barriers as a normal rider does, but with a distinctly different approach, namely a 300km ‘hell ride’ from which he’d return some seven hours later with a sense that his season was now ready to start. A 50km jaunt with a couple of efforts thrown in seems almost laughable by comparison, but mirth never seems to enter the equation until the bike is racked and the celebratory beer is poured.

By the conclusion of the FRB, everything always seems much better, no matter how badly you’ve suffered, how far out the ass you were, what portion of your lungs you’ve coughed up. Just when you think you could take no more, the surVival instincts kick in and wring one, two, three last droplets of the Essence of V from within, and gives pride a swift kick up the ass for good measure. The next day you are renewed, and can’t wait to do it again.

Just not any longer than a week away, ok?

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The Goldilocks Principle: Valve Stem Length Mon, 13 Jan 2014 20:37:35 +0000 Just Right... Keep it short and clean…

The Goldilocks Principle is under assault, balance is lost. Without balance, we are reduced to savages. Steerectile Dysfunction is spreading like wildfire; socks are quickly becoming knee-highs and the line between shorts and knickers continues to blur.

We spend considerable time making everything on our loyal steed fit and look perfect. Bar tape and tire color are carefully coordinated to frame and decals; the tape is wrapped and finished expertly. Saddles are positioned with a spirit level. Cables are cut to the shortest length possible to allow for smooth and friction-free braking and shifting. Cable ends are trimmed to the shortest sensible length. Tires are mounted with labels mounted directly above the valve. And yet the valve stems themselves have recklessly been allowed to grow ever longer.

The Prophet and De Vlaeminck didn’t ride around with 5cm of valve stem sticking out of their rims. Granted, they only had one length to choose from, but that one length stems were made in was obvious: as short as possible. Valve stems need to be managed just like everything else on our bikes. They need to protrude from the rim enough to allow for a pump head to be securely attached to it; anything more is ugly and dead weight. (Incidentally, if you are using a pump with a screw-on head like a Lezyne or Silca, then this means all you need is the threads of the valve core plus a few millimeters to allow for the head to securely thread on.)

For those among us riding deep section rims, forget the long-stem inner tubes. Buy tubes with 32mm stems with removable cores and use the shortest valve extender possible. Under no circumstances should one use an inner tube without removable cores. It is important, however, that upon removing the tube from its package and before installing it or placing it in your kit, that the core be removed and reinstalled using a small wrap of plumber’s tape; this will ensure that the core does not unthread with your pump head, causing a disappointing deflation of both spirit and tire.

Bring back the balance. Stop this long valve madness and get thee to your local bike shop for some fresh, short-stemmed tubes.

We are not savages, my children. We are the Velominati. Vive la Vie Velominatus.



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Midwinter Metric Meiklour Cogal Report 2013 Sun, 12 Jan 2014 17:03:38 +0000 Home Sweet Home Home Sweet Home

The view from Strahlubnaig.

December 21st, 2013, at latitude 56 ½ degrees North, a little before 9am, and of course not fully light yet in this small corner of north west Europe, where the shortest day grudgingly gives us 6h 50m of what can be loosely described as ‘daylight’.

Of course, the Great Cloud Belt which seems to perpetually loom over Caledonia in winter gives a dull and watery light, even in the middle of the day, no wonder there are so many SAD bastards in this country.

So the scene is set, complete with a persistent rain which varies from icy cold to plain wet snow and sleet. And did I mention the wind ? Aye, we had wind and quite enough of it, thanks for asking.

I initially missed the meeting point, having failed to read the latest update from The-Farmer, but luckily spotted the other three brave and hardy souls as they were gearing up. It was great to meet the instigator of this merry midwinter jaunt, and of course there was the ever present Velomiscottie McCogal attendee, JohnB, who has failed to miss a single one (i.e. all four so far) and also present was all 6 foot five of CambellRae1.

Slightly disappointed at the turnout personally, but the last shopping Saturday before Xmas obviously had its attractions for some, or the VMHs had perhaps put their foot down, who knows, hopefully it was not the Neufesque weather conditions which was to blame ? A hardier bunch surely ?

So, promptly at V after 9 we rolled out, red lights blinking away as we left a wake in the sodden roads behind us. A fairly sedate pace to begin with, we ambled along for a bit letting the legs warm up and riding in two pairs, even the (shock – horror) fenders on the bikes could not fully limit the icy rooster tails behind, so we kept a decent gap.

It was pleasant to swap out paired riders as we went, getting to know The Farmer and catching up with the other lads. The route rolled up and down, traffic was fairly light, and the weather continued to keep us entertained. I stopped now and then to try and snap a photo, which was a challenge in the poor light and constant downpours. The odd comfort break was announced, the pace quickened and slackened, lights went on, lights went off. The kilometres clicked past, though for myself I was riding purely on V meter, and I always feel distance goes by a lot quicker when in a group.

Presently we approached the one main climb of the day up Glen Cochil, from the South, which tops out at around 405m, and is a pleasant 5km long, roughly. What had been a monsoon at the junction quickly became wet snow near the summit, adding to the enjoyment. The run down to Aberfeldy on the other side was a balance between speed and avoiding hypothermia, none of us having a dry copy of L’Équipe to stick down our fronts.

Reaching town a wee bit ahead of the chasing pack I went for some cash and then found a café, leaning my Focus on the front window, where the troops would see it, I thought. I ordered up some java and waited…..Seems they piled into a different café about 50m away, more fool me, they had found one with a log burning stove and better looking staff. Bugger. I eventually made contact (cell coverage was poor) and joined them for a hug round the stove, then we hit the road again for Part Deux.

As is normal after a decent stop like that, welcome as it was given the chill we all felt, it took a few km to warm up again, but the sky also brightened quite a bit, and what could be described as sunshine made an appearance ! This was a real psychological boost, along with us now following the mighty River Tay (the longest river in the British Isles) DOWN stream.

To avoid the busy A9 highway we used a combination of back roads, cycle paths and the odd CX inspired section, even coming across a closed gate. I was surprised JohnB didn’t vault it in proper style with his cyclocross rig on his shoulder.

Soon we passed through Dunkeld and could almost smell the mince pehs in The Farmers house. By this time were we ready for a wee seat and a seasonal snack, and upon approaching Meiklour I enquired about the distance covered, and was informed we would be shy of the 100 by about 2 or 3km. As a unit we all managed to find a bit of extra road, by turning around for a bit and also scooting past the finish point to circle back eventually, having surpassed the metric century mark. It would have been a shame not to.

A change of shoes, a dry fleece and a warm tuque on, we headed to The Farmers ranch, negotiating a few potholes on the track across his back forty, we were greeted by his best hunting hounds and a few chickens. Unfortunately we were all driving soon after, so no Belgian brews, but good coffee and festive munchies, we dissected the ride, congratulated one another on our Rule #9 efforts,and soon bid farewell and merry xmas. Cheers lads.



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Beyond The Rules Fri, 10 Jan 2014 19:40:18 +0000 East Maui Pavé East Maui Pavé

Rules! Hear me fools: The Rules mark the beginning of the path to enlightenment, not the end. There are higher planes, expanding dimensions. Beyond the color of your bar tape exists a man, a mountain, and a bike. This is where the world begins.

Keeper Jim wrote this, reporting on his utilitarian climb of Mount Ventoux. He posts less than the rest of us, so he has less chances to sound foolish, so we consider him the wise one. He is. And he probably took a semester of philosophy as an undergraduate and reads real non-cycling books.

Jim’s words have been ringing in my ears. For better or for worse, Velominati is known for The Rules. A book publisher didn’t offer us a book contract on the collective wit of our far ranging, foul mouthed, unmoderated discussions of posts, no, it was The Rules, thanks. What started as an effort to whip a bit of discipline into the unruly hoards, is now heading toward 100 Rules. That’s a lot of Rules.

Thankfully, to alleviate some of the pressure for full compliance, some genius introduced the Masturbation Principle: if you are going to do it (breaking a Rule) no need to go online with the information and really, don’t send a selfie to your riding buddies either. These photos certainly don’t need to end up in your parents AOL account.

My late night stoned philosophical discussions earned me zero college credits. I know nothing about philosophy but in the great Velominati tradition, that shall not deter me from lecturing others about it.

Enlightenment, if you are open to it, can be found on the bike. It’s not found online, not even on Velominati. The word enlightenment has 1001 personal definitions. I believe if you can put your enlightenment into words, you are not enlightened. A word is a clumsy cudgel for such things. It is like real music, it’s power is so abstract, so deeply visceral, attempts to describe music in words only detract.

Get on a bike and ride, without ear-buds, without worry. Immerse in the physical work of climbing, descending, cornering, rolling across the landscape. Somehow, as Jim says, there can enlightenment there. Free your mind. One’s eyes can take in the beauty on this earth, breathe the air, smell it, hear it. Feel the sun, hear the insects, already, too many words. Climb Ventoux or ride your usual loop. For me, if that does not put me on the path to enlightenment, I don’t want it. Rebirth, heaven, hell, I can’t use them; they do not exist for me. A bike ride that gets me out of my skin, where my oxygenated brain takes in the world unfiltered, and leaves me changed, if only for a few moments, that I can use.

If The Rules get you on a bike more, then The Rules are useful. It’s all about the Ride, not The Rules.


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Dirty Innovators Wed, 08 Jan 2014 18:00:58 +0000 Ahead of his time: Stephen Hodge shows off some new/old tech, Roubaix 95. Photo: Sirotti

Ok all you roadies, listen up. You’re not gonna like what I’m about to tell you, but it’s the truth. And sometimes, the truth hurts. You ready?

Road cycling owes a lot to mountain biking.

“You what?!” I hear you screaming at the monitor in disgust. “Road cycling has been around for more than a hundred years, and the mountain bike for about thirty!” Well, nice theory, but bikes were ridden on dirt long before their tyres ever saw a sealed surface. But this isn’t about the chicken or the egg, it’s about the way technology crosses over from one discipline to another, and how similar, yet different aspects of the same sport inter-breed, cross pollinate and spawn innovations that better the machines we ride and the kit we wear. And I hate to be the one to break it to you, but that sleek road machine you’re riding now probably wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for our dirtbag cousins.

It all took off in the early 90s; the mountain bike was undergoing its own metamorphosis, rapidly dropping the ‘klunker’ heritage and becoming lighter, stiffer and racier. The geometry was changing from slack and raked-out head angles to more sharply handling, longer and lower front ends. A little like road bikes, granted. The first big change up front though was the oversized headset and steerer tube combo, dubbed the Avenger by Tioga, the first company to bring it to market. The steerer increased from 1 inch diameter to 1 1/8″, giving the front of the bike more precise steering and a more solid feel over rough terrain. Soon, Dia Compe came up with the AHeadset, doing away with the threaded steerer and headset in favour of a threadless system held together by a stem clamped over the smooth steerer tube. There’s not a road (or mountain) bike to be seen with a threaded front end these days.

Having a bigger steerer attached to rigid fork blades made some difference to the mountain bike, but even more was needed up front to tame the terrain and reduce the pounding that riders’ arms would take on proper off-road trails. While some weird and wonderful contraptions briefly held court (like the Girvin Flexstem, as terrifying as it was), the obvious solution was to borrow technology from the motocross crowd, and the first suspension fork for bicycles was born. The Rock Shox RS1 was as rare as hen’s teeth, but when one was spotted in the wild the geek-out factor went through the roof, and any rider lucky enough to have one bolted to the front of their bike would be accosted for twenty minutes and bombarded with questions about “how it works”. In the space of a year, there were three or four different iterations of suspension forks on the market, most of them completely unaffordable to the Regular Joes that rode in the dirt.

Looking back at the suspension tech of those days now, the word ‘archaic’ springs (pardon the pun) to mind. The modern mountain bike is an engineering marvel, and I’m as amped on new technology now as I was in the early 90s. The sport has continued to push the boundaries and is constantly evolving. And road cycling has benefitted greatly. We’ve all seen the Rock Shox Ruby forks that appeared on the bikes of Paris-Roubaix for a few glorious years, even taking a couple of wins in the Queen of The Classics. The MTB forks of the day were mostly heavy, elastomer sprung and undamped, giving the effect of a pogo stick on the front of the bike. To try and put one on the front of a road bike was preposterous at best, a blasphemous disaster at worst. Then there were the failed attempts at rear suspension which disappeared as quickly as they came. But riders and teams were willing to try anything to tame the brutal cobbles of the Hell of the North, and if you didn’t have a Ruby fork then you were behind the 8-ball straight away. The fact that the bike would bounce around under pedalling load on the smooth roads was outweighed by the comfort and control on the cobbles.

But roadies being roadies, the extra weight and inefficiency soon rendered the Ruby detrimental to the performance of the bikes… but that comfort was welcome. How to get some shock absorption and keep the weight low? Carbon fibre forks were conceived, giving a smooth ride up front on the stiff yet light aluminium frames that were taking over the peloton at the time (another innovation gleaned from the mountain bike). If it worked up front, then why not at the rear too? Carbon seatstays were bonded onto the back ends of just about every bike that came out in the mid 90s. If it worked for the fork and stays, then why not the whole frame? The carbon bikes so ubiquitous today were spawned from the need for a smoother ride, without the weight and complexity of suspension. Thanks, mountain biking.

Now, check out Hodgey’s helmet in the lead photo. Look kinda familiar? Well, helmets pretty much came from mountain biking, and the early examples looked just like that; round, few vents, not pointy at the back. And what do we have now? Round, sparsely vented, not-too-pointy ‘aero’ road helmets, that we are all crying about being ugly and unnecessary. But how cool does Hodgey look? Badass! It’s only a matter of time before we’re all wearing them, and possibly with visors. (In the 1999 P-R, several riders wore helmets with visors, including 3rd placegetter Tom Steels and Frank Vandenbroucke.) Okay, maybe I’ve gone too far there, but I saw a guy riding in an Air Attack the other day, and by Merckx did I think he Looked Pro! These helmets will be the norm sooner rather than later; after all, don’t we take our cues from the Pros?

There have been numerous advances that have come from mountain biking and are now seen as standard on road bikes; removable face plates on stems, wider profile rims, lightweight saddles, tapered head tubes, integrated headsets, external cup/press-fit bottom brackets, oversize bar diameters (and let’s not forget road disc brakes. You can’t fight it!). Black socks. Tall socks. If it wasn’t for the mountain bike and the innovators working in that industry, we might still be riding lugged steel frames with downtube shifters. Which would be ok with me, as long as I can still have my off-road wonderbike.

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La Vie Velominatus: The Gifts of Rule #9 Mon, 06 Jan 2014 17:50:11 +0000 An early morning ride on <a href=Keepers Tour 2013. Photo: Brett Kennedy" src="" width="620" height="412" /> An early morning ride on Keepers Tour 2013. Photo: Brett Kennedy

We’re not really supposed to have favorites, but everyone does. Just ask your parents. So while I’m not supposed to have a favorite, I do, and its Rule #9.

Bad weather immediately separates the wheat from the chaff, and so the weekend warriors stay indoors and leave the roads to the devout. I talk most often about riding in the rain, with the drops of water dripping from my cap acting as my personal metronome as I carve a path through the chaos towards a happier self. But sunny days in the cold can provide their own glorious solitude.

On Keepers Tour 2013, we had unseasonably cold weather, and some of the best rides we had were early morning spins before heading off to the races. With the sun hanging low over the horizon, we rode through our frozen breath, together in close formation yet each of us retreating inward as we steeled ourselves against the cold. These were beautiful, peaceful rides.

This winter in Seattle has been relatively dry, but also cold. On the weekends, the country roads are nearly deserted and all that is left is the silent, still air and the burning of cold air as it enters my lungs. On a recent solo ride on Whidbey Island, I spun down the same roads which only a few months earlier I had ridden with friends on the annual Whidbey Island Cogal. The island seems a full place then, now it looked like an entirely different place – empty and beautiful.

There is something about the way the bike handles in the cold. The tires are firmer, the rubber less supple. The connection between bicycle and road seems simultaneously harsher and more fragile than in the warm. The muscles in my arms and hands are also more twitchy in the cold. Not twitchy like I can suddenly sprint; twitchy like I have difficulty controlling what they are doing – where normally I pride myself on holding a clean line, in the cold a small bump in the road might trigger a spasm that sends the bike into a wobble. Its an exciting way to ride.

Quiet roads, a still harbor, an early morning sunrise; these are the gifts reserved for those who ventured out when others stay in. These are the gifts of Rule #9.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

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