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Anatomy of a Photo: Rules Pioneer

by / / 119 posts

As surely as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, if you ride a bicycle you can bet your ass against an apple that you are going to get a flat. Not if, but when. Death and taxes, and all that.

This could be Pierre or Antonio or Jean-Michel, most likely a name that rolls off the tongue with the same ease he rolled his dead tubular from the rim. The strokes of the pump as powerful and smooth as the strokes of his guns, as precise and clean as his socks, skin tanned and polished like the shoes on his feet, tough like the gloves on his hands.

This is an ambassador of Looking Fantastic; he would never contemplate turning his steed upside down, and surely this moment was an instigator of Rule #49. And you know that the shredded tub laying there will soon be wrapped around the shoulders in full Rule #77 compliance prior to resuming to Lay Down The V.

Pierre, Antonio, whatever be your name, we salute you for pioneering the Art of Awesome and being Compliant as Fuck in those tough days of yore.

// Anatomy of a Photo // Folklore // La Vie Velominatus // The Hardmen // The Rules

  1. @PT

    it would seem to be the most practical way of getting at your wheels or drivetrain while effecting roadside repairs on your own.

    Pistard has covered it admirably but I would also suggest that the premise of your question is wrong.

    It’s easier to access and replace the wheel when the bike is in an upright position and you’re more likely to get the wheel back in sitting square and neat in the dropouts.

  2. @pistard

    @PT

    Seeing as its come up, what is the issue behind placing your bicycle upside down? Apart from looking ungainly, it would seem to be the most practical way of getting at your wheels or drivetrain while effecting roadside repairs on your own.

    Or am I missing something?

    Is it just like the sunglasses over the helmet straps issue?

    Signed,

    Confused.

    Dear Confused,

    1. Besides being disrespectful, it’s a surefire way to scratch or soil your saddle, stem, bars, tape and/or hoods. It’s also pretty much guaranteed that your bike will fall over in the two seconds you turn around to grab your multitool.

    2. In the days before aero cabling, it could also put a kink in the housings where they exited the brake levers.

    3. They’re called dropouts for a reason.

    Best regards,

    Abigail Van Pistard

    Dear Abigail,

    Thankyou for the speedy and forthright advice.

    While I comprehend (certainly on the unsuitability or inverting ones steed when dealing with older generations of brake hoods), I must beg to differ.  The Campy shifter tips are rubber and the fi'zi:k seat is also some leather-like product under which I carefully place a suitable item (like a cap) to minimize scratches.  Dropouts are, indeed, drop-outs, I will grant you that.

    Nevertheless, I cannot foresee compliant behavior from me in regard to this particular rule. Which is unusual as I manage to follow most others.

    Sincerely,

    The Disrespectful Recidivist

  3. @PT

    @pistard

    @PT

    Seeing as its come up, what is the issue behind placing your bicycle upside down? Apart from looking ungainly, it would seem to be the most practical way of getting at your wheels or drivetrain while effecting roadside repairs on your own.

    Or am I missing something?

    Is it just like the sunglasses over the helmet straps issue?

    Signed,

    Confused.

    Dear Confused,

    1. Besides being disrespectful, it’s a surefire way to scratch or soil your saddle, stem, bars, tape and/or hoods. It’s also pretty much guaranteed that your bike will fall over in the two seconds you turn around to grab your multitool.

    2. In the days before aero cabling, it could also put a kink in the housings where they exited the brake levers.

    3. They’re called dropouts for a reason.

    Best regards,

    Abigail Van Pistard

    Dear Abigail,

    Thankyou for the speedy and forthright advice.

    While I comprehend (certainly on the unsuitability or inverting ones steed when dealing with older generations of brake hoods), I must beg to differ. The Campy shifter tips are rubber and the fi’zi:k seat is also some leather-like product under which I carefully place a suitable item (like a cap) to minimize scratches. Dropouts are, indeed, drop-outs, I will grant you that.

    Nevertheless, I cannot foresee compliant behavior from me in regard to this particular rule. Which is unusual as I manage to follow most others.

    Sincerely,

    The Disrespectful Recidivist

    If you think it is easier to drop out a rear wheel upside down, then might i suggest you are doing it wrong when attempting it upright?  Funnily enough in days of yore i was known to abuse my steed in this way because i was forever wrestling by the side of the road with my rear wheel in some kind of headlock game of submission.

    thankfully my cycling sinsei came to my rescue and showed me how to do it very quickly and easily…skyward days of rubber are now thankfully a thing of the past.

    if you already know all this then you have me confused…..why do you think it is easier upside down?  This is the sort of logic Mrs Deakus would use!

  4. @PT

    @pistard

    @PT

    Seeing as its come up, what is the issue behind placing your bicycle upside down? Apart from looking ungainly, it would seem to be the most practical way of getting at your wheels or drivetrain while effecting roadside repairs on your own.

    Or am I missing something?

    Is it just like the sunglasses over the helmet straps issue?

    Signed,

    Confused.

    Dear Confused,

    1. Besides being disrespectful, it’s a surefire way to scratch or soil your saddle, stem, bars, tape and/or hoods. It’s also pretty much guaranteed that your bike will fall over in the two seconds you turn around to grab your multitool.

    2. In the days before aero cabling, it could also put a kink in the housings where they exited the brake levers.

    3. They’re called dropouts for a reason.

    Best regards,

    Abigail Van Pistard

    Dear Abigail,

    Thankyou for the speedy and forthright advice.

    While I comprehend (certainly on the unsuitability or inverting ones steed when dealing with older generations of brake hoods), I must beg to differ. The Campy shifter tips are rubber and the fi’zi:k seat is also some leather-like product under which I carefully place a suitable item (like a cap) to minimize scratches. Dropouts are, indeed, drop-outs, I will grant you that.

    Nevertheless, I cannot foresee compliant behavior from me in regard to this particular rule. Which is unusual as I manage to follow most others.

    Sincerely,

    The Disrespectful Recidivist

    Dear Recidivist,

    I have noticed young hooligans parking their BMXs thusly inverted at the local video arcade. I will assume you are one of them.

    Best,

    Pissy Van Buren

  5. @PT

    @pistard

    @PT

    Seeing as its come up, what is the issue behind placing your bicycle upside down? Apart from looking ungainly, it would seem to be the most practical way of getting at your wheels or drivetrain while effecting roadside repairs on your own.

    Or am I missing something?

    Is it just like the sunglasses over the helmet straps issue?

    Signed,

    Confused.

    Dear Confused,

    1. Besides being disrespectful, it’s a surefire way to scratch or soil your saddle, stem, bars, tape and/or hoods. It’s also pretty much guaranteed that your bike will fall over in the two seconds you turn around to grab your multitool.

    2. In the days before aero cabling, it could also put a kink in the housings where they exited the brake levers.

    3. They’re called dropouts for a reason.

    Best regards,

    Abigail Van Pistard

    Dear Abigail,

    Thankyou for the speedy and forthright advice.

    While I comprehend (certainly on the unsuitability or inverting ones steed when dealing with older generations of brake hoods), I must beg to differ. The Campy shifter tips are rubber and the fi’zi:k seat is also some leather-like product under which I carefully place a suitable item (like a cap) to minimize scratches. Dropouts are, indeed, drop-outs, I will grant you that.

    Nevertheless, I cannot foresee compliant behavior from me in regard to this particular rule. Which is unusual as I manage to follow most others.

    Sincerely,

    The Disrespectful Recidivist

    Given you don’t care(find them not applicable) for the stated reasons, let me give you the most important one. The chance that your ride falls over and damages the drive train. This cannot happen when it is laying on it’s left side.

  6. @@colossal

    Want to see the after pic – hoping he wrapped the spent tube around his shoulders as he completed the task at hand and carried on in a casually deliberative fashion to crush the others to the summit of the climb. With the shoe/sock combo, victory was assured.

    Something about the position of the bike on the road, on the right side and with front fork facing downhill, could be seen as indication that Walter got the puncture on the descent?

  7. @Gianni

    @johnthughes

    After moving to Belgium, I was informed that a mini-pump is considered superior to CO2 on the basis that if one is serious about one’s ride, then one needs a way to maintain a high heart rate while changing a flat. Of course that was translated roughly from Vlaams to English by a third party(I am only just yet learning the mother-tongue). It was a rough translation to my understanding, but I was told it was “close enough” by a smirking hardman in the rain.

    Do keep us informed on the conversion to a Belgian life. Vlaams seems like a tough one to pick up. Keep us posted with more “smirking hardman” anecdotes.

    The language is both easy(Lots of words that are the same or very similar) and hard(words and sounds that don’t exist in US english; ‘d’s that sound like ‘t’s, ‘b’s that sound like ‘p’s, ‘t’s that sound like ‘c’s except for “sometimes”)…and it is a challenge. Necessary though. Everyone in my club can  speak english…except when we are riding, then it is all Vlaams. To be honest, I have been here for 2.5 years and am just now working on the language with any seriousness(I am a bit ashamed about that). As for conversion….I have been sold since my arrival here. I love the US, but I am not coming back permanently if I have any choice. I plan to live and die in Belgium. Cycling is such a different thing here(possibly an obvious statement). From the worst of it; solo canal work in a headwind that will strip every layer of ego you didn’t know you had; but still awesome. To the best of it; a house in the Ardennes for a week, riding the roads around Houffalize, La Roche-en-Ardennes, and up to Signal Botrange and Baraque Michelle. Or still amazing, if not less majestic, just the Wednesday night ride with the club, tucked into a peloton of 30 riders, just one of 3-5 groups from my club(a small one) out on the canals with many many other clubs, as if it were some kind of giant stage race involving the whole country. Winter is a whole other story….still filled with cycling. Never have I looked outside on a sunday morning just above freezing and thought “Just 30 more minutes and its time meet the group and go ride, I can’t wait!”, but here….here it is like a drug. I have headed out into the worst of weather, and not once ever regretted it after. For me a long ride was 50 miles, and 100 miles was a mystery to worry about. Here, there is no trepidation. Ride with the club to the sea and back with a pasta lunch in between(230km)? Sure! The LvdK(Lady van de Kempen) says “Lets just ride to Malmedey(from Antwerp) and back this weekend. It’s just 190km each way. And we get to ride up and over the highest point in Belgium[admitedly not saying much]. We can stay at the youth hostel and drink the local beers.” and I reply “Of course, lets go!”. I am not sure why I just wrote all this. I guess I should have just wrote “I’ll do my best to report back any quotes I can.” I’ll try to keep it more terse next time.

    Cheers

  8. @johnthughes

    Don’t apologise.  You’ve just won the internet.

    Thanks for writing.  The best thing I’ve read since I heard that @Marcus went to hospital with a fork inserted in his todger.

  9. @ChrisO

     

    I don’t know what it is but something is seriously wrong to have that many flats in that time.

    How many kms are you doing ?

    250 to 300 each week. 

  10. @Collin

    @Puffy

    I’m with @ChrisO. 28 flats for this year? That seems really high. I think I’m around 5 or 6 flats for the year, putting me around 2000km/flat with plenty of those miles on chip-sealed, pot-holed Michigan roads.

    What tires do you run? GP4000s have been pretty resilient and Gatorskins up the ante even further. Cheap tires increase the likelihood of flats. I’ve found if I take my bike out with the cheap tires I use for the rollers, I get a flat almost every ride.

    i used to run gp400s but kept loosing the tyre with sidewall punctures. That’s a $50AUD tyre. Now, maxxis refuse ($20 to $35) which get binned when they are too cut up. No side wall punctures in those but they never see a full life. Go through one a month probably. Gators are freaking horrible. An experience I’d rather forget especially in the wet.

  11. That photo just oozes style. Observe that delicate balancing act. Is it possible that the left edge of his seat is not even touching the road? Probably not but inside pedal and left bar plug only….? classy

  12. @pistard

    @PT

    I have noticed young hooligans parking their BMXs thusly inverted at the local video arcade. I will assume you are one of them.

    Best,

    Pissy Van Buren

    My son rides BMX. I do not like the inversion but it is a little different with them. The seat is too low to touch the ground for a start, it is also hard plastic, no padding since it is rarely used. The rear wheel touches down at the back and the flat bars at the front. There are no levers save one brake which does not touch the ground. It is typically only done on the grass in the “pit area” along with the others waiting for their turn. In this way they are neat tidy and take up little room.

  13. @eightzero

    Oh Merckx, not the pump vs. CO2 bitchfest again.

    The jury is still out on my road tubeless conversion. 1500 miles, no flats. Yes, I know what my saying this means. But I plan to replace the tyres at 2000 miles, hell or high water. And I now carry a AAA WA membership. 2x CO2 only, extra latex, and fingers crossed. And no more fucking tubes.

    I will make a nod to @frank’s assertion the micro pump is lighter than 2x CO2. Possible, and worth considering.

    I hear that Evie Stevie rides tubeless these days too!

  14. @Puffy

    @ChrisO

    I don’t know what it is but something is seriously wrong to have that many flats in that time.

    How many kms are you doing ?

    250 to 300 each week.

    Touch wood but I do about the same and have probably one a month on average, if that… cue a swarm to come of course.

    The roads here are good – no potholes or flints – but lots of shit from trucks and construction traffic.

  15. @ChrisO roads here are crap. Lots of glass, gravel and small stones (flint?) most of he time I refuse to ride on the shoulder because its littered with crap. I’m waiting for a cage to tell me to use the shoulder so I can reply “have you seen it? You wouldn’t drive it” I thought that was normal for an urban environment. I do most of my kms before the sun rise so riding in the dark doesn’t help avoiding debris I suppose.

  16. @johnthughes

    @Gianni

    @johnthughes

    After moving to Belgium, I was informed that a mini-pump is considered superior to CO2 on the basis that if one is serious about one’s ride, then one needs a way to maintain a high heart rate while changing a flat. Of course that was translated roughly from Vlaams to English by a third party(I am only just yet learning the mother-tongue). It was a rough translation to my understanding, but I was told it was “close enough” by a smirking hardman in the rain.

    Do keep us informed on the conversion to a Belgian life. Vlaams seems like a tough one to pick up. Keep us posted with more “smirking hardman” anecdotes.

    The language is both easy(Lots of words that are the same or very similar) and hard(words and sounds that don’t exist in US english; ‘d’s that sound like ‘t’s, ‘b’s that sound like ‘p’s, ‘t’s that sound like ‘c’s except for “sometimes”)…and it is a challenge. Necessary though. Everyone in my club can speak english…except when we are riding, then it is all Vlaams. To be honest, I have been here for 2.5 years and am just now working on the language with any seriousness(I am a bit ashamed about that). As for conversion….I have been sold since my arrival here. I love the US, but I am not coming back permanently if I have any choice. I plan to live and die in Belgium. Cycling is such a different thing here(possibly an obvious statement). From the worst of it; solo canal work in a headwind that will strip every layer of ego you didn’t know you had; but still awesome. To the best of it; a house in the Ardennes for a week, riding the roads around Houffalize, La Roche-en-Ardennes, and up to Signal Botrange and Baraque Michelle. Or still amazing, if not less majestic, just the Wednesday night ride with the club, tucked into a peloton of 30 riders, just one of 3-5 groups from my club(a small one) out on the canals with many many other clubs, as if it were some kind of giant stage race involving the whole country. Winter is a whole other story….still filled with cycling. Never have I looked outside on a sunday morning just above freezing and thought “Just 30 more minutes and its time meet the group and go ride, I can’t wait!”, but here….here it is like a drug. I have headed out into the worst of weather, and not once ever regretted it after. For me a long ride was 50 miles, and 100 miles was a mystery to worry about. Here, there is no trepidation. Ride with the club to the sea and back with a pasta lunch in between(230km)? Sure! The LvdK(Lady van de Kempen) says “Lets just ride to Malmedey(from Antwerp) and back this weekend. It’s just 190km each way. And we get to ride up and over the highest point in Belgium[admitedly not saying much]. We can stay at the youth hostel and drink the local beers.” and I reply “Of course, lets go!”. I am not sure why I just wrote all this. I guess I should have just wrote “I’ll do my best to report back any quotes I can.” I’ll try to keep it more terse next time.

    Cheers

    Another convert here, 3.5 years long in the most beautiful world of cycling as well.  I recently bought a house in Ottignies just outside of Brussels having had enough of the city and I’m so glad I did.  The 30km, 400m elevation commute that I try to sneak in 2-3 times a week is absolute heaven.  Even better when I can sneak out of Brussels  through rolling flemish countryside (Leefdaal/Vossem) to add another couple hundred meters of elevation and double the length of the ride.  In just two months of doing this I no longer shy away from the 16% maximum gradients, but instead put my head down, spinning my way to the top, fully aware that my day will not get better than this moment.  I feel a certain sense of pride being on a flemish compact (53/39) but must admit to running a 12-30 rear necessitated by a recent trip to the Stelvio, Gavia, and other hallowed climbs in the Italian/Swiss Alps.  I hope one day I can be worthy of this country so full of 60+ year old men who can climb those same 16% grades on a 53/25 and still make it look smooth.

    I’ve been recently trying to add distance, muscle, and lose weight (down to 72.8kg) in an effort to take this cultural conversion a bit more seriously.  This last weekend I did a tour of Wallonia exploring some of the Ravel network (thousands of kilometers of rail conversion paved trails) and the Canal paths between Ottignies-Nivelles-Charleroi and back home.  It involved 135km with 20km head winds, constant heavy rain, and 3 flats but even in this my new home country was quite loving and gentle with me.  She gave me the three flats in the very beginning of the ride, when it hadn’t started raining yet, and while I could still taste the pre ride espresso, enjoy the company of some grazing cattle, and watch the sunrise come up over the predawn valley.  Anyone who commutes in Belgium knows not to complain when flats occur with such fortitude, lest they anger the cycling gods on their commute in less favorable conditions.  Even the later headwind and rain was just the country gently reminding me as to the nature of Belgian cycling.  We have had 2 months of perfect weather, and it was time to be reminded that winter is already on its way.  I struggled to stay dry this past winter as I cycled no matter what the weather.  When I asked a flemish hardman for his advice on the topic his response was not some secret and costly piece of gear, rather, to just Rule #5 & 9 and get used to enjoying the weather.  I know it was just 135km, and was still a balmy 18 degrees, but I’ve never enjoyed such a ride in such weather so thoroughly.  Next weekend I’ll be trying this and fully expect to meet the man with the hammer.

    http://www.velomediane.com/

    I am American, Texan even, and miss my family and occasionally my country and language, but I too can’t ever see going back.  I’ve got the house, found my fiancée/VMH, have a second family now, speak more French each month, am just hours away from motoring heaven in Germany, and while the Alps might have the true claim on cycling heaven, Belgium is certainly the front yard.  The only thing left to do is cycle more, enjoy, and be polite and brush up on my Vlaams.

    VLVV

  17. That photo is beautiful & awesome and I love the early styleage of the Tall Hosiery. (I’ve worn Tall Ones throughout my sporting career to cover up the skankles and in an attempt to hide the lower Guns and instead intimidate with the more significant Upper Guns.)

    Damn flats. I now have five latex tubes waiting to be patched. It is definitely best to just accept them and move on since fearing them can ruin a ride. I usually opt for da pump but last flat was nearing the end of a ride, was at my limit, flatted nowhere near any shade, it was hot as 2 hells. CO2 can be amazing. A long arm workout versus screwing the chuck on and blasting away. Best $0.80 I ever spent, on that day.

  18. @pistard

    @PT

    @pistard

    @PT

    Seeing as its come up, what is the issue behind placing your bicycle upside down? Apart from looking ungainly, it would seem to be the most practical way of getting at your wheels or drivetrain while effecting roadside repairs on your own.

    Or am I missing something?

    Is it just like the sunglasses over the helmet straps issue?

    Signed,

    Confused.

    Dear Confused,

    1. Besides being disrespectful, it’s a surefire way to scratch or soil your saddle, stem, bars, tape and/or hoods. It’s also pretty much guaranteed that your bike will fall over in the two seconds you turn around to grab your multitool.

    2. In the days before aero cabling, it could also put a kink in the housings where they exited the brake levers.

    3. They’re called dropouts for a reason.

    Best regards,

    Abigail Van Pistard

    Dear Abigail,

    Thankyou for the speedy and forthright advice.

    While I comprehend (certainly on the unsuitability or inverting ones steed when dealing with older generations of brake hoods), I must beg to differ. The Campy shifter tips are rubber and the fi’zi:k seat is also some leather-like product under which I carefully place a suitable item (like a cap) to minimize scratches. Dropouts are, indeed, drop-outs, I will grant you that.

    Nevertheless, I cannot foresee compliant behavior from me in regard to this particular rule. Which is unusual as I manage to follow most others.

    Sincerely,

    The Disrespectful Recidivist

    Dear Recidivist,

    I have noticed young hooligans parking their BMXs thusly inverted at the local video arcade. I will assume you are one of them.

    Best,

    Pissy Van Buren

    Dear Pissy, Puffy, JohnT, Deakus, et al,

    Merci Beaucoup for the concerned advice. Although I remain very far from convinced about the merits of doing it horizontally (I have carbon fibre pedals…lay them on t’road?!?) I will nevertheless note your well-meant advice next time one of my tubes exhibits egress of air and consider, for at polite moment at least, laying her over.  I am shaking my head as I write this….

    signed,

    The Perplexed Recalcitrant.

    As an aside,  JohntHughes I really enjoyed your notes on Belgian life.  Thank you .

  19. @Rob

    @johnthughes

    @Gianni

    @johnthughes

    After moving to Belgium, I was informed that a mini-pump is considered superior to CO2 on the basis that if one is serious about one’s ride, then one needs a way to maintain a high heart rate while changing a flat. Of course that was translated roughly from Vlaams to English by a third party(I am only just yet learning the mother-tongue). It was a rough translation to my understanding, but I was told it was “close enough” by a smirking hardman in the rain.

    Do keep us informed on the conversion to a Belgian life. Vlaams seems like a tough one to pick up. Keep us posted with more “smirking hardman” anecdotes.

    The language is both easy(Lots of words that are the same or very similar) and hard(words and sounds that don’t exist in US english; ‘d’s that sound like ‘t’s, ‘b’s that sound like ‘p’s, ‘t’s that sound like ‘c’s except for “sometimes”)…and it is a challenge. Necessary though. Everyone in my club can speak english…except when we are riding, then it is all Vlaams. To be honest, I have been here for 2.5 years and am just now working on the language with any seriousness(I am a bit ashamed about that). As for conversion….I have been sold since my arrival here. I love the US, but I am not coming back permanently if I have any choice. I plan to live and die in Belgium. Cycling is such a different thing here(possibly an obvious statement). From the worst of it; solo canal work in a headwind that will strip every layer of ego you didn’t know you had; but still awesome. To the best of it; a house in the Ardennes for a week, riding the roads around Houffalize, La Roche-en-Ardennes, and up to Signal Botrange and Baraque Michelle. Or still amazing, if not less majestic, just the Wednesday night ride with the club, tucked into a peloton of 30 riders, just one of 3-5 groups from my club(a small one) out on the canals with many many other clubs, as if it were some kind of giant stage race involving the whole country. Winter is a whole other story….still filled with cycling. Never have I looked outside on a sunday morning just above freezing and thought “Just 30 more minutes and its time meet the group and go ride, I can’t wait!”, but here….here it is like a drug. I have headed out into the worst of weather, and not once ever regretted it after. For me a long ride was 50 miles, and 100 miles was a mystery to worry about. Here, there is no trepidation. Ride with the club to the sea and back with a pasta lunch in between(230km)? Sure! The LvdK(Lady van de Kempen) says “Lets just ride to Malmedey(from Antwerp) and back this weekend. It’s just 190km each way. And we get to ride up and over the highest point in Belgium[admitedly not saying much]. We can stay at the youth hostel and drink the local beers.” and I reply “Of course, lets go!”. I am not sure why I just wrote all this. I guess I should have just wrote “I’ll do my best to report back any quotes I can.” I’ll try to keep it more terse next time.

    Cheers

    Another convert here, 3.5 years long in the most beautiful world of cycling as well. I recently bought a house in Ottignies just outside of Brussels having had enough of the city and I’m so glad I did. The 30km, 400m elevation commute that I try to sneak in 2-3 times a week is absolute heaven. Even better when I can sneak out of Brussels through rolling flemish countryside (Leefdaal/Vossem) to add another couple hundred meters of elevation and double the length of the ride. In just two months of doing this I no longer shy away from the 16% maximum gradients, but instead put my head down, spinning my way to the top, fully aware that my day will not get better than this moment. I feel a certain sense of pride being on a Flemish Compact (53/39) but must admit to running a 12-30 rear necessitated by a recent trip to the Stelvio, Gavia, and other hallowed climbs in the Italian/Swiss Alps. I hope one day I can be worthy of this country so full of 60+ year old men who can climb those same 16% grades on a 53/25 and still make it look smooth.

    I’ve been recently trying to add distance, muscle, and lose weight (down to 72.8kg) in an effort to take this cultural conversion a bit more seriously. This last weekend I did a tour of Wallonia exploring some of the Ravel network (thousands of kilometers of rail conversion paved trails) and the Canal paths between Ottignies-Nivelles-Charleroi and back home. It involved 135km with 20km head winds, constant heavy rain, and 3 flats but even in this my new home country was quite loving and gentle with me. She gave me the three flats in the very beginning of the ride, when it hadn’t started raining yet, and while I could still taste the pre ride espresso, enjoy the company of some grazing cattle, and watch the sunrise come up over the predawn valley. Anyone who commutes in Belgium knows not to complain when flats occur with such fortitude, lest they anger the cycling gods on their commute in less favorable conditions. Even the later headwind and rain was just the country gently reminding me as to the nature of Belgian cycling. We have had 2 months of perfect weather, and it was time to be reminded that winter is already on its way. I struggled to stay dry this past winter as I cycled no matter what the weather. When I asked a flemish hardman for his advice on the topic his response was not some secret and costly piece of gear, rather, to just Rule #5 & 9 and get used to enjoying the weather. I know it was just 135km, and was still a balmy 18 degrees, but I’ve never enjoyed such a ride in such weather so thoroughly. Next weekend I’ll be trying this and fully expect to meet the man with the hammer.

    http://www.velomediane.com/

    I am American, Texan even, and miss my family and occasionally my country and language, but I too can’t ever see going back. I’ve got the house, found my fiancée/VMH, have a second family now, speak more French each month, am just hours away from motoring heaven in Germany, and while the Alps might have the true claim on cycling heaven, Belgium is certainly the front yard. The only thing left to do is cycle more, enjoy, and be polite and brush up on my Vlaams.

    VLVV

    All this is a beautiful article within a couple of posts. You gents are living the dream. Now just write a how-to manual.

  20. @Rob that is simply begging for a full guest article…

  21. @roger

    @Puffy buck has ridden 2 or 3 times this year. so, that statement could be entirely accurate. sad, but accurate.

    Ha!  Roger, you dog!  Yes, this year has been an “off year” to say the least.  Only a few rides secondary to injury but I am now back with a vengence! 

    The last few years I have been averaging 10,000 k’s per year on really shit roads, esp last year in Texas.  TN roads were not awful but pretty bad as well.  I was also running clinchers at that time and would puncture once a month-to-month-and-a-half or so riding 12 months a year.

    But now, since just before heading over to France last summer, I have gone back to riding tubulars and have not flatted at all (knock on woood, sacrifice chicken, pray to Merckx, etc).

    I have to admit to carrying a bottle of Vittoria pit stop as well as the spare tub under the seat and my mini pump.  Anything over 50 k and it could be a very long walk home or the “Call of Shame” to my VMH in order to come and pick me up.

  22. @johnthughes

    @Rob

    Jesus, Mary and Merckx can you feel my envy from here???  Awesome stuff, guys!  Keep it coming.  Truly you are all living the Velominati DREAM!

  23. @Rob

    @johnthughes

    @Gianni

    @johnthughes

    After moving to Belgium, I was informed that a mini-pump is considered superior to CO2 on the basis that if one is serious about one’s ride, then one needs a way to maintain a high heart rate while changing a flat. Of course that was translated roughly from Vlaams to English by a third party(I am only just yet learning the mother-tongue). It was a rough translation to my understanding, but I was told it was “close enough” by a smirking hardman in the rain.

    Do keep us informed on the conversion to a Belgian life. Vlaams seems like a tough one to pick up. Keep us posted with more “smirking hardman” anecdotes.

    The language is both easy(Lots of words that are the same or very similar) and hard(words and sounds that don’t exist in US english; ‘d’s that sound like ‘t’s, ‘b’s that sound like ‘p’s, ‘t’s that sound like ‘c’s except for “sometimes”)…and it is a challenge. Necessary though. Everyone in my club can speak english…except when we are riding, then it is all Vlaams. To be honest, I have been here for 2.5 years and am just now working on the language with any seriousness(I am a bit ashamed about that). As for conversion….I have been sold since my arrival here. I love the US, but I am not coming back permanently if I have any choice. I plan to live and die in Belgium. Cycling is such a different thing here(possibly an obvious statement). From the worst of it; solo canal work in a headwind that will strip every layer of ego you didn’t know you had; but still awesome. To the best of it; a house in the Ardennes for a week, riding the roads around Houffalize, La Roche-en-Ardennes, and up to Signal Botrange and Baraque Michelle. Or still amazing, if not less majestic, just the Wednesday night ride with the club, tucked into a peloton of 30 riders, just one of 3-5 groups from my club(a small one) out on the canals with many many other clubs, as if it were some kind of giant stage race involving the whole country. Winter is a whole other story….still filled with cycling. Never have I looked outside on a sunday morning just above freezing and thought “Just 30 more minutes and its time meet the group and go ride, I can’t wait!”, but here….here it is like a drug. I have headed out into the worst of weather, and not once ever regretted it after. For me a long ride was 50 miles, and 100 miles was a mystery to worry about. Here, there is no trepidation. Ride with the club to the sea and back with a pasta lunch in between(230km)? Sure! The LvdK(Lady van de Kempen) says “Lets just ride to Malmedey(from Antwerp) and back this weekend. It’s just 190km each way. And we get to ride up and over the highest point in Belgium[admitedly not saying much]. We can stay at the youth hostel and drink the local beers.” and I reply “Of course, lets go!”. I am not sure why I just wrote all this. I guess I should have just wrote “I’ll do my best to report back any quotes I can.” I’ll try to keep it more terse next time.

    Cheers

    Another convert here, 3.5 years long in the most beautiful world of cycling as well. I recently bought a house in Ottignies just outside of Brussels having had enough of the city and I’m so glad I did. The 30km, 400m elevation commute that I try to sneak in 2-3 times a week is absolute heaven. Even better when I can sneak out of Brussels through rolling flemish countryside (Leefdaal/Vossem) to add another couple hundred meters of elevation and double the length of the ride. In just two months of doing this I no longer shy away from the 16% maximum gradients, but instead put my head down, spinning my way to the top, fully aware that my day will not get better than this moment. I feel a certain sense of pride being on a Flemish Compact (53/39) but must admit to running a 12-30 rear necessitated by a recent trip to the Stelvio, Gavia, and other hallowed climbs in the Italian/Swiss Alps. I hope one day I can be worthy of this country so full of 60+ year old men who can climb those same 16% grades on a 53/25 and still make it look smooth.

    I’ve been recently trying to add distance, muscle, and lose weight (down to 72.8kg) in an effort to take this cultural conversion a bit more seriously. This last weekend I did a tour of Wallonia exploring some of the Ravel network (thousands of kilometers of rail conversion paved trails) and the Canal paths between Ottignies-Nivelles-Charleroi and back home. It involved 135km with 20km head winds, constant heavy rain, and 3 flats but even in this my new home country was quite loving and gentle with me. She gave me the three flats in the very beginning of the ride, when it hadn’t started raining yet, and while I could still taste the pre ride espresso, enjoy the company of some grazing cattle, and watch the sunrise come up over the predawn valley. Anyone who commutes in Belgium knows not to complain when flats occur with such fortitude, lest they anger the cycling gods on their commute in less favorable conditions. Even the later headwind and rain was just the country gently reminding me as to the nature of Belgian cycling. We have had 2 months of perfect weather, and it was time to be reminded that winter is already on its way. I struggled to stay dry this past winter as I cycled no matter what the weather. When I asked a flemish hardman for his advice on the topic his response was not some secret and costly piece of gear, rather, to just Rule #5 & 9 and get used to enjoying the weather. I know it was just 135km, and was still a balmy 18 degrees, but I’ve never enjoyed such a ride in such weather so thoroughly. Next weekend I’ll be trying this and fully expect to meet the man with the hammer.

    http://www.velomediane.com/

    I am American, Texan even, and miss my family and occasionally my country and language, but I too can’t ever see going back. I’ve got the house, found my fiancée/VMH, have a second family now, speak more French each month, am just hours away from motoring heaven in Germany, and while the Alps might have the true claim on cycling heaven, Belgium is certainly the front yard. The only thing left to do is cycle more, enjoy, and be polite and brush up on my Vlaams.

    VLVV

    @Rob good to hear another kindred spirit. If you get a free day or two let me recommend catching a train to Mastricht and then riding over the mountain to Malmedy and staying at the youth hostel. First quarter is rolling foothills(passing through the American Cemetary in Henri-Chapelle; somber but very beautiful), middle half is unending climb, first through a forest, and then up Baraque Michel(dont’ forget to take the 5km detour to visit Signal Botrange), then the last 1/4 is at first a super beautiful straight decent that turns into a beautiful twisty rollercoaster ride. The hostel is clean, cheap, and has a bar that has a very nice selection of local beers, and to be honest was more adulty than youthy.

    Here is a map

    technically the map is my(and the LvdK’s) route from Antwerpen, but can be followed from Mastricht, which is passes through. It is much faster on the return trip….oh, the decent on the way back!!! Something close to 20km of decent. The payout is definitely on the return.

  24. Maybe this will work better than the link


    View Antwerp2Malmedy in a larger map

  25. I always prefer giving it a good long pumping myself, just blowing up there in one short burst just never feels right.

    And I certainly never turn it over, always lay it on its side.

    Have I misread the mood here??

  26. @the Engine

    @unversio

    Reverence for the 36 hole wheel too.

    That I still run on both my road bikes…

    Took 36h GP4s out on a mountain road race (French Broad Cycling Classic — Marshall NC) 2 years ago. Need to finish up 36h Victory Stradas w/ Silver Record or Chorus hubs. Need a 9 or 10 speed rear hub at the moment. Front wheel is already built w/ Chorus. I want to start riding these more often next year.

  27. 4 flats in 18.000 km (5 years or so), doesnt sound much if read all this

  28. This photo is just beautiful.

  29. @Pedale.Forchetta

    This photo is just beautiful.

    Yes it is.  The almost square aspect ratio makes me think of a Rolleiflex.  The shallow depth of field and composition work together to create a very 3 dimensional rendering.  The visual elements pull you deeper and deeper into the image…tube, cyclist, bike, roadway, curve in the distance.  Superb detail and contrast – look at the cycling shorts – they are inky black and yet you can still pick out the detail in the fabric. 

    The quality of images posted on this site are very good and are one of the things that drew me to you. 

    Awesome stuff!

  30. When I first got my bike I foolishly inverted it to clean.  Chain degreaser managed to make it’s way back to the saddle and has now forever discoloured a portion of it.  There is also a small scuff on the stem that will serve as reminder. 

    I have since purchased a Park Tools Race Stand – a life changing acquisition for me!  What a delight to use.  Your bike locks in at a nice workable hight and can be adjusted up or down to preference and spun around for easy access to whatever it is that you’re doing. 

    Prs-21

  31. @kixsand

    When I first got my bike I foolishly inverted it to clean. Chain degreaser managed to make it’s way back to the saddle and has now forever discoloured a portion of it. There is also a small scuff on the stem that will serve as reminder.

    I have since purchased a Park Tools Race Stand – a life changing acquisition for me! What a delight to use. Your bike locks in at a nice workable hight and can be adjusted up or down to preference and spun around for easy access to whatever it is that you’re doing.

    Prs-21

    Aha i have been eyeing up one of these for imminent purchase…it is that or the pcs-10 more traditional workstand…any views from the community?

  32. God I love this site. Where else could anyone find such an amazing photograph which is critiqued and analysed from so many viewpoints (even a more than educated estimation of the aspect ratio). Add to this inspiring, evocative, off the cuff essays about living and cycling in Belgium. Tomorrow, I will ride – whatever.

  33. The one I have is the Prs-21 – same as the one in the picture.  There is a less expensive version of it that retails for $249 – the Prs-20.  I think the main difference between those two is the weight of the uniT – the 21 is light enough that you might throw it in the car with you to take To a race.

    The less expensive models arent quite as robust and are designed to grab the bike by the seat post or the top tube.

  34. All the Park Tool stands are here…

    http://www.parktool.com/category/portable-repair-stands

  35. @johnthughes ,

    @Rob

    Thanks lads, that’s what this site is all about. Let us have it, the full dose. I love stories of people finding their real home in another country. Especially Belgium.

  36. @Deakus

    I’ve got the PRS-20 and love it.  I use it for everything from slight adjustments, routine cleaning and maintenance to complete builds.  In my opinion its about as rock solid as it gets short of bolting something to the floor.  Its not terribly light (I’ve never used the PRS-21 to compare), but I wouldn’t have a problem tossing it in the back of a vehicle to take to a race if that’s something you need it it do.  The only downside to this type of stand is that you need to remove either the front or rear wheel to mount it so you can’t do brake adjustments on both wheels without swapping one out for the other, but that’s really a very minor quibble.  The other advantage the PRS-21 would have over the -20 is that since its aluminum it won’t rust if you hose your bike off on it.  That said, I’ve had mine for 3 years and there’s no rust on it.

  37. @James

    @TBONE I think to use CO2 bottles is soft. A good pump (I like Lezyne and quality, useability and style) is far more practical. When your mate, who lacks V has his second puncture and has no more CO2, what will you charge for the use of your pump? 1 coffee or 2?

    I bill out in lap dances, not coffees.

  38. @Deakus I’ve had the PCS-9 for 5 or 6 years. The 10 looks like an updated version. Every cyclist should have a workstand. It makes working on the bike pretty straightforward but the 9 does clamp the seat post or top tube.  Not ideal on the paint as it can leave faint scuff marks and I’m reluctant to clamp a carbon or light alu frame tightly but you can work away on the front wheel and brakes. It folds away small enough but is quite heavy. I like the look of this PRS-21 though. Smaller lighter and probably a little more stable especially for BB fettling.

  39. PRS-20 weighs 20 lbs. 

    PRS-21 weighs 12 lbs.

  40. @kixsand

    PRS-20 weighs 20 lbs.

    PRS-21 weighs 12 lbs.

    Im probably not overly concerned about weight, it will be at home 99.9% of the time.  Price will probably decide between these two.  I want to avoid clamping the bike at all….even CF seat tube….

    thanks for all the thoughts though….

  41. @kixsand i have the heavy version and use it for everything.  tubulars hang to dry on it as well.  every now and again i get bothered about having to take a wheel off, usually front for simplcities sake, but well worth the quid, dollars, yen, won, pesos

  42. @Rob

    costly piece of gear, rather, to just Rule #5 & 9 and get used to enjoying the weather. I know it was just 135km, and was still a balmy 18 degrees, but I’ve never enjoyed such a ride in such weather so thoroughly. Next weekend I’ll be trying this and fully expect to meet the man with the hammer.

    http://www.velomediane.com/

    @Rob If I read their website it looks like you are doing la roche en ardennes…..and the Col D’Haussire! For me, not someone who has been a climber(until recently). My first try up it, during the La Chouffe Classic, left me broken, bonked, shamed, and sadly walking.

    Profile here

    I trained very hard this spring with only one thing in mind, riding the “small” circuit(74km) of the La Chouffe without stopping on a hill or walking. I managed to do what I set out, albeit slowly, and also missed a turn and rode the 106km. Both times, broken and triumphant, were awesome.

    You are going to have a great time on that ride. Even with possible visits from the Man with the Hammer.

  43. @PT  There is always some grass nearby upon which I lay my steed, compelte with CF pedals. If not, and it’s the front, the bike will stand happily on the fork tips (beware the tipping over), if the rear, that’s when riding buddies come into play to hold her up. If all that fails, lay her down, but put said blankie not under the seat, but under the CF pedal.

  44. @Gianni Fold over? They did not fold over the pedals as they have a steel shank in the sole. I still have my vintage Detto Pietros (not vintage when I used them in the 70s). Leather uppers and lowers. Light, comfortable, and an awesome appearance, but tough to maintain, particularly after a rain.

  45. @Rob

    @johnthughes

    @Gianni

    @johnthughes

    After moving to Belgium, I was informed that a mini-pump is considered superior to CO2 on the basis that if one is serious about one’s ride, then one needs a way to maintain a high heart rate while changing a flat. Of course that was translated roughly from Vlaams to English by a third party(I am only just yet learning the mother-tongue). It was a rough translation to my understanding, but I was told it was “close enough” by a smirking hardman in the rain.

    Do keep us informed on the conversion to a Belgian life. Vlaams seems like a tough one to pick up. Keep us posted with more “smirking hardman” anecdotes.

    The language is both easy(Lots of words that are the same or very similar) and hard(words and sounds that don’t exist in US english; ‘d’s that sound like ‘t’s, ‘b’s that sound like ‘p’s, ‘t’s that sound like ‘c’s except for “sometimes”)…and it is a challenge. Necessary though. Everyone in my club can speak english…except when we are riding, then it is all Vlaams. To be honest, I have been here for 2.5 years and am just now working on the language with any seriousness(I am a bit ashamed about that). As for conversion….I have been sold since my arrival here. I love the US, but I am not coming back permanently if I have any choice. I plan to live and die in Belgium. Cycling is such a different thing here(possibly an obvious statement). From the worst of it; solo canal work in a headwind that will strip every layer of ego you didn’t know you had; but still awesome. To the best of it; a house in the Ardennes for a week, riding the roads around Houffalize, La Roche-en-Ardennes, and up to Signal Botrange and Baraque Michelle. Or still amazing, if not less majestic, just the Wednesday night ride with the club, tucked into a peloton of 30 riders, just one of 3-5 groups from my club(a small one) out on the canals with many many other clubs, as if it were some kind of giant stage race involving the whole country. Winter is a whole other story….still filled with cycling. Never have I looked outside on a sunday morning just above freezing and thought “Just 30 more minutes and its time meet the group and go ride, I can’t wait!”, but here….here it is like a drug. I have headed out into the worst of weather, and not once ever regretted it after. For me a long ride was 50 miles, and 100 miles was a mystery to worry about. Here, there is no trepidation. Ride with the club to the sea and back with a pasta lunch in between(230km)? Sure! The LvdK(Lady van de Kempen) says “Lets just ride to Malmedey(from Antwerp) and back this weekend. It’s just 190km each way. And we get to ride up and over the highest point in Belgium[admitedly not saying much]. We can stay at the youth hostel and drink the local beers.” and I reply “Of course, lets go!”. I am not sure why I just wrote all this. I guess I should have just wrote “I’ll do my best to report back any quotes I can.” I’ll try to keep it more terse next time.

    Cheers

    Another convert here, 3.5 years long in the most beautiful world of cycling as well. I recently bought a house in Ottignies just outside of Brussels having had enough of the city and I’m so glad I did. The 30km, 400m elevation commute that I try to sneak in 2-3 times a week is absolute heaven. Even better when I can sneak out of Brussels through rolling flemish countryside (Leefdaal/Vossem) to add another couple hundred meters of elevation and double the length of the ride. In just two months of doing this I no longer shy away from the 16% maximum gradients, but instead put my head down, spinning my way to the top, fully aware that my day will not get better than this moment. I feel a certain sense of pride being on a Flemish Compact (53/39) but must admit to running a 12-30 rear necessitated by a recent trip to the Stelvio, Gavia, and other hallowed climbs in the Italian/Swiss Alps. I hope one day I can be worthy of this country so full of 60+ year old men who can climb those same 16% grades on a 53/25 and still make it look smooth.

    I’ve been recently trying to add distance, muscle, and lose weight (down to 72.8kg) in an effort to take this cultural conversion a bit more seriously. This last weekend I did a tour of Wallonia exploring some of the Ravel network (thousands of kilometers of rail conversion paved trails) and the Canal paths between Ottignies-Nivelles-Charleroi and back home. It involved 135km with 20km head winds, constant heavy rain, and 3 flats but even in this my new home country was quite loving and gentle with me. She gave me the three flats in the very beginning of the ride, when it hadn’t started raining yet, and while I could still taste the pre ride espresso, enjoy the company of some grazing cattle, and watch the sunrise come up over the predawn valley. Anyone who commutes in Belgium knows not to complain when flats occur with such fortitude, lest they anger the cycling gods on their commute in less favorable conditions. Even the later headwind and rain was just the country gently reminding me as to the nature of Belgian cycling. We have had 2 months of perfect weather, and it was time to be reminded that winter is already on its way. I struggled to stay dry this past winter as I cycled no matter what the weather. When I asked a flemish hardman for his advice on the topic his response was not some secret and costly piece of gear, rather, to just Rule #5 & 9 and get used to enjoying the weather. I know it was just 135km, and was still a balmy 18 degrees, but I’ve never enjoyed such a ride in such weather so thoroughly. Next weekend I’ll be trying this and fully expect to meet the man with the hammer.

    http://www.velomediane.com/

    I am American, Texan even, and miss my family and occasionally my country and language, but I too can’t ever see going back. I’ve got the house, found my fiancée/VMH, have a second family now, speak more French each month, am just hours away from motoring heaven in Germany, and while the Alps might have the true claim on cycling heaven, Belgium is certainly the front yard. The only thing left to do is cycle more, enjoy, and be polite and brush up on my Vlaams.

    VLVV

    Yeah, thats all very well and good, but what sort of message does that send to the children ?

    The “children” being me, and “me” being very envious of whats described in both these fine posts.

    Enjoy and we shall live vicariously through your eyes.

  46. @Puffy

    Thanks man.  It honestly doesn’t make much sense to me ( and I’ve been riding a long time) but I’ll give it a shot next time.  Mahalo.

    Signed,

    Semi-Reformed

  47. Has anyone had the issue of the glue on finishing tape melting in the heat? last time I had #1 in my truck this happened. I reapplied new finishing tape(3M) but it still looks a bit like shit. on the plus side I think our 100+ degree days are done for(fingers crossed)

  48. @RedRanger If only it would get that hot hear, but then we Brits would then moan that our roads had melted and our railways stopped functioning. So perhaps its for the best.

  49. @johnthughes

    Sadly I won’t be doing the ride this weekend.  This morning I lovingly washed my bike in preparation after done a very short ride last night.  Was even going to swap out the bottom bracket as I had a bit of an ugly creak last night each time I stood to climb.  Unfortunately I discovered something ugly, and it wasn’t a dirty bottom bracket.

    Apparently last weekend’s loving, gentle introduction to the changing seasons was instead a funeral wake with the rain falling at the demise of my first real race bike :( Please excuse the emoticon. Rather upset right now as the bike budget has been depleted with the house purchase and so I will have to search for a budget aluminum replacement so I can finish through the season. 

    Guess I should be glad that it didn’t happen on the Stelvio…….

    Slideshow:

    Fullscreen:

  50. I feel like this belongs here. Wafles & Dinges pamphlet from one of their food trucks.

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