La Vie Velominatus: Ritual

La Vie Velominatus: Ritual

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Along the lines of what Bruce Dickinson famously decreed while espousing the medical benefits of cowbell in the remedy of rare types of influenza, I put my shoes on one at a time – just like you. But after I’ve got my shoes on, I ooze fluidly harmonic articulation.

As Cyclists, we wield the mighty power of The V, yet lay victim to the nagging whispers of Doubt, from which the Anti-V draws its strength. We train our bodies, keep our machines in perfect order, and maintain a variety of kit for every type of weather, only to waver as this poison bleeds into our minds. We counter by seeking to control the uncontrollable through a strict adherence to ritual prior to and following each of our rides.

The ritual surrounding the ride is unique to each of us, and evolves over time, and perpetuates those actions which yielded better-then-usual rides. For instance, despite being right-handed, I slip into my shoes left first, and moving through a systematic process of buckling them up prior to each bike. I sit down on the front steps, pause for a moment to draw in a breath, slip out of my Adilettes, and slip into my shoes.

I start by arranging the tongue of first the left shoe, then the right. Then I secure the front velcro strap on the left before moving to do the same on the right. Once I’m satisfied that both straps are of precisely equal tension, I will move to tighten the left buckle, then the right until similarly satisfied of tension equality. Changing this process in any way, I’m convinced, would yield utter chaos.

Ritual goes far beyond how we put our shoes on; it reaches into the maintenance of our machines as well as their preparation for a ride as well as preparation of bidons and our kit. Bits of my ritual change based on whether I am riding from home or some other location, whether the ride is a big one or just a daily jaunt, or whether it is a formal event for which I have prepared carefully. Other things, however, remain fixed.

I always inflate the rear tire first, never the front. I’ll pull on the front and rear brakes to make sure the cables didn’t fall out overnight, and run through all the gears – listening for silence – even though I’ll have tuned it after arriving home last time if any tuning was required. When I pull on my kit, bibs go on first, socks second, under-vest third. Only at this point do I consider other elements such as whether I’m wearing arm and/or knee warmers, or which jersey to put on. Lastly, I’ll carefully inspect my toolkit prior to tucking it into my middle rear pocket.

I suppose that at the center of this lies a simple belief: in a world wherein much lies out of my control, I represent but a simple cell of a larger organism. I cannot say what influence these actions have, but if the past is any indication of the future, these actions have helped keep me happily pedaling my bike. To stop would be to tempt Fate itself.

Therefor, I wrap myself in ritual to control the uncontrollable. Vive la Vie Velominatus.

// Etiquette // Folklore // La Vie Velominatus

  1. @Nate

    In other words, I get all the fucking around done the night before, when it’s evening and I can enjoy the process with a beer in hand.

    Now THAT’s a ritual to pay attention to!

  2. @frank

    @G’phant

    I am frequently referred to as “Captain F*ck-around”, on account of the time it seems to take me to get my sh*t together before a ride.

    Does anyone call you Mr. Needlessly Censors himself? Since when do we give a fuck about profanity around here? How else are we supposed to show our intelectual strength?

    It’s “intellectual,” not “intelectual.”  Fuck, I hope those Canuckian grad students don’t eat your lunch before starting on their own.

  3. @frank

    @Nate

    In other words, I get all the fucking around done the night before, when it’s evening and I can enjoy the process with a beer in hand.

    Now THAT’s a ritual to pay attention to!

    I’m not one for those old school abstemious training methods.

  4. @Nate

    @frank

    @G’phant

    I am frequently referred to as “Captain F*ck-around”, on account of the time it seems to take me to get my sh*t together before a ride.

    Does anyone call you Mr. Needlessly Censors himself? Since when do we give a fuck about profanity around here? How else are we supposed to show our intelectual strength?

    It’s “intellectual,” not “intelectual.”  Fuck, I hope those Canuckian grad students don’t eat your lunch before starting on their own.

    I’ll be fine – completely incognito – I’ll just mention hockey and “The Great One” and finish every sentence with the word, “eh”.

  5. @frank

    @G’phant

    I am frequently referred to as “Captain F*ck-around”, on account of the time it seems to take me to get my sh*t together before a ride.

    Does anyone call you Mr. Needlessly Censors himself? Since when do we give a fuck about profanity around here? How else are we supposed to show our intelectual strength?

    Fuck off, wanker cunt.

  6. @wiscot Thanks for the welcome! I agree with new bar tape, although I’d like to find something that aesthetically matches the bike. I’m hoping to make a trip to Alex Singer just outside of Paris to see what they have. As for the saddle, it’s a Brooks, and a graduation gift. While I know it’s not racing material, I like the looks of it and it suits me well. I have the original vinyl-covered saddle in reserve for rainy days. As for fitting advice, I’ve since raised the saddle a bit, but the current setup seems to suit me for the casual solo and group riding I’ve been doing around here. Did you notice anything in particular that visually demands to be fixed?

    @frank Thanks for the compliments. Somehow there are a lot of beautiful bikes on the secondhand market here in France. I’m still not sure whether I’m going to take this one back to the states with me when I move back, but the bond between bike and rider is growing with every ride.

  7. @zeitzmar

    @wiscot Thanks for the welcome! I agree with new bar tape, although I’d like to find something that aesthetically matches the bike. I’m hoping to make a trip to Alex Singer just outside of Paris to see what they have. As for the saddle, it’s a Brooks, and a graduation gift. While I know it’s not racing material, I like the looks of it and it suits me well. I have the original vinyl-covered saddle in reserve for rainy days. As for fitting advice, I’ve since raised the saddle a bit, but the current setup seems to suit me for the casual solo and group riding I’ve been doing around here. Did you notice anything in particular that visually demands to be fixed?

    @frank Thanks for the compliments. Somehow there are a lot of beautiful bikes on the secondhand market here in France. I’m still not sure whether I’m going to take this one back to the states with me when I move back, but the bond between bike and rider is growing with every ride.

    Fit looks fine according to the type of bike it is, though the saddle-bar drop is less than currently popular.

    You’ve got some crazy deep drops on the bars though, so if you are comfy, that’s #1.  Just make sure the saddle is high enough and you’ve got enough reach, then worry about drop.

    You might also consider investing in some nice supple tires.

  8. @frank

    @eightzero

    Work is merely something one must do between Rides.

    Brilliant.

    @G’phant

    I am frequently referred to as “Captain F*ck-around”, on account of the time it seems to take me to get my sh*t together before a ride.

    Does anyone call you Mr. Needlessly Censors himself? Since when do we give a fuck about profanity around here? How else are we supposed to show our intellectual strength?

    he titters endlessly as he wipes the espresso off his keyboard and face. Funny boy!

  9. @G’phant

    So, Captain Fuck Around, better start organizing yourself for Keepers Tour 13. Now.

  10. The Ride Is The Ritual.

  11. Thinking more about it, I suppose I can’t say that I have a definitive process or ritual because there are simply some times when things change (the addition of warmers or shoecovers that changes the order that items are put on, or the need to carry additional items in one’s pockets that forces a non-standard configuration).  The items that never change for me, however, are as follows:

    1. Shoes are always put on and velcro fully done up one at a time – left then right (I may have to try Frank’s method however)

    2. Gloves are always placed under lower back of jersey/jacket until after tires are inflated.

    3. Eyewear is always placed in helmet vents or atop cap visor (if no helmet is being worn) until just before rollout.

    4. Upon filling, one bottle is always locked (usually the mixture), one is left open – the locked bottle goes in the seatube cage.

    5.  Tires are always inflated front first, then rear.

  12. @Winelli double plus numero UNO!

    That’s it in the proverbial nut shell and I hate it when it seems like I am contradicting Frank because he and I are at the polar opposites of the pre ride ritual… And I like to think that we are both right it’s just who gets across the line first?

  13. @frank

    @Dan_R

    The contents of my pockets rarely change, but how they are organized is always different. Always.

    WHAT?? Insanity. Center pocket: pump on the right, tube/levers/patch kit in a baggie on the left, mini tool in the bottom, phone in a baggie behind the tube.

    Always. If its any different, I’ll be completely obsessed about it.

     

    Call it enfored randomness thrown into the equation. Some part of the load in the pockets changes from ride to ride. I will admit that it can get a little frustrating when reaching for a gel or something to eat while rolling…

  14. @roger Hey man, as to your where question my wife is from Bettendorf and I did grad school at Palmer College in Davenport, it is a chiropractic school ( thusly I’m a chiropractor). Do you have a Iowa connection?

    @zeitzmar I know Grinnell, it is a great school! You can do low end speedplays for around 125 usd, and if you want them it may be worth saving the extra change up, but your bike looks great and will be fun no matter!

    @Franklin Hi! The things we do for love! I’ve never done RAGBRAI, but it should be fun I mean it sounds like a ton of riding and a ton of beer, and that sounds like potential to me!

  15. @frank

    @wiscot

    The danger (and necessity of ritual) is that so much of it becomes second nature yet therein lies the danger in forgetting something. Calm, collected ritual is necessary as to do otherwise can jeopardize the quality of the whole experience.

    Great point and absolutely agree. Having a process in place makes sure you don’t just zombie through and leave with your front skewer loose!

    @zeitzmar

    Beautiful – absolutely beautiful. Shoes and pedals make a huge difference, but the enjoyment of the ride is central to yourself, so only upgrade if you’ve got the cash and feel like it.

    That is a beautiful machine; part of me would want to see it keep the toe clips!

    @graham d.m.

    Off topic: @frank, @the Engine: lucky Bont owners! They look wicked sexy!

    As always Frank thanks for posting! I’m too new to have fully developed my rituals, I guess. I asked my wife if she noticed any and she just shrugged…..oh well.

    That’s not necessarily an indication that you don’t have a ritual…she just might not care enough to notice.

    @frank: (graham shakes head, takes a swig of scotch, single tear) Darn it, Frank!

  16. Like Frank, I always don my left shoe first. It’s more than a ritual – it’s a matter of survival.

    It started innocently enough. I noticed I had this tendency to put on the left shoe first, left pant leg, left glove…never the right. Then, one day, me and a couple of friends drove up to Squamish to do some rock climbing, and because of nerves or fate, I put on the right climbing shoe first. Noticed it. Said to myself, well, what difference could it make? and as you might expect, the climbing went well.

    So, we finish climbing, and we’re driving back down the highway, leaving North Vancouver on Highway 1 down a long steep hill called ‘the Cut’ when I spot what looks like a dirty tennis ball rolling beside the concrete barrier to our left. We, and it, are doing ~100 km/h.  The ball catches an edge in the barrier and flies under the car in front of us and I hear it clunk a clunk a clunk bashing around under the car. It then shoots under OUR car with similar loud clunking noises, at which point I realize it’s actually a rock. CLUNKA CLUNKA CLUNKA zing! it flies out from under the front of the car, skitters along for another second or two, and then abruptly shoots up into the air, like easily 5 metres up, and begins a lazy descent for the windshield. Our driver Teresa yells AAAAAAAAAAAHHHH and hammers the brakes, causing me to expect a devastating rear end impact and subsequent multi vehicle immolation and carnage and funereal proceedings for my next of kin.

    But no. The rock smashes through the plastic grill just in front of the windshield wipers, plastic fragments clatter away harmlessly, no one rear end us, and we drive back to my place only mentally scarred. The rock was just sitting there inside the grill, powerless, so I extricated it and I still have it in a box somewhere, duct taped shut so it can never threaten human life again.

    I do realize that the order in which I put on shoes cannot influence worldly events, particularly bizarre ones, yet I am forced to persist in acting as if it might, because once, it seemed to. And that’s good enough for me. This ritual/superstition/nonsense makes shoe shopping a trifle embarrassing, because shoe salesman always bring out the right shoe. ‘Um…yeah…can I try on the LEFT shoe, please?’

  17. It’s not ‘OCD’. It’s ‘CDO’. The letters must be arranged alphabetically.

  18. @starclimber

    Good story…

    The right foot is usually larger, apparently, which is why they bring the right shoe first. Or so I was told when I worked part-time at Florsheim.

  19. Best thread ever.

  20. @graham d.m. You should definitely ride RAGBRAI! It’s a lot of fun, and you meet some really amazing people along the way. I did a day and a half with a friend and we joined a larger group and strangers welcomed us into their homes when it started storming in Marshalltown. 75 m.p.h. winds, and we packed up our tents just in time.

  21. @zeitzmar I’ll have to do it for sure! Like you, I no longer live in Iowa, but it’d definitely score me some wife credit to take her on a trip home and then steal some RAGBRAI time! You’re going for 2013?

  22. @zeitzmar

    @graham d.m. You should definitely ride RAGBRAI! It’s a lot of fun, and you meet some really amazing people along the way. I did a day and a half with a friend and we joined a larger group and strangers welcomed us into their homes when it started storming in Marshalltown. 75 m.p.h. winds, and we packed up our tents just in time.

    Filled in for a friend in RAGBRAI this year.  Marshalltown was crazy.  We lowered a tent awning half way and had a person on each leg and others pushing up the fabric when too much water collected.  At one point the rain was coming through horizontally, but we managed to keep our beers pure.

    The good: 8 days of riding (we added a day before) with roads shut down both ways on the official route.

    The bad: used a charter service that took bags/tents to the end each day.  It was extremely hot, and this option left little opportunity to get out of the heat.  Would definitely do RAGBRAI again, but only with an organized team or local places lined up.  I’m just glad it wasn’t raining every day.  That would have been miserable outside of the riding.

  23. @itburns My friends who we met up with were doing RAGBRAI with a truck pulling an old airstream. They had a designated driver who took all their stuff and also served as a sag wagon when a rider needed a day off. They brought tents, but in every town were able to find someone they knew or total strangers to let them camp out in their yard or sleep on their floor.

    @graham d.m. I’d love to do RAGBRAI 2013, but I’m still going to be in France in July. I’m hoping to stay here through the end of July so I can see part of the 100th (!) Tour. I’m definitely in for 2014 though.

  24. Ritualizing my choice of new (Wiggle) water bottles to start the months of long, lonely, winter riding.

  25. @Frank

    I almost shot coffee out my nose over the cowbell skit. Now all I can hear are cowbells and all I can see is the horrible dancing accompanying the sound. Thanks. I think I need a long ride today to cleanse my psyche after that.

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