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. I had never seen the Cowbell sketch before….I have spent the morning pissing my pants and playing it on loop…..pure Genius!

  2. @Oli

    I think at the centre of this is actually some severe OCD.

    It’s only OCD if he does the exact same in reverse at the end of the ride……1-2-3….1-2-3….1-2-3….

  3. @ChrisO

    I am organised but not ritualistic –  I submit there is a difference.

    For example I put my shoes and socks at the bottom of the stairs near the door so that by making them the last thing to put on I reduce the possibility of falling  (marble and tile floors). That’s organisation.

    If I cared what order I put them on and felt some benefit from doing it, or anxiety from not doing it, that would be ritual.

    Same with my other stuff. I set it out in much the same places before a ride, but that’s so that I can check I have everything and minimise faffing about going back for stuff. That’s just being organised.

    Ritualistic behaviour to me is things like the number of times Rafa Nadal bounces the ball when serving, or a goal kicker who clasps his hands together and carries out other non-essential actions before an attempt (Jamie Seward in Rugby League, or Johnny Wilkinson in Rugby Union for example). The intention is to make the act automatic but also to provide cues for focus.

    This is  Wilkinson talking about the way he cups his hands before his run up, from The Guardian.

    “The hands, he said, are like a barrier erected against the outside world, helping him to cut out the tens of thousands of opposing fans who are likely to set up a barrage of whistles and jeers in an attempt to disturb his intense concentration. “As I got more into kicking,” he said, “I became more involved in looking at other aspects, and one area I looked at was focusing from the inside, slowing down the breathing, relaxation, ‘centring’, which is a way of channeling my power and energy from my core, just behind my navel, down my left leg and into my left foot to get that explosive power. When I was doing this, the position with the hands happened to be the one I adopted. Look at pictures from 1998, and you will see my hands are further apart. Each year they have gradually got closer. For whatever reason, it has become a very strong position for me.” ”

    He doesn’t really know why or how it works, but it does, which could be argued as the essence of ritual.

    I call it routine. Mine is a post-routine coming immediately after the ride. Wash the helmet and eyewear. Wipe off the controls, bar tape, stem and top tube. And bottom bracket. Wipe down the saddle. Oil and clean the drive train to be ready for the next effort. Throw the kit in the wash within 10 minutes of coming thru the door. Bike and most all else is ready to go.

  4. Nice article, but you lost me at ‘Adilettes’.  Seriously though, I too find the pre ride ritual to be integral to the ride.  If I’m rushed, I always feel off kilter for quite a few kms if not the entire ride.

  5. Speaking of photos – I have an (internet) acquaintance that is somewhat of an icon that lives in Hollywood.  He does this cool thing called “Photo by” where he walks up to movie stars and has THEM take a picture of him.  He’s also an avid cyclist – he recently rode from San Francisco to L.A.. on his fixie – so there are lots of pictures of him taken by various cycling giants like Jens and Cippo.  Check it out here.

  6. @Cyclops Great stuff…it is amazing how the skills with a camera vary from celeb to celeb!

  7. @graham d.m.

    @zeitzmar Welcome! I noticed on your profile you went to school in Iowa, where’d you go? My wife is an Iowan and I went to grad school there.  Anyway, the bike looks sharp as is, but I will say clipless pedals are fantastic and worth a try.  You can find budget pedals like low end Shimano for around 50 usd. But I’d poke around your bike shop, do some tryouts if possible, and find what works for you.

    My wife is also from Iowa.  From Beaman in the middle of Iowa.  Explains why we are planning our summer holidays on heading back from London to do RAGBRAI next year. 

  8. @Cyclops

    Speaking of photos – I have an (internet) acquaintance that is somewhat of an icon that lives in Hollywood.  He does this cool thing called “Photo by” where he walks up to movie stars and has THEM take a picture of him.  He’s also an avid cyclist – he recently rode from San Francisco to L.A.. on his fixie – so there are lots of pictures of him taken by various cycling giants like Jens and Cippo.  Check it out here.

    I think this is great and I suspect the “celebs” likely get a kick out of it because your buddy’s not asking for a photo with them (that’ll end up god knows where) but putting a twist on what must be a rather tiresome aspect of their lives.

  9. @zeitzmar

    I’m a recent convert to la Vie Velominatus, currently living in France and working as an au pair. I’m on a limited budget but I managed to purchase a 1984 Peugeot PH-LS on the French version of craigslist. Everyone in my cycling group (40-something French men) laughs at my toe clips setup and I’m considering the switch to clipless pedals so I can further my quest for the Magnificent Stroke as well as have another sacrament to add to my ritual.

    This is my current setup: 1984 Peugeot PH-LS

    Should I heed their advice? What are some budget priced pedals that are reliable and good for novice cyclists like myself?

    Welcome to the fold! I think some new pedals, a new saddle and bar tape and a wee bit of fitting advice and you’ll be in very good shape. The bike looks great and in good nick for its age. It’s not what you’ve got, but what you do with it that counts.

  10. I’m much like G’Phant in that my nickname should be Captain F’ Around. My friends have other names for me which aren’t neArly as cool. Due to the lack of any true ritual or method for getting ready, I am a hot mess trying to get on the road. if I’m doing a Special ride I may pull out a certain kit the night before but usually it’s grabbing stuff out of a drawer in the dark and maybe looking like I was dressed by a color blind soigneur which requires that I have to repeatedly go back to said drawer and probably wake up the Velomama (it’s early- she’ll go back to sleep).GPS & phone charged? … maybe. grab some breakfast and put a snack in my pocket for the road…. or did I leave it on the counter again? Once I make out of the house & to the bike room all bets are off as to when I will leave. Carefully pump each tire to proper pressure ,give each wheel a spin to make sure my wheels haven’t somehow out of true overnight, check for any tire damage then squeeze each brake lever  few times. ready yet? I may decide to do some quick (relatively) adjustment or wipe down my frame if deemed too dirty. A quick look at the time and I’m pretty sure I can catch the group if I really haul ass… and if I dont catch them  it will still be a great day  because I’m on my bike. VLVV!

  11. I find all of this quite comforting, I’m not drifting into some sort of age/drink related dementia/OCD hybrid. I’ve never really given this much thought before whilst there is a definite pattern to my preparation, it’s based in a natural order of doing things (and the improved chance of leaving the house with everything that organisation ensures) rather than a need to religiously follow a process fearing the consequences of not doing so.

    My bike is always in the same place in my study (much to Mrs Chris’ annoyance) as is my pump so I always approach my bike from the same direction to get it ready. Most of my rides are early in the morning before the family are up so I don’t want to be banging around at that end of the house getting ready but the neighbours walk their dogs early and can see into the kitchen so a certain level of decorum is called for.

    If for some reason the process is interrupted and the order is changed, it doesn’t screw with my mind and niggle for the rest of the ride.

  12. Most of my group rides start at the same time work ends, so my pre-ride ritual is to frantically stuff food into my mouth while pulling on my cycling gear in precisely the wrong order, and finally sprinting out the door without remembering some critical item (water, usually).

    I think that I need a job that interferes less with my cycling.

  13. @ChrisO

    I am organised but not ritualistic –  I submit there is a difference.

    I agree with this for myself as well. I have specific spots in the house where I keep all my gear and generally go through getting ready in the same order each ride just because it makes sense, but nothing that “has” to be done in any specific way, such as one shoes before the other or whatever.

    The only thing I do exactly the same each ride is which jersey pockets all my gear goes into. Left pocket is for food, middle pocket is for repair kit, right pocket is for phone and some kleenex. Always the same order for this.

  14. @ChrisO@Chris@mcsqueak

    Same here.  Especially because, like Chris, I ride early a lot when the rest of the house is asleep.  If I have everything cued up properly, I can get dressed, have coffee & a small breakfast, fill my pockets, check tires and be off in about 25 minutes, and be quiet doing it.  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.

  15. @Ron

    Oh yes! Always followed rituals from all the sports I played growing up, to cycling these days, and beyond. Damn, I’m even the type to count things when I don’t have to, not in an out-of-my-mind way, but I will catch myself counting say the number of times I’ve pushed the pump down when inflating my tires before a ride.

    Nice one, Frank! Are those white or silver shoes? Hard to tell. And did the same size work as you work in Sidis?

    Ritual is awesome. It just makes life easier, makes my free time when I don’t have any that much better.

    When I was racing skis, I got incredibly ritualistic about how I prep’d my skis – counting how many times I scraped, brushed and polished the bases. Also superstitious – making sure never to touch the bases with my skin and so forth.

    When it came time to racing; all important races were done only in one set of lenses and gloves – the others were all cursed. And, of course, the prep ritual at the start gate was key. All very Casually Deliberate, but all very focussed on left foot right foot, tap the poles together, arrange shades, make sure hat is on right…

  16. I’m glad I read this post.  It’s made me realize that, while I am a manic OCD freak, I’m not in it alone! 

    Evertyhing has to be arranged the night before.  It’s in its proper place. 

  17. @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.

    @Oli

    I think at the centre of this is actually some severe OCD.

    *ahem*

    Actually have been diagnosed with this. Its not bad, though. I can stop any time. I just don’t want to.

  18. Holy OCD Batman. Strack is a twisted up Dutch Monkey but it’s gotten him this far and he really doesn’t have a choice in the matter, he was born that way. He probably did the same thing with his cross country ski racing prep. And his first grade school outfit.

    I am the anti-Strack. I’m organized but have no set routine, I don’t think. I like @Chris’s sentiment.

    it’s based in a natural order of doing things (and the improved chance of leaving the house with everything that organisation ensures) rather than a need to religiously follow a process fearing the consequences of not doing so.

    But I have learned over the years that I suck at thinking before these pre-dawn attacks. If I don’t get it squared away the night before something might not make it.

  19. @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.

  20. @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 intelectual strength?

  21. @ChrisO

    I am organised but not ritualistic –  I submit there is a difference.

    For example I put my shoes and socks at the bottom of the stairs near the door so that by making them the last thing to put on I reduce the possibility of falling  (marble and tile floors). That’s organisation.

    If I cared what order I put them on and felt some benefit from doing it, or anxiety from not doing it, that would be ritual.

    There are three things here – process, ritual, and superstition. Process has to do with organization, ritual has to do with attaching more significance to the influence the process has on (relatively) unrelated events, and superstition means you are crazy.

    I use all three of them liberally.

    @Deakus

    Also interested as to which side you unclip from?  I always unclip on the left…I am right handed…but I notice a lot of right handers tell me they unclip on the right side….go figure?

    I dismount to the left (unclip on the right first). Which made the transition to CX easy.

  22. The first rule of OCD is you deny you are OCD and call it organization.

    @frank “I always inflate the rear tire first, never the front”

    Cracked me up.  I’m a front first, never rear, but didn’t realize that aspect until now.

  23. Yup – I’ve got OCD too – although it doesn’t make me tidy around the house.

    Here’s a thing though – we’re infested with House Elves.

    Do you ever need to get ready for a ride at V Past The Hour get all your kit together, put it on in the correct order and just so (I always fill my bidons and leave them right in front of the door I’m about to go out so that I can’t forget them – or if I do I’ll break an ankle to remind me the next time) and then discover that the House Elves have got your arm warmers/the socks that go with your jersey/your black cap?

    Do you then spend an hour sweating, swearing and shouting at people until you work out that the Elves wrapped the missing item carefully in your underpants and hid them in your pants drawer next to the CO2 cartouches that you have to buy every time you can’t find one?

    What I want to know @Frank is how you eradicate (or possibly educate) the little bastards so that your kit is always exactly where it should be?

  24. @roadslave525

    p.s. Frank, where are your fi’zi:k shoes, you brand whore?  If you are going to be the online presence of their Global media campaign for ‘preferred contact point supplier’ (and I quote!), this kind of faux-pas is going to get you in trouble

    Ha! If you recall I’ve never ridden them as they didn’t work for me. The other Keepers are all about them, though, and absolutely love them.

    They are, quite simply, the most beautiful shoes anywhere, but when they don’t work, they don’t work…and in the end we always have to seek out the best products for each of us individually.

  25. @frank

    @roadslave525

    p.s. Frank, where are your fi’zi:k shoes, you brand whore?  If you are going to be the online presence of their Global media campaign for ‘preferred contact point supplier’ (and I quote!), this kind of faux-pas is going to get you in trouble

    Ha! If you recall I’ve never ridden them as they didn’t work for me. The other Keepers are all about them, though, and absolutely love them.

    They are, quite simply, the most beautiful shoes anywhere, but when they don’t work, they don’t work…

    And they don’t char as well as Bonts…

  26. @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!

  27. @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.

  28. @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.

  29. @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”.

  30. @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.

  31. @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.

  32. @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.

  33. @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!

  34. @G’phant

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

  35. The Ride Is The Ritual.

  36. 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.

  37. @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?

  38. @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…

  39. @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!

  40. @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!

  41. 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?’

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

  43. @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.

  44. Best thread ever.

  45. @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.

  46. @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?

  47. @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.

  48. @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.

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

  50. @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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