These Colors Don’t Run

These Colors Don’t Run

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One score and seven years ago, I first swung my leg over my bike with a specific training objective in mind. I was 7 going on 8 years old and already behind me lay the days of the bicycle representing freedom from the claustrophobic confines of “walking-distance” and before me lay the unexplored world of La Vie Velominatus. In the summer of 1984, I decided to compete in the only long-distance ski race that didn’t have a thirteen year old minimum age limit, the Mora Vasaloppet. The race also held the distinction of being the only race that boasted a real awards presentation, complete with a full-size podium; this felt like a real race and I was determined to be part of it. 32 kilometers to race alone as an eight-year-old boy meant, for me, a considerable challenge and one I intended to meet head-on; not only did I want to finish, I wanted to win my “13 and Under” age class and stand on the only podium step worth standing on. And so opened the world of cycling for me – as a means to an end, but it wasn’t very long before the bicycle began to overshadow the ski.

My world was very quickly dominated by the bicycle. Leafing through every magazine I could find, my imagination transformed the photos and written word of the journalists into live, full-color replays of the races. The attacks were vicious, the climbs steep, and the sprint finishes close. Initially, it was very hard to gain access to cycling videos, and the videos that I did find failed to live up to the scenes constructed in my imagination. To this day, I prefer pouring over old cycling books and magazines and letting my imagination reconstruct the scenes to watching replays of races on video. The gaps left by the photos and words are filled in fanciful ways reality could never match.

From the very beginning, as I leafed through those books and magazines, I carefully studied and mimicked the Pros. Black leather shoes. Metal toeclips, leather straps. Gloves unvelcroed when it’s hot. Sunnies over the helmet straps. Forget the Ray-Bans; I was off to the gas station to buy a pair of imitation Oakley Blades. Exaggerated grimace when you’re working hard, exaggerated look of calm when not.

But the kit, oh the kit. This most crucial element of Looking Pro, it eluded me from the beginning. Even at a young age, I felt that team kit was to be worn only by those who earned the right to wear it and as such was off-limits. But because skiing remained my competitive focus all through my teens, I never joined a cycling team and as such never earned the privilege to wear team kit. That’s not to say I never strayed into Team Kit territory, but it always felt a bit like cheating and I carefully constructed parameters that allowed me to feel that it was acceptable.

In the end, skiing gave way completely to cycling and I eventually did earn the right to wear the Team Kit of the various clubs I joined. Kitting up for a ride, there is an intangible connection one feels that is hard to convey. You are making a statement of who you are as a cyclist, of where your allegiance lies. Where that allegiance lies for The Keepers is obvious and was the driver behind creating the V-Kit; we did so with the assumption that only we and maybe our family and closest friends would wear it. But before very long, members of the community were asking to wear it as well. One thing led to another and today the V-Kit is flown by Velominati the world over, on every continent with both mail service and an internet connection (we have not shipped to Antarctica, though we would if we were asked to).

Our order process is perhaps the most cumbersome in existence. Step one: Lay down your hard-earned cash, up-front. Step Two: Wait many weeks. Step Three: A brown paper package arrives containing your made-to-order kit. All because you decided that you want to fly the Velominati Colors and make your statement about who you are as a cyclist. To say it humbles us that is to suggest that the ocean is somewhat damp.

As the number of people wearing the V-Kit as grown, so has the demand for more than just a black kit. Long sleeve jerseys, white jerseys, black bibs, arm warmerss; now we’re onto knee warmers, knickers, caps for summer and winter, and gloves, socks, bidons. The list will continue to grow and we’ll continue to pick away at it bit by bit. But one of the things that became immediately apparent, however, was that while the women ordering V-Kit are actually quite comfortable in the men’s V-Bibs, they are not entirely thrilled with getting stark naked on the roadside any time they need to answer the call. Apparently there are also some differences in anatomy that we don’t need to get into, but the salient point to absorb here is that while men’s jerseys work fine for both sexes, women generally have different kit requirements than do men when it comes to the lower half. The Women’s V-Short quickly jumped to the top of the list of items to add and we set about making it so, as we are wont to do.

As long as we were designing a women’s-specific V-Short, we thought we’d also make it all black, as a means to distinguis them visually. From the moment the first pair arrived at the Velominati World Headquarters, I knew we would be designing an all-black bib. For clarification, please refer to the Velominata laying it all on the road in full V and VV style, rocking her V-Kit with Women’s V-Shorts.

As a last point, due to shifting time tables caused by much of the Castelli staff being at Interbike this week, we are extending our V-Kit ordering deadline to September 23 as they will be backlogged and won’t be able to process the order at the onset of next week as originally planned. Place your order by midnight on September 23 for the next V-Kit shipment, still scheduled to arrive in early November. If you have already ordered the V-Kit and would like to make changes to your order, please contact us.

// Kit

  1. Just a remark: It’s Vasaloppet, not Vassalopet. The one you are referring to seems to be a ski race in America, but the original is a huge ski race (15000 riders!) and a true classic here in Sweden in memory of Gustav Vasa, king from 1523 to 1560.

  2. Frank, you stared sth fantastic, sth that gathers here a certain if not special type of V people. I am guessing that most if not all stand by and endorse The Rules and the ethos of the true Velominatus. And as an external testimony to their commitment proudly wear (or soon will) The Gear, and in a way they (we) become part of The Velominatus Club with its base here at velominati.com.

    The Gear becomes, as you write, an evidence of what one believes in and where one belongs. Just an idea, perhaps as an add on to The Gear there could be a Velominatus membership (card)? Or perhaps it is already there with different Levels and Orders of Velominatus? As said just a question.

  3. Say what you like about the tenets of the life Velominati, but at least it’s an ethos…

    Yours, patiently awaiting long sleeved goodness for a winter of hardman activity.
    After 130k of wet, muddy roads last saturday, I washed number 1 bike in the bath. A rubicon has been crossed. Down with the sun, give me wind, filth and foulness, I am (nearly) ready…

  4. @Joe
    Mate, I’m ready for the swap. Sydney is just getting a taste of spring. I’m so sick of the pre dawn cold morning, fucking around with lights, double layered kit, descending through fog, numb feet sessions. I can’t wait to ditch the extra kit, feel the warmth of the sun, cultivate the tan lines…

    (BTW, I just ordered the V-gillet – because even though summer’s coming I had to have it…)

  5. @Frank

    Out of curiosity, about how many people do you think there are worldwide flying the colors?

  6. @harminator.
    Mate, I’d hazard a guess that the last 2 months of our summer have been crummier than the last 2 months of your winter…
    ;)

  7. It is amazing how this website and the Velominati kit continue to grow. In the next few years the V kit and all of the splendid variations may need its own Fashion show on the runways/streets of Milan or Paris.

  8. Damn, I need to get a handle on my life. Been so busy can’t even keep up with the articles alone, much less the banter that ensues.

    Coaching some middle school soccer…taking a big bite out of my cycling lifestyle.

    Nice one, Frank! Great work with the site, the articles, the kit, and keeping all the Followers both in line & stoked! The cool thing for me is that I found cycling just a few years ago so I’m still learning & growing all the time. After my college sports career was finished, cycling filled a major gap in my life; the Velominati add texture, color, and passion to it!

  9. @Frank can you please provide podium photo after you laid down The V at aged 7/8

  10. My new sunnies are going to just about tap the cycling-fund-reservoir dry for now, so most of the kit is out of the question for me, but maybe the symbol pack to adorn the machine… or maybe the V-shirt… or maybe both…

    Not the pint glass, though, because it would only cause me to drink even more beer than I do now, which ironically would serve only to adversely affect my continued pursuit of la Vie Velominatus.

  11. Jeez…Year of the Bear! Just saw that Fast Phil won again.

  12. @Gustav

    Just a remark: It’s Vasaloppet, not Vassalopet. The one you are referring to seems to be a ski race in America, but the original is a huge ski race (15000 riders!) and a true classic here in Sweden in memory of Gustav Vasa, king from 1523 to 1560.

    Absolutely, how foolish to misspell. The Minnesota Vasaloppet is modeled after your real race in Sweden. I also believe yours is a bit longer. The US Midewest was actually a bit of a hub for Nordic Ski Racing; not sure if it still is. We have the Vasaloppet in Minnesota and the American Birkebeiner. Both those races were modeled after their bigger cousins in Scandinavia.

    The Birkie actually has a great trail that’s used year-round. It used to be home to a Mountainbike race called the Shewahmegon (sp?) along the same route. LeMond won it in 1990 on a mountainbike that looked just like his roadbike, Scott AT4 handlebars, and his TIME ROAD PEDALS. This route featured some monster climbs that no one we knew could ride. I guess LeMond could ride them.

    Gutted that I can’t find that finish photo right now.

  13. @eightzero

    Not sure this is going to work, but here’s a link to eightzero, resplendent in his V-kitte on the Alpe d’MtBaker.

    You know what’s weird? All our orders got cancelled right after you posted that. Probably a coincidence.

  14. @RedRanger

    When will be the next chance to order after this?

    If this one doesn’t kill me, we’ll try to time one such that it gets here for Christmas. Depends on (a) how swamped we are and (b) demand.

  15. @frank

    The Chequamegon 40 is part of the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival, which is a ridiculously good time up in the north woods of Wisconsin. It is a huge race, and still getting bigger every year. Christian Vande Velde is riding in it this year.

  16. Oh, and the Birkie is still alive and well, too!

  17. @frank

    @eightzero

    Not sure this is going to work, but here’s a link to eightzero, resplendent in his V-kitte on the Alpe d’MtBaker.

    You know what’s weird? All our orders got cancelled right after you posted that. Probably a coincidence.

    Don’t worry. Let everyone know the rider is an impostor. The kit must be stolen. The guy in this photos is wearing headphones.

  18. Sorry to thread-jack, but here’s a pic of LeMond at the 1990 Cheq40, from the Cheq40 history page:

  19. @tim

    Frank,
    Did you win the ski race?

    @huffalotpuffalot

    @Frank can you please provide podium photo after you laid down The V at aged 7/8

    I did win. It wasn’t that hard because I was the only one taking it that seriously, but it taught me a good lesson; work hard and you’ll reach your goals. It also taught me that competition is really about beating yourself and always working to be better than you were. Don’t worry about others so much, worry about getting better than you think you can be.

    What was much harder than winning, though, was the psychological bit to be on your own in the middle of nowhere as an 8 year old (I was 8 by the time I raced), not sure of how the race worked and if I’d missed a turn or something like that. I just kept skiing for the next kilometer marker and that helped reassure me that I was on course.

    I remember when the kilometer markers showed 5 km to go, it changed my outlook in the same way reaching 8,000 feet the first time up Haleakala did. 5km was the length of the loop I trained on in Phalen Park in St. Paul, so I knew I could do it. Any asshole can ski 5,000 meters!

    I also won the “Youngest Skier” award but I don’t have it anymore – can’t remember what it was, a plaque or a medal or something of that nature, but whatever it was it paled in comparison to the trophy.

    I’ve got pictures (somewhere) of me skiing that day in my sweet red racing suit that I’d saved all summer to buy. I’m sure my parents have pictures of me on the podium, but I don’t. I’ll see if I can drum something up. Good times.

  20. @The Oracle
    Awesome! I was pretty sure the spelling was wrong…here’s another shot with Lemond on his road shoes/pedals.

  21. @mblume

    It is amazing how this website and the Velominati kit continue to grow. In the next few years The V kit and all of the splendid variations may need its own Fashion show on the runways/streets of Milan San Remo or Paris-Roubaix.

    Fixed your post. And thanks – we’re as amazed as you are. It’s thanks to the community that any of this is possible.

  22. @The Oracle

    Not the pint glass, though, because it would only cause me to drink even more beer than I do now, which ironically would serve only to adversely affect my continued pursuit of la Vie Velominatus.

    Good call. When I was developing the design, I kept having prototypes made. When I finally conceived of the V-Cog in the bottom, it led to a very bad hangover.

    The VMH was out of town and as such there was no adult supervision. I just sat there drinking pint after pint, “I’ve gotta see the V-Cog just one…more…time!” The way it reveals itself to you as you polish off the pint…it just leads to another pint.

  23. @frank
    Ah, the old “Hide/Find the V-Cog” dilemma. The problem with your pussy IPA’s is that they don’t “Hide the V-Cog” as well as a nice oatmeal stout or the the like. You’re supposed to shave the hair on you legs but you need hair on your chest when it comes to drinkin’.

  24. Thanks for the extension to the 23rd, Frank. That will give me a little more time to try and massage some funds out of the finance dept. When I submitted my purchase request several weeks ago, it had barely slid from my hand before I was reminded that I had just purchased a new saddle, seatpost and stem and that we had yet to receive an estimate on the patio we’re putting in. It wasn’t necessarily stamped ‘REJECTED’ but the evil glare I received when I spoke of how glorious I would look, resplendent in the sacred garments, said it all.

  25. Perhaps I’ll have to make due and just order a V-Pint from which to drown my sorrows…

  26. @All

    Didn’t really know where to post this but newest article seemed fair enough. For those that are maybe interested the Tour of Britain is on at the moment and for the fourth stage one of the riders, Andy Tennant provide all the data for the ride that he did. It goes into some nice detail.

    Tour of Britain – Andy Tennant – Stage Four

  27. If I had the money, I’d buy myself a bike and the V-Kit right now. Alas, I am a poor student so no bike and V-Kit for me.

  28. @draffenator

    @frank

    @eightzero

    Not sure this is going to work, but here’s a link to eightzero, resplendent in his V-kitte on the Alpe d’MtBaker.

    You know what’s weird? All our orders got cancelled right after you posted that. Probably a coincidence.

    Don’t worry. Let everyone know the rider is an impostor. The kit must be stolen. The guy in this photos is wearing headphones.

    Yeah, shit, that link got corrupted somehow. PRANK PHOTO! I would never wear headphones on the Alpe, and most certainly not be blasting the soundtrack from Chasing Legends into them to inspire the v-locus. Although I do note that imposter isn’t dragging a eurpoean posterior man sachel, and his heart rate looks to be a solid 175 about there.

  29. @frank

    @eightzero

    Not sure this is going to work, but here’s a link to eightzero, resplendent in his V-kitte on the Alpe d’MtBaker.

    You know what’s weird? All our orders got cancelled right after you posted that. Probably a coincidence.

    Ah, I see what you did there. Well played, sir!

  30. @eightzero
    Ah, nah, I’m just kidding, you big lunk! You look fantastic!

    But seriously, get rid of those headphones.

  31. In case it hasn’t been mentioned, the lead photo is awesomeness!

    Hmm, what is LeMan doing there on the mtn. bike? He looks sweet as. I love those Z kits!

  32. @frank…..”but it always felt a bit like cheating and I carefully constructed parameters that allowed me to feel that it was acceptable.”…..

    I’ve actually never owned a pro team piece of kit. I have plain kit for doing centuries/ training etc.. Mostly I wear the team I’m riding for’s kit. I never actually thought about it till now, but I think the same thing. When I rode for the development team for Chevrolet/ LA Sheriff’s, our kits were the same, except the pro’s had yellow torso, green side panels, and ours were the opposite. I actually have ridden Malcolm Elliot’s bike, but never considered wearing the pro kit. Hadn’t earned it.

  33. Here’s my take on Rule #17… cycling kit is exactly like band t-shirts.

    Nothing says “total douche, or at best misguided newb” more than wearing the brand-new, current tour t-shirt of a popular, high-profile band … cycling equivalent, Pro-Tour team in order of placings in TdF.

    And if the only album/rider you can name is the one currently in the charts/top 10 GC then you might as well have a Kick Me post-it note on your arse.

    On the other hand it becomes acceptable, even cool, in 10 years’ time because it says that you are long-term, have paid your dues and probably have so many kits/t-shirts that you no longer notice or care. Although be prepared to discuss the breakthrough ride/album or listen to stories of other ‘enthusiasts’ who stood in the rain to watch/listen in 1993, ‘before they were popular’.

    The alternative is to wear the t-shirts of current but obscure bands, or sport current but obscure kits, the smaller, more strangely named and esoteric the better. Team Excellent Noodles for example, of which we have yet to see a photo from Xyxax, or We Were Promised Jetpacks, playing next week in Amsterdam.

    The exception is that whereas in music wearing your own band’s t-shirt is the most faux of pas, this is accepted and encouraged in cycling, although I personally think it is questionable to wear your racing team skinsuit on a leisure ride around the park with the children.
    Team kit for team rides is my general rule, although it is also acceptable to wear the team kit when riding with another team/group to show that you have form.

    Obviously the V kit is transcendant and the normal rules do not apply.

  34. @ChrisO

    The alternative is to wear the t-shirts of current but obscure bands, or sport current but obscure kits, the smaller, more strangely named and esoteric the better. Team Excellent Noodles for example, of which we have yet to see a photo from Xyxax.

    Googled, posted.

    Fuji Steel – Excellent Noodles.
    Too much Fuji Steel, not enough excellent. No Noodles.

  35. @ChrisO

    The exception is that whereas in music wearing your own band’s t-shirt is the most faux of pas, this is accepted and encouraged in cycling

    There is, of course, a limit to what is acceptable in this regard

  36. @VeloVita
    The look on his face there would suggest that he might not be too happy in a “i’ve been told to wear this. ask me qustions about at your peril…” sort of way.

  37. @Chris
    I don’t know, he looks pretty happy here

  38. @VeloVita
    you’re right, i’m wrong, fucking indefensible. major mini pump battering required.

  39. Oooh, ooh, Caps? knee warmers? where? getting cold over here in UK. Them arm warmers you sent me working fiiiiiiine

  40. @frank

    @eightzeroAh, nah, I’m just kidding, you big lunk! You look fantastic!

    But seriously, get rid of those headphones.

    Not headphones. Race radios. Haven’t you heard JV tell us all about how safe they make us? And hey, if I had a certain Keeper show up to climb with me, I might have not needed the MerckxDamn things.

  41. Thank Merckx for the delay. I just got back from a business trip and thought I’d missed the deadline.

  42. Of course, I have an international flight on the 23rd, as is seemingly always the case when there are deadlines around here. Fortunately, this flight is heading in the right direction back to the States from the Continent, so I will make this deadline. Thanks, Frank.

  43. @eightzero

    @frank

    @eightzeroAh, nah, I’m just kidding, you big lunk! You look fantastic!
    But seriously, get rid of those headphones.

    Not headphones. Race radios. Haven’t you heard JV tell us all about how safe they make us? And hey, if I had a certain Keeper show up to climb with me, I might have not needed the MerckxDamn things.

    Incredibly well played, sir.

  44. @frank
    Frank, I have some excellent sock info and samples for you from Interbike. Will get them sent off straightaway.

    FYI gang, sock minimums are high (like 120prs) so if we want ‘em, we’ll have to put our money where our mouths are.

    And here’s a teaser for an article I’m preparing on my visit to Interbike 2011 Las Vegas last week:

  45. @sgt
    how much per pair?

  46. @RedRanger
    @Sgt won’t be able to tell you that; it’ll depend on their prices to us, cost of design etc etc etc, and then we negotiate a price with them based not just on a one-time order, but estimated orders over a period of time. I’ll let you know if we’ve got a winner and we’re moving forward.

    That’s the issue with socks, caps, and gloves; minimums are normally very high because they’re generally outsourced to China or elsewhere where the company needs to have high volume in order to make up for the cost of production (labor is cheap but overhead on outsourcing only makes it advantageous when volumes are high enough to offset that cost.)

    We’re in round two of the custom-made cycling caps by @Soueur’s mom. We’ll keep you posted.

  47. @sgt
    Can’t wait to see it. I’m gonna have to find myself down there next year!

  48. @frank
    Bingo.

    @frank
    Working on it right now. Make take another day to finish. BTW The Velominati are known at Interbike… Not “well known”, but known.

  49. @sgt
    Do we need a booth next year?

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