La Vie Velominatus, Part V: Un Jour Sans

La Vie Velominatus, Part V: Un Jour Sans

by / / 64 posts

As I sat down to write this article, I noticed that the battery on my laptop needed charging. I stood to reach for the charger, picked it up, and then watched helplessly as it slipped from my hand and pin-balled off every possible surface between my hand and the floor. I then muttered something that suggested it was birthed outside of wedlock and asserted that it may not in fact be comprised of plastic and electronics, but entirely of fecal material, as is the customary reaction to such events.

Having successfully insulted the inanimate object and thereby preserved my dignity, I picked it up (again) and unwound its cord which then promptly whipped around and smacked me in the face. On some days, I’ve come to learn, I just don’t have it.

This pattern of general discombobulation spread it’s tentacles beyond my benign computer-charging activity; it affected my cycling. Having spent 27 years climbing aboard a bicycle, most of the associated activities are second-nature and thus require very little focussed effort. Shifting, drinking from the bidon, clicking into the pedals; all these things happen without so much as a second thought and never do they require me to look down.

Or, I should say, almost never.

On this day I found myself with the chain crossed on two separate occasions; once on the little ring and once in the big ring. The fact that I only noticed I was in the big ring as I came to the top of a climb I found unusually difficult did little to temper my disgust at the incident. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid of a chain cross out of necessity, but I’m usually aware of it. What I found intolerable was the simple fact that I was caught completely unaware; that the connection between rider and machine had somehow been severed. But what I found most insufferable was the fact that I had to stare down at my feet and concentrate on the pedals in order to clip into them, lest my foot was left to dangle uselessly in the air just adrift of my pedals. I’m surprised I didn’t drop my bidon while attempting to replace it in it’s cage. Infuriating.

But even on these clumsiest of days, I can still spin the pedals smoothly enough to lose myself in the sensation of flight as my machine and I sweep through a series of hairpin turns together. I find I can still breath in the delightfully damp smell of a stand of deciduous trees or the sunbaked smell of a cedar pine forest. I find I can still indulge in the urge to make my legs burn for no reason other than to quell the doubt that I still can. Even on these days, when all the little things seem to conspire together to wear at my patience, the beauty of The Ride still unfolds before me.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

// La Vie Velominatus

  1. @frank… great article… love this series

    @eightzero… I’m with you… I’m not sure how I feel about Di-2… On the one hand, the engineer in me thinks it is cool… Bikes catching up with fighter planes and cars and moving beyond the ‘fly by wire’ school of thinking, which as we all know is flawed because wires stretch and break, and expand and contract at different temperatures, requiring constant attention, tweaking and maintenance… But on the other hand, it offends my belief in the purity of cycling and self-sufficiency… In my head, I always imagined that when the apocalypse comes, I’ll quickly stockpile an everlasting supply of Vittoria Open Corsas, and be able to carry on riding, Mad Max- like, long after civilisation as we know it has ended (hopefully wearing less black leather), because I’ll be able to maintain my machine – for my lifetime at least – without requiring electricities, laptops or starbucks… Although thinking about it, I may need to get a cross-bike ‘cos the road surfaces ain’t going to improve, and I’ll need to find a way to keep my shotgun (barrels and butt sawn-off for weight saving on the climbs, drilled-out carbon fibre pistol grips to match the bike) in my jersey pockets so it doesn’t interfere with my stroke… Anyhow, I digress

    … What I like about your post is that you’ve reminded me there is an art to shifting properly that will be lost when we are all on Di2 or whatever the Campag version will be (Italians and electronics… hmmm, a heady mix)… And yes, you old dogs out there will point out that we lost something when we moved from down tube friction levers to ergo shifters, but that was before my time (but I still LOVE the stories… The Stig, our tame racing cyclist, tells about using his knee to slam it into a bigger gear as he winds up his sprint… Or having to listen for changes in breathing from the peloton behind you to work out when the attacks are coming, because there was no tell-tale ‘click’ when they were up-shifting…etc)…

    My post is already too long, but your post reminds me of a ride I did with @Houdini a while back… I had hoped he was on a jour sans (see what I did there, Frank?) as he hadn’t started great, and was looking a funny colour (we’d been “carbohydrate loading” in liquid form ’til quite late the previous evening), but 30k in he found his legs, and was beginning to subtly apply pressure, just squeezing those pedals a little harder… No outward signs of doing anything different, if anything, looking more nonchalant and deadpan than usual… The usual passive aggressive stuff. The road was a false-flat, 3-4 percent, dead straight before rearing up half a klic ahead into the trees into an ugly 12 – 16 per cent ramp. I secretly vowed to myself not to buckle, and that I wouldn’t leave the big ring until he did, so we carried on, pretending that nothing was going on, whilst our legs burned, our lungs seared and beads of sweat formed on our faces from the effort of maintaining our outwardly cool demeanour and easy breathing.

    … 400m further on, with my legs caving and my inner chimp screaming Nooo!, and the road tilting only one-way, I knew I had to punch out (Top Gun reference: “it’s too steep, I’m switching to guns”)… At the exact same moment, Houdini did the same… Simultaneously, we pressed all four of our ‘go’ buttons, executing two perfect, synchronised double-shifts: big to small at the front, two up at the rear… We looked at each other, revelled in the beauty of the moment for a few seconds… And then broke out into fits of hysterical giggles… We crawled up that ramp, looking anything but pro, with no rhythm, style or panache, but really, really happy… I’ll never forget the moment.

    It just wouldn’t have been the same with Di2… And that makes me melancholy.

    Sorry for going on a bit.

  2. @roadslave
    If your post had a “Like” button, I’d lube, er no, click it…

  3. @roadslave

    feel free to go on as long as you like when you are producing posts as interesting as that. Chapeau!

  4. @King Clydesdale

    Part of what I call The V Bank. Some days you make deposits, other days you make withdrawals. A bank of course with steep inactivity fees.

    The V Bank – I like it.

  5. @roadslave
    +1 I’m welling up!

  6. @Chris

    @roadslave
    If your post had a “Like” button, I’d lube, er no, click it…

    Maybe we need a “Lube +1″ button instead of a “like” button… hrmm…

  7. Ugh, I’ve felt like this lately too. Broken right shifter on my cross bike the other week. Spent five hours last week mounting fenders on my rain bike. Training rides for cross yesterday and didn’t have it. Coaching soccer & my team sucks AND refuses to be coached. And, my dog was acting off for awhile, in bad shape last night, turns out she was heading towards renal failure & might have a genetic problem with her adrenal glands.

    But anyway, some days things just don’t go right; a pedal can be the easiest & best cure for all of that.

    Frank – I cussed out my 3mm Allen wrench last weekend during fender installation. Nothing like yelling at inanimate objects.

  8. @roadslave
    Roadslave, I hear you. Fall is here and that means crappy weather in WI and riding the old winter bike – a Trek 1200 from about 89. (40 tooth chainring, 7 block at the back, downtube shifters, does the job just grand and is amazingly compliant with the principles of silence.) I do find myself missing the ease and convenience of brifters, but no matter what system I have, there is a physical engagement with the machine on three levels: ass on seat, feet on pedals and hands on bars. With the brifters there is an art, a feel to knowing just how much to push the specific lever and this will be lost with electronic shifting.

    I think it’ll be a very long time before I get into Di2 because one of the charms, the beaurty and the eternal attraction of bikes is that they are remarkably simple and sophisticated at the same time. Materials and design aside, our 2011 bikes are really not much different to those Coppi rode. Cables, chain, levers, bearings, braking systems, gear systems – sure they’ve all improved but the fundamentals are basically the same. This gives us an ability to maintain our machines and a very direct link to our heroes of yesteryear. To me, Di2 is like any one of the electronic devices that fill our everyday lives, they work but most of us have no idea of how. I love how I can look at my bike and know exactly how everything works.

    I just read something today about Jason Queally being a possible start for GB at the 2012 Olympics at what would be the ripe old age of 42. They talked about how cycling was a sport that saw engagement and performance at ages way beyond what is normal in other sports. They attributed this to several things: the non-impact nature of cycling and the fact that, unlike swimming, our sport doesn’t drive you crazy swimming up and down a pool. So many other sports have serious impact or require very specific venues and facilities. We have freedom to ride where, when and for however long we like. We can, to a point maintain our own machines. That is the beauty of it all.

  9. @Ron
    I was very disappointed that it was impossible to get the mudguards (as I believe we call fenders in the UK) an even distance away from the tyre for their complete length. Once I gave up on that idea though, they went on quite easily (on my number 3 bike).

    As of yet, I don’t own a bike that could be called number 1, I have 2,3 and 4 (a classic 82 Kuwahara Laser Light with 20″ wheels)

  10. @roadslave
    A-Merckx!

  11. In case you haven’t seen it, the Giro organizers have gone absolutely fucking insane:
    http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/mortirolo-and-stelvio-to-feature-on-penultimate-day-of-giro-ditalia

    Ho-lee-bat-fuck. But oh my Merckx is that gonna be something to watch.

  12. @snoov
    Snoov, I’ve got a pair of the “racer” guards on my #3 bike. Basically they run from behind the front fork and behind the back brake. They look good and keep the worst of the pish off you. They can be a bit fiddly to get perfectly set up, but so long as they’re not rubbing and pretty straight, I’m good with them.

    I did a ride last Sunday in the pouring rain. I got soaked to the skin. Brought to mind something an old Renfrew hardman “Shug” Donald used to say, “the only thing that keeps ye dry is the fuckin’ hoose!” So true.

  13. @Ron

    Oy, five hours? You need SKS Raceblades. Not the prettiest solution, but they go on and off in a snap. It’s what I throw on my main bike when I know it’s going to rain the whole ride, and since Bike #1 is my bike for all weather conditions I feel like riding in, I don’t want permanently mounted fenders.

  14. @Minion

    I broke a chain tonight, ten minutes into a group ride. I initially thought it was because I’d installed it incorrectly – I’d shoved an old pin through after cleaning it instead of getting a joining pin. It was a humiliating experience, since I identify quite closely with my bikes and if I do something wrong I take it personally. But now I know the real reason – I read this post about mechanical fuck ups before the ride and was cursed. Given how superstitious cyclists are, this post is cursed. It is the post you don’t talk about.

    A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Last Saturday I had a tubular roll-off in the first CX race of the season. I checked the complete bike, got a new chain, new sprocket, new brake pads, even a better sealed bottom bracket. Everything was clean and ready to go. And I put on new tyres at the end of the last season. So they still looked pretty new. And so far I never had issues with a tubulars rolling off the rim … until last Saturday. I should have known better and check their adhesion before the race. Luckily, I was not insured seriously in the inevitable crash. So I am looking forward to start next weekend again with tubulars glued properly.

  15. @Eightzero

    @roadslave
    A-Merckx!

    Agreed, Chapeau! @Roadslave.

  16. @grumbledook
    Luckily, I was not insured seriously in the inevitable crash.

    Yup, gotta watch out for being seriously insured – especially in CX!

  17. An artist’s rendition of what Grumbledock losing his tubular may have looked like:

  18. That photo cracks me up every time I see it. Both their expressions are priceless.

  19. @Eightzero

    In case you haven’t seen it, the Giro organizers have gone absolutely fucking insane:http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/mortirolo-and-stelvio-to-feature-on-penultimate-day-of-giro-ditalia
    Ho-lee-bat-fuck. But oh my Merckx is that gonna be something to watch.

    I’ve set my sky+ for it already!

    @mrhallorann
    predecessors of the Schleckgrimace

    @roadslave
    sweet music Roadslave +1 indeed
    I sense a secret, not so well concealed, desire to have Di2, but that you can live with the stretchy wire bits out of respect for the purity of it all

    Di2 – meh, I want it – I know it’s crappy cheating shit, but I’m done with not being able to set my FD up properly, and flicking the chain off as I am caught by the old pros who I blew off my wheel a few hundred ms back down the hill, who snort at my ineptitude as I spin the cranks against no resistance and fall off – I loved my Honda 2000, with it’s lack of auto-grippybackend thingy, and it’s roarty engine, back to basics handling, but I also love my 5-series BMYawn with the big sealed box under the bonnet with “no Trespassers” written on it.

    @eightzero
    “I want to make love to the bike, not fuck it” – yeh, but you know what I’m saying too bro’

  20. Can we drop the sexist garbage please.

  21. @King Clydesdale

    Some days you make deposits, other days you make withdrawals. A bank of course with steep inactivity fees.

    I like V-bank more than pain bank. The ratio of deposit to withdrawal is too steep also.

  22. @roadslave
    I like the fact that nothing needs to be charged on my ride. The only power source, poor as they are some days, are the guns. Will that become the next excuse for decanting out the back? My Di2 battery went dead?

  23. @roadslave

    @frank… great article… love this series
    @eightzero… I’m with you… I’m not sure how I feel about Di-2… On the one hand, the engineer in me thinks it is cool… Bikes catching up with fighter planes and cars and moving beyond the ‘fly by wire’ school of thinking, which as we all know is flawed because wires stretch and break, and expand and contract at different temperatures, requiring constant attention, tweaking and maintenance… But on the other hand, it offends my belief in the purity of cycling and self-sufficiency… In my head, I always imagined that when the apocalypse comes, I’ll quickly stockpile an everlasting supply of Vittoria Open Corsas, and be able to carry on riding, Mad Max- like, long after civilisation as we know it has ended (hopefully wearing less black leather), because I’ll be able to maintain my machine – for my lifetime at least – without requiring electricities, laptops or starbucks… Although thinking about it, I may need to get a cross-bike ‘cos the road surfaces ain’t going to improve, and I’ll need to find a way to keep my shotgun (barrels and butt sawn-off for weight saving on the climbs, drilled-out carbon fibre pistol grips to match the bike) in my jersey pockets so it doesn’t interfere with my stroke… Anyhow, I digress
    … What I like about your post is that you’ve reminded me there is an art to shifting properly that will be lost when we are all on Di2 or whatever the Campag version will be (Italians and electronics… hmmm, a heady mix)… And yes, you old dogs out there will point out that we lost something when we moved from down tube friction levers to ergo shifters, but that was before my time (but I still LOVE the stories… The Stig, our tame racing cyclist, tells about using his knee to slam it into a bigger gear as he winds up his sprint… Or having to listen for changes in breathing from the peloton behind you to work out when the attacks are coming, because there was no tell-tale ‘click’ when they were up-shifting…etc)…
    My post is already too long, but your post reminds me of a ride I did with @Houdini a while back… I had hoped he was on a jour sans (see what I did there, Frank?) as he hadn’t started great, and was looking a funny colour (we’d been “carbohydrate loading” in liquid form ’til quite late the previous evening), but 30k in he found his legs, and was beginning to subtly apply pressure, just squeezing those pedals a little harder… No outward signs of doing anything different, if anything, looking more nonchalant and deadpan than usual… The usual passive aggressive stuff. The road was a false-flat, 3-4 percent, dead straight before rearing up half a klic ahead into the trees into an ugly 12 – 16 per cent ramp. I secretly vowed to myself not to buckle, and that I wouldn’t leave the big ring until he did, so we carried on, pretending that nothing was going on, whilst our legs burned, our lungs seared and beads of sweat formed on our faces from the effort of maintaining our outwardly cool demeanour and easy breathing.
    … 400m further on, with my legs caving and my inner chimp screaming Nooo!, and the road tilting only one-way, I knew I had to punch out (Top Gun reference: “it’s too steep, I’m switching to guns”)… At the exact same moment, Houdini did the same… Simultaneously, we pressed all four of our ‘go’ buttons, executing two perfect, synchronised double-shifts: big to small at the front, two up at the rear… We looked at each other, revelled in the beauty of the moment for a few seconds… And then broke out into fits of hysterical giggles… We crawled up that ramp, looking anything but pro, with no rhythm, style or panache, but really, really happy… I’ll never forget the moment.
    It just wouldn’t have been the same with Di2… And that makes me melancholy.
    Sorry for going on a bit.

    Roadslave, mate, +1 Badge for you. I can’t think of a better way to express how well I think you put that. The beauty of a cable, however flawed it is, is only emphasized by the involvement that it brings from it’s operator. Quite simply, it takes it from simply being an action to being an art. That that transformation, in the countless forms its manifests itself throughout our sport, is precisely what makes it what it is.

    Oh, and nipple lube.

  24. @roadslave
    Nipple, cable, and chain lube. Sheer fucking poetry that. You can have my cable shifters when you pry them from my cold dead fingers.

  25. @frank

    Oh, and nipple lube.

    Et tu Brute?

  26. I gotta go back to the original “nipple lube’ post and ask; Exactly what brand and type of petrol product do you use to lube said nipples? I always just use a light chain oil. Nipple lube? Really? Is kinda chatchy though, Nipple lube.

  27. @scaler911
    Appletini

  28. @scaler911
    I hear melted scented candle wax works well.

  29. @frank
    @roadslave

    @frank… great article… love this series
    @eightzero… I’m with you… I’m not sure how I feel about Di-2… On the one hand, the engineer in me thinks it is cool… Bikes catching up with fighter planes and cars and moving beyond the ‘fly by wire’ school of thinking, which as we all know is flawed because wires stretch and break, and expand and contract at different temperatures, requiring constant attention, tweaking and maintenance… But on the other hand, it offends my belief in the purity of cycling and self-sufficiency…

    Roadslave, mate, +1 Badge for you. I can’t think of a better way to express how well I think you put that. The beauty of a cable, however flawed it is, is only emphasized by the involvement that it brings from it’s operator. Quite simply, it takes it from simply being an action to being an art. That that transformation, in the countless forms its manifests itself throughout our sport, is precisely what makes it what it is.
    Oh, and nipple lube.

    Frank/Roadslave – Great posts. You’ve articulated my feelings to a T. I’ll also add that a similar type of loss would be felt from the perspective of working on your bike. There is something therapeutic for me about installing and tuning a cable system. From threading the cable through the brake levers, down through the tubes, guides and into the derailleurs, the first hand pull of the cable, the initial adjustments, hearing the rub of the chain on the cage disappear as you turn the screws and the satisfaction of reaching that beautiful silence as everything gets perfectly aligned. Even cutting the cable and crimping the endcap is an opportunity to make your bike as perfect as possible. I just can’t imagine pushing a button and turning a limit screw… no matter how easy or efficient… could be as satisfying.

    I’m not anti e-shifting, and suspect I’ll own a bike with it at some point, but I’m also sure that I will always have a few bikes running cables in my collection.

  30. @Dr C “I sense a secret, not so well concealed, desire to have Di2, but that you can live with the stretchy wire bits out of respect for the purity of it all”

    I am so busted

    @all…thanks for kind words.

  31. I’m relatively new to road bikes, I’d consider myself to be a more than competent bike mechanic but have never had the opportunity to fiddle with derailleur gears. It’s not to hard after watching a few how to clips on-line and it’s very satisfying having no problems whatsoever changing gear and so far (though I’m sure it’ll happen one day but not because I typed this) I’ve never dropped my chain.

    It does fill me with glee when I make a shift from the wee ring to big as it’s somewhat mystical. I previously thought that the pin that joins the two parts of the front mech and is under the chain somehow lifted the chain up onto the big ring but no, just the sideways movement is enough to skip the chain over, the teeth seem to grab it and off I go sur le plaque, it amazes me. There’s also the satisfaction that comes from maintaining it myself, when my riding buddies always seem to have to go back to the LBS because the LBS didn’t get it right the first time.

    When I get a biek I can call number 1 bike it probably won’t have Di2 but I’d maybe only get Di2 if there was a compatible solar charger just in case there is a societal collapse as someone previously mentioned, but stocking up on tyres etc will slow down my ability to get bike number 1, which is my proirity right now.

  32. Dear Frank

    Why are there 14 teeth on the V cog when we all know the maximum V is 11 ?

  33. @minion

    Can we drop the sexist garbage please.

    Quite right – it’s not funny or clever – I’m ashamed – have asked the leader to remove my vile tripe of a posting

  34. @Rik Perry

    Dear Frank
    Why are there 14 teeth on The V cog when we all know the maximum V is 11 ?

    The answer is, of course, that Merckx set the Hour record in a 52×14.

  35. @frank

    @Rik Perry

    Dear FrankWhy are there 14 teeth on The V cog when we all know the maximum V is 11 ?

    The answer is, of course, that Merckx set the Hour record in a 52×14.

    astonishing attention to detail – chapeau

  36. @Dr C

    @frank

    @Rik Perry

    Dear FrankWhy are there 14 teeth on The V cog when we all know the maximum V is 11 ?

    The answer is, of course, that Merckx set the Hour record in a 52×14.

    astonishing attention to detail – chapeau

    Probably more like second nature. Like putting the key in the ignition and turning it to start. You don’t think about it, you just know. It’s why Frank is Frank.

  37. @wiscot

    To me, Di2 is like any one of the electronic devices that fill our everyday lives, they work but most of us have no idea of how. I love how I can look at my bike and know exactly how everything works.

    Rouleur had a section on Shimano and the Mr. Shimano commented that the idea behind Di2 was that they wanted to simplify the mechanics of shifting for the user, but that it necessarily complicates it for the machine internally.

    I don’t like the direction that’s headed, to be honest. As a recreational cyclist (i.e. I am not a Pro), I have the luxury of being allowed to choose art over efficiency. I was back in Wisconsin over Labor Day riding with my dad. Naturally, I was aboard one of his many bikes with Mavic Mektronic. It works fine for him, but I feel very disconnected from the action. And, this is just an artifact of not having gotten used to the notion, but I just don’t like the idea that I don’t have a cable connecting me to the derailleur. If I push the button and nothing happens, I have no recourse to make something happen. With a cable, I’ll get that fucker on the cog come hell or high water.

    On a related note, I always wonder why Pros do/don’t adopt products they have access to. In particular, Leopard Trek and BMC were specifically sponsored by Shimano in order to use Di2; the agreement was that they were to ride Di2 and not the cabled versions of DuraAce. Yet, after riding it for a few months, Faboo moved to away from Di2. Initially, it was said he was just switching for the classics, but he never switched back.

    What gives? I suspect he just missed the connection to the shift.

    @Dr C, @minion
    Post edited by request.

  38. @LA Dave

    There is something therapeutic for me about installing and tuning a cable system. From threading the cable through the brake levers, down through the tubes, guides and into the derailleurs, the first hand pull of the cable, the initial adjustments, hearing the rub of the chain on the cage disappear as you turn the screws and the satisfaction of reaching that beautiful silence as everything gets perfectly aligned. Even cutting the cable and crimping the endcap is an opportunity to make your bike as perfect as possible. I just can’t imagine pushing a button and turning a limit screw… no matter how easy or efficient… could be as satisfying.

    Working on your own machine is such a beautiful thing…so very well put. I firmly believe that everyone should get a workstand (or fashion one), take apart their entire bike, and put it back. Repeat until it all flows smoothly. There is something amazing about starting with a frame and ending with a perfectly running bike. The first turn of the pedals when everything works is magical.

    The feeling is even more pronounced when you build the wheels from scratch as well, lacing the spokes, through, then snapping the hub to get the three-cross started and you go from having a mess of wires poking through a bunch of holes to having something that looks like a wheel. Then you continue on until it’s something you can ride. Amazing feeling.

    It’s always been a dream to build a frame from scratch…I’m sure once I buy tubes and build a frame, I’ll move on to thinking that it would be even better to draw them myself, and then it will be to go mine the ore yourself as well, the way potters collect their own clay. Digging in as close to the roots of something you love is a sublime experience.

  39. @frank
    Frank, this is speculation on my part, but with the abuse pro bikes get in the classics, I suspect they just want the good old fashioned reliability of cables. If installed properly, and avoiding a crash, they’ll work in all kinds of crappy conditions.

    In a similar vein, I’ve always opted for stick-shift cars for the same reason – I feel like I’m more engaged with actually driving when I have to change gear. I’m sure that sooner or later I’ll have to go automatic, but it’ll be reluctantly.

  40. @LA Dave
    Agreed. Spent a couple of hours last night building up a new winter bike and getting it set up to match my others. Very satisfying indeed.

  41. @frank

    @LA Dave

    There is something therapeutic for me about installing and tuning a cable system. From threading the cable through the brake levers, down through the tubes, guides and into the derailleurs, the first hand pull of the cable, the initial adjustments, hearing the rub of the chain on the cage disappear as you turn the screws and the satisfaction of reaching that beautiful silence as everything gets perfectly aligned. Even cutting the cable and crimping the endcap is an opportunity to make your bike as perfect as possible. I just can’t imagine pushing a button and turning a limit screw… no matter how easy or efficient… could be as satisfying.

    Working on your own machine is such a beautiful thing…so very well put. I firmly believe that everyone should get a workstand (or fashion one), take apart their entire bike, and put it back. Repeat until it all flows smoothly. There is something amazing about starting with a frame and ending with a perfectly running bike. The first turn of the pedals when everything works is magical.

    I freely admit that I am only taking my first baby steps on the path of the Velominati. I am so very proud of my Machine(tm) that I am nearly fearful of tinkering with it. I take it one small thing at a time, so as to be sure I don’t really Schleck things up. I have even gotten to the point where I don’t put my bike away – it sits in the corner of my living room so I can see it everyday and admire it.

    But I wholeheartedly agree: I do want to be able to do all my service myself, so as to become one with it. I installed new brake cables on my commuter bike, and that seemed to go ok, and in the process acquiring the needed cable tool fro Park. I wrestled with my VMH’s FD for half an hour on the bike work stand to get it perfect. (Really, if there is something worse than your own Machine(tm) disobeying the Rule of Silence, it is having one’s VHM’s bike disobey the Rule of Silence.) In so doing, I discovered the nature of Ultegra trim functions. Ah ha. Works differencly than my own SRAM doubletap system.

    I have plans to take the commuter bike (a Trek 1000 with 12,000 miles on it) down to its components this winter, and replace all the bits (and remove the annoying “5 time tour de france winner” decal it came with) with fresh stuff. But my #1 Machine(tm) now needs new cables and bar tape. A straightforward thing for sure, but the path of the Velominati is not to be traveled lightly. And of course, it requires perfection.

    So I’ll end this massive verbosity with a question: should a budding Velowrench take the bull by the horns, and go right to the desired expensive Gore Rideon or Powercordz shifting cables first time out, or go with stock (cheaper) cables as a learning exercise “just in case” I accidently go all Dave Millar on the thing?

    Merckx bless you all for your guidance.

  42. @scaler911
    My nipples seem to like this.

    @frank
    Wheel-building is definitely on my list… need more tools first, and wheel-truing is not my strong suit, so I will definitely seek out a sinsei if I ever take this up.

    @eightzero
    Wrenching enables me to know everything I can about how my bikes operate and what they need. Plus regular fiddling doubles as an inspection regimen; I frequently discover mechanical problems on the stand before they manifest themselves on the road or trail.

    Bikes are pretty simple machines; don’t be afraid to tinker. Just make sure you remember how things came apart when you go to putting them back together… (Hint: take pics if in doubt).

    PS I’ve always used low end cables and housings, so I can’t help you re; fancy cables.

  43. Regarding nipple tweeking.

    It may not be a new idea but for folks without a wheel truing jig a marker pen can be helpful.

    spin the wheel on the bike and hold a marker on the frame/fork and wher the rim comes closer the pen leaves a mark. I’m happy with the results. Are there any reasons this is a bad idea?

    Further, is it important to get the same tone from the spokes when one pings them? I’d assume yes.

  44. snoov & mcsqueak – I was able to mount, after many hours of work, the Planet Bike Cascadia mudguards on my rain bike/winter bike, which is a De Bernardi with 105. It provides very little room though due to how the brake holes/bridge are positioned. Had to pull off the Continental Four Seasons in 28 mm that I had on there and use 23 mm Gatorskins I had. Not happy about that, but already ridden in heavy rain for a full day and full coverage fenders are incomparable. Going to see if 25s might fit, but need to borrow some to try out, as I don’t own any.

    The last two winters I rode my #1, a LOOK 566, with Crud Mudguards. Those worked well, but didn’t like putting my #1 through that, nor having to clean it so often. Very pleased to have picked up a solid, dedicated rain bike.

    On another note, set my cx bike up tubeless last night. Much easier of a job than I imagined. Feels good so far, eager to try it out on a proper course. The Stan’s folks must be making a fortune though…rim strips, rim tape, a cup, and some latex for a pretty penny seems steep. Oh well.

  45. @Ron

    Yeah, I’m not into the extra cleaning either – but my only other bike is an old steel beast that has almost no breaking power when the rims are wet, and I’m not going to spend the cashmoney needed to bring it up to being rain-worthy.

    Oh, how I pine for a nice CX bike. The sport has really taken off here, so I’m sure I could find a decent used one if I really put some effort into it.

  46. Hi Frank…. Thanks for enlightening me on the 52/14.. I thought you would have a good reason behind it ..

  47. I was contemplating ‘le jour sans’ just this weekend.
    Spring is making it’s way here in the antipodes,though it’s taking it’s fucking time.
    Two weeks ago I had a warm say for my long Sunday ride. It was a pleasure to be out in the hills without arm warmers, leg warmers, rain jacket, etc. I felt good, I felt strong and I had in my mind to smash every major climb I encountered. And I did. Due to the wonders of Strava, I had recorded best results on all of the big climbs and took 5 minutes off my 70+ k loop.
    Fast forward two weeks and 30 hours of overtime in the last week, I was feeling a bit tired (understatement) but determined to fit my ride in. It was cold but fine and I struggled a bit with the motivation to get out, but I did. And it hurt. It wasn’t easy.

    I was contemplating the ‘jour sans’, the day without power, the day that you just get out on your bike because it’s what you love doing more than pretty much everything else, even when it’s hard or when it hurts. I didn’t have the mental picture of Giblets cresting the rise like I normally do on the steep pitches to spur me on. I was thinking ‘pace yourself, save yourself’.

    After I returned from that ride, I checked to see just how much of a disappointment this ride would be from the standpoint of my self competitive nature.

    I discovered I was 23 seconds slower over 72 km.
    I still don’t know what to make of this.

  48. @mouse
    Sometimes you think you are fast and feel good. If so you are suffering from delusions caused by oxygen debt. Meditate on Rule #10.
    Sometimes you go fast and feel like crap. See Rule #10.
    Sometimes you go slow and feel like crap. This is commonly known as a jour sans.
    Sometimes you go slow on purpose. See Rule #71.

  49. @frank

    “The feeling is even more pronounced when you build the wheels from scratch as well, lacing the spokes, through, then snapping the hub to get the three-cross started and you go from having a mess of wires poking through a bunch of holes to having something that looks like a wheel. Then you continue on until it’s something you can ride. Amazing feeling.”

    So true Frank. Was lucky enough to have a bicycle repair class for two years in my high school (this was back when California’s school system actually had decent funding…) and was able to learn from a teacher who had a side business building wheels for local shops. Haven’t built a pair in quite some time, but plan to get back to it in the future, it does take bike assembly to it’s ultimate level.

  50. Saw this on twitter, one of those photos that makes you love the sport that little bit more…


    They’re not even in the same team!

    From the Tour San Luis

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