Koblet in all his Cyclist Magesty

La Vie Velominatus: The Choice

La Vie Velominatus: The Choice

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The only people I would care to be with now are artists and people who have suffered: those who know what beauty is, and those who know what sorrow is: nobody else interests me.
– Oscar Wilde

I have a theory that every living being is designed to cope with a certain level of stress in their lives, that if our lives are somehow free of stress, we will invent new ways to meet our mind’s infinite capacity to worry about things it can’t control; I call this phenomenon the Suck Equilibrium.

The ability to cope with stress is what makes a person great; in Einstein’s case it was the stress caused by a desire to discover the Unified Theory, in other cases it might be to balance the checkbook. The driver isn’t important; that it pushes us to do more in life is what matters.

The Suck Equilibrium dictates that we adapt to the amount of stress we carry; no one is free of this burden – the hungry seek a meal, the homeless a home, the bike-less a bike, and the millionaire more millions. There is no cure, there is no remedy; no matter the level we reach, our natural inclination is to seek more from ourselves. In the end, there is only Rule #5.

The Cyclist is a unique character among the others. While the artist suffers because they must; the Cyclist suffers because they choose. To me, the greatest artist is that who choses to suffer, and who discovers the beauty in that choice. I am proud to call myself a Cyclist.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

// La Vie Velominatus

  1. @frank

    @ErikdR

    @meursault

    How so? Because artists reflect on the human condition. Buddhists believe that life is suffering. Don’t get me wrong though, it isn’t all doom and gloom, it’s the suffering that provides the contrast for us to see the joy too.

    Yes, but not all artists are Buddhists, surely? For the record: I’m not in any way contesting the validity of the post. I just think that the meaning of the Oscar Wilde quote was twisted almost beyond recognition to illustrate the point – and unnecessarily, at that. In this particular quote, Oscar Wilde does not in any way associate artists with suffering – only with being able to appreciate beauty, is all I was trying to say (ineptly, perhaps)

    Actually, you’re the one doing the twisting. The quote is there as fuel for thought; the article quite independently discusses how we might view suffering, stress, art, and Cycling.

    That you’re grabbing onto the quote and tying them together is precisely why it’s there – to get you thinking – but don’t confuse that with all those connections and inferences you are making because they are exactly that – your own.

    Great discussion though!

    (And for the record, surely you can’t argue with the socially accepted stereotype of the suffering artist; just because you can come up with a few examples that break the stereotype doesn’t mean we should stop judging people and painting with overly broad strokes!)

    Thanks for your serious (if slightly patronizing) reply – but I’m not buying it, I’m afraid. First of all: if the Oscar Wilde quote is “independent” of the rest of the article, as you say, why does the rest of the article borrow so heavily from the terminology and general tone of the quote? Or, conversely, if the two were indeed unrelated, why is the quote there in the first place? Your average reader will naturally associate what is written in the opening quote or “header” of an article, with the rest of that article.

    Secondly: if, as you say, the quote is there to “get me thinking”, but then immediately after state that I should not confuse “thinking”, as such, with all those connections and inferences I am making in response to the article, then I’m really curious to find out what your definition of “thinking” actually is. As I see it, there is little else to thinking, than making connections and inferences in response to information and input – and yes, you can bet your ass that these connections are ‘my own’. Who else’s should they have been?

    Thirdly: I still consider the statement “artists suffer because they must” somewhat inaccurate: I’m by no means an artist and never will be, but I’m fortunate enough to have known a lot of artists – even a few seriously professional ones – and to the best of my knowledge, they don’t suffer because they must. If anything, they create because they must. If they subsequently find out that they cannot support themselves by being creative, suffering usually ensues, yes. And as a consequence, a lot of artists actually do suffer, yes.

    Finally (and I cannot stress this enough): let me state for the record that I am in deep awe of all the work you and the other Keepers are doing to keep this site going, and add that I enjoy practically all of your posts tremendously. You write well – and quite often brilliantly – and your posts have had me laughing out loud at times, and deeply moved at others. I just found this particular one somewhat erratic, and I happen to think(!) that you have, on numerous occasions, done better. No offense intended.

    PS: yes, please do continue generalizing things and painting in the broadest brush you can find – I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  2. @Pedale.Forchetta

    While I can not say that cycling is an easy sport, I have to admit that rather than pain or suffering when I’m under pressure I just feel a slight discomfort, fully offset by the fact that I’m on the roads doing what I love.

    One man’s slight discomfort is another man’s V. Love this shot!

  3. @ErikdR

    @Buck Rogers

    Surround yourself with optimists and people who are interesting and that do things. If you hang out with crazy, energetic, interesting people who REALLY live, chances are you will too and if you hang out with coach potatoes, you will probably have a fat arse.

    Now thát is beautifully written…

    I realize I’m arriving late, but mind if I hop on?  I’ve been following for a while, but don’t want to be a wheelsucker. 

    This post, indeed the way of the Velominati, encapsulates what I have attempted to convey to family, friends and co-workers for decades.  I have often said, whenever we employ a labor-saving or time-saving device, our minds and bodies find a way to compensate.  As @Buck Rogers alluded, with that extra time and energy we can CHOOSE to do things, or we can CHOOSE to be a couch potato.  But if we choose the latter, we will be REQUIRED to spend that extra time and energy hauling our fat arse around.

    At times, when I’m exploring the Pain Cave, a thought will creep in saying “you know you could slow down.”  Instinctively, my response is “why would I want to do that?”

  4. @Optimiste

    Yes, well put. As I hope I have made clear, I absolutely agree with the ‘gist’, the message, of the post. Absolutely..Physical exertion does make us healthier, more focused persons.

    All I was trying to say (clumsily, perhaps), is that as much as I agree with the ideas behind this particular post, I have often seen @Frank make his point in a more concise, clear manner – but that doesn’t detract from the point itself. And as mentioned, no offense intended – just an opinion (a grumpy one, perhaps…)

    @Mike_P puts it into words very well too, in fact – in post nr. 69 – and @Frank himself tops it off with a very memorable line of prose: “On the bicycle, I have only myself in the way. It is a beautiful thing to realize that you can indeed put work in at one end of the box and a better person comes out the other” Unquote. I agree fully with the sentiment, and I find that this one sentence (well, two, actually) really says it all – and beautifully, at that. I wish I could be that much ‘to the point’, sometimes.

  5. @Optimiste

    @ErikdR

    @Buck Rogers

    Surround yourself with optimists and people who are interesting and that do things. If you hang out with crazy, energetic, interesting people who REALLY live, chances are you will too and if you hang out with coach potatoes, you will probably have a fat arse.

    Now thát is beautifully written…

    I realize I’m arriving late, but mind if I hop on? I’ve been following for a while, but don’t want to be a wheelsucker.

    This post, indeed the way of the Velominati, encapsulates what I have attempted to convey to family, friends and co-workers for decades. I have often said, whenever we employ a labor-saving or time-saving device, our minds and bodies find a way to compensate. As @Buck Rogers alluded, with that extra time and energy we can CHOOSE to do things, or we can CHOOSE to be a couch Potato. But if we choose the latter, we will be REQUIRED to spend that extra time and energy hauling our fat arse around.

    At times, when I’m exploring the Pain Cave, a thought will creep in saying “you know you could slow down.” Instinctively, my response is “why would I want to do that?”

    Thought – “You should take the next turn and head back”

    Response – “Why would I do that?”

  6. @DeKerr La gloriosa strada

  7. @DeKerr

    Thought – “You should take the next turn and head back”

    Response – “Why would I do that?”

    Stunning shot.  I have a similar climb but maybe not quite on that scale but the same principle in that at first it does not look like a climb but it gradually winds up on you until you start to wonder where the ammo went for the old guns.  Someone named it as a segment on that Staravara thingy “Bastard Climb” and I used to think that but by working at the above this summer I now actually enjoy it.  Particularly getting to the top and waiting for my buddies – of course making sure I focus on breathing normally and also being fully Rule #80 compliant when they arrive.

  8. @Optimiste

    @ErikdR

    @Buck Rogers

    Surround yourself with optimists and people who are interesting and that do things. If you hang out with crazy, energetic, interesting people who REALLY live, chances are you will too and if you hang out with coach potatoes, you will probably have a fat arse.

    Now thát is beautifully written…

    I realize I’m arriving late, but mind if I hop on? I’ve been following for a while, but don’t want to be a wheelsucker.

    This post, indeed the way of the Velominati, encapsulates what I have attempted to convey to family, friends and co-workers for decades. I have often said, whenever we employ a labor-saving or time-saving device, our minds and bodies find a way to compensate. As @Buck Rogers alluded, with that extra time and energy we can CHOOSE to do things, or we can CHOOSE to be a couch Potato. But if we choose the latter, we will be REQUIRED to spend that extra time and energy hauling our fat arse around.

    At times, when I’m exploring the Pain Cave, a thought will creep in saying “you know you could slow down.” Instinctively, my response is “why would I want to do that?”

    Awesome first post, mate.

    In a way, what we’re talking about is the conservation of energy. I love it!

  9. @frank

    @Optimiste

    @ErikdR

    @Buck Rogers

    Surround yourself with optimists and people who are interesting and that do things. If you hang out with crazy, energetic, interesting people who REALLY live, chances are you will too and if you hang out with coach potatoes, you will probably have a fat arse.

    Now thát is beautifully written…

    I realize I’m arriving late, but mind if I hop on? I’ve been following for a while, but don’t want to be a wheelsucker.

    This post, indeed the way of the Velominati, encapsulates what I have attempted to convey to family, friends and co-workers for decades. I have often said, whenever we employ a labor-saving or time-saving device, our minds and bodies find a way to compensate. As @Buck Rogers alluded, with that extra time and energy we can CHOOSE to do things, or we can CHOOSE to be a couch Potato. But if we choose the latter, we will be REQUIRED to spend that extra time and energy hauling our fat arse around.

    At times, when I’m exploring the Pain Cave, a thought will creep in saying “you know you could slow down.” Instinctively, my response is “why would I want to do that?”

    Awesome first post, mate.

    In a way, what we’re talking about is the conservation of energy. I love it!

    Thank you for the warm reception.  And from the Founding Keeper no less.  I can only imagine the lashing I’ll get for my first bone-headed comment…said the optimist.

  10. @Optimiste , @Frank

    Guys, I just heard/saw something amazing on the Danish 18.30 TV news. They interviewed this lady (in her thirties, at a guess) who explained that she had been (and in a way, still wás) mentally ill, to a degree that she had to be committed to a psychiatric hospital on a regular basis and, while there, physically restrained at times (i.e. strapped to a bed or cot, and left there for a considerable time).

    At some point about a year ago, her doctors/therapists decided to try out a form of treatment that included physical exertion – so they put her on a mountain bike. (Cue footage of the lady grinding her way up some steep forest paths, with her therapist/coach shouting encouragements)

    After about a year of this, they realized that it hadn’t been necessary to physically restrain her even once, and today, she is basically ‘discharged’ from her hospital regime… How cool is that?

    They didn’t mention the exact nature of her affliction, or whether she (still) has to take medicine, or anything (for reasons of discretion, no doubt) – but apparently, she will have to continue her ‘cycling therapy’ – and she seemed extremely pleased with the prospect!

  11. @Optimiste

    Oops… before I forget (again): Welcome!

  12. @ErikdR

    My dad is getting old now, and was showing some signs of what might have developed into dementia.  (His mum went totally crazy).  But he’s also pretty self-aware, and he has a terrific specialist, who said the best thing he could do was as much physical exercise as he could take.  So dad, at age 85, started going to the gym nearly every day. I cleaned up an old hybrid bike for him which he rides a couple of k’s most mornings down to the post office, or to the pool for a swim. And he’s not forgetting things ….

  13. @scaler911

    We had record rainfall in PDX last weekend. Made for some fun spectating for ‘cross. The course was more suited for kayaking than cycling:

     

    Now *That’s* a ‘Cross race!

    Betcha no one was in the big ring for that one.

  14. In other news, State CX champs tomorrow in Melbs.  Woo!

  15. @GeeTee

    @ErikdR

    My dad is getting old now, and was showing some signs of what might have developed into dementia. (His mum went totally crazy). But he’s also pretty self-aware, and he has a terrific specialist, who said the best thing he could do was as much physical exercise as he could take. So dad, at age 85, started going to the gym nearly every day. I cleaned up an old hybrid bike for him which he rides a couple of k’s most mornings down to the post office, or to the pool for a swim. And he’s not forgetting things ….

    Wow… that’s amazing. Big kudos to him. It fascinates me how we seem to become more and more aware of the human specimen as an intricately connected mind-body system, rather than merely “a mind, in a vehicle called a body”, so to speak.

  16. @ErikdR

    @GeeTee

    @ErikdR

    My dad is getting old now, and was showing some signs of what might have developed into dementia. (His mum went totally crazy). But he’s also pretty self-aware, and he has a terrific specialist, who said the best thing he could do was as much physical exercise as he could take. So dad, at age 85, started going to the gym nearly every day. I cleaned up an old hybrid bike for him which he rides a couple of k’s most mornings down to the post office, or to the pool for a swim. And he’s not forgetting things ….

    Wow… that’s amazing. Big kudos to him. It fascinates me how we seem to become more and more aware of the human specimen as an intricately connected mind-body system, rather than merely “a mind, in a vehicle called a body”, so to speak.

    I read an interesting research article on this recently about how it has found that exercise seems to promote the brain to reconnect synapses and can help in the battle against Dementia so bears out the above.  Affirms that old adage of “use it or lose it”.  VMH’s Mum is not well at all with Alzheimer’s but my Mum is fine at 89 and is booked to come skiing with us in Colorado again this year.  I hope I have a good packet of her genes.

  17. @Optimiste

    @ErikdR

    @Buck Rogers

    Surround yourself with optimists and people who are interesting and that do things. If you hang out with crazy, energetic, interesting people who REALLY live, chances are you will too and if you hang out with coach potatoes, you will probably have a fat arse.

    Now thát is beautifully written…

    I realize I’m arriving late, but mind if I hop on? I’ve been following for a while, but don’t want to be a wheelsucker.

    This post, indeed the way of the Velominati, encapsulates what I have attempted to convey to family, friends and co-workers for decades. I have often said, whenever we employ a labor-saving or time-saving device, our minds and bodies find a way to compensate. As @Buck Rogers alluded, with that extra time and energy we can CHOOSE to do things, or we can CHOOSE to be a couch Potato. But if we choose the latter, we will be REQUIRED to spend that extra time and energy hauling our fat arse around.

    At times, when I’m exploring the Pain Cave, a thought will creep in saying “you know you could slow down.” Instinctively, my response is “why would I want to do that?”

    Welcome aboard this crazy ship of fools!!!  Sounds like you are well qualified to be an inmate!  Just saw this quote over on the Peloton Mag site in remembrance of Amy Dombrowski and though it fit perfectly.  I remember reading this book the summer before heading off to college and being blown away.  Just loved it and still do.

    “the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”  Jack Kerouac

  18. @Teocalli

    @ErikdR

    @GeeTee

    @ErikdR

    My dad is getting old now, and was showing some signs of what might have developed into dementia. (His mum went totally crazy). But he’s also pretty self-aware, and he has a terrific specialist, who said the best thing he could do was as much physical exercise as he could take. So dad, at age 85, started going to the gym nearly every day. I cleaned up an old hybrid bike for him which he rides a couple of k’s most mornings down to the post office, or to the pool for a swim. And he’s not forgetting things ….

    Wow… that’s amazing. Big kudos to him. It fascinates me how we seem to become more and more aware of the human specimen as an intricately connected mind-body system, rather than merely “a mind, in a vehicle called a body”, so to speak.

    I read an interesting research article on this recently about how it has found that exercise seems to promote the brain to reconnect synapses and can help in the battle against Dementia so bears out the above. Affirms that old adage of “use it or lose it”. VMH‘s Mum is not well at all with Alzheimer’s but my Mum is fine at 89 and is booked to come skiing with us in Colorado again this year. I hope I have a good packet of her genes.

    Cycling: good for what ails you.
    Or as the Cogal Reports indicate – Cycling: what good ales for you!

  19. @Optimiste

    @Teocalli

    @ErikdR

    @GeeTee

    @ErikdR

    My dad is getting old now, and was showing some signs of what might have developed into dementia. (His mum went totally crazy). But he’s also pretty self-aware, and he has a terrific specialist, who said the best thing he could do was as much physical exercise as he could take. So dad, at age 85, started going to the gym nearly every day. I cleaned up an old hybrid bike for him which he rides a couple of k’s most mornings down to the post office, or to the pool for a swim. And he’s not forgetting things ….

    Wow… that’s amazing. Big kudos to him. It fascinates me how we seem to become more and more aware of the human specimen as an intricately connected mind-body system, rather than merely “a mind, in a vehicle called a body”, so to speak.

    I read an interesting research article on this recently about how it has found that exercise seems to promote the brain to reconnect synapses and can help in the battle against Dementia so bears out the above. Affirms that old adage of “use it or lose it”. VMH‘s Mum is not well at all with Alzheimer’s but my Mum is fine at 89 and is booked to come skiing with us in Colorado again this year. I hope I have a good packet of her genes.

    Cycling: good for what ails you.
    Or as the Cogal Reports indicate – Cycling: what good ales for you!

    +1

  20. @Buck Rogers

    @Optimiste

    @ErikdR

    @Buck Rogers

    Surround yourself with optimists and people who are interesting and that do things. If you hang out with crazy, energetic, interesting people who REALLY live, chances are you will too and if you hang out with coach potatoes, you will probably have a fat arse.

    Now thát is beautifully written…

    I realize I’m arriving late, but mind if I hop on? I’ve been following for a while, but don’t want to be a wheelsucker.

    This post, indeed the way of the Velominati, encapsulates what I have attempted to convey to family, friends and co-workers for decades. I have often said, whenever we employ a labor-saving or time-saving device, our minds and bodies find a way to compensate. As @Buck Rogers alluded, with that extra time and energy we can CHOOSE to do things, or we can CHOOSE to be a couch Potato. But if we choose the latter, we will be REQUIRED to spend that extra time and energy hauling our fat arse around.

    At times, when I’m exploring the Pain Cave, a thought will creep in saying “you know you could slow down.” Instinctively, my response is “why would I want to do that?”

    Welcome aboard this crazy ship of fools!!! Sounds like you are well qualified to be an inmate! Just saw this quote over on the Peloton Mag site in remembrance of Amy Dombrowski and though it fit perfectly. I remember reading this book the summer before heading off to college and being blown away. Just loved it and still do.

    “the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!” Jack Kerouac

    That quote speaks volumes.  Although I didn’t know Amy (only of her), it does fit her perfectly.  R.I.P.

    Clearly it fits as well to this community.  I’ve tried living without the madness and passion of cycling, thinking I was doing the mature, responsible thing.  In reality, my world became an dull, dark void.  Fortunately, a faint ember was fanned and stoked back to a raging fire.  The 2 catalysts: 18 months ago, a lifelong friend convincing me to join him on a crazy 1-day 331-km road race (with only 4 months to train after a 20 year hiatus from meaningful riding) and 1 year ago, this community. 

    The race reminded my that I love cycling.  The Velominati reminded me what it means to be passionate about cycling.  It’s taken me this long to feel I can engage and contribute, but I’m here (riding, racing, reading) and grateful for the daily reminders.

  21. @Optimiste

     my world became an dull, dark void. Fortunately, a faint ember was fanned and stoked back to a raging fire. 

    It’s not my quote and I can’t remember who’s it was but I live by “You can’t help getting old but you can stay immature for ever”.

    Live your life forever young.

  22. I like where this threads is going !  Definitely taken a turn for teh better.

    LI use a technique I call marooning. I ride as fr as I can in one direction, and then I turn around.   Also, ride loops thatcannot be escaped from. Once begun,teh journey can only be completed. Puts those “turning around” thoughts whee they belong.

  23. @ErikdR

    I’m in full agreement with you appraisal of the above article.  My little brain refused to follow along with the progression of arguments as made.  It just felt like a bit of reach in trying to connect the two ideas.

  24. @Ken Ho

    LI use a technique I call marooning. I ride as fr as I can in one direction, and then I turn around. Also, ride loops thatcannot be escaped from. Once begun,teh journey can only be completed. Puts those “turning around” thoughts whee they belong.

    I never used that term, but that’s what my first forays into meeting the man with the hammer were: map a spot 60 miles from home, ride there, guaranteed 120 miles were going to be done. Or, map a loop that was flat past the half way point, but hillier the farther in I got, so turning around meant a stupidly long ride home but continuing on meant pushing on with horrified legs. No escape from the hammer. Sometimes, I wish I could revisit those glorious days of ignorance and misery, heading out with nothing but water in a single bottle. And then I think…’what a fucking retard I was’.

  25. @ChrisO

    Charly Wegelius says something very similar in his book.

    There’s a moment where he looks out of the team bus and sees a man walking home with a newspaper under his arm. The man, if he’s a cyclist, probably thinks How Fucking Cool it would be to be on that team bus, and Wegelius thinks he would give anything to swap places with him.

    But he has the self-awareness to realise that it was the stress and shit which was motivating him to suffer for the last 10 years, and without that he isn’t going to cut it at the top level.

    But more generally I think this is true in many areas of life. Someone said to me just last weekend that having lived in Singapore and other places abroad they had noticed that expats had an unfortunate tendency to get worked into a lather about small stuff, because they often had so little to stress about that they needed to look for other things to worry about.

    I’m a bit late to that party here but that last bit about expats resonates. I’ve designed my life to be stress free and as a result when I do get some stress I probably don’t handle it as well as I should.

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