1984Kelly_Liege

La Vie Velominatus: Ugly Ducklings

La Vie Velominatus: Ugly Ducklings

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We’re an odd bunch, us Cyclists. Shaved legs, scars, tan lines, muscular legs paired to scrawny upper bodies. These things that make us stand out are some of the things I take great pride in. I marvel at my freshly shaved guns and how smooth they feel under my dress clothes when I’m stuck at the office. I’ll stand in front of the mirror each morning and gauge whether I’m getting fatter or skinnier. I’ll constantly feel my legs to check that they haven’t started to get soft since the morning’s ride. Being a Cyclist, it seems, is a full-time occupation.

Everything in our lives is biased towards riding. On the bike, we are a picture of elegance: perfect kit, tanned guns, magnificent stroke fluidly propelling us along the avenue. Remove us from the bicycle, however, and the graceful Cyclist is transformed instantly into an awkward creature; our legs suddenly look too big, our bodies too small, and we waddle about hopelessly on cleated shoes.

One of the most satisfying experiences of Cycling is to walk in my road shoes. Not only is it a thrill to avoid wiping out down a flight of stairs or in a café, but it marks the start and end of my ride. Kitting up before leaving, I’ll wander to the living room with my shoes in hand. Standing up after strapping them on, I’ll clomp out to the bike, my awkward gait signaling the sweet anticipation of the ride that awaits. Similarly, I cherish clomping back into the house afterwards, the clip-clop of my shoes echoing through the living room and signaling to anyone who is home that I’ve returned from my mission.

I embrace those things that make me strange to the rest of society; we are Cyclists and the rest aren’t meant to understand our ways. But a time will come when we ugly ducklings will blossom into skinny swans.

// La Vie Velominatus

  1. @cjcosgrove

    My VMH is not exactily enamored with my cycling habitus, specifically the shaved guns. I did not have the forsight to keep them shorn during my dark years away from the bike, when we met. Now I pay penance with all the comments about looking like “I’m on chemo,” and what not.

    I think she’s just jealous.

    hehe, had a friend who we only see infrequently comment the other day, “shit, you’ve got skinny, you look like a cancer patient!”

    Couldn’t wipe the grin off my face for the rest of the day.

  2. @Buck Rogers

    @xyxax Have a margherita pizza for me and the kids if you would! They still talk about the corner restauraunt where we ate and had that pizza. Sooo yummy! And have a nice Sauternes for me if you would!

    I will happily have a margherita for each of your young’uns.  And if you are ever down in the city en famille, we can do a raclette with Sauterne.

    @Buck Rogers

  3. @cjcosgrove

    Laying on the bed the other day the VMH  says “Most women would kill for legs that shine like that” refering to my guns. I never knew a shine was a goal women were shooting for but appraently mine shine (smoother?) than hers. She also occasionally asks me if when in bed I mistake my legs for hers and caress my own. I replied “Of course I caress my own, but it’s no mistake!”

  4. @Puffy

    @cjcosgrove

    Laying on the bed the other day the VMH says “Most women would kill for legs that shine like that” refering to my guns. I never knew a shine was a goal women were shooting for but appraently mine shine (smoother?) than hers. She also occasionally asks me if when in bed I mistake my legs for hers and caress my own. I replied “Of course I caress my own, but it’s no mistake!”

    Ha, been there….

  5. @NICCO

    In cycling beauty is the juxtaposition of grace and crudeness and together they evoke a sense of ultimate elegance even while your caked in dirt, and sweat from a lengthy summer ride. We try to be graceful in many ways ie shaving our legs, wearing tight Lyrca, buying expensive bikes, but only through suffering day in and day out can one achieve poise on a bicycle.

    I missed this, being lazy and skipping posts.  Shame on me, but thanks @Frank for quoting…

    I shall do the same and acknowledge the awesomeness!  A tip of the hat to you!

  6. @actor1 @xyxax  thanks for the extra info.

    After I’d google map’d around and found La Cipale I was too excited to do the follow up.

    My claim to link it to this thread is who else would appreciate someone being excited by a old bike track named after “Who is this Jacques Anquetil bloke”. Who else can get excited by how to look funny when wearing silly shoes.

    As a much better rugby player than I’ll ever be a bike rider, velodrome with rugby field seems ideal combination but not at the expense of actually being able to ride on it.

    We’ll certainly be wandering past Bertie’s as we head to Notre Dame. If I call in and whisper “The Velominati sent me” in a sinister tone will they be approriately awed. (probably only works for a Keeper)

  7. @Ron

    I was at a party on Saturday night, discussing the upcoming World CX championships. A guy I play soccer with twice a week asked incredulously, “How do you know all this stuff [about cycling]?” I kind of wanted to ask him how he found it okay to not know more about cycling. I don’t really follow much else, but I love checking out the daily cycling news.

    This is our frame of reference and it puts us at odds with the world.

    It’s interesting because a lot of football (american) and football (the real kind) and basketball fans I know are die-hard fans but don’t play the sport themselves. I don’t know anyone who follows Cycling who isn’t a Cyclist. Its  a completely different world.

    I was at dinner tonight with some peers from work, one of whom is a former NFL Football player. He’s a really cool guy and it was fun to talk to him about how he vies the sport now, “Most fans I talk to know a lot more about the sport than I do.”

  8. @Souleur

    I like the routine you have there Frank. You describe a routine I share similarly, but I do have cleat protectors to protect me in the arrival to work as I merge the workout/ride/commute, and daily after I spin in to work, I roll into the open doors of my work, the atrium of the hospital, and get off the bike, and do something similar as you describe. Proud of the guns and the process, I slide in the door, put on the cleat protectors (so i don’t bust my ass) and put the glasses in the helmet, undo the helmet and casually deliberately go to my office to clean up…. maybe its just ego speaking here, but we all have one and yes, we all garner a little attention in the stand out

    My dad, as many of you know, is a major inspiration for me in Cycling; for sure my main Sensei. But not the way you might think; he is a repeat offender of wearing YJA’s (Frank, I like your jersey, but can’t you make a yellow one?) .

    Anyway, he’s a prof at the University I went to, and I’d be studying in the Civil Engineering lounge where he worked and he’d come clopping through the middle of it in his spandex, YJA, cycling shoes and all, just happily on his way to the shower without giving two shits about what all his students thought of him waddling by.

    That is one of the major life lessons he taught me at a formative time: if you have a reason why you’re doing something and you believe in that reason, who cares what other people think?

    I also really enjoy doing this at the local coffee shop, casually sipping the espresso similarly

    I wish I had guns like Kelly, but I will have to make do with what I have

    I love how you come back to Kelly’s Guns. Everything always comes back to Kelly’s Guns.

  9. @markpa

    I’m slightly filled with rage that you’re in Paris and I’m not. Just FYI. Amazing city.

  10. @frank

    @markpa

    I’m slightly filled with rage that you’re in Paris and I’m not. Just FYI. Amazing city.

    Not there until July, just booking everything in and picking the “route” for 10 days in Paris with the family.
    Will be in a little village not far from Oderen and stage 10 of le Tour on Bastille Day.

    All up we’ll be in Europe till October and leave from Milan after the Giro di Lombardia.

    The expression “happy as a pig in mud” comes to mind.

  11. @wiscot

     They found him and went to Kelly’s stepbrother’s house. 

    It’s funnier than this.  When I was at his book signing in December, he said that his mother was there at the time and when deGribaldy stepped out of the taxi in the farmyard, dressed in his Italian suit and wearing aviator sunglasses, she thought Sean had got in with the local mob and they’d come to beat the crap out of him.  Brilliant!

  12. @Mike_P

    @wiscot

    They found him and went to Kelly’s stepbrother’s house.

    It’s funnier than this. When I was at his book signing in December, he said that his mother was there at the time and when deGribaldy stepped out of the taxi in the farmyard, dressed in his Italian suit and wearing aviator sunglasses, she thought Sean had got in with the local mob and they’d come to beat the crap out of him. Brilliant!

    Thanks for that! Just makes a great story even better!

  13. @wiscot

    @Mike_P

    @wiscot

    They found him and went to Kelly’s stepbrother’s house.

    It’s funnier than this. When I was at his book signing in December, he said that his mother was there at the time and when deGribaldy stepped out of the taxi in the farmyard, dressed in his Italian suit and wearing aviator sunglasses, she thought Sean had got in with the local mob and they’d come to beat the crap out of him. Brilliant!

    Thanks for that! Just makes a great story even better!

    Absolutely!

  14. Sorry – not on topic but so much rolled into 1 small page, Van den broeck’s Ex, Cyclocross…couldn’t resist

    http://www.sudinfo.be/914/article/sports/cyclisme/2014-01-29/les-photos-sexy-de-femke-herygers-dans-un-maillot-retro-photos

  15. @VirenqueForever Oh dear

  16. Talking about big legs and cycling, these are just silly.

  17. My now 24 year old daughter told me a story just a couple of weeks ago about having a friend of hers at the house for a sleepover years ago and they heard me clip-clopping around the house before a Sunday ride. Her friend remarked that it sounded like I was wearing woman’s shoes. My daughter’s response was “He rides a bike.” But she did like to boast to her friends that her daddy does 100 mile bike rides all the time.

  18. @wiscot

    This Kelly pic is one of my favorites – I think I first saw it in the much-missed Winning. Couple of key things here – those shoes had plastic soles – not carbon, carbon-composite, but friggin’ plastic. This lack of “stiffness” was clearly no impediment to dishing out The V. That being said, they were still probably lighter than many shoes around today because of their sheer simplicity – sole, upper, laces. The duct tape (very carefully applied and trimmed just-so), is surely there to prevent issues with loose laces.

    Are they Brancales? I know Kelly rode Puma shoes for a while and then Gaernes and Vittorias too for a while.

    Finally, the socks = perfection. Fully adhering to the Goldilocks Principle.

    You are the man. My brother in sock height. You get it.

    The reason I think they were Brancale shoes is I’m familiar with their funky plastic mesh look and Sean did wear the most hideous Brancale helmet for a bit. He defiled Milan-Sanremo by winning in that helmet. Maybe he had a package deal, shoes and helmets. And I think Pumas were actually much cooler looking than what’s on his feet.

  19. @Gianni Spot on Gianni, just reading his autobiography “Hunger” and he did have a deal with Brancale. Even a no nonsense guy like Kelly knew that he looked a right plum in that helmet!

  20. @henrik Jesus H, what I’d give for a set of those silly guns.

  21. Wiping out when in cleats isnt the best thing to do while trying to convince somebody to start cycling

  22. Dear Velominati,

    I’m a bicycle mechanic from Indonesia, currently I’m saving up for a 100% rule compliant road bike. However I’m pretty much stuck and with $150 monthly salary I’m very much underfunded. Its been a year since I started saving, but with many unplanned events and the recent downfall of the local currency, this goal just kept making its brake away.

    Ideally I would really love to ride a Cannondale CAAD 10, but I’m not planning on anything overly fancy, just a Cannondale CAAD 8 running on Shimano 105 Group-san (the cheapest Reverent groupset available), a full aluminum built.

    If there are fund raisers for people to get education, shelter, clothing, food and water; I believe helping someone become a Velominatus is just as important. So here I am, asking for whatever spare change you can set aside to help me complete this built.

    Vive la Vie Velominatus

    Ed

  23. @Ventorum

    The Ed Fund. It has a certain ring to it. I’ve bought my mechanic friend’s nearly new gruppo as he is always upgrading frames and components through his steep shop discount. And I don’t mean he is stealing everything.

  24. @Gianni That’s one way to do it, except I work in a MTB dominated shop and a MTB dominated city. I am currently riding 2nd hand roadie which I get for $300, its quite a decent machine, it gets me places, except it’s not rule compliant, i.e, MTB cleats, and having a low end group-san only means no shifting from the drops. But trust me I go by the rules as much as I can.

    Any how, I’ll surely get a Rule Compliant Ride, just got to be more patience.

    Thanks for the tip, its an honor to have a Keeper replying to a Level 4 Velominatus comment.

  25. @frank i recommended stopping by a small shop, run by an american couple, for a snack, not a full meal. i’m not much of a foodie, but i know better than that. since it’s 1 1/2 blocks from notre dame (on the ile-de-la-cite), i thought a few euros could help the ‘little guys’. i’m happy to recommend them also since they used to live just outside dc, & i enjoy reading his blog. ok, i admit, i’m INSANELY jealous that he’s a sports-technology-blogger living in paris. right across the seine, from notre dame. i don’t hold it against him that he does tri’s, since we’ve all made questionable decisions in life. to that end, i AM thankful for the rules, to help guide me on The Path.

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