La Fleur de V

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 10.03.35 PM
La Fleur de V grows on Keepers Tour 2012. Photo: Jesse Willems

We have the kind of poor judgement that allows us to have a puppy. She’s half pit, half something, and half something else and boasts a lilliputian-sized head. As her Life Coach, I’ve instructed her to focus on growing her head because, as her Uncle Gianni says, no one gets anywhere in this world with a tiny head. But she’s a good puppy, and she’s making good progress. Despite her physical shortcomings, she’s got heart – the kind of spirit that makes everyone around her like her immediately.

The Rules are simultaneously unifying and segregating. They bring the like-minded together while casting those on the fringe outward. This is unfortunate, but necessary; The Rules are a gateway to enjoying ours, this most difficult of sports, to the fullest. Their purpose is to breed Velominati, not scare Cyclists away. At the same time, anyone who dares venture into this realm must be prepared for what awaits them. While The Rules have evolved from an abstract notion into something approaching a Religion and lack any formal order, but there is no mistake in the importance of the first V Rules whose message are to take them with tongue firmly in cheek, lead by example to guide others towards the path, and – oh, by the way – the path starts out hard, and only gets harder as you go along.

We all have our induction into Rule #5; mine came when I was just seven years old. We were out skiing at Lake Phalen in St. Paul when a white-out blizzard hit. For those of you not from Minnesota, getting stuck in one of those is like getting stuck in a Slurpee machine, but without the fruity flavors. Rather than turn back, we followed the tiny bit of groomed trail we could see in front of us and completed our loop. We even beat the search party home, which was kind of like winning. The sense of satisfaction when I walked into the chalet that night, having pushed through a scary situation and come out the other end unscathed, was owed to our willingness push on and not give up. I’ll never forget that day, or my introduction to The V.

Cycling is a sport, a simple thing. It is something we do for pleasure. But Cycling is also a simplification of reality, where we can test our perseverance and learn to fight the greatest adversary we can encounter: ourselves. A Cyclist learns to push through pain to achieve a goal. These lessons are then applied to our lives to allow us to become better people. Because of this, the Velominati learn to be strong, tough people.

For those of us who have studied The V, we have learned something about ourselves that can never be taken from us. I’ll go to the grave with the lessons that I’ve learned on two wheels that have been subsequently applied to every walk of my life. Life’s hardships, in whatever form they meet us, can be more easily dispatched when one has learned to push harder when the legs burn and the lungs scream out in agony.

La Fleur de V grows inside us. Its pollen spreads to those with whom we interact, much like my puppy’s good nature infects everyone she comes in contact with. Guide the uninitiated, and always observe Rules #5 and #43 in all aspects of life, not just Cycling. The pretenders quickly fade into the background, and the Velominati stand apart as strong, good people.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

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67 Replies to “La Fleur de V”

  1. How hard and long can I go? How can I help someone else figure that out for themselves? I hope it makes me a better person, able to overcome obstacles that others can’t. That’s what VLVV means to me personally.

  2. @scaler911

    How hard and long can I go? How can I help someone else figure that out for themselves? I hope it makes me a better person, able to overcome obstacles that others can’t. That’s what VLVV means to me personally.

    Very nice! I like this mindset. What do I have in me to contribute to this ride?

    Personally I was adrift after a lifetime of sports and an abrupt end to them with the conclusion of college. I cannot begin to address the ways in which VLVV has helped me transition into a new period in my life. I’m very, very thankful I found road cycling…and started to Follow!

    That lead photo is still wonderful.

  3. @Gianni

    @gregorio

    Cheers, indeed! Last week I had it in mind to do a 120 KM ride, but got lost and finished at 160 KM. Perhaps the rules give us a mindset for accepting expected and unexpected challenges? What the road gives unexpectedly sounds [to me] a fair bit closer to the spirit of our sport. This year’s Giro stands as an example. Embracing the challenge and pain opens up worlds of possibility. The outcome for me last Friday was improvised nutrition at gas station convenience stores and a personal best time. Memorable and sweet: it’s all about The V.

    Well done! Getting back to home/car/station is such good motivation when a long way from such. There is only one way to get there and it will require some Rule #5, effort and time. What a great way to enjoy some life.

    I really love the talk you have, whether internally or verbally, when you are too fucking far from home, it’s getting dark, maybe raining and your legs are dust. I could call the sag wagon. I could put my bike on the city bus. I could sleep here and ride home tomorrow. I could turn my bibs into a baby apron and cry myself to bed.

    And then you get back on, feel the rhythm, look down at your Guns, your glorious crank arms, those shoes you didn’t need, and you realize how much you love pedaling away. Returning home, you try to put it into words, but only those Following the path really know what you’ve just face, and stared down. You just pulled off another Self-Monument, King of your own Classics.

    It’s self chosen, but lining up solo slug fests and pulling them off is definitely magic. And, as others have pointed out, certainly makes things like getting up on a Monday seem like a piece o’ cake.

  4. @Ron

    @Gianni

    @gregorio

    Cheers, indeed! Last week I had it in mind to do a 120 KM ride, but got lost and finished at 160 KM. Perhaps the rules give us a mindset for accepting expected and unexpected challenges? What the road gives unexpectedly sounds [to me] a fair bit closer to the spirit of our sport. This year’s Giro stands as an example. Embracing the challenge and pain opens up worlds of possibility. The outcome for me last Friday was improvised nutrition at gas station convenience stores and a personal best time. Memorable and sweet: it’s all about The V.

    Well done! Getting back to home/car/station is such good motivation when a long way from such. There is only one way to get there and it will require some Rule #5, effort and time. What a great way to enjoy some life.

    I really love the talk you have, whether internally or verbally, when you are too fucking far from home, it’s getting dark, maybe raining and your legs are dust. I could call the sag wagon. I could put my bike on the city bus. I could sleep here and ride home tomorrow. I could turn my bibs into a baby apron and cry myself to bed.

    And then you get back on, feel the rhythm, look down at your Guns, your glorious crank arms, those shoes you didn’t need, and you realize how much you love pedaling away. Returning home, you try to put it into words, but only those Following the path really know what you’ve just face, and stared down. You just pulled off another Self-Monument, King of your own Classics.

    It’s self chosen, but lining up solo slug fests and pulling them off is definitely magic. And, as others have pointed out, certainly makes things like getting up on a Monday seem like a piece o’ cake.

    I had ones such moment in the late fall in pissing rain.  My hands were completely frozen, and my legs were cramping up at lights.  Then when I pulled onto the last stretch back, I realized I was absolutely crushing and my legs simply weren’t saying anything about it.  No clue what happened, but it was pretty fantastic.

  5. @DerHoggz

    @Ron

    @Gianni

    @gregorio

    Cheers, indeed! Last week I had it in mind to do a 120 KM ride, but got lost and finished at 160 KM. Perhaps the rules give us a mindset for accepting expected and unexpected challenges? What the road gives unexpectedly sounds [to me] a fair bit closer to the spirit of our sport. This year’s Giro stands as an example. Embracing the challenge and pain opens up worlds of possibility. The outcome for me last Friday was improvised nutrition at gas station convenience stores and a personal best time. Memorable and sweet: it’s all about The V.

    Well done! Getting back to home/car/station is such good motivation when a long way from such. There is only one way to get there and it will require some Rule #5, effort and time. What a great way to enjoy some life.

    I really love the talk you have, whether internally or verbally, when you are too fucking far from home, it’s getting dark, maybe raining and your legs are dust. I could call the sag wagon. I could put my bike on the city bus. I could sleep here and ride home tomorrow. I could turn my bibs into a baby apron and cry myself to bed.

    And then you get back on, feel the rhythm, look down at your Guns, your glorious crank arms, those shoes you didn’t need, and you realize how much you love pedaling away. Returning home, you try to put it into words, but only those Following the path really know what you’ve just face, and stared down. You just pulled off another Self-Monument, King of your own Classics.

    It’s self chosen, but lining up solo slug fests and pulling them off is definitely magic. And, as others have pointed out, certainly makes things like getting up on a Monday seem like a piece o’ cake.

    I had ones such moment in the late fall in pissing rain. My hands were completely frozen, and my legs were cramping up at lights. Then when I pulled onto the last stretch back, I realized I was absolutely crushing and my legs simply weren’t saying anything about it. No clue what happened, but it was pretty fantastic.

    What about that great feeling of personal satisfaction you get when out for a decent length of ride, your legs are feeling the km a bit and you get to a junction, but ignore the turning for home, opting for a longer loop, knowing it is going to hurt a bit, but then maybe that’s the point.

  6. @strathlubnaig

    @DerHoggz

    @Ron

    @Gianni

    @gregorio

    Cheers, indeed! Last week I had it in mind to do a 120 KM ride, but got lost and finished at 160 KM. Perhaps the rules give us a mindset for accepting expected and unexpected challenges? What the road gives unexpectedly sounds [to me] a fair bit closer to the spirit of our sport. This year’s Giro stands as an example. Embracing the challenge and pain opens up worlds of possibility. The outcome for me last Friday was improvised nutrition at gas station convenience stores and a personal best time. Memorable and sweet: it’s all about The V.

    Well done! Getting back to home/car/station is such good motivation when a long way from such. There is only one way to get there and it will require some Rule #5, effort and time. What a great way to enjoy some life.

    I really love the talk you have, whether internally or verbally, when you are too fucking far from home, it’s getting dark, maybe raining and your legs are dust. I could call the sag wagon. I could put my bike on the city bus. I could sleep here and ride home tomorrow. I could turn my bibs into a baby apron and cry myself to bed.

    And then you get back on, feel the rhythm, look down at your Guns, your glorious crank arms, those shoes you didn’t need, and you realize how much you love pedaling away. Returning home, you try to put it into words, but only those Following the path really know what you’ve just face, and stared down. You just pulled off another Self-Monument, King of your own Classics.

    It’s self chosen, but lining up solo slug fests and pulling them off is definitely magic. And, as others have pointed out, certainly makes things like getting up on a Monday seem like a piece o’ cake.

    I had ones such moment in the late fall in pissing rain. My hands were completely frozen, and my legs were cramping up at lights. Then when I pulled onto the last stretch back, I realized I was absolutely crushing and my legs simply weren’t saying anything about it. No clue what happened, but it was pretty fantastic.

    What about that great feeling of personal satisfaction you get when out for a decent length of ride, your legs are feeling the km a bit and you get to a junction, but ignore the turning for home, opting for a longer loop, knowing it is going to hurt a bit, but then maybe that’s the point.

    Did just that last week. Underdressed in what turned into hard rain. Woulda been very easy to turn that 80K ride into a 30K. Somehow didn’t seem right. Frozen, wet and satisfied was how it ended.

  7. @Ron

    @Gianni

    @gregorio

    Cheers, indeed! Last week I had it in mind to do a 120 KM ride, but got lost and finished at 160 KM. Perhaps the rules give us a mindset for accepting expected and unexpected challenges? What the road gives unexpectedly sounds [to me] a fair bit closer to the spirit of our sport. This year’s Giro stands as an example. Embracing the challenge and pain opens up worlds of possibility. The outcome for me last Friday was improvised nutrition at gas station convenience stores and a personal best time. Memorable and sweet: it’s all about The V.

    Well done! Getting back to home/car/station is such good motivation when a long way from such. There is only one way to get there and it will require some Rule #5, effort and time. What a great way to enjoy some life.

    I really love the talk you have, whether internally or verbally, when you are too fucking far from home, it’s getting dark, maybe raining and your legs are dust. I could call the sag wagon. I could put my bike on the city bus. I could sleep here and ride home tomorrow. I could turn my bibs into a baby apron and cry myself to bed.

    And then you get back on, feel the rhythm, look down at your Guns, your glorious crank arms, those shoes you didn’t need, and you realize how much you love pedaling away. Returning home, you try to put it into words, but only those Following the path really know what you’ve just face, and stared down. You just pulled off another Self-Monument, King of your own Classics.

    It’s self chosen, but lining up solo slug fests and pulling them off is definitely magic. And, as others have pointed out, certainly makes things like getting up on a Monday seem like a piece o’ cake.

    I know that conversation well…the moments of doubt. The remedy is always to keep pedaling. “King of your own Classics” – well said!

  8. @strathlubnaig

    What about that great feeling of personal satisfaction you get when out for a decent length of ride, your legs are feeling the km a bit and you get to a junction, but ignore the turning for home, opting for a longer loop, knowing it is going to hurt a bit, but then maybe that’s the point.

    Yup, had a mini version of this on this morning’s group ride. The ‘main’ portion of the ride was done & all was left was the 10k zig zag through some suburban streets to the post ride espresso stop, We came to a straight road that runs up about a 500m rise at around 10% before turning 90 degrees right to go straight back down the hill & what should most of my group do but turn off early to cut through a flat ‘shortcut’ that rejoined the road at the bottom of the hill…the lack of comprehension on my part was palpable on the regroup.

    ‘What the fuck did you go that way for?’

    ‘It’s easier…’

    ‘So’s sleeping in, best you have a look at these here rules…’

  9. Frank,

    When I’m struggling on the bike, I think of that “one last Rule #5” on the way back from le carrefour de l’arbre or into Oudenaarde, smile and keep peddling

  10. @Mikael Liddy

    @strathlubnaig

    What about that great feeling of personal satisfaction you get when out for a decent length of ride, your legs are feeling the km a bit and you get to a junction, but ignore the turning for home, opting for a longer loop, knowing it is going to hurt a bit, but then maybe that’s the point.

    Yup, had a mini version of this on this morning’s group ride. The ‘main’ portion of the ride was done & all was left was the 10k zig zag through some suburban streets to the post ride espresso stop, We came to a straight road that runs up about a 500m rise at around 10% before turning 90 degrees right to go straight back down the hill & what should most of my group do but turn off early to cut through a flat ‘shortcut’ that rejoined the road at the bottom of the hill…the lack of comprehension on my part was palpable on the regroup.

    ‘What the fuck did you go that way for?’

    ‘It’s easier…’

    ‘So’s sleeping in, best you have a look at these here rules…’

    As a famous penguin actor in madagascar 3 said ” I think we all know the right thing to do here ….”    And the right thing to do would be to shun the group into oblivion ….. ” Its easier”  WTF.   Is this your usual group ride or in your search for your daily dose of V stumble across the CWA ladies auxillery ride ?

  11. @Barracuda it’s one I regularly join on a Wednesday morning…pretty sure I’m gonna end up avoiding it now that little Liddy has arrived & I have to be a little more discerning with my rides.

  12. @Mikael Liddy

    @Barracuda it’s one I regularly join on a Wednesday morning…pretty sure I’m gonna end up avoiding it now that little Liddy has arrived & I have to be a little more discerning with my rides.

    Well played, yep the “tin lids” smash up a fair amount of time, Ive got two and you soon learn to get your rides in wherever you can, more often than not they are solo rides, thank Merckx for Ay-Ups and bright falshy red things ….  Thats when most of my rides are at the minute – after 8pm …  bloddy cool and dark going up “Crows Nest” at that hour though sadly, but you gotta do what ya gotta do.

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