Tubular/Carbon hum; the union of past and future.

La Vie Velominatus: The Sound of Silence

La Vie Velominatus: The Sound of Silence

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In most situations, silence is an ominous thing that signals impending doom. Having never been in any danger myself, I base this largely on my experience watching box-office movies. As a general rule, I use Hollywood as the principal source of information on all subjects as they relate to doom and politics, principally because I’m loath to do any “reading” or “research” of my own; the more thinking an actor or actress can do for me, the better. The more glamorous they look, the more trustworthy they are.

For the Cyclist, however, silence signals efficiency. Noise is loss; every creak, squeak, click, clack, groan, moan, or other emanation of sound from our machine or body is energy escaping the system. Energy that we put into the system through hard-fought application of The V. That includes uncontrolled, dog-like panting or wheezing, and the creaking and clicking of body parts, by the way.

Sound is energy carried on waves of vibrating air. Sound escaping our bicycle or body as a consequence of us applying pressure to the pedals is evidence that some portion of our energy is being expended to produce noise instead of moving us forward. This makes noise intolerable and infuriating in equal measure and in extreme circumstances may precipitate a Rule #65-violating Millarcopter. Drivetrain noise means loss with every link of the chain that passes through the derailleur and over a cog. A click in the bottom bracket or a creaking in the cleat signals energy poured into compression of bearings or plastic, not speed. Wheezing or panting indicates air converted from V-giving breath into the useless rattling of a larynx.

Silence the machine, control your breathing into a steady, muscle-fueling source, and maximum V will follow. The mind fixates on noises and is distracted from The Work; it is only through the Principle of Silence that we may find Rule #6.

But riding a quiet bike is far from riding in the silent vacuum that signals impending danger. On the contrary, a silent bike submits us to the genuine beauty of our Sport: the whisper of the wind in our ear, the song of a bird who encourages us along our way, the crisp click of a perfect shift, the rhythmic patter of rain on our helmet, cap, or the tarmac as we carve our path along La Vie Velominatus.

But the most beautiful sound of Cycling has come to me late in my life as a Velominatus. My reluctance to ride sew-ups has for many years denied me the sublime sound of a handmade tubular rolling along the road. This world opened up to me early last year when I finally built a set of Golden Tickets for my introduction to the Hell of the North. This year, almost by accident, I wound up riding my Café Roubaix Arenbergs for all of Keepers Tour 2013, glued to the best set of tires available – the FMB Partis-Roubaix. The amplifying qualities of the deep-section carbon rim allows the supple hum of the handmade tubular to sing like Merckx’s mighty rollers upon the rock of Mount Velomis.

This sound inspires. It is a reason to get out to ride. It is a reason to be a Cyclist. This sound is a reason to live.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

// Accessories and Gear // Defining Moments // Etiquette // La Vie Velominatus // Nostalgia // Technology // The Bikes

  1. I’m not obsessed…

    I went to go to bed last night and saw this.  This is not a staged picture.  This is what it usually looks like, if not worse.

  2. @Cyclops that scene looks like the vanity in my library…(otherwise known as the master bath).

  3. @Cyclops – Have you broken in to my house again?

  4. @Cyclops yup. I have seen that room before. I have since move all new and back issues to the coffee bar in the studio. Pic to follow

  5. @frank

    @eightzero

    This is fine, fine writing. Indeed, the Principle of Silence is of primary importance to me. I’ve found I like listening to all the subtle sounds of my bike. I’ve even discovered some of the noises are related to the expected flex of the components, and are not indicative of pending failure. I also do appreciate the difffrent sounds made by different tyres, and have found different road surfaces make huge differences.

    Yeah, and I’ve been wanting to say that the better clincher tires also have a great sound, and that if you pair them to some nice wheels, you’re on your way. Supple clinchers on 3x box section rims is a great sound. Carbon clincher will give you a hardon any time you ride alongside a wall and can hear the roar of the wheels.

    But tubs and carbon together…ohmama.

    As far as long term suffering, I’ve found that my thoughts involving the longest upcoming rides haunt me. Will I be able to survive the next Cogal? I’ve 6 complete centuries planned this year (not counting the uber-gruelling V-to-V Stage Cogal in late July) so I question my committment to suffering. Will I be worthy of The V? These thoughts along the white line distract me from my current work.

    I suggest an adjustment of attitude. First off, you organized what could be the most ambitious Cogal to date, and that is saying something. A Stage Cogal? Yes please. Chapeau.

    The question you should be asking yourself is not can I do it, but how long will it take me? There is no quitting, but it might take you for fucking ever. I remember climbing off my bike on a long ride in France when I was 14. That shit haunts you. Don’t climb off. Just slow down if you have to.

    Now, this starts getting tricky with these really long days, but my most valued training technique is to train to ride farther/harder than the ride you are training for. I’ve done that my whole life. If you are doing a 200km ride, train to ride 250km. Knowing you’ve gone longer/harder etc will walk in like Guido and knock those pesky doubts right out of your mind when you hit 125km and start to wonder.

    You are on your way, the next step is to learn to eradicate those doubts and replace them with strength. Strength comes from knowing you can do more.

    VLVV, mate.

    To quote Dr. Smith, “oh the pain. The pain.”
    Moahr milez this weekend. Moahr.

    But jeebuz h merckx, every time I look at those profiles for the stage cogal, I ask myself, “what have you done?”

  6. @Cyclops Racing Weight in the mix there. “I need to find that one at my house.”

  7. @Cyclops

    I’m not obsessed…

    I went to go to bed last night and saw this. This is not a staged picture. This is what it usually looks like, if not worse.

    Where’s your box of Kleenex?

  8. @unversio

    @Cyclops Racing Weight in the mix there. “I need to find that one at my house.”

    Too bad it has been more effective as a paperweight than getting me down to where I want to be.  On a brighter note, I have lost 5.5kg since the beginning of March.  Only 12 more.

  9. @Sauterelle

    No Kleenex but the “wonder sock” is hidden under the bed.

  10. Can’t believe no-one’s posted this yet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hUy9ePyo6Q

  11. @Cyclops Why did you swap out the Idaho State Road Champion bedspread for that quilted one?

  12. @G’rilla

    @Cyclops Why did you swap out the Idaho State Road Champion bedspread for that quilted one?

    Hahaha! Nipple lube!

  13. @eightzero

    But jeebuz h merckx, every time I look at those profiles for the stage cogal, I ask myself, “what have you done?”

    We’ll chow the whole elephant down, one bite at a time. It’ll be fabulous.

  14. @wiscot

    Can’t believe no-one’s posted this yet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hUy9ePyo6Q

    Fixed that for you

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCkmeP8s8W4

  15. @Sauterelle

    @Cyclops

    I’m not obsessed…

    I went to go to bed last night and saw this. This is not a staged picture. This is what it usually looks like, if not worse.

    Where’s your box of Kleenex?

    No need, those magazine pages are all stuck together.

  16. @PeakInTwoYears

    @eightzero

    But jeebuz h merckx, every time I look at those profiles for the stage cogal, I ask myself, “what have you done?”

    We’ll chow the whole elephant down, one bite at a time. It’ll be fabulous.

    Merckx be praised; may I be worthy of The V.

  17. @TBONE

    Fixed that for you

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCkmeP8s8W4

    ROPE A DOPE

  18. @Gianni

    @Sauterelle

    @Cyclops

    I’m not obsessed…

    I went to go to bed last night and saw this. This is not a staged picture. This is what it usually looks like, if not worse.

    Where’s your box of Kleenex?

    No need, those magazine pages are all stuck together.

    I really think less of people who don’t like dogs. I think even less of people who don’t have facial tissues in their homestead. (Sauterelle, go easy on your eponyms. It’s unbecoming of a Syracuse gal.)

    Gianni – can’t you easily dismiss an inquiry about those pages with, “It some energy gel. I swear, it’s not my Gu.”

  19. @Beers

    Don’t know why, but I hate the loud noise of the expensive/flash hubs these days. I can’t remember where, but I read an article where a rider joined some pros for a training ride. After discussing prior with one of them about ettiqute and style, on the first downhill his mentor chided him “PROS DON’T FREEWHEEL!”

    Descents aren’t for recovery, they’re for going faster…

    And if you feel the need to freewheel in the group, how about jumping on the front and using up all that conserved energy champ?

    i believe that was cyclingtips who mentioned that. he rides with pros pretty regularly.

    the only time you should hear a freehub is when you’ve reached escape velocity.  and then it shouldn’t matter anyway, since the wind in your ears is all you’ll hear.

    and you’re right; there’s nothing worse than hearing freehubs in the paceline.  if you’re riding a wheel, soft pedal.  if i hear your freehub (or you being too chatty) and i’m on the front, i’ll up the pace.

  20. @frank

    @wiscot

    @Ron

    I’m content to ride clinchers, for now, but someday I will make the move to tubulars. Something to dream about for the time being. A wonderful piece to keep me dreamin’, Frank.

    I have had lots of problems with my newest wheelset. Thankfully I at least have an idea how to sort out one noise issue. Now I have to figure out why there is a slight “chugging” when I brake. Brake track feels perfectly smooth, wheel is true. Hmm.

    Got in 4.5 hours on Saturday. Very nice to be out solo enjoying the wind and the KMs ticking by. Did get caught in three different rain storms, but still had a nice time.

    I do enjoy solo rides but I find myself getting a bit “bored” (not the right word, but something like that) between the 3-4 hour mark. With groups I can ride longer and not notice it, but still really haven’t found a group I totally dig riding with. Anyone else love a three hour ride but begin to lose the thrill around four? Could be that I have plenty of work to do and know such long days in the saddle are not good for productive. Also could be that I’ve been riding light and not eating at all. Despite what the Lion says, I think I simply gotta take in some calories when I head out for many hours.

    Dear Ron,

    I hear you. Long rides require almost as much metal prep as physical prep.I did 7 hours on Saturday. It was very good and I knew I could do it as I did just over 6 he previous week in much harsher conditions. It’s all in the build-up. As for eating, in the 7 hours I ate two Oatmeal to go bars, four gels and probably about 6 bottles. I should have drunk more. I prep with a big bowl of raw oats, yogurt and raisins. Bland as hell but easy on the stomach and nice slow release of carbs and energy. I eat it about an hour before I ride and don’t go into the pockets until about 25 miles in.

    East Maui Loop; 170km, 2200km. Bidons: 2. Food: none. Pace: moderate. Lost one bidon on the bumpy section but did refill the other one once.

    That’s training.

    What cages can maintain the sound of silence?  The only noise my steed makes is the bidon rattling in the cage over rougher roads and it is driving me insane.  I need, no must, rectify this post haste!

  21. @Yannersan

    What cages can maintain the sound of silence? The only noise my steed makes is the bidon rattling in the cage over rougher roads and it is driving me insane. I need, no must, rectify this post haste!

    Arundel Mandibles are blessedly noise free.

  22. I think my sunglasses are creaking when I stand up to pedal on steep hills. Should I put some lube in the joints? Clean dirt out of the spot where the lens meets the frame?

  23. @Ron

    I’m content to ride clinchers, for now, but someday I will make the move to tubulars. Something to dream about for the time being. A wonderful piece to keep me dreamin’, Frank.

    I have had lots of problems with my newest wheelset. Thankfully I at least have an idea how to sort out one noise issue. Now I have to figure out why there is a slight “chugging” when I brake. Brake track feels perfectly smooth, wheel is true. Hmm.

    Got in 4.5 hours on Saturday. Very nice to be out solo enjoying the wind and the KMs ticking by. Did get caught in three different rain storms, but still had a nice time.

    I do enjoy solo rides but I find myself getting a bit “bored” (not the right word, but something like that) between the 3-4 hour mark. With groups I can ride longer and not notice it, but still really haven’t found a group I totally dig riding with. Anyone else love a three hour ride but begin to lose the thrill around four? Could be that I have plenty of work to do and know such long days in the saddle are not good for productive. Also could be that I’ve been riding light and not eating at all. Despite what the Lion says, I think I simply gotta take in some calories when I head out for many hours.

    Recently tried Vittoria Open Pave CG III clinchers. They have a 320 TPI casing, and they run @ 120-30 psi. I’ll be damned if they aren’t the quietest and smoothest clincher I’ve ridden.

  24. @G’rilla

    yikes. Maybe train enough that you’re not grimacing so much at a club pace?

    @itburns

    yes.

  25. This is my first post so I’ll introduce myself.

    I’m an American living in Italy (for 3 years now). I’ll be moving back to the States soon and bringing all of the Euro-pro snippets that I’ve learned to my fellow Americans.

    I noticed a bit of talk about choosing to get of the bike when put into difficulty. This is a bit off topic but I’ll use the previous mention among comments as an excuse. I haven’t seen it in my several readings of the rules over time but tweaking with this situation could be a valued addition.

    Something along the lines of: “One shall not dismount the bike during a ride except for the following reasons… 1. A planned stop to refill bidons, 2. A group bathroom break on an exceptionally long ride, 3. Upon successful completion of a righteous ride where plenty of V has been laid to the pavement.”

    Merely a suggestion.

    I’m a huge fan of the site and refer all new cyclists in my midst here for valuable education.

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