La Vie Velominatus: Saleté Sacrée

Sacred Flemish grime covered our bikes.
Sacred Flemish grime covered our bikes on Keepers Tour.

A Velominatus maintains their machine with meticulous care, doting over it daily. A bicycle is a tool, but it is also a work of art, and serves us loyally in pursuit of our craft. We love them as though they were alive; as we grow together, the cracks and lines formed upon both our skins signifies the journey that has passed beneath our wheels.

A clean bicycle with a boastful luster inspires pride; I find myself constantly fighting the urge to carry mine upstairs to sit by the dinner table each time it has been cleaned, the bar tape freshly wrapped, or any old component swapped for a new one. I’m sure a psychiatrist would have a thing or two to say about it; I know the VMH does.

And yet, there are times when it pains me to clean my machine. After our first day on the Cobbles of Roubaix on Keepers Tour 2012, I left my bike dirty for two days because I couldn’t bring myself to rid her frame of the sacred dust that had accumulated after a day’s hard riding over some of the most hallowed roads in the world. A week later, I suffered the same condition the day after riding the route of De Ronde through hail, rain, and wind which left our machines covered in mud, manure, and Merckx knows what else. I think some part of me hoped the Flemish spirit held within all that grit would somehow be absorbed by my bike, that it would somehow help complete her soul.

But this kind of sacred dirt, the kind we don’t want to wash from our steeds, isn’t found only on the holy roads of Northern Europe. I found myself with the same reluctance to clean my Graveur after riding Heck of the North this year; a race held outside a small Northern Minnesota town nearly half a world from Flanders. I also serendipitously found photos Pavé William took of his Rosin after riding the Strade Bianche, documenting the covering of white dust upon its tubes. This condition afflicts us all, it would seem.

Any dirt becomes holy when we’ve suffered through it, when it took something from us in order to find its way onto our bikes and clothing. Sacred Dirt it is created spontaneously after prolonged exposure to The V.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

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169 Replies to “La Vie Velominatus: Saleté Sacrée”

  1. @frank

    @Weldertron

    As far as ride quality, would Open Corsa SC and latex tubes not be pretty close to a tubular?

    Ultimately depends on which tubular; but a good tub will blow your mind. And, tubs are round, and don’t distort the way clinchers do, especially cornering.

    CHANGE. YOUR. LIFE.

    How much of a hassle are they when dealing with flats? Do they make good tubulars with flat protection? I ask due to the fact that here we deal with some of the nastiest thorns I have seen. Most desert plants like to stab you.

  2. @DCR

    @frank

    @Weldertron

    As far as ride quality, would Open Corsa SC and latex tubes not be pretty close to a tubular?

    Ultimately depends on which tubular; but a good tub will blow your mind. And, tubs are round, and don’t distort the way clinchers do, especially cornering.

    CHANGE. YOUR. LIFE.

    How much of a hassle are they when dealing with flats? Do they make good tubulars with flat protection? I ask due to the fact that here we deal with some of the nastiest thorns I have seen. Most desert plants like to stab you.

    Here in Utah, we have the nasty and ubiquitous goat head thorns.  When I put on a new tubular, I remove the valve core and add 1oz of Stan’s tire sealant.  With that, and a quality tire, I’ve had no problems.  I currently run Vittoria Pave’ EVO-CGs (290tpi w/ Kevlar).

  3. @Optimiste

    @DCR

    @frank

    @Weldertron

    As far as ride quality, would Open Corsa SC and latex tubes not be pretty close to a tubular?

    Ultimately depends on which tubular; but a good tub will blow your mind. And, tubs are round, and don’t distort the way clinchers do, especially cornering.

    CHANGE. YOUR. LIFE.

    How much of a hassle are they when dealing with flats? Do they make good tubulars with flat protection? I ask due to the fact that here we deal with some of the nastiest thorns I have seen. Most desert plants like to stab you.

    Here in Utah, we have the nasty and ubiquitous goat head thorns. When I put on a new tubular, I remove the valve core and add 1oz of Stan’s tire sealant. With that, and a quality tire, I’ve had no problems. I currently run Vittoria Pave’ EVO-CGs (290tpi w/ Kevlar).

    Ah the goat head…. they are quite prolific here. This is my main concern. Thanks for the input. I luckily have a couple of wheels that can serve as commuter sets so tubulars may be in my future.

  4. @DCR

    @Optimiste

    @DCR

    @frank

    @Weldertron

    As far as ride quality, would Open Corsa SC and latex tubes not be pretty close to a tubular?

    Ultimately depends on which tubular; but a good tub will blow your mind. And, tubs are round, and don’t distort the way clinchers do, especially cornering.

    CHANGE. YOUR. LIFE.

    How much of a hassle are they when dealing with flats? Do they make good tubulars with flat protection? I ask due to the fact that here we deal with some of the nastiest thorns I have seen. Most desert plants like to stab you.

    Here in Utah, we have the nasty and ubiquitous goat head thorns. When I put on a new tubular, I remove the valve core and add 1oz of Stan’s tire sealant. With that, and a quality tire, I’ve had no problems. I currently run Vittoria Pave’ EVO-CGs (290tpi w/ Kevlar).

    Ah the goat head…. they are quite prolific here. This is my main concern. Thanks for the input. I luckily have a couple of wheels that can serve as commuter sets so tubulars may be in my future.

    Excellent.  By the way, my EVOs have held up well amid the recent proliferation of chipseal here.  Your mileage may vary.

  5. @DCR

    @frank

    @Weldertron

    As far as ride quality, would Open Corsa SC and latex tubes not be pretty close to a tubular?

    Ultimately depends on which tubular; but a good tub will blow your mind. And, tubs are round, and don’t distort the way clinchers do, especially cornering.

    CHANGE. YOUR. LIFE.

    How much of a hassle are they when dealing with flats? Do they make good tubulars with flat protection? I ask due to the fact that here we deal with some of the nastiest thorns I have seen. Most desert plants like to stab you.

    Once you learn what you’re doing (I’ve changed about a dozen or so tubs now) you can pull a tub and slap a spare on in less time than it takes to change a clincher.

    I know several people who ride with goop in their tires, which I imagine is about as effective as with clinchers.

    That said, if flats are a daily or weekly issue, I’d probably stay away from tubs just for the sheer cost of tire replacement. (My only bike with clinchers now is my rain bike.)

  6. @VbyV

    Got some grime on the #1 today. The road I was on went to gravel, became double track, then entered a state forest and became basically a rocky stream bed. I forged ahead, hiked over the rocks, leaves, snow and sand until I crested and dropped out the other side on a muddy, slippery downhill. Never go back.

    Sounds like a great day out!

    @Optimiste

    @DCR

    @frank

    @Weldertron

    As far as ride quality, would Open Corsa SC and latex tubes not be pretty close to a tubular?

    Ultimately depends on which tubular; but a good tub will blow your mind. And, tubs are round, and don’t distort the way clinchers do, especially cornering.

    CHANGE. YOUR. LIFE.

    How much of a hassle are they when dealing with flats? Do they make good tubulars with flat protection? I ask due to the fact that here we deal with some of the nastiest thorns I have seen. Most desert plants like to stab you.

    Here in Utah, we have the nasty and ubiquitous goat head thorns. When I put on a new tubular, I remove the valve core and add 1oz of Stan’s tire sealant. With that, and a quality tire, I’ve had no problems. I currently run Vittoria Pave’ EVO-CGs (290tpi w/ Kevlar).

    Well, there you have it. Case closed.

  7. @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    @frank Oh shit.

    Enter “rolling resistance and tire width/pressure” discussion number 27.

    Woops. Sorry mate.

    I may have to take the blame for that one !

    Having said that, no longer running hybrid set-up, 25’s alround and no more splinters @Mikael Liddy

  8. @Mikael Liddy

    @DCR @Barracuda biggest difference I’ve noticed is it feels much surer handling wise. Doubt Cuda would be getting that though given he’s still got a 23 up front, get many splinters from sitting on that fence?

    Got some big tweezers and prized those splinters out !  Gone from 23/25 to 25/25 and can confirm that it rocks !!    Much surere handling – as suggested on the front – without any noticeable speed or rolling dramas.

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