If the road is the cathedral where we go to worship at the altar of Merckx then the workshop must surely be the rectory. The workshop of the Velominatus is semi-sacred space where one goes primarily to sharpen one’s tool of worship. In so doing, the workshop also provides a space in which to meditate on the machine, make repairs from rides gone by, and prepare for rides to come. The workshop may not be the space where we engage in our most revelatory work, however, the work we do there both before and after each ride is no less important than the work we do in between.
Though we have no Rules governing the workshop, I suggest the following is what constitutes good workshops:
- One’s workshop must be well provisioned. Like any suitable place intended for rejuvenation, the workshop should be well stocked with items such as spare tubes, a few tires (even if they’ve been retired but could still be used in a pinch), extra cable and housing, cleaning supplies, lubricants, and greases.
- The workshop should be kept organized. Each tool has its place and once used should be returned to that place after it has been used and cleaned. There’s no greater satisfaction than knowing exactly where your chain whip is, for example, and being able to find it in that spot in clean, ready-to-use condition.
- The workshop should be able to be well lit. You try getting that perfect bar tape wrap in a dimly lit dungeon.
- The workshop must be well equipped. You are only as good at maintenance as your tools. And for Merckx-sake, invest in a shop stand.
- Old parts are worth keeping. Mind you, you should know their history and discard them if they’re unsafe. But you never know if you’ll want to use that old saddle, stem, or frame again. Having a box or two of miscellany around goes a long way toward piecing together that next Rule #12 acquisition. And when you find yourself in the role of Cycling Sensei, those old parts could take on a whole new life and meaning for your Pedalwan.
Beyond these basic guidelines there are other considerations one can make in order to give their workshop an even more shrine-like aura. Your workshop or workspace might include some or all of the following:
- Cycling accouterments from by-gone era. Anything from that classic LeMan poster to old PDM jersey hanging on the wall that ties your space to our sport’s traditions and history is just plain cool in your workshop.
- Audio-visual gear. Put a radio, iPod, or T.V. (for watching classic cycling videos only) in your workshop.
- The hallowed bike. Maybe you’ve still got the retired steel Raleigh on which you reached your first podium, perhaps you own a Team 7/11 Huffy, or still have that randonneur whip from college with 20,000k of stories from one year on it to tell. In any case, if you’ve got a steed with panache, give it a worthy space in your shop.
- Old couches and recliners are well worth it if you have the space. If you can create a clubhouse atmosphere in your workshop so that when your mates are over they can chill on that old flower-patterned couch or Naugahyde Lazy-Boy you’re doing a community service. Add to that a fridge for some cold malted beverage and you could start charging a cover.
Similar to our varied bikes and certainly to the vastly different places we all profess our devotion, our workshops are no doubt reflections of our own uniqueness as cyclists. That said, just as the Rules bind us, the spaces we retreat to in order to sharpen our tools should also provide us with a modicum of comfort in the familiar. In other words, I may not know my way around your kitchen straight away but if it’s a well appointed kitchen it shouldn’t take me long to learn my way around and start making good food. Take a minute to share what you appreciate about your workshop (or workspace if it serves secondarily as a living room or kitchen). Additionally, maybe you can share a workshop tale. For the workshop should not be overlooked as an integral room of the church in which we pray.