Cleanliness is next to the velodrome

Cleanliness is next to the velodrome

The Shower

by / / 42 posts

As far as Cycling and racing iconography goes, Paris-Roubaix sits at the very zenith. It’s the most revered race among fans not only because of the pavé and the punishment it hands out, but there’s also the traditional finish of the race in the old velodrome, and what are possibly the most photographed showers anywhere in the world. Outsiders could never understand the significance of a shower and its importance in relation to a bike race.

It may seem ridiculous to some, but any visit to Roubaix and the velodrome usually includes a wander over the road to the old shower block, and if you’re really lucky, a cleansing soak under the holy water. On our first Keepers Tour we were allowed into the building but a no bathing policy was in place that day. I think the caretaker just wanted to get us in and out so he could return home with the wine for his children. The second occasion we were granted permission and I’ve never seen a bunch of blokes more enthusiastic to get naked and wash themselves in front of each other. And photograph it. Unfortunately on our last visit we were unable to even get access to the block, and a more disappointed crew I’ve rarely witnessed. We were on a high from a brutal day on the stones in the rain, we were filthy, tired and hungry, and there would have been no more perfect a scenario for a soaking.

Being the reverent types of people we Cyclists are, we look for ways to pay homage to our heroes and the scenes of their battles. Maybe you’ll name your cats Fausto and Gino, or your dog Eddy, or your first daughter Roger. Perhaps you’ll own a replica bike that one of your idols once rode, or your walls may display photographs or posters of races and racers long gone, or erect a shrine. Possibly, you’ll dream big and plan a replica Roubaix shower for your own home.

I’m dreaming big, and making it a reality. Long has there been talk between myself and my good mate @rigid, who also happens to be an accomplished architect, of a Roubaix shower in either his or my home. With a new house build coming up for me, we’ve been looking at the ways to incorporate the classic concrete stall and hanging shower head/chain arrangement, just like the real thing. Every non-Cyclist I mention it to needs a ten-minute explanation and photo gallery session, with stunned disbelief and incredulity the most common reactions. I’d probably have the same response if someone told me they were re-creating the tanning bed from Donald Trump’s place, so it’s understandable I suppose.

But the rest of us freaks are more like “fuck yeah”. Another friend of mine who’s a bathroom guy just can’t get his head around it, and is reluctant to build it for me not because of any perceived difficulty, but because he just doesn’t get it. Which is the whole appeal, because we are different, and we celebrate it. We live on the edges of society, shunned by motorists, laughed at by other sports, and it’s just the way we like it. And if there is any bizarre way to honour our sport’s icons, we will find a way to do it, no matter what anyone thinks. I’ll be in the shower.

 

 

// Musings from the V-Bunker // Tradition

  1. @Brett

    Very cool idea. If you can, build side-by-side stalls. That would be the bee’s knees. Be sure to have a brass plaque added to your stall.

  2. Cobblestone floor and FUCK YEAH

  3. Every sportive or club ride I have to descend at least once. Balls almost touching the back wheel as an ode to El Pirata. I caused a mild panic last month when I accidentally locked myself in my hotel room

  4. Wow. Just wow. I could get on board with this. We’re looking at a renovation.

  5. I had the pleasure of doing the Paris Roubaix sportive earlier this year, it changed the way I think about road cycling ! Anyway I got to have a shower after , I’ve never seen so many happy men . I got lucky and used Cancellaras , turned around and there where two naked Dutch ladies waiting to get in , so I got them to take my picture !

  6. you are a seriously, and quite correctly, disturbed individual. the only way this idea gets any cooler is if you were to build a replica velodrome in your back acreage.

  7. Yeah Brett, this idea has legs. And it goes without saying you are not married. But it is a very good idea.

  8. @Cary

    you are a seriously, and quite correctly, disturbed individual. the only way this idea gets any cooler is if you were to build a replica velodrome in your back acreage.

    +1

    Been looking for a velodrome here in Zurich. There is an open one but today is the last day of the season. Will have to wait until next year to try track cycling.

    I thought the Roubaix showers were grey; these look reddish and I hope the brown smear is just rust that came of the steel steeds that had to be cleansed as well.

  9. Ah-hahhaaah! Great idea. Brett. Classic, in the best and literal sense of he word.

    I’m an architect, and on top of that, have been steeped in Scandinavian minimalism and uber-esthetics for a couple of decades now. I could bore everybody silly with wise-sounding stuff like “less is more” and “form follows function” and whatever – and even whip you up some stark, white and stylish scheme of sorts, if need be.

    But as a cyclist, I am squarely in the “Fuck yeah!” camp, of course. Epic. Do it.

  10. @Cary

    you are a seriously, and quite correctly, disturbed individual. the only way this idea gets any cooler is if you were to build a replica velodrome in your back acreage.

    like this?

  11. @KogaLover

    Indeed they are

    The Velodrome part is on my Post Lottery Win House project list with approval of the VMW. Along with a custom built bike room / workshop / den / gym / cave.

    Just need to sort the win……

  12. I had the privilege of a hot shower in these hallowed cubicles after 167km Dunkerque Roubaix ride in April and it was incredible! I did not care that there was a female photographer lurking inside the door snapping away, after 176k in rain, hail and sleet she would have needed a rather large zoom lens to capture anything of mild interest. I had to change in Magnus Backstedt’s stall though, Eddy’s next door was occupied.

    The whole shower block was as basic as I had hoped, the water as powerful and hot as I had dreamed of all the way there.

    Yes, the VMH and others who I have told of this place just look at me as if I’m mental.

  13. Brett, you gloriously mad bastard, do it!

    But it’s got to be in the bit of the house that is devoted to the bike. You can’t just get up in the morning, leave your jim jams in Eddy’s stall and have a nice toasty shower. You’ve got to earn it. You need a dial by the door that asks how your legs were; unless you answer “strong” you’ll be rewarded with a cold dribble that a pro would expect if he hasn’t made the selection at Arenberg.

  14. @ErikdR

    Ah-hahhaaah! Great idea. Brett. Classic, in the best and literal sense of he word.

    I’m an architect, and on top of that, have been steeped in Scandinavian minimalism and uber-esthetics for a couple of decades now. I could bore everybody silly with wise-sounding stuff like “less is more” and “form follows function” and whatever – and even whip you up some stark, white and stylish scheme of sorts, if need be.

    But as a cyclist, I am squarely in the “Fuck yeah!” camp, of course. Epic. Do it.

    I would argue that Roubaix showers very much follow “less is more” (no doors, no privacy etc) and “form follows function” (hot water that comes down in shedloads after swallowing belgian dung).

  15. @Teocalli

    Thanks, that was the picture I recall from a previous article.

  16. @KogaLover

    @Teocalli

    Thanks, that was the picture I recall from a previous article.

    Yup, that was from my visit to take a sprinkle in the hallowed arena.

  17. @KogaLover

    @ErikdR

    Ah-hahhaaah! Great idea. Brett. Classic, in the best and literal sense of he word.

    I’m an architect, and on top of that, have been steeped in Scandinavian minimalism and uber-esthetics for a couple of decades now. I could bore everybody silly with wise-sounding stuff like “less is more” and “form follows function” and whatever – and even whip you up some stark, white and stylish scheme of sorts, if need be.

    But as a cyclist, I am squarely in the “Fuck yeah!” camp, of course. Epic. Do it.

    I would argue that Roubaix showers very much follow “less is more” (no doors, no privacy etc) and “form follows function” (hot water that comes down in shedloads after swallowing belgian dung).

    Hmmm… I see your point. Still, I have a feeling that the minimalist-modernist crowd would frown at the fancy metal-link chains on the shower heads and (in particular) the brass name plates (Ornament! Blasphemy!).

    Also, true followers of Koolhaas and his ilk would probably argue that the rounded-off corners of the stall separators make them a bit too Victorian/old fashioned in their expression: According to some, proper modern architecture is something you should literally be able to cut yourself on.

    But then, I was/am mainly joking here – or attempting to. Still, there was a period in the late nineties and early ‘naughts, when buildings simply couldn’t get too pointy and ‘sharp’, both inside and out, according to some architects… The Vitra Fire station is a prime example.

  18. @Teocalli

    @KogaLover

    Indeed they are

    The Velodrome part is on my Post Lottery Win House project list with approval of the VMW. Along with a custom built bike room / workshop / den / gym / cave.

    Just need to sort the win……

    Nice. But where are the shower heads in this image? Have they been dismantled at some point? Or are we looking at ‘changing booths’ here – with only the units toward the end wall being actual showers?

  19. @JohnB

    I had the privilege of a hot shower in these hallowed cubicles after 167km Dunkerque Roubaix ride in April and it was incredible! I did not care that there was a female photographer lurking inside the door snapping away, after 176k in rain, hail and sleet she would have needed a rather large zoom lens to capture anything of mild interest. I had to change in Magnus Backstedt’s stall though, Eddy’s next door was occupied.

    Aha. Ignore previous post, please – it seems @JohnB had answered my question before I even got around to asking it. Changing stalls and shower stalls, then.

  20. @ErikdR

    I was joking too! You are the architect after all, I am only a mere wannabe cyclist. Thanks for detecting the difference between change and shower stalls. Will @Brett be building both too?

  21. @ErikdR

    Not forgetting in our modern world you need to spec soft concrete in case you slip on soap and whack your head. Though I guess they’ll probably ban the soap – non slip soap anyone?

  22. @KogaLover

    @ErikdR

    I was joking too! You are the architect after all, I am only a mere wannabe cyclist. Thanks for detecting the difference between change and shower stalls. Will @Brett be building both too?

    Ha – yes, I know. Still, you made a valid point: those Roubaix installations look very functional indeed.

    I stumbled across this link re spiky architecture, if you’re interested. Scary stuff:

    http://architizer.com/blog/dont-mess-with-architecture-top-10-razor-sharp-buildings/

    While I admire the craftsmanship involved, I must admit that where most of these buildings are concerned, I fail to see the point (pun intended…)

    And yes, I think Brett will probably go all the way and build both changing booth(s) and shower stall(s) in vintage Roubaix style, bless him.

  23. @Teocalli

    @ErikdR

    Not forgetting in our modern world you need to spec soft concrete in case you slip on soap and whack your head. Though I guess they’ll probably ban the soap – non slip soap anyone?

    Hehheh… yes, if architects had their way, they would probably ban soap entirely from their projects. It leaves suds and foam all over our pristine surfaces. it comes in various gaudy colors that ruin our esthetics. And it causes people to slip and fall, leaving ugly blood stains all over our carefully laid out, shining tile-work, FFS! Perhaps we’ll allow a discreet, vintage wooden tub with old-fashioned brown soap, perched on a carefully designed, raised ledge – but that’s it.

    Where can I buy this soft concrete of which you speak? Sounds great.

  24. @Teocalli

    @ErikdR

    Not forgetting in our modern world you need to spec soft concrete in case you slip on soap and whack your head. Though I guess they’ll probably ban the soap – non slip soap anyone?

    Will that be before or after they tear up all those dangerous cobblestones and replace them with with an EN1176 and EN1176 compliant surface?

    From memory the changing and shower stalls are made of an exposed aggregate in a cementitious base which had been cast into shape and probably finished by grinding and then polishing. It’s not so common these days except as a high end minimalist finish but it used to be common in schools, hospitals, government buildings etc especially in hotter climates.

  25. @chris

    I recall the stuff from sinks, it was called “graniet” in Dutch. Basically some sort of cast cement/concrete with little stones in it that made it colourful. Getting back into fashion again btw.

  26. @chris

    You’d need to ask these guys…….

  27. @piwakawaka

    @Cary

    you are a seriously, and quite correctly, disturbed individual. the only way this idea gets any cooler is if you were to build a replica velodrome in your back acreage.

    like this?

    though not quite as nuts as the Red Hook Crit, this is pretty rad.

  28. @chris

    @Teocalli

    @ErikdR

    Not forgetting in our modern world you need to spec soft concrete in case you slip on soap and whack your head. Though I guess they’ll probably ban the soap – non slip soap anyone?

    Will that be before or after they tear up all those dangerous cobblestones and replace them with with an EN1176 and EN1176 compliant surface?

    From memory the changing and shower stalls are made of an exposed aggregate in a cementitious base which had been cast into shape and probably finished by grinding and then polishing. It’s not so common these days except as a high end minimalist finish but it used to be common in schools, hospitals, government buildings etc especially in hotter climates.

    “Cementitious.” Now there’s a word you don’t read every day, and I’m all the happier for it!

  29. @wiscot

    @chris

    @Teocalli

    @ErikdR

    Not forgetting in our modern world you need to spec soft concrete in case you slip on soap and whack your head. Though I guess they’ll probably ban the soap – non slip soap anyone?

    Will that be before or after they tear up all those dangerous cobblestones and replace them with with an EN1176 and EN1176 compliant surface?

    From memory the changing and shower stalls are made of an exposed aggregate in a cementitious base which had been cast into shape and probably finished by grinding and then polishing. It’s not so common these days except as a high end minimalist finish but it used to be common in schools, hospitals, government buildings etc especially in hotter climates.

    “Cementitious.” Now there’s a word you don’t read every day, and I’m all the happier for it!

    Forgive me. I just read my post and realized it sounded like I was happy I don’t read the word cementitious every day. Au contraire. Rare words like that make me smile and happy. I had no idea such a word existed – but now I know! Thank-you.

  30. @ErikdR

    @Teocalli

    @KogaLover

    Indeed they are

    The Velodrome part is on my Post Lottery Win House project list with approval of the VMW. Along with a custom built bike room / workshop / den / gym / cave.

    Just need to sort the win……

    Nice. But where are the shower heads in this image? Have they been dismantled at some point? Or are we looking at ‘changing booths’ here – with only the units toward the end wall being actual showers?

    Whatever it is, hopefully helmeted dude is not treating it as a urinal

  31. Do it! Do it now!

    However, as a Brit, your beautiful comment: “We live on the edges of society, shunned by motorists, laughed at by other sports, and it’s just the way we like it. ” saddened me. We used to be like that, but now every bloody middle manager and ex-golfist has bought carbon and lycra. There are more bike shops around these days, but I miss the exclusivity and we’re still misunderstood because the newcomers just don’t get it. Ho hum…

  32. @Allegedly Anthony

    “now every bloody middle manager and ex-golfist has bought carbon and lycra” They may ride a bike but are they Velominati? I believe you know the answer.

  33. eager to see results

  34. @ErikdR

    @KogaLover

    @ErikdR

    I was joking too! You are the architect after all, I am only a mere wannabe cyclist. Thanks for detecting the difference between change and shower stalls. Will @Brett be building both too?

    Ha – yes, I know. Still, you made a valid point: those Roubaix installations look very functional indeed.

    I stumbled across this link re spiky architecture, if you’re interested. Scary stuff:

    http://architizer.com/blog/dont-mess-with-architecture-top-10-razor-sharp-buildings/

    While I admire the craftsmanship involved, I must admit that where most of these buildings are concerned, I fail to see the point (pun intended…)

    And yes, I think Brett will probably go all the way and build both changing booth(s) and shower stall(s) in vintage Roubaix style, bless him.

    Not sure if I’ll have the room for a stall as well, but we’re working on it… the Shower will be upstairs adjacent to the workshop, so you can come in after a ride and jump straight in, while your mates take photos of you. Nothing weird about that.

  35. @wiscot

    “Cementitious.” Now there’s a word you don’t read every day, and I’m all the happier for it!

    Forgive me. I just read my post and realized it sounded like I was happy I don’t read the word cementitious every day. Au contraire. Rare words like that make me smile and happy. I had no idea such a word existed – but now I know! Thank-you.

    Usually my glass is half full, so I got the positive jist with your first post! I also keep learning new words from this site every day…

  36. @KogaLover

    @wiscot

    “Cementitious.” Now there’s a word you don’t read every day, and I’m all the happier for it!

    Forgive me. I just read my post and realized it sounded like I was happy I don’t read the word cementitious every day. Au contraire. Rare words like that make me smile and happy. I had no idea such a word existed – but now I know! Thank-you.

    Usually my glass is half full, so I got the positive jist with your first post! I also keep learning new words from this site every day…

    +1 (to both sentences)

  37. @Allegedly Anthony

    There are more bike shops around these days, …

    Hmmm – interesting comment. There may be more big chains selling bikes but the classification of Bike Shop could keep us going for weeks

  38. @Allegedly Anthony

    Do it! Do it now!

    However, as a Brit, your beautiful comment: “We live on the edges of society, shunned by motorists, laughed at by other sports, and it’s just the way we like it. ” saddened me. We used to be like that, but now every bloody middle manager and ex-golfist has bought carbon and lycra. There are more bike shops around these days, but I miss the exclusivity and we’re still misunderstood because the newcomers just don’t get it. Ho hum…

    I wouldn’t worry too much about it, it won’t last.

    Such is the the dichotomy of being a cyclist and a BMW owner who, at his very core, needs to shout at cyclists that the middle manager ex-golfist’s self loathing will tear him apart.

  39. @Sparty

    @Allegedly Anthony

    “now every bloody middle manager and ex-golfist has bought carbon and lycra” They may ride a bike but are they Velominati? I believe you know the answer.

    My brother in law has a road bike and the lycra but as we were chatting about bikes he told me he’d never cleaned his road bike.

    I threw up in my mouth.

  40. @RobSandy

    @Sparty

    @Allegedly Anthony

    “now every bloody middle manager and ex-golfist has bought carbon and lycra” They may ride a bike but are they Velominati? I believe you know the answer.

    My brother in law has a road bike and the lycra but as we were chatting about bikes he told me he’d never cleaned his road bike.

    I threw up in my mouth.

    I completely agree – a dirty bicycle is just wrong.

    Is it a sign of my indoctrination that, after arriving at work with my #1 after a slightly damp pre-work morning ride (sans backpack), rather than drink the water from my remaining half full bidon, I actually used it to shower my steed clean and then proceeded to towel her off with my arm warmer?

    I mean, the bicycle is central to what we do, hallowed – you can’t just leave it there, shackled to a bike rack, (indoor and very secure bike rack) dirty and unloved, can you? The very least you can do is to clean her up a little, in lieu of the actual clean up she will receive when arriving home that evening.

    We are not barbarians, are we?

  41. @dinosaurJR

    @RobSandy

    @Sparty

    @Allegedly Anthony

    “now every bloody middle manager and ex-golfist has bought carbon and lycra” They may ride a bike but are they Velominati? I believe you know the answer.

    My brother in law has a road bike and the lycra but as we were chatting about bikes he told me he’d never cleaned his road bike.

    I threw up in my mouth.

    I completely agree – a dirty bicycle is just wrong.

    Is it a sign of my indoctrination that, after arriving at work with my #1 after a slightly damp pre-work morning ride (sans backpack), rather than drink the water from my remaining half full bidon, I actually used it to shower my steed clean and then proceeded to towel her off with my arm warmer?

    I mean, the bicycle is central to what we do, hallowed – you can’t just leave it there, shackled to a bike rack, (indoor and very secure bike rack) dirty and unloved, can you? The very least you can do is to clean her up a little, in lieu of the actual clean up she will receive when arriving home that evening.

    We are not barbarians, are we?

    One of my mates left it so long to clean her drive train (on quite a nice road bike) that she had to prise the caked on dirt and grease off her chain with a screwdriver.

    I am only posting this to share the anguish and disgust it caused me.

  42. @dinosaurJR

    @RobSandy

    This is not the way to treat a member of the family. Just as some people should not be allowed to raise children, some should not be allowed to care for a bicycle.

Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar