Guest Article: “The Journey Is The Thing”- Homer

Let's get ready to Rumble!
Let’s get ready to Rumble!

Yvon Chounard may not be Homer but he is a worthy modern day wise man, he admonished, don’t be a sports nazi. His meaning was, don’t do one sport to the exclusion of all others. It’s tempting not to pursue other sports when cycling demands so much time and leaves one with a body that is barely useful for anything else, but that would be too easy.

VLVV, Gianni

Admittedly, the concept of worshipping multiple deities has lost its popular following in the last few millennia. But we must reconcile theological doctrine with reality and bury the schisms that have caused sectarian strife for so long. The month of October is the perfect time to revisit the sacred teachings.

At first glance, you might call me an infidel upon learning that today, instead of devoting my whole day to worshipping The Bike, I plan to make equally sacred offerings to The Mountain. Indeed, the pile of bespoke cycling gear designated for today’s ride now has to share the same trunk space with ropes, cams, carabiners, and other studly accoutrements of the climbing craft. Upon learning this, many of you likely will condemn me a Rule #4 violator and ban me from La Vie Velominatus for life. But I beg you to hear my case before casting judgment.

In ancient Athens, for example, the good citizens understood that it was prudent to worship many gods; though the gods were fickle and jealous, they could bestow upon you great benefits. What really mattered was religious experience, spirituality, and sacrifice.

I assure you – all of these elements will be present in today’s outing and, as such, I am not heretic, but a true believer. Take for example, sacrifice. What greater sacrifice can there be than braving the desolate country roads of rural Virginia, with nary an espresso in sight, facing a near-rabid canine darting at me as I exhaustedly summit a roller?  In the same vein, the path to our climbing routes planned for the afternoon takes us between Scylla and Charybdis – the dreaded “Poison Ivy Gully” descent or a rappel off manky tree anchors that could, at any moment, be messed with by meth tweakers frequenting the trail. I shall not even speak of the fact that we have to arrive at our destinations in a minivan, for no other mode of transport can accommodate the Hydra masking as our multi-sport gear collection.

The religious experience will be all worth it. There is little that compares to the hum of my overpriced drivetrain on a crisp October day or the cloud of climbing chalk following me like a halo as I flail like a stuck pig on a sandbag Great Falls eliminate. I thusly urge you to consider the wisdom of the ancients and erase differences between the gods. As far back as Homer, great thinkers recognized a unity in the multiplicity of the divine. Skiing season, here I come!

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75 Replies to “Guest Article: “The Journey Is The Thing”- Homer”

  1. Good topic, in the sense that it’s a truly awful topic. In the sense that the existential freedom–no, necessity–of choice can be a great big Bitch. I mean, it’s all well and good to be polytheistic (monotheism is, in my view, for losers), but what about when your gods vie with each other? 

    Case in point: having relocated to a salt-watery place, it seemed prudent to give Poseidon his due. Ergo, I’m learning to wear a sea kayak in the actual water and have put in some long days refining my (paddle, not pedal) strokes: forward, sweep, high and low brace, stern and bow rudder, etc. Today, even at the very moment of sitting down and finding this guest article, I’ve been struggling to determine the focus of my afternoon sacrifice, Mt. Velomis or Poseidon’s depths. A solo crossing of a good stretch of water has been calling me; today, finally, visibility, wind and tides are favorable for the first time in a week. And yet.

    And yet. 

    (It’s just a good thing I had to leave rock climbing behind when we landed up here, or I’d still be letting my legs and lungs atrophy in pursuit of Popeye forearms and vice-grip hands, grovelling my 5.10 body up 5.11 routes.)

    I need to decide and accept the consequences of my decision and enjoy whatever form of practice I choose. But first I have to decide. 

  2. doesn’t climbing involve developing arm muscles that are entirely extraneous to cycling?

     

    Says he about spend a weekend sailing a massively overpowered boat round a small concrete bowl.

  3. ” There is little that compares to the hum of my overpriced drivetrain on a crisp October day”

    In my world thre are a few sounds that get close, the sounds of my skates cutting ice is right up there, luckily for me my favorite two compliment each other well and rarely compete for my time spent on them …  Rule#5 and Rule number#9 and once I think of it, a lot of the other non-bike rules are directly applicable to both sports in fact Rule #43 was in play last night on my team.  While of a slightly different breed there are definite similarities between the hardmen of years past on the ice and on the cobbles and passes….

  4. I will be hitting the climbing gym after work today. I balance climbing and cycling fairly well although I will say that cycling got the best of my attention for the last several months.@Al__S  And climbing is an amazing way to build core and back muscles so I wouldn’t say that it doesn’t benefit cycling at all. And cycling has helped with my foot work and maintaining a good weight for climbing.

  5. @DCR

    Where are you? We left PDX, where we had a good gym, lots of local crags, and Smith Rock three hours away. I miss all that, and the VMH (who strongly resembles Lynn Hill, btw) misses it even more.

  6. @PeakInTwoYears

    @DCR

    Where are you? We left PDX, where we had a good gym, lots of local crags, and Smith Rock three hours away. I miss all that, and the VMH (who strongly resembles Lynn Hill, btw) misses it even more.

    I am in New mexico. 3 hours from Colorado and 3 hours from hueco tanks. Local gym is awesome as is and they are currently expanding into a 20,000+ sq ft facility. From a cycling and climbing stand point I don’t think I could live anywhere without mountains.

  7. Have been having the same issue. Many sports are put pain my plate and I am expected  to accomplish them successfully. Many a time has biking been overlooked. I understand the importance of the topic but we have to commit to something fully one day. I hope it could be cycling for everyone.

  8. @DCR

    From a cycling and climbing stand point I don’t think I could live anywhere without mountains.

    There it is. You sound well-situated. I give you joy of it, sir.

    Decision made! Boat, gear, cold water immersion protection, and flask of vodka stowed on/in the truck. Sun is shining over the Strait of Juan de Fuck It!

  9. Well said. Plenty in common between these sports, as I think has been noted before. I’m sure I posted a pic of Hillary and Tenzing Looking Fantastic not so long ago but I can’t find the bugger now.

    When I was a teenager, my climbing friends and I used to have Rules of a sort. The two I can remember are: No external kit must hang from your rucksack; not bottles, not cups, not thermarests, not nothing. Everything stowed away neatly. And: no amateur-looking dayglo waterproofs or tents (‘Agent Orange’ we crassly termed it). The only gear acceptable was understated to the point of being, well, virtual camouflage from a mountain rescue point of view.

  10. Until reaching Old Age (a recent occurrance) I fancied myself a multi-sport athlete. My fencing coach’s fecning coach had an interesting insight. A promising student had parents ask “what it would take” for the child to reach their potential, a not-so-veiled inquiry into becoming an olympian. “Tell us what we have to do” they asked.

    The coach replied, “it isn’t what you’re willing to do. We all know what that is. The question is ‘what are you willing to give up?’ Weekends at the mall with your friends. Late night movies. Organized vacations in the summer. Good grades in school. Flashy cell phones, cars, fashionable clothes, and chat time. Because all those things are incompatible with everything that will give you a competitive chance…and there are thousands of kids eagerly willing to give all that up…and more…to beat you out of the miniscule chance of success.”

    Choose.

  11. There are greater gods and lesser gods.  To be admitted into the pantheon they must complement, and not detract from, the oblations of the Velominatus.  Otherwise, they are anathema. This is the essence of Rule #4.

  12. Like eightzero, Old Age has entered the sphere of personal influence.  As a younger man, the Gods of hockey, lacrosse, and (European) football were my guardians.  To this, I added the Gods of golf and tennis as maturity, family and job intervened – these were more complementary to the requirements of each.  But like any good career, the funnel narrowed, specialization increased and each of these became casualties of time, distraction and necessity, shucked off the back of the peloton like a non-gifted domestique. As the field of sport narrowed and my joints suffered, the Bike loomed ever larger; and now only the gym assumes the purpose of muscular diversification – it is a great complement to the reduced cycling work-outs in the winter.  However, perhaps the greatest result of this narrowing field is that there is more time for the motivating factors that propel my cycling adventures – 12 ounce curls, winery trips, espresso bars and the three course meal. All Hail Bacchus! And the Bike

  13. Climbing. The thing I love as much as cycling. Both sports are filled with panache, looking fantastic, Rules and storied histories. There’s just not enough hours in the day to devote to both, but they do go together like peas and carrots.

    Here’s @scaler911 getting it done (wrong): heels up (bad), knee on ice (bad), where’s the rope? It was a fantastic day!

  14. Interesting thing going on here.

    I too race and rock climb (mostly boulder at the gym).  As a matter of fact, I probably do too much of both although my climbing is limited to 2x a week at the gym right now.  It seems not too uncommon either, while riding to a race this summer, I ran into a racer/climber and I’ve run into racers at the gym.

    One benefit of each is they take your mind off of the other obsession. It’s amazing how I can walk out of the gym after 2+ hours and all of a sudden “remember” that I’m a cyclist or that I actually have to race that evening and probably shouldn’t have climbed that hard.

    Right now the cycling is more important than the climbing for me as I’m getting better results on the bike.  Once my tennis elbow goes, I’ll push the climbing again and that’ll take precedent until March or so.

    I have not developed any large muscles at all from bouldering, if anything my arms have gotten smaller.

  15. Ahh, first world problems. I too can relate and might add another layer. For me, kayaking, climbing, skiing, hiking, etc are things that I also do for my vocation. Some say do what you love for a job and you’ll never work a day in your life, some day don’t shit where you play. I prefer the former. That said, not all these things are equal. I started to teach people how to paddle and lead expeditions because I loved to paddle. I still do. But even when I’m paddling for the sake of paddling work is never too far removed from my thoughts. Same holds for skiing. Climbing and backpacking on the other hand are things I do because I ‘have’ to work. I’ve never understood why one would throw 40-50 pounds of shit on one’s back and walk it around when one could put it in a perfectly good boat and paddle it around. Climbing is “meh” to me personally but I appreciate it greatly for the educational opportunities it can provide on so many levels.

    Cycling on the other hand is mine and mine alone. Mine to share with the likes of you all, other dedicates, enthusiasts and nutcases for cycling. Mine to steal away with on my own and get lost in my own thoughts. Mine to be selfish with and not have to think about teaching progressions, certifications, trainings, credit loads, grants, schedules, risk management or students mucking about in my craft. Cycling I do purely for the love of it and for that reason it rises to the top. Okay, accept for maybe whitewater expedition open canoeing and tele skiing in the back country in fresh pow pow – the jury will always be out on these three things which is why I must keep doing them to see which wins out.

  16. Growing up in the PNW I am familiar with the pantheon of gods that are to be worshiped. In the past century I was aware of a particular group of zealots who would attempt to appease as many gods as possible during the midsummer solstice – an event during which I’m certain there was a fair amount of Rule #5. For a significant period of the 1990’s I was in (unknown) observance of Rule #25 as there was a whitewater kayak, mountain bike, and a set of skis all above the roofline of my 1982 Honda Accord.

    Like @Marko said “first world problems”.

  17. As a climber as well as cyclist, I must say that the pursuit of the V is not limited to cycling. When you’re 25′ above your last anchor and committed to putting everything into the next 6″ of upward mobility – there’s something akin to the V. Whatever you want to call it, it spells out a willingness to deal with pain and effort beyond one’s perceived abilities. Seems like it’s all related.

  18. Every once in a while–not too often–a thread like this is useful so that people get a reminder that we’re all real people with varied interests. (Too much of that shit is a buzzkill, obviously.)

    My destination this afternoon:

    Protection Island sits 2 miles out in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and it’s strictly off limits inside 200 yards,  ’cause two thirds of all the water-type birds on the Salish Sea nest there. Beach your boat there, and the authorities will cut off your balls and sew them to your head.

    Oh, and ninety thousand seals live there. And what did I learn today? As individuals, seals are damned cute (we knew this part already). But when three dozen of them are swimming shoulder to shoulder like a fucking phalanx of Spartan infantry, closely following your 21-inch wide kayak in open water, it feels different. What a day.

  19. @scaler911

    Yeah, okay, you can point out some trivial technical issues with your form.

    You’re ropeless on fairly steep ice. We get it, and we are impressed. We are not being ironic. Not even close to entirely ironic.

  20. @Marko

    @PeakInTwoYears Cool pic. What boat is that? And let’s not get started on sea kayaking Rules.

    Valley Aquanaut LV (budgetatus plastic version). Really happy with it as a first boat but already thinking about a surf boat with a hard chine that I can edge like a slalom ski…

  21. @scaler911 Yes, PDX and PIR.  You’ll find me there most Mondays and some Tuesdays.  You’ll find me at The Circuit in NE on Tuesdays and Fridays.

  22. Oh for the love of Merckx… why don’t we just make the site a link off Outdoor magazine and forget the whole Velominati thing ?

    First it was less aesthetic pursuits like Cross, and then it was gravel bikes, which just about scraped in above the line.

    But that was followed by mountain bikes and then we were treated to a paean for a commuter bike with weird bars.

    Now we find that La Vie Velominatus encompasses rock-climbing and kayaking.

    And there are rumours that Gianni is planning a series of articles on Zumba.

    Anyone want to share some recipes while we’re at it ?

    The recumbent apocalypse is surely coming…

  23. @ChrisO

    Oh for the love of Merckx… why don’t we just make the site a link off Outdoor magazine and forget the whole Velominati thing ?

    First it was less aesthetic pursuits like Cross, and then it was gravel bikes, which just about scraped in above the line.

    But that was followed by mountain bikes and then we were treated to a paean for a commuter bike with weird bars.

    Now we find that La Vie Velominatus encompasses rock-climbing and kayaking.

    And there are rumours that Gianni is planning a series of articles on Zumba.

    Anyone want to share some recipes while we’re at it ?

    The recumbent apocalypse is surely coming…

    A-Merckx, Brother.

    I’m cool with the inclusion of Cross and mountain bikes (like many, it was through mountain bikes that I found my way to the road bike and both form of nobbly tyres are good for handling skills and off season training) but there is a worrying shift to some sort of all inclusive liberalism. And while I’m sure rock climbing and kayaking are pretty awesome pursuits, I can’t get past the fact that they are well known for attracting some awful beards and downright ugly kit.

    We all know that Frank has a fetish for Nordic skiing but thankfully he’s chosen to follow the Masturbation Principle and not broadcast it here.

  24. My heart warms knowing that many a Velominatus practices the sacred climbing craft. The doctrinal debate above is an important first step towards understanding.  I, for one, would like to see a set of Grand Unified Rules, or at least core principles which can better guide the disciples.  For example, I need some specific rule authority when enforcing dress-code standards at the climbing gym.  There are many violations….

  25. @ChrisO

    Oh for the love of Merckx… why don’t we just make the site a link off Outdoor magazine and forget the whole Velominati thing ?

    First it was less aesthetic pursuits like Cross, and then it was gravel bikes, which just about scraped in above the line.

    But that was followed by mountain bikes and then we were treated to a paean for a commuter bike with weird bars.

    Now we find that La Vie Velominatus encompasses rock-climbing and kayaking.

    And there are rumours that Gianni is planning a series of articles on Zumba.

    Anyone want to share some recipes while we’re at it ?

    The recumbent apocalypse is surely coming…

    I agree to an extent. I feel that these ramblings should never leave this article. The race season has ended for most and the riding season is knocking at winters door. A small outlet of our frustrations isn’t a bad thing.

    Consider these a Confession of sorts and let it die here.

  26. @DCR

    @Chris

    @ChrisO

    More power to you as how boring it would be without individual opinion, but I have to say, these are the kinds of elitist comments and attitudes that trolls love and make people think of roadies as twats. I like to think that rather than elitist twats this community represents an egalitarian view of cycling. We want to include, not exclude as we strive for a higher state of mind and exaltation. The Rules can get us on that path but as Jim has recently pointed out so well, that path can be found elsewhere. It’s what  Csikszentmihalyi called flow. The Velominati and the Rules can create the conditions for Flow but do not hold a patent on them. Ever drop a knee down a 30% glade in 2 feet of powder and snorkel through the white room? How about execute a perfect back-ferry around a class III bend in a loaded canoe with a partner. What about surf a 17 foot long/22″ wide sea kayak on the glass of Skookumchuk? If not, you’re missing out on some of what life has to offer. Perhaps a little meditation on Rule #6 is needed here.

  27. @Marko

    The Rules can get us on that path but as Jim has recently pointed out so well, that path can be found elsewhere.

    Why not…

  28. @DCR

    @ChrisO

    Oh for the love of Merckx… why don’t we just make the site a link off Outdoor magazine and forget the whole Velominati thing ?

    First it was less aesthetic pursuits like Cross, and then it was gravel bikes, which just about scraped in above the line.

    But that was followed by mountain bikes and then we were treated to a paean for a commuter bike with weird bars.

    Now we find that La Vie Velominatus encompasses rock-climbing and kayaking.

    And there are rumours that Gianni is planning a series of articles on Zumba.

    Anyone want to share some recipes while we’re at it ?

    The recumbent apocalypse is surely coming…

    I agree to an extent. I feel that these ramblings should never leave this article. The race season has ended for most and the riding season is knocking at winters door. A small outlet of our frustrations isn’t a bad thing.

    Consider these a Confession of sorts and let it die here.

    Winter season is riding season, as are all seasons.

  29. If its to cold to ride, snowbird down to my neck of the woods for whats the prime riding season(cause it sure isn’t summer)

  30. @ChrisO  @Chris

    Grouchy bears.

    I had two main cycling goals for this year, and I met and exceeded them both. Because I’m an old “returning cyclist” and no Cat II hardass, I’m not spraying about them. But it was a pretty satisfying year of cycling. I’m intentionally giving myself a little rest, and I’m okay with that. Yesterday I paddled, today we’re riding MTBs on nice singletrack, tomorrow a favorite road ride.

    I’m pretty happy about all that.

    @Marko

    surf a 17 foot long/22″³ wide sea kayak on the glass of Skookumchuk?

    I want that in the worst way. Skookumchuck, Deception Pass, Baynes Channel… I’m finding out about opportunities for insane thrills around here that I hadn’t the faintest notion of. So much to learn on the way.

  31. @PeakInTwoYears good scene out there. Deception and Skookum are the bees knees. The Pavé of paddling. Have you connected with Leon and Shawna at Body Boat Blade in Analcoitus? They’re the best around.

  32. So far only to the extent of studying every technique vid they have online. It’ll happen. It must happen.

    Analcoitus. Been here almost four years and hadn’t heard that one.

  33. @Al__S

    doesn’t climbing involve developing arm muscles that are entirely extraneous to cycling?

    You will never find me in a climbing gym. I had to carry a bag of soil back from the hardware store the other day. Set my cycling back weeks.

  34. @PeakInTwoYears

    Every once in a while-not too often-a thread like this is useful so that people get a reminder that we’re all real people with varied interests. (Too much of that shit is a buzzkill, obviously.)

    My destination this afternoon:

    Protection Island sits 2 miles out in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and it’s strictly off limits inside 200 yards, ’cause two thirds of all the water-type birds on the Salish Sea nest there. Beach your boat there, and the authorities will cut off your balls and sew them to your head.

    Oh, and ninety thousand seals live there. And what did I learn today? As individuals, seals are damned cute (we knew this part already). But when three dozen of them are swimming shoulder to shoulder like a fucking phalanx of Spartan infantry, closely following your 21-inch wide kayak in open water, it feels different. What a day.

    The first winter we lived in Seattle, we chose a sunny day and went skiing in the morning, riding in the afternoon, and the we barbeque’d down on the beach.

    There is no place else I can think of where you can do those three things on one day than in the Pacific Northwest. What a place.

    Lovely photo.

    @willem

    Have been having the same issue. Many sports are put pain my plate and I am expected to accomplish them successfully. Many a time has biking been overlooked. I understand the importance of the topic but we have to commit to something fully one day. I hope it could be cycling for everyone.

    I came to Cycling via nordic skiing. I’m still trying to lose the residual muscle mass on my massive arm canons because of it.

    You can wait to chose what you commit to, but choose the complimenting sports wisely, pedalwan.

  35. @DerHoggz

    @DCR

    @ChrisO

    Oh for the love of Merckx… why don’t we just make the site a link off Outdoor magazine and forget the whole Velominati thing ?

    First it was less aesthetic pursuits like Cross, and then it was gravel bikes, which just about scraped in above the line.

    But that was followed by mountain bikes and then we were treated to a paean for a commuter bike with weird bars.

    Now we find that La Vie Velominatus encompasses rock-climbing and kayaking.

    And there are rumours that Gianni is planning a series of articles on Zumba.

    Anyone want to share some recipes while we’re at it ?

    The recumbent apocalypse is surely coming…

    I agree to an extent. I feel that these ramblings should never leave this article. The race season has ended for most and the riding season is knocking at winters door. A small outlet of our frustrations isn’t a bad thing.

    Consider these a Confession of sorts and let it die here.

    Winter season is riding season, as are all seasons.

    +1.

    @Marko@PeakInTwoYears

    We just closed on an acre a bit south of there on the west side of Whidbey. Property has a full view of the shipping lanes and Olympics.

    We’ll be using the property for riding only; no paddling, you twats.

  36. @frank

    We just closed on an acre a bit south of there on the west side of Whidbey. Property has a full view of the shipping lanes and Olympics.

    Fantastic! Congrats. I’ll give you a wave next time I’m rounding Pt. Wilson on my way down to PT.

    We’ll be using the property for riding only; no paddling, you twats.

    I’m going to find out where this is and paddle back and forth across your line of sight wearing a huge fake beard and neon paddling gear from the 90s. There goes your investment, boom.

  37. @frank

    If you bulk up your upper body by climbing, you’re doing it wrong. It’s all about the feet. That’s why Mrs Scaler could kick my ass climbing before “the accident”.

  38. @scaler911

    Bulk is relative.  In cycling that means any muscle fiber.  In fact, you can drop a significant amount of weight by just cutting your arms off!

  39. @scaler911

    @frank

    If you bulk up your upper body by climbing, you’re doing it wrong. It’s all about the feet. That’s why Mrs Scaler could kick my ass climbing before “the accident”.

    I wouldn’t say doing it wrong. In bouldering and much more dynamic climbs you will build a good amount of upper body. But say slab or very static climbing its all in balance and technique. I know pencil thin people that climb 5.14, but get them on a very difficult over hanging problem and they won’t complete a 5.12. Just like cycling has its different specialties that each individual may excel at, climbing is very diverse. Compression, slab, crack, crimps, dynamic, static, etc.

  40. @ChrisO Maybe we should share our feelings…Amen, Brother!  I thought this was about “being bat-shit fast and looking good doing it!”  What next, guest article from Duck Dynasty??

  41. @DCR

    @scaler911

    @frank

    If you bulk up your upper body by climbing, you’re doing it wrong. It’s all about the feet. That’s why Mrs Scaler could kick my ass climbing before “the accident”.

    I wouldn’t say doing it wrong. In bouldering and much more dynamic climbs you will build a good amount of upper body. But say slab or very static climbing its all in balance and technique. I know pencil thin people that climb 5.14, but get them on a very difficult over hanging problem and they won’t complete a 5.12. Just like cycling has its different specialties that each individual may excel at, climbing is very diverse. Compression, slab, crack, crimps, dynamic, static, etc.

    Well sure. I was painting with a pretty broad brush. I just did a horrible job of saying that for the most part, climbers don’t have the body of Sly Stallone a’la that horrible film “Cliffhanger”.

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