La Vie Velominatus: Life Gets in the Way

Life? Ride your bike. Prophet 5:5

There’s no doubt I live La Vie Velominatus. Sometimes I think I live it maybe a little too much, as I’ve been told by independent observers that bicycles and all associated with them dominates my very existence. And it’s true; I work in the industry, dividing my time between editing Spoke magazine, writing (not nearly enough lately) here, and a couple of days a week in the shop. Whenever there’s a spare moment, it’s usually spent surfing the web, and nine out of ten sites I’ll view are in some way bike related. To end the day I’ll settle down with a book or a magazine in bed. No need to tell you the subject matter. (It’s not porn… really.)

Is this healthy? Cycling is by definition a healthy activity, but when one becomes all-consumed by a solitary pursuit, it can be seen as unhealthy in itself. An addiction. Addictions are usually construed as being bad things, but surely an addiction to something so pure can’t be harmful?

Well, not if you aren’t actually riding. If the only link to cycling is from sitting in front of a computer, writing about riding, reading other’s articles about riding, and making a magazine about riding, all to the detriment of actually getting on a bike and doing it, that takes its toll, both mentally and physically.

It’s a Catch 22 situation. You don’t ride, and you lose fitness. And when you lose fitness, riding becomes harder. So you shy away from hard rides. Consequently, you lose even more fitness. Then you get to the point when you say fuck it, and just get your ass on the bike. You ride with your usual crew, you lag on the hills, but you feel stronger the farther you go, drawing on the energy from the simple act of being out, turning the legs and breathing fresh air into the lungs. You get caught up in the little sprints and KOMs, and find you still have something in the tank. Deep, buried reserves forged from la vie. You finish the ride feeling rejuvenated, tired but refreshed. You vow to ride again tomorrow. But there’s a deadline to meet, proofing to be done, a last mintute article to write. Life gets in the way. And so it goes.

I know. I have ridden my bikes probably on average twice a week for the last six weeks. I was supposed to be doing a race this weekend. I’m glad I’m not. The principle reason for not doing it was money, the very coin I’d spent on getting a bike to race on conspired against actually racing. That, coupled with a grand in dentist fees, a visit from an Aussie friend which helped drain the bank account, then an ensuing illness and my race fitness, which was well on track those six weeks ago, has now all but disappeared in a cloud of debt and lethargy.

Yep, life gets in the way of having a life. A life of riding. But I still have a life of cycling, it’s just being lived through other means right now. And that’s better than not having a life at all. I will be back. Vive la vie Velominatus.

Related Posts

124 Replies to “La Vie Velominatus: Life Gets in the Way”

  1. @thom

    Nice mileage thom. I live on the edge of the Peak District near Alfreton and like to go out that way to get some fresh air round Hathersage and most places between. I commute into work near Derby 5 days a week doin around 115 miles then hopefully gettin in a few extra miles on club runs when my work rota allows me to fit it in.

    I’ll use this thread to say hello to everyone as this is my first post. I am in awe of this site and the rules. My bike is my only transport and I love to ride it whatever the weather.

  2. @jen

    @Buck RogersTriathlete- jack of all trades, master of none. That way I don’t offend anyone, especially the cyclists.

    Just ribbing you and reminding you of Rule #42! :)

  3. @BigSoy

    The scariest thing about this article for me is that it reminded me of something my old rugby coach told me when I was the fittest I’ve ever been at 16 / 17 / 18:
    “For every one week off training you lose three weeks of training”
    When you’re going balls out full Rule V every session that’s a horrible, yet beautiful, thought.

    Thankfully, that only the case for the first week or two you’re off the bike, otherwise it would take a three lifetimes to get into shape. But true enough, just like gaining weight – it’s much harder to lose it than to put it on.

    Thank Merckx we’re not professionals and can afford to be a bit behind our training schedules.

  4. @CFADave

    I tell my wife that the only affair I will ever have is with my bike! Luckily, she loves to ride too so that eases the crunch to ride. With my work schedule I spend significant time travelling in my car to and from work. My bike is like American Express, I don’t leave home with out it! I eek out a ride at lunch everyday to allow me to spend time with family. I always long for those long rides of epic proportion but the lunch rides and occasional weekend long rides will make due.

    Ha!! This has happened several times: VMH catches me starting at a car with a beautiful bike on the roof and a pretty woman behind the wheel. “I saw you checking that girl out, you know.” “There was a girl?” And the killer is, I’m serious – never saw her, too busy checking out the specs on the bike.

    I also have a busy work schedule with travel and, if I head to the office, a long commute. Thankfully, I’m working at home alot and I use the commute time to ride my bike instead. A very nice tradeoff for being overworked and underpaid.

  5. @Marcus

    @frank
    Let me think: very tall person, very tall bike and a great dane. There is a circus somewhere screaming out for an act like you.

    You know I can read what you write, right? I mean, I’m right here.

  6. @jen

    This rings so true on may levels. I’m lucky in that my time is mine and no one knows how much time I spend on my bike. I’ve lurked her for a while but had to comment on this one.
    (I will say up front that when I race I swim before the ride and run after it. But the bike is by far my favourite. That fact that I just acquired my second bike supports this fact.)

    First off, welcome. Many of us come to the sport through other means and for most of us, we end up more connected to the bike for whatever reason. Don’t rush away from the other sports if you’re not ready, but I’m guessing that the bike will eventually squeeze out all others. Vive la Vie Velominatus.

  7. @Buck Rogers

    @frank
    Perfect summation. And, if you do not ind sharing, exactly what does Pedale Forchetta mean?

    As @Pedale.Forchetta pointed out many moons ago (no way I can find the specific post), it is the name of the oldest cycling club in Italy and, strictly translated, means “Pedal and Fork” – but the meaning behind it is to imply the balance between sport and life. It’s beautiful and should have gone into the Language of the Peloton piece.

  8. @nige

    @thom
    Nice mileage thom. I live on the edge of the Peak District near Alfreton and like to go out that way to get some fresh air round Hathersage and most places between. I commute into work near Derby 5 days a week doin around 115 miles then hopefully gettin in a few extra miles on club runs when my work rota allows me to fit it in.

    I’ll use this thread to say hello to everyone as this is my first post. I am in awe of this site and the rules. My bike is my only transport and I love to ride it whatever the weather.

    Welcome to both you and @thom. I think as our lives get busier and busier, commuting is the cure to this problem. It may not be the pathway to La Volupte, but it gives you a chance to ride your bike. I recently retired my favorite bike ever, and have been trying to decide what to do with her to best honor her. I think making her my #1 commuting machine may be the answer; that way she’s still ridden and loved, if not trained on anymore.

    Cheers and, again, welcome.

  9. @Buck Rogers
    All good. Hence why I was honest in the first place. The ribbing is what makes for the interesting reading and friendly banter is what makes it fun.

  10. WTF are you stalking me ,,,, its sounds like it from reading your article,,,,, Great Job well writtin exactly whats going on in me life except different distractions !!!

  11. Good sentiments all round. So, I got out for a ride today, finally. And it will be my last probably for about a week. At least on the road bike… Big ringing it up the last hill to home, instead of shifting to the 39 I thought I’d grunt it up and jammed the rear shifter across looking for that one extra cog. Snap. One broken Chorus shifter. There’s a conspiracy, myself against myself.

  12. @brett
    I love the photo and the message. Eddy looks like a bad ass just sitting.

    And as for riding, my commute into work on bike was the best part of every day. It was all downhill once I walked in the building. And then a ride home to clear out the day’s nonsense. And if easily justified buying cold weather cycling bits too. I dreamed of moving further from work just to get in more forced miles.

  13. @brett

    Good sentiments all round. So, I got out for a ride today, finally. And it will be my last probably for about a week. At least on the road bike… Big ringing it up the last hill to home, instead of shifting to the 39 I thought I’d grunt it up and jammed the rear shifter across looking for that one extra cog. Snap. One broken Chorus shifter. There’s a conspiracy, myself against myself.

    heh heh heh. Excellent. One day soon, I swear, one day you’ll be fatter than me.

    Have some ice cream.

  14. @frank
    Lovely doggy woggy Fronk – are we getting a page to post pictures of our pets? I have some nice shots to post of my corals – not as cuddly as that dog I’d say, but less likely to knock over plants, TVs and table lamps – that said, the floor is fecked where the tank overflowed one day, but I digress….

    I often, through my serial sporting obsessions (phases, everyone else calls them, which I find somewhat insulting for some reason) wished I was a pro and working in the business of whatever sport it was – that said, I am no longer jealous, as it is clear that not working in that business actually seems to allow more time for the sport you love, and I think the contrast between the job and the sport enhances the experience, but chapeau to those of you who keep us pedalling – keep up the good work

    Actually, I am rather concerned about how much time I am thinking about riding my bike though – it seems to be permeating my every thought these days – like when I am reading to my kids, and they say “Dad, why have you stopped reading and are staring into space” – need some therapy

    This bloomin site isn’t helping mind!! Now, back to work

  15. @jen
    Truth be told there was a little tri in my background as well as running ultras, but Merckx be praised, I saw the light with Fronk’s help.

    No going back now for me!

  16. @frank

    @Pedale.Forchetta

    As Cyclops said: balance is a good thing. Past are the days of hard racing and h24 thinking about cycling, you can do that only when you are young, very young. At my age I try to have a more complete life as long I can train 4 times a week!

    You took the words from my mouth! The balance between Pedale and Forchetta is a message, ever since I learned what your name meant, I have been obsessed with it. Balance between sport and life. We are not professionals, after all.
    I am someone who makes decisions as they come, with the information available, and do as well as I can with what I have. With that as my guiding philosophy, I know I’ll make mistakes, but I can live with them because I do my very best. I had the chance in my life to become a true sportsman, but it was in a different sport, and as my life has evolved, the one thing I think about having done differently is to be more directly connected professionally to cycling. Velominati gives me some of that, and for that I am incredibly grateful to this community. But Bretto – you have walked the path, and I admire you for it. Sure, your profession keeps you from your bike, but you’ve managed to keep it part of your life. Good on ya.
    One of the things that kills me about balance is some of the athletes I used to train with. They were 100% committed to skiing, except the fact of the matter is, they weren’t good enough. I always felt going to the olympics was a huge deal, but why devote your life to it if you don’t have a chance of winning? There are other arenas of sport and competition that don’t demand 4 years of total commitment in order to enjoy the prestige of racing against the best in your class.
    A case in point is a documentary I just watched on the US Ski Team prep’ing for the 2010 Winter Olympics; it was summertime and every one of them is in their summer training and talking about the devotion and how they are driven to be the best. The fact is, they aren’t even the best on their team. Most of the subjects didn’t even qualify for the Olympic team. It breaks my heart to see the imbalance between dedication and results. For me, it is much better to choose the balance that is fulfilling both in sport and life.
    Sport is a hard, hard world, and only one can be the best. Only a few can be close enough to fight for it. The rest of us? We have the sport and a balance between that and life. And life, after all, is a mighty fulfilling thing. I’m glad I have Pedale/Forchetta.
    I ride and train as much as my life allows. I have set ambitious goals. I intend to meet them, or determine through trial that I can not. If I don’t meet them, that’s fine – so long as I did my best to. These ambitious goals, by the way, are not just my sporting goals. They are my life’s goals.
    Set lofty goals, and work hard to meet them. If you fail, fail trying. Whatever they are.

    Very interesting, Frank. Lots of good points here.

    Lately I’ve been contemplating why I’ve been dragging my feet & not finishing graduate school. I’ve always been very driven and focused, both in sporting & school, but lately I’ve stalled in the academic realm. I try not to look back too much, since there is so much ahead today, but I think I’ve realized one reason why I’ve hit a wall. My sporting pursuits have always been the way I’ve defined myself. School was important & I worked hard and did well, but I was always more athlete than scholar.

    I’ve now reached the point where I need to transition from graduate student to working professional. And I can’t seem to do it. Why not, I keep wondering? I’ve never been lazy, never lacked motivation.

    Yet at the same time I’ve stalled in finishing up school, I’ve become a passionate Velominatus. I took up road cycling when I was working full-time and then once I returned to school I really got stuck in, riding tons of kms, learning about bike mechanics & fit, studying up on my historical knowledge, and generally trying to cram a lifetime of passion many of you have into a few short years. I’ve become a pretty solid cyclist, but I have yet to finish my darn degree.

    I think deep inside I’m a bit reluctant to define myself as scholar & not athlete. I’ve always been both. I’ve spent far more time in saddle than at desk the past few years because I think I’m a bit subconsciously scared of becoming just the scholar, of finishing my degree and getting a real job beyond a teaching assistantship or a fellowship. I’m at a point of transition.

    For most of my life and throughout college I played one sport constantly & this was how I defined myself. Or simply lived. School was secondary and pretty easy. I was adrift for a few years after college & then I found cycling. For the past few years Pedale, not scholarship, has been my focus.

    This article though & many of the thoughts folks have shared were a real spark for me. I already lived my sporting dream, which was to play at a high collegiate level. Now I love cycling & want to push myself, while still having fun. But, I must find some better balance. I need to finish my degree so I can burnish the cyclofunds. And cycling can still be my passion, but I must accept that I’m no longer the college jock & that I ain’t goin’ PRO.

    The good part is that I can still look PRO on my LOOK! Pedale.Forchetta is really an approach to life that makes sense & is apropos for me as I make the final push to finish my degree and move onto a new life beyond scholar-athlete; now I’m just going to be another working stiff…with a serious cycling passion!

  17. Long time lurker, first time poster. time is tight for everyone, for myself when i had to commute an hour each way to work riding time was limited. No that i work for myself and work from home, i get up early work for a few hours send the kids off to school then go ride for a few hours. I limit my ride time to roughly two hours (i could go all day on my bike) but i limit what i do so to make that balance between the bike and life. However isn’t the bike life??

  18. I can relate to this article, at least in the sense of getting back on the bike after a hiatus. I recently got over a flu that kept me off the bike for about 2 weeks, the most I haven’t ridden in probably 3 years. Although, it was only two weeks, and thus, I didn’t lost a whole lot of fitness, I was still pretty weak once I got back in the saddle. This forced me to do some easy rides and to be honest it gave me some perspective. I was reminded that I used to ride my bike just to ride my bike. For the last 3 years all I have done is ride to suffer and sometimes being forced to take it easy can remind you how much fun it is to just ride and not always being training.

  19. Good point! Slowing down for a few rides can easily remind you of how much fun it is simply to be on a bicycle. I always feel the need to get strong, faster, better. But sometimes I think of how far I’ve come in a short time, when just a few years ago 15 miles seemed far. Now it seems like a warm-up.

    The key is balance, when on the bike or when incorporating cycling into daily life where there are many demands on one’s time.

  20. NIce article. I agree with Frank in one of the easiest solutions to trying to maintain fitness, and get some bike love with all of life’s other obligations (none of us are really Rule #11 compliant, really), is commuting. I ride straight in, then after work, take the long way home. It also helps that we have showers at work, so it doesn’t matter if I get all lathered up on the ride in. If I have the rare treat of getting off work early, all the better.
    Having a compressed work week, and a very understanding VMH helps immensely too.

  21. @MrBigCog

    I can relate to this article, at least in the sense of getting back on the bike after a hiatus. I recently got over a flu that kept me off the bike for about 2 weeks, the most I haven’t ridden in probably 3 years. Although, it was only two weeks, and thus, I didn’t lost a whole lot of fitness, I was still pretty weak once I got back in the saddle. This forced me to do some easy rides and to be honest it gave me some perspective. I was reminded that I used to ride my bike just to ride my bike. For the last 3 years all I have done is ride to suffer and sometimes being forced to take it easy can remind you how much fun it is to just ride and not always being training.

    What you’re describing here is what I call the Paradox of Maturity…we fall in love with the sport for a reason, and then get so into riding and training that we forget those reasons. For me, though, each Fall gives me the chance to settle back into the basics. Thank goodness for having seasons.

    @TravisD
    Welcome – working at home has the significant downside of meaning you lose the easy delineation between work and home, but it does give the freedom to ride instead of commuting. Good on ya!

  22. I’m not sure I’d have the focus to work from home full-time. When I was in school and had serious projects to get done, I’d always hoof it to the nearest coffeeshop with the laptop and hunker down with some coffee. For whatever reason I’d always get more done there with less slacking off than at home. Or I’d just hang around the university before/after class and work there.

    I like having defined areas. To me, home is for relaxing and for personal pursuits. Work is for work. If I owned my own company I could run from home, I think I’d still like to have some sort of office away from home.

    Regarding cycling/life balance, since I’m not pro and don’t race I just try to follow the simple rule of not forcing myself to ride more than I’d like as “training”. Training for what? I just hope to keep getting faster and being able to ride further if I keep riding, I’m not going to be making money from it.

    If I don’t feel like riding on a day I thought I was going to ride, I don’t. I figure the best way to make yourself dislike an activity that is fun is to force yourself to do it even when you don’t feel like it. I just try and remember that and not beat myself up for forgoing a ride that could be making me a “stronger” cyclist.

  23. @frank

    @CFADave

    I tell my wife that the only affair I will ever have is with my bike! Luckily, she loves to ride too so that eases the crunch to ride. With my work schedule I spend significant time travelling in my car to and from work. My bike is like American Express, I don’t leave home with out it! I eek out a ride at lunch everyday to allow me to spend time with family. I always long for those long rides of epic proportion but the lunch rides and occasional weekend long rides will make due.

    Ha!! This has happened several times: VMH catches me starting at a car with a beautiful bike on the roof and a pretty woman behind the wheel. “I saw you checking that girl out, you know.” “There was a girl?” And the killer is, I’m serious – never saw her, too busy checking out the specs on the bike.
    I also have a busy work schedule with travel and, if I head to the office, a long commute. Thankfully, I’m working at home alot and I use the commute time to ride my bike instead. A very nice tradeoff for being overworked and underpaid.

    You mean like this Coppi?: http://www.milanofixed.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/stretch_before_riding_by_nigellus9-d422y07-Copia.jpg

    WARNING: probably barely safe for work, and I mean no offense to our lady friends around here!

  24. @scaler911
    Interesting. You don’t often see crank bros. pedals on a fixie. And, unless I’m very much mistaken her footwear isn’t compatible.

  25. @frank

    @jen

    This rings so true on may levels. I’m lucky in that my time is mine and no one knows how much time I spend on my bike. I’ve lurked her for a while but had to comment on this one.
    (I will say up front that when I race I swim before the ride and run after it. But the bike is by far my favourite. That fact that I just acquired my second bike supports this fact.)

    First off, welcome. Many of us come to the sport through other means and for most of us, we end up more connected to the bike for whatever reason. Don’t rush away from the other sports if you’re not ready, but I’m guessing that the bike will eventually squeeze out all others. Vive la Vie Velominatus.

    Thank you for the welcome.

  26. @Cyclops

    @eightzero

    @Cyclops

    @eightzeroWe need pictures, man!

    Mrs./Dr. Eightzero on Mt. Baker 2011:http://www.photoreflect.com/pr3/photocard.aspx?pc=0174673D9CFA572368A6C0DADD09E555

    Sweet!! I bet she kicks your butt up all the hills too, huh?

    Every. Time. She turns a racing 53×39 on a much smaller cassette too. It’s a simple matter of thrust to weight ratios. However, on Mt. Baker this year, I was able to suck her wheel all the way up. We got to about 3km from the finish line when The Deal Was Struck. She started to put the pressure on, and I was starting to crack. I told her “hey. Pull it back just a notch and we can finish together (!) but I’ll let you take the stage win.” She acquiesced, and we did the LeMan/Badger high handshake at the line, with her wheel a few centimeters in front of mine. It was a good day.

  27. @frank

    It breaks my heart to see the imbalance between dedication and results.

    This is indeed insightful, and bears some deep consideration. But before you do further analysis, imagine somone looking deep into their soul and pondering this word:

    Doping.

  28. @frank

    We’ve got a mutt and a Great Dane (well, a moderate to fair one anyway) – she was into the vet recently for a bike frame, and before that she bloated and cost me a very nice full carbon bike on that one, since it was also an emergency visit. She has had various other episodes that have, over her life, cost us a small bike stable.
    But I’m happy with the bikes I have, and how can you say “No, I’m going let you suffer while I’m off to buy a new bike?”
    Look at that poonum!

    @frank
    When the last of our old dogs took his final long sleep, my wife expressed an interest in getting one of the larger breeds. I’d been after a Newfie (got a soft spot for them) but one day she was looking through the classifieds and said “How big are Great Danes?”
    We now have two, hers looks identical to yours, mine is jet black with white patches and weighs more than my sister. They might cost several spare inner tubes worth of food a week, but I’m pretty sure if they’d been at my rented room instead of back at the house I wouldn’t have had my bikes stolen…..

  29. Mouse, where’s that pic?

    Yes, I AM expecting you to do my dirty work. Outdo yourself.

  30. ….maybe it’s just me, but can nobody else see a strange sparkly aura eminating from the Prophet’s suit, like some sort of phosphorescence?

    Maybe I’m taking too much of this stuff

  31. @mouse

    What, you blame @minion for getting you pregnant or getting you painted up like a cat?

    I sincerely hope your child never sees that photo!

  32. As it’s too late to stop Mouse, we might as well have a real cat !

    Shuriken is my Abu Dhabi rescue cat and a very friendly boy. Great hunter too – a rabbit is his best so far – and even though he’s had his balls chopped off he still goes out fighting all night.

  33. @Dr C
    No, it’s not just you. On my screen at work I’m getting the same aura but on my laptop and the desktop at home, the aura has disappeared. Perhaps it is only visible at those moments of clarity where the prophet bestows further wisdom on a velominatus?

  34. I know it’s the off-season and we’re all a bit bored, but really guys, anyone want to post pictures of babies or cute wee kids?

  35. @wiscot

    I know it’s the off-season and we’re all a bit bored, but really guys, anyone want to post pictures of babies or cute wee kids?

    Oh alright then, since you insist… warning though, it is slightly cycling related.

    My favourite pic of my daughter Lillian (probably about 4-5 years ago – she’s 9 now) modelling my Rapha Belgian Winter Cap. I don’t wear it much these days but when I do I am extremely appreciative of it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.