La Fleur de V

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 10.03.35 PM
La Fleur de V grows on Keepers Tour 2012. Photo: Jesse Willems

We have the kind of poor judgement that allows us to have a puppy. She’s half pit, half something, and half something else and boasts a lilliputian-sized head. As her Life Coach, I’ve instructed her to focus on growing her head because, as her Uncle Gianni says, no one gets anywhere in this world with a tiny head. But she’s a good puppy, and she’s making good progress. Despite her physical shortcomings, she’s got heart – the kind of spirit that makes everyone around her like her immediately.

The Rules are simultaneously unifying and segregating. They bring the like-minded together while casting those on the fringe outward. This is unfortunate, but necessary; The Rules are a gateway to enjoying ours, this most difficult of sports, to the fullest. Their purpose is to breed Velominati, not scare Cyclists away. At the same time, anyone who dares venture into this realm must be prepared for what awaits them. While The Rules have evolved from an abstract notion into something approaching a Religion and lack any formal order, but there is no mistake in the importance of the first V Rules whose message are to take them with tongue firmly in cheek, lead by example to guide others towards the path, and – oh, by the way – the path starts out hard, and only gets harder as you go along.

We all have our induction into Rule #5; mine came when I was just seven years old. We were out skiing at Lake Phalen in St. Paul when a white-out blizzard hit. For those of you not from Minnesota, getting stuck in one of those is like getting stuck in a Slurpee machine, but without the fruity flavors. Rather than turn back, we followed the tiny bit of groomed trail we could see in front of us and completed our loop. We even beat the search party home, which was kind of like winning. The sense of satisfaction when I walked into the chalet that night, having pushed through a scary situation and come out the other end unscathed, was owed to our willingness push on and not give up. I’ll never forget that day, or my introduction to The V.

Cycling is a sport, a simple thing. It is something we do for pleasure. But Cycling is also a simplification of reality, where we can test our perseverance and learn to fight the greatest adversary we can encounter: ourselves. A Cyclist learns to push through pain to achieve a goal. These lessons are then applied to our lives to allow us to become better people. Because of this, the Velominati learn to be strong, tough people.

For those of us who have studied The V, we have learned something about ourselves that can never be taken from us. I’ll go to the grave with the lessons that I’ve learned on two wheels that have been subsequently applied to every walk of my life. Life’s hardships, in whatever form they meet us, can be more easily dispatched when one has learned to push harder when the legs burn and the lungs scream out in agony.

La Fleur de V grows inside us. Its pollen spreads to those with whom we interact, much like my puppy’s good nature infects everyone she comes in contact with. Guide the uninitiated, and always observe Rules #5 and #43 in all aspects of life, not just Cycling. The pretenders quickly fade into the background, and the Velominati stand apart as strong, good people.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

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67 Replies to “La Fleur de V”

  1. Cheers, Frank….  I have only been a cyclist for 2 years ( a pedalwan, truly) or so, but the bike and all of you V disciples are helping me become more versed in the V, which as you pointed out does improve me as a person, dad, and husband. If I don’t ride, my wife encourages, because my family sees the transformative power of two wheels in my life. Thank you to the community here and to the efforts of the Keepers.

  2. The fourth paragraph sums up cycling in a near perfect way..I completely intend to plagiarize that passage. Chapeau.

  3. I’m always slightly jealous of the artistry of these articles, wish I could write something as great as this!

  4. @TBONE

    All of The Rules, summed up by two men in one picture.

    That photo should never be posted without BIG RING RIDING’s caption…

    WHUT?

    WHUT YOU MEAN THEY SITTING FUNNY?

    CAN YOU RIDE A BIKE BATSHIT FAST? THEN GET BACK TO SITTING SENSIBLY.

  5. OK Frank – you asked for it. Dogs and bikes? I give you dogs made out of bikes. The person who made these must be so anti-V that they have come all the way round the universe to the other side to be channelling V.

  6. Cheers, indeed! Last week I had it in mind to do a 120 KM ride, but got lost and finished  at 160 KM. Perhaps the rules give us a mindset for accepting expected and unexpected challenges? What the road gives unexpectedly sounds [to me] a fair bit closer to the spirit of our sport. This year’s Giro stands as an example. Embracing the challenge and pain opens up worlds of possibility. The outcome for me last Friday was improvised nutrition at gas station convenience stores and a personal best time. Memorable and sweet: it’s all about the V.

  7. Nicely stated Frank, it is truly a life style you embrace it or just move on. I just hope your puppy doesn’t consume the bike fund as mine did for about a year. I guess I didn’t see the disclaimer  before hand, not that it would of made a big difference anyway. VMH wanted her, you know the old saying. Happy Velomihottie is a happy Velominati!

  8. @gregorio

    Cheers, indeed! Last week I had it in mind to do a 120 KM ride, but got lost and finished at 160 KM. Perhaps the rules give us a mindset for accepting expected and unexpected challenges? What the road gives unexpectedly sounds [to me] a fair bit closer to the spirit of our sport. This year’s Giro stands as an example. Embracing the challenge and pain opens up worlds of possibility. The outcome for me last Friday was improvised nutrition at gas station convenience stores and a personal best time. Memorable and sweet: it’s all about The V.

    Well done! Getting back to home/car/station is such good motivation when a long way from such. There is only one way to get there and it will require some Rule #5, effort and time. What a great way to enjoy some life.

  9. The point about cycling toughening up people in a way that extends to other aspects of life is really well taken. Can’t think of serious cyclist I know who is has the lazy and entitled attitude that permeates modern society. Perhaps the challenges we face on the road allow us to properly contextualize bad things that happen elsewhere. It’s hard to get too upset some minor work drama on a Monday after you’ve spent the weekend facing the man with the hammer.

  10. We have the kind of poor judgement that allows us to have a puppy.

    There needs to be a competition where people finish that sentence with examples their own poor judgement.

  11. Puppies are pure awesomeness.  We have an 18 month old and an 8 year old one…..the big dufus just never seems to want to grow up….a lesson for us all!

  12. As ever, a brilliant piece from you Frank but I almost get a sense of it being a reaction to someone or something challenging you in life recently.  Hoping I’m entirely incorrect about that.  As ever, thanks to you and the Keepers for your insights.

  13. “Their purpose is to breed Velominati, not scare Cyclists away. At the same time, anyone who dares venture into this realm must be prepared for what awaits them.” Preach it, Father Frank, preach it!

    That is great. Right on, not about scaring anyone away, but definitely not everyone is cut out to Follow. I definitely appreciate all that the Keepers, the Followers, and the Community have provided.

    The VMH and I picked up a Staffordshire Terrier a few years back. It was starting in VA and we were on our way to the North American handmade bike show in Richmond. “If that’s there when we get back, we’re taking it home,” said the VMH. And so we did.

    Beautiful lead photo!!

     

  14. @Fins

    @DerHoggz
    Procrastination is a divine right of academics and has nothing to do with laziness.

    Ha, I said to the VMH the other week that I was lazy. She laughed, said I’m the least lazy person she’s ever seen. I ride like crazy but I cannot seem to finish up graduate school. Part procrastination, part becoming a Follower, part dealing with lots of chairperson wackiness. Either way, the only time I’ve ever struggle to overcome something is right now.

    Time to stop my procrastination and finish up though!

  15. @Gianni

    @gregorio

    Cheers, indeed! Last week I had it in mind to do a 120 KM ride, but got lost and finished at 160 KM. Perhaps the rules give us a mindset for accepting expected and unexpected challenges? What the road gives unexpectedly sounds [to me] a fair bit closer to the spirit of our sport. This year’s Giro stands as an example. Embracing the challenge and pain opens up worlds of possibility. The outcome for me last Friday was improvised nutrition at gas station convenience stores and a personal best time. Memorable and sweet: it’s all about The V.

    Well done! Getting back to home/car/station is such good motivation when a long way from such. There is only one way to get there and it will require some Rule #5, effort and time. What a great way to enjoy some life.

    An extra 40 km? Yikes. Don’t tell anyone or they’ll force a gps device on you.

    It has been said but it really, really is beautiful to head out on a Saturday morning, maybe some arm and leg warmers on, a few things in the pockets, two full bidons, and know that you are going to be out for hours with the only thing to rely on being yourself. And Rule #5.

    The reactions people have when you tell them you ride for five hours or 160 kms are priceless.

    And what is priceless about the VLVV is that it provides balance. None of us are wacky nuts like ultra marathoners or something. We love turning the cranks, but we also love the journey, the balance of life + bicycle, the beauty of a Silent Machine, and the camaraderie of a global network of Followers. The only thing “extreme” about any of us is the level of our passion, not a asceticism that borders on unhealthy and anti-social.

  16. @Ron

    it really, really is beautiful to head out on a Saturday morning, maybe some arm and leg warmers on, a few things in the pockets, two full bidons, and know that you are going to be out for hours

    Mm. Yes.

  17. @Chris

    @TBONE

    All of The Rules, summed up by two men in one picture.

    That photo should never be posted without BIG RING RIDING’s caption…

    WHUT?

    WHUT YOU MEAN THEY SITTING FUNNY?

    CAN YOU RIDE A BIKE BATSHIT FAST? THEN GET BACK TO SITTING SENSIBLY.

    My bad. Sometimes even the best of us break the rules. Here’s Eddy breaking Rule #37.

    When Eddy was called on breaking The Rules, he towed a similar line as our Dear Leader, Stephen Harper, saying ‘I think I make The Rules’.

  18. @RAILhead

    Gorgeous article, said in the manliest of ways possible.

    Funny that you mention the word “manly” in there, as the VMH has been pointing out that I’ve taken to spontaneously using the phrase “woopsie-daisies” when things go amis.

  19. @Chris

    @TBONE

    All of The Rules, summed up by two men in one picture.

    That photo should never be posted without BIG RING RIDING’s caption…

    WHUT?

    WHUT YOU MEAN THEY SITTING FUNNY?

    CAN YOU RIDE A BIKE BATSHIT FAST? THEN GET BACK TO SITTING SENSIBLY.

    This. Perhaps his strongest work.

  20. @Russ

    Nicely stated Frank, it is truly a life style you embrace it or just move on. I just hope your puppy doesn’t consume the bike fund as mine did for about a year. I guess I didn’t see the disclaimer before hand, not that it would of made a big difference anyway. VMH wanted her, you know the old saying. Happy Velomihottie is a happy Velominati!

    This ain’t my first rodeo, cowboy. The pooch-pack resting up in the rain after killin’ it hiking earlier in the day.

    That’s in the neighborhood of 110 kilos of dog.

  21. @Fins

    The point about cycling toughening up people in a way that extends to other aspects of life is really well taken. Can’t think of serious cyclist I know who is has the lazy and entitled attitude that permeates modern society. Perhaps the challenges we face on the road allow us to properly contextualize bad things that happen elsewhere. It’s hard to get too upset some minor work drama on a Monday after you’ve spent the weekend facing the man with the hammer.

    Very true. I wonder if part of it is that we self-select into the sport for our predisposition to suffering and seeking ways to challenge ourselves? If that’s true, then surely we’re already less twatwafflish than the masses to begin with, and then we ride and we become ever more rad as we submit to the V.

  22. @Deakus

    Visited brother over the weekend his Fox Terrier has just had pups!

    I assume this is one of the puppies and not your brother.

    @girl

    We have the kind of poor judgement that allows us to have a puppy.

    There needs to be a competition where people finish that sentence with examples their own poor judgement.

    Yes. You first.

  23. @Ron

    An extra 40 km? Yikes. Don’t tell anyone or they’ll force a gps device on you.

    On KT, we had two GPS’s with the same map loaded and they both pointed us in different directions. It appears that unless you’ve already ridden the route and have enough datapoints loaded, the device guesses about the next term in much the same way a person would. Not as handy as we’re given to believe they are.

  24. @Ron

    And what is priceless about the VLVV is that it provides balance. None of us are wacky nuts like ultra marathoners or something. We love turning the cranks, but we also love the journey, the balance of life + bicycle, the beauty of a Silent Machine, and the camaraderie of a global network of Followers. The only thing “extreme” about any of us is the level of our passion, not a asceticism that borders on unhealthy and anti-social.

    Beautifully put! Pedale.Forchetta’s name is based on one of the older (if not the oldest – I’m sure he can clarify) cycling clubs in Italy. It means pedal and fork, implying the balance between life and the bike. I love that balance and for that reason I’m glad I’m not a Pro.

    I’d like to be a Pro for how hard they can kill it, though.

  25. @frank

    Pedale.Forchetta’s name is based on one of the older (if not the oldest – I’m sure he can clarify) cycling clubs in Italy. It means pedal and fork, implying the balance between life and the bike.

    Thank you for this.

  26. @Ron

    @Gianni

    @gregorio

    Cheers, indeed! Last week I had it in mind to do a 120 KM ride, but got lost and finished at 160 KM. Perhaps the rules give us a mindset for accepting expected and unexpected challenges? What the road gives unexpectedly sounds [to me] a fair bit closer to the spirit of our sport. This year’s Giro stands as an example. Embracing the challenge and pain opens up worlds of possibility. The outcome for me last Friday was improvised nutrition at gas station convenience stores and a personal best time. Memorable and sweet: it’s all about The V.

    Well done! Getting back to home/car/station is such good motivation when a long way from such. There is only one way to get there and it will require some Rule #5, effort and time. What a great way to enjoy some life.

    An extra 40 km? Yikes. Don’t tell anyone or they’ll force a gps device on you.

    It has been said but it really, really is beautiful to head out on a Saturday morning, maybe some arm and leg warmers on, a few things in the pockets, two full bidons, and know that you are going to be out for hours with the only thing to rely on being yourself. And Rule #5.

    The reactions people have when you tell them you ride for five hours or 160 kms are priceless.

    And what is priceless about the VLVV is that it provides balance. None of us are wacky nuts like ultra marathoners or something. We love turning the cranks, but we also love the journey, the balance of life + bicycle, the beauty of a Silent Machine, and the camaraderie of a global network of Followers. The only thing “extreme” about any of us is the level of our passion, not a asceticism that borders on unhealthy and anti-social.

    A-Merckx to all this. Set out Saturday around 10:30am. Felt like going long but waiting to see how things felt. Bit cool to start  and wind remained light from the south east. Roads were good an quiet. The kms ticked by and I kept adding a wee extra bit here and there to known routes. Finally hit home at 216 kms. Longest ride ever and could have done a few more but was running out of time. I know it’s not about just logging distance, but in this case I was about feeling good and challenging myself. I hit 160kms at 5hrs 45 mins. It was both a physical and mental challenge and once done, will become easier as the bar gets set higher. Next challenge? 240 kms. I know I can do it now. People think I’m nuts, but when I look at their unfit, let-themselves-go, fat asses, I remain serene in my choice of leisure time activity.

  27. @seemunkee

    @Deakus

    Visited brother over the weekend his Fox Terrier has just had pups!

    That puppy looks like it wants to kick my ass.

    That puppy does look like it wants to kick your ass….that puppy looks like Roy “pretty boy” Shaw.

    And he could kick ass.

  28. @paolo

    @seemunkee

    @Deakus

    Visited brother over the weekend his Fox Terrier has just had pups!

    That puppy looks like it wants to kick my ass.

    That puppy does look like it wants to kick your ass….that puppy looks like Roy “pretty boy” Shaw.

    And he could kick ass.

    That’s got to be the most malevolent puppy I’ve ever seen. I want one!

  29. @frank

    @RAILhead

    Gorgeous article, said in the manliest of ways possible.

    Funny that you mention the word “manly” in there, as the VMH has been pointing out that I’ve taken to spontaneously using the phrase “woopsie-daisies” when things go amis.

    I think you are safe.

  30. @paolo

    @seemunkee

    @Deakus

    Visited brother over the weekend his Fox Terrier has just had pups!

    That puppy looks like it wants to kick my ass.

    That puppy does look like it wants to kick your ass….that puppy looks like Roy “pretty boy” Shaw.

    And he could kick ass.

    That dog doesn’t need to bark – it’ll head-butt you instead. Just the look on it’s face says it all: “you’re dead meat, pal.”

  31. Damn, I love this web site. That’s an awesome piece of scribe, Frank. I’ve been following Velominati for a few months now (thanks  Cyclingnews for turning me on to it), and I look forward to each and every day of it. Funny, articulate, original, great feedback from all followers. Really the best cycling site on the web. I applied Rule V more than once on an ass-busting ride this past weekend, and I’ll be damned if it didn’t help. Viva la Velominati!!

  32. @Gianni

    @frank

    @RAILhead

    Gorgeous article, said in the manliest of ways possible.

    Funny that you mention the word “manly” in there, as the VMH has been pointing out that I’ve taken to spontaneously using the phrase “woopsie-daisies” when things go amis.

    I think you are safe.

    Daniel Day Lewis = brilliant in everything. Cameron Diaz = shite in everything.

  33. @Ron

    It has been said but it really, really is beautiful to head out on a Saturday morning, maybe some arm and leg warmers on, a few things in the pockets, two full bidons, and know that you are going to be out for hours with the only thing to rely on being yourself. And Rule #5.

    The reactions people have when you tell them you ride for five hours or 160 kms are priceless.

    And what is priceless about the VLVV is that it provides balance. None of us are wacky nuts like ultra marathoners or something. We love turning the cranks, but we also love the journey, the balance of life + bicycle, the beauty of a Silent Machine, and the camaraderie of a global network of Followers. The only thing “extreme” about any of us is the level of our passion, not a asceticism that borders on unhealthy and anti-social.

    This sums up the best of our sport rather brilliantly.

  34. @Ron

    @Gianni

    @gregorio

    Cheers, indeed! Last week I had it in mind to do a 120 KM ride, but got lost and finished at 160 KM. Perhaps the rules give us a mindset for accepting expected and unexpected challenges? What the road gives unexpectedly sounds [to me] a fair bit closer to the spirit of our sport. This year’s Giro stands as an example. Embracing the challenge and pain opens up worlds of possibility. The outcome for me last Friday was improvised nutrition at gas station convenience stores and a personal best time. Memorable and sweet: it’s all about The V.

    Well done! Getting back to home/car/station is such good motivation when a long way from such. There is only one way to get there and it will require some Rule #5, effort and time. What a great way to enjoy some life.

    An extra 40 km? Yikes. Don’t tell anyone or they’ll force a gps device on you.

    It has been said but it really, really is beautiful to head out on a Saturday morning, maybe some arm and leg warmers on, a few things in the pockets, two full bidons, and know that you are going to be out for hours with the only thing to rely on being yourself. And Rule #5.

    The reactions people have when you tell them you ride for five hours or 160 kms are priceless.

    And what is priceless about the VLVV is that it provides balance. None of us are wacky nuts like ultra marathoners or something. We love turning the cranks, but we also love the journey, the balance of life + bicycle, the beauty of a Silent Machine, and the camaraderie of a global network of Followers. The only thing “extreme” about any of us is the level of our passion, not a asceticism that borders on unhealthy and anti-social.

    Well…I do have a Garmin 510, but to my dying day I will refuse to load pre-mapped rides into it! [maybe that should be a rule?!]  It’s too easy to squeeze-out the true essence of the ride with artificial boundaries of where I’m supposed to be and when. Occasionally I need to phone my VMH to break the news that I’m going to be late…she just laughs and tells me to stay safe. VLVV and cheers.

  35. I had a fabulous ride on Sunday. Only 62k, but 1900 metres of upwardly mobile V, which for me is a little like V-squared.

    Resplendent in V-kit, with a bidon of water, spare tube, pump and two small, foam-like snack products acquired in a last minute gas station panic, I set off. With no real direction in mind, I spotted a canyon called Las Flores which I recall someone mentioning was unpleasant.

    And lo, they proved to be right. After a mere K or so of flatteringly false flat the gradient turned skywards and stayed there. Though I admit immediate capitulation to the 25 cog, as I dropped into the grind house I was pleasantly surprised to find the pedals were still just about turning over fast enough to confound the butterflies. After a few more clicks of zig-zaggering the scenery backed off to a more modest 8% or so and if I didn’t exactly attack it, I may have clicked up a few gears and stopped cursing as much.

    At the top was a magnificent view of the Ocean and surrounding mountains but no mobile phone reception. Which left me mildly lost and a figure of considerable amuse/bemusement to the cyclists coming the other way I asked for directions. After enquiring whether I had enough food – they sent me on up the Mulholland ‘snake’ where similarly kindly California motorcyclists did not run me over (which I understand is the usual greeting for visiting British cyclists.) A last blast down Encinal dropped me out near Zuma beach where I met the missus and went for a burger. What a marvellous hobby this is.

  36. @gregorio

    @Ron

    @Gianni

    @gregorio

    Cheers, indeed! Last week I had it in mind to do a 120 KM ride, but got lost and finished at 160 KM. Perhaps the rules give us a mindset for accepting expected and unexpected challenges? What the road gives unexpectedly sounds [to me] a fair bit closer to the spirit of our sport. This year’s Giro stands as an example. Embracing the challenge and pain opens up worlds of possibility. The outcome for me last Friday was improvised nutrition at gas station convenience stores and a personal best time. Memorable and sweet: it’s all about The V.

    Well done! Getting back to home/car/station is such good motivation when a long way from such. There is only one way to get there and it will require some Rule #5, effort and time. What a great way to enjoy some life.

    An extra 40 km? Yikes. Don’t tell anyone or they’ll force a gps device on you.

    It has been said but it really, really is beautiful to head out on a Saturday morning, maybe some arm and leg warmers on, a few things in the pockets, two full bidons, and know that you are going to be out for hours with the only thing to rely on being yourself. And Rule #5.

    The reactions people have when you tell them you ride for five hours or 160 kms are priceless.

    And what is priceless about the VLVV is that it provides balance. None of us are wacky nuts like ultra marathoners or something. We love turning the cranks, but we also love the journey, the balance of life + bicycle, the beauty of a Silent Machine, and the camaraderie of a global network of Followers. The only thing “extreme” about any of us is the level of our passion, not a asceticism that borders on unhealthy and anti-social.

    Well…I do have a Garmin 510, but to my dying day I will refuse to load pre-mapped rides into it! [maybe that should be a rule?!] It’s too easy to squeeze-out the true essence of the ride with artificial boundaries of where I’m supposed to be and when. Occasionally I need to phone my VMH to break the news that I’m going to be late…she just laughs and tells me to stay safe. VLVV and cheers.

    Funny. I bought the 510 simply so my wife has piece of mind via live tracking that I’m not lying in a ditch somewhere. As long as that little dot keeps moving, we’re all good.

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