Look Pro, Part III: Meditate on The V

The Badger meditates

In the interest of full disclosure, I feel it is my responsibility to warn you that this article might accidentally make you a better cyclist. Even though it breaks protocol, the subject of this edition of Look Pro involves the power of the mind, not just aesthetics.

As we established previously, The Rules can be transcended if the rider has the proper mentality. Take, for example, the sweat band that Hinault is wearing in this photo. Though he gets off on a Rule Violation through a technicality (no Rules about sweat bands), the way that thing is creeping up past his hairline, you might think he just stepped out of a special session with Richard Simmons. That said, from a technical perspective, calling it a “sweat band” is erroneous, since sweat bands don’t work for Badger Perspiration (pure Iron) and that it is actually a device used to absorb your opponent’s anguish and convert it directly into hardonium, the core element of The V. The point is, he pulls it off because he’s the Badger, and the Badger can do whatever he damn well pleases. Lame sweat bands and all.

A good deal of The Rules focus on the little details of good taste and style that help you look Pro, such as how to wear sunnies, the proper length of socks and bibs, positioning on the bike, and the accessories that are and aren’t allowed. But try as you might to Look Fantastic, unless you apply liberal doses of Rule #5, nothing you do will go far to help you avoid the Gyllenhaal Syndrome.

The good news is that Rule 5 is not measured in absolutes, but by relative increments. Whether you are throwing your leg over a top tube for the first time, a recreational rider, a racer, or a Pro riding a bike around a track for 60 minutes, to observe Rule #5 means that you push yourself beyond a level you previously thought possible.  This is the crux of becoming a better cyclist; your limits are dictated more by the mind than by fitness; to push beyond your limits is to will your lungs to breathe a little deeper, demand a bit more from your legs, and to steel your mind against the constant pleas from your lungs and legs to mercifully halt the effort.

The bad news is that the work in pursuit of Rule #5 is never done, for every step closer you come, Rule #5 takes a step farther away. As your fitness increases and your body learns to cope with the demands you put on it, the bar creeps ever higher (see Rule #10).

In your pursuit of Looking Pro, keep these guidelines in mind:

  1. Meditate on The V, as Hinault is doing here. Before starting, prepare your body for the pain to be found on the road by visualizing the effort. Visualize the road, and the points where you will suffer the most. This sways the locus of control away from the road and toward your mind.  If it helps, apply the V-Cog to your top tube as a reminder.
  2. Your mind is your worst enemy. Do all your thinking before your start riding your bike.  Once the pedals start to turn, wrap yourself in the sensations of the ride – the smell of the air, the sound of the tires, the feeling of flight as the bicycle rolls over the road.
  3. When engaged in an effort, never think about the pain. This is analogous to “looking down” when walking the tightrope. You don’t need to know how much you hurt or how much longer you can sustain the effort – that kind of information is catnip for the Man with the Hammer.
  4. Quitting is a plague, the ultimate Anti-V. Unless your name starts with “Jens” and ends with “Voigt”, you will experience your body begging your mind to quit during an effort. But if you quit once, the temptation to do so again will quickly spread to the next effort, and the next, and so forth until you end up riding the couch, dishing out Rule #5 to an unfortunate bag of Frito-Lays. If, for some reason, you find yourself pedaling squares with absolutely all the air gone from your lungs before reaching your objective, pick a spot farther up the road and soldier on with the effort until you reach it. This tricks your mind into believing that it didn’t quit and goes a long way towards maintaining the steely resolve required to be a hardman.
  5. The only thing worse than the pain you feel during an effort is the knowledge that you quit. Think of it this way; the harder you go,the sooner it will be over.


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71 Replies to “Look Pro, Part III: Meditate on The V”

  1. A patch of gravel in the road this weekend gave me a fine opportunity to meditate on the V. Went down, trashed my chin and left lever, got up, made sure I was conscious and otherwise unbroken, had no cell coverage, proceeded to ride home, dripping blood all over the top tube.

    Be safe out there, bretheren.

  2. @Nate
    Sorry to hear that but glad you made it home. But more importnatly, I hope you got at least a pic of the bike with the blood on it! Way to HTFU on the road, man!

  3. @Nate
    Sorry to hear that… glad you’re hale enough to post! I actually had some meditation on The V over the holidays when I had to get a root canal on a front tooth that went suddenly bad on me… The dentist asked if I’d taken a blow to the chops recently, and it took me a while to recall that I’d kissed a stopped car while demoing a bike about four years ago. (My fault, and yes, they say it can take that long for a tooth to go bad) As I sat squirming in the chair, my mantra was “Rule 5, Rule #5, Rule #5…” Hope you didn’t get blood on The Sacred Garment (Would that enhance its inherent prestige, tho? Can I get a Ruling here?)

  4. @Buck Rogers
    I need to take a photo. I haven’t had a chance to clean the bike yet.

    Didn’t bloody the Sacred Garment but did trash my Rapha Belgium Knee Warmers. It saddens me but they went out in a blaze of glory. As for dental matters I also banged a tooth a bit and was much relieved when the grit I expectorated from my mouth was chipseal and not tooth enamel.

  5. Nate :
    @Buck Rogers I need to take a photo. I haven’t had a chance to clean the bike yet.
    @sgt Didn’t bloody the Sacred Garment but did trash my Rapha Belgium Knee Warmers. It saddens me but they went out in a blaze of glory. As for dental matters I also banged a tooth a bit and was much relieved when the grit I expectorated from my mouth was chipseal and not tooth enamel.

    Maybe if you really fuck your teeth up you’ll be able to sprint like Cav?

  6. @Nate
    I had myself some fun with ice-covered railroad tracks. Nothing like your gravel experience it seems, but damn I have never been spiked to the ground so fast. I felt like a beach volleyball without the bikini babes as it was a balmy 22F. Escaped with cosmetic damage to myself and the bike thankfully, minus a bent deraileur hanger, but meh, that’s nothing. Fuck Davy Jones, ice is the true terror of the seas.

  7. @Buck Rogers
    Two months of training to peak form and some UK-style dental work and I’d still be a long way from sprinting like Cav. Plus, dragging others down with me isn’t my style.

    Gnarly. I reckon you slide better on ice than on chip seal, but somehow bumps and bruises hurt a lot more when the temp is below freezing.

  8. @frank
    Here’s the video of Hinault at that time trial (start at 2:19). Note the lack of yellow jersey. It’s the ’82 TdF. Phil Anderson’s got the yellow. It’s the 11th stage, from Bordeaux to Valence-d’Agen. Hinault takes back the yellow jersey on that stage and never lets it go again.


    From the picture for Frank’s article, note the aero seat tube, aero seat post, and aero down tube. Gitane experimented with that tubing starting in ’81, I think. Y’all noted the aero levers–I think those are regular Super Record levers that were drilled from the back. I know the Cinelli bars were drilled at the point of contact with the levers and then again close to the stem where the cables came out. I remember reading something about this when it was first done, but I can’t find it on the worldwide intertube webbie thingy. This was all strictly for flat fast time trials.

  9. Good one Jeff, the big H putting the hurt on the peloton, thanks now I am ready to start my day!

  10. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    Exceptionally strong work. Well done. It figures that they drilled the levers from behind before Campy made it official.

    The drilling etc all seems so punk. Just cut holes in your shit because it will make it more Awesome. Love it.

    Speaking of which, Hinault must have one of the most recognizable Magnificent Strokes. Just beautiful on a bike. Too bad he was/is such a complete ass. But he was a hardass and a badass.

  11. @Nate
    Well played! Had to love Cav being left among the tourists to finish today in the TDU! Too funny!

  12. @Nate
    As a Velominatus, your bike’s become a rolling reliquary. ‘Tis the Blood of Saint Nate. Don’t wash it. Clear coat it.

  13. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    Too late. I gave the bike a perfunctory wash before sending it off to my esteemed wrench. There is some bloody kit I will hang on the shop wall instead.

    You’re not just trying to sell me some hydrocarbons, are you?

  14. Me, sell hydrocarbons? I can’t sell hot chocolate at a ski lodge. Wish I could. Maybe I’d make enough money to move out of Mom’s basement.

    I hope you and the bike are healthy and out on the road again.

  15. @Nate
    Completely badass. I almost want to crash again so I can bleed all over my bike. I’ll bet people in a group ride would give the guy with the blood-covered bike a lot of distance. Also a good way to get the general public to be terrified.

  16. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    I am pretty much recovered and will be out on the roads soon. The bike is in the shop but bike #2 has me covered.

    I wonder what the people in the cars thought as I was headed home. I still haven’t forgiven Graham Waston for not being present to get a picture of me, bloody and in action.

  17. Final verdict from the wrenches — not only did I trash the left shift/brake lever but I also put a huge crack into the steerer tube, so a new fork too. All fixed now and not a moment too soon — I’ll go nuts if I don’t get in a good ride this weekend.

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