La Vie Velominatus: The VVorkshop

If the road is the cathedral where we go to worship at the altar of Merckx then the workshop must surely be the rectory. The workshop of the Velominatus is semi-sacred space where one goes primarily to sharpen one’s tool of worship. In so doing, the workshop also provides a space in which to meditate on the machine, make repairs from rides gone by, and prepare for rides to come. The workshop may not be the space where we engage in our most revelatory work, however, the work we do there both before and after each ride is no less important than the work we do in between.

Though we have no Rules governing the workshop, I suggest the following is what constitutes good workshops:

  • One’s workshop must be well provisioned. Like any suitable place intended for rejuvenation, the workshop should be well stocked with items such as spare tubes, a few tires (even if they’ve been retired but could still be used in a pinch), extra cable and housing, cleaning supplies, lubricants, and greases.
  • The workshop should be kept organized. Each tool has its place and once used should be returned to that place after it has been used and cleaned. There’s no greater satisfaction than knowing exactly where your chain whip is, for example, and being able to find it in that spot in clean, ready-to-use condition.
  • The workshop should be able to be well lit. You try getting that perfect bar tape wrap in a dimly lit dungeon.
  • The workshop must be well equipped. You are only as good at maintenance as your tools. And for Merckx-sake, invest in a shop stand.
  • Old parts are worth keeping. Mind you, you should know their history and discard them if they’re unsafe. But you never know if you’ll want to use that old saddle, stem, or frame again. Having a box or two of miscellany around goes a long way toward piecing together that next Rule #12 acquisition. And when you find yourself  in the role of Cycling Sensei, those old parts could take on a whole new life and meaning for your Pedalwan.

Beyond these basic guidelines there are other considerations one can make in order to give their workshop an even more shrine-like aura. Your workshop or workspace might include some or all of the following:

  • Cycling accouterments from by-gone era. Anything from that classic LeMan poster to old PDM jersey hanging on the wall that ties your space to our sport’s traditions and history is just plain cool in your workshop.
  • Audio-visual gear. Put a radio, iPod, or T.V. (for watching classic cycling videos only) in your workshop.
  • The hallowed bike. Maybe you’ve still got the retired steel Raleigh on which you reached your first podium, perhaps you own a Team 7/11 Huffy, or still have that  randonneur whip from college with 20,000k of stories from one year on it to tell. In any case, if you’ve got  a steed with panache, give it a worthy space in your shop.
  • Old couches and recliners are well worth it if you have the space. If you can create a clubhouse atmosphere in your workshop so that when your mates are over they can chill on that old flower-patterned couch or Naugahyde Lazy-Boy you’re doing a community service. Add to that a fridge for some cold malted beverage and you could start charging a cover.

Similar to our varied bikes and certainly to the vastly different places we all profess our devotion, our workshops are no doubt reflections of our own uniqueness as cyclists. That said, just as the Rules bind us, the spaces we retreat to in order to sharpen our tools should also provide us with a modicum of comfort in the familiar. In other words, I may not know my way around your kitchen straight away but if it’s a well appointed kitchen it shouldn’t take me long to learn my way around and start making good food.  Take a minute to share what you appreciate about your workshop (or workspace if it serves secondarily as a living room or kitchen). Additionally, maybe you can share a workshop tale. For the workshop should not be overlooked as an integral room of the church in which we pray.

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127 Replies to “La Vie Velominatus: The VVorkshop”

  1. @Ron
    Oddly enough, when it gets to complex stuff, I tend to end up in the kitchen for the improved lighting (although the first of my winter projects is to replace the down lighters in the kitchen, they’re blowing bulbs at an alarming rate)

  2. @Marko @Souleur

    The idea of being a modern day renaissance man in pursuit of artisanal self reliance is something that must appeal to all of us velominati. Unfortunately, for me, it’s not something that comes naturally, it’s not that I can’t do the jobs if I put my mind to it but it tends to only happen out of necessity. As a reluctant practitioner I am unlikely to ever do enough to achieve any mastery.

    At the other end of the spectrum, hen pecked men are now being encouraged into partaking in group shed activities as a way of promoting men’s health issues.

  3. @Marko

    Much the the YJA wearer who’s too fat too climb, 8 months from peaking, riding a roadmaster but discovers the Rules – there’s nothing but potential in that shop.

    Thanks, it does indeed have potential but I’m slightly ambivalent about committing any more time or resources into improving it further (apart from a good tidy out). I’d love to improve the lighting and power and put up some perforated wall board for hanging tools on but we are looking at moving house at the moment so I’m inclined to leave it as is.

    Speaking of perforated wall board, do any UK based velominati know where to buy it? I’ve seen plenty of the metal type but that’s relatively expensive for small sizes.

  4. @Oli
    I love the minimalism in that repair kit. I used to do pretty much the same exact thing. Then frank posted his Reverence article on his Pro multi-tool and everyone started talking about multi-tools. Needless to say, I succumbed to my own paranoia and bought one and have been carrying a brick (relative to two hexes) around ever since.

  5. @GottaRideToday
    I’ve never seen that one. Nice. What size hexes? I’m guessing 4,5,6,8. A phillips head would be cool on there. I may have to check it out. Thanks for the heads up.

  6. @Oli

    This is my set up. I used to carry CO2 till I got burned with 2 flats and no patch kit or CO2 left. that mini pump is super light and is barley visible in my jersey pocket.

  7. @RedRanger
    That’s pretty much what I carry right there. My multi-tool is larger but same pump. I agree, the Lezyne pump is money.

  8. I’ve found this set up pretty bomb proof over the years. Must admit though, I’m still using a frame pump. It fits the carbon bike no problem, goes to 100 psi and saved folks with CO2 and mini pumps. The tire is primarily a winter addition that has been used more often than liked.

  9. Damn, damn, damn. All of this has me highly motivated to finish my degree so I can get a job, buy a house…and have a WORKSHOP!

    Frank – Wow, if I not only get to own a house but get my very own workshop, I’d be over the moon, in Cyclist Heaven.

  10. Very late to the party, but great stuff, Marko. I’m appalled, though, that nobody dared correct you. It’s a VVorkshop. VVinter may be settling in, folks (went for a V-9 today in horizontal snow), but that’s no excuse to get sloppy. On the bike, in the vvorkshop, or online.

  11. How timely. I finally got around to building myself a new workbench in my garage. Moved into the house in March and it has been driving me crazy not to have my own space in which to meditate on the V.

    Went out and rode on the trainer last night for about an hour while streaming some on my laptop sitting on the bench. Worked nicely.

  12. @Steampunk

    Very late to the party, but great stuff, Marko. I’m appalled, though, that nobody dared correct you. It’s a VVorkshop. VVinter may be settling in, folks (went for a V-9 today in horizontal snow), but that’s no excuse to get sloppy. On the bike, in the vvorkshop, or online.

    What an oversight. Corrected. And that earned you the +1 badge, too, matey.

    Here’s my kit that comes with me on most daily rides. No tubes, just CO2, patch kit, chuck, and multi-tool. All as small and light as possible.

    And, for longer rides, I’ll add a latex innertube to the party. Again, keeping things nice and light. Even if you don’t want to ride them, latex tubes make great spares due to their weight. Just throw ’em in for the rest of the ride, pull it out and replace it with your regular tube, and back into the kit the spare goes. No worries.

  13. @BrianG
    Maybe it’s winter orneriness (in which case, forgive me), but while I’m still on the fence re. European man satchels (I don’t have one, but I get it), to have it on the bike while on the trainer can’t be right.

    VVooHoo! Much honored. Thanks very much.

  14. @Steampunk
    I hear ya on the man satchels. For the record that’s actually just a towel on the handlebars. Can’t have any rumors out there.

    BTW, glad to have found this site. Definitely feelin the flow.

  15. @Marko
    Thanks for the compliment; just keeping the essentials near and dear. The moto-x bike is a 2007 YZ450F and is going up for sale soon in order to pay for a new road bike. Not sure yet which one it’s going to be, but leaning towards a lightly used Look, Scott or similar.

  16. @frank
    It was a long week at work so apologies for the lack of reply — your handwritten note with the V-kit was much appreciated.

  17. @Steampunk
    Thought you were talking about a mussett bag. Ha! Obviously I failed to recognize the lexicon of the euro man satchel. Being a noob, I paid for it with 3deg C 15% grade intervals today. Just cause they sounded fun.

  18. I just moved into a new house and finally have the living quarters to a level of organization to where I can now concentrate on the basement for storage and shop. I finished some shelving last week in order to get some floor space to build a workbench, but I need a work stand for the bike(s). I have a trainer and that gets me by, but bending over sucks. I have used, and am not fond of, the tripod portable stands, so I’m looking a wall or bench mount models for ultimate stability (I hate things moving when I wrench on them). As a Velominatus Budgetatus who is somewhat handy, I have a difficult time swallowing the $100 for the Park clamp – especially as the entry level ones get mediocre reviews. There is a lot of PVC and pipe clamp DIY junk out there, but the elegance is past questionable.

    Question for those with experience or an opinion:

    1) What if I utilize a photography clamp such as the Avenger D230. Note that the weight capacity is 15kg (33lbs) and can rotate 360 degrees. The grip head (not the clamp) can also grab onto pipe big enough for me to make something real sturdy. The aluminum jaws are not prohibitive, as they are nothing some old neoprene mouse pads can’t resolve.

    2) should I just go PRO and build a bottom bracket cradling stand?

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