Friday, September 6, 2013


The Way Of The Cycling Disciple

Those that know me well, know that despite my pretensions, I’m really a man of quite simple tastes. A good book, a bottle of good malt whisky & I’m happy, in fact living the good life. Those that have delved deeper behind the mask of Parrish Lantern, will know that I have another love/obsession, one that is as strong as those previously mentioned & yet  has never been featured on this blog. I’ve discussed whisky, through books & the good stuff itself, have obviously talked about books, but have never as far as can recall discussed my love of cycling, never found a book that I wanted to shout about. Till now.


The Rules, is a book that has evolved over a period of time from the members of the website, one of the world’s most popular cycling websites.

In the prologue to the book, it states that cycling is a mighty sport with a rich and complex history, that behind every racer, company, component or kit, there is a history, a legend – a reason to be passionate for its existence.That this is a sport steeped in tradition and yet fiercely modern, seeking advancement through science & technology.

Velominati is centred on the notion that this passion is the foundation for the enjoyment not only cycling, but life itself and that a sense of humour is a wonderful mechanism for developing and sustaining such a passion.

Although this is a book of rules it’s through the rules that the humour really shines & as it states, you’d need to be a Velominazi*  to believe that the rules should be strictly adhered to. The rules are there as guidelines, points of discussion, style hints and traditions that have been merely formulated into words & then explained, reasoned and passionately argued, but with humour at the core.

Rule #12 – The correct number of bikes to own is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned – this equation can also be written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.

pantani2_rechte_ap Rule #50 – Facial hair is to be carefully regulated. No full beards, no moustaches. Goatees are permitted only if your name starts with Marco and ends with Pantani, or if your head is intentionally or unintentionally bald. Also one may never shave on the morning of an important race, as it saps your virility, and you need that to kick @£$%.

Rule #24 – Speeds and distances shall be referred to in Kilometres, apart from allowing you to reference professional races in the proper context, it has the added bonus of making you appear to race faster & longer.

The ninety-one rules that feature in the published book, have evolved over the years on the website and are not in order of importance. Because of this when the book was put together it was decided to group them according to a theme creating  five sections:  The Disciple, The Ride, The Bike, The Aesthete, & The Hardmen. This gives the rules a heading to loosely follow allowing the velominati’s philosophy to be expanded on, and for their knowledge and passion for what is not merely a sport, or a means of transport – but a way of life, that can be defined by their five principal aspects;


1) The best way to become a better cyclist is to ride your bike, as often & as serious as is possible

2) Its history is held in reverence, and the current culture is to be treated with the same humility as of those whose shoulders we stand upon.

3) Approach the sport with the wisdom that evolution is key to survival, that the way things were done, need not be how we do them. love the tradition, embrace the future.

4) We believe aesthetics play a key role in building motivation. In practising to become the best rider you can, you ride your bike through all the seasons & if you look the part, you will feel it, if you look good, you’ll feel good.

5) This, the most important, is the believe that in order to best achieve the first four, you need a healthy and possibly sinister sense of humour.


The last one is also key to enjoying this book, I know this is an extremely niche book, but if you like cycling, with its style and heritage, its authenticity and wisdom  you’ll absolutely get and love this book.

This will improve your cycling better than any performance enhancing chemists set, or any of the latest titanium/carbon fibre/latest wonder frame material and for a lot less cost.


* At the back of this book is a lexicon, where the vocabulary developed on the website is defined, for example;

Velominazi =  A dogmatic enforcer of the rules

Velomiwookie = an unshaven velominatus, after having failed to shave the guns (legs) they are hairy enough to make chewbacca proud'.

Velominatus = A cycling disciple of the highest order.


Suko said...

Greetings, I stopped by earlier but didn't have enough time to leave even a short comment. This book sounds very interesting, and not at all what I expected when I read the title (what came to mind was a dating book I recall that came out many years ago). I'm sure that cyclists of many levels would enjoy this book. Very nice presentation!

Bellezza said...

Love this entire post, Parrish! Cycling is a love of mine, too, although probably not as ardently as is yours. But, I'll keep in mind the removal of facial hair and erase my beard before I set out. ;) It's interesting to me that to be a better cyclist one should cycle as hard and as often as possible. Much like I tell the children in my class for how to become better readers: read more, listen to books more, involve yourself in reading.

I really should get on my Canondale now, only it's so hot in Illinois this weekend.

Bellezza said...

p.s. isn't one of those bikes (the red) yours?

p.s.s. wish I could take a ride with you, even though you'd have to slow down for me.

Brian Joseph said...

I really like Velominati's take on riles. I many ways they parallel mine. They are very misunderstood by non initiates. I too have lots of rules that I break with no qualms more then I follow that exist more for contemplation and discussion then anything else.

stujallen said...

Sounds like a great book and makes me wish I had a bike ,one day soon I will been looking out for a cheap one that would suit my needs ,all the best stu

Col (Col Reads) said...

Score, Parrish! Our family is cycling-obsessed (seems to go along with voracious reading, doesn't it?) and I am always looking for something to surprise my husband with for the holidays -- this is the guy who biked 250 miles to a conference this summer rather than drive. I am ordering this right now! Thanks for this review!

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Suko, just checked out Amazon & found the book you were referring to, the idea made me smile but no this is purely two wheels not two legs

Hi Bellezza, as with most things you get out what you put in. As to facial hair I've broken that rule myself. Yes would love to take the bikes out for a spin with you.
PS. Both bikes are mine, the top one is a Boardman (Chris) & has 20 gears & the red one's a Specialized & has 1.

Hi Brian, totally agree a lot of the rules are transferable & open to interpretation.

Hi Stu, have you looked into the cycle to work scheme, that's how I got the Boardman. Hope you get a bike & enjoy.

Hi Col, I think they are very similar; at face value they both appear to be solitary pastimes & yet so much more can be done if you meet likeminded individuals . Will add one proviso, the writing is more passionate than literate & there's a few mistakes I rode right past them because it made me smile laugh & want to ride my bike.

Chad Hull said...

Very funny; I enjoyed this review.