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 Velominati.com, 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.
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.