Recently, on a cycle ride in the Surrey Hills (one of the few I get to do in this busy final-year-of-uni days, which, along with the end of the season, is the reason for the lower density of posts at the moment, although that will be rectified with various end of year features shortly) I was chastised, and without sarcasm or humour, for, horror upon horrors, committing the cardinal sin of wearing white shorts whilst cycling. My accuser wasn’t exactly bristling with rage and gripped with wrath, but was apparently genuinely aggravated that I had chose to treat his middle aged eyes to the abomination of the full whack of the colour spectrum blended into one. Obviously,I inquired as to quite why my fashion sense had caused him such to suffer so. He replied that such garments were against, and at this point he narrowed his eyes, drew in breath through his teeth, gave a sly gance to each side then softly continued ‘The Rules.’
Luckily, I adhere to a set of ‘The Rules’ myself, and when we reached Box Hill, also known as the most over-rated climb in England, I set about adhering to my beliefs by giving him a calm glance of my own and smoothly accelerating away, arriving at the top to pedal in circles, as calm and collected as can be, rearranging my kit into the correct lines, and waiting as my Inquisitor rode up bow backed, slumped horrendously over his grotty machine like a hunchback with a migrane, tongue flicking a collection of phlegm and sweat across the road. I took this to be score one to me.
Mild embellishments aside, it is clear that we had two competing sets of ‘The Rules.’ Mine, which, obviously, I and many others believe to be superior, are that of OREC, which is the Official Rules of the Euro Cyclist (https://www.facebook.com/the.official.rules/info). Followers of OREC know that there is one primary concern of a cyclist, and so it is expressed in the first of 63 rules:
‘1. Image and style shall be the primary concerns of the Euro Cyclist. When suffering, one must focus first on maintaining a cool, even composure and second on performance. Winning races is an added talent, and only counts if said Euro Cyclist wins with appropriate style.’
Image being the primary concern, the Lord and Prophet of the good people of OREC is of course, the one and only Mario Cipollini, whom is imperious in such matters.
My accuser, however, like a rival religious faction, was a follower of the Velominati, a group that OREC would simply refer to in the same breath as the dreaded triathletes (Whom followers of OREC swear to never associate with) – they may claim to be following cycling’s ‘rich and complex’ history, but they are far, far from it. One of their founders is called Brett, and another has a picture of one of those stupid little dogs wearing a wig. Would you take advice from a man who puts a wig on a dog? No, you wouldn’t. The Velominati, or the ‘Keepers of the Cog’ as they brand themselves, which is silly, as every OREC member knows that cogs do not exist, but sprockets and blocks do, have a far more boring rule 1:
‘Rule 1// Obey the Rules.’
Riiiight. Thrilling stuff chaps.
To help you see the differences between our sects, I will now summarise the key differences between OREC and the Velominati, based on who their particular heroes might be. OREC, of course, venerates the Lord Mario, whom has a special ability to transcend the rules that ban mass produced garbage bikes such as Specialised, Trek and the like, and is thus concerned majorly with style, essence, prestige and other noble, lofty concepts that cannot be grasped – OREC is the pursuit of the soul of cycling, and of the near supernatural, Godly aura that surrounds and mystifys it. Velominati, on the other hand, would worship Bradley Wiggins, because they are truly unconcerned with appearance. Black is their colour of choice, which speaks volumes, as it the colour of death, darkness, despair and great sorrow, whilst OREC uses white, the symbol of light, freedom, justice and the like. Wiggins also loves his numbers, and has an odd penchant for winning races regardless of how terrible he looks on the bike, whilst Cipollini would gladly stop if he knew that suffering were to become embossed across his features in the effort of winning.
So to truly dissect between the two, here is a brief summary of attitudes to various parts of cycling, illustrated by the Rules of each faction, with some brief summary.
Velominati: Rule 5//Harden the f*ck up, Rule 71//Train Properly – Know how to train properly and stick to your training plan.
OREC: 2. Training shall be based solely on feel, while racing shall be guided by sensations and instinct: that is to say, “soul.” The Euro Cyclist will never accept tried or tested scientific training methods.
OREC would look at the Velominati and ask simply ‘training plan?! There’s a plan?!’. Why should plans be used when sensations are far superior, and guide you to a higher plane of being? And what is this ‘science’ that seems to be being applied by the Velominati? Everyone knows science is for those damned triathletes.
Velominati: Rule 70//The Purpose of competing is to win.
OREC: 1: Winning races is an added talent, and only counts if said Euro Cyclist wins with appropriate style. 49. When dropping out of a race, one shall avoid the embarrassment of entering the official broomwagon and shall instead wait for the team vehicle. When asked the reason for dropping out, one shall cite mechanical problems or oncoming sickness.
Clearly, OREC wins again. Winning effort requires talent. Looking like Ron Burgundy requires effort. Effort can be achieved easily, by, er using the required amount. You can use all the talent you have, but still not attain the same level as some one more talented then yourself. Thus, it is more charming and more suave to simply preserve ones image, by ensuring everyone is completely unsure how much talent you are hiding.
On The Bike
Velominati: Rule 4//It’s all about the bike, Rule 8// Saddle, bars and tires shall be carefully matched: black, black and black, Rule 26// Make your bike photogenic.
OREC: 9. One’s bike frame shall contain between two (2) and four (4) colours IN ADDITION TO WHITE. All colours are acceptable as long as they combine tastefully and elegantly. In addition, wheel selection must also match frame and fork. 17. Saddles shall be white in colour ONLY and shall be manufactured in Italy or France. Exceptions may be made in the following cases: i) Saddles containing World Cup Stripes or Olympic Gold when it is EARNED ii) Italian flag colour combo when rider is ITALIAN (born in Italy) 18. Handlebar tape is required to be cork as well as WHITE IN COLOUR. Bar tape shall be kept in pristine white condition. This state shall be achieved either through daily cleansing or through frequent replacement. These jobs must NEVER be performed by the cyclist as one must maintain one’s image. 22. Campagnolo shall be THE ONLY acceptable component and it is hereby deemed superior to ANY Shimano product in ALL circumstances and situations. The Euro Cyclist is expected to have nothing less than an ENTIRE campy g ruppo. Crank substitutions are NOT permitted.
Ooh err, Velominati, that Rule 4 sounds awfully close to a certain unpopular Texan. And Black, the colour, as previously mentioned, of death, despair and great sorrow?! Let’s face it, Velominati members are essentially lazy. They want their bikes as dark as possible so that they don’t have to bother cleaning the thing after they ride through the grimy London suburbs and upload rides to Strava. OREC, on the other hand, takes image seriously, and so wants a colour that will show up any fault or imperfection in their equipment immediately. White is thus the perfect adornment, as it allows the effort which the rider has put into keeping their machine in glistening condition to be best displayed. Worryingly, Velominati, make no mention of equipment, whilst OREC has an entire list of endorsed components and apparel. Obviously Campag is paramount, as Italy is clearly better then the mass produced Japanese Shimano nonsense. It’s Italian for Lord Mario’s sake – it has soul. And that’s all you need, right?
Velomonati: Rule 14//Shorts should be black, Rule 15// Black shorts should be worn with leaders jerseys, Rule 17//Team kit is for members of the team
OREC: 7. Cycling shoes shall contain at least 80% white, 8. If white cycling shoes are not available where the Euro Cyclist resides, white booties (or “shoe covers”) with prominent logos shall ALWAYS be worn. 44. When appearing in a photo spread for a sponsor’s products, the Euro Cyclist has the option of appearing fully nude, in team kit, or in a full Brioni three-piece suit (nothing else). Smiling is PROHIBITED in these instances. 16. Kits must always be freshly washed, and one shall ALWAYS have applied a subtle quantity of eau de toilette (or “cologne”). It is, AT ALL TIMES FORBIDDEN to ride in an unwashed kit. This is severely detrimental to one’s image.
A typical discussion on the OREC site will revolve around the appealing combination of a leaders jersey with standard team shorts, and will bemoan anything other then a matching set, as well as bashing those teams who persist in the evils of black shorts. This is of course what brought the Velominati to my attention, and their rules, which ban team kit from being worn by mere mortals, are an abomination. Cycling is about inspiration, sensation, and feeling. Should I be denied the chance to dream and emulate my heroes through the donning of their threads and tunics and thus imagining myself soaring across the same passes as they have crossed because some bloke who puts wigs on dogs decides that black shorts are the way forward and that only the physical, tangible realities of the world are to be allowed?! I say nay.
There are no rules as such for this, but here is a list of appropriate people that each group would choose as exemplary of their codes
Velominati: Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Ryder Hesjedal, David Millar, Mark Cavendish, Cadel Evans, Tom Danielson, Jens Voigt.
OREC: Mario Cipollini, Thomas Voeckler, Tom Boonen, Fabian Cancellara, Alexandre Vinokourov, Phillipe Gilbert, Vincenzo Nibali, Paolo Bettini, Fillipo Pozzatto, Giovanni Visconti, Alejandro Valverde, Alberto Contador.
So what is the best way of summing the two up? It’s simple really. The Velominati are saddly stuck in the real world, a cold, hard, sterile world driven by numbers, figures, burning and a fear of failure that properls them to venerate the lovers of data and marginal gains which give them a sense of achievement and progress. They are thus able to proceed along a path on their set of rules to full attainment, and can actively try to do so without being looked down upon by their peers.
OREC however is not something you can acitvely try to achieve, at least not consciously. As we’ve all found out to our embarrassment, style is either something you have or you dont. OREC is about ensuring ones style is properly embellished and promulgated, and about helping cyclists experience the true, ethereal and ungrapsable beauties of the sport that Velomonati does not even recognise. Buying a white bike and shoes won’t make you Euro, but a unconscious consideration and long spiritual experience of its teaching will. You can become an Velominati overnight, but to be one with OREC, that takes time. And that is far more beautiful.
And that, in a nutshell, is why I’m going to keep wearing white shirts.