Prayer and devotion

The last of these three views of my bike is not upside down. It is as I will view it tomorrow when I am out of the saddle and wanting to know I am in the right gear to sprint. I’ll look again when I am so breathless I can’t hold my head up, and at that point take heart that no dirt is slowing me down. More importantly though, I will see something beautiful. Any cliche you care to toss at it is most likely valid: man and machine, poetry in motion, the whole being more than the sum of the parts. 
Those who do not clean their bikes for race day are denying themselves an aesthetic moment they have paid for—and needn’t thus sully with road grime—with every hot flush they have felt through their legs during the past week of training.
Degreaser and a rag, then some wet lube and a wipe, every weekend before race day, is all it takes to keep your equipment as clean as a scalpel, and make you feel equally deadly to your opponents. Cleaning also reveals the irreducible elegance of this most refined of prosthetic devices—correction, the most refined of prosthetic devices, as not even titanium replacement hip joints have been invested with so many hours of prototyping and finessing as each piece of a bike has received over the years.    
Some in the racing fraternity demonstratively turn up on Saturday with leg hair and road grime, as though to tell their opponents they could of course win, but they’re not really trying. It’s rather like taking ones lady to dinner without showering and putting on a clean shirt. It is disrespectful and not be let by unchecked.
Saint Thomas Aquinas saw nature as evidence of an intelligent creator. The bicycle is a tower babel, standing for our quest to be gods. And just when bicycle developers have brought us to the summit, by making greater things from titanium and carbon fiber than god ever dreamed of, a cult of ascetics appears, with leg hair and blackened cassettes. Let it be known that behooving moving does not approve. 


  1. Here here Behooving! I have on numerous occasions weighed up whether or not the ridicule meted out to me on race day as I pull my gleaming mountain bike out of my car is worth it and I am certain that it is. My response is normally a muffled “A clean bike is a fast bike”, but that is only the half of it. It is the whole process of cleaning it, getting in close and digging out the gunk, towelling her off and then standing back and looking at her as she catches the sun and sparkles like a diamond. A gleaming rear cassette, a newly oiled chain, streak free rims. I even use spray on tyre polish so that my sidewalls don’t miss out on the fun. Is this too much? Then the experience as you bolt off the line and notice that the bike is whisper quiet and shifting smoothly and precisely. The simple pleasures huh, but then why do I not get the same tickling feeling in my belly when I look at my newly washed car? Behooving, why?

    • Steven says:

      Ah, that’s because the car is only 1% clean. You can clean the skin, but not all the organs, from whence the cancer will one day explode. Your car is on its way to the scrap heap, your bike to a nostalgic hook in your quiver then ultimately perhaps the “Giant museum”. I have not progressed to tire cleaning yet, but then road race tires barely last long enough to start fading.
      (Mental note being made to get out to a mountain bike race some sunday morning. My son would love to see what his Canondale F7 might one day be used for.)
      Funny that your bike is a “she”. I trust you never let others ride her?

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