The vault. Preserving cycling's past for future enjoyment.

Back in those days (yes, based on my age I now feel entitled to begin sentences with "back in those days"), my brother would go into the hallway adjacent to my bedroom, plug in a set of headphones into the stereo, and use them as a microphone. The stereo had one of its two speakers in my bedroom, and my brother would pretend he was a radio DJ, playing assorted Slayer and Venom songs for me, as I sat at my desk drawing make-belief concerts by non-existent metal bands whose names I would make up. Music was our passion, and that passion would go on to manifest itself in many different ways throughout the years. But at that point in my life, the most obvious manifestation of that passion was the horrendously bad drawings I would produce during those afternoon drawing sessions.

(Click to enlarge, in order to take in the awesomeness)

This is one of the drawings I created during that period in my life. As you cringe, laugh and choke as a result of seeing this masterpiece, let me clarify a few things.

1. I was 10 years old when I drew this
2. I didn't know any English yes, the shirt and the sticker on the guy's guitar both say "Welcome to the hell"
3. Why do his fingers look like a pack of hot dogs? I don't know.
4. Yes, the fretboard on his guitar does say "HARCORE"...a phonetic spelling of sorts of the English word "har
5. No, regardless of what my lack of artistic talent says...I'm not mentally retarded.

(Click to enlarge, in order to see a true artistic masterpiece)

Another amazing masterpiece. These guys HATED posers. Just look at the generous offer that they were running for their fans at the time (scribbled behind them)...if you slayed a poser you got a free yo-yo. What a great deal! Again, this was drawn when I was like ten, and knew no English, just enough to come up with that amazing, limited-time offer. Operators are standing by. Call now!

The vault
Amazing pencil drawings aside, music would go on to create a backdrop for much of my youth. I listened to music, obsessed over it, played in bands, and collected records. Eventually, my life in music would peak as our band toured in Europe, and we played in squats and numerous abandoned buildings at different levels of disrepair. We played in an dilapidated rollerskating rink in Gent, a Communist community center in Madrid, a wedding-reception hall in Poland.

One day (during those music-filled days), while joyfully driving around in my amazing and luxurious Plymouth Horizon, I found myself enjoying the music on my tape deck as much as I enjoyed the Horizon's plush red interior upholstery....which is to say that I was enjoying it A LOT. "This", I told myself, "is the greatest band ever." For the sake of this post, I won't tell you what the band on my tape deck was at the time, but what I will tell you is that the band I was listening to at that moment had broken up long ago. Some of the band's members had died, which is why I suddenly realized that they would never produce a single note of music again. Whatever music they had produced, and was out there already, was it. There would never be anymore. Luckily, they had one lone album out there which I had still not heard. At that moment, I decided to keep things that way. I didn't want to hear that other album, not yet. After all, the excitement of hearing a great album by a band you love for the first time, and getting to know it is a fantastic experience, but since they would never record another one...I had to preserve that one remaining album of theirs, until the moment was right. Although said album was already nearly ten years old, I would go on to keep a copy of the album in my home for ten years more...never listening to it, but knowing it was there for me to hear one day. I decided to put several albums like that one into what I jokingly decided to call "the vault".

A small part of the cycling vault

The cycling vault
Just as my tastes in music remain rather obsessive and particular, I happen to really enjoy certain races within cycling. Because of when I was introduced to the sport, I also happen to really enjoy a certain era in cycling. This is not to say that I see the sport in black and white exclusively, or that I dislike the sport as it exists today. I don't hate all current kits, carbon fiber or helmets. It just so happens that racing from an earlier time reminds me of my youth, of growing up, and what things in general were like then. Although I don't see myself as being overly nostalgic, perhaps this all says otherwise.

Vanderaerden today, proudly showing off his hair, which is made out of Ramen noodles that were boiled in rusty water. Extra credit given to any reader that can tell me which of Vanderaerden's two teeth are his front teeth. As far as I can tell, he has only one front tooth. He must be some kind of hyper-evolved human specimen. (Photo from Pez)

Because time moves forwards, and not backwards (regardless of what Doc Brown and his Delorean lead you to believe in the movie Back To The Future), there is a limited number of races from the time period for me to watch. They will never make any more of those. The time has passed. Whatever classics, grand tours and stage races happened back then is all I'll ever have to watch. Much like my music vault holds certain hand picked recordings, so too does my cycling vault. I collect as many of these races as possible, and eagerly await the first time I get to watch them. Before me on my TV screen, the races unfold before my eyes, just as they did for those who may have seen them live. More often than not, I'm unaware of who the winner will be. I watch excitedly, waiting to see what happens. As I watch, I feel like I'm a kid again...minus the professional grade mullet I sported back then. In a sense, I get to best of that time period, without any of the bad. I say that because aside from my mullet, I also don't wear my gigantic white high tops as I watch. The thrill of seeing who will win the race is genuine.

Sadly, in some cases, the beginning credits ruin the whole thing. As the video starts, something along the lines of "Vanderaerden makes it two in a row!" appears on screen. When it does, I let out a scream. My wife asks me if I'm OK from the other room. I answer back. "No! They just ruined it! Vanderaerden is gonna' make it 'two in a row'! Who ruins the end of a movie before it starts?" She's heard it all before. But I'm right. Did the beginning scene in Sixth Sense have text on screen that said "Remember, he's dead along." No, it didn't.

So mock me if you will, tell me that I'm overly dramatic, foolish, or stuck in the past. You can tell whatever you want, but please don't tell me who won Gent-Wevelgem in 1985, because I haven't watched it yet.