Oh, the prices we pay for the small victories.
I cherished not getting lapped by Trebon, Tonkin and co. my first season as a CX crusade “A”. Now I cherish not getting lapped by Euros.
Taking things in perspective gets weird as one progresses. Now a days I stare at a heart rate monitor. And I kinda think that cat 4 roadies who own powertaps are complete tools. (unless they are on the Veloshop racing team. then I lavish the praise.)
Yet, when I was a cat 4 I thought I was a total badass. I remember lining up at my first crusade A race and getting dropped and lapped within a few laps. And, I thought I knew everything about racing. The thing I strove to do was move up. You get faster by racing with faster people I believe… I won a race as a 3 and felt so pumped! Then Jon Myers goes whizzing by in the 1-2 race and I knew I was not shit. So, I con Candi (OBRA race matron) to open up the 1-2 race to 3s so I can race up.
Three grand. Cat three glory.
I’ve always appreciated the “hardman” style of cycling. When I was a rookie bike racer I liked the racers who showed guts and tenacity. Sometimes they win, sometimes they don’t. Luck plays a big part in the races I appreciate. You make the race yourself and team tactics hardly factor in. You can have the best team at Roubaix but, if your equipment breaks or you have a good crash…
Paris-Roubaix stands out to all as one of the most popular hardman road races. Gent Wevelgem, Ronde van Vlanderen, There are even some Giro stages that could claim hardman status. Danilo di Luca leading Simoni over gravel cols in the 2004 (?) Giro = so hardcore.
That is the shit I wait all year to hear about.
Ironic that Indurain is one of my favorites. The farmer turned tour winning robot. He always had a great team but, you rarely saw his teammates with him on the climbs. He was usually isolated and rode himself straight past everyone to win. He would keep his cool and the pace ferocious.
I was watching boxing, Boom Boom Mancini was hosting a “classic” fight episode. He ends up killing this Korean boxer in the final rounds of a fight in the 80’s. Boxing used to have 15 rounds, he explains. They figured out boxers sustain the most physical damage in rounds 13-15. So they shorten fights to 12 rounds.
Those are called the championship rounds. The better fighter prevails in the home stretch. It is about tenacity. Both fighters are tired and sloppy.
Lucky no one gets killed after 200km.
Remember that brutal stage of the Vuelta in 2002 David Millar gets off his bike just before the finish line and walks across it in protest! (the summit finish of the 1570-meter Angliru climb, a road which in former days had been used by shepherds to transport their goats) “This stage is too difficult, it is dangerous!”
He thought it was hard and he was high on EPO!
I kinda like Millar but, winning prologues is not hardman cycling.
Jens Voight and Vino are so damn popular in the US because they are fighters and keep going for it.
Jacky Durand anyone?
So, I’m on the line at a cx race and the guy in front of me has a dirty old skinsuit and a 6 speed freewheel on like a 10 year old Vitus cx bike or some shit. We start and end up getting tangled up a couple times in the singletrack. He even apologizes after the last sketch ball move! Then a couple weeks later he is the same guy putting the wood to Sven Nys! Turns out he is just off a ban for doping and from the way he was riding he was back on the sauce. Still, I appreciated the hard man style. Racing super busted equipment really hard but, you kinda scratch your head when you find out about the doping stuff.
Is the Lion of Flanders less hard because he was totally doping throughout his career and admits it in his final Roubaix?
Yeah. I think so.
Hollow victories mean nothing to me anymore. My 200 meter time on the velodrome meant nothing to me because I felt nothing. It never felt like a bike race.
A bike race should incorporate lots of actual bicycle riding and challenge you technically.
I’m not declaring myself better than those who value different racing styles. But there is a mindset and racing scene I’ve never related too. I’d rather bury myself against impossible talent than dominate a less talented field.
Or target personal bests. If you keep competing against yourself, where does that get you?
Maybe I appreciate the aspect of luck and grit cause I don’t posses true talent myself and I eek by in cycling on the misfortune of those more gifted. It still baffles me that I can finish ahead of ProTour talent in cyclocross races and I probably could not even finish a 60mile local road race.
I must admit my flaw as a bike racer is my weakness in the championship rounds. I have not been racing as long as most and in the final miles or minutes of a brutal race, I got nothing. I’m no champion bike racer. I’m riding on guts alone.
I’m trying to find the words for the feeling of being exposed to the highest level of racing in the world and understanding my place in it. I feel like there is some amazing competition in Oregon. Some of the best but, at the same time there are not too many true rivals.
Mind you, there are hundreds of fit roadies out there who are going to spank me all summer long.
End rant. Board plane.